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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Author overcomes Teen Angst: Ned Vizzini connects with teen readers

Written by David Green.


Ned Vizzini is standing in front of Morenci’s eighth grade class, with a sprinkling of high school students off to one side.

It Friday morning in the middle school library and the 21-year-old author is reading from his book, Teen Angst? Naaaah….

He’s in Morenci at the invitation of middle school teacher Sally Kruger and he has three presentations to make.

Ned rocks back and forth from one foot to the other. He grabs his chin, he waves an arm through the air, then he’s back to his chin. The rocking never ceases.

He gets a laugh, then another, as he tells the tales of his high school days.ned

He finishes reading the introduction to the book, closes it up and looks at the crowd.

“I love reading that one because it’s short and people don’t know whether or not they should applaud,” he says.


“I like awkward silences,” he adds.

Finally, one person claps and applause quickly spreads across the room.

Ned raises his hands in triumph, his book held high.

He explains that his writing came on the heels of an incident involving “a bright teal, super dorky backpack” that he used as a freshman in high school. People would give him looks that said, “What kind of idiot would wear that kind of accessory?”

An incident with the backpack led to the writing of a short story and he followed that up with others. Several were printed in a free newspaper in his home town of New York City, and eventually one appeared in the New York Times Magazine.

That was when it happened. A publisher in Minneapolis read the story and liked Ned’s style. The publisher suggested writing a book, but Ned thought, why bother with that? He had already written a collection of essays that could be turned into a book. After a year of reworking and polishing, the book rolled off the press.

Ned describes it this way: “It’s just a book of stupid, funny stuff that happened to me in high school.”

That’s precisely why young readers love it. Everyone has funny and stupid stuff in their lives, but it takes a storyteller like Ned Vizzini to make it sing. And laugh. And scream.

When he’s reading, his face is as expressive as his words, and he launches into a tale about a protest he and a friend organized against Take Your Daughter to Work Day.

When he finishes, he wonders if Morenci has such a day.

“Does it still exist?” he asks.

“Now it’s Take Your Kids to Work Day,” a student tells him.

“We won!” he yells, again raising his arms high. “When I wrote this, I thought it was a stupid story, but now I realize it’s a political statement.”

“Don’t you think it was just a coincidence?” asks a seventh grader later in the day.

Ned shoves the suggestion aside with a smile and moves on to his story about the band he and buddy started when they were 13 years old. They called themselves WormWhole and recorded two songs.

He added a few solo pieces and created what he calls his demo tape, “Crap, and Lots of It.” The tunes are now available on his web site,

“I’ve gotten a lot of e-mail about those songs,” he tells the audience. “Universally I’ve heard that it’s the worst music they’ve ever listened to.”

That’s fine with Ned, and he says the best letter came from a girl who wrote: “I was listening to that when my dad walked in the room and he said, ‘What kind of crap are you listening to?’”

Perfect. In Ned’s world, he scored another victory.

It’s time for the question-and-answer period and Ned asks how many students are interested in writing.

“Raise your hands high,” he urges. “You’re preserving Western thought if you do.”

A few hands go up. Ned says it was hard to write his book, but not impossibly difficult.

“You have a lot more power to observe things and write about them than you think.

“You don’t just have to be a consumer of culture. You can be a shaper. You can tell stories and make money off them.”

“Could you write a story about me?” asks a seventh grader, “Because I’ve done a lot of stupid things.”

“The key is you have to write it yourself,” Ned says. “Write it down now so you remember what it’s like.”

Do stupid things happen to the cool kids, too?

Probably, but Ned has spent his days with the nerds, the kooks, the gamers, the skaters and a host of other outcasts. That’s where his allegiance lies.

“A lot of people talk about how the moral fabric of America is crumbling,” he says after the program. “I don’t worry about that. I worry about the kids who aren’t in on the crumbling.”

Ned Vizzini fields questions 

Q: What is fish punching?
A: It’s just like it sounds. It was from summer camp. You lean over a dock and try to punch fish.

Q: Do you have to give in to an editor or can you argue?
A: You can argue and you’ll be allowed to keep some things, but you have to pick your battles carefully [since you can’t win them all]. But it’s good to listen to your editor.

Q: Are you thinking about writing any new books?
A: Yeah, I just finished a book. It’s about a boy who eats a pill and it tells him how to be cool.

Q: Are you still going to school?
A: I’m getting out of college this spring if I don’t mess up. [Hunter College in New York City]

Q: Who influenced your writing?
A: Michael Crichton who wrote Jurassic Park. There’s nothing better than Jurassic Park. That’s the Great American Novel.
I also like George Orwell. 1984, Animal Farm.

Q: Did you like high school?
A: I didn’t like it a lot when I was there, but it gave me the chance to meet a lot of interesting people.

Q: Did you play sports in school?
A: No, but I did a lot of karate. You don’t believe I know karate? [He launches into a demonstration].

Q: I would have worried about you if you were my kid. Did your parents worry about you?
A: They did. I would say, “Mom, I got another story published,” and she would say, “I don’t want to read about those disgusting things you do.”

    – Nov. 27, 2002

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