On the Beat in Bluffton

Friday, August 31, 2012

Still growing strong

Assistant courthouse custodian Dewey Zent stands next to the giant tomato plant growing on the parking lot fence at the Carnegie Annex. Nobody planted the plant; Zent just "discovered" it one day, when it was much smaller that it is today, while he was "tidying up" around the annex. (Photo by Frank Shanly)

N-B Video: United Way kicks off latest campaign

Learn more about the organization's goals for this year in the Friday, Aug. 31, News-Banner. (Video by Dave Schultz)

Thursday, August 30, 2012


Styker is a 4-month-old DSH, yellow/white, male.

Louie is a 2-year-old boxer/lab mix, male.

Blazer is a 5-month-old DSH, black/white, male.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Bluffton police officer investigates check fraud cases

Thanks to the persistence of Bluffton Police Officer Chip Swindell, 16 people have received restitution totaling more than $6,000 for bad checks issued by THR and Associates during a precious metals and coins event in Bluffton in early July.

Learn more about the case and the officer's efforts in the Wednesday, Aug. 29, News-Banner. You can also call the police at 824-3320 if you believe you are the victim of a fraud.

If you are the victim of fraud, the following organizations, along with local law enforcement, could help.

• Federal Trade Commission Bureau of Consumer Protection
• Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force
• The Indiana Attorney General's Office
• The Better Business Bureau

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

BHS students excel in ACT

Bluffton High School Principal Steve Baker presented the following ACT results to the school board Monday. Learn more about their regular meeting in the Tuesday, Aug. 28, News-Banner.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Leadership group has a new leader

The Wells County Leadership Academy has a new leader: Erin Meyer.

You can learn more about her and the academy, set to start its five year in a few weeks, in the Monday, Aug. 27, News-Banner.

Click here to learn more about the academy.

Friday, August 24, 2012

N-B Video: Fire heavily damages house on 100S near Adams Street

Learn more in the Saturday, Aug. 25, News-Banner. (Video by Chet Baumgartner)

Thursday, August 23, 2012


Blazer is a 5-month-old black/white DSH, male.

Sophie is a 3-year-old great dane/beagle mix, spayed female. Housebroken. No small children as she is a bit shy at first.

Stryker is a 4-month-old yellow/white DSH, male.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Angela Topp selected as newest Northern Wells school board member

The Northern Wells school board has selected Angela Topp to replace former board member Michelle Brown-Stohler, who is leaving Lancaster Township. To be chosen, Topp submitted the following letter and resume:

Dear Gene:
I would like to submit my letter of interest in fulfilling Michelle Brown-Stohler’s term with the Northern Wells School Board.

Ever since working for Peter Confer at Ossian State Bank, I’ve felt that at some point I might wish to pursue serving on the NWCS Board. My perspective and outlook on being on the Board has changed so much over the past 12+ years. Throw in that many more years of experience in the business and financial world, 2 children with special needs and 1 with high abilities, and two years in the Wells County Leadership Academy, and I think I have the qualities needed to serve in this capacity now more than ever before.

My family has spent time considering and praying about this letter of interest and are ready to see if God will open or close the door to serve with you on the Board. It is also my intent to complete the required Petition of Nomination to pursue running for the position in the November election.

I appreciate you giving me your consideration and hope that you will feel free to contact me if you have any questions or if you need additional information. A brief overview of my past experience is attached.

Sincerely yours,
Angela Topp

Work Experience
MarkleBank, August 17, 2011 to present
• Mortgage Department Manager/Assistant Vice President
• Manage 4 Loan Originators and 4 Processors
• Complete monthly reports for the Board level and bi-weekly commission reports for each Originator
• Comply with Federal and State Regulations regarding Mortgage Lending and keep the Department up to date on training. Member of Compliance Council.
• Originate consumer purpose mortgages

First Bank of Berne, March 29, 2004 to July 18, 2011
• Mortgage Loan Specialist
• Originate consumer purpose mortgages

Ossian State Bank, October, 1995 to June, 2003
• Loan Officer and Branch Manager
• Originated mortgages and consumer loans
• Managed the Bluffton Branch
• Headed up Compliance Committee

Standard Federal Bank (formerly known as First Federal Savings and Loan), September, 1983 to September, 1995
• Several roles, from starting as a part-time Drive-thru Teller to being a Closing Officer and Underwriter in the Mortgage Department

• Bluffton High School, Bluffton, IN
• Institute of Financial Education, courses taken from 1984 through 1993
• Wells County Leadership Academy, September, 2010 to May, 2012

