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March 31, 2015

Sewell reflects on decades of development in this great, growing community

(Talk of the Town photo by Jennifer Zartman Romano)
David Sewell has lead the building and planning activities within Whitley County for decades. Looking back over his long, exciting career, he's seen great growth in all areas of the community, but his proudest accomplishment was his role in creating what is now known as the Whitley County Farmers Market.

By Jennifer Zartman Romano

As the evening hours fall, looking across Whitley County, the glow of neighborhoods reflects on the night sky with porch lights twinkling -- light cast from neighborhoods that didn't exist and businesses not yet built before David Sewell began work here.
Indeed, in the decades of Sewell's leadership in building and planning, our community has expanded in so many ways. Neighborhoods have been planned, communities have grown, entrepreneurs have built their dreams here and the community has grown carefully and thoughtfully with Sewell's guidance.
Last Friday, Sewell left his position as executive director of the Columbia City and Whitley County Planning and Building department, but not before quiet reflection on what he had seen during his career here.
Sewell began work locally in 1987 and eventually became the first executive director of the newly created Columbia City and Whitley County Planning and Building department. He served for eight years in Community Development for the City of Columbia City under the late Mayor Jim Teghtmeyer and returned to lead the Columbia City and Whitley County Planning and Building Department for 18 and a half years as executive director.
"A lot of things were happening...annexation, downtown streetscape improvements and the redevelopment commission was created," Sewell recalled, but quickly added, "I just happened to be in the position that was involved in this in the city jurisdiction and here in the county."
In his role, he oversaw the development of busy, bustling neighborhoods like Eagle Glen, Deer Chase, Irish Glen, Chardonnay, Fox Run, Lincoln Pointe and portions of Brookwood Estates. While neighborhoods saw to the growing need for housing, the businesses and industries built during Sewell's years brought jobs.
"The biggest, in my opinion, was SDI," Sewell recalled. "Rezoning property, inspections...it was a major, major project to oversee all of that."
Ever so humble, Sewell's fingerprints have been on so many projects over the years, but he refuses to take credit. One project, however, rises to the surface as something he will remain very proud of: the present day Whitley County Farmers Market.
"I am relatively proud that I was involved in starting up the farmers market," Sewell said. Sewell was instrumental crafting the ordinances needed to create the market and all of the early work required to make it happen locally -- navigating the political process and moving the initiative forward.
"I've always loved gardens and growing plants," Sewell said. Born and raised in Columbia Township, he fondly remembers helping in the family vegetable patch and has gently nurtured plants and tilled the soil most of his life. On a three acre parcel of land, they grew sweet corn and he helped his dad sell it to co-workers at the Weatherhead plant. "Having a big garden...potatoes...an orchard...it's in my blood."
In the early years, he participated as a vendor on Saturdays around the courthouse square and in recent years, he's become a frequent supporter of the market, strolling the square on weekends.
"As you know, you get busy," he said of his eventual decision to grow fruits and vegetables for his family's consumption alone. Still, his love of the market has remained. "It's just wonderful. I'm so impressed with how the community has embraced it. I hear said it is one of the best (farmers markets) in the region."
Soon, Sewell will move to Niles, Michigan, area to take on a new adventure -- working for the Pokagon Band of the Potawatomi tribe. "They have tribal lands in several communities. They are building homes for tribal members and doing some commercial developments," he adds.
"It will be a very interesting, creative opportunity," he said. "I'm looking forward to it...it will be a change." At the same time, Sewell's wife, Connie, is retiring from her position as a speech therapist with Whitley County Consolidated Schools.
While the couple will be enjoying building a new life together in Michigan, they'll still be making frequent visits to the area to visit family, including their three sons and their families.
"I have many friends and acquaintances I'll miss and hopefully we'll be able to stay in touch," he said. Many of those friends and colleagues came to wish him well at a farewell reception Friday at the Whitley County Government Center.
Sewell has lived and worked in many places during his career, but Whitley County holds a special place in his heart.
"I'm really impressed by the spirit of community in Whitley County and the cities and towns I've worked in and for," he said. "I see a lot of good effort going into trying to improve both the physical structures as well as the economic and social aspects and developments."
Sewell said he's pleased to have helped with the creation of comprehensive plans for South Whitley and Churubusco and that a comprehensive plan for Columbia City is well on it's way too.
"I don't believe my leaving will be a setback in any way. There are a lot of good things going on here," he said. "There are good things on the horizon and I'll look forward to coming back and seeing the progress. Whitley County will always be home." 

The Lighted Gala to celebrate 15 years of serving the community's homeless and displaced

(Talk of the Town photo provided)
Jeremy Wike, board president for InterFaith Mission, the entity that oversees The Lighthouse shelter, invites the community attend the upcoming Lighted Gala to celebrate the shelter's 15 years of hospitality to the homeless and displaced.

