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May 21, 2015

Whitko welders earn NIMS certification

(Talk of the Town photo provided)
Three Whitko High School students took the first National Institute of Metal working Skills (NIMS) Certification Test on May 20 online at Whitko High School. All three students previously produced multiple parts as described by engineered drawings and submitted these to the Whitko High Schools MET-TEC committee for prior authorization to attempt the online testing process. All three students gained a NIMS certification in either Measurement, Materials, and Safety and/or Job Planning, Benchwork, and Layout.
By passing both tests these students have earned Dual Credit at Ivy Tech Community College for Machining 101. The students achieving NIMS certifications were, above from left, Ethan Miller, Gavin Powell and Tom Werstler.

Trash pickup schedule impacted by holiday

From reports

Some residents of Columbia City may experience a change in their trash pickup schedule due to the Memorial Day holiday.
If normal trash pickup day falls on a holiday, your trash will be picked up the next working day.  So if your trash is normally picked up on Mondays, it will be one day late and will be picked up on Tuesday.  Tuesday will be picked up on Wednesday, Wednesday on Thursday and Friday on Saturday.

Eagle Tech Academy students prepare gallery walk to 'Rethink Homelessness'

Article provided

The students of Eagle Tech Academy (ETA) are hosting an event on Thursday, May 28, 2015, at Eagle Tech Academy on North Walnut Street. The gallery walk will be open from 9 to 10:15 a.m. Everyone is encouraged to come in at whatever time they would like within that time frame. There will also be a final ceremony for those who wish to stay from 10:15 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. They hope to see a variety of community members on that day.
The presentation is open to the public. Different classrooms will be set up and the attendees will be encouraged to go around and look at what the students have created.
The whole idea started with a question, “What does it truly mean to be homeless?” After one class decided what it meant, they wanted to make it bigger than that. Then the simple question arose, “What can we do about it?” -- thus creating a school wide project.
The advisory classes at ETA each have a product that stems from the main project, “Rethink Homelessness." Since the project is centered around rethinking homelessness, the school partnered with the local transitional shelter, the Lighthouse. It is a long term transitional shelter for families struggling to make it on their own. After communicating with the Lighthouse and getting more information about what ETA as a school could do about it, each advisory class picked a way that they could spread more information about homelessness. With all of the advisories working on separate projects, it was decided to bring all of the ideas together into a gallery walk.
The students opened up the gallery walk to the community. As a community, we have come together through everything. We need to come together and support our neighbors in need.
For information on the gallery walk please visit the school wide project website located at http://eagletechacademy.wix.com/rethinkhomelessness. For more information on Eagle Tech Academy visit the website at http://www.wccsonline.com/ETA/.

May 20, 2015

An avid gardener, Johnson to speak about great ways to enjoy homegrown herbs

(Talk of the Town photo provided)
Bridget Johnson, at right, is the featured presenter this Thursday, May 21, at South Whitley Community Public Library's Living Well series workshop.

By Darci Kessie

Spring is finally here and the itch to plant and garden hits. 
Growing herbs is a rewarding way to enjoy the experience of gardening, spice up your meals and make them healthier, as well add beauty to your yard and home. 
For more than 20 years, Bridget Johnson has been advancing her skills as a Master Gardener and an avid Bio-Herb gardener. Her home is surrounded by beautiful gardens that she not only enjoys looking at -- but she enjoys the fruits of her labor -- delicious herbs and more.
Johnson is the keynote speaker for the Living Well program's upcoming "How to Grow, Use and Enjoy Herbs," workshop on Thursday, May 21, at 6:30 p.m. at South Whitley Community Public Library.
Johnson is a Registered Nurse and vice president of patient care at Parkview Whitley Hospital. When she's not tending to the care of patients, she tends to the care of her vast collection of plants.
On Thursday, she will share how to grow, cultivate and use herbs. Participants will learn what herbs need to thrive, how to preserve and harvest them, and some easy and healthy ways to use them in the kitchen.  
Each attendee on Thursdaywill get to choose an herb to take home to begin or add to an herb container or garden as well as enter for fun door prizes.  This program is part of the Living Well Series sponsored in part by Whitley County Community Foundation and presented in collaboration with Whitley County health and wellness organizations, businesses, and individuals.  Everyone is welcome to attend this presentation.  To RSVP, call the library at 723-5321.
If you're unable to make it to Thursday's presentation, Johnson will return in the fall to present "Kitchen Crafting with Herbs-Making Herbal Vinegars and More." 
South Whitley Community Public Library is located at 201 East Front Street, South Whitley.

