Features

Riverview’s ‘other’ Future City’s team proud of accomplishment

Team Acropolis, made up of (from left) Paige McCutcheon, Wyatt Couch, Tyson Thompson, Avery Drabenstot and Sophia Derico, proudly stand behind their model city, Acropolis, part of their award-winning Future City presentation that garnered them second place in the Indiana Regional preliminary competition on Jan. 20. The shadow in the background of the model is that of Seattle, WA, which provided the inspiration for their presentation.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally publlished Feb. 8, 2018.

This is a story, not about the team from Riverview Middle School that won the Future City regional competition, but about the team that did not.
In fact, they wound up not placing at all, but the members of Team Acropolis are pretty darned proud of that fact. Here’s why.

Huntington House adds addiction program to combat concerning trend

Rosella Stouder (left), director of Huntington House, and Rose Bailey, a case manager at the Huntington women’s shelter, pause from looking over paperwork related to a grant the facility recently attained. The last few months have been busy for Stouder and Bailey, as Huntington House introduced an addiction-relief program in the fall and recently began offering financial assistance to anyone in the community struggling with housing costs.
Photo by Steve Clark.

Originally published Feb. 5, 2018.

The leadership at Huntington House noticed a concerning trend among the individuals who were approaching the shelter for help.

“Most of the people coming through the door needing assistance have had an addiction of one type or another, whether it’s alcohol or the drugs,” explains the facility’s director, Rosella Stouder. “We saw that over and over.”

Something needed to be done, Stouder thought.

Consider timing for passport when talking spring break getaway

Scot Riggers, lead sales and service associate at the United States Postal Service Huntington branch, holds an application for a U.S. passport inside the post office on Tuesday, Jan. 23. Riggers says although the process to apply for a passport is relatively easy, the time is growing short to get a passport in time for spring break travel.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

With Huntington County Community School Corporation’s spring break just a scant two months away, those looking to make a getaway outside the country are scrambling to obtain passports, and post office officials say wannabe travelers need to hurry and get their applications in as soon as possible.

Local law enforcement enlisting HNHS juniors to help 5th-graders

Huntington County Sheriff Terry Stoffel (standing) shares his vision with Huntington North High School juniors to help fifth-grade students with self-esteem issues, peer pressure and struggles with drugs and alcohol, during an Operation Impact training session on Wednesday, Jan. 17. A school convocation, in which the high-schoolers will kick off the program, will be held today, Monday, Jan. 22, in the high school’s auditorium with the elementary school students.

Originally published Jan. 22, 2018.

Fifth-grade students in Huntington County will soon find some new role models in their corner, giving them inspiration to deal positively with such issues as self-esteem, peer pressure, drugs, alcohol, risky behavior and its consequences during what may be the most impressionable time in their lives.

Local Boy Scouts spend Christmas break backpacking for badges

Using a break to take a group photo, members of Boy Scout Troop 130 record their time visiting the wilds of Cumberland Island National Seashore between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Pictured (kneeling, from left) are Jackson Lunsford, Jacob Worsham, Jamison Heyde and Justin Lunsford; and (standing, from left) Nick Anderson, Breckin Hammel, Jacob Bruce, Kevin King, Isaac Gordon, Brendan Brinkman and Brad Gordon. Not pictured is Assistant Scoutmaster Jeff Webb.
Photo provided.

Originally published Jan. 18, 2018.

Known for their pluck, a dozen hardy members of Boy Scout Troop 130 spent most of their Christmas break backpacking, dune climbing, beachcombing and hanging out with wild horses, on their way to achieving several backpacking merit badge requirements.

Special Olympians look forward to ‘Special Ten Minutes’

Matthew Hartley (foreground) and John McCormack (background) lead a line of Huntington County Special Olympics basketball players through a crowd of supportive Huntington North High School students at the beginning of “A Special Ten Minutes” on Saturday, Jan. 6, in North Arena. The event, now in its fifth year, is an exhibition basketball game featuring local Special Olympics players. The game was played at halftime of a Huntington North High School boys’ varsity basketball contest.
Photo by Steve Clark.

Originally published Jan. 11, 2018.

Basketball players with Huntington County Special Olympics had an important question for County Coordinator Keith Hartley last fall.

When was their game at Huntington North High School?

“When we first (started) our basketball practice, end of October,” says Hartley, “that was one of the first questions they asked, ‘When are we playing at the school?’”

Roanoke man paring down decoy collection from hobby out of control

Burton Wygant, of Rural Roanoke, holds one of the prized decoys in his collection, a male mallard carved by Dark Feather Freeman. Wygant has reduced his collection down to about 250 decoys, all displayed throughout his home.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published Jan. 4, 2018.

Inside Burton Wygant’s lovely appointed home, which sits on the Wygant family homestead just outside Roanoke, is a collection which he began as a result of going on a few duck hunts.

Director of new sober-living facility wants it to be real home

Robert Knorr is the director of Harmony Home, a new facility in Huntington for men recovering from drug and alcohol addiction. Knorr hopes to open the facility, located at 751 E. Tipton St., this spring.
Photo by Steve Clark.

