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DECEMBER 2012

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LIFE IN ADAMS, JAY & WELLS COUNTY & NEIGHBORING OHIO COMMUNITIES

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IN THIS ISSUE!! See page 63.

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ONTENTS DECEMBER 2012

• COVER PHOTO COURTESY OF MARK OKONIEWSKI •

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Publication

Editor................................... Amy M. Orr

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SCHOOL NOTES DEPARTMENT Featuring North Adams Schools

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DECEMBER FEATURE ARTICLE

Vol. 4, No. 12, December 2012 © Wabash Valley Living, 2012. Published monthly. In print, by the grace of God, since June 2009.

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DECEMBER FEATURE ARTICLE

Editorial office: 346 U.S. Hwy. 27 North, Berne IN 46711. Material in this publication may not be reproduced in any form without permission.

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DECEMBER FEATURE ARTICLE

39

DECEMBER FEATURE ARTICLE

47

DECEMBER FEATURE ARTICLE

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DECEMBER FEATURE ARTICLE

Contributors........Sharyl M. Calhoun Mark Okoniewski Ashley Olson Advertising...............Raelene Hirschy

Questions or comments? Call Amy Orr at (260)849-2187 Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call (260)438-1123 or send an email to raelene@wabashvalleyliving.com for information regarding advertising rates. Subscription prices in U.S. (to cover shipping and handling costs) are $24.99 for 12 mos.; $44.99 for 24 mos. Indiana residents must pay 7% sales tax.

Homestead Holiday at Bearcreek

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School Notes North Adams Community Schools believes in Excellence . . . Teach It, Model It, Inspire It, Achieve It!

The North Adams Community Schools offer a dynamic, comprehensive educational program, with the goal that our graduates will be among Indiana’s most competitive collegiate and workforce recruits. From preschool through high school graduation, we prepare our students for success in the 21st century through a rigorous and relevant educational program taught by highly effective faculty who meet the individual needs of each and every student. Teaching and learning at North Adams are vibrant and transforming, as our students grow into successful readers, writers, mathematicians, scientists, problem solvers, and thinkers. Students are immersed in project-based, digital experiences that connect them to their local, national and global world and prepare them for lifetime success in being able to communicate, collaborate, think critically, and offer creative solutions as leaders and members of society. In collaboration with the Indiana Department of Education’s e-Learning Classroom Innovation Grant, North Adams has made significant strides in moving quickly into a 21st century learning environment.

Over the past 2 years we have: • Implemented a 1-to-1 iPad initiative for all 9th – 12th grade students for school/home use • Implemented technology infused classrooms for K – 8th grades, including a variety of need-based digital resources, such as mobile lap-top carts, classroom smart boards, iPad Learning stations, and lap top/iPad take-home for high-need students–English Learners and at-risk low income students • Developed a Digital Curriculum Transition Plan for 6th – 12th grades, where traditional textbooks are being replaced with digital curriculum and resources • Implemented wireless access throughout Bellmont High School and moving to wireless in the middle and elementary schools These steps have helped increase student achievement at all grade levels. Bellmont High School and North Adams District achieved a 2011-2012 Indiana ‘A’ Rating for Exemplary Progress, as well as, 57% of graduates left 12th grade with college credit, well above the state goal of 25%.

–Wylie Sirk, Superintendant North Adams Community Schools

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T HE TRUE GIFT OF

Christmas

as told to Mark Okoniewski ■ ■ ■

Author’s note –The family in the following story asked not to be identified. Their concern was not about privacy, but, rather, they preferred the story reflect the glory of God the Father, Who gave them the strength and courage to persevere.

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familiar Christmas scene unfolds– Christmas carolers trek through neighborhoods, sharing the joy of the season through song. The carolers hope only to touch the hearts of those preparing to celebrate the birth of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. A dozen or more children, ages six to twelve, move from one neighborhood home to another. Then, the group must cross a street to reach their next performance site. One or two children cross

quickly, and four more dart between two parked cars. A vehicle approaches, but the children do not notice. It is dark, and the driver cannot see the children. In a few fateful seconds, our lives were forever changed. Four young bodies, broken, lay crumpled on the street. As we share this story, it’s not our aim to simply provide the details of who, what, where and why.

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Rather, it has been made clear to us that the challenges laid before us by God were part of His greater plan for us, as a family, and, as a community of believers. We believe this event was also intended to be an instrument of reaching individuals whom we will never know. It is our hope that you will understand that God is good, and the choices He makes are made for a reason. We do not know why He allowed our sons and the other two children to survive what might have been an unspeakable tragedy. But, we know they must have further work to accomplish within God’s great plan, and for that, we are very thankful. My wife and I have chosen to share a couple of stories surrounding the days immediately following that evening primarily because of how they share the wonder of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

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I met one of these angels a few days after the caroling accident. I was sitting with my son in the ICU, and there was concern among the medical team about his breathing. They scheduled a procedure for the following day to remove mucus plugs from his lungs. Unless successful, the long-term prognosis was not very good, but the doctor assured that all would be well, and he left for the evening.

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I slept sitting next to my son while he lay there in a coma. A nurse who assisted in giving him breathing treatments told me that she needed to go upstairs to help another child. She suggested I shut my eyes to get some sleep and indicated she would wake me upon her return to administer another breathing treatment to my son. Sometime later, I woke to someone lightly tapping me on the shoulder. I turned, expecting to see the nurse, but, instead,

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stared into a bright light. I heard the words, “He will be okay,” and, almost immediately, the nurse came into the room.

Later that week, on Christmas Eve, my wife was sitting with our son, reading the Christmas story to him, as was our family tradition.

“Were you just in here?” I asked her. She quickly apologized for being late returning to my son’s room and explained that the other patient had been much more critical than originally believed.

And the angel said to them, “Fear not! For I bring good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people.

As we began preparing my son for his treatment, both the nurse and I noticed that his chest seemed somewhat collapsed, and his breathing more labored. At that moment, the doctor walked in and said, “I had trouble sleeping this evening.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you – ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger.

“I couldn’t seem to get your son off of my mind, so I came back to perform the procedure tonight.”

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, goodwill to men.”

The doctor inserted a medical instrument into my son’s lung, and expressed surprise and as he removed it. He’d extracted a mucus plug about the size of a tennis ball. Our son’s breathing immediately improved, as did his color.

As my wife finished reading the passage, she looked at my son and noticed he had opened his eyes. It was his first response since the accident one week earlier.

I have no doubt that the hand I felt and the voice I heard was that of the angel assigned to my child.

We understood the lesson: If we pay attention to the story of Jesus, He will open our eyes.

(Luke 2:10-14)

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My wife and I understood early on that this event was not only to effect our lives and our relationship with Christ, but that others were meant to be impacted as well. Next to our son’s bed, a small infant girl was constantly attended to by her father and mother. There was grave concern about her survival, and eventually, she succumbed to her injuries. I happened to be in the room at that very moment and did my best to give the family privacy. As the girl’s parents left the ICU later, they came to my son’s bed and asked if they could pray for him. I was astounded! Even in their grief, they desired the recovery of our son. They assured me they would continue to pray for him and our family. During the days that followed, nurses frequently reported to us that this couple had called to check on our son’s progress. Those parents showed us first-hand what our true mission is, on the Lord’s behalf, for His kingdom. Once my son left the ICU, we did not hear from them again. But, their witness to us in their grief had an enormous impact.

