Andrews library hailing Indiana bicentennial with homegrown prizes

Readers willing to read 200 books — or read for 200 hours — during Indiana’s bicentennial year can earn some of the Indiana-made prizes displayed here by (from left) Andrews-Dallas Township Public Library staff member Dee Kochensparger; ADTPL Friends of the Library member Sandi Denney; and library Director Nancy Disbro.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

What do Sechler’s Pickles, Hurst Beans and Dad’s Root Beer have in common?

Besides being the makings for an unusual meal, they’re all made in Indiana.

And they’re all prizes that will be given out by the Andrews-Dallas Township Public Library during 2016 as the library and its readers celebrate Indiana’s bicentennial year.

Anyone can sign up for the library’s 200 Club, says library Director Nancy Disbro, and a chance to win Indiana-made prizes.

Church sends skilled workforce into own backyard to help others

Mike Duggan, one of the ministers at the Markle Church of Christ, is among the more than 50 volunteers constructing a 5,376-square-foot building on the church’s property, enabling the church to save “several hundred thousand dollars” on the project. The new building will be used not only by the church, but also by The Master’s Pantry, a Markle-area food pantry, and Jennifer’s Closet, a clothing ministry operated by Karing for Kids.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

A Markle church blessed with an abundance of skilled workers often sends those people out into the field to use their carpentry skills for others.

They’re currently working on another project, but this time they haven’t gone any farther than the church’s own back yard.

They’re working on what Mike Duggan, adult ministries and administrative minister at the Markle Church of Christ, calls a “multi-functional storage barn.”

Markle native Wagner to put many miles on car promoting art of poetry as state’s new poet laureate

Markle native Shari Miller Wagner, pictured here at Pine Hills Nature Preserve, in Waveland, was named the new Indiana poet laureate by the Indiana Arts Commission in November. Over the next two years, Wagner will be promoting the art of poetry across the state, making stops at state parks, historical sites, schools and more.
Photo provided.

Originally published Dec. 21, 2015.

For the next two years, Markle native Shari Miller Wagner will be traveling all over Indiana.

Though the locations in her rearview mirror will be changing constantly, her reason for visiting them will remain the same: promoting the art of poetry.

Wagner, now a Westfield resident, was named Indiana poet laureate by the Indiana Arts Commission (IAC) in November. She’ll be the fifth person to hold the post, with her term running from the start of 2016 through the end of 2017.

Locals who share Dec. 25 birthdate know both sides to story

Roanoke resident Merry Christine Elliott will celebrate her birthday along with Christmas on Dec. 25.
Photo by Ehren Wynder.

The official birthday of one of the most famous persons in the universe will be celebrated around the world on Friday.

However, that celebration sometimes overshadows lots of other people who just happened to be born on Dec. 25, including some in Huntington County.

“It’s a blessing and a curse,” says Sandy Feichter, of Huntington, who will turn 33 on Friday.

“I really enjoy it because I get to spend that time with my family every year, so you’re always together celebrating.

Light show a tribute to group that impresses local couple

Chad (left) and Danielle Waters stand outside their home at 1220 Superior St., Huntington, where they have created a computer-programmed light show. The display is in honor of Jamie’s Legacy, an organization which traps, spay/neuters and releases feral cats.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published Dec. 17, 2015.

A small but mighty Christmas light show is not only the creation of a Huntington couple, it also pays tribute to an organization that has helped them and made an impression in their lives.

Roanoke 2nd-grader tearing up roping circuit

Dalton Husband, of Roanoke, prepares to lasso a target steer during practice in the corral of his family’s farm. The 7-year-old second grade student has already won numerous awards for his roping proficiency.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published Dec. 14, 2015.

Dalton Husband already needs a big box to hold all the trophies, statues and belt buckles he has won for his dead-eye skill at roping.

He is tearing up the roping circuit early in his young career. Dalton is 7.

The second-grade student at Roanoke Elementary School began learning how to rope at the tender age of 3. He has since traveled to roping events around the Midwest, tackling targets both stationary and moving. And he keeps on winning.

Local help groups have their own ‘wish lists’ as they endeavor to make holidays brighter

Huntington House Manager Rosella Stouder adds a teddy bear “elf” to the Christmas tree at the women’s homeless shelter. Several items are on the “wish list” of that and other area homeless shelters.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published Dec. 10, 2015.

