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

  • Snow.2
    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.
  • Front.tar.wide
    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.
  • Front.ropes
    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).
  • Front.park.lights
    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 and Jane Stiriz open Rorick Manor 2008.05.14

Written by David Green.


“Don’t you have that place done yet?”

That’s a question Don and Jane Stiriz hear at their pizza shop all too often.

“That place” is the old Rorick house on Fayette’s west side of town. Among the many grand old houses in town, that place might reign as the grandest of them all.

Don and Jane will admit the question is justified. They’ve owned the house for more years than they care to admit, and it’s always remained a work in progress.

That nagging is-it-done question weighs on the mind.

“It’s one of the reasons I wanted to have an open house,” Jane said over the weekrorick_ext.jpgend.

The Stirizes are about to call it done.

“Just a couple of chandeliers to hang,” Don said.

From 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, the old Rorick house—now known as the Rorick Mansion Bed & Breakfast—will open to the public for tours, and it will also open for business.

This is the third guest house in Fayette owned by the Stiriz family. There’s  the Red Brick Inn on Main Street, where Don and Jane live, and the Crittenden Manor on S. Gorham. And now, the new one, capable of accommodating 10 guests.

It’s the best constructed of all their homes, Jane said, and it’s also the youngest. They haven’t been able to come up with an exact construction date, but the late 1880s is likely.

Dr. Estelle Rorick practiced medicine in Fayette and had the Red Brick Inn built for his private residence. Later, Dr. Rorick ordered a new house built on the edge of town where he could develop a farm.

In the 1940s the home was converted to apartments and it recently sat vacant for several years, in danger of falling into great disrepair.

Don bought it for one reason: To save it.

“It’s amazing how much he’s bought just to save,” Jane said.

From furniture to reed organs to entire houses, the Stirizes have prevented a lot of local history from fading away in time.

The restoration job facing the Stirizes was monumental. Woodwork was scarred by dog teeth. Careless tenants damaged fixtures. Rats moved in when the people moved out. Water stood on the basement floor for years.

The basement was one of the first projects Don tackled after he took possession of the home. A tile and sump arrangement made all the difference.front.fireplace.jpg

“I’d say we’ve got about the driest basement around,” he said. “It’s about powder dry.”

Their grandson Jonah now uses the basement as a workshop for repairing reed organs.

“There were a lot of big challenges to the house,” Jane said, “just the size of it.…”

It’s a lot roomier than the other houses, Don said, but those big, high-ceilinged rooms are a real plus, Jane adds.

It’s a house loaded with details, such as the ornate woodwork, the four sets of pocket doors and five fireplaces—each surrounded by a unique tile design.

“There’s so much character in an old house,” Jane said.

The Stirizes are sometimes asked why people would come to Fayette to stay in a bed and breakfast, but Jane has several answers: weddings, funerals, family reunions, class reunions, guests in need of a bedroom, the occasional traveler on U.S. 20, and a variety of day functions.

“I’m hoping to do some retreats and workshops,” she said. “I have a lot of ideas, but nothing written down.”

A bed and breakfast isn’t for everyone, Jane said, although many people seek them out rather than staying in a motel. Don installed a private bathroom for each bedroom to make a stay in the house more comfortable.

Getting to the “open for business” stage has spanned many years for Don and Jane. “Slow and steady” has served as a motto. They’ll tell people it’s done, but they both know better than that.

“The more you look around, the more you find to do,” Jane said. “With an old house, you’re never really done.”

• The Rorick Manor is located at 613 W. Main St. in Fayette. For additional information, call the Stirizes at 419/237-2276.

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