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

  • Snow.2
    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.
  • Front.sculpt
    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.
  • Front.tar.wide
    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.
  • Front.pull
    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.
  • Front.ropes
    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.
  • Front.homecoming Court
    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).
  • Front.park.lights
    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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Two dairies underway in NW Ohio

Written by David Green.


A pair of large dairies are underway in the area, but this time they’re south of the Michigan-Ohio border.

Vreba-Hoff Dairy Development is building a farm for 650 head of cattle on Fulton County Road 14, between State Route 120 and County Road RS. The dairy is under construction for the VanderKolk

On Williams County Road P, west US-127, Andy Brehm is building a dairy for 650 head. Brehm already has barns for dry cows (non-milking) on Fulton County Road 28, just west Harrison Lake State Park.


Vreba-Hoff has built 10 dairies in northwest Ohio, but the current project is the company’s first in Fulton County.

Yoder Construction began moving dirt in November for the farm, but construction stopped by order of the Ohio EPA due to the failure to obtain a storm water discharge permit.

Lynette Hablitzel of Ohio EPA’s surface water division in Bowling Green explained that a storm water discharge permit is required for erosion control during a construction project. The permit is required when five or more acres are involved in a project and the entire area will be disturbed by earth moving.

Hablitzel said that in March 2003, the restriction will address projects as small as one acre. The EPA rule isn’t specific to agricultural projects, she said. A permit would also be needed for construction of a subdivision, an industrial park, etc.

Six other Vreba-Hoff sites were visited by the Ohio EPA in July and August to evaluate storm water permits and several deficiencies were found. The company was told make sure that all appropriate permits were in place before initiating activity at other sites.

“We are very concerned about the status of this and several other Vreba-Hoff projects,” Hablitzel said. “One option we have to achieve compliance is to pursue enforcement.”

Cecilia Conway of Vreba-Hoff said she hopes the matter will be cleared up soon. Her company is still hoping to open the Chesterfield Township dairy by July 2003.

Township board members learned at their November meeting that a state block grant for road work might be in jeopardy since construction got underway before a grant application was submitted.

“I’ve always been told that if construction gets underway before a funding package is arranged, then it could be in trouble,” Fulton County Planning Commission director Steve Brown said, “but the block grant might not be in jeopardy.”

In addition, he said, other funding options exist.

“We wanted to work with the township on getting funds for the road,” Conway said, “but economic decisions forced us to start early. We still want to work with the township to obtain grants.”

More funding would be available if the dairy expands beyond the initial 650 head, she said, and she’s certain that is in the VanderKolk brothers’ plans.

Conway said her company will urge the farmers to direct milk tanker traffic north to State Route 120 rather than the longer route south to US-20. County Road 14 already has several areas of disintegration in some areas.

Mill Creek

Andy Brehm is starting off with a 650-head dairy, said Deborah Abbott, a public information officer with the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA), but he intends to expand in the future.

Brehm sought a permit for 2,500 head, Abbott said, but later withdrew the request. No permit is required for a dairy with less than 700 head.

Abbott said the ODA questioned Brehm’s plans at first when he built a barn to hold 1,250 head, but the owner explained that half the barn would be used for cows and the other half for equipment storage. His operations are consistent with his building plans, she said, and no permit will be required until he’s ready to expand.

Brehm isn’t definite on what he’s going to end up with at the site.

“It might be a couple years before we do anything,” he said. “We’ve got a long ways to go.”

Brehm said much of the material for the barn is manufactured at a factory he owns. During the current economic slowdown, it’s a way to keep his employees busy.

If the economy turns around, he said, the dairy could move to the back burner.

“There’s no big deadline. I don’t know what we’ll end up with right now.”

Brehm refurbished an existing barn at the Fulton County Road 28 and built another for dry cows.

Brehm says the facility could hold about 600 head and has about 250 currently.

Concern has been expressed by some citizens in the area about the proximity of both operations to Mill Creek, which feeds Harrison Lake.

Manure discharges could threaten recreational activities at the state park.

    – Dec. 11, 2002 

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