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.

Vreba-Hoff: New lagoon built as existing structures fill

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Construction began last week on a manure storage lagoon for the Vreba-Hoff dairy farms as existing lagoons reach full capacity. The new structure is located about two miles east of the company’s Dillon Highway farm.

Construction equipment was moved onto the site before Christmas to begin excavation of the 12 million gallon, clay-lined lagoon, located off Packard Road, about half a mile west of Bothwell Highway.

Transporting manure to the site by tanker truck will require travel along Dillon and Packard—both unimproved roads.

Vreba-Hoff spokesperson Cecelia Conway said the additional capacity is needed due to maintenance problems with the new press treatment system and wet fall weather following the corn harvest.

In addition, she said, creating a satellite lagoon will place manure closer to fields whevreba-pit re the nutrients are applied, leading to a more efficient operation.

Dairy co-owner Stephen VanderHoff met Dec. 11 with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) after the company received a noncompliance letter from the DEQ and the state attorney general’s office citing several problems at the dairy, including a backlog of manure.

The letter stated the existing lagoons were over-full and in violation of freeboard requirements—the allowed distance from the manure to the top of the lagoon wall.

After a copy of the letter was obtained by the Toledo Blade, an article quoted a statement from the attorney general’s office stating “your management of the CAFO waste generated at your two dairies has deteriorated seriously over the last several months.”

Nicole Zacharda of the DEQ’s water bureau enforcement unit said her agency learned about the new lagoon by second-hand reports.

“We know there’s some construction taking place, but we have no involvement in that,” she said Friday.

Zacharda said there are a number of corrective actions possible, but no course of action was decided between the two parties.

“There’s been no approval of anything they suggested on our part.”

Zacharda said Vreba-Hoff obtained a local soil erosion control permit for construction.

The DEQ’s Rachel Matthews said there are specifications to follow for a manure storage structure. Construction details would be reviewed by the agency before the new lagoon is put into service.

Conway expects to have the lagoon in use by the end of next week.

Treatment system

Vreba-Hoff invested a million dollars in a new press treatment system to remove most of the liquid from manure. Compost was to be made from the solid material in an effort to end the application of liquid manure on farm land.

Problems with the system have contributed to the backlog of manure. The noncompliance letter cites “apparent problems with the press treatment system.”

In October, the DEQ documented that the system was not in operation during numerous inspections and noted, “...based on your estimate of production, you should be running the system no less than 12 hours a day, 365 days a year in order to treat all manure currently being produced annually.”

When the system was opened for public viewing in late July, Stephen VanderHoff said the system would require 24-hour attention as he intended to run manure produced daily through the system as well as add manure already stored in storage structures.

“It’s not living up to anyone’s expectations of its treatment capabilities,” Zacharda said.

Conway described the system as very complex and still in the fine-tuning stage. Enhancements to the system are planned, including the installation of a sand removal device.

Sand is used as bedding for cattle, but interferes with the press system. She said they’re looking into a cleaning device that would allow recycling of the sand bedding.

“The technology is always advancing,” she said.

In addition to problems with the treatment system, Vreba-Hoff was cited for violations including failure to inspect tile lines, lack of monthly progress reports, lack of maintenance, failure to meet deadlines in implementing storm water management practices, and a discharge into Covell Drain, a tributary of Bean Creek.

Following field application of manure Nov. 25, testing indicated E. coli bacteria levels exceeding state standards by six times.

The two Vreba-Hoff dairies are under a December 2004 consent order from the attorney general’s office due to numerous problems in the past. An agreement was reached in January 2005 that led to the installation of the press treatment system.

Conway said the dairy’s expansion plans will be delayed until manure processing is back on track, but she’s still anticipates growth.

The dairy applied to the Michigan Department of Agriculture for an increase in the herd size that would raise the number of cows at Vreba-Hoff I to 3,200 head, the same size as the company’s Vreba-Hoff II site on U.S. 127, Conway said.

   - Jan. 4, 2007

 

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