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.

Troy Shoemaker in Iraq: Two down, one to go?

Written by David Green.

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By DAVID GREEN
It’s dangerous and often dispiriting. It’s hard to be away from family and conditions are often more than challenging.

But there’s also a lot of satisfaction that Fayette’s Troy Shoemaker finds in serving with the U.S. Army in Iraq, because two year-long tours of duty just aren’t enough. He thinks he’s about to sign up for one more.

Troy visited Normal Memorial Library last week to speak at the library’s after-school program. Two dozen grade school boys viewed photos shown on Troy’s laptop computer and peppered him with questions.

The 1998 Fayette graduate enlisted in 2002 and has two more years of service ahead of him. He just wrapped up his second tour in Iraq and is back home for about three weeks of leave.

He studied combat arms and learned to drive and serve as a gunman in a Bradley fighting machine. His home base is at Ft. Carson, Col., but he’ll soon head to Ft. Bliss, Texas, to study radar and fiber optics.

“I went into the Army to learn how to shoot down airplanes,” he told the boys. “I’ve been driving around in a Bradley looking for the bad guys. That’s my actual job.”

Troy showed photos of the Bradley he drove. The 33-ton vehicle takes three people for operation, but it can handle up to 15.

“It will drive through houses and over cars,” he said.

He explained the vehicle’s night scope that detects heat. He says he could watch a tear roll down a person’s cheek from two miles away.Another photo shows the gear that soldiers sometimes wore when the war first started, including head to toe chemical protection suits. From his second tour, he showed a photo of a vest that soldiers wear in which ceramic plates are inserted for armor. Add to that a large rifle with 300 rounds of ammunition, water and life-saving medical equipment, Troy said, and a soldier has a heavy load just walking around.

“We had a high temperature reach 140° with a heat index of 160°,” he said. “We had a thermometer on our back porch and one day in the summer it exploded.”

In contrast, he showed a photo taken shortly before he left and there was snow falling.

“How many people did you kill?” a youngster asked.

Troy answered with a diplomatic, “I don’t know.”
“I’ve never been shot,” he said, “but I’ve been shot at a lot.”

A video clip shows an attack on the city of Tal Afar with aerial bombing by Apache helicopters. Troy was on the ground below. As building after building was blown up, one audience member asked, “How did you survive?”

“Radios,” Troy said. “I’m over here; shoot over there.”


The effort to clean out Tal Afar was recently lauded by President Bush as an example of progress in the war, but like many other achievements, the results haven’t been long-lasting. Shortly after the president’s speech, a suicide bomber attacked an army recruiting station, killing 40 and wounding 20.

Troy said one his best friends in Iraq has been in a hospital since last May and probably has two more months before being released. The jeep he was riding in was hit by a roadside bomb and the jeep was cut in half. Everyone survived, but the injuries were severe.

As far as injuries go, both sides get help when possible.

“We even have to help the enemy,” Troy said. “There are rules of war.”

“Do the bad guys wear a different costume?” a boy asked.

“No,” Troy answered. “That’s why it’s so hard there. You can’t tell who is who.”

Army recruiting goals are falling short of quotas as the war drags on, and Troy’s visit didn’t suggest that any changes are on the horizon.

“Anybody want to join the Army?” he asked.

Despite images of the guns, the bombing, the high-tech equipment and the excitement, only three hands shot up among the 26 grade school boys.

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