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

  • Snow.2
    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.
  • 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.
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Leonard Morr: He loves Fayette parks

Written by David Green.


A cornfield. An overgrown woods with trails. A meandering creek.

Fayette’s park didn’t always look like it does today. Not at all.

Among all the people who have helped the park develop over the decades, Leonard Morr stands out as one of the chief boosters—a booster with a set of working hands.

Most of the development he was associated with came during his 25-year tenure as Fayette’s first village administrator, but it started much earlier. leonardo-morr

Leonard grew up on a farm northwest of town, near the intersection of US-127 and the railroad. When his father died, he and his siblings had the chance to take over the farm and run the place, but no one stepped forward. 

“We were young,” he remembers. “We wanted to live in the city. A couple of years after I was in town, I wished I was back in the country.”

Leonard’s involvement with the town park evolved long before that. He figures he was probably 15 years old when his father got him involved in cleaning out Normal Grove behind the school.

It was really overgrown and the kids had trails through the trees, he said. It became a great place to hide out—well out of the sight of teachers.

“The Grange took over the project and got the whole place cleared out.”

That was only the beginning.

Next, he helped his father build a pair of dugouts at the ball diamond at the school. They used some tough old barn wood that was a challenge to drill through.

Soon, the cheap labor was called on again.

“They decided they wanted to have a tennis court and we had to move a lot of dirt,” Leonard said.

There was high ground behind the water plant and it was leveled off by a man using a team of horses and a scraper. Leonard and two other boys had to transport the dirt by wheelbarrow.

“We were all summer doing it.”

The tennis court was later converted to a basketball court, just west of the newer court by the pool, and the old tennis markings are still visible on the concrete.

The village and the Grange worked together on one other project that Leonard helped with—a shelter house for the Grove. There’s also a piece of Morenci in that one. The roof was once part of the gas station next to Swaney’s garage.

The kids loaded it onto a farm wagon and began the slow trip back to Fayette. Leonard was at the wheel of the tractor and he would pull off to the side when his helpers announced that traffic was approaching from behind. 

At one point, a wagon wheel slipped into a hole and the roof slid off into the ditch.

“I told them they should have tied it on,” he said.

A career

After school, Leonard took a series of jobs with International equipment dealers, just as the company was undergoing big changes. One by one, the businesses closed until he finally landed a job with a firm that serviced International vehicles.

“But after a year, they wanted me to move to Chicago so I quit that.” 

He wanted to stay in his home town and that’s when he started working part time for the village. He was later offered a full-time position as water superintendent, and eventually he was put in charge of streets, and finally of sewers, also.

“In 1971 they made me administrator of the town,” he said.

Leonard applied for a grant that carried Fayette’s recreational needs a long way. The grant stipulated village ownership, so the school gave up control of the property.

Spring Creek once meandered through the area where the running track is located, but the waterway was straightened to create a large area for recreation.

A new concession stand with rest rooms was constructed. Fencing went in, a new backstop was erected. A tennis court was built south of the track and a basketball court went in east of the old court.

“We were smarter this time,” Leonard said. “We had a truck carry the dirt.”

It wasn’t just grant money that made it all happen. The village had to provide some funding, also, and there were plenty of volunteer services.

For the basketball court, Leonard secured five-inch pipe from a relative who operated a well-drilling rig. It was transported to Fayette Manufacturing where the pipe was cut and support plates were welded into place.

Later, a new ball diamond was built for Little League age boys and girls.

In the 1980s, adult softball was strong in Fayette, so a fund-raising effort was started for field lights. Edison dropped the poles into place, then volunteers gathered at the park after dinner to attach the light brackets.

Again and again, it was the donations of time and money—bolstered by the grant—that made the park what it is today.


A walk through the park makes Leonard think about how things have changed over the years, and in one way, how they’ve stayed the same.

“There’s never enough people to go around,” he said, “and so there’s always a problem with maintenance.” 

With streets, water and sewers as a high priority, the park remains short of the attention needed.

But the way the park is used has changed.

“We used to have waiting lists for the shelter houses. Hardly anyone comes in for softball anymore.”

The last time that happened—coupled with a shortfall in village funding—a lot of maintenance slipped.

The shuffleboard and tennis courts are unused. Leonard points to a concrete slab where charcoal pits once stood, and on to the T-ball field, just east of the Grove, a project he spearheaded in the late 1980s.

“I cut it out and got stone put in and fence up, and then it got neglected.” 

Plans are underway now to refurbish the facility and to give it a new name—Leonard Morr Field. A dedication ceremony is planned at 5:30 p.m. Thursday with Leonard as the guest of honor.

“I’ve spent a lot of time here over the years,” he says as he looks out over the fields below.

He’s speaking with a good measure of understatement, and the Recreation Board understands that. Board members want Leonard to understand the breadth of their gratitude when they say “thank you” Thursday night.

 – July 16, 2003

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