On the Beat in Bluffton

Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011: The stories that made a difference

News-Banner staff voted on what they believe were the top 10 stories of 2011, but they had to choose from 43 candidates. See the Saturday, Dec. 31, News-Banner for the top 10, but see those that didn't make the list, but still had an impact, here. Learn more about some of these in News-Banner columnist Justin Peeper's regular Tuesday column.
  • Bluffton resident Jose Carrillo-Perez won $2 million on a lottery ticket scratch off.
  • Kent Kiracofe replaces David Hanselman as Wells Circuit Court judge. Hanselman retires after more than 30 years on the bench.
  • The Courthouse tree comes down and is replaced with a new tree … and a Civil War cannon is added.
  • Southern Wells moves to all-day, every-day kindergarten next year; BHMSD will also have full-day kindergarten.
  • Mayor Ted Ellis receives Frank O’Bannon Sunshine Award from HSPA.
  • For the first time in its 121-year history, Bluffton High School earned Four Start School status from the Indiana Department of Education.
  • Brandon Haushalter is new Bluffton Regional Medical Center CEO.
  • A long-awaited skate park opened in Murray.
  • Bluffton-Harrison school board approves one-route bus system in 3-2 vote.
  • Longtime community activist Joe Emshwiller dies.
  • 4-H Park has a new Junior Leaders food booth.
  • Drug busts: 17 rounded up in June, 11 in December.
  • Wells has two traffic deaths.
  • A Fort Wayne man filed a suit seeking unspecified damages against the county, alleging lack of care during his incarceration at the county jail.
  • Local radio station WNUY has been sold and will convert to an all-Christian talk format.
  • Bob Greiner, recently retired manager at Ouabache, receives Sagamore of the Wabash award.
  • Maureen Butler retires as director of Creative Arts Council.
  • Judge Kent Kiracofe sets Dec. 31 deadline to have special prosecutor make report on his review of Harrison Township audits.
  • Four county post offices are on a proposed closing list: Poneto, Petroleum, Keystone and Liberty Center.
  • Ouabache has a new baby bison.
  • Wells County YMCA launches $8 million campaign to build new facility.
  • Ossian will need to spend an extra $200,000 to make repairs to sewer plant.
  • Work begins to replace the bridge over the Salamonie River on 900S
  • Two Southern Wells teachers receive national honors.
  • Report on future of downtown Bluffton released by national consultants.
  • Bluffton, Norwell marching bands compete at state competition.
  • Snider Tire to add 20,000 square feet and three new jobs; Pretzels reaches new four-year labor agreement.
  • Norwell teachers make plea about repairs needed at high school.
  • Bluffton Mayor Ted Ellis elected president of National League of Cities.
  • Former Bluffton High School basketball standout Spencer Harris signs contract to play professionally in Iceland.
  • Southern Wells Raiders win school’s first ever girls' softball regional title.
  • Norwell grad Scott Woodward signs contract with LA Dodgers.
  • Norwell finishes 3rd at state golf finals.

Did we miss a story? Do you disagree with what made the top 10? Let us know in the comments.

N-B Video: The business behind baseball

Bluffton High School graduate Luke Reiff explains his job as general manager for the Stockton Ports, a minor leage baseball team. Learn more in the Saturday, Dec. 31, News-Banner. (Video by Paul Beitler)

Of the people, for the people and by the people

Bluffton's eight elected city officials were sworn in for their new terms on Friday, Dec. 30. Afterward, Mayor Ted Ellis encouraged those called to "public service" to remember who came before and govern for those generations yet to come, and Bluffton Common Council member Jim Phillabaum reflected on continuing 40 years of service. Learn more in the Saturday, Dec. 31, News-Banner.

Bluffton City Court Judge Bob Bate; his Bible is being held by his wife, Peggy Bate.

Mayor Ted Ellis; his Bible is being held by his grandson, Curtis. Also with him were his mother, Mary Ellis; his wife, Marge Ellis; and his son, Andy Ellis.

Melanie Durr; her Bible is being held by Rev. Robert Madsen of First Presbyterian Church

Michael Morrissey; his Bible is being held by his wife, Jill

Carl Perry; his Bible is being held by his wife, Gerri Perry.

Bette Erxleben; her Bible is being held by her husband, Dr. Walter Erxleben.

Tami Runyon; her Bible is being held by her husband, Pat Runyon.

Jim Phillabaum; his Bible is being held by his wife, Joyce.

Those sworn in Friday were, left to right, Carl Perry, Michael Morrissey, Ted Ellis, Bob Bate, Tami Runyon, Bette Erxleben, Jim Phillabaum and Melanie Durr. Judge Kent Kiracofe performed each of the ceremonies. (Photos by Dave Schultz)

Friday, December 30, 2011

Doing well in Wells

Even though the year ends tomorrow, you can still donate to charities afterward for deductions when you do your taxes, says the executive director of a local not-for-profit. Learn more in the Friday, Dec. 30, News-Banner, and if you're looking for where to send a donation, consider the following organizations, taken from the News-Banner's Wells County 2011 Fact Book.
  • AFH (A Friend’s House) Ministries, 1001 South Clark Ave., Bluffton. 877-821-5556, Fax 260-824-5165 or afriendshouse.net
  • American Cancer Society, 111 East Ludwig Rd., Suite 105, Fort Wayne, IN 46825. 260-471-3911 or 1-800-227-2345. www.cancer.org
  • American Heart Association, 6100 West 96th St., Suite 200, Indianapolis, IN 46278. 317-873-3640 FAX 317-873-3070
  • American Red Cross of Northeast Indiana, 1-800-513-2599, for disaster assistance dial 628. James S. Beckstein, local contact at 260-638-4673. Blood Bank info: 1-800-RED CROSS.
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters, Northeast Indiana, 2439 Fairfield Ave, Fort Wayne 46807, 888-456-1600. Josette Rider, executive director.
  • Boys & Girls Club -- Wells Community Boys & Girls Club Inc., 1410 South Wayne St., 260-824-5070. Ken Ballinger, president.
  • Cancer Services of Northeast Indiana, Inc., 6316 Mutual Dr., Fort Wayne, 46825. 260-484-9560 or 866-484-9560 (toll free) or www.cancer-services.org
  • Citizens Against Drug Abuse of Wells County Inc., P.O. Box 89, Bluffton, IN 46714. Greg Werich, president, 260-824-6496. Nikia Bradley, coordinator, 260-403-8880. www.wellscounty.org/cada.htm
  • Community & Family Services, 1100 South Main St., 3rd floor, Bluffton Regional Medical Center South, Bluffton. 260-824-4836. Pat Shelley, community services specialist.
  • Family Centered Services, 123 South Marion St., P.O. Box 207, Bluffton. 260-824-8574, FAX 260-824-2790. www.familycenteredservices.org
  • Food Bank -- Wells County. 1254 South Main St., P.O. Box 186, Bluffton, 260-827-0053. Connie Kaehr & Jodi Pfister.
  • Family Hospice & Palliative Care, serving 13 counties including Wells, (260) 589-8598.
  • Head Start Center, 260-827-0250.
  • Loving Shepherd Ministries, 112 North Marion St., Bluffton. 260-824-9000.
  • Mental Health Assoc. of Wells County, (Behavior & Recovery Resource Center of Wells County), 223 West Washington St., Bluffton. Sharon McMillan, president. 260-824-1514.
  • Parlor City Fraternal Order of Police, contact Bluffton Police Department, 260-824-3320, 204 East Market St., Bluffton or other police agencies in Wells County. Monte Fisher, president, 260-543-2553.
  • Salvation Army of Wells Co., extension service, emergency assistance, Pastor Neil Ainsle, 260-273-0089
  • United Way of Wells County, 122 LaMar St., Suite 118, Bluffton, 260-824-5589. FAX 260-824-2217. Pamela Beckford, executive director. www.unitedwaywells.org
  • Wells County Foundation, 360 North Main St., Suite C, Bluffton, 260-824-8620. Tammy Slater, executive director. www.wellscountyfound.org
  • Wells County Habitat for Humanity, GBM Bldg., Suite 116, La Mar St., Bluffton. 260-353-3333. Pat Boyd, president, 260-387-3355.
  • Youth for Christ Adams, Blackford, Grant, Jay Wells Counties, 1515 Sutton Circle Dr. North (setback street from St. Rd. 1 north), P.O. Box 431, Bluffton. 260-824-1330, John Wanner, executive director.
  • YMCA, Wells County, 1935 North Main St.. Bluffton. Nikki Surbaugh, executive director. (260) 565-YMCA (9622) or www.fwymca.org

