On the Beat in Bluffton

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Group meets to discuss Wabash

The Wabash River is ailing. A discussion started Wednesday night to make it better.

Approximately 25 people came to the Wells County Public Library’s main branch to hear about an effort to improve the river’s quality in three sub-watersheds — illustrated in the graphic below — that cover most of Wells County. Neil Ainslie, who monitors the quality of the Wabash River’s water, talked about the river’s current status (polluted, but getting better), and Tony Garton gave a pep talk to get others involved in the process.

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

Click image for larger view

Friday, February 22, 2013

SUV rolls into icy Wabash river

A Berne woman escaped serious injury Friday morning after losing control of her vehicle and rolling into the Wabash River along Ind. 116 near Vera Cruz.

According to the National Safety Council, if your car suddenly becomes submerged, stay calm and remain buckled in your seat. If the water is substantially deep, the car should remain afloat long enough for you to escape. Immediately unlock the doors and open the windows – your car’s power accessories should continue working for at least a minute or so. Unbuckle your seat belt (and those of children or other riders who need assistance) and exit through the open windows, swimming to safety in the direction of the current if you’re in deep water.

If they won’t open, try kicking out a side or rear window, though it won’t be easy. Those living in flood-prone areas might want to consider carrying a small hammer or specific car window-breaking tool in the glove compartment for this purpose. If you can’t leave via a window and water is entering the cabin wait until the pressure is equalized on both sides of the door (usually when its as deep inside as it is outside) before attempting to open it.
After the water has subsided, the AAA cautions that you not to try starting a car that’s been submerged without first having a technician perform a thorough inspection and cleaning.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The politics of school lunches

The Northern Wells school district will again raise lunch prices next school year to appease federal guidelines, board members learned Tuesday while discussing the politics of serving sizes, soy milk and broccoli.

And during that discussion, Marcia Miller with the district’s food services introduced board members to new federal guidelines her department had to follow this school year, including guidelines that stipulate how much and what students can eat. Learn more in the Wednesday, Feb. 20, News-Banner.

Click on the images for a larger resolution

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

N-B Video: Speaker cautions county about agri-terrorism

Learn more in the Tuesday, Feb. 19, News-Banner. (Video by Dave Schultz)

Friday, February 15, 2013

Reading month gets creative at BHES

Most people open books to read them — not go through them.

But not at Bluffton-Harrison Elementary School, where students and teachers decorated their doors with book-related themes this week to celebrate the school’s inaugural “We Love Reading” month.

Two groups of judges, adults and students, each designated the best door among the grade levels and among nonclassroom doors.

The judges then each nominated a best overall door from among their earlier choices.

Learn more in the Friday, Feb. 15, News-Banner.

Kindergarten judges' choice. Pictured are Levi Johns,
Isabella Stout and teacher Andrea Herrold

Kindergarten kids' choice. Pictured are Brett Kuhlenbeck,
Evie Pearcy, Winter Shuman and teacher Lori Williamson

First-grade judges' choice. Decorated by Erin Roush's class
First-grade kids' choice. Decorated by Stacey Herrold's class
Second-grade judges' choice. Pictured are teacher Cheryl Williams,
Malia Lara and student teacher Jessica Yoder
Second-grade kids' choice. Decorated by Lindsay Schroeder's class
Third-grade judges' choice winner. Decorated by Jenny Lambert's class
Third-grade kids' choice winner. Decorated by Tammy Funk's class
Fourth-grade judges' choice. Pictured are Destinie Puckett
and Austin Mygrant of Gretchen Grau's class

Fourth-grade kids' choice winner. Pictured are Monica Rudd, Faylynn Stein,
teacher Staci Hunt and Carlos Torres
Nonclassroom judges' choice and overall judges' winner. Decorated by the media center

Officials hope new schedule will eliminate trash overflow

City and waste disposal officials hope a new schedule will eliminate trash overflow in downtown Bluffton, after hearing recent complaints that garbage was spilling out of trash cans and onto the ground.

Rudy Pennington of National Serv-All, which empties the cans, told the mayor’s office Thursday that crews will now make their rounds on Friday instead of Monday. Pennington said the crews have less area to cover on Friday and can more thoroughly remove the waste that day, which should help reduce overall volume.

Regardless, the mayor’s office also wanted to remind downtown residents, landlords and business owners that the city placed the six trash cans along the street corners for “customers who visit the downtown area,” as one letter addressed to residents stated.

