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 teachers agree to concession package 1.27.10

Written by David Green.


Morenci teachers have joined other school groups in agreeing to make financial concessions due to the district’s economic situation.

The concession agreement should save the district $90,000 between now and Aug. 31, 2011, with the potential to save much more through early retirement incentives.

The Morenci Education Association (MEA) presented a five-point concession package early in the month and the document received board of education approval Jan. 11. Although not unanimous, union members approved the proposal Jan. 18.

“Due to the economic situation facing Morenci schools, the Morenci Education Association felt that it was necessary at this time to make concessions to help ensure the viability and longevity of our school system,” said MEA president Brad Brown in a statement from the union.

Morenci’s decision wasn’t a popular one at the county and state level.

“Against the recommendation of both the Michigan Education Association and the Lenawee County Education Association (groups that felt we should wait until financial circumstances became even more dire before we took action), Morenci teachers felt strongly that we pass a concession package now to do our part during these difficult economic times,” Brown explained.

Morenci’s school administration approached union members in September when the impact of falling enrollment was learned.

“It’s a very positive step for them to take,” said Morenci Superintendent of Schools Kyle Griffith. “It’s been a lengthy process and a difficult task for them.”

“Every group has given,” he said in reference to other school employees. “We’re in this together. We’re all pitching in to keep the district going.”


The greatest savings will come from a decision that each of the 43 full-time union members will contribute $1,000 annually toward their health insurance premium. Teachers who have chosen to receive cash instead of insurance benefits will each receive a thousand dollars less in pre-taxed funds.

The contribution will be made through a payroll deduction.

Brown said the change puts Morenci about in the middle of the pack among county schools regarding staff contribution to insurance costs.

Additional savings will come through the elimination of half of the annual salary increase steps. Before, teachers received an annual salary increase every year in the first 12 years of employment. Now, increases will be given every other year, starting with the second year of employment.

Another change was made in regard to pay for coaches.

Currently, Brown said, coaches receive an annual three percent salary increase once they have served for 10 years and reach the top of the pay scale. The three percent boost will be eliminated.

Coaches who are not members of the union will now receive a flat rate regardless of experience, based on a percentage of a first-year teacher’s pay. The percentage varies depending on the sport.

The final point in the concession package—an early retirement incentive—could lead to considerable savings beyond the $90,000.

“That’s the biggest potential benefit to the district,” Griffith said. “It’s really a big plus for the district.”

In conjunction with the concessions, eligible teachers are offered a $20,000 retirement incentive if at least three union members choose the option in the same year. If only two members choose to retire, the incentive drops to $15,000.

Teachers have until March 1 to choose the option for the 2010-11 school year.

In effect, Griffith said, the teachers are helping fund the early retirement incentive through their health insurance concession. Instead of early retirement funding coming from the board, he said, the union is participating by reducing the district’s costs for employee benefits. It’s a very unique situation, he said.

Brown said he hopes the cuts will help protect teaching jobs as well as benefit students.

“Our teachers care deeply for the students, as well as the district as a whole, and we feel that keeping as much of our staff intact as possible is a high priority,” he said. “In offering these concessions, we hope staff reductions will be minimized, thus stabilizing class sizes, preventing teachers from teaching outside areas of experience, and continuing to offer quality elective programs.”

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