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.
  • 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 water/sewer rates discussed at hearing 6.3.09

Written by David Green.


If Thursday’s hearing on water and sewer rates is any indication, look for a spilt vote June 11 when village council members are scheduled to vote on increasing rates.

Councilors and audience members alike expressed views on both sides of the issue.

Some likened the proposed nine percent increase to the cost of a dinner out. Others said residents can’t afford any increase in fees and blamed the village’s problems on having to meet the demands of the Ohio EPA.

Village administrator Amy Metz started the hearing by explaining the shortfall in revenue needed to operate the water distribution and sewage treatment systems.

Revenue fell by $13,500 in 2008 due to vacant homes and a slowdown in industrial activity, Metz said, but trouble was already on the way before that.

Expenses exceeded revenue by $2,742 in 2008, but even if revenue rebounded to previous levels, costs would outpace revenue in 2011. By 2013, all of the cash reserves from the debt service fund would be gone and the fund would be in the red.

This projection includes the current proposal—a nine percent increase in rates for 2009 only. Projections with continuing increases would put the fund in the black.

With the nine percent increase in 2009, Metz said a typical user (7,000 gallons of water usage each quarter) would see a quarterly increase in fees of $7.12, or $28.48 a year.

Metz also read a document prepared by the village utilities engineer, Bob Seigneur, stating several consequences of the failure to increase rates.

Seigneur wrote that the village would have no long term control plan to alleviate sewage overflows to submit to the Ohio EPA, nor would it be able to accept federal funding for sewer projects.

Seigneur said the village could abandon its treatment system and construct a pipeline to Archbold or to a centrally located facility, but he doesn’t favor giving up control of the process. He believes the village would still face considerable costs in maintaining its own storm water system.

“I’m really torn about this,” said council member Jerry Gonzales. “I’m against [the increase]. I don’t think we can afford it.”

On the other hand, he said, there’s a push for small communities to tie in with regional systems and then the local representation is lost.

“That’s why we need to increase our rates now,” village employee Tom Rupp said, to avoid losing local control.

If the village can’t afford to take care of what it has now, he said, it won’t be able to provide water and sewer services.

Rupp suggested that people need to set priorities, such as going out for dinner less often to pay for the increase.

Denise Jensen said that with bad economic conditions, increasing the rates is the last thing council should be discussing.

Another audience member suggested that increasing rates will drive people out of town, but police chief Jason Simon asked where they would go to find rates cheaper than Fayette’s.

Metz said the village would be eligible to receive $4 million in loans and $2 million in grants from federal stimulus funds, but she noted the competition is stiff with so many communities needing help with projects.

Simon said the village wouldn’t receive funding because the Ohio EPA hasn’t approved Fayette’s long term plans.

“When will the EPA approve the plans that we submitted?” asked acting mayor Craig Rower. “Will the paper print that?”

Former village administrator Tom Spiess said the plan calls for an initial project that was already in the works, then takes a break of about seven years. He’s guessing that the Ohio EPA might be concerned about the She thinks the issue should be put on a ballot for the public to decide, and Gonzales agreed.

“We need to do something,” he said. “Maybe a three percent increase and then see how the economy goes.”

Councilor Ruth Marlatt said council can’t continue to let the water and sewer fund go in the red.

“How fiscally responsible do we look as a village?” she asked.

Gonzales urged audience members to let council know of any ideas they have to deal with the cash shortfall.

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