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.

Pennington Gas Service buys a diesel/electric hybrid truck 2009.06.24

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

There’s always a Pennington Gas Service truck in Morenci’s Town & Country Festival parade and there will be again this year. pennington.hybrid.jpg

But the vehicle that will be entered Saturday morning is like none other in the country.

This marks the first time that Eaton Corporation’s diesel-electric hybrid  drivetrain system has been used in a hazardous material delivery vehicle.

Signature Truck Systems of Clio, Mich., built the Freightliner Business Class M2e truck for Pennington—an effort by three Michigan companies to move toward green technology, said Pennington Gas partner Keith Pennington.

Pennington said he attends a truck trade show every couple of years to keep abreast of changes in technology, particularly those that could apply to the propane industry. The hybrid got his attention.

The 60 horsepower electric motor can power a variety of commercial truck needs while the main diesel engine is shut down. In the propane business, that means the truck can be shut off while a customer’s tank is filled. The five- to 10-minute pumping operation can be handled by the electric motor. An entire stop at a customer’s house can take up to 20 minutes—all with the diesel shut off.

“This will improve safety, air quality and noise levels while making deliveries near homes or other buildings,” Pennington said.

The electric motor also assists the diesel engine while driving down the road. Pennington anticipates a reduction of at least 30 percent in diesel burned, which will both save money for the company and reduce the amount of emissions into the air.

Pennington ordered a smaller engine than usual for the truck, expecting the electric assist to fill the gap.

The electric motor also assists in the truck’s “launch” every time it starts from a stand-still position.

The electric motor is powered by energy generated during braking action and stored in large lithium-ion batteries.

Pennington looks forward to studying the data collected on diesel used to evaluate the validity of the system for the propane industry.

“It can’t make only environmental sense,” he said, “it has to make economic sense if it’s going to gain widespread use.”

The truck has been displayed at three propane industry events and Pennington said the response is split between those who give him a slap on the back and those who say “you’re crazy.”

“We’re a company that does things to see if they’re going to work,” Pennington said. “What we intend to do this summer is put it on the road to all of our local branches.”

The company wants customers to know about the truck because awareness and interest in green technology is growing. Ten years ago only a small percentage of Pennington Gas customers would have had much interest in the hybrid truck, Pennington believes, but that’s not the case today.

“People are concerned, and rightfully so, about the imported fuel that we rely on,” he said.

He would like to see propane emphasized more as a motor fuel and to convince Eaton there’s a market for propane-fueled trucks.

For now, it’s the diesel model that’s the focus of attention. Freightliner and Eaton will both be keeping close tabs on the performance of the vehicle to help Pennington Gas determine if it’s a good fit for the industry.

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