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).
  • 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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John Skelton remains in jail 2010.12.22

Written by David Green.


No matter what the outcome of John Skelton’s criminal charges relating to parental kidnapping, the 39-year-old Morenci resident could face indefinite incarceration resulting from child custody issues.

Skelton and his estranged wife, Tanya, both appeared Thursday in Lenawee  County Circuit Court for a civil hearing regarding his failure to return the couple’s three children following a Thanksgiving visitation.

Tanya Skelton told Judge Margaret Noe that John picked the boys up from her parents’ house on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and he was to return them around 3 p.m. Friday, the day after the holiday. That never happened, she said.

“Has he indicated to you where the children are?” asked her attorney, David McFarland.

Tanya replied that she had phone and text message communication with her husband on Friday, Nov. 26, and he indicated that he gave the children to a woman named Joann Taylor, who was to deliver them to Tanya.

The two spoke by phone, she said, because he was in the Fulton County Health Center being treated for an injury which he said resulted from a failed suicide attempt.

“You heard Mrs. Skelton ask for the return of her children,” Judge Noe said to Skelton. “Do you intend to comply?”

“I don’t know where the kids are,” Skelton answered.

The judge asked if he was unwilling or unable to comply, and he said he was unable because he does not know their location.

When Skelton said that he gave his children to a person in a van at his home Thanksgiving night, Judge Noe asked if he knew the person.

“I know the organization but not the person,” he said.

“What’s the name of the organization?” the judged asked.

“I’d rather not say,” Skelton said.

The judge pointed out that Skelton’s failure to cooperate is an apparent contempt of court.

“Are you prepared to make the children immediately available to Mrs. Skelton?” asked the judge.

“I have no way of doing that,” he answered.

Judge Noe told Skelton that his failure to comply with the court’s order could result in incarceration until he does comply.

Judge Noe scheduled a civil contempt hearing for 8:15 a.m. Jan. 28. She appointed John Glaser to serve as Skelton’s attorney since he was already appointed to represent Skelton in the criminal charges of parental kidnapping.

Skelton was initially held in the Lucas County Jail, but he was brought to the Lenawee County Jail in Adrian following an extradition hearing. His bond is set at $30 million.

Morenci police chief Larry Weeks said he has heard of organizations that assist a spouse during custody disputes when the safety of the children is of concern. However, he’s not aware of organizations of the sort that Skelton is suggesting in which the children are kept in hiding without a spouse involved.

He doesn’t expect a criminal or underground organization, if it exists, to come forward with information.

Investigators have doubted Skelton’s testimony about giving the children away and it’s led to statements that a “positive outcome” in the case is not expected.

Skelton faces a preliminary hearing Dec. 28 in regard to the three charges of parental kidnapping.

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