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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Manure spill fouls four miles of creek 7.22.09

Written by David Green.


Faulty irrigation equipment is suspected of sending partially treated liquid manure into Little Bear Creek from a field near the Chesterfield Dairy on Fulton County Road 14 in Royalton Township.dairy.fish_kill.jpg

Representatives from the Ohio EPA were still investigating the manure discharge on Tuesday while cleanup work continued.

Fulton County Emergency Services director Brett Kolb said he was notified of the incident about 9:30 p.m. Thursday by a call from the sheriff’s department.

Kolb said township resident Maurice Barden was inspecting crops in a field near County Road 12 when he discovered manure in the creek that flows through his property. He reported the manure to law enforcement officials.

According to the Ohio EPA report, Kolb called the agency at 10:08 p.m. to report the stream was “running black with manure” and said he would investigate further. Kolb later reported that it could be coming from a nearby dairy, but he said later that tracking the source in the dark would be difficult. The agency took the report and sent workers to the scene the next morning.

Kolb said the creek was temporarily dammed near County Road 10 to prevent the additional flow of manure. A pump is removing contaminated water from the stream and transporting it to a sealed container.

At that point, manure hauling equipment siphons the mixture out and applies it to fields. Kolb spoke with dairy owner Karel van de Kolk at the scene and learned that about one load an hour was being removed Tuesday.

The pump is capable of removing much higher quantities of water, Kolb said, but the rate of flow in the creek slows the process.

Kolb said he learned from van de Kolk that the arm of a pivot irrigation device became stuck in an open position and flooded the field with liquid manure. van de Kolk told him the manure was from the final lagoon in the farm’s treatment system, when it’s ready for field application.

Dina Pierce, media specialist with the Ohio EPA, said the investigation continues.

“We’re asking a lot of questions, so the details may change as we get a clearer picture of what happened,” she said.

The agency wants to know if the irrigation equipment was unattended.

The manure initially traveled through a field tile before reaching the creek. The tile was plugged to stop the flow of manure and efforts Tuesday also focused on cleaning out the tile without adding additional manure to the creek.

Fish kill

The Ohio DNR was also called to the scene after dead fish were found floating downstream.

The agency’s district law supervisor Ron Kurfis said workers are continuing to tabulate the damage to wildlife.

Kurfis didn’t yet have results from a species listing, but heard that chain pickerel, small mouth bass and carp were among the fish killed. Many were in the eight- to 12-inch range and he suspected larger carp were involved.

Kurfis explained that a value is assigned to wildlife to determine a financial penalty.

“Each fish, each minnow, each animal has a value,” he said. “We tabulate the number of animals killed, each species by length. That’s how we come up with a value.”

If necessary, a civil complaint for restitution will be filed, Kurfis said, but cases generally advance to civil action. In most cases, he said, payment is voluntarily made.

The large volume of manure in the water displaces the oxygen needed by aquatic life, Kurfis said, and leads to what could be likened to suffocation.

He said the dissolved oxygen level in one portion of the creek was measured between one and two parts per million and ammonia at 10 parts per million.

“Under those conditions, the fish cannot get enough oxygen to survive,” Kurfis said.

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