On the Beat in Bluffton

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?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

N-B Video: Common Council victor discusses the next four years

Michael Morrissey, who won Bluffton's only contested race in the 2011 elections, discusses his hopes for his next term on the Council. Learn more in the Wednesday, Nov. 9. News-Banner. (Video by Dave Schultz)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A "wind"fall in Wells

County officials and the company Wind Capital Group took one step closer to bringing wind energy to Wells. To learn more about what officials still need to do, see the Tuesday, Nov. 8, News-Banner. To learn more about wind energy, read through the following, as taken by Wind Capital Group's website.

What is wind energy?
Wind energy is a converted form of solar energy. The sun’s radiation heats different parts of the earth at different rates - most notably during the day and night, but also when different surfaces (for example, water and land) absorb or reflect heat at different rates. This, in turn, causes portions of the atmosphere to warm differently. Hot air rises, reducing the atmospheric pressure at the earth’s surface, and cooler air is drawn in to replace it. The result is wind. Air has mass, and when it is in motion, it contains the energy of that motion (“kinetic energy”). Some portion of that energy can be converted into other forms of mechanical force or electricity that we can use to perform work.

What is a wind turbine and how does it work?

A wind energy system transforms the kinetic energy of the wind into mechanical or electrical energy that can be harnessed for practical use. Wind electric turbines generate electricity for homes and businesses and for sale to utilities.

Turbine subsystems include:
• a rotor, or blades, which converts the wind’s energy into rotational shaft energy
• a nacelle (enclosure) containing a drive train, usually including a gearbox* and a generator
• a tower to support the rotor and drive train
• electronic equipment such as controls, electrical cables, ground-support equipment, and interconnection equipment

* Some turbines do not require a gearbox.

The electricity generated by a utility scale wind turbine is normally collected and fed into utility power lines, where it is mixed with electricity from other power plants and delivered to utility customers.

How big is a wind turbine?

Utility-scale wind turbines for land-based wind farms come in various sizes, with rotor diameters ranging from about 50 meters (164 feet) to about 120 meters (394 feet), and with towers of roughly the same size. A wind turbine that Wind Capital Group might use at this time has a total height from the tower base to the tip of the blade of approximately 400 feet.

What are wind turbines made of?
The towers are mostly tubular and made of steel. The blades are made of fiberglass reinforced polyester or wood-epoxy.

How much electricity can one wind turbine generate?
The output of a wind turbine depends on the turbine’s size and the wind’s speed through the rotor. Wind turbines being manufactured now have power ratings ranging from 250 watts to 5 megawatts (MW). Wind Capital Group typically uses 1.5 MW to 2.5 MW turbines. The ability to generate electricity is measured in watts. Watts are very small units, so the terms kilowatt (kW, 1,000 watts), megawatt (MW, 1 million watts) and gigawatt (pronounced “jig-a-watt,” GW, 1 billion watts) are most commonly used to describe the capacity of generating units like wind turbines or other power plants.Electricity production and consumption are most commonly measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh). A kilowatt-hour means one kilowatt (1,000 watts) of electricity produced or consumed for one hour. One 50-watt light bulb left on for 20 hours consumes one kilowatt-hour of electricity (50 watts x 20 hours = 1,000 watt-hours = 1 kilowatt-hour).

How big are wind farm projects?

Wind farms can range in size from a few megawatts to hundreds of megawatts in capacity, from one turbine to as large as 400 or more turbines. Wind Capital Group typically focuses on utility scale projects that are 50 MW or greater. Generally, this translates to 20 or more turbines, depending on the turbines used

Friday, November 4, 2011

What kind of schools receive vouchers?

The Indiana Department of Education recently released how many students used vouchers, allowed after legislators passed a law this year, to help pay for tuition to attend private schools.
Five students from Wells County used the vouchers this year, though data was not available showing where they went.

However, they had to attend a private school that qualified to receive students with vouchers. The state has a list of requirements schools must meet to qualify. Some of those are listed below; for a complete list of the requirements, click here.

To learn more about where the Wells County students attended last year and how much it could cost a local school district this year, see the Friday, Nov. 4, News-Banner.

The following comes from the Department of Education:

1) What are the basic conditions/requirements if my school is considering participation in the Choice Scholarship Program?  
To be approved as an “eligible school,” the school must meet seven basic conditions:
  • Be located in Indiana; 
  • Require an eligible student to pay tuition or transfer tuition to attend;
  • Voluntarily agree to enroll the eligible student; 
  • Be accredited by either the State Board or a national or regional accreditation agency that is recognized by the State Board; 
  • Administer the Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress (ISTEP) program (for a high school, administer End-of-Course Assessments) to all students at the testing grade levels;
  • Not be a charter school or the school corporation in which an eligible individual has legal settlement under IC 20-26-11; and 
  • Submit to the department data required for A-F grading (see question 28 below for more information about how schools are graded)
19) Does my school need to remove its religion classes and/or religious affiliation to qualify?  
No. The legislation is clear that the department may not use its implementation authority for the Choice Scholarship program to regulate or interfere with the religious mission of nonpublic schools.

