On the Beat in Bluffton

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Participating in a pledge

Near the beginning of the school year, about 200 schools promoted the Indiana Parent Pledge, a document through which parents commit to upholding eight principles. Department of Education officials recently announced that Bluffton High School had the second highest percent of parents in the state sign the pledge, at 94.6 percent.

To download a copy of the pledge, click here.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Patient with measles treated at Bluffton Regional Medical Center

An Adams County resident with measles was treated in the early evening on Monday, Feb. 20, at the Bluffton Regional Medical Center emergency room.

BRMC staff has already called the “limited number” of people who may have been exposed to measles through the Adams County patient, said Tamra Boucher, the director of business development and physician services.

Boucher also said she knows of no one in Wells County who has reported measles symptoms, and the Adams County resident is no longer contagious.

Learn more in the Tuesday, Feb. 28, News-Banner.

Because of the measles outbreak in central Indiana, which is not connected with the Adams County case, the Indiana State Department of Health recently released the following press release:

The Indiana State Department of Health has established a hotline to help answer questions from the general public. This hotline can be used as a resource for the situation in Central Indiana, as well as the developing situation in Northeastern Indiana.

• The hotline number is 1-877-826-0011 (TTY/TTD 1-888-561-0044).
• State Health Department staff will be on-hand during the hours of 8:15 a.m. to 4:45 p.m., Monday through Friday to answer questions.
• Note: Immunization status cannot be verified through this hotline. Individuals unsure of vaccination status are encouraged to contact your health care provider, as they have access to the Indiana Immunization Registry.

About measles
Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus. It is rare in the United States due to high levels of vaccination with the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine; however, unvaccinated visitors from other countries can transmit measles to unvaccinated people in the U.S., or unvaccinated U.S. citizens traveling abroad can become infected during travel.

More than 95 percent of people who receive a single dose of MMR will develop immunity to measles, and more than 99 percent will be protected after receiving a second dose. Two doses of the vaccine are needed to be fully protected. Individuals are encouraged to check with their health care providers to ensure vaccinations are up-to-date.

Children are routinely vaccinated for measles at 1 year of age, and again at 4-6 years of age before going to kindergarten, but children as young as 6 months old can receive the measles vaccine if they are at risk. If you are unsure about your vaccination history, check with your health care provider, as they have access to vaccination records for many Hoosiers through the Indiana Immunization Registry known as CHIRP.

Measles begins with a fever, cough, runny nose, and red eyes about 7-10 days after exposure. The fever increases and can get as high as 105 degrees. Two to four days later, a rash starts on the face and upper neck. It spreads down the back and trunk, and then extends to the arms and hands, as well as the legs and feet. After about five days, the rash fades the same order in which it appeared.

Measles is highly contagious. When infected persons sneeze or cough, droplets spray into the air and are inhaled by others. Those droplets remain active and contagious in the air and on infected surfaces for up to two hours. Measles can also be transmitted when moist secretions from the nose or mouth of an infected person come in contact with the mouth, nose or eyes of another person.

What you can do
Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent transmission. Two properly administered doses of the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella vaccine are needed to be fully protected. Individuals born before 1957 are presumed to be immune to measles.

If you are experiencing the symptoms of measles, stay home and call your doctor right away. Alert your doctor if you think you have been in contact with an infected person and be prepared to describe your symptoms. If you are ill with measles, remain home and away from others, especially unvaccinated infants, people with diseases affecting their immune systems, and pregnant women.

To learn more about measles, visit the Indiana State Department of Health’s website at www.statehealth.in.gov. Additional information about measles can be found by visiting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website at http://www.cdc.gov/measles/.

Learn how to contact your local health department by visiting http://www.state.in.us/isdh/24822.htm.

To spend or not to spend

The Ossian Town Council has received a $41,400 federal grant to help build new sidewalks — but city officials can't use it for infrastructure work. Instead, they must use it to pay for crossing guards, teaching children how to walk on sidewalks safely and similar activities. If they don't, they can't receive the grant that actually pays for the sidewalks.

The news upset several members of the Council, who thought it unnecessary to spend money for such activities. Learn more about the council's reaction to the pre-grant grant in the Tuesday, Feb. 28, News-Banner.

If council members accept the money, they would have to spend it as follows:
  • Comprehensive SRTS Plan Development or School Route Travel Planning — $19,000
  • Encouragement Activities to Increase Walking and Bicycling to School — $4,500
  • Education Materials (e.g. brochures, videos, training materials) for Parents, Students or Crossing Guards — $5,500
  • Parent, Teacher or Crossing Guard Training — $1,000
  • Student Training in Safe Walking Skills or Safe Bicycling Skills — $1,000
  • Equipment Purchases (e.g. crossing guard equipment) or Incentive Article Purchases (e.g. high visibility stickers, zipper pulls and shoe laces, water bottles, lights, bicycle bells, bicycle helmets, bicycle locks) — $400
  • Special Purchase of 1 Speed Trailer for Use by Local Law Enforcement Personnel — $10,000
  • Total Non-Infrastructure Activities — $41,400
  • Total All Activities $41,400

Monday, February 27, 2012

N-B Video: Is Washington broken?

The News-Banner's Dave Schultz asks Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar, who came to Wells County to fundraise for the Republican party, if Washington is broken? Learn more about Lugar's opinions in the Monday, Feb. 27, News-Banner. (Video by Dave Schultz)

N-B Video: Fire heavily damages building on 350S

A fire ignited in and heavily damaged an apartment at 3995E-350S at 8:42 a.m. Monday, Feb. 27. Learn more in the Monday, Feb. 27, News-Banner. (Video by Frank Shanly)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Bringing an audio drama to visual life

Bluffton High School graduate Drew Neuenschwander, a professional writing major at Taylor University, was recently invited to work as an intern at Focus on the Family. Neuenschwander will assist the organization's radio drama "Adventures in Odyssey."

