On the Beat in Bluffton

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Relay for Life is a Morgan family affair

Macey, Holly and Bo Morgan will be taking to the track for Norwell Middle School at the Relay for Life on June 12.
The Morgan family, in one form or another, has been participating in the relay for several years.
Read the whole story in Wednesday's News-Banner, page 16.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

More Taylor Concert Photos

Cookies with the Chorale
Following the concert by the Taylor University Chorale the singers and members of the audience were invited to share punch and cookies provided by the Series on the Ouabache committee members. The concert attracted all ages of listeners. (Photo by Barbara Barbieri.)

Sinkhole Closes Road

Wells County Highway Department has closed 1100N where it meets Marzane Road due to a small sinkhole in the roadway. Water rushing through a culvert there has worn out the underside of the road.

BRMC honors outgoing foundation leaders

John Stead, center, and Nancy Miller, second from right, were honored Tuesday afternoon at a reception held at the Bluffton Regional Medical Center. Stead and Miller are retiring from their positions with the Caylor-Nickel Foundation. Among those wishing them well are foundation board members Judi Merkel, left, Suzanne Huffman, second from left, and Tom Clark, right. (Photo by Dave Schultz)


A $500 donation from the Bluffton Chapter of Psi Iota Xi was recently presented to the Wells County Public Library to support the children’s 2009 Summer Reading Program: “Be creative @ your library”
The donation will benefit more than 1200 children who participate in the countywide program each summer. Psi Otes are long-time supporters of WCPL
Children’s Services. Sign up for SRP begins June 1 and continues through the month. Pictured (top to bottom): Cindy Burchell of Children’s Services, Nancy Wagner of the Bluffton’s Psi Iota Xi, and Amy Greiner of Children’s Services. For more information about contributing to the Wells County Public Library, call 260-824-1612.
(Submitted Photo)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Final spring concert for Taylor University Chorale

Sunday afternoon the Taylor University Chorale presented their final spring tour concert at the Life Center in Bluffton. The show was part of the Creative Arts Council's Series on the Wabash.

More CAC Art Show Pics

Found more of Barb's pictures from the Creative Arts Councils' art show. thought you might to see them.

Go Fly a Kite

The annual fifth grade kite fly was held at Southern Wells Elementary on April 24th at 1:30pm. In the classroom, the students make their own kite with dowel rods and heavy paper. The students also learn about wind current, along several other elements to flying a kite. 
It was a wonderful day for the kite fly with just the right amount on wind.  Thanks to Mrs. Nusbaumer, Mr. Pace and all the parents who came out to help. (Submitted)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Karing Volunteers

Kudos to volunteers with K-K Tool & Design, Inc (Kim Kenline, Chris Shideler, Steve Witte, Tim O'Reilly.) Last Thursday they spent a good portion of their day helping to set up for the Karing for Kids yard sale fundraiser in Bluffton.
The group needs $2,000 to buy 500 stocked school book bags for kids in Wells and Huntington counties.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Town Hall for Hope

Dozens of Wells County families attended the Town Hall for Hope presentation by Dave Ramsey simulcast live at Hope Missionary Church and Park United Brethren, along with nearly 6,000 sites across the country.
Organizers of the Thursday evening event said more than a million people attended the events.

Alleged Shoplifter Runs Straight to the News-Banner

So we're sitting around the newsroom Thursday afternoon, talking about news stories, when Glen takes a stroll out to his truck. Lo and behold, the police are wrestling someone into a patrol car and dozens of items scattered across our parking lot.

Apparently, someone had been tackled by a local citizen after fleeing the Dollar general through the backdoor with a bag of what the clerk said was stolen merchandise.

All I know is, it was the shortest distance I ever had to walk for a story. You can read all about it in today's News-Banner.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Balash lauded for her River Watch efforts

Bluffton teacher Bev Balash has been studying the local branch of the Wabash River with her 8th grade students for nearly a decade.
Last week she was awarded for her hard work by a group that emphasizes the importance of the river to all Hoosiers.
Balash is a recipient of the 2008 Banks of the Wabash River Award presented by the Wabash River Heritage Corridor Commission.

