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.

Skelton boys still missing after a year 2011.11.30

Written by David Green.

skeltons at lakeBy DAVID GREEN

“Our lives are going to change in a big way.”

That’s the message Morenci Chief of Police Larry Weeks told the city’s mayor, Keith Pennington, a year ago after the sudden disappearance of Andrew, Alexander and Tanner Skelton.

Pennington recounted that phone call Sunday afternoon in the high school gymnasium when he faced an audience of several hundred people gathered to observe the one-year anniversary of the brothers’ absence.

Pennington said he wanted to bring a bag of cash and dump the $60,000 reward fund onto the stage to remind people it’s still here, ready to go to anyone providing information about the case.

“Now is the time to come forward,” he told the crowd, but noted that the big break will likely have to come from the boys’ father, John Skelton.

Skelton is serving a sentence of 10 to 15 years at the Chippewa Correctional Facility in Kincheloe, Mich., after pleading no contest to unlawful imprisonment of the boys.

When it was Chief Weeks’ turn to speak, he recounted stories about the people from dozens of agencies and organizations that have assisted the Morenci police in investigating the case.

He told of FBI agents and Michigan State Police officers refusing to leave for a rest and occasionally falling asleep in their chairs.

The chief said it pains him when he’s not able to give all the details of the case, especially when he’s unable to provide all the answers that people want to hear. He continues to do everything he can think of to work toward resolution of the case, such as the distribution of flyers last week at the intersection of Morenci Road and U.S. 127.

“When I go to bed at night and lay my head on the pillow, I want to know I’ve done everything I can do,” he said.

Weeks said he’s occasionally asked if it’s a cold case and his answer is that it definitely is not.

“We hold up hope that we’re going to solve this case,” he said.

It’s a matter of “when” and not “if,” repeating what he’s heard others involved in the case say. That’s the attitude he hears frequently and it’s what gives him the strength to carry on.

At the end of his talk, Chief Weeks received a standing ovation from the crowd.

Michigan State Police trooper Sarah Krebs, who works with missing person cases, said Morenci is very fortunate to have such a close relationship with Chief Weeks and his department. That’s something she doesn’t see in all communities.

Krebs, a detective and forensic artist with the state police, said people are often critical of missing person investigations, thinking that officers just aren’t doing enough. She agrees that in years past there were weaknesses, but she believes procedures have been strengthened and gaps filled to create a much better system, including communication with family members and the public.

Krebs praised the support of the community in working to solve the case.

“I’m happy to see Morenci has taken volunteerism to heart,” she said. “Continue to do this. Do everything you can so it doesn’t happen again.”

A slideshow highlighting some of Michigan’s missing persons indicated that more than 3,000 people in the state are unaccounted for—many for a decade and more.

“I would like to congratulate the Morenci community for its support of the Skelton family and I really hope you continue to help in your efforts,” Trooper Krebs said.

tanya hugTanya Zuvers, the mother of the missing boys, said afterward that she was pleased with how the program went. This was the first event that she and her daughters planned, from beginning to end, and it went even better than anticipated.

“I feel that we accomplished what we wanted by keeping it out there that Andrew, Alexander and Tanner are still missing,” she said. “Until they are brought home, we will not stop.”

Once again, she said, people from Morenci and the surrounding area came to give comfort to the family.

“We are blessed by all the outpouring of support,” she said.

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