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.
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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).
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    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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Giving HOPE: Morenci seniors spend a day at HOPE Center 2012.05.16

Written by David Green.


Morenci’s senior class members weren’t sure what they were in for when they drove to Adrian May 9 to visit the HOPE Community Center.

Government class teacher Heather Walker arranged for the visit after attending a workshop at HOPE during a professional development session on Martin Luther King Day.


hope.cheering“I thought it would be a great project for the entire class,” she said, although she wasn’t sure how the seniors would react to a face-to-face encounter with the HOPE members.

The organization supports adults with a variety of disabilities, and Ms. Walker recalled from her experience that many of HOPE’s members are more comfortable entering the personal space of a stranger than a typical teenager.

Senior Amber Wright remembers how she approached the visit.

“I had it set in my mind that I would walk fast so that nobody had a chance to touch me,” she wrote in a follow-up report.

Logan Drummond figured that the HOPE members wouldn’t be able to communicate with him, and Daniel Stutzman said he was clearly out of his comfort zone.

All the seniors were in for a surprise when they walked through the doors of the HOPE Center.

"It was a blast of love and friendship," Brittany Brigman said, as the visiting students were warmly greeted with handshakes and a few hugs.


Logan soon had many conversations with residents, and Daniel enjoyed some “mellow, relaxing talk.”

Amber slowed down quickly.

“When I entered the building, I saw their huge smiles and my heart melted a little with each handshake,” she said.

The HOPE Community Center was established in 1976 in response to a change in Michigan’s care for those with special needs. Before that, explained HOPE program director Scott Watson, people with disabilities often spent their lives in institutions or hospitals with limited freedoms and rights as citizens—a concept studied by the students in government class.

The de-institutionalization led to many people returning to Lenawee County, Watson said, and that created a culture shock for both sides.

The organization began in a room at a gas station and slowly grew into its own facility  located on Baker Street in Adrian.

It was a grassroots effort that got HOPE off the ground, Ms. Walker said, and the agency still operates without direct government funding. That leads to another concept from government class—the notion of civic virtue—where people act for the well being of the community as a whole.

Many of the activities the members engaged in last week were typical of a day at HOPE. The difference was that they went through the day with their guests from Morenci Area High School.

Students took a tour of the facility, then played an informal game to learn more about the history and philosophy of HOPE. That was followed by “coffee hour” during which time students and HOPE members read newspaper clippings in small groups and everyone discussed the topic and came up with a summary.

Amber noted that many residents didn’t seem to be paying attention. They might have been staring off into the distance or fidgeting, but when it came time to talk about it, she could tell they took it all in.

The activity shot down one stereotype. Disabled doesn’t mean stupid. 

“I was surprised how smart they are,” Ben Hutchison said. 

“Even if they’re disabled, they can still do things,” said Marcus Burciaga, “but in their own way.” 

His table mate has a job and enjoys camping trips.

“Many kids were surprised at how interested and interesting the members were,” Ms. Walker said.

A role-playing experience gives visitors a much clearer understanding of some common disabilities.

“The Disability Sensitivity Workshop is funded through Lenawee Community Mental Health Authority,” explained HOPE executive director Scott Whitehouse.

It’s given to many groups and organizations throughout the year—both at the center and off campus—but he believes it’s most powerful when coupled with programming at HOPE.

A muffled hearing test gives participants the opportunity to experience hearing loss. Trying to unwrap a piece of candy while wearing work gloves demonstrates the challenge someone with poor fine motor skills faces. Directions for folding a paper shape are given too rapidly to comprehend, simulating the struggle of someone with a cognitive disability.

While students engage in these tasks, a HOPE staff member pretends to be a little pushy and makes statements such as, “I can’t believe you can’t do this.”

The intentional disrespect shows how it feels to not understand something that everyone else seems to get. The leader follows each exercise with questions such as, “How would this affect your daily routine?  Your social life?  Your job?” 

There’s also a discussion about bullying and appropriate language usage.

“I never realized that some of the things people say are more hurtful than I knew,” senior Amanda Osborne said. “I am going to try my hardest to change what people say about people with disabilities.”

That sentiment was echoed by Max Gautz who appreciated being educated about labeling individuals with disabilities.

The day ended with an air hockey tournament, an experience that brought everyone together for a final spirited activity.

And was it the success that Ms. Walker was after?

“This, I believe, was the best senior project I could have ever asked for,” Paige Slor said. “It really touched my heart.”

Ms. Walker can’t think of a better civic project.

“It’s a great way to end the year for seniors,” she said. “I definitely want to do it again.”

It was an eye-opening experience for Kourtney Cousino.

“The HOPE Center made me realize how much more I have to learn about the world and how important everyone is—or should be—to society,” she said.

Carolyn Blaker said the experience encourages her to look for ways to give back to the community, and Ms. Walker heard from three students who want to volunteer at the center.

Some fast friendships were developed during the visit

“Everyone was so friendly and came up to greet us with a handshake, a high-five or even a hug,” said Luke Craig. “A lot of them greeted us at the door when we got there, but even more said goodbye after spending the day with us.”


• The mission of the Hope Community Center is “to empower adults with disabilities and promote their citizenship.”

Members volunteer for several community service projects during the year, from creating trauma dolls for hospitals to growing vegetables for sale and for soup kitchens.

For more information about the organization, call 517/265-2410 or visit the website at

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