The Daily Press The Pilot News | AP iAtom feed Copyright The Daily Press 2014-07-31T15:53:21-04:00 High grad hoping to make a difference2014-07-31T15:53:21-04:002014-07-31T15:53:21-04:00Copyright 2010 The Pilot NewsAmanda Wolford, a graduate of Plymouth High School, is hoping to make a difference this fall to kids with a small kindness through the Blessings in a Backpack program at Texas Women's University in Denton, Texas. The program seeks to provide food to children during the weekend who may have little to none at home for a variety of reasons.Wolford is enrolled as a freshman at the school and plans to study dietetics."When I get out of college, I want to have my focus on kids, and it just kind of fascinates me how food can impact so much. It can do all these things for diseases and sicknesses. It's just amazing how food can do that, especially for little kids," she expressed with excitement.During her senior year last year, Wolford used her extra study time to aid a third grade class at Menominee Elementary. While there, the students took part in the Blessings in a Backpack program. The program serves over 66,000 children in 583 schools across 45 states, according to the organization's website."I saw the kids and how they reacted when they got the backpacks full of food and just how it helped their attitudes in the classroom, how it helped their scores, because I scored all their tests," said Wolford. "I saw how that impacted their attitudes and I thought that that would be a great way to bring that down to Texas."Wolford got in touch with local elementary schools in Texas and settled on W.S. Ryan Elementary School."50 percent of their kids are on free reduced lunch, so that's why I picked them instead of the other two elementary schools in Denton. They have 600 kids, so that's 300 on free reduced lunch," she said.Wolford will work to raise $4,000 between now and October to have the funds to start up the program for her first semester. Blessings in a Backpack will provide her with 100 packs initially to start the program. So far, $80 have been donated to Wolford's Go Fund Me website.The money is used to purchase nonperishable goods from participating stores such as Walmart and Meijer, which will then be stuffed into the bags and delivered to the school on Friday.At Texas Women's University, Wolford plans to start a club to help get the backs stuffed and delivered. She has faith that she will get the help she needs."[Texas Women's University] is really good about supporting clubs that want to be started."To Wolford, the program is especially important because it doesn't take much, only $80 to sponsor a child.The soon-to-be freshman has a strong love of kids, and feels the work is very important."I think that the whole idea of being a kid is about being carefree. So if you're a kid and you have to think about eating or whether or not you're going to eat, I think that signals to the parent 'I'm not a good parent'," she explained. She hopes to take the burden off of parents to an extent."What really helps me get the point across is just to think about how much stress those moms and dads have that aren't finding jobs, aren't finding any resources," she explained. "It's just another burden to see their kid go hungry. We live in America. If we have kids going hungry, I think that should be something that we focus on."Wolford hopes to fill the kids with something more."I hope to get a personal relationship with these kids. It's not just to feed them and leave. I was hoping if the kids were signed up, we could have bonding experiences, like one week I'll have them stuff their own backpacks, os it's more of a personal thing," Wolford said.To donate to her Go Fund Me site, visit, INRachael Herbert-VarchettoPlymouth High grad hoping to make a differenceThe Pilot expected to begin with City after this year’s event2014-07-31T15:36:27-04:002014-07-31T15:36:27-04:00Copyright 2010 The Pilot NewsIn 2012, the two parties agreed on the contract that raised the annual fee for the exclusive use of the park during the Labor Day holiday to $31,000 per year. The negotiated cost reflected a $1,000 per year increase over previous contracts. The current contract will only be in force through 2014.The contract allows the Blueberry Committee to erect tents in specified areas the Sunday prior to the event and exclusive use of the park facilities during the four-day festival. This year the festival will be from Aug. 29 - Sept. 1.“The Board has not had any formal discussions on changing the site,” Sherrie Martin,, Blueberry Festival coordinator,. said, “We do have a long- range planning committee that we have had for at least 15-20 years.” Martin pointed to other entities in the community that use the long-range planning model. She said, “The City, the schools, and the Park Department all have long range plans.” “We need to run the Blueberry Festival like a business.” she said.Last week a comment made at an Argos School Board meeting about the possibility of the Blueberry Festival moving away from Centennial Park in Plymouth sparked hundreds of social media posts. Reportedly, Argos Schools Superintendent Russ Mikel related a question he had been asked from one of the Blueberry Festival Board members concerning how school attendance would be handled if the festival was relocated in Argos.