Former county sheriff’s passion for Christmas lights shines very brightly at this time of year

Kent Farthing stands next to some of the displays lit up in his front yard. The display can be viewed through New Year’s Day at 1274 Waterworks Rd., Huntington.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published Dec. 11, 2017.

Anyone driving out Waterworks Road on Huntington’s suburban south side will see Kent Farthing’s passion displayed in thousands of lights throughout his yard and on his house.

And it’s still a work in progress.

His house, located at 1274 Waterworks Rd., has about two acres of grass, perfect for staging his display. There is also a pond lit up by encircling lights, and an illuminated Conestoga wagon on the property.

Former Lady Vikings’ state champ hoop coach shoots for different prize these days

Fred Fields, who coached the Huntington North High School girls’ basketball team to two state titles in the 1990s, poses with a smallmouth bass during a fishing excursion. His coaching days behind him, Fields now runs a fishing business, Coach’s Angle Charters, in Traverse City, MI, that sees him lead clients on fishing trips.
Photo provided.

Originally published Dec. 7, 2017.

For 10 seasons, Fred Fields coached the Huntington North High School girls’ basketball team, during which time he guided the Lady Vikings to state championships in 1990 and 1995.

Today, he navigates the lakes of northwest Michigan, searching for a different prize.
Fields is the proprietor of Coach’s Angle Charters, a business in Traverse City, MI, that sees him, an experienced fisherman, lead customers on fishing excursions.

After 73 years apart, deceased Roanoke woman rejoins man she considered the love of her life

Roanoke residents Burton and Elsie Wygant display a copy of the plaque they had affixed to the headstone of Philip Koontz at Glenwood Cemetery after the cremains of Burton’s aunt, Mary Ellen Wygant, were buried with the fiancé she lost in World War II.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published Nov. 27, 2017.

After 73 years apart, Mary Ellen Wygant has finally rejoined the man she considered the love of her life.

The two were reunited after death through the efforts of her nephew, Burton Wygant, who still lives in the same small community of Roanoke where Mary Ellen and Frank Phillip Koontz had grown up together.

They had mapped out their lives. After high school, she went into nurse’s training and he joined the United States Army.

County farmers giving thanks for ‘surprising’ harvest this year

Huntington County farmer Tim Burnau combines his corn crop Friday, Nov. 17, along CR900N. Burnau plans to have the remainder of his crop harvested in time for Thanksgiving dinner today, weather permitting.
Photo by Scott Trauner..

Originally published Nov. 23, 2017.

With about 85 percent of Huntington County’s crops collected and in storage, local farmers are giving thanks today for what has been called a “surprising” harvest this year.
Relentless spring rains flooded fields, forcing some farmers to plant multiple times before their seedlings could germinate or stay in place.

Others who waited to plant have had to wait to harvest, says Ed Farris, agriculture and natural resource educator at the Purdue Extension-Huntington County Office.

Harris family slowly adjusting to life back in the U.S. after several years in Dominican Republic

Joel and Jennifer Harris (back), along with their children (from left) Aubrey, 8; Landry and Caroline, both 3; and Meredith, 4, recently returned from two and a half years in the Dominican Republic — a move that introduced the youngest children, for the first time, to the need for jackets and socks.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published Nov. 20, 2017.

Glass windows in the house, and below freezing temperatures at night — both new experiences for the Harris kids.
“We’re getting used to jackets and socks,” says their mom, Jennifer Harris.

For two and a half years — a large chunk of a young life — the family lived in the Dominican Republic, a lifestyle the kids came to know as “normal.”

It’s life in the northern Indiana community where they were born that now seems a bit “foreign.”

Boys & Girls Club ballerinas preparing for holiday show with help from grant, community businesses

Joy Hersey (left) takes her ballet class students at the Parkview Boys & Girls Club of Huntington County through a move at the barre on Monday, Nov. 6, in preparation for the troupe’s upcoming Christmas performance. Her students include (from left) Esther Michelle Messenger, 10; Avorie Monroe, 11; Alexis Smith, 10; Adreonna Monroe, 9; Kimora Bradin, 9; and Savannah Tyler, 9.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published Nov. 16, 2017.

