Features

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.

‘Getting lead out’ has true meaning at range

Eugene Lovas, of Metals Treatment Technologies LLC of Arvada, CO, and Bethany Blicharz, assistant property manager at Roush Fish and Wildlife Area, watch as clean dirt is expelled from a machine being used to remove lead bullets from the backstop of the Roush Shooting Range.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published Aug. 17, 2017.

The shooting range at Huntington’s Roush Fish and Wildlife Area is a popular place.

In a slow month, says Assistant Property Manager Bethany Blicharz, the range gets at least 1,000 visitors.

During the heat of July, about 1,800 shooters visited the range.

As the weather cools and hunting season approaches, the numbers will increase to 2,000 to 3,000 a month, says Denise Reust, regional office manager at Roush.

And that’s been going on since the range opened in August of 2005.

Warren’s Sarah Jones continues family tradition with Duroc royalty

Sarah Jones (middle), of Warren, was named the 2017 Indiana Duroc queen. Jones’ grandfather, Guy Jackson (right), holding a Duroc piglet, passed a love of pigs on to his family, which inspired Jones’ mother, Kelly Jones (left), to become Duroc queen, as well as her aunt, Karen Johnson, and sister, Suzzette Corbin.
Photo by Steve Clark.

Originally published Aug. 14, 2017.

Sarah Jones, of Warren, was named this year’s Indiana Duroc queen.

It’s a title that comes with the responsibility of being an ambassador for the Duroc breed of swine. Chief among her duties will be appearing at the Indiana State Fair, where she will hand out ribbons to 4-H’ers during swine events.

Kindness Rocks Project rippling through Huntington and beyond

Seven-year-old Noah Crittendon poses next to a painted rock he’s hidden at the base of a tree in Hier’s Park. Noah’s mom, Ashley Crittendon, discovered the Kindness Rock Project while vacationing in Florida and spearheaded the organization of Huntington Indiana Rocks. The venture, she says, is meant to “make people happy” by painting and hiding rocks for others to find.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published Aug. 10, 2017.

Ashley Crittendon was on vacation in Florida over spring break when she found a rock hidden in a hole in a palm tree.

It wasn’t just any old rock; this one had been painted blue and was adorned with a picture of a sun.

“It was really exciting, just finding a simple rock,” Crittendon says.

Cleanup at old H.K. Porter site in Huntington among the less worrying ones for EPA coordinator

Jorge Gonzalez pumps liquids from a benzene storage tank on the site of the H.K. Porter/Friction Materials site on Thursday, Aug. 10. This particular tank contained only rainwater and rust, but the EPA team will cut holes in it so it can’t be used.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

The old H.K. Porter/-Friction Materials is full of stuff that shouldn’t be left laying around.

There’s lead and asbestos, raw materials used in the manufacture of linings for automotive parts including brakes and clutches; and benzene, a solvent used in the manufacturing process.

All are known or suspected carcinogens, but all are still used — under strict regulations — in manufacturing today.

HCCSC superintendent stoked about upcoming school year

Lancaster Elementary School fourth-grade teacher Kayla Whitacre works on a bulletin board offering tasks for her students that can earn them extra credit or prizes in her classroom on Thursday, Aug. 3. School begins for students on Wednesday, Aug. 9.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin

Originally published Aug. 7, 2017.

While Huntington County’s schoolchildren may not be all that fired up about returning to the classroom, Huntington County Community School Corporation’s superintendent, Randy Harris, is stoked about the 2017-18 school year, and ready to take the proverbial bull by the horns for the year’s tasks ahead.

Student council fund-raiser turns HNHS parking lot into art canvas

Katie Paolillo, an incoming senior at Huntington North High School, puts the finishing touches on her own personalized parking spot in the HNHS student parking lot Friday, July 28. This is the first year that senior students can reserve a spot and paint it. So far, the student council has sold 69 spaces, raising $1,380.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin

Originally published Aug. 3, 2017.

It seems everybody likes the idea that incoming seniors who reserve a parking space at Huntington North High School can paint their space in a creative way. It’s the first year the school has allowed the painting of the reserved spaces, serving as a fund-raiser for student council.

A photo of a painted spot posted on the high school’s Facebook page has already received more than 330 “likes” – from the likes of fellow students, teachers and even Huntington Mayor Brooks Fetters.

Old-fashioned milk shakes still a big hit at county’s 4-H fair

Taking advantage of the calm before the storm on Thursday, July 20, Kathy Blinn readies a milk shake machine to churn out hundreds of cold and creamy treats for visitors to the Huntington County 4-H Fair.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published July 24, 2017.

Mix 1,500 gallons of ice cream with a few hundred gallons of milk, toss in some chocolate syrup, and what do you get?

New pens for the goat barn.

That’s after you serve hundreds and hundreds of milk shakes.

Shakes that have developed such a following that the line to order one sometimes snakes clear across the Huntington County Fairgrounds.

