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July 30, 2015

Romine reflects positively on his role with the Columbia City Council

Romine resigns from city council due to state law prohibiting him from voting on city budget

(Talk of the Town file photo by Jennifer Zartman Romano)
Ben Romine, shown above at left speaking with a constituent during a council meeting in 2015, announced last week that he was resigning from the council because his role as a city firefighter prevented him from voting as a council member on the city budget this fall.

By Jennifer Zartman Romano

Rather than bide his time and collect a paycheck without fully participating in the business of the city, Columbia City Councilman Ben Romine decided it was time to resign.
Effective last Friday, Romine resigned as the Southwest District representative on the Columbia City Council. Due to a state law that went into effect on July 1, 2015, Romine, a volunteer firefighter with the Columbia City Fire Department, would have been unable to vote on matters pertaining to the city budget. Romine learned in the first year of his term that his role as a firefighter would prevent him from seeking re-election, but the legislation preventing him from voting during this last half of his term came as something of a surprise.
"This is something I've been looking at for about 60 days," Romine said, researching the angles of the law and seeking advice from the Indiana Association of Cities & Towns as well as city attorney Marcia McNagny.
"I would have showed up every two weeks and abstained from voting and I didn't feel good about that," said Romine. "I knew I couldn't run again or I'd have to resign from the fire department."
Romine has been a firefighter with the Columbia City Fire Department for the past 10 years and prior to that, served as a firefighter on the Thorncreek Township Volunteer Fire Department.
Romine is an accountant and for the past 3 and a half years, he's brought his skill as a financial analyst to the city council -- a skillset that will be missed.
"I've enjoyed (serving on the council)," Romine said. "I'm someone that believes that you should have another occupation (outside of politics). You bring your skillset to the council and when it's time to move on, you move on."
Romine describes his experience on the city council as a positive one.
"I don't think people realize how long it takes to get things done because the process takes time," he said. Romine particularly enjoyed working to revise city ordinances. "I spent a lot of time re-writing ordinances with the city attorney. Many of them were out of date and chopped up."
"We have some really good department heads that make council's job easy," said Romine. Romine was particularly appreciative of city community development director Jeff Walker, calling him a great resource.
Looking over his accomplishments during his term, Romine took pride in his role with the Columbia City Redevelopment Commission.
"I'm most satisfied with the buildings that were addressed," he said. "History will show if the way we addressed them was the best way, but when I came into office there were six properties we needed to deal with. We addressed four and we're in the process of addressing the other two."
Romine's last day as a city council member was last Friday, July 24. He will continue to serve on the Redevelopment Commission through the end of December 2015.
A caucus to fill the remaining months of Romine's term is being planned by Whitley County GOP chairman Matt Boyd and will be held in the month of August per state law.

Whitley County Literacy Council proud to offer local HSE/GED testing

By Jennifer Zartman Romano

The workforce is competitive and without a high school diploma or GED, finding a good job can be difficult.
Locally, the Whitley County Literacy Council has been working hard for decades to help residents learn to read and for those who haven't graduated from high school, to earn their GED.
According to Robin Koller of the Whitley County Literacy Council it has been many years since local residents were able to take the GED test, now known as the High School Equivalency Test (HSE) locally.
"Whitley County has not had a test site for the GED for several years," Koller said.
The HSE testing will be available at the Peabody Public Library from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on August 11-12, October 27-28 and December 8-9. Testing is given over two days and is offered in computer format only.
Koller said significant changes are coming to the testing in 2016, so those considering the testing should do it now.
For more information about the HSE testing or the Whitley County Literacy Council, visit, email or call 244-2375.
To register for the upcoming HSE dates at the Peabody Public Library, call 1-888-349-0250 ext. 251.

Memorial race for Tim Hearld is Saturday

From reports

The second annual InTIMidator 5K race in memory of the late Tim Hearld will be held this Saturday, August 1, at 8 a.m. at Columbia City High School. Race day registration begins at 7 a.m. Registration the day of the race is $15.
Proceeds from the race will support the Tim Hearld Memorial Scholarship Fund at the Whitley County Community Foundation.
For more information, contact Carlee Hearld at

Patriots to host discussion on local education

From reports

Back to school time is almost here, but have you taken the time to research what your child will be learning in the classroom.
On Tuesday, August 3, at 7 p.m., the Whitley County Patriots will welcome local educators who will address their concerns about public and private education in Whitley County.
The meeting is open to the community and will be held at the Columbia City Church of the Nazarene, located at 506 North Main Street in Columbia City.

Whitley County Historical Society to host second Utah Concealed Firearm event in August

Article provided

On July 25, the Whitley County Historical Museum hosted a "Utah Concealed Firearm Fundraising Program" -- which was a great success. Paul Slavin, certified BCI instructor and certified NRA instructor presented the program.
For those interested in this program but who may have missed it, Slavin will be back on Saturday, August 29, to hold another Utah Concealed Firearm fundraiser.
To register, call the Whitley County Historical Museum at 244-6372.