The curtain will rise on 10 local ballet hopefuls this holiday season, young ladies who might not otherwise have had an opportunity to learn the intricacies, nuances and plain ol’ fun of classical dance.

Nine girls in third through sixth grades are members of “Miss Joy’s” ballet class, a new program at the Parkview Boys & Girls Club of Huntington County.

Arts dream blossoms into Warren Creative Arts Outreach

Working in his rural Warren studio, Josh Heim shapes one of the ceramic bowls that will be given to adult ticketholders at Soup for the Arts on Nov. 17, the first fund-raising event of the newly formed Warren Creative Arts Outreach.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published Nov. 13, 2017.

It all started with an art show held during last summer’s Salamonie Summer Festival in Warren.

It’s blossomed into an effort that could wrap art around an area far beyond Warren.

“When you put a bunch of artists together — we’re dreamers,” says Josh Heim, who works in ceramics at his studio just outside of Warren.

Local cancer survivor uses faith, friends, family to win fight

Kathy Carnes (left), a breast cancer survivor, and her husband, Ron, enjoy the view outside their Huntington home. She recently marked a year since she has been cancer free. Ron Carnes was named the 2017 Caregiver of the Year by the Huntington Relay for Life for his efforts in helping his wife beat the disease.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published Nov. 6, 2017.

A year after Kathy Carnes was cleared as cancer-free, she asked her three adult children to write down their thoughts about how they felt when they were told she had breast cancer.

She was surprised by their responses.

“I was shocked that they thought I was going to die,” she says. “I didn’t realize how seriously they took my diagnosis.”

Her middle daughter, Natalie Burgess, said her mother’s diagnosis caused her to think about her own mortality.

Veteran of three wars, local man Patmore has no regrets about time in military service

Donald O. Patmore, who served in three wars during his 26 years in the United States Army, displays his military awards, including his highest honor, a Bronze Star earned in Vietnam. Patmore’s son, Don Patmore, looks on at right.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Donald O. Patmore spent 26 years of his life in the United States Army, serving in three wars.

He has no regrets.

“It was a good job, a good occupation,” he says. “I liked it.”

In the beginning, it was the job that chose him — not the other way around.

Patmore, then living in the state of Washington, was drafted on Nov. 10, 1945. He went to Fort Lewis, WA, to train for a job running construction equipment at the end of World War II in 1945.

VNT capstone project to help Riley ‘kids’ - including several classmates

Huntington North High School students Elizabeth Allred (left) and Julia Crist hold collection jars for Riley Children’s Hospital. The fund-raiser is the focus of their Viking New Tech Capstone project, with several money-raising activities leading up to a dance marathon set for April 7.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published Oct. 30, 2017.

Some Huntington North High School students are spearheading a drive to raise funds for a hospital dedicated to curing diseases in children, some of whom are fellow classmates.

Miniature barn turns into big project for Warren builder

Eva and Greg Witkamp show off the barn Greg crafted in his rural Warren workshop as a surprise for a young family member.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published Oct. 26, 2017.

The big little barn has in excess of 900 miniature shingles, each lovingly cut by hand; more than 160 lilliputian boards making up the cladding.

It measures about 42 inches by 74 inches and stands some 43 inches high, big enough for builder Greg Witkamp’s wife, Eva Witkamp, to fit inside.

And it’s sure to light up the eyes of a certain 5-year-old boy living in Maryland.

“He has about 20 toy tractors, mostly John Deere,” Greg says. “He keeps telling his mom and dad he needs a barn to keep them in.”

Addiction support group seeks to lessen the loneliness for family

Sharon Metzger (right) listens as Sue Williams (left) and Paula Blackstone (center) go over plans for a support group open to adults with loved ones suffering from addictions. Metzger is executive director of Place of Grace, where both Williams’ and Blackstone’s daughters found help in recovering from their addictions, but the support group is independent of the transition center.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published Oct. 23, 2017.

Sue Williams and Paula Blackstone have struggled through some dark years.


The two Huntington women, both mothers of recovering addicts, want to lessen the loneliness of others making the same journey.

They have established Stronger Together, a support group for adults with loved ones who are suffering from addiction or are in recovery. It’s meant to be a safe place, with no judgments, where family members and friends can talk to others who understand — or just sit and listen.

