On the Beat in Bluffton

Friday, June 28, 2013

Wells’ Economic Development Council seeking input

The Wells County Economic Development Council and other organizations are crafting a strategic plan for county economic development, and they’ve created a six-question survey online to solicit opinion.

Those interested should complete the survey by the close of the business day Tuesday, July 2.

To take the survey, click here. Email Tim Ehlerding, the county's economic development director, at tehlerding@wellsedc.com for more information.

N-B Video: 2013 Ossian Freedom Festival celebrates with promenades and do-si-does

Along with the traditional fireworks, hot dogs and games, Freedom Festival organizers featured several coordinated dances — including a square dance and the "Chicken Dance" — during the annual Independence Day celebration. (Video by Chet Baumgartner)

Main Street is restricted during fire investigation

Bluffton Fire Inspector Chris Broderick said Friday he didn’t know when officials would reopen the outside southbound lane on Main Street beside the West Perry Street apartment building.

Officials are awaiting the opinion of a structural engineer, who is scheduled to arrive sometime Friday.

Broderick said the closing could potentially extend into the weekend.

You can learn more in the Friday, June 28, News-Banner, but you can learn about closings statewide through the Indiana Department of Transportation's website.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

N-B Video: Downtown fire rousts residents

A fire that ignited in an apartment at 105 W. Perry Street destroyed the building Wednesday afternoon but injured no one.

The Bluffton Fire Department and the Indiana State Fire Marshal's office is now investigating the cause. Learn more in the Thursday, June 27, News-Banner.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Subdivision’s stop sign plan approved

Bluffton Common Council members Tuesday voted to install new stop signs to direct traffic through the upcoming residential addition north of Commerce Drive.

As illustrated below, the blue dots represent new all-way stop signs, while the red dots represent new stop signs to be placed; the yellow lines show the new streets to be laid.

Learn more in the Wednesday, June 26, News-Banner.

Click on the image for a larger resolution

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Ind. 303 still closed

Wells County Commissioner Scott Mossburg just reported that the railroad crossing in Liberty Center at Ind. 303 will be closed through Friday of this week. Workers were supposed to open it last Friday, but they didn't due to several reported reasons, including heat.

Economic development director pushes TIF again

Tim Ehlerding, the county's economic development director, told Ossian Town Council members that the nearby industrial park could become the top location for business in the county.

And to help, he and others explained how they could transform the area into a TIF, which 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.

Ehlerding also advocated for the district during a recent Northern Wells school board meeting, presenting the following illustration to depict how the money flows.

Learn more in the Tuesday, June 25, News-Banner.

Click on the image for a larger resolution

Rock On!

The Wells County Public Library organized a tour of the IMI stone quarry to bring this year's summer reading program theme, "Dig into Reading," to life.

Students learned about the activities at the quarry as well as a few facts — and a couple of guesses — about the rocks. 

Kids can learn even more about geology, though, by clicking here.

To learn more about the summer reading program, go to the library's website.

Monday, June 24, 2013

N-B Video: County, city train with mock disaster

County and city emergency workers — including the Bluffton Fire Department and Police Department — respond to a mock meth lab explosion Saturday, June 24. Each year, agencies with the county and city train in a simulated emergency to test how well they communicate and cooperate. Learn more in the Monday, June 24, News-Banner. (Video by Chet Baumgartner)

