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Archives for December 31, 2014

Drought’s impact, Cambria’s response topped 2014 news

Local News

Cal Poly Rose Parade Floats: 1949-2014

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What will the Albion of tomorrow look like?

ALBION — Tucked away at the back of a desk drawer in the Albion New Era office was a yellowed newspaper, folded and rather fragile. Upon inspection, it proved to be an interesting find. It was pages eight and nine of The Kendallville News-Sun, dated Aug. 25, 1978 — more than 36 years ago. Exactly who put those pages in the desk drawer isn’t known, but from its content, it is understandable why. They outlined someone’s concept of how downtown Albion buildings might look in the future — creating a vibrant business community.

Those yellowed pages were filled with drawings of an artist’s conception of what downtown Albion might look like in both the ‘near’ future and ‘blue sky’ future 30 years hence. Text accompanying these drawings had these two headlines: “Face-lift proposed for Albion,” and “Birds’ eye view shows dynamic Albion of tomorrow.” No writer was credited, and there was no information regarding the source of the information — making me delve into other sources from the same time period.

In an account of an Albion Chamber of Commerce dinner in the May 10, 1978, edition of the Albion New Era, it said that the program was presented by Malinda Henning, employee of the Region IIIA Coordinating Council. Henning had been working with the Pride and Progress group in Angola on plans to restore, rebuild, beautify and in other ways make Angola a place attractive to its residents and visitors. The article went on to state that “interested persons of the area are hoping a similar project can be undertaken for Albion. All of this is part of the dream that many of us have for the preservation of what we have here, what we can do to attract visitors and what we can do with them with they arrive. the limited parking facilities of the courthouse area are always a topic of concern. Some business places have taken it upon themselves to provide parking for their employees and customers. When employees car park away from the obviously convenient spots, it at once frees those spaces for visitors.”

On Aug. 2, 1978, according to the Albion New Era, the Albion Town Board was shown drawings for Albion’s future outlook.

Henning was there, armed with drawings of downtown Albion. She explained that these drawings show Albion as it was at that time, and how it could be in the “near future” and the “blue sky future.” The drawings gave ideas to make Albion an attractive and flourishing retail center. She encouraged the merchants and townspeople to “fix up, clean up and paint up” existing buildings. Tree planting was suggested, with an emphasis placed on fixing up the rear entrances to businesses so they would be as palatable to the eye as the fronts. Angle parking on some of the side streets was proposed as a way to make easier access to the downtown area. An idea out in the future was for restaurants and coffee houses on rooftops. Along with this, more crosswalks such as the one at Excel Furniture would make a mall effect between the various retail stores. She also had ideas for relocating the library, leaving the one on North York Street to be occupied by county offices.

Henning made a return visit to the Albion Chamber of Commerce meeting on Sept. 14 to follow up on the work that she had been doing.

It was reported on the Sept. 27,1978, edition of the Albion New Era that, following a Chamber of Commerce meeting, the downtown-uptown redevelopment program was “seemingly underway, and president Ed Sprague, promised to name committees to follow through on the program and help owners of buildings get started.” The article went on to note that, “It was obvious that this will be a chain-reaction operation.” Albion National Bank was offering lower-cost interest rates for town improvement — with each proposal considered based upon merits of plans, ideas and possibilities.

The two articles in The News-Sun provided more detailed information regarding Henning’s recommendations, which were apparently determined by some type of survey or other means of securing comments from the general public. In addition to those already mentioned, Henning suggested that county government should consolidate its operations and vacate storefronts it was renting, making them available for retail businesses. She suggested that if the church (Catholic) should decide to move rather than expand at its present location, the building could be used as a community center. Crosswalks could extend across York Street along the square to limit this space to pedestrians and parking. Giving the area a mall-type atmosphere would tie together the historical architecture of the old jail and courthouse. The alley between the church and the old jail could be created and landscaped to complete this link and to maintain the concept of government offices being surrounded by a village green.

Henning apparently suggested that residential buildings interspersed in the business area should be maintained for their architectural and historical interest. The interiors could be converted into professional offices. For instance, the home on the northeast corner of Orange and Jefferson streets could be linked with the concrete block building beside it (former Dr. Nash home and clinic). Parking could be developed on the north side. This complex should be remodeled as a medical clinic. A much-needed facility would be provided at a lower expense than a new building, with easy access to the elderly, close to local drug stores and wouldn’t change the atmosphere of downtown. Other residences could be used for professions that are currently located in good retail sites.

