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July 03, 2015

Celebrate Independence Day across Whitley County with numerous events planned

(Talk of the Town file photo by Jennifer Zartman Romano)
Fireworks shows will be happening at many locations across Whitley County (and nearby) over the next several days, including the annual show over Loon Lake, shown above in 2014.

By Jennifer Zartman Romano

You may be making your plans now to take in a fireworks show (or two) with the family over the next couple of days. Fortunately, there are several shows to choose from in and near Whitley County this year:

Columbia City
Morsches Park will once again play host to the city's fireworks show on Friday, July 3. The park will open at 5 p.m. with food vendors, bounce houses, the splash pad and more. At 7 p.m., there will be live entertainment by Hannah Schaefer and Sweet Beats, a Beatles tribute band. Fireworks will begin around 10 p.m.

Loon Lake
The community of Loon Lake will host their annual Independence Day fireworks show over the water on Saturday, July 4 at dark. The full weekend of celebrations begins with a lighted boat parade on Friday evening. On Saturday, festivities begin with the Loon Lake 5.5K Run/Walk at 8 a.m., the pancake and sausage breakfast on the lake, a Sailboat Race and the annual Kayak Regatta.

Tri Lakes
Fireworks at Tri Lakes are planned for around 10 p.m. on Friday, July 3.

Outside Whitley County 

Big Lake
A variety of celebrations are planned at Big Lake on Saturday, July 4, including a kids fishing derby. A fireworks display is expected to begin over the lake at 10 p.m.

North Webster
A fireworks show over Webster Lake is planned for Friday, July 3, beginning at dark.

The residents of Roanoke will gather for a fireworks display at dark on Saturday, July 4, in Roanoke Park on Seminary Street.



Locally-owned Spring-Green offering mosquito control service

By Jennifer Zartman Romano

The month of July is filled with family gatherings, outdoor weddings, parties and celebrations. The weather is nice and the best times are had enjoying the great outdoors, however nothing decreases the enjoyment of outdoor living quicker than a swarm of mosquitoes. Recent rainfall almost guarantees these pests coming out in full force over the next several weeks.
Fortunately, there's something you can do.
Whitley County-based Spring-Green offers heavy duty mosquito treatments that will reduce the mosquito population around your home -- thereby increasing your enjoyment of life outside your home.
"A treatment lasts for 3 to 4 weeks. We do 5 per year in the summer time," said Ryan Meinika, owner of Spring-Green.
"It works best any time mosquitos are present, which is definitely now with all the rain we have been getting," Meinika said. "Mosquitos breed anywhere there is standing water, as little as a couple inches."
Since June was a record setting month for rainfall, there's bound to be standing water not far from wherever you are and where there's water, there are mosquitos.
"We do a lot of applications around the lakes, ponds and wooded areas, but works great anywhere mosquitos are present and are not welcome. The mosquito reduction applications work great for graduation parties, cookouts, holiday weekends (4th of July parties)," he said. "It just needs to be done in the week or 2 prior to the event. We can usually get out for a treatment, depending on demand, a few days from the time of the service being set up. Most of our clients are on the 5 application program and we schedule treatments close to memorial day, 4th of July and labor day intentionally for the best results."
The treatment is very successful in killing existing mosquitoes and keeping them away.
"If a mosquito decides to stick around, the treatment will kill it. The intention, however, is to repel them and keep them from entering the treated zone," adds Meinika.
An additional benefit is that the treatment is also successful in keeping a whole host of creepy crawlies away.
"The treatment also works on other insects and spiders. The manner in which the application is made is specifically designed to target mosquitos and other flying insects," he said.
If you pest-related needs are bigger, Spring-Green offers other options too.
"We have other programs to treat for fleas & ticks in the lawn or barriers applied to keep spiders, ants and other insects out of the house," said Meinika. "If a homeowner is not sure what treatment they need, we can help them determine which service we offer would be best for their situation."
Spring-Green has been offering the mosquito control treatments since 2014 and Meinika said customer response has been overwhelmingly positive.
"The mosquitos at our lake cottage have been horrible every summer," shared one customer. "Last summer we tried the mosquito control treatment out of desperation -- trying to find a way of enjoying our time on the deck or around the campfire without constant mosquitoes and without having to slather our children in bug spray constantly. We were thrilled with Spring-Green's service and results. It was so nice to be able to be outside, without bug spray and not be covered in itchy bites."
"This service is an affordable solution to a problem every property has. We are currently offering a promotion of 5 mosquito reduction applications for the price of 4 at a discounted price of $65 each! This is a great deal and a significant discount," adds Meinika.
For more information about mosquito control, additional information about Spring-Green or to schedule a consultation, visit, call Ryan Meinika at 691-0200 or email

For more information about mosquitoes, visit

State fire marshal urges caution with fireworks to reduce injury, property damage

Article provided

Thousands of Americans end up in hospital emergency rooms each year because of fireworks-related injuries. In a typical year, more fires are reported on July 4 than any other day.

