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 non-union employees get a raise 7.29.09

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Fayette’s non-union employees will receive a pay raise for the next school year—superintendent Russ Griggs made sure of that.

The board of education voted 4-1 to approve the increase at the July 20 meeting. Deb Leininger cast the “no” vote, saying later that the workers are certainly deserving of a pay increase, but she thinks the decision should have been delayed a few months to see how the district’s financial condition evolves.

Pay increases will range from 2.5 to 3.0 percent and cost the district $10,042. That money will not reduce the general fund, however.

Grant money from Title I funding will cover $3,202 and the remainder of the increase will be offset by a reduction in Griggs’s salary and the resulting drop in retirement benefits.

“The net effect is no increase in general fund expenditures,” Griggs said. “The general fund actually comes out to the better.”

Non-union employees do not negotiate wages with the board, Griggs said, as the employees under union contract do.

“To treat this small group of individuals different from the bargaining unit members is unfair,” he said.

Griggs put pressure on the board to approve the wage increase, suggesting that he would leave the district if they weren’t in favor.

Griggs now works on a part-time basis and with his reduced schedule, the district will spend about $76,000 less annually than the last time they had a full-time school chief. In addition to the salary cuts, he doesn’t bill the district for meals and transportation costs when he’s on school business.

Although he’s not in his office on a full-time basis, Griggs remains in contact with school officials via cell phone and e-mail.

His salary cut that’s helping fund the non-union pay increase will take a few more days off his scheduled time in school.

FINANCES—Griggs showed board members a chart of revenue and expenditure comparisons, leading him to conclude that finances are not as bad as projected last year. Revenue is down, he noted, but so are expenditures.

Griggs made comparisons with the 2005-06 school year since revenue from the past two years were skewed due to the construction project.

Compared to 2005-06, revenue has declined by $14,719, but expenditures dropped by $18,907. Deficit spending remained at about the same level while personnel-related costs fell by $115,446.

Due to voter renewal of a seven-mill levy in 2007, along with some remaining funds from the cash settlement for contamination at the old school property, the fund balance shows a half million dollar increase, standing at $1.5 million.

“It doesn’t mean we’re out of the woods yet, Griggs said, “but we’re in better shape to handle what comes from the state.”

Additional reductions in state funding are expected. Revenue decline is also expected because of the state tangible tax phase out, lower enrollment and potential income tax reduction due to general economic conditions.

MEAL PLUS—Parents will have the option of paying an annual $10 fee to join Meals Plus. This allows cafeteria payments to be made via the internet. For an additional fee, parents can view what their children ordered at the cafeteria.

HIRING—Following the resignation of Beth Morr last month, elementary school teacher Brad Raby will be rehired for the 2009-10 school year. Raby was among the staff members to receive lay-off notices earlier this year.

BOARD SEATS—The terms of office for Paula Schaffner and Deb Leininger expire this year. Candidates have until Aug. 20 to file petitions. Two district residents will be elected to four-year terms in November.

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