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.
  • Front.sculpt
    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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Kitchen Wars: Morenci students compete in culinary competition 2012.03.07

Written by David Green.

taylor baughBy DAVID GREEN

This is the season for basketball and wrestling tournaments, but those competitions have nothing over the excitement of a culinary arts contest.

Kitchen competition has its own thrills and spills—and ripped pastry bags.

Morenci juniors Taylor Baugh and Kira Bersoke both competed Feb. 28 in Kalamazoo at the regional SkillsUSA culinary competition, representing the Lenawee TECH Center. Both were chosen by class instructor and chef Corbin Day to represent Lenawee County at the regional event.

Taylor placed second in the commercial baking division—missing first place by a point—while Kira took fifth in the culinary arts competition. Kira just missed qualifying for the state competition next month in Lansing, but Taylor will move on to the finals.

It was anything but relaxing in the kitchen for Kira’s cooking competition. She went up against 16 other student cooks in a grueling three-hour contest to create an appetizer, an entrée and dessert.

kira beroskePracticing for the event isn’t really possible, because none of the competitors know what they will be asked to prepare until they enter the kitchen. That’s when they’re given three recipes and the ingredients. Then the clock begins ticking.

Students were asked to make a blue cheese chicken roll-up for the entrée, a salad for the appetizer and a crêpe for the dessert. 

“It is crazy in my competition. People are rushing around to do everything,” Kira said. “There are four judges that walk around and watch while you are cooking.”

It’s not just the final outcome that judges are interested in. 

“The judges really watch you during the competition to see how you cut items and how sanitary you are when you cook.”

Washing hands, changing gloves, washing cutting boards and other utensils—every step of the way comes under the judges’ scrutiny.


Taylor had a long day behind her before she even stepped into the competition area. Students arrived in Kalamazoo at 8 a.m., but she didn’t compete until noon.

When the “start” command was given, Taylor went to her dough and started making danishes. Then she moved on to fruit scones, rolls and macaroon cookies before working on her cake.

“I was good on time while making bread, then I slowed down a little,” she said. 

She had to place a filling in the center of the cake and then decorate it in a birthday theme for someone named Nancy.

“I was just making my flowers when they said 10 minutes left,” Taylor recalls. “At this time I had all my bread out and displayed, and my cake was frosted, so the only thing I needed to do was add details and write on my cake.

“I was so scared that I wasn't going to get done. I was shaking and crying.”

She was also running and pushing her way through the other competitors. They pushed back.

“We were all freaked out by that time,” Taylor said. “I only had five minutes left. I was starting to write on the cake and the tips blew out of the [pastry] bag, all my bags ripped.”

Now she was really panicking and wondering what to do. She tried to finish writing “Best Wishes” on the cake, then displayed it and started cleaning up. That’s when she got a nosebleed.

She was glad when the event finally ended, but she was also really pleased to compete for the first time and to take home a medal.

Now she can go back to practicing until the state finals April 20 in Lansing. And that frantic ordeal from the regional competition? She’s pushed that memory aside and she’s ready to go at it again.

“Overall I had a blast and I’m very excited to do this again for state,” she said.

For Kira, she has her sights set on another culinary competition—the Pro-Start contest March 18-19 in Lansing.

This time she’ll work with a team of three other TECH Center students. There are no surprises in this contest because each team uses its own recipes to cook an appetizer, entrée and dessert in one hour.

At the SkillsUSA event, competitors could roam anywhere in the kitchen in an effort to get it all accomplished. At ProStart, the work area is partitioned off and team members must remain within their allotted space.

“ProStart will be much more difficult,” Kira said, “because it is one of the toughest cooking competitions for high schoolers.”

She wants nothing short of a state championship and the opportunity to attend the national competition in Baltimore.

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