Indiana State Fire Marshal Jim Greeson said having a bit more knowledge and taking a few smart precautions can lead to safer Independence Day celebrations.

Greeson suggested that glow sticks are a safer alternative to traditional sparklers.

“Many parents don’t realize that sparklers can burn at about 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit,” Greeson said. “That’s hot enough to melt glass. Imagine what that can do if it comes in contact with a child’s skin, hair or clothing, or anybody’s for that matter.”

Greeson said children should never be allowed to handle, play with or light any types of fireworks. He also said adults should be vigilant about keeping children and other fireworks viewers at safe distances.

“You also want to be aware of wind direction when using fireworks,” Greeson said. “Keep spectators where the fireworks and smoke are blowing away from them.”

He said fires can ignite if fireworks are set off too close to structures or land on rooftops. Sometimes, fireworks may appear to be spent, but can smolder for an extended period.  

“Use a clear, open area,” Greeson said, “and have a fire extinguisher, hose or bucket of water nearby.”

The Indiana Department of Homeland Security offers the following additional tips to help Hoosiers stay safe on and around Independence Day.

·         Never try to fix or relight a “dud” firework.

·         Never try to make or alter a fireworks device.

·         Never drink alcohol when using fireworks.

·         Never smoke anywhere near fireworks; and be cautious when discarding cigarettes and matches.

·         Do not engage in or allow any type of horseplay, pranks or contests involving fireworks.

·         Never aim, point or throw fireworks at anyone.


While fireworks can be used year round, holidays such as Independence Day are a popular time for setting off fireworks. On and around July 4, state law allows for fireworks usage during the following times:

·         9 a.m. until two hours after sunset June 29 through July 3.

·         9 a.m. to midnight on July 4.

·         9 a.m. until two hours after sunset July 5 through July 9.

·         Check with your local officials for any ordinances that may limit usage around July 4 and year round.


For more information on fireworks safety information, visit, or follow IDHS on Twitter (@IDHS) or Facebook (IndianaDHS).

July 02, 2015

United Way of Whitley County awards $115,213 to fund worthy projects in the community

(Talk of the Town file photos by Jennifer Zartman Romano)
Many great organizations and programs will benefit this year from grants awarded by the United Way of Whitley County. Above, the Giving Gardens, which provides plants and produce to the community, was awarded a $500 grant. Another grant recipient this year, South Whitley-based One Community provides meals and programs to residents young and old. Below, Marta Hawkins shares her love of baking cookies by volunteering to prepare a meal at One Community.

By Jennifer Zartman Romano

Ending another year of generosity, the Whitley County United Way has recently announced which local organizations will be receiving grant funding this year.
In all, 17 grants adding up to $115,213 have been awarded this year, utilizing the gifts of local residents to aid a variety of organizations that serve the greater good in Whitley County.
"We are extremely fortunate to live in a community that recognizes the value of giving back and supporting organizations, financially, throughout Whitley County," said United Way executive director Cindy Baker. "United Way believes all of the organizations supported through contributions provide individuals and families support systems they need in order to make their lives better and more secure."
"They are not programs that offer a hand out, but provide residents a way to build a better foundation for their lives by coming alongside them and providing support and hope," Baker continued. "These organizations have a vested interest in developing relationships with their students and/or clients which offers hope for a better future and better quality of life."
2015 United Way grant recipients include:
TROY Center Alternative School - $25,000 to fund student scholarships
Interfaith Mission/The Lighthouse Transitional Living Center - $15,000 for client support and case managment
CASA of Northeast Indiana - $10,000 for volunteer support and training to work with children and their advocates on behalf of the court
BABE of Whitley County - $10,000 to purchase inventory
The Center for Whitley County Youth - $6,000 to support for the middle school After School Central program
Cancer Services of NE Indiana - $6,000 for client advocacy
Camp Invention - $5,000 for the summer youth science camp
Junior Achievement - $5,000 for financial literacy education of Whitley County students at Finance Park
Churubusco Childcare Center - $5,000 for building improvements and program enhancement
Wolf Lake Free Health Clinic (located in Columbia City) - $4,000 for program support
One Community, Inc. - $2,500 for elementary school mentoring program and after school programs
Whitko Community Schools - $2,500 for a community based learning program for students with disabilities
Passages, Inc. - $2,500 for a Youth Summer Enrichment Program
YWCA of Northeast Indiana - $2,500 for counseling and support for Whitley County victims of domestic violence
Whitley County Energy Assistance - $2,000 for families in need of assistance with energy bills
KC-Education Foundation - $1,500 for the Graduation Coach program at Whitko High School
Giving Gardens - $500 to support the community vegetable garden
Additionally, the United Way of Whitley County directed contributions totalling $10,213 toward a number of non-grant receiving programs in the community.
For more information on the United Way of Whitley County, visit

