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.
  • 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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Smoke detectors are life-savers 2009.10.17

Written 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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