It’s a scenario as old as the Christmas story itself: a family, finding themselves alone, in a city without shelter — in other words, homeless.

Folks still find themselves in that position more than 2,000 years later, even here in Huntington.

Although there may be no rooms available at some inns, three local ministries work hard to provide the homeless a place to stay, some food, and hopefully a leg up to turn their circumstances around.

Tom and Winnie Eckert: 65 years, 14 kids, always lots of love

Tom and Winnie Eckert have cut back on the size of their garden, now that their kids are all out of the house, but after 65 years of marriage they’re still enjoying the fruits (and vegetables) of their labor.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published Dec. 7, 2015.

It all started at a skating party.

He was 16; she was 15.

“She went to a skating party with … ,” he says.

“Oh, don’t name names,” she says, interrupting him good-naturedly.

“And I took her home,” he says. “And that was the beginning.”

Five years after that, they were married. And 65 years after that, the Huntington County couple is still married.

“Just a lot of love,” Tom Eckert says.

His bride, known many years ago as Winnie Nicholson, pats him affectionately on the leg.

OSV’s 50-year employee doesn’t plan to slow down

Mike Thomas (second from right) holds a certificate commemorating his 50 years of service at Our Sunday Visitor during a reception held in his honor on Nov. 18. With him are (from left) his supervisor, Michelle Hogan, of the publishing division; Tim Shoup, executive director of manufacturing; Cheryl Moore, director of human resources; and Kyle Hamilton, president and general manager, offertory solutions division.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published Dec. 3, 2015.

Huntington resident Mike Thomas has been working in data processing at Our Sunday Visitor since 1965. During his 50 years of work, he has seen the field of data processing change from punch cards to PCs.

Thomas went to school for data processing at Fort Wayne International Business College in 1964. When he started his job at OSV, computers were just arriving on the scene.

Andrews man’s HS football ‘addiction’ puts miles on the car

Andrews Clerk-Treasurer Bill Johnson hangs on to a football outside of Andrews Town Hall on Wednesday, Nov. 25. Johnson attends high school football games all over the state of Indiana to satisfy what he calls an addiction to the sport.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published Nov. 30.

Bill Johnson has big plans for the evening of Friday, Sept. 26, 2016.

Johnson, of Andrews, intends to be sitting in Eagle Stadium, which is located in Allen, TX. It’s an 18,000-seat high school football stadium, replete with luxury boxes and a gigantic high-definition screen. It cost $60 million.

Johnson will be watching the home team, the Eagles of Allen High School, take on the Buccaneers of Hoover High School, from Alabama. Both schools’ football programs are among the nation’s elite.

Area Native American drum group moving foward

Members of the Medicine Woman Singers keep beat as they practice a song Thursday, Nov. 19. Pictured (clockwise from left) are Chad Roop, Dave Meyers, Holly Meyers (partially hidden), Gary Shoemaker, Jerry Anders, Tim Lawhead and Jay Hyland (partially hidden). The group, which has about a dozen members total, has been together since 2009.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published Nov. 26, 2015.

The death this past summer of a beloved elder, mentor and singer in a Huntington County-based Native American drum group left a huge hole in the group, something her widower calls “a stumble.”

But in the wake of their grief, the Medicine Woman Singers are finding their strengths in each other, and are ready to once again honor their ancestors and the Creator with the drum and their voices.

YSB’s Williams gets to help youth on natl. level with recent appointment

Jan Williams (right), executive director of the Youth Services Bureau of Huntington County, gives some advice to William Bradley, 15, of Huntington, on food preparation as he and Brice Estep (left), 15, of Huntington, work on the Thanksgiving dinner they shared with the Youth Services Bureau staff on Wednesday, Nov. 18. Williams, a longtime youth advocate, has recently been named to a national advisory board for the Safe Place Network.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published Nov. 23, 2015.

Jan Williams has been the tip of the spearhead to help Huntington County’s troubled youth for more than 20 years. Now, the efforts of the executive director of the Youth Services Bureau of Huntington County will be recognized on a national level.

