Features

Local law enforcement enlisting HNHS juniors to help 5th-graders

Huntington County Sheriff Terry Stoffel (standing) shares his vision with Huntington North High School juniors to help fifth-grade students with self-esteem issues, peer pressure and struggles with drugs and alcohol, during an Operation Impact training session on Wednesday, Jan. 17. A school convocation, in which the high-schoolers will kick off the program, will be held today, Monday, Jan. 22, in the high school’s auditorium with the elementary school students.

Originally published Jan. 22, 2018.

Fifth-grade students in Huntington County will soon find some new role models in their corner, giving them inspiration to deal positively with such issues as self-esteem, peer pressure, drugs, alcohol, risky behavior and its consequences during what may be the most impressionable time in their lives.

Local Boy Scouts spend Christmas break backpacking for badges

Using a break to take a group photo, members of Boy Scout Troop 130 record their time visiting the wilds of Cumberland Island National Seashore between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Pictured (kneeling, from left) are Jackson Lunsford, Jacob Worsham, Jamison Heyde and Justin Lunsford; and (standing, from left) Nick Anderson, Breckin Hammel, Jacob Bruce, Kevin King, Isaac Gordon, Brendan Brinkman and Brad Gordon. Not pictured is Assistant Scoutmaster Jeff Webb.
Photo provided.

Originally published Jan. 18, 2018.

Known for their pluck, a dozen hardy members of Boy Scout Troop 130 spent most of their Christmas break backpacking, dune climbing, beachcombing and hanging out with wild horses, on their way to achieving several backpacking merit badge requirements.

Special Olympians look forward to ‘Special Ten Minutes’

Matthew Hartley (foreground) and John McCormack (background) lead a line of Huntington County Special Olympics basketball players through a crowd of supportive Huntington North High School students at the beginning of “A Special Ten Minutes” on Saturday, Jan. 6, in North Arena. The event, now in its fifth year, is an exhibition basketball game featuring local Special Olympics players. The game was played at halftime of a Huntington North High School boys’ varsity basketball contest.
Photo by Steve Clark.

Originally published Jan. 11, 2018.

Basketball players with Huntington County Special Olympics had an important question for County Coordinator Keith Hartley last fall.

When was their game at Huntington North High School?

“When we first (started) our basketball practice, end of October,” says Hartley, “that was one of the first questions they asked, ‘When are we playing at the school?’”

Roanoke man paring down decoy collection from hobby out of control

Burton Wygant, of Rural Roanoke, holds one of the prized decoys in his collection, a male mallard carved by Dark Feather Freeman. Wygant has reduced his collection down to about 250 decoys, all displayed throughout his home.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published Jan. 4, 2018.

Inside Burton Wygant’s lovely appointed home, which sits on the Wygant family homestead just outside Roanoke, is a collection which he began as a result of going on a few duck hunts.

Director of new sober-living facility wants it to be real home

Robert Knorr is the director of Harmony Home, a new facility in Huntington for men recovering from drug and alcohol addiction. Knorr hopes to open the facility, located at 751 E. Tipton St., this spring.
Photo by Steve Clark.

Originally published Jan. 1, 2018.

When Robert Knorr was brainstorming names for the sober-living facility he wanted to open up in Huntington, he took a liking to the name “Harmony House.”

After doing some digging, though, he found out that name was already being used by a facility elsewhere in the country. So, he decided to change the name, ever so slightly, to “Harmony Home.”

He’s glad he did.

“Really, ‘home’ is what I want it to be,” reflects Knorr. “I don’t want it to be a house. The house is a structure.

Huntington 10-year-old helping homeless in Haiti with homemade dog treat fund-raiser

Evie Webb, 10, of Huntington, uses Christmas-themed cookie cutters to shape her dog treats she will then bake and sell. The proceeds from her project go to help build earthquake-resistant houses in Haiti.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published Dec. 21, 2017.

When Evie Webb journeys to Haiti next month, she will be able to claim at least two new homes that dog treats built.

The eloquent 10-year-old, a fifth grade student at Flint Springs Elementary, is baking homemade treats for pooches and selling them for donations to her project of funding earthquake-resistant homes in the ravaged country.

It all came about when she learned that millions in Haiti are still in need of aid years after an earthquake hit that region in 2010. Evie, only 8 at the time, wanted to help.

Christmas is much more than just in the air when it comes to Markle’s ‘Mr. Christmas’

Rick Bower, of Markle, holds up an animated Santa sleigh with reindeer that is one of the favorite pieces of his vast collection of Christmas decorations. He says the toy has never been listed in any of the many catalogues he has that list the values of antique and vintage decorations.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Even before you get to the front door of Rick and Jenny Bower’s home on North Miller Street in Markle, you can hear Christmas in the air, with holiday music wafting through the air amid brightly-lit vintage Christmas display figures.

But once you get in the door, it’s everywhere.

Mittens for Millions co-founder is renewed in his efforts to help

Jeff Dyke, co-founder of Mittens for Millions, ties cold-weather apparel that is free for anyone to take to a tree outside the Huntington Branch of the Huntington City-Township Public Library on Monday, Dec. 11. Mittens for Millions is a nonprofit group that collects cold-weather apparel and distributes it to those in need in and around Huntington County.
Photo by Steve Clark.

Originally published Dec. 18, 2017.

Ten years ago, Jeff and Chrisse Dyke started Mittens for Millions, a nonprofit initiative that sees them collect cold-weather apparel and distribute it to those in need.

