On the Beat in Bluffton

Friday, May 31, 2013

Commissioners raise fees

A recent ordinance passed by the Wells County Commissioners establishes new fees for drainage applications. To read through the fees, click here. Learn more in the Friday, May 31, News-Banner.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Three males sought in Ossian PNC Bank robbery

From the FBI:

The PNC Bank, 1102 North Jefferson Street, Ossian, Indiana, was robbed at approximately 2:42p.m. today by three males.

Ten bank surveillance photographs are attached to this press release for immediate release to the public.

The investigation is being conducted by the Ossian Police Department, the FBI Northeast Indiana Federal Bank Robbery Task Force, and the FBI Fort Wayne Safe Streets Task Force.  Both task forces are comprised of FBI agents and officers from the Indiana State Police, Allen County Police Department, and Fort Wayne Police Department.  The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives also participates in the Northeast Indiana Federal Bank Robbery Task Force.

Anyone with information regarding this bank robbery is asked to contact the Fort Wayne Office of the FBI at (260) 426-5331.

The FBI also released these surveillance images from security footage.

Area Plan Commission discusses proposed 2014 budget

Although no official business was taken on the APC and the Wells County Geographical Information System 2014 budgets, initial figures were given to BZA members prior to the APC’s June 6 meeting.
Click on the image to see the APC proposed budget.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

N-B Video: BHS graduates Class of 2013

Bluffton High School held its 2013 graduation Friday evening, sending of the 121 graduates. For more information, check out the Saturday, May 25, News-Banner. (Video by Jessica Williams) 

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Unofficial Start to Summer is Here

From the Indiana State Police:

To help ensure the safety of all motorists during the Memorial Day weekend, Indiana State Police will be participating in “Operation CARE”, (Combined Accident Reduction Effort), and “SWDUIEP”, (Statewide Driving Under the Influence Project). Troopers will be specifically looking for drivers who speed, follow too closely, make unsafe lane changes, and fail to buckle up or to properly restrain children. Troopers will also be aggressively looking for impaired drivers.

Indiana State Police will also be participating in the “Click it or Ticket” enforcement campaign through June 2nd. The campaign will include not only the Indiana State Police, but more than 250 local law enforcement agencies throughout the state.

Additionally, troopers and motor carrier inspectors will work extra hours to ensure commercial motor vehicles are operating safely. Their efforts will concentrate on enforcing traffic, logbook, size, weight and mechanical violations as well as illegal interstate parking.

Indiana State Police encourage all motorists to observe the following safety tips:
•    Make sure you’re well rested before traveling.
•    Avoid tailgating. Remember the two-second rule.
•    Obey posted speed limits and always use turn signals when turning and making lane changes.
•    Make sure everyone is properly buckled up.
•    Never drink and drive. If you’re going to consume alcohol, make sure you have a designated driver.

The Indiana State Police would like everyone to remember that driving comes with important responsibilities to yourself, to your passengers and to other drivers. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Congressman announces Wells County mobile office hours

U.S. Congressman Marlin Stutzman’s mobile office will be open Wednesday at the Art, Commerce and Visitors Centre in Bluffton. Congressman Stutzman’s staff will be available to assist Hoosiers between 12:30-2:30 pm.

County’s jobless rate drops to 6.6 percent

Wells County’s unemployment rate dropped from 8.2 percent to 6.6 percent in April, according to statistics released Friday by the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. Learn more in the Monday, May 20, News-Banner.

The department also published a county-by-county comparison of unemployment rates. Click on the image below to see how Wells County compares.

