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

  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.carry.casket
    CARRYING—Riley Terry (blue jacket) and Mason Vaughn lead the way, carrying an empty casket outside to the hearse waiting at the curb. Morenci juniors and seniors visited Eagle Funeral Home last week to learn about the role of a funeral director and to understand the process of arranging for a funeral.
  • Front.lift
    MORENCI student Dalton McCowan puts everything into a dead lift attempt Saturday morning during the Wyseguy Push/Pull event. Lifters helped raise more than $1,600 for the family of the late Devin Wyse, a former Morenci power-lifter who graduated last year. Commemorative T-shirts are still available by contacting teacher Dan Hoffman.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.F.office
    NEW OFFICES—Fayette village administrator Steve Blue speaks with tax administrator Genna Biddix at the new front desk of the village office. Village council members voted to use budgeted renovation funds targeted for the old office and instead buy the vacant bank building on the corner of Main and Fayette streets. The old office was sold to Sherwood State Bank. When everything is put into place in the spacious new village office, an open house will be scheduled. Council member David Wheeler donated all of his time needed to make changes in the bank interior to fit the Village’s needs.

Thom Green: In Gandhi's Footsteps

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

As eighth grade geography teacher Thom Green works his way through the school year in White Bear Lake, Minn., he always looks forward to his favorite unit: Mahatma Gandhi and the Indian independence movement.

tom-green Next month, the former Morenci resident will gain some firsthand experience that should change his teaching forever. He and his wife, Ginny, will embark for India to retrace Gandhi’s famous 1930 Salt March to the sea.

“Students seem to enjoy learning about Gandhi and I like to teach about him,” Thom said. “Shortly after finishing the unit this year, I received information about the Fund for Teachers grant. It seemed like a perfect fit.”

Ginny says it was a long shot chance to win a grant for a teacher’s summer dream proposal, but the St. Paul-based foundation latched onto the plan and offered $3,500 for a two-week study trip. An educational foundation in White Bear Lake added another $950 to cover the cost of an additional four days in Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay) so Thom could interview a great-grandson of Gandhi, visit a Gandhi museum and research center, and tour several holy sites.

Monsoons

The plan to retrace portions of Gandhi’s 240-mile Salt March—a protest against the British salt tax that proved to be a key incident in India’s move toward independence—could be in jeopardy due to weather conditions.

In a letter from Tushar Gandhi, the great-grandson, Thom was cautioned about what he will encounter.

“I don’t think it’s advisable for you to come in August,” Gandhi wrote. “At the moment the entire area throughout the route of the Salt March is reeling under unprecedented floods. Parts of the region have been cut off from the rest of the country. Trains are now just beginning to ply. There is massive damage.”

And this was still in July, the very beginning of the wet monsoon season. Historically, Gandhi said, August is the period of the most intense storms.

If the trip can’t be postponed, Gandhi said, he’s willing to help in whatever way possible, such as in securing a guide to accompany the visitors.

“We may not be able to do any walking at all,” Thom said. “We would spend time in Ahmedabad [the home of Gandhi’s original ashram] and Mumbai, and drive out into the countryside where there are no floods.”

The monsoons are just one challenge, Thom said. There’s also the possibility of illness from local parasites, language difficulties and dealing with the poverty he’ll experience.

Teaching potential

Thom looks at the adventure as a means of strengthening his classroom work. Walking the countryside of India will offer an understanding of the culture unlike any other mode of travel. He expects to interact with shopkeepers, farmers and children along the way to acquire a firsthand understanding of Indian life.

“As a social studies teacher, this opportunity will fuel my desire for bridging the difference between cultures,” he said. “This should lead my students to steps of understanding those different from themselves.”

Thom intends to videotape interviews with Gandhi specialists and relatives, and most importantly, with everyday people. He has already contacted several schools along the route hoping to establish cultural exchanges.

Thom would also like to instigate service projects with his students to collect materials for poorly-supplied Indian schools. He noted Gandhi’s well-known statement that poverty is the worst form of violence.

Finally, the trip will serve as somewhat of a pilgrimage for Thom, himself.

“Walking on the same ground walked by Mahatma Gandhi will bring me closer to a man from whose life I continually receive inspiration,” Thom said. “The more I read about Mahatma Gandhi, the more questions I have about his life and his movement of non-violent resistance.”

Thom serves as a role-model to his students and there are times when he turns to Gandhi as a model of tolerance.

“At times when I find myself losing control,” he said, “thinking of how Gandhi remained calm and steadfast gives me strength.”

He tries to model Gandhi’s commitment to non-violence and peace right in his own classroom.

“You must be the change you want to see in the world,” Gandhi said.

Thom has made the decision to act.

  - July 27, 2005

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