Top 10 feature articles on Portage.Life in 2022

Top 10 feature articles on Portage.Life in 2022
By: Alayna Wilkening, Autum Meyers, Curtis Hankins, Gwen Mathis, Jovi Taylor, Lauren Grasham Last Updated: December 23, 2022

It’s not everyday that you get to sit down with a cancer survivor, a military veteran, a change-maker in the community, or a thriving high school student and get a look into what it’s like to live in their shoes. By sitting down with the members of this Region, we’re able to learn a bit more about their experiences, and also what makes them so great to have around.

It’s special moments like these that we are particularly proud to share on the GreatNews.Life sites, including Life in the Spotlights, Survivor Series, Veteran Spotlight, Leadership Life, City in the Spotlight, Voices, and more.

In no particular order, here are the top 10 feature articles on Portage.Life to recap the good news in 2022!

#1StudentNWI: Portage exhibits January as a new adventure

On December 21, 2021, Portage High School (PHS) went on winter break. Over break, students and faculty of PHS made the most of their breaks. 

Allison Conrad, a senior at PHS, spent a lot of time with her friends and family over break. Conrad’s favorite activity over break was spending time with her boyfriend during Christmas. 

Veteran Spotlight: Paulina Huffman

As a Dutch native, Paulina Huffman never pictured herself as a member of the United States military. Though her interest in serving began while she was in high school, she assumed her citizenship status would bar her ability to join.

A conversation during dinner with a friend radically changed Huffman’s career path. Huffman and her husband took a recruiter out to dinner to thank him for his help in getting her husband reenlisted. The recruiter said that Huffman should consider enlisting, but she was under the impression that her lack of citizenship would be an issue.

A Portage Life in the Spotlight: Jake Reeder

Jake Reeder is known as a father, husband, brother, son, and friend; but he is widely known as the General Manager (GM) of Reeder's Automotive Service Center in Portage, Ind.

During adolescence Reeder grew up in the Northwest region and graduated from Boone Grove High School (BGHS) in 2000. From the age of six to early adulthood, Reeder avidly played and enjoyed soccer. This avid love of soccer granted Reeder a scholarship at the University of Saint Frances (USF) in Fort Wayne, Ind. 

Midwest Express Clinic’s Danielle Keller: nurse practitioner, care-giver, Disney lover

Midwest Express Clinic (MEC) Nurse Practitioner Danielle Keller dreamed of working in the medical field ever since she was a child. Always interested in medicine, her interest was fueled by watching medical shows even at a young age.

“I’ve always been intrigued by medicine,” she said. “When I was a little girl my favorite TV show was ‘Rescue 911.’ I was never a cartoon girl because I was always into the medical shows.”

Veteran Spotlight: Jeffrey Imhof

Jeff Imhof joined the Army at 24 years old to fulfill a lifelong dream to serve in the military. The events of September 11, 2001, which occurred during Imhoff’s senior year of high school, made him especially eager to join. Though he attended college after graduating, he always knew he would end up in the service.

“I did what my parents asked me to do and at least try college, and it was not a fit for me. I always kept gravitating back towards the military. So essentially, this was something that was already in the works and I just finally pulled the trigger on it,” Imhof said.

#1StudentNWI: Portage students March into Spring Break

This month, the Portage music department put on their spring concerts. To get in the spirit of the upcoming and highly anticipated spring season; the department put their musical and instrumental ensembles to work to bring the Portage community some remarkable performances.

The opening spring concert featured the jazz band conducted by William Timmerman; the following concert featured the advanced and regular band conducted Drew Rhoda; the third concert featured the advanced and regular orchestra conducted by Annalise Rhoda; and the final concert featured the regular and advanced choirs conducted by Jordan Dollins.

Cancer Survivor Series: Bill Nelson 

On January 26, 2016, Bill Nelson was hit with the most life changing news. Nelson was diagnosed with Medullary Thyroid Cancer (MTC). MTC is a very rare and incurable thyroid cancer.

“I assumed I wouldn’t be alive by the end of the year. The word 'incurable' is difficult to deal with and felt so final, like there was no chance of hope, no way forward; like a death sentence,” said Nelson.

#1StudentNWI: Portage High School’s last month of school promises summer, graduations, and fun

With the last month of school coming to a close, the PHS Music Department put on their annual end of the year music festivals. On May 5, the PHS Orchestra performed their final concert of the year and their senior members wore their prom dresses as tradition. Then on May 12, the PHS Band performed at their last concert with great style.

The final musical concert of the PHS school year was performed by the PHS choir. Unlike the other two musical PHS groups, the PHS Choir has a theme every year. This year's theme was BritBash and featured a variety of composers and musicians who came from Britain and made great success in the United States.

Northshore Health Center’s Sherry Hall set to retire after 15 years of dedicated service

After 15 years of service, Sherry Hall, a legend at NorthShore Health Centers, is retiring this month. Hall has handled accounting and payroll for the nonprofit health care provider since their main office was a small clinic tucked away in Portage High School. She has seen the organization grow to now serve tens of thousands of patients each year across the Region.

Hall’s sister, Janice Wilson, founded the clinic over 25 years ago and she joined the team after leaving her role as an elected official in the Town of New Chicago. Hall had experienced all kinds of work with numbers and bookkeeping since the ‘70s, and Wilson saw an opportunity to bring her aboard since Wilson’s accounting manager was retiring and moving away.

A Portage Life in the Spotlight: Jim Peters

Everyone knows that doing what you love can be difficult. No one knows that better than Jim Peters, a lifelong sports writer. After losing his job due to the pandemic, Peters was literally days away from having to get a job at a grocery store. However, he pushed through and stuck with his passion, and things started to get better. He could’ve given up, but he didn’t. 

Peters grew up in Hobart and went to Andrean High School. After graduating, he went to Purdue University and studied Mass Communications. Not completely sure what he wanted to end up doing, he let life lead the way.