On the Beat in Bluffton

Monday, June 30, 2014

N-B Videos: Getting muddy in Bluffton

The sold-out Rough and Muddy and Soggy Jog events featured children and adults splashing through mud, climbing through obstacles, and running through sea of soapy foam. This was the first year for the adult Rough and Muddy 5K and the second year for the children's Soggy Jog. Both were held at the Native Habitat Waterway Trail. (Videos by Jessica Williams)

Here were the awards handed out by the department:

Largest Team: (1) Hook and Ladder Express, (2) tie between the Mudivators and the Mud Weisers
Best Team Spirit Award: Minionettes

Fastest Team: Bluffton Strength & Conditioning

Above is video of the events.

Above is a photo slideshow.

N-B Video: Secretary of state candidate discusses same-sex marriage

Beth White, the first clerk in Indiana to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, visited Wells County Saturday to campaign and discuss her definition of marriage equality. White is running for the Indiana secretary of state position. Learn more in the Monday, June 30, News-Banner. (Video by Dave Schultz)

Friday, June 27, 2014

N-B Video: County issues first marriage license to same-sex couple

A little before 2 p.m. Wells County issued its first marriage license to a same-sex couple, John Holsinger and Lamont Humbrecht. Learn more in the Saturday, June 27, News-Banner.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Judge voids Indiana’s same-sex marriage ban

The Indiana Attorney General released the following statement after a federal judge ruled the state's ban on gay marriage unconstitutional. Learn more about its impact on Wells County in the Thursday, June 26, News-Banner.

INDIANAPOLIS – A southern Indiana federal judge today found Indiana’s traditional marriage statute unconstitutional.  U.S. District Court Chief Judge Richard L. Young ruled in four legal challenges to the statute, finding in Baskin et al. v. Bogan et al. that county clerks must issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Indiana and that same-sex marriage licenses granted in other states are recognized in Indiana.
The Indiana Attorney General’s Office is analyzing the Court’s rulings in the multiple cases and will communicate with county clerks on proper marriage license procedures they should follow in order to avoid chaos during the appeal.  The Attorney General’s Office previously announced it will file an appeal in the event of such a ruling, and will quickly ask for a stay of today’s ruling pending appeal.
Chief Judge Young combined his ruling today in the Baskin lawsuit with his rulings in two related cases, Fujii et al. v. Pence et al., and Lee et al. v. Pence et al., and issued a permanent injunction preventing Indiana from enforcing its statute.
In a separate legal challenge, in Love et al. v. Pence, Chief Judge Young ruled for the State, finding that Governor Mike Pence is not a proper defendant in that lawsuit since his office does not issue marriage licenses nor directly administer the marriage statute; county clerks do, and the judge dismissed that lawsuit.  The judge also dismissed the Governor from the Fujii and Lee cases for the same reason while ruling for the plaintiffs otherwise.
Chief Judge Young heard oral argument in the Baskin et al. v. Bogan et al. case May 2 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana in Evansville and today the judge granted that plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment – which the State opposed. The State will ask that the ruling be stayed during the State’s appeal to the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Defending the State of Indiana, the State Department of Health, the Governor, other state officials and the marriage statute in the various lawsuits is the State’s lawyer, the Indiana Attorney General’s Office. Indiana’s legal defense is being covered through the AG’s Office’s regular budget, approved by the Legislature in advance; and the case is assigned to Solicitor General Thomas M. Fisher, a salaried attorney who does not charge billable hours.  Indiana is not using outside counsel to defend its statute.
The State contended the Baskin plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment should have been denied and the marriage-definition law should remain intact.  The State’s legal defense of the statute noted the Legislature has the legal authority to determine how marriage shall be defined within Indiana’s borders; and Indiana’s Legislature has chosen in statute to define marriage in the traditional way – between one man and one woman – and to not legally recognize same-sex unions granted in other states. Moreover, the United States Supreme Court’s decision last year in the U.S. v. Windsor case continues to leave this state policy decision-making authority with states and their legislatures.
Today’s ruling still is being studied and the Attorney General’s Office soon will advise county clerks who issue marriage licenses as well as the other state defendants – the State Department of Health, the Department of Revenue and the Indiana Public Retirement System -- on what changes in procedure Chief Judge Young’s decision imposes upon them during the appeal.  The State will ask for a stay of today’s ruling pending appeal.
Previously, on May 8, Chief Judge Young also granted an injunction to two of the Baskin plaintiffs, Nikole Quasney and Amy Sandler, extending indefinitely a temporary restraining order the Court granted them April 10.  The injunction granting recognition to Quasney’s and Sandler’s marriage orders Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) to list Sandler as Quasney’s spouse on any future death certificate for Quasney. 
Expressing its continuing sympathy and sorrow about the medical condition of one plaintiff, the Attorney General’s Office noted the State’s legal position is that the injunction should not have been granted since the current rule of law does not allow for a hardship exception from the statute for one person or two people, as that would create inconsistency for all other citizens of Indiana.  Moreover, a death certificate can be amended at a later date. Solicitor General Fisher observed that in order for the State to preserve its legal options, it has appealed Chief Judge Young’s injunction ruling and sought a stay of the court order regarding the death certificate as well.  Judge Young today denied that motion to stay as moot.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