July 29, 2015

2015 was a record setting year for the Whitley County 4-H Fair livestock auction

(Talk of the Town photo by Jennifer Zartman Romano)
Last Thursday's 2015 Whitley County 4-H Fair livestock auction was a resounding success. According to 4-H officials this week, the auction was a record-setter with sales totalling $420,000.
Other year totals were:
2013 - $372,968.59
2012 - $373,749.32
2011 - $377,000
2010 - $336,902.21
2009 - $374,932 

Players, sponsors sought for 2015 Whitley County Chamber of Commerce golf outing

Article provided

The annual Whitley County Chamber of Commerce Golf Outing, slated for August 20, 2015, provides an enjoyable afternoon of golf and networking on the scenic, rolling hills of Eagle Glen Golf Course.
The Florida scramble event begins at noon, with registration and activities beginning at 11 a.m. Prizes will be awarded for low score, top teams, closest to the pin and longest drive.
Team registration, including lunch, refreshments, cart and fees, is $400 per team.
Hole sponsorships are available for $75 each. For $125, you can sponsor a hole and be stationed at that hole to interact with each team playing in the outing.
Proceeds from the outing support the Whitley County Chamber of Commerce,  a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the greater Whitley County business community and supporting our members with personalized business services, advocacy, networking and more.
Sponsors of the 2015 Whitley County Chamber of Commerce Golf Outing include PHP, 3Rivers Federal Credit Union, North American Title and MidWest America Federal Credit Union.
For registration or sponsorship information, contact Doug Brown at or call the Chamber office at 248-8131.

Swogger joins Crossroads Bank as commercial lending vice president

Article provided

Crossroads Bank announces the hiring of Lisa Swogger as commercial lending vice president in the Columbia City and Syracuse offices.
Swogger is a graduate of Woodlan High School and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from International Business College, majoring in Accounting.  She has her Indiana Real Estate license and Indiana Life and Health Insurance License.  She has 15 years of banking experience in a variety of capacities ranging from customer service representative to branch manager/lender.
“We are pleased to add someone with Lisa’s expertise to our staff.  She brings a wealth of experience to our bank with her knowledge of both the commercial and mortgage industry," stated Michael G. Fisher, senior vice president and chief lending officer.
Swogger’s community involvement includes:  American Cancer Society Relay for Life, Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Northeast Indiana community mentor, Junior Achievement volunteer teacher, Northeast Indiana Light the Night for Leukemia and Lymphoma Society committee member and Kendallville Chamber of Commerce.
Crossroads Bank is a wholly owned subsidiary of FFW Corporation providing an extensive arrayof banking services and a wide range of investments and securities products through its main office in Wabash and four Indiana banking centers located in Columbia City, North Manchester, South Whitley, and Syracuse. The Bank provides leasing services at its banking centers and its Carmel, IN leasing and commercial loan office. Insurance products are offered through an affiliated company, Insurance 1 Services, Inc. The corporation’s stock is traded on the OTC Markets under the symbol “FFWC.” The website address is

Whitley County Community Foundation seeks community ideas, perspectives

From reports

The input of the entire community is needed by the Whitley County Community Foundation as they discuss opportunities to provide strategic grants to meet the needs of the community over the next three years.
Members of the Whitley County Community Foundation board of directors, grants committee and staff have developed a survey to collect information from local officials, religious leaders, staff and board members of non-profit organizations and caring members of the community.
To access the four question survey to share your thoughts, ideas and concerns, visit:

July 28, 2015

Insurance will cover damage to Columbia City firefighters' equipment during recent factory fire

By Jennifer Zartman Romano

Last month, Columbia City Fire Chief Tom LaRue requested $50,000 in funds to offset the cost of damages incurred by the fire department as they fought the C&R Plating factory fire several months ago.
Tonight, LaRue reported that the costs to replace damaged items was less than expected and with insurance reimbursements, the funds would be easy for his department to cover.
LaRue told the Columbia City Council that the total cost to replaced damaged fire gear was $9176.79. In all, the city's insurance covered $7384, leaving a gap of $1792.79. He said his department would cover that cost for the time being, but he anticipated C&R Plating's insurance to cover some of the gap as well.
"I don't think we'll use any of the money we took out at our last meeting," LaRue said. The requested $50,000 could be returned to the cumulative fund soon.
LaRue added that the thermal imaging device that was damaged in the fire was covered by warranty, so a new one would not need to be purchased.

Acres to retire after more than 30 years with city

(Talk of the Town file photo)
Martha Acres, at right, will be retiring from the city after more than 30 years, serving in the office of five mayors.

By Jennifer Zartman Romano

After more than 30 years with the city, Martha Acres will be retiring this fall.
Acres has served as the administrative assistant to five mayors, including current Mayor Ryan Daniel. "Hopefully, the last was the best," Daniel said.
Daniel announced at Tuesday's Columbia City Common Council meeting that he had already hired a replacement for Acres -- 2012 Columbia City High School graduate Samara Qureshi.
Daniel said Acres and Qureshi will be working side by side for the next two and a half months through the transition. In addition to her role as the administrative assistant to the mayor, Acres has served on numerous committees and community projects.

