On the Beat in Bluffton

Friday, January 30, 2009

Mohler Resigns

Following a lengthy statement read by his attorney, Norwell principal Greg Mohler resigned his position at tonights Northern Wells Community School board meeting. His resignation is effective the end of his current contract.
Complete story in tomorrow's News-Banner.

NWCS Meets tonight

A special meeting of the Northern Wells Community School board to consider the renewal of Greg Mohler's contract as Norwell Principal will take place tonight, 5 p.m. at Ossian Elementary School cafeteria. Read the story in tomorrow's News-Banner or follow it live at Twitter.com/jerrybattiste.

Tuesday's regular meeting was SRO, and it is likely to be a similar scene tonight.

Chinese New Year in Bluffton

Yajing Ni, a new student at Bluffton Elementary School, found much to celebrate during Chinese Lunar New Year. Ni, who recently moved to Bluffton from Fuzhou, China, has made fast friends in her fourth-grade class, despite the fact she speaks much more Chinese than she does English.
Read about the class trip to CoCo China Buffet for the celebration and how other students are sharing the burden of helping Ni find her way in today's News-Banner.

Snow Lion sculpture

Check out this cool snow lion, guarding a home on E. Wiley Street.

Someone clearly has talent and a tolerance for freezing temperatures. I hope they add to the menagerie...

(Thanks for the tip Jackie!)

Attack of the Snow Caterpillar

Tina Coblentz had the right idea and the right skills to make best use of the recent snow day.

She built this snow caterpillar at her home in Vera Cruz.

In an e-mail to us she wrote:
"Each year I make a different sculpture from the snow. I enjoy (it) and the kids love it when it's finished. I hope others will enjoy it as well."

Thanks for thinking of us Tina! And nice work!!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

BRMC Phones are Working

Seems the telephone issue at Bluffton Regional Medical Center has been resolved. Phones are working just fine and the fix is holding.
No further problems are anticipated.
Patient services and the 911 emergency number were not affected.

OES spelling bee champions

The annual Ossian Elementary School 5th grade spelling bee was held Jan. 6. Twenty students participated.
Jessica VandenBoom was named 2009 champion and Alex Archambault was runner-up.
VandenBoom will represent OES in the Wells County Spelling Bee on February 13.

BRMC phones out again

Just when they thought the problem had been repaired, Bluffton Regional Medical Center external telephone lines went down again. About an hour after AT&T said they had the issue resolved.
No repair time is known.
911 emergency services are not affected. Patient services are not affected.

BRMC Phone Outtage

Last night at 10:20 p.m. external phone lines at Bluffton Regional Medical Center went down. Internal communication, the ability for the hospital to communicate with Bluffton Police Department, Wells County Sheriff's Department and Wells County EMS and 9-1-1 emergency services were not affected.
You can read my complete story in today's News-Banner.

I thought I would take this opportunity to share a little story about my prior dealings with AT&T.

We had just purchased a house in Indianapolis, Spring 2005. That was the year the tornadoes swung through the city. Right through our neighborhood, right next to our house. It was a miracle our house was not destroyed.
The storm did tear every single telephone and utility line off our house and off the adjacent utility poles however.
So I called AT&T to request repairs. That conversation went something like this:

"Hi, a tornado ripped all the lines off our home and we'll need someone to come restore service," I told the operator, via cell phone.
"Thank you, sir. Are you calling from your house?" he asked.
"Um, no. The tornado stripped all the wires down. There are no telecommunciation or power lines left," I answered.
"Have you tried unplugging your phone from the wall jack and replugging it in?" he said.
I was quiet for a moment, contemplating which country this fellow was from, seeing as how he clearly didn't understand English.
"Um, no. That would be pretty pointless because there are no power lines left in our neighborhood," I said, very slowly.
"Sir, I can't help you if you don't let me," he said. "I need to determine if
the problem is inside your home or with our equipment..."
I cut him off.
"Oh, well, I can you the problem--a TORNADO went through the neighborhood and stripped down all the power lines." I walked outside, as if he could see the devastation for himself.
"I am standing in my backyard, looking at my house and there are no power lines going to it any more. The TORNADO took them all down," I said.
Silence. Then, "Sir, if you will not help me determine the cause of the problem I
cannot determine what sort of assistance you need. If you could just try plugging in your phone.."
"But there are no lines. Are you listening to me? I could plug in my phone all day long, but it won't make any difference. There are no external lines left!"
Ok, so I was shouting at that moment. What would you have done?
"Sir, please calm down," he said tersely.
I did. I walked back inside my dark house and grabbed the phone cord. I jammed it into the socket.
"There, I am plugging it in right now," I said, sounding more like a raving maniac with each passing second. "In and out, in and out, in and out!
Very calmly he asked, "Is your phone working now?"
"No!" I screamed. "The phone is not working now. It will not work now because THERE ARE NO LINES LEFT ON MY HOUSE BECAUSE OF THE TORNADO!"
"Sir, if you do not calm down I will be forced to disconnect this call," he said, very slow and calm.
I went silent.
"Fine. I am being calm. I am plugging the phone in and out and trying to use it, It does not work. What next?"
Silence. I hear him typing something on a keyboard. Then, "How many telephone jacks do you have in your home?"
I counted them real quick. Four.
"I have four telephone jacks," I said, thinking I was finally getting somewhere.
"Ok," he said, calm as a cucumber. "Can I get you to try plugging your telephone into each of those jacks?"
Needless to say, when I finished saying what I had to say, it was months before we had a working telephone...

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

NWCS meeting SRO

SRO--Standing Room Only.

If you have a small room, it's not such a big deal. But when we're talking about the entire Ossian Elementary School cafeteria, we're talking about serious numbers.

I tried to get an accurate head count, but it was hard to do with people streaming in and out all night. Some folks came early, about 50 or so. But some folks came later, after work for most.

It was encouraging to see such support for the Northern Wells Community School system; teachers, administrators and the school in general.
However, I can't help but wonder where all those people were during all the previous board meetings. Those meetings are boring, yes, and things happen at a snail's pace, for sure. But every issue that is happening today came up first at one of those previous meetings. Whether it was in June, August, September--whenever. If all the people who were at last night's meeting had been at all the previous meetings, they might not be so confused as to how and why the school system came to be in its current predicament.

Too late to go back in time, I know. But maybe going forward, the students, parents and concerned citizens might consider paying closer attention to everything the board does. Not simply when it interests them.

And the snow fell...and is falling...and will fall some more

Ok, so yesterday everyone said, "oh we'll be lucky to get 2 inches of snow" and today, I was nearly buried.
Go figure.

Downtown streets were piled with plowed snow, and just about everyone was out shoveling, scooping, plowing and pushing the white stuff around. Temperatures are still relatively mild, in my opinion, but wind chills are supposed to force it down to 0 degrees tonight.
Then the driving will really be exciting!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Reading is Fun-damental!

Rachael Fravel’s First Grade class from Lancaster Elementary School reached their goal of reading 100 books together before the 100th day of school for the Scholastic Book Clubs’ ClassroomsCare program, a philanthropy-based literacy campaign designed to teach children about the joys and importance of reading and giving. This Fall, students in classrooms all across the country read 100 books and, in turn, Scholastic Book Clubs will donate 1 million new books to disadvantaged children nationwide. Fravel’s classroom chose to donate their books to the Guilford Child Health Center in Greensboro, North Carolina. This center helps those who are less fortunate by providing child care and medical assistance. The students voted to donate their books to the Guilford Child Health Center which will provide books to children from birth until they reach kindergarten.(Submitted Photo)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Helping House of Hope

(From left) Scott Smith, account executive from Star Insurance, 2917 East Ind. 124, Suite A, Bluffton, presents a donation to House of Hope Executive Director Tom Felger. The money will help House of Hope of Northeast Indiana in assisting teens and families in the area. (Photo by Jerry Battiste)

[Note: It's great to see helping hands even in these tough economic times. The harder it gets, the more this community seems willing to give.--jerry b.]

EMS Gets Hands-On

Wells County EMS conducted reality-based training scenarios last week. Andy Stimpson was the patient, and EMS crews portrayed themselves.
The goal was learning the best way to deal with a semi-conscious or unconscious patient in an enclosed space, like a bathroom or laundry room.
Stimpson did a great job lying perfectly still as the crews rushed around him, performing their jobs with lightning speed and efficiency.
Bluffton Police Officers also took advantage of the training scenario to practice assisting EMS or First Responders; examining the various compartments on the truck, learning to handle the gurney and help however they may be needed during an emergency.

