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.

State Line Farms closing two barns 7.16

Written by David Green.

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.

state.line.farm.jpg 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 (www.michigan.gov/deqair).

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.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2016