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.

Auction brings in $34,000 for Skelton Brothers Reward Fund 2011.03.23

Written by David Green.

skelton.auctionBy DAVID GREEN

Tanya Skelton loved the quilt that Connie Stover made for the Skelton Brothers Reward Fund auction. It featured pictures of Tanya’s three missing sons, along with some scripture.

Little did she know, that quilt would soon be hers.

“The committee was trying to figure out how to get it to her,” said Jan Mohr, chair of the reward fund committee. “We talked to the auctioneers about it. Tanya was unaware that any of this was happening.”

About an hour into the evening, auctioneer Shane Sumner introduced the quilt to the audience of several hundred people by saying that it was up for auction, but that it was going to go to Tanya when the bidding came to a close.

“The electricity in the room was amazing,” Mohr said. “The bids started flying.”

It came to an end with Jeff Chittenden offering the final bid of $1,000, and applause broke out in the bleachers. Tanya wasn’t the only one crying at that point—the highlight of the night.

After the final sale of the night was recorded, the reward fund had swollen by more than $34,000.

“It was phenomenal,” Mohr said. “People are so generous.”

The quilt sale was one of two things that touched Mohr the most. The other also involved a quilt.

Maggie Yates of Oakshade made a hand-stitched quilt that took two years to create and earned second place at the large show at Sauder Village.

”She was looking for a really good cause to donate it to,” Mohr said, and she chose the Skelton fund-raiser. It brought in $900, just before the Stover quilt was sold.

“I was very touched and humbled,” Mohr said.

Buyers came from a large area, as determined by Morenci mayor Keith Pennington in his introductory remarks. It was Pennington who organized the reward fund in December, a few weeks after the Skelton boys disappeared.

The mayor reminded the crowd that the fund was established to pay for tips that would lead to the return of the boys and the successful prosecution of those responsible. A large reward could be paid or several smaller ones. The committee would make those decisions.

He got the crowd ready for action by asking them to make some noise if they were from Fulton County, then Hillsdale, Williams and Lenawee. He determined the person traveling the furthest came from Florida.

Pennington welcomed Tanya’s extended family and told the crowd he expected them to have a good time.

“I know you, as the audience, want to give the family permission to have a good time as well,” he said, and the response was enthusiastic.

Finally, he reminded the audience they were about to participate in a charity auction and they should bid without thinking about whether they could buy an item $5 cheaper at Wal-Mart.

“I think overall people had that mindset and many items went far higher than retail value,” Pennington said later. “I spoke with several people who said they came intending to spend a certain amount of money regardless of what they went home with.”

And then the bidding got underway.

Mohr noted that Tanya’s mother, Bev Zuvers, bought a certificate allowing her to speed around the track at Michigan International Speedway.

“When Shirley Vanderpool saw that, she bought the other one,” Mohr said, thinking about the women having fun on the track.

“We had such a diverse set of items,” she said, “and every donated item had a story behind it, it meant something to the giver.”

In addition to the generosity of the buyers, Mohr praised the many volunteers who worked together to make it a success.

School facilities engineer Tim Kruse was phenomenal, she said, and Dean Frisbie of Pioneer was very instrumental in collecting donations and making arrangements with the auctioneers.

“There were many hands working together,” she said. “It was just refreshing.”

Proceeds from the auction topped $34,000, but other donations were also placed in the fund.

“Once we decided to have the auction,” Mohr said, “people would just hand us cash.”

A large amount of money came in before the auction night arrived.

Pennington said the reward fund now has $44,196 in the bank. An additional $10,000 was pledged for the return and recovery of the boys and $5,000 was pledged for information leading to the discovery of the children’s whereabouts.

Any funds remaining after the case is closed will be used in three ways: playground equipment for Morenci Elementary School and for Wakefield Park, and for the Morenci Education Foundation.

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