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Pioneer Festival to return this weekend for 45th year

Now in its 45th year, the Forks of the Wabash Pioneer Festival is coming back to Huntington after a COVID-caused one year absence.

The festival will be held at the Huntington County Fairgrounds on Saturday and Sunday, with events beginning at 10 a.m. each day, as well as an old-time worship service on Sunday at 9 a.m.

First held in 1976, the annual event is organized by the Phi Chapter of Psi Iota Xi Sorority. Lori Satchwill, who co-chairs the steering committee along with Jennifer Scalf, said that she has served on the committee for 25 years and is excited for the festival to return.

“I got into it years ago just to help out. The kids were little, and they liked going to it. They grew up with that,” Satchwill said. “For the most part, we were able to give back to the community with scholarships and other [donations to] groups.”

The Pioneer Festival requires an entry fee, although the price tag for tickets is not one that is likely to break the bank.

“There’s an entry fee,” Satchwill said. “Adults are three dollars and students are a dollar. Children under five are free.”

Satchwill said that proceeds from the Pioneer Festival are donated to local organizations. In 2019, the last year the festival was held, donations were sent to a dozen groups including the LaFontaine Arts Council, the Love INC Food Pantry and the Boys and Girls Club of Warren.

The two-day festival is packed with events, including military reenactments, food and music – and Abe Lincoln, a recurring figure Satchwill says is always popular.

“The crafts are always popular. The Pioneer Village has the encampment area, the old schoolhouse,” Satchwill said. “Those are always big hits... Lots of people come for the food, all the different food items we have.”

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Satchwill said that most mainstays of the festival are returning for the festival’s 45th year.

“Pretty much everyone [came back.] We had a couple in our Pioneer Village – they’re older so they had to take a year off,” Satchwill said. “But pretty much everything is the same.”

There are additions as well. Satchwill said that there will be more antique tractors than at past festivals, as well as an axe-throwing event organized by the Bethel Assembly Church.

“We have a scarecrow contest for kids. We’ve had that for maybe three or four years,” Satchwill said. “We do have an axe-throwing [activity], people are going to be able to do that this year... That is something new.”

HCCSC holds ribbon-cutting ceremony for Learning Center expansion

The Huntington County Community School Corporation held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the near-completion of the Huntington County Community Learning Center’s expansion project yesterday morning.

According to HCCSC, “preliminary discussions” regarding the project began in 2019, and ground was broken on the site on March 4 of this year

School Board President Matt Roth opened the ceremony and discussed the “Three E’s” that HCCSC works toward for students: enrollment, enlistment and employment.

“I think this expansion of the learning center is going to exponentially increase the opportunities for quality employment upon graduation by our students,” Roth said.

Career and Technical Education Director Tiffanney Drummond also spoke, along with architect Karen Fisher and Brad Smith, president of construction company Hagerman, Inc. HCCSC Superintendent Chad Daugherty closed the ceremony by thanking an extensive list of individuals and organizations that helped support the expansion.

Drummond, who has served as CTE director for the past seven years, said that the new facility will allow the Learning Center to say yes to new programs.

“We had completely outgrown the existing facility. We were so fortunate to be able to run so many programs for so long, but we could not add anything,” Drummond said. “We were getting to the point where it was impacting programming.”

She said that the expansion will “almost double” the footprint of the program. According to HCCSC, the project added an additional 20,478 square feet to the Learning Center, which now sits at a total of 49,784 square feet.

“We are moving our precision machining program into advanced manufacturing. That opens up a lot of doors... Also, with welding, we are tripling the size of our welding footprint,” Drummond said. “We went from 900 square feet to 2,700. We will be able to run two adult classes in the evenings if we need to.”

The new welding bay will allow for the Learning Center to continue to run classes for both Ivy Tech Community College and Huntington University.

Additionally, Drummond said that another big beneficiary of the expansion is the center’s criminal justice program.

“Our criminal justice program ... didn’t have a permanent home. It was kind of just bouncing around,” Drummond said. “Now we can set up our simulator room, we can set up our equipment. We won’t have to move it anymore.”

HCCSC business manager Scott Bumgardner said that the district was fortunate to be able to complete the project on time, and that it came in “on budget, even under budget.”

“We really lucked out with the timing of this, because if we were to do this now we’d be in big trouble with the budget and timeline,” Bumgardner said. “We ordered the building pre-fab’d and did that before the steel shortage.”

Bumgardner said that there are still a few finishing touches that will be completed on the interior of the building this week, and that students will take occupancy of the building on Monday.

Drummond said that while working with the architecture and construction teams, she even planned for new programs that don’t exist yet. The new building has what she calls a “future room,” built to house the programs of tomorrow.

“We have one classroom that intentionally doesn’t have a purpose. We did that for the future... We want to be able to meet the needs of our community,” Drummond said. “We don’t know what those needs will be five years from now, but we’re ready to meet them.”

Huntington woman arraigned on nine charges

A Huntington woman appeared in front of the Huntington County Superior Court on Monday following an arrest on nine charges.

Mary Skyann Black, 38, was charged with six felonies and three misdemeanors, including a Level 5 felony charge for dealing narcotics. All the charges were for drug-related offenses.