Neuenschwander, though, is no stranger to the show. He listened to it as a child, and as a college student, he and his classmates formed an unofficial Adventures in Odyssey club. Recently, the club recreated several scenes from Adventures in Odyssey.

Neuenschwander plays the part of the "expendable crewman" in this skit.

Neuenschwander plays the part of the Eugene Meltsner in this skit.

Neuenschwander plays several parts in this skit.

Learn more about Neuenschwander's internship in the Saturday, Feb. 24, News-Banner.

N-B Video: Shake hands with Thomas Edison

Sixth-grade students at Southern Wells Elementary School take classmates, parents and more on a tour of history during their annual wax museum. Students dressed as historical characters and shared about their lives and deeds. (Video by Chet Baumgartner)

Friday, February 24, 2012

State announces advanced placement test results

The Indiana Department of Education released Thursday how schools performed on the advanced placement tests students take. For more information, see the Friday, Feb. 24, News-Banner.

For tips to prepare for the test, click here.
For tips specifically for homeschooled students, click here.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

City, township officials can't reach conclusion on fire protection

Bluffton city officials and Harrison Township officials have reached a "Catch 22," said Bluffton councilwoman Bette Erxleben, in their discussions concerning how to provide fire protection to townships.

The two entities could create a fire protection territory, but rural residents are concerned that territories would take away taxing power from the trustees, says Harrison Township Trustee Tom Longenberger.

According to Indiana code, fire territories give the following governmental entities the following powers (In this case, the participating units would be Harrison Township and the city of Bluffton, and the providing unit would be the city of Bluffton.).

To learn more about local discussion, see the Thursday, Feb. 23, News-Banner. To see the complete code, click here.

IC 36-8-19-8
Tthe designated provider unit must establish a fire protection territory fund from which all expenses of operating and maintaining the fire protection services within the territory, including repairs, fees, salaries, depreciation on all depreciable assets, rents, supplies, contingencies, and all other expenses lawfully incurred within the territory shall be paid. The purposes described in this subsection are the sole purposes of the fund, and money in the fund may not be used for any other expenses. Except as allowed in subsections (d) and (e) and section 8.5 of this chapter, the provider unit is not authorized to transfer money out of the fund at any time.
(b) The fund consists of the following:
(1) All receipts from the tax imposed under this section.
(2) Any money transferred to the fund by the provider unit as authorized under subsection (d).
(3) Any receipts from a false alarm fee or service charge imposed by the participating units under IC 36-8-13-4.
(4) Any money transferred to the fund by a participating unit under section 8.6 of this chapter.
(c) The provider unit, with the assistance of each of the other participating units, shall annually budget the necessary money to meet the expenses of operation and maintenance of the fire protection services within the territory, plus a reasonable operating balance, not to exceed twenty percent (20%) of the budgeted expenses. Except as provided in IC 6-1.1-18.5-10.5, after estimating expenses and receipts of money, the provider unit shall establish the tax levy required to fund the estimated budget. The amount budgeted under this subsection shall be considered a part of each of the participating unit's budget.
(d) If the amount levied in a particular year is insufficient to cover the costs incurred in providing fire protection services within the territory, the provider unit may transfer from available sources to the fire protection territory fund the money needed to cover those costs. In this case:
(1) the levy in the following year shall be increased by the amount required to be transferred; and
(2) the provider unit is entitled to transfer the amount described in subdivision (1) from the fund as reimbursement to the provider unit.
(e) If the amount levied in a particular year exceeds the amount necessary to cover the costs incurred in providing fire protection services within the territory, the levy in the following year shall be

‪N-B Video: Tag, you're seaweed‬

From octopus tag to beach blanket musical chairs, children enjoyed a Hawaiian beach party packed with games at the Wells County Public Library Wednesday, Feb. 22. Learn more in the Thursday, Feb. 23, News-Banner. (Video by Barbara Barbieri)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Hoosiers helping hoosiers food drive

From the Indiana State Police:

The Indiana State Police is participating in the annual Hoosiers Helping Hoosiers Food Drive sponsored by First Lady Cheri Daniels. Donated items will benefit area food banks and pantries. Donations will be accepted from February 1st thru February 29th.

Suggested items include:

  • Canned meats, fruits and vegetables
  • Canned soups
  • 100% fruit juices
  • Peanut butter and jelly
  • Kid-friendly foods: macaroni, cereal, applesauce cups and healthy snacks

Donations may be brought directly to any participating food bank or food pantry. To find the most conveniently located collection site in your county, click here.

For your convenience, donations may also be dropped off at any Indiana State Police Post. To locate the post nearest you, click here.

Every donation makes a difference. The Indiana State Police thanks you for helping Hoosiers in need.

Parks Department sums up a year's of activities

Pam Vanderkolk, the superintendent of the Parks and Recreation Department, gave her annual yearly review of her department's accomplishments to members of the Bluffton Common Council Tuesday, Feb. 21. To read the entire report, click here. For highlights of the report, see the Wednesday, Feb. 22, News-Banner.

County and city officials pass ordinance regulating adult-business licensing

After an adult bookstore had expressed interest in opening a business in Wells County, both county commissioners and members of the Bluffton Common Council Tuesday approved licensing ordinances that regulate where and how adult businesses, such as bookstores, can operate.