‘Part-timer’ still doing the job for sheriff’s department 47 years later

Jim Wall has been a reserve deputy for the Huntington County Sheriff’s Department for 47 years. He has served under eight sheriffs, from Marion Van Pelt to Terry Stoffel.
Photo by Ehren Wynder.

Originally published Nov. 19, 2015.

Jim Wall, the most experienced member of the Huntington County Sheriff’s Department, has never actually been a full-time deputy.

Instead, he’s spent nearly five decades as a special deputy or reserve deputy.

And that 47 years in uniform is the most years of service any current member of the department — full-time or reserve — has under his belt.

Wall first signed on as a deputy in 1968, almost by accident.

Local scribes getting intense as novel writing deadline looms

Aspiring novelists (clockwise, from left) Heather Palmer, Kristi Drillien, Jeri Davis and Brandon Smith concentrate during an intense writing session Tuesday, Nov. 10, at the Huntington 
City-Township Public Library. They’re participating in the world-wide National Novel Writing Month — NaNoWriMo — with a goal of completing a 50,000-word novel in a month.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally publilshed Nov. 16, 2015.

One’s a multi-year NaNoWriMo veteran; another is branching out from the academic world.

There are pantsers and posters. Some revel in the speed of a keyboard; others prefer the slower pace of using a pen to put their words on paper.

t’s the words that are the key. The writers are all focused on the end of November, when they want to have put together 50,000 words — words that could become a novel, the beginning of a novel, or just an exercise in finding out what doesn’t work.

Senior Center offering even more services in its temporary quarters

Nancy Thrasher (second from right), of Huntington, and Shirley Turner (right), of Andrews, walk around the outside of the gym at Central Christian Church as a group of line dancers go through their paces in the center court on Monday, Nov. 9. The indoor facility has provided more room to Seniors since the Huntington County Council on Aging moved into offices within the church last month.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published Nov. 12, 2015.

The Huntington County Senior Center is alive and well, and offering even more activities for older folks in its new digs at Central Christian Church, located at 500 MacGahan St., Huntington.

The Huntington County Council on Aging moved into offices at the church the week of Sept. 21, says Director Holly Saunders, while it awaits planned renovations to the new Senior Center building on West Park Drive.

Army recruiter telling HNHS students about his career choice

Army Recruiter Staff Sgt. Christopher Mercer (left) goes over last-minute details with Huntington North High School senior Elizabeth Mitchell, in the high school’s commons area on Wednesday, Nov. 4, prior to her scheduled enlistment on Nov. 6. Mitchell plans to specialize in computers and intelligence after she completes basic training.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally publislhed Nov. 9, 2015.

When Christopher Mercer was 18, coming of age in a small town near Bloomington, the Army seemed like a good alternative when he didn’t know what he wanted to do after he graduated from high school.

“I didn’t want to go to college and not know what I was going to go for, and then be in my second and third year and not necessarily know what I wanted to do,” he says. “Two years into the Army I was like, ‘I love this!’ and ended up re-enlisting for it.”

BAGC kids, LAC artist almost finished with downtown mural

Parkview Huntington Boys & Girls Club members (from left to right) Natalee Searles, 9; Harlee Mason, 9; and Zander Mason, 11; receive guidance from LaFontaine Arts Council Artist-in-Residence Angela Ellsworth (third from left) as they paint a rainbow’s stripes on a section of a mural at the club on Monday, Oct. 26. The mural will be displayed in downtown Huntington after it is finished.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published Nov. 2, 2015.

In a Chinese folk tale, a poor boy named Liang receives a magic paintbrush that brings whatever he paints with it to life. The proverb is about kindness and generosity, as Liang uses the paintbrush to help those less fortunate around him rather than for his own selfish desires.

It’s in that spirit that the youngsters at the Parkview Boys & Girls Club of Huntington County have helped bring to life the tale’s inspiration in a huge mural conceptualized by Huntington artist Angela Ellsworth.

Forester volleyball coach hoping lessons he’s learned from family can turn around HU program

Kyle Shondell is in his first season as the head coach of the Huntington University volleyball team. Coming from a family with a long history of volleyball coaching success, Shondell hopes to turn the Foresters’ program around.
Photo by Steve Clark.

Originally published Oct. 26, 2015.

Kyle Shondell’s office in Huntington University’s Merillat Complex overlooks Platt Arena.

