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

  • 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.carry.casket
    CARRYING—Riley Terry (blue jacket) and Mason Vaughn lead the way, carrying an empty casket outside to the hearse waiting at the curb. Morenci juniors and seniors visited Eagle Funeral Home last week to learn about the role of a funeral director and to understand the process of arranging for a funeral.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Front.F.office
    NEW OFFICES—Fayette village administrator Steve Blue speaks with tax administrator Genna Biddix at the new front desk of the village office. Village council members voted to use budgeted renovation funds targeted for the old office and instead buy the vacant bank building on the corner of Main and Fayette streets. The old office was sold to Sherwood State Bank. When everything is put into place in the spacious new village office, an open house will be scheduled. Council member David Wheeler donated all of his time needed to make changes in the bank interior to fit the Village’s needs.

Morenci city council 2013.03.13

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Morenci city council members voted unanimously Monday night to accept one-year options to purchase two parcels of farmland on the east side of the industrial park.

A 17.7 acre parcel owned by the Lay family lies adjacent to the industrial park and includes the Morenci Skateland building. A   19.3 acre parcel to the east is owned by the Horton family and includes a house and outbuildings.

Mayor Keith Pennington told council that he heard the property might be available for purchase and he negotiated the 12-month option agreements at a cost of $1,000 for each parcel.

That will give council a year to decide if it wants to move forward with the purchase. Also during that time, the industrial park will be marketed as having a much larger area available, and also place the skating rink building in property databases.

“It’s not that we have a buyer waiting in the wings,” Pennington said, “it’s not that we’re going to somehow acquire grant money to buy more property, but it does help the city plan for the future.”

The time to buy, he said, is when prices are low, when a party is ready to sell, and when you’re ready to buy, but not in an emergency situation where you have to buy. I think the city will be served well by these agreements.”

The cost of the properties comes in at $226,600, but that could be partially offset by the sale of the skating rink and the house, and by farmland rent.

Council member Brenda Spiess gave her support of the mayor’s plan. A lot of time is being devoted to industrial development, she said, and this property will open up more options. After a year council can reassess the situation.

Councilor Rebecca Berger said that development groups suggest planning for changes many years down the road and purchasing the land now could avoid having to expand industrial property in a different area of town, with the need of bringing in utilities.

PALM PLASTICS BUILDING—Mayor Pennington met with a representative of the Toledo-based Regional Growth Partnership, an independent group serving as an economic development agency for a region that includes Monroe, Lenawee and Hillsdale counties.

Pennington was told that the Palm Plastics building appears to be in the top tier of industrial space. Currently, there are no other buildings of that caliber available in the region, and very few in the next class down.

Pennington said the report gave him encouragement for future use of the facility.

CHARTER—City council members are willing to move forward on major revisions to the city charter, if approved by voters. 

Some minor changes were made in 1963, Pennington said, but no major changes have occurred in 78 years.

Council will discuss the issue in more detail in future meetings, but Pennington gave a few idea about what might be done. For example, the charter makes reference to the town constable, a position that no longer exists.

Changes could also be made in the organization of employees, with department heads reporting to the administrator rather than to council.

In order to make changes, voters would have to approve a request to do so and then elect nine people to a charter commission. Finally, voters would decide whether or not to accept the commission’s recommendations.

ADMINISTRATOR—The City is accepting applications to replace city administrator/clerk Renée Schroeder through March 22. Schroeder will retire at the end of the year.

Interviews are scheduled to begin the first week of April and the successful candidate is expected to be hired at the April 22 council meeting.

WEBSITE—Council voted to hire the Okemos-based firm Web Ascender to create a new website for the city. The cost is $4,500 to build the site and $500 annually for maintenance and hosting.

Councilor Brenda Spiess said she wants a more functional website that’s not a generic template. The website will include an economic development section.

FROST LAWS—The state and county frost laws are preventing semi trucks from entering Morenci, said city supervisor Barney Vanderpool. He spoke with an MDOT representative who will appeal the situation higher up in the organization.

Frost laws place seasonal restrictions on vehicle weight when winter is ending to prevent damage to roads while thawing is underway.

AUDITOR—City treasurer Crystal White will seek bids from auditing firms for a three-year contract.

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