Friday, May 27, 2011

Peters is valedictorian, Danner salutatorian at WHS

   Gayle June Peters, 18, daughter of Gary Peters and Ginger Peters has been named the 2011 Valedictorian at Whitko High School.
   Thomas Danner, 18, is salutatorian. He is the son of Hyon Danner and Todd Danner.
   Peters is active in FFA, Student Council, Students Against Destructive Decisions, National Honor Society, Art Club and 4-H.
   She plans to study animal science, pre-veterinary courses at Purdue University. She is a 2011 recipient of the President’s Scholarship of Purdue University and a Lily Endowment Community Scholarship.
   Eventually Peters would like to open her own large animal vet clinic and begin a program for 4-H or FFA members in the animal science field.
   Danner plans to attend Indiana University at Bloomington and study biology.
   His extra curricular activities include academic teams, pep band, National Honor Society and the tennis team.
   Danner plans to continue his education at a medical school.
   Graduation ceremonies for the Class of 2011 are Friday, June 10 in the gymnasium beginning at 7 p.m.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Industrial park now shovel-ready

Tribune-News correspondent
The South Whitley Town Council voted to rezone 85.9 acres in the industrial park to an I-1, light industrial district, as recommended by the South Whitley Planning Commission.
The land, owned by Dragan Real Estate, been an agricultural district.  According to Alan Tio, of the Whitley County Economic Development Commission, rezoning was an important step in making the property “shovel-ready” by bringing in power lines, water and sewer lines and establishing roads on the land. All a prospective buyer has to do is build on the site, theoretically starting with a shovel.
“The property is adjoined by well-established light manufacturing and agribusiness operations already zoned I-1,” Tio stated.  “Other adjacent land uses ... are separated from the Dragan Real Estate LLC property by natural buffering.”
There are no specific companies looking for industrial sites in the park at this time.
South Whitley Cleveland Township Library Director Renee Wozniak-Anderson requested parking lines be painted outside the library on Front and Maple streets.  She submitted a drawing to utilities manager Dennis Eberhart which includes two handicapped parking spaces.
Resident Janice Perry brought up a problem she and her neighbors have with trash blowing into their yards.
“I live across from Dollar General and the grocery,” she said.  “There are no trash containers at either business.”
Perry emphasized that she didn’t think either of the businesses was aware of the problem.
Councilwoman Tonya Warner offered to contact the businesses and “ask them as a courtesy” to place trash containers outside.
Randy Striggle summed up the lack of progress repairing the wall at the Green Parrot as “the same old thing we’ve been bucking since last November”.  Striggle is working to round up a loan  for the project.
“It’s going to get done as soon as funding is available from the bank and we get a contractor,” he said.
The council was ready to grant another extension of the deadline for the repair.
“How long do you need?  30 days?  45 days?  You tell us at this point,” Warner said.
After the council voted for an extension until July 11, Warner commended Striggle saying, “thank you for your honesty in coming forward with this and letting us know (the status)”
David Harvey of Fleis and Vandenbrink Engineering asked the council to approve a radio survey of points around town so that a radio telemetry system can eventually be used at the wastewater treatment plant He recommended Peerless Midwest to do the survey and the council approved a motion to allow Eberhart to negotiate with them to get the survey done.
The council also voted to vacate a portion of an alley running near 401 N. Calhoun Street.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Wind turbine committee meets, sets guidelines

of Ground Rules, Inc.
On behalf of Whitley County and Ground Rules Inc. we would like to thank everyone for their interest in the future of Whitley County, especially in regard to the wind farm issue.
 I’m writing to inform you that the Advisory Committee met April 26 to get the process rolling.  As you may remember the Whitley County Plan Commission established an Advisory Committee at their March 15 meeting. 
In summary, the committee’s job is to study and recommend a direction forward in regard to wind farms in Whitley County.  There are nine members on the committee; three non-supporters, three supporters, and three county representatives.
Committee membership as follows: pro wind farm: Doug Reiff, Walt Trier and Steve Sickafoose
anti wind farm: Stanley Crum,  Joan Null and Mark Mynhier; and Whitley County plan commission representatives: Brandon Forrester, Paula Reimers and George Schrumpf
Brad Johnson of Ground Rules, Inc. facilitated the meeting and David Sewell, Whitley County planning director, attended the March 26 meeting
The committee established meeting rules, discussed the process, determined guidelines for research and information to be considered, and had a general discussion about wind farms.  The committee also filled out a survey prepared by Ground Rules to determine which aspects of wind farms are of greatest concern, and which aspects need the most study.  By the way, all members were able to attend this meeting.  Below is a summary of outcomes:
Ground Rules’ Role:  Facilitate meeting, research committee decided topics, verify information presented, neutral party, and author of a wind farm ordinance if deemed by the committee to be necessary.
Upcoming Advisory Committee Meetings:  Generally we are trying to meet on the fourth Tuesday of each month for three more months.   We already know of a few conflicts, so the meetings will not fall exactly on those days. The upcoming meetings will be used as follows:
• May meeting:– The case against wind farms.
• June meeting:– The case for wind farms.
 • July meeting:– Deliberation and determination of a recommendation.
– Guidelines for Information:  The Advisory Committee is looking for and wanting to primarily consider valid and unbiased sources.  For instance, engineering organizations who have conducted independent studies, and not studies commissioned by interested parties.  To some degree it is anticipated that some biased information will be considered, just not to the same degree.
 – Research:  The committee has suggested a long list of names, agencies, organizations, and jurisdictions for Ground Rules to contact for information.
The Advisory Committee’s survey results are summarized below:
  • Moderate to high degree of concern about personal safety
  • High degree of concern about property value impact
  • High degree of concern about quality of life impact
  • Moderate degree of concern about aesthetic impact
  • Moderate degree of concern about environmental impact
  • High degree of concern about economic impact
Based on survey results, we will be spending a greater degree of time researching impacts to property values, quality of life, and economic impact than the other topics.  However, we will still spend time on each category.
Specific topics that are of high importance to understand include, and are not limited to the following:
 • Impact to residential property values
 • Net increase to county revenue (net impact to tax rate)
 • Net overall economic impact to the county
 • Minimum standards for placement of turbines
 • Noise impacts
 • Decommissioning standards
Again, these subtopics were ranked the highest in the surveys.
After each committee meeting discussions and outcomes will be summarized.  Anyone who wishes to stay in the advised about the committee’s progress, may contact Sarah Reed. Her email is

