On the Beat in Bluffton

Friday, February 28, 2014

N-B Video: Susan B. Anthony, Leonardo da Vinci and more visit Southern Wells

The Southern Wells sixth-grade students held their annual wax museum Friday, Feb. 28. Students dressed as historical characters and shared their life stories with parents, visitors and other students. (Video by Jessica Williams)

N-B Photos: Southern Wells hosts annual wax museum

The sixth grade students of Southern Wells hosted their annual wax museum program Friday for parents and fellow students. There were 27 different historical figures portrayed, including Susan B. Anthony, Henry Ford, William Shakespeare, John Deere, Anne Frank and Thomas Jefferson. (Photos by Jessica Williams)

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Mayor Ted Ellis gives State of the City address

Mayor Ted Ellis, during his annual State of the City address, announced that a public-private partnership will provide better signage for the Bluffton Decker Industrial Park on Bluffton’s west side, and he also said the city will eventually implement similar-looking signs throughout other Bluffton as well.

The following illustrations, provided by Ellis, depicts the future of Bluffton's signs. Learn more in the Thursday, Feb. 27, News-Banner. To read Ellis' entire speech, click here.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

N-B Feedback: Alleged theft ring members make court appearances

Preliminary pleas of not guilty were entered this week for five people allegedly involved in a slew of thefts last year.

The accused associates were arrested for several incidents around the county last summer and fall.

At least four victims were specifically listed in court documents.

On at least two occasions, the suspects were accused of entering the homes of family and acquaintances under the pretense of performing work and stealing items such as jewelry and garbage bags full of model trains.

Also, according to court documents, the suspects sold some of the items through at least one pawn shop.

Currently, Bluffton has no pawn shop ordinance, but Fort Wayne does, and it requires that "pawn shop dealers shall submit to the Fort Wayne Police Department each business day, all required data set forth by Fort Wayne Police Department regarding items pawned at that business during the preceding 24-hour period of operation."

Furthermore, the ordinance states that "all goods or articles containing valuable metals purchased ... shall be retained ... for a period of not less than 36 hours after its receipt before any such goods or articles may be disposed of or sold."

Should Bluffton consider a similar ordinance? Should pawn shop dealers have to wait before selling jewelry or any item? How long should they wait? Tell us in the comments section below, and learn more in the Wednesday, Feb. 26, News-Banner.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Remodel of Bluffton-Harrison elementary school may cost $10M

Bluffton-Harrison Superintendent Wayne Barker told school board members Monday that he currently anticipates spending about $10 million to renovate the elementary school.

But, he said, he also hopes to reduce that cost as others finalize more details.

Regardless, though, Jim Elizondo of City Securities will attend the March 17 board meeting to more specifically discuss the proposed renovations’ impact to taxpayers.

Barker said he will also recommend to board members in March that they hire Dan Rawlins of InterDesign to essentially coordinate the renovation work.

In December, he first introduced school board members to a proposed — and hypothetical — remodeled and expanded school that could accommodate the increase and help maintain the average teacher-student ratio at about its current levels.

Click on the illustrations to see the current layout and the layout Barker and board members reviewed Monday. Learn more in the Tuesday, Feb. 25, News-Banner.

Current layout

Hypothetical layout

Bluffton-Harrison turns doors into books for "We Love Reading" Month

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 second “We Love Reading” month.
The students each designated the best door among the grade levels and among nonclassroom doors, and then they selected a best overall door from among their earlier choices.
Becky Stotlar's class won the first-grade award. Pictured are, left to right, McKenna Bunch, Noemi Real,
Joselyn Mason, Averi Petty and Dakota Jennins

Shelbi Zelt's class won the fourth-grade award. Pictured above are, left to right, Zelt, Garrett Pauley,
Hannah Laughery, Lily Paul, Makayla Robles and Wyatt Girod.

Stephanie Hiday's class won the kindergarten award. Pictured above are, left to right, Hiday,
Jake Boots, Alyssa Hartman, Jacob Huffman and Gabrielle VanCamp.

