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).
  • 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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Following the monarch butterflies 2008.09.10

Written by David Green.



Tagging monarch butterflies began more than 70 years ago, said Pat Hayes of the Kelley’s Island Audubon Club, but it wasn’t until the 1970s that researchers began to solve the mystery.

Eventually it became known that the monarch is the champion of the insect world when it comes to winter migration. The popular orange and black butterfly can travel more than 2,000 miles on its way to fir forests northwest of Mexico City.mon.pat.hayes.jpg

Tagging efforts have ebbed and flowed over the decades, Hayes said, and it’s currently at a strong point. Across southern Canada and throughout the United States, monarchs are caught, tagged and released with the hope that reports will be filed about their progress to Mexico.

“Prior to 1975, we had no idea where they went,” Hayes told an audience Sunday afternoon.

Hayes led a tagging project at land owned by Ed and Carol Nofziger northwest of Pettisville.

Tagging studies help researchers continue to learn about the paths taken to Mexico, the time needed to make the trip, mortality factors, population estimates, etc.

In Mexico, monarchs by the millions cluster for warmth as they pass the winter in the Sierra Madre mountains. When the temperature warms in the spring, the butterflies mate and fly back to the north.

Scientists also migrate south in search of tagged monarchs, but now much of the work is done by Mexican residents who learned they could make money helping out.mon.cage.jpg

“Peasants go looking for the monarchs and sell them for $5 each, beating out the scientists,” Hayes said.

The going rate is now $25 in some areas.


Many residents of the area continue to engage in logging of the oyamel fir tree  and acreage is shrinking dramatically.

Protected forests are watched over by armed guards, Hayes said, but they often look away when a family member comes calling with a chain saw.

It’s more than diminishing winter territory that’s threatening monarch populations.

According to organization Monarch Watch, habitat for milkweeds—the only plant used by the monarch to lay eggs—and for nectar-producing plants to nourish butterflies is disappearing at a rate of about 6,000 acres a day.

The use of genetically-modified corn and soybeans is greatly reducing milkweed populations through repeated application of glysphosate herbicides.

Frequent mowing of roadsides, along with herbicide use, also reduces the presence of milkweed.

Monarch Watch encourages “waystations” to support the butterfly population.

“They need milkweed to survive,” said Hayes, a 28-year veteran of tagging efforts. “What we’d like to see is a ribbon of fields along the way to Mexico.”

Monarchs also suffer from natural predation—attacks by birds—but birds soon learn their mistake. A poison from milkweed is taken into the developing monarch’s body when it’s in the chrysalis stage and causes the hungry bird to gag. Monarch eggs are often attacked by a parasite that causes the chrysalis to die.mon.tag.jpg

Populations tend to vary from year to year due to weather conditions and 2008 is a year of decline. Hayes collected 500 monarchs a year ago from a large shrub in his yard. This year he counted only 25. The decline has been observed in many locations around the country, he said.

If the reason is due to weather, the monarch will recover in another year. If other factors are at work, then the future of the species could be threatened.

Whatever the reason, Hayes and other like-minded friends of the monarch will do their best to ensure the butterfly has a future.


Learn more and follow tagged monarchs at Monarch Watch

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