Every breath sweet for double winner at Transplant Games

Brian McCoy, of Huntington, holds the framed gold and silver medals he recently won at the U.S. Transplant Games, surrounded by the many friendship pins he collected in trades with other athletes at the games. McCoy won the gold medal in the men’s doubles bowling event and the silver in mixed doubles bowling.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published July 11, 2016.

At age 43, every breath Brian McCoy takes is sweet, especially after he brought home two medals — a gold and a silver — for his bowling prowess at the Transplant Games, held June 10 through 15 in Cleveland, OH.

The Huntington resident received a double lung transplant on March 2, 2014, at the University of Michigan, after a medication interaction caused him to develop interstitial lung disease.

New face at local 4-H fair brings wealth of experience with her

Rae Ann O’Neill will be the new face in charge at this summer’s Huntington County 4-H Fair. For the past 29 years, she’s been coordinating the 4-H fair in Blackford County.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published July 7, 2016.

Rae Ann O’Neill may be a new face to Huntington County 4-H, but 4-H isn’t new to her.

When the first events of the 2016 Huntington County 4-H Fair — the dog show and the tractor operators’ contest — take place this weekend, she’ll show up with some experience under her belt.

Huntington’s ‘Joe Regular Guy’ thrilled to be serving hoop hall of fame with his heroes

Bill Walker, of Huntington, stands by a picture in his home displaying famous high school basketball players from across the state. A high school basketball enthusiast, Walker was recently promoted from the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame’s board of directors to its executive committee.
Photo by Steve Clark.

Originally published June 30, 2016.

Bill Walker is living the dream of any Indiana high school basketball fan.

Walker, of Huntington, serves the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame, doing so alongside many of the players and coaches he grew up idolizing.

“It’s like, I’m ‘Joe Regular Guy’ along with these guys who, I mean, they are legends to me,” Walker says. “They’re my heroes. I can tell you about every one of them.”

Playing at Carnegie Hall an epiphany for local musician

Maitlyn Christman relaxes in the backyard of her Huntington home, holding her clarinet. The 14-year-old won an audition to play in the Honors Performance Series at Carnegie Hall in June.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Maitlyn Christman isn’t shy about saying she has talent.

But rather than a statement of boastful pride, it’s more like a confirmation – perhaps even an epiphany – that she only recently received, when she traveled to New York, NY, to play at Carnegie Hall June 22 to 26.

“I’ve realized how talented of a performer that I actually am – I don’t know how else to say that – in that I have a lot of potential in music and performing,” she says, somewhat abashedly.

July 4 a loud birthday party to preschool youth

Kids Kampus Discoverers Class teacher Karissa Ditzler (right) helps Madison Yarger, 4, stamp her handprint on the flag mural during craft time Thursday, June 30.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

The 3 and 4 year olds in the Discoverers class at Kids Kampus know all about birthdays.

With three or four digits held up in the air, they can tell you on one hand how many of them they’ve celebrated. However, the kids spent the past week learning that our country has a birthday, too.

The eager pupils in teacher Karissa Ditzler’s class got their red, white and blue on, as they created crafts, lent their handprints to make the stripes on a flag painting and celebrated Independence Day with birthday cake.

Jiosa comes home to share talent, knowledge at local store seminar

Huntington native Denny Jiosa (left) illustrates a point by playing a tune during a guitar clinic he conducted Monday, June 20, at Copper Chord Music.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published June 27, 2016.

It’s been 15 years since Denny Jiosa has been back to his hometown of Huntington, but he says things have remained pretty much the same.

Long-time Andrews resident smitten with town’s history

Janice Harshbarger displays a copy of her recently published book, “Only in Andrews,” which recounts the early history of the Huntington County community.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published June 23,  2016.

Janice Harshbarger knew nothing about the town of Andrews when she moved there as a young teen.

“We knew it was a small town in Indiana that had a parsonage,” she says.

Now, she could write a book about what she knows.

Wait — she did.

“Only in Andrews” details the goings-on in the small Huntington County community from the 1880s through 1916, starting with a Miami village and tracing the town’s growth as first Antioch, and then Andrews.

Local man a walking experiment for new pacemaker

Larry Zahm, of Huntington, displays an illustration of an innovative new pacemaker he had implanted last year. Zahm had the pacemaker, which is no bigger than a large vitamin capsule, implanted as part of a clinical trial that included a little over 700 people worldwide.
Photo by Steve Clark.

Originally published June 20, 2016.

Last year, Larry Zahm was contemplating having routine cataract surgery.

Instead, he wound up being one of 700 people in the world to be implanted with an experimental pacemaker.

Before Zahm, of Huntington, would consider having a cataract operation, he wanted to make certain his heart would be up to the challenge.

“I wanted to be sure that I could stay awake, watching somebody working on my eyes without having a heart attack,” says the 77-year-old.

Victory Noll sisters sell tract of land to ACRES for permanent preservation

Sister Ginger Downey, general secretary for Our Lady of Victory Missionary Sisters, points out toward the 106 acres of land behind the Victory Noll campus that will be preserved by ACRES Land Trust. The purchase will be finalized late this summer.

Originally published June 16, 2016.

The sisters of Victory Noll, in keeping with their land ethic, have partnered with ACRES Land Trust to permanently preserve 106 acres of land on their property.

The land was originally enrolled in the Crop Reserve Program (CRP), a government subsidy program that takes active agricultural land and puts it in a nature preserve system. The land that Our Lady of Victory Missionary Sisters wishes to preserve was farmed until around 1990, and the CRP will protect it from development for only 20 years.

Changes, versatility keep Warren library viable as it hails centennial

Librarian Robert Neuenschwander (left) and Assistant Susan Mills make up the whole of the staff of the Warren Public Library, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this weekend.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published June 13, 2016.

