Local BG Club youth impressed with magnitude of inauguration

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

Originally published Jan. 30, 2017.

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

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

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

Originally published Jan. 26, 2017.

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

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

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

Homework Help at church making difference for students

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

Originally published Jan. 23, 2017.

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

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

Local woman knows both sides to 2018 adoption law change

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

Originally published Jan. 19, 2017.

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

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

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

Viking New Tech classroom turns into lab as students study viruses

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

Originally published Jan. 16, 2017.

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

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

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

Warren library encouraging youngest readers to judge books by covers

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

Originally published Jan. 12, 2016.

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

It seems to be working.

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

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

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

Community backing helps women’s group evolve into ministry

Sharon Metzger, the director of Place of Grace, gets her new office organized in a repurposed laundry room at the ministry’s new quarters, the former Trinity United Methodist Church parsonage. The organization seeks to help women coming out of jail change their lives, get back on their feet and transition back into the community.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin

Originally published Jan. 9, 2016.

A new ministry in town is enjoying the backing of the community as it seeks to help women coming out of incarceration turn their lives around.

It’s called “Place of Grace,” a mission that takes its roots from the jail itself, Director Sharon Metzger says. A women’s group at the jail began the vision in 2009; that vision has evolved into a house nearly ready to accept women seeking their own transformation.

Families working to make sure local heroes are remembered

Sally Gamble, Gamble’s great-granddaughter Jozine Boyer and Gamble’s daughter Jody Cormany (from left) stand behind a recently-installed memorial stone at Mt. Hope Cemetery, in Huntington, for Gamble’s great-uncle, William Howett, who died in 1864 during the Civil War. The stone was placed next to the headstone of the grave of Howett’s brother, John Howett, who survived his service in the Civil War and died in Huntington County in 1905. The memorial stone for William Howett was installed through the efforts of Gamble’s sister, Diana Trivett, a genealogy enthusiast who now lives in North Carolina.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published Jan. 5, 2016.

William Howett died in 1864, a casualty of the Civil War.

Thomas Parker died in 1967 in Vietnam.

Neither man’s body was ever recovered.

Now, 152 years after his death, Howett is remembered with a marker at Huntington’s Mt. Hope Cemetery. The marker was installed in November, thanks to the efforts of his great-niece.

And, 50 years after Parker’s death, a push is underway to remember him with a statue in Huntington’s Memorial Park.

Huntington realtor finds mystery gift awaiting her recently that’s true ‘blast from the past’

Janet McElhaney (left) thanks Scott Scheiber for finding and returning her childhood desk, after they met on Dec. 28. Scheiber found the desk, which was lost for more than 60 years, in a furnace room he was cleaning out and decided to find its original owner.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin

Originally published Jan. 2, 2016.

Janet McElhaney returned back to her office at Coldwell Banker Roth Wehrly Graber in downtown Huntington on Dec. 20, to find a mystery gift awaiting her, left by a mysterious deliveryman.

It was a long-lost treasure from McElhaney’s childhood and turned out to be one of her best Christmas presents ever, she notes.

24 reach goal of Andrews library bicentennial reading contest

Sharon Laupp, Dale Hawkins, Ronda Hawkins and Janice Harshbarger (from left) discuss their year of reading adventures at a party on Dec. 15 marking the end of the Andrews-Dallas Township Public Library’s bicentennial reading project, which challenged participants to read either 200 books or 200 hours in honor of Indiana’s 200th birthday.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published Dec. 29, 2016.

The challenge was to read.

The goal was 200 — 200 books, or 200 hours — in celebration of Indiana’s 200th year.

Janice Harshbarger blew them all away.

She put in 735 hours of reading time.

“Which is only two hours a day,” she says. “It’s no big deal.”

Harshbarger accomplished the feat as part of the Andrews-Dallas Township Public Library’s 200 Club, sponsored by the Friends of the Library.

Not too keen on Huntington to start, ‘Father Ron’ soon to end ‘brilliant’ 33 years here

Rev. Ron Rieder, seen seated in his office, has served as the pastor of SS. Peter and Paul Parish, in Huntington, since 1984. His 33-year tenure at the church will be coming to an end next year with his retirement.
Photo by Steve Clark.

Originally published Dec. 26, 2016.

When Rev. Ron Rieder moved to Huntington in 1984, he did so begrudgingly.

After presiding over parishes in cities like Detroit, MI, and St. Paul, MN, he wasn’t thrilled that his new assignment happened to be in a small town.

When Rieder arrived at his new church, SS. Peter and Paul, his enthusiasm for the posting dipped even lower; the church and its accompanying school were in shambles.