Solstice Medical shares plans to expand in Columbia City, adding 15 jobs by 2018

By Abby Gras

Solstice Medical, LLC, a provider of a real-time advanced analytics software platform, announced plans today to expand its operations in Columbia City and Indianapolis, creating up to 15 new jobs by 2018. 
“Today we’re witnessing a hotbed of activity for healthcare tech firms in Indiana,” said Victor Smith, Indiana Secretary of Commerce. “Led by a team of Hoosiers, Solstice Medical is the latest company to develop new tools that are reducing the cost of healthcare and improving patient satisfaction. News like this proves that with the business climate we’ve built here, Indiana is making an impact nationally in this important industry.”
The company will invest $684,000 to expand its software platform and resource capacity at its Columbia City headquarters and at its Solution Delivery Center in Indianapolis. With a suite of technology solutions for surgical, clinical and supply chain workflow applications, the company’s customer base is growing with the addition of new clients across the country. Solstice Medical is currently expanding its software platform and professional services, driving a 150 percent increase in hiring skilled technology, sales, marketing and operational resources. 
“Through lower cost of ownership, innovative real-time actionable intelligence and proactive customer service, we continue to gain market share,” said Daniel Sands, chairman and chief strategy officer at Solstice Medical. “Proximity to our customers has been key for Solstice Medical to deliver our solutions effectively to major healthcare systems across the country. Our central and cost-effective locations in Indiana, which are loaded with a talented pool of healthcare information and industry professionals, have been essential in our growth strategies.”   
Solstice Medical has already begun hiring software development technologists, product marketers and client service delivery professionals in Indianapolis, as well as operational and accounting associates at its Columbia City headquarters. Interested applicants may apply by sending a resume to info@solsticemedical.com
 The Indiana Economic Development Corporation offered Solstice Medical, LLC up to $50,000 in conditional tax credits and up to $50,000 in training grants based on the company’s job creation plans. These tax credits are performance-based, meaning until Hoosiers are hired, the company is not eligible to claim incentives. In 2014, Solstice Medical received an investment from the 21st Century Research & Technology Fund managed by Elevate Ventures in partnership with the IEDC. Columbia City will consider additional incentives at the request of the Whitley County Economic Development Corporation. 
“On behalf of Whitley County I'm excited to see Solstice Medical continue to grow and expand,” said Whitley County Commissioner George Schrumpf. “The medical device industry is one of the state's most valuable economic assets, and we will continue to support these businesses through the EDC's Medical Device Initiative and through other local efforts.”

Community Voices: an update from Whitley County Commissioner Tom Rethlake

Commissioner Tom Rethlake provides an update on current activities within Whitley County government. To read his editorial, click here to read Community Voices.

You are welcome to share your point of view, too, on a topic of interest to you. Community Voices editorials are the opinion of the writer and do not represent the views of Talk of the Town. YOUR letter may be submitted via email at jennifer@talkofthetownwc.com.
All editorials must include the author's name, address and telephone number to be considered for publication. We reserve the right to not publish any letter we feel is profane or otherwise concerning. We also reserve the right to withhold the writer's name in certain circumstances. 


Bart's BBQ celebrates grand opening with evening of barbecue, blues music downtown

(Talk of the Town photo by James Romano)

To celebrate the grand opening of the Bart's BBQ Food Truck & Catering, owners Bill and Christine Simpson hosted an evening of barbecue and live music in downtown Columbia City on Friday, May 1, 2015.
Participating in the Whitley County Chamber of Commerce's ribbon cutting ceremony for the grand opening are, from left in front, Jay MacIntosh of CenturyLink, Dick Buchanan, Cindy Baker of the United Way of Whitley County, Ally Simpson of Bart's BBQ, Christine Simpson of Bart's BBQ and Bill Simpson of Bart's BBQ, Jennifer Zartman Romano of the Whitley County Chamber of Commerce and www.talkofthetownwc.com and Mayor Ryan Daniel. Row two, from left, is Steve Franks of the EDC, June Keiser of J&J Insurance, Pete Allen of Star Financial Bank, Billy Reffitt of yo2go, Audree Ousley of The Hearth at Sycamore Village and Jo Robertson of MidWest America Federal Credit Union.
Bart's BBQ offers full catering service, weekly lunch delivery and lunch and dinner service around the community. For more information, visit Bart's BBQ on Facebook, visit www.bartsbbq.org or call 213-0245. 

