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.

Jessie Torres wins top honors at rabbit competition 11.5.08

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

When it comes to rabbits—breed identifications, show classes, coloration—it’s unlikely you’re going to come across anyone who knows more than Jessica Torres.

The Fayette freshman proved that statement last week in Louisville at the America Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) national convention.jessie.rabbits.jpg

Her score in the intermediate breed identification competition was the highest in the nation. Jessie scored 188 points out of a possible 200—not just the best in her age group but better than any Ohio contestant in any of the three youth divisions.

With her teammate Kelsey Brown of Williams County finishing runner-up, the Just Raisin’ Hare 4-H Club group took team honors in the breed identification contest. Other team members are Trey Rupp of Wauseon and Alyssa Galford of Williams County. Trey is the son of Morenci Middle School teacher Doug Rupp.

There’s a good reason for their success: They worked really hard over the last two years.

“We’ve been practicing since last January,” Jessie said about the twice-a-month sessions.

When the convention drew near, team members got together on a weekly basis to review their knowledge.

At the convention, contestants faced a lineup of 26 rabbits and were required to correctly identify them from among the 47 breeds recognized by ARBA.

After that, competitors had to determine the class that each rabbit would show in. Finally, they had to determine coloration out of more than 100 possibilities.

It’s actually more complicated than that, says club leader Lisa Hoffman, because color terminology varies from breed to breed.

Take the color brown, for example. For one breed, it’s called tortoise; for another, it’s called tortoise shell; yet another refers to it as black tortoise.

“It’s somewhat like medical terminology and it has to be exact,” she said. “Some breeds of rabbits have 30 different colors. This is the hardest and this is the area Jessie excels in.”

When the awards were announced at the youth banquet last Wednesday, Jessie was called up to the stage as the fifth-place winner.

But wait a minute...a mistake had been made. She was then told that she was actually the national champ, and as she recalls, she just stood there on the stage with her mouth hanging open.

This year’s week-long convention was Jessie’s second. She attended the 2007 gathering in Grand Rapids, Mich., and already the team is thinking about next year when the site moves to San Diego. If they’re going to make that trip, some fund-raising is in their future—along with a lot more practice.

First comes a break from studying rabbits, but Jessie says they’ll start up again in January.

“It’s a lot of work, but it’s fun,” she said. “We work really well together.”

She has high praise for Lisa, their leader,  who devotes many hours through the training sessions and organizational activities.

Three years ago, Lisa formed Council Oak Rabbit Breeders Association, an ARBA-chartered club separate from 4-H that allows members to show rabbits and earn credit toward participation in the national convention.

Most team events require a state-level qualifying stage and the Raisin’ Hare group made the cut at a state show in Columbus. In Louisville, nearly every state in the union had a team in the contest.

The convention is about a lot more than competition about rabbit knowledge. There’s also the rabbits, themselves, and more than 23,000 were judged at this year’s gathering.

That’s something Jessie wants to be a part of next year.

“I didn’t bring a rabbit this year,” she said, “but I went to the convention to buy one.”

That didn’t work out, but she made arrangements to obtain one in the spring. That will add a new layer of excitement in San Diego if the club manages to get that dream off the ground.

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