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News from the Bluffton Lions for November 2023

By Paula Scott

A visit to the Bluffton Lions Club meeting on November 21 provided updates from the organization and a chance to learn about Bluffton’s police department straight from Chief Ryan Burkholder, who made a presentation and answered questions from members.

Applications from Dwain Hall and Mark Bourassa were approved.

Three Bluffton students were named as Peace Poster winners. First place award was awarded to Samantha Ruller; her poster will go to the district for judging. Runner-up contestants Tessa Tarplee and Georgia Haagen attended the meeting and were presented with checks by Lion Ed Yeager.                                 

SPEAKER OF THE DAY                      
Bluffton Police Chief Burkholder made a presentation on his department including a brief biography and the changes that he has seen during the 20 years he has been with the department and 7 years he has served as chief. Burkholder is a Bluffton native and BHS graduate. He served in the Marines including deployment to Iraq. 


The Chief talked about the department’s makeup including a Lieutenant, Sargent, Corporal, and a School Resource Officer, as well as four full-time officers and two part-time officers. Six officers have college degrees; there are currently three women among full-time officers. There is currently one job open.

To keep department training up to date, the Chief has created a team of officers who are themselves trainers in areas including firearms, ALICE, Lidar (light detection and ranging), so that they can train each other and avoid extensive travel for classes.

The School Safety Officer position is filled by Officer Hope Hannah. Burkholder says there has been a very positive response from students and staff. The officer’s role is to provide faster response and to be a deterrent to active shooter situations, as well as to be present when students need help.

Burkholder noted that while he enjoys the village’s “Mayberry” qualities such as the fact that officers can go home to lunch or dinner, that the community and police force must be prepared for new threats. He observed that vehicle pursuits previously averaged three a year; now there are 9-12 per year.

The Icon asked Burkholder if body cameras are in the department’s future. He said that they are likely to be in a future car system upgrade and that they save officers from false complaints.

The Lion members asked for a demonstration of the special women’s bicycle that was supported by a donation from the club and researched by Bike Crazy LLC. Burkholder showed how lightweight yet durable the bike is and explained that it has excellent shifting and braking capabilities. Bikes are quiet and help officers access locations that can’t be reached with a patrol car.


  • A donation of $300 to a Bryan Lion to assist in purchasing an eSight low vision device was approved by the board.
  • V.P. John Rich reminded members that nominations for Citizen of the Year will open January 1. He noted that past nominees “stay in the hopper” and that new nominees must be in writing.


  • $100 Jeff Larson ticket sold by Lion Stephonie Larson
  • $50 Angela Polachek ticket sold by Lion Patty Navin
  • $30 Mike Biederman ticket sold by Lion Gene Long
  • $20 Susan Kaufman ticket sold by Lion Barbara Plaugher

The Lions held their annual roadside cleanup on Saturday, November 4, a rain date. The cleanup crew included Lions Andrew Rager, Mike Minnig, Bill Watkins and Jerry Szabo.   


  • December 5: Board meeting at 6:00 p.m. at Town Hall
  • December 12: Christmas Dinner at 6:00 p.m at Marbeck Center, Bluffton University

For more information on the Bluffton Lions Club, visit


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