Please note that the preceding might include organizations that are not officially 501(c)3 not-for-profit organizations, so any donations to them might not be tax deductible. Contact the organizations for more information.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

N-B Video: A reunion 26 years in the making

Family members of Wells County resident Larry Owen come together over the holidays to celebrate his retirement as county engineer after 26 years. During a ceremony they attended, County Commissioner Kevin Woodward presented Owens with a plague to commemorate his tenure. (Video by Frank Shanly)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

N-B Video: More 2011 "Sounds of the Season" at the Wells County Public Library

Various piano players serenade guests of the library with Christmas songs during the Wednesday, Dec. 21, evening program. Learn more in the Thursday, Dec. 22, News-Banner. For more music, go to our Thursday, Dec. 22, "On the Beat" blog. (Video by Barbara Barbieri)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


Zach is a 6-month-old gray/white DSH, neutered male. Current on vaccines.

Buckis is a 6-month-old Boxer/Lab mix, male. Current on vaccines.

Sasha is a 5-year-old Lab mix, spayed female. Current on vaccines. Housebroken and good with children.

Conquering Camelot

Don and Mary Ann Bricker, the owners of the Camelot event center in Vera Cruz, are auctioning off the buildng and its equipment. Curious what it takes to run an event center? Check out these photos to see what is for sale. The photos come courtesy of the Steffen Group, which is holding the auction. Learn more about the Brickers and their business in the Tuesday, Dec. 27, News-Banner.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

All I want (to give) for Christmas

The News-Banner recently asked local elementary students what they would each give to someone if they could give that person anything. They're responses ranged from silly to sweet. You can see even more in the Saturday, Dec. 24, News-Banner.

If I could give a gift to anyone, I would give it to:
My best friend. Her name is Alexys.
I would give that person:
A whole day spending time with each other.
I would give that person a gift because:
She gave me stuff and so I can be nice.
— Billy (no last name available), 10
Grade 2
Southern Wells

If I could give a gift to anyone, I would give it to:
I would give that person:
I would play with her all day.
I would give that person a gift because:
I would because she is my friend.
— Chloe Donahoe, 8
Grade 2
Southern Wells

If I could give a gift to anyone, I would give it to:
I would give it to my grandpa.
I would give that person:
I would give him 15 days to spend time with me.
I would give that person a gift because:
I would give him it because he loves me and I do to, so that's why.
— Owen Vickrey, 8
Grade 2
Southern Wells

If I could give a gift to anyone, I would give it to:
I would give that person:
A shark book or go see him at the Bluffton school.
I would give that person a gift because:
He's my friend and I miss him.
— Poppi (no last name available), 7
Grade 2
Southern Wells

If I could give a gift to anyone, I would give it to:
the Dolphins
I would give that person:
I would give them good luck to win the rest of their games.
I would give that person a gift because:
Because the dolphins stink
— Trae Schoeff, 10
Grade 4

If I could give a gift to anyone, I would give it to:
I would give it to my grandma.
I would give that person:
I would give her a glass thing because she likes glass stuff.
I would give that person a gift because:
I would give her a gift because she is a nice, loving grandma.
— Farren Filhart-Stoltz, 8
Grade 3

If I could give a gift to anyone, I would give it to:
I would give a gift to the orphanage.
I would give that person:
I would give the orphanage a family.
I would give that person a gift because:
They don't have a family. It's sad that they wake up on Christmas and they don't get a family or presents or a Christmas tree.
— Sheyanne Meyer, 9
Grade 4

If I could give a gift to anyone, I would give it to:
A person who doesn't get presents.
I would give that person:
I would give that person new clothes and pants.
I would give that person a gift because:
So I would make them feel happy.
— Mackenzie Duncan, 9
Grade 4

If I could give a gift to anyone, I would give it to:
My grandpa Larry.
I would give that person:
A small motorcycle statue.
I would give that person a gift because:
I miss him and he loved motorcycles.
— Carson McFarren, 8
Grade 2

If I could give a gift to anyone, I would give it to:
I would give my mom a gift.
I would give that person:
I would give my mom a necklace that says I love you.
I would give that person a gift because:
I would give my mom a gift because I love her so much that I will never stop thinking about her everywhere I go.
— Jasmine Martinez, 9
Grade 4

Thursday, December 22, 2011

N-B Video: 2011 "Sounds of the Season" at the Wells County Public Library

Various piano players serenade guests of the library with Christmas songs during the Wednesday, Dec. 21, evening program. Learn more in the Thursday, Dec. 22, News-Banner. For more music, go to our "On the Beat" blog by browsing our blogs at www.news-banner.com. (Video by Barbara Barbieri)

N-B Video: The art of education

Northern Wells art teacher Hallie Koenig and Norwell High School students recently created a makeshift art gallery for their last project of the semester. Norwell High School students could then tour it on the last day before Christmas break. (Video by Chet Baumgartner)

We wish you a furry Christmas

The animal shelter and the Friends of the Shelter are hoping to give the gift of a pet this Christmas season.

The male cats in the front room have all been neutered and are $10 each. Two are orange; one is black, and one is tiger and white. The $20 dogs are Sasha, a black Lab female who is 5 years old, and Dora, a black Shepherd/Collie female who is 6 years old.

There are three puppies who are 4 months old. They are Eskimo/Elkhound Collies. Available are two males, Max and Commanchee, and one female. They would be better with no small children, as they are very shy. Also, Peaches is a Dachshund mix female who is 3 years old.

