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 2011.09.28

Written by David Green.


Some years Morenci’s sewer use fee goes up, some years it goes down. 2012 will be one of those years that it moves upward.

When the city borrowed money for the combined sewer overflow (CSO) project in 1992, financing regulations called for the establishment of a fund for the operation, maintenance and replacement of the sewer system.

Each year city council establishes an annual rate based on expected needs. This time the rate is jumping by $1 to $3.37 per thousands gallons of water used.

City clerk/administrator Renée Schroeder introduced the topic Monday by noting that two charges will now be absent from water and sewer bills because the CSO project is finally paid off.

Residents will no longer see the fixed quarterly charge of $11.50 nor will they see the quarterly debt retirement fee of 83 cents for every thousand gallons of water used. 

For a family using 16,000 gallons a quarter, the reduction comes to $24.78 every quarter. The $1 increase raises the bill by $16 every quarter. 

Reaching that $1 increase proved difficult.

Council’s Public Works committee proposed a sewer use rate of $4.08 per thousand gallons, based on a formula that considers savings, revenue and expected spending.

It’s a combination of good news and bad news, said mayor Keith Pennington.

“The bad news is that your sewer rates are going up substantially for next year,” he said. “The good news is that we’ve paid the bond debt off.”

Pennington expects the rate to decrease the following year when infrastructure work tied to the parking lot project is completed. Several old sewer and water lines were replaced in the project, along with new basins and drains to improve storm water removal in the area and a fire hydrant upgrade.

Schroeder said the water/sewer operating and maintenance fund isn’t only for the construction of new lines. It also pays for sludge removal at the lagoons, operation of the water and waste water treatment plants—electrical costs alone are $23,000—along with routine and emergency work completed throughout the year. 

“It’s not always saving for a big project,” she said after the meeting. “It’s also saving for emergencies.”

The mayor reiterated auditor Phil Rubley’s advice to the city: Continue funding the infrastructure improvement funds.

“ A lot of cities get in trouble because they really don’t save,” he said. “He commends us for the way we’ve been doing it.”

Pennington stated that the increase was justified for the next year, but councilor Tracy Schell said this isn’t the time for a huge increase.

She was joined by Jason Cook and Greg Braun in opposing the motion, leaving the motion in a tie vote.

Schell offered a motion to increase the rate to $3.20. She said that with this figure, no one’s bill will increase and the amount going into savings will still increase.

This time Art Erbskorn, Leasa Slocum and Pennington voted against the motion.

“We need to make sure the fund stays healthy in case there are any unexpected costs,” Erbskorn said.

Schell said she doesn’t think the city has ever been in the position where fee needed to be doubled.

Cook stated his doubt about the fee coming back down in the future, but Erbskorn it’s been reduced several times in recent years.

Schroeder said there’s about $99,000 in the savings account, and Erbskorn said that wouldn’t cover a major water tower problem, for example.

Schell said the removal of the two charges should not be viewed as a decrease.

“That’s something the citizens have paid off,” she said. “It’s not that we’re giving them a decrease.”

Erbskorn made a new motion for a rate of $3.80, but that also failed. Braun suggested a rate of $3.37 and this time Slocum joined the others to approve the motion by a 4-3 vote.

NEW MEMBER—Three residents applied to fill a vacant council seat and Robert Jennings was chosen. His term will expire in November 2012.

HALLOWEEN—Trick or Treat hours were established from 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31.

PARK—City supervisor Lonnie Vanderpool thanked members of the Class of 1976 for their work at Stephenson Park. Equipment was painted and new mulch was spread.

HEATER—Council approved a motion to buy a heater unit for the bay of the EMS building at a cost of $4,800 from Best Heating and Cooling. The existing heater was not sufficient.

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