Friday, January 23, 2009

NHS Renovation Needs Your Support Too

Walking out to the parking lot following last night's steering committee meeting for a proposed renovation of Norwell High School, I noticed someone had carefully distributed flyers on the windshield of every vehicle in sight. Including mine.
The flyers were all in support of Norwell Principal Greg Mohler.
(The flyer will be inserted into copies of the News-Banner distributed in the Norwell school district today and Ossian Journal, as a paid advertisement.)

I am all about community involvement. I think it's great the Norwell students are so actively involved in what's going on with their principal. I can hardly find fault with so much concern for a man who clearly has had a tremendous impact on the lives of so many students.

But really, has anyone even been listening to him?

While someone was running around the parking lot last night putting flyers on cars trying to force Northern Wells Community School Board members to violate the law by breaking confidentiality agreements, Mohler was inside trying to get the high school repaired.

When it rains outside, the roof leaks so bad at NHS they need buckets everywhere. When teachers try to plug in what few computers they have they risk blowing breakers across the building.
Classroom size averages about 800 square feet, when the current standard is more than 900 square feet; there are no fire suppression sprinklers; And the kitchen, full of antiquated equipment, needs to double in size just to serve the current number of students.
Steering committee members meeting in the library last night had to shout to each other until the HVAC shut off--it's that loud. (I don't know how teachers could possibly teach over that racket!)
There are numerous ADA violations (though the school is technically grandfathered in) like round door knobs and narrow aisles and the lack of storage space for their award-winning band to keep its equipment and generally run-down condition of the entire place create a definite feeling of disrepair for the folks who learn, work and volunteer their time there.

Ask Mohler what he's concerned with and he'll tell you: Fix the high school.
I know because I asked him.

The same goes for the other 30 people sitting in that room last night, including Superintendent Dr. Scott Mills, assistant principal Brent Leyman, concerned tax payers, parents and teachers who have met for hours in near endless discussion trying to find a way to meet the needs of the students without pushing fellow citizens to the breaking point.

Some suggest what they had as students 20 years ago was good enough for them, so it should be good enough for today's kids.
Ed Daizovi, parent of Northern Wells students and steering committee member, said that argument is without merit.
"The pioneer's children studied in a one-room schoolhouse by oil lamp," he said. "Does that mean we should use that as the standard for today? I don't think so."

Some have suggested that re-designing classrooms around the students is also the wrong way--teachers and students should just make the best of what they have.

Bob Dahl, a long-time Wells County teacher, said that kind of thinking was also backwards.
"Things have definitely changed in education and whether that's better or worse we can't say," he said. "But we have to address the needs of all of our students, not just the ones who nicely fit into our system."
Teachers, he said, may not have all the answers, "but we have a good idea what we need in our classrooms."

So, yes, do your best to support Principal Mohler, if you like. But you should also do your best to support the things he supports.

And in case you hadn't noticed, repairing the high school, some how, some way, has been high on his agenda lately.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

NHS Renovation Project

Norwell High School renovation project Steering Committee meets again tonight at 7 p.m.
We'll be taking a brief tour and then sitting down to hear from the architects. We might receive some specific work proposals and potential cost estimates.
I'll have a story for tomorrow's News-Banner.


Who doesn't like to have their picture in the newspaper?

Freshman Veronica Runyan, sophomore Paige Meyer, junior Cam Konuch, and senior Alyssa Meyer are in the spotlight at Norwell High School from January 19 to February 6. The students were nominated for Norwell’s Student Spotlight by the school’s Music Department.
Student Spotlight recognizes students at Norwell High School who demonstrate commendable behavior, attitude, leadership, and citizenship. Students are selected for recognition every three weeks by one of the high school’s departments. Selected students receive special privileges and rewards.

(Thanks to Norwell for keeping me in the loop!)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Inauguration Pics: Ossian and Lancaster students get Historical

Thanks to Ossian and Lancaster teachers and administrators for allowing me to visit their schools yesterday. It was great to see students getting excited about current events.
Here are a few pictures I took at both schools. I look forward to visiting again.