Wells County unemployment through the years
• December — 7.7
• January — 9.7
• February — 9.9
• March — 10.9
• April — 10.0
• May — 11.4
• June — 11.3
• July — 10.6
• August — 9.5
• September — 9.1
• October — 9.8
• November — 8.9
• December — 9.4
• January — 9.8
• February — 9.6
• March — 10.2
• April — 9.4
• May — 9.0
• June — 9.3
• July — 9.4
• August — 8.9
• September — 8.4
• October — 8.3
• November — 9.2
• December — 8.3
• January — 9.5
• February — 9.1
• March — 8.6
• April — 7.3
• May — 7.7
• June — 7.4
• July — 7.4
• August — 7.4
• September — 7.3
• October — 7.6
• November — 8.9
• December — 8.0
• January — 8.5
• February — 7.8
• March — 7.6
• April — 6.3
• May — 6.1
• June — 6.8
• July — 6.9
• August — 6.8
• September — 6.8
• October — 6.1
• November — 6.7
• December — 7.1
• January — 8.6
• February — 8.3
• March — 8.2
• April — 6.6

Ossian library holds open house for expanded branch

A number of patrons filled the renovated Ossian library and its new 1,500-square-foot addition Sunday during an open house. Learn more in the Monday, May 20, News-Banner. (Due to technical difficulties, the video featuring head librarian Susan Dailey is not available)

Friday, May 17, 2013

Wells County student writes award-winning play

Wells County home school student Abby Bertsch recently won the Fort Wayne-based All for One Productions annual Young Playwrights Contest sixth- through 12-grade division, and now the organization will produce her play at 7 p.m. Saturday at the First Missionary Church, 701 W. Rudisill Blvd. in Fort Wayne. Learn more about it in the Friday, May 17, News-Banner.

A clean, clear drink of water

Bluffton High School teacher Susan Ballinger’s honors chemistry and advanced-placement chemistry students are working with their fellow students at South Adams High School to deliver cleaner water to Haiti.

Through the project Dots in Blue Water, Bluffton students are raising funds to help build a water filtration unit created by South Adams. Students are also testing water – though not for official purposes — to better practice their classroom material.

You can learn more about the project by watching the video here. You can learn more about Bluffton High School's involvement in the Friday, May 17, News-Banner.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

State releases graduation rates

The Indiana Department of Education has released the annual graduation rates for high schools, but local principals say the raw numbers don't tell the whole story. Learn more in the Tuesday, May 14, News-Banner, and to see the statewide rate, click here. You can also ear search schools' rates near the top of the screen.

Monday, May 13, 2013

New law bolsters end-of-life care instructions

Indiana legislators and Gov. Mike Pence have passed a law designed to standardize and better formalize treatment instructions for patients who are chronically ill or have chronically fragile medical condition.

The new instructions, known as Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment, allow patients to more specifically and clearly state their intentions as opposed to living will instructions, said county attorney Keith Huffman, who lobbied for the bill.

To see a sample of the proposed POST form, click on the image below. Learn more about the law's local connection and future in the Monday, May 13, News-Banner.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

N-B Video: Students remember Heath Bumgarner

Kindergarten students at Whitney Young Early Childhood Center created a new version of "The Wheels on the Bus" to remember Norwell High School senior Heath Bumgarner, who died in March. Last fall, Bumgarner created a piece of welding artwork for the Fort Wayne school. Read the story in the Saturday, May 11, News-Banner. (Video by Jessica Williams)

Friday, May 10, 2013

N-B Video: Und jetzt gang i ans Peters Brünnele

The Rotary Group Study Exchange team from Austria performs the Austrian song "Und jetzt gang i ans Peters Brünnele" to say goodbye to their Bluffton Rotarian hosts after visiting the city for a week. Learn more about their trip in the Monday, May 6, News-Banner. (Video by Mark Miller)

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

City’s electric customers will see bigger bills

Bluffton Utilities’ electric customers should brace themselves for a moderate rate hike — say, 5 percent plus.

The amount of that “plus” has yet to be determined.

The state of Indiana, though, offers multiple tips to help reduce utility bills in other ways. Click here to learn more, and learn more about the increase in the Wednesday, May 8, News-Banner.