Etna Troy Hustlers 4-H Club hosts recent meeting

By Sam Hochstetler

The Etna Troy Hustlers 4-H Club recently had a meeting May 13.
Club members discussed and voted on T-shirt designs and colors for the parade. They also discussed ideas for the parade float.
The club's members will be doing community service at the fairs grounds May 29.

May 19, 2015

Alice crumbles

(Talk of the Town photos by Jennifer Zartman Romano)
Above, late this morning results of the ongoing demolition work at 213 West Van Buren Street in downtown Columbia City could be seen as a crack appeared on the building bearing the name "Alice." At right, photographs show the Columbia City Redevelopment Commission's current project -- the demolition of the Alice Building. Whitley County contractor Kim Reiff & Sons were selected by the commission to conduct the work which is expected to be completed by late June.

By Jennifer Zartman Romano

Progress is moving forward as quickly as Alice's walls are crumbling.
The Alice building in downtown Columbia City, the former home of the old Due's Restaurant at 213 West Van Buren Street, is being demolished this week -- one of several projects in the works under the direction of the Columbia City Redevelopment Commission.
Columbia City councilman Ben Romine, who serves on the commission, reported last week that the deed to the building had been received by the commission and that demolition on the aging, leaning structure would begin immediately. Late last year, following evaluations by general contractors and real estate specialists, it was determined the building's integrity was severely compromised and that it should be torn down.
Today, demolition is, indeed, underway. Barricades are surrounding the site. Drivers and pedestrians are being routed around the area for safety. This morning, it was clear that significant progress had already been made on the upper story of the building with daylight visible through the empty, paneless windows. Numerous onlookers watched the project's progress from neighboring apartments and along the sidewalks.
Bids for demolition were unsealed by the Redevelopment Commission last Tuesday afternoon. The demolition bid in the amount of $56,000 was awarded to Kim Reiff & Sons.
As Romine talked about the project with the Columbia City Common Council last Tuesday evening, he requested that the city appropriate approximately $1600 to cover acquisition costs associated with the property transaction. The Redevelopment Commission was given the deed to the building by the building's owner, located in Canada, but legal costs were accrued in the process. The Council unanimously approved the use of city funds to reimburse the Redevelopment Commission for those costs.
Jeff Walker, Columbia City's community development director, noted that the contractor intends to have the building torn down and grass planted on the site by Old Settler's Days in late June.
Columbia City Mayor Ryan Daniel indicated to the Columbia City Board of Works that he was not as convinced the project would be completed by then, stating, "I'll believe it when I see it."
It is not yet clear what future plans might be for the site, but officials have stated concerns that they want a good future use for the space because of it's location in the center of the historic downtown.

Johnson, Nicodemus lead the Whitko High School Class of 2015

(Talk of the Town photos provided)
Whitko High School administration has named Jonathan Douglas Johnson valedictorian for the graduating class of 2015. Alyson Lorraine Nicodemus is salutatorian.
Johnson, son of Bruce and Edith Klingaman, Larwill, plans to attend Indiana Wesleyan University or Huntington University to obtain a music or ministry degree. His high school and social activities include chamber ensemble, cross country, soccer, theatre, academic, math and fine arts teams. He is the school’s National Honor Society president. He is a member of Whitley County Youth Leadership and a sound volunteer at New Hope Wesleyan Church.
Nicodemus, daughter of Bryan and Hilary Nicodemus of South Whitley, plans to attend Valparaiso University and obtain a master’s degree in the five-year physician assistant program. Her activities include basketball, softball, FCA, SADD, Art Club, Campus Life, Whitley County Youth Leadership, South Whitley United Methodist Church Youth Group. She is a 10-year 4-H member and has 15 years of dance.
Whitko High School's graduation ceremony is Friday, May 29, 2015, starting at 7:30 p.m. at the high school.

