On the Beat in Bluffton

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Adopt a pet

Riley is a 5-year-old DSH Tiger, neuterd male.

Domino is a 6-month-old DSH Black/white, neutered male.

Captain is a 6-month-old DSH Tiger/white, neutered male.

All three cats are current on their vaccines and deworming.

Monday, January 30, 2012

N-B Video: Girl Scouts celebrate 100th birthday

Celebrate 100 years of leadership, badges and cookies with the Wells County Girl Scouts, which held a three-hour party at the Wells Community Building Saturday, Jan. 28.

N-B Video: Standing against "pure greed"

U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., explains why he is running against Indiana senator Richard Lugar in the November elections. Donnelly visited Wells County on Saturday, Jan. 28, as part of his campaign. Learn more in the Monday, Jan. 30, News-Banner. (Video by Dave Schultz)

Friday, January 27, 2012


Cally is a 6-month-old, female, DSH, white calico

Emily is a 4 and a half year old, spayed female,white with gray tabby.

Abby is a 1-year-old,female, DSH, gray and black tiger.

Tell state legislators what you think

The Wells County Chamber of Commerce is asking people to take two of minutes to answer the questions on its legislative survey.

Click here to take the survey.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Law enforcement fight surge in scrap metal thefts

Wells County Sheriff Monte Fisher is asking for the public's help to put a stop to a recent surge in scrap metal thefts. He urged anyone who sees suspicious activity in their neighborhoods to call the Wells County Sheriff's Department at 824-3426.

National Insurance also offers the following advice about scrap metal theft:

Wily thieves use a variety of methods to locate and steal metals. Some pose as renovation contractors while stripping copper from vacant homes. Others use a buddy method for stealing empty, stainless steel beer kegs, with one person driving a getaway truck and the other grabbing the kegs. A few resourceful criminals have used Google Earth to identify large amounts of metal (such as spools of wire) stored outdoors.

Regardless of the method, the cost of metal theft to business owners nationwide is staggering. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that losses from copper theft alone cost the U.S. economy about $1 billion a year.

The best defense is to prevent metal theft at the source. Consider these measures to reduce your risk:

  • Install a security camera with video recorder and keep recordings for a sufficient period.
  • Secure all equipment in locked buildings, or in well-lit areas secured by fencing. Better yet, use a perimeter security system with contact alarms or motion detectors, or install a 6-foot perimeter fence with barbed wire at the top (as allowed by local rules, regulations or standards) and gates with locks to avoid theft of common scrap metals, such as copper, nickel, stainless steel and others.
  • Post “No Trespassing” placards around the property or signs indicating the presence of a surveillance or security system to deter thieves. Even with non-active systems, these signs tend to discourage some instances of metal theft.
  • Remove access to buildings and roofs. Eliminate items that allow for easy entry to buildings, such as trees, ladders, scaffolding, dumpsters and accumulated materials such as pallet piles.
  • Secure your building access with deadbolts, and door and window locks.
  • Trim or remove shrubbery or other landscaping that allows criminals to hide from view on your property.
  • Mark metals with the company’s name using paint, hard-to-remove decals or engraving equipment.
  • Make sure someone is present when supplies such as copper wiring or pipe are delivered at a job site so the materials can be immediately secured.
  • Don’t receive supplies earlier than you need them. The longer metal is onsite and unused, the longer it’s at risk of theft.
  • Develop a relationship with local law enforcement. Ask for their guidance in preventing metal theft at your business and what to do in the event a theft occurs.
  • Increase lighting outside, and protect fixtures (such as AC units) with locked metal cages.
  • Create a master list of all of your equipment and bulk metal (if applicable) and include pictures. Providing the list to your agent and the authorities might help in recovering the items.
  • Talk with your insurance agent. Make sure you have adequate insurance to cover metal theft, and be sure to update your agent as your business changes. For example, if your building becomes partially or fully vacant, your coverage may change without you realizing it.