By Christie Browning

For 15 years, Whitley County's homeless and displaced have been served by The Lighthouse, and now leaders are prepared to plan for the non-profit's future and they're ready to celebrate.
The Lighted Gala, benefiting The Lighthouse, Whitley County's transitional living shelter, will be held Thursday, April 23 at 6 p.m. at The Van Buren in downtown Columbia City. Local recording artist Hannah Schaefer will perform. The community is invited to attend the Lighted Gala, although reservations are requested.
Jeremy Wike, senior pastor for Community of Hope church in Columbia City, recently took on the role of board president for InterFaith Mission, Inc., the board tasked with making decisions for The Lighthouse. After serving four years as a board member, Wike accepted the president nomination because, he said, "there is more work to be done.”
“Our mission is to minister to the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of those individuals and families that are homeless and those who are at risk of becoming homeless in Whitley County,” said Wike. “I believe there are countless untapped resources waiting for an opportunity to contribute to this mission.”
Wike said he wants the community to understand the impact the mission has on the community.
“If people in Whitley County heard the success stories of families who've had their entire life trajectory improved because of their stay at The Lighthouse, they would be proud,” Wike said. “If people could look into the eyes of the children who live at The Lighthouse, they would feel compelled to participate in our mission. Our job is to tell those stories and invite good-hearted people to see the need and respond with compassion. I think I can help mobilize our board, the staff and our community to take steps in this direction.”
Although the nonprofit has experienced some changes throughout its 15 year history, Wike said those founding members will be celebrated at the Lighted Gala for their vision to house the homeless.
“The Lighthouse might be the best kept secret in Whitley County,” he said. “I don't think anyone intended for this to happen, but it has. We stand on the shoulders of some brave, compassionate persons who had a vision to care for some of the most overlooked, misunderstood people in our community. We owe it to our predecessors and our community to look ahead and anticipate the challenges we'll face in the next 15 years.”
The upcoming gala event will spotlight The Lighthouse's history, but Wike said the event will also shine a light into a vision for the future. Wike wants to express to the community some of the challenges facing the nonprofit. 
“We will need to replace our retiring executive director in the next few years, since she plans to retire,” said Wike. “We need to catalyze a younger generation with a social justice impulse to take ownership of their local transitional housing program. We need to better educate our community regarding what we do and why we do what we do. We need to find new funding streams because we are losing a significant amount of our government funding this year.”
The obstacles may threaten to be formidable, but Wike has a positive outlook on the mission's success.
“There's much to do, but I believe we will grow stronger as we take on these challenges together,” Wike said.
More information can be found at www.ifmlighthouse.com

INDOT shares upcoming projects for SR 5

Article provided

The Indiana Department of Transportation announces two projects are scheduled to begin on SR 5 in Larwill on Monday, April 6.
The projects will include improvements to the railroad crossing located half a mile south of US 30, as well as road resurfacing from US 30 to Old Trail Road.
During the railroad crossing improvements, S.R. 5 will be closed to traffic between Main and North Streets in Larwill. The crossing improvement is tentatively scheduled to begin Monday, April 6, and the posted detour will be U.S. 30 to SR 9 to SR 205 to SR 5.
After the crossing improvements have been completed, one lane of SR 5 is scheduled to re-open to traffic on Monday, April 13, if not before. At that time, traffic will be controlled by flaggers during the resurfacing. Work should be completed by mid-May.
The project was awarded to E & B Paving for $179,000.

SBA offering online financial education for entrepreneurs

Article provided

The entire month of April is dedicated to increasing financial education.  In effort to support this month, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and its resource partners are providing business literacy workshops and webinars.  The SBA wants to help teach Hoosiers how to establish and maintain healthy financial habits.
As part of National Financial Literacy Month, the SBA Indiana District Office is proud to announce a series of workshops to help promote and increase the awareness of Small Business Financial Literacy. ”I encourage all entrepreneurs to take advantage of these free opportunities being offered on financial literacy.  These trainings will provide valuable skills that you can apply both personally and professionally,” states Stacey Poynter, SBA Indiana district director.
The list of trainings and details can be found on the SBA Indiana calendar of events website www.sba.gov/in and include:
• Transforming Your Local Economy
• Click Scroll and Buy: Protecting Your E-Commerce Site
• To Your Credit – Become Money Smart
• Understanding Financial Statements
Whether you are planning to buy or start a business, improve your credit score, or balance your records, these workshops can get you on track and provide valuable financial literacy. 
For more information on these and other SBA programs and services contact the SBA Indiana District Office at (317) 226-7272.

March 30, 2015

Whitley County Farmers Market vendors begin season with pre-market meetings

(Talk of the Town photos by Jennifer Zartman Romano)
The Whitley County Farmers Market vendors gathered for their first vendor meeting of the year last Thursday at the Smith & Sons Coach Room in Columbia City, greeting friends they may not have seen since last fall when the market closed for the season. The market board of directors provided a series of reports on guidelines for 2015, marketing, hospitality and entertainment activities for the year as well as offering contracts for returning vendors. All returning vendors have until April 9 to complete their contracts and pay 2015 market fees. After that time, spots will be made available to new vendors.

Another market vendor meeting, open to past vendors and potential new vendors, will be held on April 9 at 7 p.m. at the Smith & Sons Coach Room. Participants are urged to attend at least one meeting. 

The market will open for the season on Saturday, May 9, and will remain open each Saturday from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. until the second Saturday in October.

