Habitat home provides welcome holiday change

Jamie McFarland and her family spend time in the living room of their new Habitat for Humanity home on Friday, Nov. 29. Pictured (from left) are siblings Kyle Cox, Megan Cox, Kelsey Cox and their mother Jamie.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published Dec. 5, 2013.

A year ago, Jamie McFarland and her children spent Christmas cramped together in a small apartment, in a neighborhood she describes as "not so nice" among some "unsavory" neighbors.

A single mom, the 1992 Huntington North High School graduate struggled to make ends meet while raising three teenagers.

Quest to quell flooding leads local man to history preservation

Richard Ness stands on the stone bridge of Silver Creek, which sits on his family’s property along the Wabash River. Ness works year round to preserve the historic area and prevent flooding and erosion.
Photo by Lauren Winterfeld.

Originally published Dec. 2, 2013.

One man's quest to quell flooding on his family property has resulted in the preservation of a piece of history, and an award of recognition.

Richard Ness, a retired contractor from Huntington, has long since taken over the care of his family's property that was purchased by his father in 1948.
The acreage is nestled outside of Huntington along the Wabash River.

From afar, it appears that Ness has simply created a beautiful resting spot along the riverbanks, but on closer look, it's evident he has done much more.

Zanesville man’s Christmas celebration expands past lawn

Tina and Bob VandenBoom take a moment from wiring a portion of the computer-operated light display at Zanesville United Methodist Church.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published Nov. 25, 2013.

Bob VandenBoom's celebration of Christmas has grown from a small display on the lawn of his home to a show so big that it involves an entire church and draws thousands of spectators.

The story of the birth of Christ told in the magic of glittering lights, a display that traces its own birth to VandenBoom's front yard, will once again illuminate the Zanesville United Methodist Church this holiday season, beginning Thanksgiving night.

Local Native Americans have another dimension to hailing Thanksgiving

Kayla Godfroy Norman arranges a fall bouquet of flowers on her dining room table as her husband, Andy Norman, looks on. The couple is celebrating their Native American roots during Native American Heritage month.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Thoughts of Thanksgiving often run to family gatherings, serving a turkey dinner or shopping the Black Friday sales.

But November is also Native American Heritage Month, and Huntington County's Miami Indian residents have another dimension to celebrating the national holiday of giving thanks.

Mills’ ‘race’ is to make a difference with service

Angela Mills (center) prays outside of a church in Thailand with fellow missionaries Julie Schell (left) and Katy Collins.
Photo provided.

Originally published Nov. 21, 2013.

Backpack through 11 countries in 11 months.

Make a difference.

This is the bold undertaking borne by Angela Mills.

Mills, a Roanoke native, has sold off her worldly belongings and will leave her established life behind to participate in The World Race.

The World Race sponsors describe the event as an interdenominational mission to 11 countries in 11 months serving "the least of these."

Pillowcases brighten lives of children battling severe illnesses

Nikki DeRose (left) is joined by Myron and Linda Ridgeway, of Huntington, as they display the various pillowcases Myron has sewn to donate to ConKerr Cancer.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

"Giving sick kids a reason to smile" is the goal of several Huntington County residents who are using their sewing skills to brighten the days of children battling severe illnesses.

The group, many of whom are quilters, have been making colorful pillowcases for the young patients at Parkview North Hospital for the past few months in conjunction with the Fort Wayne chapter of ConKerr Cancer.

Local motorcycle racer Flynn a newly-minted national champion

Pat Flynn, a cross country motorcycle racer from Huntington, stands with the bike on which he recently won his second national championship. Flynn has ridden motorcycles since he was young and competed across the United States and other countries.
Photo by Steve Clark.

Originally published Nov. 11, 2013.

In Australia, on the fifth day of a six-day motorcycle race spanning 1,000 miles, a fatigued Pat Flynn found himself navigating mountaintops in a monsoon.

A cross country motorcycle racer from Huntington, Flynn says those conditions are the toughest he's ever competed in.

That's saying something, because in cross country motorcycle racing, the conditions are always tough, testing a rider mentally and physically.

RMS artists to have ornaments on National Tree Display

Christine Nicholson, an art teacher at Riverview Middle School, created Christmas ornaments with students that showcase a variety of things about Indiana.
Photo by Steve Clark.

Originally published Nov. 7, 2013.

"The squeaky wheel gets the grease," says Christine Nicholson.

An art teacher at Riverview Middle School, in Huntington, Nicholson took that adage to heart last year when she heard about a unique art opportunity through the National Park Foundation (NPF).

