The Weekly Newspaper serving the citizens of Morenci, Mich., Fayette, Ohio, and surrounding areas.

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    FIRST SNOW—Heavy, wet flakes piled deep on tree branches—and windshields—as the area received its first significant snowfall of the season. “Usually it begins with a dusting or two,” said George Isobar, Morenci’s observer for the National Weather Service, “but this time it came with a vengeance.” By the end of the day Saturday, a little over four inches of snow was on the ground. Now comes the thaw with temperatures in the 40s and 50s for three days.
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    SKEWERS, gumdrops, and marshmallows are all that’s needed to create interesting shapes and designs for Layla McDowell Saturday at Stair District Library’s “Sculptamania!” Open House. The program featuring design games and materials is one part of a larger project funded by a $7,500 Curiosity Creates grant from Disney and the American Library Association. Additional photos are on page 7.
    Morenci marching band members took to the field Friday night dressed for Halloween during the Bulldog’s first playoff game. Morenci fans had a bit of a scare until the fourth quarter when the Bulldogs scored 30 points to leave Lenawee Christian School behind. Whiteford visits Morenci this Friday for the district championship game. From the left is Clayton Borton, Morgan Merillat and James O’Brien.
    DNA PUZZLE—Mitchell Storrs and Wyatt Mohr tackle a puzzle representing the structure of DNA. There’s only one correct way for all the pieces to fit. It’s one of the new materials that can be used in both biology and chemistry classes, said teacher Loretta Cox.
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    A TRAFFIC control worker stands in the middle of Morenci’s Main Street Tuesday morning, waiting for the next flow of vehicles to be let through from the west. The dusty gravel surface was sealed with a layer of tar, leaving only the application of paint for new striping. The project was completed in conjunction with county road commission work west of Morenci.
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    JUNIORS Jazmin Smith and Trevor Corkle struggle against a team from the sophomore class Friday during the annual tug of war at the Homecoming Games pep rally. Even the seniors struggled against the sophomores who won the competition. At the main course of the day, the Bulldog football team struggled against Whiteford in a homecoming loss.
    YOUNG soccer players surived a chilly morning Saturday in Morenci’s PTO league. From the left is Emma Cordts, Wayne Corser, Carter and Levi Seitz, Briella York and Drew Joughin. Two more weeks of soccer remain for this season.
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    BOWEN BAUMGARTNER of Morenci makes his way across a rope bridge constructed by the Tecumseh Boy Scout troop Sunday at Lake Hudson Recreation Area. The bridge was one of many challenges, displays and games set up for the annual Youth Jamboree by the Michigan DNR. Additional photos on are the back page of this week’s Observer.
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    One of four senior candidates will be crowned the fall homecoming queen during half-time of this week’s Morenci-Whiteford football game. In the back row (left to right) is exchange student Kinga Vidor (her escort will be Caylob Alcock), seniors Alli VanBrandt (escorted by Sam Cool), Larissa Elliott (escorted by Clayton Borton), Samantha Wright (escorted by JJ Elarton) and Justis McCowan (escorted by Austin Gilson), and exchange student Rebecca Rosenberger (escorted by Garrett Smith). Front row freshman court member Allie Kaiser (escorted by Anthony Thomas), sophomore Marlee Blaker (escorted by Nate Elarton) and junior Cheyenne Stone (escorted by Dominick Sell).
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    GETTING READY—Jerad Gleckler pounds nails to secure a string of holiday lights on the side of the Wakefield Park concession stand while other members of the Volunteer Club and others hold them in place. The volunteers showed up Sunday afternoon to string lights at the park. The decorating project will continue this Sunday. Denise Walsh is in charge of the effort this year.
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Don Glasgow and Jonah Stiriz repair reed organs 2008.04.02

Written by David Green.


It wasn’t so long ago that Don Glasgow thought he was finished with the repair of reed organs.