Vendor contracts and Whitley County Farmers Market information is available at the Whitley County Chamber of Commerce office. For more information, call the Chamber at 248-8131 or send an email to jennifer@whitleychamber.com

Peabody Public Library seeks community perspectives with surveys

The Peabody Public Library is seeking the community's opinions on a variety of topics. Please take a few minutes to fill out the two following surveys:

Community Survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/TN7T9VQ
Sunday Hours Survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Z6TFWY6

Link provided for recent PBS documentary featuring Dazzlers, Passages and Than Boutelle

If you missed the PBS documentary last Thursday featuring Whitley County artist Than Boutelle, Passages, the Whitley County Dazzlers, the Jesters and others -- or if you'd like to watch it again -- here's a link: https://vimeo.com/123433240

Mentoring program has a winning strategy

By Nate Haywood

One Community, a local non profit which serves the residents of Whitko schools, has spent the winter doing anything but hibernating.
Instead, each Monday and Wednesday their kitchen is buzzing with volunteers who are cooking, cleaning, and preparing meals for the local senior citizen’s program Lunch and Camaraderie. But you may not realize they have also been busy serving the local youth through their program, Empower Us.
Over 20 volunteers mentor elementary students each week. Students are nominated by their teachers to join the Empower Us program, and each teacher may nominate 2 to 4 students to participate. Parents are required to fill out a survey where they evaluate their child in the areas of integrity, initiative, problem solving and cooperation. Then, Empower Us matches each student to a mentor best suited to serve that child’s needs. The key to their success: intergenerational friendships.
“We have two police officers, various professionals and community leaders; and the kids naturally look up to them as role models,” shared volunteer and One Community board member Dane Starkey. “It just works! When the mentor shows up, you’d think it’s a small scale version of Christmas, because it’s a very rewarding experience and all a part of making the kid’s day.”
Mentors focus on helping students to set goals for themselves that range from turning homework in on time, walking in the halls or raising your hand in class rather than speaking out of turn.
The remainder of their time is spent in an area that interests the students. Mentors and students bond by creating art, playing a board game, and sharing good conversation.
Starkey raved, “This program wouldn’t be possible without the quality of mentors, and the people who take this outreach activity very seriously. They make the 30 minutes they are with the students count each week.” 
In all, 25 students regularly participate in the Empower Us program.

Whitley County Soil & Water Conservation District's 59th annual meeting draws large crowd

(Talk of the Town photos by Nadean Lamle)
Randall Studebaker and Brian Ruckman, above, were awarded the Whitley County River Friendly Farmer Award for 2014 at the Whitley County Soil and Water Conservation’s Annual Meeting March 24. Below, William Overdeer, Whitley County Councilman gave the newly elected Michael Hinen the oath of office as supervisor for the Whitley County Soil and Water Conservation District’s Board.

By Nadean Lamle

On Tuesday, March 24 the Whitley County Soil and Water Conservation (SWCD) hosted their 59th Annual Meeting in the fellowship hall at Grace Lutheran Church.  Around a 110 people attended the event that began with a good meal followed by some awards and an interesting program.
The evening began with an election for the open position on the SWCD Board.  Michael Hinen from Jefferson Township was running against Brent Cormany from Etna-Troy and Richland Township.  Hinen is a grain farmer and has been with the district for a number of years.  Cormany is a grain and livestock farmer and had been with the district for a year.
Since 1999, key agricultural organizations have sponsored the River Friendly Farmer Program.  The statewide initiative recognizes farmers who through good production management practices help keep Indiana’s river, lakes, and streams clean.  The River Friendly Farmers for 2014 were Brian Ruckman and Randall Studebaker.
It was announced that Whitley County SWCD had spent almost $10,000 in the Little River Watershed also known as the Little Wabash River from a Clean Water Indiana Grant that Whitley shared with Allen, Huntington and Wells Counties.
Whitley County SWCD also spent almost $10,000 in 2014 from a Lake and River Enhancement (LARE) Grant in the Tippecanoe Watershed.  Whitley still has another just a little less than $15,000 obligated to spend in the same watershed once the work has been completed.  Whitley County has applied for another $25,000 from the LARE program to spend in the Tippecanoe area, but we won’t know if our grant application has been accepted until August. 
The evening’s program was “What Assistance is Available from the Whitley County USDA Center?” There are four USDA agencies housed in the USDA Service Center located at 788 W Connexion Way, Columbia City and a member from each agency explained a little about their various programs.
Anthony Kirkland from the Rural Development (RD) talked about the many Loans and Grant opportunities RD has to help rural communities and regions grow and prosper. They can assist with loans for homes, electric, telecommunications, & broadband infrastructure, and water & wastewater system upgrades.  And these are just a few of many things RD can assist with in a rural community. 
Jeremy Palmer acting District Conservationist for the Whitley County Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) touched on many of the programs that NRCS can assist producers with on their farms and woodlands.  Such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and who can apply for the program which are owners of land in agricultural or forest production or persons who are engaged in livestock, agricultural or forest production on eligible land and that have a natural resource concern on the land may participate.  Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) where participates take additional steps to improve resource conditions including soil quality, water quality, water quantity, air quality, and habitat quality, as well as energy.  Agricultural Conservation Easements Program (ACEP) which protects working agricultural lands and limited non-agricultural uses of the land, or wetlands and their benefits. These are just a few of the programs available through NRCS.
Robert Buck, Director with the Farm Service Agency (FSA) explained that they are an agency that oversees a number of voluntary conservation related programs.  These programs work to address a large number of farming and ranching conservation issues including; drinking water protection, reducing soil erosion, wildlife habitat preservation, preservation and restoration of forests and wetlands, and aiding farmers whose farms are damaged by natural disasters.  This is all done through a number of programs such as Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), Emergency Conservation Program (ECP), Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP), Emergency Forest Restoration Program (EFRP), Grassland Reserve Program (GRP), and Source Water Protection Program (SWPP).  And these are just a few of the programs that are available through the FSA office.
Joyce Thompson represented the Farm Service Agency Farm Loan Programs (FSA flp).  She explained the information contained in the Farm Loan Information Chart that she had shared with the attendees.  Many of the loans were designed to help young farmers with the purchase of farm ground, construction of buildings, purchase of livestock, poultry equipment, feed, seed, farm chemicals, and supplies.  They were also designed to help beginning or socially disadvantaged farmers.  She even mention the program designed with a FFA or 4-Her to help him or her finance their project.
The evening ended with the announcement of who won the election for the SWCD Board.  Michael Hinen will be serving on the board for the next three years.  William Overdeer, Whitley County Councilman gave the oath of office to the elected Hinen at the conclusion of the 59th Annual Meeting for the Whitley County Soil and Water Conservation District.

