‘Sewing ministry’ involves several segments of community

Students from the Huntington University Theater Department helped sew children’s clothing for use in missions around the world. Pictured (from left) are Alyssa Plisco, Sarah Moloney, Alora Trinkle, instructor Mary Zellers, project coordinator Kris Hittler, Jordan Gregory, Trenidy Cox and Emma Fried. Students not pictured are CeCe Cherry, Karli Melder, Jessi Snyder, Cailin Fielding, Kaeley Osterman, Emma Slavin-Hall and Lauren Sowers.
Photo by Steve Clark.

Originally published April 28, 2016.

For an hour every Wednesday afternoon, about a dozen dedicated women can be found sitting around the large dining room table located at The Heritage of Huntington.

Most of them are residents of the facility and, for the past year and a half, their sewing circle has served a worldwide ministry as they sew hundreds of brightly colored, brand new dresses for little girls living in other countries.

Hoops junkie, local native Harrell heading to hall of fame thanks to innovation, effort

Huntington native John Harrell (left) stands with a plaque presented to him by Huntington North High School athletic director Kris Teusch commemorating his status as the recipient of the 2016 Indiana Fever Silver Medal Award. The award, which is handed out by the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame, recognizes outstanding contributions made to high school basketball by someone other than a player or coach. Harrell, the founder of JohnHarrell.net and a longtime sportswriter, received the plaque during a basketball game at HNHS on Feb. 26. He will be inducted into the hall of fame at a ceremony in Indianapolis on April 30.
Photo provided by Patrick Mericle.

Originally published April 21, 2016.

For someone whose life is so immersed in basketball, John Harrell attends remarkably few basketball games.

Harrell, a Huntington native, is too busy running his website, JohnHarrell .net. The site, which he launched in 2000, documents boys’ and girls’ high school basketball in Indiana. Anyone with an investment in the sport – players, coaches, fans – has come to depend on it for schedules, results, standings and more.

HCCSC students to put hands to project for state’s bicentennial

Karissa Kaiser, 9, a third grade student at Northwest Elementary School, presses a leaf-shaped stamp into a fresh clay tile on Wednesday, April 13, as she prepares her portion of the clay tile mural that will celebrate Indiana’s 200th birthday. About 450 HCCSC elementary school students will contribute to the project, which has been endorsed by the State Bicentennial Commission.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published April 18, 2016.

About 450 Huntington County Community Sch-ool Corporation elementary students will put their hands — literally — to a big project in celebration of Indiana’s 200th birthday.

The project is called “We Had a Hand in the Bicentennial.” Third grade pupils will create clay tiles, decorated with different aspects of the Hoosier state. When finished, the tiles will be part of a mural measuring an impressive 31 feet wide by 5 feet tall. It will contain an outline of Indiana and a star in the center to denote the capital, Indianapolis.

As 35th production rolls around, HNHS’ director reflects on past

Photo provided.
Ruth Reed

Originally published April 14, 2016.

Huntington North High School Theater Director Ruth Reed is a successful theater director and role model to students. Now directing her 35th musical, “Hello Dolly,” she reflects back on all the work she’s done.

Reed started acting in plays when she was in third grade.  She began directing plays when she got to high school.

“My director said, ‘Ruth, you have talent. I’m going to let you direct,’” Reed says. “So she let me direct three one-act plays.”

Three locals lending talents to state’s ‘Bison-tennial’

Huntington artists (from left) Katrina Mitten, Katy Strass and Angela Ellsworth apply the brown undercoat on the life-sized, fiberglass statue of a bison on Thursday, April 7, in Schenkel Station, before adding more colorful decorations depicting Huntington County’s history and culture. The project is in conjunction with Indiana’s Bicentennial celebration this year.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published on April 11, 2016.

Three Huntington County artists are lending their talents to say “Happy 200th Birthday, Indiana” by painting a five-foot-tall fiberglass bison, adding to a herd of bison that will be seen throughout Indiana this year.

The project is the brainchild of the Indiana Association of United Ways, which has launched a statewide “Bison-tennial” public art project in each of the state’s 92 counties, in partnership with the Indiana Bicentennial Commission.