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In the years leading up to that Christmas season, I was a husband and father who felt I best served the needs of my family by investing as much time and effort into my work as possible. It was easy to believe that providing the material needs outweighed my family’s need for time with me. God had tried to get my attention–our daughter was born with a medical condition, and, at one point, she required a life-saving procedure, followed by a lengthy stay in the hospital. Sometime later, we brought her home, and, with the incoming medical bills, I plowed right back into my work, feeling again that providing for my family was the top priority. My wife and I now realize that the one thing our children need from us is our time. It became very clear to us as our children opened their presents one Christmas--their first desire was to show someone the gift they had just received. The gift was secondary. Being able to share the joy and wonder our children felt was the real present.

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In much the same way, we have come to realize that God presented His Son Jesus Christ to the world as a gift, and we are reminded of this every year at Christmas. Like our children, He wishes for us to share it with Him and with those around us. Perhaps someone you know is hurting from the loss of a loved one or some other tragedy. Maybe you have an empty feeling in your heart that seems to intensify during the Christmas season.

It is our sincere and prayerful hope that our story might prompt you to seek the loving God upon Whom we leaned so heavily, or that you might reach out to another person so they might find the comfort only He can bring. My wife and our family urge you to “unwrap� the gift of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and to share Him and His message with the people around you during this season of joy and giving. WVL

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Good Tidings of Great Joy The year 2012 will soon come to a close. Whether we look ahead with great anticipation or great apprehension, there is always a reason to be joyful. The birth of Jesus Christ so long ago was also the birth of hope for all mankind. As you say “good-bye” to this year, count your blessings, past and present. Recognize God’s gifts to you. And, as you celebrate the miracle of Christmas with family and friends, determine to keep the hope of Christmas in your heart all year long. Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. –From the Second Chapter of Luke

T hanking God for the gift of His Son, and for the many other ways in which He has richly blessed our lives through the years,

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H OMESTEAD HOLIDAY AT

Bearcreek Ashley Olson ■ ■ ■

I

n 1973, when Don Strong purchased what is now Bearcreek Farms, it was merely his family’s private weekend getaway. It was an escape…a quiet place to retreat from his flourishing restaurant business. As Strong once said, “I initially bought the 200-acre farm and we, meaning my family, spent the weekends here staying in a little cabin. It was an escape.”

Fast-forward to now, and Bearcreek has become a weekend getaway for the surrounding counties of Jay, Wells, Allen and Adams. But, it’s not just limited to the surrounding area--Bearcreek Farms has now become an entertainment destination for people from all across the states of Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. And, the biggest upcoming draw for many of these visitors will be the Homestead Holiday Christmas event.

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“The Christmas show has been a tradition at Bearcreek since 1975. This year’s Christmas event is Homestead Holiday – Country Style,” says Carla Loy, Bearcreek’s General Manager and daughter of Don Strong. “It’s a combination of classic and traditional Christmas songs, as well as more current country Christmas songs.” During The Homestead Holiday season, guests can visit the shop where Bearcreek Farms offers a variety of unique gifts. They can also dine at the restaurant and see the show, or skip the show and simply have a family meal. With 600 theater seats available, families will have plenty of room, and bringing friends is encouraged! The show is between 75-80 minutes in length, and performances run from November 28th to December 22nd. See the shows at 2 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays and at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays. The price of admission for the Homestead Holiday is $12 for adults and $6 for children under 12 years of age; this includes dinner, as well. The preparations were begun weeks ago for this year’s event. Bearcreek starts preparing for

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the holiday show long before snow touches the ground. In the beginning of November, they already have a complete cast and theme and have begun rehearsals. The cast members and crew from this year are as follows: Lucas Rodden, Linda Rodden, Ken Renner, Maggie Frye, and Bev Wolford – all from Bryant, Indiana; Brett Hall, of Cleveland, Ohio; Chance Harmon, of Dallas, Texas; and Vickie Kibellus, from Markle, Indiana. The cast and crew have worked hard in rehearsals to perfect the show, and before they appeared on stage for the first time this season, they completed a dress rehearsal to work out any kinks that might pop up unexpectedly. “We may drop an act, or add something to the show, sometimes just two days before the opening night,” Loy explains. “If something doesn’t work or needs improvement, then we might not know until the dress rehearsal, only a couple of days before the first show. My favorite part of the holiday season is putting the show together. “Seeing it in a bunch of little pieces, and then seeing the finished product is really satisfying to be a part of.” Carla isn’t only a part of the holiday traditions at Bearcreek Farms, but she is involved with the


day-to-day operations, as well. She speaks fondly of growing up in the restaurant business and watching Bearcreek Farms grow into what it is today. “Growing up in this business, you are accustomed to a six-day work week, and, a lot of times, sevenday work weeks. It’s just life. ‘My family has a strong work ethic because of what my Dad created – even my kids are hard workers and are great with people because it’s the only thing they’ve known. And, Dad is still a big part of the business to this day.” Each year, Bearcreek Farms offers something different for the Holiday season and other parts of the year. And, all of these events have given Loy plenty of treasured memories. “I have many fond memories, growing up at Bearcreek Farms and meeting so many different folks over the years. I have memories of all the different ventures we tried as a family only because we had a passion for the idea--not considering all the costs that would add up. But, they are still memories for me.” Carla recalls one of her favorite shows that Bearcreek Farms hosted, “A few years ago, we did Annie.

“It was nearing opening night, and the director was asking where we were going to get a dog to be Sandy. I wasn’t really worried about the dog at that time–I was focused on having everything else in order. “One day, a few weeks before the show, a stray dog happened to show up at Bearcreek. It looked so much like Sandy, we couldn’t believe it. “I took the dog home with me, gave her a bath, fed her, and she became our Sandy, all the way through the show for 12 weeks. Then, one of our visitors volunteered to take Sandy home with her to stay after I posted something about her needing a home on our Facebook page.” A couple of ventures Bearcreek Farms tried to tackle include amusement park rides and a zoo. The latter was, by far, Carla’s favorite. She recalls, “I got to take a cougar named Leroy to college at Ball State with me. “He lived in my apartment with me and my roommate. He would chase her into her room and paw at her door, and she hated it. She had been my friend for years and was used to things like that.” The most unfortunate, but still memorable, event at Bearcreek Farms was when the restaurant

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burned down. “It is something I will never forget.” Loy adds, “The support we got from everyone-staff and customers both--was amazing. They really helped to lift us up so we could get everything back up and running, and were so understanding when we were unable to open for awhile.” Bearcreek Farms is known for reaching out to the senior communities, and the senior community is reaching back. The local Bryant Seniors 60 volunteer their time during events throughout the year. Carla expresses gratitude toward the senior community for all of their loyalty. “They have been so good to us throughout the years and continue to support us and what our family has worked so hard to do.” During November and the beginning of December, Bearcreek Farms hosts an event called the “Socks for Seniors Holiday Sock Drive.” Visitors are invited to bring a pair of new socks to Bearcreek Farms during normal business hours to receive a coupon toward an upcoming show or retail purchase.

