Thursday, February 22, 2018

Starke County Commissioners Hear Request on Road Abandonment

Posted on February 22, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Commissioners entertained a request from a resident about the abandonment of a road during their meeting this week.

Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler explained that resident Dan Gumz just bought property on 200 East north of 50 S. from 50 S. to the dead end and Division Road from 300 East to the dead end that meet. The previous owner gated the road to keep out trespassers and the county hasn’t maintained it for about 25 years, according to Ritzler. The road is in the county inventory. However Gumz asked if the county would like to abandon the road or resume maintenance.

Commission President Donnie Binkley was asked to look at the road and he stated that he doesn’t want any county property vacated. There is a culvert that needs changed and the road needs re-stoned.

Commissioner Kathy Norem said if the county is to maintain the road, then the gate would have to be removed as a gated road could be recognized as a private road.

After much discussion, the commissioners suggested getting opinions from the adjacent land owners on their opinion about the ownership of the road and if the road is to remain under the maintenance of the land owners. If the wish is for the county to maintain the road, the gate would need to be removed.

The commissioners will get an update at their next meeting.

Amended Salary Ordinance Fails to Pass on First Reading at NJ Town Council Meeting

Posted on February 22, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

An ordinance amending the approved 2018 salary ordinance was considered on first reading during Monday night’s North Judson Town Council meeting.

When the town council members passed the salary ordinance back in January, it included a 3 percent raise across the board, except for Town Marshal Kelly Fisher who forfeited her raise to supplement the raises of her officers.

In the initial ordinance, town council members were included in the individuals who would receive the raise. However, Town Attorney Justin Schramm said that due to when the ordinance was passed, that raise could potentially be seen as questionable by state officials.

“Because we had so many things that were stacked up, we actually didn’t get ours passed until January 2nd of 2018. The State Board of Accounts doesn’t like that, they consider it a conflict of interest if you’re a legislative body and you vote yourself a raise, you can’t take it until the following year.” Schramm explained, “Since we didn’t get ours passed until 2018, the Town Council, the legislative body, can’t vote themselves a 3% raise.”

Schramm elaborated, saying that this was really just an issue of timing, rather than an ethical concern since the council members didn’t know they weren’t permitted to accept the raise. However, should they ever be audited, he said the members could be asked to return that money at some point down the line.

Schramm added that if they wish to take a raise in 2019, it will need to be approved prior to the first of the year.

When it came time to vote, Council President Wendy Hoppe, Councilman Josh Browne and Councilman James Young voted in favor, while Councilman John Rowe abstained. Since Councilwoman Jane Ellen Felchuck was not present, the ordinance was not passed. Schramm explained that in order for it to pass on first reading it would have needed 2/3rd approval and it only received 3/5ths.

The amended ordinance will be considered on second reading during the next North Judson Town Council meeting.

North Judson-San Pierre School Board Approves Contractors for Lease Project

Posted on February 22, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

North Judson-San Pierre School Board members awarded several contracts for the corporation’s Lease Project when they met Tuesday evening.

Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin explained that when bids were opened in January, they discovered that they came in under budget. This will allow the corporation to move forward with some of their alternate bids which included upgrades to the baseball and softball fields, stairwell renovations, roofing and lighting work.

Zupin added that they will also be able to have signage installed on route 10 to inform motorists they’re on the NJSP campus. She said it will be an electronic sign where they will be able to put various school information and community announcements.

NJSP Maintenance Director Wilbur Collins presented a list of contractors for the various work that will be done with this Lease Project.

Town & Country Paving submitted the lowest bid for the tennis courts in the amount of $296,996. Collins added they’re teaming up with Leslie Coatings Inc, an Indianapolis-based company that is recognized as one of the biggest tennis court builders in the area.

Korellis Roofing, Inc submitted a base bid of $568,633 and Wilbur also included their alternate bid of $142,870 for a total roof replacement bid of $711,503.

For general construction, Millwood Roofing and Construction submitted a base bid of $718,000 and Wilbur mentioned their alternate bid for stairway panels which was $15,000. Their total bid for general construction came in at $733,000.

D.A. Dodd, LLC submitted a bid of $203,920 for plumbing. Collins added that D.A. Dodd has worked with the school in the past. Continental Electric Company, Inc submitted a bid of $139,400 for the electrical contract.

H&G Services submitted a bid of $1,464,000 for mechanical work. Collins said that work will include the air handlers, the temperature controls and the dehumidification system for the pool. H&G Services also submitted a bid of $102,650 for the technology contract.

The lighting contract was divided up because there are several spots on the schools’ campus that will be getting new lighting. The company EMCOR Hyre Electric submitted a base bid of $467,000, an alternate bid of $51,000 for house lights, another alternate bid of $25,850 for tennis court lights and a third alternate bid of $24,000 for atrium lights for a total lighting bid of $567,850.

The contractors recommended by Collins received unanimous board approval. Fanning Howey Construction Administrator Edward Sawa added that the next step is to issue the notice to proceed and get the contracts to the companies.

He mentioned that sometime over the next few weeks, they will need to hold a pre-construction meeting with the contractors to lay out schedules and discuss responsibilities.

Indiana Department of Homeland Security Collecting Property Damage Reports, Following Flooding

Posted on February 22, 2018
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Those who’ve experienced property damage due to recent flooding can report it to the Indiana Department of Homeland Security. Department officials say homeowners, renters, businesses, and non-profit organizations can all report uninsured damage caused by severe storms and flooding since February 15. That could include structural damage to homes, as well as the loss of personal property.

The Indiana Department of Homeland Security stresses that the damage report is not an application for grant funding. Instead, the information will help state and local agencies figure out whether they might qualify for state or federal aid for recovery efforts.

