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.

Classmates, teachers coping with loss

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

The tears aren't flowing as often as last week at Morenci Elementary School, but that doesn't mean students have pushed aside thoughts of their lost classmates, Andrew, Alexander and Tanner Skelton.

Reminders are everywhere, from the constant barrage of television reports to the yellow ribbons lining street poles downtown.

And at the school, three classrooms have an empty chair.

“Things are better this week,” said dean of students Mary Fisher, “but grief comes in waves.”

Developmental kindergarten teacher Janet Rollins said it’s not uncommon for a child to suddenly start crying and say, “I miss Tanner.”

In Liz Jarrell's first grade class, she's working to maintain high spirits. During an art project Monday, holiday music was playing and students celebrated each other's achievements when each completed the work. Students wrote letters to their missing classmate, Alexander, remembering some of the activities they enjoy doing with him.

The response to the the Skelton boys’ plight varies from child to child, but also among the grade levels. The oldest brother, Andrew, is a student in Andi Rorick’s third grade class. At this age, students go beyond basic sadness and they start to think about more practical—and more frightening—concerns. Are the boys keeping warm? Are they getting food? Where are they sleeping?

Those questions are often too much for an eight-year-old to handle. Fortunately, Morenci’s teachers have had a lot of help in dealing with the crisis, not only for their students but also for themselves.

“We had school counselors in from Hudson, Clinton and Adrian,” Fisher said.

There were also personnel from the Lenawee County Crisis Response Team, as well as the school social worker. Three substitute teachers were also on hand.

“They provided classroom support so teachers could get a break and they went into the classrooms to work with kids. They also provided one-on-one support for staff members and kids.”

Counselors also rode school buses.

“They did a little of everything and they did a really nice job,” Fisher said. “They were trained to respond and they knew what to do.”

There were many staff meetings last week, Fisher said, starting on the previous Sunday, and sometimes there were as many as three a day.

“We talked about how things were going, about how they were doing. There were daily updates to discuss what was and wasn’t true. Our goal was to just try to keep things as normal as possible.”

Staff also planned for the next step—the possible scenarios if and when the boys were located.

Fisher is very appreciative of the leadership shown by superintendent Dr. Michael Osborne.

“He was the organizer and he was a great leader,” she said. “It was really nice to have him there.”

At this point most of the extra staff is out of the building, but they’re on call, Fisher said, and their response will be fast if needed.

Every day is still tough for teachers, especially in the classrooms where the boys belong. There’s a part of the wall in Mrs. Rorick’s room where students posted heart-shaped notes to Andrew listing things they’ve enjoyed doing with him. Every now and then, someone will walk over with a new message to hang.

She describes Andrew as having the biggest heart.

“He sees when people need help and he steps in,” she said. “We all miss him terribly. He is wise and mature beyond his years and...darn...I almost made it through the day without crying.”

Messages from classmates:

Alexander
I miss you Alex. You are handsome.
I hope you come back soon.
I hope you come home safe and I miss you.
Alex, you used to play jokes on me.
It was fun telling jokes together.
I hope you get found. You are a good friend.
When you come back I will give a big hug.
You are the best friend ever and I am sad that you are not here.



Andrew
Andrew is special. He is the nicest person in the whole universe! I hope he gets found. He is very special to me.

I want to know where he is. I don’t want him to be hurt. I am feeling sad about him.

I miss Andrew so much. We used to play war together.

I miss Andrew a lot. We played together a lot. We played ninjas. I hope they will find Andrew. y uncle is in the search team. They even sent helicopters all over Morenci.
 

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