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“Come, and forget about whatever it is that is troubling you for just a little bit.” She and her family want to give other families memories to share, as well. “I truly believe that all of our guests have different fond memories, whether it was taking Mom out to eat for a family tradition on Mother’s Day, or enjoying an evening with family and friends during the holiday season at Bearcreek Farms.” Loy says, “If a fond memory was created by our guests, then we have done something right through the years.”

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This year, Socks for Seniors began November 1st and will run through December 16th. The socks will be taken to nursing homes and given to those in need of socks. Other charitable drives are offered throughout the year. Carla’s goal for Bearcreek Farms is to leave those who visit feeling happy and uplifted. “We want you to leave with a smile on your face and feeling warm and fuzzy.

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Continuing her reminiscence about the feelings that Bearcreek evokes, Carla adds, “My father started Bearcreek Farms as a hobby, a place to escape, build, and provide good food and entertainment to our customers on a weekend basis. “This tradition has been passed along to me, and, at times, I feel like this isn’t a job, but a hobby where I get pleasure out of pleasing our guests and seeing them on a regular basis.” Loy concludes, “As we grow older, we cannot create the same memories again. We all know time is short, and we never know when some of our friends and family will no longer be with us. “It is important to create these fond memories on a regular basis – not just at Christmas and Mother’s Day. There are another 363 days in the year! So, take the time, enjoy those around you, and make more fond memories at Bearcreek Farms.” While the 2013 season is still in the planning stages, Loy says there will be some changes. A few things to expect: “new year, new season, new events, new dining concept, new shows,” and “new website.”

One “new” feature now under consideration at Bearcreek is an intimate performance by local, semi-local and regional talent on Friday evenings. Loy is seeking such talented individuals and groups, suggesting that she might consider singers, comedians, and small ensembles or bands. Anyone interested in performing during these intimate Friday evenings should contact Loy via email at marketing@bearcreekfarms.com. Loy has taken great pains to collect feedback and suggestion from Bearcreek guests about performers and events they’d like to see next year. She expects to release a schedule for 2013 on January 1st. Bearcreek Farms is located at 8339 North 400 East in Bryant, Indiana. The restaurant and resort can be reached by telephone at (260) 997-6822. Their website is www.bearcreekfarms.com, and you can “like” them on Facebook, as well, to stay informed about schedule changes, new events, and specials. Whatever the new season holds, Bearcreek still invites you to “escape to the country!” WVL

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F OR THE LITTLE ONES’

Christmas Joys Mark Okoniewski

K

■ ■ ■

evin “Petey” Peterson smiles, grabbing his belly through the red Santa suit, and says, “God knew what He was doing when He gave me this body.” Indeed, not only will your senses make you feel that you are in the presence of Kris Kringle; your heart will be affected by his presence, as well.

to do. I have always loved making people smile, and I like making people around me happy.

“I knew from the very first few times I wore Dad’s Santa suit that this was something I was supposed

“Just two weeks ago, I was in my co-op uniform having lunch in Portland at one of the restaurants

“Even before my beard and hair turned white, children would come up to me anytime of the year and talk to me as if I were Santa. But now it happens almost every time I go out in public.

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in town. I looked up, and the gentleman who I was having lunch with was looking down by my side. “As I glanced over, there were two young children around five or six years old standing there, staring at me. They looked right at me and asked me, ‘Santa, what are you doing here?’ “I told them that I was borrowing this uniform to check on the kids and people in Portland.”

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When children approach Kevin, whether it’s during or outside of the Christmas season, he has to be quick on the trigger. “I have become really good at giving them some type of answer to the questions they ask. “Most want to know what I am doing in their town, or why I am not in my ‘uniform.’ Others want to know if the reindeer are parked out front. “They expect some type of answer and will wait until they get one.” Kevin happily attributes his joy of giving to others to lessons learned as a child. “From my grandmother!” he says. “There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that she walked with God during her years here on earth!” This remarkable woman had been blind since her mid-20’s, and, yet, she raised her children, kept her own house, and cleaned a relative’s house across the street on a daily basis. “I remember Dad telling us the story of the time when he convinced his younger brother to take a spanking for him. They decided to fool their mom and switch beds, since his mother always spanked them after they had gone off to bed. “When Grandma reached in to grab the foot of the boy who was to be spanked, she could tell immediately she had the wrong one.” She knew which son’s foot she was holding, and she turned and walked to his bed and administered the spanking to the sneaky boy who had tried to trick her.

24


“Dad said the spanking was a little harder and longer than usual.”

“The first time I put on that suit, Mom could tell there was something special going on.”

The loving environment in which Kevin was raised was also a very strong influence in his need to make people smile and enjoy themselves. Kevin came from a family with seven children, and he was the middle child with two sisters and four brothers.

Helen Meyers of Decatur was one of the first to ask Kevin to perform his magic for her family. “The kids were starting to get old enough to recognize their dad in the costume, so they were very surprised when I visited for the first time.”

His parents were Don and Esther Peterson. “Mom always made sure we had everything we needed. Dad worked his entire life at B. F. Goodrich up in Woodburn, and while we didn’t have a lot of excess, we wanted for nothing. Food and love were never in short supply.

Kevin was hooked! Preparing for his role of Santa has always taken a lot of time and effort, especially prior to his hair and beard turning white. “I had a full beard as early as sixth grade, so growing one in high school for Christmas season was not a problem.

“I had always had a full time job. I worked at Wolfe’s Produce full-time, starting in seventh grade, as a butcher. It was my job to butcher the chickens. I spent eight years there, and during my sophomore year in high school, I decided to continue to work rather than play football.”

“For years, I would spend up to eight hours at a hair salon having someone dye my hair and beard white.

It was during his freshman year in high school that Kevin’s mom suggested he try his hand at wearing his father’s Santa suit. “Dad had done some family gatherings for relatives and close friends, so I was used to it.

One would think that having the opportunity to play Santa on an annual basis would be filled with nothing but joyous occasions – parties, festive gatherings, and surprise visits to households as

“At least that part of the costume has become much easier.”

25


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wide-eyed kids reel with excitement. But, Kevin says there have been several situations which have literally brought him to tears.

Remember the Reason for the Season!

“I remember one single mom and her two daughters, who were ‘adopted’ by a local church a few years ago. The mother was doing her absolute best to provide for her family, but they were really struggling. The church women called and asked me to go with them to deliver some Christmas surprises.” The women knocked on the door and began carrying grocery bags full of food and necessities into the house, to the surprise of the mother. Then came Santa, with a bag with toys and gifts for the little girls. “Both little girls came running up to me at their front door and grabbed as tight as they could on to my legs. And, they would not let go. I finally made it to the couch, where I sat down and handed them their presents.” You can imagine the emotions of the moment, as a young mother, anticipating a very meager Christmas, was blessed, not only with presents and a Christmas meal, but also with a visit from Santa himself. “I literally had to go outside to wipe the tears out of my eyes. ‘When I was much younger, a friend of our family had a saying that explains perfectly what I get to experience every year God allows me to do this. She always said, ‘It is not the breaths that we take that matter, but rather the moments that take our breath away.’ Anyone who was in the house that morning would know exactly what that saying means.” Another heart-warming incident involves a mother and a young boy who found themselves staying at the women’s shelter for Christmas. As Santa came into the main room of the shelter, several of the other children rushed right up to him to talk and to receive their presents. But this little boy, about seven or eight years old, stayed behind and would not leave his mother’s side. As minutes passed, the mother made her way closer to the couch where Santa was seated, and the little boy sat down at the end of the couch. Slowly, he made his way closer and closer to the man in the red suit.

