On the Beat in Bluffton

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Bidding bye to a break

Local kids try to conquer Roush Park and the warm weather before spring break ends.

Friday, March 30, 2012

And the $540 million winner is...

People nationwide are indulging in a little greed as the Mega Millions lottery officially promises a $540 million payout. Because of the big payday coming, CNN asked people what they would do with the money.
  • I would find the best medical facility in the world and have stem cell work done for my son in hopes that he would then be able to learn how to talk and maybe even walk! I would make sure that no matter how long he lived, he would have the best quality of life possible to fit his needs.
  • 1). Buy a huge piece of land in the desert Southwest.
2) Build a nice home on it.
3) Build a VAST garage and complete workshop.
4) Build my own private racetrack on the land.
5) Collect a vast array of sports cars and motorcycles.
6) Spend the rest of my days trying to improve my lap times.
  • I'd start my own TV show where people would compete for my money. A million-a-year for a prize? I could set up a long-running show called 'What Would you Do for $' lol
  • I'd consult with a tax lawyer and accountant to get advice on the most prudent, tax-saving ways to handle [it[, put good chunk of it for myself, daughter and family members. I also plan on donating a good amount to worthy charities. I'd also use some of it to travel to foreign countries. I would definitely spend some time in Madrid so I can see my beloved Real Madrid games in person. Oh yeah, better add Spanish lessons to my bucket list.
  • I would give all of it but one million to cystic fibrosis research and then offer one million to who ever can find a cure. It is so hard to watch a 5-year-old go though so much that you can't imagine. I want her to live and breathe.
  • Pay off all my debts. Pay for all the student loans my kids got stuck with, so they can start with a clean slate, buy a lovely house on Mount Desert Island in Maine, leave Texas in the dust, and FINALLY get to travel and see places like Bora Bora, the Australian Outback, Russia, the English countryside, the Egyptian pyramids, etc. Hire a financial team, and set up numerous scholarships for deserving kids to go to school.
  • Pay off all my debt. Set $10 million aside for me and my daughter. Before cashing ticket, I would put it in a safety deposit box for one month and call Dr. Drew or Oprah and let them follow me with cameras to get a feeling about my friends. Then cash the ticket and let them document how horrible people get when they know you got money. I would take the rest of the money and buy houses and give one house a week away until the rest of the money is gone.
  • I would move to Queenstown, New Zealand, immediately, buy ton of large format photography stuff and stock up on film.
  • I tell you one thing, there'll be an awful lot of beer around.
  • I would buy a really big yacht and rent a couple of pretty ladies then tour the entire world.
  • I'd buy a large chunk of land and have a custom-designed house. Big, but not too big. I'd build a large barn and plow a big garden. I'd get plants and animals that I could raise myself and eat. Cows, pigs, chickens and even ostriches ... as weird as that may sound. I'd probably hire high school kids who wanted part time work to do the maintenance around the farm when I didn't feel like it. Maybe even try and start a business. I'd also give a lot of the money away to my friends. In a way, it would be like we all hit the lottery.
  • I'd buy Congress, I hear they are for sale!
  • I would hire a team of telemarketers to call politicians, survey companies and charities at dinner time just to say Hi.
  • Lotteries are a tax on the mathematically challenged.
  • First, get a nice plot. I'd be dead in six months or less.
  • I'd Scrooge McDuck in (it). Swimming in gold coins = winning
Tell us what you would do. Join the conversation on the News-Banner's Facebook page. "Like" us at www.facebook.com/newsbanner.

Of course, some lotteries are scams (though some would argue that all lotteries are scams). The Federal Trade Commission offers the following advice to recognize these scams.

You can also sign up with the Indiana Attorney General's office to stay abreast of new scams. Click here to sign up.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Ensuring a four-year degree in four years

Bluffton High School Principal Steve Baker is reporting that members of the Indiana Education Roundtable, whose opinions often influence education legislation and policy, are asking state universities and colleges to speed up education.

Particularly, they want these institutions to help more students seeking four- and two-year degrees to graduate in four or two years.

The roundtable cited the following statistics in its resolution to urge colleges to ensure students graduate on time.

Source: "Time is the Enemy" by the organization Complete College America

In voicing their support for more efficient education, members of the roundtable are endorsing a document created by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education that provides a "blueprint," officials say, for encouraging more to attend post secondary education more cheaply.

To read the blueprint, click here.

