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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Sharing: School board votes to retain shared superintendent 2013.05.08

Written by David Green.


Morenci Board of Education members aren’t ready yet to break with the shared superintendent concept they initially approved in 2010.

A motion by Carrie Dillon to discontinue sharing an administrator with Hudson died due to lack of support at the board meeting Monday. A second motion—to continue with the shared superintendent—passed by a 6-1 margin, with only Dillon voting against it.

Board members are uncertain where the agreement with Hudson will stand in two weeks when that board of education meets. At the quarterly shared services committee meeting with Hudson last month, representatives from that school indicated their board might vote to employ Dr. Michael Osborne as a full-time administrator once again, as it did before the shared arrangement began.

Dillon made her motion to discontinue sharing for financial reasons. The two districts each pay one half of Osborne’s salary and benefits.

Trustee Phil McCaskey questioned that approach, stating that the district is saving money with the half cost, yet nothing has been proposed to replace Osborne at smaller cost.

McCaskey said Morenci is in the tough financial position that Hudson was in four years ago. 

“Hudson took a hands-off approach,” he said. “They hired Mr. Osborne and let him do his job.”

Hudson is now out of debt and has funds set aside to rehire Osborne full-time.

“There are tough cuts ahead,” McCaskey said. “We have someone in place now who is willing to make the cuts.”

McCaskey said a Hudson school board member told him that Morenci micromanages to the point of making the superintendent ineffective.

Board president Scott Merillat said it’s not the board’s role to make cuts. That’s why a superintendent is hired.

Board member Laura Spencer stated her concern about a proposal for a combined superintendent/principal because the same person would be negotiating with the people they’re also supervising.

Spencer said she hears complaints about Osborne not being in the district enough, but by combining administrative roles, that immediately makes each job part-time. If that’s one of the core reasons for ending the shared superintendent, she said, she doesn’t see the situation changing.

Larry Bruce, the board’s newest member, said the shared arrangement has not been discussed since he joined the board in November. 

“I might not be ready to go away from a shared superintendent, but we know we have to make cuts,” he said. “We need to do something on the administrative end. We’re going to have to make some administrative changes.”

State officials think there are too many school districts in Michigan, Merillat said, and Morenci is now the county’s smallest. He urged the board to make a decision and move forward.

“Regardless of what we’re doing, we need to save $250,000,” he said. “There needs to be cuts made. Somebody has to do it.”

Several board members abstained from voting, stating there wasn’t sufficient information available. Merillat asked if there were any other motions and the discussion continued.

Spencer noted that the top administrator making the cuts is not going to be liked by those affected. She said she’s very disturbed by the undermining of administrators that she’s witnessed since joining the board two years earlier.

“I’m disgusted that as a board and a community in general we haven’t handled things with more respect and dignity,” she said, “and done what is right for students and made the hard decisions. I’ve never seen so many hidden agendas in my professional career.”

“We have a leader in place. Is Mike the right leader? I don’t know,” she said. “But whoever that leader is needs to be respected. Issues need to be dealt with like adults and dealt with professionally.  I don’t like what I’ve seen.”

Merillat said the board needs to establish a clear set of goals for the superintendent for six months down the road, for one year, for five years. Whoever is chosen, the person needs the board’s support—without interference.

Merillat said that any time in the future the district can opt out of the shared contract if the goals aren’t met.

The 6-1 vote leaves Osborne in place while the board awaits to hear from Hudson.

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