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Commissioners approve a new commercial solar ordinance

At Tuesday’s Wabash County Board of Commissioners meeting, a new solar ordinance was unanimously adopted.

Planning Commission director Mike Howard said the process began in May and had been narrowed “down to a couple of different scenarios of how to approach this at this time.”

The Planning Commission held a special meeting Thursday evening, during which they adopted the proposed ordinance.

In late June, the commissioners had placed a moratorium on new commercial solar energy projects while the proposed ordinance was being crafted.

Howard said they had since considered two different sets of setbacks for solar farms.

“One set of setbacks were similar to what other counties have done,” said Howard. “We also created what we called a proportional group of setbacks. In a proportional, the larger the solar, the larger the setbacks. The board wanted to go with proportional setbacks at this time.”

Howard said it was important to have language in place for the time being while the details were being worked out.

“We had a couple of questions at the meeting that we’d like to have answered that haven’t had answered. We thought it was at least important to at least get the ordinance in place,” said Howard.

Wabash County Board of Commissioners chairman Jeff Dawes said only one person spoke in favor of solar farms at Thursday’s meeting.

“The other members of the public were opposed. They said they don’t want them here. So that was kind of the guidance that we’ve been getting from the public,” said Dawes.

After a short discussion, the proposed ordinance was accepted unanimously, and the commissioners suspended the rules to have an immediate second reading, which was also approved without dissent.

WACT back to work

The Wabash Area Community Theater (WACT) has just concluded yet another show, but that doesn’t mean they’re resting by any means.

In February, the group completed their Valentine’s Day weekend dinnertainment event, “Love Letters,” which was Brett Robinson’s directorial debut after having been featured in several recent WACT productions as an actor, including Felix Unger in the 2019 spring production of “The Odd Couple,” the King in the fall 2018 musical “Once Upon a Mattress” and more.

In late April and early May, Robinson directed a WACT production of Rick Abbot’s classic comedy “Play On!”

After that it was on to the fall musical production of “Sister Act,” its first fall musical in two years on the last weekend of September in the Honeywell Center Ford Theater, in “a production that was seen by hundreds of patrons across three offerings,” said WACT board vice president Eric Seaman.

And now, four more productions are already in the works by the local nonprofit arts organization.

On Friday and Saturday, Dec. 3 and 4, in conjunction with Honeywell Arts & Entertainment, WACT will share its biennial Christmas Madrigal Dinner Theater in the Honeywell Center’s Legacy Hall.

“The Lord and Lady of Honeywell Manor invite you to partake in this festive holiday celebration, this year with an entirely new script,” according to the show’s description. “Dine amongst royalty with a delicious feast accompanied by live comedy, music, and entertainment. Wear your finest period clothing to participate in the costume contest, a new addition this year. You will be entertained by their majesties’ singers, performers, and of course, the jester.”

The cost is $49 per person, which includes dinner and entertainment. Tickets may be purchased through the Honeywell Center Box Office, 275 W. Market St., by phone at 260-563-1102 or by visiting www.honey wellarts.org.

“This show is a great way to not only have a great meal with your family and friends but to also get in the Christmas spirit three weeks before the holiday,” Seaman said. “We’re really anxious to share this new script with the community. This is always such a fun production with all of the period clothes, music and theatre. You don’t want to miss it.”

Looking to 2022, WACT will put on another “dinnertainment” production around the Valentine’s Day holiday.

Under the direction of WACT veteran Angelina Funk, WACT will share “I Hate Shakespeare!” at the Charley Creek Inn in downtown Wabash the weekend leading up to Valentine’s Day from Feb. 11 to 13, 2022.

“A hilarious, fast-paced look at Shakespeare, the production is a collection of vignettes that spoofs the historic writer’s work, with a modern twist,” said Seaman.

Tickets for this show will be on sale in January.

Afterward, Robinson will reprise his role as director this upcoming spring with “The Dining Room,” a production from American playwright A.R. Gurney “that looks at how the dining room has changed in American culture, prominently with upper-middle-class families, through the 20th century,” said Seaman.