Former local man’s job in Big Apple is to make sure stars, others, sound good on air

Huntington native and audio technician John Gernand (left) applies a microphone to musician John Mayer (middle) while musician Eric Clapton looks on prior to a concert on “Good Morning America” in New York City’s Bryant Park in 2007. Since 1979, Gernand has lived in the Big Apple, where he works professionally in audio.
Photo provided.

Originally published Dec. 19, 2016.

When a musician takes the stage, it’s John Gernand’s job to make sure that they’re heard.

Gernand, a Huntington native, works as an audio technician in New York, NY. A resident of the Big Apple since 1979, his profession has enabled him to work with some of the most celebrated musicians in the world.

Santa helpers sometimes wear Scout uniforms

Boy Scout Troop 637 Scoutmaster Perry Harris (left) and Boy Scout Luke Christman fill plates with cookies baked by the troop. The plates of cookies were delivered to residents of the Huntington Retirement Community on Tuesday, Dec. 13. The Boy Scout troop has held the cookie giveaway for around eight years as a way of saying thank you and bringing cheer to the Seniors living in the apartment complex.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin

By the light of a full December moon, about a dozen non-elfishly dressed Santa’s helpers began knocking on doors Tuesday, Dec. 13, in the little Huntington Retirement Community, also known as the “Yellow Apartments behind Walmart.”

When residents opened their doors, they got cookies.

Christmas hat tree, collection in Markle shop reminds of bygone fashion trend

Stephenie Murchland, owner of Village Salon, in Markle, stands in her shop next to a pink Christmas tree filled with vintage hats.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published Dec. 15, 2016.

There was a time when any respectable woman wouldn’t leave the house without a hat.

Those days are long gone, but those hats live on.

Feathered, furred and sequined; pillbox and full brim — even a vintage Salvation Army bonnet — the classic chapeaux now adorn a pink Christmas tree that stretches nearly to the ceiling of the Village Salon, in Markle.

Even the tree is of another era.

Animal volunteer group in county helps when needed

Members of the animal rescue team include (front, from left) Lance Kreider, Linzy Lahr, Paula Evans, Jenelle Conley, Leslie Zahm and Denise Kreider; and (back, from left) Dakota Sunday, Rusty Sunday, Phil Kreider, Lori VanOver and Chad Kreider. Also on call are Joe Landrum, Angie Sunday, Tom Wall and Penny Garretson.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published Dec. 15, 2016.

When an animal’s in trouble in Huntington County, there’s a team ready to respond.

The animal rescue team — a loosely organized group of volunteers, all experienced in working with animals — can handle everything from an emu on the loose to a frightened dog at the side of the road.

The team got its start in 2011 when Lori VanOver, who has served as Huntington County’s animal control officer since 2003, decided she needed some backup she could rely on.

Former resident recalls days as ‘Rosie the Riveter’

The staff of The Hosdreg Company included (seated, from left) J.C. Monsey and Eloise Schenkel and (standing, from left) unknown, Marguerite Kocher, Kathryn Eviston Post, Bernita Eggers Schmalzried, Kenneth Devall, unknown, Evelyn Wolfcale Barnhisel, Esther Andrews, Tootie Hall, Vesta Baxter, unknown and Margaret Pastor.
Photo provided.

Originally published Dec. 5, 2016.

Paul and Esther Andrews were enjoying newlywed life in their apartment on North LaFontaine Street as 1941 drew to a close.

Paul spent his days working on the Erie Railroad; Esther, unable to find paid work — the country was still climbing out of the Great Depression — ran the household.
Their cozy existence, like that of so may others, was shattered 75 years ago on the evening of Dec. 7.

Former Huntington man bringing ‘old friend’ back to town Saturday for fun, entertainment

Huntington native Kasey “KC Thunder” Geyer (top), pictured here in the early 2000s taking on Yuto Aijima in a professional wrestling match in Tokyo, Japan, is returning to his hometown for “Christmas Clash 2016,” a pro wrestling event on Saturday, Dec. 10, at the Police Athletic League Club. The match will be Geyer’s first in several years and marks the second comeback of his career, which has spanned over 20 years.
Photo provided.

When Kasey Geyer looks in the mirror these days, he sees an old friend staring back.

That old friend is KC Thunder – the identity Geyer assumed for years as a professional wrestler. His return can only mean one thing: Geyer is getting back in the ring.

And not just any ring. Geyer will be climbing back into one in Huntington, his hometown. The ring will be at the Police Athletic League Club for “Christmas Clash 2016,” a pro wrestling event presented by W.A.R. Wrestling.

Lancaster robotics team soon to add 12th member -- after they build it

Lisa Merryman (middle), a coach for the Lancaster Elementary School robotics team, gives some of the team’s members a helping hand as they try to construct a robot during a team meeting in the school’s library on Tuesday, Nov. 22. Pictured are (from left) Joe Cobey, Kris Michaelson, Merryman, Alex Kelsey and Zach Bishop. The team, which is also coached by Vicky Platt, is in its first year at Lancaster.
Photo by Steve Clark.

