Features

Loss of cat leads Gardave to take up cause of town’s feral felines

Joan Gardave sets out treats for two of the colony of cats she keeps watch over at her home in Huntington. Gardave, who heads up Jamie’s Legacy, seeks to trap, neuter or spay then release feral cats to control the population of the felines throughout the city.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

It took losing a cat for Joan Gardave to not only discover a passion that honors her beloved feline, but also helps Huntington get control of its feral cat problem.

Gardave, a native of Canada who is now a Huntington resident, was distraught when her cat Jamie wandered away from home in September of 2012, sparking a three-month search.

“Every week we had articles with pictures of him and there were posters all over town,” she recalls. “I would go around town and people would say, ‘Oh, you’re Jamie’s mom.’”

Heritage Pointe group ‘brawling’ its way to dealing with Parkinson’s

Mary Jane Craig, of Warren, works on a boxing speed bag in the Heritage Pointe fitness room during the retirement community’s Rock Steady boxing class on Thursday, March 12. The biweekly class is for people with Parkinson’s disease and seeks to diminish its effects with boxing workouts.
Photo by Steve Clark.

Originally published March 19, 2015.

In the fitness room at Heritage Pointe, in Warren, a group of people is taking turns whaling on a black Everlast punching bag hanging up near one of the entrances.

The brawlers each sport a pair of boxing gloves and range in age from 60 to 87. For many of them, this has become a weekly routine.

The fitness room holds boxing sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:30 a.m. to noon and members of the group use that time to train for battle against their common opponent: Parkinson’s disease.

Mission House Church food pantry giving more with less

Volunteer Wanda Brosamer adds cereal to one of a sea of bags filled with food in the basement of Mission House Church in preparation for its food pantry distribution day in February. The ministry gives food to roughly 100 families per month.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published March 16, 2015.

While it’s not the largest food pantry in the city, the feeding of the people who come to Huntington’s Mission House Church for help has been described as no less than a miracle.

Since the church, located at 569 Etna Ave., began the ministry in 2010, it has gone from serving 50 to 60 families per month to more than 100.

Pantry director Jill Waikel says the pantry has had to operate with 20 percent less funds coming in, but is feeding 28 percent more people.

Bitzel, Fear overcome odds with naturally occurring quad sons

Amie Bitzel (left) and Mike Fear, of Huntington, hold one of their quadruplet sons, born on Feb. 10. The babies are a rare set of naturally conceived quads.
Photos provided.

Originally published March 12, 2015.

Four baby boys, each with his own personality.

Two parents, both still coming to terms with their new lives.

And the miniscule odds that brought them all together.

Amie Gressley Bitzel and Mike Fear beat those odds, becoming the parents of four sons — naturally occurring quadruplets — on Feb. 10.

Newspaper route leads Richardsons to 70 years of marriage

Maxine and Max Richardson pose with a photo of Max as a dark-haired teen atop the bicycle that brought them together. The rural Huntington couple celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary on March 3.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published March 9, 2015.

Max Richardson was going after the money.

He ended up getting the girl.

“I’ve always said it was entrapment,” he says, flashing a grin at his wife of 70 years.

Maxine Richardson just smiles.

It’s a romance that began in 1940, made possible by a bicycle, and is still going strong today.

Max remembers every detail.

Improv class at Warren’s Pulse has several goals for ‘students’

Improv class students (from left to right) Tank Lowe, of Bluffton; Darren Turney, of Fort Wayne; and Lily Sabinske, of Warren, play out a skit by interacting with each other off the cuff on Saturday, Feb. 28. The six-week workshop is being held at the Pulse Opera House in downtown Warren.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published March 5, 2015.

In the world of improvisation, speaking gibberish is a legitimate form of communication, in which sounds with no definition or meaning can impart increased confidence, foster team development, bring comfort in social settings, spur creative thinking and – yes – improve public speaking skills.

Demolition crew to take much more than bricks and mortar when downtown building taken down

Eileen Nichols worked at the Huntington location of Wolf & Dessauer for 11 years before the store closed. She served originally as a clerk, then as floor manager over the shoe and ladies fashion departments. Today, she resides at Miller’s Merry Manor in Huntington.
Photo by Joni Knott.

