Features

County woman says achieving inner peace and tranquility may be as far away as own back yard

Taking advantage of the wooded property at her parents’ home on Rangeline Road on April 12, Christy Thomson demonstrates how taking time to sit and take in the sights, sounds and scents of the woods can help hikers relax and reap several benefits to their physical, emotional and spiritual health.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin

Originally published April 24, 2017.

A rural Huntington woman says achieving inner peace, tranquility and spiritual renewal may be just as far away as your own back yard.

Christy Thomson, who may be better known as the music coordinator at the Parkview Huntington YMCA, calls it “forest bathing” or “forest therapy.” The moniker is derived from the Japanese word Shinrin-yoku, which is translated as “bathing your senses in the forest.”

Genius Hour showing educators that letting students pick studies might be right track

Alayna Pohler (left) and Josie Eckert, members of the Riverview Middle School Seventh Grade Blue Team, explain to the Huntington County Community School Corporation Board of School Trustees at its April 10 meeting how they decided to create a lip balm product for their Genius Hour project. The profits from sales of the lip balm are being donated to The Salvation Army.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin

Originally published April 20, 2017

The idea of letting kids learn what they want to learn sounds like a recipe for disaster, but as the seventh-grade Blue Team at Riverview Middle School has proven, it’s sheer genius.

It’s called Genius Hour, a program that is teaching middle school students to not just think out of the box, but for themselves as well. The results have been impressive, says Assistant Principal Michael Parsons.

Chance calling has county resident among best in world

John Nixon, of Huntington County, stands with the Founders Award, an accolade given out by the American Academy of Forensic Sciences that recognizes outstanding service to the engineering sciences. Originally from Scotland, Nixon has made a name for himself in the United States as a forensic consultant and expert on weapons systems and explosives.
Photo by Steve Clark.

Originally published April 17, 2017.

John Nixon found his calling in life by chance.

While training to be an engineer in London, he was approached by government representatives who were searching for engineers to work on munitions and ordinance.

“They kind of picked me out and said, ‘Come for an interview,’” Nixon recalls. “So, I had an interview and then got the job. I was kind of like a troubleshooter, going from one technology area to another.

“So, I worked on a lot of things – like missiles, explosives, small arms.”

Artist creates living willow tunnel at Salamonie Lake as part of Arts in Parks

Sadie Misiuk (left) and Viki Graber plant willow branches on the banks of a pond at Salamonie Lake on Friday, April 7. The branches will eventually become a living tunnel, an installation put in place as part of the Indiana Arts Commission’s Arts in the Parks program.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published April 13, 2017.

In another week or so, with any luck, the willow will have budded and the ground will have dried, making the newly installed living tunnel at Salamonie Lake an enticing place to play — or just chill out.

But willow weaving artist Viki Graber and her assistant, Sadie Misiuk, had to contend with a chill in the air and mud under their feet when they created the sculpture on Friday, April 7.

“This is going to be a child’s tunnel, but adults can go in there if they want to crouch down a little bit,” Graber says.

Agencies working hard to solve county location mysteries

Marla Stambazze, land use coordinator with the Huntington County Department of Community Development, displays a sign designating lot numbers for a subdivision where about a dozen homes share the same address. The designation of lot numbers was part of a project to assign addresses to every location in Huntington County where people might gather.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published April 10, 2017.

They haven’t quite solved the mystery of the lost city of Atlantis, but they have found a number of cemeteries throughout Huntington County.

Although preferring anonymity, top Lancaster Elementary volunteer turns into ‘school asset’

Volunteer George Richardson (right) helps Lancaster Elementary School first-grader Olivia Thomas, 7, with a difficult word as she reads aloud to him during class on Wednesday, March 29. Richardson volunteers the equivalent hours of a full-time employee, working year ’round at the school.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin

Originally published April 6, 2017.

George Richardson says that “someone” twisted his arm to do this story. Truth told, it was more likely a bunch of “someones” who convinced him that he deserves all the attention he’s recently received.

“I like to be anonymous,” he said, simply.

But at Lancaster Elementary School, Richardson is anything but anonymous. His name is often heard overhead on the school’s PA system, summoning him for one task or another.

Reunited friends’ latest project at LaFontaine Center designed to show different people can get along

LaFontaine Center residents Lorraine Dunford (left) and Rose Hawkins spearheaded the creation of the “Fantasy Gnome and Fairy Garden” in the center’s lobby.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published April 3, 2017.