To read more about college graduation times, both at a state and national level, click here.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Keeping the garden free from frost

Anxious farmers in the fruit-growing regions of the Great Lakes, Northeast and even parts of the South kept misters, smudge pots and helicopters in their arsenals last night as a cold front approached from Canada, threatening to freeze trees and vines overnight that had budded early amid record-setting warmth.

Not everyone, of course, has vineyards and orchards, but for those who do have a garden — but no budget for a helicopter — here are some tips to keep the fruits and vegetables safe from frost, whether it's early or late.

Plant Selection
  • Select frost tolerant plants.
Plant Placement
  • Place frost sensitive plants in sheltered locations.
  • Western and southern exposures tend to be warmest.
  • Block walls, rocks and patios collect and reflect the heat of the sun.
  • Full sun is warmer than shaded locations (though night temperatures, the cause of most frost damage, will be impacted by other factors)
  • Place frost-tolerant plants that may blossom too early and thus risk flower and fruit damage in cold spots to prevent a premature break of dormancy.
Plant Care
  • Keep plants well watered. Frost injury occurs when ice crystals form on the leaf surface drawing moisture from the leaf tissue. The damage from this dehydration will be less severe if the plant is not already drought-stressed.
  • Firm, bare, moist soil absorbs more heat and loses it more rapidly than soil that is loose, dry, or covered with mulch or vegetation.
  • Manage your irrigation carefully, keeping the moisture level as even as possible.
  • There are other products marketed to protect plants from frost damage. Read the label carefully.
  • Don’t over protect! Plants are more frost resistant if kept hardened to cold weather.
Reduce Heat Loss
  • Cover plants with cloth or paper (not plastic) to insulate. You can use sheets or blankets for minimal protection or use a frost cloth. A properly applied frost cloth can protect plants at temperatures down to 30 degrees, some down as low as 20 degrees depending on the fabric and the weave.
  • Completely drape the plant from top all the way to the ground. Do not allow any openings for warmth to escape. This procedure will trap the heat radiating from the soil and maintain a more humid atmosphere around the plant foliage. Optimally, the drape will be supported by frame which does not allow it to touch the foliage. DO NOT gather the drape around the trunk of the tree. The goal is to trap and utilize heat from the immediate heat being radiated from the ground, so ensure that the drape touches the ground

Learn more in the Tuesday, March 27, News-Banner.

Friday, March 23, 2012

N-B Video: Bluffton fights back against drugs

Indiana State Police Sergeant Dan Mawhorr, at the request of community officials, visited Wells County this week to give several presentations to adults and students about drug use and warning signs. During the presentation, he also showed several ways in which users can hide their drugs, and after the last presentation, Bluffton High School Principal Steve Baker urged the community to keep fighting. Learn more in the Friday, March 23, News-Banner. (Video by Chet Baumgartner)

Thursday, March 22, 2012


Cassie is a 8 month old DSH Tiger, female. Current on vaccine. Sweet and loves attention!

Scout is a 6 month old Shepherd/Pitt mix, male. Current on vaccines. Very playful and energetic!

Shasta is a 5 month old DSH Tabby, female. Current on vaccines. Very sweet and loving girl!

The next low cost clinic is scheduled for April 24th. Call the Animal Shelter for more information at 824-6063.

More details about impending iPads

Ben Dailey, the associate technology director for the Bluffton-Harrison school district, recently e-mailed the News-Banner with more information about the iPads that school officials will distribute to every student starting in the 2012-2013 school year. To learn more about the devices, click here. To learn more about the decision, see the Tuesday, March 20, News-Banner.

Finding a Safe Place

Family Centered Services is celebrating March 19-23 as National Safe Place Week. The week highlights the Safe Place program, which brings businesses and volunteers together to provide help and safety to children and teens facing abuse, neglect or serious family problems.

The following list of Safe Places in Wells County comes from Family Centered Services. Learn more in the Thursday, March 22, News-Banner.