School may be out, but Extension teaches four youth practical lessons during its ‘Staycation’

Under the guiding eye of Rae Ann O’Neill (right), 4-H youth development educator at the Huntington County Purdue Extension, Rosemary Burnard carefully sews the seam on the “burrito” pillowcase she is making Monday, Oct. 16, during the Extension’s Fall Break “Staycation” workshop at iAB Heritage Hall. Other classes held during the week out of school included clothing transformation, bicycle fun and clogging lessons.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published Oct. 19, 2017.

When four youngsters head back to school on Monday after getting a week off for fall break, they will have learned a new skill that will hopefully serve them the rest of their lives.

Rosemary Burnard, Phoebe Landrum, Brock Fippen and Brianna Elston spent their vacation taking a “Staycation” at the Huntington County Fairgrounds, learning how to sew a pillowcase. For nearly all of the kids, it was the first time they had put their hands on a sewing machine.

Huntington County sheriff’s ‘challenge coins’ have unique stories, uses and looks

Huntington County Sheriff Terry Stoffel shows off some of his collection of challenge coins, medallions he’s collected from other law enforcement agencies — as well as non-police groups — from across the country.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published Oct. 16, 2017.

Huntington County Sheriff Terry Stoffel pulls a handful of shiny medallions from his desk drawer and starts spreading them out on his desk.

Each of the medallions — he calls them “challenge coins” — has a story.

Some came from other law enforcement agencies, including local, state and federal agencies; a couple came from political parties.

And police K-9s, including the HCSPD dog, Zeek, have also gotten in on the act.

Buddy of local Vietnam KIA plants seed that becomes monument to 17 locals who died

Emily Goedesky (left) and her sister, Rachel Zahm, both of Huntington, hold up a banner with the photos of the 17 Huntington County men killed in the Vietnam War, including their father. The sisters have been trying to reach family members of the men to invite them to the unveiling and dedication of a memorial to the Vietnam veterans during ceremonies to be held Nov. 11 at Memorial Park.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published Oct. 12, 2017.

It was 50 years ago that Thomas Aquinas Parker, a United States Navy corpsman, lost his life in Vietnam.

He never came home, but for two of his daughters, Parker’s story is vividly alive, even if memory of him has faded since the women gave him up to war while they were but young children.

International tennis players follow bouncing ball to Huntington

Kreg Eckert (left), head coach of the Huntington University men’s tennis team, listens to a question from one of his players, Ignacio Poncio (right), while one of his other players, Giovanni Martinez, looks on. Poncio and Martinez hail from Argentina and Mexico, respectively, and represent two of many players from around the world who discovered Huntington through tennis.
Photos by Steve Clark.

Anastasiia Evstifeeva awakens at her home in St. Petersburg, Russia. She’s got a long journey ahead of her.

The first leg of her trip is a car ride to neighboring Finland; that lasts seven hours. She arrives at an airport and boards a plane bound for Germany. Upon landing, she hops on another flight, this one destined for Canada. By the time that plane is ready to land, she’s been in the air for 15 hours.

Security force keeps watchful eye on Hgtn. County Courthouse

Officers Mel Hunnicutt (left) Rod Jackson help guarantee the security of the thousands of people who visit the Huntington County Courthouse each month, as well as those who work inside the building.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published Oct. 5, 2017.

Why do people visit the Huntington County Courthouse?

Some have business there; some just want to take a look at the ornate architecture.

But the biggest draw, by far, is paying taxes and voting.

“October, November, April and May are the busiest months of the year because of taxes and, normally, elections,” says Officer Rod Jackson, who heads up security at the courthouse.

Lancaster Elementary first-graders celebrate Johnny Appleseed legacy

Teacher Jeanne Paff (left) and Lancaster Elementary School first-graders (front, from left) Brinlee Ludemann, Addison Kirby, Jamie Cooper and Zane Bickel watch as George Richison (right) chops up apples that will then be squeezed into cider. Richison brought his cider press to school on Tuesday, Sept. 26, as the students celebrated Johnny Appleseed’s birthday. Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published Oct. 2, 2017.

John Chapman would have been 243 years old on Sept. 26.