March 28, 2015

Photography studio to open on north side of Whitley County Courthouse Square

Open House set for Sunday, March 29 from noon to 5 p.m.

(Talk of the Town photos by Kimberly Kinder of Kinder Images)
Examples of Kimberly Kinder's beautiful photography work are shown above and below. Kinder invites the community to an open house for her photography studio on the third floor of the Central Block Building in downtown Columbia City this Sunday, March 29 from noon to 5 p.m.

By Jennifer Zartman Romano

At the turn of the last century, mothers, dressed in their finest clothes, tugged at the hands of toddlers and trudged up the stairs of a building in downtown Columbia City. Well-dressed gentlemen also made their way up the stairs, awaiting their appointment at the photographer's studio.
At that time, photographers with familiar names like Jones and Magley stood behind their large cameras and captured images inside their studios, using the light from soaring windows. A trip to the photographer's studio was a rarity, with many individuals only having their photos taken once or twice and preserved for all time on cards that have been passed down through the generations.
It has been a long, long time since a photography studio has been in Columbia City's downtown, but this week, that will change. Once again, a photography studio is opening in the Central Block building in downtown Columbia City.
Kimberly Kinder of Kinder Images will open her studio at 122 1/2 West Van Buren Street, on the third floor of the building, above Apple Pie Boutique on the courthouse square.
Kinder has long been interested in photography, but began working professionally behind the camera two years ago.
"I started in 2013 and was mainly a natural light photographer.  I've had an interest in photography since high school," Kinder said. "I loved developing film in the dark room."
After high school, Kinder pursued other interests and spent many years avoiding cameras -- or being in front of them, at least.
"I actually am a person who really dislikes to be in front of the camera.  I'm very critical of myself, as are a lot of women.  As life happens and I dedicate my time to raising my family, I am continually dodging cameras," Kinder reflected. "As I look back now, I really regret that.  I do not have many images of myself with my children growing up and I certainly do not have any maternity images."
A couple of years ago, she stepped out of her comfort zone and booked a boudoir session with a photographer from Indianapolis. That experience sparked a renewed interest in photography and Kinder began working on her craft once again.
"That is what really started the photography bug for me again.  I loved the experience from having my hair and makeup done, to getting dressed up...the whole experience," added Kinder.
"My children were old enough that I finally had some time for myself and my husband encouraged me to pursue my renewed interest in photography," Kinder said. "I fell in love with it all over again." 
A lot has changed with photography since Kinder's high school days.
"The technology is much different now.  I've challenged myself to learn all that I can and I continue to learn every day.  I have mentored with some fantastic photographers and I've taken quite a few online courses," she said.
Though much has changed, that experience of getting dressed up to look your best and capturing that moment remains the same as it was a century ago.
"I want my clients to have the same experience I did.  Not necessarily a boudoir session, though I do offer them, but a family session, a maternity session, a senior session," she said of the many different types of photographic work she does today. "I work with a fabulous team of two stylists, Katelyn Root and Nikki Ratty, so that I can offer my clients that full experience."
Though there are many different kinds of photography today -- beyond the simple portraits done long ago. Kinder says her favorite appointments are those for maternity photos.
"I have to say that I love photographing expectant mothers," continued Kinder. "There is such beauty in bringing a new life into this world.  I want my clients to see just how gorgeous they really are.  I also wanted to continue that relationship with my mothers and be involved in their family."
Many of those maternity clients call her again once their babies are born to capture those moments as well.
"I was doing these sessions in my living room, or the clients home.  This became quite tedious transporting and setting up or rearranging my family so I could use the space for a client," Kinder said. So, she began looking for a space to open a photography studio.
A resident of the Leo-Grabill area, Kinder wasn't finding the perfect space in her own community and began looking beyond the area.
"I became acquainted with Amanda Kessons, first by her gorgeous maternity gowns which I use for my clients, and then through Melissa DeWitt, with whom I have mentored with and attend her Shoot and Mingles," Kinder said of two Whitley County business women and photographers. Kinder has been impressed by the warmth of Whitley County and the support she has received locally. "This is a great community in which photographers are encouraged, not alienated because of fear of competition.  I am so humbled by this and very thankful."
A little over a year after she began looking for studio space, Kessens, owner of Apple Pie Boutique and ArtandSoulBoutique.com, reached out to Kinder and offered her space in the third floor ballroom of the Central Block Building.
"It is a gorgeous space, I am very excited to be leasing it.  It has over 2000 square feet, most of which is a ballroom with beautiful windows," she said. "I certainly did not plan on having a space to use quite this large or this beautiful, but I am very excited to do so.  I have ample room for the stylists to work with the clients, as well as plenty of area for studio and newborn sessions as well.  I will also be setting up a dedicated area for my boudoir clients.  I will still conduct the vast majority of my sessions outdoors, but this space is perfect for my newborns as well as an area to meet clients as well as review their sessions when complete."
While many photographers in this day and age decide against having a brick and mortar studio space, Kinder feels that there are benefits to having a physical location for her clients to visit.
"To me the most challenging part of the photography business is marketing.  Getting your name out there, getting recognized.  Almost all of our advertising is on social media," she said, adding that what was once an easy way to market yourself has gotten more complicated. "Websites, Facebook, Google...it's becoming harder and harder to gain any exposure on these sites.  I'm hopeful that having a studio downtown will increase my clientele and provide them with a convenient studio location."
Kinder is looking forward to being part of the downtown alongside other businesses who've decided to plant themselves in a growing, changing downtown. And like the photographers in her building a century ago, her ultimate goal is very much the same. "I want my clients to walk out feeling their best and so excited to see their images," she said.
The past several weeks have been busy for Kinder as she works to set up the studio and prepare for an open house this Sunday, March 29, from noon to 5 p.m. At that time, she hopes to welcome local residents and potential clients to visit the space, meet her and learn more about what she has planned for downtown Columbia City.

