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

  • Front.sculpt
    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.

Lanny Simpkins: Creates a model barn

Written by David Green.


Lanny Simpkins remembers the day he sat in his basement workshop, a knife in one hand and a miniature cedar shingle in the other.

He was tapering one edge, tiny shavings hitting the floor, while Chad Miller stood watching. Chad was there to go fishing, but Lanny turned him down. He said he was going to work on his barn instead.

lanny--barn Chad told him he was nuts and went off in search of fish.

That wasn’t the only time someone told Lanny that his barn project was crazy. He heard it more than once during the two winters he spent with his own private barn raising.

Although the barn measures only 22 by 30 inches, the roofing job required about 2,300 shingles—each one tapered slightly by hand so it would lay just right in order to appear authentic.

Lanny built a model barn for the Van Brandt boys years ago, but it wasn’t as detailed as his recent project. The idea for this one had been in the back of his mind when he thought about his brother’s old barn on Bryant Road near Sand Creek.

Lanny spent a lot of time in that barn during baling season and he figures he had plenty of time to look it over.

He learned it well. The details in his little barn are many and they’re impressive.

A miniature pulley to operate a hay car that moves along the main roof beam. A welding machine in the tool shed that includes a painted dial. Tiny milk pails placed in a cooler with a refrigeration unit on top. Surge milk containers fashioned out of wood and hanging on the milk house wall.

“Everything is hand made,” he said. “It was fun building it, but it took a lot of hours.”

Actually, the shingles are the only part of the project that came ready made, but then Lanny ended up shaving each one of them.

The bulk of the barn, milk house, tool shop and silo is fashioned from strips of pine wood. To cover the barn, for ex

ample, he cut thin strips three-fourths of an inch wide and added a groove in the middle. Each represents two boards of siding—130 in all.

He built the silo by wrapped a fiber tube in wax paper and gluing strips of wood around the tube. Each board of the tool shop was run through a router to give it the right look of a metal-sided building.

Lanny got some help with a few of the details. Farm toy collector Jim Lakatos bought the herd of 10 cows that stand inside the barn. Lanny’s wife, Carol, found small bales of hay and feed bags at a craft show.

Some items posed special challenges. Lanny thought hard about what to use for door tracks for the barn doors to slide along. A friend suggested using a piece of aluminum hunting arrow with a slot cut along the length.

“It was just what I was looking for,” Lanny said.

But to cut the slot, he ended up spending a long time with a hacksaw blade.

The overhead door in the tool shop was created with strips of wood held together with narrow piece of window screening. The door looked good, but it didn’t move right. Lanny finally discovered that he needed to add a spring to provide tension, just like the real thing.

The barn is on display at Stair Public Library and will remain there through the fall, until the conclusion of the Smithsonian Institute’s Barn Again! An American Icon exhibit that arrives in October.

It’s delighted visitors of all ages since it arrived at the library last year.

“Some people have to look it over every time they come in,” said librarian Sheri Frost.

That’s what makes those two winters in the basement worth the time for Lanny. This year he’s been out fishing.

   - Feb. 18, 2004

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