The Weekly Newspaper serving the citizens of Morenci, Mich., Fayette, Ohio, and surrounding areas.

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    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.
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    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.
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    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.
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    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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Fred Tredway on the Mackinaw

Written by David Green.


  p.cutter-mackinaw Until the day he stepped aboard the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Mackinaw, Fred Tredway of Lyons hadn’t been too far out on Lake Erie. His Great Lakes experience was limited to a few fishing excursions.

It was a June day in 1944 and Fred was 18 years old. He wasn’t a member of the Coast Guard nor was he part of the building crew that manufactured the massive ship in Toledo.

Fred just happened to know the right person who needed some help. That’s how a handful of Lyons residents became temporary crew members of the cutter on its maiden voyage out of port.

“I went out that first trip,” Fred said. “The crew didn’t even know how to run it yet.”

Employees of the ship building company joined Coast Guard personnel that day to teach them how to operate the vessel—the largest and most powerful ice breaker on the Great Lakes.

 The ship’s food service wasn’t yet in place and a Toledo business known as Buddy’s Lunch Box was hired to handle meals for the crew on the six-day cruise. Lyons resident Roy Eicher, a cousin of the Buddy’s owner, was asked to round up three other people to help with the food.

Roy’s son Denver, 23, agreed, despite his wedding three days before departure. Elvin Rowland, 19, was deathly afraid of water, but $60 for six days work sounded good to him. Fred came through as the final member of the food crew.

“We waited tables and did some food preparation,” Fred remembers.p.cutter.fred

There were also several VIPs on board and that led to an unexpected delay.

“We docked in Detroit and the guy from Buddy’s Lunch Box had to take a taxi back to Toledo to get more booze,” Fred said. “It was for the dignitaries, not the Coast Guard.”

The voyage started out well with the excitement of sailing in the open water. Fred enjoyed boats and it was a thrill to travel on the vessel.

Then came a day when he wasn’t so sure he had made the right decision. It happened on stormy Lake Superior.

“For a couple of days it was so rough that just about everybody got sick, even the Coast Guard people who had never been seasick before,” Fred said. “Some say you can get so seasick that you wish you could die. That’s about how I felt.”

To make matters worse, the temporary crew slept on cots rather than in bunks like the Coast Guards sailors used. As the boat rolled with the waves—some were estimated as high as 25 feet—the cots moved about the ship.

Fred ended up touring four of the five Great Lakes on the trip before heading back for a landlocked existence in Lyons.

Last month the Mackinaw was moored in Toledo briefly for its final visit before being decommissioned and replaced with a new model.

Fred, along with Norman Torbet, went for a tour.

“It looked familiar, but a lot of equipment had been changed,” Fred said. “I was disappointed that we couldn’t get down to the engine room. I remember how big the drive shaft was.”

He remembered the cork-lined walls of the vessel that were installed to keep the engine noise down.

The future of the Mackinaw remains in jeopardy. Several residents of Cheboygan, Mich., the home port of the cutter, were hoping to house the ship as a floating museum, but fund-raising fell short.

The Mackinaw might find a new home in an empty dock in Mackinaw City, owned by Shepler’s Mackinac Ferry Service.

“I hope they do have it for a museum somewhere,” Fred said.

Since the ship builders and Coast Guard members were mostly all older than Fred, who is 81 years old now, he wonders if anyone is left from the maiden voyage.

“I’m probably one of the few people alive who was on it.”



The Mackinaw project got off to a choppy start. Construction began in the spring of 1943 by the Toledo Shipbuilding Company. Delays arose and construction fell behind schedule. America was at war and labor was often hard to come by.

Complicating matters was the design of the vessel. This was to become the world’s most powerful icebreaker and many unique and untried design features were used. Eventually, Toledo Shipbuilding couldn’t handle the project and declared bankruptcy.

The unfinished hull sat at the shore of the Maumee River until another company, American Shipbuilding and Drydock Company came to the rescue to finish the project.

After $10 million and a couple unusually mild winters, the Mackinaw project was derided as a white elephant and the “Coast Guard’s Folly.” But on March 4, 1944, the 290-foot vessel was launched and trial runs got underway. Opinion of the project soon changed. Now it was praised as the most modern ship on the Great Lakes.

The Mackinaw officially went into service Dec. 20, 1944 and headed for its home port in Cheboygan, Mich. Although the ship’s primary duty was to break the ice in Great Lakes shipping lanes, the Mackinaw also completed many search and rescue missions during its more than 60 years of service.

The Mackinaw was decommissioned June 6, 2006, the same day that a new cutter was put into service.

– June 14, 2006

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