$110K fund drive announced for Rivergreenway

A $110,000 fund drive to benefit the Rivergreenway is underway.

The joint venture put together by the City of Bluffton, the Wells County Foundation and the Wells County Revitalization was announced Monday afternoon.

The Rivergreenway was constructed in 1989, with a mini-park added in 1999, which created a trailhead just east of Ind. 1, the "Revitalize our Rivergreenway" steering committee wrote in its letter for the fund drive.

The letter added that the only maintenance to the path has been a repaving in 1995 and resurfacing in 2005 – and "time, usage and the elements have taken their toll."

"Our beautiful Rivergreenway connects the Ouabache State Park to downtown Bluffton, creating a
safe and scenic assess to local businesses, Kehoe Park, and the Arts, Commerce and Visitors
Centre," the letter continued. "In addition, the Rivergreenway is a popular destination point for picnicking, fishing, or enjoying the tranquility of nature while under the pavilion at Rotary Park or seated on a bench along the trail."

For more information on the fund drive, pick up the Tuesday, June 24, News-Banner.

Monday, June 23, 2014

N-B Video: "Yell, throw, row, go"

Saturday the Bluffton and Ossian Fire departments gave a public demonstration on water rescue and training on the new emergency equipment at the pond at Archbold-Wilson Memorial Park. (Video by Jessica Williams)

Saturday, June 21, 2014

N-B Video: Relay for Life remembers those affected by cancer

Wells County's Relay for Life event was held overnight Friday at Fred F. Park Field at Bluffton High School. Friday featured the opening and luminaria ceremonies. (Video by Jessica Williams)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

N-B Video: 4-H log cabin needs repaired

The 4-H Association and volunteers hope to raise an estimated $22,000 to restore the log cabin at the north end of the park. Learn more in the Wednesday, June 19, News-Banner. (Video by Chet Baumgartner)

N-B Link: Do you live in a former meth lab?

Wells County residents can now review a partial list of places where meth labs have been seized and are now clean, according to a release from the Indiana State Police.

To view the database — which provides listings for all counties — click here.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

N-B Links: Program at OES to help students’ cognitive skills

Ossian Elementary will implement a web-based program next school year to help students with ADHD and similar issues, teacher Patty Atkins announced at the Northern Wells school board meeting Tuesday.

The ACTIVATE program, though, will target the neurological issues beneath the symptoms “to achieve a lifelong improvement,” Atkins wrote in a release describing the program.

“It’s really cutting edge,” she said. “Instead of managing symptoms ... it’s taking it back to the neurological level and trying to make a connection there.

“It’s one of our best shots in making a lifelong difference for kids.”

Learn more about the program's introduction in the Wednesday, June 18, News-Banner, and learn more about the program's "home access" version by clicking here.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

N-B Video: Bubbles in the park

A dozen or so children played with bubbles in Washington Park Tuesday morning. The event was put on by the Bluffton Parks and Recreation Department. (Video by Jessica Williams)

Monday, June 16, 2014

N-B Slideshow: 2014 Touch a Truck

Photos by Chet Baumgartner

Friday, June 13, 2014

N-B Links: Boom time

‘Tis the season for explosions — but Bluffton officials say any patriotic pyrotechnics lit before 5 p.m. Sunday, June 29, breaks the law.

According to the city’s website,  residents can only legally ignite fireworks from 5 p.m. to two hours after sunset June 29 through July 3 and July 5 through July 9. They can fire them from 10 a.m. to midnight Friday, July 4.

Violation of the ordinance is a Class C infraction.

Learn more in the Friday, June 13, News-Banner, and learn about the city's Fourth of July festival by clicking here.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

City opens street paving bids

The city opened bids on its 2014 street paving plans Tuesday, and all would be well if there was another $100,000 and change laying around.

There are 61 different sites on the city’s wish list for resurfacing. There were two bids opened during Tuesday afternoon’s meeting of the Board of Public Works and Safety— one from E&B Paving of Huntington, for $433,583, and one from 1st Brooks Construction Co. of Fort Wayne, for $447,903.

