On the Beat in Bluffton

Friday, January 31, 2014

N-B Video: Dancers duel at Southern Wells

Indianapolis Colts' mascot Blue visited Southern Wells Elementary School Thursday to encourage them to eat healthy and stay fit during a 35-minute presentation, but during the program, three students and two teachers competed to see who had the best touchdown dance. Who do you think won? Let us know in the comments section. (Video by Chet Baumgartner)

Thursday, January 30, 2014

N-B Photos: City will spend $234,000 for wastewater work

The city of Bluffton signed a contract with an engineering firm Tuesday as it works to fix problems at the city’s wastewater treatment plant.

Commonwealth Engineers, which has been the city’s engineering consulting firm for work at the plant, will be paid $234,000 for its work — design, project management, inspection, and permitting — on the upgrades.

The city is under scrutiny by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, including for failed sewer digesters, pictured below. Learn more in the Wednesday, Jan. 29, News-Banner.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

N-B Numbers: Wells County’s unemployment rate drops to 5.5%

Wells County ended 2013 with possibly its lowest unemployment rate since at least 2008, according to data released Tuesday.

The Indiana Department of Workforce Development states that 5.5 percent of the county’s workforce wasn’t working in December, down from 6.3 percent in November and 8.6 percent in January, the highest rate in 2013.

See how the county compares to its northeast Indiana neighbors and the rest of the state in the Wednesday, Jan. 29, News-Banner.

• January: 8.6 percent
• February: 8.3 percent
• March: 82. percent
• April: 6.6 percent
• May: 6.8 percent
• June: 7.5 percent
• July: 7.8 percent
• August: 6.3 percent
• September: N/A
• October: 5.8 percent
• November: 6.3 percent
• December: 5.5 percent

• January: 8.5 percent
• February: 7.8 percent
• March: 7.6 percent
• April: 6.3 percent
• May: 6.1 percent
• June: 6.8 percent
• July 6.9 percent
• August: 6.8 percent
• September: 6.8 percent
• October: 6.1 percent
• November: 6.7 percent
• December: 7.1 percent

• January: 9.5 percent
• February: 9.1 percent
• March: 8.6 percent
• April: 7.3 percent
• May: 7.7 percent
• June: 7.4 percent
• July: 7.4 percent
• August: 7.4 percent
• September: 7.3 percent
• October: 7.6 percent
• November: 8.9 percent
• December: 8 percent

• January: 9.8 percent
• February: 9.6 percent
• March: 10.2 percent
• April: 9.4 percent
• May: 9 percent
• June: 9.3 percent
• July: 9.4 percent
• August: 8.9 percent
• September: 8.4 percent
• October: 8.3 percent
• November: 9.2 percent
• December: 8.3 percent

• January: 9.7 percent
• February: 9.9 percent
• March: 10.9 percent
• April: 10 percent
• May: 11.4 percent
• June: 11.3 percent
• July: 10.6 percent
• August: 9.5 percent
• September: 9.1 percent
• October: 9.8 percent
• November: 8.9 percent
• December: 9.4 percent

N-B Feedback: Indiana House votes for marriage amendment

Indiana lawmakers pressed ahead Tuesday with an effort to put a gay marriage amendment under the state constitution, but the version that cleared the House wouldn’t be able to take effect until 2016 at the earliest because of a late change leaving open the possibility of same-sex civil unions someday.

The proposed ban, which the House approved 57-40 Tuesday afternoon, now heads to the Indiana Senate, where members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are set to take up the issue. 

Tell us what you think in the comments section, and contact State Sen. Travis Holdman to share your thoughts at 800-382-9467, 317-232-9400 or Senator.Holdman@iga.in.gov. His legislative assistant is Maureen Gordin, 317-232-9807.

Even though the House has already voted, you can still contact Wells County's representatives:

• Rep. Matt Lehman, (800) 382-9841or (317) 234-9499
• Rep. Dan Leonard, (800) 382-984 or (260) 356-5122
• Rep. Kevin Mahan, (800) 382-9841or (317) 232-9509

Learn more in the Wednesday, Jan. 29, News-Banner.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

N-B Video: Sounding the alarm

Bluffton-Harrison schools Business Manager Brad Yates and Technology Coordinator Scott Ribich demonstrated to school board members Monday how teachers, staff and administrators can use a new security badge, embedded with panic buttons, to respond to different emergencies, from a student fight to a broken bone to a school shooting.

