Whatever happened to...? 01.19.2011

Posted in 2011 January

At the end of every year, there are a collection of news stories that remain unresolved. Some are still fresh in mind; others haven’t made it onto newsprint in a few months.

Ten topics caught our attention when looking through the past 52 weeks of the Observer.

MICHINDOH—The Michindoh Aquifer seemed to be on course to obtain Sole Source Aquifer (SSA) designation until a pair of public hearings uncovered strong opposition. The underground water source provides drinking water to more than 20 communities in a nine-county area.

The EPA has the authority to designate an aquifer as the sole source of drinking water when more than 50 percent of the population depends on the aquifer for water. With this designation, the EPA would review federally funded projects that have the potential to contaminate the aquifer.

A strong protest from the agricultural community placed the final designation on hold while the EPA continued to collect information.

Where does the issue stand?

William Spaulding of the U.S. EPA said last week his agency is still awaiting information before moving forward with a final determination.

“We had expected that we would receive that information by the end of 2010,” he said, “however, the process has been delayed. Hopefully we will receive it soon.”

As stated last June, a “scoping study” review all available geologic information and will include a more comprehensive review. Additional field study may be needed.

TRAIL—Morenci city council learned last year that an anonymous donor announced his intention to pay for a walking trail from Wakefield Park north along Bean Creek, then cross on a pedestrian bridge into Riverside Park and continue north to the cemetery.

A public meeting was scheduled with a park designer to discuss the trail, but that was before the donor contacted city hall.

Will the trail be constructed in 2011?

Morenci city administrator/clerk Renée Schroeder said she last spoke with the donor in November, but she has no updated information.

TURBINE—The Fayette school wind turbine is in place and the blades are spinning, but when will it actually begin generating electricity? Final clearance from First Energy was needed before the generation began.

Superintendent of Schools Russ Griggs reported last week that electrical generation was underway.

A webcam will be installed on the turbine—a first for the Wind Energy Solutions company based in the Netherlands—and electrical generation data will soon appear on the school’s web page.

SWIMMING POOL—The Fayette village council decided last year that there isn’t sufficient money to repair and/or replace the community swimming pool.

After closure of the pool the last two summers, council decided to demolish the structure, but work didn’t get underway in 2010.

What’s the schedule for demolition?

“The project is on hold until warmer weather,” village administrator Amy Metz said. “A timeline with stages for the demolition is being created and volunteers are being organized.”

SIDEWALKS—Morenci and Fayette each have on-going sidewalk repair and replacement programs. What’s in store for 2011?

In Morenci, the last focus was on Gorham Street. This year, attention moves to Page Street where sidewalks will be required on the west side of the road.

Fayette mayor Ruth Marlatt is creating a sidewalk committee to address concerns about walks and to provide recommendations to the village council.

Last year walks on Main Street and N. Fayette Street were addressed. This year the southwest quadrant of the village will be targeted—properties south of W. Main Street and west of S. Fayette Street.

PARKING LOTS—Morenci’s parking lot  rejuvenation project will get underway in 2011. Preliminary work has been ongoing, but look for real action this year.

Bids for the demolition of the old community center and the house to the south are due Thursday. The city has a purchase agreement to buy the former Dunbar Auto Center building on North Street for demolition, but the acquisition in on hold pending an environmental review.

FAYETTE’S CSO PROJECT—The Fayette village council continues work toward bringing the village sewer system up to code and eliminating the overflow of sewage into creeks (combined sewer overflows or CSO).

The village has applied for an interim loan for the design phase of the long term control plan that will outline what will be done and layout a schedule for the work.

Funding for CSO work is sought through the state Water Pollution Control Loan Fund and the USDA.

“We are exploring all options of funding,” Metz said.

PALM PLASTICS—Palm Plastics closed again a few weeks ago. Will the plant re-open soon?

We’ve received no response from inquiries made to management and to the parent company’s public relations department.

Unofficially, an employee reported that the closure is temporary.

THE SCHOOL ROAD—Gamble Road leading to Fayette’s new school seems a little narrower yet with snow piled along the sides of the road. When is it going to be widened?

Design work is scheduled to begin Feb. 1 and construction is expected to begin in June when school is out.

A grant covers half the cost of widening the road from 18 feet to 21 feet and adding street lighting.

SKELTON BROTHERS—The biggest unresolved issue from 2010 remains the disappearance of the three Skelton brothers from Morenci.

Their father, John, remains in the Lenawee County Jail and is not offering any details beyond what he’s told police in the past—that he gave the children to a person from an unnamed organization.

Skelton’s next court date is Jan. 28 regarding child custody and his failure to return the children to their mother.

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