Community Involvement
• Board Member/Secretary Family Centered Services, 2010 - present
• Kiwanis Member since 1999/past Secretary
• Northern Wells Music Boosters/past Board Member and Secretary and Middle School Treasurer, 2008 - June, 2012
• Northern Wells Strategic Planning Committee, 2011 to present
• Lancaster Walk-a-Thon Corporate Fundraising Co-Chair, 2009 - present
• FAM Ministries, Board Member
• Wells County Chamber of Commerce Special Events Committee, 2009 to present
• Wells County Leadership graduate and guest presenter for 2012-2013 classes
• Member of the Apostolic Christian Church, Bluffton, Indiana since 1980

Qualifications for Open Position
• Involved Parent of 3 Northern Wells Students with a wide range of skills and needs
• Involved and concerned citizen for the well-being of the future of Northern Wells Community Schools
• Strong financial background and management skills

Northern Wells principals share ISTEP scores

Principals in the Northern Wells Community Schools district shared their ISTEP test results with the school board Tuesday. You can learn more in the Wednesday, Aug. 22, News-Banner.

Every public-school district in the county has shared their results now, and the Indiana Department of Education has all the results online. Click here to learn more.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

DOE announces new free and reduced-lunch prices

Though schools have already seen these numbers, the Indiana Department of Education recently announced the new income thresholds for free and reduced-price lunches. Learn more in the Tuesday, Aug. 21, News-Banner.

Monday, August 20, 2012

N-B Video: Firefighters check house after late-night fire

Video by Chet Baumgartner

Thursday, August 16, 2012


Halley and Tehani are 4-month-old Tortieshell, spayed females. Current on vaccines. They are siblings and both are very loving

Mooney is a 12-week-old min pin/chihuahua mix, male. He is the last one left of the litter. Very sweet and friendly.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

N-B Video: Bluffton business celebrates 143rd birthday — or harvest

To celebrate the anniversary of Bluffton-based A.T. Ferrell's founding, workers invited the public to tour the facility, including the testing lab, where workers demonstrated the tools they use to answer customers' questions. A.T. Ferrell creates machinery for seed processing and cleaning. Learn more in the Wednesday, Aug. 15, News-Banner. (Video by Chet Baumgartner)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

N-B Video: Uniondale loses almost 80-year old landmark

Workers with Anderson Excavating clear away debris while they tear down the Legge feed mill on the north side of Uniondale Monday. The mill is being torn down due to decreasing revenue and increasing costs. Learn more in the Tuesday, Aug. 14, News-Banner. (Video by Chet Baumgartner)

Monday, August 13, 2012

N-B Video: Unleash the ducks

About 2,900 ducks briefly floated down the Wabash River Saturday during Family Centered Services' annual Duck Race on the Wabash. Learn more in the Monday, Aug. 13, News-Banner. (Video by Dave Schultz)

Friday, August 10, 2012

N-B Video: New Wells County EMS director named

The Wells County EMS Board of Directors selected EMS worker Rick Piepenbrink as the new director Friday. Learn more in the Saturday, Aug. 11, News-Banner. (Video by Frank Shanly)

N-B Video: Finding a home for iPads

Bluffton-Harrison students started the 2012-2013 school year Friday, Aug. 10, and for the first time, the students could try out their iPads in class. While the middle and high school students can take their devices home, though, the elementary students will keep them at the school, stored away in these custom-designed cabinets.

On Monday, Bluffton-Harrison's Ben Dailey, the associate technology director, gave school board members a tour of the cabinets. (Video by Chet Baumgartner)

Thursday, August 9, 2012


Biscuit is an 11 week old Chihuahua/ Min Pin mix, male.

Asha is an 11-week-old chihuahua/min pin mix, female.

Tehani is a 4-month-old DSH tortoiseshell, female.

Help needed in solving burglaries

The Wells County Sheriff's Department is asking for citizen help in locating someone officers believe may be somehow involved in a series of recent burglaries on Elm Grove Road, 200N and 300N.

You can learn more about the person and the burglaries in the Thursday, Aug. 9, News-Banner, but if you want to learn how to start a neighborhood watch, click on the following links from the organization USAonWatch, affiliated with the National Sheriff's Association.

• Learn how to start and register a watch.
Find a watch program.
• Explore the neighborhood watch toolkit.
• Learn more in the resource center.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

N-B Video: Wells County economy wants talent

Leonard Helfrich, director of the Talent Initiative of the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, shares how Wells County needs to find more "talent," specifically encouraging people to pursue a "high-quality" degree or certification. Learn more in the Wednesday, Aug. 8, News-Banner. (Video by Dave Schultz)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Bluffton ISTEP scores set new marks

Four days before Bluffton-Harrison students start a new year, school board members learned Monday that they set a record the previous year.

During the board's regular meeting, Bluffton Middle School Principal Tom Gibson and Bluffton-Harrison Elementary School Principal Julie Meitzler announced that the percentage of students last year who passed the math and language arts portions of the annual ISTEP had surpassed any previous year.