Originally published Jan. 1, 2018.

When Robert Knorr was brainstorming names for the sober-living facility he wanted to open up in Huntington, he took a liking to the name “Harmony House.”

After doing some digging, though, he found out that name was already being used by a facility elsewhere in the country. So, he decided to change the name, ever so slightly, to “Harmony Home.”

He’s glad he did.

“Really, ‘home’ is what I want it to be,” reflects Knorr. “I don’t want it to be a house. The house is a structure.

Huntington 10-year-old helping homeless in Haiti with homemade dog treat fund-raiser

Evie Webb, 10, of Huntington, uses Christmas-themed cookie cutters to shape her dog treats she will then bake and sell. The proceeds from her project go to help build earthquake-resistant houses in Haiti.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published Dec. 21, 2017.

When Evie Webb journeys to Haiti next month, she will be able to claim at least two new homes that dog treats built.

The eloquent 10-year-old, a fifth grade student at Flint Springs Elementary, is baking homemade treats for pooches and selling them for donations to her project of funding earthquake-resistant homes in the ravaged country.

It all came about when she learned that millions in Haiti are still in need of aid years after an earthquake hit that region in 2010. Evie, only 8 at the time, wanted to help.

Christmas is much more than just in the air when it comes to Markle’s ‘Mr. Christmas’

Rick Bower, of Markle, holds up an animated Santa sleigh with reindeer that is one of the favorite pieces of his vast collection of Christmas decorations. He says the toy has never been listed in any of the many catalogues he has that list the values of antique and vintage decorations.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Even before you get to the front door of Rick and Jenny Bower’s home on North Miller Street in Markle, you can hear Christmas in the air, with holiday music wafting through the air amid brightly-lit vintage Christmas display figures.

But once you get in the door, it’s everywhere.

Mittens for Millions co-founder is renewed in his efforts to help

Jeff Dyke, co-founder of Mittens for Millions, ties cold-weather apparel that is free for anyone to take to a tree outside the Huntington Branch of the Huntington City-Township Public Library on Monday, Dec. 11. Mittens for Millions is a nonprofit group that collects cold-weather apparel and distributes it to those in need in and around Huntington County.
Photo by Steve Clark.

Originally published Dec. 18, 2017.

Ten years ago, Jeff and Chrisse Dyke started Mittens for Millions, a nonprofit initiative that sees them collect cold-weather apparel and distribute it to those in need.

However, after a few years of gathering and dispensing stacks of new and gently used mittens, gloves, hats, scarves and coats, Jeff Dyke started to feel himself getting a little burned out.

“Honestly, about four or five years ago, I questioned what I was doing here,” he admits.

But that’s when his wife told him something that he hasn’t forgotten.

Decades-old Huntington County club wrapping up next month

The women of the Altrusa Club show off the park bench they recently donated to the grounds of the Erie Trail, near the Erie Railroad Bridge, on Saturday, Dec. 2. Pictured are (seated from left) Carol Strickler and Juanita Buzzard; and (standing from left) Mary Ruthi, Robin Baker and Midge Decker. Not pictured is the remaining member, Ann Spahr. The club will disband in January.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published Dec. 14, 2018.

A decades-old Huntington County institution will wrap up its final meetings next month, leaving behind a legacy of patriotism, efficiency, service and fun, especially for the county’s developmentally-disabled people.

There are several reasons why the Altrusa Club has decided to disband, but perhaps the main one dovetails with the length of time the club has been in existence.

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

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

Originally published Dec. 11, 2017.

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

And it’s still a work in progress.

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

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

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

Originally published Dec. 7, 2017.

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

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

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

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

Originally published Nov. 27, 2017.

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

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

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

County farmers giving thanks for ‘surprising’ harvest this year

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

Originally published Nov. 23, 2017.

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

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

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

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

Originally published Nov. 20, 2017.

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

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

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

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

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

Originally published Nov. 16, 2017.

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

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

Arts dream blossoms into Warren Creative Arts Outreach

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

Originally published Nov. 13, 2017.

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

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

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

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

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

Originally published Nov. 6, 2017.

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

She was surprised by their responses.

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

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

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

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

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

He has no regrets.

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

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

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

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

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

Originally published Oct. 30, 2017.

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

Miniature barn turns into big project for Warren builder

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

Originally published Oct. 26, 2017.

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

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

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

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

Addiction support group seeks to lessen the loneliness for family

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

Originally published Oct. 23, 2017.

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

Alone.

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

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

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

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

Originally published Oct. 19, 2017.

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

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

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

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

Originally published Oct. 16, 2017.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Originally published Oct. 12, 2017.

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

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

International tennis players follow bouncing ball to Huntington

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

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

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

Security force keeps watchful eye on Hgtn. County Courthouse

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

Originally published Oct. 5, 2017.

Why do people visit the Huntington County Courthouse?

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

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

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

Lancaster Elementary first-graders celebrate Johnny Appleseed legacy

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

Originally published Oct. 2, 2017.

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

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

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

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

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