The district purchased the badges after securing a grant from the state. 

Learn more about the school board meeting in the Tuesday, Jan. 28, News-Banner. (Video by Chet Baumgartner) 

N-B Video: Hear from the Business, Citizen and Educator of the Year

The Wells County Chamber of Commerce honored its Business, Educator and Citizen of the Year at its annual dinner Monday, Jan. 27. Learn more in the Tuesday, Jan. 28, News-Banner. (Videos by Jessica Williams and Dave Schultz)


Could snowbound students attend a virtual classroom?

Bluffton-Harrison Superintendent Wayne Barker said he’s learned to never say “never.”
But for now, at least, he said he doesn’t think students will use their iPads to attend class at home when administrators cancel school.

“I’m not sure that we will ever advocate for that because of the benefit of our students being with our teachers ... but it is a fairly premature discussion at this point,” he said.

Southern Wells Junior-Senior High School Principal Chad Yencer said he has not formally pursued or researched a home-based learning model, but he said the school might some day, after giving its high school students Chromebooks this school year.

“As we move more of our curriculum to a digital realm, that will become a real possibility,” Yencer said. “One of the reasons we went to one-to-one was to give access to real-time, anytime learning.”

The Indiana Department of Education, however, is investigating the possibility. It gave a grant each to four school districts — Attica Consolidated, Maconaquah, Porter Township and MSD Wabash County — in 2013 to implement “flexible scheduling” programs.

DOE spokesman Daniel Altman did not return an e-mail request asking for grant amounts and program details before deadline, but Maconaquah posted from preliminary feedback after its first "eLearning" day:
  • 592 responses for MHS and 436 responses for MMS.
  • A majority of students in grades 9-12 & 6-8 responded to the survey questions.
  • When asked “How much of the eLearning assignments did you complete,” over three-quarters of all high school students responding completed 75% to 100% of their assignments. Fifty-six percent of our middle school students completed all of their assigned work.
  • When asked “How much time did you work on your eLearning assignments,” the majority of MHS responders indicated having worked between three and four hours.   A majority of MMS students spent between two and four hours on their assigned work.
  • A majority of MMS students did not have “issues” with their assigned work during their eLearning Day.
  • When asked “Where did you complete your eLearning work,” 489 out of 594 student responders from MHS stated they completed their work at home.
  • Sixty-five percent of those MHS students responding said that they “felt like they learned/understood the material presented during the eLearning day.”  Sixty-four percent of our MMS students “learned the material” presented during eLearning Day.  
  • Fifty-six percent of those MHS students responding said that they “contacted a teacher via phone/email/echalk/discussion board, etc. during eLearning day.”  Seventy-five percent of MMS students contacted a teacher during their eLearning Day.
  • Sixty-nine percent of those MHS students responding said that they “felt their teachers prepared them for eLearning day.”  
Click here for the source, and learn more in the Monday, Jan. 27, News-Banner.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Indiana Michigan Power asks customers to conserve power

From Indiana Michigan Power:

FORT WAYNE, Indiana – PJM Interconnection, which operates the electricity grid for more than 61 million people in 13 states and the District of Columbia, is requesting customers of all of its member utilities – including Indiana Michigan Power – to conserve electricity Tuesday.

Indiana Michigan Power is confident it has sufficient capacity to serve all of its customers and works with PJM to help ensure the reliability of the electric grid across multiple utilities in PJM’s region.

PJM Interconnection ensures the reliability of the high-voltage electric power system in all or
parts of Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. PJM coordinates and directs the operation of the region’s transmission grid, which includes 62,556 miles of transmission lines.

The call for conservation is prompted by another wave of frigid weather that will push up the
demand for electricity, possibly to record-breaking levels.

PJM asks consumers to conserve electricity, if health permits – especially from 6 to 10 a.m. and 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesday. Electricity customers can take simple conservation steps:

• Set thermostats lower than usual, if health permits.
• Postpone using major electric appliances such as stoves, dishwashers and clothes
dryers until mid-day or after 9 p.m., when the demand for electricity decreases.
• Turn off electric lights and appliances that you do not need or are not using.

Conserving electricity Tuesday will help ensure adequate power supplies throughout the PJM region. PJM continues to carefully monitor the power supply conditions and will do everything possible to keep power flowing in the region.

