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

Written 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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