Whitley County Farmers Market opens Wednesday market, continues Saturday market

From reports

The Whitley County Farmers Market, which operates under the umbrella of the Whitley County Chamber of Commerce, recently opened the Wednesday evening market for the season.
The Whitley County Farmers Market is now open each Wednesday from 3 to 7 p.m. at Parkview Whitley Hospital.
This Wednesday market continues now through late August offering fresh produce, crafts and more with an ever-changing lineup of vendors each week.
The Wednesday market is presented by the Whitley County Farmers Market which offers Northeast Indiana's best farmers market each Saturday from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on the Whitley County Courthouse Lawn.
For more information on the Wednesday or Saturday markets, contact the Whitley County Chamber of Commerce at 248-8131 or email Jennifer Zartman Romano at

Reduce your library fines...and help homeless felines!

By Jennifer Zartman Romano

Maybe you love books, but don't do well with deadlines?
If you've had fines piling up at the Peabody Public Library, an opportunity presents itself that will help you reduce your fines -- and help homeless pets in the community.
Now through July 16, bring a plastic cat toy, canned cat food, a 5 lb. bag of cat food, a bag of kitty litter, a box of cat treats or a monetary donation for the Whitley County Humane Shelter to Peabody Public Library, and your fines will be reduced based on the value of the items. Please bring a receipt to show the value of the items purchased.
Participants are asked to donate new and unopen items only. No expired items will be accepted for this project.

June 30, 2015

Heather Bryan named as recipient of American Legion Auxiliary Unit 98 scholarship

(Talk of the Town photo provided)

The American Legion Auxiliary Unit 98 in Columbia City is proud to announce the recipient of their 2015 scholarship. 
Heather  Bryan, at right,  was awarded the  scholarship  based  on her  eligibility  as  a descendant  of  a  veteran,  Harold  Bryan,  her  grandfather  who  served  during  WWII.   Many relatives  served  this  country  including  her  great  grandfather,  Russell  Cummins,  in  WWI, her grandfather, James Cummins, and her brother, Benjamin Bryan, who is currently serving in Afghanistan.
Bryan demonstrated  her scholastic accomplishment and relationship to the aims and purposes of  the  American  Legion  and  the  American  Legion  Auxiliary  through the implementation of Whitko  High School’s Veterans Day programs as well as her volunteerism in school, church and community.  Bryan is the daughter of Jeff and Cheri Bryan of South Whitley.  She is a graduate of Whitko and plans to attend Grace College in the fall.

Bishop, Donaghy among the five inaugural board members to lead Regional Cities Initiative

From reports

The Mayors’ & Commissioners’ Caucus of Northeast Indiana has voted in the five member inaugural board of the Northeast Indiana Regional Development Authority (RDA). Electing the board of the RDA was the final step in creating Northeast Indiana’s Regional Cities Initiative proposal.
The five members of the RDA board are Brad Bishop of OrthoWorx, Andrew Briggs of Bank of Geneva, Gene Donaghy of Northeastern REMC, Bob Marshall of Campbell & Fetter Bank and Jeff Turner of Metal Technologies.
As required by state statute, the RDA is the quasi-governmental entity that has been created to apply for state funding available through the Regional Cities Initiative. The five member RDA board was chosen from an initial slate of 22 candidates. The Northeast Indiana RDA represents Adams, Allen, DeKalb, Huntington, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Noble, Steuben, Wabash, Wells and Whitley counties.
“I’m proud of the spirit of collaboration in our region, and I am honored to be serving on the RDA board,” said Donaghy. “By forming the largest RDA in the state, we are demonstrating the adaptability and tenacity this region has to create economic progress. We know what challenges lie before us and we have a plan to meet them.”
The Mayors’ and Commissioners’ Caucus represents the 11 counties and 16 cities that make up the RDA’s territory, which gives them the authority to determine the RDA board members. The caucus, which is convened by the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, also enables local public officials to speak with a unified voice at the state level on projects and priorities on which they have consensus.
“The potential for progress is unlimited when we unite around a common goal. Collaboration in action is what we’re seeing here,” said John Sampson, president and CEO of the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership. “We’re creating the future of Northeast Indiana by capitalizing on the grit and determination that defines this region and using it to unleash growth and accelerate progress.”
The goal of the Regional Cities Initiative is to make Indiana a magnet for talent attraction by creating a national identity for Indiana cities. Regions have been invited to compete for up to $42 million in state matching funds by submitting proposals with a slate of game‐changing, quality of life projects (amenities and attractions that will attract and retain young talent).