If a metal theft does occur, call the police immediately so that local recyclers and scrap dealers are alerted. Be sure to preserve the crime scene, including tire tracks, shoe tracks and fingerprints. This evidence could be used to help prosecute the thieves if they are caught.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

N-B Video: NWCS school board approves pursuing $14.9 million renovation

Taxpayers within the Northern Wells school district will now vote for or against $14.9 million in renovations during this May’s primary elections, after school board members Tuesday unanimously approved renovating high school classrooms, upgrading the ventilation system and more.

The project, if approved on the May ballot, will increase the tax rate by 17.72 cents for ever $100 in property value, estimated Jim Elizondo, a financial consultant for the district.

Under that rate, a homeowner with a $100,000 home will owe approximately $52 more a year — or $4.33 a month.

  • To learn more about how the renovations would change the school, see this earlier blog entry. (School board members voted to pursue Option A)
  • To learn about the tax impact, see this earlier blog entry. (Refer to the top graph only.)

Family subdues snow hill

A family enjoys the big snowfall of the year at Lancaster Park on Saturday. (Photo by Jasmine Iida, News-Banner intern)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Honoring the "outstanding" in Wells County

The Chamber of Commerce honored Troxel Equipment Company, Mayor Ted Ellis and Bluffton Middle School teacher Bev Balash as its outstanding business, citizen and educator of the year during its annual awards banquet Monday, Jan. 24. Learn more about the banquet in the Tuesday, Jan. 24, News-Banner. (Videos by Dave Schultz)

Outstanding business of the year

Outstanding citizen of the year

Outstanding educator of the year

Have computer, will travel

Staff from the Bluffton-Harrison school district want to distribute personal computing devices, such as laptops, to each student as part of a technology initiative known as "1:1 technology implementation." To learn how others have distributed computers — and learn what devices are available — staff will soon travel to different schools that have implemented similar initiatives and the Apple Chicago headquarters.

To learn more, see the Tuesday, Jan. 24, News-Banner.

Thursday, Jan. 26

  • 7:30 a.m. — Leave from Bluffton-Harrison Middle School (southwest parking lot)
  • 9 a.m.-11 a.m. - Garrett-Keyser-Butler Schools
  • 11 a.m.-12:45 — Travel/Complimentary Lunch at Flanagan’s Restaurant & Pub
  • 12:45-2 p.m. — Woodside Middle School
  • 2-3 p.m. — Return to Bluffton-Harrison Middle School
Monday, Jan. 30
  • 7:55 a.m. — Leave from Bluffton-Harrison Middle School (southwest parking lot)
  • 8:30-11:30 — Adams Central Community Schools
  • 11:30-12:30 — Complimentary Lunch at The Brickhouse in Monroe
  • 12:30-1 p.m. — Return to the district
  • 1-3 p.m. — Meeting with Joseph Lee (Apple Sales Representative)
Tuesday, March 13
  • 5 p.m. — Arrive in Chicago, IL
Wednesday, March 14
  • 8 a.m.-3 p.m. — Apple Headquarters in Chicago, IL
  • 3 p.m. — Approximate departure time for return drive to Bluffton