The city had transferred $200,000 from its County Economic Development Income Tax money into its street paving budget for this summer, but that only cranked up the available funds to about $325,000, Ellis said.

Ellis indicated that he and Street Commissioner Dave Robison would look over the list and make decisions on what street paving work gets done.

Learn more in the Wednesday, June 11, News-Banner.

The proposed sites for paving are as follows:

• East Arnold Street from Main to Scott
• North Baldwin Street from Market to Wabash
• North Baldwin Street from Wabash to Lancaster
• South Baldwin Street from South to Cherry
• South Baldwin Street from Central to Wiley
• Beechwood Place from Greenbriar to the cul-de-sac
• Bell Brook Boulevard from Dustman to Cricketeer
• Beth Avenue from Cherry to South
• Beth Avenue from South to Central
• Beth Avenue from Wiley to Jefferson
• Bond Street from the railroad crossing to Wiley
• Central Avenue from Main to Scott
• Cherry Street from Mulberry to Liberty
• Cherry Street from Liberty to Wayne
• Echo Lane from Summit to Spring
• Horton Street from Mulberry to Bennett
• Horton Street from Liberty to Bennett
• Horton Street from Williams to Marion
• Jefferson Street from Bond to Dougherty
• Jefferson Street from Dougherty to Beth
• Liberty Street from Wiley to Ohio
• Liberty Street from Ohio to Arnold
• Liberty Street from Arnold to Silver
• Liberty Street from Silver to Townley
• Liberty Street from Townley to Horton
• Liberty Street from Horton to Spring
• Linnwood Drive to a spot 350 feet west of Hunter
• Miller Street from Williams to Morgan
• Miller Street from Oak to Morgan
• Monroe Street from new pavement to the west city limits
• Mulberry Street from Ohio to Arnold
• Mulberry Street from Arnold to Silver
• Mulberry Street from Silver to Townley
• Northwood Drive from Main to Orchard
• Ohio Street from Indiana to Clark
• Old Creek Avenue from Ridgewood to Stogdill Road
• Parkor City Drive from Ridgewood to 1433 Parlor City Drive
• Poplar Street from Scott to Bennett
• Poplalr Street from Bennett to Mulberry
• Poplar Street from Mulberry to Liberty
• Poplar Street from Liberty to Wayne
• Ridgewood Lane from Sherwood to 1120 Ridgewood Lane
• Riley Street from Main to Scott
• Riley Street from Scott to Bennett
• Riley Street from Bennett to Mulberry
• Riley Street from Mulberry to Liberty
• River Road from Wayne to Orchard Ridge
• Riverview Drive from Wayne to Orchard Ridge
• Riverview Drive east from Wayne Street
• Spring Street from Main to Scott
• Spring Street from Scott to Bennett
• Spring Street from Bennett to Mulberry
• Spring Street from Mulberry to Wayne
• Sunset Drive from Garden Lane to Dustman
• Sycamore Lane from Highland Park to Stogdill
• Walnet Street from Main to Scott
• Washington Street from Main to Johnson
• Washington Street from Johnson to Marion
• Washington Street from Williams to Morgan
• Western Avenue to a spot 800 feet west of Decker
• William Wells Circle from Madison to new pavement
• Alley from Central/Wiley to Bennett/Mulberry

N-B Video: Youngsters participate in track meet

Kids participated in a track meet just for them Tuesday at Bluffton High School. Featured events in the Bluffton Parks and Recreation Department meet included running, the "softball throw" and the long jump. Winners were then awarded ribbons. (Video by Jessica Williams)

Friday, June 6, 2014

N-B Video: 'Chicks' take over the Rivergreenway

More than 370 women participated in this year's Chicks Run, a 5K walk/run event sponsored by the Bluffton Parks and Recreation Department. This is the second year for the event. Costumes ranged from Pixar-inspired to patriotric, super heroes to tutus. (Video and photos by Jessica Williams)

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

NWCS board approves acceptable technology use policy

The Northern Wells Community Schools board took a first step forward Tuesday night to encourage acceptable technology use in its schools.

The first reading of separate staff and student policies for technology and social media use in schools were approved; approval on the second reading, perhaps at the next meeting, makes the policies final.

Click here to read through a draft of the proposed student policy.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

N-B Video: Bluffton Police chief retires with a bang

On her last day as police chief, Tammy Schaffer fires off a submachine gun from Bluffton's past. Learn more in the Tuesday, June 3, News-Banner. (Video by Jessica Williams)