Read more in today's News-Banner.

Native American visits BHS students

The bright red color on his face was not war paint, but Tribal Leader Gary Hunt was no less impressive in feathers and hides.
Bluffton High School English teacher Deb Johnson invited Hunt to speak to her high school students; part of a recent living history lesson.

Read the whole story in today's News-Banner.

Connor Whitesell Basketball Game & Dinner Fundraiser

The Wells County Facebook Community is rallying around the Whitesell family, organizing an upcoming fundraiser to help a neighbor during a difficult time.

All proceeds will go directly to the Whitesell Family!!

Tentative Date: Sunday May 17th 2009-- 4 pm.
Tentative Location: Norwell High School Gym & Cafeteria

Bake Sale- We need some people to sign up to bake items for the bake sale!

Basketball Game- Teams of at least 10. We will play as many quarters as we can. Admission fee is Free Will, so bring your friends and family!

Dinner- In the NHS Cafeteria. (Meal TBA)

Get a group of friends together and come watch Connor's friends and teachers play basketball against the Wells County "Guns and Hoses" (Fire Department, Police Officers, and Paramedics!) There will be a Silent Auction and a raffle going on as well.

Anyone interested in playing basketball, helping with the dinner, donating items for the raffles, or baking items for the bake sale, please send the group a message or post a comment on the page!! Any help is GREATLY appreciated!

Find them on Facebook.

For more info, e-mail ceetwirl13@hotmail.com

Facebook UPDATE:

Hey everybody!

Just wanted to let you all know that THE YARD SIGNS ARE READY!!!! They are $10.00 each and they can be picked up at the EMS headquarters in Bluffton (140 W. Spring). Proceeds go to Connor! This is a great way to show your support for Connor as he continues to fight hard! Also, T-shirts are available at Hot Cakes. They are $10 each and the family gets a portion of the money. Various colors are available. If you have any questions, you can contact any of the Admins in Connor's Fundraiser Group.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Poetry Reading Spectacular

Monday's annual poetry reading at the Arts Commerce & Visitors Centre in downtown Bluffton drew crowds of poetry enthusiasts interested in sharing their love for poetry and prose. Two folks drove all the way from Fort Wayne and one man came from Muncie; two elementary students, a college student and a mother missing her son who is away in Iraq.

The response was overwhelmingly positive as folks came from near and far to listen as others read their favorite lines...

30th Annual Tri Kappa Student Art Show

The Tri Kappa sponsored High School Art Exhibit at the Arts Commerce & Visitors Centre last Sunday drew crowds of local artists, art teachers and art appreciators.
Art from each of the Wells County high schools and selections from other grade levels will remain on display at the Centre through May 20. Admission is free, so stop by and check out some fantastic works of local art.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Espich honored at Lincoln Day Dinner

Indiana State Rep. Jeff Espich was the 2008 winner of the Abe Award, presented at the Wells County Republican Party Lincoln Day Dinner at the United Methodist Church in Markle Saturday night.
Read more of Frank Shanly's story in Monday's News-Banner.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Closet Needs Boys Clothes!

The Closet at Wells County Family Centered Services is in desperate need of boys clothes for spring and summer, sizes 0 to 6X.
Donations may be dropped off at 123 S. Marion Street. Or call 824-8574 and ask for Keely.

Southern Wells Public Hearing Draws Concerned Crowd

Well over 100 concerned parents, students, teachers and taxpayers crowded into the Southern Wells Elementary School library Thursday evening for a public hearing to determine the fate of five popular teachers.
Administrators maintain, and the teachers agree, that cuts need to be made to maintain the fiscal solvency of the school, but exactly who should be cut and by how much, is still in question.
The Southern Wells Community school board will make its final decision in the matter at a public meeting, 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, at the elementary library.

Senior Expo Coming May 7

The 11th Annual Senior Expo, sponsored by the Wells County Council on Aging, will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Thursday, May 7 at the Wells County 4-H Park community building.