The ordinance specifies the distances such business must be from schools, parks, residential areas and more, and it also contains several other provisions.

• No person shall cause or permit the establishment of any sexually oriented business in the unincorporated areas of the county, as defined above, within 2,640 feet of another sexually oriented business or within 2,640 feet of any religious institution, school, boys' club, girls' club, public park or within 1,000 feet of any residence or property zoned for residential use.
• All Signage and Displays visible from the outside of sexually oriented business shall not include any photographs, silhouettes, drawings, or pictorial representations of nudity, semi-nudity, or sexual activity.
• It shall be unlawful and a person is in violation of this chapter if he or she operates or causes to be operated a sexually oriented business, regardless of whether or not a permit has been issued for that business under this chapter, between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. of any particular day.
• This section shall not apply to prohibit the operation of businesses licensed by the State Alcoholic Beverage Commissioner during the lawful hours of operation as provided by the State Alcoholic Beverage Commission.
• The granting of a permit to a permittee for a sexually oriented business shall be fore one year and is nontransferable to any other person other than the applicants(s) listed on the application and is valid only for the location listed on the application.
• The application fee for a sexually oriented business permit shall be $100.
• Sexually oriented business permittees and their employees shall permit officers or agents of the county to inspect, from time to time on an occasional basis, the portions of the sexually oriented businesses premises where patrons are permitted, for the purpose of ensuring compliance with the specific regulations of this chapter, during those times when the sexually oriented business is occupied by patrons or is open for business. This section shall be narrowly construed by the county to authorize reasonable inspections of the permitted premises pursuant to this chapter, but not to authorize a harassing or excessive pattern of inspections.
• Each permit shall expire one year from the date of issuance and may be renewed only by making application as provided in § 07 above; for renewals, filing of the original survey, if applicable, shall be sufficient.
• A person is in violation of this chapter if he or she operates or causes to be operated a sexually oriented business, regardless of whether or not a permit has been issued for that business under this chapter, and knowingly or with reasonable cause to know, permits, suffers or allows:
• Admittance of a person under 18 years of age to the business premises;
• A person under 18 years of age to remain at the business premises;
• A person under 18 years of age to purchase goods or services at the business premises; or
• A person who is under 18 years of age to work at the business premises as an employee.
• All off-street parking areas and premises entries of the sexually oriented business shall be illuminated from dusk to closing hours of operation with a lighting system which provides an average maintained horizontal illumination of one foot-candle of light on the parking surface and walkways. This required lighting level is established in order to provide sufficient illumination of the parking areas and walkways serving the sexually oriented business for the personal safety of patrons and employees and to reduce the incidence of vandalism and criminal conduct. The lighting shall be shown on the required sketch or diagram of the premises.
• Nothing contained in this section shall relieve the operator(s) of a sexually oriented business from complying with the requirements of the county in this chapter, commonly known as the sexually oriented business ordinance, as it may be amended from time to time, or any subsequently enacted county ordinance or regulations.

To learn more about the ordinance — and what must still be done — see the Wednesday, Feb. 22, News-Banner.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

House sales up; sale prices drop

The Upstate Alliance of Realtors — which includes Adams, Allen, DeKalb, Huntington, Noble, Wells, and Whitley counties — released its January market report Monday. The report includes local statistics as well as graphical illustrations of how Northeast Indiana's house market looks.

Learn more about Wells County's statistics in the Tuesday, Feb. 21, News-Banner.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Restraining the RSDs?

During the Chamber of Commerce's most recent "Third House" meeting, in which state legislators field questions from the public, Rep. Matt Lehman, R-Berne, discussed a bill, currently set to come before the Senate soon, that would limit the powers of regional sewer districts.

Lehman authored a similar bill, but his died in committee, and Lehman is hoping that Sen. Travis Holdman, R-Markle, will incorporate some of his bill's language into the still-living bill.

To see the bill that passed out of the House, click here.
To see the the amended bill that will come before the Senate, click here.

To learn more about Lehman's efforts — and what else was discussed at the meeting — see the Monday, Feb. 20, News-Banner

N-B Video: Stopping a "community problem"

Bluffton High School Principal Steve Baker urges Wells County residents to help stop the sale of legal synthetic marijuana, commonly known a spice. Baker spoke with state legislators about their efforts to ban the product during the Chamber of Commerce's "Third House" meeting, in which legislators field questions from the public. Learn more in the Monday, Feb. 20, News-Banner. (Video by Chet Baumgartner)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

N-B Video: Fire destroys barn in southern Wells

Firefighters from the Nottingham, Chester and Poneto fire departments water down the remains of a barn at 7633S-200E after a fire destroyed it Friday afternoon. Learn more in the Saturday, Feb. 18, News-Banner. (Video by Chet Baumgartner)

Chocolate, chili and more

The Jericho Advanced Training Center for Ministry is holding a carry-out and walk-in chili fundraiser from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25, at the building.

To determine which chili to offer, though, Jericho staff had the students create three batches, and then Mayor Ted Ellis picked the winning chili.

Ellis, however, said he would recommend them all, so here are the recipes for all three batches.

