The Weekly Newspaper serving the citizens of Morenci, Mich., Fayette, Ohio, and surrounding areas.

  • 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.

Carpenters were saved by chocolate 2011.03.09

Written by David Green.

carpenter.1By DAVID GREEN

Chocolate saved their lives.

Wayne and Cecelia Carpenter really see it that way.

If they hadn’t delayed their drive north to visit a Cadbury chocolate factory in Dunedin, New Zealand, they likely would have been in downtown Christchurch when the Feb. 22 earthquake struck.

There’s even a good possibility they would have been at the large cathedral that was badly damaged in the quake.

“We were just late getting there,” Cecelia said.

“And we wanted to get to the cathedral at noon to eat,” Wayne added.

There was a café across the street they enjoyed on their way south and they really wanted one more meal there before flying home to Michigan.

But on their drive north from Dunedin to Christchurch, the 6.3 tremor shook the region, resulting in the loss of at least 165 lives, with more than 200 people missing. Buildings throughout downtown Christchurch were damaged or destroyed.

“The parking garage that we were going to use collapsed,” Cecelia said.

“And then part of the cathedral,” said Wayne. “We would have been right there.”

carpenter.3Oddly, they never felt the quake in the car. Instead they heard about the tragedy on the radio and they soon learned there vacation was taking an unexpected turn.

Within a few minutes, Cecelia said, it was known that lodging reservations throughout the region were canceled, including their hotel room. All available rooms would be used for those who were forced to leave the city of more than 375,000 people.

The Carpenters tried to find a room at four locations and they finally succeeded. The owner of the fourth hotel knew of a ski lodge that was closed for the season. He made a phone call and the travelers had lodging.

“Within 30 minutes they were booked full,” Wayne said.

The lodge owner was extremely helpful. He cautioned the Carpenters to buy gas for the rental car at their first opportunity and also to buy some food for their lunch.

“You won’t get it elsewhere,” he said.

“We should have saved some of our lunch for dinner,” Wayne said, because when they arrived at their hotel at the airport, there was nothing to be found. Even the vending machines had already been emptied.

“When we walked into the hotel lobby, it looked like a refugee camp,” Cecelia said. “People were sleeping everywhere. I felt a little guilty that I had a room.”

They experienced several strong aftershocks—one measured 4.0 and caused an evacuation of the hotel.

“There was a big effort to get all the visitors off the island,” Wayne said.

carpenter.4The Carpenters were very impressed with the follow-up response to the earthquake, and also with mayor Bob Parker’s calming influence.

“This is a time to get to know your neighbors,” Cecelia remembers him saying. “Check on them. Invite them over for dinner.”

He was very reassuring, she said. He urged college and high school students to form a student arm get a shovel and wheelbarrow and help remove sand boils from soil liquefaction in safe places around the city. Tractors were driven in from area farms to help with cleanup.

“We learned from the New Zealand people how a society can function in a disaster,” Cecelia said. “People accepted help, but they had an attitude that we can take care of ourselves.”

The U.S. Embassy set up booths to help travelers whose passports were left behind in damaged buildings they could no longer enter.

At the airport, the Salvation Army was there asking if people needed money, food certificates or other assistance.

Free health care was to be offered for three weeks and $50 flights were offered to anywhere in New Zealand in an effort to get people out of Christchurch.

carpenters.glacierThe Carpenters took their flight out of the city on time, impressed with Air New Zealand’s check-in procedure. They were told that arriving 30 minutes early would give them plenty of time.

“Within nine minutes, we printed our boarding passes and luggage tags, went through security and were waiting for our plane,” he said.

“They didn’t even look at our IDs,” Cecelia added.

They flew to the north island where they still had a few days of their vacation remaining before flying home with some stories to tell—and a new appreciation for Cadbury chocolate.

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