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.
  • 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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Eye-opening experience in Oklahoma City 2012.08.08

Written by David Green.


Shannon Jarrell knows that in the future she’s going to think twice before forming an opinion about someone.

That new attitude is something she brought home from a mission trip to Oklahoma City when nine members of the Morenci Church of the Nazarene youth group went to work with the homeless.

“The thing that got me the most,” said Brooke Baumgartner, “is how much we judge homeless people. Really they’re the same as us, but they have so much less.”

Possessions were in the minds of everyone when they returned home to Morenci.

Danny Hunt put it in simple terms: “I have stuff; they don’t.”

The Oklahoma City visit was nothing new to Nazarene youth pastor Dillan Ketcham. It’s a trip he’s taken before.

“I went on that trip when I was 14 years old, 10 years ago,” said the Indiana native.

OK cleaningHe knew a 10-day excursion would be reasonably priced—sleep in a host church and cook your own food—and he knew the Morenci kids would have a big-city experience they may otherwise never have.

Planning for the trip started in November and fund-raising projects got underway in January. It was finally time to board the church bus last month for the long drive to Oklahoma.

The kids got their first taste of another world on their initial work experience—cleaning out a pair of transitional houses. The homes once served as halfway houses for recovering drug addicts, but the structures had fallen into disrepair and  were used  by homeless people. With new shelter arranged for homeless individuals, two houses were cleaned out by the Morenci youths. Other groups would arrive later to tear out carpet and begin renovation.

“They were just horrid,” Dillan said, and it was an experience that stuck with everyone even after their return. “It took a while before I stopped looking around for cockroaches on the walls.”

“There’s no way to even describe it,” Korin Baumgartner said. 

Chloe Molitierno talked about finding a two-foot tall crawl space with a make-shift bed inside. The kids were staring poverty in the face.

Even as the contents of the homes were taken to the curb, neighborhood residents were looking through the trash to find something useful.

It was disgusting work, Dillan said, but the kids pitched right in and got the job done. They didn’t need to be told what to do.

“They wanted to be there and they wanted to help,” he said. “I was very impressed with our group.”

On the second day, the volunteers helped arrange food and supplies in a large warehouse owned by Love Link Ministries—the organization that oversees visiting youth groups.

The following day Morenci’s kids had their first contact with homeless people when they served meals at the Compassion Center and at the First Indian Church of the Nazarene.

The youths unloaded 9,000 pounds of food and sorted items to be taken to a thrift store that helps fund the food program.

“The most eye-opening day for me was the day we visited the homeless camps,” Gabi Acuña said. 

A local guide took the kids through abandoned industrial property and along a path into a woods to a collection of makeshift shelters.

“Seeing people living in ‘tents’ propped up against trees was very moving,” Gabi said. “It showed me a side of poverty I’d never seen before.”

Contact with homeless individuals brought out some interesting stories. Generally it was a tale of drug and alcohol addiction, but that wasn’t always the case. A few were born into homelessness—there were even some third generation cases—and some were leading normal lives until “the event” arrived. Loss of job, loss of home, mental or physical illness, injury, divorce—the reasons are varied.

“I have never experienced people in such distress before,” Gabi said. “It was hard to witness.”

“I think most of them want to change themselves and improve their lives. They don’t like the situations they’re in.” Shannon said. “If they stick with God and keep going to church....”

Dillan thinks many people will escape from homelessness. There are plenty of success stories, he said, people who have been helped through the church.

The trip made such an impact that Korin said she felt as though she was experiencing culture shock when she returned.

“I’m just thankful to have a roof over my head and a bed to sleep in,” Bladen Mellon said. 

Shannon thought about the people she left behind when she went shopping with her mother on the day she returned home.

“Here we are buying all this stuff and half of these people don’t even have a dollar,” she said.

“We stress out over things like getting the laundry done,” Dillan said. “They just want something to cover themselves with. It’s two different worlds and it makes ours seem a lot more petty.”

We hear about people starving in Africa or China, Shannon said, but it’s also right here in America.

“The hardest part about leaving was knowing we still had so much to do,” Korin said. “We planted a lot of seeds.”

The experience was something everyone should have at least once, the kids agreed, and they would certainly do it again. However, the kids also talked about what they might do at home.

“There is so much we could do here, as well,” Gabi said. “For example, opening a thrift store, expanding our food pantry, or even having community dinners.”

There’s certainly a lot her generation takes for granted, she said, but at least for now, these youngsters are thinking more about what they have.

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