Originally published March 2, 2015.

When John Roche put up a building at the corner of Jefferson Street and Park Drive in 1894, he envisioned the development of a business district in downtown Huntington.

First to move in were the Knights of St. John; later, the Huntington Business University occupied the space.

By 1952, Roche’s building had become home to the Huntington location of the renowned department store Wolf & Dessauer. The store served Huntington until  1969, explains Huntington County Historical Museum Director Teresa Daniels.

Getting teens into library as big a part of Perkins’ job as getting books onto shelves

Brianna Smith and Rebekah Smith (second and third from left, respectively), members of the Teen Book Club at the Huntington City-Township Public Library, discuss the club’s latest selection, “The False Prince” by Jennifer A. Nielsen, with club leader Jessi Brown (far left) and fellow member Jessica Hartmus on Thursday, Feb. 19. The club is one of many ways the library reaches out to teens, which can be a challenging demographic to attract.
Photo by Steve Clark.

Originally published Feb. 26, 2015.

As the person who runs the young adult department at the Huntington City-Township Public Library, getting teens into the library is as much Jan Perkins’ job as getting books onto shelves.

Planning the department’s programs is one of Perkins’ main duties, with those programs being one of the main ways to get young adults into the library.

HNHS junior Park gives Andrews library new look with reading loft

Nathan Park (right) stands next to the reading loft he built as a community service project for the children’s book section of the Andrews-Dallas Township Public Library, as Emmalee Otto, 3, and her mother, Kari Otto, of Andrews, play on the Plexiglas-enclosed platform Saturday, Feb. 14.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published Feb. 23, 2015.

There’s a new look at the Andrews-Dallas Township Public Library, and some would say it’s looking from the top down.

The children’s section boasts a new loft, allowing small fry a chance to view the world from a big kid’s point of view. Perched about four feet from the ground, the loft’s landing has a ladder for easy access, carpeting and see-through Plexiglas for safety.

“It’s been very exciting,” says Nancy Disbro, the library’s director. “As soon as the kids see it they go climbing up and check it out.”

Love is in air at Senior Center for Valentine’s Day -- 372 years of it

Oretta and Ned Keese, of Huntington, repeat the marriage vows they made nearly 24 years ago on Friday, Feb. 13. The Keeses were one of eight couples who re-tied the knot in a group ceremony held at the Huntington County Senior Center.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published Feb. 19, 2015.

Love may have been in the air for Valentine’s Day, but there was more than 370 years of it in the air the day before at the Huntington County Senior Center, as eight Senior-aged couples pledged their love by renewing their wedding vows.

The still-first-time-around brides and grooms renewed their “I do’s” to one another in a group ceremony officiated by Rev. John Ritchie of First Presbyterian Church, Huntington, and witnessed by about 20 onlookers.

Huntington North FFA president Winters wants to be the farm-business connection

Julie Winters, president of the Huntington North High School FFA, says she wants to be the connection between big business and the farming community.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published Feb. 19, 2015.

Julie Winters wants to be an accountant.

You might think that’s an odd career choice for someone who’s grown up on a farm and leads the local FFA.

She doesn’t see it that way.

She sees it as a way to create a connection between farmers and big business.

“I feel like there’s something lost in between, sometimes,” she says.

“I want to work at a big grain operation. I like being on the business side … I want to be the person who’s in touch, helping farmers.”

Days of chalk marks, handwritten notes gone for parking violators

Greg Wajer, ordinance officer with the Huntington Police Department, displays the computer generated parking ticket that will soon begin appearing on the windshields of parking violators.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published Feb. 16, 2015.

The days of chalk marks and handwritten tickets are gone.

The next time your parking job is a little less than legal, you’re likely to find a computer-generated ticket tucked under your windshield wiper — and no indication of how in the world the officer knew you’d been in that two-hour spot for a good three hours (or more).

“You’d be surprised how many times people come out and try to rub the chalk mark off their vehicle,” says Greg Wajer, ordinance officer with the Huntington Police Department.

