Whatever happened to... 2013.01.16

Written by David Green.

with photos

Not all news items from the Observer reach a conclusion by the end of the year. Some things continue into the next year, and a few go on year after year.

Following is a sampling of plans and events that are still in flux.

• WALKING TRAIL—Morenci city administrator Renée Schroeder has worked to attract funding for a walking trail along Bean Creek from the back of Wakefield Park. Some initial design work was done and a donor offered to pay the cost—sometime in the future. 

"We are still working toward a walking trail for our community, but haven't heard from the prospective donor in a long time," Schroeder said.

Schroeder is working with Patrick Judd of Conservation Design Forum of Ann Arbor to create a new five-year park/recreation plan that is required in order to obtain a state grant.

• JEB—Remember the story about Jeb, the town cat of Fayette? He often risks his life by crossing downtown streets and we wondered if he's still among the living. "Definitely," reported now-retired tax administrator Dee Lawrence. She had a visit from him just a couple of weeks ago.

• HABITAT—A meeting was scheduled in Morenci last summer to see if any local families were interested in becoming part of a Habitat for Humanity project.

"We do have a Morenci family identified," said Lenawee Habitat director Lynne Punnett. "We expect they will go to the Board for final approval either at the end of this month or perhaps in February."

It won't be a building project this time. The family will be involved in the renovation of an existing home on their way to home ownership. Punnett said a house might be donated for the project.

Applications from prospective families may be downloaded from Habitat's website (www.habitat-lenawee.org) and submitted at any time.

• DAIRIES—Southern Michigan Dairies, owner of the two former Vreba-Hoff dairies northwest of Morenci, were completely closed last year and offered for sale. A representative from a local environmental group was told that there were at least two prospective buyers, but the deal never was completed. A representative from Southern Michigan Dairies (SMD) did not respond to a request for information.

The permits currently held by SMD could be transferred to a new owner once a sale closes, said Nicole Zacarda, an enforcement specialist with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. Any requests for changes to the existing permits would have to be evaluated by the DEQ.

"All of the historic Vreba-Hoff related orders have been satisfied," she said. "A new owner will need to request the transfer. Provided that the Department determines that the existing permits will continue to be protective of water quality under both state and federal regulations, then the transfer would be allowed."

• SIGNS—There are still no signs on U.S. 20 or State Route 66 directing traffic to Fayette's school. Following a bad traffic accident on U.S. 20 after a young driver missed the unmarked turn to reach the school, school and village officials both made attempts to have signs placed on the state highways.

The Ohio Department of Transportation office said the request for a sign at U.S. 20 and Country Road 23 "does not meet our criteria for a traffic generator that warrants signs."

A sign downtown at the main intersection and at Gamble Road falls under the Village's authority, according to the ODOT letter, and would be based on its sign policy.

• SEARS HOUSE—In June 2012, we sent out a bulletin to look for a special Sears Home from the early 1900s. Somewhere in Fayette, a Sears Milton model home was built and an expert on the homes—Rosemary Thornton—wants to see a photo. If it's still standing, it must be well disguised because no one has identified that model from Sears.

• PALM PLASTICS—The former Palm Plastics factory building was emptied before the end of the year as Arca-Schoeller ceased all operations here. Norbert Bauman, the owner of the 96,000 square foot structure, has created a brochure to help in his attempts to market the building.

• POST OFFICES—Area post offices survived a closure threat last year, but a reduction in hours did occur at Weston and a reduction is Clayton is expected soon.

• BUSINESS OFFICE—As the Morenci Area School district continues to look for ways to cut costs and work its way out of a deficit, one of the proposals discussed by the board is the closure of the business office. The board of education office on Page Street would be closed and the Lenawee ISD would be hired to handle district finances, as it does for the Tecumseh district.

No decision on the proposal was made last year, but Superintendent of Schools Michael Osborne will soon release his proposed list of additional cuts. At that time the public will know if the business office idea is still being considered.

• THE WALL—We're often asked about the lovely south wall of the Observer office. The question is usually something like this: "When is the City going to clean up that mess?"

As you may remember, the City bought the old Dunbar building next to the Observer and had it demolished. Unfortunately, roofing tar applied by previous owners and the plaster wall of that building remained on the Observer bricks, and in September 2011 city council approved this motion: "The city will take the next step in attempting to remove the plaster from the side of David Green’s building. If that doesn’t work, discussion with the owner will be continued."

An informal offer was made several months ago, but the Observer has not agreed to accept the offer. More recently, the City has suggested seeking an infrastructure improvement grant to tackle the problem.

Eighteen months of exposure to the weather hasn't had much effect, so it's one more unresolved story.

• SKELTON BROTHERS—For a second year, a cloud hangs over Morenci due to the disappearance of the three Skelton brothers: Andrew, Alexander and Tanner.

The boys' father, John, remains in prison serving a sentence for the unlawful imprisonment of his sons and police continue probing the case as a murder investigation. So far, not a trace of the boys' whereabouts has come to light.

  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
  • Front.sculpta
    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
  • Shadow.salon
    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

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