To learn more about the fundraiser, contact Jericho at 353-1350. To see which chili won, see the Saturday, Feb. 18, News-Banner.
Alpha Omega Kindergarten — Brrr ... it's chili
  • 1 lb. hamburger & sausage
  • 1 onion diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 (46 oz) can tomato juice
  • 1 can each hot, mild, & black beans
  • 1 banana pepper, diced
  • 2 Tbsp. cumin & chili powder
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. onion powder
  • *Secret ingredients:
  • 1/3 c. Brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. grape jelly

1st & 2nd Grade Multi-Age Recipe — "Monster Truck Chili"
  • 48 oz tomato juice
  • 15 oz tomato sauce
  • 1 can chili beans
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 c. Macaroni
  • 1 lb. lean hamburger drained
  • 2 ts. salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • Chili powder to taste
  • 1/4 c. Brown sugar

3rd & 4th Grade Multi-Age Recipe — "Pop's Sweet Cincinnati Chili"
  • -In a soup kettle fry:
  • 5 cloves of garlic (pressed)
  • 2 lg onions (chopped fine)
  • 3 lbs of hamburger (chop until fine)
Degrease meat
Add below ingredients and simmer for one hour:
  • 64 oz beef broth (add more to thin if desired)
  • 28 oz crushed tomatoes
  • 28 oz tomato sauce
  • 28 oz diced tomatoes
  • 12 oz tomato paste
  • 16 oz red, pinto, and black beans (rinsed)
  • 3 dried whole chilies (removed after one hour)
  • 25 Hersey's dark chocolate kisses
  • 2 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp All Spice
  • 4 Chili powder
  • 3/4 c. Brown sugar
While soup is simmering, cook 8 oz Spaghetti or thin spaghetti. Cut to 2 inch pieces and add to soup. 

N-B Video: Labeling nature for the Girl Scouts

Audrey Estill describes how she is earning the highest award a girl scout can receive by helping visitors better understand what they see outdoors. Learn more in the Saturday, Feb. 18, News-Banner. (Video by Dave Schultz)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

Students from Ossian Elementary celebrate Valentine's Day.


Pebbles is a 3-month-old Tortieshell DLH, female.

Uno is a 1-year-old Boxer mix, female.

Hazel is a 2-year-old Black DSH spayed female. Current on vaccines.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

N-B Video: Saying goodbye to textbooks?

Bluffton-Harrison Superintendent Wayne Barker explains how parents can learn more about the district's push to distribute personal computing devices, such as iPads or laptops, to every student in the district. Learn more in the Tuesday, Feb. 14, News-Banner. (Video by Chet Baumgartner)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Meet 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, Matt Lehman, R-Berne, and Dan Leonard, R-Huntington, will be present.

To learn about bills in the legislature, click here.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

N-B Video: History comes alive at Ossian Elementary

Fourth-grade students at Ossian Elementary give school visitors a tour through history, as they dress up as well-known men and women and reveal clues about their lives. Those who visited then had to guess who they were. Can you guess? See the Monday, Feb. 13, "On the Beat" blog for the answers. (Video by Chet Baumgartner)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Big plans to avoid the big game

While Wells County residents watched the Super Bowl last Sunday, others were there volunteering. You can read about their stories — and more — in the Thursday, Feb. 9, News-Banner.

However, not everyone sat down to watch the big game.
  • David Hollopeter"i had to work"
  • John Geels — "Puppy Bowl VIII. None of the kittens who performed at halftime flipped the bird......unless it was a stuffed toy."
  • Troy Fiechter — "We had a church singing."
  • Tina Zaugg — "went to bed early and read a good book."
  • Therese Bertsch"Hubby and I played SoulCaliber 5."
  • Rita Bennett — "Working on putting together THE BENEFIT FOR JERRY BROWN ON MARCH 17TH in Montpelier Civic Center."
  • Dawn Bailey — "Worked on homework"
  • Cindy Klepper — "Football on one TV so I wouldn't be culturally out of touch on Monday, Puppy Bowl reruns on the other TV, a Netflix movie ("Freakonomics") on the iPad while I shopped online on the laptop and monitored Facebook on my iPhone. Ain't electronics grand?"
  • Deb McConnehey"Homework and tv is hardly ever on in our home. I think my husband checked the score every now and then but the tv was off!"

You can join the conversation. "Like" our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/newsbanner.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Spelling their way to V-I-C-T-O-R-Y

Those who competed in this year's county spelling bee were Samantha Williams, Southern Wells; Jessica VandenBoom, Norwell Middle School; Montana Kwandrans, Lancaster Central; Elizabeth Schmidt, Ossian Elementary; Peyton Laley, Bethlehem Lutheran; Nick Huffar, Bluffton Middle School; and Gretchen Moser, Kingdom Academy. (Photo by Chet Baumgartner)

Want to have your own spelling bee? R-E-A-D through these tips to from www.word-buff.com.

How To Improve Spelling #1

Images Before Rules

When I went to school, we were drilled in long lists of spelling rules. The most famous of these, of course, was the infamous 'I before E, except after C' rule, but there were squillions of others. Let me tell you two major drawbacks to this approach to spelling...

Firstly, the English language has exceptions - not just a handful, but a bucketful of them - to just about every spelling rule you'll ever be confronted with. Because our language is such a collage of other languages, it is impossible to describe it using a bunch of simple rules.

In fact, it is for this reason that Spelling Bees have come to play such a big part of English-speaking culture. Did you know that in more predictable languages, like German, they don't even have spelling bees. Why? It would be too easy.

Secondly, and this is the most important of all, our brains don't master spelling through rules. Suppose I showed you a misspelled word (which I won't - as per the next tip!), and then you correctly tell me that it is misspelled. What would you say if I asked you to explain how you knew it was misspelled? In virtually all cases, the answer is simply this 'It just doesn't look right'!

What does this tell us? It tells us, and research confirms this far more rigorously, that our brains acquire spellings through images. What we learn to recognize is not this rule or that rule that a word follows, but rather the picture of the word (the experts call this a Mental Orthographic Image).

