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.

2007.09.12 Beware bear painters, and bring your Wagbag

Written by David Green.

By RICH FOLEY

It’s not the best of times to be a bear, especially in Alaska, where biologists are painting, (yes, painting) bruins deemed to be “problem” bears. The idea is to make them easily identifiable in case they continue to bother humans. But just who is responsible for the “bothering” in the first place?

About the time the painting program was starting, six bears were killed in one week in Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula by civilians claiming they were protecting life or property. As is often the case, most of the kills were by people who had ignored long-standing advice to avoid bear confrontations by having bear-proof garbage receptacles and putting an electric fence around their property.

More problems are caused by fishermen who leave salmon carcasses in rivers, which is practically a neon sign beckoning hungry bears. Of course, bears always get the blame for the human-caused confrontations. Maybe the bears should get together and hire a lobbyist, if they could find one willing to work for fish and berries, plus the occasional purloined picnic basket.

At least they should try to do something about Jeff Selinger, biologist with Alaska’s Division of Wildlife Conservation and mastermind of the bear painting scheme. “We’re trying to do what’s best for the resource,” Selinger told a Juneau newspaper. Selinger’s first bear-painting attempt was hardly a benefit for the “resource.”

Selinger and his team shot a two-year-old female bear with a tranquilizer dart on June 13th, bleached five areas on her hide and marked them with bright pink paint. The bear died shortly thereafter. A necropsy determined the death was caused by Selinger missing the bear’s target area and instead injecting its liver with a fatal dose of tranquilizer. Nice job, Jeff!

Some question the idea of painting bears in the first place, thinking it will cause socialization problems for the colored victims. Not so, “expert” Jeff “Sure Shot” Selinger told the Anchorage Daily News.

“Bears cannot see colors, or if they do it’s just minor shades,“ Selinger said. “Most of what they see is in black and white, so color coding would not have an effect.” Doesn’t sound that positive, does  he? Yeah, and this little tranquilizer dart won’t hurt a bit, if only I knew where to shoot it.

Meanwhile, in the lower 48, for once the animals are spared by new rules aimed at making life less dangerous for park rangers.

Three outhouses in the Mount Whitney region have been removed in the last year, sparing rangers and helicopter pilots from waste removal duties. One outhouse, which previously sat 14,494 feet above sea level near Mount Whitney’s summit, was the highest outhouse in the continental United States.

Park rangers used to have to dress up in hazardous material suits and tie bags or barrels of human waste weighing up to 250 pounds to a line dangling from a hovering helicopter, which had to negotiate mountain canyons in high winds.

“It’s one thing to take a risk to fly up there to pick up a sick or injured person,” forest ranger Brian Spitek told The New York Times. “To do it to fly out a bag of poop is another.” OK, let’s have a show of hands. Who believes that he really said “poop?”

Since there is little loose dirt at Mount Whitney’s higher altitudes and nearly 20,000 people a year who register to climb the mountain, burying the waste isn’t possible. Climbers now get to (make that have to) follow the lead of river rafters and take their own waste with them. Bears may still defecate at will.

People signing up to climb the Whitney trail are told what to do in case of a lightning storm, given directions on how to safeguard their food from bears and issued a Wagbag, a portable sanitation kit designed to hold...well, you know. The used Wagbags are deposited in receptacles at the trailhead. Once taken to a landfill, they biodegrade in six to nine months. Wagbag collection officer...that sounds like something Jeff Selinger might be able to handle.

At this point, I doubt that climbers have to worry anymore about hungry bears. In the first place, the combination of the smell of your food and the scent from the Wagbag emanating from your backpack probably isn’t that inviting. Secondly, the bears are probably too busy laughing at you to care.

You know Smokey Bear must be looking down from bear heaven and smiling. And remember, as Smokey always says, only you can prevent Wagbag fires.

 

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