On the Beat in Bluffton

Saturday, September 24, 2011

N-B Video — House fire on South Indiana Street

Bluffton firefighters were called to a house fire at 537 S. Indiana St. at about 1:30 a.m. this morning. Firefighters were able to extinguish the flames, and no one was hurt. Learn more in the Monday, September 26, News-Banner. (Video by Chet Baumgartner)

Friday, September 23, 2011

N-B Video: How to move a bride — in one piece

Contractors remove the existing bridge over the Salamonie River on 900s on the morning of Thursday, Sept. 22. Because it is a historic structure, the county must retain the bridge for 15 years or until someone claims it. Because of this, contractors had to move the bridge while keeping it intact. Learn more in the Friday, Sept. 23, News-Banner. (Video by Frank Shanly)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Possible projects in the Northern Wells district.

The Northern Wells school board approved a list of tentative plans for its capital projects fund. To learn more about the capital projects budget, see the Wednesday, Sept. 21, News-Banner. To learn more about the specific projects, contact Northern Wells Superintendent Scott Mills at 260-622-4125.

Year/School CPF project Cost

2012 OES Roof recoating $325,000.00 

2012 OES Light fixtures $10,000.00

2012 OES Classroom $15,000.00

2012 OES New circuit and board $15,000.00

2012 OES Water Softener $3,000.00

2012 OES Restripe parking lot $2,500.00

2012 OES Brick wall replacement loading dock $5,000.00

                Andover Energy & security

2012 OES management system $10,000.00

2012 LES General Painting $18,000.00 

2012 LES expansion joint $2,500.00

2012 LES Restripe parking lot $3,500.00

2012 NMS Restroom upgrade $30,000.00 

2012 NMS Painting & Carpet $24,000.00

2012 NMS Security cameras $15,000.00

2012 NMS Light fixtures $10,000.00

                 Andover Energy & security

2012 NMS management system $10,000.00

2012 NHS Re-seal 2 gym floors $7,500.00 

2012 NHS Restroom remodel $35,000

2012 NHS AC Power upgrade $35,000.00

                Andover Energy & security

2012 NHS management system $10,000.00

2012 NHS Restripe parking lot $7,500.00

2012 CO         Parking lot repair $150,000.00

Future projects

2013 NHS Update Kitchen $1,600,000.00

2013 NHS Auditorium remodeling $650,000.00

2013 NHS Restroom remodel $35,000.00

2013 NHS South gymn doors $30,000.00

2013 NHS Painting and carpeting $24,000.00

2013 NHS Building security camera $15,000.00

2013 NHS Lighting efficiency $10,000.00

2013 NHS Replace all drinking fountain cooler $10,000.00

2013 NHS Parking lot reseal and restripe

2013 NMS Pool filtering and pump system $150,000.00

2013 NMS Painting and Carpet $24,000.00

2013 NMS Lighting fixtures to T-8’s $15,000.00

2013 NMS Security cameras $15,000.00

2013 OES EFIS Moisture repair $75,000.00

2013 OES Classroom $15,000.00

2013 OES Security cameras $15,000.00

2013 OES Sidewalk repair $15,000.00

2013 OES Lighting fixtures to T-8’s $10,000.00

2013 OES Re-key building $3,000.00

2014 CO Re-coat roof $20,000.00

2014 LES Gas fired boiler to aid Geo loop $30,000.00

2014 LES Reseal gym floor

2014 LES Reseal parking lot

2014 NHS N&W sidewalk replace $75,000.00

2014 NHS Domestic Hot water storage tanks $50,000.00

2014 NHS Replace all hot water lines $25,000.00

2014 NHS Re-key building

2014 NMS Girls Locker room remodeling $60,000.00

2014 NMS Painting and Carpet $24,000.00

2014 NMS Lighting fixtures to T-8’s $15,000.00

2014 NMS Security cameras $15,000.00

2014 OES Air cooled condensing unit $185,000.00

                Heating hot water system

2014 OES renovation $150,000.00

2014 OES Student lockers in hallways $150,000.00

2014 OES Ductwork and fittings $35,000.00

2015 OES South Parking lot resurface $80,000.00

2023 NMS Exterior wall system replacement $680,000.00

2023 NMS Air handling units $235,000.00

2023 NMS Window Repair and replacement $185,000.00

2023 NMS Interior wal system $175,000.00

2023 NMS VAV boxes $175,000.00

2023 NMS Music room acoustics $65,000.00

2023 NMS Music instrument storage $48,000.00

2023 NMS Gym bleachers upper level $32,000.00

2023 NMS Exhaust fans $15,000.00

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Where the money goes