Friday, June 21, 2013

Relay for Life gets busy Saturday at BHS

The Wells County Relay for Life starts Saturday, and in celebration, Bluffton Regional Medical Center held the annual Celebration of Life dinner, dedicated to cancer patients and their guests in preparation for Saturday’s event.
 As always, walkers and runners will go for twelve hours. Learn more in the Friday, June 21, News-Banner.
  • 9 a.m. – All teams to the track in front of DJ tent
  • 10 a.m. – Opening Ceremony, Welcome, Pledge of Allegiance, National Anthem, Survivor lap, Committee and Team Captain’s lap, Theme lap: Dress as your team’s chosen theme
  • 10:45 a.m. – Track opens to everyone
  • 11 a.m. – Theme lap: Clowning around, (Best clown attire) Activity - Spaghetti eating contest
  • 11:30 a.m. – Mini Relay, kids get 15 minutes on the track alone
  • Noon – Lunch, Theme lap: Dress for a sock hop (50’s & 60’s) Activity: Hula hoop contest
  • 1 p.m. – Theme lap: Dress like cheerleader, Activity - Make and perform your own cheer
  • 2 p.m. – Theme lap - Dress for a beach party (keep it G) Activity: Frozen t-shirt contest
  • 3 p.m. – Silent auction opens and campsite judging, Theme lap – Down on the farm (Best country look) Activity - Sack race, wheel barrel race (human), tug of war, corn hole tournament begins
  • 4 p.m. – Theme lap – Dress like your favorite artist (keep it G) Activity: Scavenger hunt
  • 5 p.m. – Theme lap - Dress like a hippie (70’s) Activity - Name that tune
  • 6-8 p.m. – Survivor Reception
  • 6 p.m. – Relay’s Got Talent Starts, Theme lap - Make your youn rock band (include instruments) Activity - Minute 2 Win It games
  • 7 p.m. – Theme lap - American Pride, Activity - Pie eating contest
  • 8 p.m. – Theme lap - Support the Survivors, Best/Most purple attire, Activity - Music trivia from all era’s
  • 8:15 p.m. – Survivor lap #2
  • 9 p.m. – Last chance to purchase luminaria
  • 9:15 p.m. – Everyone report to the grandstand for Luminaria Ceremony.
  • 9:30 p.m. – Luminaria Ceremony
  • 10 p.m. – Theme lap - Best formal outfits, Activity: Simon Says
  • 10-11 p.m. – Dance party
  • 11 p.m. – Theme lap - Craziest pajamas/sleepwear (keep it G) Activity - Minute 2 Win It
  • 11:30 p.m. – Tear down, Closing Remarks
  • Midnight – Thank you

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Don't eat your vegetables ... paint with them

About 15 children kids used vegetables to make art during a program at the Wells County Public Library Wednesday. They not only pressed the produce into the pools of paint, but they also listened to a story and played vegetable bingo. (Photos by Chet Baumgartner)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

NWCS puts up periscope on Common Core

In an attempt to avoid ignoring either the state or federal governments, the Northern Wells Community Schools board members were told to placate both Tuesday evening during the board’s meeting.

During that meeting, Abby Nagel, Title 1 director for NWCS, presented updated information on the Common Core curriculum, a nationwide attempt to unite states' learning standards behind one common initiative.

The curriculum, though, has met resistance among legislators and residents.

To learn more about Northern Wells' administrators' thoughts, read the Wednesday, June 19, News-Banner.

Also, the Indiana Department of Education has provided online resources that explain the history of the curriculum and resources for teachers to implement it (scroll down to find the resources).

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Bluffton-Harrison board OKs personnel decisions

The Bluffton-Harrison district filled the last of the open educational positions within its schools Monday, after board members hired 14 new people and 29 coaches.

Those hired Monday were:
  • Alex Baker, fifth-grade science and social studies (he will also coach middle school volleyball).
  • Sarah Jackson, teach second grade
  • Shelbi Zelt, teach fourth grade
  • Zella Walborn, Title 1 reading
  • Justin Uptgraft, middle school physical education and swimming.
  • Denny Squires, high school special education instructional assistant
  • Sarah Yergler, Tiger Cubs preschool
  • Jacob Amstutz, related arts technology
  • Stephanie White, middle school social worker
  • Nicole Wingate, speech language pathologist
  • Heather Stoppenhagen, speech language pathologist assistant
  • Chase Anderson and Aleyce Lowe will substitute for teachers on maternity leave, and Allison Krinn will teach second grade instead of third grade
Those hired for athletic positions were:
  • Robert Vanderkolk, assistant athletic director
Cross Country:
  • Tyson Brooks, middle school coach
  • Stacy Herrold, head high school boys coach
  • Stephanie White, head high school girls coach
  • Danielle Kunkel, volunteer high school girls coach
  • Casey Kolkman, head coach
  • Josh Clark, assistant coach
  • Brent Kunkel, assistant coach
  • Kyle Brunn, half-time assistant coach
  • Eric Bennett, half-time assistant coach
  • Bill Leising, half-time assistant coach
  • Tom Michael, half-time assistant coach
  • Denny Squires, half-time assistant coach
  • Eric Smith, half-time assistant coach
  • Darin Johnson, middle school
  • Kyle King, middle school
  • Damon Dudley, middle school
  • Jesse Fredrick, half-time coach
  • Bev Balash, half-time coach
  • Robert Vanderkolk, head coach
  • Shane Dunwiddie, boys assistant coach
  • Brian Bowman, boys assistant coach
  • Ashlee King, head high school coach
  • Karen Pearson, high school assistant coach
  • Holly Leising, high school assistant coach
  • Kristen Smallman, middle school coach
  • Kristen Brinneman, volunteer middle school coach
  • Gretchen Grau, head coach
  • Alyssa Moser, high school assistant coach