21) What if we admit a student, receive the state payment, and determine later in the year that we must expel the student for academic, disciplinary or other reasons? 
The department will not interfere with your ability to run your school. However, you must notify the department immediately if a student does not finish the school year. The school‟s receipt of Choice Scholarship funding for the expelled student will be affected, depending on when the expulsion occurs.

28) What data will schools provide to the department for A-F ratings? 
The data used for A-F will include the following:
  • ISTEP scores (these scores will be considered both for student growth and student achievement) 
  • End-of-course test scores in Algebra 1, English 10 and Biology 1 
  • Graduation rates 
  • Student-level Advanced Placement scores; (this will require a signature on a standard waiver form that authorizes College Board to release this data to the department) 
  • Dual credits awarded 
  • Industry certifications for Career and Technical Education programs/pathways (provided to the Department of Education via the Indiana Department of Workforce Development) 
  • While not an explicit part of the A-F ratings, students who do not already have a state-issued Student Test Number (STN) must be assigned one as part of the Choice Scholarship program. The STN helps the state protect against duplicate state payments (both to public and nonpublic schools), improves test security, and allows tracking of student performance over time. Personally-identifiable information is used only to ensure that individual students do not have multiple STNs, and the process itself improves protection of privacy
 37) Will my school be bound by the new teacher evaluation requirements? What exactly will that entail? 
Yes, albeit not to the extent required of public schools under Senate Enrolled Act 1. Note also that this requirement takes effect for the 2012-2013 school year, and the requirements apply regardless of whether the student receives a tax credit scholarship, a Choice Scholarship, or both. The state budget legislation (House Enrolled Act 1001) includes the language making IC 20-28-11.5-4(a) and (b) in Senate Enrolled Act 1 apply to Choice Scholarship and tax credit scholarship schools. These schools will be required to conduct annual performance evaluations of all individuals providing instruction to students, including principals. Participating schools are free to use the model evaluation tool being developed by the department and the State Board, the system for Teacher and Student Advancement (i.e. the TAP model), or the Peer Assistance & Review model. They may also develop their own local evaluation, and/or utilize master teachers in their building to conduct the evaluation. The department will include an assurance on the Choice Scholarship school application form (to the department) that this requirement will be fulfilled.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Full-service license braches open for expanded hours

Normally closed on Mondays, full-service license branches will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 7, and 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 8, so that residents will have more time to obtain a photo ID needed to cast a ballot.

Branches will only process ID cards and drivers licenses on those two days.

To obtain state IDs free of charge, residents who don't already have driver's licenses must state they need free ID cards for voting purposes and provide proper documents proving identity, U.S. citizenship, Indiana residency and a Social Security number. Proper documents accepted by the BMV for the purposes of securing a state ID card or driver's license may include:
  • Birth certificate or passport (one needed to prove identity, citizenship);
  • Voter registration card, postal service change of address confirmation, paystub or bill (two needed to prove residency); and
  • Social Security card or W-2 form (one needed to prove Social Security number).
  • Indiana law requires all residents to present government-issued photo IDs before casting a ballot. Polls will be open Tuesday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
For more information on attaining an ID, extended hours or BMV locations, visit www.myBMV.com or call 1-888-692-6841.

All license branches will observe regular business hours Wednesday, Nov. 9, and Thursday, Nov. 10, but will be closed for Veterans Day on Friday, Nov. 11.

For general questions about voting, contact the Secretary of State's Election Day Hotline at 1.866.IN1.VOTE on Election Day between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. The hotline is also open for calls on regular business days from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Members of the Northern Wells school board approved a long list of athletic positions at their Tuesday, Nov. 2, meeting. Learn more about the meeting in the Wednesday, Nov. 3, News-Banner.