New coaches coming to Bluffton-Harrison

Members of the Bluffton-Harrison school board approved the following coaching recommendations during the Monday, Jan. 23, board meeting.
  • Rick Mettler — Varsity Softball
  • Jack Johnson — Assistant Softball Coach
  • Quinn Curry — Assistant Softball Coach - JV (1/2)
  • Travis Andrews — Assistant Softball Coach - JV (1/2)
  • Rick Murray — Volunteer Assistant Softball Coach
  • Jim Cobb — Volunteer Assistant Softball Coach
  • * Brent Kunkel — Boys Varsity Track Coach
  • * Josh Clark — Boys Varsity Assistant Track Coach
  • Danielle Kunkel — Girls Varsity Assistant Track Coach
  • Stephanie White — Girls Varsity Track Coach
  • Brooke Newsome — MS Girls Assistant Track Coach
  • Tyson Brooks — MS Boys Track Coach
  • Laurie Baumgartner — MS Girls Track Coach and MS Boys Track Assistant Coach
  • Brooke Newsome — MS Girls Track Assistant Coach
  • * Todd Morgan — Varsity Baseball Coach
  • * Kevin Powell — Reserve Baseball Coach (1/2)
  • * Stacy Herrold — Reserve Baseball Coach 1/2)
  • Boyd Penrod — Varsity Assistant Baseball Coach
  • Kirby Pace — Volunteer Assistant Baseball Coach
  • Adam King — Volunteer Assistant Baseball Coach
  • Shane Dunwiddie — Varsity Girls Tennis Coach
  • Robert Vanderkolk — Volunteer Assistant Girls Tennis Coach
  • Kara Fiechter — Volunteer Assistant Girls Tennis Coach
  • * Steve Abbett — Varsity Golf Coach
  • Tim Abbett — Volunteer Assistant Golf Coach
* Denotes Faculty Member

Monday, January 23, 2012

N-B Video: New land, new home, new family

Zanesville couple Jason and Jesse White, after about 18 months of waiting, returned from Haiti Sunday with their newly adopted 2-year-old son, Levi. Both family members and friends gathered at Fort Wayne International Airport for the homecoming. Learn more in the Monday, Jan. 23, News-Banner. (Video and photos by Chet Baumgartner)

To learn more about international adoption, go to the Department of State's website at http://adoption.state.gov/.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

N-B Video: Bluffton Christian school moves

Chad Clark, executive pastor of Bluffton Wesleyan Chapel, discusses why school officials moved their school to the former Community Christian Church on Washington Street. Learn more in the Saturday, Jan. 21, News-Banner. (Video by Dave Schultz)

Friday, January 20, 2012

N-B Video: BHS teacher receives Golden Apple

Bluffton High School language arts teacher Amanda Burman received the Golden Apple award from WPTA's Jennifer Blomquist for her work as a teacher, coach and dance director. Watch the presentation — and more — here. (Video by Chet Baumgartner)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

N-B Video: Car slides of Ind. 124 because of winter weather

Video by Dave Schultz

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Norwell renovations could increase taxes for district

Northern Wells school taxpayers will pay about 10 to 26 cents more per $100 in assessed valuation in 2013 if school board members and taxpayers support one of three school renovation packages discussed at the Tuesday, Jan. 17, meeting.

These rates — and their subsequent totals —vary depending on how the school board pays back the bonds.

If board members pursue the “traditional” option, a financial adviser said, they would pay off the bonds in level increments between 2013 and 2032, like a typical mortgage payment, which would increase the tax impact by about 17 cents in 2013 but ultimately result in a smaller total bill: $22,120,200.

But if board members pursue the “tailored” option, they would gradually increase how the renovations’ impact the tax rate through 2029 as the district retired previous debts.

See the graphs below for more details about the tax impact, and learn more about when school board members — and taxpayers — will decide in the Wednesday, Jan. 18, News-Banner.

$14.9 million renovation package — traditional

$14.9 million renovation package — tailored

$17.9 renovation package — traditional

$17.9 million package — tailored

$22.3 million package — traditional

$22.3 million package — tailored
Financial adviser Jim Elizondo of City Securities explains fully how the three proposed renovation projects for Norwell high and middle schools could impact district tax payers.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The power of the state

As residents and the county continue to discuss the pollution once found at the McKinney-Paxson ditch area, people are expressing concern about the power of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, which sets the standards that counties must meet for water.

IDEM has created a "Guide for Citizen Participation" to address these issues. Those interested can access it here.

The guide includes a list of specific ways to contact IDEM. Learn more here.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Talk with legislators

The legislative committee of the Wells County Chamber of Commerce is holding its regular third house meeting, in which the public can talk to state legislators, at 8 a.m. Saturday in the lower level of the Arts, Commerce & Visitors Centre.

