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.

Bob Packard named Conservation Farmer of the Year 2008.01.16

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Bob Packard’s Elliott Highway farm is as old as Michigan. Of course it’s nothing like it was in 1837 when his family first tilled the soil.

Packard sees a combination of both improvements and degradations, but one thing is clear in his operation of the farm: He’ll do his best to upgrade the condition of the land.

“I’d like to leave it a little better than when I got it,” he said

That attitude, along with his actions, led the Lenawee Conservation District to choose Packard as the 2007 Conservation Farmer. Although Packard is in Florida for the winter, he’ll be honored in absentia at the group’s annual dinner meeting Thursday in Adrian.

Not all of the Packards stayed on the farm—at least not initially. Bob’s father left the farm for a job near Detroit, but he returned in 1944 and that’s where Bob grew up. He graduated from Morenci—a football standout—and joined in the farming operation in 1962.

The 925 acres he has under cultivation now includes about 240 acres of the original farm. After his father died, Bob got rid of the 20-some cows, but he kept a few pigs on the farm for a while. For the most part, it’s been a life of corn, soybeans and wheat, although wheat has been absent from the Packard farm for several years now.

The list of Packard’s projects through the Conservation District is extensive.

He’s put in erosion control dikes, he’s filled in gullies and he’s planted grass strips along creeks. He’s invested in tree-planting projects, built two ponds and practiced forestry management. He’s also tried to improve conditions for wildlife and made a stab at bringing pheasants back to his property.

“Just about any program they had, I got into,” Packard said. “I enjoy seeing them built and I know we’re improving the land”.

Packard also has his land grid checked for fertilizer, with a GPS-controlled truck applying varying output as it travels across fields.

Modern farming practices can improve the soil, he said, but at the same time they increase the opportunities for erosion.

“We’re building the ground up more, but we can damage it more,” Packard said. “Going to corn and beans, you have more chances for erosion.”

In the past, the ground was often covered with hay to hold the land in place and serve as a natural fertilizer. To accommodate large farming equipment, fence rows have all but disappeared.

“Probably the worst thing we did was to take out all the fence rows,” Packard said, noting the damage to wildlife and reduction in trees. “You just don’t have enough cover for wildlife anymore.”

Packard is convinced that his conservation efforts are making a difference. He can see it in the clarity of Black Creek that passes through his property on the way to the River Raisin.

Anyone participating in federally-backed conservation programs appreciates the financial incentives involved, but that’s not what draws the attention of farmers like Bob Packard.

“You can make money from them,” he said, “but that isn’t the idea.”

For him, it’s all about taking care of the land.

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