Features

Genius Hour showing educators that letting students pick studies might be right track

Alayna Pohler (left) and Josie Eckert, members of the Riverview Middle School Seventh Grade Blue Team, explain to the Huntington County Community School Corporation Board of School Trustees at its April 10 meeting how they decided to create a lip balm product for their Genius Hour project. The profits from sales of the lip balm are being donated to The Salvation Army.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin

Originally published April 20, 2017

The idea of letting kids learn what they want to learn sounds like a recipe for disaster, but as the seventh-grade Blue Team at Riverview Middle School has proven, it’s sheer genius.

It’s called Genius Hour, a program that is teaching middle school students to not just think out of the box, but for themselves as well. The results have been impressive, says Assistant Principal Michael Parsons.

Chance calling has county resident among best in world

John Nixon, of Huntington County, stands with the Founders Award, an accolade given out by the American Academy of Forensic Sciences that recognizes outstanding service to the engineering sciences. Originally from Scotland, Nixon has made a name for himself in the United States as a forensic consultant and expert on weapons systems and explosives.
Photo by Steve Clark.

Originally published April 17, 2017.

John Nixon found his calling in life by chance.

While training to be an engineer in London, he was approached by government representatives who were searching for engineers to work on munitions and ordinance.

“They kind of picked me out and said, ‘Come for an interview,’” Nixon recalls. “So, I had an interview and then got the job. I was kind of like a troubleshooter, going from one technology area to another.

“So, I worked on a lot of things – like missiles, explosives, small arms.”

Artist creates living willow tunnel at Salamonie Lake as part of Arts in Parks

Sadie Misiuk (left) and Viki Graber plant willow branches on the banks of a pond at Salamonie Lake on Friday, April 7. The branches will eventually become a living tunnel, an installation put in place as part of the Indiana Arts Commission’s Arts in the Parks program.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published April 13, 2017.

In another week or so, with any luck, the willow will have budded and the ground will have dried, making the newly installed living tunnel at Salamonie Lake an enticing place to play — or just chill out.

But willow weaving artist Viki Graber and her assistant, Sadie Misiuk, had to contend with a chill in the air and mud under their feet when they created the sculpture on Friday, April 7.

“This is going to be a child’s tunnel, but adults can go in there if they want to crouch down a little bit,” Graber says.

Agencies working hard to solve county location mysteries

Marla Stambazze, land use coordinator with the Huntington County Department of Community Development, displays a sign designating lot numbers for a subdivision where about a dozen homes share the same address. The designation of lot numbers was part of a project to assign addresses to every location in Huntington County where people might gather.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published April 10, 2017.

They haven’t quite solved the mystery of the lost city of Atlantis, but they have found a number of cemeteries throughout Huntington County.

Although preferring anonymity, top Lancaster Elementary volunteer turns into ‘school asset’

Volunteer George Richardson (right) helps Lancaster Elementary School first-grader Olivia Thomas, 7, with a difficult word as she reads aloud to him during class on Wednesday, March 29. Richardson volunteers the equivalent hours of a full-time employee, working year ’round at the school.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin

Originally published April 6, 2017.

George Richardson says that “someone” twisted his arm to do this story. Truth told, it was more likely a bunch of “someones” who convinced him that he deserves all the attention he’s recently received.

“I like to be anonymous,” he said, simply.

But at Lancaster Elementary School, Richardson is anything but anonymous. His name is often heard overhead on the school’s PA system, summoning him for one task or another.

Reunited friends’ latest project at LaFontaine Center designed to show different people can get along

LaFontaine Center residents Lorraine Dunford (left) and Rose Hawkins spearheaded the creation of the “Fantasy Gnome and Fairy Garden” in the center’s lobby.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published April 3, 2017.

Lorraine Dunford and Rose Hawkins were childhood friends who, over the years, lost track of each other.

While Hawkins stayed close to home, Dunford spent years overseas as a member of a military family.

Then, last December, both — coincidentally — moved into apartments at the LaFontaine Center, in Huntington.

“It was just a total surprise out of the blue,” Dunford says of reconnecting with her old friend.

“I was sitting in the Brick Room coloring, and she walked in,” Hawkins says.

Veteran motorcycle racer Flynn adds traveling buddy this season

Pat Flynn (left) stands alongside his grandson, Logan White, with the motorcycles they use for cross country racing. While Flynn has been competing in national races for more than 30 years, this year marks the first time that his grandson, 15, has joined him.
Photo by Steve Clark.

Originally published March 30, 2017.

Pat Flynn has been traveling around the United States for cross country motorcycle races for more than 30 years.

This year, however, he has some company.

For the first time ever, Flynn’s grandson, Logan White, is on the road with him.

And after years of teaching White about cross country motorcycle racing, the teenager is now out competing in the same national races as his grandfather.

County farm family’s beef herd expands quickly with rare triplets

The Little family — (from left) Cory, Cole, Jennifer and Todd — show off their 7-year-old heifer, “Tessie,” and her triplet calves. A triplet birth is extremely rare.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published March 27, 2017.

When Cole Little noticed that the family’s pregnant cow “Tessie” had wandered off into the trees, he went to check on her.

That’s a sign that the cow’s about ready to give birth, explains Todd Little, Cole’s dad.

And “Tessie,” as expected, had given birth — to not one, not two, but three calves. Cole immediately called his mom, Jennifer Little.

