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.
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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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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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