“The Dining Room” was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1985. Gurney also wrote “Love Letters.”

“We did ‘The Dining Room’ when I was in high school,” Robinson said. “It takes place in a single dining room of a house, but through nearly 20 scenes and corresponding families. It shows how much the role of the family dining room changed through all of these families.”

Seaman said after more than 20 years, WACT will once again produce “one of the most celebrated musicals of all time” for its 2022 fall musical – “Guys and Dolls.”

Seaman said more details will be announced in next year.

These productions come after the WACT announced earlier this year that after two decades of searching they finally have a place to call home as Vanderpool signed paperwork Thursday, Feb. 25 to obtain the property at 1620 to 1640 S. Wabash St.

Seaman said this building will serve as a central location for the organization to not only store its assets but to have a creative space as well.

WACT annually produces at least three or four shows in Wabash, including a fall musical, a straight-play spring comedy and Christmas programming, as well as variety programming and “dinnertainment” opportunities.

Seaman said the South Wabash Street property is located near Nancy J’s Fabrics, B-K Root Beer and Kitchens Plus, just south of Shady Lane Drive. Upon the 0.63-acre plot of land are two structures that will be used to house their supplies and “create a legacy of perpetuity for WACT.”

Seaman said in total, the main building on the property features 9,900 square feet of space. The property also features a 1,260-square-foot pole frame building, as well as a large parking lot.

Seaman said there aren’t any plans for WACT to create a performing arts center on the property due to existing amenities in the area.

Seaman said those who would like to support the project can do so by sending a check to Wabash Area Community Theater at P.O. Box 840, Wabash, IN 46992, with “Building” in the memo line. For those who would like to give online, a GoFundMe page titled “WACT Building Fundraiser” has also been created for the project. It can be found on the Wabash Area Community Theater Facebook page or by searching on www.gofundme.com.

Those who are interested in making a gift, but would like more information, may contact Bev Vanderpool by email at vanderpob@yahoo.com or call 765-661-8206; or contact Board Member Beth Miller by email at beth@wabashmillers.com or by calling 260-568-1128.

New gateway billboard greets motorists

For the second time this year, a new gateway billboard has been installed in Wabash County – this time in North Manchester.

On Friday, Visit Wabash County marketing and brand manager Whitney Millspaugh said the updated gateway billboard directing travelers to visit North Manchester has been installed along Indiana 15.

In July, similar billboards were introduced in Wabash in partnership with the city of Wabash and Visit Wabash County. Nearly 15,000 vehicles travel the Indiana 13 and Indiana 15 corridor every day, and there was an influx of vehicular traffic during the summer months due to lake traffic, Millspaugh said.

Millspaugh said nearly 10,000 vehicles travel north along the Indiana 15 every day, with a similar lake-related influx during the summer months.

“A piece of our marketing scope of work includes a call to action to vehicular traffic to engage with the North Manchester community,” said Millspaugh. “We understand that our relationship with a visitor starts the moment they enter a community, therefore, gateway signage is critical. It’s one of the first impressions.”

Visit Wabash County executive director Christine Flohr said the gateway program is integrated within Visit Wabash County’s marketing budget.

“Translating the amenities of North Manchester into a creative display is really thrilling for me,” said Katie Jones, Creative Lead for Visit Wabash County. “You have four seconds to impact vehicular traffic when they pass a billboard. I knew the graphics needed to translate well and create a sense of place.”

Millspaugh said this latest gateway billboard project is a partnership with the town of North Manchester and Visit Wabash County “as part of an extensive marketing plan to engage visitors and residents alike.”

“The North Manchester community is grateful to Visit Wabash County and the staff for updating the billboard,” said North Manchester town manager Adam Penrod. “Physical billboards remain a great marketing tool even as digital marketing continues to expand. The new, colorful sign definitely catches your eye and puts North Manchester into the minds of travelers even if for a brief few seconds.”