Each year, the NPF selects artists from all 56 U.S. states, territories and the District of Columbia to create Christmas ornaments, in conjunction with youth, for the National Christmas Tree display in President's Park, Washington, D.C.

Deer hunters of all ages out in force

Jade Miller, 13, concentrates as she practices with her new compound bow in the backyard of her home in Huntington. She plans to hunt deer with her father and brother during the 2014 archery season.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published Nov. 4, 2013.

Jade Smith, 13, of Huntington has been practicing shooting the new junior compound bow she has only had for a couple of weeks, learning how to hunt.

"By next year I want to get my first buck," she says. "If I can I'll be the first one in the Miller family to get one."

After she becomes proficient with her bow and goes through a mandatory hunter education course, Jade plans to join her father and brother, seeking the elusive deer. She has already accompanied them on hunts, helping to set up blinds.

Basketball gives HNHS assistant coach Moore a ticket to travel

Marcus Moore (center), an assistant coach for the Huntington North boys’ varsity basketball team, talks to players Matt Hogan (left) and Keaton Irwin during practice.
Photo by Steve Clark.

Originally published Oct. 31, 2013.

Basketball took Marcus Moore from Indiana to the Indian Ocean.

A teacher at Huntington North High School and business owner in his native Columbia City, Moore played basketball professionally in Beijing, China, and Perth, Australia.

Basketball was a part of his life from an early age. Having two brothers who were in love with the sport as much as he was helped grow his love for it even further.

Huntington lineman earns title, trophy as world’s best

Huntington resident Joe Hyrkas (middle) holds the giant trophy proclaiming him as the best apprentice lineman in the world. With him are his parents, Karen (left) and Bill Hyrkas.
Photo provided.

Originally published Oct. 28, 2013.

Joe Hyrkas is the best at what he does, and he has the trophy to prove it.

What he does is climb high in the sky, sometimes as much as 80 feet, to keep the electricity humming along in Huntington.

And where he proved his skill was at the International Lineman's Rodeo, where he finished ahead of all 218 other apprentice competitors.

HCCSC transportation director, bus drivers taking proactive measures on bus safety

Bus driver Mandy Beaty, with fellow bus driver Bill Oswalt peering in the rearview mirror, uses a carton of eggs to show Northwest Elementary School students how they’ll be jostled around if they don’t stay in their seats on the bus.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published Oct. 24, 2013.

Twice a day, some 4,800 Huntington County kids pass through the danger zone.

And until this week, many of them had no idea there was such a thing.

Brendan Caffee, a third-grader at Northwest Elementary School, is now well versed in the danger zone.

‘Walkin’ William’ strides into Warren to visit with sister

William Miller, also known as “Walkin’ William,” is a former Indiana resident who has been a long-distance walker for over 30 years. He recently walked from Boise, ID, to Warren to see his sister. He holds a shirt signed by people he met along the way.
Photo by Steve Clark.

Originally published Oct. 21, 2013.

William Miller is an 86-year-old cancer survivor with two false knees.

But he's also "Walkin' William," a long-distance walker who recently arrived in Warren on foot from Boise, ID, to visit his sister, Carolyn Winters.

Miller started walking cross country for fun in the 1980s, but has enjoyed walking ever since his childhood in the Peru area.

SA, Love INC take Christmas cooperation a step further

Kyle Miller and Joey Spiegel, both of Love INC, and Salvation Army Capt. Barbara McCauley (from left) are working together to make some changes in the Christmas assistance program in Huntington County.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

For years, The Salvation Army and Love INC have cooperated to make sure that no Huntington County family goes without a merry Christmas.

This year, the two organizations have taken that cooperation a step further with the Salvation Army taking over all responsibility for the adopt-a-family program.

Previously, each of the organizations operated its own adopt-a-family program, exchanging information to make sure the assistance wasn't duplicated.

Stetzel’s history with Extension Homemakers not too far off from organization’s beginning

Vera Stetzel has been a member of the Union Thrifty Club for 72 or 73 years — not many years less than the 100 years the club’s parent organization, the Indiana Extension Homemakers, has been in existence.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published Oct. 14, 2013.

Vera Stetzel's history with Indiana Extension Homemakers doesn't quite go back to the organization's beginning a century ago.

But she's close.

She's been a member of the Union Thrifty Club "72 or 73 years," she says, making her one of the longest standing members of the organization in Huntington County.

It was peer pressure, she says, that got her to join the club in the first place.

"All the neighbors did, and they were after me to join," Stetzel says.