Funeral for a community hero

Former Wells County Sheriff and Bluffton Police Chief Paul Gerwig was laid to rest at Six Mile Cemetery today.
I was invited by the family to take a few photos for the newspaper. Although I was honored to be in the presence of so many fine law enforcement officers I knew I was out of place. And that's how it should be.
People like Gerwig, and the men and women today who follow in his footsteps, deserve every honor which can be accorded to them.
Although certainly not everyone who wears a badge is perfect and beyond reproach, it is my opinion, and the opinion of so many others in this county, that Gerwig was.
May he rest in peace. With honor and with dignity.

News Flash

This message is for Cliff at Bluffton Police Department;
Nice pants.

(Please don't shoot the messenger)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Facebook fans rally around "Mr. Mohler"

I would have passed you this link sooner, but I only just found it myself.
Apparently a large group of Facebook members, former and current students; parents and grandparents of Norwell students, are generating much interest in showing their support for Norwell High School Principal Greg Mohler at the next school board meeting, January 27. There is even talk of boycotting the home game by some in order to attend the meeting, or at least running over at half-time to show their support.
You can find the Facebook page here.

For anyone interested in attending the meeting, just so you know: It is open to the public; An agenda is available at the administration building, right next to the Ossian deli; it was standing room only last time, so you might want to come early if you want to sit; public comments are welcome but you'll need to sign-in, give them your name, if you'd like to speak; I will definitely be there, and yes, this will be news even if no one gets up to speak.
Believe me, I understand how important this issue is to Northern Wells residents, and am endeavouring to get as much information out as I can.

Inauguration Romanian Style!

Tara Ulmer posted some great pictures (like this one) of her celebrating the Inauguration of President Barack Obama.
Here's an excerpt from a letter she sent me:

"I just had the privilege of sharing the inauguration through CNN/Facebook with millions of others. I celebrated with some small Romanian treats and champagne with my friends. It really struck me that the same oath of office they take is the same for the military and Peace Corps volunteers. All day today I asked people on the street in my small, Transylvanian town what they thought of Obama. The gypsies I spoke to are thrilled because his face is a similar color to theirs, and he's now the leader of the U.S. They say Obama gives hope to people in Romania too! Others were cynical because there has always been corruption in Romanian politics."

Sounds like the world is still watching. For an even better perspective, check out Tara's blog here.

Thanks for thinking of me Tara!! And watch those icy streets...

Serious crash on northside of Wells County

A man was seriously injured early this morning when his vehicle struck a tree head-on. He was later airlifted to a hospital in Fort Wayne. Read more in today's News-Banner.

Watch the Inauguration Live

You can watch today's inaugural event live via a link on the News-Banner web site. An estimated 2 million people have already jammed themselves into the Washington Mall hoping for a glimpse of the proceedings.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Watch out for "Snarge"

I wouldn't normally waste your time with frivolousness (Ok, so I would) but this was too sweet to pass up:

Take a normal, healthy bird. Insert it into a jet engine. The goop that
comes out the other side has a name: snarge.
fact, there are jars and jars of the stuff at the Smithsonian Institute
used to identify the residue leftover from an airplane bird strike.
Scientists use the collected samples to analyze DNA, feather bits, bone
and other remains. Identifying the bird helps scientists determine the
best method for averting future strikes.
And it's a cool word.

Hometown Opry Fans Packed Steve's Landscape

Besides being extremely entertaining the Hometown Opry at the new Steve's Landscape building on North Main Street was a great way to start a new year: with community coming together to help their neighbors.
I shot a bunch of pictures, so here's a few.
Thanks to everyone who came by and showed their support. These are the things that make us all great Americans.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Wells County Comes Together for Hometown Opry

The Hometown Opry fundraising event for the Tammy Sark and Hank Esmond families was standing room only tonight as hundreds of folks crowded into the new Steve's Landscape building on N. Main Street in Bluffton to hear some music, and give, give, give.
Mayor Ted Ellis, Sheriff Bob Frantz, Bluffton firefighters, police and dozens of folks from all across the county came to show their support for their friends and neighbors.
During these tough times it did my heart good to see such a fine example of just how great this community can be.
I was truly inspired.
I'll post some photos on Monday. Right now, I'm going home to see my kids and hug them to pieces...

Friday, January 16, 2009

Fire destroys home

What started as a chimney fire quickly spread to the entire residence at 7356S 400W early this evening. Volunteer firefighters rushed to the scene within minutes, but serious structural damage had already been done.
More on this story to come.