On Friday, Sept. 16, Wells County's schools officially counted the number of enrolled students. School officials will now review the numbers for accuracy and eventually submit them to the state to help determine how much tuition support the schools receive from state tax revenue. To learn more about how many students are enrolled in Wells County's three public districts — and how states determine how much funding schools receive — see the Tuesday, Sept. 20, News-Banner.

The state makes available how public schools spent their revenue, broken down by categories such as "student academic achievement," "school administration," and more. The following graphs show how Wells' public schools used their revenue from January to December 2009 and January to December 2010.

Northern Wells Community School

Bluffton-Harrison Metropolitan School District

Southern Wells Community Schools

Click on the following links for more detailed reports for each school.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

N-B Video: Raider royalty

Meet the king and queen candidates for the 2011 Southern Wells Homecoming court. Find out who won in the Saturday, Sept. 17, News-Banner. (Video by Glen Werling)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Good, clean fun for the family — with garbage

All ages are invited to participate in Garbage Games at the Wells County Public Library’s main branch. Families, teams, or individuals can pick up a bag full of clean garbage at the library anytime and sign up for the program.

Participants can take the garbage home to build games similar to those games in the television show "Minute to Win It." The library will give a list of accepted tools and items to use when building games.

Participants should bring their games Tuesday, Sept. 27, to play with others. Games can be set up anytime from 6 to 6:30 p.m. Games go from 6:30 to 7:30 pm. Prizes will be awarded for the creativity of the games. People can also attend to just play the games or create their own that day. Registration needed for the family if making a game.

The main branch will be closed the week of Street Fair. Garbage can be picked up during the Street Fair's "Storytime with Clifford and Madeline" on Wednesday, Sept. 21, at 4 pm or the following week. Please sign up online at www.wellscolibrary.org or call the library at 260-824-1612. Program is sponsored by the Friends of the Library.

For inspiration, check out the News-Banner's Friday, April 15, "On the Beat" blog entry, when Bluffton Elementary School held its own "Minute to Win It" contest. Click here to go to the blog.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Need help with homework?

Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology recently started its 20th year of offering free tutoring to Hoosier students in grades six through 12. From 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, students can call 1-877-ASK-ROSE (1-877-275-7673) and receive personal attention as they work through difficult problems.

Students calling the hotline will need to provide their first names, their schools' names and be prepared with necessary materials:
  • Homework assignment
  • Textbook (if available)
  • Paper
  • Pen or Pencil
  • Calculator (if necessary)
Homework questions can also be submitted online at www.AskRose.org starting Sept. 26.

Responses to online questions are given during the Homework Hotline's hours of operation, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Tutoring is provided by college students who were recommended by their professors. Tutors are chosen based on technical and communication skills. They are trained on how to best answer questions and explain difficult concepts to younger students.

In order to provide help with questions, tutors are armed with copies of state-recommended textbooks and Internet access. While they are not to give students the answers to problems or assignments, tutors will help students analyze questions and come up with solutions.

Teachers may access lesson plans, articles, a summary of Indiana's academic standards and other educational resources when visiting www.AskRose.org.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

What does Indiana mean to you?

To celebrate Indiana' 195th birthday, state legislators are asking fourth-grade students to write an essay describing what Indiana means to them.

