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October 19, 2016

Find Marcus: Concerned community continues to seek clues in disappearance of local young man

(Talk of the Town photo provided)
Marcus Wolfe, a 19-year-old from South Whitley, disappeared after leaving a home in Union Township and hasn't been seen since July 25. His family, friends and local officials hope someone, somewhere has information that could help with the case.

By Jennifer Zartman Romano

On a recent Sunday morning, the faithful flocks of several local churches might have ordinarily been bowed in prayer or pensively listening to their pastor.
But, that Sunday was different. Dozens of volunteers gathered at Whitko High School and began an extensive foot search of Whitley County in hopes of finding something relevant to the case of missing teen Marcus Wolfe. Armed with maps of the county, teams of searchers scoured the countryside. While they didn't find anything, they did discover several areas they plan to ask the Sheriff's Department to look at. MarcusWolf1016.jpg
Wolf was last seen on July 25 at 9:30 p.m. when he left the Miami Village trailer park in Union Township. Wearing a Shoemaker Construction t-shirt and black shorts, the 5 foot 10 inch young man with dirty blonde hair and blue eyes climbed into his mid-1990s dark blue Saturn two-door car with Indiana license plate 337 NEJ. Reportedly, he was heading home to South Whitley to his apartment, but he never made it home.
Weeks have passed. Summer has faded to fall. The initial flurry of public interest in his case has seemingly disappeared and a group of local residents hoped to reinvigorate it with a push to find more information, something...anything...that might bring answers to Wolfe's heartbroken family. His mother, Tammy, has taken to the internet hoping someone, somewhere will know some clue that could lead to him.
While there haven't been many details made public about Wolfe's case, several things have happened recently pertaining to it.
A "Help Find Marcus Wolfe" page has been created on Facebook. Reportedly, local law enforcement officers conducted an aerial search of the areas surrounding SR 205, Old Trail Road and Pook Road a couple of weeks ago. The Indiana Department of Natural Resources has also reportedly checked ponds.
Now, as the fall comes to Whitley County, the landscape is changing. Fields are being cleared, leaves are falling and as county residents go hunting, new details could emerge.
Tammy Wolfe hopes landowners across Whitley County will take some time to check their fields, woods, back tracks and ponds for signs of Wolfe or his car.
Local residents Tim and Christine Scroggs were among the approximately 50 people who attended the recent cross county search for Wolfe. A local pastor, Tim Scroggs opened the event with prayer.
"People need to keep eyes open," Scroggs said. "If anyone has any information, they need to get ahold of the sheriff's department."
Christine Scroggs, though unrelated to the missing man, empathizes with his mother's pain.
"As a mother, I could not imagine the stress and pain of not knowing where one of my children were," said said. "This community has proven itself time and again to love and support families in times of loss or stress.  This family is in need of that same support."
With little details to go on, it is unclear whether Wolfe disappeared -- or was taken.
"Regardless of the situation, this is a young man that for no apparent reason, has been absent from his families lives.  He needs to be found so that there can be answers, accountability, or closure...whatever the case may be," she added. "The not knowing is the worst part.  I feel for his Mom, Dad and family, and am hoping that he be found soon for them."
Those with any information or potential details that could be helpful with the case are encouraged to contact the Whitley County Sheriff's Department.

State Auditor Suzanne Crouch to speak at upcoming Whitley GOP Lincoln Day Dinner

From reports

The Whitley County Republican Party will host their annual Lincoln Day dinner on Monday, October 24 at Ceruti's at Eagle Glen Event Center in Columbia City. Events begin at 5:30 p.m.
State Auditor Suzanne Crouch is the keynote speaker for the dinner. Candidates in the upcoming election will be recognized.
 Dinner is $40 per person or $320 for a table of eight. Corporate and candidate sponsorship opportunities are available.
 Reservations are due now. Please call Laurell Hodges 244-3887 or

Chamber celebrates open of Indiana Physical Therapy's location in Columbia City


(Talk of the Town photo provided)
Recently, the Whitley County Chamber of Commerce was on hand to celebrate the grand opening of Indiana Physical Therapy's new Columbia City Clinic.
A Chamber Ribbon Cutting Ceremony was held to mark the important occasion.
Above, from left, in front is Mayor Ryan Daniel, Keah Southall, Sarah Daley, Erin Thomas and Ben Schafer, all of Indiana Physical Therapy, and Doug Brown of the Whitley County Chamber of Commerce. Row two, from left, includes State Representative Chris Judy, Whitley County Councilman Bill Overdeer, John Smith of Indiana Physical Therapy, Shelby Longenbaugh of Star Insurance, Jeff Walker of the City of Columbia City, Mary Hartman of Peabody Public Library and Randy Holler of Crossroads Bank.
Erin Thomas is the senior therapist at the Columbia City Clinic. A graduate of Indiana University, Thomas holds a doctorate in Physical Therapy. She also has a bachelor's degree in exercise science from Ball State. Following extensive training, she is also a certified orthopedic manual therapist.
Indiana Physical Therapy's Columbia City Clinic is open Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Fridays from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, visit their website at Indiana Physical Therapy or to schedule an appointment, call (260) 209-2464.

