The Weekly Newspaper serving the citizens of Morenci, Mich., Fayette, Ohio, and surrounding areas.

  • Front.cheers
    MACEE BEERS joins other Fayette Elementary School students for the annual Mini-Cheer performance during the half-time break at the basketball game.
  • Family.3.wide
    CHILDREN at Stair District Library’s Family Story Time toss scarves into the air during an activity. The evening program provided a mix of stories, songs, dancing, crafts and snacks Monday evening. The program is offered at 5:30 p.m. every Monday for five more weeks. The program is designed for three to five year olds and their family.
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    THE INTERVIEW—Evelyn Joughin (right) records the interaction with an iPad while Jack Varga, next to her, asks questions of Morenci Elementary School principal Gail Frey. Morenci senior Sam Cool (standing) listens. Cool serves as the editor for the newspaper written by members of Mrs. Barrett’s second grade class.
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    WRITING CODE—Brock Christle (left), a Morenci fifth grade student, takes a look at the progress being made by fourth grader Anthony Lewis. Libby Rorick, a sixth grade student, is next in a line of girls trying out the coding tutorials. This year marked Morenci’s second year of participation in the Hour of Code project.
  • Front.skelton.vigil
    MORENCI’S three Skelton brothers were remembered with both tears and laughter last week during a candlelight vigil at Wakefield Park. Several people came out of the crowd to give their recollection of the boys who have now been missing for five years.
  • Front.gym.new
    REMIE RYAN (left) tries to dodge the foam wand held by Hayden Bays during physical education class at Morenci Elementary School. In the background, Lauryn Dominique and Brooklyn Williams stay clear of the tag. Second grade students were working on cardiovascular health on the first day back from vacation. For the record, Safety Tag is a very difficult sport to photograph.
  • Front.lift
    MORENCI student Dalton McCowan puts everything into a dead lift attempt Saturday morning during the Wyseguy Push/Pull event. Lifters helped raise more than $1,600 for the family of the late Devin Wyse, a former Morenci power-lifter who graduated last year. Commemorative T-shirts are still available by contacting teacher Dan Hoffman.

Weston Road work scaled back 2012.06.27

Written by David Green.

Lenawee County Road Commission managing director Scott Merillat thought he had a good project lined up for Morenci area drivers.

The county’s portion of Weston Road from Mulberry south to the city limits was scheduled for seal coating and the city’s short section leading to Main Street would be rebuilt.

Then came a policy change from the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and the project fell apart.

“At the last minute, MDOT stopped all projects for review and then came back with a $400,000 limit for force account projects for any one agency,” Merillat said.

A “force account” is when noncompetitive bidding is used. In this case, the road commission uses its own labor, equipment and materials rather than contracting the work out to private companies.

Merillat said his agency had plans for  various resurfacing projects throughout the county using $2.1 million in federal funds.

“This left us scrambling to assemble a revised construction schedule for this year,” explained Merillat.

Seal coat for the county portion of Weston Road was eliminated from federal funding and instead county funds will be used. The work on the city’s section was also taken out of federal funding plans and scaled back. 

The City of Morenci was expected to pay 20 percent of the costs, plus engineering, to have the old surface removed and rebuilt with a new, wider base and improved drainage.

Now the project has been reduced to resurfacing, what Merillat calls a “Band-Aid to make it drivable” for a few more years. The city will pay $14,372 for the work.

Merillat said when he left the road commission in 2000 for another job, road overlay cost $35,000 a mile. Twelve years later the cost is close to $100,000 a mile.  Seal coating cost $7,000 a mile, but now stands at about $18,000.

Those cost increases pose a huge challenge when revenue is tied to tax revenue via the sale of gasoline.

“The state tax per gallon was last raised in 1997 and the gallons used are decreasing based on increasing pump prices,” Merillat said. “Unfortunately, during the same time period the cost of materials has increased by two to three times the amount.”

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder says the state needs to invest $1.4 billion every year in road repair, but the funds haven’t been forthcoming in that amount.

Like many people in Merillat’s line of work, he’s worried about the future of the country’s roads and bridges.

“Reduced revenue with increased costs makes for a terrifying outlook on our national infrastructure,” he said.

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