Chance meeting at 4-H dairy barn sets Nesses on life course

Sherrill (left) and Steve Ness, of Huntington, met in 1964 in the dairy barn during the Huntington County 4-H Fair and married four years later. They remain active in the fair by running the auction and helping to find buyers. For the Nesses, the fair is a family affair. Their two daughters and three grandchildren were all involved in some way with the fair. They show off a photo of their oldest granddaughter, Olivia Eckert, who was involved in the horse and pony show.
Photo by Lauren Frischman.

It was 1964 in the Huntington County 4-H Fair dairy barn when Steve Ness first saw Sherrill Wantland.

Sherrill was on the way to visit her high school friend and instead found Steve in the booth next door to her friend’s. Unbeknownst to Sherrill, he was dating the friend she was looking for.

Steve asked Sherrill to go get a root beer at the local A&W root beer stand,  local hangout at the time, says Sherrill.

They returned to the fairgrounds, where Steve’s friends told him that his angry girlfriend was looking for him. That relationship ended up fizzling out.

Former HNHS golfer still has bag on shoulder -- as PGA caddy on tour

Former Huntington resident Tom Maples (right) stands with professional golfer Patrick Rodgers at a Web.com Tour event in Columbus, OH, in 2014. Maples is Rodgers’ caddy and travels to golf tournaments across the country and beyond on the Web.com and PGA tours.
Photo by Jake Thompson, courtesy of the Hendricks County Flyer.

Originally published July 20, 2015.

Tom Maples had a golf bag slung over his shoulder for four years at Huntington North High School, a member of the boys’ golf team.

Seventeen years later, he’s still got a golf bag slung over his shoulder. This one just happens to belong to a golfer on the PGA Tour.

Maples, a 1998 Huntington North graduate, is Patrick Rodgers’ caddy. Rodgers, a fellow Hoosier hailing from Avon, became a professional golfer last summer, following his junior year at Stanford University.

Rolling into Roanoke to honor Williams and his Pontiac collection

Jean Williams, widow of the late Randy Williams, stands alongside her and her husband’s 1966 Pontiac GTO 389 Tri-Power four-speed car on Thursday, July 16. This year’s Rolling into Roanoke classic car show on Saturday, July 25, will feature the Williams’ prized GTO and an exhibit at the Roanoke Area Heritage Center highlighting Randy Williams’ nationally-recognized car collection.
Photo by Steve Clark.

This year’s Rolling into Roanoke classic car show will honor the late Randy Williams and his famed Pontiac collection.

So, it’s fitting that the car that sparked Williams’ interest in Pontiacs, a 1966 GTO 389 Tri-Power 4-speed, will be at the show, which is set for Saturday, July 25.

This particular car sent Williams, along with his family, down a path that saw them chase rare cars and parts all across the country for many years. Williams’ collection expanded to include 13 cars and a quartet of semi-trailers, each brimming with parts.

Warren resident’s quilt earns honor decades after its creation

Marjorie Gard shows off the quilt she made 85 years ago, as a 17-year-old girl, and that she still uses as a bedcover. The pristine-looking quilt caught the attention of visitors to the Salamonie Summer Festival, who voted to give it the “People’s Choice” honor.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published July 16, 2015.

Marjorie Gard sleeps under a pink and white quilt she stitched when she was 17.

She thinks she bought the fabric for the quilt in Marion, but too many nights have passed for her to be sure.

“My goodness, that was 85 years ago,” she says with a laugh.

And as Gard approaches her 101st birthday, the meticulously hand-stitched quilt has won its first award — a purple and white “Best of Show” ribbon that now hangs on the wall of Gard’s apartment at Heritage Pointe, in Warren.

United Way, Pacesetter companies kick off campaign

Tiffanney Drummond presents the six Pacesetter companies of this year’s annual United Way campaign Wednesday, July 15, at Two EE’s Winery, in Huntington. Bendix, Bippus State Bank, First Federal Savings Bank, Lincoln Elementary School, Our Sunday Visitor and Teachers Credit Union are the companies that are kick-starting the literacy-focused campaign, with the theme of “Together we can change the story.
Photo by Lauren Frischman.

United Way of Huntington County, Inc. joined together with its 2015 Pacesetter companies to kick off its annual campaign on Wednesday, July 15.