October 18, 2016

Larwill ballpark renamed 'Northeastern REMC Field' to honor their community can-do spirit


(Talk of the Town photo provided)
As employees from Northeastern REMC were busy painting and repairing the aged ball diamonds in Larwill, they had no idea a big surprise was in store for them. Indeed, the very thought of how surprised local children would be was reward enough for their many hours of volunteer work. However, when they returned from a lunch break on Friday afternoon, they discovered that the park had been renamed "Northeastern REMC Field" by the Whitko Pony League and Richland Township Trustee and Advisory Board on Friday afternoon, surprising the team of volunteers.
The sizeable volunteer project was completed by Northeastern REMC as part of the state-wide Indiana Electric Cooperative Community Day, a day dedicated to community service.

Crossroads Bank named September 2016 Whitley County Chamber Business of the Month


(Talk of the Town photo provided)
The Whitley County Chamber of Commerce and Ambassadors recently selected Crossroads Bank as the September 2016 Business of the Month.
Crossroads Bank was recognized for their long-time, committed support of the Whitley County Chamber of Commerce, with numerous employees regularly attending events, serving on committees and sponsoring events. Additionally, Crossroads Bank has an outstanding reputation for supporting community events and activities as well.
Those attending a celebration ceremony for this honor included, from left, Deb Roy of Crossroads Bank, Don Mockler of Edward Jones Investments, Renee Cone of Crossroads Bank, Jodi Klopfenstein of Crossroads Bank, Charlotte Lytle of Crossroads Bank, Don Clemens of Rabb Water Systems, Matt Connelly of Preferred IT Group, Lee Aumsbaugh of Aumsbaugh Flooring, Lisa Swogger of Crossroads Bank, Pete Allen of Star Financial Bank, Jason Horne of Preferred IT Group, Mayor Ryan Daniel and Randy Holler of Crossroads Bank.

Northeastern REMC builds a better baseball diamond for Larwill area youth


(Talk of the Town photos provided)
As part of the third annual Indiana's Electric Cooperative Community Day, Northeastern REMC employee volunteers helped rejuvenate the Richland Township Ball Park along US 30 in Larwill. REMCLarwill1016b.jpg
As part of their day-long volunteer project, NREMC crew members removed deteriorated wood poles that supported the park's field lighting. Lighting was reinstalled on seven new 55 feet tall poles donated by the co-op and those poles were erected around the ball field by Northeastern's crews.
Employees also painted the park's concession stand, bathrooms and utility building, repaired the damaged outfield fence, trimmed the tree line along US 30, and bought materials necessary to replace the park's teeter-totter and tetherball game.
In all, 33 electric cooperatives throughout Indiana, including Northeastern REMC, worked on projects that met a specific need within their service territories as part of Cooperative Community Day. This initiative provides the electric co-ops an opportunity to use their time, skills and expertise to make a positive impact in their local communities.
"Thank you to all those involved in this project. We are extremely proud to have our name associated with such a vital part of our community. Our wish is that children and families enjoy this outstanding facility for many, many years to come," stated a Northeastern REMC spokesman.
Above, Northeastern REMC employees erect bright, new lighting in the Larwill area baseball diamond.
At right, Keith Sievers works to repair a fence in the Richland Township Ball Park.
Below, Mindy King-Woods and Doug Ferrell complete a painting project as part of Northeastern REMC's participation in the Indiana Electric Cooperative Community Day last Friday.