However, after a few years of gathering and dispensing stacks of new and gently used mittens, gloves, hats, scarves and coats, Jeff Dyke started to feel himself getting a little burned out.

“Honestly, about four or five years ago, I questioned what I was doing here,” he admits.

But that’s when his wife told him something that he hasn’t forgotten.

Decades-old Huntington County club wrapping up next month

The women of the Altrusa Club show off the park bench they recently donated to the grounds of the Erie Trail, near the Erie Railroad Bridge, on Saturday, Dec. 2. Pictured are (seated from left) Carol Strickler and Juanita Buzzard; and (standing from left) Mary Ruthi, Robin Baker and Midge Decker. Not pictured is the remaining member, Ann Spahr. The club will disband in January.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published Dec. 14, 2018.

A decades-old Huntington County institution will wrap up its final meetings next month, leaving behind a legacy of patriotism, efficiency, service and fun, especially for the county’s developmentally-disabled people.

There are several reasons why the Altrusa Club has decided to disband, but perhaps the main one dovetails with the length of time the club has been in existence.

Former county sheriff’s passion for Christmas lights shines very brightly at this time of year

Kent Farthing stands next to some of the displays lit up in his front yard. The display can be viewed through New Year’s Day at 1274 Waterworks Rd., Huntington.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published Dec. 11, 2017.

Anyone driving out Waterworks Road on Huntington’s suburban south side will see Kent Farthing’s passion displayed in thousands of lights throughout his yard and on his house.

And it’s still a work in progress.

His house, located at 1274 Waterworks Rd., has about two acres of grass, perfect for staging his display. There is also a pond lit up by encircling lights, and an illuminated Conestoga wagon on the property.

Former Lady Vikings’ state champ hoop coach shoots for different prize these days

Fred Fields, who coached the Huntington North High School girls’ basketball team to two state titles in the 1990s, poses with a smallmouth bass during a fishing excursion. His coaching days behind him, Fields now runs a fishing business, Coach’s Angle Charters, in Traverse City, MI, that sees him lead clients on fishing trips.
Photo provided.

Originally published Dec. 7, 2017.

For 10 seasons, Fred Fields coached the Huntington North High School girls’ basketball team, during which time he guided the Lady Vikings to state championships in 1990 and 1995.

Today, he navigates the lakes of northwest Michigan, searching for a different prize.
Fields is the proprietor of Coach’s Angle Charters, a business in Traverse City, MI, that sees him, an experienced fisherman, lead customers on fishing excursions.

After 73 years apart, deceased Roanoke woman rejoins man she considered the love of her life

Roanoke residents Burton and Elsie Wygant display a copy of the plaque they had affixed to the headstone of Philip Koontz at Glenwood Cemetery after the cremains of Burton’s aunt, Mary Ellen Wygant, were buried with the fiancé she lost in World War II.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published Nov. 27, 2017.

After 73 years apart, Mary Ellen Wygant has finally rejoined the man she considered the love of her life.

The two were reunited after death through the efforts of her nephew, Burton Wygant, who still lives in the same small community of Roanoke where Mary Ellen and Frank Phillip Koontz had grown up together.

They had mapped out their lives. After high school, she went into nurse’s training and he joined the United States Army.

County farmers giving thanks for ‘surprising’ harvest this year

Huntington County farmer Tim Burnau combines his corn crop Friday, Nov. 17, along CR900N. Burnau plans to have the remainder of his crop harvested in time for Thanksgiving dinner today, weather permitting.
Photo by Scott Trauner..

Originally published Nov. 23, 2017.

With about 85 percent of Huntington County’s crops collected and in storage, local farmers are giving thanks today for what has been called a “surprising” harvest this year.
Relentless spring rains flooded fields, forcing some farmers to plant multiple times before their seedlings could germinate or stay in place.

Others who waited to plant have had to wait to harvest, says Ed Farris, agriculture and natural resource educator at the Purdue Extension-Huntington County Office.

Harris family slowly adjusting to life back in the U.S. after several years in Dominican Republic

Joel and Jennifer Harris (back), along with their children (from left) Aubrey, 8; Landry and Caroline, both 3; and Meredith, 4, recently returned from two and a half years in the Dominican Republic — a move that introduced the youngest children, for the first time, to the need for jackets and socks.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published Nov. 20, 2017.

Glass windows in the house, and below freezing temperatures at night — both new experiences for the Harris kids.
“We’re getting used to jackets and socks,” says their mom, Jennifer Harris.

For two and a half years — a large chunk of a young life — the family lived in the Dominican Republic, a lifestyle the kids came to know as “normal.”

It’s life in the northern Indiana community where they were born that now seems a bit “foreign.”

Boys & Girls Club ballerinas preparing for holiday show with help from grant, community businesses

Joy Hersey (left) takes her ballet class students at the Parkview Boys & Girls Club of Huntington County through a move at the barre on Monday, Nov. 6, in preparation for the troupe’s upcoming Christmas performance. Her students include (from left) Esther Michelle Messenger, 10; Avorie Monroe, 11; Alexis Smith, 10; Adreonna Monroe, 9; Kimora Bradin, 9; and Savannah Tyler, 9.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published Nov. 16, 2017.

The curtain will rise on 10 local ballet hopefuls this holiday season, young ladies who might not otherwise have had an opportunity to learn the intricacies, nuances and plain ol’ fun of classical dance.

Nine girls in third through sixth grades are members of “Miss Joy’s” ballet class, a new program at the Parkview Boys & Girls Club of Huntington County.

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