The secret to correct spelling - well, there are several, but this is a biggie - lies in exposing your brain to the image of a word over and over again. Moreover, the image needs to be quite large (larger than the words of a typical printed book or Web page) and free from other distractions.

Flashcards, whether electronic or the 'cards in a shoebox' variety, are perfect for implementing this.

How To Improve Spelling #2

Avoid Looking at Misspellings

This one follows logically from the previous tip, but I thought I'd highlight it because it's a mistake you'll see made in classrooms frequently.

People sometimes think they are helping you learn to master a tricky spelling by showing ways in which it is often misspelled. Bad mistake! Just as repeated exposure to word-images is responsible for most of our ability to spell words correctly, it can also be responsible for our tendency to spell words incorrectly - if, that is, we keep staring at commonly misspelled versions of words. The solution is simple.

Don't do it - make sure that all of your spelling lists are full of correctly spelled words only.

How To Improve Spelling #3

See It, Hear it, Say It

Involving several senses in the learning process can really speed up word-acquisition. Each time you see the new word, don't just look at it (although that is very important too!), find out how it is pronounced and say it aloud. If possible, get somebody else to help out by saying the word too.

Not only do the different sensations (seeing, hearing, saying) work together to help ingrain a new word, but if you're rehearsing for a spelling bee your study pattern needs to simulate the competition itself. If you were to study by just staring at word lists, you would be completely thrown when faced with a word verbally - even if you know it cold!

How To Improve Spelling #4

Target Your Specific Weaknesses

Word study has to be personalized if it is to be efficient. When you receive a spelling list from a teacher, or download one from a website, it will typically contain a large number of words you already know. In fact, research conducted in American schools has shown that typical spelling lists handed out to students contain as few as 25% unfamiliar words!

Although you need to revisit familiar words occasionally (more on that later), you will improve spelling far more rapidly if you filter out all the familiar words. Not just by crossing the familiar words out - which still leaves distractions all over the page - but by constantly recreating new lists filled only with the words you are not confident with.

Sound obvious? Perhaps. But research has shown that almost no students study this way. We seem to feel obliged to go over and over the list that was handed down to us by an authority figure, as if there was something innately special about it. There can't be, because a teacher, or an educational body, cannot tailor their lists to suit individuals.

If you want to progress as rapidly as possible, you need to take charge of your own spelling program.

How To Improve Spelling #5

FIRST Test, THEN Study

But how do you tailor a spelling program to what you don't know, if you don't know what you don't know? A good question indeed, and I'm very glad you asked ;-)

Traditional teaching requires us to study a set amount of material for weeks on end, and then tests us at the end to see how well we mastered it. There are several weaknesses in this approach. For one thing, and this recaps on a point I made earlier, you may then be devoting far too much precious time on things you already know. For another, you can take a very long time to find out that your study has been ineffective. The solution?

Test yourself first, and then develop a study program around the weaknesses you found in your test. This also means that you don't have to make guesses at what you think you already know.

How To Improve Spelling #6

Form Relevant Associations

Disorganized lists of words and facts are very difficult to remember. There is a well-known strategy for achieving almost miraculous feats of memory when it comes to recalling long random-looking lists, and that is to make extensive use of images and stories.

The idea then is to group words together into meaningful lists, where each list has a clear theme. You can then use pictures, stories, and other clever memory devices to glue the words in each list together.

This practice can also help reinforce distinctions that are often accidentally blurred. You may forget the spelling of a specific word, but just by remembering the group it belonged to you can be confident about the correct spelling.

The suffix -OUS, for example, usually sounds just like the suffix -OSE, making it difficult to remember which words end in which suffix. Rather than disperse these words indiscriminately through your spelling lists, it is far more effective to group all the -OUS words together in one list and all the -OSE together in another list.

When you are testing yourself, these words will be thrown at you randomly, of course (just as they are in real life!). But when you go to retrieve a word from your brain, it will be connected to its neighbors through a mnemonic, a story, or one of your own ingenious inventions ;-)

If you'd like to really master the art of memorizing lists in this way, I'd thoroughly recommend you check out Ron White's Memory in a Month e-Course. Ron is a two-times US Memory Champion, and he knows what he's talking about.

How To Improve Spelling #7

Time Repetitions Carefully

There are far too many words in any dictionary to rehearse every word every day. It would take most of us a whole year to get through it once. Not to mention the fact that most of us would die of boredom well before we got to the end!

But words have to be repeated many times (experts say 6 or 7 is typical) before they become a part of our working vocabulary. So how can we possibly master a long list of words in a reasonably short period of time? The answer lies in carefully timing your repetitions.

Once you have successfully spelled a word on three or four occasions, remove it from the frequently-tested list. You know it. Move on. Other words need to be rehearsed more frequently (daily or weekly, depending on your success rate).

Don't test yourself on a given word too frequently though. It is possible to recall words from your short term memory (e.g. if you just tested yourself a half an hour ago) but then fail to recall the word a week later. Leave at least a day between repetitions of any given word.

How To Improve Spelling #8

Stay Motivated

Well duh! Of course being motivated is important, but why bother adding it as a tip? Because many people might think that being motivated requires you to enroll in a 'positive-thinking' program. Not at all. I'm not really talking about that kind of motivation. I mean keeping the brain alert throughout your study sessions, and ensuring that you're always enticed to keep going.

Here are a few tips that help keep you on the job when it comes to what may seem like a very monotonous task - SPELLING.