In the Bluffton Area:
  • Bluffton Police & Fire Building
  • Wells County Sheriff’s Department
  • Bluffton Branch Library
  • Wal-mart
  • Bluffton EMS Headquarters
  • Pak-A-Saks #22 and #9
  • Bluffton Police Cars (mobile)
  • Wells Co. YMCA
  • Capri Meadows Apartments
  • Wells Community Boys & Girls Club
  • Bluffton Regional Emergency Room
  • McDonald’s
  • Life Church
  • All Bluffton-Harrison Schools
  • Wells County Dpt. of Child Svcs.
  • Adams/Wells Special Services
  • Wells County Alternative School
  • House of Hope
  • 4-H Park/Wells Community Center
In the Ossian Area:
  • Norwell Middle & High School
  • Ossian EMS Headquarters
  • Ossian Branch Library
  • Ossian Subway
  • Ossian Community Market
  • Norwell Administration Building

In the Liberty Center Area:

  • Country Corner Gas & Deli
  • Southern Wells Schools
  • Chester Township EMS

In the Craigville Area:

  • Craigville Post Office
  • Craigville Telephone

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Mayor Ted Ellis' "State of the City" speech

This has been quite a year:
  • We are slogging away on the much-delayed west side Adams Street Industrial corridor project, hoping for a July bid letting;
  • We have started acquisition of right-of-way for the InterUrban trail.
  • The plans are drawn and, once the right-of-way is in hand, we'll be ready to bid it out.
  • We received the Frank O'Bannon Sunshine Award from the
  • Hoosier State Press Association, recognizing transparency in
  • government;
In November, I was fortunate to be elected as president of the National League of Cities, representing over 19,000 cities and towns nationwide from New York City (population 8.4 million) to Taos Ski Valley, New Mexico (population 69).

Nearly nobody at the NLC outside of Indiana knew anything about Bluffton, Indiana, so I told them about one of our former residents.

You may have heard this account before, but there are some valuable lessons to be learned here.

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.

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 2 years from its deepest-ever depression; at home, the public was clamoring for an end to the open ditch (called Pickett's Run) carrying human and animal waste along the south side of his city and into the Wabash river. They demanded that new streets be constructed to replace the muddy ones, but their demands exceeded their ability to pay for them.

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 — while speaking 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 below him, it is not difficult to know what Martin was feeling:
  • Seemingly insurmountable problems;
  • Little money to fix them; and
  • Constituents or customers demanding more than they are willing to pay for.
It was the need to share information with other mayors from other cities that drove Martin to a nearby city. Ten other mayors would join him in this first such meeting of mayors in the US - the very first recorded such meeting.

Elsewhere in the United States, other officials were seeking one another out for similar reasons. Soon, other state associations began forming. In the 1920s, his state association joined others to form a larger group which eventually became the National League of Cities.

You see, Bluffton was there from the beginning.

Martin Walbert could not have known how his train trip that day would take him to the genesis of the oldest and largest association of cities in the nation; he could not have known that 120 years later, the national debate would still be centered around environmental, transportation, immigration and how to pay for it all.

He did know, however, that he and his peers faced problems and opportunities that transcended his arena and 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 business.)

Let me stop here and note that the city's finances are not in distress as they were 100 years ago. We have been reducing staff for years; our hard-working city employees have seen a single 2% raise over the past four budget years, and every once in a while, we get a little lucky. Since January, we have used 100 tons less road salt than the same time last year.

This has led us again to the lowest city tax rate of any county seat city in the area:
1. Decatur: 0.94
11. Portland: 1.27
111. Fort Wayne: 1.32
IV. Hartford City: 1.35
v. Marion: 1.65
VI. Huntington: 2.30
V11. Bluffton: 0.65

These tight budgets and state-imposed maximums come with some discomfort, however. The Bluffton Fire Department has an annual operating (not capital) budget of about $900,000. It makes 1/3 of its runs outside the city, mostly into Lancaster and Harrison Townships. Lancaster and Harrison Townships combined contribute a total of less than 9% of the costs while incurring 33% of the runs.

Put another way: If you live within the city, you are paying about 24 cents of your property tax rate for fire protection. If you live in rural Lancaster or Harrison Townships, you are paying about a 4 cent rate.

This practice of city taxpayers subsidizing rural taxpayers simply cannot be sustained.

We have had lengthy discussions with the townships, but even though a workable remedy is provided by state law, neither one has adopted it. Without a solution, at the beginning in 2013, fire protection in the outlying townships will be provided by a department or departments other than Bluffton. This includes North Oaks, River Terrace, Bluffton Motor Works and Bi-County Services to name a few.

This is where some Martin-Walbert-style cooperation could come in handy. A good example of how that cooperation can work is through our county-wide economic development organization. While it may need a little tweaking every once in a while, it is evidence that when we work together, great things can happen.

Times are tough for both business and government as we sort out "the new normal." It will take creative thinking.

We had the downtown experts from Hyett-Palma in last fall. It had been almost a decade since they had been in town and they were pleased with the fact that we had followed most of their recommendations from the time before. In the intervening years, however, a recession had changed the complexion of our downtown.