Local man has fond memories of being a ‘boy of summer’

Today, Mark Parker is an enrolled agent at Kline’s CPA Group, in Huntington, but in 1978 he was a pitching prospect for the Chicago Cubs. Parker played five seasons in the Cubs’ minor league system, advancing all the way to Triple A, just a phone call away from the major leagues.
Photo by Steve Clark.

Originally published April 7, 2016.

Mark Parker spent the summer of 1977 sharpening his skills in the outfield. A baseball player at Huntington College, he was hoping to deliver on the promise he’d shown local major league scouts during his recently completed junior season.

However, as he worked on becoming a better outfielder, something funny happened.

He ended up becoming a better pitcher.

Tipton Place artists are showing age is no hindrance to artistic talent

Vickie Christman, a resident at Tipton Place Assisted Living Center, shows off a cross-stitched blanket she made for her daughter in 1987. Christman’s art was among the many pieces shown at the Tipton Place Art Show on Wednesday, March 23.
Photo by Ehren Wynder.

Originally published April 4, 2016.

Three Seniors at Tipton Place Assisted Living Center in Huntington are showing their community that artistic talent does not diminish with age. The center featured an art show to display their work on Wednesday, March 23.

Gina Krause, life enrichment coordinator, says that she was inspired by the artistic talent of the residents, and she wanted to showcase it.

“I realized that they had lots of paintings,” Krause said, “So I realized there’s a lot of creative people here and to celebrate that.”

Love INC expanding footprint in city; acquiring house starts it up

Love in the Name of Christ volunteer Dave Walker (left) mans the saw as Dick Widelski looks on. The two-man crew is renovating a house adjacent to the Love INC facility on Washington Street, which will become the new offices for the organization.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published March 31, 2016.

There’s a lot to love about “Love” — and soon there will be even more to love, as Love In the Name of Christ prepares to expand its footprint in Huntington as the hub of help to those in need.

The ministry has purchased a house at 426 E. Washington St., located adjacent to the Love INC building, and is in the midst of fixing up the structure. Executive Director Joey Spiegel says the leadership had desired to acquire the house for quite some time, but the timing wasn’t right until recently.

Japanese art form of anime gaining devotees at high school

Adrianna Collins, (center) secretary for the Huntington North High School Anime Club, spells out “Senbonzakura” during an anime-themed spelling game on Wednesday, March 16. Club Treasurer Trystin Godfroy (left) and President Janessa Dodson moderate the game.

Originally published March 28, 2016.

The Japanese art form known as anime has expanded its influence out of the Land of the Rising Sun and is now appreciated by many Americans.

Anime is a Japanese interpretation of the word “animation.” It refers to any animated movies or TV shows created in Japan and that feature a unique, stylized form of artwork.

One of the fans is Michael Ness, a senior at Huntington North High School, who started the school’s student-run Anime Club in 2015. The club serves as an outlet for students to share their love of anime.

Respect a key component for dealing with handicapped people, say local trio

As members of the Mayor’s Advisory Council on Community Accessibility, Vickie and Brian Kirkpatrick have seen physical barriers begin falling. But they say what those with disabilities want most is respect.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published March 24, 2016.

Brian Kirkpatrick wants a smooth sidewalk and a doorway that will admit his motorized wheelchair.

Vickie Kirkpatrick, his wife, wants you to look at her and speak up during a conversation.

Michael Paff wants to be a chef.

Three individuals, each with a unique disability that slows — but doesn’t stop — the journey through life. And many of the speed bumps they encounter can be smoothed out by one thing, Vickie Kirkpatrick says.

Local legislators say recent state session was a good one

(From left) Dan Leonard, Jim Banks and Travis Holdman.
Photos provided.

Originally published March 21, 2016.

Indiana’s recent legislative session was a good one, legislators representing Huntington County say, with cooperation transcending party lines in order to get the state’s business done.

Rep. Dan Leonard (R-Huntington) says the session, which ended with a late evening session on March 10, was a productive one, with the $1 billion road funding bill, ISTEP testing, veterans’ benefits and the fight against methamphetamine at the top of the list in accomplishments.

County resident Strass’ falconry hobby really takes flight

Huntington County resident Kirk Strass hunts with a red-tailed hawk, trained to find rabbits and squirrels and return to his handler when the hunt is over.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published March 17, 2016.

Follow Kirk Strass’ gaze upward, and you’ll see a red-tailed bird sitting high in the tree.