That was occasion enough for the first-graders at Lancaster Elementary School to have a party, celebrating the legacy of the man better known as Johnny Appleseed.

Chapman planted apple trees around the Midwest in the early 1800s, and Lancaster’s students did all kinds of things with apples — including tasting them and painting with them.

Eventually, they went outside to see what George Richison could do with apples.

Second class of Huntington County Honors shines light on citizens, accomplishments

(From left) Joan Keefer, Mel Ring and Ivan Wilhelm
TAB file photos.

Originally published Sept. 28, 2017.

From an Olympic silver medalist to a legendary codebreaker, the 2017 class of Huntington County Honors includes outstanding people whose achievements have made an impact on the local, state, national or international stage.

HNHS Diversity Club members know different is OK

Huntington North High School students (from left) Morgan Murray, freshman; Kailey Kelley, senior; and Jayden Swihart, sophomore; put aside class differences as they work together on a Diversity Club project on Sept. 14 after school. The club, which explores diverse social cultures, welcomes anyone to be a member.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published Sept. 25, 2017.

Inside Room 115 after school hours at Huntington North High School, one girl, working on a poster that advocates love, has bright blue hair. Nearby is a boy who, he announces, is openly gay. Others have noticeable — or not necessarily noticeable — differences about them. But they all say the same thing about the club they belong to: it’s a safe place to be.

KJ Prickett, a junior, says Diversity Club is an oasis in the middle of some of the unkind behavior that is unleashed on students who are “different.”

Piece of family’s history makes comeback from back of barn

Sisters Janet Siela (left) and Rhonda Brewer recreate a photo taken of them back in the ’60s in the pony cart they had as children. The “now” photo was taken Sept. 7, on the property of their father, George Wissinger, located in rural Huntington. The cart had been deteriorating inside a barn and was restored by family friend John Meyer.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published Sept. 21, 2017.

Back in 1961, George Wissinger happened upon a junkyard in Ohio that had a broken-down, decrepit pony cart. Wissinger just happened to have a pony (and two young daughters), and he was good with his hands.

“I paid $63 for it, and they threw in a set of harness,” he says.

Well-traveled Munson to be following in the footsteps of early women preachers at festival

Elder Carrie Munson, a traveling preacher who’s been filling in at Huntington’s First Presbyterian Church for the past year, will be following in the footsteps of early women preachers when she delivers the message during the Forks of the Wabash Pioneer Festival worship service on Sunday, Sept. 24.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally publihsed Sept. 18, 2017.

Carrie Munson likes being on the move.

Maybe it’s in her genes.

Her great-great-grandparents immigrated from Germany in the mid-1800s, crossing the country in a Conestoga wagon on their way to homesteading in Nebraska.

“So I kind of have that pioneering spirit,” Munson says.

Munson was born in New York and lived in Illinois and Wisconsin before making her way to Indiana. She now lives near Logansport, but can legitimately claim a large chunk of northern Indiana as her home base.

Fifth-graders at Flint Springs become caretakers for generation of monarch butterflies this fall

Flint Springs Elementary fifth-grader Gabby Betterly (right) uses her finger as a launch pad for the inaugural flight of a newly-emerged monarch butterfly Thursday, Aug. 31, in the school’s courtyard garden. She is joined by Paige Russell, also in fifth grade. The butterfly was raised in teacher Courtney Whitney’s preschool classroom. The pupils in the afternoon class waved goodbye as they watched the butterfly find its way out of the courtyard.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published Sept. 11, 2017.

Uncharacteristic of youngsters their age, the pupils in teacher Courtney Whitney’s afternoon preschool class sit quietly on the concrete risers inside the courtyard garden at Flint Springs Elementary School on Thursday, Aug. 31, their eyes collectively fixed in anticipation on a little mesh cage sitting on the ground.

Inside, flexing and expanding its unmistakable orange, black and white-dotted wings, is a freshly-emerged monarch butterfly.

Huntington North turns underutilized space into new student gathering, study lounge

Credit recovery class teacher Leslie Nicola (left) helps senior Morgan Burkhart with her geography assignment on Thursday, Aug. 31, in the Huntington North High School’s new Locker Lounge. Students can use the lounge to do homework, either individually or in groups.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published Sept. 14, 2017.