The front office won the best nonclassroom door.

Principal Julie Meitzler won the best overall door with her basketball hoop,
inspired by the book "Hoop Kings."

Lindsay Schroeder's class won the second-grade award. Pictured above are, left to right, Allison Tungate,
Andrew Hunt, Kader Simpson, Zoe Morrison, Marina Reynolds, Caleb Gerber, Schroeder and Coral Neuenschwander.

Jenny Lambert's class won the third-grade award.

Friday, February 21, 2014

N-B Links: Norwell student revives his mother after learning CPR, rescue breathing in classroom

Austin Combs had about 10 minutes to prevent irrevocable brain damage.

His mother wasn’t breathing — and wouldn’t wake up after lying down — and the only other adult was talking to the 911 dispatcher.

But 12-year-old Combs, a seventh-grade student at Norwell Middle School, enrolled in Aquatics Director Jon Gates’ aquatics class the semester before, and he learned on a mannequin how to perform CPR and give rescue breaths.

And by the time Wells County EMS arrived at the Ossian residence, Combs’ mother could tell them to return to the hospital without her.

Her son had done his homework that Friday night.

Learn more in the Saturday, Feb. 22, News-Banner, and click on the links for the American Red Cross and the American Heart Association, both of which offer online CPR/rescue classes.

N-B Links: State proposes new education standards

The Indiana Department of Education Wednesday published possible new standards to measure the effectiveness of a classroom curriculum, and a Wells County educator said he believes both proponents and opponents of the controversial Common Core will support them.

“Both sides are going to claim victory,” said Bluffton High School Principal Steve Baker, who sits on the Education Roundtable, which recommends policies such as standards to the State Board of Education, which ultimately approves them.

The Roundtable recommended the social studies standards at their Thursday meeting and will review language arts and math standards at the March meeting.

Baker said he expects the State Board to approve those in April.

Before then, though, the DOE is soliciting public feedback. Click here to read through the standards and to provide feedback.

N-B Numbers: Town of Markle report details water usage

Markle Town Supervisor Rick Asher presented his 2013 report to the Markle Town Council Wednesday evening. Water main breaks are to blame for an unusually high percentage of unaccounted water.

Learn more in the Friday, Feb. 21, News-Banner.

Here are some more water figures from the report:

• Gallons Pumped Raw: 47,909,000

• Gallons Sold: 29,552,100

• Average Daily Pumped: 129,156

• Average Daily Sold: 80,955

• Monthly Average Pumped: 3,992,417 gallons

• Monthly Average Sold: 2,462,675 gallons

Accountable water used but not sold:

• Water Plant: 1,203,320

• Town Hall: 27,540

• Markle Park: 631,200

• Hydrant flushing: 150,000

• Library branch: 8,120

N-B Videos: Anti-bullying coach "Mr. MOJO" visits Norwell

National anti-bullying coach Travis Brown (aka Mr. MOJO) spoke with Norwell Middle School and High School students Thursday morning. Brown, who lives in Indianapolis, has appeared on the MTV show, "Made." He has also traveled across the country speaking to groups, including the Pittsburgh Steelers and Chicago Bears.

To learn more about Brown's program, click here.

Below is a video he shot with students during his talk:

Thursday, February 20, 2014

N-B Video: County students C-O-M-P-E-T-E for spelling bee crown

After four rounds of slinging syllables, two students try to outspell each other in the final round of the Wells County spelling bee Wednesday, Feb. 19, and earn the right to represent the county at the regional bee in Fort Wayne. Seven students attended the annual contest, but only two were still spelling by the end of the second round. Learn more about the contest in the Thursday, Feb. 20, News-Banner. (Video by Chet Baumgartner)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

N-B Numbers: Recycling Center upcoming construction, Commissioners' monthly ED report

The Wells County Solid Waste District approved Tuesday the building of a new waiting area for employees of the Recycling Center.