For more information about Kinder Images, visit http://kinderimages.com/ or email kinderimages@yahoo.com  

Breakfast planned to benefit Whitley County Agricultural Museum, Shelter House projects

From reports

A fundraising breakfast is planned for Saturday, April 11, from 7 to 10 a.m at the Whitley County Ag Museum, with proceeds benefiting the Ag Museum and Shelter House projects at the Whitley County 4-H Fairgrounds.
The breakfast will include scrambled eggs, pancakes, whole hog sausage and drinks.  A free will donation will be received for the meal.  Bring family and friends to enjoy good fellowship and food.
According to Ron Myer of the Ag Museum's board of directors, the museum has started an endowment fund that will someday provide enough revenue to hire a curator so the museum can be open on a regular schedule.
Myer said that the Shelter House project is making great progress.
"The building has been painted, the roof has been replaced, new sidewalk completed, water line installed, and the new working wood cook stove has been used several times," he stated. "The fieldstone fireplace has been restored and looks great. The electrical wiring is being completely replaced and there will be new lights and ceiling fans added along with new lights and flags on the fireplace.  Landscaping around the outside of the building will put the final touches to this restoration project."
"The building will be used as a museum annex with learning centers being added when the building is completed," he continued.
The Mini 4-H Club has used the building for several years and the restoration project will allow them to continue showing their projects in this building. New shelves and display areas are being built for the Mini 4-Hers to exhibit their projects. The Ag Museum will partner with the Mini 4Hers to encourage them to select projects that will correlate with the learning centers in the Shelter House or that are related to the history of Whitley County. 
"Our goal is to create an interest in the history of Whitley County and early America so this important heritage can be passed on to future generations," added Myer.
"The Whitley County Agricultural Museum and 4-H Learning Center has continued to provide our school children with a resource of living history. This history will help make them better aware of how their ancestors lived and worked in this county," he said.
Over 1000 students visited the 15 learning centers during 2014 to listen to presenters describe the many activities that were a part of family life.  Over 32 presenters have made local history more meaningful for these young people.  
If it has been awhile since you visited the Whitley County Ag Museum and 4-H Learning Center, it's time for another visit.
"Each summer before the 4-H Fair the exhibits in the center of the main floor are changed.  This year the main theme will be soybeans and their many byproducts," Myer said.
The museum is also available to rent for business meetings, parties, family reunions, and many other functions and can now seat up to 140 guests. Catering service is available for meals.
For more information, visit www.whitleycountyagmuseum.com 