Lorraine Dunford and Rose Hawkins were childhood friends who, over the years, lost track of each other.

While Hawkins stayed close to home, Dunford spent years overseas as a member of a military family.

Then, last December, both — coincidentally — moved into apartments at the LaFontaine Center, in Huntington.

“It was just a total surprise out of the blue,” Dunford says of reconnecting with her old friend.

“I was sitting in the Brick Room coloring, and she walked in,” Hawkins says.

Veteran motorcycle racer Flynn adds traveling buddy this season

Pat Flynn (left) stands alongside his grandson, Logan White, with the motorcycles they use for cross country racing. While Flynn has been competing in national races for more than 30 years, this year marks the first time that his grandson, 15, has joined him.
Photo by Steve Clark.

Originally published March 30, 2017.

Pat Flynn has been traveling around the United States for cross country motorcycle races for more than 30 years.

This year, however, he has some company.

For the first time ever, Flynn’s grandson, Logan White, is on the road with him.

And after years of teaching White about cross country motorcycle racing, the teenager is now out competing in the same national races as his grandfather.

County farm family’s beef herd expands quickly with rare triplets

The Little family — (from left) Cory, Cole, Jennifer and Todd — show off their 7-year-old heifer, “Tessie,” and her triplet calves. A triplet birth is extremely rare.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published March 27, 2017.

When Cole Little noticed that the family’s pregnant cow “Tessie” had wandered off into the trees, he went to check on her.

That’s a sign that the cow’s about ready to give birth, explains Todd Little, Cole’s dad.

And “Tessie,” as expected, had given birth — to not one, not two, but three calves. Cole immediately called his mom, Jennifer Little.

“I called her and said, ‘She had three,’” Cole says. “And she said, ‘No, she didn’t.’ But I told her she did and one was just laying out there and I think she needs help.”

HNHS student becoming real-life ‘guitar hero’ with talent, hard work

Local guitarist and Huntington North High School student Jesse Gonzales takes a break from practice on Friday, March 17. Gonzales and his band, The Timebacks, will perform in a benefit concert on Friday, April 21, at the HNHS auditorium.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin

Originally published March 23, 2017.

Jesse Gonzales, by his own admission, is “music illiterate,” meaning he can’t read music. And he didn’t come from a family possessing any musical abilities. However, there is nothing not musical about him.

“My parents don’t play any instruments; my grandparents don’t,” he says. “I don’t know where I got it from.”

Gonzales’ interest in playing guitar sparked when he was in eighth grade — a late age, by comparing many who have reached his level of talent.

State honors local poll worker for her contribution to election process

Joanna Grassl (third from left), “Huntington County’s poll worker extraordinaire,” poses with (from left) Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson, Huntington County Clerk Kittie Keiffer and Pam Fowler, Huntington County voter registration and election deputy, after Lawson recognized Grassl as Huntington County’s Poll Worker of the Year on Thursday, March 16.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published March 20, 2017.

Joanna Grassl loves politics.

But don’t expect to see her name on the ballot.

“I don’t want to be in politics. It’s too much dog eat dog,” she says. “But I enjoy the outside part of it, the voting, how it works.”

And if there’s an election going on, she’s likely to be there, making sure the voting process runs smoothly and that everyone who wants to cast a ballot has that opportunity.

‘Nothing special’ for Huntington couple as it hails 73rd anniversary

Edward and Hertha Sowell keep active on their own at home, with Edward driving and doing chores around their apartment home in Huntington. The couple celebrated their 73rd anniversary on March 13.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin

Originally published March 13, 2017.

One Huntington couple is celebrating its 73rd wedding anniversary today, Monday, March 13, by going out to dinner with their family, presumably as they say they’ve lived their life together – quietly, with nothing special – but remarkable just the same.

Edward and Hertha Sowell have known each other since seventh grade – about 80 years, Edward estimates. But it wasn’t until their freshman year of high school in Clay Township, near South Bend, that he says he saw Hertha in a new light.

