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March 26, 2008

'Rhapsody in Red' raising awareness for women's heart health in Whitley County

By Kelley Sheiss



A month from now, on Friday, April 25th, the community will have the delightful opportunity of “dressing up and dining out.” It’s not very often in Whitley County that we as adults have the chance to break-out our finest dress, suit or jewels. Often, many of our great community events can be attended in jeans or business casual attire. Kelley Sheiss

So, it seems only fitting that when offering a unique event, the thought was to design an upscale, elegant evening that not only was a treat for those in attendance, but benefited local organizations as well. 

Rhapsody in Red is a dinner dance open to the community that will benefit Leadership Whitley County and (hopefully) increase the awareness of women’s heart health. Scheduled for Friday, April 25, 2008 at the Eagles Nest Event Center in Columbia City from 6 to 10:30 p.m., the event follows last year’s successful “Dancing with the Stars of Whitley County.”


This year, LWC wanted to offer an event where everyone could enjoy an evening of entertainment and dancing (featuring Blue River Express). In addition, the organization wanted to host an event that would also benefit another initiative. With heart disease being the #1 killer of women in the United States, it seemed like a great collaboration to tie-in the event with the focus on “red,” bringing attention to the importance of women’s heart health.


When I encourage people to attend this event, I do so because it is more than just another fundraiser. First, Leadership Whitley County is near and dear to my heart (no pun intended). I have seen firsthand the true value it has in our county. LWC has had 134 outstanding people go through the program who have contributed greatly in so many ways. From serving on boards, volunteering at local events, supporting new initiatives such as the Splash Pad, Ice Carving Festival, Taste of Whitley County and so much more, the Leadership Whitley County program is a strong foundation in the success of our community and its people. Of course, it takes funds to continue a successful program and events such as “Rhapsody” ensure this servant leadership program will thrive in years to come. 


Second, and most importantly for me, is the need and opportunity we have at this event to increase awareness of women’s heart disease and the importance of heart health. 


In late September of 2001, we were still reeling from 9/11 and I was eight months pregnant. It was a beautiful fall Saturday afternoon and I had just returned from a walk when the call came. 


My mom, at age 62, dropped dead of a massive heart attack. My dad tried to save her, but it was too late. The doctors said she died before she hit the kitchen floor. 


There is nothing that quite changes your life like the unexpected loss of a dear loved one. I am glad she did not suffer, however I am mad that she had to leave us too early. She would never see her newest grandson or enjoy the beach condo that her and my dad had dreamed of for years. I was angry for another reason. You see, my mom had only been to the doctor once since I was born (that’s one time in 32 years). She had a fear of doctors and suffered from “white coat hypertension,” so that one time she went to the doctor her high blood pressure was deemed as nerves. And, she smoked…a lot. And, she didn’t exercise…at all. And, when she started feeling poorly the morning that she died, she just chalked it up to a case of food poisoning or the flu. 


Six months later, my husband lost his aunt the exact same way. It was a double whammy. Since that time, I have had two female friends in their 30’s diagnosed with either high blood pressure or high cholesterol. Kudos to them for being proactive and seeking medical treatment.


The point of my community voice (and thank you, Jen, for providing the venue for this type of communication) is that we can make a difference and we need to work on our awareness of these issues every day. We only have one heart, one life and one chance to get it right. Look at your kids, grandkids, your friends and family members. It is so important to make the most of what we have while we are here. And chances are you are so important to so many people. We owe it to ourselves and our loved ones to take care of our heart and our health.


Rhapsody in Red is more than just a dinner dance. It is a celebration of life and an opportunity to share it with others. A portion of the monies generated from the evening will help offset the costs of a Women’s Wellness Profile that will be offered at the Heartbeat’s Festival on May 3. The profile, which will cost $30, includes the test, screening and follow-up report. This test is typically not available through a routine doctor’s visit and is often not covered by insurance. Usually, it runs in the hundreds of dollars.


So, dust off those dancing shoes, find a red tie, scarf or dress and get ready for a well-deserved evening out. Make the time and investment to attend Rhapsody in Red and make a difference.


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March 22, 2008

Life's Imitation of Art or vice versa?