Here's a break-down of the costs:

• 10-foot-by-12-foot barn with 8-foot ceiling, 8 foot walls, insulated floors, two 36-inch doors and a glass window: $2,800
• Heating/cooling system: $450
• Wire, receptacles, boxes: $100
• Wall insulation: $120
• Drywall: $120
Total: $3,590

The Wells County Commissioners also received the January economic development summary from Economic Development Director Tim Ehlerding.

On top of the Penda Corp. (Fabri Form) expansion – more information on this announcement is in the Wednesday, Feb. 19, News-Banner – two additional announcements on industry expansions are expected in the next month, Ehlerding said.

Expansions from 2013 include:

• Metaldyne: Added 45 jobs and $15 million in investment
• TI Automotive: Added 25 jobs and $5 million in investment
• Inventure Foods: Added 30 jobs and $6 million in investment
• Bluffton Motor Works: Added 25 jobs with company acquisition
• Perma-Column: New expansion in Ossian

Learn more in the Wednesday, Feb. 19, News-Banner.

N-B Links: Northern Wells school board seeking input on snow make-up days

The board of Northern Wells Community Schools wants input from its parents and stakeholders on how to handle the snow make-up days. Ideas and concerns were discussed at the board's meeting Tuesday evening, but ultimately any decision was postponed until March.

To take the corporation's survey, as well as view the results from Superintendent Scott Mill's 24-hour "unscientific Twitter poll," click here, and share your feedback with us in the comments section.

The board of Southern Wells Community Schools, however, voted Tuesday to add an extra hour onto the day starting Monday through April 11.

Learn more on both of the decisions in the Wednesday, Feb. 19, News-Banner.

Monday, February 17, 2014

N-B Links: Preventing car fires

Firefighters from three departments spent about four hours Saturday afternoon battling a blaze in a large garage at a residence on Ind. 116 northwest of Bluffton.

The call was placed at 2:40 p.m. after Phil Habegger tried to start his 2001 Chevrolet Monte Carlo in the garage. When he turned the key, he heard a loud bang and then heard a sizzling sound coming from underneath the hood.

Learn more in the Monday, Feb. 17, News-Banner, and click here for a "Car Fire Safety" sheet from the National Fire Protection Association.

Daddies and daughters dance the night away

The Bluffton Parks and Recreation Department held its annual Mother/Son and Daddy/Daughter dance Sunday. The Daddy/Daughter attendance was 357, while the Mother/Son attendance was 112. (Photo submitted)

Friday, February 14, 2014

Schools compensate for cancelled classes

The Indiana Department of Education will allow schools to lengthen the school day, teach class on Saturday or adjust holidays to compensate for cancellations, according to a release Thursday.

And with official permission and parameters, Northern Wells Superintendent Scott Mills said NWCS board members will decide how to compensate for the cancellations when they meet at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Southern Wells Superintendent Jim Craig said board members will discuss at their 5 p.m. meeting Tuesday how to recover their lost days.

Before then, though, you can contact board members to share your opinion:

Northern Wells:
• Scott Elzey (Rockcreek Township), president, no phone number provided.
• Donna Spear (Union Township), vice president, 260-638-4296.   
• Marc Fillers (At-large), secretary, 260-747-7700 ext. 111.
• Gene Donaghy (Jefferson Township), 260-437-9823.
• Angie Topp (Lancaster Township), 827-0461.

Southern Wells:
• Chad Roush, secretary (Jackson Twp.), 765-348-6234.
• Doug Klefeker, president (Nottingham Twp.), 346-2177.
• Robert Prible, liaison (Chester Township), 765-728-2400.
• Chris Smith, vice president (Liberty Twp.), 694-6848.

Bluffton-Harrison Superintendent Wayne Barker said he will meet with the teachers association next week, but until then, “We won’t have really any indication publicly what we’ll do.”

Bluffton-Harrison school board members, however, could also discuss it during their Monday, Feb. 24, board meeting. Contact them at the numbers below.