Sen. Travis Holdman, R-Markle, and Reps. Jeff Espich, R-Uniondale, and Matt Lehman, R-Berne, will be present.

To learn about bills in the legislature, click here.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Changing a school

Northern Wells school board members will hold two public hearings this month to discuss three proposed renovation packages, known as options A, B and C. Earlier, Superintendent Scott Mills presented the following points to board members to explain how the renovations would alter the school:

Option A — $14,980,000
  • Upgrade heating, ventilation and cooling to elevate the indoor air quality to compliance with the standards set by the Indiana Department of Health as well as improving individual room comfort levels and eliminating the excessive distractive noise.
  • Upgrades will include improvements to the energy & security management system to enhance comfort and energy conservation controls. Removal of existing rooftop air handlers will further reduce heat loss through poorly insulated housings.
  • Modernize ‘A’ Wing (and parts of B) to improve flexibility in the use of space for a variety of activities; to accommodate increased class sizes, and to enhance scheduling flexibility. Renovate the kitchen areas of food service to replace obsolete equipment and provide safer conditions for students and staff.
  • Enhancements will increase mobility for physically disabled students and teachers; reduce incidental noise transfer between adjacent rooms and corridors; ease student congestion in corridors; add power and digital capabilities, and reduce security concerns at exterior doors. Lighting and life safety will be improved to enhance energy efficiency and comply with current life safety regulations.
  • Improvements will reduce crowding at serving lines and eliminate unsafe conditions such as trying to get through this cue with a tray of hot food to restock the cart.
  • Concurrent with HVAC upgrades and classroom renovations, life safety improvements should be included for the safety of students, staff and visitors. Fire protection sprinklers and fire alarm upgrades will permit greater flexibility in classroom design while still complying with the Indiana Building Code and the National Fire Code. A building generator will maintain building climate, data communications and privacy protection during power outages.
  • Modernize the auditorium to replace obsolete and dangerous equipment. Upgrade the seating with new fixtures to facilitate compliance with Indiana Building Code. Upgrade sound and lighting systems to modern standards and to encourage additional use.
  • Renovate Performing Arts classrooms. Leveling the floor will improve student safety and permit larger groups to utilize the spaces. Acoustic improvements will support student health and enhance musical education. Under-utilized space will be renovated for practice and storage.

Option B — $17,953,000

  • Option B includes all work in option A
  • Manifold systems for expansion of geo-thermal heat/cool source and for expansion or fire protection sprinklers to remainder of building. Abate remaining asbestos insulation from building.
  • Upgrade lighting for energy efficiency and improved illumination. Add power and digital capabilities for current teaching methods.
  • Plumbing upgrades will include restroom renovation; sanitary waste piping replacement; water cooler replacement, and the replacement of hot water lines as well as the hot water storage unit. These upgrades will improve the sanitary conditions and restore the building to compliance with the Indiana Building Code.

Option C — $22,323,000

  • Upgrade heating, ventilation and cooling to elevate the indoor air quality to compliance with the standards set by the Indiana Department of Health as well as improving individual room comfort levels and eliminating the excessive distractive noise. Included in the upgrade are air handling units; variable air volume boxes; ducted returns, and energy and security controls. Add softener to hot water supply system to reduce maintenance and extend equipment life.
  • Brick replacement at Norwell Middle School will alleviate leaks and moisture penetration through the masonry and will allow for repair of rusted structural components.
  • Replacement of metal wall panels and windows at Norwell Middle School will alleviate leaks from degenerated seals and increase the insulating value of the walls.

Learn more details in the Saturday, Jan. 14, News-Banner.

