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KENDALLVILLE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — The Noble County Economic Development Corp. has joined with several partners to launch what it is calling a state-of-the-art learning lab to support the fourth industrial revolution. The EDC says the Industry 4.0 Lab will help students and adults learn the necessary skills to adapt to new technologies being used in the manufacturing sector.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Noble County EDC Executive Director Gary Gatman said the lab will help meet a demand that is already here.

“I spend a lot of time talking to manufacturers. Everywhere I went, I was seeing robotics. I was seeing automation. I was seeing a variety of new technologies. A lot of people perceive them as cutting edge and they are, but they’re already here,” said Gatman. “And so, we began talking with some partners in the community about how can we evolve our talent development system to meet what are clearly rapidly-changing skill needs in the manufacturing sector.”

The lab will be housed within the Community Learning Center in Kendallville. The EDC says the lab will be the first of its kind in the region, thanks to a more than $470,000 grant from the Don Wood Foundation.

Other partners in the lab include the Dekko Foundation, Impact Institute and Freedom Academy, all of which are based in Kendallville.

The Impact Institute, which is the local Career and Technical Education provider in the county, has received approval to run a new program for high school juniors and seniors beginning in the next academic year to teach them skills in various Industry 4.0 technologies, such as autonomous robots, machine learning, additive manufacturing and Industrial Internet of Things.

Additionally, the Freedom Academy and others will use the lab to offer certification programs for adults on evenings and weekends.

Gatman says the goal of the lab is to create a multi-generational talent pipeline for the evolving manufacturing industry.

“As much as we’d love to keep every young person in Noble County, we know that there’s just simply not enough of them probably to backfill all of the retirements and all the other changes that are happening in the workforce,” he said. “So, if we’re really going to tackle the problem…we’re going to have to do it multi-generationally, which means we’re going to need people my age, which is almost 60. We’re going to need people my grandson’s age, which are getting ready to move into high school and we’re going to need everybody in between.”

In the long-term, Gatman hopes to create a robust farm system for the manufacturing sector in Noble County starting with students as early as middle school. He says he wants the county to be known as a community that embraces Industry 4.0 technologies.

The partners expect between 800 and 1,200 people to be trained and certified in advanced robotics and industrial automation skills over the next decade.

KENDALLVILLE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — A decades-old private family foundation has moved its office to the Community Learning Center in Kendallville. The foundation joins a group of organizations housed in the center, which was established in 2019, after the community banded together to identify a use for a nearly 150,000 square-foot-former school building.

Foundation President Thomas Leedy says the move will help the foundation be a more efficient funder.

“We have the opportunity to work alongside these organizations and learn from them. That will help inform our efforts in all of our grantmaking priority areas and further the mission and vision that Mr. Dekko set forth for us,” Leedy said.

The third-floor office holds “hoteling” workspace for guests, a break room and boardroom. Leedy says the foundation continues to own and maintain Dekko’s former home on Baby Mountain in Kendallville, which served as the foundation’s office for nearly four decades. Leedy says the house will be used to offer programs that align with the mission of the foundation.

The foundation focuses its grantmaking efforts on a six-county area in Indiana: DeKalb, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Noble, Steuben and Whitley, along with six counties in Alabama, Iowa and Minnesota, where Dekko held business and personal interests.

KENDALLVILLE (Inside INdiana Business) — Elkhart-based Lippert Components Inc. has purchased a chassis manufacturer in Kendallville to help Lippert respond to what it calls “dynamic industry growth” for recreational vehicles. Wolfpack Chassis LLC employs about 40 workers and operates a 60,000-square-foot plant in Noble County.

Lippert says it needs more manufacturing capacity to keep up with market demand created largely by the COVID-19 pandemic.

LCI says the nation is experiencing a renewed interest in the outdoors and RV lifestyle, which is being viewed as a safer way to travel due to the pandemic.

“These moves are important for Lippert to meet the demands of our customers and overall industry growth,” said Ryan Smith, president of Lippert North American OEM Operations. “These strategic steps are the first of several very intentional investments we will make to support this rapid growth and to invest in the future of all the industries we serve.”

Lippert says it is also investing in two of its existing plants as part of the chassis demand. The company says it is adding space for an additional powder coat facility and more chassis fabrication lines in Middlebury and an additional powder coat facility at its Goshen.

KENDALLVILLE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) – The Noble County Economic Development Corp. is Friday hosting a job fair at the Community Learning Center in Kendallville. The organization says nearly 40 local employers are looking to fill more than 500 jobs in printing, manufacturing, and social services, among others.

The Noble County Job and Resource Fair is scheduled from 8 a.m. to noon.

The organization says it is extending a special invite to employees of LSC Communications in Kendallville, which recently announced the plant’s impending closure. Fair organizers say they hope the event will help those facing job loss to remain part of the community.

The job fair is free and open to the general public as well as any local worker interested in support services. The organization says positions will pay between $15 and $25 per hour.

The EDC says organizations will also be on-hand to provide resources such as resume building, interviewing, family support, and mental health services. Masks will be required inside the building and organizers say other precautions will be taken to help keep participants safe.