To fill out a damage assessment report, visit the Indiana Department of Homeland Security’s website.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Starke County Council Discusses Funding for SCEDF

Posted on February 21, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Funding for the Starke County Economic Development Foundation and the SCILL Center was discussed by the Starke County Council members Monday night.

Larry Wickert from the Starke County Economic Development Foundation presented the additional appropriation requests. He said the funding amounts are requested every year and the funding amount hasn’t changed. The foundation appropriation is in the amount of $180,000 while the SCILL Center would be funded at $80,000. The county normally pays the amounts in a spring installment and fall installment. Also included in the request was funding for maintenance and electric for the Hamlet firewell totaling $15,000.

A question about an upcoming contract negotiation between the county and the foundation was mentioned, but the funding amount was not modified in preliminary discussions.

The council approved the requests as presented with a unanimous vote.

North Judson Police Department Welcomes K9 Jimy to the Force

Posted on February 21, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The highly anticipated addition to the North Judson Police Department is finally here.

Yesterday, Officer Rico Simpson picked his K9 partner out of more than 300 dogs at Vohne Liche Kennels. The dual-purpose K9 that he chose is named Jimy.

As a dual-purpose dog, Jimy will be able to assist with patrol work such as narcotics detection and apprehension, as well as tracking. Town Marshall Kelly Fisher previously reported that the tracking capabilities could not only help with finding criminals, but they could also come in handy for missing persons cases.

The purchase of this police dog was made possible through the gracious donations of many community members and business owners.

Aside from countless monetary donations, some services have been offered along the way. Various local businesses have assisted with outdoor kennel construction and required vehicle attachments for the K9 SUV, while others have volunteered to help with things such as food, grooming and veterinary visits at no cost to the department.

Officer Simpson will spend about a week with his new K9 partner before they head off to training on Monday. Simpson will be making the commute to the Vohne Liche Kennels facility for 6 weeks in order to complete necessary training.

NJPD K9 Jimy

Officer Rico Simpson, K9 Jimy & 
Town Council President Wendy Hoppe.

Officer Simpson & K9 Jimy at
Vohne Liche Kennels. 

North Judson-San Pierre School Board Approves Purchase for Three Buses

Posted on February 21, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

North Judson-San Pierre will be adding a few new buses to their fleet, following a decision made by school board members last night.

Treasurer Guy Richie explained that the school utilized the Central Indiana Education Service Center to conduct an online bidding process. In their bid, Kerlin Bus Sales included that NJSP would be able to trade-in three buses for a trade-in allowance totaling $16,500. Richie said after factoring in the trades, the lowest bid came in at $232,169 from Kerlin.

Richie added that the funds for the purchase were already appropriated into the bus replacement fund in this year’s budget. He recommended that the school board members approve the lowest bid from Kerlin.

The board members voted unanimously to accept the bid from Kerlin Bus Sales and as a result, three 72-passenger buses will be purchased.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

North Judson Town Council Members Discuss Advertisement for Cemetery Mowing and Additional Duties

Posted on February 20, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

North Judson Town Council members considered the advertisement for cemetery mowing when they met Monday night.

Individuals applying for this job would be bidding on lawn care, leaf clean up and debris removal for both Highland and Pioneer Cemeteries. They would be expected to provide all labor, equipment and fuel.

Members noted that the proposed advertisement was the same as last year’s. However, since they experienced some problems with last year’s service, they wanted to avoid any potential confusion by clearly stating what is expected of the bidder.

Clerk-Treasurer Andrew Rowe was asked to add a part that includes fence clean-up in the duties, as trash often blows over and gets stuck there and in the past that has been neglected.

Town Attorney Justin Schramm added that they should use the phrase “organic and inorganic refuse” when discussing debris in order to cover things such as leaves, sticks and grass clippings as well as trash and other items that may be cluttering the cemetery.

Council members agreed to send the advertisement to past bidders and to post it in the Leader and the Market once Clerk-Treasurer Rowe adjusts the language to reflect their suggestions.

According to Rowe, the plan is to have the advertisement out by March 2nd. He said they’ll be accepting bids until noon on April 2nd. The submitted bids will then be considered when the town council meets that at 6:30 p.m that evening.

Starke County Council Tables Payment to U.S. 30 Coalition

Posted on February 20, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Council members want more information about what will be offered to Starke County in the proposed U.S. 30 freeway project before they pay $10,000 toward consultation fees for coalition efforts.

Councilman Dave Pearman asked Larry Wickert from the Starke County Economic Development Foundation about the payment as it was requested. The funds would come out of the commissioner’s County Economic Development Income Tax Fund. Wickert explained that six out of the seven counties involved in the proposed U.S. 30 project pay into the coalition. La Porte County is the only county that doesn’t pay. Wickert believes that U.S. 30 would stay rural in La Porte County and not see an impact. The county has the toll road for a focus.

The members of the U.S. 30 coalition have met several times to discuss how a proposed freeway would benefit Starke County. Pearman doesn’t want Starke County to “get the short end of the stick” in the process as he says there is plenty of agriculture opportunities and industry with the industrial park in Hamlet that would access Starke County off of U.S. 30. He specifically noted the Sysco property that is currently for sale on the west side of town.

Pearman said he supports the coalition, but he just wants more information.

Wickert and Pearman will be sitting down to discuss what the U.S. 30 coalition has to offer Starke County. In the meantime, Pearman made a motion to table the request until the council’s March meeting so more information could be obtained. The motion was seconded by Councilman Freddie Baker and all members voted in favor of the action.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Frankenstein Friday - Chapter 4

Celebrate Frankenstein Friday with us! Read along as the monster comes to life in Chapter 4.