Foundation becomes pro-active with Whitley Forward

By TRSmith
Leadership Whitley County alumni get together on occasion, inviting a guest speaker to talk about a current topic.
There are few hotter topics than northeast Indiana’s economy. Everyone knows someone who has been laid off and desperately seeking employment.
Lori Shipman of the Whitley County Commuity Foundation outlined the organization’s Whitley Forward program, which focuses on advancing science, technology, engineering,and mathmatics, at the Brownstone on State, Friday, May 6.
Attending the meeting were Melinda Woll, Jennifer Zartman-Romano, Tania Keirn, Sara Lochner-Goff and Tina Houser.
The foundation’s belief, Shipman said, is that an advanced degree is now mandatory. A high school diploma is no longer “good enough” to get by in today’s global economy.
That statement was backed by Steptember McConnell, Whitley County Foundation executive director in a telephone conversation earlier this week.
“Northeast Indiana, Whitley County is in the midst of an economic decline,” McConnell said. “Our per capita income has been on a downward slope for the past 15 years. What does this mean? For every dollar the average American worker makes, we now only make 80 cents. Compare this to 1995 when local workers made 99 cents to the nation’s dollar average. This decline must be stopped and reversed.”
The Whitley Forward is the foundations’ board of directors solution, a proactive solution to change attitudes about the STEM subjects, starting with children as young as four- or five-years-old and through their primary and secondary school years.
“The Whitley County Foundation looked to the east, at the defense industry growing in Fort Wayne and to the west, at the thriving  bio-medical orthopaedics industry in Warsaw,” she said. “These two industries will have wonderful job opportunities in the engineering and advanced manufacturing fields.
“So to meet that demand, we’re preparing a workforce that can acquire those jobs.
“The defense industry has to stay i the US. However, if they don’t have a talented workforce to draw from, they won’t stay here. They are demanding highly skilled workers.”
The foundation board came to the decision that they are capable of strategically addresisng issues and they’ll do it thorugh more pro active grant making. The education of the community has become a goal.
And that education is not just for students. It is for parents and grandparents, too.
“We’re trying to change the culture of a community,” McConnell said. “This community seems very tied to the roots that ‘good enough is good enough.’ Maybe this is a reflection of agrarian roots. Times are changing. Good enough isn’t good enough any more.
“It’s really about protecting the future of Whitley County, to compete on a global statge.”
Whitley Forward’s three year goals is to promote the idea that a post secondary education is a necessity, not a maybe. And it doens’t mean a four-year college, shorter term vocational courses are another way to secure a high-paying job.
A second goal is to provide the school districtes with the resources to offer STEM-based courses, to encourage students to embrace science, technology, engineering and math.
“But kids think that if they like math, they have to be come a math teacher,” McConnell said.
McConnell said the area day care workers are trained to show pre schoolers how to use Lady Bug kits and magent kits.
A Lego Robiotics class at Indiana Springs and Churubusco middle schools has been funded.
At Whitko High School science teacher Melissa Visallai has  developed a Project Lead The Way for students interested in the bio medical field.
Funding has been made available for a WHS student to attend an engineering camp this summer.
And all the middle schools have been visited by a Mad Scientist.
“We think the more the message is imparted to the kids by the time they’re in the middle school, the more they’ll be able to embrace the idea.”
Whitley Forward is starting a program finding “STEM champions” in the high schools. Teachers will visit places like Micropulse and Biomet and USSI and share their perceptions with the students.
Because girls don’t often think about science and math careers, Whitley Forward plans to bring successful women engineers, scientists and mathematicians to them.
“I’m so proud of all three school systems in the county,” McConnell said. They understand what it’s going to take. They’re so challenged financially and wnat to see things unfold.
“Where the school has shortfalls, we’ve made up for that.”
To learn more about STEM opportunities in the region go to Talent Made Here for great resources and videos for students, educators and parents. On the Internet at