Hotel accommodations were also proposed in Henning’s report — as was a fine-dining restaurant. At the time of this report, storefronts in downtown Albion were either empty or being used for storage, and second floors were also vacant which could be apartments. Henning suggested that unique alley shops would be established in the sides and backs of buildings that were empty — which should bring people in to shop. She also stressed the importance of keeping residential properties in the downtown area because people living in them would contribute to the success of downtown businesses.

In general, Henning recommended that property owners restore existing buildings rather than replace them with new structures – and preserving the Victorian-era look. The elimination of unsightly trash and equipment in the rear of businesses was also encouraged.

Those familiar with Albion are aware that some of the recommendations made almost 36 years ago were implemented. Some problems that the 1978 proposal identified still exist — and likely for the same reasons.

Courthouse Square has been beautified. However, landscaping must be maintained on a regular basis. Currently, plans call for adding an irrigation system to keep the lawn in better condition. Thanks to the work of the Albion S.T.A.R. Team members, Albion’s Courthouse Square and adjacent areas have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Over time, many downtown business owners have invested their own funds to maintain and upgrade their buildings. Some have not.

In recent years, the Albion Redevelopment Commission has made grants available for facade improvements in the downtown business community. Many business owners have taken advantage of these grants — and the results are satisfying. Many of those projects also received grants from Albion’s S.T.A.R. Team. With help from Indiana Landmarks, the S.T.A.R. Team has recently acquired the Albion Opera House — hopefully saving it from demolition, either by selling it to a party interested in restoring it, or perhaps taking on the restoration project itself with assistance from the community.

As part of its work, the Albion S.T.A.R. Team has completed an inventory of the downtown business community — complete with photographs of both the front and back of each structure. This inventory could be a starting point for a renewed push for downtown revitalization. However, few can’t do the work alone. It will take many working together to fully revitalize Albion.

These are all starting points for action. Who will step forward to lead the charge?

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Board must take action to collect assessments

Q. I live in a 200-lot single family association subject to the Condominium Act. Many unit owners have not been paying their assessments because they are unhappy with the board. The board has been afraid to pursue collections out of fear of bad reactions and the fact that the assessment amounts per lot are not large. What should be done to collect delinquent assessments?

A. The board of directors of an association has a fiduciary obligation to comply with its governing documents and applicable statutes. The board does not have the discretion to simply disregard the enforcement of unit owners’ obligation to pay assessments. The board has an obligation to collect assessments and pursue applicable remedies if unit owners refuse to pay.

The first step for delinquent assessments is to send the delinquent unit owner a demand for payment under applicable law. If the unit owner continues to refuse to pay, the association may record a lien against the property and/or file a forcible entry and detainer lawsuit (eviction lawsuit).

Q. My wife and I recently bought a town house in a 20-year-old community association. At the time of purchase, there were not any rules and regulations relating to landscaping, but merely a landscape committee that made recommendations to the board regarding landscaping. Due to a controversy over some owners planting to their own taste, the board adopted landscape rules and regulations that are quite restrictive, but without seeking owner input on such rules. We are searching for ideas on how to work together to balance the issues because we want some authority to personalize our plantings.

A. Uniform appearance of town houses in a community association, especially regarding landscaping, is a vital aspect of maintaining values and consistency. What one person may consider a beautiful garden another person may consider overgrown weeds.

Most commonly, landscaping rules are in effect from the creation of the association. Nonetheless, a board of directors has the authority to adopt landscaping rules and regulations at any time by following proper protocols.

To achieve a balance of harmony and uniformity, while the board had the legal authority to adopt landscaping rules, the board should consider the creation of a landscaping rule committee to recommend appropriate landscaping rules for board adoption. With the onset of winter, the board has a few months to reconsider its landscaping rules before the spring planting season.

Q. I live in a small condominium association that restricts leasing to no more than six units. The association has recently reached six leased units. A seventh unit owner desires to lease his unit and has asked to be placed on a wait list, but the board is reluctant to create a wait list. What are your thoughts on the board creating a wait list for this situation?

A. When an association has leasing restrictions that impose a limit on the number of units that may be leased, or the percentage of units that may be leased, it is not only appropriate, but expected, for the board to create a wait list to prioritize the order of unit owners that are waiting to lease their unit upon the expiration of a lease that is in effect.

A wait list is an equitable process for the board to administer leasing cap restrictions and allows unit owners to know their priority to lease compared with that of other unit owners wanting to lease their units.

Copyright © 2014, Chicago Tribune

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Top 10 of 2014 #1: Sgt. Cory Wride’s death shocks community

Editor’s Note: This is the seventh part in our 10-part series counting down the top news stories of 2014.