Considering an MBA? IPFW plans open house to showcase advanced degrees

From reports

Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW) will host an Open House Wednesday, November 9, for prospective students of the IPFW MBA programs. IPFW awards an Indiana University degree and is accredited by AACSB. The two popular programs, the Professional MBA and the MBA+, are accepting applications.
The open house will be held on Wednesday, November 9, from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Keith E. Busse IPFW Alumni Center. A presentation will be given at 5:30 p.m. The open house will enable prospective students to visit with faculty and staff, ask questions and learn more about the programs. Additionally, attendees will have an opportunity to meet and network with other potential MBA colleagues.
The Professional MBA (formerly the Accelerated MBA) is designed for working adults who want to advance in their careers by completing an MBA in less than 12 months. Classes meet online and on Saturdays.
Carolyn Stumph, Ph.D., the new director of IPFW MBA programs, says, "Recent changes in our MBA program include the addition of concentrations in Business Analytics and Finance. This improves students' expertise in turning data into insights, which benefits the business community of northeast Indiana." MBA+ classes meet in the evenings, which allows working professionals to take advantage of the program. Hybrid and online course options are also available.
Interested parties can register through the IPFW website or by calling IPFW at (260) 481-6118. Those with questions about the program may also contact program coordinator James Cashdollar at (260) 481-6118 or .

October 17, 2016

Whitko school board meeting is tonight

From reports

The Whitko Community School Corporation's board of trustees will meet this Monday, October 17, 2016, beginning at 6:30 p.m. in the Whitko Middle School Lecture Room in Larwill.
This is a public meeting and open to interested citizens.

Farm fatality summary highlights trends, continued danger in agriculture

By John Woodmansee and Jessica Merzdorf

Purdue University's annual Indiana Farm Fatality Summary reported 28 farm-related deaths in 2015, a 10 percent increase from the 2014 total of 25. However, overall trends are still declining.
Statistics were collected by the Purdue University Agricultural Safety and Health Program from news reports, Internet searches, personal interviews and reports from individuals and Extension educators.
Tractor and farm machinery accidents continue to be the most commonly reported cause of fatal injury, with overturned tractors accounting for 39 percent of deaths in 2015. All but one documented death from overturns in the past 20 years
have involved tractors that were not equipped with a Rollover Protective Structure (ROPS), a frame or bar that keeps the driver from being crushed if the vehicle flips or rolls over.
Other causes of death in 2015 included falling from buildings or horseback, becoming pinned under equipment, being kicked or rammed by an animal, accidental smoke or chemical inhalation and drowning.
The overall frequency of fatal farm-related injuries has decreased since 1970, partly due to fewer Hoosiers living and working on farms, the report stated. Other factors contributing to the decline include advancements in machine safety and durability, higher expectations for safe and healthy working environments, reduced reliance on child and youth labor, enhanced awareness of risk management in agriculture and advancements in emergency medical care.
Agriculture continues to be a dangerous occupation, with a fatality rate of 24.9 per 100,000 agricultural workers nationwide, compared with a death rate of 3.3 out of 100,000 for workers across all industries. Indiana's death rate is slightly lower, at an estimated 19.6 per 100,000 Indiana farm workers in 2015.
The report highlighted several trends and changes affecting farm-related injury and death, including an aging workforce, proliferation of small and "hobby" farms and continued high numbers of accidents involving members of Amish and Old-Order communities.
Indiana's Amish and Old-Order Anabaptist communities, many of whom use modern technology selectively due to their religious beliefs, continue to experience higher than average rates of farm-related fatalities. Amish families have more children than average American families and mainly work in agricultural occupations, both risk factors for farm injuries and deaths. Nearby Elkhart, LaGrange, Adams and Allen counties have some of the largest Amish populations in the state and also have had the highest number of fatalities over the last 40 years, the report said. In addition to farm accidents, collisions between buggies and motor vehicles are significant sources of injury and death. There were seven incidents in 2015, and five resulted in multiple victims. The authors recommended that more attention be paid to accidents involving members of these communities.
The age range of victims of fatal farm-related injury in 2015 was 15-85 years, with an average age of 60.6. This average continues to increase, reflecting both an overall increase in the age of farmers and fewer fatal injuries to children and youth. Only one victim in 2015 was under the age of 21.
To view the report in its entirety or find additional resources to support farm safety, contact the Indiana Rural Safety and Health Council at (765) 494-1191 or visit

Cancer Services presents upcoming program on fats, sugars and salt

From reports

Sue Delagrange, MS, RD, will present a free program entitled "The Truth about Fats, Sugars and Salt" on Saturday, November 5 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. at Peabody Public Library.
The program is made possibly by Cancer Services of Northeast Indiana.
Delagrange will discuss how to prepare foods while limiting your intake of fats, sugars and salt -- while striving to achieve optimum health benefits.
Reservations are recommended, but not required. For more information or to make a reservation, call toll free to 1-866-484-9560.
Peabody Public Library is located at 1160 East SR 205 in Columbia City.