Downtown fire has businesses scrambling to keep rolling

Marty Burns, director of New Options at 35 W. Market St., was back at work Monday morning, March 13, after a fire ravaged a building two doors down the previous Wednesday. New Options, Vanity Fair and Classicut have re-opened in their current locations; Coldwell Banker Roth Wehrly Graber real estate agents are working from their cars and homes, using the Fort Wayne office as home base; attorneys Stan Matheny, Wil Hahn and Jill Denman have found temporary quarters downtown; and barber R.C. Eichorn is looking for a place to land.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

A law firm whose long-time home was waterlogged during firefighting efforts on March 8 is now operating out of temporary quarters in downtown Huntington, and the barber who plied his trade on the corner is looking for temporary quarters.

“I’ve got 620 customers to take care of,” says R.C. Eichorn, owner of RC Barber.

Group makes sure good food doesn’t go to waste

Lincoln Elementary School fourth-grader David Kendall places his unopened carton of milk on a tray of unwanted broccoli, cheese sticks and more milk before heading to the trash can in the school cafeteria. Lincoln is the first Huntington County school to join Food Rescue, which allows students to donate unwanted food to the food pantry at Love In the Name of Christ.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published March 9, 2017.

Day after day, Jill Morrow watched as untouched bananas, sealed cartons of milk and other perfectly good food filled the trash cans in the Lincoln Elementary School cafeteria.

When she heard about a way to save that food, she was in.

The bounty now goes to the Love In the Name of Christ food pantry through Food Rescue, a program launched locally by the Huntington County Health and Wellness Coalition.

HNHS-HU partnership puts local man on road to independence

On the job, Zachery Arivett wipes down the pizza counter in the dining commons at Huntington University during lunchtime on Wednesday, March 1. Arivett participates in the ABLE program, a partnership between HU and Huntington North High School for students with mild to moderate cognitive disabilities.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin

Originally published on March 6, 2017.

At 20 years old, Zachery Arivett is busy being a college student — going to classes, hanging out on campus and holding down a part-time job.

He plays video games and makes the traditional college student late-night runs to Taco Bell with friends.

He has a quiet confidence that underlies a winsome sense of humor.

And while many think this is just the norm for a young man his age, Arivett considers it to be his success story, because it is.

Agricultural industry in Africa could soon get a boost, thanks in part to former local

Jordan Garrity (left) sits in the passenger’s seat as Arsene, an employee of the non-profit ACREST in Cameroon, test drives one of the AgRovers that Garrity’s company hopes to manufacture in several countries in Africa.
Photo provided.

Originally published Feb. 27, 2017.

The agricultural industry in a handful of countries in Africa could soon get a boost, thanks to a project involving a man who grew up in Huntington.

Jordan Garrity is co-founder of a company that has designed a low-cost, multipurpose utility vehicle that he envisions being manufactured and sold in central African countries including Nigeria, Cameroon, Uganda and Kenya.

In fact, Garrity has already built a handful of vehicles in Cameroon, and the first of what he calls microfactories is up and running in Nigeria.

Local woman Bangma hoping to get to next level with great showing at ‘The Arnold’ this weekend

Christina Bangma, an amateur strongman from Huntington, heaves a keg of steel into the air during a recent training session at Champs Academy. Bangma will be participating in the Arnold Amateur Strongwoman World Championships at the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus, OH, which runs from today, Thursday, March 2, through Sunday, March 5.
Photo by Steve Clark.

Keeping Christina Bangma off the Internet might be harder than keeping her out of the gym.

As the amateur strongman prepares for the biggest competition of her career, the Arnold Amateur Strongwoman World Championships, she can’t help but hop online to keep tabs on her opponents heading into the event.

“I stalk them,” she says jokingly.

Checking competitors’ social media accounts to glean details about their training progress has become one of her routines, not unlike exercising at Champs Academy, in Huntington, or sticking to a strict diet to cut weight.

Quiet Palmer stands on top step of HU women’s hoop program

Miranda Palmer (left), a senior guard on the Huntington University women’s basketball team, rises to the hoop for a basket during a game against visiting Spring Arbor University earlier this season on Jan. 7. Palmer became the program’s all-time leading scorer this season, breaking Amy Bechtel’s record of 2,019 points, set in 2000.

Originally published Feb. 23, 2017.

Miranda Palmer is only 5-6.

But in one monumental way, she stands taller than anyone else in the history of Huntington University women’s basketball.

In a game on Feb. 1, the Foresters’ star senior guard broke the program’s career scoring record. That mark – 2,019 points – had been set by Amy Bechtel and stood for 17 seasons.