More than 50 local vendors will be on-hand to provide free information on health care, financial institutions, home improvement companies, insurance and medical assistance.

Transportation to and from the event is free through the Wells on Wheels public transportation system.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Tweet-Up nets youngest Tweeters

@JackieDaily and @BenDDaily dropped by the Tweet-Up this week and brought the county's youngest Tweeters.
Although Caleb turned his nose at the chance for his own account, we hold out hope he'll come around eventually.

And so will you Wells County. If you can read this post you can Twitter. So, create an account and Follow us today @jerrybattiste and @newsbanner

(NEW) Wells County Twitter Guide

Bowing to popular demand (Pamela) I have created the new Wells County Twitter Guide.

Intended as a repository for the various Twitter activities going on around I hope to include any social media events worth noting. And even the ones which aren't worth noting.

There's a calendar (Thanks @benddaily) for marking the dates of upcoming Tweet-Ups, or other online media events; and a list of Wells County Twitterers.

I will do my best to keep this updated frquently, but in the meantime, if you want to add something to the calendar or if you'd like to be added to the directory, simply drop me an e-mail at jerryb@news-banner.com or post a comment. Either way, I'll get it up on the site.

Hope you enjoy the guide; hope it works to organize these various events and better connects the folks who are interested.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Bennet Visits Bluffton; Does Not Bring Funding

Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Tony Bennett visited all three Bluffton-Harrison schools yesterday for the third and final Adams/Wells In-Service for teachers and staff.

B-H Superintendent Dr. Julie Wood and Norwell Curriculum Director Amy Leeson guided Bennett through the schools. They said he was pleased with what he saw, but asked how they would continue the program in the future.
Short answer: they won't.
Next year school calendars, much like school budgets are going to be tighter. Much, much tighter.
Just hours after Bennett's visit the B-H school board, facing a drastic reduction in funding, voted to eliminate six teaching staff and reduce the pay scale for bus drivers. Last week Adams Wells Special Services Cooperative took similar action in reducing teaching staff and both Southern Wells and Northern Wells are doing the same.

Bennett was not in town to address funding issues; he didn't bring a suitcase full of cash for area schools. Too bad.

And it's not just Wells County educators who are hurting.
Schools across the country are slashing budgets, reducing services; some school districts have eliminated all extra-curricular activities and bussing in the face of cutbacks. It's a dire situation for educators as they face unpredictable revenue streams that at their best will be significantly less than they have been in recent memory.
Of course everyone is making cuts, not just schools. Last week two Wells County employers cut about 120 staff, not counting the 11 teachers cut by the AWSSC; and Fort Wayne employers continue to make cutbacks affecting many Wells County residents who commute.

As the economy improves, demand will increase and so too will industrial production; employees will be rehired and pay scales adjusted as corporate bank accounts return to the positive. People will go back to work, start spending again and drive the economy to new heights.
Soon, we'll all have another chance to stock pile money in our 401Ks. For us the future looks better all the time.

But the students in school right now, the ones who will receive fewer educational options next year, spend more time on the bus or not have the materials, environment or tools needed to learn, their future looks a little less bright.

This is it for them. This is their chance to prepare for the future. Now. By the time legislators figure out how they will pay for the education of today's students, they'll all have graduated.
Well, most of them will have. If we're lucky.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Bluffton Community Egg Hunt (pt.2)

The sunshine kept the temperature reasonable as hundreds of area kids searched Roush Park for eggs.

Bluffton Community Egg Hunt Video

Liberty Center Easter Egg Hunt

It was sunshine and clear skies at the 30th annual Liberty center Community Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday. Nearly 100 kids, with families in tow, signed up for the search. Liberty Center firefighters were on-hand to ring the siren and start the hunt and local business sponsors supplied enough prizes for everyone with some things left over for next year.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Why Twitter Matters to Wells County

Twitter. You might have heard me mention it, or you might have heard about it from a friend. It's all the rage in places where people like to stay in touch.

