By DAVID GREEN
The survey crews from the Ohio Department of the Interior should have given a clue that something was happening. Something was—and in a big way.
Shocking as it may seem, Morenci now lies within the boundaries of Ohio.
When asked about a possible appeal, city attorney Greg Grover replied, “No, it’s final. The boundary was established by the U.S. Congress.”
“The transfer of land described herein to the State of Ohio becomes effective Wednesday, April First,” said A. Pearl Foolse, a representative of the Michigan Attorney General’s office.
A border dispute between Michigan and Ohio (“The Toledo War”) was settled in 1836, explained Foolse, just prior to Michigan’s statehood, but it wasn’t until February of this year that a surveying error was discovered, invalidating the 150-year-old boundary.
By act of Congress in June 1836, Ohio received a strip of land seven miles wide at the Indiana border and 11 miles wide at the eastern border along Lake Erie, including Toledo. Michigan, in turn, was granted 9,000 square miles of land which now makes up the western portion of the Upper Peninsula.
An erroneous reading by surveyors incorrectly laid out Ohio’s northern border. The new boundary now runs along a line approximately 100 yards north of Mulberry Road.
The letter from the Attorney General’s office reads: “All territory located from 84° 8’ W (Hillsdale County’s western boundary) to Lake Erie, and from the current Michigan/Ohio boundary north to 41° 44’ N is duly transferred to the State of Ohio.”
A sophomore geography student at Ohio State University, Jesse Joe King, was credited with discovering the error in measurement, and the Ohio Department of State wasted little time in correcting the problem.
A letter from Gov. James Blanchard’s office expressed both dismay and sorrow at losing this southern portion of the state, especially during the sesquicentennial year, but remarked, “That’s the way the ball bounces.”
Included in a packet of information from the capitol building in Columbus was a reminder that personal property taxes are due April 30 and that the sales tax in Fulton County is currently six percent.
Preliminary assessments for cleaning of the Tiffin River (Bean Creek) will be mailed later in the month.
Morenci Mayor Ken Walker was one of the first to learn of the change, and the news didn’t sit too well at City Hall.
“As far as I’m concerned, the biggest thing Ohio has going for it is Harrison Lake,” stated Walker.
City attorney Grover expressed some concern about possible legal problems with the change, especially in property ownership.
“There may be some problems with land titles,” he surmised. “The records are all out of state now, I don’t know if they’ll recognize them in Ohio.”
Grover, a resident of Ohio, offered this encouragement to the new Buckeyes: “The roads ought to improve and taxes ought to be lower.”
He’ll speak to city council next week about Morenci joining the attempts to land the Northwest Ohio regional jail. “It’ll mean 160-200 jobs,” stated Grover.
Although no changes will be made in the telephone exchange, Morenci Postmaster Ruth Baird was puzzled over the city’s future zip code assignment.
All the numbers in 435 region are either in use or reserved for businesses, she explained, so it won’t be a simple matter of changing to 43556. She advised residents to continue using the old zip code until she receives notification from Washington.
Like everyone, the news took Superintendent of Schools Neal Singles by surprise.
“I honestly don’t know what to expect,” he said Tuesday afternoon. “I know we’re going to finish out the week—maybe the month—just as we have been.”
“If those in the know had any sense, they’d let us finish the school year as part of Michigan,” he said. “I’ve been calling Lansing all day and haven’t gotten anywhere. I suppose I should try Columbus.”
The prospects of splitting the district between Fayette and Evergreen didn’t appeal to Singles, and he’ll fight hard for keeping the district together as it is presently.
Athletic director Jim Gilmore has already contacted officials from the Northwest Ohio Athletic League (NWOAL) about admission to the conference.
A representative from Ohio Governor Richard Celeste’s Committee on Interstate Cooperation will set up a temporary office in City Hall next week to assist with the change. Counseling for distraught residents will be provided free of charge.
– April 1, 1987