On the Beat in Bluffton

Friday, May 30, 2014

Man injured in ATV crash

A Bluffton man was flown by Lutheran Air early Thursday evening after crashing an all-terrain vehicle just west of the Meridian Road and U.S. 224 intersection.

Landon Ford, 21, suffered a head wound and a puncture wound in the lower abdomen, said Wells County Sheriff’s Deputy Russ Mounsey.

As of Friday morning, he was listed in fair condition at Lutheran Hospital in Fort Wayne.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that there are more than700 deaths and 100,000 injuries each year involving ATVs, but by following the organization's safety tips, it states, hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries related to ATVs could be prevented.

Stay Off of Paved Roads
  • ATVs are designed to be driven off-road terrain and are difficult to control on paved roads where they are at risk of overturning or colliding with cars and trucks.
  • In some states, it is illegal to ride ATVs on paved roads. Check the state or local laws and regulations where you plan to ride.
  • CPSC is deeply concerned that some states and local governments are changing their laws and ordinances to allow ATVs to be used on paved roads.  CPSC, the ATV industry, and consumer advocates are united in our belief that riding an ATV on a paved road can result in tragedy.
Never Allow Children Younger Than 16 on Adult ATVs
  • More than 90 percent of ATV-related injuries involving children can be attributed to a lack of developmental skills needed to maneuver the faster, more powerful adult ATVs.
  • Children younger than 16 should be on one of the age-appropriate youth models, which are required to travel at lower speeds than adult ATVs and to have an adjustable speed limiter.
  • All ATVs should be equipped with a label that indicates the manufacturer’s recommended age for that particular model.
  • Children younger than 6 years of age should never be on any ATV -- either as a driver or passenger.
Don’t Allow More People on the Vehicle Than It Was Designed to Carry
  • A single-rider ATV should only have one person on it -- the driver.
  • ATVs are designed for interactive riding. The driver must be able to shift his or her weight freely in all directions. Passengers can inhibit the driver’s ability to safely control the ATV and it could roll over or crash.
  • Most ATVs sold today are single-rider ATVs, which are not equipped with handholds or footrests for passengers.
 Always Wear a Helmet and Other Protective Gear
  • CPSC and the ATV Safety Institute recommend U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and/or the Snell Memorial Foundation (Snell) certified helmets.
  • Riders should also wear goggles, gloves, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, and over-the-ankle boots.
Get Hands-On Training
  • CPSC recommends that all ATV drivers -- adults and children -- take a hands-on ATV safety course from a qualified instructor.
  • Many deaths and injuries occur when an inexperienced driver loses control of an ATV, is thrown from an ATV, overturns the vehicle, or collides with a fixed object or a motor vehicle. Hands-on training can give experienced and first-time riders the skills to handle multiple riding situations that can happen in off-road conditions. 
  • Courses are offered by the ATV Safety Institute. Riders can also check with the National 4-H Council, local ATV rider groups, state agencies and some ATV manufacturers.
Learn more about the Wells County incident in the Friday, May 30, News-Banner, and learn more about ATV safety by clicking here.

N-B Photos: BHES celebrates the end of the school year

Bluffton-Harrison Elementary students in each grade played outside for 40 minutes outside during the school's annual Activity Day to celebrate the last day of the 2013-2014 school year. (Photos by Chet Baumgartner)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

‘Honor our fallen by teaching the living’

Monday’s lesson was clear and it was simple: Be a patriot.

For its teacher, though, the last nine years have been anything but easy.

Standing in front of a crowd of people, first in a park and then in a cemetery, Bluffton native Michele Hiester Marcum detailed how her life was defined nearly a decade ago, she said, when two uniformed men brought news her family didn’t want to hear.

“My brother wasn’t coming home,” she recalled Monday morning, during both the Bluffton and Ossian Memorial Day services.

Learn more in the Tuesday, May 27 

During her speech, Marcum  also instructed the crowds how to be more patriotic in 18 ways.