Norwell's Doug Hassell Goes to Washington

Doug Hassel has been tapped at the last minute to coordinate the Brass section of the Colts Drum & Bugle Corp for the Presidential Inaugural Parade next week.
Read more in Saturday's News-Banner.

Despite Frigid Temps Wabash is Wet

It might look like ice, but even the geese can tell when the water is running. And the Wabash water is certainly running.
So stay off the river, unless you're looking to join the Polar Bear Club

NWS Says It's Gonna Be Cold--DUH!

National Weather Service is issuing a Hazardous Weather watch for our area. As if you didn't already know it's so cold your car likely won't start, the dog might freeze to death and my pipes will be frozen.
Anyway, if you're curious about the effect these dangerously low temperatures can have on your health, check out this web site from Environment Canada.
If there is one thing Canadians know, it's cold.
Oh, and hockey, too I suppose.

From NWS:
Tonight: Partly cloudy, with a low around -9. Wind chill values as low as -25. South wind between 5 and 10 mph.
Saturday: A chance of snow before 1pm, then a chance of snow and freezing drizzle. Cloudy, with a high near 25. Wind chill values as low as -15. Breezy, with a south wind between 15 and 20 mph. Chance of precipitation is 40%.
Saturday Night: A chance of snow and freezing drizzle before 1am, then a chance of snow. Cloudy, with a low around 18. West wind around 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 40%.

Oh, What a Feeling!

The Heritage and Bluffton high school bands share a comraderie not often seen. In this picture at the ACAC Basketball Tournament last night in Fort Wayne, Heritage students Josh Seltzer (left) and Joel Griebel danced while the Bluffton band played "Hey Baby!" (Photo by Glen Werling)
Find tournament results in today's News-Banner.

Again with the frozen pipes

How long have I lived in Bluffton now. A couple months, more or less. And how many times have I awakened to frozen water pipes? Too many.
Last time the plumber wrapped the pipes and installed heat tape. The taps were trickling water all night, and still, I had no hot water this morning. Nothing. When I turned the knob only air came out. And cold air at that.

I am seriously thinking I need to move. Perhaps to Belize, where frozen pipes would no longer be a problem. I could get a job covering the surf report; sit on the beach drinking daiquiris and watching the waves roll in.

That's the life for me. Much better than frozen pipes, day after day, after day. But, the good news is, summer is only months away.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Norwell's New Web Site

Norwell has a redesigned web site. Find it here.

Superintendent Scott Mills is trying to increase the information available to parents online via the web site. There is a link for feedback; links to steering committee notes on the possible renovation project at the high school, agendas for upcoming school board meetings and notes from prior meetings. And a calendar of events. Plus a whole lot more.
Check it out.

Perfect Attendance Earns New Bikes

Ashlyn Nestleroad, front left and Ariana Inskeep were each winners of a new bicycle as part of a perfect attendance incentive for the fall semester at Bluffton-Harrison Elementary School. The two girls’ names were drawn from 122 students who qualified with perfect attendance. The two bicycles were donated by Horace Mann Insurance Company. The Wells Community Health Services Foundation Auxiliary in conjunction with the Bluffton Police Department funded helmets. Presenting the bicycles were principal Doug Thieme and Bluffton police officer Bruce Holland. (Photo submitted)

Things Aren't Too Bad After All

I am sitting at my desk, watching the stock market go down and unemployment go up; foreclosures increasing and my 401K decreasing. But according to my Spam e-mail box, things really aren't that bad.
For instance, every day someone is offering me a new and better job. "I found you a job!" screams the heading on one, and "I found you a new job!" screams the very next one.
In fact, according to my spam folder, I want for nothing.
A new girlfriend, credit card, auto loan, mortgage -- they are practically throwing these things at me every day.
Not to mention the endless array of medications for everything from premature hair loss (not a problem for me) to something that will make me taller (not sure how that works--I didn't open it.)

No, despite the fact the world economy is in the tank and everything else is close behind, my spam folder has me covered.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to wire some money to Nigeria to claim my late uncle's African Lottery winnings...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Going to the Inauguration? TELL ME!!!

We are looking for a Wells County resident, former resident or friend/family member of a Wells County resident who is going to the inauguration next week.
If you know someone, drop me a line. I would love to talk to them!!

Who's Snowman is the best?