N-B Video: Finding Freedom at A Friend's House

Shara Bradley, who graduated from A Friend's House program for women struggling from life issues Friday, tells of the victory she found at A Friend's House. She then sings a song she wrote at 15. To learn more about Bradley's story — and how she found freedom from past abuse — see the Saturday, Jan. 14, News-Banner. (Video by Chet Baumgartner)

Friday, January 13, 2012

N-B Video: Avoiding an economic crash

Jim O'Donnell, professor of business and economics and executive in residence at Huntington University, explains why the economy can be saved after the Wells County Chamber of Commerce's breakfast gathering Thursday. O'Donnell shared his economic outlook and more to about 50 people. Learn more in the Friday, Jan. 13, News-Banner. (Video by Dave Schultz)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

spay/neuter clinic date set

The Bluffton Animal Shelter will hold its next low cost spay/neuter clinic for cats on Jan. 24. The cost is $50 a cat. Vaccines are optional for an additional $35 Please call the animal shelter at 824-6063 for more information as to how to get an appointment. Space is limited.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Inspecting the inspection

Bluffton Common Council members are on track to revise the city's rental housing ordinance. The revised ordinance — which was passed by the council on its first reading on Tuesday, Jan. 10 — makes changes throughout the existing ordinance, but the revisions most significantly changes inspection language.

15.05.020 Inspection

Inspection Officers shall be appointed by the Mayor and are authorized and directed to make inspections to determine the condition of dwellings, dwelling units, rooming units and premises located within the City of Bluffton in order that they may perform their duties of safeguarding the health and safety of the occupants of the dwelling and the general public. An inspection of a Rental Building or Rental Unit may occur only when an Inspection Officer has a reasonable suspicion that a violation of this chapter is occurring at such Rental building or Rental Unit.

Whenever in this chapter it is provided that anything must be done to the approval of or subject to the direction of an Inspection Officer, or any other officer of the City of Bluffton, such authority shall be construed to give such officer only the discretion of determining whether the regulations and standards of this chapter have been complied with, and no provision shall be construed as giving any officer discretionary powers as to what such regulations or standards shall be, power to require conditions not prescribed by this chapter, or power to enforce the provisions of this chapter in an arbitrary or capricious manner.

If an Inspection Officer has reasonable suspicion that a Rental Unit or Rental Building is in violation of this Ordinance, the Inspection Officer shall notify the owner and those in possession of the Rental Building or Rental Unit of its intention to inspect the premises and shall make arrangements for entry and said inspection.

In the event the owner or those in possession of the Rental Building or Rental Unit refuse an inspection, the Inspection Officer may obtain an inspection warrant from any court of record in Wells County, Indiana in order to determine whether a violation of this ordinance is occurring.
The Court shall issue an inspection warrant subject to the following conditions:
  • The Inspection Officer must establish that there is probable cause for believing that a violation of this Ordinance is occurring that legally justifies the inspection;
  • An Affidavit establishing that one of the conditions set forth in the preceding paragraph must be signed under oath or affirmation by the Inspection Officer;
  • The Court must examine the Inspection Officer under oath or affirmation to verify the accuracy of the affidavit.
An inspection warrant is valid only if it:
  • Is signed by the judge of the court and bears the date and hour of its issuance above that signature, with notation that the warrant is valid for only forty-eight (48) hours after its issuance;
  • Describes (either directly or by reference to the affidavit) the Rental Building or Rental Unit where the inspection is to occur so that the executor of the warrant and owner or the possessor of the Rental Building or Rental Unit can reasonably determine what property the warrant authorizes an inspection of;
  • indicates the conditions, objects, activities, or circumstances that the inspection is intended to check or reveal; and
  • is attached to the affidavit required to be made in order to obtain the warrant.
An inspection warrant issued under this section is valid for only forty-eight (48) hours after its issuance, must be personally served upon the owner or possessor of the Rental Building or Rental Unit and must be returned within seventy-two (72) hours.

An Inspection Officer shall, prior to entry, positively identify himself or herself as a person authorized pursuant to this chapter to enter upon said premises.

At the time of each inspection, all pets must be controlled so that the Inspection Officer can move about the dwellings and surrounding property without interruption.

