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.
  • 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).
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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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Morenci grad on top development team 2009.11.25

Written by David Green.


If the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans finally gets a grocery store, there will be a Morenci connection to the neighborhood’s success.nola_project.jpg

2004 Morenci graduate Rosanna Green-Ballinger was part of a team competing in this year’s JP Morgan Chase Community Development Competition. The team beat competitors from colleges around the country to win first place with its project, “Bringing Fresh Food to the Lower Ninth Ward.”

The annual competition calls for students to work with nonprofit organizations to develop a real estate project that is feasible, sustainable and helps to build and strengthen the local community.

Ballinger, a University of New Orleans graduate student studying urban and regional planning, worked with three other members from her school who joined forces with students from Louisiana State University and DePaul University in Chicago. Students from each school focussed on a different portion of the project.

DePaul provided the financial data, LSU came through with the architectural renderings, and Ballinger’s team focussed on the community development aspect, along with the market analysis.

Second place was won by a team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Washington University in St. Louis. Third place went to a team from The New School in New York City.

Other finalists included a Massachusetts Institute of Technology/Tulane University team and a University of California, Davis/ University of Oregon team.

The first-place finish brings a prize of $25,000 to the winner’s non-profit partner, the Lower Ninth Ward Center for Sustainable Engagement and Development (CSED).

The winning plan calls for the redevelopment of commercial space where businesses failed to reopen following Hurricane Katrina.

The 15-year-old competition moved to New Orleans last year after 13 years in New York City. About half of the proposals to place first, second or third in the competition have become a reality. Lizette Terral, president of the New Orleans region for Chase, said she expects this project to fall in the category of successful ventures.

“I think it’s not just the viability of this project,” Terral said. “It’s the presentation, the research, the analysis that will make it successful.”

The competition brought closure to a lengthy effort.

“We started working on the project in the spring semester and all summer we worked on the research and market analysis,” Ballinger said.

Eventually her team thought less about the competition and more about doing whatever possible to make the project happen.

Lower Ninth residents—many without vehicles—have to travel several miles to reach a grocery with fresh foods, a fact that impedes efforts to rebuild the flood-ravaged area and also adversely affects the health of residents.

Time spent on the project grew as the filing deadline neared.

“We finally met the DePaul team on the Sunday before the competition,” Ballinger said. “They flew in that morning and we spent from noon until 10 p.m. working on the presentation.”

Additional fine-tuning came the next day and on the following—right up until the team stood before the panel of judges.

“When our professors sent the e-mail out asking if students were interested in working on a fresh food market project, I looked into it because I knew how badly the Lower Ninth Ward residents wanted a grocery store,” Ballinger said.

“I set up a lot of the community meetings and made connections with key people in the community,” she said about her role in the project. “I also did research on the health section of the project and the community background, and incorporated some of the hazard mitigation techniques to make sure the store is resilient to storm and flood waters.”

Several local agencies and officials have pledged support for the project and funding sources are coming to light. Ballinger thinks there’s a good chance the store will be built. She expects the publicity from the competition will bring additional funding.

For those living in the Lower Ninth Ward, the Chase competition offers some hope for the future.

“There’s a need. There’s a desire. It’s so hard to go elsewhere,” said Pam Dashiell of the Center for Sustainable Engagement and Development. “But most importantly, if there’s a store back here, it gives us something to attract people. If there’s a store and a school, that helps to rebuild the community.”

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