• Speak the names of the fallen - Learn who they were, what they stood for, who they might have become.
• Visit a grave, buy a poppy, shake the hand of a veteran - Life is short and wasted opportunities can never be recaptured.
• When the anthem rings, remove your hat - It’s a simple act but speaks volumes to those around you.
• Place your right hand over your heart - as you remember that the hearts of many no longer beat ... just so that you can have the freedom to cover yours.
• Actually pledge the Pledge of Allegiance rather than merely reciting it. I pledge Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America ...
• Enjoy your freedoms by voting every chance you get - Better yet, take your children and grandchildren with you, and let them witness democracy in action.
• Thank the teacher who impressed upon you the significance of casting your first vote. (Thank you, Mr. Kracium!)
• When parades march through with our colors at the lead, be the first to rise and the last to sit.
• And when our beloved military passes by, get on your feet and lead the standing ovation.
• Visit Arlington at least once so you can fully comprehend the cost of that silence.
• Raise your own flag, whether at work or at home. And remember to replace her when she becomes worn.
• Know that children are watching. Adults, too. Never pass up an opportunity to be a good citizen.
• Do not partake in the chatter around you during the national anthem. Be the quiet example.
• Learn all you can in history class, because it really is important, after all.
• Exchange the attitude for some gratitude, and sleep knowing our nation is incredibly blessed.
• Be a mentor, be a leader, be a patriot.
• Never miss the chance to model, to teach, to impress upon someone the sacrifices made on their behalf.
• Make Memorial Day a way of life and not just a day.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

N-B Photos: Lancaster Central holds annual Field Day

Students ran, tugged, twirled, jumped, crawled, built and soaked each other at almost 15 stations — such as the “Jump Rope Splash,” the “Greased Pig Relay,” and “Beach Relay” — during the school's annual Field Day. (Photos by Chet Baumgartner)

Friday, May 23, 2014

N-B Video: City dedicates new park

A new children’s playground area, targeted for children 2 through 6 years of age, was dedicated Thursday afternoon at Washington Park, and a Boy Scout, Austin Mario Gieg Menchaca, did much of the placing of the 104 cubic yards Fibar safety playground mulch as part of his Eagle Scout project, working five days on it with the help of family and friends — and the occasional park visitor who just wanted to pitch in. Learn more in the Friday, May 23, News-Banner. (Video by Dave Schultz) 

Below, many children from around the city helped spread mulch before the park's opening just because. (Photo by Jessica Williams)

N-B Photos: Keeping time back in time

Southern Wells sixth-grade students traveled through America’s musical lineage — from the Charleston in the 1920s to the Bee Gees’ hit “Staying Alive” from the ’70s — during the school's annual Spring Fling music program Thursday night. (Photos by Chet Baumgartner)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

N-B Links: Superintendent’s contract reviewed by SW board

Members of the Southern Wells School Board Tuesday held a public hearing on Superintendent Jim Craig’s contract for the 2013-14 school year.

The public hearing is a new step required by the state to provide more transparency in the contract process.

To read through the contract, click here, and learn more about the board meeting in the Wednesday, May 21, News-Banner.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Tri K 5K leaders say about $3,500 was raised for Rivergreenway repairs

Organizers of Saturday's Tri K 5K Gallop for the Greenway say it was successful, raising between $3,500 and $4,000 to help pay for repairs from this winter's ice damage to the Rivergreenway.

"It was great to see the community come out and support the Parks Department in raising money for the greenway," organizer Brooke Newsom said.
See results below, though some racers' finishing times were not recorded due to timing issues. (Photos by Jessica Williams)

Women 20-29

Megan Hunter 32:00:00
Brandie Daffron 35:56:00
Katie Vanderkolk 53:00:00

Women 30-39

Kelly Eckel 26:12:00
Jamie Rinkenberger  27:54:00
Amy Highley 28:15:00

Women 40-49

Vicki Cale 32:44:00
Marci Burch 33:33:00
Linda Smith 36:15:00

Women 50-59

Diane Kimmel 33:39:00
Kathy Birch 33:41:00
Julia Tobias 46:55:00

Women 60 +

Jan Krick 35:18:00
Sandy Fiechter 37:35:00
Connie Nichter 52:33:00

Overall Men

Eric Schultz 19:58
Ed Reinhard 21:28
Steve Hendricks 22:29

Master Men

Michael Anderson 25:17:00
Dylan McIntosh 26:45:00
Chris Honegger  27:52:00

Men 12 & Under
Owen Newsom 26:10:00
Grayson  Christal 31:53:00
Levi Boots 37:56:00