N-B Links: Calculate your property taxes — eventually

The Indiana Department of Local Government Finance has reviewed Wells County's 22 taxing authorities — including schools, the library, towns and the county — and should soon establish tax rates for residents.

Southern Wells, for instance, has agreed to its tax rate already, though other schools are awaiting further comment after submitting changes.

After the state approves any changes and finalizes the tax rate, officials will include Wells County in its tax bill calculator, available by clicking here.

The calculator only provides an estimate, though, and Wells County Deputy Auditor Kathy Mounsey said the state still needs to determine the county’s different credits, such as the homestead credit, and exemptions — all of which will ultimately lower tax bills.

“Those credits make a huge difference,” Mounsey said.

Learn more about the Southern Wells rate in the Monday, Jan. 27, News-Banner.

Friday, January 24, 2014

N-B Video: Education chief applauds county's 'great' school systems

Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz shares what she sees when visiting Wells County, like she did Friday, Jan. 24. Learn more in the Saturday, Jan. 25, News-Banner. (Video by Jessica Williams)

N-B Numbers: County claims $100K in winter storm costs

The county is claiming $100,666 in damages and expenses due to the snow storm earlier this month. For more information, pick up the Friday, Jan. 24, News-Banner.

City of Bluffton:

• Electric Department:
     Labor $5,452.19
     Vehicle $2,397.95
• Water Distribution:
     Labor $1,095.13
     Vehicle $862.60
• Water Filtration:
     Labor $213.65
     Equipment damage $600
• Waste Water:
     Labor $1,657.91
     Vehicle $1,544
     Equipment $4,700
• Parks Department:
     Labor $758
     Vehicle $522.40
• City Street Department:
     Labor $2,632.72
     Vehicle $3,577.50
     Material $6,671.20
     Contractor $5,812.22
• Bluffton Fire Department:
     Labor $17,548.70
     Miscellaneous $821.31
Total: $56,867.48

Town of Ossian:
     Salt 20T $1,241.50
     Diesel $282.72
     Gas $315.45
     Equipment $8,559.50
     Employee cost $4,148.31
Total: $14,547.47

County Highway:
• Jan. 5
     Labor $544.05
     Equipment $495
• Jan. 6
     Labor $5,814.41
     Equipment $5,128.70
• Jan. 7
     Labor $6,166.51
     Equipment $5,237

Thursday, January 23, 2014

N-B Numbers: Who should serve on the Area Plan Commission?

The Wells County Area Plan Commission will work on its membership roster at its Thursday, Feb. 6, meeting, and will take public comment about possible changes.

The upcoming meeting and conversation was inspired by the county’s new comprehensive plan, which went into effect Jan. 1; it included an action point that the APC review its membership to be sure rural areas were adequately represented

Michael Lautzenheiser Jr., executive director of the Area Plan office, notes that 52 percent of Wells County’s population lives in an incorporated area and 48 percent does not. “If using population (is) your only guide, then the best options would be those that give a slight edge to urban members vs. rural members,” he writes in his advisory opinion for the board. “This exists in the existing board and Option 1.”

After the matter was discussed at the APC’s Jan. 2 meeting, Lautzenheiser has come back with five recommendations, including two new options for representation. The recommendations reflect Indiana state law by having at least one member from each participating legislative body.

Learn more in the Thursday, Jan. 23, News-Banner. Click here to read through Indiana code regarding APC membership.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

N-B Feedback: Building inspectors, parking and graduations

A proposal to put a building code ordinance in place for the city of Bluffton received scant attention Tuesday night, after members of the Bluffton Common Council discussed other matters during their meeting at City Hall.

But earlier that day, County Commissioners told Mayor Ted Ellis that they weren't interested.
This city will pursue the matter further at future meetings, but meanwhile, tell us in the comments section what you think. Click here to see the proposed building inspection ordinance.

Tell us too about downtown parking. Leon Gaiser of Parlor City Cabinetry had a simple request: Could the two-hour parking restriction in the 100 block of West Perry Street be eliminated?

The answers, from the five members of the Bluffton Common Council, were yes, no, maybe, and let’s talk about it some more. What do you say? Should more streets be open? Should the city allow an annual pass?

Also, what should Southern Wells High School do about commencement? That was the question posed by Superintendent Jim Craig to members of the Southern Wells School Board Tuesday night.

“Right now, we will have to go to school on the day after graduation,” Craig informed the board members.

Board members discussed pushing the commencement date back, but they didn't take any action. Tell us what you think they should do.