Indiana ranked #1 for cost of doing business

By Abby Gras

Indiana ranked first in the nation for cost of doing business, as well as eighth for its economy, in the recent CNBC “America’s Top States for Business 2015” scorecard.
“In a world where competition for job creation is tougher than ever, Indiana stands as the number one state for business affordability,” said Governor Mike Pence. “Businesses choose Indiana because growing here means focusing on job creation and investment, not taxes, regulation or other job-killing expenses. Today Indiana is on the cusp of reaching a historic peak employment level because companies grow here with confidence, making the Hoosier economy one of the strongest in the nation.”
According to CNBC, cost of doing business scores are based on each state’s tax climate, state-sponsored incentives and utility and rental costs. Economy rankings consider economic growth, job creation, consumer spending, major corporation headquarters and the residential real estate market. In addition, the economic ranking serves as a measure of each state’s fiscal health based on credit ratings and outlook, state revenues and budget projections.
 Indiana’s personal tax rate is scheduled to reduce to 3.23 percent by 2017, with the 2013 passage of largest tax decrease in state history. In 2014, Governor Pence signed legislation also placing Indiana’s corporate tax on a reduction schedule, which is decreasing to 4.9 percent by 2021. Combined with Indiana’s AAA credit rating from all three major credit rating agencies, Indiana’s economy stands out around the world as a stable and affordable choice for business.
 This news comes on the heels of Indiana’s recent recognition as the top state in the Midwest and sixth nationwide for doing business by Chief Executive magazine. Last year, Indiana was ranked best in the Midwest and 7th overall in Area Development magazine’s “Top States for Doing Business” as well as best in the Midwest and 7th in the nation in the Pollina Corporate “Top 10 Pro-Business States for 2014” study.
 The organization’s rankings are based on publicly available data and cover more than 60 measures of competitiveness identified by a broad array of business and policy experts, official government sources, the CNBC Global CFO Council and the states themselves. The Hoosier State also earned top 10 rankings for cost of living (No. 4) and business friendliness (No. 9). The full survey results are available online.

June 29, 2015

INDOT's US 30 'J-turn plan' is off the table

By Jennifer Zartman Romano

Unofficial word has been circulating for a little over a week that the proposed US 30 project that would have drastically changed the pattern of traffic through Columbia City was dead in the water. This unconfirmed news was met with a sigh of relief from many.
Now, locally officials are confirming that INDOT is no longer considering the J-turns and other elements of a plan to change the future of traffic on US 30. While state-level officials said from the beginning that the plan was not set in stone, it was the subject of a lot of discussion and concern locally -- from citizens afraid of how the change would impact their travels to businesses worried about how the significant changes might negatively affect them.
Last Wednesday, a coalition of local and regional representatives, including Whitley County Commissioner George Schrumpf and Mayor Ryan Daniel, traveled to Indianapolis to talk about the project.
"At our meeting on Wednesday with the INDOT Commissioner and the FW INDOT Dept. Commissioner informed us that the US 30 Project Request for Proposals will be cancelled," stated Daniel in a memo issued on social media Sunday night. "On Thursday, we received official word that the RFP had, indeed, been cancelled."
"Further discussion at our meeting centered around working to improve US 30 for both commuters and CC residents. As I've stated before, US 30 in Columbia City has more traffic volume (by traffic count) than some sections of I-65, I-69, and I-74. And it will only get worse each decade moving forward," Daniel continued. "So, we are going to work with INDOT to try and figure out a way to improve traffic at the 30/109 and 30/9 intersections. Nothing came out of that meeting as a concrete project, but they continued to hear us say that we don't want a bypass due to the effect it will have on our economy. They agreed it could hurt us."
Local officials will continue to maintain dialog about changes to US 30 moving forward, but Daniel stated that no project is planned at this time.
"I believe the state wants some improvements of mobility and safety on US 30 and will be pushing some kind of improvement project forward. At this time, I don't know what that will look like. However, we will stay in dialogue with INDOT in hopes of finding improvements that will benefit both commuters and our citizens, alike," he added.
Whitley County Chamber of Commerce executive director Doug Brown has been involved in the dialogue about changes to US 30.
Looking out the window of his office near US 30 as traffic whizzed by, Brown was relieved that the proposal was halted -- worried by the possible negative cosequences a tricky travel plan might have on the local economy.
"We are pleased that we were able to voice our concerns on this project and that our concerns were heard by INDOT," Brown said. "We heard loud and clear from our members that they were worried about the impact this potential project would have had on business and citizens in Whitley County."

