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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Two die in house fire 5.29

Written by David Green.


A memorial service is planned Sunday evening to remember two Morenci area teens who died in a house fire early Saturday morning.

Johnathan Pike, 18, a resident of the home at 333 East St. S., and Chelsey Sedlacek, 15, of rural Sand Creek, were unable to escape from the blazing structure and were located by firefighters after the fire was controlled.

Four other family members were treated first at Fulton County Health Center and later at St. Vincent hospital in Toledo.

Pike’s step-father, Rick Delaney, 40, and his brothers Matt Delaney, 19, Chris Delaney, 17, and Robert Delaney, 12, were treated for various reasons, including smoke inhalation and burns.

All were discharged, although Robert returned to the hospital and remains at St. Vincent.

Pike’s mother, Penny, and younger brother Jay, escaped without injury, along with Matthew Wilson, an overnight guest.

Johnathan’s aunt, Robin Pike, credited Matt Delaney with rousing occupants and helping them to safety.

“He’s the one who saved the others,” she said.

Dan Shaffer, a neighbor of the Delaneys, heard loud voices and saw flames in the windows of the house. He called 911 and the Morenci Fire Department was dispatched at 3:16 a.m. Trucks were en route by 3:22, said fire chief Chad Schisler and they arrived at the scene at 3:25.

A department member who lives nearby was at the scene within two or three minutes, Schisler said, and learned that seven of the nine occupants had escaped.

The fire had spread throughout the house by the time the fire department arrived, Schisler said, with flames coming out the front door, from underneath the front porch and showing in windows on the front and south side of the second story of the wooden structure.

Crews tried to make their way through the front and back doors and into the second story in two locations, Schisler said, in an effort to reach the two victims still in the house.

Schisler was thankful for the assistance by Morenci police chief Larry Weeks who handled the investigation and interviewing of residents and contacted the city supervisor and building inspector for assistance. A Red Cross representative and a state fire marshal were on the scene long before firefighters left shortly after 8 a.m.

Fire departments from Hudson, Fayette,  Wauseon, Lyons, Clayton, and Fairfield Township played various roles in the effort, Schisler said.

Chief Weeks said a lot of work remains before a determination of cause is issued by the fire marshal. At this point, he said, there’s nothing to indicate the blaze was of a suspicious nature.

Considering the extent of the fire when the occupants were awakened, Weeks said he’s amazed and thankful there weren’t additional victims.

Schisler was told that most of those who made it out escaped through windows.

Counselors assist grieving students

The hallways and cafeteria were strangely quiet Tuesday at Morenci Area High School, the first day of classes since sophomore Chelsey Sedlacek and 2007 graduate Johnathan Pike died in a house fire.

Pastors, counselors and the county school social worker were on hand to speak with students who were mourning the loss, said counselor Diana Fallot.

“We did OK,” she said. “We weren’t overwhelmed, but we kept busy. The teachers were great. They gave students the opportunity to talk about the situation or to write a letter.”

In some cases staff members approached a student who appeared to be in need and asked if they wanted to talk to someone.

She’s heard several students trying to place blame for the tragedy—a common reaction springing from their grief.

“Blame doesn’t change things,” she said.

Counselors are trying to get students to understand that a tragedy can either “make us stronger or bring us down.”

Fallot said many people want to help the Delaneys who have lost their house and possessions, and they’ve felt frustrated without a clear path to assist.

That situation is changing.

Financial donations can be taken to United Bank and Trust where they will be placed in the Delaney’s account.

Robin Pike, a relative of the Delaneys, is accepting donations of furniture and household items. She’ll store items in her garage at 8216 W. Weston Rd. until the family is in a new home. They’re currently staying in a hotel through arrangements with the American Red Cross.

“Everyone has been really wonderful,” Robin said. “A lot of people have called and given their concern.”


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