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.
  • Front.sculpt
    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.
  • Front.tar.wide
    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.
  • Front.pull
    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.
  • Front.homecoming Court
    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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Fayette school board 5.28.09

Written 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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