Men 13-19

Kyler Poling 25:52:00
Landon McClish 25:52:00
Lance Clark 30:41:00

Men 20-29

David Reinhard 22:40
Zach Rambo 24:19:00

Men 30-39

Greg Roembke 22:55:00

Men 40-49 No results available

Men 50-59

Bob Kimmel 31:58:00
Randy Birch 34:26:00
Bob Steffen 47:11:00

Men 60 +

Robert Flynn 34:56:00
Ray Paxson 36:46:00
Larry DeBolt 38:27:00

N-B Video: Bluffton/Southern Wells names Dollars for Scholars top scholars

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

Friday, May 16, 2014

C-SPAN, lawmakers honor NHS students

State legislators and a C-SPAN representative visited Norwell High School Thursday to congratulate six seniors for challenging Congress.

The students — Kelly McAvoy, Alyssa Gill, Ashley Miller, Jenna Meyer, Bailey Gerber and Stephanie Macon — had recently created two videos for their government class and a nationwide contest, and in March, C-SPAN chose their projects as two of 150 winners from 2,355 other submissions as among the best in the nation.

C-SPAN annually sponsors the competition to ask students to define and illustrate the nation’s most pressing issue, and Norwell government teacher, Kristen Ludwig, decided to also use the contest to assess her students’ knowledge while they studied Congress for six weeks.

Watch the McAvoy, Gill and Miller's video below, and learn more in the Friday, May 16, News-Banner.

N-B Photos: County schools celebrate the arts Thursday

Norwell Middle School Thursday held an Art and Film Festival, which students organized after art teacher Hallie Koenig’s art appreciation students obtained funding for the event from a grant from the Indiana Arts Commission. Students spent the day rotating between demonstrations, including an ice sculptor and a street artist who creates murals with spray paint, and premiered movies they made in Koenig’s class. They also participated in physical activities.

Photos by Chet Baumgartner
Bluffton-Harrison Elementary students performed Thursday during the school’s 2014 Spring Sing. Students in each grade met in the gym to sing songs from around the world during the afternoon convocation. Later in the evening, they also held their annual art show. Principal Julie Meitzler said each one of the school’s 626 students had a piece of art in the show.

Photos by Chet Baumgartner

Photo by Jessica Williams

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Texting 911 for help now an option

Adam McCartney, 911 director for Wells County, announced Wednesday the ability to send text messages to 911.

For more information, pick up Wednesday's News-Banner. More information is also available here.

According to a release issued by McCartney, Verizon Wireless and its technology partner TeleCommunication Systems are the first carrier to provide service. Three other carriers – T-Mobile, Sprint and AT&T – have also voluntarily committed that they will provide service.

The release says Verizon customers in Indiana should keep the following in mind if they send a text to 911:

• Customers should use the texting option only when calling 911 is not an option.
• Using a phone to call 911 is still the most efficient way to reach emergency help. Texting is not always instantaneous, which is critical during a life-threatening emergency. It may take slightly longer to dispatch emergency services in a text to 911 situation because of the time involved: someone must enter the text, the message must go over the network and the 911 telecommunicator must read the text and then text back.
• Providing location information and nature of the emergency in the first text message is imperative, since the Indiana communications centers will receive only an approximate location of the cell phone, and will not be able to speak with the person sending the text. Text abbreviations or slang should never be used so that the intent of the dialogue can be as clear as possible.
• Customers must be in range of cell towers in the area. If customers are outside or near the edge of a county, the message may not reach the Emergency Communications Center.
• Texts sent to 911 have the same 160-character limit as other text messages.
• Verizon Wireless customers who use Usage Controls should remove this feature to ensure full text to 911 capability.
• Verizon Wireless customers must have mobile phones that are capable of sending text messages.
• The solution is available for customers who use the SMS provided by Verizon Wireless. It is not available for third-party text messaging applications that can be downloaded to the phone or for applications that do not use SMS technology.
• The texting function should only be used for emergency situations that require an immediate response from police, fire or emergency medical services. Non-emergency issues should still be communicated to the local municipalities’ communications centers through their non-emergency lines.
• SMS911 should only be to communicate between emergency help and the texter with no pictures, video, other attachments or other recipients appended to the message.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

