On the Beat in Bluffton

Friday, October 30, 2015

N-B Slideshow: 2015 Boo in Bluffton, Autumn Adventure

Children and their parents hit the streets of Bluffton Friday for the annual Boo in Bluffton and Autumn Adventure festivities for Halloween. (Photos by Jessica Williams and Matthew LeBlanc)

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Mike Pence and Glenda Ritz Agree? Maybe.

Several times, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz has called for a "pause" in accountability ahead of an anticipated drop in ISTEP+ scores this year. Each time, she's been rebuffed by state lawmakers and Gov. Mike Pence.

Maybe things have changed.

This afternoon, Pence sent out a letter to Ritz and State Board of Education members saying "teachers should not be penalized for the decline" and indicated he's working with lawmakers to draft legislation that ensures lower grades do not affect teacher evaluations and performance bonuses.

"When states transition to new academic standards and a new assessment, test scores usually decrease, which occurred in the test scores you will review this week," Pence wrote. "Given the transition Indiana has undergone this year with our academic standards and assessment, our response should reflect fairness to our students, our teachers and our schools."

In the letter, Pence does not indicate what, exactly, would be included in the legislation.

The Indiana Department of Education released a statement saying it welcomes the move by the governor but also calling him out for waiting.

"This is a welcome first step from the Governor," IDOE spokeswoman Samantha Hart said." Unfortunately, it comes after a year and a half of uncertainty and worry for our students, teachers and schools that was entirely unnecessary. Superintendent Ritz supports strong accountability as long as it is fair, open and transparent. The Superintendent looks forward to working with Indiana’s leadership to take advantage of federal flexibility for both teacher evaluations and the assignment of A-F accountability grades for the 2014-15 school year.”

Boo in Bluffton coming Friday!

Participating Businesses:
5-6 Pm
City Hall
Bluffton Police Department
Bluffton Fire Dept. (Grilling Hot Dogs – west side of City Hall)
Inventure Foods (snacks – west side of City Hall)
Bluffton Optimist (Lemonade – west side of City Hall)
Subway (westside of City Hall)
Wells County EMS (west side of City Hall)
First Reformed Church (Trunk n’ Treat in parking lost across from City Hall)
Angel Corps
Buckhorn, Inc. (beside 121 E. Market)
Alley Cuts
Freedom Riders (in front of 111 E. Market)
Star Insurance
Westaff (109 N. Main)
FCCLA (Southern Wells) (beside 109 North Main Street)
Stag Bar
Department of Child Services (221 W. Market)
PNC Bank
Todd Shalley, Co.
Wells County Library
American Legion Auxiliary (111 W. Washington St.)
Wells County Democrats (119 S. Johnson St.)
Wells County Republicans ( 125 S. Johnson St.)
1st Source Bank
Law Office of Carnall, Andrews and Crell
Wells County Land and Title
Wells Fargo Bank
Sassafras on Main
Bluffton Regional Medical Center
Bluffton Elks #796
Welches All Vehicle Repair
Wells County Historical Museum (420 W. Market)
6-7 PmWells County Historical Museum (420 w. Market)
Reed’s Do It Best
Shoe Show
Kentucky Fried Chicken
Wendy’s (free Halloween booklet to the first 100 kids good for 10 Jr. Frostys)
1st Choice Realty Group (818 N. Main)
Richard’s Restaurant
Corrective Chiropractic (360 N. Main)
Signature HealthCare (1529 W. Lancaster)
Corner Depot

N-B Links: 'I'm Not Ashamed'

Beth Nimmo, the mother of Columbine shooting victim Rachel Joy Scott, spoke to Bluffton High School students Monday morning, encouraging them to make good life decisions. She was in town to speak to various groups and to promote "I'm Not Ashamed," a movie that will come out next year – on the 17th anniversary of the Colorado school shooting – that features the story of Scott, who was the first killed April 20, 1999, by two of her classmates.

To visit the movie's website, click here.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Too much testing? The president thinks so.

Educators for years have said there is too much testing for students.

Well, President Obama is joining the call for cuts to the time kids spend in classrooms testing. Over the weekend, he urged officials to set limits on the amount of tests students take.

Obama suggested limiting the time spent on tests to 2 percent of a student's instructional time in the classroom.

In Indiana, students take the ISTEP+ and the IREAD. Standardized testing in Indiana in recent years has been s source of consternation among teachers, administrators, parents and lawmakers.

Here's what the president had to say:

N-B Video: Saturday's Go Greenway Glow 5K

Runners lit up the Rivergreenway Saturday night for the Go Greenway Glow 5K. (Video by Jessica Williams)

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Markle Town Council adopts 2016 budget, approves salary ordinance

The Markle Town Council adopted its 2016 budget at its regular meeting Wednesday evening. The council also approved the salary ordinance for next year. Learn more in the Thursday, Oct. 22, News-Banner. View the salary ordinance below. (Click to enlarge)

News-Banner's open records request denied

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has denied an open records request filed by The News-Banner.

The newspaper filed the request after Ossian Police Chief Dave Rigney confirmed in September he filed a complaint with the agency regarding "the actions and the comments that have been made" by the town's police commissioners.

The News-Banner had sought details about Rigney's complaint from the EEOC, which enforces federal employment discrimination laws.

The denial of the request was sent by the EEOC's district office in Indianapolis.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Prosecutor to hold presentation on sexting

Wells County Prosecuting Attorney Andy Carnall will hold a presentation Monday, Oct. 6, on sexting at Norwell High School.

The 7:35 a.m. presentation will include discussion of sending sexually explicit photos, images, text messages or e-mails via cellphone or other mobile device.

In a letter to parents of Norwell students, Assistant Principal Kelby Weybright said it's important to educate students on the possible effects of sexting.