  • Randy Hawkins, NHS, Boys Head Basketball Coach
  • Mike Duggan, NHS, Co-Asst. Boys Basketball Coach
  • Ron Harnish, NHS, Co-Asst. Boys Basketball Coach
  • Frank Baute, NHS, Co-Asst. Boys Basketball Coach
  • Rob Witzig, NHS, Vol. Coach Boys Basketball
  • Eric Thornton, NHS. Girls Head Basketball Coach
  • Kevin Zubke, NHS, Co-Head/Co-Asst. JV Girts Basketball Coach
  • Kelli Kistler, NHS, Co-Asst. JV Girls Basketball Coach
  • Kristen Ludwig, NHS, Co-Asst. 9th Grade Girls Basketball Coach
  • Shannon Hurraw, NHS, Co-Asst. 9th Grade Girls Basketball Coach
  • Jim Wilson, NHS, Vol. Coach Girls Basketball
  • Greg Thornton, NHS, Vol. Coach Girls Basketball
  • John Heller, NHS, Head Wrestling Coach
  • Hunter Harper, NHS, Co-Asst. Wrestling Coach
  • Brandon Tucker, NHS, Co-Asst. Wrestling Coach
  • Adam Prater, NHS, Vol. Asst. Wrestling Coach
  • Jon Gates, NHS, Boys & Girls Head Swimming Coach
  • Jody Gates, NHS, Boys & Girls Asst. Swimming Coach
  • Korrey Short, NHS, Boys & Girls Vol. Asst. Dive Coach
  • Amy VanMeter, NHS, Head Cheerleading Coach
  • Angie DeHoff, NHS, Vol. Asst. Cheerleading Coach
  • James Topp, NMS, Vol. Asst. 8th Grade Girls Basketball Coach
  • Jeff Shelton, NMS, 7th Grade Girls Head Basketball Coach
  • Mandy Kopp, NMS, 6th Grade Girls Head Basketball Coach
  • Clete Bailey, NMS, Vol. Asst. 7th Grade Girls Basketball
  • Clay Dafforn, NMS, 6th Grade Boys Basketball Coach
  • John Warwick, NMS, 7th Grade Boys Basketball Coach

Keeping your car safe

The Bluffton Police log has recorded several incidents of vehicle break-ins over the past few days. The News-Banner has scoured the web to find online tips to help prevent your car from becoming a target.
  • Choose your parking spot carefully. Always try to park in a busy, well-lit area where your car is easily seen from the store or restaurant. Try to avoid parking between two larger vehicles; up against bushes, dumpsters or fences; or in remote areas where thieves don’t run the risk of getting caught.
  • Anything in clear view gives the thief a certain payoff for breaking in. That’s why you should hide all of your electronics, shopping bags and valuables under the seats or lock them in the trunk, or take them into the store.
  • Lock the doors and roll up the windows. Even if you’re just running into the store for a minute to pay for gas or pick up your pizza, you should always roll up the windows and lock the door. (If you like to take your dog for rides, have an extra key made. That way, you can roll up the windows and keep the air conditioning on for your pup while you run into the store with your second key.)
  • Don’t store your home address in your GPS. Some drivers have had their GPS units stolen, their home addresses have been identified and then the thieves have gone and cleaned out the houses as well. That’s why you should instead store the address of a nearby intersection or even your neighborhood grocery store under “Home.” Better yet, take your hand-held GPS device with you instead of leaving it in the car.
  • Install a car alarm. If your car starts beeping and wailing as soon as a thief tries to break into it, they won’t stick around for very long. Many car alarm systems also come with a “panic button” for your key fob—which could come in handy if a suspicious stranger approaches you while you’re entering your car. 
  • Up to a quarter of vehicle thefts are from unlocked cars, according to some law enforcement agencies. Simply locking the doors will deter those who might just be cruising the neighborhood looking around for an easy target.
  • Almost any worthless personal item that's visible from the outside — even an empty shopping bag — could be seen as a valuable or a carrier of valuables. If you have a wagon or SUV that leaves your cargo area on display, consider emptying it, or getting a cover to keep valuables or other belongings out of sight.
  • Don't leave any bait out for thieves; stow your electronics and accessories well out of sight-or better yet, remove it overnight. The evidence alone might be enough to pique the interest of thieves, so hide that too, including power plugs, telltale iPod adapters, or navigation system windshield suction-cup mounts, and even put the cigarette lighter back in place.
  • Get to know your neighbors and their cars, and keep a sharp lookout for strangers or suspicious activity.  If you spot a strange vehicle cruising your street slowly, try to get a tag number and call the police.  If you look out for your neighbors, they can do the same for you.
  • Completely close windows and sunroofs, not just because thieves might reach in through the gap and open your locks with a coat hanger. Open windows will disable the pressure sensor in some car alarms, leaving the vehicle more vulnerable to break-in and potentially giving thieves more time before the alarm sounds.
  • Thefts of car audio components are on the decline, but having an aftermarket system still makes a car more attractive to thieves thinking of breaking in. There's no black market to speak of for factory stereos, and they've become much better sounding in recent years.
  • A significant portion of vehicles are broken into with the intent of stealing the vehicle itself, so combining several visible simple, inexpensive physical theft deterrents like steering wheel locks (The Club), steering column collars, or brake pedal locks may discourage the would-be thief from breaking in and trying.
  • The National Insurance Crime Bureau recommends layering defenses; layers include warning devices such as alarms, wheel etching, or decals; immobilizers; and even tracking systems (LoJack is one).

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

More photos from the 2011 Boo in Bluffton.