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.

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.