Monster Mash planned at Manchester University

Manchester University Monster Mash trick or treat is on the Manchester Mall again this year for local children.

It is from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 28.

If weather moves activities inside the Cordier Auditorium Lobby, all participants will be required to wear a face mask and practice social distancing.

The Monster Mash Haunted Forest is also making a return this year. It is 7:30 to 9:30 in the wooded trails near Schwalm Hall.

Both are free and open to the public. Young children must be accompanied by a responsible adult. The spooky Haunted Forest might be too scary for some children.

Manchester asks community members to bring canned good donations. A donation is not required, and any food collected will go toward feeding those in need.

Squire Band advances to finals

On Saturday, the Manchester High School (MHS) Squire Band advanced to the Indiana State School Music Association (ISSMA) Scholastic Finals.

Band director Jeff Huber said the band received a gold rating at ISSMA Scholastic Prelims at Homestead High School in Fort Wayne.

This is the sixth time in eight seasons that the band has advanced to the finals.

On Saturday, bands had to receive a gold rating by scoring over 53 points to advance to finals.

Huber said the band missed receiving a special “with distinction” award for music by two-tenths of a point.

ISSMA Scholastic Finals will take place Monday, Oct. 25 at Franklin Central High School.

“Two years ago, the band’s season ended at Homestead when the band came up just short of advancing to finals snapping a three-year finalist streak,” said Huber.

The band will perform its “Western Adventure Show” at the last home football game Friday.

The 2021 Squire Band is 32 members strong with 15 woodwinds, nine brass players, three percussionists and four guards.

The band is a five-time ISSMA Scholastic Class B Finalist in 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2018.

The Squire Band’s competition season started at Goshen High School on Saturday, Sept. 11. The band won its class Scholastic B and swept all captions for Best Music, Best Visual and Best Effect.

Before that, it had been almost two years since the last time they had competed as all Indiana marching band competitions during the 2020 season were canceled due to COVID-19 restrictions.

On Monday, Sept. 25, the Squire Band placed bands in Scholastic Class B at Carroll High School in their new football stadium. The band took second behind Whitko, beating out Bremen and Heritage.

On Saturday, Oct. 2, the Squire Band won Best Music and placed second in Scholastic Class B at Plymouth High School. Tri-County narrowly placed ahead of Manchester, with Wawasee placing third and Heritage fourth.

Senior drum major Alyssa Marvel said it felt ”absolutely amazing” to advance to finals this year.

“Every single member of the band has worked so hard this year and persevered through many challenges, so it is great to get the gratification of moving on to finals,” said Marvel.

Marvel said the most challenging part of the season this year was “dealing with COVID-19 and different people getting quarantined.”

“People were constantly in and out, and we never definitively knew which people would be able to compete at a competition and which would not. Nevertheless, the staff and band did a phenomenal job at dealing with this and worked extremely hard to have a successful season despite all the challenges in our way,” said Marvel.

Marvel said due to these obstacles, it was a very different season than years past.

“Two years ago, the band did not advance to finals, and last year we barely had a season due to COVID-19,” said Marvel. “So, this has been such a rewarding season to get back into it and especially advance to finals. We had a lot of things to overcome this season and it would have been easy to lay down and let those overcome us. But, every member of the band chose to fight through those hardships and because of that, we have had one of the most successful seasons ever in recent years. It has definitely been the most fun and special season for me, and it is especially bittersweet now as our season comes to an end soon.”

Fellow senior drum major Emma Pyle said advancing to the finals was a “breath of fresh air knowing that all our hard work paid off.”

“After many challenges this year, I’m excited to know we pushed through and our band will get to perform one more time,” said Pyle.

Pyle said this season has been much more fulfilling than others, for obvious reasons.

“We actually got to compete this year, and we performed well every time,” said Pyle. “The sense of family I have gotten from the students this year has been overwhelmingly positive, I hope to see more students join in the future.”