Work with others — Many people find group work more stimulating than solo study sessions. In addition to the obvious reasons that groups can break the monotony, there are a couple of not so obvious ones here. Firstly, by divvying up spelling tasks (finding all words having a certain tricky-to-spell quality, for example), you can pool your resources. Secondly, the only way to test yourself on spelling a word from its pronunciation is if you get another person to pronounce it! When you work in groups you can take turns of testing each other, and the sessions are not only more useful, but far more entertaining.

Regular feedback — Test yourself frequently and in small batches. Getting feedback after six months of hard slog is no fun at all. Getting a score out of 20 on a daily basis, every single time you sit down to study is far more rewarding and motivating. This 'immediate gratification' plays a big part in the appeal of computer programming to many students. When you write a computer program and execute it, the computer tells you immediately whether you've made a mistake or not. Instant feedback works wonders for most people.

Focus on unfamiliar — This one was already mentioned right at the start of this page, but I'll say it again here in a different context. Repeating long lists of familiar words, stumbling across a new and interesting word only every now and then, is boring. By weeding out all the familiar words, only revising them occasionally, and filling your lists with weird and wonderful words that you're just not 100% sure about, keeps your mind alert, interested, and far less likely to drift on to something going on outside.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Indiana's graduation rate increases

The most-recent graduation rates for Wells County's three public school districts exceeded 90 percent, surpassing the state average by several percentage points.

To learn more about local graduation rates, see the Tuesday, Feb. 7, News-Banner.

Other graduation statistics released Tuesday include:

2011 State Graduation Rate Breakdown
  • 85.7 percent of students graduated within four years
  • 6.1 percent of students are reported dropouts or undetermined, which means they either moved out of state, dropped out or left school without formally withdrawing
  • 6.3 percent of students are still in school
  • 0.4 percent of students earned a General Education Development (GED) diploma
  • 1.2 percent of students earned a Special Education Certificate
  • 0.2 percent of students earned a non-diploma Course Completion Certificate
2011 Public High School Graduation Rate Breakdown
  • 90-100 percent graduation rate – 171 schools (45 percent)
  • 80-89.9 percent graduation rate – 142 schools (38 percent)
  • 70-79.9 percent graduation rate – 39 schools (10 percent)
  • 60-69.9 percent graduation rate – 11 schools (3 percent)
  • Less than 60 percent graduation rate – 14 schools (4 percent)

Where Regional Sewer Districts come from

Ted Claghorn, one of several residents who went to the commissioners' meeting Monday, says the formation of the Regional Sewer District is unconstitutional. He had several questions for the commissioners. To learn more about his questions, see the Tuesday, Feb. 7, News-Banner.

To learn more about how regional sewer districts are formed, click here.

Monday, February 6, 2012

N-B Video: Seven siblings inducted into BHS Athletic Hall of Fame

Bluffton High School Athletic Director Steve Thompson introduces the newest members of the high school's Athletic Hall of Fame: The seven McArdle siblings, Bob, Chip, Lynda (Rittenhouse), Mike, Mary (Ramirez), David and Ann (Salek). The seven were inducted during the boys' basketball game Saturday, Feb. 4. (Video by Glen Werling)

N-B Video: The cutest caterpillar ever

Students with the Creative Arts Council's School of Ballet perform a musical rendition of the children's story "A Very Hungry Caterpillar." During the production, Director Beth Lampton read the story as the young dancers took to the stage. Learn more in the Monday, February 6, News-Banner. (Video by Barbara Barbieri)

Friday, February 3, 2012

N-B Video: Identifying economic threats

Mike Row, Wells County's director of economic development, identifies several "threats" to the county economy, shortly after he gave his annual economic development presentation. Learn more in the Friday, February 3, News-Banner. (Video by Dave Schultz)

To read Row's full presentation, click here.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

How many should be in charge?

Wells County State Sen. Travis Holdman, R-Markle, said Wednesday he will not pursue his legislation that would give each county an option to investigate and possibly give voters the choice to change the current three-commissioner system to a single commissioner with expanded powers of the county council.

The legislation has divided most local government officials, who oppose it, and members of the Chamber of Commerce, who support it:

The following comes from the Indiana Association of County Commissioners:
IACC opposes proposals to eliminate the three member board of commissioners and move to a single county executive. IACC supports reform that will lead to true cost savings and provide more efficient services to Hoosiers. IACC believes the proposal to move to a single county executive will have a number of detrimental effects on county government and negatively impact services to constituents. Specifically, IACC believes the proposal will:
  • Remove power from the voters to choose local leaders that represent all districts in the county;
  • Decrease transparency about county government actions by eliminating the requirement to discuss such actions in open meetings; and
  • Possibly open the door for abuses of power and political favoritism.
Additionally, IACC believes there is:
No evidence to support that a single county executive structure results in true cost savings. In fact, many counties could be faced with increased costs associated with appointed positions. For example, counties will have to hire support staff for a single executive officer, provide permanent office space and pay for related expenses, provide office equipment, etc. Recently a Ball State study, often cited as evidence of reform savings, recognized that transferring duties to other officials is “a potentially more costly activity.”

Great value to taxpayers under the current structure. Many commissioners serve to contribute to their communities. They are not in the position for the money. Because of the division of responsibilities some still work in separate jobs. Some serve after a successful career.

