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.

Steve Lehto speaks about the Turbine Car 2011.06.15

Written by David Green.

steve.lehtoTwo-hundred and three families drove Chrysler Turbine Cars more than a million miles over two years in the 1960s, and from the reports received, they loved them.

One-fifth the moving parts of a conventional piston motor, smoother running, less maintenance, and for fuel? Any liquid that burned.

The car was a real hit, author Steve Lehto told an audience last week at Stair Public Library, and then it disappeared.

Lehto’s visit was part of an author tour through the Michigan Notable Book program. His book, “Chrysler’s Turbine Car: the rise and fall of Detroit’s coolest creation,” is one of 20 books chosen for 2011 by the Library of Michigan.

Chrysler’s turbine powered vehicle program was in existence for 25 years, Lehto said, (1953 to 1978) but it’s the bronze-colored models from the early 1960s that people remember. Those are the cars that made their way to the man on the street as part of large public relations campaign.

Chrysler’s George Huebner was behind the effort.

“His goal was to build a turbine car that could be mass produced,” Lehto said. “Huebner learned early that everybody loved to see a ‘jet car.’ There was lots of anticipation about the car of the future.”

After the fourth generation engine was developed, Chrysler decided it was dependable enough for the public to us. Huebner decided to have a fleet of 55 vehicles built, Lehto said, and he wanted the design to look worthy of something that possessed a jet engine.

That was handled by an Italian designer who loved the look of cooling fins, and that was fine with Huebner who wanted the cars to look space age. The car bodies were hand-built in Italy and brought to Detroit where the engine, transmission and axles were installed.

There was enormous publicity for the loan program and it came at very little cost to Chrysler. Journalists took care of it, eager to report on the new concept. 

Many of those chosen to borrow a Turbine Car eventually tired of it before their three-month trial period ended. They didn’t tire of the car, itself, but of all the friends and relatives pestering them for a drive.

 A combination of factors killed off the turbine project—government regulations, low gasoline prices, Chrysler’s financial troubles. The company realized that mass production wouldn’t occur without some sort of major breakthrough the project was scaled back.

An alternative-fueled turbine engine might lead to a different outcome today, Lehto said, but manufacturers are hesitant to move in that direction without the [surety] of sales.

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