Crestview seventh-grader Dominguez designs, crafts commissioned stained glass panels for school

Crestview Middle School student Abimael Dominguez (left) receives instruction from art teacher Liesl Haupert on the next step in constructing a stained glass panel during class on Wednesday, Feb. 15. The panel is one of three that will be displayed in the foyer and office area of the school.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin

Originally published Feb. 20, 2017.

In Liesl Haupert’s eighth-grade morning art class at Crestview Middle School, a seventh-grader sits quietly off to one side, wielding a soldering pen on his project while the rest of the class is using pencils.

Abimael Dominguez, 13, is invested in a project involving three commissioned stained-glass panels that will be used to fill in holes in the school’s foyer and office ceilings that once contained TV monitors. Abi, as he is known, is not only working to construct the panels, but he is also the designer of the project.

Huntington man has close-up memories of new president

Bob Cline, of Huntington, stands with a model he built several years ago of the Trump Princess, a lavish yacht once owned by Donald Trump. Cline got to meet the future United States president and spend time aboard the yacht, which he counts among the highlights of a long and fruitful career in model-making.
Photo by Steve Clark.

Originally published Feb. 16, 2016.

Bob Cline remembers Donald Trump having a strong handshake.

It was June of 1989. Cline was in Atlantic City, NJ, staying at Trump’s Castle, an opulent hotel owned by the real estate mogul.

Cline had been invited to the hotel by the senior vice president of Trump’s organization, J. Jeffrey Walker. The two had struck up a correspondence via letters after Cline, a model ship builder from Huntington, had expressed interest in making Trump’s lavish yacht, the Trump Princess, his next project.

National program Kids Hope USA creates impact for local students

Kids Hope USA volunteer Sarah Wust (left) and Flint Springs Elementary School first-grader Elyni Long check out a boxed puzzle they planned to do during their meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 31, at Flint Springs.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published Feb. 9, 2017.

It’s a national program, based on the power of the individual.

“One school, one church, one student, one mentor, one hour,” says Ronda Hawkins.

All of those “ones” add up to a big impact — a feeling of worth for each student involved.

That feeling of worth, professional educators say, is the foundation on which everything else is built.

“We can talk math and reading until we’re blue in the face,” says Mark DuBois, principal of Northwest Elementary School.

Local couples find out that Cupid apparently likes skating

Brandi (left) and Chris Fife, of Huntington, are one of the many couples who met and fell in love at the local West Park Skate Center. They celebrated their 22nd wedding anniversary in January.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin

According to Kathy Elmore, if you’re looking for love, you should probably strap on a pair of skates.

As the office manager of West Park Skate Center in Huntington, she has seen a lot of love go ’round and ’round the skating rink over the 40-plus years the center has been in business. It’s the perfect place to find a valentine, she says. She can’t count how many people have met and fallen in love on wheels.

“I know we have had couples since the first year,” she says. “Those were clear back in the late ‘70s and early ’80s.”

FS students learn about giving back to community after making bread

Flint Springs Elementary School students Max Fusselman (left) and Taedan Smelser assemble bags of oatmeal during a trip to the Love In the Name of Christ food pantry on Tuesday, Jan. 31.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published Feb. 6, 2017.

About 25 fourth and fifth grade students at Flint Springs Elementary School learned about giving back recently, starting with a lesson on how to bake bread.

The school’s Enrichment Club, which offers the kids unique experiences, partnered with King Arthur Flour in its “Bake for Good Kids” program. The youngsters learned how to bake the bread, then took home enough ingredients from King Arthur Flour to make two loaves. They brought one of those loaves back to school to give away.

Local woman Cansler comes up big on big stage as she claims world champion archery accolade

Taking aim with her bow, Jacqueline Cansler is a Huntington archer who won her class last month at the 3D Indoor World Championship, which is the biggest event of the season in indoor archery. A teacher at Huntington North High School, Cansler is hoping to share her interest in the sport with students through an archery team that she recently started up.
Photo provided.

Originally published Feb. 2, 2016.

When Jacqueline Cansler was just getting into archery, her accuracy was so erratic that it was cause for celebration whenever she managed to plant an arrow on the target.

“When you first start shooting, you just shoot at a regular target and hope to hit the target,” she explains. “So, you’re like, ‘Yes!’ I was like, ‘I hit that! Did you see that?!’

“You’re all over the target.”