Originally published Dec. 1, 2016.

The Lancaster Elementary School robotics team currently boasts 11 members.

Shortly, its membership will increase by one. The incoming 12th member won’t be a fifth-grader, though, like everyone else on the team. In fact, the newcomer won’t even be human.

Indeed, the squad’s final member will be the robot that its preceding 11 members have been tasked with building. It’s the first time that students at Lancaster have had such an opportunity and librarian Vicky Platt and resource teacher Lisa Merryman made it possible.

Children’s Choir to unveil new song about Sunken Gardens

Huntington composer and band teacher Diane Whitacre plays her song, “The Sunken Gardens,” at home on Wednesday, Nov. 23. The composition will be performed by the Children’s Choir of Huntington County on Saturday, Dec. 3, at the Forks of the Wabash.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin

Originally published Nov. 28, 2016.

One of the highlights of the upcoming Children’s Choir of Huntington Christmas concert on Saturday, Dec. 3, will be an ode to Huntington’s famous former limestone quarry.

The piece, called “The Sunken Gardens,” begins with the words, “Come with me this winter night, let’s go look at all the Christmas lights. What a wonder – all aglow, Sunken Gardens in the snow.”

The new song, written by local composer Diane Whitacre, will be premiered during the Forks of the Wabash “Christmas at the Forks” weekend.

New downtown Christmas decoration to ring in holidays with upbeat music, lights show

Jesse Miskovich, of Huntington, affixes lights on the upper structure of the “mega Christmas tree” display set up in Rotary Park, on Wednesday, Nov. 16. Miskovich has donated more than 500 hours to the project, which will feature around 6,400 lights. Huntington Sheet Metal designed and donated the metal framework for the massive decoration.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin

Originally published Nov. 24, 2016.

A new downtown decoration is taking advantage of a prime piece of real estate to ring in some holiday cheer, thanks to donations from local businesses and the electronic programming expertise of a local resident.

A 32-foot “Christmas tree” made of metal and state-of-the-art “RGB” lights will light up the corner of Jefferson Street and West Park Drive when the switch is pulled on Sunday, dwarfing nearly all of the other decorations in Huntington’s downtown “mall.”

Four-legged visitors make big hit at local jail in start of new program

Huntington County Jail inmate Mary Whited (right) pets Bailey, a schnauzer owned by Donna Norwood (left), during a pet therapy visit to the jail Thursday, Nov. 17. Four dogs and their owners, members of the Three Rivers Visiting Dogs Huntington Team, visited each cell block at the jail, letting their canines interact with the inmates.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin

Originally published Nov. 21, 2016.

Not less than a few inmates at the Huntington County Jail woke up Thursday morning, Nov. 17, to find a greeting from a four-footed, furry ambassador. And in each of the jail’s men’s and women’s cell blocks, there was not a frown to be found.

HSE diploma has local woman moving down road confidently

Alisha Morrical (left) has earned her high school equivalency diploma and starts CNA classes today as a first step toward a career in the medical field, thanks to the help of classes taught by Impact Institute instructor Laura Smart (right).
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published Nov. 14, 2016.

Alisha Morrical still has a hard time comprehending how her life changed in five months.

“Five months,” she says incredulously.

Then, she was a high school dropout bouncing from job to job, trying to support three young sons.

Now, the 25-year-old Huntington woman is the proud holder of a high school equivalency (HSE) diploma, looking forward to a career in the medical field.

“It’s been a road,” she says.

Young gardeners learning how unconventional can be good

Fifth-grader Trever Walker harvests lettuce from the plant tower located in the cafeteria of Flint Springs Elementary School on Wednesday, Nov. 2. Trever is a member of the school’s Garden and Nature Club, which has worked on the project since September.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin

Originally published Nov. 7, 2016.

Some 20 young gardeners are learning how unconventional gardens can help feed the world, starting right under the roof of their own school.

The Garden and Nature Club, headed up by fifth grade teacher John Stoffel, has planted vegetables — mainly lettuce — in special garden towers that make use of hydroponics to grow the plants soil free.

The school obtained the garden towers thanks to a grant from the Purdue Extension office, facilitated by Special Projects Coordinator Susy Jennings.

Lifetime area farmer remembers break he took on Hawaii helping U.S. rebuild after Pearl Harbor

Harold Billington served more than three years in Hawaii during World War II and, after a lifetime of farming, now resides at Markle Health & Rehabilitation.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Harold Billington grew up a farm boy, and he retired a farmer.

“Wheat, oats, bean, corn, rye,” he says. “Fixed tractors. I fixed about anything; electrical, welding, stuff like that.”
Most of his work was in the Bluffton, Geneva, Berne and Portland areas.