Pacesetter companies are companies that run its employee campaigns early.

“Pacesetters, by definition, lead by example, set the pace and build momentum for the community-wide United Way campaign,” says Stephanie Morin, United Way Office and Events Coordinator. “They spark enthusiasm throughout their organization and the community. When Pacesetters lead, others will follow.”

Always a whirlwind of activity when kids step into Boost Camp

Youngsters race to the finish during Boost Camp, a health and wellness camp organized by Lisa Leist of the Parkview Huntington Family YMCA. Campers exercise, play games and learn nutrition tips during the eight-week long camp.
Photo by Lauren Frischman.

Originally published July 13, 2015.

When kids step into the world of Boost Camp, they step into a whirlwind of activity. There is always a game to play, an exercise to perform or a lesson to learn, all based around the principles of health and wellness.

It all began eight years ago when Lisa Leist, Boost Camp director and community wellness coordinator at the Parkview Huntington Family YMCA, was watching “Shaq’s Big Challenge” on television. Basketball superstar Shaquille O’Neal worked with a group of kids to help them get healthy and lose weight.

Erie Railroad long gone, but its band ready to celebrate 100 years on July 12

The Huntington Erie Community Band, directed by Thaine Campbell, performs prior to the traditional Memorial Day ceremony on May 30 at the Huntington County Courthouse. In celebration of its centennial season, the band will perform an anniversary concert on July 12 featuring several pieces of music written specifically for the Erie Band over the years.
TAB file photo.

Originally published July 6, 2015.

The Huntington Erie Community Band has outlasted the railroad that gave it life.

The musicians continue to provide a musical backdrop for their community nearly four decades after the Erie Railroad left town.

The band, now celebrating its 100th anniversary season, has grown and evolved since its inception in 1915 as part of the Erie Railroad.

“Every place there was a shop or an office or some facility like that, they set up bands and provided instruments,” says Bill Richey, a former director of the Erie Band.

As Huntington County 4-H Fair gets underway, 4-H board gets to showcase its big acquisition

When the 2015 Huntington County 4-H Fair gets in full swing and the streets, pathways and aisles of the newly-named Huntington County Fairgrounds begin to swell with visitors and exhibitors, it will also be a good opportunity for the 4-H board to market its ready-for-hire facilities.

Kramer basketball camp blends fun and fund-raising for kids

Chris Kramer (third from left), a star basketball player at Huntington North High School and Purdue University, poses with his teammates on the EWE Baskets, a professional basketball team based in Oldenburg, Germany, after winning the German Cup in April. Kramer returns to Huntington next week for a youth basketball camp, where all proceeds will go toward purchasing backpacks for local children.
Photo provided.

Originally published July 2, 2015

Chris Kramer is talking about backpacks.

Kramer, the former basketball star at Huntington North High School and Purdue University who now plays professionally in Germany, is back in Indiana for the summer, preparing for a youth basketball camp he’ll be hosting at Crestview Middle School. All proceeds from the camp will be going toward the Steps for Success program at The Awakening Community Church, which will give away brand-new backpacks to local children before the start of the forthcoming school year.

Retirement not on the horizon for service-minded Snowden

Gene Snowden takes a break from work at his office, located within Real Living Ness Bros. Real Estate & Auction Co., 519 N. Jefferson St., Huntington. Still going strong at 87, Snowden says he has no plans to retire.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published June 29, 2015.

At 87, Gene Snowden has no plans to retire. One of Huntington’s most recognizable residents, the lifelong public servant is still making contacts as a fund-raiser for several area charities, and keeping his thumb on the pulse of the community.

Local woman’s gift helps decorate downtown

Carolyn Miller, of Huntington, takes down the “June Wedding” display from the front of the New Life Community Meal Ministry, 323 N. Jefferson St., to make way for the Fourth of July-themed display. Miller has been decorating the windows using her own decorations or buying them herself, since last September.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published June 25, 2015.

About once a month, Carolyn Miller heads downtown and spends a couple of hours doing what she does best — decorating.

Markle’s Miller chronicles 40 years as small-town doctor into book

Dr. Gerald Miller, a physician in Markle for over 40 years, has written a book with his daughter, Shari Miller Wagner, titled “Making the Rounds: Memoirs of a Small-Town Doctor” about his time practicing medicine.
Photo provided.

