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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State Line Farms closing two barns 7.16

Written by David Green.


When a representative from the Michigan Department of Agriculture visited State Line Farms in 2004, she told a group of concerned citizens that problems with odors might eventually be referred to the state’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).

That’s what happened a year later. Now, after a series of violation letters and efforts by the farm owner to alleviate the smell, two large hog barns will be emptied by Nov. 9 and closed down. It’s an unusual situation, said Robert McCann, a spokesperson for the DEQ.

“It doesn’t happen very often,” McCann said about his agency’s involvement. “Under the Right to Farm law, the DEQ can go for air quality action only if the Michigan Department of Agriculture refers it, if they think it’s significant enough.”

After trying to alleviate odors with filters and mechanical devices, farm owner Gary Gallup made the decision to close the pair of 2,000-head barns. Under a consent order from the state attorney general office, both parties agreed to depopulate the barns and face financial penalties of up to $2,000 a day for additional violations.

The farm will also pay a $28,000 settlement fee that goes into the state’s general fund.

Gallup said that he didn’t want to comment on the situation, but McCann noted that the barns could be used again if air quality standards were met.

However, he added, it’s obvious that steps taken to reduce odors were ineffective and another solution would have to be found.

“We hear a lot of complaints about farm odors,” McCann said, “but by law we can’t do anything about it unless the MDA refers it to us.”

There’s a reason this referral was made—one that was obvious to residents living nearby when the barns were constructed in 2003.

Because the location of the barns didn’t adhere to the MDA’s Generally Accepted Agricultural Management Practices (GAAMPs), protection from the Right to Farm law was lost.

According to the GAAMPs—a set of voluntary guidelines—the large capacity structures should have been built at least half a mile from non-farm residences and 600 feet back from the property line.

Instead, they were constructed near Ridgeville Road, just east of M-156, and about 100 yards from the nearest residence. Three other homes are in the vicinity of the barns.

Once the barns were put into use, neighbors began lodging complaints about strong odors. MDA representatives responded to complaints, but found no odor violation.

In July 2005, the case was referred to the DEQ under the terms of a Memorandum of Understanding between the two agencies regarding air quality issues.

The DEQ verified several violations over the next five months and sent a letter of violation in December.

By then, trees had been planted around the facility and biofilters had been installed. A visit in August 2005 found the filters dry and inoperable.

Complaints continued into 2006 and farmer owners submitted a compliance plan that included additional devices to reduce odor.

Additional violation letters were sent in 2007 and enforcement action was initiated. Eight odor control technology units were installed at the farm in October, but according to the DEQ staff activity report, the units “have not been as successful as hoped and, therefore, State Line Farms has chosen to remove all livestock from the barns by a shutdown date of Nov. 9, 2008.”

Both parties agreed to the terms of the consent order last month.

A customary 30-day comment period on the settlement ends Aug. 6. Comments should be sent to Autumn Lawson, Air Quality Division, P.O. Box 30260, Lansing, MI 48909.

Documents relating to the case are available at the DEQ website (

The farm’s other four barns—each with a capacity of up to 1,000 pigs—conform to GAAMP siting principles and are not part of the settlement.

Weaned pigs are brought to the barns and raised to a finishing weight of about 250 pounds. They are then shipped to market and the process is repeated. Among the six barns, approximately 16,000 hogs are raised each year.

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