To learn more about some of the animals that are currently up for adoption, click here.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

All I want for Christmas

According to an Associated Press article in the Wednesday, Dec. 21, News-Banner, "more and more, Santas say the children on their laps are asking for less for themselves," and in the Saturday, Dec. 24, News-Banner, local elementary students will share what they would give if they could give any gift to anyone.

But children are still hoping to receive as well as give, and the following list — taken from letters to Santa the Bluffton Parks and Recreation Department has received — shows how creative, or at least unique, some of their requests are.
  • Ninja Turtle Costume
  • big motorcycle
  • pizza kitchen
  • train
  • doggy doo game
  • one of your elves
  • laptop
  • official cattle field guide book
  • Sharpies
  • manicure madness
  • paint ball gun
  • light bulbs
  • fruit snacks
  • A bell from your sleigh
  • "Intro to Engineering" science kit
  • "a jumpy thing"
  • a tool set and a work bench

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Travel safe this week

With people preparing to travel for the Christmas season, the Indiana Department of Transportation offers the following website to keep up-to-date on road closings, warnings and more.

Monday, December 19, 2011

More about bullying

Both Lancaster Central and Bluffton Middle School initiated new policies or programs to help fight bullying this year. Lancaster teachers now have a "bullying assessment flow chart" to help teachers determine if an act could be consider bullying. Learn more about the chart, the program at Bluffton Middle School and other anti-bullying initiatives in the Saturday, Dec. 17, News-Banner.

Also, see our earlier posts for more about bullying.

Merry Christmas — from the Wells County elves

The Wells County Chamber of Commerce is wishing all a merry Christmas — in a unique, musical way. Click here to see it.

If the link doesn't work, copy the following address and paste it into your address bar: http://sendables.jibjab.com/view/14HE7tMGTJtPabiQ

Friday, December 16, 2011

N-B Video: Playing in a winter wonderland

Take a tour through the Bluffton Parks & Recreation Department's annual winter wonderland, where children could play games, meet Santa and more. Learn more in the Friday, Dec. 16, News-Banner. (Video by Barbara Barbieri)

N-B Video: Fighting back against bullying

Members of the Bluffton Middle School anti-bullying club perform a skit about bullying for Bluffton-Harrison Elementary students Thursday. The club was formed this year to help prevent bullying in school, and during Thursday's presentation, which included the skit, students shared about the different types of bullying, as well as answering questions from elementary students. Learn more in the Friday, Dec. 16, News-Banner. (Video by Chet Baumgartner)

Members of the Bluffton Middle School anti-bullying club

We'll have more on this topic on our Monday, Dec. 19, blog.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

N-B Video: A howling good Christmas

The News-Banner's Barbara Barbieri visits the annual Paws and Claus event, hosted by the Bluffton Parks Department on Wednesday, Dec. 14, where pet owners can bring a little yuletide celebration to their animals. Learn more in the Thursday, Dec. 15, News-Banner. (Video by Barbara Barbieri)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

give away announced

The BHS Bloggers are giving away a plethura of items. Click here to learn more.

What needs fixed at Norwell

The Northern Wells school board, after several meetings reviewing maintenance needs at Norwell High School, must now decide which of the projects to pursue. They will select from the following list, presented by Northern Wells Superintendent Scott Mills during the board meeting. Learn more in the Wednesday, Dec. 14, News-Banner.

Norwell High School

  • Upgrade heating, ventilation and cooling to elevate the air quality to meet the standards set by the Indiana Department of Health. Improve individual room comfort levels and eliminate the excessive, distractive noise — $6,100,000
  • Remove roof top HVAC to seal roof, prevent water leaks and increase heating and cooling efficiency — $265,000
  • Fire protection sprinklers throughout the building for safety — $690,000
  • Back-up generator to provide power to NHS to improve safety of students and staff — $200,000
  • After-hours security improvements, including crowd-control gates, to prevent theft and other unauthorized use of NHS — $90,000
  • A-wing space modernization to improve flexibility in the use of space for a variety of activities and to accommodate the increase in class sizes. Increased classroom space will permit ease of movement for students who use wheel chairs. Reduce the noise flowing between classrooms, which will result in less distractions for students. Improve electrical to allow classroom computers and other learning technology. Correct security issues with the main entrance to efficiently manage people wishing to enter the building. Correct security issues with outside doors. Ease student traffic congestion and eliminate their need to carry backpacks. Increase classroom space, flexibility of classroom use, decrease noise between classrooms — $4,250,000
  • Protect kitchen staff and students by removing obsolete equipment. Improve the flow of traffic and safety of students — $1,550,000
  • Modernize the auditorium to remove obsolete and dangerous equipment. Upgrade the seating area with safe and sturdy seating. Upgrade sound and lighting systems to a modern standard — $700,000
  • Improve student safety by renovating these classrooms to provide a floor with one level. Reduce the noise flowing between classrooms, which will result in less distractions for students. Improve storage and classroom areas by renovating unused space — $1,200,000
  • Upgrade of classroom furniture and cabinetry for revitalized areas — $160,000
  • Improve restroom sanitation by renovating all restrooms — $438,000
  • Improve quality of drinking water by replacing water coolers. Improve hot water systems by replacing hot water lines and hot water storage unit — $625,000
  • Replace the sidewalks that cause a safety hazard and reseal parking lots to protect our investment — $365,000
  • Replace original doors for safety and security — $580,000
  • Repair the D-wing wall movement for building safety — Amount not listed
  • Interior finish maintenance: paint, flooring (CPF) — $35,000
  • Increase air quality in the D-wing by improving ventilation and exhaust in the science area (CPF) — $30,000
  • Lighting upgrades for better lighting and energy-efficiency — $550,000
  • Upgrade electrical circuits and outlets for computers and technology — $325,000
  • Energy and security management system upgrade — $50,000
  • Increase building security by adding surveillance cameras in hallways and public areas — $225,000
  • Re-key building — Amount not listed
  • Update fire alarm system and clock system efficiency, safety and security — $375,000
  • Preparation for expansion of geothermal and sprinkler systems in future renovations — $495,000
  • Upgrade firehouse 10,000 gallon tank, jockey pump and motor to provide water supply to sprinkler systems — $165,000
  • Remove all asbestos insulation above ceiling — $50,000
  • Replace original drain piping (B, C) to prevent drain collapse — $720,000
Norwell Middle School
  • Exterior brick replacement to eliminate water penetration and add insulation for heating and cooling efficiency — $1,000,000
  • Renovate columns between the wall and brick to add structural strength to the walls $60,000
  • Upgrade insulated exterior wall panels for energy efficiency and protection from moisture — $4600,000
  • Eliminate moisture penetration though window replacement to prevent further deterioration and add insulation for heating and cooling — $235,000
  • Replace roof at the end of it’s current life expectancy (10 years) — $940,000
  • Interior finish maintenance: paint, flooring, acoustics, bleachers, storage (CPF) — $275,000
  • Upgrade interior walls to maximize classroom space — $1,500,000
  • Improve sanitation in restrooms and locker rooms as well as improve supervision in girls' locker room — $440,000
  • Drain line replacement to prevent future drain collapses — $1,250,000
  • Upgrade water softener to protect plumbing fixtures — $65,000
  • Upgrade heating, ventilation and cooling: air handling units, VAV boxes, building controls, exhaust fans, ducted returns to improve air quality and climate control — $2,550,000
  • Lighting upgrades for better lighting and energy-efficiency — $810,000
  • Increase building security by adding surveillance cameras in hallways and public areas — $145,000
  • Upgrade pool filtering and pump system to improve water quality and efficiency — $190,000
  • Upgrading to a secure main entrance entrance and replace all doors and hardware for safety and security — $650,000
  • Upgrade lift station for pool and pool HVAC as both are nearing end-of-life expectancy — $440,000
Ossian Elementary School
  • Replace the sidewalks and asphalt that cause a safety hazard and reseal parking lots to protect our investment — $250,000
  • Roof recoating to extend the roof life another 10 years — $410,000
  • Roof replacement at end-of-life cycle (10 years) — $1,250,000
  • EIFS repair and brick replacement to stop deterioration due to water — $110,00
  • Interior finishes: paint, flooring, student lockers for safety and security (CPF) — $225,000
  • Upgrade hot water system and softener — $195,000
  • Heating, ventilation, and cooling: condensing units, duct work, fittings, controls — $2,875,000
  • Lighting upgrades for better lighting and energy-efficiency — $600,000
  • Upgrade power circuits to classrooms for instructional technology — $565,000
  • Increase building security by adding surveillance cameras in hallways and public areas — $60,000
Lancaster Elementary
  • Paving and building envelope — $40,000
  • Interior finish maintenance: paint, flooring — $35,000
  • Gas fired boiler to aid geo loop — $40,000
Central Office
  • Roof recoat — $25,000
  • Parking lot repair — $180,000

