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.

Savannah is a hit at Serenity Haven 2009.10.07

Written by David Green.

A special guest at Serenity Haven has proven to be a popular visitor. In fact, says staff member Nick Garver, the response was a unamimous “paws up.”

Recovery Services of Northwest Ohio—the agency that oversees the women’s residential addiction treatment program at Serenity Haven west of Fayette—recently began utilizing a new therapeutic tool called animal-assisted therapy (AAL).

“Animal-assisted therapy is becoming a much more commonly and widely used component of treatment not only for addiction and mental health but for an array of illnesses,” Garver said.

AAT has been found to improve social, emotional, physical and cognitive abilities in patients in a variety of settings.

“There has been evidence that AAT can prompt a marked lowering of blood pressure, decrease depression, improve interaction between peers and with staff, improve self-esteem, aid in short- or long-term memory, decrease anxiety and lower risk for heart attack or stroke,” Garver said.

Garver has a good a connection to AAT services—his mother, Barb, is a certified handler.

Over the summer, Serenity Haven was visited by Barb and her buff-colored American cocker spaniel Savannah, a certified therapy dog.

All of the residents at Serenity Haven had an opportunity to visit with Savannah—to pet her, hold her if they desired, “talk” with her and generally interact with the four-footed guest.

“The ladies spent about an hour visiting, and the response was a unanimous ‘paws up!’” Garver said.

Garver, a community support specialist with Recovery Services, said  the benefits from the visit went beyond the general enjoyment of spending time with a pet.

“Some women reported noticing a definite change in their mood during and immediately following the visit,” he said. “The voiced responses of the women in attendance were significant, but the observed responses were far more profound.

“Individuals known to be more stern and less expressive were on the floor talking, interacting and laughing. Individuals who are known to be more withdrawn were more assertive and seemed to be drawn out in order to be a part of the event.”

In addition to spending time with Savannah, the women had an opportunity to speak with Barb about how she and Savannah became certified and to ask about other facilities they’ve visited.

The duo’s certification was obtained through Therapy Dogs International, a volunteer organization that educates, tests and registers dogs (and their human counterparts) to visit hospitals, long-term care facilities and other like environments.

Savannah was required to meet several criteria to earn her certification including passing the AKC Canine Good Citizen test and showing appropriate behavior around individuals with special needs and who utilize special equipment such as an IV pole or a wheelchair.

“I knew almost from the time we got her that Savannah could be a good therapy dog,” Barb said. “She has a gentle, sweet disposition and just loves everyone.”

She said Savannah completed all the requirements for certification very successfully and and the animal seems to take her responsibility seriously.

“It’s like she knows she has an important job to do when we get to a visit,” Barb said. “She is loving and sweet like always, but she gets very focused and appears to know that the people we’re seeing need to be treated with care.”

Barb and Savannah have visited a few other facilities in addition to Serenity Haven and the response has been very encouraging. The two are becoming a familiar site at several nursing homes and care facilities.

“We’re hoping to set up another visit this month at Serenity Haven,” Garver said.

Residents will have to patiently await their canine friend’s next appearance because Barb and Savannah travel on a volunteer basis, and Barb has a “regular” job, as well.

Word continues to spread about their availability and Savannah’s social calendar is filling up.

This is a pooch that really gets around.

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