‘Desert of snow’ keeps city, county crews busy throughout last week

The Huntington County Highway foreman’s truck makes it way down a snow-covered county road after the snowfall had ceased after the winter storm that hit Huntington County on Sunday, Jan. 5.
Photo provided.

"It was like a desert of snow," says Troy Hostetler, superintendent of Huntington County Highway, of the winter storm that hit Huntington County on Sunday, Jan. 5.

The effects of the snowstorm were felt throughout the next week, with Huntington County Community Schools closing school through Friday, Jan. 10, and Huntington County issuing travel advisories throughout the week.

Area legislators weigh in with expectations for new session

From left, Dan Leonard, Jim Banks and Travis Holdman.
Photos provided.

Originally published Jan. 6, 2014.

The 119th legislative session of Indiana's General Assembly begins today, Monday, Jan. 6.

The House and Senate reconvene this afternoon at 1:30.

As with every legislative session, our area representatives have hopes and expectations for the controversial issues and their own legislation.

They weigh in here:

Rep. Dan Leonard

Leonard says the marriage amendment is "not an easy issue," and will receive a lot of focus during this session.

Generous Christmas donations for non-profits fall off after holiday

Love In the Name of Christ volunteer Ed Beckner, of Huntington, checks to make sure he’s filling the correct order for a food pantry client on Friday, Dec. 27.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published Jan. 2, 2014.

Barely into the new year, retailers and shoppers alike are taking a deep breath as they finally get a break from the holiday stress.

But for area food pantries and animal shelters, this is when stressful times often begin.

Joey Spiegel, executive director of Love In the Name of Christ, says people give generously up to the end of December and that's a big help to providing food, clothing and toys to the area's less fortunate citizens.

Local soldier using different means to save a life as part of bone marrow donor program

Ryan Lockwood, sergeant first class in the United States Army, donated his stem cells to a 9-year-old girl suffering from a life-threatening form of anemia.
Photo provided.

Originally published Dec. 30, 2013.

It is easy to imagine soldiers fighting for the lives of civilians while at war.

Members of our military battle the enemy to protect and preserve the lives of all Americans.

But, a handful of these warriors save lives in another way, too.

Ryan Lockwood, sergeant first class in the U.S. Army, is one of those men.

After 50 years, Gingham Gals feel like they’ve now got it all down pat

Charter members of the Gingham Gals Extension Homemakers Club celebrate the club’s 50-year anniversary at a dinner at First Baptist Church in Warren.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published Dec. 26, 2013.

Fifty years ago, the girls of the Gingham Gals Extension Homemakers Club were just learning how to do things like fold fitted bed sheets or the correct way to iron a shirt.

After 50 years, club members feel like they have it all down pat.

The Gingham Gals recently celebrated the Warren club's 50th anniversary with a dinner, with 10 charter members in attendance. Evelyn Hunt says that after half a century the closely-knit group is still going strong.

Huntington County HELP aiding local man reach his goal of getting back behind wheel

Bill Tollett sits in his Mayne Street home, waiting for the weather to clear so he can take a spin in his truck — a truck that, after an almost two-year quest, is now equipped with hand controls to accommodate Tollet’s physical abilities.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published Dec. 23, 2013.

Bill Tollett shares his home with a couple of old English bulldogs.

"They're my boys," he says. "They're spoiled rotten."
He'd like to spoil them a little bit more.

"One of the first things I want to do is take my dogs to the reservoir so they can play," Tollett says.

Driving his dogs to the reservoir would have been an impossible dream a few months ago. The simple act of driving was out of his reach after the amputation of his right leg and the loss of several toes from his left foot.

LaFontaine Center resident at head of large 5-generation tree

Janet Hunt Zimpelman (middle row, center) poses with some of the five-generation lines in her family.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published Dec. 19, 2013.

Every once in a while, you'll see a photo of four adults gathered around a baby whose birth has completed five living generations in that family.

It used to be a rare occurrence; it's still unusual, but it's happening with more frequency as life expectancy increases for the oldest generations.

But few can say, as Janet Hunt Zimpelman can, that the family extends to the fifth generation 14 times.

"I enjoy them," she says. "I do enjoy them."

Cardboard dime store Santa pick-up starts Pieper collection

Phyllis and George Pieper, of Huntington, stand beside a display case in their living room containing a portion of their collection of Santa Claus memorabilia, which the couple estimates to be around 300 pieces.
Photo by Steve Clark.

In most homes, Santa Claus can be found nearby the chimney and fireplace.

In the Pieper household, however, he can be found everywhere.

George and Phyllis Pieper, of Huntington, have been collecting Santa Claus memorabilia for 30 years. It's a hobby that can be traced back to the early days of their marriage.

"When we were first married we went to the dime store our first Christmas and he found a Christmas Santa Claus that he liked," explains Phyllis. "It was just cardboard, but we liked the face of it and so we bought it and had it out every year for Christmas."

Class has led HCCSC employees in a healthier direction this year

Riverview Middle School teacher Connie Duling (left) spots Lisa Nightingale during her ab crunches, part of the regimen of the fitness class for Huntington County School Corporation employees held twice a week at Lincoln Elementary School.
Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published Dec. 12, 2013.

For a group of Huntington County School Corporation educators and staff members, taking a class themselves has led them in a healthier direction.

As part of the school corporation's wellness program, about 40 employees are stretching, flexing and strengthening their physical fitness in an exercise class that meets twice a week at Lincoln Elementary School.

Scheiber's Christmas village

Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Tim Scheiber says he delights in seeing footsteps in the snow, a sign that others are enjoying the elaborate Christmas village set up on the porch of his home at Elm and Wright streets in Huntington.

Area pair more than a little invested with Christmas villages

Hazel Ruth Brooks and her son Jerry Brooks stand with a portion of her Christmas village, which she plans to share with the community during an open house at her rural Warren home on Dec. 14 and 15.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published Dec. 9, 2013.

For Hazel Ruth Brooks, it started in the early 1990s.

Tim Scheiber became a fan after a childhood visit to a friend's house at Christmastime.

Now, both Brooks and Scheiber spend hours every year setting up elaborate displays depicting life in a small village at Christmas.

Well, maybe not so small - Brooks' display engulfs her dining room, and Scheiber fills his enclosed porch with the scene.

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.