Local BG Club youth impressed with magnitude of inauguration

A group of teens and staff from the Parkview Boys & Girls Club of Huntington County met with U.S. Congressman Jim Banks during their recent trip to Washington, D.C., to attend the inauguration of Pres. Donald Trump. Pictured are (front row from left) BAGC Director of Operations Ashley Allen, Gabby Minick, Brianna McIntyre and Kristina Parker; and (back row from left) Tosha Davis, Banks and BAGC Program Director Desiree Frederick. Banks’ office provided the tickets to the inauguration.
Photo provided.

Originally published Jan. 30, 2017.

When the staff of the Parkview Boys & Girls Club of Huntington County considered who to take on a potential trip to Washington, D.C., to attend the presidential inauguration on Jan. 20, they decided to pick members who were part of the club’s Smart Girls group.

House in Markle could help unlock mysteries of long-ago forests in this area, says botanist

Markle resident Jeff Stockman (left) watches on Saturday, Jan. 21, as Darrin Rubino, a professor at Hanover College, extracts a sample of wood from a beam in a log home believed to be one of the earliest homes to be built in Markle.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published Jan. 26, 2017.

A house sitting on a corner in Markle could help unlock the mysteries of long-ago forests in this part of the state.

“You all are making a big contribution to the tree ring desert in northern Indiana,” says Darrin Rubino.

Rubino is a botany professor from Hanover College, but it was his research side that brought him to the house in Markle on Saturday, Jan. 21.

Homework Help at church making difference for students

Isis Glover, 12 (left), a student at Riverview Middle School, and Katie Brown, 11, a student at Crestview Middle School, use their laptop computers to work on their homework at the Homework Help program at St. Peter’s First Community Church. An average of 20 middle and high school students attend the session each day to complete their homework assignments, and get help if necessary.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin

Originally published Jan. 23, 2017.

On a gray Wednesday afternoon, 21 school kids were found hard at work — quietly — in the large fellowship hall of St. Peter’s First Community Church. They were doing their homework.

Not having a quiet, non-distractive place to do homework can make for a daunting situation that could potentially affect a student for his or her lifetime. Faulty or missed homework can lower grades, and academic grades can affect competition for scholarships, college choices and future job opportunities.

Local woman knows both sides to 2018 adoption law change

Huntington resident Jennifer Fahlsing, an adoptee and the mother of a child placed for adoption, is looking forward to the opening of all Indiana adoption records in mid-2018. As part of the Indiana Adoption Network, she is inviting adoptees, birth families and adoptive families to learn about the open records at an IAN conference in April.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published Jan. 19, 2017.

Jennifer Fahlsing sees the first day of July in 2018 as the end of the dark ages.

That’s the day Indiana will open access to birth records for Indiana residents who were adopted between 1941 and 1993.

“This is going to level the playing field,” Fahlsing says.

Viking New Tech classroom turns into lab as students study viruses

Viking New Tech English Teacher Aimee Morton (left) observes as freshman students Carter Mertz (center) and Anna Pence work on their model of the Ebola virus. The class has been studying how viruses work, what steps a community should take to contain a virus outbreak and how to avoid a potential widespread epidemic.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin

Originally published Jan. 16, 2017.

In a darkened room, some 20 teenagers are tackling what could be a nightmare of an issue – if it became reality. And they are learning that the enemy, smaller than can be seen with the human eye, is fierce.

It’s called “The Hot Zone” project, a study of viruses, their virulent nature and the havoc they’ve wreaked on humankind throughout history.

The Viking New Tech classroom has been transformed to resemble a biohazard Level 4 laboratory, according to VNT science teacher Chelsea Noffsinger.

Warren library encouraging youngest readers to judge books by covers

Angela LaMar (left) helps daughter Penelope LaMar select books from the new display bins at the Warren Public Library on Monday, Jan. 9, as Penelope’s brother, Spencer LaMar, browses books in the background.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published Jan. 12, 2016.

The Warren Public Library is encouraging its youngest visitors to judge their books by the covers.

It seems to be working.

“Oh, it’s Clifford!” Penelope LaMar exclaims as she flips through a bin of books.

Clifford — and other book characters beloved by the preschool-through-first grade set — is facing forward, at eye level, in new bins being installed at the library.

The idea, library assistant Susan Mills explains, is to let the youngest readers easily see the books’ covers, instead of their spines.

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