After they had done the field work and before their report was issued, the Hideaway burned and is now the subject of an unsafe building evaluation.

One of the recommendations that they made was that we consider a not-for-profit corporation to strategically purchase some of the downtown buildings. It's an idea worth serious consideration.

About the same time and just blocks from the train 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 took a chance on him, and then the Yankees.

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.

Everett Scott was a respectable, but never great hitter. He played shortstop well, however. And he was there every day — even when his legs bore deep cuts and once when an eye injury rendered him almost 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.

Times have changed since Martin Walbert was mayor and Everett Scott played on the streets of Bluffton, Indiana.

A century later, all of us find ourselves with challenges centered on old themes. For Martin, the problem was stolen horses;

Today, we face a new kind of thievery by those who would steal our children's minds. I'm talking about K2, "spice," or the same compound known by a hundred other names. In some forms it is legal, but it can be harmful to those who use it.

Bluffton High School Steve Baker recorded a Youtube video for the News-Banner in which he told what he was seeing. It is a high-profit item and the few retailers who sell it know exactly what they're selling. Mr. Baker tells of students whose lives were put in danger by this substance and calls for a boycott of those few merchants and I agree.

If you want to know who they are, just ask any high school student.

But no matter what the challenge, we need to emulate Martin Walbert and company's approach:
Their focus was on criminal behavior, with escape of the criminal made easier by the advent of the railroad. Whereas the horse-and-buggy solution would have been to run the criminal down on horseback, when the definition of the problem became: 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 found by a combined effort of people daring to think differently. Such is our challenge today.

The next time you visit a first-grade classroom, look around and 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 the succeeding generations think differently than their predecessors. The median age in the United States is 37. That means that half of the people in our community are younger than 37. The youngest of the baby-boomers is 47.

As community leaders, we are called to prepare the next generation for the uncharted roads that lie before them. How do we do it? We do it by staying true to who we are.

Eight days ago, I had the honor of being with the President of the United States in the Oval Office. He asked: "Tell me about Bluffton."

I told him many things, and high on the list was that we are an optimistic people and also a hard-working people.

I didn't tell him this, but I'll tell you. Our success as a community will be gained by seeking out new ideas like Martin Walbert and being in the game every day, like Everett Scott.

One more thing ...

Babe Ruth and Everett Scott roomed together for five years on the road. 1. It really didn't matter 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.

If we are to build a thriving community, we must be in the game, giving it our best every day.

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 this city that we hold so dearly. We owe them a city 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.

Shortly before he was assassinated, Senator 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."

... and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this-and their generation. "

Thank you

N-B Video: Challenging a city

A day after Mayor Ted Ellis gave his annual "State of the City" speech, he encouraged those who have heard it — and those who will — to think outside the box to meet the challenges from his speech. Learn more about his speech in the Wednesday, March 21, News-Banner. (Video by Chet Baumgartner)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Meet the new iPad

Members of the Bluffton-Harrison school board on Monday voted to distribute iPad tablets to each of their students starting in the 2012-2013 school year.

To learn more about the costs and specific details, see the Tuesday, March 20, News-Banner, but to learn more about the iPads, students will receive, click here.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Indiana State Police allows public to dispose of synthetic marijuana and stimulants

A new law immediately makes illegal multiple types of two products commonly known as spice and bath salts.

In light of the new law, the Indiana State Police released the following information:

Indianapolis, IN – On Thursday, March 15, 2012 Governor Daniels signed into law HOUSE ENROLLED ACT No. 1196 which immediately made a number of formerly legal but hazardous substances illegal to possess, transport or sell in the State of Indiana.

To provide a method for retailers and private citizens to dispose of these now illegal substances all Indiana State Police Posts across Indiana will permit any quantity of these substances to be dropped off at any state police post from Friday, March 16th through Sunday, March 25, 2012. Our public safety commitment is to ensure a safe avenue for disposal of these products. We don’t want them simply thrown into dumpsters or otherwise discarded in a manner they could fall into the hands of young children.

Retailers and the public are cautioned this is not an amnesty period; these products are now illegal to possess. Retailers should already have these products removed from their shelves and safely secured until they can be properly disposed. Retail locations still selling these products are subject to losing their retail license for one year. Employees and customers purchasing these items can be arrested for violating this new law.