By Susie Duncan Sexton
Regarding NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, THERE WILL BE BLOOD (inspired by Upton Sinclair's 1927novel, OIL!), and IN THE VALLEY OF ELAH (based upon actual events), eager consumers/customers queue up at bookstore cash registers, movie ticket box offices, and DVD rental shops for doses of violence--or enlightenment?  Daily, the senselessness of human cruelty is thrown into our faces with every turn of a newspaper page, click of a mouse, or flick of a remote control.  Muslims and Iraqi puppies handily disposed of as we voyeuristically watch.  Pulp fiction emerges as telling reality while lunching at Wendy's, browsing at Von Maur's, purchasing underwear at Lane Bryant's, or matriculating like a herd of cattle into almost any college/university lecture hall or classroom.  Ah, yes--massacres occurring right and left during this recent season, this HUNTING season, where annihilation of Life reaches commonplace status.
All three mentioned movies might be categorized as extolling violence, but none of them, nor the blood-letting depicted, conjures comparatively as much audience quaking as once did those rough walks home from school while taunted and harassed by snot-nosed bullies.  Remember?  These films astonish with their eerily accurate portrayals of the human condition and resonate with total horrible believability.  Villains seem difficult to easily identify as life-forces swirl randomly around all characters' interactions.  
Classic novels once adhered to the rules of triangular structure, i.e. introduction, climax and conclusion.  "Once upon a time" followed by build-up to a significant crisis/dilemma resolved itself into a denouement of "happily ever after". Modern fiction nearly uniformly breaks from that pattern and for good reason.
NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN recently garnered the Oscar and, thus, alerted the public to the film's existence--with mixed results.  Advice?  View this quirky cinematic endeavor as "a real page-turner", for the Coen Brothers innovatively transferred the movie's script from author Cormac McCarthy's galley proofs somewhat directly to the screen.  How dare any of us sanctimoniously sniff that "the book is better than the movie" when the book IS the movie, though no longer held in your own two hands nor upon your lap? 
This trilogy of 2007 cinematic terror hammers home important themes--allow Muslims to be Muslims, Christians to be Christians, armies to be armies, corporations to be corporations, politicians to be politicians, tribes to be tribes, cults to be cults marching to the beat of the drummer heard,  whether singly, in pairs, groups, or clusters.  Beware though, upon review of the films, several troubling questions tenaciously haunt the mind.  Does group-think somehow create more monsters than usual, either as part of the cliques/gangs themselves--or consequentially produce loners, mavericks, rebels, loose cannons quite simply frustrated with the collective status quo?  Also, the ultimate query remains that time-honored cliche'  "Which came first?"...(Forget the chicken or the egg) violence or the movies?
As NO COUNTRY'S dispassionate slaughter-house-foreman-type dispatcher of death, Spaniard Javier Bardem, that soulful skillful young coin-flipping actor, demands of a cross-sectional bewildered member of the family-of-man, " Call it, friendo!"

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March 19, 2008

Conservative blog Hoosier Access endorses Jim Banks

What follows appeared yesterday on the conservative, statewide blogsite when the group officially announced their first public endorsement of a candidate at www.hoosieraccess.com :

"The Directors of Hoosier Access are proud to announce our very first candidate endorsement. We enthusiastically support and endorse Jim Banks (R – Columbia City) for Whitley County Council. Even though Jim is one our fellow Directors, he was not allowed to participate in our voting.

Jim is a staunch fiscal conservative that will help lead Whitley County into the future knowing that local government needs to keep a check in its spending, especially in light of the recent property tax legislation that was just passed. State Representative Matt Bell has gone on record to say that “Jim Banks will be a great County Councilman and advocate for Whitley County families and businesses. I look forward to working with him to find ways to fight taxes and build a better Whitley County.”

Jim was born and raised in Columbia City and South Whitley and has continually showed his leadership and dedication, to his community, county and his party. He graduated from Indiana University in 2004 after doing several campaigns here in Indiana and Colorado. After college Jim worked for Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs, Colorado where he also set up Jim Banks Consulting, LCC before coming back to Indiana in 2005. He set up shop in Columbia City where he renamed his company The Wabash Group, LLC.

Jim was unanimously appointed by the Whitley County Commissioners to serve on the Northeast Indiana Regional Workforce Board, is a member of the Columbia City Chamber of Commerce and Rotary Club and is a Director on the Allen County Right to Life Committee Board. He is also a member of the Gideons. Jim and his wife also attend Emmanuel Community Church in Fort Wayne.