Lancaster, Ossian elementary schools raise fees

Members of the Northern Wells school board approved new course fees for Lancaster Central and Ossian Elementary. In general, principals Cathy Dunwiddie and Susanne Tieman said, administrators will increase fees by about $5, though that could vary by a few dollars.

At both schools, for instance, parents of kindergarten students will see the biggest increase: $6.75.

The principals said the increased paper fee comprises the bulk of the overall fee increase.

Ossian's and Lancaster's new fees:
Kindergarten: $119
First grade: $126
Second grade: $122
Third grade: $143
Fourth grade: $137
Fifth grade: $137

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Commissioners won’t rezone for aviation business

The Wells County Commissioners followed the lead of the Area Planning Commission Monday and did not allow the rezoning of land on 600N.

The two parcels of land — one 2.39 acres and the other 4.14 acres —  are owned by Alan and Teresa Lance. The land is currently zoned A-1 (agriculture) but the Lances wanted to rezone it to I-2 to facilitate their business, the rehabilitation of airplane parts.

Officials though, encouraged the Lances to continue to work with APC Executive Director Michael Lautzenheiser in determining a new zoning request that could include a combination of both I-1 and I-2 zoning.

If the county eventually rezones the land to I-1 or I-2, Lance and future owners could use it for the following reasons that are otherwise prohibited in agriculture-zoned areas. (Note that Lance won't necessarily use the land for any of these reasons.)
  • Antique restoration
  • Automobile sales and service
  • Auto and truck repair
  • Dry cleaning and laundry
  • Junkyard (I-2 only)
  • Heavy and light manufacturing
  • Off street loading and/or dock
  • Public transportation terminal
  • Commerical recreation
  • Permanent recycling center
  • Supply yard (I-2 only)
  • Warehouse
Learn more in the Tuesday, May 7, News-Banner. Read the entire zoning ordinance by clicking here. The document is 141 pages long, but zoning classifications start on page 36.

N-B Video: Jammin' with the middle school principal

Bluffton Middle School Principal Tom Gibson is retiring after the 2012-2013 school year, but he'll leave behind plenty of memories, particularly for the band students he practiced with Monday for an upcoming "Pizza and Pop" concert. Learn more about the new principal in the Tuesday, May 7, News-Banner. (Video by Chet Baumgartner)

Friday, May 3, 2013

Another CAFO coming to Wells County

Members of the Area Plan Commission unanimously approved a new concentrated animal feeding at 9075S-250E in Nottingham Township. The maximum number of animals at the site at any one time would be 2,200. Learn more in the Friday, May 3, News-Banner. Open the image in a new window and zoom in for a larger resolution

N-B Video: Bluffton prepares for National Day of Prayer at Courthouse square

Five days of Bible readings came to a close Thursday night with a service marking the National Day of Prayer on the plaza of the Wells County Courthouse. Learn more in the Friday, May 3, News-Banner. (Video by Dave Schultz)

Thursday, May 2, 2013

There's treasure in 'dem streets

Bargain hunters and treasure seekers are amassing for Bluffton's annual citywide garage sale, but they don't have to plunder unprepared. Aaron LaPedis, known as the "Garage Sale Millionaire," writes regularly for a Colorado newspaper, hosted the show "Collect This!" for PBS and has published an award-winning book, and he offers regular tips for buyers and sellers. For instance, this blog warns of underselling valuable items, while this blog discusses strategic garage sale outfits.

Also, Better Homes and Gardens has 14 tips for a successful yard sale

Learn more about the citywide garage sale as well as the county's annual Haz-Mat Cleaning Day in the Thursday, May 2, News-Banner.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

N-B Video: Bluffton business celebrates 30-year anniversary

Peyton's Northern celebrates the company's 30th anniversary Tuesday with speakers, photos and a behind-the-scenes tour. Learn more in the Wednesday, May 1, News-Banner. (Videos by Mark Miller)