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.
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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.
  • 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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Fayette contamination update 8.8

Written by David Green.


Fayette village council members had a lot of questions for the Ohio EPA last Wednesday, mostly focusing on the future use of the school property.

The settlement reached in March between DH Holdings—the company responsible for cleaning up the contamination from the former Fayette Tubular Products site—and Gorham Fayette Board of Education not only calls for the demolition of all existing school buildings on the contaminated property, but it also prevents future construction at the site.

Edward Onyia of the Ohio EPA said his agency was initially working on a plan that would allow use of the property in the future when the cleanup is completed. That changed when he learned details of the settlement with DH Holdings calling for green space.

Councilor Ruth Marlatt asked about long-term plans, for example, 50 years in the future when no threat exists.

“The agreement says no buildings, ever,” Onyia answered. “That’s what the school board and DH agreed on.”

Superintendent of Schools David Hankins said later that green space wasn’t the school board’s desire, but it was a condition listed in the $3.9 million settlement. DH Holdings insisted on demolition, explained attorney Henry Heuerman of Eastman and Smith—the law firm firm representing the district—to prevent further claims arising from use of the buildings.


The Ohio EPA’s original plan for the school property didn’t call for demolition of the existing structures, said the agency’s Edward Onyia.

As cleanup proceeded, the situation would be analyzed and future use would be determined.

That all changed when the Gorham-Fayette school board accepted DH Holdings’ cash settlement from a lawsuit regarding the contaminated property stemming from operations at the former Fayette Tubular Products site.

However, the Ohio Schools Facilities Commission—a state agency funding about 80 percent of the new school construction—also favored demolition and even budgeted costs for the work.

The master plan from September 2003 calls for expenditures of $391,160 for demolition of the old school and newer gymnasium, plus $35,712 for removal and disposal of hazardous materials.

The Ohio EPA’s George Stuckey told council members last week that asbestos removal would be the primary concern, however, school superintendent David Hankins said later that the majority of asbestos was removed in a project several years ago.

Contamination in ground water would probably not be affected by demolition, Stuckey said, but the demolition process will be monitored, Onyia added.

School superintendent David Hankins said that $86,615 is budgeted for demolition of the Franklin building south of Fayette, plus $23,013 for hazardous materials.

However, there’s a chance the Franklin building won’t be demolished because it has resale value, he said, but that’s a decision for the school board to make.


What to do about the remaining contamination on the Fayette school property?

More of the same, says Edward Onyia, project manager for the Ohio EPA.

“The best approach is to continue what we’re doing now,” Onyia told village council members at an update meeting Aug. 1.

That means using “active chemical treatment” of a substance injected into the soil, and filtering ground water collected in an underground trench. In addition, he said, the trench will be enlarged.

The trench system appears to be working, said the Ohio EPA’s George Stuckey, with one exception: the original design apparently didn’t extend far enough to the west and ground water flowed around the end, then continued the southeasterly flow onto school property.

According to Dina Pierce, media relations specialist for the Ohio EPA’s Northwest District, the trench will extend into the public right-of-way (Gamber Street), but the engineering design is not yet available.

First, the agency will release a preferred plan of action and seek public opinion on the plan, perhaps in early December, then a remedial design will show how the preferred plan will be carried out.

One plan will address soil contamination and the other will be aimed at ground water contamination. The Ohio EPA will choose a plan from about a dozen submitted by DH Holdings—the company responsible for cleaning up the contamination. The plan will be chosen based on three criteria: public health, cost effectiveness and acceptance by the community.


Council member Mike Maginn asked if the contamination was still moving and Stuckey answered that it will continue to flow with the ground water.

Stuckey brought graphs tracking a few of the six chemicals being monitored and said the overall pattern shows a decrease, despite fluctuations caused by changes in precipitation.

Maginn asked about the possibility of contamination moving down the hill in front of the school and onto the ball field area.

“We don’t have any monitoring wells there,” Stuckey said.

“We’ve defined the edge of the plume,” Onyia added about the constantly moving  area of contamination.

The monitoring well located in front of the school is showing the highest concentration ever of one substance and one of the largest detections of another. However, all detections are less than those found in other wells to the north.

Pierce explained later that if contamination were to flow beyond the school property, it would not pose a risk to the public.

“One risk from the plume is in the water. No one is drinking the water, so that risk is removed,” she said. “The other risk is for indoor vapor intrusion. Once the vapor is exposed to open air (outdoor air), it disperses quickly. The concern is when vapors are confined indoors.”

Pierce said the plume of contamination is moving quite slowly.

“Even if no remediation is done, there shouldn't be significant movement in a year’s time,” she said. “And in coming years, remediation requirements in the preferred plan will attack the contamination before it moves significantly.”

On school property, for example, contamination will be chemically treated to “render it harmless.”

The trench will be extended to cut off the flow of contamination.

“This is important,” she said, “because there are still homes nearby and we don't want to risk the plume moving that far.”

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