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.

Two dairies underway in NW Ohio

Written by David Green.

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 family.farm

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

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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