Parks director says city may have a half-pipe soon

By Jennifer Zartman Romano

Columbia City Parks Department director told the Columbia City Council Tuesday evening that the park board is currently in talks to begin fundraising and building a half-pipe for skateboarding and BMX biking.
Although a skateboarding park, often used by youths for doing bike stunts, has been open for several years in Morsches Park near the park office, a half-pipe is expected to attract a new audience and would be located in a different park. One park being strongly considered is reportedly Kenneth Wright Park off South Whitley Street in Columbia City.
"The park board is in the process of raising funds to build a half-pipe," parks director Mark Green said. "We may have one of our own in six to seven months." A half-pipe is essentially two joined, concave ramps with decking that can be used by BMX bikers, skaters and skateboarders for skill building and tricks.
Green said he anticipated having all funds needed to build the equipment raised by the end of the year.
Green stated that he had been in talks with the organizers of the annual Brandanza, a music event organized by friends of the late Brandon Minier, and that funds raised at this year's event would be donated to the park department of the construction of the half-pipe.
Now in it's seventh year, Brandanza is planned for Saturday, September 12, 2015, beginning at 3 p.m. at Portside Pizza, Tri Lakes. The event will feature an auction, face painting, children's activities and an ongoing concert throughout the evening. Featured musical acts include I Wombat, The Shutters, Jess Thrower, Auld Mongrels, URB, The Be Colony, Fighting Words, August Anonymous and others.
Admission is $10 per person or $20 per family, with children under 12 attending for free. Admission includes entertainment, food and beverages, excluding alcohol.
Additionally, in support of the event, the third annual Brandanza kickball tournament will be held in Morsches Park on Saturday, August 29.
A portion of the proceeds from the Brandanza events will support the children of Brandon Minier as well as the half-pipe project.

July 27, 2015

Chamber selects Blue River Digital for July 2015 Business of the Month

(Talk of the Town photo provided)
The Whitley County Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors recently selected Blue River Digital as the July Business of the Month. They were presented with this honor for their support of community initiatives, including The Center for Whitley County Youth, a Chamber member non-profit organization.
Celebrating this honor is, above from left, Doug Brown of the Whitley County Chamber, Lee Aumsbaugh of Aumsbaugh Flooring, Scott Tyree of Blue River Digital, Ryan Sigler of Blue River Digital, Wes Sigler of Blue River Digital, Don Clemens of Rabb Water Systems, Leslee Derbeck of Star Insurance, Dick Buchanan, Cindy Baker of United Way of Whitley County and Pete Allen of Star Financial Bank.
Blue River Digital is located at 103 East Ellsworth Street in Columbia City. For more information, contact Blue River Digital at 248-2749.

Saturday morning event raises awareness for the benefits of breastfeeding

Article provided

During the first week of August every year, to raise awareness of the benefits of breastfeeding and the need for global support, the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action organizes World Breastfeeding Week.
From August 1-7, World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated in 120 countries and marks the signing of the WHO/UNICEF document Innocenti Declaration, which lists the benefits of breastfeeding, plus global and governmental goals.
To mark this occasion on Saturday, August 1 at 10:30 a.m., thousands of breastfeeding women and their babies/children across the world will gather in their own communities to take part in the Global Big Latch On, a synchronized breastfeeding event in multiple locations. Our local Big Latch On will take place at the southeast side of the Courthouse square in downtown Columbia City.
The first Big Latch On took place in Aotearoa, New Zealand in 2005. It was introduced to Portland, Oregon in 2010 by Small Beginnings Group LLC and has now taken off globally.
This year, the goal is to break the current 2013 record of 14,536 children breastfeeding across 845 locations, and the 2014 records for numbers of countries taking part (31), numbers of breastfeeding women attending  (14,173) and total attendance (23,906). Our long-term vision is that one day a Global Big Latch On event will be held within walking distance of every family in the world. The Global Big Latch On is informed by the principles of community development, providing the opportunity for breastfeeding women to get together in their local communities, host their own events and identify opportunities for on-going support. Breastfeeding contributes to the normal growth and development of babies/children, and babies/children who are not breastfed are at increased risk of infant morbidity and mortality, adult obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and premenopausal breast cancer and ovarian cancer (both mom and baby.)
The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months of a baby's life to optimize these benefits, continuing to breastfeed for 2 years and as long thereafter as is mutually desired by a woman and her child.

Enjoy Blizzard treats Thursday, proceeds to benefit Riley Children's Hospital

From reports

This Thursday, July 30, is Miracle Day at the Columbia City DQ Grill & Chill. On that day, the proceeds from all Blizzard treats sold will be donated to Riley Children's Hospital.