March 27, 2015

Whitley County EDC's Alan Tio moving on to impact regional economic development

From reports

The Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership announced this morning that Whitley County Economic Development Corporation president Alan Tio is joining the leadership team to serve as senior vice president.
Tio will leave his position as the president of the Whitley County Economic Development Corporation to join the Regional Partnership effective May 4, 2015, and lead the organization's business development, marketing, and regional initiatives.
"Alan is a great addition to the leadership team of the Regional Partnership," said John Sampson, president and CEO of the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership. "Alan brings a wealth of experience in economic development to contribute immediately to our region and the efforts of the Partnership." Since 2008, Tio has led the Whitley County Economic Development Corporation (EDC). The EDC's achievements during that time include working with the Regional Partnership to support Iotron Industries' first US facility locating in the community and developing "Certified Site Ready" Rail Connect Business Park.
"I am very excited to join the Regional Partnership team at a point in time in which so many compelling initiatives are underway that bring together stakeholders from throughout Northeast Indiana," said Tio. "My focus will be to continue the alignment of the organization's business development, marketing, and regional initiatives to the specific needs of employers of the region."
During Tio's tenure at the EDC, the organization has expanded its program of work to include agribusiness, community development, medical devices, small business and entrepreneurship. In addition, the EDC also convenes local stakeholders in numerous regional- and state-level initiatives and holds memberships in the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership and the Regional Chamber of Northeast Indiana.
"As we launch a new focus on our business development strategy, there is no better time to have Alan join the Partnership," said Joe Pierce, president and CEO of Farmers State Bank and chairman of the board of directors of the Regional Partnership. "We continue to implement improvements in our business development efforts for the region, and Alan will be a boost to those efforts."
The Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership was formed in 2006 to help build a globally competitive economy in Northeast Indiana. It is a public-private partnership creating business investment by generating business leads, developing product and fostering regional collaboration. In 2010, the Partnership launched Vision 2020 to bring the region together around five key areas for economic growth: 21st Century Talent, Competitive Business Climate, Entrepreneurship, Infrastructure and Quality of Life. The 10 counties of Northeast Indiana include Adams, Allen, DeKalb, Huntington, LaGrange, Noble, Steuben, Wabash, Wells and Whitley.

March 26, 2015

Faith Christian Academy preschoolers support Kate's Kart by donating dozens of new books

(Talk of the Town photos by Jennifer Zartman Romano)
Preschoolers in Lisa Shively's morning and afternoon classes at Faith Christian Academy have been buying and collecting books that will be donated to the Kate's Kart project, an initiative that provides brand new children's books to children in hospitals so that those children may keep them and enjoy them.
Kate's Kart, Inc., is a not-for-profit organization founded in memory of Katherine Anne Layman, affectionately remembered by family and friends as Baby Kate, that provides free books to hospitalized children.
Baby Kate was born in June 2006. Shortly after her birth, she was diagnosed with a tetrology of fallot with pulmonary artesia. This is associated with the 22q11 chromosomal deletion. She endured four open heart surgeries, five heart catheterizations and spent more than 150 days in the hospital. During her stays in the hospital, one of her favorite things to do was to look at books and for others to read to her. On January 15, 2008, her fragile heart gave out and she passed away in her mother's arms at the age of 18 months.
In honor of Kate and her love of books, the Layman family decided to start a rolling book kart in the pediatric unit of a hospital as a way to give back to the medical community that had taken such great care of Kate. Kate's Kart would be filled with new books and each child would be allowed to choose one to keep.
Just six months after her death, the first Kate's Kart started rolling through the halls of Lutheran Hospital. Now, seven years later, there are Kate's Karts in 14 hospitals and inquiries continue to pour in from hospitals in distant states as well.
Above, from left, is Eliza Romano, Dillon Meyer, Jackson Bolinger, Julian Trahin and Lily Roesler.
Below, from left, is Lily Roesler, Zander Ziliak, Tatum Boles, Cycylia Lane, Grace Shively and Andrew Nelson.



Children invited to participate in annual Easter Egg Hunt in Columbia City's Morsches Park

From reports

The annual Easter Egg Hunt sponsored by the Columbia City Rotary Club will be held at the Morsches Park baseball diamonds on Thursday, April 2, 2015, beginning at 6 p.m. 
Age groups for children include:
- up to 2 years old with parent assisting
- 3 to 5 years old – with parent accompanying
- 6 to 8 years old – no adults on the field
- 9 to 11 years old – no adults on the field
Children over the age of 11 are not allowed to participate.
The Columbia City Rotary Club wishes to thank the many Passages clients who completed the task of filling over 3000 eggs. 

Volunteers needed to help launch new Whitley County 4-H Robotics program

(Talk of the Town photo by Jennifer Zartman Romano)
The Whitley County 4-H Program is currently looking for several individuals that have an interest in robotics with practical experience that would help teach robotics basics to 4-H youth.  Engineering and computer programming experience would be helpful. If you or someone you know
might be interested in teaching youth about robotics, including building and programming, please contact Dave Addison, 4-H Youth Development Extension Educator at the Whitley County Extension Office at (260) 244-7615 or (260) 625-3313. 
Volunteers will need to learn about EV3 Lego robots and then teach the youth the information.  This will be an experience-type of project, with the youth showing what they have learned through demonstrations and a possible 4-H state competition.  Volunteers will need to pass a screening and attend a volunteer training before they can begin.
Above, a visiting educator shows an example of the robotics technology local youths will begin using this year in the Whitley County 4-H Robotics program. The educator provided a brief robotics demonstration to attendees at the Whitley County Purdue Extension annual meeting held Wednesday at the Whitley County 4-H Center.

