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

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    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.
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    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.
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    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.
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    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.
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    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).
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    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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State Line Farms: Neighbors complain about odors 2004.09.22

Written by David Green.


Floyd McVay says he isn’t opposed to farming. He just doesn’t like a pair of 2,000 head hog barns located about 100 yards from his front door.

“We’ve got to have farmers,” he told Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDA) representative Kristin Linderman at a meeting Sept. 10.

“That’s why we developed the GAAMPs,” Linderman said, referring to her agency’s Generally Accepted Agricultural and Management Practices that serve as a guideline for farmers to follow.

The problem for McVay is that the GAAMPs are voluntary. The owners of the operation across from his Ridgeville Road house chose not to follow the GAAMP guidelines for siting when the facility was constructed.

Linderman visited State Line Farms before meeting with a small group of citizens at the John and Peggy Zachel residence, across from the swine barns on M-156.

According to the GAAMPs, a facility of State Line’s size should be located at least half a mile from non-farm residences and 600 feet from the property line. Neither of those guidelines was followed—which is perfectly legal, Linderman pointed out. However, by not conforming to the GAAMPs, the operation loses its “nuisance protection” through the state’s Right to Farm law and is subject to civil lawsuits from citizens.

She added later that the facility might lose its Right to Farm protection, since it would be up to the presiding judge if a suit were to be filed.

Linderman said that State Line Farms will fulfill the requirements for certification through the Department of Agriculture’s Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP), as required by law, by Sept. 1, 2005.

For large farms, this process includes development of comprehensive nutrient management plan that outlines manure handling. The plan must receive third party verification through the MDA.

McVay spoke of the disparity between residential and agricultural facilities.

“If I were to put in a house, I have to have 10 acres,” he said in reference to township regulations governing agricultural land. “Putting in 4,000 head buildings 100 yards from my house is a hell of lot worse than building a house on two acres.”

Again, Linderman referred to the GAAMPS.

“He [Gary Gallup] chose not to do that so it’s out of our hands,” she said. “We have no right to stop him.”

Linderman said that the location of the barns “may or may not be in the correct place” and that it was never determined through a siting procedure.

Linderman’s visit to the farm resulted from an odor complaint made by a neighbor, however, she found no odor violation. Her follow-up letter stated the facility was managed in conformance with the GAAMPs relating to manure management and utilization. A previous odor investigation by the MDA also found no violations.

Complaints about odor are handled by the MDA, Linderman said. Her agency can chose to refer the matter to the DEQ for enforcement, but the first step is to try and make changes.

Trees have been planted around the facility, she said, and more will be added. McVay agreed that trees have some filtering effect, but not enough.

Linderman said that farm owner Gary Gallup is looking for odor control advice from Michigan State University and she will seek some information from the University of Minnesota.

She said farm owners are looking into some costly alternatives, such as biofilters, but from what she’s read, those devices haven’t yet been proven effective. If a reliable, affordable method were available, she said, it would be widely used.

Concern was also expressed about pesticide use and the possible drift onto neighboring property. A person living near a field blamed pesticide drift for causing illness, but the MDA ruled there was insufficient evidence.

Questions were also asked about the application of manure on sandy soil with a shallow water table—as close to the surface as 10 feet in some areas. It was stated that at least one resident in the area draws drinking water from a well that’s only 18 feet deep.

“Why not stop it [contamination] before it happens rather than trying to clean it up later?” asked Neil Hinkley.

Seneca Township supervisor Kiel Plummer asked why the health department isn’t involved, but Linderman said that agency has no authority.

“Who does?” Hinkley asked, suggesting that a lot of buck passing goes on.

If wells were to become contaminated, Linderman said, the health department would address the issue in conjunction with the DEQ.

Large scale

“I understand your frustration,” Linderman said. I wish there was some magical solution I could give you.”

She suggested making zoning changes if people don’t want agriculture in their neighborhood, but residents said they aren’t opposed to farming.

“That’s not regular farming, it’s factory farming,” said John Zachel, who once raised as many as 15,000 turkeys on his own farm.

That’s the way of society, answered Linderman, with so many businesses operating on a larger scale.

That’s obvious to Floyd McVay and he doesn’t like how the little guy is left behind. As he sees it, agencies such as the Michigan Department of Agriculture are on the side of the big farms and he’s left on his own.

• Rural residents can obtain assistance with well testing through the Home*A*Syst program. Information is available through the county conservation district office by calling 517/265-5887.


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