There has been great success with Economic Development in the State of Indiana. We do not believe that economic development success is stifled with the current structure. There have been mechanisms put in place for negotiations and public transparency for new development in communities. Many of the largest projects announced within recent years were county initiated projects. These include: Boone Co. - Anson Development; Decatur Co. – Honda; Gibson Co. – Toyota; Tippecanoe Co. - Subaru-Isuzu; Posey Co. Abengoa (ethanol); Whitley Co. – SDI expansion; Vigo Co. - Pfizer (since closed) CSN (steel); Monroe Co. Ivy Tech project; Hamilton Co. - Village Park

The current structure promotes cooperative leadership.
The current structure provides our communities with a diverse representation. Having three commissioners brings more qualifications, experience, and skills to the office and promotes a broad range of ideas to the decision making process. We have business professionals, homemakers, farmers, clergy, and educators just to name a few representing our communities. A three member board compliments each other and brings great wisdom and strength to decision making. The current structure is a true representative government structure.

The current structure allows the Commissioners to divide the responsibilities between a three members allows for greater time management and representation due to the fact that commissioners are often required by statute to sit on different board and commissions.

The three member board with election cycles alternating brings continuity to the business of the county.

The single county executive proposal compromises the continuity of local government.

The following comes from the Indiana Chamber of Commerce:

This allows, but does not require, for a county to decide if it wishes to go to the single county commissioner and also to move the county legislative responsibilities from the commissioners to the county council. It creates a good option from Indiana’s current structure in which there are three county CEOs. We also support how the bill moves the county legislative duties to the county council, where they should be.

The following comes from a report about local government reform, which originally promoted the idea of eliminating the county commissioners.

Counties: Create a clearer, more accountable structure with fewer elected officials. Better coordinate public safety services.
1. Establish a single-person elected county chief executive.
2. Establish a single, unified legislative body for county government. Expand legislative membership to ensure sufficient representation for included rural, suburban and urban populations.
3. Transfer the responsibility for administering the duties of the county auditor, treasurer, recorder, assessor, surveyor, sheriff and coroner to the county executive. Transfer the varied duties of the clerk to the courts, to the county election board and to the county executive. Establish objective minimum professional qualifications and standards for certain county administrative functions.
4. Retain a local government role for property tax assessment under a county assessor who is required to meet professional qualifiations and appointed by the county executive.
5. Create a countywide body to oversee the provision of all public safety services.
6. Consolidate emergency public safety dispatch by county or multi-county region. Require that new, local emergency communications systems be compatible with the Project Hoosier SAFE-T statewide 800 MHz communications system.
7. Transfer the responsibility for all funding of the state’s trial court system to the state, including public defenders and probation.
8. Move the funding of child welfare from counties to the state.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Oh the weather outside is ... ????

The coats are tucked away, and the shorts are coming out, but how uncommon is this? What other kind of "extreme weather" has the Fort Wayne area had?

Date Highest Maximum Temperatures (degrees F)
Top Record 2nd Record 3rd Record
1/1 60 in 1985 59 in 1952 54 in 2000+
1/2 58 in 2004 58 in 2000 56 in 2005+
1/3 61 in 2004 60 in 1950 56 in 1997
1/4 63 in 1997 60 in 1939 57 in 1998
1/5 60 in 1939 56 in 1998 56 in 1997+
1/6 58 in 1946 57 in 2008 56 in 1998+
1/7 66 in 2008 60 in 1907 59 in 1989
1/8 61 in 1965 60 in 1907 59 in 2008
1/9 59 in 1939 55 in 1949 50 in 1946
1/10 60 in 1975 59 in 1939 57 in 1950
1/11 56 in 1975 55 in 1911 54 in 1980
1/12 64 in 2005 64 in 1898 61 in 1995
1/13 62 in 1995 62 in 1950 61 in 2005
1/14 63 in 1932 60 in 1928 59 in 1952
1/15 64 in 1932 60 in 1953 59 in 1952
1/16 56 in 1990 56 in 1949 53 in 1913
1/17 65 in 1952 57 in 1990 57 in 1973
1/18 60 in 1996 60 in 1973 56 in 1949+
1/19 63 in 1907 56 in 1952 56 in 1951+
1/20 68 in 1906 63 in 1907 59 in 1951
1/21 66 in 1906 61 in 1916 57 in 1919
1/22 62 in 1933 62 in 1906 58 in 1964
1/23 65 in 1909 60 in 1999 59 in 1967
1/24 63 in 1950 62 in 1909 61 in 1967
1/25 69 in 1950 61 in 1944 59 in 1967
1/26 61 in 1944 59 in 1916 57 in 1974
1/27 65 in 1916 61 in 1914 59 in 1999
1/28 64 in 1914 61 in 2002 55 in 2006+
1/29 62 in 1914 59 in 1975 57 in 1903
1/30 55 in 1988 53 in 1969 52 in 1974
1/31 61 in 1989 53 in 1988 52 in 1916

