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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Morenci city council 12.16

Written by David Green.


The former Morenci Area Hospital building will likely be demolished next year following a vote Monday by city council members.

Council voted 6-1 to accept a proposal for demolition from ProMedica Health System, providing a few changes are made the contract.

Once the property is cleared, cleaned of environmental problems and seeded with grass, it would be turned over the city, along with the former clinic building and ambulance garage.

Tracy Schell cast the only “no” vote.

Representatives from ProMedica first approached city council in April about demolition when plans were announced to move Morenci Health Center—Dr. Gray’s office, and the physical therapy and laboratory services—plus the senior citizen center to the Charles Fay Village building.

In November, city council discussed the issue and considered the costs of renovation, maintenance and utilities. Councilors hired an environmental firm to review ProMedica’s demolition proposal and a report was given Monday.

Rod Cole of A+ Environmental spoke to council about two buried tanks—one for gasoline and one for fuel oil. ProMedica’s proposal includes removal of the tanks, but Cole suggested a few additional tests for cleanup process. He said the tests would likely be done by the environmental firm ProMedica will use, but they weren’t listed in the proposal.

Mayor Keith Pennington asked about the inside of the building. Based on the age of the structure, said Lori Johnston, senior vice president of continuing care for ProMedica, it’s extremely likely that floor and ceiling tiles contain asbestos.

Jason Cook asked Cole for his opinion on the issue.

“If we demolish the building, is it going to be safe for what we want to do—to build a house on or for my kids to play soccer on?” Cook asked.

Cole said he believes the buried tanks and the asbestos are all issues that can be dealt with. He sees Promedica’s proposal as a reasonable plan.

“I think it makes sense,” he said. “I think you’re good to go.”

Council also considered a proposal made earlier in the meeting by John Van Havel, an officer of the Morenci Area Historical Society.

Van Havel said the group’s museum [the former Allen Jewelry store] is too small and he suggested donating the hospital to the history group for a larger museum.

He said his group would not need the entire structure and he listed other suggested uses that he’s heard: community meeting room, starter space for new businesses, overnight lodging, farmer’s market and flea market.

“There are probably dozens more ideas,” he said.

Pennington asked what would happen if the city turned down ProMedica’s offer of demolition—estimated to cost at least $180,000—and then later the Historical Society decided it couldn’t use the building or pay for maintenance.

“I don’t think at this point I have an answer,” Van Havel said.

He added that he hopes citizens don’t look back later and wish they had saved the building rather than agree to demolition.

Van Havel said his group is also negotiating for the use of a historic home in town to use as a museum.

Pennington asked for opinions from council members and Greg Braun expressed his concern about the costs of upkeep and maintenance. He said the cleaned green space left after demolition could also benefit the city.

City supervisor Barney Vanderpool also expressed concern about the costs to the city of maintaining the structure.

The environmental clean-up, alone, would be a financial burden to the city, Pennington said.

Cook made a motion to move forward with demolition, with three additions to the proposal: additional testing as recommended by Cole; the use of a warranty deed as recommended by the city attorney; and restoration of the vacant property to residential standards.

Johnston agreed to give council another month to decide if the hospital garage should be included in the demolition.

Johnston said a demolition contractor would be lined up soon and construction at the Fay building should be completed by the end of January.

City administrator/clerk Renée Schroeder said several requests for memorabilia were made, such as plaques and photographs. Those items will be brought to city hall, Johnston said.

Schell later explained her vote against demolition. Although she knows a significant investment would be required to make the building usable for other purposes, she believes that eventually “we will probably regret making the decision to tear down yet another building.”

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