Learn more about both issues in the Wednesday, Jan. 22, News-Banner.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

N-B Links: County Relay for Life holds 2014 kick-off

The Relay for Life has pledged to "Finish the Fight" against cancer this year as its theme, and Wells County participants officially started their efforts Monday during their kick-off meeting.

They discussed details for the annual event, while Bluffton resident and cancer survivor Phil Gagle spoke about his struggles with Stage 3 tongue cancer.

Learn more about Monday's meeting in the Tuesday, Jan. 21, News-Banner, and click here to learn more about the county's Relay for Life.

Monday, January 20, 2014

N-B Feedback: Should the county use a building inspector?

Bluffton Mayor Ted Ellis wants to know something, once and for all, before the city opts for a building code and a building inspector on its own: Does Wells County want to join in?

So Tuesday, Ellis is going to discuss the idea with the Wells County Commissioners in the morning and then possibly discuss it more with the city’s Common Council members in the evening.

The purpose for Ellis’s visit to the County Commissioners is a simple one: If the county does want to work with the city, even at this late date, accommodations can be made. If that doesn’t happen, the city will go it alone.

Tell us in the comments below if the county should follow the city's lead, or should the city stop pursuing the position? What are your concerns? What are your hopes?

Friday, January 17, 2014

N-B Feedback: Loving to learn

Lancaster Central Elementary first-grade teacher Deanna Elzey is Wells County's Educator of the Year, and the Chamber of Commerce will honor her at its annual dinner Monday, Jan. 27.

Learn more about Elzey in the Friday, Jan. 17, News-Banner, and tell us in the comments section how a teacher or mentor helped you or turned the classroom into an adventure.

The News-Banner will announce the citizen and business of the year in the Saturday, Jan. 18, and Monday, Jan. 20, News-Banner.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

What's in a grade?

The Indiana Department of Education released its grades for school corporations Wednesday morning, but the release did not explain the variables or calculations that created the grades.

DOE spokesman Daniel Altman, however, shared the rational Wednesday afternoon:

• A corporation is essentially treated as a combined school with an elementary component, a high school component, and an overall weighted average of the two for the final corporation grade.
• The corporation grades are not a sum of the school grades. Students can be included in the corporation grade that were not included in school calculations. For example, a student may be enrolled in school 1 for 90 days and school 2 for 90 days. The student is not included in performance calculations for either school 1 or 2 because the 162 minimum enrollment days was not met. However, corp A (which contains school 1 and 2) is accountable for this student because the student was enrolled in the corporation for 180 days.
• Corporations proficiency cannot exceed 1 percent ISTAR proficiency and 2 percent IMAST proficiency unless an exemption is granted per USDOE guidelines. Students must be removed from the proficiency count if the caps are exceeded and an exemption is not granted.

Learn more in the Wednesday, Jan. 15, News-Banner.

Markle rezoned to fix issues

The Markle Town Council rezoned almost half of the town – about 325 acres of the town's 740 acres – Wednesday evening.

But that's to fix legal noncompliant issues and  better reflect what's already in place in the town, said Mark Mussman, executive director of Huntington Countywide Department of Community Development.

According to a letter submitted to the council from Mussman, here is a breakdown of the new zoning changes in Markle:

• About four acres from R-2 (residential, single-family units, with a front yard setback of 75 feet) to General Business: location of the gas station/convenience store at the corner of U.S. 224 and Ind. 116. Corrects nonconforming uses.

• About 17 acres from R-2 to R-4 (single- or two-family units with a front yard setback of 25 feet): corrects all nonconforming lot sizes and many nonconforming setback issues.

• About 5 acres from Local Business (for residential or professional/business/retail units) to General Business (variety of commercial allowances). Corrects nonconforming uses. All of the existing uses on the proposed change are not allowed in LB zone.

• About 105 acres from R-2 to R-8 (highly dense residential). Corrects lot size and setback nonconformities.

• About 14 acres from R-4 to R-8. Corrects lot size nonformities.

• About 20 acres from GB, LB and R-4 to Central Business ("central core area of town). This is the central business district of the Town of Markle. This corrects all lot size and setback issues. All of the existing uses are allowed in CB zone.

Learn more in the Thursday, Jan. 16, News-Banner.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

N-B Links: More grades for school districts and animal rights vs. property rights

The Indiana Department of Education released school corporation grades Wednesday morning, and according to the data, Wells County's three public school corporations each earned an A, like last year.

