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.

Craig Rower defends flying flag upside down 1.21.09

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

It’s nothing new. People have flown the U.S. flag upside down for years.

It’s been done to protest the war in Iraq. It’s been done to protest withdrawing troops from Iraq.

It’s signaled disenchantment with President George Bush and it’s expressed alarm with the loss of civil liberties.

It’s been turned upside down to protest the Wall Street bailout and it’s been said to show general disgust with the state of the nation.

A veterans group in Texas turned its flag around to show dismay with the lack of veteran’s health care in the region.

When the results of the 2008 presidential election were announced in November, the resurgence of the upside down flag went wild, with many people stating it would remain that way until Barack Obama was out of office.

It’s easy to find references to plans for flying the distress signal on inauguration day.

No matter what the cause, there’s been a common response to every act of flag flipping: outrage.

Fayette resident Craig Rower learned that after he began flying his U.S. flag upside down several weeks ago.

Rower, who serves as Fayette’s acting mayor, said he turned his flag upside down the second week of December, although a neighbor thought it started shortly after the November election.

Rower said he’s explained the act to anyone who’s asked, and he added that most people have agreed with him after hearing his words.

They might have agreed with his feelings of distress, but not with his means of expressing it.

After the inverted flag was reported to area media, a television station from Toledo came to Fayette to report on the incident. Now Rower is hearing plenty of criticism. The number of negative comments continues to grow on the Channel 24 website.

Maybe Rower got off easy. In other parts of the country over recent years, the act has resulted in arrests and fights and at least one death threat.

Rower said he’s had more than his fill of verbal attacks made against him and his family. He took the flag down Thursday and gave it to the police chief at the village hall.

“At this point I decided that the protection of my family was more important than the message was worth,” he said—the message that some people didn’t understand.

And what was the message?

“I have a growing disapproval of the direction that our federal government is taking this great republic of ours,” Rower said. “They are currently trying to introduce bills that limit our free speech.  They are trying to limit what can be said on the internet.  These things go against everyone’s first amendment rights.”

He also gave examples of infringements against the second, fourth and fifth amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

“When you add these examples to the Patriot Act, something that should have been named the Unpatriotic Act, all of the bailouts, all of the ‘loans,’ and the government intrusion into the private sector, it becomes a just cause to sound the alarm against these atrocities,” Rower said. “This is truly distress. This is what an inverted flag means. It is the international sign of distress, not disrespect.”

But disrespect is what other residents saw. Many people stand behind Rower’s right to exercise his freedom of speech, but they think his method is inappropriate.

A few commenters writing on the television station website used their names and others wrote anonymously.

“My family with a history of military service to the U.S. thinks his actions are disgusting and not in keeping with the true intent of flying the flag upside down,” one commenter wrote.

Another wrote, “I am a proud Republican and no matter what and no matter who, I will stand behind the Commander in Chief. The majority voted him in so get used to this and stop being disrespectful to the flag, the American nation and the men and women that have and still serve this country so that you can be living free.”

Rower said he was surprised by the reaction of residents.

“I never expected this to garner this much attention,” he said. “I was just hoping that a few people would wake up to what was going on around them and see that their rights are being quickly eroded away.”

After Rower took his flag down, he was contacted by the nationally syndicated Glen Beck show for an interview and he said he’s receiving support via the internet.

That’s not the case at home in Fayette where many of his fellow citizens remain highly critical of his inverted flag.

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