You can find more information by clicking here.

KENDALLVILLE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — One of the largest employers in Noble County has announced it is closing a book-publishing plant and laying off more than 300 workers. The news comes as the county tries to recover from massive pandemic-related layoffs this spring.

Chicago-based LSC Communications has notified the state it will permanently close its facility on Marion Drive in Kendallville. It blames the decision on “continued deterioration of market conditions.”

LSC has a second plant in the same city but said the closing does not impact the facility on Lester Drive.

“The initial response was that it is devastating,” said Gary Gatman, executive director of Noble County Economic Development Corp. “The impact on workers, families and the community is pretty significant.”

Gatman said before the COVID-19 pandemic, unemployment was about 3.5% in Noble County. It skyrocketed to 28.7% in April, the fourth-highest reading in the state.

He said many of those positions are at manufacturing plants which were forced to shut down to satisfy stay-at-home orders from the state.

State data shows Noble County unemployment levels retreated to 7.7% in July.

“It was a brief period of time. It was 30-60 days of real struggle,” said Gatman. “But because we have been talking to our industry partners, we knew most were planning to call those workers back.”

Still, it does not lessen the blow, as LSC said it intends to start layoffs on October 1.

“We are committed to making the transition as smooth as possible for our employees, our customers and for the community. At this time, the company anticipates that all employees will be permanently separated from employment with the company by December 23, 2020,” read the statement.

LSC said in connection with the plant closure, no employees will have bumping rights to displace other employees working for the firm.

Gatman said his organization, as well as political and community leaders, are “rallying the troops” to put the county in a position to support the workers.

“The key is getting everyone on the same page, making sure we know what those opportunities are and providing support mechanisms,” said Gatman.

The publishing company also has facilities in Indianapolis, Crawfordsville, Charlestown, Plainfield, Terre Haute, and Warsaw.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Noble County Economic Development Corp. Executive Director Gary Gatman explained how county leaders are responding.

KENDALLVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — A Michigan woman is facing one charge of theft after police say she allegedly stole more than $51,000 from a man for whom she was guardian.

Michelle Alexander, 45, of Reading, Michigan, was a court-appointed guardian for a 59-year-old Kendalville man whose physical and mental health was declining.

Alexander accessed the victim’s bank account and used his disability checks for herself between October and December of 2015, according to Indiana State Police. The victim lost more than $51,000 in all.

Alexander transferred the victim to a Jay County mental health facility in July 2016. The victim was appointed a new guardian after that due to a lack of communication from Alexander, police say. An audit revealed discrepancies in the victim’s finances.

An Indiana State Police detective was made aware of the theft in May 2017, after a four-month investigation, a charge was filed against Alexander.

Alexander turned herself into the Noble County Jail Sept. 24 and has been released on bond.

INDIANAPOLIS (WANE) – A Kendallville man bought a scratch-off ticket because the name of the game was that of his late Labrador retriever, according to Hoosier Lottery officials.

Michael Young purchased a $5 Ruby Mine 9X scratch-off and won the top price of $90,000.

Young’s dog was named Ruby – who recently died.

“I just couldn’t believe it,” Young said, in a statement provided by the lottery. “I definitely looked at it more than once.”

Young said he waited until his wife got home before he told anyone.

The lottery said Young and his wife plan to pay off their home mortgage and use the rest on retirement.

Kendallville, Ind. (WANE) During the month of October, four area teens died by suicide. On Oct. 2 a 13 year old from Columbia City took his own life. Oct. 21 a 17 year old from Lagrange killed himself. Oct. 22 an 18 year old ended his life. And on Oct. 27 a 16 year old from Kendallville killed himself. Several of the victims used firearms, one chose asphyxiation.

Teen suicide is a real and heartbreaking problem in Indiana. Statistics show the state leads the nation in the number of teens who consider suicide as a realistic option. Now a father of one of the teens is speaking out. Bob Becker from Kendallville hopes his son Jacob’s death will encourage parents to talk to their children about suicide.

“It’s what any parent would ever hope is that no more young children ever die this way. They don’t have to,” Said Bob Becker.

Around 6 p.m. Thursday on Oct. 27, 16-year-old Jacob Becker used a handgun to take his own life. He did it in his upstairs bedroom in the family’s Kendallville home. His father said he had a wonderful sense of humor and a smile that would light up the room. But he also had a darker side. Becker was a young man who lived with the effects of depression. His father was aware of the disease and how it afflicted the 16 year old, but he said he didn’t ever think it would reach the level of suicide.

In addition to depression and the usual teen troubles at home, Bob Becker said there was also trouble with classmates. Becker was a sophomore at East Noble High School.

“I don’t know how often. I don’t know how bad it got. But I do know he was being bullied,” said Bob Becker. “Jacob seemed to imply some of those concerns in a suicide note he left in an Instagram post. ‘Hey everyone,’ the teen wrote, ‘I know a lot of people are going to end up finding this really selfish, but to be honest, I can’t live like this anymore. I am tired of everything. I am tired of the way I am treated. I am tired of everything wrong I keep doing. I feel like this is best for everyone. I’m going to miss a lot of people. I am sorry everyone. Good bye. It’s been a great life getting to know you all.'”

