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.

Lawsuit filed regarding Teresa Pontious death 4.22.09

Written by David Green.

A lawsuit was filed in federal district court last week in connection with the accidental death of a Morenci woman. The complaint is based in part on an inspection of the incident by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Roger Pontious of Morenci is seeking more than $20 million in damages plus punitive damages from the death of his wife, Teresa, in an industrial accident March 10 at Kamco Industries in West Unity, Ohio.

The suit faults Kamco, parent company Kumi Kasei, Ltd., of Japan and a third company responsible for the installation of equipment. Teresa Pontious was operating a Kumi Sheet Stamping fabric-resin molding system (KSS) on the night she died. The equipment produces three-dimensional trunk compartment linings for automobiles.

The suit alleges that Pontious and other KSS operators frequently expressed concerns about the safety of the equipment, including the failure of a light curtain safety mechanism. Complaints were lodged with supervisors and on an employee comment board.

Despite the volume of complaints, the suit states employees were directed to enter the trimming/cutting area of the KSS to retrieve scrap or adjust parts.

According to the suit, Pontious reached into the trim area on the night of her death. Another employee inadvertently activated the equipment and Pontious was killed.

The light curtain is described as a safety device that creates a light beam across the entrance to the trim area of the press. When the beam of light is broken—such as when an operator passes through it—operation of the equipment is disabled.

The suit alleges that the light curtain was positioned 44 inches from the point of operation “easily permitting the worker to be within the zone of danger.” To enter the trim area, a worker would be closer than 44 inches and no longer break the beam of light.

Had the safety equipment operated correctly, the suit alleges, Pontious would not have died. Kumi Kasei is faulted with failing to design the equipment for safe operation.

It’s also charged that instructions and guidelines for operation of the KSS were available only in Japanese.

Roger Pontious is seeking $10 million in wrongful death damages for harm to surviving family members and $10 million in a survivors claim due to the pain and suffering of the deceased during the accident.

In addition, punitive damages equal to one year’s profits from each of the three corporations are also sought. The suit claims the defendants profited from their “reckless and willful disregard for the safety of workers and operators.”

Pontious is represented by the law firm of Zoll, Kranz and Borgess of Toledo and seeks a trial by jury.

Following the accident, an inspection by OSHA resulted in fines totaling $8,625 for four safety violations labeled as “serious,” meaning there is “substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and that the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard.”

The agency faulted Kamco for lack of training in use of the equipment energy control features; failure to ensure that operators of the equipment disconnected power sources prior to making adjustments; failure to ensure that employees applied lockout devices prior to making adjustments; failure to provide a front guard on a foot pedal used to activate the press; and locating the light curtain 44 inches from the point of operation, exposing employees to injury when performing work between the light curtain and the point of operation.

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