(The top 10 stories of 2011 have been selected by employees of the Daily Democrat. This is No. 7.)
By J SWYGART
The deaths of a Decatur couple in a fire in their home was voted as the No. 7 news story of 2011.
Claude E. West, 74, and his wife Donna K. West, 71, died in a house fire at 720 Elm Street, Decatur, in the early morning hours of Aug. 11.
Both died of smoke inhalation, according to Assistant Fire Chief Jim Hitchcock.
BERNE — South Adams coach Eric Myers rolled the dice with seven lineup changes as his Starfires faced area wrestling behemoth Bellmont for the first time in 40 years, and the result was six victories and 29 points, but it wasn't enough as the No. 17 Braves scored a 45-29 victory at the Stardome Thursday night.
(Kenadee) “The biggest thing that keeps her apart from the others is that she never says she cannot do something. At practice she is never lying down, back talking me, or refusing to do something that she might not feel to be important.” ~ Coach Tiffany Lee.
(Jenna) “She always tries her best, no matter who we are playing or what the score is.” ~Coach Gary Lepper.
The latest phenomenon sweeping the country has come to Decatur as an anonymous donor presented the Decatur Walmart store with five $100 gift cards Wednesday afternoon.
According to Jessica Phillips, layaway manager at the Decatur Walmart, a man came into the store and said he wished to donate the gift cards to help pay for a child's Christmas. He said the cards could be used to either pay off an existing layaway account or to purchase new toys, as long as the money was spent on children.
A native of Decatur who recently resigned as a patrolman with the Warsaw police force has been charged with one count each of child molesting and child solicitation, allegedly involving a girl under age 14.
Timothy S. Whitright, of rural Warsaw, who grew up here and graduated from Bellmont High School, posted a $10,000 bond to leave the Kosciusko County Jail at Warsaw.
Whitright, who will turn 29 on December 30, has been scheduled for a hearing on January 5 in Kosciusko Superior Court One at Warsaw.
The sudden death of a cornerstone of the wrestling program at Bellmont High School was voted as the No. 9 news story of 2011.
John W. Friedt, 56, of Decatur, died unexpectedly on February 17 at Lutheran Hospital in Fort Wayne.
Friedt worked as a district technician for the Adams County Soil and Water Conservation District for 36 years and was a member of the Decatur Wrestling Club. He coached wrestling at Bellmont High School and Bellmont Middle School for 36 years.
Norman K. Ellenberger, 64, of Berne, died on Thursday in Lutheran Hospital at Fort Wayne.
Funeral arrangements are pending at Yager-Kirchhofer Funeral Home, Berne.
Helen M. Morgan, 102, went to meet the Heavenly Father on Wednesday, December 21, 2011, at Park Place Living in Fort Wayne, IN.
Born in Gomer, Ohio, she moved to Fort Wayne in 1928 and worked for Indiana Bell. In 1950, she and her family moved to Hoagland to run the switchboard.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Lloyd.
Walter E. "Gene" Bienz, 79, of Washington Court House, Ohio, died on December 21, 2011, in Ohio State University's Medical Center at Columbus.
He was born on July 8, 1932, in Willshire, Ohio, to Kermit and Irene Spitler Bienz.
Mr. Bienz was a member of St. Andrews Episcopal Church, a former member of the Vestry, and a past Junior Warden and Senior Warden.
He served in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Korean Conflict.
Billy D. Harrold, 32, Montpelier, died Wednesday in Fort Wayne.
He was married to Amber (Ramsey) Harrold on December 15, 2009, in Decatur. She survives.
Among survivors are his father-in-law and mother-in-law, Duane (Melissa) Smitley of Decatur.
Funeral services will be held on Saturday at 11 a.m. at Walker and Glancy Funeral Home in Montpelier, with burial in Brookside Memorial Park, Montpelier.