A whistle from Strass, and the bird turns its head, spots the raw beef heart in Strass’ hand and swoops down for the food — settling in on Strass’ leather-gloved hand.

The bird is a red-tailed hawk, the latest in a series of hunting birds Strass has trained since taking up the sport of falconry about five years ago.

HNHS Academic Super Bowl team scoring with and beating ‘big boys’

Intently focused on a question projected on a screen, Huntington North High School Academic Super Bowl team members (from left) Bethany Williams, Emma Gordon, Charles Grey, Audrey Marjamaa and Zach Lippe get ready to write the answer down before the time limit expires during a practice session on Feb. 29. The team went on to place in the social studies, math and English sections of the multi-school competition held on March 2.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published March 10, 2016.

It was a proud, proud teacher who boasted the scores of Huntington North High School’s fledgling Academic Super Bowl teams, fresh from their competition on March 2 at South Side High School. For science teacher and co-sponsor Andrew Villanueva, it was also sweet vindication.

“You don’t necessarily think about Huntington North being highly academic,” he says. “We don’t know that we’re good at these things until we go do them.”

Ex-local overcomes rocky start to become top medical entomologist

Stan Cope Jr.

Originally published March 7, 2016.

Long before Dr. Stan Cope Jr. was a respected figure in the field of medical entomology, he was an object of ridicule in his freshman biology class at Huntington North High School.

It had to do with an insect collection that was due for the class. Cope hastily threw his together the night before, transferring bugs from trees and bushes into a shopping bag, which he then stuffed into a Budweiser box.

Sitting in class the following day, Cope’s teacher singled him out. Initially, he thought it might be for praise.

After 30 years, Pulse director knows costumes help cast spell

Cynthia Smyth-Wartzok, founder and managing director of the Pulse Opera House in Warren, is surrounded by just a fraction of the costumes the Pulse has amassed during its 30-year history. Smyth-Wartzok also serves as costume designer for the Pulse and, for most of those 30 years, single-handedly designed and constructed all of the actors’ costumes.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published March 3, 2016.

The actors get all the glory.

But their costumes have just as much to do with casting the spell of the story.

“What that person decided to put on that day tells you a lot about who that character is,” says Cynthia Smyth-Wartzok, costume designer at the Pulse Opera House, in Warren.

The thousands of costumes that have appeared on stage at the Pulse over its 30-year history are largely the work of Smyth-Wartzok, the community theater’s founder, who also serves as its managing director and artistic director.

Mother Nature not very kind to syrup producers this year

Deloris Smith hangs a 10-quart metal bucket on a spigot that has been freshly driven into the side of a maple tree on Tuesday, Feb. 16. When the sap begins to run, the trees can fill the bucket, sometimes spilling over with the sweet, watery substance, which will be boiled down to make syrup.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published Feb. 29, 2016.

Mother Nature has been kind to nearly everyone in Huntington County this year — except John and Deloris Smith.

The couple depends on the usually below-freezing wintry weather for their one and only crop, maple syrup.

But finally, some cold temperatures did hit local “fields” — comprised of wooded stands of huge maple trees — prompting the sap to rise. The Smiths were there to harvest it.

Huntington resident asking people to pitch in shoes as part of Relay for Life fund-raiser

Deb Christman, a dietary aide at Parkview Huntington Hospital, holds just a few of the new and gently used shoes she has collected for the upcoming Huntington County Relay for Life. A hospital-wide drive to collect shoes will begin March 1. Drop-off boxes will be located in the hospital lobby and the public is invited to help fill them with all types of footwear.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published Feb. 25, 2016.

Debra Christman has seen far too many family members and friends succumb to cancer. She’s enlisting the support of everyone she knows to fight the disease, and she wants their shoes to do it.
The Huntington resident, who is a dietary aide at Parkview Huntington Hospital, has continued the fight for the past 10 years as a participant and team captain in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. Her indignation at being among the living “victims” affected by cancer fuels her actions.

Robotics team readies for competition season

Team THRUST Coordinator Chris Elston (center) coaches his team on how to make its robot fire cannonballs at the Vocational Technical Center on Monday, Feb. 8. Team members pictured are (from left) Jake Garlits, Jacob Burns, Doug Melchi, Andrew Land and Noah Nguyen.
Photo by Ehren Wynder.

Originally published Feb. 22, 2016.

Chris Elston gathers his team of high school students around their mechanized war machine.