"Our goal is to partner with parents and our county officials in order to empower teens to make wise choices and prevent the possible consequences associated with sexting," he said.

Parents are invited to attend and should call the high school at 260-543-2213 if they are interested. Parents should arrive at the school no later than 7:35 a.m. Monday, according to the letter from Weybright.

Budgets and butterflies

Northern Wells Community Schools board members approved the district's $24.7 million budget for 2016 at the panel's regular meeting Tuesday.

But before they did that, first-graders at Ossian Elementary School gave a presentation on monarch butterflies.

Students at OES worked to hatch the insects this year, and they're now nationally recognized as a "Monarch Waystation." The butterflies hatched at the school were tagged, so it's possible they could be located as they travel to warmer climates such as southern California and Mexico.

OES Principal Susanne Tieman with first-graders at the board meeting Tuesday.

First-graders talked about how they studied the life cycle of the butterflies and also presented a video.

And then it was on to the budget.

Board members approved the spending plan, which will now be sent to the state. State officials likely will pare back the request from Northern Wells, which is what typically happens.

Take a look at what was approved last night (click for larger version):

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Does high school prepare students for college, work?

A new study finds a disconnect among parents, students, colleges and employers over whether students are prepared for life after high school.

The study comes from Achieve, a Washington, D.C. nonprofit that bills itself as "an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit education reform organization dedicated to working with states to raise academic standards and graduation requirements, improve assessments, and strengthen accountability."

Earlier this month, the group released the results of a survey that says nearly three quarters (73 percent) of parents of students feel high school prepared their children "very well" or "extremely well" for college. In contrast, only 53 percent of students said the same.

 The chasm widened when parents, employers and college instructors were asked whether high schools are preparing students for success after high school.

The results?

Eighty-four percent of parents said they are "at least somewhat satisfied" with the job schools are doing. Fifty-six percent of employers — and only 35 percent of college instructors — said the same.

So, what does all that mean?

“Parents are more likely than faculty, employers, or even students to believe that their children are ready for their next steps upon graduation from high school,” said Sandy Boyd, chief operating officer of Achieve. “Part of the disconnect between parents and others is that parents lack the information they need to guide their students. Parents report wanting more communication from schools to better understand what their children need to be ready and how they can help.”

Among other items in the Achieve study:
  • 67% of parents indicate that they would have been more involved in their child’s high school education if they were to do it over again.
  • 60% of college students and 58% of non-students say that they would have worked harder in high school if they knew then what they know now about the expectations of colleges and the workplace.
In Indiana, state officials in recent years have increased attention to college and career readiness among Hoosier students. In fact, the State Board of Education next week will consider proposed changes to the state's high school diplomas, a move that would include putting in place a College & Career Ready diploma

Monday, October 19, 2015

N-B Photos: Elks hosts poker fundraiser for inclusive playground

The Bluffton Elks Lodge is raising money for the new all-inclusive playground on the city's south side. Learn more in the Monday, Oct. 19, News-Banner. (Photos by Jessica Williams)

Friday, October 16, 2015

Indiana's intoxicated driving statutes

Class A misdemeanors, maximum sentence of 1 year
• Operating a vehicle with an ACE of .15 or more
• Operating a vehicle while intoxicated endangering a person

Class C misdemeanors, maximum sentence of 60 days
• Operating a vehicle with an ACE of .08 or more
• Operating a vehicle with a Schedule I/II controlled substance or its metabolite in the body
• Operating a vehicle while intoxicated

Level 4 felony, advisory sentence of six years with a maximum of 12 and a minimum of 2
• Causing death when operating a motor vehicle with an ACE of .15 or more

Level 5 felony, advisory sentence of three years with a maximum of six years and a minimum of 1
• Causing death when operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated

Level 6 felony, advisory sentence of 1 year with a maximum of 2.5 years and a minimum of six months
• Operating a vehicle with an ACE of .08 or more
• Operating a vehicle while intoxicated
• Operating a vehicle while intoxicated endangering a person
• Operating a vehicle while intoxicated endangering a person with a passenger less than 18 years old

Thursday, October 15, 2015

N-B Photos: Community celebrates all-inclusive park at ground-breaking ceremony

A large group of community members gathered Wednesday evening near Bi-County Services, Whicker Field and the Wells Community Boys & Girls Club to break ground on the city's new all-inclusive playground. Learn more in the Thursday, Oct. 15, News-Banner. (Photos by Jessica Williams)

Friday, October 9, 2015

N-B Video: Markle prepares for new library

Soil is expected to be turned next week for the new Markle library. The official ground-breaking ceremony was held Friday at the site of the former Town Hall, which is where the Huntington City-Township Public Library is to move its Markle branch to come next spring. Listen to HCTPL Director Beka Lemons talk at the gathering Friday below, and learn more in the Saturday, Oct. 10, News-Banner. (Photos, video by Jessica Williams)

N-B Video: Candlelight vigil for domestic violence victims

The Wells County Domestic Violence Task Force held its annual candlelight vigil Thursday night for victims of domestic violence. Listen to excerpts from the list of names read and learn more in the Friday, Oct. 9, News-Banner. (Video by Jessica Williams)

Thursday, October 8, 2015

N-B Numbers: 2016 county budget figures

Click image to enlarge.

Monday, October 5, 2015

N-B Video: Hear from Wells County's historical figures

The Wells County Genealogy Society had its first-ever Cemetery Walk Sunday at Fairview Cemetery. Hear from the city's first mayor, a furniture maker involved in undertaking, and a performance of "The Battle Cry of Freedom." (Video by Dave Schultz)

N-B Slideshow: Historical cemetery walk

The Wells County Genealogy Society had its first-ever Cemetery Walk Sunday at Fairview Cemetery. (Photos by Dave Schultz; video by Jessica Williams)