PROVO — The Bus Rapid Transit proposal is in the hands of the federal government and beholden to President Obama’s budget for 2016. 

The past year of getting to that point saw more stops and starts and stalls than a BRT bus.

It all began in January, when three new members of the Provo Municipal Council were installed and the questioning of the BRT project began. After more than 13 years of planning, studies and compromises, BRT was close to becoming a reality. However, as the rubber was getting ready to hit the road, some stakeholders appeared willing to let the air out of the project’s tires.

Kim Santiago, David Sewell and Stephen Hales, the freshmen on the council, raised issues with the BRT plan, saying they were concerned, along with a number of residents in the Oak Hills and Wasatch neighborhoods, that Option 4 did not meet the needs of the areas.

The BRT project team, including the Utah Department of Transportation, Utah Transit Authority, Mountainland Association of Governments, Utah County and Provo’s Transportation and Mobility Advisory Committee, chose that route, which would begin at the station on University Avenue at about 500 North, and would eventually reach Utah Valley University and the Orem intermodal hub along University Parkway.

Early on, Provo Municipal Council members were given three presentations that included stakeholders asking to consider concerns centered around 900 East. Changes on the Brigham Young University campus with the closure of Campus Drive put a wrench in the opportunity to have a major BRT hub at the Wilkinson Center. That made 900 East the next best choice for the project for some, including the Federal Transportation Agency.

Provo Mayor John Curtis spent hours in negotiations and working with several mayors throughout the county to get their vocal and financial support for the project. Concerns that neighborhood leaders might thwart more than 13 years of work had him and his administration in crisis mode.

Once the BRT route is approved and on Obama’s budget, it is expected the design portion of the route will begin. Preliminary proposals have already raised concern about lost trees on University Avenue, competition with the new Rhydes buses sponsored by BYU for its students to get to and from school, and other details.

“I think that the main objective as we continue in the design portion of the BRT project is to look long term on how it can and will affect the way we utilize public transportation,” Curtis said. “It’s imperative that we nail down how it will enhance the quality of life of Provo residents.

“This includes how it interacts with automobile traffic, bikes, pedestrians, commerce and landscape.”

The recent contract BYU signed with Rhydes may play a factor in BRT ridership; that is left to be seen. Curtis is confident it will not.

“I’m excited at how proactive BYU has been as it relates to how its students navigate both on and off campus,” Curtis said. “The university is making bold decisions that we hope will increase mobility and help that portion of our population move more freely around the city.”

When council members gave push back after hearing from local stakeholders, it looked like the BRT proposal might die, and new information and proposals would have to get back to the FTA at a later time, thus closing a window of opportunity.

What stakeholders and others continually failed to mention was the fact that Orem was a partner in the project. Provo’s neighbor voted on the route and project two years earlier.

“It’s a joint project. One decision affects the other,” said Paul Goodrich, Orem’s transportation engineer, after a February stall. “Mayor Curtis knows what he is talking about on how funding is critical. It would be a setback in trying to improve transit between the two cities.

“We were able to show the FTA we had a good project. Will the stars [ever] align again, who knows. BRT is really important to both cities. In my opinion it’s as good, if not better, than light rail.”

While residents, leaders and stakeholders throughout the county awaited the Provo Municipal Council decision on Bus Rapid Transit, county mayors had already spoken. They wanted Option 4 or they wanted their money back.

Many mayors had given precious road money from their cities to the BRT project because they believed it would be the best thing for the county. But infighting had them and others all the way to the FTA in Washington wondering if the project was going to happen.

The Mountainland Association of Governments (MAG) is designated by the governor as the metropolitan planning organization for the Provo/Orem urbanized area. Their interest in BRT was $75 million strong, but only if Option 4 was the preferred route.

When it came to voting, the Provo Municipal Council was wavering and recalled a vote, then sought a second opinion on the route that was slated to cost $70,000 from the city’s rainy day fund. The research was expected to be completed in four weeks.

In the end, it cost residents $95,000, took six weeks, and the group acknowledged Option 4 was the best choice after all.

In the meantime, Orem CIty Council members revisited BRT in an August work session. They learned just what was going to happen to make the UTA buses rapid and how much construction that means to along University Parkway.

Councilman Hans Andersen vocalized his concern about losing trees and green spaces along the parkway. 

“We’re trying to keep as many trees as possible,” said Chad Eccles, with Mountainland Association of Governments (MAG). “And we are required to replace them.”

Orem project representatives are meeting one-on-one with business owners along the parkway to the intermodal hub off Geneva Road, where the BRT will stop and make the return trip to the Provo intermodal hub.