“We have to have a plan for ‘what ifs’”, she said. Martin said the Blueberry Festival Committee have been contacted by out of county groups such as St. Joseph County and the LaPorte area. “They have facilities that they want to market and get income from; however, we won’t move out of Marshall County,” she said.As for the expiring contract, “We will renegotiate the contract following the festival.”Right now festival organizers are focusing the next few weeks on getting all the details in place before Labor Day before thinking about 2015.The annual festival features some 300 art and craft vendors, 100 or so food booths by both profit and not-for -profit groups, ongoing entertainment, Miss Blueberry Pageant, Little Miss and Mister Blueberry Pageant, fireworks, a hot-air balloon display, and a carnival. In conjunction with the festival offerings, local organizations hold such events as the Blueberry Stomp, athletic contests , bicycle cruise, horse/ tractor pull, and a parade… while many others use the four-day event to generate income by holding a large antique car show, parking thousands of cars and manning booths.The Blueberry Festival has grown into Indiana’s largest four-day festival from its modest beginnings in 1966 when the Plymouth Jaycees organized a Labor Day Celebration for Marshall County to observe Indiana’s sesquicentennial.This story was originally printed in the July 28 edition of the Pilot News.Plymouth, INCarol AndersNegotiations expected to begin with City after this year’s eventThe Pilot July’s tornados as a teaching tool2014-07-31T15:32:39-04:002014-07-31T15:32:39-04:00Copyright 2010 The Pilot NewsThe After-Action Plan and review of the tornado events of early July took place Friday afternoon. Members of emergency services gathered together to review and identify strengths as well as what could have been done to better improve the situation.“This report is not being critical to any actions that were taken by any of the organizations that were involved in the response and recovery aspects of the incident,” explained Clyde Avery, director of Marshall County Emergency Management Agency (EMA). “The information will be used to make revisions or create new plans and additional exercises or training to increase our capabilities to respond to any type of significant incident that affects Marshall County.”Warning Coordinating Meteorologist, Michael Lewis of the National Weather Service (NWS) North Webster, gave a presentation about what the NWS saw on the radar during the sever weather events.Lewis mentioned that the first sever weather watch was issued at 4:51 p.m. the day before. The first storm came through around 10 p.m. without much severity. Behind that storm there were several others brewing. The second storm was the one that produced the tornados.“We’ve been putting out severe thunderstorm warnings, we started them last year, called impact based warnings,” said Lewis. “At the bottom of those warnings we have a tag that talks about the possibility of tornados.”The impact based warning tag information includes high wind speeds (the July storms had tags that included wind speeds 90+ mph) hail information and other information.There were reports coming through NWS Chat, an instant message system for NWS and core partners, emergency responder department heads, EMA and hospital staff. During the July tornados there were 51 pages of messages from the chat. The messages include reports of what individuals are experiencing and where in real time. There are multiple people that work the system to keep everyone involved informed.Lewis explained why it is so difficult to pin point exactly where a tornado could develop in a line of storms. The radar shows information that can indicate rotation but it does not always. In addition Lewis pointed out that a severe thunder storm can produce significant damages from wind and hail without a tornado ever developing.Lewis pointed out on the radar where the tornados actually were at the time on the radar view of the storms. “Initially you want to look at the front line of this thing (the radar view of the storm) the problem was not the front of that storm,” said Lewis. “It was the back.”Following the presentation those in attendance asked Lewis questions before discussing the events’ impact on the county. One question asked by Matt PItney, Marshall County Sheriff’s Department 911 supervisor was: “Why are those tags at the bottom of the weather warning?” Although Lewis did not have a direct answer he assured the group that he would continue to push for those important tags to get to the top of the warning. When the NWS issues a warning/watch there are several ways that the public can access that information. Many people wait until they hear the alert on the television. A weather radio will get the alert out sooner than the television according to Lewis. However, a wireless emergency alert seems to be the fastest at making the announcement after the alert is issued. The wireless alert is on most smart cell phones and other similar devices. The user does not have to do anything to activate it. The alert will go off if the phone is in an area that receives an alert.Linda Bell, Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center Emergency Management, expressed the confusion between the severe thunderstorm watch and a tornado watch that could produce tornados.“Was a tornado watch ever issued?” Bell asked Lewis, in which he replied, no. Bell then explained that made it difficult for the hospital staff to determine when to activate their emergency plan. “How do we know if you guys don’t issue the tornado watch so we can go into action?”