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 budget shows deficit 6.25

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Planning for the worst; hoping for something better.

That’s what school budget making is all about during tough financial times.

It’s always a challenge, notes Morenci schools financial director Erica Metcalf. A spending plan must be approved before the start of the next fiscal year even though two key revenue factors—student enrollment and state aid—are unknown.

The procees often leads to a disheartening outcome, Metcalf told board of education members Thursday.

“You can spend countless hours and by the time you’re done, it’s obsolete,” she said.

Metcalf didn’t have much in the way of good news for the board to consider. Declining enrollment estimates point toward a drop in revenue that could approach $150,000. That’s the same number she projects for a possible deficit in the next school year.

Metcalf presents a worst-case scenario and hopes the situation doesn’t sink that low.

A year ago she anticipated the deficit could reach $150,000. Instead, losses ended at $92,500. If the district does end the year $150,000 in the red, the fund balance will shrink to just over $500,000.

“Enrollment is a cause for concern,” she said.

As the school year ended, kindergarten enrollment stood at an unusually low 40 students, down from 61 in the year that just ended. Combined with a developmental kindergarten enrollment of 19, enrollment could drop by 12 just from the first-year students.

Add that to the returning students and the district could see a drop of at least 20 students. The actual figure won’t be known until the state’s official count day on the fourth Wednesday of September.

Metcalf doesn’t see much encouragement in the near future, either, with a large senior class of 78 and an in-coming freshman class in the mid-60s.

The enrollment situation will have to be monitored in the next school year, she said, when the final kindergarten number is known and the gains and losses through School of Choice are compiled.

Board members voted later to authorize a $950,000 loan through the Michigan Municipal Loan Authority to cover a shortfall in cash until state aid payments arrive.

MEMBER—Former board member James Place was sworn into office after offering to fill an empty seat on the board following the resignation of Merton Easler.

Place will serve until the school election in May 2009.

MERIT—Seven teachers were chosen by building principals to receive $350 credit for teaching supplies and equipment through the merit pay program.

Pat Burnard and Holly Bella were both cited for their work with the elementary school literacy program.

At the middle school, three science teachers—Dan Hoffman, Jim Bauer and Deb Williams—will share two awards.

At the high school, Math and Science Club advisor Kerry Nieman and Green Earth Club advisor Heather Whitehouse were selected.

JULY—The regular July meeting is scheduled July 7. The annual organizational meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. followed by the regular meeting.

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