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).
  • 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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Sam's Village: Sam Shibler creates a village within the village of Clayton

Written by David Green.


Most people look at a pile of junk and see just that—a pile of junk.

That’s not how it works for Sam Shibler. He sees things differently.

Sam sees a small scale feed mill. He sees a locomotive just big enough for a child to sit inside. He sees tractors and a lighthouse, tables and benches, a bird house, a barn and a train depot.

Right now he’s trying to see a church.

Over the past dozen years, Sam Shibler has created a miniature village in his home town of Clayton. Spread across the lot next to his woodworking and antique store is an array of small buildings and other creations.

The lot is getting full, but he’s not done yet.

“I’ve got plans for two or three more,” he said. “The next thing…I’ve got a lot of people who want me to make a little church.”

Planning for the church means scouting around for construction material.

“I’m looking at other people’s junk to see what I can do with it,” Sam said. “As you can see, almost everything here is recycled.”

He points to a building that serves as a mock machine shed. This was his first creation. The shell of the building was once an enormous shipping crate from overseas. Sam covered it over, added a door and windows, and finished it off with trim and decorations.

The jail in his little village came from another part of Clayton where it used to serve as a playhouse for kids. His feed mill once was part of a real feed mill. It was the cupola on top of the old Anderson mill in town.

His trading post was part of Clayton’s old slaughterhouse. Mom’s Place was once an old addition on the side of Joe Borck’s house on Tomer Road. A small metal building once functioned as a Consumer Power shed.

His bank was…now Sam is puzzled. The origin of that building is eluding him.

Finally the connection is made.

“It came from Posey Lake off an old cottage,” Sam recalls.

Every building tells a story, and that’s why it would be so difficult to watch one get hauled away down the street.

“At first I was going to sell the buildings, but it’s hard to part with them.”

It’s the little outhouse/storage sheds and the new line of log cabin design outbuildings that he’s selling. Those and the benches, tables, cabinets, houses for birds, bats and butterflies, and all the other myriad creations.

When Sam sees something useful, he doesn’t always know what’s going to become of it.

“Sometimes I’ll look at something for six months and then I’ll say, ‘That’s why I brought it home.’”

And sometimes he thinks he knows what’s coming up, but even he ends up surprised.

“I’ll build a floor and I’ll tell people it’s going to be one thing,” he said. “They’ll come back a week later and it’s something else.”

Other times it’s all too obvious. He once saw an old metal shower and knew he had to have it.

“When I saw that, I just knew it was going to make a good milk truck,” he said.

The truck is now part of his collection, out there near the locomotive and train depot. In Sam’s eye, his lot looked a little empty in the middle so he built a wooden water tower for the locomotive. Right now, he likes that water tower more than anything he’s built.

“It’s the lighthouse and the barn that are drawing the most attention,” Sam said, “and now the log cabins are catching on.”

He’ll keep turning out those cabins, along with the benches and cabinets and bird houses. The love for working with wood must run in his blood.

“I’ve been making stuff ever since I could drive a nail,” he said. “I’m just a nut building some buildings.”

    – Sept. 18, 2002 

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