But for more than three years — “three years, four months and 10 days,” he says — Billington was on Oahu, building bridges, roads and landing strips on the Hawaiian island that was home to the naval base at Pearl Harbor in the midst of World War II.

Purdue soccer stadium has familiar name

Huntington native Matt Folk (seventh from left) stands outside Folk Field, the home of Purdue University soccer, alongside family members earlier this year. After making a generous donation to the school’s football and soccer programs, he was given the opportunity to rename the soccer field and did so in honor of his father and mother, Loren Folk and the late Donna Folk. With Folk are (from left) Walker Mattice, Brooks Mattice, sister Jennie Folk Mattice, Reagan Mattice, stepmother Dianna Folk, Loren Folk, wife Mary Folk and Naomi Henn.
Photo provided.

Originally published Oct. 3, 2016.

When Matt Folk was a student at Purdue University, he aspired to see his name on more than just a diploma.

“Kind of one of my goals when I graduated from college was to eventually have my name on a building,” shares the 1991 Purdue grad.

This year, Folk finally achieved that goal. The Huntington native made a significant financial pledge to Purdue’s under-construction football performance complex, as well as its soccer program. Because of that generosity, he was given the opportunity to rename the school’s soccer complex.

Retired accountant crunches numbers, figures big savings by putting solar panels on barn roof

Richard Hollinger, of rural Huntington, says many people don’t even notice the solar panels on the south side of his pole barn roof. Hollinger has saved hundreds of dollars on his electric bill since having the system installed.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin

Originally published Oct. 27, 2016.

Richard Hollinger, of rural Huntington, has found the perfect use for the roof of the pole barn out in back of his house, and it will likely save him more than $1,000 in utility bills this year alone.

Hollinger, a retired accountant, crunched the numbers and invested around $22,000 to put 45 solar panels on the south-facing roof of the barn.

Hollinger became interested in obtaining solar power when he saw numerous wind and solar collectors whenever he went to visit his sister in California.

Pulse director likes to think ‘angels’ watching over theater these days

Cynthia Smyth-Wartzok talks about the unexplained thumps, crashes and bangs she and others have heard coming from the unoccupied stage of her downtown theater. Elsewhere in the Pulse Opera House, a friendly, protective and sometimes mischievous presence makes itself known to the cast and crew.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Cynthia Smyth-Wartzok got up from her desk to answer the knock on the office door.

“There was definitely someone knocking at the door,” she says. “I heard the door very distinctly. But there was no one there.”

She went back to work and, a short time later, the knocking was repeated.

She didn’t bother to answer that time.

“Just the ghost,” she thought to herself.

Former heroin addict now helping others beat back problem

Former heroin addict Jessica Brooks talks about her family and the devastation wreaked upon them as a result of her addiction to opioids and Xanax during the community forum on heroin held Oct. 4 at Huntington North High School. Brooks now leads one of several programs designed to help individuals break their addictions. The photo on the screen shows Brooks with her family, reunited after being split apart by her addiction.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published Oct. 20, 2016.

In an amazingly short amount of time, Jessica Brooks’ five-month-long heroin habit had become so bad that she overdosed on the drug three times.

She shared her story on Oct. 4 with those who came to the Huntington County Sheriff’s community forum on the heroin epidemic that has strafed the county.

Today, Brooks is helping other women overcome substance abuse and addiction as the director of the Indiana Dream Center women’s ministry, one of several local programs offering help for those addicted to drugs.

Town popping up on property along CR300W near Huntington

Jerry Martin (left) and Stan Bippus show off the miniature western town they and a few of their friends made, which is displayed along Bippus’ property on CR 300W. The church is a replica of the Clear Creek Church, located at 750 N. Clear Creek Rd.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin

Originally published Oct. 17, 2016.

Out on Stan Bippus’ property along CR 300W, a small town is taking shape.

Located just north of the Crown Hill subdivision, the town, which as of yet has no name, has popped up along the front of the road, on both sides of the driveway that leads back to Bippus’ pole barn, a.k.a. The Man Cave.

Along the gravel drive, single family housing in the form of birdhouses line the way back to his pond, workshop and poultry coops.

AD Teusch resurrects tradition of ‘Ike the Vike’ mascot for fun, spirit at Viking sporting events

Eli Link, a senior at Huntington North High School, stands before the school’s student section, The Pit, in character as Ike the Vike, the school’s mascot, during a varsity football game at Kriegbaum Field on Friday, Oct. 7. Appearances by the student-portrayed mascot had waned in recent years at the school, but Link and Huntington North Athletic Director Kris Teusch are hoping to reignite the tradition.

Originally published Oct. 13, 2016.

Every student at a Huntington North High School sporting event is a Viking.

But only one of those students gets to become a Viking, literally.