The owner or the person assigned to manage the Rental Unit shall be entitled to seventy-two (72) hours written notice from the Inspection Officer prior to conducting the inspection as set forth in the preceding section of this chapter.

This provision shall not be construed to limit or restrain the right of the Inspection Officer to make an inspection pursuant to any of the provisions of IC 36-7-9-1 et seq.

Every rental unit operated and maintained in the City shall be subject to inspection under provisions of this chapter. The inspection shall be made to ascertain that the facility conforms to all requirements of this chapter.

Every occupant of the rental unit shall give the owner thereof or his/her agent or employee access to any part of such dwelling or rental unit or its premises at all reasonable times for the purpose of making such repairs or alterations as are necessary to effect compliance with the provisions of this chapter.

The Inspection Officer shall issue to the owner of every inspected rental dwelling unit an inspection certificate as proof that the unit is in compliance with this chapter.

If an Inspection Officer finds that a rental unit fails to comply with any standard set forth in this chapter the Inspection Officer shall give notice of the violation to the owner and Occupant of the rental unit. The notice shall be in writing and shall describe the violation found. The notice shall be provided pursuant to the provisions of this chapter to:
  • The owner at the address as contained in the records of the Treasurer of Wells County, Indiana, and
  • The occupant of the rental unit at the address of the unit.
The person or persons responsible for correcting violations under this chapter shall correct such violations within thirty (30) days of:
  • Receipt of the notice described herein; or
  • The date the notice is returned to the Inspection Officer as undeliverable.
If an owner has fewer than ten Rental Buildings, not more than one can be required to be brought into compliance with standards as set forth in the chapter within any thirty (30) day period. If an owner has more than ten Rental Buildings, no more than two or ten percent of the Rental Buildings, whichever is greater, shall be required to be brought into compliance with standards set forth in this code within any thirty (30) day period. A Rental Building shall not be counted in the above limits after thirty (30) days from its first inspection.

For the complete ordinance, contact the mayor's office at 260-824-2500. For more information about the Common Council meeting, see the Wednesday, Jan. 11, News-Banner.

Ted Ellis — according to those who know him

The Wells County Chamber of Commerce has named Bluffton Mayor Ted Ellis the Wells County Citizen of the Year for 2012. Though Ellis said he didn't expect the distinction and that others deserve it more, many of his acquaintances disagree.

Bob Bate, city court judge and former member of the Bluffton Common Council:

I'm happy to hear that Mayor Ted Ellis has been selected the Citizen of the Year. I believe Ted has been a very proactive mayor. Over the years, we haven't always agreed on various initiatives on City Council, but I believe we both respected each other despite our differences.

Whenever Ted would deliver a speech, I was amazed at his ability to tie his thoughts together with a quote from some famous person.

I know he cares for our community deeply and I offer my congratulations to him for his great accomplishments as our mayor.

Marge Ellis, wife:
I don’t like politics. So imagine my surprise when I fell in love with a politician! I had met Ted before he became mayor, though he was on the County Council. I was drawn in by his sense of humor and kind heart. As I spent more time with him, I discovered his integrity, loyalty, humility and deep faith.

Ted is not your garden-variety politician. He views public service as just that, being a “public servant.” He approaches his job as mayor as more of a calling than a career. I believe he strives to be a servant leader.

He’s pretty smart, he could have gone elsewhere and made a successful career. He chose to stay here, because he truly loves Bluffton.

Tami Runyon, Bluffton's clerk-treasurer:
Ted's primary concern is always Bluffton and what he can do to improve life for his family and our community. Dedicated and devoted, it is not uncommon for him to be at the office late in the evening and on weekends. He has helped keep tax rates the lowest in northeast Indiana and one of the lowest in the state, yet Bluffton has continued to see improvements and growth.

His perseverance and accomplishments are well known. Throughout the year I attend meetings both statewide and nationally, and so often when asked where I am from, usually the next question is “Isn’t that where Ted Ellis is from?”