Originally published June 18, 2015.

Dr. Gerald Miller was a physician in Markle long enough to see children he treated grow up and have children of their own.

Miller then became their doctor, too.

A physician in Markle for over 40 years, Miller experienced a lot. And now he’s chronicled those experiences in a new book, “Making the Rounds: Memoirs of a Small-Town Doctor.”

Miller wrote the book with his daughter, Shari Miller Wagner. It’s the second collaboration between the two.

Huntington women don’t let triple-digit age slow them down

Centenarians Iris Koughn, Kay LaMont and Nyla South (from left) have always been active members of their communities, and that hasn’t changed now that the three are residents of Tipton Place, a local assisted living center. LaMont and South will both turn 101 this summer.
Photo by Lauren Frischman.

Originally published June 15, 2015.

Iris Koughn, Kay LaMont and Nyla South are three Tipton Place Senior Living residents with one thing in common — they are all 100 years old.

All three women remain as active as they are able.

Koughn has been an avid traveler almost from the day she was born. Originally from Gas City, her family moved around to Marion, Huntington, Fort Wayne and Wabash before settling back in Huntington. Her husband worked in the cement business, and Koughn kept busy by tending the farm and taking care of her family.

‘Educated, homebody, record label-type guy’ getting serious notices for growing career

Allan Craig Miller strums a tune on guitar in his home in rural Huntington County. The Huntington native is planning a concert tour in Europe, after his song “Between Saturday & Sunday” debuted at No. 3 on the European country music charts and rose to No. 2.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published June 11, 2015.

Sitting at his kitchen table while the kids are at school, wearing shorts and a polo shirt that has “Diversified Services” embroidered on it, Allan Craig Miller, of rural Huntington, doesn’t look like a country music star. But with a big hit now on the European Country charts, that status is changing daily, both overseas as well as in the United States.

Andrews Lions to hail 70 years of giving back to community June 13

Mike Okuly, a board member and officer for the Andrews Lions Club, assembles photo montages to be displayed at the club’s 70th anniversary open house on Saturday, June 13, from noon to 3 p.m.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published June 8, 2015.

The Andrews Lions Club has spent 70 years serving its community — throwing parties, putting on parades, handing out scholarships and giving hundreds of kids the chance to play baseball.

Even as it celebrates its 70th year, it’s thinking about the community. Club members will be grilling up hot dogs and serving them to the community — for free — during their June 13 anniversary celebration.

Pfister retiring from what truly has been job of a lifetime for him

Rev. John Pfister, a Huntington native who returned to his hometown to serve as pastor of St. Mary Catholic Church, will retire this month after 49 years as an active priest. He’s seen here in his office at the rectory, next door to the church.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published June 4, 2015.

The Baltimore Catechism, a question-and-answer text used for years to teach young Catholics about their faith, poses this query:

“Why did God make you?”

For a young John Pfister, his life’s work grew out of the answer:

“God made me to know him, to love him and to serve him in this world, and to be happy with him forever in heaven.”

With heaven as his goal, he became a priest.

Local group looking for ways to help hardworking families on financial edge

Individuals from the new ALICE community work group discuss the latest ALICE report and ways in which they might assist those in the community who are working hard, yet still struggling financially. Pictured are (from left) Love INC ministry coordinator Kyle Metzger, United Way of Huntington County executive director Jenna Strick and Love INC executive director Joey Spiegel.
Photo by Joni Knott.

Originally published June 4, 2015.

In recent months, a new manner for describing middle class living situations has been heard around Huntington County: ALICE.

“The acronym stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed,” says Jenna Strick, executive director of the United Way of Huntington County, “and it represents households that earn more than the United States poverty level, but less than the basic cost of living in Huntington County.”

Family documents young ‘change-makers’ in year-long trip

Eva and Matt Webb stand with their children (from left) Jack, Solveig and Evie, in front of the van and trailer that have served as their home for the past nine months as they document young change-makers across the United States.

Originally published June 1, 2015.

Home, for the Webb family, used to be a four-bedroom home in California.

These days, Matt, Eva and their three kids are on wheels, and home is wherever the wheels stop rolling.

“We’ve had some hard days and we’ve had some good days,” says 11-year-old Jack.

But most of the days are good, his mom says.