The winning student will read his or her essay at the Statehouse on Friday, Dec. 9, during the birthday celebration there.

The contest is open to Indiana fourth-grade students in public or private schools or who are home schooled.
  • Entries need to range from 100 to 400 words.
  • They can be handwritten or typed.
  • Essays must include the student's name, teacher's or parent's name, school's name and contact information, including address and telephone number.
  • Students should convey what living in the state of Indiana means to them and highlight things that make them glad to be Hoosiers.
  • Essays must be postmarked no later than Friday, Oct. 28.
Entries should be sent to
Jennifer Hodge, Coordinator, State Capitol Tour Office
200 W. Washington St., Room 220
Indiana Statehouse
Indianapolis, IN 46204

For more information, contact Hodge at 317-233-9830 or jhodge@idoa.in.gov.

Statehouse events begin at 9 a.m. and include tours and activities hosted by the offices of the governor, lieutenant governor, legislature, Indiana Supreme Court, state museum, state library, historical bureau, history center and other state agencies. Students, their parents, teachers and principals can also visit with representatives of the state's executive, legislative and judicial branches of government. Officials will also display the original state constitution.

WCLA starts 4th year of classes

The largest class in the short history of the Wells County Leadership Academy gathered for their first session Wednesday morning to hear retired Franklin Electric executive Kirk Nevin’s presentation on “The Art of Listening.”

The group of 23 will meet the second Wednesday of each month through next May. 

Here are a few photos from the event. More information in Thursday, Sept. 15 News-Banner.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

letter from a former student

Recently, Edward W. Bayouth, a lieutenant colonel in the US Army, donated a flag to Bluffton High School. He also sent a letter accompanying the flag. We have reproduced the text of letter below.

Dear Mr. Baker ~

Greetings from the Middle East. I just returned from a trip to Afghanistan and wanted to present Bluffton High School with this U.S. Flag that was flown at Forward Operating Base Shank in the Loghar Province of Afghanistan as a small and long overdue token of appreciation for the education I received there between 1983 and 1987. What I was taught and learned there has served me well while attending West Point and conducting the business of protecting our great nation.

Among the buzz of helicopters and the occasional incoming mortar, not a day goes by that for a brief moment I don't look back fondly at my time attending Bluffton High School. I recognized a few of the staff that was there almost 25 years ago when I graduated and would appreciate if if you could please pass my warmest regards to them. GO TIGERS!!

Edward W. Bayouth,
Lieutenant Colonel, US Army
Chief, Postal Operations Division

N-B Video: Politicizing food prices

Farm market analyst Arlan Suderman explains how food prices could become an issue during next year's election cycle — and how it could affect local farmers. Learn more in the Tuesday, Sept. 13, News-Banner. (Video by Glen Werling)

Monday, September 12, 2011

N-B Video: Bluffton remembers

Sam Walburn sings the National Anthem during National Neighborhood Day, held to remember Sept. 11. During the day, members of the Bluffton-based Scatter 8s square dancing group performed, while bicyclists road during the "Pedal and Picnic." (Video by Dave Schultz)

N-B Video: Touring hope

House of Hope Northeast Indiana Operations Director Alicia Hill gives a tour of the House of Hope home just east of Bluffton during the organization's annual open house. To learn more about the organization and its work with troubled teenage boys, see the Monday, Sept. 12, News-Banner. (Video by Chet Baumgartner)

N-B Video: Bluffton goes Green and Norwell moves on the "Banks of the Wabash"

Watch highlights from Bluffton High School's annual "On the Banks of the Wabash" band competition, including BHS's selection, "Green," and Norwell's selection, "How Music Moves Us." Learn more in the Monday, Sept. 12, News-Banner. (Video by Frank Shanly)

Friday, September 9, 2011

N-B Video: Homecoming highlights at Norwell High School

The Norwell High School marching band entertained fans before the homecoming king and queen were announced Friday, Sept. 9. (Video by Chet Baumgartner)

N-B Video: Would you like some cockroach with that?