With all this snow I am expecting to see an army of snowmen around Bluffton, so keep me posted. I'd love to get some pictures.
I'll definitely be heading up to the new sledding hill across from Lancaster Elementary School. I've been waiting for a chance to try it out...oh, and take some pictures of the kids who will undoubtedly be using it also.
Maybe I'll see you there!

Norwell: Times They Are a' Changing

The Norwell school board meeting last night was a packed house. (See my story in today's News-Banner.)
Folks once again turned out in large numbers to support the teachers, administrators and the school itself. There is no lack of support for Norwell in Northern Wells County, that's for sure.
It's no secret there will be cuts coming. The budget shortfall is about $1.25 million and those funds will need to come from somewhere.
Some staff will likely have to go away because enrollment has declined in the last few years, but who? And why?
Those are the big questions parents and residents want answers to right now.
Unfortunately because of confidentiality laws those answers cannot come from the board.
There are also questions about why some money can be spent, like funds for a renovation project at the high school, or money to buy new buses, but yet there is a budget crisis.
The answer to that question is bureaucracy.
Schools, much like every government entity, have specific funds set-up for specific things. Money in the transportation budget for instance cannot be used to pay a teacher. It can only be used for transportation.
And big items, like a renovation project comes through Capital Projects, which is money collected through property taxes. This too can only be spent on building projects, not new school books or band instruments.
It's quite confusing for people who do not deal with it every day. In fact, it's confusing even for the people who do. It's a nightmarish situation for everyone involved.
And I haven't even mentioned the students yet.
No, there is no simple solution to the problems at Norwell, and it is doubtful when everything is said and done that everyone will be pleased. But it seems to me, after sitting in those meetings for the last few months that everyone involved -- school board members, administrators, teachers, parents and concerned residents -- all have the best interests of the school and the students at heart.
And that is the very best place to begin.

Unlucky Corner

This crosswalk sign and hydrant were on the receiving end of a crushing blow from a tractor trailer yesterday morning. The driver continued westbound on Washington Street completely unaware he had hit anything at all. Police caught up with him later.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Friends at the Wells County Courthouse

I was doing research at the Wells County Courthouse this afternoon and wanted to take a moment to thank all the nice folks who helped me find what I was looking for.

Sometimes I just go looking for something, not sure exactly what I am looking for. I might search for a story angle, or background information, or something I didn't even expect to be looking for. Whatever it is, I am grateful to everyone who doesn't think twice when they ask me, "What do you need?" and I say, "I have no idea."

Blizzard Watch for Wells County

In case you missed it, the National Weather Service has Wells County under a blizzard watch through Thursday.

Temperatures are expected to stay in the teens, or lower with the wind chill, and drifting and blowing snow is expected. Whiteout conditions will likely prevail tomorrow so if you've been looking for a great reason to stay home in bed, there you go.

Got Myself Connected

Not only do I Blog, but you can also find me online at FaceBook, MySpace, LinkedIn and Twitter.
Look for me there, link to me; Reach out and drop me a line and I will happily take it. I'm always looking for new friends and familiar faces online.

Bargain Hut Back in Action

Following a pre-Christmas makeover, Bluffton's Bargain Hut is back and better than ever. Frank Shanly visited the hut this week. His story is in today's News-Banner.

Six of the hard working helpers at Bluffton’s Bargain Hut sort through boxes of donated clothing. From left, Mona Highlen, Shari Wolf, Glenna Plummer, Hildegarde Bauermeister, Janet Grimm and Ann Kaufman were giving some of their time on Monday afternoon to help out. (Photo by Frank Shanly)

Godsey arrested on Wells County warrant

Michael Godsey, charged with 64 counts of theft, is being held at Wells County Jail in lieu of $320,000 bond. Read the complete story in today's News-Banner.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Buy Our Photos--Make a T-Shirt

All News-Banner photos are available for sale at DotPhoto.com

Check out our photo albums and purchase prints, or have your favorite photo turned into a giant poster, or have it emblazoned on a coffee mug.
Whatever you'd like, they can do that too.