“I called her and said, ‘She had three,’” Cole says. “And she said, ‘No, she didn’t.’ But I told her she did and one was just laying out there and I think she needs help.”

HNHS student becoming real-life ‘guitar hero’ with talent, hard work

Local guitarist and Huntington North High School student Jesse Gonzales takes a break from practice on Friday, March 17. Gonzales and his band, The Timebacks, will perform in a benefit concert on Friday, April 21, at the HNHS auditorium.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin

Originally published March 23, 2017.

Jesse Gonzales, by his own admission, is “music illiterate,” meaning he can’t read music. And he didn’t come from a family possessing any musical abilities. However, there is nothing not musical about him.

“My parents don’t play any instruments; my grandparents don’t,” he says. “I don’t know where I got it from.”

Gonzales’ interest in playing guitar sparked when he was in eighth grade — a late age, by comparing many who have reached his level of talent.

State honors local poll worker for her contribution to election process

Joanna Grassl (third from left), “Huntington County’s poll worker extraordinaire,” poses with (from left) Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson, Huntington County Clerk Kittie Keiffer and Pam Fowler, Huntington County voter registration and election deputy, after Lawson recognized Grassl as Huntington County’s Poll Worker of the Year on Thursday, March 16.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published March 20, 2017.

Joanna Grassl loves politics.

But don’t expect to see her name on the ballot.

“I don’t want to be in politics. It’s too much dog eat dog,” she says. “But I enjoy the outside part of it, the voting, how it works.”

And if there’s an election going on, she’s likely to be there, making sure the voting process runs smoothly and that everyone who wants to cast a ballot has that opportunity.

‘Nothing special’ for Huntington couple as it hails 73rd anniversary

Edward and Hertha Sowell keep active on their own at home, with Edward driving and doing chores around their apartment home in Huntington. The couple celebrated their 73rd anniversary on March 13.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin

Originally published March 13, 2017.

One Huntington couple is celebrating its 73rd wedding anniversary today, Monday, March 13, by going out to dinner with their family, presumably as they say they’ve lived their life together – quietly, with nothing special – but remarkable just the same.

Edward and Hertha Sowell have known each other since seventh grade – about 80 years, Edward estimates. But it wasn’t until their freshman year of high school in Clay Township, near South Bend, that he says he saw Hertha in a new light.

Downtown fire has businesses scrambling to keep rolling

Marty Burns, director of New Options at 35 W. Market St., was back at work Monday morning, March 13, after a fire ravaged a building two doors down the previous Wednesday. New Options, Vanity Fair and Classicut have re-opened in their current locations; Coldwell Banker Roth Wehrly Graber real estate agents are working from their cars and homes, using the Fort Wayne office as home base; attorneys Stan Matheny, Wil Hahn and Jill Denman have found temporary quarters downtown; and barber R.C. Eichorn is looking for a place to land.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

A law firm whose long-time home was waterlogged during firefighting efforts on March 8 is now operating out of temporary quarters in downtown Huntington, and the barber who plied his trade on the corner is looking for temporary quarters.

“I’ve got 620 customers to take care of,” says R.C. Eichorn, owner of RC Barber.

Group makes sure good food doesn’t go to waste

Lincoln Elementary School fourth-grader David Kendall places his unopened carton of milk on a tray of unwanted broccoli, cheese sticks and more milk before heading to the trash can in the school cafeteria. Lincoln is the first Huntington County school to join Food Rescue, which allows students to donate unwanted food to the food pantry at Love In the Name of Christ.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published March 9, 2017.

Day after day, Jill Morrow watched as untouched bananas, sealed cartons of milk and other perfectly good food filled the trash cans in the Lincoln Elementary School cafeteria.

When she heard about a way to save that food, she was in.

The bounty now goes to the Love In the Name of Christ food pantry through Food Rescue, a program launched locally by the Huntington County Health and Wellness Coalition.

HNHS-HU partnership puts local man on road to independence

On the job, Zachery Arivett wipes down the pizza counter in the dining commons at Huntington University during lunchtime on Wednesday, March 1. Arivett participates in the ABLE program, a partnership between HU and Huntington North High School for students with mild to moderate cognitive disabilities.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin

Originally published on March 6, 2017.

At 20 years old, Zachery Arivett is busy being a college student — going to classes, hanging out on campus and holding down a part-time job.

He plays video games and makes the traditional college student late-night runs to Taco Bell with friends.

He has a quiet confidence that underlies a winsome sense of humor.

And while many think this is just the norm for a young man his age, Arivett considers it to be his success story, because it is.

Agricultural industry in Africa could soon get a boost, thanks in part to former local

Jordan Garrity (left) sits in the passenger’s seat as Arsene, an employee of the non-profit ACREST in Cameroon, test drives one of the AgRovers that Garrity’s company hopes to manufacture in several countries in Africa.
Photo provided.

Originally published Feb. 27, 2017.

The agricultural industry in a handful of countries in Africa could soon get a boost, thanks to a project involving a man who grew up in Huntington.

Jordan Garrity is co-founder of a company that has designed a low-cost, multipurpose utility vehicle that he envisions being manufactured and sold in central African countries including Nigeria, Cameroon, Uganda and Kenya.

In fact, Garrity has already built a handful of vehicles in Cameroon, and the first of what he calls microfactories is up and running in Nigeria.

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