Students at Southern Wells' advanced biology class learned about insect proteins in a unique way — by cooking them. (Video by Chet Baumgartner)

chocolate chip mealworm cookies

sautéed crickets

stir fry cockroaches

The chefs

N-B Video: Rhythm and moves at Bluffton High School

The Bluffton High School marching band practices for the annual "On the Banks of the Wabash" marching band competition, scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 10. Learn more in the Friday, Sept. 9, News-Banner. (Video by Chet Baumgartner)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Preventing burglary

In the Thursday, Sept. 8, News-Banner, you can read about how a woman who went to her daughter's house when she wasn't home found a strange man inside. You can also read about how someone broke into a Uniondale couple's house and apparently stole two guns.

To prevent burglaries, State Farm Insurance lists the following recommendations:
  • Do not have money or jewelry lying out in view from a window. If possible, keep jewelry and other small valuables and important documents in a safe deposit box. Thieves who otherwise would have passed up your home might attempt a “smash and grab” to get at your valuables.
  • Don’t tell strangers your daily routines, and avoid telling others about the valuables in your home. If you’re at home working outside, leave all other doors that are out of sight locked.
  • Be wary about posting your vacation plans and updates on social media websites—even though you trust your friends, you never know who might learn that you’re not home.
  • If you have children, discuss home security with them, such as not talking with strangers about their home, its contents or family schedules.
  • When moving into a new residence, have the locks changed.
  • Consult a good locksmith to make sure you have the right types of locks on your doors and windows and that they’re all functioning. Don’t make assumptions. It’s always possible that previous owners or tenants improperly installed a lock, or that your locks are broken and need replacing.
  • Secure your exterior doors and any doors from attached garages by installing good quality deadbolt door locks, doorjamb reinforcement, security-type door strikes, and strong, properly installed doors and doorframes that cannot be spread apart.
  • Even if a garage is not attached, lock it. A burglar in your garage has access to tools to steal and ladders that can be used to gain entry onto the second floor.
  • Use ANSI Grade 1 locks—look for the designation on the packaging.
  • Secure your windows by installing additional locks and installing impact-resistant glass on any windows within 42" of a door lock. This will make it more difficult to break the glass, reach in, and unlock the lock.
  • Prune lower branches of trees near your house if they could help a burglar gain access to a second story window. Plant sharp and thorny bushes in vulnerable spots like under windows and around exterior doors.
  • Secure your patio door with a pin-type lock, a key lock, or a steel rod inserted into the door channel.
  • If possible, have your telephone calls forwarded when you are away from home. Burglars sometimes check to see if someone is home by making a telephone call.
  • Have a trusted neighbor pick up the mail and newspaper.
  • If away for an extended period, have a plan in place to have the grass mowed or snow shoveled.
  • If you are away from home on garbage pickup day, ask a trusted neighbor to put your garbage cans out to the street and take them back in. You may wish to have your neighbor use your garbage cans while you are out. Burglars sometimes check for empty cans as a sign the family is away.
  • Never leave notes your door such as "Gone shopping."
  • Use gravel or lava rock around your home instead of beauty bark. Gravel makes noise when stepped on.
  • Basements usually have the casement-style windows and are vulnerable to entry. Young people most responsible for burglary need very little space through which to enter a home, and poor window catches offer little resistance. Metal window bars or grills should be fastened to the inside of the window frame with an emergency latch release, to aid in exiting your home should a fire occur.
Finally, many online sources were divided on hiding house keys outside. All said not to use obvious spots, such as underneath a mat, flower pot or possibly even fake items, such as a rock (unless the fake item is group together with real items so as to not draw attention to itself). Many websites recommended, instead of hiding spare keys, that home owners give a spare key to a trusted neighbor.

