Sparling to retire after four decades in education










by Eric Stearley

After 43 years in education, Metropolitan School District of Wabash County’s Chief Academic Officer Lavonne Sparling will retire at the end of the school year. Sparling, who spent all but one year with the district, will be remembered as an innovator in public education. She was a consistent, driving force in moving the district into the future, both as a teacher and as an administrator.

After graduating from Purdue University in 1971 with a degree in elementary education, Sparling took a teaching job in Miami County. Shortly after signing her contract, she was offered a position at Lagro Elementary, a school just a mile from her house. She knew that when the next school year came around, she would be at Lagro. She taught fifth grade at that school for several years, during which time she completed her Master’s Degree.

“I remember when someone called the school to say our cows were on the road,” she wrote in a short memoir of her time with the district. “Oren Guenin, the principal, and another teacher went with me to get them back to the pasture.”

Sparling later transferred to Southwood Elementary where she taught fourth grade. Her favorite memory in education is from her time teaching the fourth grade Indiana history curriculum. As part of the course, the school’s fourth grade students traveled to her farm to experience early Indiana life, churning butter, spinning yarn, rolling logs, fishing in the pond and watching a blacksmith shoe horses in their barn.

Posted on 2014 Apr 01
MSD of Wabash County is first district in the country to receive Cleveland Clinic communication training

by Eric Stearley

As Metropolitan School District of Wabash County students enjoyed a day of technology based learning at home on March 27, every employee of the district spent their morning learning the communication techniques used by the Cleveland Clinic’s 44,000 employees.

The course, known as “Communicate with Heart,” was designed to teach Cleveland Clinic employees how to deal with difficult situations. The program began in 2002 with “Respond with Heart.”

“It’s a service recovery model,” said Rita Spirko, an Outreach and External Partnership Program Manager in the Cleveland Clinic’s Office of Patient Experience.

Rita explained that when something doesn’t go well at the clinic, they use this program to deescalate the situation. In a hospital more than most other places, tensions run high and some outcomes are very difficult for doctors, patients, and families to deal with. The clinic, which was the first hospital in the country to have an office of patient experience and a chief experience officer, found that if the hospital responded to these difficult situations at the service point, the patients and their families left feeling better about their time at the clinic and the any difficult outcome they may have to deal with.

Posted on 2014 Apr 01
Boscoe France returns to Eagles with new bass player

by Eric Stearley

For the Thursday Night Blues crowd, the Boscoe France Band has become synonymous with the genre. The Kentucky virtuoso closed out the blues series in his third appearance at Eagles Theatre. Jimmy Cummings provided the beats behind his four-piece drum set, while a new face, John Rochner, completed the rhythm section, replacing John Gillespie on bass.

“John’s a life long bass player like I’m a life long guitar player. The other bass player was not that way,” said France in a post-show interview. “He was a guy that had done really well for himself, so he was wealthy, and that’s a hard pill to swallow.”

France makes no claim to wealth or fame. He isn’t in music for the money, which is a good thing, because he doesn’t make much. He admits that he struggles to provide a decent life for his kids on a musician’s income, but he does what he loves to do, play guitar. Winning Guitar Center’s Battle of the Blues has provided the musician with nearly any instrument he desires, but doesn’t exactly pay the bills.

Posted on 2014 Apr 01
Back to the 80s the Totally Awesome Musical brings 80s music to life

by Emily Armentrout

Director Jessica Keaffaber, with assistant director and sister, Samantha Kramer, brought a musical back to Southwood High School for the first time in years this past weekend. Back to the 80s… a Totally Awesome Musical is a story about Corey Palmer’s senior year in the 80s, as told by his 30-year-old self. This musical uses popular songs from the 80s to bring Palmer’s senior year to life.

The adult Corey Palmer was played by Southwood senior Brett Wyatt.

“I’m not a singer. I was scared to death, but Jessica knows me and she contacted me with the smaller part. She knows I love theater,” Wyatt told The Paper. “It’s been a great experience and I stepped out of my comfort zone and it was definitely worth it,” added Wyatt.

Wyatt’s Corey only performed one song, “You Give Love a Bad Name” by Bon Jovi, while young Corey, played by Andrew Finicle, was a part of many group songs, along with some of his own solos.