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abusive towards him, and that he did not feel comfortable around men. Eventually, the boy reached out to touch Santa’s coat, and once he started talking, he simply couldn’t stop. “This little boy was so excited, and the look in his eyes when I gave him his presents touched me like few others have.” Kevin’s calendar of Santa appearances has swelled to over one hundred appearances every Christmas season. As expected, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are packed with stops – most of them very brief. “Last year, I started at 4:30 in the morning on Christmas morning and got done at 9:30 that night. I had twenty-two appointments on Christmas Eve and another twenty-eight on Christmas! “It’s getting to the point where I think I can go at the speed of light.” Kevin never accepts payment for his services. “I wanted to make sure, from the very start, that anyone and everyone could afford to have me come to their homes or their parties.” But, this Santa does accept donations of money or gifts to keep his bag supplied with gifts for children. “One year, a company here in town asked me to swing by their place on my way

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home. When I arrived, they began to fill the back of my pick up truck with toys and gifts for children. “I had come to their company Christmas party the previous year and would not accept payment for it. They ended up making a bunch of young boys and girls very happy that season.” So, the next time you or your children see a jolly man whose eyes twinkle, and whose smile warms your heart, make sure you behave yourself. It could be Santa out of uniform, and he could be checking his list to see if you have earned your way on to the “Nice” category. Rumor has it, he spends a lot of time in our part of Indiana. WVL

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DECEMBER 2012

LIFE IN ADAMS, JAY & WELLS COUNTY & NEIGHBORING OHIO COMMUNITIES

BLUFFTON Calendar of Events REMOVE THIS SECTION AND HANG IN A CONVENIENT LOCATION FOR FUTURE REFERENCE.


BLUFFTON CALENDAR

1st

6th

8:30 a.m. City Hall (260) 824-6069

10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. Wells County YMCA (260) 565-9622

Jingle Bell 5k Run

Christmas in the

Mansion 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. Wells Co. Historical Museum (260) 543-2423

Christmas Dinner & Concert 6:00 p.m. Gospel Barn (260) 827-0362

LEGO Club

3:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. Wells Co. Library (260) 824-1612

Geneaology Workshop 6:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. Wells Co. Library (260) 824-1612

8th

Christmas in the

2nd

Christmas in the

Mansion 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. Wells Co. Historical Museum (260) 543-2423

4th

Breastfeeding Class 8:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. Bluffton Regional Medical Center (260) 919-3460

Candy Cane Hunt 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. City Gym (260) 824-6069

PJ Story Hour

6:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. Wells Co. Library (260) 824-1612

Volunteer of the Year Reception 7:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. City Hall (260) 824-6069

5th

Mugs & Cocoa

5:30 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. Wells Co. Library (260) 824-1612

Breastfeeding Class 7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. Bluffton Regional Medical Center (260) 919-3460

2

Moms’ Morning Out

Mansion 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. Wells Co. Historical Museum (260) 543-2423

Saturday Afternoon at the Movies 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. Wells Co. Library (260) 824-1612

9th

Christmas in the

Mansion 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. Wells Co. Historical Museum (260) 543-2423

10th

Mayor’s Open House 3:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. City Hall (260) 824-1520

Little Elf Workshop 1 4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. Creative Arts Center (260) 824-5222

11th

Christmas Card Workshop 10:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. Creative Arts Center (260) 824-5222

eReader Fair

5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. Wells Co. Library (260) 824-1612

Cookbook Club 6:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. Wells Co. Library (260) 824-1612

Christmas Card Workshop 6:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. Creative Arts Center (260) 824-5222

Holiday Open House 6:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. Wells Co. Library (260) 824-1612

12th

eReader Fair

5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. Wells Co. Library (260) 824-1612

Little Elf Workshop 2 4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. Creative Arts Center (260) 824-5222

13th

Moms’ Morning Out 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. Wells County YMCA (260) 565-9622

Awkward Family Photos Exhibit Reception 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. Creative Arts Center (260) 824-5222

14th

YZone

5:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. Wells Co. YMCA (260) 565-9622

Cycle Cinema

5:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. Wells Co. YMCA (260) 565-9622

15th

Holiday Open House 11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. Animal Shelter (260) 824-6063

Christmas in the

Mansion 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. Wells Co. Historical Museum (260) 543-2423

SPECIAL INSERT - BLUFFTON EVENTS CALENDAR


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DECEMBER 2012

LIFE IN ADAMS, JAY & WELLS COUNTY & NEIGHBORING OHIO COMMUNITIES

DECATUR

Calendar of Events

REMOVE THIS SECTION AND HANG IN A 31 FOR FUTURE REFERENCE. CONVENIENT LOCATION


DECATUR CALENDAR

1st

Weekly Bike Ride

Blazing Saddles Club 9:00 a.m. Adams Memorial Hospital info@decaturblazingsaddles.com

All Books Considered

9th

K123 Club

1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. Adams Memorial Hospital info@decaturblazingsaddles.com

Carols, Candles &

2nd

Agape Christmas Puppets

10:00 a.m. Cornerstone Community Church (260) 724-7556

3

rd

Communion Service 6:00 p.m. Decatur Church of God (260) 724-2580

10th

Mom’s Support Group

Cozy Christian Readers Book Discussion 10:15 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. Adams Public Library (260) 724-2605

Mom’s Support Group 1:00 p.m. Adams Memorial Hospital (260) 724-2145

Poetry Coterie

3:30 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. Adams Public Library (260) 724-2605

Visit with Santa

6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. Adams Public Library (260) 724-2605

6th

LEGO Club

3:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. Adams Public Library (260) 724-2605

Weight Watchers

Weigh-In/Meeting 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Adams Memorial Hospital

Weekly Bike Ride

Blazing Saddles Club 6:00 p.m. Adams Memorial Hospital info@decaturblazingsaddles.com

8

th

Weekly Bike Ride

Blazing Saddles Club 9:00 a.m. Adams Memorial Hospital info@decaturblazingsaddles.com

2

Meet Santa & Mrs. Claus

1:00 p.m. Adams Memorial Hospital (260) 724-2145

11th

Book Discussion 3:30 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. Adams Public Library (260) 724-2605 3:30 p.m. - 4:15 p.m. Adams Public Library (260) 724-2605

20th

LEGO Club

3:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. Adams Public Library (260) 724-2605

Alzheimer’s Caregivers Support Group 4:30 p.m. Adams Memorial Hospital (260) 724-2145 ext. 3404