The Warren Public Library is the place to be — for movies, for a WiFi signal and, yes, for books.

Movies and WiFi were far from the minds of the small group of people who organized on June 16, 1916, to lay the groundwork for the Warren Free Public Library.

Now, it’s one of the selling points.

“We have the strongest signal in town,” says the library’s director, Robert Neuenschwander. “People sit outside when we’re closed just to use the WiFi. And that’s OK.”

Plaque at Pilgrims Rest now honors residents long gone from this world

Jo (left) and Bob Ramsdell stand with the bronze plaque they erected at Pilgrims Rest Cemetery. The plaque memorializes 20 of Bob’s ancestors who are buried in unknown locations, many at Pilgrims Rest.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published June 9, 2016.

A bronze plaque tucked near the treeline at Pilgrims Rest Cemetery north of Huntington bears the names of nearly two dozen people, all of whom left this earth a century or more ago.

Their names — Hitzfeld, Behr, Jung, Schmiedes, Wuersten — bear out their roots in Germany; their final resting place is evidence of their lives in Huntington.

End of an era in Huntington as Child Conservation Club disbands

Child Conservation Club members (from left) Nancy Fellinger, Janet Mettler and Mary Machall share a laugh prior to the start of the club’s final meeting on Tuesday, May 17, at Lock No. 4 Food and Spirits, in Roanoke. A dozen women attended the luncheon meeting.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published June 6, 2016.

A keystone of an era in Huntington lasting nearly 100 years came to a close recently, after the members of the Child Conservation Club voted to disband.

A dozen women of the 17 still actively on the club’s membership roll came to the Lock No. 4 restaurant in Roanoke for their final meeting on May 17, where they enjoyed a lunch together and reminisced about some of their favorite moments being in the club.

HNHS senior takes anti-bullying message to young students

Huntington North High School senior Molly Smith (left) talks to fifth-grade students at Lancaster Elementary School during a convocation held Monday, May 16, about how to deal with bullies. Smith used lessons from her own life experiences to teach the students how to recognize bullying, make friends with kids who bully and develop their own self-confidence.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published May 26, 2016.

Molly Smith is a reformed bully.

Not that her career as a bully was a long one – in fact, it was quite short. She loathed what she had suddenly become when she recognized it for what it was.

Hammel earns HCCSC teacher of year honor

Huntington North High School math teacher and baseball coach Jarod Hammel (left) receives the Huntington County Community School Corporation’s 2016 Teacher of the Year award, presented by HCCSC Superintendent Randy Harris on Wednesday, May 25, during the Huntington County Community School year-end breakfast and awards ceremony, held at Huntington North High School.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Jarod Hammel, a Viking New Tech math teacher and freshman baseball coach at Huntington North High School, is the Huntington County Community School Corporation’s 2016 Teacher of the Year.

He received the prestigious award Wednesday, May 25, during the corporation’s end-of-year breakfast, held in the HNHS school cafeteria.

Hammel was chosen from a select pack of 10 teachers, each one chosen as the 2016 teacher of the year from his or her respective school.

Volunteers find many items cleaning roadside

Vinny Lisinicchia (front) brings up a tire he found in the brush along CR 200E during a cleanup project there on Saturday, May 14. Behind him is Larry Algon.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published May 19, 2016.

What can you find alongside the road?

A half-dozen volunteers who spent Saturday morning, May 14, cleaning up along a section of CR 200E can tell you.

Liquor bottles, chunks of Styrofoam, debris from fast food, tires, a toilet, a windshield and an adding machine.

“I found plastic fangs,” says Larry Algon, trash bag in hand.

Honor Flight to honor local native, others for giving program wings

Honor Flight Northeast Indiana Founder Laura Carrico (standing at left) assists World War II United States Navy veteran June Harshman (seated at left) as retired Air Force Brigadier General Wilma Vaught (standing at right) helps WWII Army veteran Polly Lipscomb during a past Honor Flight to Washington, DC. Carrico will be recognized during the upcoming 20th flight planned for Wednesday, May 25.

Right off the bat, Laura Carrico will tell you Honor Flight Northeast Indiana is not about her, but about the veterans who are served by the organization.

The Huntington native, who now lives in Fort Wayne, is not one to toot her own horn about founding the group in Indiana that has touched the lives of so many World War II servicemen and women.

“This whole thing is in honor of the veterans,” she says. “It’s not any of the volunteers.”

Retiring King literally builds HU track, field program from ground up

Tom King, the longtime head coach of Huntington University’s track and cross country teams, sits in his office with an award recently given to him by the school thanking him for his 46 years of service. In March, King announced his retirement, which becomes effective at the end of May.
Photo by Steve Clark.

Originally published May 9, 2016.

Tom King remembers hauling railroad ties back to Huntington from Fort Wayne.

King, the head coach of the Huntington University track and field teams, made the trip with a few of his student-athletes and the ties became the perimeter for a makeshift track, the school’s first.

“That was sort of the first thing we did,” King recalls. “I don’t remember how many trips we made up there to get that stuff.”

Abbett Leadership Center at Lincoln Elementary a way for family to honor former two-term mayor

Lincoln Elementary School Interim Principal Ashley Ransom holds a photo of former Huntington Mayor Terry Abbett inside the new Terry R. Abbett Leadership Center, located inside the school’s library. The center, which is still under construction, will be unveiled during an awards presentation set for May 5 at 6 p.m.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published May 2, 2016.

When former Huntington Mayor Terry R. Abbett died Oct. 16, 2015, memorial donations flooded in, amounting to about $2,000.

Abbett’s widow, Connie, and her family decided they wanted to put the money to good use to honor the two-term mayor, his accomplishments and a salute to the school where he began his education.

‘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.