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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Morenci school board receives audit report 11.05.08

Written by David Green.


It takes difficult economic times to celebrate a $47,000 deficit.

These are difficult times for most Michigan school districts and auditor Phil Rubley praised the Morenci school district for cutting deficit spending to $46,956 in the past fiscal year.

“That’s a very good position for you to be in,” Rubley told school board members Monday night. “You curbed your budget. You should be commended. You’re probably one of the strongest districts we’re reporting this year, even with the loss.”

In reviewing the highlights of the audit, Rubley pointed out the general fund ended the year with an excess of $173,631. Transferring $220,587 to cover athletic department expenses, the fund was left with a $46,956 deficit.

The budget initially called for an anticipated loss of $85,000, but the board later amended that figure to $150,000 due to financial concerns.

“You finished $103,000 better than anticipated,” Rubley said. “To me, that’s a win. You cut your losses in half [from the previous year], and from years before that, you cut it by $200,000.”

Rubley said the deficit reduction buys the district more time. With $47,000 taken out of the general fund balance, the district still has $758,664 in reserves. That savings would have been wiped away quickly with the $200,000 deficits of past years.

In looking at the two funds other than the general fund, Rubley reported good news in each.

Food service added $13,000 to the $123,000 carryover from the previous year.

“That’s pretty exceptional,” Rubley said. “Your costs are in line with your fees and that’s very unusual.”

Most districts struggle to keep their food service fund in the black, he said.

Superintendent of Schools Kyle Griffith noted later that success in the food service budget has come without raising lunch prices.

The budget called for a transfer of $220,000 to the athletic fund and that resulted in an excess of $6,000. The key, Rubley said, is to see if the district is transferring more than what was budgeted. The $6,000 excess could be brought back to the general fund if needed.

Griffith pointed out that the $47,000 deficit is the lowest in many years, despite “very trying times.”

“It’s an amazing feat,” he said. “This is good news.”

He praised maintenance worker Jim Petry, who was in the audience, as an example of a staff member doing more with less. He also noted that administrator Nate Parker has filled two staff positions, and that board members have faced some tough decisions in bringing down expenses.

Rubley agreed.

“You have to be economically responsible and take measures that aren’t always popular with the public,” he said.

Griffith also praised school finance director Erica Metcalf.

“Erica is really the heart behind this, working her magic,” he said. “It took a lot of magic this time.”

COACHING—Board members accepted the resignation of varsity football coach Dan Hoffman and junior varsity coach Mike McDowell.

CONFERENCES—Elementary school dean of students Mary Fisher reported an attendance rate of 97 percent at the recent parent-teacher conferences.

BREAKFAST—Fisher spoke of several good indications since the start of the free breakfast program, but she’s withholding judgment until several months of data are collected.

So far, she’s seen a reduction in tardiness, fewer children sent to the office for disciplinary problems and improved behavior overall.

“Teachers like it and the kids just absolutely love breakfast in the classroom,” she said.

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