Chamber honors Bones Theatre as May's Business of the Month

(Talk of the Town photo provided) 

The Whitley County Chamber of Commerce and Chamber Ambassadors gathered recently to celebrate naming of the May 2015 Business of the Month, Bones Theatre. Bones Theatre was recognized by the Chamber for not only providing an outstanding community-oriented entertainment venue, but also providing free movie days throughout the summer for children and for offering free Christmas classic movies during the holidays.
Those present for the celebration included, from left, Randy Holler of Crossroads Bank, Lee Aumsbaugh of Aumsbaugh Flooring, Mayor Ryan Daniel, Chris Jones of Bones Theatre, Shelby Longenbaugh of Star Insurance, Don Clemens of Rabb Water Systems, Chelsea Winter of The Hearth at Sycamore Village, Billy Reffitt of yo2go, Cari Wells of 1st Source Bank, Audree Ousley of The Hearth at Sycamore Village, Doug Brown of the Whitley County Chamber of Commerce, Brandon Ferrell of Minear Real Estate and Jo Robertson of MidWest America Federal Credit Union.
Bones Theatre is located at 655 Opportunity Drive in Columbia City. For current movie information, visit http://www.bonestheatre.com/

Whitley County Council on Aging plans upcoming senior travel show

Article provided

The Whitley County Council on Aging will host a travel show on Thursday, June 4, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Woodlands Senior Center, 701 Opportunity Drive, Columbia City. 
The show will outline the trips planned by WCCOA Tours for the remainder of 2015. A representative from Ohio Travel Treasures, the company which works with the Council on Aging in planning several of the tours, will have representatives available to give details about the trips already planned, as well as to unveil a couple of new trips, including a mystery trip for the fall.         
WCCOA Tours mission is to provide safe, enjoyable, and educational travel experiences for senior citizens at a reasonable cost.  All trips are planned with the comfort and needs of seniors in mind, including frequent stops, and travel on climate-controlled, Wifi-equipped buses provided by Excursions, Inc. based in Fort Wayne.

Kosciusko County joins Regional Cities Initiative

By Courtney Tritch

Today the Regional Cities Initiative Steering Committee voted to include Kosciusko County in Northeast Indiana's bid to become one of Indiana's first Regional Cities. This is the largest collaboration ever between Kosciusko and the 10-county partnership of Northeast Indiana. Kosciusko will join Northeast Indiana in creating a slate of quality of life projects to be submitted to the state in hopes of winning $42 million in state matching funds through the Indiana Regional Cities Initiative. 
"We are seizing the opportunity to pursue what may be the most significant collaboration yet between Kosciusko County, Fort Wayne and the 10-county partnership of Northeast Indiana," said Karl Bandemer, deputy mayor of Fort Wayne and Regional Cities Initiative steering committee co-chair. "Kosciusko County aligns well with our tenacious drive to build and generate new opportunities in our region."
The Regional Cities Initiative is a public-private partnership led by Governor Pence with support from the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC). The goal of the initiative is to make Indiana a magnet for talent attraction by creating a national identity for Indiana cities. Regions have been invited to submit proposals by July 1 with a slate of compelling quality of life projects.
This announcement follows actions taken by the Kosciusko County Commissioners, Kosciusko County Council and the Warsaw City Council to align with Northeast Indiana on this proposal.
"We are impressed by the spirit of collaboration in Northeast Indiana," said Kosciusko County Commissioner Ron Truex. "Kosciusko's global companies and skilled workforce are heavily connected to the quality of life assets in Fort Wayne, so it makes perfect sense that we would combine forces with Northeast Indiana on an important initiative like this."
"This alignment emphasizes a strong focus on quality of life initiatives that are necessary to attract a talented workforce to the entire region," said Mayor Joe Thallemer, City of Warsaw. "A partnership with ten other Northeast counties yields collaborative strength we could not achieve alone.  Sharing common goals and having established a productive interactivity within the region, we are excited to align with Fort Wayne and Northeast Indiana as our Regional City partners."
The Regional Cities Initiative Steering Committee is composed of representation from the 10 counties of Northeast Indiana, one-third of which are young professionals, and the effort is being spearheaded by the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership and Greater Fort Wayne Inc.
"We are very excited for Kosciusko County to join Northeast Indiana's common goal to become one of Indiana's first regional cities," said John Sampson, president and CEO of the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership. "Kosciusko County and the city of Warsaw add strength to our Regional Cities proposal. As we work to raise the identity of Fort Wayne, we seek to build on the strengths of our entire region to develop creative ways to reposition for the future." 