Listen up -- Trinity United Methodist Church bells to celebrate 100th with tunes of 1915

Jack Oberholtzer (back) and Rev. Bob Land reassemble the wooden apparatus containing the levers originally used to play the chimes at Trinity United Methodist Church. A men’s group from the church brought the apparatus down from the bell tower and reassembled it on the church’s balcony level, where it will be on display for the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the chimes’ dedication.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published Feb. 12, 2015

For anyone within earshot of Trinity United Methodist Church, the chimes are old hat.

They ring every hour, on the hour (usually only during the daylight); they break out into hymns on Sunday mornings, on Wednesdays and at odd times in between.

But on this Saturday, Feb. 14, beginning at 6:30 p.m., those within earshot — and Emma Taylor made sure that a good chunk of the city would be within earshot — may want to listen a little more closely.

Rather than hymns, the music will be popular tunes from ’15.

Rural Huntington woman’s method of relaxing earns her many honors along with fulfillment

Using a photo as her guide, Roanoke artist Cherie Droege works on a still life painting in her home studio in rural Huntington County. She has been painting, mostly using watercolors as her medium, since she was a child.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published Feb. 9, 2015.

If Cherie Droege misses a day without painting, she says she’s not much fun to be around.

“I paint every day. If I don’t I get cranky,” she says. “I do. If I’m not creating something, or if my painting is not going well, I can get a little snarky.”

Painting is Droege’s Zen – it’s her way to relax. Although she has worked in several media, the challenge of using watercolors is her favorite.

“When I paint I feel more fulfilled when I’m creating something, especially if other people enjoy it,” she explains.

‘Love’ is theme of vignettes in Readers Theatre production Feb. 14

Emily Albertson and Chase Drummond go over a scene from the Huntington Theatre Guild Act II’s Readers Theatre production, “Love,” during rehearsal Thursday, Jan. 29. The play, featuring a cast of at least eight children and adults, takes place Saturday, Feb. 14, at the Evangelical United Methodist Church. Albertson is the daughter of Jeff and Deanna Albertson, and Drummond is the son of Adam and Tiffanney Drummond, all of Huntington. Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published Feb. 5, 2015.

“Love” is the topic of a series of vignettes presented in the Huntington Theatre Guild Act II’s Readers Theatre production on Saturday, Feb. 14, at Evangelical United Methodist Church.

Right in step with Valentine’s Day, the play explores the topic from several angles, from newborn babes to Seniors in the winter of their romance, says Deanna Albertson, president of the troupe.

NBA, global hoop veteran now helping youth with dreams

Huntington resident Logan Vander Velden, pictured here as a member of the Los Angeles Clippers during the 1995-96 NBA season, recently started offering basketball clinics for area youth, imparting hoops knowledge from a long professional playing career.
Photo provided.

Originally published Feb. 2, 2015.

Logan Vander Velden has spent the better part of his life gripping a basketball, first as a kid learning the game in a small Wisconsin town and later as a player in the NBA for the Los Angeles Clippers.

Currently, he can be found with a basketball in the gym at Huntington Church of the Nazarene. That’s where Vander Velden, a Huntington resident, runs youth basketball clinics, passing on the knowledge he picked up over his long playing career.

Couples give back to community in retirement as PHH volunteers

The Stricklers and Birdsalls are just two of 16 couples who volunteer their time at Parkview Huntington Hospital. Pictured (from left) are Rocky Strickler, Carol Strickler, Nellie Birdsall and Russell Birdsall.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

A few married folks — 16 couples in all — have found a rewarding way to give back to the community during their retirement years by volunteering their time together at Parkview Huntington Hospital.

They are among 117 volunteers at the hospital, and they’re often the first faces one sees when entering the doors. Sometimes their help translates to making a real difference in people’s lives.

Huntington County Humane Shelter animals, IBC vet-tech students are traveling companions

Autumn Trombley (left), of Jonesville, MI, holds a dog, “Lenny,” while Faith Lenard, of New Haven, checks his heart rate at the Huntington County Humane Shelter on Tuesday, Jan. 6. Trombley and Lenard are students at the Vet Tech Institute at International Business College, in Fort Wayne, which sends students to the shelter once a month to look after the animals and gain real-world experience.
Photo by Steve Clark.

