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.

Mary Margaret Hollstein visits Japan 2010.07.14

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

torii_gate.jpgMary Margaret Hollstein’s trip to Japan was a long time coming, but it was worth the wait. And even though she discovered that she’s not a fan of flying, she certainly would be willing to go through it all again for another visit.

Mary Margaret signed up for the Lenawee ISD Japanese exchange program back in 2008. Her “sister” from Moriyama, Japan, visited in October 2008 and a group of Lenawee County students were to fly over for a visit the following spring.

Then came the swine flu scare and the trip was postponed. Finally, this spring, the students from the 2009 exchange joined those from this year’s program and they flew together to Japan.

For Mary Margaret, this trip became a lot about food—both the good and the bad. Overall, she said, she probably didn’t eat all that well.

But consider her dilemma one day at a 7-Eleven store: “You had a choice of dried octopus legs or ice cream.”

She took the ice cream.

The students were encouraged to try everything and Mary Margaret did follow that command in Toledo when the group made a visit to the Koto Buki restaurant before embarking for Japan.

“I tried everything,” she said, but the tiny fish eggs were too much.

She didn’t want to swallow, she didn’t want to spit them out. They just hung out in her mouth for a long time.bento_lunch_copy.jpg

She wasn’t in Japan for more than a day when fish eggs were back to torment her.

“The first night my host family took me to an amazing restaurant,” she said.

There was a conveyor belt of sushi items that slowly made its way past diners.

“They tried to feed me fish eggs but I wouldn’t eat them,” she said.

There was an unknown white fish, however, that really hit the spot.

From Moriyama, the students spent two days in Hiroshima, taking in a sobering visit to the Peace Memorial Museum—commemorating the result of the atomic bomb dropped on the city in World War II—and the memorial to Sadako Sasaki of the 1,000 paper cranes story.

They took a ferry boat to the island of Miyajima in the Inland Sea to view the famous torii (gate) to the Itsukushima Shrine, and they got a good view of cherry blossoms. That’s a sight that eluded previous LISD exchange visitors, but the timing was perfect for this group.

“They were everywhere on the island,” Mary Margaret said. “We were the first exchange group ever to see them.”

After a trip to Kyoto, the students gave the obligatory program for the host families. This year’s group showed how to square dance and they told the story of Paul Bunyan through pictures and by reading Japanese text.

The group took part in the salty sushi routine where everyone chewed a piece of sushi and crowd members had to guess which student ended up with the highly salted one.

Mary Margaret’s “sister,” Mai Hirakawa, lives in a modern style house, similar to what you might find in the U.S., but much smaller. Mai’s grandmother lives in a much more traditional home and it’s there that Mary Margaret tasted “the most delicious chicken I’ve ever eaten.”

Among her miscellaneous discoveries are these:

Keira Knightly’s voice-over in the Japanese “Pirates of the Caribbean” is very high-pitched and annoying. A half-hour wait in line for a crêpe was well worth the time—even better than an earlier crêpe purchase.

Enormous malls sometimes rise up to 14 stories rather than sprawl wide like a typical American mall. The heavily used trains include “silence cars” to enable business people to concentrate on their work.

“Vending machines are everywhere,” Mary Margaret said, “and you can get anything you want.”

The stretching routine in physical education class at school includes Leap Frog. She joined in with the Clarinet Club for the required after-school activity. She learned that Japanese ice cream is even better than what she gets at home, and the honey milk flavor from a Hiroshima 7-Eleven was the best of all.

“I think when [trip coordinator] Nina Howard said to try all the food, she didn’t mean ice cream.”

On her last day in Japan, the host family took Mary Margaret to a Korean restaurant where eaters cook their own meal in the center of the table. She consumed a lot of one item, although it was the sauce that she really liked.

“Later we were talking about weird foods eaten in the U.S. and I mentioned cow tongue,” she said.

That got a good laugh. That’s just what Mary Margaret had been downing with the delicious sauce.

The Japanese culture is something Mary Margaret really grew to appreciate.

“Everything is very modern, but they manage to balance it out,” she said. “The traditional is still there.”

She said that before the trip, she had some concerns that her journey might become the kind of school trip that was marked by educational experiences but not a lot of fun. That view couldn’t have been further from the truth.

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