Retail locations with large quantities of these now illegal substances and citizens who may have purchased these items prior to the change in the law are strongly encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity with the guarantee there is no concern about being arrested when these drugs are brought to the nearest state police post for proper disposal.

Undercover officers of the Indiana State Police may visit retail locations known to have sold items now illegal under the new law. These officers may make purchases of items suspected to be in violation of the law. If subsequent laboratory testing confirms the purchased item is an illegal substance the employee making the sale may be arrested and as stated earlier, the store location may have their retail license to sell revoked for one year.

This is a partial list of products that have been sold in retail shops in the past. Keep in mind there is no ‘truth in labeling’ of these products and they may or may not contain illegal substances. The names of these substances and how they are packaged are subject to change at any time. The list was provided courtesy of Drug Free Marion County. The list is not all inclusive and is meant as a reference:

Brand names such as K2 or Spice or other product names such as Blaze, Blueberry Haze, Dank, Demon Passion Smoke, Genie, Hawaiian Hybrid, Magma, Mr. Nice Guy, Ninja, Nitro, Ono Budz, Panama Red Ball, Puff, Red X Dawn, Sativah Herbal Smoke, Sence, Skunk, Smoke, Ultra Chronic, Voodoo Spice, Yucatan Fire and Zohai.

Synthetic stimulants have been sold as bath salts under a variety of names, including Ivory Wave, Purple Wave, Red Dove, White Dove, Blue Silk, Zoom, Bloom, Cloud Nine, Charge +, Ocean Snow, Lunar Wave, Vanilla Sky, White Lightening, Scarface, Snow Leopard, Tranquility, Eight Ballz, Hurricane Charlie, White Rush and Pure Ivory. The chemicals marketed as plant food commonly have sold under the name Molly’s Plant Food, but other versions have been called Lil Butterfly and Yellow Jacket.

Bluffton law enforcement said anyone can drop off the products at their offices. The closest Indiana State Police post is at 5811 Ellison Road in Fort Wayne.

View State Police Post in Fort Wayne in a larger map

Friday, March 16, 2012

Business news from the Wells County Chamber of Commerce

The Circus is Coming.....The Circus is Coming
The Culpepper & Merriweather Circus is coming to Bluffton, and businesses can sell tickets for it. The chamber is limiting the ticket locations to three to six establishments, first come first serve. The businesses will receive promotion on posters, newspaper articles and other advertisements. There will also be contests for free tickets and more

The circus starts at 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. May 28 at the 4-H Fairgrounds. It is sponsored by the Wells County Chamber of Commerce and the 4-H Association

Contact the Chamber at 824-0510 for more information.

Personal Property Tax Reminder
Rick Smith, the Wells County assessor, reminds alll business personal property owners in Wells County that March 1 is the lien date for all personal property in the state of Indiana. May 15 is the filing date for this property. To avoid a late penalty, a taxpayer must file a personal property return with the Wells County Assessor's Office by May 15, of each year.

For assistance, contact the assessor's office in the Court House or 824-6476. For forms, go to www.wellscounty.org/assessors.htm

So call Megan or Suzanne to get your business involved! We think that this is a great oppportunity for our community to host old fashioned family entertainment!

Rail collisions increase in Indiana for 2011

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana vehicle-train collisions and fatalities increased last year, according to preliminary 2011 Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) statistics, while vehicle-train injuries declined from prior year numbers.

The number of Indiana crossing collisions rose from 111 in 2010 to 116 in 2011; crossing fatalities rose from 9 in 2010 to 10 in 2011; and crossing injuries moved from 41 in 2010 down to 38 in 2011.

“Indiana Operation Lifesaver is pleased to see that the number of vehicle-train injuries were lower last year, but we will be stepping up our efforts to try and combat the rise in crashes and deaths” said Jessica Feder, executive director. “Through the efforts of our strong volunteer program and our partnerships with the railroads operating in Indiana, law enforcement and transportation safety agencies, we are all working together to encourage citizens to make safe decisions near railroad crossings and tracks.”

FRA 2011 statistics place Indiana second nationally in vehicle-train collisions, sixth in vehicle-train fatalities, and fifth in vehicle-train injuries. In 2010, Indiana was fourth in vehicle-train collisions, tied for eighth in vehicle-train fatalities, and tied for fifth in vehicle-train injuries. National FRA statistics indicate that there were 1,956 vehicle-train collisions in the U.S. in 2011, down 3 percent from the 2,017 incidents in 2010. Those 2011 collisions resulted in 262 deaths and 964 injuries, with crossing deaths up 2.3 percent and crossing injuries up 12.9 percent from the 256 deaths and 854 injuries in 2010. States with the most crossing collisions in 2011 were Texas, Indiana, California, Louisiana, and Illinois.