Bluffton has grown and improved so much in the past 20 years, a growth that would not have happened without Ted, and I firmly believe that there is not a better representative for our city.

Jim Phillabaum, longtime member of the Bluffton Common Council:
It has been my pleasure to serve with Ted Ellis in local government for 16 years. During that time I have come to respect his passion for making Bluffton a better place to live and work. While some people might consider Ted to be a politician, the Ted I know is far from being a politician. I do not recall any decision he has made from a strictly political standpoint. Ted approaches the needs of Bluffton from the standpoint of what is best for the community and the people he serves.

Ted leads by example and is always open to the suggestions of the city employees and the other elected city officials. If he does not agree with an employee or official he takes the time to explain why.

Ted has become a government leader not only in his hometown but also in the nation and the world. The offices he holds in the National League of Cities and the international association United Cities and Local Governments exemplifies his intellectual and leadership abilities.

John Schultz, Decatur mayor
I want to personally congratulate Mayor Ellis for the recognition and award. The Wells County Chamber of Commerce is to be commended for selecting Ted for the award.

Ted is a joy to work with and has always been helpful anytime I have called for his opinion, especially four years ago when I first took office as the mayor of Decatur. He has also helped foster a solid relationship between our two communities and I am very grateful for

Ted is very respected not only by his peers in northeast Indiana, but as well as across the state and nation.

Jill Ellis Baughan, the mayor's (much younger) sister:
The summer Ted turned 22, he enlisted me — his much younger sister — to drive his getaway car. He was running for auditor, and his goal was to shake hands with and introduce himself to every person in Wells County.

Since I was a newly licensed teenage driver, this little adventure was actually fun for me. But after a lot of hours on country roads, a lot of knocking on strangers’ doors, a lot of barking dogs and one unfortunate running-out-of-gas incident (my fault), I remember thinking, “This is an awful lot of trouble for a job that, let’s face it, isn’t gonna make him rich. I’d never want to invest all this effort in being a politician.”

Fast-forward 40-plus years (a long time, yes, but I am still his much younger sister). Now, as mayor of Bluffton, he has invested himself way beyond door-knocking and hand-shaking, doing things like inspiring the city to build a Rivergreenway, bringing City Hall back to life, and transforming the scenes of a disastrous flood into oases of peace and even fun.

He has also willingly sacrificed his personal reputation by riding in parades in manure spreaders, getting pies thrown in his face, hurling himself around in a moon walk, and dressing up like a duck.

Seriously, this is proof that the man will stop at nothing to serve the public.

It also explains his answer to me last year when we were talking about the hassles of being president, and I asked, “Why in the world do people want to run for public office? So many headaches … dealing with the stress of campaigning … somebody’s always unhappy … somebody’s always criticizing what you’re doing no matter what you’re doing …”

And he said this to me: “Most people don’t run for office because they like to campaign. They don’t run because they want to be politicians. They just run because they really believe they can make a difference.”

Ted is not, never has been and, I’m guessing, never will be a politician. He’s just a guy who really believes he can make a difference.

And obviously, he has.

Mike Row, Wells County's director of economic development:
If, as Shakespeare said, "Action is eloquence," Mayor Ted Ellis rivals the greatest orators of history. A tireless champion for the city of Bluffton, Ted is an exemplary leader who dedicates his considerable gifts to the daily pursuit of the greater good.

And now the nation's municipal leaders have honored our mayor by electing him to serve as the president of the National League of Cities. Ted's willingness to take on this considerable responsibility brings never-before-seen attention to our community that will resonate in a
positive manner for years to come.

More than that, Ted exemplifies the command found in the Book of Micah: "To do justly and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God."

This is why I say without reservation: There is no more deserving recipient of the 2012 Citizen of the Year award than Mayor Ted Ellis.

Congratulations, Ted!

Matthew Greller, executive director and CEO of the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns:
Mayor Ted Ellis is one of the most respected individuals in local government. He represents his community tirelessly, yet still makes advancing the profession of public service a top priority. Ted's history in local government spans nearly his entire career and he seems to never stop looking for new ways to serve.