According to that letter, residents can use the six “conveniently” placed larger receptacles for their trash and recycling.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Mayor Ellis to tell State of City

Mayor Ted Ellis will give his annual State of the City address at noon Wednesday, March 6, at the Timber Ridge Golf Club on 250N.

The public is invited, but there is a $15 fee to help pay for expenses.

To register, click here.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Signs of change

For years the only signs marking the north and south entrances to Ossian on Ind. 1 have been the simple green ones posted by the Indiana Department of Transportation.

That’s about to change as members of the Ossian Town Council Monday night unanimously approved a plan by Ossian Revitalization to post two custom signs reading “Welcome to Ossian” on Ind. 1.

To see an illustration of the sign, click here.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Keep your home warm and safe

Two fires broke out in Wells County, and a furnace apparently contributed to at least one, officials say.

Wells County residents probably have at least of month of furnace-appropriate weather to endure, and the U.S. Fire Administration offers the following tips to keep your furnace from heating more than just the air.

Click here to learn how to keep your fireplace safe.

Learn more about the fires in the Monday, Feb. 11, News-Banner.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Should subdivision rules be waived?

Unless some serious mind-changing is done in the next few days or weeks, the Bluffton Common Council will probably say thanks but no thanks to plans to put a 42-lot subdivision between two existing subdivisions on the city’s north side.

The Wells County Area Plan Commission Thursday night, however, still recommended rezoning of a small section of the proposed subdivision on an 11-0 vote.

The proposed subdivision, the 42-lot Northwood Farms Community Section VII addition, lies between two other subdivisions, and residents are concerned that by connecting all three, more traffic will flow into their neighborhoods.
Click on the image for a larger resolution

Learn more in the Friday, Feb. 8, News-Banner.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

N-B Video: Students unleash letters at annual county spelling bee

From “nominated” to "salubrious," six county students wielded words Wednesday as they tried to to become the C-H-A-M-P-I-O-N at the annual county spelling bee, but Liana Reinhard, an eighth-grade student at Kingdom Academy, correctly spelled "jitney" to once again win the annual county spelling bee. Learn more in the Wednesday, Feb. 6, News-Banner.

Talking out a TIF

The Wells County economic development director formally introduced himself — as well as a “great economic tool,” he said — to Northern Wells school board members Tuesday.

The tool, a Tax Increment Financing district, could not only increase enrollment, which increases state funding, but also possibly help fund new education initiatives some day, Tim Ehlerding said.

A TIF district, Ehlerding said, essentially allows an appointed body to funnel a concentrated dose of new property tax revenue from new or expanding businesses within that district to specific projects.

Though still “very preliminary,” Ehlerding said officials are focusing on not only the Ossian Industrial Park, but also 110 acres just south of 850N and 150 acres northwest of the road and adjacent to the park.

Click on the image for a larger resolution

Ehlerding also said other taxing bodies, such as the school district, still receive the property tax revenue that the land earned before it became a TIF district.

And, he said, the new, designated money would lose its designated status and go to all taxing authorities no later than 25 years after officials create the district.

To illustrate the timeline, Ehlerding presented board members with the following chart.
Click on the image for a larger resolution
Learn more in the Wednesday, Feb. 6, News-Banner.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

State announces school district budgets, tax rates

The Indiana Department of Local Government Finance has recently approved budgets and tax rates for Wells County's three public school systems. For a special series detailing the costs and priorities for each district, see the Saturday, Feb. 2, Monday, Feb. 4, and Tuesday, Feb. 4.

In preparation for the new tax bills, the DLGF also provides a series of links on its website for Hoosiers.
  • The DLGF offers a tax calculator to receive an estimate of property owners' tax bills (note that the calculator is still set for 2012).
  • Click here for a summary of your property tax bill.
  • To determine your property's assessed value, click here.
  • Go to the DLGF's website by clicking here.

Friday, February 1, 2013

N-B Video: State director visits county to honor local official

Stacia Henderson had a surprise visitor to the reception honoring her for 20 years of service to the Wells County Soil and Water Conservation District when Gina Sheets, the choice of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence to head the State Department of Agriculture, made the trip up to Bluffton from Indianapolis Thursday to honor her. Learn more in the Friday, Feb. 1, News-Banner. (Video by Dave Schultz