N-B Video: Indianapolis Colts return to Southern Wells

Indianapolis Colts cheerleaders and players, along with mascot Blue, returned to Southern Wells Elementary School Monday to announce that students and staff won a statewide contest, and as part of the reward, students played two games with tight ends Jack Doyle and Dwayne Allen. Learn more in the Tuesday, May 13, News-Banner. (Video by Chet Baumgartner)

Friday, May 9, 2014

Third Norwell Art and Movie Festival slated for Thursday

The Tyrannosaurus rex stalks through the halls of Norwell Middle School as a student slinks against the wall behind the dinosaur.

The T. rex looks left and right. It roars.

While in reality the prehistoric beast didn’t roam the halls this trimester, it almost looks real on an iPad in Hallie Koenig’s art class.


The films debut during Thurday's Norwell Art and Movie Festival. This is the festival's third year, with the first year having an emphasis on nature and then the second year on music. Learn more about the festival in the Saturday, May 9, News-Banner.

Sixth grade students working on the "legend" film – about Robin Hood – are:
Clayton Vachon, Jack Gerber, Mason DeHoff, Nathan Zeddis, Reece Gibson, Conner Torson, Kaden Bussel, Drew Federspiel and Jason Johnloz.

The sixth graders working on the "historical fiction" – about time travel and with the T. rex – are:
Jordan Sargent, Brendan Ulfig, Jacob Bird, Lucas Stauffer, Aidan  Blinn, Gavin Adams, Neegan Anderson, Gabe Kemper, and Zane Buuck.

The sixth graders working on the biography – about Michael Jordan – are:
Sam Spear, Ethan Osborn, AJ Rogers, Nick Bowman, Will Geiger, and Mason Morris.

Norwell Middle School art teacher Hallie Koenig works with Lucas Stauffer Thursday during class. (Photo by Jessica Williams)

4 students honored for change in grades, attitudes at school

Four Wells County high school students received $1,000 scholarships for post-secondary education Thursday afternoon as Bluffton Mayor Ted Ellis presented his annual Turnaround Awards.
Each student was introduced during the ceremony, and the program provided a brief biography of each of them as well. Learn more in the Friday, May 9, News-Banner.

Lincoln Penrod (Bluffton High School)
I got to know Lincoln very early during my time here at Bluffton, the very first day of school. Lincoln was a sophomore in my homeroom class and from the start he and I did not really see eye to eye. There were a number of days where we butted heads, me wanting him to work, him wanting to put his head down and take a nap, it got to the point that I was dreading having Lincoln in class the following semester. Then things began to change. After we came back from Christmas break Lincoln was almost a different person, he began to look me in the eye when he talked, he turned in all of his homework on time and fully completed. By the end of the year he was performing at a level far beyond what I had expected of him and his attitude had shifted from one that I trouble with to one that could contribute to the overall wellbeing of the class. Lincoln went from failing half of his classes his freshman year to having a B- average due to his effort and commitment to his education. Lincoln plans on going to Ivy Tech in the fall to study welding. It is for these reasons that I think Lincoln Penrod should win the Turnaround award.
Brent Kunkel,
BHS History Teacher

Devo Johnson-Ortiiz (Wells County Alternative School)
Devo is a senior who will be graduating from Bluffton High School. During his first two and a half years of high school, Devo’s grades were mostly Ds and Fs. He had also received quite a few discipline referrals. Devo didn’t care about school; he didn’t see the value in it. We were apprehensive about his attending the Alternative School and not at all sure he would even make it through the first grading period. Devo attended the Alternative School for one year, then returned to Bluffton High School to finish out his senior year. During his time at the Alternative School, we began to see gradual changes in him. He began to apply himself to his academics and brought his grades up to As, Bs, and Cs. He also set some long-term goals for himself and set about accomplishing them.