Ted's service to IACT began almost immediately upon taking office as mayor of Bluffton in 1996. Ted participated on and chaired several key committees and eventually became IACT President in 2003. He remains a member of our board of directors and is still a critical participant in our advocacy and education programs.

Ted's talents were recognized nationally as he rose through the ranks at IACT. I was not surprised in the least that the National League of Cities chose Ted to be their current president. He is one of the most diplomatic, ethical and thoughtful municipal leaders I have ever known and I couldn't be happier for Ted's well deserved successes and recognition.

Learn more in the Wednesday, Jan. 11, News-Banner.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Who should control the calendar?

The Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents is asking Indiana citizens about school years, and so far, more than 2,600 people have taken the online survey, sharing their opinions on who should control the school year, how officials should spread out the school year and more.

Question 1: Many schools have a traditional school calendar while others elected to move to a balanced calendar. The traditional calendar features a long summer vacation with school starting in August or September and concluding in May or June after 180 student days. The balanced calendar reduces the long summer break and schedules the 180 student days throughout the school year. The balanced calendar has 180 student days but with more frequent breaks that limits long periods of instruction, as well as longer vacations. Do you prefer the traditional school calendar or the balanced calendar?

Question 2: The Indiana Legislature has proposed legislation in the past that would mandate school calendar start/end dates. Who should have the final say on the school calendar, your local school board or the state legislature?

Question 3: Schools are required to be in session 180 student days. Therefore, the start date affects the end date of the school year. When would you like for schools on a traditional schedule to start and end?

Bluffton-Harrison Superintendent Wayne Barker said he encourages parents to take the survey as well. To take the survey, click here.

Monday, January 9, 2012

N-B Video: Where butterflies and sunsets wait

Take a tour of the annual "Focus on Photos" exhibit from the Creative Arts Council. Learn more in the Monday, Jan. 9, News-Banner. (Video by Chet Baumgartner)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

N-B Video: Educator of the year gets a surprise visit

Teachers and administrators within the Bluffton-Harrison school district surprise eighth-grade science teacher Beverly Balash, telling her in front of her students that she is the Wells County Chamber of Commerce Educator of the Year. Learn more in the Saturday, Jan. 7, News-Banner. (Video by Chet Baumgartner)

Friday, January 6, 2012


Butters is a 6-month-old orange tabby DLH neutered male. Current on vaccines.

Kit & Kat are 6-month-old black DSH neutered males. Current on vaccines.

Dora is a 6-year-old German Shepherd/Collie mix spayed female.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

N-B Video: Outgrowing a school

Northern Wells band instructor Doug Hassell explains to members of the school board why they should approve renovations to the school, including rooms for band and choral instruction, which would cost, at least, about $15 million. Learn more in the Wednesday, Dec. 4, News-Banner. (Video by Chet Baumgartner)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Indiana legislators to meet again

Indiana legislators return to Indianapolis Wednesday, Jan. 4, to consider — and possibly — pass new laws. State Sen. Travis Holdman, who represents Wells County, recently sat down with the News-Banner's Mark Miller to discuss his legislative priorities as well as right-to-work legislation, an issue many expect will be the most significant legislation lawmakers consider this year.

To learn more about Holdman's agenda, see the Tuesday, Jan. 3, News-Banner, and to keep informed about the session as it proceeds, click on the links below.
  • To see what bills are introduced, who introduced them and where they are in the process, click here.
  • For a list of standing committees and who serves on them, click here.
  • For a list of deadlines, click here.
  • To watch video of the session and view video archives, click here.
  • Click here to fill out a survey to tell Holdman how you would vote.
You can also e-mail Holdman at Senator.Holdman@iga.in.gov. You can contact Wells County's other legislator, Rep. Jeff Espich, by clicking here.

Please note that some of the links might not contain any information until senators and representatives start introducing, considering and passing legislation.