Originally published Jan. 26, 2015.

Cats and dogs from the Huntington County Humane Shelter and students from the Vet Tech Institute at International Business College, in Fort Wayne, are traveling companions.

4 Riverview teams compete in contest touting cities of future

Riverview Middle School eighth grade students Amara Eckert (left) and Olivia Rosen practice their presentation of the future they have created, Hydrophageopolis, shown in model form in preparation for the Future City Competition regionals on Saturday at Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne.

Originally publsihed Jan. 22, 2015.

Anyone interested in catching a glimpse at the cities of the future may need to go no further than Fort Wayne, when the DiscoverE Indiana Future City Regional Competition gets underway on Saturday at Indiana University-Purdue University.

Four teams from Riverview Middle School will be part of that contest.

HU students learn playing board games can have meaning

Huntington University students (from left) Nick Berry, a freshman from Fort Wayne; Nick Beery, a freshman from Fort Wayne; and Stormie Thorn, a freshman from Wayne, OH, set up the pieces of the board game Settlers of Catan during class time Wednesday, Jan. 14. The game is part of the curriculum of the “Learning to Think Strategically” class taught by psychology professor Tanner Babb.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published Jan. 19, 2015.

In a unique class in session during Huntington University’s “J-term,” some students are learning how playing board games translates to real life lessons they can use throughout their lives and careers.

Yes, board games. The class, called “Learning to Think Strategically,” uses the games to develop students’ strategic thinking skills in academic, business, politics and everyday life.

Some surprises among top books selected at Hgtn. library for 2014

Devon Henderson, of the Huntington City-Township Public Library, holds a copy of “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green, the most read young adult fiction book at the library in 2014.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published Jan. 15, 2015.

The Huntington City-Township Public Library has tallied up the books read most by patrons in 2014, and some surprises have popped up.

Devon Henderson, a member of the HCTPL marketing and web services department, says many of the authors on the top adult fiction list are repeats.

Nicholas Sparks, who wrote “The Longest Ride,” tops that list. Sparks is perhaps best known for “The Notebook,” which was made into a movie.

Kochensparger oil lamp collection in honor place at Andrews library

Dee Kochensparger shows off some of the miniature oil lamps she has collected. The lamps are now on display at the Andrews-Dallas Township Public Library.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published Jan. 12, 2015.

They were pretty, and they didn’t cost much.

Now, the miniature oil lamps Dee Koschensparger has collected hold a place of honor in a display case near the entrance of the Andrews-Dallas Township Public Library.

There are oil lamps in various colors, shapes and — within limits — sizes, ranging from just a couple of inches tall to six or seven inches in height.

HU students go on with mission trip to Paris despite terrorist attack there

Eleven Huntington University students proceeded to carry out their plans of a mission trip to Paris, France, despite hearing of the terrorist attacks at the Charlie Hebdo magazine shortly before boarding the plane on Jan. 7. They are (front row, from left) Connor Knight-Morrow, Larissa Walker, Hannah Barrett, Caitlin Trainer, (second row, from left) Joshua Walker, Sam Barrett, Melanie Clemens, Maggie Gilliam, Lauren Frischman, Alyssa Eddy and Larkayla Mosley.
Photo provided.

Eleven Huntington University students continued on with their plans to do Christian ministry in Paris, France, despite the knowledge that acts of terrorism had taken the lives of 12 people approximately a mile from where they were planning to stay.

The news came to them on Jan. 7 during a 24-hour flight delay due to weather.

Wilburn’s honor has him serving in one place he doesn’t want to be

Petty Officer 1st Class Justin Wilburn (right), a Huntington native, accepts a certificate designating him the Senior Sailor of the Year aboard the USS Devastator (MCM-6) on Nov. 30, 2014, from the ship’s commanding officer, Lieutenant Commander Kelechi Ndukwe (left).
Photo provided.

Originally published Jan. 8, 2014.

