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.

Morenci's hardware store sold 2013.03.20

Written by David Green.

morenci hardware_storeBy DAVID GREEN

Adam Johnson says the new owner of Morenci's hardware store has a distinct advantage over him and his wife, Gail, when they bought the store 32 years ago.

"We learned everything from our customers," Adam said. "They were very tolerant."

The new owner, Jeremie Peters, along with his wife, Amanda, knows the hardware business very well. Not quite, Jeremie says. He knows hardware, but retail sales is what's new to him.

Jeremiey has operated a business named Avalon Tile and Marble for 15 years and during that time he made many visits to Johnson's Hardware for supplies. For a lot of that time, he thought about what it would be like to own the place.

"Ten years ago I thought that it would be nice to own the hardware store," he said. 

When he returned home from a military tour in Afghanistan in November 2011, he learned the store was still for sale and that's when he got more serious about a purchase. The Peters obtained partial funding through the Lenawee Economic Development Corporation's revolving loan fund and Jeremie's dream of owning the store finally became a reality Friday afternoon when Johnson's Hardware changed over to Hometown Hardware.

And what does it feel like to own the business?

"I've been working on this so long, it was almost like another day on the job," Jeremie said. "I feel like an employee learning everything."

He and Amanda will get plenty of help from the Johnson's three existing employees: Jody Pummell with 10 years on the job; Gavin Vanderpool with seven years; and Michaela Merillat with four.

"It's a bit of a change already," Jeremie said about his new life after day three of ownership, "but I like it."

He expects to keep the store open longer on Sunday afternoons in the summer, and, as an early riser, he will soon start to open the store at 8 a.m. rather than 8:30.

He's also thinking of stocking basic lumberyard materials, such as drywall, 2x4s and trim pieces. He would like to rent the tools he used in his previous business, along with some trailers.

Jeremie, a Morenci graduate, and Amanda, a Whitmore Lake graduate, are the parents of a seven-year-old daughter, Amaya, and a four-year-old son, Jeremie.

Gail Johnson recalls how she and Adam got their start in Morenci. The couple began their married life in Garden City where Adam served as a police officer and Gail was a teacher. They later moved to northern Virginia when Adam first took a job with the International Association of Chiefs of Police and later with the National Motorcycle Safety Foundation.

They wanted to return to Michigan to raise their family and Adam's brother, who owned a hardware store in Chelsea, mentioned that Paul and Annabelle Closson were selling their Gambles Hardware store in Morenci.

The Johnsons became owners in September 1980, only to have the store destroyed by fire a few months later, in January 1982. 

Meyer's Furniture store had closed, Gail said, and the owner told them that the building he used as a warehouse on the other side of Main Street was available. Renovation got underway and they moved in a few weeks later.

It was a good move, with the unique L-shape building serving as a good location for a hardware store.

"We felt very welcome here even though we weren't born here," Adam said. "We made a lot of friends. We probably learned more about people's live than we needed to know."

Adam jokes that there must be only three families in Morenci, with everybody related to someone else. 

"You have to be careful what you say," he said.

With summer traffic ranging from 80 to 100 people a day, the Johnsons got to know a wide array of area residents, and that, Adam said, is what kept things interesting.

"It did go by in a flash," he said. "It seems like only yesterday when we got started."

The word "retirement" hasn't yet sunk in, with Adam still closing out some accounts and Gail helping Amanda with some office training.

Adam urges residents to continue their support of the store, and not just for nuts and bolts, but also for other items that maybe could be purchased more cheaply in a big box store. If the store was no longer there, he said, people would have to do a lot of driving  to fill their needs.

"I wish Jeremie well," Adam said. "His knowledge about contracting and repair will benefit people."

It's obvious to both Adam and Gail what they're going to miss the most. It's all the customers who came into the store over the past three decades.

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