The top 4 counties in Indiana for vehicle-train crashes in 2011 were Lake, LaPorte, Marion and Delaware.

In addition, 428 pedestrians were killed and 346 injured nationally while trespassing on train tracks last year, versus 434 deaths and 388 injuries in 2010. Total trespasser deaths dropped 1.4 percent and trespasser injuries dropped 10.8 percent nationwide in 2011.

Indiana ranks 12th nationally in trespasser fatalities and tied for 10th in trespasser injuries. There were 11 trespass fatalities in 2011 compared to 6 in 2010, and 9 injuries in 2011 as well as 2010.

“These latest FRA statistics show that Operation Lifesaver must continue its work to educate drivers and pedestrians to focus their attention near railroad crossings and tracks,” said Feder. “Distracted driving is a serious concern. All drivers should be especially alert when approaching a railroad crossing. Always expect a train.”

Indiana Operation Lifesaver provides speakers for free rail safety presentations and materials for audiences of any profession and age group, along with resources on its website, www.inol.org.

"We need to successfully educate people to stay off the tracks, understand and obey crossing laws, and use common sense around train tracks,” said Feder.

“Operation Lifesaver needs your help to save lives,” said Feder. To schedule a presentation for an organization, school or company, please visit www.inol.org, email jfeder@inol.org or call 317-267-4011.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Local ways to assist in tornado relief

Northern Wells school board member Marc Fillers distributed the following information during the board's Tuesday, March 13, meeting.

— Sonlight Wesleyan Church is loading two small trailers and vehicles for tornado disaster relief in Henryville. All donations must be received by Wednesday, March 21. Drop-off hours are from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday at the church.

— Financial donations for the Henryville school relief should go to
West Clark Community Schools
601 Renz Avenue
Sellersburg, In 47172

— Financial donations to assist East Washington School families should go to
East Washington School Corporation
1050 North Eastern School Road
Pekin, IN 47165
Make checks payable to "2012 Tornado Disaster Relief Fund"

State education officials change degree requirements

Indiana students entering high school next year will need to meet new requirements before they leave those schools with a diploma. For a summary of those changes, see the Wednesday, March 14, News-Banner, but click on the following links to see all the requirements, as well as the requirements before the state changed them.

Friday, March 9, 2012

N-B Video: State legislators honor Rep. Jeff Espich

Members of the Indiana House honored State Rep. Jeff Espich, R-Uniondale, during a special ceremony on Thursday, March 8, in light of Espich's decision to retire from the legislature. Espich is retiring from the Statehouse after 40 years. The News-Banner's Mark Miller and Glen Werling were there for the ceremony. Learn more in the Friday, March 9, News-Banner. (Videos by Mark Miller)

Golf carts on the highway?

Legislators this week passed a bill that would amend Indiana law to allow golf carts on county highways. In particular, the bill states:

Notwithstanding subsection (a), an ordinance adopted by a county under this section:
(1) may allow an operator of a golf cart to cross a highway in the state highway system, at right angles, in order to travel from one (1) highway under the jurisdiction of the county to another highway under the jurisdiction of the county when the operation can be done safely;

(2) must allow the use of golf carts on a highway under the jurisdiction of the county or on a highway in the state highway system as set forth in subdivision (1) during the period from sunset to sunrise if the golf carts have working headlights and taillights in use; and
(3) must set a limit as to the number of passengers (other than the operator) that may be permitted on a golf cart.
(d) A violation of an ordinance adopted under subsection (c) that is committed on a state highway by the operator of a golf cart is considered to be an ordinance violation.

To learn more about the local reaction, see the Friday, March 9, News-Banner.

Thursday, March 8, 2012


Clancey is a 5-year-old Pomeranian, male. Housebroken and good with children.

Nola is a 2-year-old DSH Tiger, spayed female. Loves attention. Current on vaccines.

Carter is a 4-year-old Pomeranian mix, neutered male. Housebroken and good with children.

The next low-cost spay/neuter clinic will be on April 10. Call the animal shelter at 824-6063 for more information.

