Veteran turned bicyclist sees bike trip turn into people trip

Stephan Speer, Vietnam veteran and avid bicyclist (left) is interviewed by Riverview Middle School student Jessica Ditton. Speer is making his way from Washington D.C. to Seattle by bike in support of nine veterans whom he served with in Vietnam.
Photo by Lauren Winterfeld.

Originally published May 8, 2014.

"Pretty good doesn't begin to cover it," he says.


"Out of this world.

"Far more than I ever imagined."

He is Stephan Speer, a veteran (and industrial microbiologist) from Decatur, IL.

His task - bike from coast to coast.

"I have three missions that I am trying to accomplish," he explains, "I am attempting to see if, ‘Does an old man like me still have what it takes to bicycle across the U.S.?'

Mitchell’s ‘can do’ attitude helps her Andrews neighbors

Charlotte Mitchell displays some of the grocery items she purchased last week for The Shepherd’s Pantry in Andrews. The Andrews resident makes multiple shopping trips each week as she searches out bargains to help fill the food pantry’s shelves.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published May 5, 2014

Charlotte Mitchell can, so she does.

"It's my form of enjoyment," she says. "I just love doing it."

But her coupon clipping, bargain hunting and grocery shopping is much more than one woman's hobby.

For many of her neighbors in her adopted hometown of Andrews, it's how they make ends meet.

Week in and week out, usually several times a week, Mitchell stocks the shelves of the Andrews food pantry with meat, dairy and boxed food items.

Inaugural Walk for Water in Huntington May 10 more significant than just a symbolic gesture

Shane Blair, son of Michele Blair, participates in the 2013 Walk for Water in Indianapolis. The Walk for Water is coming to Huntington on Saturday, May 10. Michele Blair is spearheading the event.
Photo provided.

"Many people in the world don't have the luxury of running water," says Michele Blair, a Huntington resident who is spearheading the city's inaugural Walk for Water.

The Walk for Water is the brainchild of the nonprofit organization Jubilee Village Project, which was started by Blair's uncle.

The walk is three miles round trip, with walkers carrying five-gallon yellow buckets of water for half the journey.

HNHS students, teachers working hard to wrap up year-end loose ends

Sue Muncy of Jostens hands a bag of graduation goodies to senior Thomas Bolinger during lunch at Huntington North High School on Monday, April 21.
Photo by Lauren Winterfeld.

Originally published April 28, 2014.

"It's coming to an end very quickly," says Huntington North High School principal Chad Daugherty.

The school year will wrap up five weeks from today, with HNHS students' last day of school slated for Thursday, May 29.

Daugherty says the students and teachers are working hard to wrap up all the end-of-the-year loose ends, such as getting seniors caught up with the credits needed to graduate and a full calendar of senior activities, including prom and graduation.

Local Vietnam veteran working to preserve tradition of service

Markle Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6671 Commander Larry Jenks (left) and Quartermaster George Keplinger hold a copy of the book they have compiled, listing the names and service dates of veterans from Rock Creek and Union townships.
Photo provided.

Originally published April 21, 2014.

Larry Jenks served in the United States Army in Vietnam from 1966 to 1967.

Following his father's footsteps, Christopher Jenks served in the army in Afghanistan and Iraq, still active in the reserves.

It's that tradition of service, and the military service of everyone in four townships, that the elder Jenks wants to preserve and honor.

Local man earns top accolade from National Wheelchair Basketball Assn.

Bob Burnsworth, of Huntington, is a wheelchair basketball coach at Turnstone Center for Children and Adults with Disabilities, in Fort Wayne.
Photo by Steve Clark.

Originally published April 17, 2014.

When Bob Burnsworth fell off a roof in 1988, he fell into the disabled world.

The accident left Burnsworth in a wheelchair, paralyzed from the waist down, at the age of 28.

The first few years following the accident, he admits to feeling bitter, thinking that he got the short end of the stick.

"I was drinking and partying and didn't know what I was going to do the rest of my life, didn't really care," he says.

But then he discovered wheelchair basketball.

Library using new technology to help preserve historical docs

Josh McIntyre, intern at Huntington City-Township Public Library, works on scanning in a digitized copy of an artifact from the library’s Indiana Room.
Photo by Lauren Winterfeld.

