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.
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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.
  • 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 school board 2011.08.17

Written by David Green.


Morenci’s school lunch prices will increase this year as the district joins hundreds of others in meeting federal requirements.

After Congress passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, schools participating in the National School Lunch Program were forced to take a look at their food service funding in regard to federal subsidies.

Research by the U.S.D.A. found that many schools are charging less for lunches than it costs to produce the lunch.

According to the U.S.D.A. report, “Pricing paid lunches below the cost of production effectively increases federal subsidies for higher income children because federal funds intended for free and reduced price lunches are being used to help fill the gap between what a paid lunch costs and what the school receives for it.”

Therefore, the report continues, children across all income levels are negatively affected by limiting the funds available to provide nutritious meals.

A funding formula results in a five cent increase for elementary school lunches to $1.80 and a dime increase for older student lunches to $2.10—the first increase in many years.

Districts will be required to gradually increase prices until reaching the national average of $2.46, with increases of no more than 10 cents a year.

District finance director Erica Metcalf noted that the district does have the option of taking revenue from another source to cover the cost difference, such as a transfer from the general fund 

Families have trouble covering the cost of lunches now, said school board member Phil McCaskey.

“I don’t see how we can do it,” he said. “The only way you’re going to get my support on this is if we do a proactive approach in the community to go out and touch base with people about the free and reduced lunch program.”

The maximum that can be transferred from the general fund, Metcalf said, is $25,000, however, the district is likely to encounter increased costs from meeting other requirements in the new lunch law, Nutritional standards are also changing, along with a requirement to make  drinking water to students in the cafeteria.

Increasing prices will affect about half of Morenci’s students since the level of free and reduced-price lunches stands at about 50 percent.

There are probably many people who don’t think they would qualify for free and reduced lunches, said superintendent Michael Osborne, because the standards are more generous than many people might think.

Pride is a big factor, McCaskey said, that prevents many families from taking advantage of the free and reduced-price program.

School board president Scott Merillat suggested contacting families when they get behind in lunch payments to make sure they’re aware of the free and reduced-price program.

“The $25,000 transfer is an actual cost of the food service,” noted board member Laura Spencer. “If our costs are going to increase and we’re not covering that $25,000 for overhead, it would make sense that we would want to cover that.”

Board members voted 4-1 to support the lunch price increase, with McCaskey in opposition. Ivy Hutchison and Gary Ries were absent.

STAFF—Two elementary teachers were recalled for the 2011-12 school year. Music teacher Keith Filipek and classroom teacher Chris Mansfield will return from layoff. Teaching assignments were not yet released for the upcoming school year as administrators continue to work through a budget deficit.

Freda Wright was hired as a full-time bus driver. She had previously worked as a substitute driver. Former classroom teacher Paula Grieder, who was laid off, was hired as Title I paraprofessional.

BIDS—Board members voted to accept a bid for milk from Prairie Farms; gasoline from Lightning Quick in Morenci; premium diesel fuel from Tri-County Fuel; and bread from Aunt Millie’s.

The bids mark a change from last year for bread and milk. McCaskey voted against the change in the milk supplier, noting that the former supplier, Arps, donates milk for some school functions. 

The change Prairie Farms will save the district about $4,000.

“I think we should take advantage of the savings or we’ll have to cut somewhere else,” Merillat said.

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