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.

Smoke detectors are life-savers 2009.10.17

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

It’s a lifesaver.

The little device shown above has proven its value over and over in house fires across the country.

Its absence, on the other hand, has led to death—right here in Morenci.

Morenci Fire Department members continue to feel frustration in their attempts to emphasize the importance of smoke detectors.

It’s not only the family and friends of fire victims who suffer when a house fire results in fatalities. Firefighters also feel the grief in their inability to save lives.

After a fatal house fire in 2008, the Morenci Firemen’s Association used funding from the Morenci Kiwanis Club to offer 50 free smoke detectors.

“Have we given out some? Yes,” said department member Kim Valentine. “Have we given out as many as we want? No.”

Even the gift of a free smoke detector wasn’t enough.

A year later another fatal fire occurred in the city—one house without detectors, the other with inoperable detectors—and firefighters are ready to act again.

“Since that last fire, a few people have called us,” Valentine said. “After what’s happened, we want to take action. We’re trying to encourage everyone to have at least one. For people who need help, we’ll come in and install them.”

Valentine’s committee is even considering going door to door once a month with the free offer, but it will take some fund-raising and donations to make that work.

Fire safety experts recommend a hard-wired detector system which is built in with new construction, and they push for a detector in every bedroom.

“We’ll do whatever people allow us to do,” Valentine said.

Getting detectors into a house is the first step, but that’s where the efforts mostly end. Some people will take the detector but never install it. Others won’t replace weak batteries.

Firefighters in some communities have been shocked to learn that the smoke detector battery was removed to replace a dead battery in the TV remote.

Valentine heard a statistic that estimated there are more inoperable detectors than working ones.

“It really bothers me,” he said. “It’s the matter of a battery that could save a life—or more than one.”

Morenci fire chief Chad Schisler recommends changing batteries twice a year, with each time change. Put the old one in a flashlight or remote, he said, but give a smoke detector a fresh battery.

STUDENTS—Department member Jeff Ort spoke with elementary school students last week during Fire Prevention Week, emphasizing the need for families to develop exit plans—and to practice them. According to surveys, most families don’t have a rehearsed plan.

Parents often think they’ll have several minutes to gather everyone together and leave the house, but that often isn’t the case.

Families often awaken to heavy smoke, when the first impulse is to jump up and find out the problem.

Ort emphasized the need to stay near the floor to avoid being overcome by smoke. Many lives could be saved simply by crawling to safety rather than walking upright.

This year Valentine spoke with seniors at Morenci Area High School.

“I wanted one more shot before they leave us,” he said.

He and police chief Larry Weeks reviewed general fire safety rules, but put the message into the context of dormitories, fraternity houses and apartments.

A working smoke detector can increase the chance for survival in a fire by two-thirds, Weeks said.

“Take responsibility for your safety,” Weeks said, “rather than expecting someone to save you.”

Firefighters will always do their best, but they could use a little help from citizens.

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