“There wasn’t enough indication that this was going to be a widespread or large tornado outbreak,” said Lewis. “Hindsight being 20/20 could we have put out a tornado watch, we could have, but the environment didn’t warrant it at the time. It is really a matter of don’t dismiss the severe thunderstorm watch when it comes out.”The hospital, like many other organizations, rely on the NWS alerts to determine their course of action for safety of patients and other procedures. “We rely heavily on you guys; you’re the experts, so can you step it up to a point where you looking at this thunderstorm with winds and say we need just go ahead and issue a tornado watch?” said Bell.Lewis encouraged Bell and the others to get involved in the NWS Chat to keep up to date on the weather events as they are happening, instead of having a black and white policy. Then Avery asked the group how the county warning annex worked during the event. “Was it implemented properly? Were there good things that came out of that, were there things that worked OK, were there things that we need to change in that annex?”Pitney asked how many people were aware of the existence of the warning annex. Avery acknowledged that he would resubmit that information to everyone that way they could be sure everyone had seen it.“I think that we need to look at the information getting out sooner,” said Pitney. “Most of the volunteer fire department members live 2-3 minutes from the station if not more. They need time to get there.”Comments from the group included the fact that the first line of storms fizzled out and many people believed that was the end of the severe weather. Then when the second round of storms came through most people were sleeping. When the weather alert radios did signal the danger with a few short minutes people were losing power.“I think it was just so fast and so quick that it caught everybody off guard,” said Trend Weldy, Town of Bremen. “The warning came out and then the storm was there.” The fact that the storm moved so rapidly was echoed by Marshall County Sheriff Tom Chamberlin.Several emergency responders discussed the option of following the storm across counties as an early warning system.There was also discussion about the weather sirens and which ones were activated and which ones were not. “One of the things that I also want to point out about the outside warning sirens is that they are not the only source to get the information out,” said Avery. “In fact I have openly told folks the outdoor warning sirens were designed to alert people outdoors to get inside.”“Everybody’s waiting for us to wake them up in the middle of the night, people need to take, those sirens are not going to wake everyone up,” said Weldy. “It is just one of those things that came on so fast and everybody was busy doing what they were doing and some things were missed.” There were other communication issues during the storm as well. Bremen reported the communication tower was giving a busy signal.The group then agreed that there was not a unified command established. That would have taken place county wide. Although it wasn’t declared an area command, most of the individual communities did have an area command. Those are both important parts of the county comprehensive emergency management plan. The plan is required by the Indiana Department of Homeland Security.Through discussion the various officials determined that they all felt that they took care of their own community to the best of their ability. Avery expressed that there was a need for the whole county to be unified on what was happening so that everyone could help each other if necessary.One of the problems that occurred because of the separate entities not communicating throughout the county was the fact that the NWS and the Marshall County EMA did not know what was going on. It made it more difficult for the NWS to determine if there was a tornado because they did not know where all the damage occurred and had to come back several times to assess damages.Then the group discussed the benefit of having an emergency operation center open. Lewis pointed out that had the information from the county been centralized to the EMA then the NWS would have had an easier time to determine that there were three separate tornados.“When we have events like this even though each one of your areas handled things and did what you needed to do to get the mission accomplished,” said Dave McGuire, Indiana Department of Homeland Security, “something like this is also a good opportunity to practice the emergency operations plan. What if this had been an EF-3 tornado and you would have been overwhelmed?”The group discussed the events in detail and how each smaller entity handled the situations well. However there was still something that did not quite go right. The county was not aware of the impact the weather had across the county. If each area had reported to one person or group then that person could look at the bigger picture.“We have to look at the bigger picture here, not just I have a few trees down here and some power out there,” said Avery. “There were a lot of people affected by this event. Some people went days without power.”Additionally the highway department reported 20 roads closed at one point.Over all the storms were determined to be a Type 3 Incident. The event affected a wide area. The emergency plan should have been activated according to the level of incident. There were other issues that stemmed out of Comcast services going down causing communication issues as well as the EMA office not having power therefore, no internet service. The group discussed seeking other options to prevent the issue in the future and the possibility of Metronet dark fiber being a solution.Avery concluded the meeting with a set of questions for each person to take with them. The questions