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Habitat's Women Build Week May 2 -- 8

Mayor Jim Fleck, mayoral primary candidates, Whitley Chamber of Commerce President, and local business women and Habitat for Humanity and Lowe’s team up for
National Women Build Week
Local female volunteers answer call to help eliminate poverty housing

Columbia City, IN— In the days leading up to Mother’s Day, construction crews of female volunteers will pound nails and raise walls at Habitat construction sites across the country in recognition of National Women Build Week, April  30 through May 8.

In Columbia City, In, during the week of May 2 thru Saturday May 8 , Whitley Chamber President Sara Goff, Mayor Jim Fleck, local business women, primary mayoral candidates, Mindy Hoffman, 2010 Distinguished Young Woman of Whitley County, Lake City Roller Dolls (Warsaw, In), Fort Wayne Derby Girls,  Lowe’s Heroes and female volunteers in Columbia City will work on the Brown and Patridge’s families new home(s). Lowe’s is providing Habitat for Humanity Whitley County a $5,000 Lowe’s store gift card, as well as in-store volunteer training, in support  of this one-day build.

Lowe’s, the underwriter of Habitat for Humanity’s Women Build program, is awarding more than $1.3 million to over 250 Habitat affiliates across the United States during National Women Build Week. Approximately 10,000 female volunteers are expected to build at Habitat for Humanity construction sites during this time.

Habitat’s National Women Build program recruits, educates and inspires women to build decent and affordable homes for low-income families in their communities.

WHEN: Monday May 2nd                                                                              Wednesday May 4th                      
8 a.m. Construction begins                                                          8 a.m. Construction begins
11:45 Remarks and Key photo op                                              11:45 Remarks and Key photo op
5 p.m. Construction ends                                                             5 p.m. Construction ends

·         Mayor Jim Fleck to read National Women Build Proclamation - Wednesday
·         Tom Rethlake, Whitley County Commissioner -Wednesday
·         Mindy Hoffman, 2010 Distinguished Young Woman of Whitley County- Wednesday
·         Sara Goff, President Whitley County Chamber of Commerce- Monday and Wednesday
·         Habitat for Humanity Dottie Cole, Women Build Coordinator, Monday and Wednesday
·         Habitat for Humanity Mary Tobin, Faith and Community Relations- Monday and Wednesday
·         Habitat for Humanity Carl Siler, Executive Director- Wednesday
·         Future Habitat homeowners Brown Family-Monday and Wednesday
·         Future Habitat homeowners Patridge Family- Monday and Wednesday
·         Aaron Murray, Store Manger Lowe’s Lima Road Fort Wayne, IN- Wednesday
·         Female employees Lowes Lima Road Fort Wayne IN, - Wednesday
·         Lake City Roller Dolls- Monday and Wednesday
·         Fort Wayne Derby Girls- Wednesday
·         Chris Bornman, CEO/Owner White Oaks Construction (site supervisor)- Monday and Wednesday

WHERE:               608 and 612 Ellsworth Street, Columbia City, IN
                                US 30 to Line Street (turn south), thru downtown and turn right on Ellsworth

About Habitat for Humanity Whitley County
Founded in 1994, Habitat for Humanity Whitley County, a local affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International, is Whitley County's only non-denominational, Christian-principled housing ministry dedicated to eliminating substandard housing  in Whitley County. Working in partnership with local churches, businesses, individuals and other non-profit organizations to plan, staff and fund the renovation and building of Habitat homes we have and will continue to serve those in our community in need  of simple, safe, affordable housing. By reaching out to our community in this mission we hope that others will see our faith in action and in turn experience God's love and presence in their lives.

About Habitat for Humanity International
Habitat for Humanity International is an ecumenical Christian ministry that welcomes to its work all people dedicated to the cause of eliminating poverty housing. Since its founding in 1976, Habitat has built, rehabilitated, repaired or  improved more than 400,000 houses worldwide, providing simple, decent and affordable shelter for more than two million people. For more information, or to donate or volunteer, visit

About Lowe’s
Lowe’s supports the communities it serves through programs that focus on K-12 public education and community improvement projects. The company’s signature education grant program, Lowe’s Toolbox for Education, has brought more than $5 million in grants to K-12 public schools every year since its inception in 2005. Lowe’s Heroes employee volunteers support local community projects and our national nonprofit partners such as Habitat for Humanity International  and the American Red Cross. In 2010, Lowe’s and the Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation together contributed more than $30 million to support communities in the United States, Canada and Mexico.  To learn more, visit