Jacob posted the statement approximately 15 minutes before he shot himself.

When asked what was to blame for his son’s death, his father said, “I don’t know if it was the bullying that pushed him over the edge. I don’t know if it was the depression that pushed him over the edge. I don’t know.”

“I think the biggest thing is the isolation factor,” said Clinton Faupel, the Executive Director of RemedyLIVE. It is a cutting edge “24 hour chat center for those struggling in life,” according to its website. It is based in Fort Wayne, Indiana but has a national footprint. The non-profit deals with abuse, depression, bullying, suicide and many other issues faced by today’s youth.

“They want to be alone a lot more. They sleep a lot more. They don’t have a lot of answers when you ask them how they’re doing because they’re trying to numb themselves because of the pain they’re feeling internally,” said Faupel about teens and warning signs.

He said many of us miss the signs because we don’t want to ask the question: “Have you thought about suicide?”

“If you do not have the courage to ask the question, to deal with the question, then I would ask, are you prepared to deal with the aftermath of losing your son or daughter? it’s that severe,” said Faupel.

Through its Get Schooled Tour program, RemedyLIVE has talked to more than 5,000 northeast Indiana school kids. Of those teens, 26 percent said they have thought of suicide. A relatively high number, but not surprising since the state of Indiana often leads the nation in the same category.

But if you think your child would always turn to you for help, don’t be too confident. When asked who they would go to if they were struggling, 21 percent of our local kids said their parents, 2 percent said a teacher, 57 percent would choose a friend, and 20 percent would keep it all to themselves.

“Mom and Dad have to ‘parent up,’ and say I’m going to spend time with my kid. I’m going to ask them hard questions as well as the fun questions, because I care too much about them,” said Clinton Faupel.

He said to remember a few simple rules when dealing with your teen:

He said to also not hesitate to seek professional help. In addition to, you can call 800-284-8439 or text “lookup” to 494949 to speak with a professional 24 hours a day. You can also go to to find help.

Bob Becker agrees that it is time to end the stigma associated with mental health and suicide. He said don’t hesitate to get your child help.

“Get ’em help. Get ’em help. They can tell you they don’t need it. I don’t care what they tell you, you’re the parent. Get ’em the help,” Becker pleaded.

KENDALLVILLE, Ind. (WANE) – Every year, it’s estimated that 1.2 million kids are trafficked around the world. That’s why Destiny Rescue has made it its mission to save as many as possible. Now a northeast Indiana family is leaving the lives they’ve known to help rescue girls in Thailand.

“It’s what God wants me to do,” Eileen Meyer said. “I’m extremely humbled to have this opportunity . It’s a privilege.”

For the next two years, Meyer and her son Aaron and his wife, Shirel, will live and work in Thailand with Destiny Rescue, a Christian non-profit organization that rescues girls from the sex trade. In the last seven years, the organization has saved 1,500 girls, many younger than 16 years old.

“We go in undercover and pretend to be customers and look for these young kids and help them get out,” Kirk Falconer, the CEO for Destiny Rescue USA, which is based in Syracuse, Indiana, said.

“To me it’s like a duty has been placed on me,” Aaron Meyer, who will be doing undercover work in Thailand, said.

A sense to serve is not new to Aaron. His father was a Navy Seal and he was an Indiana State Police trooper for four years.

“I was supposed to do that and I do believe it was for a time such as this, to give me the background and training and experience to do this,” Aaron said.

Eileen left her job as an executive assistant at Dupont Hospital and will now use those skills working with Destiny Rescue’s founder in Thailand.

“As I look back at my career, it’s exactly what I’ve been called to do,” Eileen said.

Shirel will train to be a counselor and while they’re saving girls on the other side of the world, they’re also bringing one of their own into the world. Baby Isabella is due September 23rd.

“We feel so strongly that when you’re called to do something, you do it and you’re going to be equipped with things. We believe our child is supposed to be a part of this,” Aaron said.

Through trust, kindness and love, Destiny Rescue brings girls from slavery to salvation.

“Let them experience love, at the very least from another human being. That’s been keeping me motivated and focused and helping me prepare for what I have to do,” Aaron said.

After they are rescued from the sex trade, the girls are given counseling and then taught a trade.

“It’s rescue and restore and reintegrate. It’s a holistic approach to helping them escape abuse forever,” Falconer said. “To keep them free forever, we give them skills and confidence to find safe, rewarding work. It’s beyond beautiful that we get to be part of setting these kids free. It’s amazing.”

KENDALLVILLE, Ind. (WANE) – An 18-month-old was struck and killed by a vehicle Wednesday evening in Kendallville, according to Kendallville Police Department Chief Robyn Wiley.

Wiley said emergency personnel were called to the Carriage House Apartments, 340 Ashton Drive, around 7:15 p.m.

The toddler was pronounced dead at the scene.

Wiley said the investigation is ongoing and additional details were not made available.

Several agencies are involved with the investigation, including the Indiana Department of Child Services.