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.
  • Front.pull
    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.
  • Front.homecoming Court
    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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Fayette park plan, 1941

Written by David Green.


fayparkplan.jpgThere was a time in the early 1940s when some big plans were made for Fayette’s park.

The drawing of the layout carries this title: “Expansion Program, Normal Parks & Recreation Centre, Fayette, Ohio, 1941.”

The origin of the plan is probably lost in history. Tom Spiess made a copy of the document owned by the late Vivien Ford, and he recalls her saying that it was drawn by a man from Michigan State or the University of Michigan.

Picnic tables were to be scattered throughout Normal Grove and a cooking oven was to be set up.

The east side of the Grove is marked as “wild shrubbery,” and older Fayette residents remember the entire area as a thick, unkempt woodlot filled with brambles.

The Grove wasn’t opened up to its present state until many years later. Woody Hibbard remembers school kids running into the woods during recess to gather beechnuts. The little nuts would be taken back to the classroom and chewed—at least until the teacher put an end to it.

The 1941 plan offered recreational opportunities for a broad segment of the community. Starting from the west side, the plan called for a pair of shuffleboard courts and horseshoe pits.

Next comes a handball court, then a larger area for tennis and S.K.A.T.I.N.G. (spelled with periods after each letter).

Five playing areas came next: roque, croquet, basketball, badminton and volleyball.

That first game might raise an eyebrow or two. What is roque?

The game is described as an American variant of croquet. Remove the “c” and the “t” from croquet and you’re left with roque.

Backyard croquet players push wickets or arches into the grass to create a course. Roque was played on a surface of hard sand or clay, with the arches set permanently in place. A wall surrounded the court so balls would carom back into play.

Roque has faded from the American landscape, but in 1904, the game replaced croquet in the Olympics.

The park plan shows a Legion Memorial with a flag pole east of the playing courts, near the present location of the swimming pool.

A drive was to encircle the old water pumping station and the area included a five-hole practice golf course. The distances between holes are listed at 70 yards, 58 yards, 64 yards, 85 yards and 48 yards.

The Russell Gardens are laid out near the pump house, but perhaps no one knows who Russell was?

Trees were to be planted along the top of the ridge south of the school parking lot. Ball fields and a running track were to be built in the low area east of Eagle Street.

The plan was a comprehensive one, but apparently few funds were ever directed toward construction. Eventually, a tennis court was built close to where the plan suggested, in conjunction with the local Grange, and the running track and new ball diamonds were constructed.

When Woody Hibbard was in high school, baseball was played in the southwest corner of the existing park, where the running track is now located. There wasn’t much hope of catching a foul ball down the first base line, he said, not with Spring Creek running along the edge of the field.

The land beyond the outfield was once a swampy area, but Kathy Fix reports that Joe Marks was hired in the late 1930s to haul in soil and level the ground.

That made it easier to chase long balls, like the one smacked by a kid from Archbold with the last name of Slaughter.

He was known as a super athlete, Woody says, and the day he sent the ball flying out toward the Grove, it looked like Slaughter had a sure home run.

Fayette outfielder Ivan Ford chased it down and whipped the ball toward home plate. The throw was a one-hopper that came right to Woody’s catcher’s mitt.

Slaughter, who had been taking his time rounding the bases, slid into Woody’s mitt and was called out.

He got up wondering where that ball came from.

Woody left town for a few years—World War II and a job in North Carolina—and when he moved back home, the park had changed. The Grove was cleaned out and kids were playing ball on a new diamond.

There was no place for badminton and roquet, and the little golf course was still only a design drawn on paper.

Fifty years later, the Grove features a shelter house, picnic tables and playground equipment. Three ball diamonds are in use, while the swimming pool, shuffleboard courts and tennis courts are not.

Maintenance and upgrades are scheduled at the park as funds permit, but the grandeur of the 1941 proposal isn’t likely to ever be seen.

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