Part of the project will include expanding the UTA Timpanogos Maintenance Facility off Geneva Road and University Parkway.

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That’s what they said in 2014: The year in quotes

In two more days, 2014 will be behind us. Here’s a look at the last 12 months, through the words of newsmakers from in and around the Northland.


“Lee Hull represents integrity. He obviously is very intelligent. … He has a marvelous reputation. I’ve never heard anything but praise for Judge Hull and how he handles himself and the courtroom.”

Platte County Commissioner Beverlee Roper, speaking when the county courthouse was named for Owens Lee Hull, a retired circuit court judge.

“What we do is try to give the award to someone who is really fighting for social justice and equal rights. … Susan McCann is working, leading marches and demonstrations all over the city against payday loans and to increase the minimum wage.”

Cecelia Robinson, describing the Invictus Award for Social Justice, given this year to McCann, pastor of Grace

Episcopal Church in Liberty.

“The question is very simple. Should we expand or not? Do you want to buy this?”

Kansas City Councilman Russ Johnson, talking about the proposed expansion of the city’s streetcar system. Later in 2014, residents south of the Missouri River rejected a new taxing district for the


“There’s a need for it right now, but with further development there will be a greater need.”

Sheila Tracy, president of the Northland Regional Chamber of Commerce, talking about

$2 million in improvements

to Englewood Road.


“I want to sincerely apologize for what happened during the football game between our two schools. … I apologize that your season came to an abrupt end. I do hope that you are doing better and your concussion has finally subsided and any other trauma you might have endured … has also gone away.”

Platte County High School football player Colin Byrd, 18, speaking to Winnetonka High School player Jake Rosebaugh after Byrd pleaded guilty in court to misdemeanor assault. The previous October, prosecutors alleged, Byrd twisted off Rosebaugh’s helmet and struck Rosebaugh in

the head with it.

“Bullying is bullying no matter what the age, and it doesn’t go away when people get out of high school.”

Deb Babbitt, a Kansas City, North, social worker who has given more than a dozen

presentations on bullying against older adults.

“I think we saved taxpayers money, and anytime you can do that, that is good.”

Gene Owen, Clay County’s western commissioner,

commenting on approval of the county budget.

“It is unfortunate for the taxpayers … that their county commissioners are cutting the office that is charged with alerting the citizens of government waste, inefficiency and impropriety.”

Clay County Auditor Sheila Ernzen, whose budget was cut severely by commissioners, They were also criticized for

cutting the parks budget.

“We have never had a conversation with them as to why they wanted to go into a different direction. It is unfortunate.”

Tony Reinhart, board

chairman of the Clay County Economic Development Council, saying the council was caught off guard when the County Commission ended a

relationship with the council that dated to 1967.


“For me, it’s made in heaven.”

Northland resident Steve Elliott, commenting on the new Flintlock Flyover overpass at Missouri 152 and Interstate 35.

“We think the court will determine that the decision of the commission was proper.”

Mike Keleher, an attorney representing Platte County, after opponents sued over the County Commission’s approval of plans for Chapel Ridge, a 351-lot residential development on 143 acres near Missouri 45 and Route K. The litigation is continuing.

“Whatever it takes, we’re going to do it. We’re not going to tolerate this.”

Clay County Presiding

Commissioner Pamela Mason, after a second violent incident at the Kansas City Zoo

involving crowds of rowdy youths on one of the zoo’s free days. Mason was speaking as chairwoman of the Kansas City Zoological Tax District


“I’ve done just about everything else for the county. I figured I might as well be county counselor for a change.”

Former county prosecutor and associated circuit judge Don Norris, upon his

appointment as Clay

County counselor.


“My daughter really gets a kick out of it, because she gets kind of queen-of-the-day status.”

Bob Howard, a volunteer for the Watch DOGS — Dads of Great Students — organization at Chinn Elementary School in Kansas City.

“It was an appalling waste of the taxpayers’ money.”

Luann Ridgeway, Clay

County’s eastern commissioner, after the county dropped a lawsuit to recoup money spent on removing a wall built in 2006 between workers for the county clerk and auditor.

“There have been times when Democrats were definitely in the lead, and right now Republicans are, but we feel very sure that we will be back.”

Pauli Kendrick, chairwoman of the Platte County

Democratic Central Committee, when her party fielded no candidates for county posts in the November election.


“We have to remember that all of our buildings are public buildings. It’s important for us to have space for people like the Boy Scouts, civic groups or others.”

Kansas City Police Maj. Roger Lewis, speaking of the Police Department’s desire to replace the decades-old North Patrol Division headquarters.