People who know Devo now can clearly see that he is not the same person he was just a few years ago. He has grown in maturity and character and it will be a pleasure to see what he accomplishes in the future. He plans to attend IVY Tech in the fall and eventually transfer to a larger university.

Shana Hicks (Southern Wells High School)Early in her years at our school, Ms. Shana Hicks would agree that she had a difficult time with us. The school was a challenge to her. And in turn, she was a challenge to Southern Wells. It must be said, Ms. Hicks has, and always had, the skills to be a good student. She could be a student when she wanted to be. But too often, she struggled in the classroom, academically and behaviorally. There were times when she would not engage in her own education. One such example of her non-engagement was how she dealt with her graduation/post high school plan. She did not want to participate in this activity. Shana Hicks could become fairly oppositional when confronted with those things that did not matter to her.

Fast-forward 2 years.....

Shana Hicks graduated a semester ahead of her classmates. She completed all the requirements and has moved forward. Last week she shared her personal plan. Shana clearly articulated what’s next for her. Shana has a career focus in the health field. She is looking to complete her Certified Nursing Assistant credential. And after that she will complete other specific certifications leading her to LPN and/or RN Degrees. To get this career focus accomplished, Shana aims to balance: Completing the education and requirements for these certifications. Working more or less full time and most importantly, taking care of her family.
Shana Hicks was an easy decision for our recognition committee; clearly, she has turned around. She will bring honor to your program as she moves forward bringing honor to herself and family.

Ashley Madej (Norwell High School)
During her first two years of high school, Ashley Madej had significant difficulties with her grades and her behavior. We would see her in the office frequently. Since then, however, she has made a dramatic turn around. Her behavior has become positive and constructive, and she has worked diligently to recover lost credits. We still see her in the office frequently, but now it is because she is an office assistant. We are all impressed with the changes she has made.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

N-B Video: Tamara Dunmoyer routs Scott Mossburg in County Commissioner primary race

Candidate Tamara Dunmoyer accepts her victory after defeating incumbent Scott Mossburg by a vote of 2,170 to 966 for the Wells County Commissioner District 1 seat. (Video by Dave Schultz)

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

N-B Links: Commissioners will be heard on South Main Street

 The Wells County Commissioners will draft a letter to the Indiana Department of Transportation about the Ind. 1/South Main Street expansion project.

The board made the unanimous decision Monday, arguing that 200S should be considered in the scope of the project and that South Main Street business owners’ wishes should be incorporated.
Learn more about the meeting in the Tuesday, May 6, News-Banner, and share your own feedback with the following links. Download here a copy of a feedback form, which INDOT requires for paper feedback. The form should be mailed to the address listed near the top.

Residents can also share their opinions online by clicking here.

 INDOT is accepting comments through Friday, May 9.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Bluffton couple hosts a fundraiser for their adoption Saturday and talk about the process

Lora and Greg Osborn, of Bluffton, hosted a fundraiser Saturday to help with their adoption costs.

After switching to a second adoption agency, Independent Adoption Center, the couple also became more comfortable talking about the open adoption process, which led them to create a Facebook page to share their adoption journey.

Both fundraising and adoption journey Facebook pages are relatively new concepts, the Osborns believe. Learn more about the Osborns in the Monday, May 5, News-Banner. (Photos by Jessica Williams)

Friday, May 2, 2014

Annual Senior Expo draws a crowd Thursday

The Wells Community Building at the 4-H Park was full of vendors Thursday for the Wells County Council on Aging's annual Senior Citizens Expo. It's estimated about 1,450 people turned out for the event. (Photos by Jessica Williams)