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.

Fayette school board 5.28.09

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Four Fayette school district residents sought details about recent layoffs when they visited the May 18 board of education meeting.

Kandi Lemley said she was serving as a spokesperson for several parents and PTO members who are concerned about the layoffs of “two very, very good teachers.”

Lemley said she knows everyone is told they must do more with less, but she’s wondering if other options were thoroughly considered instead of these layoffs.

She suggested that the second grade students are “going to get lost” with only one teacher for the class.

Board member Kirk Keiser pointed out that next year’s second grade class is the smallest in the school.

“Two of us [board members] have kids in that class so it wasn’t taken lightly,” he said.

Lemley asked if staff reductions were also considered at the high school level since so many of the cuts are from the elementary school.

“I’m just coming from the outside,” she said, “but it looks like we’re going to leave everyone there [at the high school] because it’s more important.”

She wondered if students might be able to adjust easier at the high school level. She recalls having just one teacher for music and band when she was a student, and only one English teacher.

“If we start whacking out high school programs, it will affect college prep and kids will stop coming here,” said superintendent of schools Russell Griggs. “We have to maintain programs to give kids a reason to stay here.”

Griggs also pointed out secondary teachers must work in the area where they are certified.

Audience member Julia Ruger said the enrollment hasn’t changed much over the years, but the staff is larger. She said there are more administrative assistants now and an elementary school guidance counselor that wasn’t part of the staff years ago.

Griggs said the elementary counseling position is being cut back and the secondary counselor will take on some new duties next year.

“State and federal mandates are much greater now,” he said. “There’s been an exponential increase.”

Lemley wondered if the athletic director position could be taken over by a teacher, as in the past. That approach would take away some teaching time, Griggs said, and would not bring significant savings.

The superintendent said that cuts were made over a broad area, including paring back his time on the job which will save the district $69,000 next year.

“Are we concerned about class size and test scores? You bet we are,” Griggs said, “but the district will soon be in a deficit and that’s illegal.”

If voters were asked to pass a levy, 12.6 new mills would be needed—a 36 percent increase. In addition, an existing seven-mill levy will expire soon. Combined with a new levy, that would lead to a massive tax increase, Griggs said.

“I can’t predict, but I expect there will be more cuts in the future,” he said. “We share your concern. The board didn’t go about this lightly. Questions were asked on each line.

“There have been tough times before. You go through cycles. Unfortunately this is the worst one since the Depression.”

Board president Paula Schaffner said that class sizes change from year to year, in reference to cuts and split classes at the elementary school.

“You try to use your money as wisely as you can,” she said.

“We’re certainly going to need help from community members during tough times.” added board member David Brinegar.

“It would be a good time to bolster the volunteer program,” Schaffner said.

Griggs thanked the visitors for their concern, noting they might be the first parents who have attended a board meeting during the 18 months that he’s worked for Fayette.

ENROLLMENT—Elementary principal Dr. Luann Boyer told the board that current enrollment for next year’s kindergarten stands at 32 and the second grade class is predicted to be 24. Eight children have signed up for summer school. She would like to see that number increase to about 30.

COACHES—The board approved coaching positions for the fall season: varsity golf, Ryan Colegrove; junior high golf, Todd Mitchell; cross country, Bryan Stambaugh; assistant cross country, Matt Maginn; volleyball, Danni Keefer; JV volleyball, Alissa Stockburger; and junior high volleyball, Sarah Skolmowski.

EXTENSION—The contract for secondary principal Dan Feasel was renewed for three years.

INSURANCE—The cost of liability insurance increased despite a cheaper insurance plan. Since there is more to cover in the new, more expensive facility, the overall cost of insurance increased.

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