N-B Video: A practical joke on the boss

Occasionally, things get ... strange ... at the News-Banner, like when we invited Mayor Ted Ellis to proclaim Wednesday, March 7, "Mark Miller Day" after Miller sent his first text message.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Fire chief gives annual presentation

During the Tuesday, March 6, Common Council meeting, Bluffton Fire Chief Bob Plummer gave his annual report about the fire department's activities for 2011. For highlights, see the Wednesday, March 7, News-Banner. For the full report, click here.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

N-B Video: Wind farms approved in Wells County — living with wind farms

Milo Schaffner, a township trustee from Van Wert, Ohio, shares his own experiences with wind farms and what he called the difficulties of living with them. Members of the Area Plan Commission voted 6-4 to allow the turbines during a nearly six-hour meeting that started Thursday, March 1, and ended Friday, March 2.The News-Banner has more video highlights from the meeting at the "On the Beat" blog. Browse our blogs at www.news-banner.com. Learn more in the Friday, March 2, News-Banner. (Video by Chet Baumgartner)

How to help with tornado relief

From the Indiana State Police:

Hoosiers are known for their generosity and willingness to help in time of need and the need is great for our fellow Hoosiers in the south and southeast portions of the state that have been devastated by this past Friday’s string of tornados.

The Sellersburg State Police Post and other state police posts have received many calls from people asking how to donate time, resources of money to help those in need. There are numerous legitimate ways to make cash donations, such as a number of media organizations that are holding telethons. While the Indiana State Police does not endorse or recommend any particular organization we are providing the below contact sources to help reduce the number of inquiries to state police posts asking about giving donations or how to volunteer. This will help keep our phone lines open for emergency calls.

United Way: To make a cash donation or to volunteer as an individual or group, please call the United Way Volunteer Service at 812-287-0519 or visit them in person at 723 Spring Street, Jeffersonville, Indiana. You may also click this link, http://www.metrounitedway.org/comm/Article.jsp?ArticleID=9, and click the appropriate tab to volunteer or donate cash.

Red Cross: To make a cash donation or to volunteer with the American Red Cross, call 800-733-2767 or visit the office at 510 East Chestnut Street DR384, Louisville, KY 40210. You may also click this link: http://www.redcross.org/.

Another comprehensive list of legitimate locations to make donations can be found at this Indiana Department of Homeland Security link: http://www.aidmatrixnetwork.org/CashDonations/Default2.aspx?ST=INDIANA#

The Indiana State Police and the Indiana Department of Homeland Security caution Hoosiers to know who they are donating money to before making a cash donation. While there could be legitimate sources making door-to-door collections, more often than not, money given to door-to-door collectors is often diverted to personal gain and does not go to the stated cause. Know before you donate.

Monday, March 5, 2012

N-B Video: Wind farms approved in Wells County — repairing any damage

County Commissioner Scott Mossburg reviews how Apex Wind Energy, which is building 86 wind turbines in southern Wells County, will repair any damage and decommission the turbines. Members of the Area Plan Commission voted 6-4 to allow the turbines during a nearly six-hour meeting that started Thursday, March 1, and ended Friday, March 2.The News-Banner has more video highlights from the meeting in earlier blog posts. Browse our blogs at www.news-banner.com. Learn more in the Friday, March 2, News-Banner. (Video by Chet Baumgartner)

N-B Video: Wind farms approved in Wells County — the economic impact

Mike Row, the Wells County Economic Development Office director, shares how his office projects 86 wind turbines in the southern part of the county will impact the county's economy. Members of the Area Plan Commission voted 6-4 to allow the turbines during a nearly six-hour meeting that started Thursday, March 1, and ended Friday, March 2.The News-Banner has more video highlights from the meeting in earlier blog posts. Browse our blogs at www.news-banner.com. Learn more in the Friday, March 2, News-Banner. (Video by Chet Baumgartner)

N-B Video: Wind farms approved in Wells County — the tax impact

Matt Erkerle of Umbaugh and Associates describes how the 86 wind turbines coming to southern Wells County will impact the property taxes. Members of the Area Plan Commission voted 6-4 to allow the turbines during a nearly six-hour meeting that started Thursday, March 1, and ended Friday, March 2.The News-Banner has more video highlights from the meeting in earlier blog posts. Learn more in the Friday, March 2, News-Banner. (Video by Chet Baumgartner)

