Bluffton Hospital honors volunteers

A volunteer recognition ceremony for Bluffton Hospital was held Tuesday, April 20, at The Centre in Bluffton.
Nearly seventy volunteers, totaling 11,878 hours of service in 2009, were honored during the construction-themed afternoon ceremony.
There were several speakers and the Bluffton High School jazz band, directed by Dave Sycks, provided musical entertainment.

Bluffton Hospital hosts groundbreaking

The $12.8 million expansion and renovation of Bluffton Hospital officially began April 8, with an afternoon groundbreaking ceremony.

Featured speakers included Bill Watkins, Bluffton Hospital Chief Administrative Officer, Eric Fulcomer, Bluffton council president, Linda DeArment, of Blanchard Valley Health Foundation, Ropp Triplett, fundraising campaign chair, and the James F. and Isabelle West family.
“The support and appreciation for the hospital and the local access to quality health care it provides was evident by the number of folks who attended the groundbreaking,” said Watkins.
Just over 150 people attended the ceremonial groundbreaking despite cool and windy weather conditions. The Bluffton community has raised nearly $1 million towards the total cost of the project.
The expansion and renovation of Bluffton Hospital will begin now and will last 24 to 36 months.
Left: Ropp Triplett, campaign chair, and Bill Watkins, Chief Administrative Officer of Bluffton Hospital, shovel during the ceremonial groundbreaking of the Bluffton Hospital expansion and renovation project.

Bluffton youth tennis program

Youth, grades one through six, will have a blast playing Midwest Youth Team Tennis in Bluffton this summer. The program will use the QuickStart Tennis play format, one of the most significant moves ever to introduce tennis to youth, provides a way to bring youth into the game by utilizing equipment, court dimensions, and scoring tailored to their age and size.

The Bluffton program will be offered for youth to participate starting June 21, at the Bluffton High School tennis courts and the deadline to register for practice and match play is May 21, 2010. Visit to sign up for the program, and for more details on the site location and practice/play times. 

Volunteers and coaches are necessary to the success of the program. For more information regarding signing up online for the program or helping as a volunteer/coach, please contact Jon Sprague at

This Midwest Youth Team Tennis program is open for girls and boys entering grades 1 to 6. Whether or not the child has ever held a racquet, there’s a spot on the team for them. The participant program package includes the following: new tennis racquet (21 or 23 inch for 8-and-under, 25 inch for 10-and-under), Ace’s Kids Club package, team uniform, and tennis ball.

USTA Jr. Team Tennis is a junior recreational league consisting of more than 100,000 participants (18-and-under) across the country. In the USTA/Midwest Section, there are currently 12,000 youth participating in the program. Juniors between 11 and 18 years old participate in USTA Jr. Team Tennis, and youth 10-and-under participate in Midwest Youth Team Tennis. The team concept emphasizes fun, fitness, and friends. The multi-week program consists of team practice and match play for boys and girls.

“The USTA/Midwest Section is excited to work with Bluffton and create a Midwest Youth Team Tennis program,” said USTA/Midwest Section Junior Team Tennis Coordinator Chad Docktor. “The program will introduce more youth to the lifetime sport of tennis, and the local association will play a vital role in its success.”  

Currently, the USTA/Midwest Section exceeds 82,700 individual members and approximately 1,000 member organizations. It is the second largest section of the United States Tennis Association, the National Governing Body for tennis in the U.S. The USTA/Midwest Section is composed of 14 Districts in the following states: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin as well as designated counties in West Virginia and Kentucky. The USTA/Midwest Section offers recreational and competitive tennis for individuals of all ages and abilities. For more information, visit the USTA/Midwest Section at  


Bluffton couple goes green

Bluffton homeowners Larry and Judy Reichenbach have recently done their part to “go green.”
The Reichenbachs installed a personal wind turbine on their property along Tom Fett Road, Bluffton, Tuesday, March 30. The wind turbine, provided by Wheeler Energy Solutions, of Lima, is the first of its kind in the Bluffton area.
The smaller turbines covert wind into energy and are designed for farms, small businesses and rural homes. The typical personal wind turbine lasts about 30 years, nearly maintenance free, and takes about six to eight weeks to assess and install.  
“These are becoming very popular in this area,” said Fred Wheeler, owner of Wheeler Energy Solutions. “This area really has some of the best wind in the state, aside from around the lakes.”
Increasing oil prices, tax incentives and environmentally conscious movements have encouraged many to think seriously about alternative, renewable energy sources.
“Renewable energy has many benefits and has really caught the attention of a lot of people,” said Wheeler. “The financial and environmental benefits of wind turbines make it the best alternative energy source. Solar power is just not feasible with limited sunlight and water is not a renewable energy source.”
Wind turbines work in just about any climate and in all seasons. The turbine works with a home’s electric utility. When the wind isn’t blowing, the utility supplies electricity. When the wind is blowing, the turbine pivots to catch the best wind and provides clean, quiet electricity. A new meter is installed with a wind turbine and measures kilowatts per hour. If the wind turbine creates more energy than needed, the meter will spin backwards.
“We’ve enjoyed our work in this area. We’re creating clean, efficient energy and, important to the local economy right now, we’re creating many jobs with these projects,” said Wheeler. “We work with other local companies to install the turbines.”
After having been in place on the Reichenbach’s property for just over a week, the turbine will be come down and be replaced this Thursday. There was a bulge in one of the blades; all three must be the same for the turbine to work properly.
“We have enjoyed having it so far,” said Judy Reichenbach on Tuesday of this week. “We are hopeful that it can be repaired quickly on Thursday and a new turbine will be put up the same day the old one is removed.”
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