From there, Shondell, the school’s first-year head volleyball coach, has a front-row seat to the campus tours that regularly pass through the gym.

It’s a place he hears tour guides refer to as the home of Forester basketball.

Halloween soulmates crank it up for their ‘Nightmare on College’

Barb and Wendell Koedel stand amidst the huge Halloween display in their yard at 1557 College Ave., preparing to receive Halloween trick-or-treaters on Saturday evening. This is the fourth year for the display, which grows bigger each year, they say.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

When grade school sweethearts Barb and Wendell Koedel reconnected several years ago, they knew it was a match made in heaven — or maybe the ghoulishly eerie atmosphere on earth, especially around the autumn month of October.

When Wendell discovered Barb had been putting up a Halloween display every year he knew he had found his soulmate.

“I’ve always liked doing this, and I just never got a chance to, until we got back together,” says Wendell Koedel, a die maker. “I’ve always loved Halloween.”

Huntington Township Fire Dept. may ‘go live’ in November, says chief

Huntington Township Fire Chief Paul Von Bank stands next to the department’s new tanker and the fire engine. The new fire department will be fully operational by next year.
Photo by Ehren Wynder.

Originally published Oct. 22, 2015.

The Huntington Township Fire Department is on track to be fully operational before next year, Fire Chief Paul Von Bank says.

“We have 24 members that are trained in fire response,” Von Bank says. “Our next phase is EMS training.

“Truck-wise, we’re up to two vehicles — a tanker and an engine — so we’re hoping to go live in November.”

The budget for next year is about  $71,000, the chief says.

Von Bank says the current priority is purchasing radios for the department and getting them approved by the state.

Local quilt star thinking about hanging it up

Bernice Enyeart holds her favorite quilt, named “BCE” for her initials, at her home in rural Huntington. Enyeart, who has won numerous awards for her innovative quilts, has made 79 quilts and wall hangings and still has 60 of them.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published Oct. 19, 2015.

Sitting in her eclectically appointed living room, dotted throughout with cat tchotchkes, Bernice Enyeart is perfectly at home with all her “friends.”

The lady who could arguably be dubbed Huntington County’s quilter-in -residence has made 79 quilts and wall hangings since she began the hobby in her early 40s — 60 of them she still owns.

“They’re like old friends,” Enyeart says.

Creating a link benefits Boy Scout, Forks park and the community

The Wabash River is visible in the background as Kevin King stands inside a campground ring on the heavily-wooded Ehler Island at the Forks of the Wabash Historic Park. King is coordinating the construction of two accessible campsites on the island as he works toward his Boy Scout Eagle award.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally publshed Oct. 15, 2015.

Kevin King was looking for a project that would benefit his community.

The Forks of the Wabash Historic Park was looking to develop a nearby island.

Jim Scheiber, a member of the Forks board and a friend of the King family, linked the two.

A campground then began taking shape on the island — and King was well on his way to joining the ranks of Eagle Scouts.

Andrews Elementary makes it clear that bullying in school is history

Fourth-grader Logan Sibert cuts out a “hand” he decorated in art class at Andrews Elementary School as part of the school’s Bully Prevention Day on Monday, Oct. 5. The hands made by students, which were added together in a mural that urged students to “Take a stand … lend a hand.”
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published Oct. 12, 2015.

Back in the day, parents and educators were often heard using the phrase, “boys will be boys” — or “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”

That day is over for those involved in bullying at school.

At Andrews Elementary School, the message has been driven home to every student in each grade to “Take a Stand … Lend a Hand” when they see a fellow classmate being bullied.

Huntington North cheerleader gets bitten by marching band bug and now lives in both worlds

Callista Barker, a member of both the Huntington North High School cheerleading squad and marching band, performs with the band while clad in her cheerleading attire during halftime of the school’s homecoming football game on Friday, Sept. 25.
Photo by Steve Clark.

Originally published Oct. 8, 2015.

Callista Barker already excelled at cheerleading, leading Huntington North High School throughout her high school career in supporting its sports teams.

But one day she picked up a drum.

“It was my best friend at the time, Brandon Blue,” she says. “He was in drum line and they weren’t going to have a drum line that year — it was my sophomore year — because people weren’t trying out for it. So he dragged me into it … I ended up really liking it.”

