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

  • Front.sculpt
    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.

Vreba-Hoff farm land for sale 2011.09.14

Written by David Green.


Fallout from the Vreba-Hoff Dairy bankruptcy continues, with the auction of more than 400 acres of Lenawee County land scheduled Sept. 20.

An auction is also planned that day in St. Joseph County near Leonidas to sell 370 acres of land.

A farmhouse, barn and outbuildings are also on the auction block at each location.

The sale will be used to pay off a portion of the $9 million debt owed to creditors by Midwest AG Investments, the real estate subsidiary of Vreba-Hoff Dairy Development.

According to an article in the Adrian Daily Telegram, Lenawee County Circuit Judge Timothy Pickard approved an order in July to clear liens from titles in order to fast-track a sale. This would help the court ordered receiver, Amicus Management of Grand Rapids, Mich., take advantage of farm land prices that are currently running high.

Real estate agent Gene Beaverson of Fayette wasn’t yet familiar with the land scheduled for sale, but he’s seen agricultural land selling at prices much higher than even two years ago.

Recents sales in the Fayette-Archbold area have brought prices above $6,000 an acre, Beaverson said, but that was for land that was all tillable.

Halderman Real Estate Services of Wabash, Ind., is conducting the sales. The St. Joseph County land will be auctioned first, with a sale scheduled at 1:30 p.m. Sept. 20 in Leonidas. The Lenawee sale will follow at 6:30 p.m. at the Christian Family Center in Adrian.

Two of the Lenawee tracts are located southeast of Jasper on Treat Highway. The land was purchased several years ago when a 5,000 head dairy was proposed.

Another tract is located on Packard Road near Munson Highway. Two other tracts are located along U.S. 127 near Packard Road. Tillable acreage in Lenawee County totals about 300 acres. The farmhouse is located south of Packard on U.S. 127.

In addition to facing unpaid fines for environmental issues through the State of Michigan, Vreba-Hoff faced foreclosure last fall when the mortgage company Rabo Agrifinances sought payment of $55 million in loans.

Southern Michigan Dairy, a subsidiary of Rabo, later became the court-appointed owner of the farms.

STILL PROBLEMS—Large dairies with liquid manure systems have operated in the Hudson area since the first Vreba-Hoff facility was constructed in 1997.  Ten years ago, after several cases of manure draining into streams, members of the Environmentally Concerned Citizens of South Central Michigan (ECCSCM), began a water monitoring project near manure application fields. The project tested water for E. coli bacteria and dissolved oxygen levels, two indicators of water quality. 

The ECCSCM monitoring project of 2001-2003 documented several streams at risk from field application of liquid manure. The Department of Environmental Quality investigated, and in 2004 the DEQ placed two streams draining former Vreba-Hoff property on Michigan’s list of “impaired waters.”

Since then, no agency has done routine water testing. This led the ECCSCM to  wonder how streams are faring today.

Volunteers began re-testing some of the same sites for E. coli and dissolved oxygen over the summer.

The first sampling on July 12 found E. coli bacteria counts as high as 52,000/100 ml at one site–52 times higher than Michigan’s standard of 1000/100 ml. for partial body contact. Two other sites also violated the water standard for E. coli with counts of 12,000 and 4,000/100 ml.

“Some agencies tell us practices have improved, the bad actors are gone.  But the first test results don’t support that,” said Janet Kauffman, coordinator of the water monitoring project. “We’ll have a better idea what’s what in a few months.”

The group will monitor several sites every other week through the fall.

Total monitoring data is posted on the group’s website:

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