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Bluffton-Harrison school board to vote on new air quality regulations

As part of new state rules, the Bluffton-Harrison school board must vote on the following policy regarding vehicles idling. Learn more in the Tuesday, Dec. 13, News-Banner.

This purpose of this policy is to eliminate all unnecessary idling by corporation school buses such that idling time is minimized in all aspects of school bus operation and to reduce vehicle exhaust that has the potential to be drawn into the building.

Vehicle exhaust from idling school buses can accumulate in and around the bus and pose a health risk to children, drivers and the community at large. Exposure to vehicle exhaust can cause lung damage and respiratory problems. Vehicle exhaust also exacerbates asthma and existing allergies, and long-term exposure may increase the risk of lung cancer. Idling buses waste fuel and financial resources of the school corporation.

This policy applies to the operation of every corporation-owned school bus and public and private vehicles on school grounds.

Public and Private Vehicles Idling Time
1. Drivers of all public and private vehicles are to turn off the engine if the vehicle is to be stopped more than 3 minutes in locations where vehicle exhaust may be drawn into the building or while on school grounds.

Corporation Vehicle Idling Time
1. When school bus drivers arrive at loading or unloading areas to drop off or pick up passengers, they should turn off their buses as soon as possible to eliminate idling time and reduce harmful emissions. The school bus should not be restarted until it is ready to depart and there is a clear path to exit the pick-up area.
2. School buses will not idle (on school grounds or off school grounds) for longer than five (5) minutes unless:
  • There are extreme weather conditions (meaning 30 degrees Fahrenheit or less) and the purpose is to warm the interior of the bus,
  • Longer idling time is necessary to facilitate the loading and unloading of students of special needs,
  • There are safety or emergency situations,
  • There are maintenance or mechanical inspection/repair issues requiring a longer time to facilitate the inspection/repair process, or
  • The bus is idling in traffic.
3. Buses should not idle while waiting for students during field trips, extracurricular activities or other events where students are transported off school grounds.
4. In colder weather, schools are directed to provide a space inside a facility where bus drivers who arrive early can wait.
5. Bus schedules should be revised so that school bus caravanning can be avoided and the cleanest buses assigned to the longest routes.

Bluffton-Harrison school to vote on new technology policy

Members of the Bluffton-Harrison school board could soon approve a new policy that would allow students to bring portable electronic devices, such as iPads and laptops, to school. Learn more in the Tuesday, Dec. 13, News-Banner.

Bring Your Own Technology Policy

Definition of “Technology”
For purposes of BYOT, “Technology” means a privately owned wireless and/or portable electronic hand held equipment that includes, but is not limited to, existing and emerging mobile communication systems and smart technologies, portable internet devices, Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs), hand held entertainment systems or portable information technology systems that can be used for word processing, wireless Internet access, image capture/recording, sound recording and information transmitting/receiving/storing, etc.

Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA)
Bluffton-Harrison MSD is in compliance with the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) and has installed technology protection measures for all computers in the school corporation.

Only the internet gateway provided by the school may be accessed while on campus. Personal internet connective devices such as but not limited to cell phones / cell network adapters are not permitted to be used to access outside internet sources at any time.

Security and Damages
Responsibility to keep the device secure rests with the individual owner. The Bluffton-Harrison M.S.D., nor its staff or employees, is not liable for any device stolen or damages on campus. If a device is stolen or damaged, it will be handled through the administrative office similar to other personal artifacts that are impacted in similar situations. Bluffton-Harrison M.S.D. recommends that technology devices are labeled for identification purposes and hard protective cases are encouraged.

B.Y.O.T. BHMSD Student Agreement
The use of technology to provide educational material is not a necessity but a privilege. A student does not have the right to use his or her laptop, cell phone or other electronic device while at school. It is at the teacher’s discretion when and how technology is used in the classroom. When abused, privileges will be taken away. When respected, they will benefit the learning environment as a whole. Students and parents/guardians participating in B.Y.O.T. must adhere to the Student Code of Conduct, as well as all Board policies, particularly Internet Acceptable Use (Policy IIBGA) and Internet Safety (Policy IIBGA). Additionally, technology:

• Must be in silent mode while on school campuses and while riding school buses.
• May not be used to cheat on assignments or tests, or for non-instructional purposes (such as making personal phone calls and text/instant messaging).
• May not be used to record, transmit or post photographic images or video of a person, or persons on campus during school activities and/or hours.
• May only be used to access files on computer or internet sites which are relevant to the classroom curriculum.

Students acknowledge that:
• The school's network filters will be applied to one's connection to the internet and attempts will not be made to bypass them.
• Bringing on premises or infecting the network with a Virus, Trojan, or program designed to damage, alter, destroy, or provide access to unauthorized data or information is in violation of Policy IIBGA.
• Processing or accessing information on school property related to malicious activity, altering, or bypassing network security policies is in violation of Policy IIBGA.
• Given reasonable suspicion, the school district has the right to collect and examine any device that was knowingly or unknowingly (i.e. viruses) used inappropriately.
• A device that is found to have a virus cannot connect back to the network until approved by the BHMSD Technology Department.
• Printing from personal laptops will not be permitted at school. Personal technology is to be charged prior to the start of the student’s school day. Students need express permission from a BHMSD employee to charge a device while at school.