Lancaster Spelling Bee Winners

Lancaster Elementary School’s Kristen Bales won her school’s spelling bee in nine rounds by correctly spelling the word “gorgeous.” Fifth grader McGerran Clouser claimed the runner-up spot.
Twenty students represented the school’s five fifth grade classes in the Thursday, January 8, spelling bee. The county bee will be February 13. (Submitted)

Showtime! Wells County

We have a new blog:

Showtime! Wells County

I have seen a multitude of stunning student performances in Wells County these last few months. In fact, Frank Shanly has been doing such a fantastic job of covering choirs, bands and anything entertainment around here, we created a new blog.

Check it out. Feel free to comment and join in the conversation. We'd love to hear from you!

Trio busted for robbing delivery driver

Bluffton police arrested three men they say robbed a Pizza Hut delivery driver at gun point last week. Read more in today's News-Banner.

Friday, January 9, 2009

NWS weather warnings

National Weather Service is calling for severe weather across northern Indiana.

Snowfall estimates have fluctuated from a foot or more to a few inches all day as forecasters try to get a handle on current weather patterns. Regardless of exactly how much snow falls driving conditions around Wells County will likely remain hazardous throughout the weekend.

Just Don't Call it a Totem Pole

After a week of searching the wrong roads for the mysterious "totem pole" I finally found it at the home of Chuck and Marie Frauhiger, 4060E. Ind. 124.
This past autumn the couple commissioned several wood carvings (not totem poles) from Daniel Mayer of Bardstown, Ky. and those carvings are currently spread across their property.
It took me a while to find the place, but it was worth the trip(s.) Look for more pictures in tomorrow's News-Banner.

Tough Times in Wells County

Scanning the police news you may have noticed a slight uptick in the
number of break-ins and thefts around Wells County. While there
certainly is no rampant crime spree happening countywide it does seem
prudent to take certain precautions in protecting yourself, your family
and your home.
Wells County is not the only county in Indiana with
this problem, and Indiana is certainly not the only state. Rural
California farmers have been dealing with similar issues for years now
forcing some to go to great lengths to protect what is theirs.

Of course for some the solution is as simple as learning to lock your
doors; installing locks on barns and out-buildings and using those too.
Outdoor lights can be a deterrent, as can a barking dog.

Because the best offense against crime is a good defense.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Nottingham Township VFD saves barn

In case you missed it: Monday afternoon, an observant Nottingham volunteer firefighter spotted a tractor fire at the home of Rob Pease, 9596S-500E. No one was home at the time.
The tractor was parked adjacent to the family barn, but because the firefighters worked so quickly, the barn was untouched by the fire.
The tractor however could not be saved.

Multi-county community corrections meeting

Staff from community corrections departments in Wells and Jay County joined representatives from Power Consulting of Indianapolis for a strategic planning session at the Wells County Courthouse on Tuesday. Pictured from left, are Deb Snider and Blake Poindexter (both Wells County), Yvette Weiland (Jay County), Tad and Chad Long (Power Consulting), Scott Turmail, Mike Gerwig, Pat Clarke and Diana Smith (all Wells County).
“Every year we do a strategic planning session for the next 12 months.” explained Wells County Community Corrections Director Blake Poindexter. “We try to sit down and develop guidelines, and benchmarks for the department to grow and develop new programming, new operational standards, as well as how we interface with offenders, the courts, the public, the community, and what services that we either can offer, or that we don’t need to offer anymore.”
(Photo by Frank Shanly)

Happy New Year Baby!

Tara Lynn Victoria Durst is the first child born in Wells County in 2009.
The daughter of Karri Baumgartner and Terrence Durst, of Bluffton, she was born 12:21 p.m., Monday.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

I Need High Speed

Absolutely--Only Internet does provide high-speed internet to rural Wells County.
Thank goodness or I'd be out-of-luck completely.
Verizon Wireless offers broadband access via a wireless platform, as well, and Centennial can get you hooked up with something a little better than dial-up speeds.
However, I just came from a magical land where I could get DSL high-speed for $14.99 a month. I miss that magical place because such a deal does not exist where I currently reside.
I shall refer to that place as Magic Land. If only there hadn't been the danger of being hit by stray bullets, I would be there still....

No, high-speed problems are a minor issue I will quickly work out. The big problem now is indoor plumbing...

W. Lafayette 6th Smartest City

Forbes Magazine has released its latest list of the most educated small cities (those with populations of between 20,000 and 65,000) and W. Lafayette scored 6th place.

According to the Associated Press: "West Lafayette was the highest ranked city on the list that's not in California or on the East Coast. The only other Midwestern small city ranked by Forbes was the Chicago suburb of Wilmette, Ill."