The story centered on not only Palmer’s senior year, but also the girl of his dreams. Tiffany Houston, played by freshman Erika Ziner.

Posted on 2014 Apr 01
Wabash Marketplace Inc. awarded $92,000 Creative Placemaking Grant

Lieutenant Governor Sue Ellspermann recently announced that The Office of Community and Rural Affairs and the Indiana Office of Tourism Development have awarded six Indiana communities funding for quality of place initiatives under the Place Based Investment Fund.

Each community will receive grant funds ranging from $35, 000 to $50,000 to fund parks, public venues and other quality of place projects.

“Community gathering places are vital centers of activity for Hoosier cities and towns,” said Lt. Governor Ellspermann. “Our team looks forward to seeing these innovative projects completed and the long-term benefits they provide to the winning communities.”

Wabash Marketplace Inc. was one of the winners of this grant. Community organizations and leaders including the City of Wabash, Economic Development Group, Wabash County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, The Honeywell Foundation, Inc., and the Wabash County Historical Museum have pledged support to make this grant a reality.

Posted on 2014 Apr 01
Family dogs shot as officers chase drug offenders

by Eric Stearley

On the afternoon of Monday, March 10th, officers from the Wabash County Sheriff’s Department and the North Manchester Police Department investigated citizen reports of a methamphetamine lab at a residence in Liberty Mills. According to court records, the resident ultimately consented to a search of the location, which confirmed the officers’ suspicions, but not before three individuals fled through a back door. North Manchester Police Officer Nate Birch and his K-9 partner, Hawk, were called to assist other law enforcement personnel in locating the three individuals. The suspects led officers along the banks of the Eel River toward the Herbert L. Taylor Audubon Preserve. The chase resulted in the arrest of all three individuals. It also resulted in the shooting of two family pets, Newfoundland dogs belonging to Ernie and Janice Bradley.

In his report, Officer Birch stated that he put a tracking harness and 15-foot leash on K-9 Hawk to begin the track. Shortly thereafter, he met up with North Manchester Police Sergeant Jon Pace. K-9 Hawk tracked footprints north toward the Eel River then followed them back out toward a nearby field, where they tracked along the river and through the Herbert L. Taylor Audubon Preserve.

Posted on 2014 Mar 25
After losing 275 pounds, local man thanks trainer on The Steve Harvey Show

by Eric Stearley

Personal trainer Jakae Francis, owner of Wabash’s F.I.T. personal training, got the surprise of a lifetime when it was revealed that two of her most successful clients set her up for an appearance on The Steve Harvey Show.

“It was just so unbelievable,” said Francis. “It’s still so surreal that this even happened. I feel like I had tunnel vision. I don’t remember a lot of what I said or what Josh said to me.”

Josh Steele was the mastermind behind the surprise. A client for the past year and a half, he shed nearly half his body weight after deciding to get serious about losing weight two years ago.

“My starting weight was 579 pounds,” said Steele. “Basically, to sum it all up, I hated life. Just getting up in the morning, just doing normal activities that normal people take for granted like tying shoes, going up and down stairs, getting in vehicles. That kind of stuff, it was all a struggle for me every single day. I basically gave up all hopes of my dreams and passion for the future.”

Posted on 2014 Mar 25
Moon Over Buffalo a hit for Wabash Area Community Theater

by Emily Armentrout

Wabash Area Community Theater just finished its production of Ken Ludwig’s Moon Over Buffalo. Moon Over Buffalo is a comedy set in 1953 Buffalo, New York, at the Erlanger Theater. Moon Over Buffalo marked Carol Burnett’s return to Broadway after 30 years according to Ludwig.

Traveling actors, George and Charlotte Hay, played by Gary Dale and Candy Russell, are currently putting on dual performances of Private Lives and Cyrano De Bergerac, with a small group of actors.

George and Charlotte find themselves drifting as George’s infidelity with Eileen, a young actress in the troupe, portrayed by Megan Smith, is brought to light and Charlotte receives an offer to run away with family friend and lawyer, Richard, played by Keith Martin.

Posted on 2014 Mar 25

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