October 13, 2016

Whitley County Chamber Ambassadors celebrate opening of Bell Tower Auctions


(Talk of the Town photos by Jennifer Zartman Romano)
The Whitley County Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors gathered on October 7 to celebrate the official grand opening of Bell Tower Auctions, a new auction house in downtown Columbia City, with a Chamber Ribbon Cutting Ceremony.
Located at 123 East Van Buren Street in downtown Columbia City, Bell Tower Auctions is owned by Lee Hoeppner, Brooke Hoeppner, Jody Hoeppner and Shon Hoeppner. The auction house opened July 1, 2016. They present consignment auctions every Friday night at 6 p.m., with comfortable seating, a wide assortment of items and concessions. Concession sales benefit local non-profits and community causes. Additionally, they offer online auction services.
Those in attendance for the ribbon cutting ceremony include, from left above, Jill Lane of Orizon Real Estate, Lisa Swogger of Crossroads Bank, Jody Hoeppner of Bell Tower Auctions, Eliza Romano of Talk of the Town, Randy Holler of Crossroads Bank, Lee Hoeppner of Bell Tower Auctions, Brooke Hoeppner of Bell Tower Auctions, Pete Allen of Star Financial Bank, Leslee Derbeck of Star Financial Bank and Mayor Ryan Daniel of the City of Columbia City. Jennifer Zartman Romano of the Whitley County Chamber of Commerce was also in attendance.
Below, from left, are Bell Tower Auctions' owners Shon Hoeppner, Jody Hoeppner, Brooke Hoeppner and Lee Hoeppner.
For more information on Bell Tower Auctions, visit, email or call (260) 580-3184.


Harvest Concert slated for November 6 at IPFW

Article provided

Eight Fort Wayne Children's Choir ensembles will perform in the Harvest Concert on Sunday, November 6, at 4 p.m. in the Auer Performance Hall, IPFW Rhinehart Music Center. This is the first formal concert of the 2016-17 choir season. Tickets are available through the IPFW Ticket Office at or by calling (260) 481-6555.
The theme of the program is "Finding Meaning in Text," referencing the musical selections with words from William Shakespeare, St. Francis of Assisi, William Thackeray, A. A. Milne, e. e. cummings, Robert Louis Stevenson, Emily Dickinson, and more. What comes first? Emotional, moving music, or thought-provoking, passionate words? The exquisite combination of lyrics and music is, oftentimes, what imprints a song in our heart and brain.
The mission of the Fort Wayne Children's Choir is to provide a choral program exemplifying artistic and educational excellence for children from diverse backgrounds. The Fort Wayne Children's Choir contributes to the community's cultural environment by providing opportunities to experience the unique beauty of nearly 300 professionally trained young voices.  The FWCC is proud to represent 88 different schools in addition to 29 home school groups from eight different northeast Indiana and northwest Ohio counties.
For more information on the Fort Wayne Children's Choir, visit our website at, or contact Jonathan Busarow at (260) 481-0841 or

Homes 4 Haiti sets sights on rebuilding homes, offering empowerment and employment

By Jennifer Zartman Romano

The need for assistance and shelter in the country of Haiti has been dire for quite some time, however the developing issues associated with the recent devastation caused by Hurricane Matthew just days ago brings those worries to the forefront for many local residents with a heart for the Haitians.
The need for safe housing is ever present, especially now. A local group of volunteers are working to plan a fundraising run to specifically help Haitians build their own homes, empowering and employing them to meet their own needs.
Volunteer Tina Vandersaul is planning the Homes 4 Haiti Trail Run on Saturday, October 29, 2016. Registration begins at 8 a.m. and the run begins at 9 a.m. The trail run will begin at Bear Lake Camp, located at 1773 South 10th Street, in Albion, and continue to a dirt/asphalt course at Merry Lea Environmental Center. The event will be held rain or shine. Awards will be presented at 10:15 a.m.
Registration is $20 per person. All registrations received by October 15 will receive a t-shirt. Proceeds from the run will benefit Homes 4 Haiti.
Through Homes 4 Haiti, an organization founded in 2011, 30 homes have been built in Haiti. The homes cost about $6000 and include a water filter to ensure clean water is available to residents of the home and a Creole Bible.
In addition to the run event, two other fundraisers are planned each year to support the Homes 4 Haiti project, including a Valentine's Dinner with a silent auction and a golf outing in July.
"The reason we have these fundraisers is to raise money so that we can continue to empower Haitian men & women by providing them with work and an income to care for their families," states volunteer Dennis McKee. "We would like to share with you what your donation does in Haiti. lt not only builds a home, but it helps put food on the table of the workers we employ, it helps children attend school, it helps to pay the teacher, it provides income for the person making the school uniforms and it helps the vendors on the street."
For more information or to register, contact Tina Vandersaul at 260-229-8494  or email questions to