Essay contests invite entries from youths and adults

Article provided

Indiana Prairie and CountryMark are sponsoring two different essay contests complete with prizes.
The first contest is for youth with the essay title, “How would you convince your best friend to join 4-H or FFA?”  This contest is open to youth under 21 years of age.
The second contest is for adults with the essay title, “What is the single best decision you have ever made in farming?”  This contest is open to adults 21 and older.
Essays must be 250-300 words, and your original work.  They should be typed and include a cover letter with your name, address, email address, home and cell numbers.  For adult entries, please make sure to note it’s an adult contest entry in the cover letter.  Winners for both contests will be notified by phone.  Entries must be postmarked by April 15, 2015 and send to: Susan Hayhurst, 14477 S Carlisle Street, Terre Haute, IN  47802.
For additional information, go the Indiana 4-H Foundation’s website article about the contests at:  http://www.in4h.org/indianaprairie-farmer-adult-and-youthessay-contest/, or Indiana Prairie farmer’s website articles at: http://farmprogress.com/storyenter-farm-essay-contest-chancefree-fuel-9-124663

Eagle Glen Golf Course expected to open for the season on Monday

By Jennifer Zartman Romano

If you can't wait to get out on the greens, you're in luck.
Eagle Glen Golf Course has announced that they plan to open for the season on Monday, March 30.
Golfers are asked to stick to the cart paths when driving around on the course. Due to the recent rain and snow, the greens are soggy.
Because March can be fickle, golfers are urged to call ahead to verify the course is open at 248-4653.

Regional Partnership announces 2015 election results

By Courtney Tritch

The Regional Opportunities Council (ROC), the investor board of the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, has elected the 2015 Slate of Directors to the Partnership's Governing Board. The Governing Board has also elected its 2015 officers of the corporation. The new directors and officers began their service today.
The ROC, comprised of over 100 regional leaders, oversees the Vision 2020 initiative and elects the Partnership's Governing Board. The Governing Board is responsible for providing strategic leadership oversight to the Partnership's operations and fiscal matters.
"Northeast Indiana is especially strong because we collaborate well, joining our collective strengths and ideas to cultivate a region that's both diverse and unified," said Joe Pierce, chairman of the Partnership's Governing Board and president and CEO at Farmers State Bank. "This is an exciting time in Northeast Indiana's history, one where we can seize calculated opportunities to advance the region."
The Governing Board's newly elected 2015 officers of the corporation are: Treasurer Brian Bauer (Lutheran Health Network) and Public Representative Mayor Suzanne Handshoe (City of Kendallville).
Current Governing Board members elected to a new term include Deputy Mayor Karl Bandemer (City of Fort Wayne), Joe Pierce (Farmers State Bank) and Kathleen Randolph (Northeast Indiana Works).
New Governing Board members include Tamra Boucher (Haldrup USA), Jim Cook (JPMorgan Chase Bank), Sherilyn Emberton (Huntington University), David Findlay (Lake City Bank), Arlan Friesen (Ambassador Enterprises), Nancy Jordan (Lincoln Financial Group), Ray Kusisto (OrthoNortheast) Dave McFadden (Manchester University), Commissioner Jac Price (LaGrange County) and John Urbahns (Greater Fort Wayne Inc. and LEDO Council Vice Chair).
Additionally, Allen County Commissioner Therese Brown was elected to complete the final year of a term formerly held by Allen County Commissioner Nelson Peters while Tim Haffner (Faegre Baker Daniels) and Bob Taylor (Do it Best Corp.) were elected honorary board members.
"Northeast Indiana is led by ambitious people marked for both ingenuity and determination," said John Sampson, president & CEO of the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership. "Our region is now well known for charting a new, bold course due to the commitment of volunteer leaders devoting their time and energy to service through the Partnership."
Visit the Partnership's website for a full list of Governing Board and Regional Opportunities Council members.
The Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership w as formed in 2006 to help build a globally competitive economy in Northeast Indiana. It is a public-private partnership creating business investment by generating business leads, developing product and fostering regional collaboration. In 2010, the Partnership launched Vision 2020 to bring the region together around five key areas for economic growth: 21st Century Talent, Competitive Business Climate, Entrepreneurship, Infrastructure and Quality of Life. The 10 counties of Northeast Indiana include Adams, Allen, DeKalb, Huntington, LaGrange, Noble, Steuben, Wabash, Wells and Whitley. For more information, visit  www.NEIndiana.com.

Local residents featured in PBS documentary Thursday night

Tune in to PBS Channel 39 this evening, Thursday, March 26 at 9 p.m. to see a documentary about the Whitley County Dazzlers and Passages client and talented photographer Than Boutelle.

March 25, 2015

Clifford, Gaff, Eiler and Worrick elected

(Talk of the Town photo by Jennifer Zartman Romano)
Five individuals were nominated to run for four spots on the Whitley County Purdue Extension board of directors Wednesday night during the annual meeting at the Whitley County 4-H Center Building in Columbia City. Nominees included Ed Clifford, Rex Eiler, Al Gaff, Jacie Stahl and Jacie Worrick. In the end, Clifford, Gaff, Eiler and Worrick were elected to three-year terms on the board.
Doug Ferrell and Kyle Johnson were recognized for their volunteer commitment to the board and have completed their terms. Each received a certificate for their achievement on Wednesday evening. They are shown here with Extension educator Cindy Barnett.
Above, from left in front, are board members Judy Kreider, Sharon Hesting, Lucy Draper, Anne Waybright, Jacie Worrick, Katie Geiger and Doug Ferrell.
Row two, from left, includes Al Gaff, Tony Reust, Doug Sheetz, Jeff Geiger, Ed Clifford, Rex Eiler and Kyle Johnson.