“We built what the people wanted, and I firmly believe the Platte County population wants to be fit and healthy.”

Platte County Parks and Recreation director Brian Nowonty, talking about an $8.4 million upgrade to the Platte County Community Center South in Parkville.

“We still face an uphill climb to convince the public that we need a new terminal.”

Kansas City Councilman Ed Ford, after a citizens task force recommended a new single terminal to replace the three-terminal arrangement at Kansas City International Airport.

“They didn’t listen to the public who showed up at the meetings.”

Dan Coffey, a member of a political action group called Citizens for Responsible Government. He opposes the single-terminal airport concept.


“I tell my story to all types of people to give them a better view. To look at me, you may not think I have schizophrenia. I’m a person first. It’s no different than having diabetes.”

Elizabeth Wilson of Kansas City, North, one of many people in the area who are working to remove the stigma of

mental illness.

“Our sunsets and sunrises are incredible, and the view of the river is picturesque. The new park is in a perfect location.”

Tom Hutsler, chairman of the Main Street Parkville Association, about Platte County’s first off-leash dog park in Parkville.


“There are probably thousands upon thousands of cases (nationally) every year that police and prosecutors never learn about.”

Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd, talking about “sextortion” crimes after charging a 22-year-old Kansas City man with threatening to post nude photos of a 16-year-old girl if she didn’t have sex with him.

“The district apologizes for any inconvenience that this may have caused those affected.”

Park Hill School District Superintendent Scott Springston, announcing that a data security breach may have compromised the personal information of more than 10,000 people.


“In other cities the mood changes the day it opens. … You build the first line, and the demand for it accelerates.”

Kansas City Councilman and Northland resident Dick Davis, speaking about streetcars after voters nixed a taxing district to build upon the city’s starter line. He formerly led the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority.

“There was a guy charged with fighting at the casino. He bit one of the police officers. And when he actually discovered (in court) that he was in Clay County, he started to cry.”

Kevin Baldwin, a defense attorney in Liberty, commenting on sentencing disparities between more lenient Jackson County and its northern


“Law enforcement should be thinking beyond the home front. We want to feel safe and secure.”

Parkville Police Chief Kevin Chrisman, speaking about a new Missouri law that, if Kansas agrees, would allow area law enforcement agencies to forge mutual aid agreements with their Kansas counterparts.

“We were in awe of them. They had the tightest horn section in town.”

Winnetonka High School graduate Charles Cottitta, talking about the 1970s-era band Blackwater Junction, which held a reunion concert at Paul Jack’s Tavern in North Kansas City.

“It’s gone from being an eyesore to a place where people walk their dogs and take their children to play. It’s completely changed the landscape, literally and figuratively.”

Anna Hazen, speaking about the new Chouteau Parkway, which replaced Chouteau Trafficway from Missouri 210 north to Interstate 35. The parkway includes a landscaped median, rain gardens, landscaping and

walking trails.


“The shore is bold and rocky immediately at the foot of the hill. From the top of the hill, you have a perfect command of the river.”

Platte County Parks and Recreation director Brian Nowotny, who portrayed explorer William Clark at one of the county’s 175th anniversary events. The words came from Clark’s journal.

“(He) had a big pile of manure in his hands, and he thought the jail committee was the way to deal with it.”

James Roberts, the onetime chairman of the Platte County jail committee, alleging that an unnamed county commissioner tried to use the committee to solve a funding problem with new police radios. The committee, formed to address potential crowding in the jail, recommended diverting money from the parks department to fund the radio system, but county leaders raised taxes instead.

“I wouldn’t call it a logical process.”

Platte County Commissioner Beverlee Roper, speaking of the jail committee’s work.


“If you’d told me at the end of junior year that I would have gotten this, I would have told you you were crazy.”

Liberty High School senior Mary Mwaura, who was crowned homecoming queen.

“I’m so disappointed in the leadership and how this matter was handled.”

Former Smithville City Councilman Todd Justice, commenting on the suspension of Smithville High School Principal Rudy Papenfuhs, who eventually resigned after being accused of crossing boundaries with students. His supporters said he was unduly punished for caring about students and trying to help them.

“I love to lower taxes as much as anybody. I also like to balance budgets.”

Luann Ridgeway, Clay County’s eastern commissioner, who voted against cutting the county’s general fund property-tax levy. She was outvoted.


“It’s always difficult to defeat an incumbent. But there’s also an old saying that friends come and go, and enemies accumulate. That’s doubly true for prosecutors, who naturally pick up foes by prosecuting members of their own community.”

Platte County prosecutor Eric Zahnd, talking about the defeat of longtime Cass County Prosecutor Teresa Hensley.

