Friday, January 19, 2018

Frankenstein Friday - Part 1

Happy Frankenstein Friday! You can read Frankenstein along with us every Friday as we celebrate it's 200th birthday in 2018. Read, think and talk with us this week :  

North Judson-San Pierre School Board Elects Board of Finance Officers

Posted on January 19, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The North Judson San-Pierre School Board elected officers to their Board of Finance when they met Tuesday evening.

Members elected Sheila Akers to the President position and Jim Menis was elected to serve as secretary. Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin stated that Indiana state law requires the finance board to meet annually after the first of the year and on or before the final day of January.

Additionally, board members unanimously approved the decision to retain First National Bank of Monterey as the school corporation’s depository bank.

North Judson Town Council Discusses Umbaugh Contract and Change to the Town’s Point of Contact

Posted on January 19, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, wkvi

The North Judson Town Council members renewed the town’s contract with Umbaugh and Associates when they met Monday evening.

Council President Wendy Hoppe mentioned that Umbaugh really helped save the town money last year. The council members noted that the contract appeared to be identical to last years and Town Attorney Justin Schramm said he felt comfortable moving forward with it.

The contract secures Umbaugh for consulting services related to the 2019 Budget and any other financial matters. There’s a $7,000 maximum for budget consultation, but if all the time is not used then the town will not be charged the full amount.

Though no changes were made to the agreement itself, Clerk-Treasurer Andrew Rowe mentioned that there has been a switch in who serves as the town’s point of contact. He said he initially worked with Eric Walsh, but now that Walsh has become a partner, he’s working with another employee.

The new point of contact is Jeffery Weaver, who is in the process of taking his CPA exam. Rowe added that though Weaver has been helpful with certain things, he doesn’t feel that he’s receiving the same quality of assistance as before.

“… I think there are some things that might be new to him, it’s as simple as that…We work in Keystone and he’s not especially skilled in Keystone…but coming here it’s almost like we’re figuring things out together and I don’t know, I just expected for $140 an hour that it would have been a little different.”

Clerk-Treasurer Rowe said he wasn’t interested in discontinuing services with Umbaugh and he felt that Weaver was doing a good job with the aspects is was familiar with but he just wanted to alert the council members of the changes.

The contract was unanimously approved and Councilman John Rowe noted that if they are unsatisfied with the service they receive this year, they can look to renegotiate next year.

County Council Clarifies Police Pay

Posted on January 19, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Council members cleared up some confusion on county police pay.

The council members approved a $5,000 raise for Starke County police officers for 2018, but they were unsure about the three percent raise that was proposed them in addition to the raise.

Auditor Kay Chaffins explained that the three percent increase is in effect for all employees, but the council had not approved the increase for the patrolman. The council unanimously approved the three percent increase for the patrol officers with the Starke County Sheriff’s Office.

The county has not yet received the budget for 2018.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Capital Projects Update Provided at North Judson-San Pierre School Board Meeting

Posted on January 18, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin provided the North Judson-San Pierre School members with a capital projects update when they met Tuesday night.

Dr. Zupin informed members that the emergency renovations to the pool are officially complete and it is fully operational. The pool area will now have renovations done to the dehumidification system as a part of the capital projects.

She explained that a pre-bid meeting was held on Thursday, January 4th and bids were due on Wednesday, January 17th. At the next school board meeting on Tuesday, February 20th, bids will be reviewed and approved by the school board and contracts will be assigned.

North Judson Town Marshal Proposes K9 Vehicle Purchase

Posted on January 18, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

North Judson Town Marshall Kelly Fisher presented town council members with a few different options for police vehicles when they met Monday night.

Fisher told them that she’s been seeking a vehicle that can be utilized by Officer Rico Simpson once the K9 is obtained from Vohne Liche Kennels.

She explained that $10,000 is currently set aside for the purchase of a code enforcement vehicle. However, she presented members with a proposal to utilize that money for a K9 vehicle instead.

Fisher said, “If we can hand Rico’s car down to the ordinance officer and then maybe if we could use that $10,000 plus maybe another 5 out of our donations to buy him an SUV.”

She mentioned that if their current part-time K9 officer chooses not to continue his contract in February, the new K9 SUV could replace the part-time vehicle on the insurance. If that were to happen, the cost of insurance would not be impacted.

She showed members a few different used SUV options, one of which was fully equipped. She explained that if they went with any of the others, the only necessary attachments that would need to be purchased would be the NJPD Decals, a heat sensor and a door popper.

Other additions such as lights, mounts and the dog kennel are already available through the police department. She stated that equipping a car from scratch costs around $8,000, so re-using some of the features they already have will save them a lot of money.

Fisher added that Simon’s Speed Shop offered to install the kennel and the necessary internal features in whichever vehicle is selected.

Council members asked Fisher to select the vehicle she wants to go with and write out all of the things that would need to be added. They said they would officially consider her recommendation at the next town council meeting.

School Superintendents Monitor State Legislative Proposals

Posted on January 18, 2018
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Local school superintendents are keeping an eye on some bills being considered by the Indiana General Assembly.

One of the big concerns is that the state hadn’t set aside enough money to distribute to local schools according to the state’s funding formula. West Central Superintendent Don Street says he’s watching the efforts currently underway to fix the problem. “There’s a bill going through that will allow some more money through the state Rainy Day Fund, surplus cash,” he explains. “That money will be allocated to schools to help us not have a deficit from what we had been promised or anticipated in getting, based upon our ADM and some of the other formulas involved with that.”