Learn more in the Tuesday, Aug. 7, News-Banner.

Bluffton-Harrison school board starts planning budget

Members of the Bluffton-Harrison school board Monday started discussing how to pay for next year, and as part of their budget-related discussions, Superintendent Wayne Barker shared the following data.

Note that these salary-related figures do not reflect average salaries,
but the total costs of paying staff.

Learn more in the Tuesday, Aug. 7, News-Banner.

Monday, August 6, 2012

N-B Video: Cancer fundraiser unleashes more than 30 motorcycles

The Steve Kelley Cancer Relief Foundation held its annual "Cancer Relief Family Fun Day" Saturday, Aug. 4, combining motorcycles, classic cars, a bouncy tent and more. Organizers use the proceeds to help local families with costs relating to cancer. Learn more in the Monday, Aug. 6, News-Banner. (Video by Chet Baumgartner)

To learn more about the Steve Kelley Cancer Relief Foundation, click here.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Artists in Action

For years a group of artists – mostly ladies but with the occasional male – has met to paint. The group, dubbed Artists in Action, currently meets at the Arts, Commerce and Visitors Centre gallery at 9 a.m. Fridays. The public is welcome to join them, they say. (Photos by Jessica Williams)

Dotty Fryback works on her painting.

Karen West works on a flower.

APC to set preliminary rules over manure ponds

We ran the following blog about a month ago when residents in southern Wells expressed concern about manure ponds. On Thursday, the Area Plan Commission approved preliminary rules to regulate those ponds and more, so we are reprinting here the earlier blog entry.

The concerned residents of Jackson and Chester townships approached the Area Plan Commission Thursday, July 5, requesting a review of the county zoning ordinance, specifically with regard to Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations and manure lagoons.

The catalyst for their appearance was the pond currently being built by Ronald A. Mang, on his property at 1100S-600W.

To learn more about their concerns, see the Friday, July 6, News-Banner.

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management offers the following information about CAFOs.

The terms CFO and CAFO relate to the size of the CFO. A Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) is a CFO that meets the threshold animal numbers for a large CAFO in the chart below. Many of the program’s requirements apply to CFOs of all sizes. Some requirements apply only to CAFOs.

CAFO Threshold Numbers:
700 mature dairy cows
1,000 veal calves
1,000 cattle other than mature dairy cows
2,500 swine above 55 pounds
10,000 swine less than 55 pounds
500 horses
10,000 sheep or lambs
55,000 turkeys
30,000 laying hens or broilers with a liquid manure handling system
125,000 broilers with a solid manure handling system
82,000 laying hens with a solid manure handling system
30,000 ducks with a solid manure handling system
5,000 ducks with a liquid manure handling system

How many CAFOs are there in Indiana?
There are approximately 625 CAFOs in the state. This represents 20 percent of the IDEM regulated farms.

What percentage of the animals do the CAFOs produce?
IDEM estimates they produce 80 percent of the animals at regulated farms.
What are a few of the additional requirements CAFO operators must follow?
• Weekly inspections of their waste storage facilities
• Develop a Soil Conservation Practice Plan for all manure application sites controlled by the CAFO
• Develop a Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan for the area immediately around the production barns
• Submit an annual report to IDEM
• Adjust land application rates based on nitrogen and phosphorus
How do local land use requirements affect IDEMs jurisdiction over approving a new CFO/CAFO farm?
IDEM must perform the process that state law and regulations have provided. IDEMs approval does not relieve the farm from complying with any local zoning requirements.

The Purdue University Extension Office also has created several publications discussing CAFOs' impact on the economy, environment and more. Find these publications and more by clicking here.

For additional information:
• IDEM Toll Free Number: (800) 451-6027, then give the operator the listed extension number
• Confined Feeding Operation Approval Questions: (317) 232-4473
• Compliance Questions: (317) 308-3016


Denver is a 4-month-old gray tabby, male.

Pebbles is a 7-month-old Australian cattle dog (blue heeler) spayed female. Current on vaccines. Very energetic. Not an in-town dog. Needs room to run.

Sweetie is a 4-month-old DLH tiger/white female.

Low-cost spay/neuter clinics for cats are scheduled for Aug 7 and Aug 23. Call the Animal Shelter at 824-6063 for information on how to make an appointment.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

N-B Video: Two cardboard boats race at pool

The cardboard boat race at Wells Community Pool attracted two decorated boats Wednesday evening. One outlasted the other as the competitors paddled – and splashed – down the length of the pool. For more information, see the Thursday, Aug. 2, News-Banner. (Video by Jessica Williams)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Photos from the funeral of Specialist Nick Taylor