Of all the places Petty Officer 1st Class Justin Wilburn has served during his career in the U.S. Navy, he’s currently in the one place he never hoped to be: the limelight.

A Huntington native, Wilburn was recently named Senior Sailor of the Year aboard the USS Devastator (MCM-6). First class petty officers are eligible for the award, which is based on performance of duties, expertise, professionalism and contributions to the ship’s mission.

Area CNA shortage has facilities looking to HNHS, HU, other means

HNHS senior Marissa Brown (left) offers her arms for a bilateral blood pressure check, taken by fellow health occupations/medical terminology students Lauren Sands (center) and Amanda Muench (right). Following the class the students can choose to go into certified nursing assistant or emergency medical technician training through the high school’s vocational tech program.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published Jan. 5, 2015.

In a room full of hospital beds, sterile-looking drawers on rollers filled with medical supplies and a nearby box of stethoscopes, high school students are taking turns taking each other’s blood pressure.

Overton reaches out to people with positive messages on sign

Tom Overton (left) and life partner Dave Vogleman stand by Overton’s sign alongside U.S.-24 near their home outside of Roanoke. Overton put the sign up last November and has been leaving positive messages on it for drivers.
Photo by Steve Clark.

Originally published Jan. 1, 2015.

Signs along the road featuring advertisements are a common sight, which is what makes a sign outside of Roanoke bearing quotes from the Bible and from Jimi Hendrix stand out.

The sign, facing the southbound lanes of U.S.-24 north of Roanoke, is owned by Tom Overton. While there’s nothing notable about the weathered sign and its interchangeable letters, Overton is hoping it has a notable impact on those who see it.

Platt says coaching son at HU just an extension of real life

Ty Platt (left), head coach of the Huntington University men’s basketball team, stands with his son, Kyle, who is a freshman on the team. Though this is their first year together at HU, the elder Platt has coached his son for years.
Photo by Steve Clark.

This season is Ty Platt’s first coaching his son, Kyle, as a member of the Huntington University men’s basketball team.

The newness of that, however, is tempered by the fact that Ty has been coaching Kyle for years.

“I coached his team since he’s been in third grade,” says Ty. “We started out that way. We had a little travel team.”

Trosper looking for next area of commitment to Warren after leaving town council position

Barb Trosper.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Barb Trosper wasn’t born in Warren, but once she made the decision to live there, her commitment was complete.

“I love Warren,” she says. “It’s a great community … I can’t see myself ever moving from Warren.”

Trosper just completed four years of service on the Warren Town Council. She decided not to run for a second term, she says, “to see what else is out there.”

She’s not ready yet to say what’s in her sights, but she imagines she’ll be coming before the council at some point to seek some town backing.

Knotty Habit members share their love of knitting, crocheting

Edna Strickler (left) admires a crocheted hat made by Linda Clark. The two are members of the Knotty Habit yarn club, a group of knitters and crocheters who meet monthly at the Andrews-Dallas Township Public Library.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published Dec. 22, 2014.

Nikki Biehl started knitting in high school.

“We made our boyfriends stockings,” she says. “I had friends who liked to knit, and we all did it.”

And, yes, the boys wore the socks, she says.

Now retired after a career in education, Biehl is still working in yarn. And once a month, she settles into a chair at the Andrews-Dallas Township Public Library to enjoy the companionship of other devotees of the craft.

Foreign students experience American style ‘Christmas at home’

Huntington North High School exchange student Kara Laohawee (right), from Thailand, holds up some warm footie pajamas she received as a Christmas present from her host family during a family Christmas exchange Saturday, Dec. 20. Her host family “sister,” Kloee Vickrey, sits next to her. About 20 people gathered at the home to have dinner and open presents.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

They’re a long, long way from home for the holidays, but some teenagers are experiencing what “Christmas at home” is like, American style.

The young women and men are all foreign students attending Huntington North High School, many of them away from their families for the first time.

As part of their learning experience abroad, they will spend Christmas and New Year’s Day with their host families, learning how Americans celebrate the holidays in the states. While some of our traditions are similar to theirs, others are new — and in their eyes, a bit unusual.

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