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

  • Front.cheers
    MACEE BEERS joins other Fayette Elementary School students for the annual Mini-Cheer performance during the half-time break at the basketball game.
  • Family.3.wide
    CHILDREN at Stair District Library’s Family Story Time toss scarves into the air during an activity. The evening program provided a mix of stories, songs, dancing, crafts and snacks Monday evening. The program is offered at 5:30 p.m. every Monday for five more weeks. The program is designed for three to five year olds and their family.
  • Front.newpaper.2
    THE INTERVIEW—Evelyn Joughin (right) records the interaction with an iPad while Jack Varga, next to her, asks questions of Morenci Elementary School principal Gail Frey. Morenci senior Sam Cool (standing) listens. Cool serves as the editor for the newspaper written by members of Mrs. Barrett’s second grade class.
  • Front.code.2
    WRITING CODE—Brock Christle (left), a Morenci fifth grade student, takes a look at the progress being made by fourth grader Anthony Lewis. Libby Rorick, a sixth grade student, is next in a line of girls trying out the coding tutorials. This year marked Morenci’s second year of participation in the Hour of Code project.
  • Front.gym.new
    REMIE RYAN (left) tries to dodge the foam wand held by Hayden Bays during physical education class at Morenci Elementary School. In the background, Lauryn Dominique and Brooklyn Williams stay clear of the tag. Second grade students were working on cardiovascular health on the first day back from vacation. For the record, Safety Tag is a very difficult sport to photograph.
  • 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.library.books
    MACK DICKSON takes a book off the “blind date” cart at the Fayette library. Patrons can choose a book without knowing what’s inside other than a general category. The books are among those designated for removal so patrons can consider them gifts. In Morenci, new books and staff favorites were chosen from the stacks and must be returned. Patrons get a piece of chocolate, too, to take on their date, but no clue about their “date.” One reader said she really enjoyed her book for a few pages, but then lost interest—so typical for a blind date.

2007.11.21 Enjoy your holiday, but watch for spilled carrots

Written by David Green.

By RICH FOLEY

There are any number of things to be thankful for as Thanksgiving Day nears, but after reading a recent New York Times article, I’ve added one to my personal list: I’m thankful I don’t have to drive in California.

It seems that the Golden State is Ground Zero for the growing phenomenon of “unintentional” litter, that is, poorly secured items falling or blowing out of vehicles to block roadways. In many areas, such debris now accounts for more roadside trash than the traditional cans, bottles and fast food wrappers.

An example given in the article recounted a recent California day where a stray trampoline blocked two lanes of I-680 and a runaway rocking chair slowed traffic on I-580. Meanwhile, a spill of loaves of sourdough bread shut down U.S. 101.

The scattered bread brought back an old memory. Back in the 1960s, my family made a trip to southwest Missouri along old Route 66. Somewhere in central Missouri, we had to stop for a while because of a roadblock. A truck loaded with cheese had rolled over, spilling much of the cargo across the highway. Once the cheese was removed from 66, we were allowed to continue. If there had been a nearby bread truck accident as well, at least we could have made sandwiches while we were waiting.

Unfortunately, not all unintentional litter stories have punch line potential. Over 150 people have died in California in the last two years in accidents with objects on highways, included a deputy sheriff killed when he swerved to miss a stove that had fallen off a truck.

California’s state transportation department estimates that 140,000 cubic yards of such road debris falls onto state highways each year, an amount large enough to fill nearly 9,000 garbage trucks. That many trucks could cause their own roadblock, as they would stretch over 40 miles in length.

I was surprised to learn that there are people known as “litter anthropologists” who study such things. One such person attributes the growth of unintentional litter to an increase in self-hauling, rather than hiring a professional. A waste-consulting firm’s “litter analyst” quoted in the article adds the spurt in pickup truck sales in the past couple of decades has helped the problem grow.

Before I go any further, I have to ask, where would I go to become a certified litter analyst? Are there college degrees in such a field? The analyst’s conclusion does seem to make sense, however.

Since so many people now have trucks, there are more who just can’t resist the urge to do their own moving and hauling, even though obviously they haven’t learned that essential lesson of tying the load down. California leads the country with an estimated four million pickups on state highways. Thinking back to the garbage truck example, that many pickups would make a line something like 15,000 miles long. Now there’s a real roadblock.

In enforcing littering laws, some states have attempted to differentiate between debris like mattresses, ladders, dinette sets, building supplies, etc., and what might be termed “natural” litter. This natural litter varies from state to state.

In California, for instance, feathers from live birds or water are the only things allowed to fall from your vehicle and not leave you liable for a littering violation. In Nebraska, the exception is corn stalks. In Kentucky, it’s coal. I can understand the state wanting to help the industry, but would you like to get hit by a flying chunk of coal?

I would guess that potatoes falling from your vehicle might be allowable in Idaho and oranges in Florida. In our area, manure might be the unofficial local litter.

So what’s the worst non-lethal thing to fall from a vehicle? Greg Williams, a 27-year California Highway Patrol veteran, claims a carrot truck accident as his choice. “There’s nothing slipperier than a crushed carrot,” he said.

Keep all of this in mind as you travel on Thanksgiving. You might be lucky enough to retrieve a  baked turkey lost on the way to a family dinner, but beware. There could be a gravy spill around the next curve.

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