N-B Video: Bluffton-Harrison names educator of the year

Eighth-grade science teacher is Bluffton-Harrison's educator of the year for 2011. She explains to the News-Banner's Chet Baumgartner how others deserve to win the award and how she teaches science. Learn more in the Tuesday, Dec. 13, News-Banner. (Video by Chet Baumgartner)

Monday, December 12, 2011

N-B Video: A "Dailey" miracle

Bluffton residents Ben and Jackie Dailey reflect on the accident that almost killed their two children — and how their children have recovered since. (Video by Dave Schultz)

Friday, December 9, 2011

N-B Video: 2011 Southern Wells Christmas Program

Southern Wells Elementary students perform during the 2011 Christmas program. Learn more in the Friday, Dec. 9, News-Banner. (Video by Chet Baumgartner)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

N-B Video: Chocolate chip avenue

A Friend's House Director of Operations Jessica Dettmer talks about her organization's annual fundraiser, the Cookie Walk. Learn more in the Thursday, Dec. 8, News-Banner. (Video by Dave Schultz)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

N-B Video: Hope remembers

About 125 people attended Bluffton's annual "Hope Lights a Tree" program, held at the Angel of Hope Park, to remember those who were no longer with them. The event culminated in the lighting of a tree. Learn more in the Wednesday, Dec. 7, News-Banner. (Video by Dave Schultz)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

CEDIT funds distribution for 2011

Ossian Town Council member Josh Barkley and Wells County Economic Director Mike Row asked the county commissioners Monday for CEDIT funds to help with the industrial park's water main extension, but commissioners said most of the funds had already been allocated.

The following shows what funds were directed to in 2011.
  1. Payment of $240,000 into the Courthouse Capital Improvement Fund for Courthouse renovation, which will be funded with a fractional amount of the certified distribution to the County from the County Economic Development Income Tax.
  2. Payment of $10,000 for the removal of log jams, which will be funded with a fractional amount of the certified distribution to the County from the County Economic Development Income Tax.
  3. Payment of $20,000 for document imaging, which will be funded with a fractional amount of the certified distribution to the County from the County Economic Development Income Tax.
  4. Payment of $20,000 towards the County’s computer system for continuing upgrades with this amount being funded from a fractional amount of the certified distribution to the County from the County Economic Development Income Tax.
  5. Payment of $85,000 into the Wells County Chamber of Commerce, with the same being funded by a fractional amount of the certified distribution to the County from the County Economic Development Income Tax.
  6. Payment of $139,650 to Ziolkowski Construction for Courthouse masonry upgrades from a fractional amount of the certified distribution to the County from the County Economic Development Income Tax.
  7. 7. Payment of $408,000.00 to Wells County Highway Department for completion of Bridge 59 from a fractional amount of the certified distribution to the County from the County Economic Development Income Tax.
  8. 8. Payment of the balance of the CEDIT funds, or $458,800.00 into the Capital Development Fund, with the same being funded by a fractional amount of the certified distribution to the County from the County Economic Development Income Tax. Also any funds remaining after the above distribution.
The state has approved the following amounts for various entities in Wells County to spend next year.
  • Wells County — $632,301
  • Bluffton — $333,223
  • Zanesville — $3,275
  • Markle — $24,631
  • Ossian — $62,665
  • Poneto — $3,846
  • Uniondale — $2,544
  • Vera Cruz — $342

Monday, December 5, 2011

N-B Video: Gubernatorial candidate visits Wells County

Indiana Republican gubernatorial candidate Jim Wallace discusses social issues, economic expansion, federal contraction and more during the Wells County Republicans' annual Christmas breakfast at The Rosewood on Main on Saturday, Dec. 3. Learn more in the Monday, Dec. 5, News-Banner. (Video by Chet Baumgartner)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

N-B Video: Will Democrats leave again?

State Rep. Jeff Espich, R-Uniondale, shares how likely he thinks it is that Democrats will leave the state this year when Republicans try to pass "right-to-work" legislation. Learn more in the Saturday, Dec. 3, News-Banner. (Video by Dave Schultz)

Friday, December 2, 2011

N-B Video: A "Hometown Christmas" in Ossian

The town of Ossian held its first "Hometown Christmas" celebration on Thursday, Dec. 1. Learn more in the Friday, Dec. 2, News-Banner. (Video by Cynthia Dahn).

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Decorate the statehouse tree

From the office of State Sen. Travis Holdman:

We are looking for Hoosier school children to help decorate the large tree that will soon adorn the Indiana Statehouse rotunda.

First Lady Cheri Daniels is asking second-, third- and fifth-grade Hoosiers to create ornaments that fit the theme "Made in Indiana," depicting goods or products created in or associated with our great state. 

In order to have their ornaments placed on the tree, students must submit them by Monday, Dec. 5, to the following address:

Statehouse Tour Office

200 W. Washington St., Room 220

Indianapolis, IN 46204

Students should write their names and school names on the back of their ornaments. Other helpful guidelines include:

• Ornaments should not be larger than 8 inches;
• Ornaments should not be made from breakable or perishable items, but can be made from a variety of materials like paper, poster board, pipe cleaners, yarn, etc.;
• Ornaments should have a way to hang on the tree; and
• Ornaments will not be returned

Daniels plans to feature several ornaments on her website and will notify their creators.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

N-B Video: Walking in a winter wonderland

The first winter storm hit Wells County on Tuesday, Nov. 29. Watch it fall here, and learn more about it in the Wednesday, Nov. 30, News-Banner. (Video by Chet Baumgartner)

The statistics behind the snow

Wells County received three inches of snow Tuesday, Nov. 29, the most the Fort Wayne area has received this early in the season since 1989. The National Weather Service also reported that from Peru north to Warsaw, seven to 10 inches fell.

The snow caused problems for the Indiana State Police, as indicated by the release sent:

Troopers from the Fort Wayne Post of the Indiana State Police had to contend with the driving behaviors of motorists while making their way through the onslaught of weather that Mother Nature threw their way yesterday.

In a 12-hour period from 2 pm on Tuesday until 2 am on Wednesday, troopers responded to and investigated a total of 16 vehicle crashes, of which nine involved personal injury. None of the nine were reported to have involved serious or life-threatening injuries. A total of 42 vehicle slide offs were also reported and responded to.

The Indiana State Police continues to advise motorists that the weather alone is not responsible for vehicle crashes or slide offs, it is the driving behavior exhibited by motorists that do. Beginning tomorrow, Dec. 1, motorists can visit INDOT’s Traffic Wise website at www.TrafficWise.in.gov or they can call toll free (800) 261-7623 for up-to-date statewide road and weather information.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Grading the graders

Earlier this year, state legislators passed a law changing how principals evaluate teachers, and after they passed the law, education officials distributed a model evaluation plan that schools could use as a guide.