Izaak Walton League inducts Phil Ross into its hall of fame

Jean Ross (left) displays awards given to her late husband, Phillip Ross, for his contributions to the Izaak Walton League. Their son-in-law, Robert Goings (right) serves as the league’s current president in Huntington County.
Photo by Ehren Wynder.

Originally published Oct. 5, 2015.

Phil Ross is remembered as a lifetime conservationist.

The former president of the Huntington chapter of the Izaak Walton League died Feb. 11, 2007, at the age of 86.

Seven years after his death, he has been inducted into the Izaak Walton League Hall of Fame. The honor was presented in 2014, by the Izaak Walton League in Pierre, SD.

He is also the recipient of several awards recognizing his research and his lifelong adherence to the members’ pledge to conserve nature in all facets.

Huntington Area Recreational Trails Assn. setting off down path

This map displays completed and yet-to-be completed trails in Huntington. Approximately seven miles of trails will be built next year and the Huntington Area Recreational Trails Association, HARTA, is leading the charge for even more trails to be built beyond that.
Graphic provided.

Originally published Sept. 28, 2015.

The Huntington Area Recreational Trails Association is setting off down a figurative path it hopes will lead to the creation of literal ones.

The organization – HARTA for short – is a nonprofit group formed last year with a mandate to design, develop, construct and maintain public trails and greenways in the Huntington area. In order to fulfill that mandate, HARTA pursues funding and engages in fund-raising.

‘A tall ship and a star to steer her by’ more than a dream for Huntington County woman

Boatswain’s Mate Shelbie Smart stands at the top of the 147-foot-tall mast of the Coast Guard cutter Eagle, the deck of the ship and the ocean visible far beneath her. Smart just completed a three-year stint on board the tall ship, which started life as a Nazi training ship. It now serves the same purpose for the United States Coast Guard.
Photo provided.

Originally published Sept. 21, 2015.

For Shelbie Smart, “a tall ship and a star to steer her by” is more than a dream.

It’s the life she’s been living the last three years.

As a boatswain’s mate with the United States Coast Guard, the Huntington County woman just finished up a stint on the Coast Guard cutter Eagle — a tall ship that once belonged to the other side.

Pioneer Festival has become tradition for Brooks family

Po Brooks drops apple fritter batter into hot grease during a previous Forks of the Wabash Pioneer Festival as her husband, Jeff Brooks, works in the background. The Brooks family has been involved with the festival since its beginnings in 1975.
TAB file photo.

One Huntington County family has not only embodied the spirit of the upcoming Forks of the Wabash Pioneer Festival, they have also served over the years as pioneers of the festival itself.

As Mary Brooks, of Huntington, recalls, it all began in 1975, when Eiffel Plasterer had a show of tractors at his farm. She and her husband, Garl, thought it might be interesting to do something special during the show, so they made apple butter outside, drawing people’s interest.

Andrews Town Park plaque honors woman responsible for resurrection

Rick Wright stands next to the new drinking fountain at the Andrews Park that pays tribute to his late wife, Linda Wright, who was the leading force in the rehabilitation of the once-neglected park. A plaque attached to the fountain notes that Linda Wright “believed that public places are what tie a community together,” prompting her to work for the restoration of green space and playground equipment seen in the background.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published Sept. 17, 2015.

Green grass and flowers, neatly edged mulch and brightly painted play equipment.

The Andrews Town Park wasn’t always that way.

But now it invites walkers to sit for a while at the picnic tables under the pavilion; parents feel comfortable allowing their kids to ride their bikes to the park.

And if the visitors should happen to stop at the drinking fountain to quench their thirst, they’ll see a tribute to the woman many believe is single-handedly responsible for the resurrection of the park.

Residents liking Huntington, Markle libraries more as circulation surges

Huntington City-Township Public Library Director Beka Lemons stands in one of the many aisles containing DVDs that can be checked out of the Huntington library. Lemons says the circulation fees have now been dropped, contributing to an upswing in circulation.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published Sept. 14, 2015.

It seems that Huntington city and township residents are liking their library more and more, and Director Beka Lemons has the numbers to prove it. She says circulation is up in double digits at the Huntington City-Township Public Library, both at the Huntington branch and at the Markle location as well.