• Daryl Elliott (District 1), 273-9655
• Dawn Frauhiger (District 2), vice president 824-5317
• Heath Schlagenhauf (District 3), 334-5387
• Jarrod Gerber (at-large), secretary, 827-0840
• Brent Hiday, (at-large), president 824-5215

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Smith-Lever Act created Cooperative Extension Service one century ago

The Wells County Purdue Extension Service is looking to celebrate the Smith-Lever Act throughout this year.

The act created the Cooperative Extension Service, "a unique educational partnership between the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the nation's land-grant universities that extends research-based knowledge through a state-by-state network of extension educators," the Wells County service's annual report reads.

"For 100 years, the Smith-Lever Act has stimulated innovative research and vital educational programs for youth and adults through progressive information delivery systems that improved lives and shaped a nation," the report continues.

In addition to the 4-H program, feeding hungry kids, teaching nutrition classes, and providing safe cribs for infants, the Wells County Purdue Extension Service also:

• Organizes the Bluffton Farmer's Market
• Promotes conservation of natural resources and job readiness for youth
• Participates in various community engagement opportunities, from Citizens Against Drug Abuse to the Wells County Leadership Academy and Wells County Teen Court.

For more information on the national celebration, click here.

Learn more on the Wells County Purdue Extension Service's annual report in the Thursday, Feb. 13, News-Banner.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

N-B Feedback: Coping with cancellations

School leaders in Wells County say they will or expect to delay the ISTEP test as students and teachers catch up and cope with cancellations, and they are also awaiting to hear from the Indiana Department of Education, which said it will soon outline ways for schools to replace canceled days. 

For instance, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz told the Indianapolis Star that a district could add an additional hour to six school days to make up for one lost day. Schools with the technology could provide weekend instruction over the Internet.

Learn more in the Wednesday, Feb. 12, News-Banner, and tell us in the comments section what schools should do. Add an hour? Go on Saturday? Miss spring break?

Tell us what you think about this winter too at our online poll at www.news-banner.com.

Are you standing like a bandicoot or mad as a cut snake?

For two weeks, Ginny Fenstermaker, the former director of Bluffton-based Family Centered Services, will shadow youth workers in New Zealand and Australia as part of an international exchange program. 

Group members are scheduled to arrive in New Zealand March 10. From March 10-15, the group will stay in hosts’ homes and visit sites in Auckland and Christchurch.

The group will then go to Australia March 16, participating in similar stays and visits in Melbourne and Sydney until March 22. The group is slated to return to the United States March 23.

The program has several purposes for the trip, including grasping a better understanding of the two countries’ cultures, and through that, perhaps Fenstermaker will pick up some of the countries ... odd ... colloquialisms, such as
  • "Flat out like a lizard drinking" (working very hard on a task).
  • "Standing like a bandicoot on a burnt ridge" (feeling lonely and vulnerable).
  • Dazed and confused, someone will wander 'like a stunned mullet.'
  • In a furious rage, they will be "mad as a cut snake."
  • In a state of undeniable lifelessness they will be "dead as a maggot."
  • "All prick and ribs like a drover's dog" means lean but eager.
  • "Dead horse" is Australian rhyming slang for "tomato sauce," so Fenstermaker might hear "Pass the dead horse."
  • "You fair dinkum?" means "Are you sincere?"
  • "I'm stuffed" has at least three different meanings: "I'm tired," "I'm in trouble" or "I'm full."
Learn more about Fenstermaker's trip to the land Down Under in the Wednesday, Feb. 12, News-Banner, and learn more about Australia's language by clicking here or here.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Congressman's mobile offer to stop in Bluffton

U.S. Congressman Marlin Stutzman’s mobile office will be open Wednesday, Feb. 12, at the Art, Commerce, and Visitors Centre, 211 Water St., in Bluffton. Stutzman’s staff will be available to assist Hoosiers between 1 - 3 p.m.

Bluffton resident seeks to stop Main Street construction work

Leonard Taylor has not been happy about the proposed changes on South Main Street. He doesn’t own or have any financial interest in the businesses there. But he’d like to put a stop to it.
After Taylor got some advice from Mayor Ted Ellis on how to word a petition, he has begun a furious effort to gather as many signatures as he can in as short a time as possible. 