On Monday, Bluffton-Harrison discussed publicly for the first time how they might evaluate teachers, using the guide as a template.

During this discussion, Bluffton High School Principal Steve Baker discussed different factors that will influence scores teachers will now receive and how those scores align with different categories teachers will now be assigned.

The following shows how a principal might derive a score for a teacher who teachers English (ELA) and social studies. It also shows what kind of category that score would result in. The graphic refers to "growth model data," which refers to how well her students on a standardized test compared to their performance from the previous school year. (Click on the images for a larger resolution.)

To learn more about the four categories which were scored, as well as other ways in which principals could evaluate teachers, click here.

To learn more about how this new system could impact Bluffton-Harrison schools, see the Tuesday, Nov. 29, News-Banner.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Creating a master plan

Members of the Bluffton Parks and Recreation Department are creating a five-year master plan, which they can use when applying for state and federal funding, for the city's parks. To help build this master plan, the department earlier this year released a survey to learn more about how the public uses the parks. Below are several highlights from the survey. To see all the results, click here. To learn more about the master plan, see the Monday, Nov. 28, News-Banner.

Click on the images for a larger view.

Farm Bureau to hold state convention

Community news: The Farm Bureau State Convention will be held on Friday, Dec. 9, and Saturday, Dec. 10, at the new JW Marriott Hotel in Indianapolis. Any Wells County Farm Bureau member who would like to attend should call Patty Baker at 622-4180 by Wednesday, Nov. 30.

If there is a charge, send to the Farm Bureau Office, P.O. Box 353, Bluffton, in care of Mandy Baker.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

N-B Video: Welcoming Christmas

The city of Bluffton held its annual lighting ceremony, complete with musical performances, a countdown and a visit by Santa Claus, to herald the impending Christmas season. Learn more in the Saturday, Nov. 26, News-Banner. (Video by Chet Baumgartner)

*Due to technical difficulties, we did not get video of the countdown to the lights.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Shop safely

Black Friday has begun, and you can learn more about it in the Friday, Nov. 25, News-Banner, but as you try to survive today and prepare for "Cyber Monday," the Better Business Bureau offers the following shopping safety tips.

From the Better Business Bureau
Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving, has officially replaced Black Friday as the most popular day to shop for the holidays. Shopping online means avoiding the crowds, but it also opens up the buyer to attacks from scammers and hackers.

Every year, more people head online rather than to the mall to get their holiday shopping done. According to a preliminary shopping survey, conducted for the National Retail Federation by BIGresearch, up to 152 million people plan to shop Black Friday weekend (Friday, Saturday and Sunday), higher than the 138 million people who planned to do so last year. According to the survey, 74 million people say they will definitely hit the stores and another 77 million are waiting to see if the bargains are worth braving the cold and the crowds.

“You can’t beat shopping online for convenience, comfort and comparing prices,” said Katherine Hutt, BBB spokesperson. “But don’t let your guard down. Take the necessary precautions to avoid fraudulent websites, scammers and other Grinches who would just love to ruin your holidays.”

BBB recommends the following top 10 tips for shopping online this holiday season to help fight unscrupulous online retailers, scammers and hackers:

1. Protect your computer – A computer should always have the most recent updates installed for spam filters, anti-virus and anti-spyware software and a secure firewall.

2. Shop on trustworthy websites – Shoppers should start at www.bbb.org to check on the seller’s reputation and record for customer satisfaction. It’s a good idea to look for the BBB logo and other widely-recognized seals on retailer websites, but make sure they are real (some rogue sites plagiarize seals to look legitimate).

3. Protect your personal information – BBB recommends taking the time to read the site’s privacy policy and understand what personal information is being requested and how it will be used. If there isn’t one posted, take that as a red flag that personal information may be sold to others without permission.

4. Beware of deals that sound too good to be true – Offers on websites and in unsolicited e-mails can often sound too good to be true, especially extremely low prices on hard-to-get items. Consumers should always go with their instincts and not be afraid to pass up a “deal” that might cost them dearly in the end.

5. Beware of phishing – Legitimate businesses do not send e-mails claiming problems with an order or an account to lure the “buyer” into revealing financial information. If a consumer receives such an e-mail, BBB recommends picking up the phone and calling the contact number on the website where the purchase was made to confirm that there really is a problem with the transaction.

6. Confirm your online purchase is secure – Shoppers should always look in the address box for the “s” in https:// and in the lower-right corner for the “lock” symbol before paying. If there are any doubts about a site, BBB recommends right-clicking anywhere on the page and select “Properties.” This will let you see the real URL (website address) and the dialog box will reveal if the site is not encrypted.

7. Pay with a credit card – It’s best to use a credit card, because under federal law, you can dispute the charges if you don’t receive the item. Your also have dispute rights if there are unauthorized charges on your credit card, and many card issuers have “zero liability” policies under which the card holder pays nothing if someone steals the credit card number and uses it. If you are going to shop on classifieds web sites like Craigslist, never wire money and only buy locally where you can see the item before you hand over your money.

8. Keep documentation of your order - After completing the online order process, there may be a final confirmation page or the shopper might receive confirmation by e-mail – BBB recommends saving a copy of the web page and any e-mails for future reference and as a record of the purchase.

9. Check your credit card statements often – Don’t wait for paper statements; BBB recommends consumers check their credit card statements for suspicious activity by either calling credit card companies or by looking at statements online regularly.

10. Know your rights – Federal law requires that orders made by mail, phone or online be shipped by the date promised or, if no delivery time was stated, within 30 days. If the goods aren’t shipped on time, the shopper can cancel and demand a refund. There is no general three-day cancellation right, but consumers do have the right to reject merchandise if it’s defective or was misrepresented. Otherwise, it’s the company’s policies that determine if the shopper can cancel the purchase and receive a refund or credit.

For more advice on staying safe online this holiday season, and to see reports on thousands of online retailers, go to www.bbb.org/us/consumer-tips-holiday/.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Zach is a 5-month-old DSH, gray/white neutered male. Current on vaccines.

Flash is a 3-year-old basset hound, female.

Fritz is a 3-year-old basset hound, male.

The shelter will have the Christmas tree up by Dec. 1 for anyone wanting to bring presents to put under it for the shelter animals. Our next low-cost spay/neuter clinic is Dec. 2 Call 260-824-6063 to find out how to get an appointment.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The lights of Christmas past

On Friday, Nov. 25, Bluffton will hold its annual lighting ceremony. Learn more about this year's festivities in the Friday, Nov. 18, News-Banner, but to get in the spirit now, relive the memories from last year's ceremonies.