Peer supporters help local responders deal with tough calls

Huntington firefighter Jason Meier (right) works with firefighters (from left) Andrew Wust and George Markou to fold a hose onto a fire truck. Meier is executive director of the newly organized Indiana Public Safety Peer Support, which offers a listening ear to anyone involved in public service.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published July 17, 2017.

You may think the firefighter freeing your loved one from a mangled vehicle is a god.

He’s not.

Neither are the dispatcher who sent him out, or the police officer or the emergency medical technician also working the scene.

Sure, sometimes they go back to work unscathed and wait for the next call.

But sometimes that horrible thing that just happened eats at them.

“We’ve had some pretty tough hits on the fire department,” says Huntington Firefighter Jason Meier.

Pair of Mustangs at Rolling into Roanoke come with happy ending

Steve Federspiel (left), of Roanoke, stands beside his 2016 Shelby Mustang GT350 while Blake Caley, of Markle, stands beside his 1967 Shelby Mustang GT350. Tony Cotterman, of Fort Wayne, won the cars in a national contest in March, but was unable to drive them due to a physical disability. Federspiel and Caley stepped up and purchased the cars from Cotterman for more money than the contest’s cash prize alternative. Both vehicles and all three men will be at this year’s Rolling into Roanoke car show on Saturday, July 22. Photo by Steve Clark.
Photo by Steve Clark.

Tony Cotterman was surprised when he won a pair of Ford Mustangs in a contest earlier this year.

What’s even more surprising is that he almost turned them down.

Cotterman, of Fort Wayne, was awarded a 1967 Shelby Mustang GT350 and a 2016 Shelby Mustang GT350 in the Mustang Dream Giveaway. The contest, which is open to residents of the United States and beyond, is conducted annually by Dream Giveaway Promotions, an organization that raises funds for charities through prize drawings. Cotterman made a donation and entered the contest last fall.

Old house helps turn Andrews woman into ‘treasure’ finder

Sonya Harshman, of rural Andrews, shows off the collection of objects she found while using a metal detector. She has traveled to several states to enjoy her hobby, which has netted some important finds including a gold coin.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin

Originally published July 13, 2017.

Sonya Harshman moved to Andrews about three years ago so her husband could be closer to work. But an old house located on their new property provided the inspiration to hunt for historic treasures. And, catching the “bug,” Harshman hasn’t stopped hunting.

“That’s an 1857 log cabin,” she explains. “Whenever we moved here I thought, you know, I’m going to get a detector and just see what’s out in the yard. And that was it.”

Local 12-year-old gets to hang out, share with another guy through BBBS program

Jason Meier (left) and Connor Huff hang out on the patio of the Huntington Branch of the Huntington City-Township Public Library. They discovered a mutual love of the outdoors after being matched through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program about two years ago.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published July 10, 2017.

Connor Huff has two sisters at home, but they’re, well, girls.

He has “a whole bunch of brothers,” but they don’t live with him.

There are some other kids in his neighborhood, but they’re all younger.

Luckily for 12-year-old Connor, he has Jason.

“I actually get to hang out with another boy,” Connor says. “I actually get to talk to him.”

Like himself on bicycle, local BMX racer’s career moving along at fast rate of speed

Paul Bickel, of Huntington, stands surrounded by trophies he’s won since becoming a BMX racer a year ago. While the 22-year-old travels around the country to races, he also works to raise the sport’s profile in Huntington, having helped build the new BMX track in Yeoman Park.
Photo by Steve Clark.

Originally published July 6, 2017.

Paul Bickel moves fast on a bicycle.

As a result, his career in bicycle motocross has moved fast, too.

Bickel, a Huntington native, has competed in over 50 events. He’s raced in places as far-flung as Australia. He’s upped his proficiency from intermediate to expert.

And he’s done it all in just 12 months.

Not expected to make first birthday, Huntington woman beats odds again to make it to 50th year

Melissa “Myndi” Greer, who wasn’t expected to live through her first year, recently celebrated her 50th birthday.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published July 3, 2017.

Melissa “Myndi” Greer threw a party on June 25 to celebrate her 50th birthday.

She was also celebrating beating the odds — again.

Doctors told her parents that their newborn wouldn’t see her first birthday; then they told her she wouldn’t live through her teenage years; then they said she’d be lucky to see 30.

“Now, the doctor says, ‘You’re going to live as long as you want,’” she says.

Greer has the most severe form of osteogenesis imperfecta — brittle bones that break easily, and frequently.

Four area girls form friendship of gold bonded by scouting

Four Girl Scouts in Troop 20083 have been in scouting together since Daisies, continuing through to the uppermost Ambassadors level. They are (from left) Grace Moser, Shania Brown, Lily Sabinske and Olivia Bowman. Their career as scouts will end in September, but they say they will continue as friends.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin

Originally published June 29, 2017.

The Girl Scouts have a song that goes, “Make new friends, but keep the old; one is silver and the other is gold.”

In 2004, four little girls in Markle decided to join Daisies, the youngest level of Girl Scouts, when they were in kindergarten.

Thirteen years later, the girls — now high school graduates and headed to college — have forged a friendship of gold together bonded by scouting.

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