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.
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    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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Phyllis Riviere: Riviera Trailer Court

Written by David Green.


Don’t you dare use the phrase “trailer trash” around Phyllis Riviere. In the 25 years she and her husband, Oscar, owned and operated the Fayette Riviera Trailer Court, she met a lot of really nice people.

Sure, there were a few challenging renters over the years—some strange characters and few misbehaving ones—but all in all, Phyllis got to know dozens of good people.trailer-park2

She and Oscar sold the court to Louis and Tommy Clemenson in 1991—two years before Oscar died—and it’s now the 40th anniversary of the facility.

The Rivieres moved into the house just to the south of the court in 1946. The next year they rented the surrounding farm, as well, and then one year later they bought both the house and land.

The property included what Phyllis remembers as an old, decrepit orchard with a little bit of everything. Four varieties of apples, a couple varieties of peaches, cherries, plums, even several grape arbors. Only a tree or two remain.

Eventually Oscar’s parents decided to build a home to the north. Blueprints were ordered from Ohio Farmer magazine for a dollar.

The Rivieres’ oldest daughter wanted to purchase a lot between the two houses, and when she married, she and her husband moved a mobile home onto the property.

“That’s where I got the idea,” Phyllis said.

Her husband was hesitant about the plan to open a mobile home court, but Phyllis moved forward. She spoke with the owners of courts in Delta and Wauseon and came up with some figures to present to banker Ed Davenport. He approved the loan.

Curtis Keefer handled the construction, putting in a road and sidewalks, and making concrete runners to support the  wheels for 14 mobile homes.

The first contract was signed by Miss Mildred Crook on Aug. 19, 1966, and Riviera Mobile Court was a reality.

The Rivieres later moved into Oscar’s parents’ house and that’s where Phyllis still lives.

“We had some good times,” Phyllis said. “I remember the Halloween parties where we would go around collecting wood for a bonfire. We’d have hot dogs, cider and hot chocolate.

“I remember the first death here and the first birth,” she said.

She and Oscar got to know a lot of the tenants quite well, from the eccentric woman who talked about the danger of “tired electricity” to the two trouble-maker boys that were handled with some tough talk by Phyllis.

“You go on and tell your dad you have to move out of here,” I told them. “You can’t stay off other people’s property. Now go on!”

They family stayed, but Phyllis never had a problem with them after that.

At one time there were 11 children for the school bus to pick up; other years there were none.

To her recollection, only one trailer was ever blown over in a windstorm—the owners had failed to fasten it down—and only one fire, from an exploding fuse box after too many appliances were operated at once.

“There was quite a buzz around town when word got around that we broke ground,” Phyllis said, “but there were times when we wondered if we were doing the right thing.”

When times were tough, Oscar would tell her, “It’s your fault. It was your idea.”

And in better times, when someone talked about the court, he would go on about how it was vacant land just sitting there waiting for a good use.

Phyllis’s idea was to create the trailer court as a source of retirement income. The idea worked well, she said.

“We had a lot of different people, and we had a lot of nice people. It was quite an experience.”

Besides that notion of “trailer trash” that annoys Phyllis, there’s one other stereotype of mobile home dwellers that doesn’t sit well with her: the idea that they’re itinerant families always on the move.

At the Riviera court, one couple who signed a lease in 1966 still lives there today.

– September 20, 2006 

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