However, the News-Banner did find two creative ideas from www.homesecurityadvice.com to hide spare keys in plain sight. We won't say that they necessarily work, but they are unique.
  • I heard about this family who gathered over 75 house keys and painted them different colors to make a wind chime. Only the family knew which color would allow them to open the front door. It’s an obvious location, but it’s creative and more than likely a criminal isn’t going to sit there and test 75+ keys to gain access.
  • I heard about another family who hid numerous keys around their property, but only one key allowed them access indoors. The point is to frustrate the criminal, and play a sort of mind game with them, so that they’ll eventually give up and go away.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

N-B Video: Saying goodbye — and hello — at Northern Wells

Before their regular meeting Tuesday, Sept. 6, Northern Wells school board members and Superintendent Scott Mills recognized those teachers retiring from the district and those starting. (Video by Chet Baumgartner)

Retired teachers present at the Northern Wells' reception were, front row, left to right, Judy Harkless, Ossian Elementary third-grade teacher; Phyllis Phipps, Lancaster Central fifth-grade teacher; Linda Baller, Ossian Elementary music teacher; and Debbie Darnell, Norwell High School business teacher. Behind the retiring teachers were, left to right, Superintendent Scott Mills and board members Gene Donaghy, Michele Brown-Stohler, Donna Spears, Marc Fillers and Scott Elzey.

Follow the funds

The 2012 county budget made it through its first public hearing Tuesday, Sept. 6, with councilman Phillip Stoller providing the only dissenting vote. County Council members had already discussed the details in earlier meetings. To learn more about the latest meeting, see the Wednesday, Sept. 7, News-Banner.

The county budget funds the operations of multiple organizations:
  • Extension office
  • Assessor
  • Auditor
  • Clerk
  • Election
  • Probation
  • Tobacco
  • Custodian (courthouse)
  • Treasurer
  • Coroner
  • Veteran's
  • Health PHP
  • Highway
  • Prosecutor
  • Recorder
  • Community Corrections
  • Circuit Court
  • Superior Court
  • Sheriff and jail
  • Area Plan GIS
  • Surveyor/Drainage Board
  • E911
  • Commissioners
  • Bridges
  • Communication Corrections
  • Soil and Water Commissioners
  • Solid Waste (Recycle)
  • Soil and Water/Rockcreek
  • Wells County Public Library
  • Towns (not including the City of Bluffton)
  • Townships
  • City of Bluffton
While the County Council discussed the budget, the county commissioners discussed economic development. Two organizations — or possibly one — is asking for $10,000 (or $10,000 each, if they are two separate entities). The commissioners aren't sure, so they asked Wells County Economic Development Director Mike Row to arrange a meeting between the commissioners and a representative from one of the organizations.

Until then, you decide, using the following links to see if the two organizations requesting contributions are the same or if they offer similar services.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

N-B Video: Before the broncos buck

The Wells County 4-H Association, in conjunction with Broken Horn Rodeo, brought bareback riding, steer wrestling, barrel racing and more to the 4-H Park Saturday, Sept. 3, when the rodeo came to town. The News-Banner's Frank Shanly was there to capture the ceremony before the dust flew. (Video by Frank Shanly)

N-B Video: 2011 Montpelier Jamboree Parade

Montpelier held its annual Jamboree parade Saturday, Sept. 3. For more highlights, go to the News-Banner's "On the Beat" blog in our blog bank at www.news-banner.com. (Video by Chet Baumgartner)

Friday, September 2, 2011

N-B Video: Muffins with the mayor

Mayor Ted Ellis recently sat down with area senior citizens Thursday to relax, tell stories and answer any questions they might have. Eavesdrop into their conversations as Ellis discusses environmental regulations, local economies and the bane of air conditioning (Video by Barbara Barbieri)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Difference of degrees

Indiana education officials, hoping to reduce the number of college students who need to take remedial classes, might consider pushing schools to get less students to accept a general education degree, as opposed to the Core 40 degree, which requires more and more-advanced science and math courses. Learn more in the Thursday, Sept. 1, News-Banner.

General Education Degree

Core 40 degree