“We’ve gone from treading water to dreaming again,” Eva says. “The rewards outweigh the stress.”

Wenning retiring from traditional teaching role, but teaching career to continue on

John Wenning is retiring from Crestview Middle School after 33 years of instructing school music classes and choirs there and elsewhere. However, this is not the end of his teaching career; he will continue on as a choir consultant, vocal clinician and show choir judge.
Photo by Joni Knott.

Originally published May 28, 2015.

John Wenning is retiring from traditional educational roles this fall after 33 years of instructing high school and middle school music classes and choirs.

However, this is not the end of his teaching career; he will continue on as a choir consultant, vocal clinician and show choir judge after his departure from Crestview Middle School.

While music has been his life’s work, it wasn’t on his agenda as a youngster. He thought that he wanted to pursue business or court stenography.

Local grandmothers take their titles ‘seriously’

Officers of the Happy Grandmothers Club prepare to celebrate the club’s 63rd birthday on Monday, May 18, during a dinner in the Parkview Huntington Hospital cafeteria. The officers are (from left) Kathy Bogert, president; Rosa Van Ness, secretary; Shirley Love, treasurer; and Bev Burkhart, vice president.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published May 25, 2015.

It takes a couple of years to get to grandmotherhood.

But once you’re there, you’re a member of an unofficial club.

In Huntington, there’s an official club, too.

The Happy Grandmothers Club — where the only requirement for becoming a member is becoming a grandmother — has been meeting for decades.

Six-point-three decades, to be exact. And the 28 current members of the club celebrated their 63rd birthday with dinner and a cake on Monday, May 18.

Local gardeners asked to plant a special row to help combat hunger in their communities

Susy Jennings, special projects coordinator at Purdue University’s Department of Nutrition Science (right), helps Master Gardener Jim Rush plant potatoes on Monday, May 18, in the extra row he added to his vegetable garden as part of the Plant a Row for the Hungry project. Each year, Rush donates the extra produce from his garden that he cannot use to Love In The Name of Christ’s food pantry.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published May 21, 2015.

As local gardeners begin their vegetable planting, they are being encouraged to plant a special row just to combat hunger in the community.

Elvis tribute artist Clemens again ready to rock the house at Senior Expo on Thursday, May 21

Elvis tribute artist Gordy Clemens gives a scarf and a hug to Gail Green during the 2014 Huntington County Senior Expo. The expo returns this year on Thursday, May 21, and Clemens will once again bring his act to the expo stage.
TAB file photo.

At 57, Gordy Clemens has already surpassed the real Elvis Presley’s longevity.

Doesn’t matter.

Clemens, once he steps into his role as Elvis, remains a favorite wherever he goes, including his annual appearances at the Huntington County Senior Expo.

“All through his performance, he does the red scarf thing for people in the audience, and people just love it,” says John Ulrich, assistant director of the Huntington Senior Center.

Quick-thinking local cops avert potential disaster for couple

Huntington Mayor Brooks Fetters (left) congratulates Huntington Police officers Landon Sell (second from left) and Ryan Gatchel on the quick action they provided in helping avert a fire in the home of Larry (fourth from left) and Debbie Goodyear on Feb. 20. The Goodyears recommended the officers for a special commendation because they felt Sell and Gatchel saved their lives that night.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally publislhed May 11, 2015.

It was in the wee hours of the morning – 3:40 a.m. to be exact – when police officers began to bang on the front door of Larry and Debbie Goodyear’s residence on First Street. No one heard them.

The couple was fast asleep upstairs, unaware that danger was threatening to engulf their home and perhaps attempt to claim their lives. Even with two dogs, they were oblivious to what was happening just downstairs.

Local legislators get run for their money dealing with 119th session

(From left) State Rep. Dan Leonard, State Sen. Travis Holdman and State Sen. Amanda Banks.
Photos provided.

Originally published May 7, 2015.

The recently-ended 119th General Assembly legislative session was filled with several important — and plenty of controversial — topics, giving local legislators a run for their money as they introduced new bills and dealt with others.

State Rep. Dan Leonard (R-Huntington) describes the session as “upheaval.” However, he adds that 95 to 97 percent of the legislation passed this session was bipartisan.