Eagles open season at Bishop Chatard

By Jeff Kumfer

The Columbia City Eagles boys’ volleyball team was in Indianapolis on Saturday for their season opening tournament at Bishop Chatard High School. The squad of sophomores, one junior, and 3 seniors Eagles squad opened pool play against Fishers, a new team in the IBVCA membership. The Eagles struggled to put together points until the end of the first set, where they rallied from 16-21 to win the set 26-24.  The second set followed the pattern of the first set closely, where the Eagles found themselves in a deeper hole 11-23 before recovering to win 26-24.
Columbia City faced off against Noblesville High School in their second match of pool play. Noblesville and the Eagles played fairly evenly matched in the first set, but Noblesville used their experience to claim a victory at 23-25.  Noblesville took advantage of the set 1 win to take the second set 15-25.
In the third match of pool play, Columbia City faced off against Southport High School, another experienced team with freshmen and junior varsity membership.  Columbia City moved a new player into the setting position in hopes of improving the performance of this young team.  The Southport squad was just too ready offensively, and hammered home multiple kills to give the Southport Raiders the match at 16-25 and 18-25.
In the only crossover match of the day, Columbia City faced Hamilton Southeastern, another experienced squad.  The Eagles struggled with Hamilton Southeastern’s height advantage, and got multiple blocks from junior Daniel Boren, but could not find the holes to put multiple points together.  Another line up experiment, and Hamilton Southeastern’s solid defense gave Columbia City another loss at 19-25 and 17-25.
The Eagles were led for the day in service aces by Kam Bontrager with 3, kills by Kam Bontrager with 18, and blocks by Daniel Boren with 22.
The Eagles will be back in action next Saturday, March 21, at Zionsville High School.

Key Club seeks donated items for upcoming benefit garage sale on April 18

By Jennifer Zartman Romano

Members of the Columbia City High School Key Club are working to plan their annual garage sale.
Once again this year, the sale will benefit Riley Children's Hospital according to club fascilitator, Rebecca Mapes.
"The students have been working hard to collect garage sale items for our free-will donation sale," Mapes said. "Last year, Key Club was able to raise well over $1000 to donate to Riley."
The students are currently accepted donated items for the sale, including household goods, clothing for men, women and children, toys, outdoor items, various pictures and furniture. 
The benefit sale is slated for April 18 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the multipurpose room at Columbia City High School.
For information on donating items to the sale, contact Rebecca Mapes at mapesrs@wccs.k12.in.us

Brommer named 2015 Lilly Endowment Community Scholar

(Talk of the Town photo provided)
Lyndsey Brommer, below, has been named as the recipient of the 2015 Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship.

By Chelsey Barrell

Lyndsey Brommer, a senior at Columbia City High School, has been named the Whitley County Community Foundation’s 2015 Lilly Endowment Community Scholar. In addition to the four-year scholarship to the Indiana college of her choice, she will also receive a $900 yearly stipend for required books and equipment.
Brommer is the daughter of Randy and Julie Brommer of Columbia City. She plans to attend Grace College to pursue a degree in Behavioral Science with a minor in the medical field. During her high school career she has been an active participant in FFA, Whitley County 4-H, National Honors Society, Varsity Girls Basketball team manager and numerous other activities. Lyndsey is also an active volunteer in many local organizations and programs such as: Passages Inc., Miller’s Merry Manor, Relay For Life, Parkview Health and more.
“Winning this scholarship means more than the world to me,” Brommer said. “I am honored to be a part of this community that gives back to the youth and makes dreams come true. I am overly excited to reach for my goals and make the community proud! I want to thank the community and everyone closest to me for raising and teaching me to be the best me I can be.”
This year 43 applicants participated in the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship selection process. The Community Foundation’s Scholarship Committee narrowed the field to four finalists based on scholarship need, perseverance, financial need, work history, community service, school activities, and interview performance. Finalists also included Cole Bechtold of South Whitley, Madison Bieber of Churubusco, and Brett Roberts of Columbia City. The Scholarship Committee’s recommendation was forwarded to Independent Colleges of Indiana for final approval.
ICI is a nonprofit corporation that represents 31 regionally accredited degree granting, nonprofit, private colleges and universities in the state. The scholarships are the result of a statewide Lilly Endowment initiative to help Hoosier students reach high levels of education. There have been over 142 scholarships awarded statewide.
Whitley County has had a total of 34 Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship recipients, including Brommer, since the first scholarship was awarded in 1998. The total amount awarded through this scholarship to Whitley County students exceeds $3 million.

Roberts, Bechtold and Bieber recognized as Lilly Scholar finalists

(Talk of the Town photos provided)

Three teens have been recognized as finalists for the Lilly Endowment Scholarship. From left is Cole Bechtold of South Whitley, Brett Roberts of Columbia City and Madison Bieber of Churubusco.

Each finalist will receive a $1,000 scholarship from the Whitley County Community Foundation.