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.
  • Front.sculpt
    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.
  • Front.homecoming Court
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  • Front.ropes
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  • Front.walk Across

Insulated sidewalk = less shoveling? 2010.11.24

Written by David Green.

sidewalk.1.jpgBy DAVID GREEN

Let it snow.

You might get Bronson and Nichole DiCenso to say that this winter, because they hope to be doing a lot less of something that the rest of us will face.

With their new sidewalk on East Street North, they expect much less snow shoveling  this winter.

The new walk comes courtesy of Vance Jacobs of Jacobs Plastics and Frontier Insulation. Jacobs has overseen the installation of insulated driveways since the mid-1990s, but he’s never tried an insulated sidewalk before.

Most insulated driveways include piping for warm water to flow through, Jacobs said, but the sidewalk has nothing but a layer of three-eighths inch insulation below the concrete. Sunshine will warm the concrete and hasten melting.

Jacobs said he arranged for the free installation so the walk can serve as a display for his product—providing it works as he expects.

The DiCenso property is just half a block from Frontier Insulation (the former Roth Fabricating site) and Jacobs expects to be glancing down East Street this winter to see how the insulated walk fares.

The insulating material is similar to the Styrofoam used for drinking cups, Jacobs said. When he began manufacturing the insulation panels, he used new foam. His operation now could be seen as a recycling process that converts scrap material into a new product.

A semi-truck load a day arrives at Jacobs Plastics in Adrian, loaded with scrap foam from other manufacturing processes in the Grand Rapids area.

Jacobs feeds the scrap into a unit that  fuses it into long sheets measuring four-foot wide in three thicknesses—three-eighths inch, three-fourths inch and inch and a half.

The thinnest insulation is adequate for sidewalks; thicker strips are generally used in applications such as floors that use radiant heat.

The foam is wrapped in a thin film and that’s all it takes to strengthen the insulation enough for workers to walk on it before concrete is poured.

With the foam underneath, the concrete must dry upward through the top, but this process creates concrete that’s found to be about 30 percent stronger.

The insulation also retards the break-up of concrete by preventing the moist soil underneath from expanding through freezing, Jacobs said.

Jacobs has 40 years of experience working with plastics. He says he retired once, but couldn’t stand not working so he’s happy to be busy again.

And busy he is. His brother runs the Adrian plant while Vance is in charge in Morenci. There’s also a facility in Indiana, and there are a couple of other projects that he’s investigating.

The Roth building was just what he was looking for two years ago when he wanted a place to produce laminated Styrofoam SIP panels—structural insulated panels.

They’re generally used in new house construction for insulating walls. Most of his product ends up in Colorado.

The foam arrives in Morenci in large blocks where it’s cut by hot wire into the needed sizes.

Frontier Insulating also produces a foam sheet that’s laminated on only one side for use in cathedral ceilings where there’s no attic space.

The board is covered with OSB (oriented strand board) on one side and the other side goes up against the shingles. Jacobs has received reports of excellent energy savings from the insulation.

Forty years working with plastics makes Jacobs a sought-after person when special requests come up.

“Architects know if they want to do something special, they call me,” he said.

He hopes to receive a call from the DiCenso family this winter telling him their snow shovel isn’t getting much use.

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