“Our motto is ‘A place where exceptional farmers live, work, play and grow.’”

Peaches Cunningham, one of the founders of the Farmer’s House Market, a nonprofit Weston area farm where young adults with disabilities

can work.

“It is mediocre at best.”

Clay County Sheriff’s Lt. Will Akin, saying coverage can be spotty with the new public safety radio system. County officials say they need to spend about $600,000 to

replace older equipment.


“There is nothing more disappointing than waking up Christmas morning and finding very little.”

Platte County Sheriff’s

Capt. Mark Holland, about the annual Shop With a

Deputy program.

“The world was different in 2006.”

Banker Bob Regnier, talking about land at Missouri 45 and Interstate 435 in Parkville that’s burdened by yearly bills for road and sewer improvements conceived in 2006. He said the costs are scaring off


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2014 Tri-County Woman of the Year — Ruen embodies the term humanitarian

OTTOVILLE – Ottovillian Millie Ruen has touched so many lives
directly or indirectly that she genuinely embodies the term
humanitarian. These days, if she isn’t busy donating time on historical
preservation projects or educating youth and adults in horticulture,
she’s busy working on her own environmental undertakings at home.

roots in the Ottoville community run deep — she grew up in a log cabin
in Jackson Township and graduated from Ottoville High School — and after
retiring and moving back to her hometown in the mid-1990s, she rolled
up her sleeves and got involved with the Putnam County Historical
Society. She worked alongside Rita Turnwald, who was the president of
the society at that time.

“I followed in Rita’s footsteps and after being a trustee for 16 years, I became president in 2011,” Ruen said.

was instrumental in the production of “Putnam County, Ohio History and
Families,” a book featuring hundreds of family biographies submitted by
area residents, including the history of Putnam County, its businesses,
schools, churches and clubs/organizations complemented by hundreds of

She has given countless hours working on
projects for the society including painting, cleaning, setting up
exhibits, working on re-construction projects and floats for the
Ottoville and Kalida parades.

“In 2003 I built a small log cabin
for a float commemorating the 200th Bicentennial,” Ruen said. “We have
some great people working together; 15 trustees and many members.”

said when the society bought the house adjacent to the historical
society, she helped with the project to build a ramp connecting the two
buildings. She also supervised the “Family Brick Project’ at the Putnam
County Memorial.

“Families buy a brick with individual’s names
etched into it and then it is placed in the walkway at the memorial,”
Ruen explained. “I also suggested the landscaping that would be fitting
for the memorial site.”

Ruen’s interest in historical preservation
also encompasses dedicated work on Ottoville’s Immaculate Conception
Church’s museum, which started as an small exhibit of artifacts and
vestments in the parish hall in 1998 after Turnwald collected the items.

acquired the parish center and I obtained the materials and tables to
set up the exhibit during the church social each year,” she said. “In
2008, we set up a committee and established a permanent home for the
museum in a room in the parish center.”

She said an altar from
Delphos St. John’s Church is among the many items in the museum and
added that her brother, Paul, built wooden structures attached to
display tables to hold vestments and thousands of photos.

“We have
all the First Communion photos with names of individuals from 1940 to
present day, as well as a collection of historical pictures of Ottoville
and a park carnival display,” she elaborated. “I open the museum when
people call and request an Ottoville history tour.”

She was also instrumental in helping decorate the church this Christmas season.

passion for educating kids began early in life and after receiving her
B.A. in Education from Mary Manse College in Toledo, she spent two years
teaching in the Toledo public school system before moving to Columbus,
where she predominantly taught fifth-graders for 29 years in various
elementary schools throughout the city.

“I loved working with kids
and getting the positive responses,” she said with a grin. “Sometimes, I
got to see the light bulb kick on.”

Ruen said she worked with her
students on school plays and remembered one student who was so
sophisticated, that she wrote specific pieces for him to perform.

also volunteered her time from 1987-94 with an annual fifth-grade
program called Project Adventure — a rope obstacle course strung between
trees close to 18 feet above ground with a zip line at the end — where
students had a choice of which parts of the course they wanted to

“One boy was super athletic and carried on with the
girls about his exploits and then chickened out when he was challenged
with completing the rope challenge 18 feet in the air,” she chuckled.
“The girls handled the course with no problems.”

While living in
Columbus, Ruen was quite the athlete and played softball for the Red
Birds, which culminated in her induction into the Softball Hall of Fame
as a top softball player.