Learn more in the Tuesday, Feb. 11, News-Banner, and to download Taylor's petition, click here.

N-B Links: Estimate your tax bill

The Department of Local Government Finance certified the county’s 2014 budget order and tax rates last week, but for two municipalities the numbers look different from what was submitted.

The Town of Ossian did not advertise its adopted 2014 budget by the deadline, so the town’s budget will “revert to last year’s budget,” Clerk Treasurer Jeanette Dickey explained Friday.

Also, according to the DLGF, Bluffton’s General Fund was decreased because “projected revenues are insufficient to fund the adopted budget.”

Mayor Ted Ellis explained, though, that this is normal as a “cushion” is budgeted. He added what the DLGF approved is sufficient.

Learn more in the Tuesday, Feb. 11, News-Banner, and to estimate your tax bill, click on this link.

Monday, February 10, 2014

N-B Video: Boy scouts learn to fight like the pioneers

A boy scout aims a wooden model based on a Revolutionary War musket at the KOA Campground Saturday, when he and about 100 other scouts representing 10 troops from Wells, Adams, Jay and Huntington counties spent about eight hours during the scouts’ annual Klondike Derby camping outing. While braving the cold and snow, scouts also earned their American Heritage Badge, learning about the Constitution, military formation and how to load a musket, though the scouts used sand instead of gun powder. (Video by Chet Baumgartner)

N-B Photos: Taking on the cold

Oh the weather outside was frightful this weekend, but that didn't stop Boys Scouts and county residents from enjoying the below-freezing outdoors.

For about nine hours Saturday, about 100 scouts from Wells, Adams, Jay and Huntington counties traveled to the KOA campgrounds off Lancaster Street for their annual Klondike Derby camping outing.

That same morning, the Bluffton Parks Department held its Chilly Chili run at Ouabache State Park.

(Klondike Derby camping photos by Chet Baumgartner)

(Chilly Chili Run photos by Jessica Williams)

Friday, February 7, 2014

N-B Video: Rural Bluffton couple conquers Mount Kilimanjaro

After traveling to Tanzania to hike up Africa's tallest mountain, Jacob and Carrie Duke share how eager they are to return. Learn more in the Saturday, Feb. 8, News-Banner. (Video by Mark Miller)

Wells County Council approves Health Department grant funds

The Wells County Council approved appropriations for a Health Department reimbursement grant Thursday night.

According to the department's request, the purpose of the Public Health Preparedness Grant is to help Indiana award a grant from the state's federally funded Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Supplemental Fund of $15,000 to the Health Department.

This year's "funds are to be used to complete a medical countermeasure dispensing plan, execute a POD setup and throughput exercise, conduct volunteer call-down drills, participate in 800-MHz radio drills, (and) submit an updated training and exercise plan for (the Health Department)."

The county was approved for $14,958 to "purchase supplies, equipment and financially support the program, as well as employ a person to help with the execution" of the tasks.

For more information on the meeting, pick up the Friday, Feb. 7, News-Banner.

N-B Feedback: R.I.P. cursive? House Education chair says he won’t consider handwriting law

The effortlessly flowing form of penmanship known as cursive may flow effortlessly flat onto the Indiana Senate floor next week, never to be required in an Indiana schoolroom again.

Sen. Jean Leising, R-Oldenburg, who represents part of Henry County, has tried each year since 2011 to re-introduce through legislation cursive to the Common Core curriculum, when keyboarding made an appearance in new requirements and cursive was suddenly nowhere to be found. The Indiana Senate passed Leising’s bill January 23, but members of the House of Representatives don’t seem interested.

House Education Committee Chairman Bob Behning, R-Indianapolis, repeated his third refusal in as many years to hear Leising’s bill, claiming in no uncertain terms that he believed there were more important issues for the house to consider.

Tell us what you think, however, in the comments section below. Should the state require cursive, or is its handwriting already on the wall?