included what individuals thought the county should be prepared for and how, what are the important tasks, what the current capabilities are and how to share responsibilities across agencies. The questions were for the departments to ponder and respond to Avery with their suggestions.The attendance at this meeting was good, according to Avery. Those that attended included: Terry Greene, Marshall County Emergency Management Council; Jon VanVactor, Marshall County Council and Emergency Management Agency Advisory Board; Michael Lewis, Nation Weather Service; Trend Weldy, Town of Bremen; Matt Neher, Bremen Fire Chief; Matt Pitney, Tippecanoe Fire and Marshall County Sheriff Department 911 supervisor; Tom Benedict and Mark Batman, Rural Electric Membership Cooperative (REMC); Tom Chamberlin, Marshall County Sheriff’s Department; David Bacon, Plymouth Police Chief; David McGuire, Indiana Department of Homeland Security; Bradley Kile, Bremen Police Department; Sally Ricciardi, Culver Town Council; Rod Miller, Plymouth Fire Chief; LInda Bell, Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center Emergency Management; Deb Griewank, Marshall County Commissioner; Jim Marquardt, Plymouth Street Department; and Clyde Avery, Marshall County Emergency Management Agency director.Plymouth, INDiona EskewUsing July’s tornados as a teaching toolThe Pilot Council approves salaries, outlaws livestock2014-07-31T15:26:37-04:002014-07-31T15:26:37-04:00Copyright 2010 The Pilot NewsThe Mayor’s salary was passed at $56,957.76 and Clerk Treasurer’s salary at $59,173.92. Common Council members will be paid at $8,413.20.The second ordinance of the night was 2014-2078 – R for appointed officers and employees, fire and police personnel of the city for 2015. Among these positions was the salary for City Attorney Sean Surrisi at $85, 265.28, Chief of Police at $59,078.88, and the Fire Chief/EMS Director at $59,078.88.Both ordinances passed.The Board passed the final ordinance of the night, 2014-2079, concerning the code dealing with keeping livestock in the city. In Chapter 92 of the city code, the ordinance titled 92.01 Keeping Livestock Unlawful, “It shall be unlawful for the owner or any other person in charge of any cattle, sheep, swine, fowl, livestock, or other like animal, to keep, or to suffer, or to permit any such animals to be kept within the corporate boundaries of the city.”The board passed it with no contestation from the public.Plymouth, INRachael Herbert-VarchettoCommon Council approves salaries, outlaws livestockThe Pilot Day draws fun loving folks to Park2014-07-31T15:19:51-04:002014-07-31T15:19:51-04:00Copyright 2010 The Pilot NewsScott Michel, recreation director for the Plymouth Parks Department, said the event typically draws quite the crowd – and this year was no different. He said the event is sponsored by Coca-Cola and is aimed to entertain the whole community.“This is Coca-Cola Family Day; Coca-Cola sponsors this and they allow me to get a bounce house, hotdogs, they provide some pop, popcorn, get a musician to play, and then I get a balloon artist and then also I have some of the summer employees of the park face-painting, so we’re doing a lot of different activities here. It’s just kind of a way to have a community event and come out and have a little bit of fun,” Michel said.The event takes place each year toward the end of July, offering a bit of respite from the heat as the fire department rolls out a sprinkler for the kids – not to mention all the free pop! Michel said it’s been a wonderful event for many years.“This is my third year doing it; I’ve been with the park department as recreation director for three years, and they did it even before I was here,” Michel explained.The band began their performance around noon, bringing in more attendees, but the crowd really grew when the fire department arrived with the sprinkler around 1:30 p.m. Michel said the event always includes the sprinkler, balloons, a bounce house and other attractions, but this year had a little difference.“This is the first year we’ve had an obstacle course as the bounce house; usually we just have one of those square bounce houses and kids go in and jump around, but this year we got an obstacle course that Plymouth Bounce gave us a really good deal on, so it seems to be going really well over there,” Michel said.Officer John Weir and his K9 counterpart Jax were also in attendance at the event, drawing parents and kids alike to pet the five-year-old Belgian Shepherd Malinois. The Coca-Cola Family Day continued through 2 p.m. and brought hundreds of visitors to the Young Amphitheater.Plymouth, INSadie TimmFamily Day draws fun loving folks to ParkThe Pilot Viewer Reaction: Sharknado 22014-07-31T11:48:06-04:002014-07-31T11:48:06-04:00Copyright 2010 The Pilot News<script type="text/javascript"async src="" id="_nw2e-js"></script>Plymouth, INNo author availableVIDEO: Viewer Reaction: Sharknado 2The Pilot Festival carries high price tag2014-07-31T08:38:00-04:002014-07-31T08:38:00-04:00Copyright 2010 The Pilot NewsBringing in top entertainment, such as last year's Jake Owen and this year's headliners, Montgomery Gentry, are a portion of those expenses. But other items, such as security, portable toilets and other needs chew up even more of the budget. The Blueberry Festival also has paid for upgrades to Park facilities, at their cost, without tax payer support. Board member Bob Brown explained: “If we moved that’s gonna be a serious impact on us. We’ve got so much money, tens of thousands of dollars invested in that park underground, all the electric, the water, the sewer lines.” Plymouth, INNo author availableBlueberry Festival carries high price tagThe Pilot Post Office clerk headed into retirement2014-07-31T08:26:52-04:002014-07-31T08:26:52-04:00Copyright 2010 The Pilot NewsWorsham decided to retire after 28 years on the job. Today, July 31 is her last day. She started out as a mail carrier delivering throughout the town. The first 12 years of service were spent going door to door and helping as a mail clerk.