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

  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.carry.casket
    CARRYING—Riley Terry (blue jacket) and Mason Vaughn lead the way, carrying an empty casket outside to the hearse waiting at the curb. Morenci juniors and seniors visited Eagle Funeral Home last week to learn about the role of a funeral director and to understand the process of arranging for a funeral.
  • 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.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.F.office
    NEW OFFICES—Fayette village administrator Steve Blue speaks with tax administrator Genna Biddix at the new front desk of the village office. Village council members voted to use budgeted renovation funds targeted for the old office and instead buy the vacant bank building on the corner of Main and Fayette streets. The old office was sold to Sherwood State Bank. When everything is put into place in the spacious new village office, an open house will be scheduled. Council member David Wheeler donated all of his time needed to make changes in the bank interior to fit the Village’s needs.

Manure spill fouls four miles of creek 7.22.09

Written by David Green.

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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