Thursday, February 6, 2014

N-B Feedback: Bluffton couple trapped in Atlanta

Elmer and Marcia Pate could sleep for about 15 minutes before the 14-degree temperature broke into their trapped car, where the two huddled beneath a blanket.
They couldn’t drive; they couldn’t idle for long without running out of gas, and no one could rescue them.
They were essentially trapped — along with thousands of others beside a city of almost 445,000 people.
The Bluffton couple spent about 21 hours in Atlanta in late January — including about nine hours stuck on a freeway — after three inches of snow and ice virtually shut down the city.

Learn more about their story in the Thursday, Feb. 6, News-Banner, and share your own travel horror stories in the comments section.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

N-B Photos: Fun at the Block Party

Numerous children played with blocks at the City Gym Tuesday, an activity promoted across the state by Purdue Extension offices.

A pamphlet handed out Tuesday promotes block play for its ability to teach math, science skills, social and physical skills.

Molly Hoag, health educator with the Wells County Extension Office, said the office hope to offer more Block Party events in the future.

According to the pamphlet, there are eight stages of block play:
• Discovering blocks
• Stacking blocks
• Complex stacking
• Making enclosures with blocks
• Creating bridges or arches with blocks
• Combining enclosures and bridges with blocks
• Building with patterns and symmetry
• Building block structures that represent objects for pretend play

To learn more about the benefits of block play, and about Block Party events, click here.

Below, children enjoy the Block Party Tuesday at the City Gym. (Photos by Jessica Williams)

N-B Numbers: The snow won't go.

Neil Ainslie, the National Weather Service observer in Wells County, said 5.2 inches of new snow and sleet fell between Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning. Ainslie says the total snow depth is now 9 inches.
We also asked our Facebook friends to report snowfall where they live:
• Sandra Davis: VanBuren received 8 inches. "That is just in the driveway!!!" she writes.
• William McBride: 7 inches in Willowbrook.
• Jennifer Cook: Between 8 and 9 inches in Uniondale.
• Jackie Dailey: About 9 inches in the 100 block of East Silver Street.
• Kim Donaghy Konuch: 9 inches in Zanesville.

Learn more in the Wednesday, Feb. 5, News-Banner.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

N-B Links: Rural Bluffton couple appears on "The Tonight Show"

The applause and cheers drowned out any chuckles when rural Bluffton residents Travis and Courtney Peeper appeared on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” stage Monday night to celebrate their last names.

“Who can forget the ‘Butt-Peeper’ wedding,” Leno said, introducing them. “Say hello to the Butt-Peepers.”

Leno’s producers asked them and nine other couples to appear after selecting them from among hundreds of other couples, whose last names combine into humorous and risque phrases — such as Travis Peeper and Courtney Butt.

Each couple’s wedding announcement had debuted sometime earlier in Leno’s more than 20 years of shows as part of his “Headlines” segment, which chronicles and lampoons the mistakes and bizarre phrases printed in newspapers across the country.

But for his last “Headlines” segment ever — Leno broadcasts his final show Thursday — producers wanted the people behind the paper for a “Best Wedding Couples” segment, and they paid for the Peepers’ travel expenses and accommodations, and an additional $500, to arrange their fame.

Watch the segment here, and learn more in the Saturday, Feb. 1, and Tuesday, Feb. 4, News-Banner.

N-B Video: Ossian Elementary students launch 100 balloons

To celebrate the 100th day of school this year, Ossian Elementary first-grade students, who are learning about 1's and 10's, unleashed 100 balloons Monday into the sky. The students counted to 100 by 10 before launching the legion of latex. (Video by Chet Baumgartner)

More winter weather coming ... again

By early Wednesday evening, there could be 10 inches of new snow covering Wells County.

The National Weather Service office for northern Indiana in North Webster has issued a winter storm warning, which went into effect at 1 p.m. today and is due to expire at 4 p.m. Wednesday.

Learn more in the Tuesday, Feb. 4, News-Banner.

The Indiana State Police has also released the following in anticipation of the weather.