Blood Pressure Clinic

Weight Watchers

Blood Pressure Clinic

Weekly Bike Ride

8:00 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. McDonald’s (260) 724-8812

9:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. Decatur Community Market (260) 724-7174

13th

JL Trekkers

3:30 p.m. - 4:15 p.m. Adams Public Library (260) 724-2605

Weight Watchers

Weigh-In/Meeting 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Adams Memorial Hospital

Weekly Bike Ride

Blazing Saddles Club 6:00 p.m. Adams Memorial Hospital info@decaturblazingsaddles.com

15th

Weekly Bike Ride

Blazing Saddles Club 9:00 a.m. Adams Memorial Hospital info@decaturblazingsaddles.com

17th

Mom’s Support Group

Weigh-In/Meeting 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Adams Memorial Hospital Blazing Saddles Club 6:00 p.m. Adams Memorial Hospital info@decaturblazingsaddles.com

22nd

Weekly Bike Ride

Blazing Saddles Club 9:00 a.m. Adams Memorial Hospital info@decaturblazingsaddles.com

23rd

Children’s Christmas Program 10:00 a.m. St. Luke Church (260) 565-3112

24th

Christmas Eve Service 3:30 p.m. & 5:00 p.m. The Bridge Church North (260) 728-4070

Carols & Candles 6:00 p.m. St. Luke Church (260) 565-3112

1:00 p.m. Adams Memorial Hospital (260) 724-2145

SPECIAL INSERT - DECATUR EVENTS CALENDAR


Christmas Eve Service

10:00 p.m. Pleasant Dale Church of the Brethren (260) 565-3797

CHRISTNER’S (260)728-2151

27th

Trash Bag Snowmen 10:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Adams Public Library (260) 724-2605

Weight Watchers

Weigh-In/Meeting 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Adams Memorial Hospital

Weekly Bike Ride

Blazing Saddles Club 6:00 p.m. Adams Memorial Hospital info@decaturblazingsaddles.com

28th

Movie & Popcorn

10:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Adams Public Library (260) 724-2605

SMORGASBORD Lunch: Monday thru Friday 11a.m. - 1p.m.

310 E. Monroe Street Decatur, IN

Sunday 11a.m. - 1:30p.m.

www.pizzakingofdecatur.com HOURS:

Dinner:

Sunday thru Thursday 10:30a.m. - 9p.m.

Tuesday, Thursday, & Saturday 5p.m. - 9p.m.

Friday 10:30a.m. - 10p.m. Saturday 4p.m. - 10p.m.

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Library Hunger Games 4:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. Adams Public Library (260) 724-2605

29th

Weekly Bike Ride

Blazing Saddles Club 9:00 a.m. Adams Memorial Hospital info@decaturblazingsaddles.com

31st

Marshmallow Snowmen & Paper Snowflakes 12:30 p.m. - 2:00 p.m. Adams Public Library (260) 724-2605

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3


REGIONAL EVENTS

ADAMS CO.

22nd

19th

2

9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Limberlost Cabin, Geneva (260) 368-7428

5:30 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. City Gym (260) 824-6069

nd

Santa Visits

2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. Muselman Wellness Pavilion (260) 589-4496

4

th

Blood Pressure Checks 8:15 a.m. McDonald’s, Berne (260) 589-2327

Senior Bingo

8:30 a.m. McDonald’s, Berne (260) 589-2327

Blood Pressure Checks Noon - 2:00 p.m. Muselman Wellness Pavilion (260) 589-4496

Christmas Shopping Day

BLUFFTON 1st

Jingle Bell 5k Run 8:30 a.m. City Hall (260) 824-6069

Christmas Dinner & Concert 6:00 p.m. Gospel Barn (260) 827-0362

4th

Candy Cane Hunt

8th

Saturday Nite @ the Village 7:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. Swiss Village, Berne (260) 589-3173

9th - 31st

Give & Get Fit

11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. City Gym (260) 824-6069

11th

10:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. Creative Arts Center (260) 824-5222

Christmas Card Workshop

15th

13th

10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Limberlost Cabin, Geneva (260) 368-7428

Exhibit Reception 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. Creative Arts Center (260) 824-5222

18

th

6:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. Creative Arts Center (260) 824-5222

Awkward Family Photos

Senior Bingo

15th

Blood Pressure Checks

11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. Animal Shelter (260) 824-6063

8:30 a.m. McDonald’s (260) 589-2327

20th

Winter Wonderland 5:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. City Gym (260) 824-6069

JAY COUNTY 1st - 22nd

Homestead Holidays 2:00 p.m. and/or 7:30 p.m. Bearcreek Farms, Bryant (260) 997-6822

6th - 8th

A Christmas Carol 7:00 p.m. Arts Place, Portland (260) 726-4809

Christmas Card Workshop 8th

Food Drive Business Hours Muselman Wellness Pavilion (260) 589-4496

Christmas Open House

Paws & Claus

Holiday Open House

Polymer Christmas Ornaments Class 4:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. Arts Place, Portland (260) 726-4809

9th

A Christmas Carol 2:00 p.m. Arts Place, Portland (260) 726-4809

12th

MusicWorks Christmas Concert 7:00 p.m. Arts Place, Portland (260) 726-4809

Noon - 2:00 p.m. Muselman Wellness Pavilion (260) 589-4496

4

SPECIAL INSERT - DECATUR EVENTS CALENDAR


16th

Christmas in the

Mansion 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. Wells Co. Historical Museum (260) 543-2423

17th Little Elf Workshop 3 4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. Creative Arts Center (260) 824-5222

DROWNING IN

DEBT?

19th

Craft Club

3:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. City Hall (260) 824-6069

Little Elf Workshop 4 4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. Creative Arts Center (260) 824-5222

Paws & Claus

5:30 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. City Gym (260) 824-6069

20th

Mom’s Morning Out 10:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. Wells Co. YMCA (260) 565-9622

Winter Wonderland 5:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. City Gym (260) 824-6069

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27th

Mom’s Morning Out 10:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. Wells Co. YMCA (260) 565-9622

After Hours Party 6:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. Wells Co. Library (260) 824-1612

Sponsor a Calendar for Your Community: Call (260)438-1123 or email

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SPECIAL INSERT - BLUFFTON EVENTS CALENDAR

3

35


ADAMS CO.