2/1 57 in 1968 52 in 1989 51 in 2006
2/2 54 in 1983 53 in 1903 52 in 1920
2/3 57 in 1931 53 in 1927 52 in 1919
2/4 58 in 1909 56 in 1962 55 in 1991
2/5 59 in 1938 55 in 1909 53 in 2008
2/6 61 in 1938 57 in 1925 54 in 1909
2/7 62 in 1925 55 in 1900 52 in 1928+
2/8 68 in 1925 65 in 1900 64 in 1937
2/9 59 in 2001 59 in 1966 58 in 1925
2/10 65 in 1932 65 in 1898 61 in 2009
2/11 71 in 1999 66 in 1932 56 in 2009
2/12 58 in 1984 56 in 1938 55 in 1919
2/13 65 in 1990 65 in 1938 60 in 1915
2/14 63 in 1918 59 in 1954 56 in 1984+
2/15 69 in 1954 66 in 1921 62 in 1976
2/16 62 in 1954 62 in 1927 61 in 1921
2/17 61 in 1911 55 in 1961 54 in 1948+
2/18 61 in 1994 61 in 1961 60 in 1976
2/19 67 in 1930 65 in 1994 64 in 1913
2/20 67 in 1930 63 in 1983 63 in 1954
2/21 68 in 1930 66 in 1983 59 in 1997
2/22 67 in 1922 66 in 1930 65 in 1983
2/23 64 in 2000 63 in 1984 63 in 1977
2/24 64 in 1930 63 in 1976 62 in 2000
2/25 73 in 2000 69 in 1930 67 in 1957
2/26 66 in 1944 63 in 1932 63 in 1899
2/27 70 in 1996 64 in 1976 58 in 1998
2/28 59 in 1931 57 in 1998 56 in 1972
2/29 66 in 1976 62 in 1972 60 in 2000

Date Lowest Minimum Temperatures (degrees F)
Top Record 2nd Record 3rd Record
1/1 -13 in 1968 -5 in 1945 -5 in 1928
1/2 -8 in 1945 -8 in 1901 -6 in 1974
1/3 -6 in 1996 -5 in 1928 -4 in 1979
1/4 -12 in 1904 -9 in 1996 -9 in 1981
1/5 -14 in 1999 -14 in 1924 -8 in 1959
1/6 -12 in 1970 -12 in 1924 -6 in 1988
1/7 -15 in 1970 -14 in 1912 -13 in 1968
1/8 -17 in 1968 -10 in 1970 -10 in 1942
1/9 -9 in 1999 -7 in 1982 -7 in 1962
1/10 -15 in 1982 -14 in 1999 -9 in 1962
1/11 -11 in 1979 -9 in 1977 -7 in 1982
1/12 -24 in 1918 -12 in 1977 -10 in 1974
1/13 -14 in 1977 -9 in 1912 -9 in 1909
1/14 -7 in 1979 -6 in 2009 -6 in 1972+
1/15 -18 in 1972 -14 in 2009 -12 in 1982
1/16 -19 in 2009 -19 in 1972 -15 in 1977
1/17 -17 in 1982 -16 in 1977 -13 in 2009
1/18 -15 in 1994 -15 in 1930 -13 in 1940
1/19 -18 in 1994 -16 in 1984 -15 in 1985
1/20 -22 in 1985 -15 in 1970 -14 in 1984
1/21 -21 in 1984 -13 in 1924 -11 in 1985+
1/22 -18 in 1936 -13 in 1970 -10 in 2000
1/23 -18 in 1963 -17 in 1936 -11 in 1970
1/24 -16 in 1936 -15 in 1963 -11 in 1970
1/25 -9 in 2000 -9 in 1963 -9 in 1961
1/26 -8 in 1936 -7 in 2000 -7 in 1982
1/27 -11 in 2000 -9 in 2003 -9 in 1904
1/28 -16 in 1963 -12 in 1977 -11 in 2000
1/29 -10 in 1963 -9 in 1955 -6 in 1977+
1/30 -8 in 1966 -7 in 2003 -6 in 2004
1/31 -18 in 1963 -8 in 1899 -7 in 2009+

Date Lowest Minimum Temperatures (degrees F)
Top Record 2nd Record 3rd Record
1/1 -13 in 1968 -5 in 1945 -5 in 1928
1/2 -8 in 1945 -8 in 1901 -6 in 1974
1/3 -6 in 1996 -5 in 1928 -4 in 1979
1/4 -12 in 1904 -9 in 1996 -9 in 1981
1/5 -14 in 1999 -14 in 1924 -8 in 1959
1/6 -12 in 1970 -12 in 1924 -6 in 1988
1/7 -15 in 1970 -14 in 1912 -13 in 1968
1/8 -17 in 1968 -10 in 1970 -10 in 1942
1/9 -9 in 1999 -7 in 1982 -7 in 1962
1/10 -15 in 1982 -14 in 1999 -9 in 1962
1/11 -11 in 1979 -9 in 1977 -7 in 1982
1/12 -24 in 1918 -12 in 1977 -10 in 1974
1/13 -14 in 1977 -9 in 1912 -9 in 1909
1/14 -7 in 1979 -6 in 2009 -6 in 1972+
1/15 -18 in 1972 -14 in 2009 -12 in 1982
1/16 -19 in 2009 -19 in 1972 -15 in 1977
1/17 -17 in 1982 -16 in 1977 -13 in 2009
1/18 -15 in 1994 -15 in 1930 -13 in 1940
1/19 -18 in 1994 -16 in 1984 -15 in 1985
1/20 -22 in 1985 -15 in 1970 -14 in 1984
1/21 -21 in 1984 -13 in 1924 -11 in 1985+
1/22 -18 in 1936 -13 in 1970 -10 in 2000
1/23 -18 in 1963 -17 in 1936 -11 in 1970
1/24 -16 in 1936 -15 in 1963 -11 in 1970
1/25 -9 in 2000 -9 in 1963 -9 in 1961
1/26 -8 in 1936 -7 in 2000 -7 in 1982
1/27 -11 in 2000 -9 in 2003 -9 in 1904
1/28 -16 in 1963 -12 in 1977 -11 in 2000
1/29 -10 in 1963 -9 in 1955 -6 in 1977+
1/30 -8 in 1966 -7 in 2003 -6 in 2004
1/31 -18 in 1963 -8 in 1899 -7 in 2009+

And if you're not to worn out over the weather, take this quiz.