Retired wedding dresses now serving as ‘angel baby’ gowns

Danielle Clements (left) and Rita Dinius (right) are working together to create outfits for miscarried and stillborn infants from retired wedding gowns. The angel baby clothes project is operated under the Spc. Chad Clements Memorial organization, which honors Danielle Clements’ brother.
Photo by Joni Knott.

Originally published April 30, 2015.

Cut and fashioned from retired wedding dresses, “angel baby” gowns and outfits are sewn to serve as garments for miscarried or stillborn infants.

“With the outfits, they (the babies) aren’t just wrapped in a blanket,” says seamstress Rita Dinius.

The garments are pure white, a symbol of their innocence, and serve as burial clothing for babies who never had a chance at life.

County man finds history in farmhouse as clean-up unearths World War II-era letters

Don Swank is surrounded by letters written by World War II soldiers to his dad, Gerald Swank. All of the correspondence is being preserved on a statewide website and many of the original letters have been returned to the writers’ families.  Swank is still trying to locate families of several of the letter writers.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published April 20, 2015.

Don Swank never knew his dad to be much of a letter writer.

That illusion ended when Swank, clearing out the old farmhouse after his parents’ deaths, ran across a box brimming with dog-eared envelopes.

Each envelope contained a handwritten letter his dad, Gerald Swank, had received from a buddy who had gone off to serve in World War II.

“He wrote a lot of letters to them and they wrote back,” Swank says. “And he saved all of them.”

Shelter’s new learning center to get grand unveiling Saturday

Jean Wilson, operations manager at the Huntington County Humane Shelter, holds a plaque at the shelter designating the room behind her as the future site of the Tribolet Learning Center. The center, which is named after shelter supporter Jean Ann Tribolet, will be unveiled during a community open house event at the shelter on Saturday, April 25, that will run from noon to 2 p.m.
Photo by Steve Clark.

Jean Wilson, operations manager at the Huntington County Humane Shelter, hopes to see the shelter’s new Tribolet Learning Center utilized frequently by the community.

But for now, her focus is keeping it under wraps.

The center, which is situated in the front of the shelter, is currently hidden behind sheets, obscuring it from the eyes of shelter patrons. It’s all in service of preserving the surprise of its grand unveiling at an open house event the shelter has planned for Saturday, April 25.

Drummonds give back after March of Dimes steps up for them

The Drummond family, of Huntington, are the ambassadors for the Huntington March of Dimes walk, which will take place Sunday, April 19, at Hier’s Park. Pictured are (from left) Tiffanney; Carson, 5; Adam, holding Carter, 5 months; and Chase, 10.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published April 16, 2015.

She did everything right with Baby No. 3: going to her prenatal appointments, getting ultrasounds and following the advice of her doctor.

But at 37-1/2 weeks into her pregnancy, Tiffanney Drummond’s world suddenly changed.

“I had been having some complications,” she explains. “We had gotten to the point where the doctor thought it would be in both of our best interests for her to be born.”

Two ultrasound tests showed the baby was doing well and everything looked promising for an early delivery.

Berne couple paddles through county traveling full length of Wabash River

LaNae (left) and John Abnet, of Berne, prepare to set up camp at the Kilsoquah boat dock at Roush Lake Fish and Wildlife Area, Huntington, on Friday, April 10. The couple plans to kayak the Wabash River from its source in Ohio to New Orleans, LA, where it ends.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

It seemed like the perfect time for an adventure.

John Abnet, who had been in the automotive industry for 20 years, was on hiatus from work, and he and his wife, LaNae, grabbed the brass ring of an opportunity to do something they say no one has done before. They plan to travel the entire 503-mile length of the Wabash River, from its source at its mouth at the Ohio River, and on to the waterway’s end at New Orleans, LA.

John Abnet says inspiration for the trip comes from the couple’s faith, which they posted on their webpage.

82-year-old working hard to reach life dream: equivalency diploma

Photo by Joni Knott.
Dollie Smith.

Originally published April 13, 2015.

Working hard to support her family from an early age, 82-year-old Dollie Smith is now hard at work to accomplish one of her own life dreams and goals: to attain a high school level of education and her high school equivalency diploma.  

“I want my education because none of my folks was educated, and I want to be the first in my family to get one (a high school level education),” says Smith. “My dad couldn’t write his name. My mother couldn’t write her name or even count money.”