He moved from his home in Fayette to smaller quarters in Archbold and he no longer had the space to tinker with the old instruments.

Three things changed all of that: Don Stiriz; Don Stiriz’s grandson, Jonah; and a workshop in the basement of a house Don Stiriz owns.reed.don_and_jonah.jpg

Nine organs later, Don Glasgow is back in business, and now he has an able apprentice.

For Glasgow, reed organs have been an obsession for years. For Stiriz, the fascination arrived much later. He attended a reed organ festival in New England a few years ago and that was it.

“Don got the bug when he visited that festival,” Glasgow recalls.

Stiriz now owns a dozen of the once-popular organ that was used across the nation in churches and for social functions. They’re all antiques now and capable repair people are few and far between—except in Fulton County, Ohio.

There’s the veteran, Glasgow, and there’s Stiriz’s grandson, Jonah. If Don Stiriz is going to continue collecting organs, he needs someone nearby to get them back into good condition.

“About two years ago Jonah said he’d like to learn how to work on them,” Glasgow. “He’s picked up on it very well. He’s very good at learning new things.”

Together, they’ve worked on nine reed organs. There most recent venture was to get the Sauder Village organ back into shape.

Glasgow remembers asking about working on the instrument several years ago, but nothing ever came of the offer. More recently, Jonah worked at the village as a junior historian and he spoke to someone about the organ.

This time the decision was made to send it out for repairs and it disappeared into the Rorick house basement for a few months while Glasgow and Jonah met for one afternoon a week.

The Sauder Village organ was built by the Williams Organ Co. in Chicago around the turn of the century. It was owned by St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Pettisville before it went to the Jay Ziegler home, and then to village.

Repair needs were typical of most reed organs, Glasgow said. The wool inside the instrument had been eaten by moths,  the cloth backing had holes, and the leather straps were worn out.

“Several reeds were missing so replaced that and tuned it,” Glasgow said. “There are about 300 reeds in that instrument and a lot of them needed to be tuned. It sounds pretty good now.”

It’s the air passing through the reeds that creates the sound rather than the tall cylinders of a pipe organ.

Locating parts for a restoration can be challenging. Reeds aren’t made in the United States anymore, but restorers have good collections taken from old organs.

“Unless it’s a very unusual reed, you can usually find a replacement in someone’s collection,” Glasgow said.

It’s the leather that turns out to be the most expensive part of restoration. It has to be imported and it can be difficult to find.

It’s not just any leather that fills the need. Some leather needs to stretch; in some uses, a leather that won’t stretch is required. Leather from a horse, cow, goat, hairless sheep, wool sheep and calf each have different characteristics.

It doesn’t end there. Skin can be tanned by the chroma method or with alum or with vegetable. Again, each process produces a different texture and feel.

In addition, some leathers have to be run through a machine to vary the thickness.

Some of the simpler instruments don’t require leather from six different animals, but still, Glasgow said, there are a lot of considerations to run through when it comes to proper restoration.

“Some people try to restore reed organs that don’t really understand the process,” he said. “Some amateur jobs aren’t satisfactory.”

Then he laughs remembering some of early attempts that were lacking in quality.

Jonah, 16, might be able to avoid those pitfalls by working closely with a veteran. He remembers how it started.

“About three years ago Grandpa asked me if I ever thought about working on reed organs,” he said. “He said that Don was looking for someone to teach. I tried it and I liked it.”

That was nine organs ago.

Jonah enjoys working with Glasgow both for his knowledge and for his company.

“It’s nice to have someone else to work with when you get discouraged,” he said about the chore that often proves challenging.

Currently, the pair is working on a player piano—another item from Grandpa Stiriz’s collections.

Jonah knows reed organ repair is only a hobby—there’s no career in attending to the diminishing number of instruments.

However, the number is growing in the Fayette/Wauseon area. Stiriz now owns 12 and Jonah has four of his own.

As long as they continue buying them, there’s going to be work to do.

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