To see the lighting ceremony from 2010, click here.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

N-B Video: Market Street after the fire

The News-Banner's Dave Schultz explores Market Street after the fire that destroyed the Hideaway Lounge Monday, Nov. 14. (Video by Dave Schultz)

N-B Video: Principal with a badge

Bluffton Police Chief Tammy Schaffer meets with the Bluffton High School journalism class to answer questions during the "Principal for the Day" program, in which she spent the day following and working with Principal Steve Baker. While meeting the journalism class, students Shannon Monroe asked Schaffer about the program, while student Nick Huffman asked Schaffer about synthetic marijuana, commonly known as spice. Learn more in the Thursday, Nov. 17, News-Banner (Video by Chet Baumgartner)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

N-B Video: Norwell students grade their high school

Norwell High School students explain make their case to school board members why they should renovate the school. During the past two meetings, members of the Northern Wells School Board have listened as staff, students and the public have expressed their opinions about the condition of the building. To learn more, see the Wednesday, Nov. 16, News-Banner. (Video by Chet Baumgartner)

Indiana State Police seeks recruits for 72nd Recruit Academy

From the Indiana State Police:

The Indiana State Police is now accepting applications for the 72nd Recruit Academy. Individuals may apply online at http://www.in.gov/isp/2368.htm. This website will provide a detailed synopsis of the application process as well as a career with the Indiana State Police Department.

Applications must be received via e-mail by midnight on Friday, November 25, 2011. Applications received after the deadline will not be accepted for the 72nd Recruit Academy.

Basic Eligibility Requirements and consideration factors for an Indiana State Trooper:

1. Be a United States citizen.
2. Be at least 21 and less than 40 years old when appointed as a police employee.
3. Have vision correctable to 20/50.
4. Must possess a valid driver's license to operate an automobile.
5. Applicants must possess a high school diploma or GED.

The Indiana State Police Department salary is competitive with the surrounding agencies. A recruit is paid $1,417.40 bi-weekly during the academy training. At the completion of academy training the starting salary is $38,444.00 a year. The Indiana State Police also offers an excellent health care plan, which includes medical, dental, vision and pharmacy coverage for both current and retired employees, along with their families. The Indiana State Police pension program provides a lifetime pension after 25 years of service. Additionally, the Indiana State Police Department provides comprehensive disability coverage and a life insurance program.

It is the policy of the Indiana State Police to provide equal employment opportunity, training, and promotion to all people without regard to sex, race, religion, disability, national origin or age. The Indiana State Police embraces diversity and believes a diverse work force is vital to serve our diverse communities.

Interested applicants can obtain additional information about a career as an Indiana State Trooper by contacting a recruiter at any Indiana State Police Post, or by visiting http://www.in.gov/isp/2365.htm# to find the recruiter assigned to your area.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

B-H board passes new staff-student relations policy

Members of the Bluffton-Harrison school board passed the following policy on second reading at their Monday, Nov. 14, meeting.


All personnel or volunteers of Bluffton-Harrison M.S.D. shall maintain professional relationships with students which are conducive to an effective educational environment. Dating, romantic, and/or sexual relationships between students and school employees or volunteers are strictly prohibited. School employees or volunteers are to avoid even the appearance of maintaining an inappropriate relationship with a student. In addition, school employees and volunteers have a duty to report such inappropriate relationships that they have knowledge of to their immediate administrator. Individuals reporting inappropriate relationships will remain anonymous when legally permissible. Should the Bluffton-Harrison administration become aware of any questionable conduct on the part of an employee or volunteer with respect to a student, an investigation will be initiated. Appropriate action up to and including termination and reporting criminal activity to law enforcement authorities will be pursued. Exceptions to this policy will be at the discretion of the superintendent and the school board (e.g. student employee who is hired to work athletic events, student employee who is hired to clean facilities after athletic events, student employee who is hired to work in the childcare program, student volunteer as a tutor, etc.)

N-B Video: BHS teacher redefines "home"work

Bluffton High School math teacher Jill Bollenbacher shows members of the Bluffton-Harrison school board how she uses an iPad, after the district provided the devices to all its teachers, to connect with and teach students — even when she is home. During the Monday school board meeting, Bollenbacher used her iPad to contact through Skype two of her students, demonstrating what she has done this year when students needed help with their pre-calculus work. Bollenbacher and kindergarten teacher Lindsey Fry both presented to board members how they used the technology to help teach their curriculums. To learn more about the presentations — and the future of technology in the Bluffton-Harrison district — see the Tuesday, Nov. 15, News-Banner. (Video by Chet Baumgartner)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Mayor Ted Ellis' speech at the National League of Cities

Mayor Ted Ellis gave the following acceptance speech after becoming president of the National League of Cities. Learn more in the Tuesday, Nov. 15, News-Banner.

These are interesting times, aren’t they? Times when history is bending. Nowhere is this more evident than in our cities, towns and villages.

One summer day in 1891, Mayor Martin Walbert boarded a train car and set out on what would be the better part of a day’s journey out of town.

History was bending then, too.

As Martin left the city, he must have wondered what the future would hold for his community.

Abroad, the European economy was weak and already in a recession. The U.S. was less than two years from its deepest-ever depression.

At home, the public was clamoring for an end to the open ditch carrying human and animal waste along the south side of his city and into a major river. They demanded that new streets be constructed to replace the muddy ones, but their demands exceeded their ability to finance the repairs.

Martin’s successor would bluntly describe the city’s finances as follows: “The city treasurer files his final report, (showing)…the general fund overdrawn. This of course is occasioned by the extensive street improvements… and when we consider the extent of these improvements we are only surprised that the treasury is in as good condition as it now is.”

The citizenry was still restless over the immigrants – the Germans – who did not speak the language and yet, they said, took jobs away from the locals. And the Irish – who had their own brand of English – were reputed to drink, avoid work and take advantage of law-abiding citizens.
Then there was the crime problem.

In those days when communication was slow at best, horse thieves and swindlers found it easy to slither into the city, commit their criminal acts, and blow town. Maybe there was a shyster or two on this very train with the mayor.

In a rare quiet moment as the train tracks clacked beneath him, it is not difficult to know what Martin was feeling because we have all been in the same place: seemingly insurmountable problems; not enough money to fix them; and constituents demanding more than they are willing to pay for.

No doubt he sometimes questioned why he ran for office to begin with.

It was the need to share information with other mayors from other cities that took Martin out of town that day. Ten other mayors would join him in this first such meeting of mayors in the US – the very first recorded state league meeting.

Elsewhere in the United States, officials were seeking one another out for similar reasons. Soon, other state leagues began forming. In the 1920’s, his state league joined others to form a “league of state leagues” – which eventually became the National League of Cities.

Bluffton, Indiana, Mayor Martin Walbert could not have known how his train trip that day would take him to the genesis of an organization that would one day affect millions of Americans living in cities.

He could not have known that 120 years later, we would still be dealing with environmental, transportation, immigration and funding issues at the local level.

He did know, however, that his and other communities faced problems and opportunities that transcended city or state boundaries; and that sharing ideas and information was the best strategy for dealing with those issues.

They also knew that by speaking with one loud voice they could make things happen. (One of their first big lobbying successes was obtaining free use of the newfangled telephone service for police and city business, including league business.)

No doubt there was reluctance from his community to consider new approaches to persistent problems; but, for Martin Walbert, it was the difference between solution and stagnation.