N-B Video: A divinely timed weekend

About 100 people, as part of a local church's weekend invite, stack cans and load boxes with nonperishable food items to ship to southern Indiana to help with tornado relief efforts. The group had planned several months before to pack boxes for food, so they unknowingly scheduled it on the day after tornadoes destroyed two towns in southern Indiana. "The Lord was working in this one here," said Dave Bussel, a volunteer with the organization that arranges to pack food. Because of the timing, Bussel was able to send 504 boxes of food to Indianapolis Saturday, after a food bank administrator said he needed it. Learn more in the Monday, March 5, News-Banner. (Video by Chet Baumgartner)

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Take a look at a book; you'll be hooked

The National Education Association offers the following tips to celebrate Read Across America Day. To learn how Wells County schools celebrated the day, see the Saturday, March 3, News-Banner.
  1. Team up with Read Across America partners for your event. NEA's Read Across America has more than 50 national organization partners from the American Library Association to Youth Service America. Check out our partners list and find out if there's a local link for you. Don't forget to contact local businesses and organizations. They're great sources of book donations and volunteer readers.
  2. Have your mayor, school board, or legislators issue a proclamation. You can use our sample proclamation to create your own.
  3. Hit the airways and read on the radio. Ask your local radio disc jockey to read or even broadcast from your school. They'll love the opportunity.
  4. Aim high. Who says high school students won't get involved? High School students love reader's theater and poetry slams, and middle school students can organize book fairs and read to elementary students, or create blogs to engage their peers.
  5. Play the pajama game. Invite parents and students to don their pajamas and snuggle up and read in an overnight readathon.
  6. Ti your hats to hometown heroes. Have students write to local heroes and ask them about their favorite books. Showcase these hometown heroes and their choices in your reading celebration.
  7. Put reading on parade or hold a book lovers' ball. Invite local authors and illustrators and showcase their books and characters in style.
  8. Put on your culture cap. Create a culture cafe and put books on the menu. Your reading recipes can combine food and fiction or nonfiction and offer a taste of reading's great adventures.
  9. Make your reading event a multilingual, multicultural affair. Looking for readers? Why not try storytellers from your ethnic minority communities. Their oral traditions are treasure troves for your students.
  10. Team up for reading. Contact your local sports team for guest readers and invite high school marching bands to welcome your students.

N-B Video: Why I pledge allegiance to the flag

Ossian Elementary fifth-grade student Calista Gerard reads the essay she wrote to win the Bluffton Elks Lodge 796 American Essay Contest. Gerard won both a certificate and a $50 Visa gift card. (Video by Glen Werling)

N-B Video: Sponge vs. cotton at Ossian Elementary

Winners from the Ossian Elementary annual science fair Friday explain the hypotheses and experiments behind their projects, such as what absorbs oil better, sponge or cotton? The top 5 projects are eligible to register for the Northeast Indiana Regional Science and Engineering Fair March 17 at IPFW in Fort Wayne. (Video by Glen Werling)

Friday, March 2, 2012

N-B Video: Wind farms approved in Wells County — the vote

Area Plan Commission member John Schuhmacher makes a motion to approve, with conditions, 86 wind turbines for southern Wells County, leading to a controversial 6-4 vote in favor of the plan. Schuhmacher made the motion after no one would initially make a move to approve or deny Apex Wind Energy's proposal. Members had to regroup for about 30 minutes to regroup and create the proposal that Schuhmacher introduced. The vote followed more than four hours of presentations. The News-Banner will have highlights from these presentations in the days ahead. Due to memory constraints and batteries, this video edited out some of the silence following the first call for a motion, as well as some of the official language from the proposal. Learn more in the Friday, March 2, News-Banner. (Video by Chet Baumgartner)

N-B Video: Fire destroys barn on 500N

A fire that started shortly before 11 a.m. Friday engulfs a barn at 4758E-500N and owned by Charles and Juanita Munson. Learn more in the Saturday, March 3, News-Banner. (Video by Glen Werling)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Wells County has a Leap Day baby

Garrison Erick Foreman was born at 12:30 p.m. at Bluffton Regional Medical Center on Wednesday, Feb. 29. He weighed 9 pounds, 1 ounce and was 20.5 inches. His parents are Eric Foreman and Emily Martin of rural Poneto.


Zach is a 8-month-old DSH Gray/white, neutered male. Current on vaccines.

Butters is a 8-month-old DLH Orange Tabby, neutered male. Current on vaccines!

Penny is a 1-year-old Boxer mix, female. Sweet girl!

The next low cost spay/neuter clinic will be held on Tuesday, March 6. The price is $50 per cat. Vaccines available but optional for an additional $35. Call the Animal Shelter at 824-6063 for information on how to get an appointment.