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.

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.