Such is our challenge today. The world has changed significantly in the last 30 - 10 - even 5 years. And the very way we think about things is changing.

A century later, all of us find ourselves with challenges that are centered on some familiar themes.

For Martin, the problem was old: criminal behavior, with the escape of the criminal made easier by the advent of the railroad.

Whereas the conventional remedy would have been to run the criminal down on horseback, when they looked at the problem in a different way – not how do we catch him from behind, but how do we get ahead of him – the solution (the telephone!) became obvious.

The solution was a collaborative effort of city officials daring to think differently.

For example, the next time you visit a first-grade classroom, look around. Note how different it looks from when you were small enough to fit behind one of those little desks.

Those children are learning and processing information differently than their parents or grandparents. It is much more than the technology they use. It is that succeeding generations think differently than their predecessors.

These 6-year olds, like my grandchildren Curtis and Ella, have never heard a busy signal on a telephone. They speak a different language than Poppa. They don’t understand when I say something sounds like a broken record. They will never be told by a teacher: “If you don’t know how to spell a word, look it up in the dictionary.”

A few years ago, little Curtis picked up a cassette tape and thought it was a camera....but he can operate a smart phone better than most of us here.

These differences do not belong to the very young alone.

As the National League of Cities, we are called to prepare the next generation – and the next generation of elected officials – for the uncharted roads that lie before them.

How do we do it?

We do it by acknowledging who we are.

We are the nation’s oldest and largest organization of cities. And living in our cities are lots of people whom many still consider “young.”

In fact, the median age in the United States is 36. That means that half of the people whom we serve are younger than 36. The youngest of the baby-boomers is 47.

Many of the officials elected on Tuesday and most of our constituents process information in ways different from their parents.

If the National League of Cities is to remain the “go-to” authority on cities, we must – especially in these times – clearly understand what information our new generation needs and how best to deliver it.

We also must clearly decide where we are going.

Like Martin Walbert: not chasing solutions on horseback, but by using every resource at hand to look at our challenges in new ways.

Our focus must extend – not to the next election – but to the next generation.

All the while, we must remember that some challenges are immediate. With our eyes firmly fixed on the horizon, we need to keep our feet on the ground.

We are called to speak the truth to power in Washington and be a constant and determined advocate for all generations.

How we do that is best exemplified by another Bluffton, Indiana, boy.

About the same time and just blocks from the station where Martin Walbert boarded the train, Lewis Scott and his wife were starting a family.

They named their baby boy Lewis Everett Scott, after his father, but they called him “Everett.”
As a kid growing up, Everett just wanted to play baseball.

When the scrawny kid graduated from high school in 1909, the Red Sox and later the Yankees took a chance on him.

It was an era when players regularly sharpened the spikes on their shoes and were not afraid to use them to cut into the legs of middle infielders when sliding into a base.

Over his career, Everett endured the punishment of playing with injury. He played shortstop well, however. And he was there every day – even when his legs bore deep cuts and once when an eye injury almost rendered him blind.

He was there – contributing to the team’s work for a record 1,307 consecutive games that included 27 World Series games.

That record would only be broken by Lou Gehrig and then by Cal Ripken, Jr. Everett Scott still holds the third spot on the all-time list of consecutive games played.

Many days, Everett must have limped onto the field wondering why he played a game where the next batter could hit a line drive speeding toward your head or where base runners with sharpened spikes came at you trying to take you out of the game and where you’re expected to shake it all off and be ready for the next play.

Not one of us needs reminding that the coming year will be filled with lots of posturing and rhetoric on the federal level during the Presidential election.

Even while campaign rhetoric rages, we need to remind our federal officials that there is serious work to be done, so that we can begin to bring prosperity back to our cities and the people we are called to serve.

Most of us in public life will find ourselves in the midst of campaign hysteria in 2012. When it gets crazy out there, we need to go to the refrigerator and read the instructions on the jar of mayonnaise: “Keep Cool - Do Not Freeze.”

But keeping our cool does not mean we won’t bear down.

The National League of Cities is staffed by great and talented people who give it their best every day to gather knowledge and information about today’s challenges.

But when baseball games are to be won, you don’t send the team trainer up to bat. You don’t ask the equipment manager to pinch-run or the third-base coach to play third base.

You see, it’s staff’s job to provide us with all the tools and information, but it’s up to us – one "at bat" at a time — because:

  • We know how to take a high hard line drive and still throw the runner out.
  • We know what it’s like to have someone come at you spikes up, sometimes cutting into your person, and still be ready for the next play.
  • We know what it’s like to lace up your shoes and run onto the field even when you’re injured and don’t feel like playing.
One more thing, Babe Ruth and Everett Scott roomed together for five years on the road. It mattered little how many home runs Babe Ruth hit in a game unless Everett Scott was in the infield, throwing opposing runners out one by one, day in and day out.

When other elected officials need us for ideas, experience, or support, we must be there. When members of Congress need to hear that phone call or contact from home, we must be there, even when we would rather have spent the few minutes in a quiet corner.

We spoke about that first-grade classroom that looks very different today than it did decades ago; however, there is one thing that is the same: The wide-eyed expressions of wonder and hope on the faces of the six-year-olds sitting there.

And who - in what will seem like an instant – will be leading the cities and towns that we hold so dearly.

We owe them cities, towns and villages of opportunity, leadership and good governance.

We will do it – not with our Babe Ruth-style home runs, but with our Everett Scott-style tenacity.
Robert Kennedy reminded us that: “Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation.”

Thank you.

Now, let’s get to work.

N-B Video: Fire ignites above Hideaway Bar

See the Monday, November 14, News-Banner for more details. (Video by Dave Schultz)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Local schools honor veterans on Veterans Day

Northern Wells


Southern Wells

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Veterans Day activities scheduled tomorrow

City, county and federal offices will be closed tomorrow to honor Veterans Day. County schools will also hold ceremonies to honor veterans. Learn more about the ceremonies in the Friday, Nov. 11, News-Banner, and learn more about the holiday here with this trivia. We'll have the answers in tomorrow's blog.

1. What was the first name given to the November. 11 holiday?
  • World Peace Day
  • Ceasefire Day
  • Armistice Day
  • Remembrance Day
2. Why was the name changed to Veterans Day?

3. What flower is a symbol of Veterans Day?
  • Poppy
  • Lily of the Valley
  • Forget-me-not
  • Rose
4. Who officially proposed to Congress to change the name of the holiday?
  • Gen. Douglas MacArthur
  • President Harry S. Truman
  • President Dwight D. Eisenhower
  • Rep. John Salper
5. "In Flanders Field," one of the best-known poems to come out of World War I, was written in reference to a battle in ...
  • France
  • Belgium
  • England
  • Germany
6. Congress passed a resolution for an annual observance of Veterans Day in 1926. How many years later did it become a national holiday?
  • 1. 3
  • 2. 7
  • 3. 12
  • 4. 35
7. What is the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day?

8. Why is the city of Emporia, Kan., important to Veterans Day?