Crop workshops offered by Purdue this summer

Article provided
The Purdue University Crop Diagnostic Training and Research Center is known across the Midwest for its unique “hands-on” approach for teaching the art and science of accurately diagnosing agricultural crop problems.
The center is designed to provide informative topics in a “real world” environment, where agriculturalists can sharpen their crop problem trouble-shooting skills and evaluate new and alternative management strategies. Training workshops are valuable for individuals identifying insect, nematode, herbicide, soil fertility, and disease problems in corn, soybean, forages and small grains. These workshops also provide pertinent information on interacting factors (nutrient, pest and environmental stresses) that impact crop growth and development. Space is still available for additional participants at many of the workshops.   
The long term goal of the Center is to provide quality, state-of-the-art training in all aspects of crop production and management. A majority of the diagnostic training workshops will be conducted at the Purdue Agronomy Center for Research and Education (ACRE) located near West Lafayette, Indiana. West Lafayette is 65 miles northwest ofIndianapolis, Indiana, and 120 miles southeast of Chicago, Illinois. The ACRE is located approximately five miles west of West Lafayette, Indiana on U.S. 52. (Signs will be posted.)
Workshops scheduled yet this year include:
June 18 Early Season Diagnostic Workshop
June 19 Pre/Post Harvest Workshop (Southwest Purdue Ag Center)*Cost is $55 for this workshop
June 30 Palmer Amaranth Field Day*Cost is $25 for this workshop. Location in Pulaski or Cass County - TBD, please check website for details.
July 16 Mid-Season Diagnostic Workshop
July 17 Pre/Post Harvest Workshop (Southeast Purdue Ag Center)*Cost is $55 forr this workshop
August 27 Pre/Post Harvest Workshop*Cost is $55 for this workshop
September 10 Forage Management Workshop  
For more information, visit https://ag.purdue.edu/agry/dtc/Pages/default.a

May 18, 2015

CCHS teens pay it forward, surprising customers at local yogurt shop

(Talk of the Town photos provided)

A few weeks ago, a group of Columbia City High School students were eating lunch at Downtown on the Square. Part of the curriculum for the Functional Life Skills classroom involves going out into the community and practicing their skills in the real world.
When the students and teachers had finished lunch, they were told that an anonymous donor had paid for their lunch. Their teacher, Karen Koday, was determined to figure out a way to pay this kindness forward. She wanted the students to experience what it feels like to make others happy.
On Friday the class set out for Yo2Go, the new frozen yogurt shop in downtown Columbia City. As people came into the shop to buy their yogurt, the students took turns paying their bills. The customers and the Yo2Go staff seemed to thoroughly enjoy the experience.
Many of the customers also vowed to pay the kindness forward. Scott Hindbaugh stated that it made him happy to see people smile when he told them their bill was paid. It turned out to be a very special afternoon for everyone involved.
Above, customers, including Amy Jagger, Amy Spencer and Courtney Moore, stand with Scott Hindbaugh of the Functional Life Skills class as they paid it forward at Yo2Go in downtown Columbia City. At right, Scott Hindbaugh pays the bill, surprising several customers with frozen yogurt. Below, a group of CCHS students enjoys the good feeling of paying a good deed forward. From left in front is Letha Born, Virginia Smith and Payton Jagger. Row two, from left, is Brayton Roy, Jacob Wheeler, Scott Hindbaugh and Madison Porter.