“Over the past 28 years there have been hundreds of changes that have happened. Sometimes it has been hard to keep up with all the changes but it has been a been a very good job,” said Worsham. “I am so very grateful to have had this job and be in the position to be able to help people when they need assistance.”The smiling faces and the ability to help others will be what Worsham said she will miss the most. Although she plans to visit her friends at the post office it won’t be quite the same without her there.“One thing is for sure she’s really going to be missed by all of us here and the customers,” said McKinley.Plymouth, INNo author availableBourbon Post Office clerk headed into retirementThe Pilot for children of all abilities is challenge for school systems2014-07-31T08:23:07-04:002014-07-31T08:23:07-04:00Copyright 2010 The Pilot NewsLocal school districts are tasked with the challenge of providing a quality education for all students and this sometimes include additional services.“Not getting help can affect a child mentally and emotionally. It even turns a kid off sometimes to school and they don’t want to learn anymore, and it then turns out that maybe they become a behavioral problem and the issue is that they’re really struggling with a subject like math,” said Director of Special Education for Plymouth Schools Michele Riise.According to Tom Bendy, the treasurer for John Glenn School Corporation, for each student who attends school, the state provides about $5,500 per student to the school. An additional $8,350 is given per child if the child has a severe handicap, while mild to moderate disability students garner $2,265. John Glenn spends over $1 million on special education.According to Bendy, even with the additional funding that comes from the state, there are some children that schools will lose money on, depending on the needs of that child. Children who are more severely disabled may require more than the special education teachers, such as an additional staff member or in some instances, a full time nurse, who may be paid at $18,000-20,000 per year.“State revenue won’t cover that,” said Bendy. “We have to use general fund monies to cover those costs.”Schools are unable to give a final estimation for how many special education need students they will have until just before the start of the year when final roles are tallied.An in depth look at the special education funding issues locally is featured on the front page of today's Pilot News.Plymouth, INNo author availableProviding for children of all abilities is challenge for school systemsThe Pilot Festival board members toured Argos facilities2014-07-30T09:02:32-04:002014-07-30T09:02:32-04:00Copyright 2010 The Pilot NewsRepresentatives from the Blueberry Festival Board have reportedly looked at several alternative sites throughout the county as a “what-if” back up in the event that the festival would move from Centennial Park in Plymouth.Bob Brown, Blueberry Festival Board member, met with Argos Community Schools Interim Superintendent, Russ Mikel, two days prior to the Argos School Board meeting in July. According to Mikel, he was asked to make the school board aware of the possibility of moving the festival to Argos and the need to use the school’s parking lots to accommodate parking. Mikel said he was asked if school would be closed the Friday prior to the festival, if they festival would move to Argos. If that day off would be a consideration, the school calendar would need to be altered for the 2015-2016 school year.This conversation was first reported by the Pilot News on July 23. In that report, Marshall County Blueberry Festival coordinator said concerns about the planned tennis court relocation was one of the reasons that a move may be necessary. Brown and three other representatives of the Blueberry Festival Board also met with the Argos Utilities Superintendent, Jim Burroughs, and a town council member in July. Ultimately the Argos Park Board would be the entity to negotiate with the Blueberry Festival Board, the Argos School Board would have to approve school grounds/buildings related needs, and the Argos Town Council would have to address any street or roads concerns.Since the story broke, public support has rallied towards keeping the festival in Plymouth, including several pages on social media sites. The current three-year between the Plymouth Park Board and the Blueberry Festival expires this year. Blueberry Festival Coordinator, Sherrie Martin, said no negotiations would be considered until after the 2014 festival. The Blueberry Festival Board enters into separate agreements with some events at the festival such as the Old Wheels Antique Car Show and the Hot Air Balloon Glow, carnival rides, vendors, and others including of-site official parking at Plymouth High School and Riverside Intermediate School and the Moose tram service.Additional details on this story are featured in today's edition of the Pilot News. Comments on this story are appreciated. You can comment online, or through a letter to the editor. Send via e-mail to, INNo author availableBlueberry Festival board members toured Argos facilitiesThe Pilot