Later, Ruen became very interested in
horticulture and volunteered to help with Ameriflora, an event
commemorating the quincentenary anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s
arrival in the Americas held in 1992 at Franklin Park Conservatory in
Columbus. The exhibits covered over 80 acres of land and included plants
from all over the world.

After working with the professionals at
Ameriflora – who knew much more about landscaping than she did – she
opted to further her education by attending classes at Columbus State
Community College. Ruen also took the required coursework to become a
Master Gardener.

“I worked at Inniswood Metro Gardens and other metropolitan gardens in the Columbus area,” Ruen said.

retiring in 1994, she bought 40 acres of land from her mother in
Jennings Township and began traveling back and forth from Columbus to
build her home — with her brother’s help — and moved back to her
hometown in 1997.

Ruen’s passion for educating people has
continued through the years and recently, she shared her horticultural
knowledge with people. In November, she and a host of Master Gardeners
organized a tour of her gardens for residents living in Kalida’s Meadows
and second-grade elementary students. In October, she worked with
visiting Girl Scouts and gave them a lesson in gardening.

showed them a variety of tree fruits including acorns, hickory nuts,
pine cones and hedge apples,” she added. “We dug up a 12-pound oil seed
radish (cover crop) to see how things grow.”

When Ruen isn’t busy
“paying it forward,” she’s tending her own gardens, maintaining her frog
and fish ponds and caring for her fur family. During the winter, she
starts her own seeds and cuttings for crops throughout the growing

“I grow my own crop of popcorn, tomatoes, garlic and
onions,” she smiled. “So, while I’m eating popped popcorn, I drink the
tomato juice I make.”

Last year, she stocked her fish pond with
Tilapia so they would eat the algae and she could catch them to eat. She
said her frog pond, which she initially wanted to be filled with toads,
has been taken over by bull frogs that continue to eat her tadpoles.

fall, I have the leaves that Ottoville’s street crew vacuum up
delivered to my house for compost,” she said. “I have a tractor I used
to move and turn the leaves.”

Ruen shares her home with her pet
children, including her dog, Jock (a Beagle), and three felines named
Goldie, Boo Boo and Foxy Loxy.

In retrospect, Ruen’s passion for
preserving history, educating youths and adults and living an
environmentally friendly lifestyle has rendered her the honor of The
Delphos Herald’s 2014 Woman of the Year.

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Tips for novice gardeners: Start small, follow a plan, keep a journal, don’t …

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This May 14, 2014 photo shows a gardener preparing the soil for planting in her designated plot at the South Whidbey Demonstration and Community Garden near Langley, Wash. She added fertilizer and some other soil amendments before putting more cool-season vegetables into the ground. (AP Photo/Dean Fosdick)

The arrival of a new year is always a good time for fresh starts, and there are few things as enjoyable to start — or that provide fresher returns — than gardening.

But how should a novice begin?

A helpful first step is to develop a plan. Decide what you want to grow. Choose the best place for growing it. Determine how much you can safely harvest and store. Finally, lay it out.

“Novice gardeners often start too big, and soon realize they don’t have the time or energy to fully develop or maintain their original garden plan,” said Gail Langellotto, a horticulturist with Oregon State University Extension Service.

“Another common mistake is gardening without first getting to know your soil,” Langellotto said. “Different soil types present different gardening opportunities and challenges.”

What that means is getting a soil test done if you prefer an in-ground garden. You also can do your planting in raised beds or containers. That way you can introduce commercially blended soils, many of which include slow-release fertilizers and water retention capsules to give seeds or seedlings a quick boost.

Want guidance?

“Many people search for advice on the Internet,” Langellotto said. “But a fantastic and underused resource is your local Extension office. We provide gardening advice that is reliable, fact-based and relevant to your particular gardening situation.”

Easy-to-grow plants include annual flowers. But perennials generally take care of themselves once you get them established in the right location, Langellotto said.

“For vegetables, I have a list of ‘the easy eight’ that beginning gardeners might want to start with: radishes, peas, leaf lettuce, carrots, spinach, bush beans, summer squash and hybrid tomatoes,” she said. “Most of these crops are very forgiving and easy to grow if you understand their basic needs.”

Set some first-year goals, said Larry Campbell, the Harrison County, West Virginia, agriculture extension agent.

“Those should include garden site development through tillage, construction of raised or square-foot beds if desired, and soil amendment for pH and nutrients,” he said. “Also, deciding in advance whether you want to grow enough vegetables to supply fresh produce for daily use or for post-season preservation is necessary before starting the garden each year.”

Some general tips from Campbell:

— Gardens should get six to eight hours of sunlight per day.

— Soils should be well drained and slightly acid to neutral, or in the 6.5 to 7 pH range.