Indiana’s next blast of winter weather is upon us. Warnings about hazardous driving conditions will be issued by city, county and state law enforcement as well as by local and national media. Many will heed the warnings. Many more will ignore the warnings. With another major storm approaching, the Indiana State Police, again, remind motorists to limit travel when possible. If travel is not necessary, then stay home. Most calls for service received by the Indiana State Police and other police agencies during winter storms are for crashes and motorists that slide off state roads and interstates. It is important to remember that snow and ice covered roads do not cause crashes. The crashes are caused by unsafe driving on the snow and ice covered roadway.

If you choose to drive during poor or hazardous driving conditions you must:

1.    Leave sooner and expect your travel time to be twice as long as normal
2.    Drive slower
3.    Increase the following distance between you and the vehicle in front of you by at least five times greater than normal
4.    Approach intersections with great care; other drivers not paying attention will slide through red lights
5.    Signal all lane changes and turning movements

The posted speed limit may be more than twice as fast as the reduced speed drivers should travel to reduce the possibility of a collision or loss of control that puts a vehicle into a retaining wall, ditch or another motorist. Indiana code 9-21-5-1 specifies “Speed shall be restricted as necessary to avoid colliding with a person, vehicle, or other conveyance on, near or entering a highway.” Motorists losing control of their vehicle or who are involved in a crash resulting in a police report should expect to be cited for this offense, which carries a maximum fine of $500.

If you are involved in a crash, are uninjured and all vehicles are drivable, involved drivers should move to a safe place completely off the road, be it the next exit or to the parking lot of a business to await law enforcement response for a police report. It is important to remember crashes involving injury or lane blockage receive priority attention ahead of property damage crashes. So, keep in mind, it may be an extended period of time before law enforcement arrives. The reason and purpose for moving drivable vehicles off the road is to avoid secondary crashes of other inattentive motorists crashing into your scene or sideswiping you if you’ve only moved to the side of the road.

Something else to keep in mind, crash scenes with vehicles disabled in the roadway and state police presence may have the state police vehicle facing the wrong way with emergency lights and headlights on. This is to warn approaching motorists of impending danger.

Remember, Indiana’s Move Over Law states motorists MUST change lanes away from the emergency or utility vehicle if they can do it SAFELY. If not possible to move away from the emergency vehicle, motorists must SLOW DOWN and proceed with caution. Please give us room to work. We are asking motorists to SLOW DOWN and/or MOVE OVER WHEN SAFE TO DO SO.

Vehicles included in the Move Over law are:
•    Police vehicles
•    Ambulances
•    Fire trucks and rescue equipment
•    Highway incident-response vehicles
•    Highway work vehicles-including snow plows
•    Vehicle recovery equipment (tow trucks)

The point of not calling police agencies for road information during snow emergencies cannot be overstressed. Calling police departments about road conditions may delay action on critical life emergency 911 calls. Road conditions are likely the same for the area you want to know about as it is looking out your front window.

Citizens calling state police facilities to ask for road conditions will be directed to either call the Indiana Department of Transportation’s Road and Weather automated system at 800-262-7623 or visit the INDOT traffic map at http://indot.carsprogram.org/main.jsf. The 800 phone service is voice activated and updated with timely road conditions across Indiana. The INDOT web link allows users to check on specific locations for current closures and other road information.

For Indiana County Travel Status Reports, visit this link: http://www.in.gov/dhs/traveladvisory.

Monday, February 3, 2014

N-B Links: State adoption tax credit plan: ‘Any amount is going to help’

Gov. Mike Pence is pushing the Indiana General Assembly to pass a tax credit that would help offset the costs of an adoption.

Jen Schwartz, adoption resource coordinator with Bluffton-based Loving Shepherd Ministries, said costs vary for the different types of adoptions.

She also said LSM has helped nearly 6,000 families in the past decade find adoption resources and agencies. That’s about 400 to 500 families each year.

Learn more about LSM's adoption resource services by clicking here; learn more about the proposed tax credit in the Monday, Feb. 3, News-Banner.