In their workshop littered with scrap metal and computer parts, and the air filled with the whirring of saw blades and heavy tunes by popular rock band Disturbed, Team THRUST is hard at work to make a robot that will lead them to victory.

The team kicked off its 11th season on Jan. 9 and must complete its robot before the first regional competition in Tippecanoe on March 11.

Local man on mission to teach kids ‘real game’ of chess

John Martinez explains a chess move to one of the members of the chess club he coaches. The club, an extension of Martinez’s love of the game, meets monthly at the Huntington Branch of the Huntington City-Township Public Library.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published Feb. 18, 2016.

John Martinez has the pawns, the rooks, the bishops and the royal couple in place on the tables, ready to roll.

But as his players arrive, he quickly realizes there aren’t enough places at the boards.

No problem. He grabs a few long green bags, slides out rolled-up chess boards and covers another table.

He matches up the players, and the first games begin.

The competitors are young, most no older than middle school. But they’re all older than Martinez was when he started to play.

HNHS Spanish class project having impact many miles away

Advanced placement Spanish classmates Alexa Hill (left) and Hannah Williams (center) discuss story ideas for the children’s books they are writing in Spanish as Madi Canady (right) notates during the initial phases of the class project on Feb. 2. After their assignments are completed, the books will be sent to school children in the Dominican Republic.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published Feb. 15, 2016.

A classroom project in Beth Beery’s Advanced Placement Spanish Class at Huntington North High School is making an impact on youngsters thousands of miles away.

The 20 students in the class are creating children’s storybooks in Spanish, each coming up with his or her own unique story. Any number of subjects may be the focus.

“Some of them make them personal, about their own lives,” Beery explains. “Some of them make them kind of like a moral-to-the-story type books. So they have all different kinds.”

New historical museum director working on less is more theory

Huntington County Historical Museum Director Mark Stouder (right) and museum volunteer Jim Dinius look over a model of Huntington as it appeared around 1835. Stouder joined the museum as director late last year.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published Feb. 8, 2015

Mark Stouder is going with the theory that more can sometimes be done with less.

So while the Huntington County Historical Museum was on its regular month-long shutdown in January, Stouder and the museum’s volunteer crew were weeding through the displays.

“What we’re trying to do is thin it out a little bit and let the exhibits tell a story,” Stouder says.

‘Tap boys’ at YMCA know dance not just for girls

YMCA dance instructor Brooke Farrington (second from right) shows her pupils how it’s done as they practice their steps in the boys’ tap dance class on Wednesday, Jan. 27. Students are (from left) Austin Taylor, Zander Mason and Tyler Gradeless.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published Feb. 4, 2016.

Some of the coolest boys at the Parkview Huntington Family YMCA wear tap shoes.

They’re really cool.

Just ask them.

“It’s really fun and really cool,” says newbie Austin Taylor, 11, of Roanoke. “It keeps my feet moving and it’s fun to learn new things.”

He’s not alone in his praise of tap.

It’s not hard to see that the boys, without exception, were having fun as they worked diligently on learning how to hoof it with metal plates on the toes and heels of their shoes.

No joke -- Huntington partners actually ‘running off with circus’

Lori VanOver (left) nuzzles Cash the camel as Evan Wall holds the animal’s harness. A pie-in-the-sky conversation between VanOver and Wall quickly became reality, and the two now share ownership of five camels and seven ponies.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published Feb. 1, 2016.

Evan Wall is on his way from Huntington to Florida, pulling a gargantuan trailer filled with five camels and seven ponies.

He and his crew — including his dad, Tom Wall, and friends Michelle Amor and Rocky Mills — will meet up in Florida with business partner Lori VanOver, who’s bringing along her mom, Joan Keefer, and friend Mary Stein.

Then they’ll join the circus.

“It’s been Evan’s dream to run off with the circus,” VanOver jokes.

That wasn’t quite the dream, but that’s what the dream has morphed into.

Local women’s home rehab talents put to good use by Habitat

Dawn Harvey directs volunteers at a Huntington County Habitat for Humanity home rehabilitation project on Saturday, June 23. Harvey, a member of the local Habitat board, is using her experience in home rehabilitation while working on the Walnut Street house.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published Jan. 28, 2016.

The house in the 1500 block of Walnut Street has seen better days.

