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

  • Front.cheers
    MACEE BEERS joins other Fayette Elementary School students for the annual Mini-Cheer performance during the half-time break at the basketball game.
  • Family.3.wide
    CHILDREN at Stair District Library’s Family Story Time toss scarves into the air during an activity. The evening program provided a mix of stories, songs, dancing, crafts and snacks Monday evening. The program is offered at 5:30 p.m. every Monday for five more weeks. The program is designed for three to five year olds and their family.
  • Front.newpaper.2
    THE INTERVIEW—Evelyn Joughin (right) records the interaction with an iPad while Jack Varga, next to her, asks questions of Morenci Elementary School principal Gail Frey. Morenci senior Sam Cool (standing) listens. Cool serves as the editor for the newspaper written by members of Mrs. Barrett’s second grade class.
  • Front.code.2
    WRITING CODE—Brock Christle (left), a Morenci fifth grade student, takes a look at the progress being made by fourth grader Anthony Lewis. Libby Rorick, a sixth grade student, is next in a line of girls trying out the coding tutorials. This year marked Morenci’s second year of participation in the Hour of Code project.
  • Front.gym.new
    REMIE RYAN (left) tries to dodge the foam wand held by Hayden Bays during physical education class at Morenci Elementary School. In the background, Lauryn Dominique and Brooklyn Williams stay clear of the tag. Second grade students were working on cardiovascular health on the first day back from vacation. For the record, Safety Tag is a very difficult sport to photograph.
  • 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.library.books
    MACK DICKSON takes a book off the “blind date” cart at the Fayette library. Patrons can choose a book without knowing what’s inside other than a general category. The books are among those designated for removal so patrons can consider them gifts. In Morenci, new books and staff favorites were chosen from the stacks and must be returned. Patrons get a piece of chocolate, too, to take on their date, but no clue about their “date.” One reader said she really enjoyed her book for a few pages, but then lost interest—so typical for a blind date.

Bob Packard conservation award 1.16

Written by David Green.

Bob Packard’s Elliott Highway farm is as old as Michigan. Of course it’s nothing like it was in 1837 when his family first tilled the soil.

Packard sees a combination of both improvements and degradations, but one thing is clear in his operation of the farm: He’ll do his best to upgrade the condition of the land.

“I’d like to leave it a little better than when I got it,” he said

That attitude, along with his actions, led the Lenawee Conservation District to choose Packard as the 2007 Conservation Farmer. Although Packard is in Florida for the winter, he’ll be honored in absentia at the group’s annual dinner meeting Thursday in Adrian.

Not all of the Packards stayed on the farm—at least not initially. Bob’s father left the farm for a job near Detroit, but he returned in 1944 and that’s where Bob grew up. He graduated from Morenci—a football standout—and joined in the farming operation in 1962.

The 925 acres he has under cultivation now includes about 240 acres of the original farm. After his father died, Bob got rid of the 20-some cows, but he kept a few pigs on the farm for a while. For the most part, it’s been a life of corn, soybeans and wheat, although wheat has been absent from the Packard farm for several years now.

The list of Packard’s projects through the Conservation District is extensive.

He’s put in erosion control dikes, he’s filled in gullies and he’s planted grass strips along creeks. He’s invested in tree-planting projects, built two ponds and practiced forestry management. He’s also tried to improve conditions for wildlife and made a stab at bringing pheasants back to his property.

“Just about any program they had, I got into,” Packard said. “I enjoy seeing them built and I know we’re improving the land”.

Packard also has his land grid checked for fertilizer, with a GPS-controlled truck applying varying output as it travels across fields.

Modern farming practices can improve the soil, he said, but at the same time they increase the opportunities for erosion.

“We’re building the ground up more, but we can damage it more,” Packard said. “Going to corn and beans, you have more chances for erosion.”

In the past, the ground was often covered with hay to hold the land in place and serve as a natural fertilizer. To accommodate large farming equipment, fence rows have all but disappeared.

“Probably the worst thing we did was to take out all the fence rows,” Packard said, noting the damage to wildlife and reduction in trees. “You just don’t have enough cover for wildlife anymore.”

Packard is convinced that his conservation efforts are making a difference. He can see it in the clarity of Black Creek that passes through his property on the way to the River Raisin.

Anyone participating in federally-backed conservation programs appreciates the financial incentives involved, but that’s not what draws the attention of farmers like Bob Packard.

“You can make money from them,” he said, “but that isn’t the idea.”

For him, it’s all about taking care of the land.

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