Friday, June 14, 2013

N-B Video: Bringing Oompa-Loompas to life

Willy Wonka Jr. costume director Susan Schultz gives the News-Banner a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the make-up, costumes and hair that transforms little actresses to Oompa-Loompas. The Wells Community Theatre's production of "Willy Wonka Jr." opened Friday, June 14, and runs Saturday, June 15, and Sunday, June 16. (Video by Chet Baumgartner)

“Living With the Wabash River,” an effort to educate the public about the Wabash River, will be held near the Kehoe Park pavilion from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

Participants will learn about the Wabash River, how it got its name, how to be safe around the river and what makes the Wabash River a unique environment for living creatures of all sizes — but we want to know what unique memories you have growing up around the Wabash. We know you can't use it for fishing or swimming, but what have you done otherwise? Let us know by liking us at Facebook at www.facebook.com/newsbanner

Thursday, June 13, 2013

A shelter in the time of storm

During the storm last night, this bird attached itself to the screen of Josh Rhoton's window.
(Photo by Josh Rhoton)

N-B Video: Storms rake Wells County

Learn more in the Thursday, June 13, News-Banner. (Video by Chet Baumgartner)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

City paving plans altered, then awarded

The Bluffton Board of Public Works and Safety approved a street paving contract with Wayne Asphalt of Fort Wayne Tuesday afternoon after the requirements were amended.

The company was the lowest bid, but there was some contention about that. Learn more in the Wednesday, June 12, News-Banner.

Regardless, Wayne Asphalt will pave the following over the summer:
  • South Bennett Street, from Washington to Cherry
  • South Bennett Street, from Central to Wiley
  • South Bennett Street, from Horton to Spring
  • South Marion Street, from Cherry to South
  • South Williams Street, from Arnold to Silver
  • South Oak Street, from Market to Washington
  • South Oak Street, from Washington to Cherry
  • West Perry Street, from Main to Johnson
  • West Perry Street, from Johnsonto Marion
  • West Walnut Street, from Main to Johnson
  • West Walnut Street, from Johnson to Marion
  • East Cherry Street, from Scott to Bennett
  • West Townley Street, from Main to Johnson
  • West Townley Street, from Johnson to Marion
  • East Townley Street, from Main to Scott
  • East Townley Street, from Scott to Bennett
  • East Horton Street, from Main to Scott
  • East Horton Street, from Scott to Bennett
  • East Horton Street, from Mulberry to Liberty
  • East Horton Street, from Liberty to Wayne
  • West Riley Street, from Main to Johnson
  • West Riley Street, from Johnson to Marion
  • The alley next to the American Legion post, connecting Walnut and Washington streets between Main and Johnson streets
  • Western Avenue, as marked
  • South Mulberry Street, from Wiley to Ohio
  • The Rivergreenway off of Stogdill Road, from Echo Lane to River Road

Monday, June 10, 2013

N-B Slideshow: 2013 Norwell High School graduation

Friday, June 7, 2013

Bluffton man who "redeemed" cancer dies at 30

Zach Bertsch, a Bluffton resident diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer in June 2010, died Thursday at about 6 p.m. at the age of 30.

Many others, though, will live “bigger” because of him, said Doug Isch, who attends Bertsch’s church and worked with him the past two-and-a-half years.

Bertsch worked with Isch and Ed Schwartz, vice president and president respectively of the Bluffton-based Christian nonprofit Loving Shepherd Ministries, to help raise money for orphaned and at-risk children in Haiti.

To learn more about the initiative, called the Cancer Redemption Project, click here. Learn more about Bertsch in the Friday, June 7, News-Banner.

Coon-hunting dogs are back in Bluffton

 The coon hunters are back for the third year in Bluffton and they come from all over the United States. The opening ceremonies were held in the Wells County 4-H building Thursday evening. (Photos by Jessica Williams)

 From left, Jim Phillabaum of City Council, Erin Meyer from the Wells County Chamber of Commerce, Janet Davidson-Blutcher and Robin Stover of the United English Breeders and Fanciers Association, and Suzanne Huffman of the Chamber of Commerce, prepare to cut the ribbon to signify the start of the 2013 English Days at the Wells County 4-H Park.
A coon dog waits patiently Thursday evening for the 2013 English Day festivities to start.

 Hundreds of raccoon hunters are in town this weekend – for the third straight year – to participate in English Days, which features several night hunts in the region.
A future coon-hunting dog hangs out in a pin Thursday evening at the Wells County 4-H Park.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

4-H considers building new parking lot

The Wells County Drainage Board approved the creation of the parking lot illustrated above on the Schwartz 4-H tile drain in the Wells County 4-H Park.

The 4-H Association is still getting the project approved, but the drainage board had to approve the location on the drain that was put in about 15 years ago.