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.”

Local doctor makes FW woman’s recent trip turn out positive

Photo provided.
Dr. Terry Watson.

Originally published April 9, 2015.

A recent vacation to Arizona couldn’t have started worse for Cheryl Dunn.

Dunn, of Fort Wayne, was traveling with her mother, Joanne Bruce, when the 82-year-old Bruce lost consciousness.

As if this wasn’t bad enough, it happened on their flight to the Grand Canyon State.

Flight attendants started combing through passengers, looking for anyone who had medical expertise. When a man stepped forward, offering help, Dunn wasn’t sure if the situation was about to improve or not.

Roanoke youth’s science fair project catches eye of engineering group

Jessica Hartmus plays the theremin, a science fair project that won the attention of the Society of Women Engineers as well as a request to develop a conveyor system suitable for use in a brick-making factory in Uganda.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published April 6, 2015.

The Hartmus household in Roanoke may be the only place in Huntington County where you can be serenaded by theremin music at dinnertime.

Or where the nearly-six-foot-tall mathematical symbol  π decorates the picture window.

Or where the elementary-age kids run the brainstorming sessions and product testing at mom’s workplace.

Or where one of those kids, with help from her sister, is brainstorming a design for a conveyor system for use at a brick factory in Uganda.

Warren artist follows talent, key suggestion from wife to career, show at Bluffton site

Warren resident Bruce Winters holds one of the paintings he has created. Winters’ work is currently being shown in the Balentine Gallery in Bluffton through Friday.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published April 2, 2015.

Bruce Winters drew his first picture at the tender age of 2, a portrait of his mother.

By the time he was in high school he was already an award-winning artist, having snagged second place in the Columbia Scholastic Press Association’s “Gold Circle Awards” competition, a nationwide contest sponsored by Columbia University.

Pathfinder’s Niederman: filling community gaps for 30 years

In the 30 years John Niederman has served as leader of Pathfinder Services, the agency has grown into a comprehensive human and community development organization serving five counties.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originaly published March 30, 2015.

For John Niederman, the work is simple: Find a gap and fill it.

“We find ways to serve folks,” he says.

Niederman’s board at Pathfinder Services believes there’s a little more to it than that.

“He is a true visionary,” board member Mike Perkins says of Niederman.

Niederman’s vision for filling those gaps is a large part of why Pathfinder Services has grown from serving a small segment of the community — children with intellectual disabilities — to serving all of the community.

Locally-made movie has the bells and whistles of Hollywood

Gabrielle Carreon (left), who plays Alondra Martinez in the film “Polaroid,” is filmed by Huntington University student T.J. Clounie, as Professor Lance Clark watches the monitor over his shoulder. SS. Peter and Paul Catholic Church served as a movie set for the day on Friday, March 20, as HU film production students spent their spring break shooting the movie.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published March 26, 2015.

It may not have all the glitz and bling of Hollywood, but an upcoming movie shot in Huntington has all the bells and whistles of a real Hollywood production.

“Polaroid” is the work of the Huntington University Film Production Department, with nearly every position on the filming crew filled by HU students. Directed by Dr. Lance Clark, professor of digital media arts film and communications, the film is this year’s final project produced by his students.

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.