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 school board seeks bond approval 2.27

Written by David Green.

Just give us five years with no changes. That’s what Morenci Board of Education members are seeking in the annual May school election.

Five years of the existing school bond millage rate will pay the cost of a wide variety of maintenance needs, and board members believe this will be the most painless manner to get the job accomplished.

School board members are seeking voter approval of a measure to borrow $1.4 million and pay back the loan by maintaining the current bond millage rate of 7.0 mills—the millage passed overwhelming by voters in 2002, primarily for construction of a new middle school.

The new bond would pay for work at the  elementary school, constructed in 1957, and at the high school, constructed in 1969. It would also cover replacement of the deteriorating running track and allow the district to pursue energy saving opportunities.

“The longer we wait, the worse it’s going to get,” said board president Dwight Mansfield about problems at the elementary and high school buildings.

While other districts in the area are seeking additional years added on to existing bonds or enlarging existing debts, Morenci’s board chose an approach that requires no increase in the current debt millage.

“The board explored other options and they feel this is the most conservative approach for the times,” said Superintendent of Schools Kyle Griffith. “It’s a great opportunity.”

Board member Merton Easler agrees.

“We’re trying to think outside the box,” he said. “It’s the best way to keep up our facilities without burdening the taxpayer for any more money.”

In 2005 the board refinanced the existing bond for a significant savings in interest costs. This resulted in a new repayment schedule with fewer mills needed to cover the loan.

The new bond proposal, added to the existing bond, would maintain the total millage at 7.0 mills for five years before the amount begins to drop. The savings taxpayers would have received will be postponed for five years.

Over the five-year period, the cost for the owner of a $100,000 home averages less than $40 a year, or about 11 cents a day.

If money is not raised through the new bond, Griffith said, maintenance needs will be paid through the dwindling general fund. The district’s fund equity now stands at about $800,000, but this year’s deficit is expected to lessen that amount by $90,000.

A continuing weak economy will lead to additional deficit budgets despite the numerous cuts the board had made in recent years.

Financial support from the state doesn’t keep up with increasing costs, Easler said, and the district keeps cutting every year. This leaves very little cash to cover the district’s needs.

“The general fund is for education,” Griffith said. “The board shouldn’t have to choose between textbooks and replacing asbestos flooring.”

Preventive maintenance will save time and money in the future, he added.

“We don’t want to wait until there’s a problem,” he said. “We want to avoid operating in the emergency mode.”

The vast majority of school funding is related to enrollment and those numbers are decreasing across the state, including in the Morenci district.

“Costs continue to go up,” Griffith said, “and the general fund is going to take a hit. The community knows the board has had to make a lot of tough decisions regarding finances. The bond won’t eliminate the tough decisions, but it’s going to give us the opportunity to take care of some basic needs.”

Mansfield sees the proposal as the best alternative.

“I know people aren’t going to be happy with it,” he said, “but I think we’re fortunate we can do it this way. I’m happy that it’s not a new tax.”

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