Meanwhile, Eastern Pulaski Superintendent Dan Foster says he’s keeping an eye on changes to the state’s A-to-F grading system. “If you’ve read any of the articles, basically about half of the State Board of Education didn’t know this was coming at that meeting, and yet, it got passed,” he says. “So now they’ll open public comments in a few weeks, and we’ll see where that goes. Hopefully, calmer heads will prevail, and it won’t be as bad as we think.”

But beyond that, Foster says there are some bills that aren’t specifically related to education, but would still have a big impact on public schools. During Monday’s school board meeting, Foster highlighted two different Senate bills that aim to raise Indiana’s minimum wage. “That’s going to hit us in the budget, and where does that money come from? We’re a tax-based organization. We don’t have the option to go raise our prices.”

Senate Bill 308 proposes raising the minimum hourly wage to $11.31, while Senate Bill 121 would gradually raise it up to $15 between now and 2021

Starke County Council Discusses New Job Title for Jail Employee

Posted on January 18, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Council members will be revising the salary ordinance to allow for a Starke County Sheriff’s Office employee helping out with case work.

Newly-appointed County Council President Brad Hazelton read aloud from a letter that an employee who had worked with the county for several years was hired as a part-time jailer at $14.00 an hour, which is higher than the $12.51 rate of pay, because of his many years of experience.

Sheriff Bill Dulin explained that Ron Lawson, who has 34 years of previous experience in police work, has been helping with detective work with a backlog of 400 cases, and gathering statistical information for grants, filing timely reports among other clerical work. According to Dulin, he was hired as a part-time jailer but was offered a higher rate because of his experience. Dulin added that Lawson was originally hired as a part-time officer, but the pay was less and the line item would have been exhausted of funds by April.

In order to pay him at a rate of no more than $14 an hour, a new job title needs to be created in the salary ordinance with a set rate per hour. The county council members unanimously approved this action to take place. Sheriff Dulin will present a job description for a jail clerk to be presented for approval at the February meeting. Both the county council and commissioners will need to review the proposed job description and funding.

Starke County Community Corrections, Probation, Sheriff Asks for Letter of Support

Posted on January 18, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Community Corrections, in partnership with the Starke County Probation Department and the Starke County Sheriff’s Office, are working to submit a grant request for programs and funding.

Community Corrections Director Robert Hinojosa said this is the ninth year of requesting funding for community corrections and the second year for jail treatment programs and pretrial funding.

Pretial Officer Chuck Phillips said there are no increases in funding for his salary and benefits of $63,000. User fees would be used to cover any increases should they be necessary.

Sheriff Bill Dulin said his portion of the grant application would include funding for the Intensive Outpatient Program facilitated by Porter-Starke Services.

“Our portion of the grant is the IOP programs – the in-custody substance abuse programs,” said Sheriff Dulin. “I’ll give you some round numbers. In the nine months that we’ve had, I believe we’ve had 126 inmates have gone through and nine have been re-arrested. The recidivism rate is right around 15 percent while the national average is 67 percent. This is a huge component of what we do and what we’re trying to do with the heroin problem and the methamphetamine problem. It also addresses our GED program and our Alcoholic Anonymous program.”

The Starke County Sheriff’s Office is asking for $75,763 which is the same amount requested as last year.

Hinojosa said the community corrections program has grown in Starke County. However, they are asking for the same amount for operating costs which is $324,401.

“We are going to continue to target high risk offenders,” commented Hinojosa. “We won’t spend a lot of resources with low risk offenders. Those are people who have pretty much lived a good life and got into trouble. If you kind of leave them alone, they’ll do okay. So you focus on high risk offenders and that’s one of the things that the DOC really liked about our proposal which is why we’ve received funding for years.”

The total amount of funding requested is $463,064.

Hinojosa mentioned that the state recognizes several important factors in that all three entities are working together to reduce redundancy in programs and collaborating for efficiency.

The commissioners voted unanimously to sign a letter of support that will go along with the application. The application will be electronically filed at the end of the month and notification of funds will be announced in March or April. The funds will be available July 1.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

North Judson Clerk-Treasurer Addresses Un-Cashed Checks

Posted on January 17, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

At the North Judson Town Council meeting Monday night, Clerk-Treasurer Andrew Rowe alerted members that there are several un-cashed checks on the books that go back several years.

Rowe mentioned that on all checks dispersed by the town, it states that they can be receipted back if they haven’t deposited after 2-years. Clerk-Treasurer Rowe said after speaking to the State Board of Accounts about the matter, the plan is to receipt all checks back into the town.

However, there was one check for Fire Captain Eric Wappel from 2015 that was apparently lost. Rowe was seeking to reimburse Wappel for the fire pay he never deposited. He worked with Town Attorney Justin Schramm to draw up an affidavit requesting that the first check be declared null and void, and a new check for the original amount of $973.02 be written up and given to the fire captain.

The town council members unanimously approved Rowe’s request to cancel the initial check and reimburse Wappel for the lost funds.

Rowe added that the remainder of the checks will be addressed in March. He’s looking to get them all off the books so he won’t need to continue reconciling them each month.