Students at Huntington North High School have a new place to gather and study this year, located adjacent to a row of lockers and next door to the school office. Appropriately enough, it’s called the Locker Lounge.

HNHS Principal Russ Degitz says the lounge was the brainchild last year of then-administrative intern Katie Jellison, who proposed turning the space into a place where students could work on homework.

Helmets protect Viking gridders after hits as well as during them

Ryan Geraghty, athletic trainer at Huntington North High School, examines one of the football team’s helmets equipped with the Riddell InSite Impact Response System during a practice at Kriegbaum Field on Thursday, Aug. 31. The system keeps the training and coaching staffs informed of players’ wellbeing via signals transmitted from the helmets to a monitor on the sideline in the event of a hard hit.
Photo by Steve Clark.

Originally published Sept. 7, 2017.

Traditionally, helmets just protect football players during a hit.

The helmets at Huntington North High School, though, protect players after hits, too.

Unique horticultural event has short window at rural Andrews home

Sharon Laupp, of rural Andrews, shows one of the flower buds of her night-blooming cereus plant, just hours before it opened for one night only on Wednesday, Aug. 30. The plant blooms only once per year, after nightfall, and closes with the first rays of the morning sun.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published Sept. 4, 2017.

Sharon Laupp describes a horticultural event at her house as like “waiting for a baby to be born.”

On Wednesday, Aug. 30, her unusual plant gave birth, at night, to a single, fragrant flower. And then it was gone.

Laupp’s plant is a night-blooming cereus, which she believes is the only one of its kind in the area.

HCS adds Spanish to curriculum for its K, first grade students

Ana Velazquez (left) helps Gavin Sink with his math in Rachel Nelson’s first grade classroom at Huntington Catholic School on Monday, Aug. 28. Velazquez is also teaching Spanish to the students in kindergarten and first grade.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published Aug. 31, 2017.

By the end of the year, Ana Velazquez hopes, her small charges at Huntington Catholic School will be able to follow along as she speaks to them in Spanish.

“My goal is at least to have them say five complete sentences,” she says. “If I carry on a conversation, they can pick up on it.”

Velazquez is teaching Spanish to the school’s kindergartners and first-graders, and Huntington Catholic Principal Derek Boone says plans are to eventually expand the classes to take in more grades.

Huntington County Jail inmates helping to spruce up roadsides

Trusties Billy Craft (left) and Cory Cove pick up trash along CR 300W on Thursday, Aug. 24, with Sgt. Tom Tallman following behind in a Huntington County Sheriff’s Department van. Craft and Cove are the latest Huntington County Jail inmates to volunteer for the trash detail.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published Aug. 28, 2017.

If you’ve noticed an absence of litter along Huntington County roads, thank a group of inmates from the Huntington County Jail.

The inmates, non-violent offenders who have earned the trust of the jail staff, are walking rural roads, picking up trash tossed from car windows and marking the location of larger items pushed from the beds of pickup trucks.

“It’s bottles and cans,” says trusty Billy Craft as he fills a black plastic garbage bag with debris found along CR 300W on a perfect summer day.

Former Roanoke hockey fan working his dream job in Atlanta

Chris Treft, formerly of Roanoke, is the team broadcaster for the Atlanta Gladiators, a minor league hockey team competing in the ECHL. Entering his third season with the team, Treft, a lifelong hockey fan, says he’s working his dream job.
Photo provided.

Originally published Aug. 24, 2017.

Chris Treft was 18 months old when he attended his first hockey game.

His grandfather, Harold Treft, took him to see his beloved Komets, Fort Wayne’s longtime minor league hockey team. While the elder Treft loved his infant grandson, he also loved the perks that came with having a diaper bag to carry into the Komets’ arena, the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum.

Forsythes reaching for the stars with NASA internships

Alex Forsythe (left) and her brother, Scott Forsythe, work at Scott’s computer in the office of their home near Bippus. The two siblings completed internships this summer working at NASA.

Originally published Aug. 21, 2017.

Most parents hope their children will do well in school, college, career and life. In the Forsythe household, their two kids have sailed over hurdles on many of those milestones, shooting for the stars way ahead of the curve for their ages. And yes – it is, indeed, rocket science.