22nd

27th

2

9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Limberlost Cabin, Geneva (260) 368-7428

10:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Adams Public Library (260) 724-2605

REGIONAL EVENTS

nd

Santa Visits

Trash Bag Snowmen

2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. Muselman Wellness Pavilion (260) 589-4496

DECATUR

28th

4

2

8:15 a.m. McDonald’s, Berne (260) 589-2327

10:00 a.m. Cornerstone Community Church (260) 724-7556

10:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Adams Public Library (260) 724-2605

th

nd

Blood Pressure Checks

Senior Bingo

8:30 a.m. McDonald’s, Berne (260) 589-2327

Blood Pressure Checks Noon - 2:00 p.m. Muselman Wellness Pavilion (260) 589-4496

8th

Village 7:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. Swiss Village, Berne (260) 589-3173

9 31 th -

Agape Christmas Puppets

3rd Visit with Santa

6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. Adams Public Library (260) 724-2605

8th

Meet Santa & Mrs. Claus

Saturday Nite @ the

st

Give & Get Fit

Food Drive Business Hours Muselman Wellness Pavilion (260) 589-4496

1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. Adams Memorial Hospital info@decaturblazingsaddles.com

9th

Carols, Candles &

Communion Service 6:00 p.m. Decatur Church of God (260) 724-2580

23rd

Children’s Christmas

15th

Christmas Open House 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Limberlost Cabin, Geneva (260) 368-7428

18th

Program 10:00 a.m. St. Luke Church (260) 565-3112

24th

Christmas Eve Service

Senior Bingo 8:30 a.m. McDonald’s (260) 589-2327

Blood Pressure Checks Noon - 2:00 p.m. Muselman Wellness Pavilion (260) 589-4496

4

Christmas Shopping Day

3:30 p.m. & 5:00 p.m. The Bridge Church North (260) 728-4070

Christmas Eve Service 6:00 p.m. St. Luke Church (260) 565-3112

Christmas Eve Service

10:00 p.m. Pleasant Dale Church of the Brethren (260) 565-3797

Movie & Popcorn

Library Hunger Games 4:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. Adams Public Library (260) 724-2605

31st

Marshmallow Snowmen & Paper Snowflakes 12:30 p.m. - 2:00 p.m. Adams Public Library (260) 724-2605

JAY COUNTY 1st - 22nd

Homestead Holidays 2:00 p.m. and/or 7:30 p.m. Bearcreek Farms, Bryant (260) 997-6822

6th - 8th

A Christmas Carol 7:00 p.m. Arts Place, Portland (260) 726-4809

8th

Polymer Christmas Ornaments Class 4:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. Arts Place, Portland (260) 726-4809

9th

A Christmas Carol 2:00 p.m. Arts Place, Portland (260) 726-4809

12th

MusicWorks Christmas Concert 7:00 p.m. Arts Place, Portland (260) 726-4809

SPECIAL INSERT - BLUFFTON EVENTS CALENDAR


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C RAFTS AND COOKIES

with the Clauses Amy M. Orr ■ ■ ■

I

f Santa isn’t able to fit a visit with your family in his busy schedule this Christmas season, take heart! The young–and, the young at heart– still have the opportunity to meet the first couple of Christmas! Santa and Mrs. Claus will be making a joint apparance at Adams Memorial Hospital on Saturday, December 8th from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. The Clauses will provided refreshments, as

wells as craft and coloring activities. There is no photographer on-site, but be sure to bring a camera, because Santa and Mrs. Claus will provide photo opportunities. Best of all, the meet ‘n greet with Mr. and Mrs. Claus is a free event. Adams Memorial Hospital has donated the space. Half of all donations made that day will be passed on to the hosptial, in appreciation for their sponsorship.

39


NOEL

VeraJoley Salon & Spa

1590 Morningstar Blvd. Decatur, IN 46733 (260) 724-6900

The Kunes met online in the spring of 1999. Kris was born in Fort Wayne and grew up in Decatur, while Phil was raised in New York. They were married in Decatur three years after they first met.

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According to Kris, becoming Santa and Mrs. Claus was a way of coping with the circumstances dealt to this couple. “Phil and I were never blessed with children of our own,” she explains. “Christmas was quite boring at our house. We both had become very disappointed in the holiday season.” It seemed the Kunes were missing out on the special joy that comes from sharing Christmas with a child.

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Kris continues, “I wanted to do something to bring the magic of Christmas back into our lives. I wanted to make the season more enjoyable for us.” She considered the possibility of posing as the Clauses for sometime before approaching Phil with the idea. Even after sharing her vision, Kris says she needed to make sure he was fully on-board with the idea before they incurred the expense of having costumes made. “He was a little resistent, at first,” Kris recalls. “But, after a bit of convincing, he decided to do it because he knew how much it meant to me. “The first time he put the outfit on, he transformed into the best Santa I could have asked for. He truly is the best Santa I could imagine.

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“I think I make a pretty good Mrs. Claus, too.” With costumes in place, Phil and Kris were ready for their first performance. Kris says there really was no need for further preparations. “It’s weird, but once the outfit is on, it just comes naturally.”

40


Cookie & Craft Open House with

Santa & Mrs. Claus When: December 8th 2012 1-5 p.m. Where: Adams Memorial Hospital Decatur Room 1 & 2 1100 Mercer Avenue Decatur, IN 46733

Open to the Public FREE Please bring your own Camera! Half of all donations will be given to the Adams Memorial Hospital Children’s Department.


Phil says the most enjoyable part about playing Santa Claus is “the unconditional love you get from children.” He adds, “Seeing their faces light up when they see me–I get to see Christmas through the eyes of a child.” And, Christmas through the eyes of a child can be humorous, too. Last year, Phil asked a little girl what she wanted for Christmas. Kris smiles, “She told him, ‘A new quarterback for the Colts.’

Recalling their first season as Mr. and Mrs. Claus, Kris says one particular experience really stands out in her memory. “We were leaving a friend’s house after a visit, and as we were pulling away, a complete stranger came running out of his house. “He stood in the middle of the road and flagged us down. He asked if we could come back to see his grandchildren later that evening. “This man did not know anything about us, and that just shows that there is something special about Santa Claus–something everyone loves. To flag down complete strangers and invite us into their home is absolutely amazing.”

42

“I had a child tell me once, ‘Mrs. Claus must be old because she was old when my Daddy was my age!’” While the Kunes have made private appearances to families in their homes over the past three years, Kris says, “I wanted to do something that made it a bit easier to see everyone during the holiday season. The first year, we spent a lot of time in and out of the car, traveling to see friends and family. “We figured it would be better to bring them to us. And, we could give kids in the community a chance to see Santa–the ones that might not get to, otherwise.


“The cost to see Santa at the mall is so expensive. Some families can’t afford it. That’s why we wanted to offer a free event.” The Clauses have also agreed to donate appearances to three different auctions to benefit non-profit organizations in the area. “We’ll be stopping by to bring the magic of Christmas to families that have donated money to help out others, and that is what the spirit and magic of Christmas is all about. “It is priceless to see Christmas as a child–so pure and carefree.” Phil Kunes works for the Allen County Sheriff’s Department. Kris is employed by the Allen County Child Support Division. To contact the Kunes–or, Mr. and Mrs. Claus, that is–send an email to them at krisbix721@ yahoo.com. WVL

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C HRISTMAS IN THE

Mansion Ashley Olson ■ ■ ■

T

ucked away on Market Street in Bluffton, the Wells County Historical Museum is home to over 20,000 pieces of Wells County history. Countless visitors have experienced the pleasure of walking through the mansion to get a peek at how life in earlier days might have been. Like many homes built in the late 1800s, the mansion that houses the museum is full of intricate woodwork, a beautiful staircase, large

rooms, and original, etched glass doors that draw your eye all the way up to the ceiling. Taking the antique and finely-crafted setting into mind, this house is perfect for the Wells County Historical Society’s Christmas in the Mansion event.