To see how the other 286 corporations did, click here.

Meanwhile, also down in Indianapolis, a proposal that State Sen. Travis Holdman created to crack down on secret videotaping at Indiana farms was rewritten this legislative session to focus on trespassing, after animal-rights activists expressed concerns the effort could discourage whistleblowers from reporting animal cruelty on factory farms.

Learn more about the discussions — and other Statehouse news — in the Wednesay, Jan. 15, News-Banner, and click here to keep track of all the bills introduced this session.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Ossian weighs pros and cons of TIF districts

Ossian Town Council members Monday night discussed the first step toward what they hope will make Ossian more attractive to business and industry.

Members Brad Pursley, Tom Neuenschwander, Josh Barkley and Bill Miller discussed forming a Tax Increment Financing district that will capture new tax revenues and channel those revenues toward the development of, in Ossian’s case, open ground to attract new industries to the town.
Typically with a TIF, a community issues a municipal bond to pay for building a new street, sewers and water lines and then uses that as a selling tool to attract a new industry. Or, if an industry expresses a desire to build a new factory in the town, the town could establish a TIF district to recoup debt generated by necessary infrastructure improvements.

The TIF district allows the additional property tax revenue that’s generated by a new industry to be channeled toward repaying the bonds or debt created in some other manner. Schools, libraries, and the county receive only the taxes that were generated by the property prior to the arrival of the industry.

Click here to see a visual representation, and learn more in the Tuesday, Jan. 14, News-Banner.

Friday, January 10, 2014

N-B Video: Conquering the snow

Take a trip down the sledding hill just south of Lancaster Central Elementary School. (Video by Chet Baumgartner)

N-B Feedback: Send us your photos

The county’s winter weather seems to be receding for now, but before its gone, send us your winter-time photos, or share your favorite homebound activities. E-mail chetb@news-banner.com, and perhaps we'll feature them on the blog.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

N-B Numbers: County Council learns of possible bridge and culvert project costs

The Wells County Commissioners have been discussing the numbers for a month, but now the Wells County Council got an introduction Wednesday evening to the bridge, small culvert and similar projects the commissioners wish to do this year and their respective price tags.
Leo Rumschlag's bridge inspection is ongoing.
Here's a breakdown:
• Bridge at 300W at 410N: $100,000
• Pipe project at 500W at 550S: $3,000
• Drop box at 1100N at 375E: $8,050
• Rumschlag's small structure inspection: $35,000
• Bridge at 1000S and 60W: $375,000
• Culvert at 500S at 220W: $59,000
• Culvert at 1050N at 165E: $62,000
• White Bridge repairs: $126,824
• Guardrail projects: $30,000
• Three culvert projects at 300W and 770N, 300W and 890N, and 300W at 910N: $150,000
• USI maintenance list of 46 bridges: $50,000
The total comes in at about $1 million.

The council learned Wednesday that the CEDIT funds for bridges had a $212,574.23 balance at the end of 2013. Appropriations for 2014 is an additional $400,000.

In the council's packet of information, they learned there are 131 bridges, which meet the requirement of 20 feet and longer. There are 1,782 "small structures," with 503 of them measuring 31 inches in diameter to the 20-foot bridges.

Learn more in the Thursday, Jan. 9, News-Banner.

Space heater ignites fire in car

A car fire at 2455 Northwest St. in Craigville almost ignited a garage — and possibly the attached residence — at 12:23 p.m. Wednesday after residents used a large, portable LP gas heater to warm it up.

Learn more in the Thursday, Jan. 9, News-Banner, and stay safe with the following tips:
  • Keep all space heaters at least 3 feet away from household combustibles.
  • Use space heaters only as a supplementary source of heat. These devices are not intended to replace the home's heating system.
  • Do not use extension cords with space heaters unless absolutely necessary.
  • Inspect the heater's cord periodically to look for frayed wire or damaged insulation. Do not use a space heater with a damaged cord.
  • Check periodically for a secure plug/outlet fit. If the plug becomes very hot, the outlet may need to be replaced by a qualified technician. This could be the sign of a potential home wiring issue.
  • Heaters should be placed on a flat, level surface. Do not place heaters on furniture since they may fall and become damaged or break parts in the heater.
  • Unless the heater is designed for use outdoors or in bathrooms, do not use in damp, wet areas.
  • Look for the UL Mark on your electric heater. This means representative samples of the appliance have met UL's stringent safety standards.
  • If you have a liquid-fueled space heater, use only the fuel recommended by the manufacturer. The wrong fuel could burn hotter than the equipment was designed for and cause a serious fire.
  • When refueling, turn off the heater and let it cool down completely before adding fuel. Wipe away any spills promptly.
  • Before you buy a kerosene heater, check with your local fire department to ensure that it is legal.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

N-B Feedback: Winter's misery goes on

The county’s travel restrictions have been extended until 6 p.m. Tuesday, while residents await plows to clear away roads.