That's all it is really: a simple communication tool. No frills, no fancy banners or buttons or complicated downloads to keep track of. Just type a few words, press send and communicate your message.

How it can help the folks of Wells County is even simpler: It can help strengthen our community by bringing us together.

Let's face it, we don't hang out together the way folks once did. On front porches and at neighborhood barbecues residents came together and interacted. They got to know one another because they ate together, had a few laughs and talked for a while.
There were no strangers.

We all miss those days. We try to recreate them as best we can with the annual street fair and an occasional bean supper, but it's not the same.
We want the Cheers! experience ("Norm!") when we walk in the supper market or stop at the Pak-A-Sak.

The way to create that experience is to rebuild our community one relationship at a time. Twitter makes that possible.

Most people lead very busy lives that don't allow them enough time to sit around and chit-chat with pals the way we used to; no more hanging out at the barbershop or video store for hours at a time.
But those same people most likely carry cell phones or some sort of Internet accessible device that allows them to send and receive text messages.

Sign up for a free Twitter account, get your friends to do the same; Follow one another and Presto! you're interconnected.

Messages are intended to be brief: "I just saw gas for $1.95 a gallon at pak-a-sak!" or "I'm taking the kids to Dairy Queen for sundaes" or "I need a good mechanic-know anyone?"

Whatever is on your mind; whatever you might say to your best friend if they were standing right next to you all day. That's what Twitter is great for--keeping us in touch with one another.
The beauty of Twitter is we only Follow the people we choose to Follow -- so no spam! And Tweets can be kept private so your conversation can be kept private too.

The Internet is a big, big place. It's easy to become overwhelmed by everything it offers and confused or wary at the same time.
Monday I am meeting with United Way of Wells County. Together we hope to create a group, a movement perhaps is a better word, toward increased Internet awareness for all Wells County residents. We want to schedule regular meetings to talk about the latest 'Net innovations and general social networking. We also want to bring in experts to talk about the more intricate details of the ever-changing World Wide Web.

We want your input and we want your support; we want your involvement on some level, whatever level that may be.

So, Follow us on Twitter or Follow UnitedWayWells; or come to a Tweet-Up and see what it's all about.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Educators Budgeting Process Mostly Guesswork

I was a restaurant manager for more than a decade. I was responsible for writing an annual budget with projected revenues of more than $2 million and a staff of nearly 100 souls.
Every year I worried over the details in that budget, trying to squeeze the most bang for every buck in there; trying to meet the expectations set down by the corporation I worked for and trying to provide a stable and lucrative work environment for my employees.
It was never easy but at least I had some idea of what sort of revenue I would have to deal with for the coming year.
If only it were that way for our school administrators.

As if the process for determining school revenue weren't historically complicated enough, now the very revenue streams themselves have become fluid; school budgets have always been guesswork, but now they're throwing darts at a dartboard full of dollar amounts.
Congress is providing some stimulus money. How much? Who knows. When is it coming? Not sure of that either. All they know for sure is, it will come with strings attached and must be used in the next two years; no recurring costs for anything they do with it.
Indiana Department of Education is now responsible for doling out school money, but since state revenues are down will that impact what money schools will receive? Most likely. How will it affect them? Not sure. How much of a cut if any will they take? Not sure of that either.

Ask anyone responsible for writing a budget (determining how much money is going out) and you'll find it's nearly impossible to do so without knowing how much money you'll have coming in.
So it is for educators right now. trying to find their way through the budgeting process, in the dark, with sunglasses on while the target keeps moving around...

In the meantime teaching staffs are cut, class sizes get larger, services diminish and students find themselves with fewer and fewer educational options.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Bluffton Mother/Son Pirate Dance

It was scurvy dogs and pirate lasses at the Mother/Son Pirate Dance in Bluffton last weekend. There were sword fights, games, treasure chests stuffed with loot, and of course, dancing.
Thanks to the Bluffton Parks Department for hosting the event. (Photos by Barb Barbieri)