Worth the Effort Christmas in the Mansion has been held at the Wells County Historical Museum in Bluffton

47


and allows local businesses and individuals the opportunity to decorate a Christmas tree to their liking. Connie Brubaker, the museum’s vice president, is hosting the event at the mansion again this year. “I’ve worked here for about 15 or so years. Christmas in the Mansion is a lot of work, but it’s worth the effort,” she said. Becky Behning has also been hard at work since early November preparing for the Mansion event. But, with six years under her belt, Behning knows that there’s plenty more to be done in the last few weeks before December. She recalls, “We had a lot of work ahead of us, as there are a few new businesses joining us this year.” Behning and Brubaker’s labors are now paying off, as Christmas in the Mansion begins on December 1st and ends on December 23rd. During this period, people can bask in the Christmas setting on Saturdays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sundays from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Christmas in the Mansion showcases trees, in a variety of sizes, that have been decorated by individuals or businesses. The trees are labeled with the business or individual’s name.

48

Behning says, “It’s basically free advertising for all of the local businesses who want to set up a tree and decorate it.” The event is being held during the same period in which the Psi Iota Xi Sorority holds their annual Christmas Walk. Although the Psi Iota Xi Christmas Walk has fewer stops this year, Christmas in the Mansion is always one of its highlights. Each year, the Psi Iota Xi Sorority uses the Christmas Walk and Christmas in the Mansion events to sell flower cards for $25. When you purchase a flower card, you will receive a bouquet of flowers each month. The flower cards are a way for the Psi Iota Xi to raise money. Behning assures, “They’re beautiful bouquets, and for only $25, it’s a great gift for mothers and grandmothers.”

Lights, Trees and More This year’s Christmas in the Mansion event is free of charge each weekend, which is great for families looking to see Christmas lights, socialize, and check out a little Wells County history. “Everyone is welcome to visit the mansion during these events, as we accept groups, single parent families, whole families, and couples,” Behning states.


In 2011, there were 31 trees set up inside of the mansion, and this year’s preparations were already underway in November. The trees quickly started to spring to life, thanks in large part to the female museum board members.

The atmosphere will be enhanced, thanks to appearances from Santa and the Wells County Chorus. You can also see trees of all sizes decorated by the following businesses and individuals:

Brubaker explains, “The women enjoy putting the trees up and decorating for the event. The men don’t really get into decorating, so they are there to take the trees down once the event is over.”

Portraits by Holly - Holly Claubaugh & Amanda Alford

Connie recalls one particular Christmas in the Mansion event, “One of my favorite years was when we had Chocolate Day in the mansion. We served any chocolate you could think of and it was all you could eat. It was a blast.” The most exciting thing for Becky during Christmas in the Mansion event is watching how it unfolds. “I like old houses and enjoy making them pretty for the public to see and enjoy. “There are lots of nice people who come out. Last year, we had over 300 visitors.” She continues, “[This year,] I hope visitors of Christmas in the Mansion leave here feeling wowed. “I hope they enjoy and explore the mansion. The atmosphere in the mansion during this event is also something we hope people enjoy.”

Tammie Imel Psi Iota Xi Sorority Tina Barclay Barb Dickson Oooh LaLa - Karen Price Genealogy Society Wabash Electric - Sandy Mann Pat Wall Simply Chic Posy Pot - Donna Anderson Party Gallery - Brenda Schrier Tender Gardens - Teresa Beck Walmart - Jenni Milholland Girl Scout Troup - Cassandra Cummins Walgreens - Carol Sturgeon Kroger Foods - Robin Lane Raymond James - Kim Gentis & Karen Prible

49


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Season’s End Much like Christmas Day is a sign that the holiday season is ending, Christmas in the Mansion marks an end to the museum’s season. Brubaker says, “All of the museum’s normal attractions are still available to view during the Christmas in the Mansion. “It’s the last chance to see the displays before we close for the season.” Due to unpredictable winter weather, the museum will be closed from December 24th until April, when the annual spring meeting takes place. So this makes December 23rd the last day to visit both the Christmas in the Mansion event and the museum for four months. The annual meeting in April is open to the public, and at this meeting, the society discusses the upcoming events for the year. They also offer the option of purchasing a dinner before the meeting; prices vary, depending on who caters the dinner. During a past meeting, the society discussed the 100th year of the Titanic Sinking, and at others, the society has welcomed guest speakers, such as an Abraham Lincoln actor.

Beyond Christmas While Christmas in the Mansion is a great event, it’s not the only thing that the Wells County Historical Museum offers. There are plenty of other fine traditions available through the museum, including an annual ice cream social. The social is free to the public, and all visitors enjoy the sweet treat. Connie teaches history classes to area senior citizens, as another service provided by the historical society. These classes are both helpful and interesting to seniors who want to

51

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learn more about the surrounding communities’ past. The museum also participates in the Bluffton Street Fair each year. The society sets up a booth for the fair, showcasing different and exciting exhibits. Connie and the others at the museum recently published a book covering the Bluffton Street Fair’s history, which would certainly make for interesting reading for anybody who loves attending the fair. The museum also offers an opportunity to revisit and learn history about different organizations or businesses in the area, such as the Girl Scouts or the Bluffton News Banner. Perhaps this is why there’s an annual fourth grade class trip held at the museum every year. One more interesting fact about this mansion is that some couples enjoy having their wedding pictures taken here.

Rich History Going back to the museum’s location, this Victorian mansion was chosen in order to

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preserve both the history of Wells County, and the integrity of the house itself. The mansion was built by Alvin Stewart in the year 1882, and ten years later, Stewart sold the mansion to John Studabaker, giving it the nickname “StewartStudabaker House.” The mansion remained Studabaker’s home until his death in 1912. Through the next few years, the home had various owners, but would remain in the Studabaker family until 1928, when John Studabaker’s nieces, Nora Studabaker and Sarah Devore, sold the home to Ralph and Lela Jahn. The mansion soon after became a funeral business called the Jahn/Goodwin Funeral Home. During this time, the back portion of the first floor was made into an apartment to house an employee of the funeral home. Finally, in 1974, the Wells County Historical Society purchased the mansion and has since been working to turn the house into what it is today. The Stewart-Studabaker House has become an excellent location for Christmas in the Mansion, which offers free holiday entertainment with a flare of history. The mansion is also an integral part of Wells County history and offers visitors a wonderful setting for looking into the past. WVL

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SAM’S ENGINE CLINIC

1601 W. STATE ROAD 124, MONROE (260) 692-6814 Mon. thru Fri. 7:30am to 5pm Sat. 7:30-12:00pm Sam’s Engine Clinic was established in July 1975 as a lawn and garden equipment repair service. We are now a dealership for Briggs & Stratton, Tecumseh, Oregon, Kohler, Echo, Honda, M.T.D., Murray, and Home Standby Generators. Sam’s started selling Honda products in 1978. Customers then had never heard of a Honda lawnmower. We went on to become a Master Service Technician–the only one in Adams County! We service all brands of outdoor power equipment. Our success comes through the blessing of God, then our customers. We want to thank you for your patronage. Wishing you all God’s blessings!