Black was arrested after an incident on the afternoon of Sept. 15, according to the probable cause affidavit filed in the case.

Huntington City Police Officer Jered Brinkman, who responded to the incident and wrote the report, said that he was dispatched to respond to a report of an unresponsive woman shortly before 2 p.m. Brinkman wrote that when he arrived at the scene, he entered the home and found Black and two other women.

According to the affidavit, Black had administered Naloxone to the woman who was experiencing a “medical emergency,” Brinkman wrote.

“I asked Mary for consent to search the premise. Mary denied wanting the whole residence searched but consented to the area in which [the woman] was found,” Brinkman wrote. “I advised I would apply for a search warrant for the entire residence. After hearing this, Mary asked if she would be going to jail if anything was found.”

Additionally, Brinkman wrote that Huntington Police Department had been advised by another woman on Sept. 8 that Black had sold her methamphetamine.

After the search warrant was granted, Brinkman and other HPD officers executed the warrant at 4:27 p.m. Along with multiple instances of paraphernalia like syringes and a bong, according to the affidavit the officers found one gram of fentanyl, 2.1 grams of heroin, 7.4 grams of marijuana and other substances as well.

Later, officers interviewed Black, who said that all of the substances at the home were hers.

“Mary told Detective Hillman she was not someone who sells drugs to make a large profit, taking advantage of the addictions of others,” Brinkman wrote in the affidavit. “She instead indicated she only sells drugs to get by and make ends meet financially. Mary said she most often trades drugs for other items or services.”

Black also stated in the interview that the reason she sold the substances was to pay for her own drugs.

“Mary said people come to her for the purple fentanyl located in her home but she does not want them to die from the potent substance so she often gives them crushed up pills instead,” Brinkman wrote. “These people believe they are getting only fentanyl, as requested ... Mary said she takes whatever she can get for drugs. She does whatever she has to do to ‘make ends meet’ and maintain her drug habits.”

Besides the narcotic dealing charge, Black was also charged with possession of methamphetamine, possession of a narcotic drug, unlawful possession of a syringe, unlawful possession or use of a legend [prescription] drug and maintaining a common nuisance – legend drugs. She was charged with three misdemeanors as well.

Bond in the case was set at $15,000 and had not been as of press time. A bail review hearing is scheduled for Sept. 28, and a pretrial conference is scheduled for Nov. 9 at 8:30 a.m.


September 24 – Final Fridays Concert

Attaboy will play last “Final Fridays” Free Outdoor Concert of the 2021 Series from 7 until 9 p.m. The event will take place in Riverside Park, located 126 E. First St. in downtown Warren. Don’t forget to bring a chair or blanket. In case of inclement weather, the concert will be held at the Knight Bergman Center, located at 132 N. Nancy St. in Warren.

September 26 – St. Peter’s Bee-BQ

Brad and Sarah Emley are bringing their local, family-owned and operated food truck, Bee-BQ, to St. Peter’s First Community Church from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. following outdoor worship at St. Peter’s at 9:30 a.m. that day.

October 2 – Going Beyond Simulcast

Lakeview Wesleyan Church will present the Going Beyond Simulcast with Priscilla Shirer at 5316 S. Western Avenue in Marion on Saturday Oct. 2 from 8:45 a.m. until 4 p.m. The event brings together women from all denominations and walks of life for a day of biblical teaching, prayer and worship with Anthony Evans, a Christian recording artist. Read more about the event inside the paper.

The event is free with donations accepted. Reservations are required by Sept. 24. To register visit lakeviewwesleyan.org/simulcast or call 765-674-7715 ext. 0.

October 4 – Health Board Meeting

The Huntington County Health Board will meet at 7 p.m. in the conference room of the Annex Building, located at 1330 S. Jefferson St.

October 9 – Chili Cook-Off

The 9th Annual Huntington County Council on Aging Chili Cook-Off will be held from 11 a,m. until 2 p.m. The event will be held at 1450 W. Park Drive, in Huntington. A $5 donation allows you taste all the chili you want and gives you 10 tickets to vote for your favorite chili. Trophies will be awarded for the “Judges Favorite,” “Hottest,” “People’s Choice” and “Best Decorated Table.” To enter, please contact the Huntington Senior Center at 260-359-4410 for more information.

November 6 – Veterans Day Parade

The Huntington County Veteran Service Office is encouraging all veterans and patriotic citizens to place an entry in the 9th annual Veterans Day Parade. To register, call the office at 260-358-4863 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Staging for the parade will begin at 9 a.m. at the west parking lot of Huntington North High School. Participants will enter HNHS at the MacGahan Street entrance, check in and then proceed to their assigned entry number. It is requested that all entries display an American Flag.

The parade route will be from MacGahan to Flaxmill to Park Hill and down Bartlett through the park. The parade will commence at 10 a.m. and culminate at Memorial Park for a brief ceremony.

County establishes vaccine helpline

The Huntington County Health Department and Huntington City-Township Public Library recently announced that a direct phone line has been set up to answer questions and help with registration for a COVID-19 vaccination appointment.

Anyone needing assistance scheduling a vaccination appointment can call the Huntington City-Township Public Library at 260-356-2900. Staff is available to assist from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

If you would like to include your event on our calendar, email information to hpnews@h-ponline.com