"This library has always been interested in history," says Joan Keefer, head of the Indiana Room at Huntington-City Township Public Library.

"And always forward looking," adds Kathy Holst, library director.

In the library's tradition of combining the old with new, it is using new technology to preserve historical documents in a process called digitization.

Currently, the library is digitizing materials in the Indiana Room, a room inside the library dedicated to Huntington County history.

Former parks dept. intern now wears pair of hats for the city

Allison Timbrook is the community engagement volunteer coordinator for the City of Huntington, as well as the director of programs for the Huntington Parks and Recreation Department.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published April 7, 2014.

Allison Timbrook started out as an intern in the Huntington Parks and Recreation Department and now she wears two hats for the city - one of them as its newest park program director.

She is also the community engagement volunteer coordinator, a new position in which she brings people together with opportunities to give back to the community.

Pathfinder exploring expansion; seeking space to emphasize arts

Trena Gamble paints in a Pathfinder Services Community Supports art class at the organization’s State Street location, in Huntington, on Thursday, March 27.
Photo by Steve Clark.

Originally published April 3, 2014.

Pathfinder Services looks at the prospect of growing like a blank canvas for the organization - and it's a perspective that might provide the individuals it serves with blank canvases, literally.

The Huntington-based not-for-profit human services organization has seen a spike in numbers in its Community Supports branch, which serves individuals with developmental disabilities.

HNHS senior says Viking New Tech is key to her school success

Huntington North High School senior, and soon-to-be Viking New Tech (VNT) graduate, Laresa Lund stands in front of a map she created,which depicts the future of VNT seniors.
Photo by Lauren Winterfeld.

Originally published March 31, 2014.

Huntington North High School introduced its Viking New Tech (VNT) program in August of 2010.

It was a new venture, and the newness was a concern even to some of the 116 freshmen students who enrolled in the program - which was designed as a school-within-a-school.

As that first class prepares to graduate this spring, one student attributes her success - and even a semester spent in Washington, DC - to the opportunities provided by Viking New Tech.

Lincoln second-graders learning about getting here to there

Heather Fields directs her class in writing a letter to the editor, as part of a transportation project her class, and the other three second grade classes at Lincoln Elementary School, are working on this month.
Photo by Lauren Winterfeld.

Originally published March 24, 2014.

Second grade students at Lincoln Elementary School are learning how the ways we get from here to there in Huntington County have evolved since the 1800s.

From canals, to trains, to cars, to planes, the students are studying each mode of transportation and putting together projects that will go on display in areas of the community.

YSB employee goes extra mile to help with child car seat safety

Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician Ira Bencun of the Huntington County Youth Services Bureau displays two different kinds of child safety seats.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published March 20, 2014.

Ira Bencun wears a lot of hats at the Youth Services Bureau of Huntington County, but she worked hard to wear her latest one - that of Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician.

Wildlife biologist not worried about downward trend of area deer numbers

Jason Wade, district wildlife biologist with the  Division of Fish and Wildlife, says a decline in the number of deer taken by hunters in 2013 shows that the local deer population is nearing an acceptable level.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published March 13, 2014.

The deer harvest in Huntington County is continuing its downward trend, but that doesn't worry the man in charge of keeping an eye on the deer population.

"We're probably close to where we want to be," says Jason Wade, District 3 wildlife biologist for the Division of Fish and Wildlife of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

MOPS wants moms to know they are not alone in difficult times

Members of Mothers of Preschoolers — known as MOPS — take a moment from their meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 25.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published March 10, 2014.

There are times when raising young children can be a challenge even for the most experienced mothers.

One group in town wants moms to know they're not alone.
MOPS - Mothers of Preschoolers - offers fellowship, support, spiritual hope and training for mothers of all ages, sharing from mom to mom helpful hints on everything from addressing temper tantrums to making time-saving meals.

Lincoln Elementary students starting chain reaction of kindness

Jonas Bent (left) and Jayce Keyser, Lincoln Elementary School students, pose with their classroom’s addition to the blue paper chain currently making its way around the school building.
Photo provided.

Originally published March 6, 2014.

Every day, 160,000 students don't go to school out of fear of being bullied or harassed - a sobering reality that an organization named Rachel's Challenge has set out to change.

The goal of Rachel's Challenge is to "create a culture of kindness and compassion."