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A

GIFT THAT’S GOOD

All Year Mark Okoniewski ■ ■ ■

T

he Niswonger Performing Arts Center (NPAC) is a testament to the successes, gratefulness, and commitment of Van Wert High School graduate Scott Niswonger. After completing college, Scott enjoyed a great deal of success in the transportation industry and found himself blessed, financially. When contacted about providing a state-of-the-art facility, he readily agreed to assist with the vision and the project.

Cheri Oechsle is the marketing director for NPAC. “I graduated college with a degree in Ag Science, and also attended a school in New York City where I studied piano and voice with a performance emphasis. “I feel that my understanding of this rural community and area in which I live provides me with valuable insights, while my involvement in performing arts allows me to interact with the

55


groups and individuals that make up our schedule of events.” After initial funds were committed by Scott Niswonger, additional fundraising efforts within the community were very successful, and plans for the building were developed. “While reviewing and approving the initial architectural ideas, Mr. Niswonger determined he would prefer to not have the environment dominated by concrete and drywall,” says Cheri. “He made the decision to contribute another large sum of financial support in order to upgrade the materials that would be used to ultimately finish the space and enhance the environment of the facility.” A specific type of tree found in West Africa (Anigre) was sourced, and the 2,650 wooden

56

panels found on the walls throughout the Center were harvested from that single tree! The tree was 10 feet in diameter and 300 feet tall. In addition, 105,000 pounds of granite were used, with the interior pieces coming from India, and the exterior granite source, from Italy. Several pieces of artwork were also commissioned by the various committees, and these decorate both the main and upper lobbies of the facility. The theatre was designed with the capability of hosting full Broadway productions. The stage area is 3,722 square feet with a fly loft of 59 feet. There is seating for 1,200, with the balcony designed as a “floating” balcony to enhance the sound within the room. The room measures just under 8,300 square feet.


“We routinely host four-truck Broadway musicals,” reports Cheri. That translates into equipment being packed into four 53 foot-long semi trailers. The theatre rigging system has 28 total line sets. The NPAC is uniquely situated within the very campus of Van Wert High School and Van Wert Middle School. This allows the facility to be used every day of the school year. “Whether it be assemblies, concerts, meetings or lectures, there are students utilizing this beautiful building on a daily basis. We are primarily dark during the summer months, but do host a few meetings and special events. “We first acquire the schedule from the schools before beginning to prepare our schedule of events for which we will market. At this point, we have no ticket prices that are over $60, but we have discussed moving towards pursuing entertainers which would attract a much younger following but require a much higher ticket pricing structure.” Regarding the amount of help required for setting up a Broadway musical or preparing for a major concert, Cheri advises, “It somewhat depends on what time of year. We have used the high school baseball team or football team to help unload the trucks. We ask members of the music department or theatrical department to assist us in setting up for performances. “If need be, we have contracted with theatre groups from Ball State, IPFW or Ohio State to lend their expertise. And, of course, our own incredible army of volunteers can be mobilized at a moment’s notice.”

duties required for the managing and scheduling with this type of facility. “I truly do not know what we would do if it were not for the incredible volunteers with whom we are blessed!” These volunteers share not only a love of the arts, but, just as importantly, they are driven by a need to give back to the community. Rita Hurless, who volunteers weekly in the box office, or wherever needed, says she is motivated to ensure that the project itself continues to succeed. She was very involved in the initial fundraising efforts. Sharon Blank explains that volunteering for NPAC provides her a chance to “meet new people.” One program that has been very popular and valuable for the Center, as well as the students, is the use of interns to assist with the day-to-day duties of the Center’s marketing efforts. “We currently are using three young ladies from the Van Wert area,” Cheri says. Interns Jacey Eikenbary and Katie Anderson attend Van Wert High School, and intern Whitney Miller is from Lincolnview High School. All three are seniors, and “their energy level is much appreciated,” Cheri adds. “We also offer college internship opportunities and encourage anyone interested in theatre, marketing, PR, or journalism to visit our website for applications and additional information.” As word has spread about the NPAC’s amazing facilities, rental of the meeting rooms and lobbies has become popular. The First Federal Lecture Hall comfortably seats 175, and is ideal for small to medium-sized meetings.

There are very few paid employees involved in the seemingly overwhelming list of tasks and

57


For larger groups, the Van Wert County Foundation Saltzgaber Music Hall provides seating for up to 1200. And, the Van Wert Federal Grand Lobby, or the beautiful Upper Lobby, is perfect for banquets or receptions. “Our reasonable rental rates can be found on our website – www. npacvw.org.” Currently, the lobbies and front of the facility are decorated in beautiful Christmas tradition. All things Christmas, from garland to huge Christmas trees, greet visitors as they enter. “Christmas time itself just brings an energy level to the building and the people within it! “We use this time of year to not only thank our volunteers and contributors with opportunities to meet the celebrities, but to offer members of our community the chance to gather and celebrate the season itself.” On December 22nd, the stage at NPAC will host the Broadway hit “Shrek – the Musical.” Shows will be held at 2:00 and 7:30 p.m., with tickets ranging in price from $22 to $57. “We look forward to seeing children from all ages enjoy this delightful production. “The young children will be mesmerized by the characters and costumes, while the older ones will be entertained by the sharp-witted comedy. It should be a fantastic time, and we are thrilled to be able to offer this musical during the holiday season!” Concerts with a Christmas theme started in November and will continue through December. On Nov 23rd, the Oak Ridge Boys performed Christmas favorites, and The Osmond Brothers’ Christmas show is scheduled for Dec 13. Both groups are repeat performers for the NPAC and have developed a local and regional following. On December 10th, the Van Wert Christmas Choir Concert will give its holiday performance. The holiday season is not only one of the busiest for the NPAC, but also one of the more rewarding. Cheri explains, “We schedule shows and concerts that bring in a wide variety of demographics.

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“Shrek will be very and young people of Oak Ridge Boys and concerts will draw population.

appealing to the children our communities, and the Osmond Brothers holiday from our more mature

Information on the various memberships and the benefits to the donors, as well as ticket packages available, can be found at their website, www. npacvw.org. Or, contact the NPAC by phone at (419) 238-NPAC (6722).

“And, of course, the high school and community band and choir concerts draw family members of all ages.” Cheri happily reports that this past season, ticket-buying patrons have come from 25 states, as well as Canada.

Endowments have been, and continue to be, very important in guaranteeing the future of the NPAC. Single gifts, multi-year pledges or planned bequests are welcome and encouraged by the Van Wert Area Performing Arts Foundation.

“And, our expanding marketing efforts seem to be effective, since only 34% of over 3,500 ticket buyers reported a Van Wert County zip code!”

Contributors are reminded that the principal of each gift remains untouched, while the interest income is used to support projects and specific needs of the Performing Arts Center. Once again, more information is easily accessed on the NPAC website.

“NPAC memberships are a very important revenue stream for our marketing department, and we are pleased to be able to provide a number of benefits to individuals and companies who choose to contribute to our facility in this manner.” Membership options are very reasonably priced, with a wide variety of benefits. Some of these include preferred seating, advance ticket purchasing opportunities, and the chance to meet visiting artists. “We also offer a variety of ticket packages for the various programs and concerts during our season, which runs from September through May.”

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December 2012 Edition