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.

Arts dream blossoms into Warren Creative Arts Outreach

Working in his rural Warren studio, Josh Heim shapes one of the ceramic bowls that will be given to adult ticketholders at Soup for the Arts on Nov. 17, the first fund-raising event of the newly formed Warren Creative Arts Outreach.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published Nov. 13, 2017.

It all started with an art show held during last summer’s Salamonie Summer Festival in Warren.

It’s blossomed into an effort that could wrap art around an area far beyond Warren.

“When you put a bunch of artists together — we’re dreamers,” says Josh Heim, who works in ceramics at his studio just outside of Warren.

Local cancer survivor uses faith, friends, family to win fight

Kathy Carnes (left), a breast cancer survivor, and her husband, Ron, enjoy the view outside their Huntington home. She recently marked a year since she has been cancer free. Ron Carnes was named the 2017 Caregiver of the Year by the Huntington Relay for Life for his efforts in helping his wife beat the disease.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published Nov. 6, 2017.

A year after Kathy Carnes was cleared as cancer-free, she asked her three adult children to write down their thoughts about how they felt when they were told she had breast cancer.

She was surprised by their responses.

“I was shocked that they thought I was going to die,” she says. “I didn’t realize how seriously they took my diagnosis.”

Her middle daughter, Natalie Burgess, said her mother’s diagnosis caused her to think about her own mortality.

Veteran of three wars, local man Patmore has no regrets about time in military service

Donald O. Patmore, who served in three wars during his 26 years in the United States Army, displays his military awards, including his highest honor, a Bronze Star earned in Vietnam. Patmore’s son, Don Patmore, looks on at right.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Donald O. Patmore spent 26 years of his life in the United States Army, serving in three wars.

He has no regrets.

“It was a good job, a good occupation,” he says. “I liked it.”

In the beginning, it was the job that chose him — not the other way around.

Patmore, then living in the state of Washington, was drafted on Nov. 10, 1945. He went to Fort Lewis, WA, to train for a job running construction equipment at the end of World War II in 1945.

VNT capstone project to help Riley ‘kids’ - including several classmates

Huntington North High School students Elizabeth Allred (left) and Julia Crist hold collection jars for Riley Children’s Hospital. The fund-raiser is the focus of their Viking New Tech Capstone project, with several money-raising activities leading up to a dance marathon set for April 7.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published Oct. 30, 2017.

Some Huntington North High School students are spearheading a drive to raise funds for a hospital dedicated to curing diseases in children, some of whom are fellow classmates.

Miniature barn turns into big project for Warren builder

Eva and Greg Witkamp show off the barn Greg crafted in his rural Warren workshop as a surprise for a young family member.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published Oct. 26, 2017.

The big little barn has in excess of 900 miniature shingles, each lovingly cut by hand; more than 160 lilliputian boards making up the cladding.

It measures about 42 inches by 74 inches and stands some 43 inches high, big enough for builder Greg Witkamp’s wife, Eva Witkamp, to fit inside.

And it’s sure to light up the eyes of a certain 5-year-old boy living in Maryland.

“He has about 20 toy tractors, mostly John Deere,” Greg says. “He keeps telling his mom and dad he needs a barn to keep them in.”

Addiction support group seeks to lessen the loneliness for family

Sharon Metzger (right) listens as Sue Williams (left) and Paula Blackstone (center) go over plans for a support group open to adults with loved ones suffering from addictions. Metzger is executive director of Place of Grace, where both Williams’ and Blackstone’s daughters found help in recovering from their addictions, but the support group is independent of the transition center.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published Oct. 23, 2017.

Sue Williams and Paula Blackstone have struggled through some dark years.


The two Huntington women, both mothers of recovering addicts, want to lessen the loneliness of others making the same journey.

They have established Stronger Together, a support group for adults with loved ones who are suffering from addiction or are in recovery. It’s meant to be a safe place, with no judgments, where family members and friends can talk to others who understand — or just sit and listen.

School may be out, but Extension teaches four youth practical lessons during its ‘Staycation’

Under the guiding eye of Rae Ann O’Neill (right), 4-H youth development educator at the Huntington County Purdue Extension, Rosemary Burnard carefully sews the seam on the “burrito” pillowcase she is making Monday, Oct. 16, during the Extension’s Fall Break “Staycation” workshop at iAB Heritage Hall. Other classes held during the week out of school included clothing transformation, bicycle fun and clogging lessons.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published Oct. 19, 2017.

When four youngsters head back to school on Monday after getting a week off for fall break, they will have learned a new skill that will hopefully serve them the rest of their lives.

Rosemary Burnard, Phoebe Landrum, Brock Fippen and Brianna Elston spent their vacation taking a “Staycation” at the Huntington County Fairgrounds, learning how to sew a pillowcase. For nearly all of the kids, it was the first time they had put their hands on a sewing machine.