NWS says More Snow Coming

The National Weather Service is forecasting a 60 percent chance of snow throughout today and into tomorrow. Wind gusts could be as high as 30 mph and temperatures will hover just above freezing.

Winter Storm Closes County Schools

At 7 a.m. this morning all Wells County schools were on a two-hour delay. By 8 a.m. Norwell was announcing it would be closing, and not too long after that Bluffton and Southern Wells also announced school would be cancelled on account of poor weather.
Norwell and Southern Wells have already scheduled make-up days, January 19 and February 16, for both. Additional make-up days will begin March 26, the Tuesday after Memorial Day.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Happy New Year baby!

It's finally happened: I've been asking for days when the first baby of 2009 would be born in Wells County. As I write this post Dave Shultz is on his way to BRMC to take a photo of what we all hope is a smiling, happy baby.
That's the plan anyway. Look for the story in tomorrow's News-Banner.

Watch for Random Acts of Kindness

Random Acts of Kindness Week starts February 8.
If you are on the receiving end of one of these random acts, let me know.
And if you've planned something really special for that week--it won't count because the acts are supposed to be random...

Open House of Hope

House of Hope, 417 S. Main St. held its open house this past weekend, showing off its facility and discussing programs intended to assist troubled teens and their families.
Lindsay Zimmer, director of meal ministries and Tami Shady, community relations coordinator, explained their responsibilities at the facility and local painter Bruce Winters, who will teach art classes there, demonstrated his work.
(Photos by Dave Shultz)

Winter Storm Comes Early

Frozen rain has already been falling across parts of Wells County, and the National Weather Service says there's a 90% chance the frozen precipitation will continue in some form throughout most of the day and into tomorrow.
Cpunty Highway trucks were mobilizing early this morning in preparation for a long day's night...

Bluffton Optimist Basketball Contest!!

Bluffton Optimist will hold the Tri-Star (Skills) Basketball Contest Jan. 31st at Bluffton City Gym Registration is starts at 3:30 pm and contest starts at 4 pm. Open to any Wells County boys and girls age 8 to 13 ( as of March 15, 2009). Any questions contact Dan Gerdom (824-0195) Larry Tschannen (824-4713) or Don Reeves (824-0509).

Monday, January 5, 2009

Nottingham Township VFD vs. Tractor Fire

Nottingham Township Volunteer Fire Department extinguished a tractor fire just after 3 p.m. today at a home on 500E south of 900S.
There were no injuries.

Upland man arrested for soliciting child via My Space

Wells County Sheriff's Department arrested an Upland man just hours after he allegedly propositioned a 15-year-old girl via a My Space instant message.

Read all about it in today's News-Banner.

Sportz Photos Anyone?

We're still looking for your outlandish sports and outdoors photos for the Wells County Sports and Outdoors blog.

Send them along to me at jerryb@news-banner.com and I'll post them on the blog for everyone to see...don't forget to include your name and the name of the subject in the picture.

Boilermaker Lives Here

Just a guess, but I'd say this Bluffton mailbox is owned by a Purdue fan.
Just when I think I've seen every cool mailbox in the county I find another one. Feel free to send along photos of your favorites..in case I've missed any.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Wells County Public Library Calendar Centerfold

Deb Perry, community relations manager at WCPL, has had a photo of hers selected for the 2009 SirsiDynix library calendar.
The calendars are not for sale, but you can buy the photo as a postcard at the local Chamber of Commerce.
Or, you can see more of Deb Perry's photos at her website.

Squirrel Causes power Interruption

An errant squirrel hit the wrong wire in the area of Hyerly Market, Bluffton, this afternoon. Power was out for less than 30 minutes.
The squirrel was not so lucky...

Liberty Township Homemakers Support Food Bank

Liberty Township Homemakers Club members Margie Hayes, Hallie Pace, Jean Koher, Margaret Redding, BJ Gray and Birdena Day, made a hefty donation to the Wells County Food Bank recently.
Every penny counts, and WCFB knows how to make the most of everything they get...

Burglar on the loose

Bluffton police are warning residents to be on the lookout for any suspicious activity. Someone has been breaking into homes downtown, stealing loose change or whatever is quick and easy. So far, no one has been hurt.
Read more about it in todays News-Banner.