Huntington University offering Disney-themed theatrical summer camp

Article provided

Join Huntington University’s Theatre Arts Department for the 2015 Summer Theatre Youth Camp. The camp runs from June 22 to July 11, Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
It is open for all children and youth entering grades 2-12 next fall. The camp will be held on HU’s campus in the Merillat Centre for the Arts.
This summer’s camp will step into the magical world of Disney. For generations, Disney has been the pinnacle of entertainment for children and adults alike. This summer, children will have the opportunity to experience some of the most well-loved Disney characters and music from classics such as “Mary Poppins,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “The Little Mermaid,” “The Jungle Book” and more.
The camp will culminate in a revue-style performance of these Disney classics, showcasing the singing and dancing talents of all who participate. Two performances of “Step Into Disney” will be held Saturday, July 11, at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
During their time at camp, campers will learn acting, singing and dancing skills. Children also will develop language and communication abilities, creativity, social awareness, a positive self-concept and empathy as well as gain an understanding of the art of theater.
Features of the camp include:
• Expert guidance from professional directors and camp mentors
• Participation on stage by every camper
• Individual instruction
• Fundamentals of theater emphasized
• Daily games
• Christian atmosphere
• Camp T-shirt
• Theater prizes
The cost of the camp is $195 and $220 if paid after June 8.
To learn more, contact Nancy Barnes at (260) 359-4262 or nbarnes@huntington.edu. For additional details and to download the brochure, visit https://www.huntington.edu/theatre/theatre-youth-camp/.

Community Voices: Debate over pig wrestling continues in Whitley County

Last Wednesday, Talk of the Town published a letter to the editor on our Community Voices page, a letter that launched a fire storm of public debate on the topic on social media, on sidewalks and in homes across Whitley County. Tonight, another man responds with another point of view on the topic of discussion, explaining the economic impact of the event as well as perspectives on the animals' well-being. Click here to read Community Voices.

Two petition drives have been launched -- for and against pig wrestling at the Whitley County 4-H Fair this summer.
- To sign a petition in support of pig wrestling, click here.
- To sign a petition to urge event organizers to cancel the event, click here.

You are welcome to share your point of view, too. Community Voices editorials are the opinion of the writer
and do not represent the views of Talk of the Town. YOUR letter may be submitted via email at jennifer@talkofthetownwc.com.
All editorials must include the author's name, address and telephone number to be considered for publication. We reserve the right to not publish any letter we feel is profane or otherwise concerning. We also reserve the right to withhold the writer's name in certain circumstances.

Office staff offering hour to hear local concerns

From reports

Representatives from Congressman Marlin Stutzman's office will offer an hour to hear the concerns of local residents on Wednesday, May 20, from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. The public is welcome to visit with them in the Council Chambers on the second floor of City Hall in Columbia City.

May 16, 2015

Festival to light up the evening in downtown Columbia City tonight

By Jennifer Zartman Romano

Bleacher seating is in place and barricades are piled up awaiting the second annual Taste of the Town in downtown Columbia City.
Described by organizers as "a music festival with a block party vibe," the event will be held from 4 to 9 p.m. this evening, Saturday, May 16, on the Whitley County Courthouse Square.
Organizers say the event's purpose is to bring attention to small businesses, food, music, arts and crafts in Whitley County.
Six musical acts will be featured including Trent Boston, Shelly Dixon & Jeff McRae, Swick & Jones, Probable Cause - Orland, Indiana, Ethan Birch and Unique Kase.
Additionally, Dance 'Til U Drop will be performing. The Barts BBQ and  Auntie Anne's Pretzels food trucks will be there along with booths by Old World Fudge, Speedy Weenie and yo2go. The Line Street Lounge & Patio, located at The Van Buren, will be open with music and spirits.
Artist Joni Walker will host a "Lemonade and Canvas" art activity. Lindsey Jade Merrill will offer face painting and White Wolf Designs will have their goods and handmade jewelry along with Janna L. Sroufe Braden of Creative Bead Critters. Downtown business Apple Pie Boutique will be open throughout the festival as well. Volunteers from the Whitley County Humane Shelter are expected to offer activities downtown as well this evening.
Bounce houses sponsored by the National Guard will be set up.
At 8 p.m., anyone in attendance is invited to meet at the west courthouse steps for a group photo -- something event organizers hope to make an annual tradition.