While waiting, though, send us your winter-time photos, or share your favorite homebound activities. E-mail chetb@news-banner.com, and perhaps we'll feature them on the blog.

Learn more about the county's current conditions, and see some photos for inspiration, in the Tuesday, Jan. 7, News-Banner.

Friday, January 3, 2014

A bitter blast of winter is coming

Mayor Ted Ellis issued the following release in anticipation of heavy snow predicted. Learn more in the Saturday, Jan. 4, News-Banner.

The National Weather Service has predicted that a significant amount of snow will fall in Bluffton over the next few days.

If the NWS predictions are correct, the City of Bluffton will respond as follows:

While snow is falling and drifting,  Street crews will plow major arteries hourly to ensure that major routes are open to emergency traffic. Those arteries are:  Adams, Bond, Clark, East Dustman, Elm Grove, River, Lancaster, Madison, Market, Monroe, Silver, Spring, Stogdill, Wayne, Wabash, Western, Washington and Wiley. The Indiana Department of Transportation is responsible for state routes (Main, West Dustman, Division and Harrison

When the snow and winds subside, street crews will begin clearing other streets. It takes approximately eight (8) hours to plow every street one time. Plows are stationed in each section of the city;  therefore, sections will be cleared simultaneously.

Downtown: City parking lots will be plowed before 7:30 a.m. each weekday morning;  however, blowing snow may make parking difficult during the day. In the event of a heavy snow, the snow will be removed from the downtown at a designated evening.

The Parks Department will attempt to plow a walking area throughout the downtown during the snowstorm; however, clearing of sidewalks remains the responsibility of building owners and tenants.

The city will apply ice-melting chemicals to streets; however, the effectiveness of these chemicals decreases dramatically when temperatures are below 20 degrees.

Residents are asked to use off-street parking in residential areas if possible to minimize the chance of accidental damage from snow plows. When clearing sidewalks and driveways, snow should not be thrown or blown into the streets.

The city does NOT anticipate declaring a snow emergency unless conditions become worse than currently predicted. Snow Emergency information will be available via the city¹s website (www.BlufftonIndiana.net), WellsCountyVoice.com  and the Bluffton News-Banner.

N-B Feedback: Where should CAFOs go?

A concentrated animal feeding operation was approved Thursday night for an area in Nottingham Township.

One neighbor did speak in opposition to the proposal. Ray Hartman, who lives at 1244E-900S, expressed concerns about the water table and also expressed concerns about odor. He said there are several CAFO’s near his property, and there will be more odor with this one.

“There is so many in the area,” Hartman said. “I think we have enough already.”

APC President Jerome Markley, however, said the county’s current CAFO ordinance does not have any restrictions as to how many can be in an area.

Instead, the ordinance specifies how far from buildings and businesses a person can build a CAFO.

Learn more about the county's requirements by clicking here (the CAFO requirements start on Page 68); learn more about CAFOs in general by clicking here, and share your feedback in the comments section? Should there be limits on the number of CAFOS? Should the maximum number of animals be reduced?

Learn more in the Friday, Jan. 3, News-Banner.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

N-B Links: Get ready for the cold

Temperatures should stay within double digits through the weekend, but Sunday night, they drop to a low of 5 degrees.

And then it will get cold, forecasters say.

Learn more about the impending cold spell in the Thursday, Jan. 2, News-Banner, and learn more about the state's different warnings and travel conditions by clicking here.

N-B Numbers: Fatal traffic accidents in Wells County

Two motorists were killed in traffic accidents in rural Wells County in 2013, making it the  fourth year in a row that two people have lost their lives in Wells car crashes.

News-Banner reporter Justin Peeper has once again looked statistically at the crashes in the county, and he has calculated the following numbers:

Learn more in the Thursday, Jan. 2, News-Banner.