Storm rattles Churubusco

(Talk of the Town photo by Kandy Bohde)
Whitley County residents awoke Saturday morning to driving wind and rain, weaving a path of damage across the county. Downtown Churubusco was particularly hard hit, above. Much of the town lost power for several hours as poles teetered and broken lines dangled in the downtown area. Damage was also reported in the Churubusco Town Park. June 2015 will go down in the record books as the wettest month in recorded history -- but the final tally on rainfall is not in yet as more rain is anticipated over the next day.

Mockler will take over Edward Jones' Chicago Street location

Article provided

Don Mockler has been named to take over the local Edward Jones office located at 202 East Chicago Street, the firm announced. Mockler transferred to Columbia City from an Edward Jones office in Fort Wayne.
"We are excited to have someone with Don's experience taking over our Columbia City, Chicago Street office," said Edward Jones Managing Partner Jim Weddle. "We've been serving the investment needs of people in the area for the past 20 years, and we believe that Don will excel at continuing that tradition."
Mockler said he is enthusiastic about taking over the branch office. "I joined this firm because I was impressed with its commitment to individual investors," he said. "Now I'm looking forward to meeting with the individuals here to help them meet their financial goals."
Mockler has over 20 years of experience in the financial services industry.
Edward Jones, a Fortune 500 company, provides financial services for individual investors in the United States and, through its affiliate, in Canada. Every aspect of the firm's business, from the types of investment options offered to the location of branch offices, is designed to cater to individual investors in the communities in which they live and work. The firm's 14,000-plus financial advisors work directly with nearly 7 million clients. Edward Jones, which ranked No. 6 on FORTUNE magazine's 100 Best Companies to Work For in 2015, is headquartered in St. Louis. FORTUNE and Time Inc. are not affiliated with and do not endorse products or services of Edward Jones. The Edward Jones website is located at, and its recruiting website is Member SIPC.

Old Type Writer

Columnist Susie Duncan Sexton is taking a little much-deserved summer break, so her talented son, Roy Sexton, brings us a column about his recent visit to a Taylor Swift concert in Detroit. To read it, click here

Parade winners announced

(Talk of the Town photo by Jennifer Zartman Romano)
Crowds were smaller than usual for the annual American Legion Post 98 Old Settlers Day Parade on Saturday evening, with area residents daunted by a weekend of wind and rain. Still, those residents who braved the weather to attend the parade were delighted with many floats and children were thrilled with a steady stream of candy treats. Above, members of the Banks family hand candy to eager children along the parade route Saturday. 

From reports

Officials with the American Legion Post 98 Old Settlers Days Parade have announced the winners from Saturday night's parade:

Animal Drawn Units:
1st Steve Cornelius
Mounted Units:
1st: Paul Harrington
2nd Mizpah Mounted Unit
Antique tractors:
1st: Mizpah Power Club
2nd Frank Fahl
Marching Color Guard:
1st Mizpah
Antique Vehicles:
1st Verlin & Connie Dittmer
2nd Mizpah car club
Novelty Cars:
1st Mizpah Topless Car Club (convertibles)
2nd Mizpah Corvette Club
3rd Joe Wilz
Novelty & Fun Units:
1st LT Real Estate
2nd Mizmur Scooter Patrol
3rd (tie) Mizpah Bagpipers & Haunted Jail
Commercial Floats:
1st Orizon Real Estate
2nd Minear Real Estate
3rd Wireless Zone
Non-Commercial floats:
1st Sugar Creek Church
2nd CC Nazarene Church
3rd (tie) United Methodist Church and the Whitley Co. Shriners Fez.

June 27, 2015

Parade will happen rain or shine

After numerous questions this afternoon about whether the American Legion's Old Settlers Days parade, the parade will go on! According to officials, the parade will happen tonight rain or shine. The parade would only be cancelled in the event of extreme severe weather and that is not expected. Lineup for the parade is at 4 p.m. and the parade begins at 6 p.m.