— Choose plants suitable to their region or USDA plant hardiness zone.

— Keep a record of the weather each gardening year. That can help you predict patterns for the following season. “Also, keeping records of the performance of the various varieties grown each year can aid the gardener with plant selection,” Campbell said.

“I think the best rules of thumb are, have fun, don’t be afraid to experiment in the garden and don’t be afraid of failure,” Langellotto said. “Realize that no one is born with a green thumb or a brown thumb. Gardening can be learned.”



For more about getting started in gardening, see this tip sheet from Michigan State University Extension:

You can contact Dean Fosdick at

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Tips for controlling earwigs in the garden

Earwigs are common pests in California gardens. Although earwigs are not dangerous or poisonous, these little critters are not easy to control.

A number of commercial baits, traps and sprays are available that can help. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions.

If you prefer more organic forms of control, try using rolled-up newspapers to trap earwigs at night. Don’t toss the newspapers into the trash, as the earwigs will scurry off rapidly. You must place the newspaper with earwigs in tightly sealed containers in the sun until the earwigs have died. Or you can try drowning them in soapy water.

Some say the earwigs can also be trapped in tuna or cat food cans sunken flush to the ground if you add about a half-inch of oil to the can.

For information, call 909-798-9384.

Source: Joyce Dean, a member of the Garden and Floral Arrangers Guild

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In the Garden: Tips for growing houseplants

With outdoor work completed, it’s time to focus on indoor gardening. For many senior gardeners, it may be to care for only one or two plants. If there is an indoor light garden or sunny window, there may be an assortment of houseplants available.

Visit several retailers that have a variety of house plants for sale. You may find an attractive plant to grow for the coming months. Something new is always exciting. The goal is to meet the needs of the plant for maximum success.

When looking at prospective plants, look for the plant that appears to be healthy. Good color and form, not too large, something that looks like it has had good care. Look under the leaves for potential insects hiding there. The worst thing to do is to bring home a family of insects. One year I ended up with mealy bugs to battle from a gift plant given to me.

Leaves should be rich in color and not yellowing. The plant should be compact and not overly tall or leggy. Enclose the plant in a cardboard box or large paper bag to protect from cold temperatures when bringing home.

Give the plant a long drink of water after arriving home. If pot is on a saucer, dump the extra water in the saucer to prevent over-watering. You may want to mist the plant to increase humidity, particularly if it was used to conditions in a greenhouse. Some claim that misting is worthless, but I disagree. Misting a plant with water at room temperature several times a day makes for a “happy” plant.

After the plant has been under your care for two weeks or more, begin to water once a week or better yet — when the soil “feels dry to the touch.” This approach works well for a majority of houseplants.

Check the plant tag for the amount of light the plant should have. Some plants require low light, others bright light.

Don’t worry about fertilizer at this time of the year. Little growth is taking place and the less fertilizer, the better. The only time to feed lightly begins in late spring and continues through summer into early fall.

If the leaves appear to look wilted or dry and abnormal, watering may be insufficient. If the plant feels dry, set it in a waterproof tray with an inch of water for about an hour and then remove to set in a sink to drain. In time, you can set up a regular watering schedule. If you miss a day or two now and then, don’t worry about it. It’s not like giving a pet water! Badly wilted leaves are a typical sign of dry soil.

Over-watering is the number-one killer of houseplants. Too much water will cause rotting of roots. When that happens, they no longer function in providing water to the plant and it begins to wilt. Both over and under watering tend to cause wilt. Healthy roots are light colored and firm, not mushy.

If a plant becomes tall and leggy and lighter in color than normal, it probably needs more light. Move it to a brighter environment.

To help prevent winter boredom for a gardener, trial-test a few new or different houseplants. One example is in today’s photo of two “Emerald Ripple” peperomias. It is common and very adaptable to various indoor environments. It thrives in different light levels from that of a north window to curtain-filtered sunlight.

Most peperomias are compact in size, rarely taller than 12 inches. Grow in a general houseplant soil mix. It is a light feeder. Apply mild feedings at half strength every six months during spring and late summer.

Water only when soil becomes dry. It grows well in average indoor temperatures of upper 60s to low 70s. The corrugated foliage creates visual interest.

Happy New Year! May your garden, large or small, be productive and bring much pleasure during 2015. Gardening becomes more popular each year.

Richard Poffenbaugh is a retired biology teacher and active home gardener since 1960. He is a member of the Mansfield Men’s Garden Club and was editor of the club newsletter (The Greenhorn) for 21 years. He resides in Ontario with his wife, Barbara. Reach him at 419-529-2966.

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