Crumbling cement steps, a saggy ceiling and less-than-weathertight windows were among its problems.

But since the house fell into the hands of Huntington County Habitat for Humanity, its future has started looking a lot brighter, with crews of volunteers in and out as they revamp the home’s layout, install new windows, shore up the ceiling and more.

If there’s a youth sport being played somewhere in Hgtn. County, Houser’s probably coached it

Ray Houser (right), a coach for the Crestview Middle School wrestling team, gives some instruction to wrestler Riley Bowman during a meet. Passionate about coaching, Houser has called the shots for numerous teams in a variety of different sports through the county.
Photo provided.

Originally published Jan. 25, 2016.

Ray Houser has held more coaching positions than he can remember.

Well aware of this, he produces a piece of paper from his pocket baring the names of his many coaching gigs to trigger his memory.

It’s a long list: flag football at the Huntington Police Athletic League; Huntington Parks and Recreation Department soccer; Upward Sports basketball, as well as hoops at Horace Mann Elementary School and the Salvation Army; Roanoke Youth Sports soccer; football, wrestling and soccer at Crestview Middle School.

HU students using J-Term to learn much-needed skill that instructor says is becoming a lost art

Berlinda Nibo, a junior from Los Angeles, CA, concentrates on the seam she is sewing on her apron project in the Basic Personal Sewing class at Huntington University on Thursday, Jan. 14. Two classes of 10 students in each class are learning sewing basics as they put together an apron and potholder project for the class.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published Jan. 21, 2016.

Twenty students at Huntington University are spending their January term learning some much-desired skills their instructor says are threatening to become a lost art.

Mary Zellers, adjunct professor and costume shop supervisor, says the popularity of the Basic Personal Sewing class necessitated adding a second session so students could learn what she describes are the basics of sewing and clothing repair.


Huntington youngster develops early affinity for feathered friends

Hunter Saunders (right) gets a little help from his grandfather, Rick Saunders, as they fill the bird feeders in the back yard of Rick’s residence in rural Andrews. Hunter is credited with being able to identify nearly 80 birds.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published Jan. 18, 2016.

At the tender age of 4, Hunter Saunders can point out a cardinal, a blue jay, a sparrow, a cedar waxwing … and that’s just a start.

He knows by sight all kinds of ducks — from wood ducks to golden eyes and mergansers.

He can identify nearly 80 species of winged creatures, by his father’s guess. And Hunter hasn’t yet begun an official “life list” of birds he’s sighted so far.

“I started writing them down, and I got to about 35 or so,” says Hunter’s dad, Justin Saunders, of Huntington.

Riverview’s Parsons earns grant to shoot inspirational posters

Michael Parsons, assistant principal at Riverview Elementary School, stands in his office beside pictures he and his wife, Arlene, have taken during their trips around the world. Parsons was recently awarded a $12,000 grant from the Lilly Foundation, in Indianapolis, to travel out west, where he’ll photograph locales such as Yellowstone National Park and subsequently make unique inspirational posters that will be hung up around Riverview.
Photo by Steve Clark.

Originally published on Jan. 14, 2016.

Inspirational posters adorn the walls of the Riverview Middle School main office, bearing the words and outdoor images that onlookers have come to expect from posters like them.

2009 Huntington North graduate doesn’t have to go too far to find the place that makes him happy

Nicholas Stephan sits at his desk in the Markle Public Library, where he is now serving as branch manager.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published Jan. 11, 2016.

Nicholas Stephan didn’t have to go far to find his place.

It’s just 18 miles from his boyhood home in Bippus to his new desk in Markle.

From that desk, he directs the workings of the Markle Public Library, a place he’s come to love.

“I like the order,” he says. “I like the peacefulness.”

Stephan has been at the Markle library since mid-December as branch manager, a title that’s new to the facility.

New program could bring hope, new start for drug offenders

Huntington County Superior Court Magistrate Jennifer Newton (left) and Probation Officer Desiree Fritcha will head up the county’s new Drug Court program, which is expected to begin in January, thanks to a grant awarded through the Justice Reinvestment Advisory Council.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published Dec. 31.

A new program administered through the county’s court system could bring hope and a new start for those whose drug habits have landed them on the wrong side of the law.

It’s called Drug Court – an intensive rehabilitation program that targets mainly high-risk offenders who plead guilty to drug felony charges.