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Allen County Public Library honors devoted volunteer

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♦For more information about Access Fort Wayne, go to www.acpl..

♦For more information about Northeast Indiana Radio Reading Service, go to www.acpl.lib.in.us/.

Aldon Bultemeier has given 3,000 hours to Access Fort Wayne.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009 - 12:01 am

Aldon Bultemeier may not be an author, but his name is in the front of several books in the Allen County Public Library collection.

In a recent letter from the library staff, Bultemeier was commended for volunteering 3,000 hours to Access Fort Wayne (AFW), the city's public-access cable TV stations.

Since 2002, Bultemeier has helped produce a number of AFW shows at its production facility, which is on the first floor of the Allen County Public Library. (Go to www.acpl.lib.in.us for AFW's daily programming schedule).

The shows Bultemeier has helped produce include “Tell America” (9:30 p.m. Thursday), “Reach Out” (12:30 p.m. Sunday), “Speakers and Leaders” (Live 7 p.m. the first Tuesday of each month), and “Mind, Body and Spirit” (9:30 a.m. Wednesdays). Each of the programs is shown on Comcast Cable Channel 57.

Bultemeier tapes two shows in a three-hour segment twice a month. He has also covered remote shows away from the studio, such as a University of Saint Francis football game.

In addition, Bultemeier has contributed a vast amount of time as a volunteer with Northeast Indiana Radio Reading Service (NEIRRS), a free radio reading service for people who are blind or have a visual or reading impairment. From the organization's facility on DiSalle Boulevard in Fort Wayne, volunteers provide daily live readings of local news and features from newspapers, magazines and books over sideband radio.

In recent months, NEIRRS joined the library under the supervision of AFW.

Bultemeier spends about five hours each week running the NEIRRS control room. The radio station broadcasts 24 hours a day, seven days a week, providing free service to listeners in northeast Indiana and northwest Ohio who have been given a special receiver.

As part of the library's recognition of Bultemeier's efforts, he was asked to select three categories of books from a list provided to him. The library staff added a new book to the collection from each of those categories, affixing a sticker to each that explained his volunteer work.

Bultemeier, a retired electrician from BAE Systems on Taylor Street in Fort Wayne, chose books on science and photography, the latter of which is a personal hobby. “I looked for anything to do with audio-visual work,” he says.

Bultemeier's interest in audio-visual work began in 1980, when he began recording church services from Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Ossian, where he attends. The radio broadcasts were designed for people unable to attend church, usually due to health reasons.

The program, “The Voice of Bethlehem,” still airs on WZBD, 92.7-FM, at 11:30 a.m. Sundays in Decatur and Berne, though Bultemeier's sons, Brian and Bruce, are now in charge of the radio broadcasts. Aldon provides the added service of producing videotapes of church services, which are taken to shut-ins and residents of Ossian Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center.

It was through his volunteer work that Bultemeier heard about the opportunity to provide free public TV coverage for Fort Wayne-area viewers through AFW. In 2002, Bultemeier retired and became involved with AFW. He has volunteered there ever since.

Bultemeier has found significant benefits from volunteering with AFW. In 2004, he began assisting Charlotte Schulze, another AFW volunteer who produced the show called “Movers, Shakers, and Undertakers.” The show ran from September 2003 until 2006.

More importantly, Bultemeier and Schulze married in 2007. (Bultemeier's first wife of 35 years, Joyce, had died of cancer in 2001).

Bultemeier encourages other people to volunteer time with AFW and NEIRRS.

“We're always looking for more help,” he says. “If someone has an interest in audio or video work, it's a great opportunity to find out more about that field with hands-on experience.

“Beginners usually spend 20 hours learning the mechanics of operating a studio camera. They may then progress to operating a camcorder for remotes.

“More experienced volunteers learn to work in the AFW control room and soundboard. There are even opportunities to become an assistant director, director and producer.”

He adds that students as young as 11 may become volunteers.

Those who desire to produce their own show through AFW may find it easy to do so.

“There is no charge to use the equipment,” says Bultemeier. “An individual just has to come up with an idea and go with it.”

Besides falling in love with an AFW volunteer and having his name in a few library books, why does Bultemeier continue to volunteer with NEIRRS and AFW?

“It's a great way to work with my hobby and the community at the same time,” he says.