Jim is the epitome of what Hoosier Access and your average Hoosier stands for and believes. It is for these reasons that we are pleased to give our stamp of approval to Jim Banks in his pursuit of a seat on the Whitley County Council. If you would like to support Jim in his campaign, click here."

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March 17, 2008

Have we evolved not a whit?

By Susie Duncan Sexton 


While spring cleaning as well as monitoring this wacky presidential campaign, that proverbial "truth is stranger than fiction" adage surfaces in my thought processes. 


Although Obama's preacher comes off sounding like a Malcolm X nut, it has been just that disconcerting enduring the narrow-mindedness and mean-spiritedness of other extreme camps of thought for seven years now.  Actually, religiosity has no place in politics outside of swearing in via the right hand upon the Bible with the promise to "preserve, protect and defend" the constitution.  Hillary has walked a reasonable middle ground on the issue..quite simply a solid Methodist who attended Sunday school regularly.  If Obama doesn't rise above Dr. Jeremiah Wright's hysterical dogma with some explanation that the good reverend's rantings inspired Barack to unify all elements of the entire human race into peaceful harmony only after listening to fire and brimstone stuff for nearly twenty years, the candidate's in trouble.


Seems Geraldine Ferraro, inadvertently, earlier told us what Hillary REALLY thinks yet dares not voice; similarly, maybe Rev. Jeremiah informed voters of the true Barack philosophy? Perhaps, Obama's a bit too much "hippified-flower-child-once-removed", while Hillary appears grounded in moderation. 


Interestingly, feminist Gloria Steinem questioned John McCain's qualifications to ascend to presidential power, shortly before news coverage surfaced of  that silver-haired maverick's endorsements emanating from some dark-hearted religious leaders.  McCain's official bio remains stunningly questionable and irreligious, even prior to recent New York Times revelations, yet support from the devout boosts his candidacy?  Hypocrisy reigns.


Isn't this the year 2008, surely long removed from the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, and the Trials at Salem?  Have we evolved not a whit?






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March 12, 2008

Local Kiwanis thank contestants, community for successful tournament

By Steve Beck, Kiwanis Club President 

On behalf of all the members of The Kiwanis Club of Whitley County I would like to thank all the Steve Beck, Kiwanis Club of Whitley Countycontestants for games well played, all the generous businesses that donated prizes, the staff and friends of the Peabody Public Library for all the work, facility, refreshments, and everything they did to make this Jeopardy Tournament a success. And last but by no means least a big Thank You to Greg Hockemeyer and Matt Rentschler for donating their time and being such great MCs.

I wish we could list all the generous businesses that donated prizes this year, but to do so would add another page to the paper. The generosity of our community is so wonderful. The help these businesses gave us in their donations was a big factor in making this years jeopardy tournament a huge success. Please show your support and take the opportunity to patronize and thank these businesses.

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March 05, 2008

One Little Word

By Athena Metzger 

I was so tired that I couldn’t see straight, and to make matters worse I couldn’t fall asleep even after a thirteen-hour day of organizing, cleaning and painting. Athena Metzger

This past Saturday several families labored together to ready Faith Christian Academy for its annual Kindergarten Roundup. Some pitched in for a few hours, but the Triers, Vargas and Metzgers made an entire day of the project, finally calling it quits about 10:45 p.m. The adults and children had become weary and bleary eyed long before that time. The two babies of the group woke up from their cat naps and joined the grand finale. Our hard work yielded major improvement, but we had only scratched the surface of the long overdue remodeling.

The Saturday a week prior also proved a marathon day for FCA families, putting on a fish fry and a silent auction. Two Saturdays gone, my remodeling projects and work at home were mounting. “This is insane,” I said to myself. 

I can list a lot of seemingly crazy things that have to happen because of one little word: my kids’ teachers sacrifice their livelihoods working for sub-poverty level wages; families spend small fortunes in gas expenses driving our children back and forth to school; I spend close to an hour a day transporting my kids to school when a public school bus would save time and money; our school operates on a shoestring budget – there’s no money for janitors or cafeteria workers – our families volunteer to perform these duties; in addition, families sacrifice thousands of dollars of discretionary income to pay for tuition when they already pay thousands in taxes that go to the public schools. 

There are so many people giving so much and giving up so much that it would be difficult to list it all. Why are families sacrificing so much? 

I’ll tell you why we all do it: because of one little word – God.

Athena Metzger is the mother of three, a lifeguard and a gymnastics instructor. She is also a contributing writer to Talk of the Town.

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