Friday, December 30, 2016

January 2017 - Quote of the Month

Cardiac Arrest vs Heart Attack

From Starke Hospital:  Think you're having heart trouble? DON'T WAIT. Get to the ER fast! Thanks to the American Heart Association for this great infographic.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Starke Circuit Court Schedules Emergency Hearing on Railroad Township Fire Protection Contract

Posted on December 29, 2016
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The controversy surrounding the planned restructuring of the San Pierre Volunteer Fire Department has led to an emergency hearing in Starke Circuit Court. A complaint filed on behalf of Fire Chief Joe Kryzyzanowski and Railroad Township Board members Clarence Gehrke and Gus Eckert requests an emergency order allowing the department to continue providing fire protection under a temporary contract.

It states that Township Trustee Mandy Thomason has so far failed to present board members with a contract, as requested by Gehrke and Eckert last week. The complaint alleges that Thomason’s decision not to renew the San Pierre Volunteer Fire Department’s contract violates Indiana’s Open Door Law, since it didn’t happen during an advertised board meeting.

However, Attorney Stephen Buschmann says that since the township trustee is an executive and not a governing body, she is not bound by Open Door Law, according to Township Trustee Clerk Sarah Gillard. Buschmann represents Thomason, and acts as general counsel for the Indiana Township Association.

That raises the question of whether Thomason has the authority to make decisions about fire protection without approval of the township board. Buschmann says she does. However, Attorney Cassandra Hine, who filed the complaint, says she doesn’t.

The emergency hearing is scheduled for tomorrow morning at 11:30 in Starke Circuit Court. The Railroad Township Board plans to meet in special session tomorrow evening at 6:00 at the San Pierre Fire Station to potentially consider a contract.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

1/21/2017 The Jungle Book Movie

Mark your calendar so you join us on January 21st as the North Judson-Wayne Township Library presents the movie "The Jungle Book". Our presentation will start at 11 a.m. in the library Activity Room. We hope to see you here. 

Mowgli is a human boy who, as a young child, was adopted by a pack of wolves. The appearance of a villainous tiger named Shere Khan forces Mowgli's guardian, the panther Bagheera, to shepherd the child to safety in the "man village." Along the way, the boy meets an affable, lazy bear named Baloo, as well as a snake with hypnotic powers and an orangutan who wants to harness the power of fire.

Lawsuit Filed Against Railroad Township Trustee, Advisory Board Member

Posted on December 28, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

A lawsuit filed on behalf of three Railroad Township advisory board members against the township trustee secretary claims the Dec. 15 meeting in which the trustee announced plans to abolish the San Pierre Volunteer Fire Department violated the state’s Open Door Law.

The suit claims Trustee Mandy Thomason and board member Michael Lawecki were in attendance at the meeting, but advisory board President Clarence Gehrke and member August Eckert were not notified in advance. Thomason announced via Facebook the day of the meeting that a session was taking place “regarding the status of fire protection in Railroad Township.”

The suit notes a special township advisory board meeting may be held if the Trustee, chairman of the legislative body or a majority of the members issue a written notice of the meeting to each member of the legislative body. Such a notice must state the time, place and purpose of the meeting.

The state’s Open Door Law also requires notice of at least 48 hours prior to the meeting be posted at the legislative body’s principal office, which in this case is the San Pierre Fire Station, or at the building where the meeting took place. The lawsuit contends the location of the Dec. 15th meeting is not currently known to the plaintiff.

State law provides for the filing of a declaratory judgment to declare void any policy, decision or final action taken during a meeting for which proper legal notice was not provided.

During the Dec. 15 meeting, Thomason announced a new plan for fire protection in Railroad Township. The proposed “restructuring” of the San Pierre Fire Department, Inc. to create the “Railroad Township Volunteer Fire Department. The suit contends that action pertained directly to official Railroad Township business.

State law also requires any fire protection plan of a township trustee to be approved by that township’s legislative body. The suit states “A township trustee has no statutory authority to unilaterally act on fire protection matters.”

The suit also contends there was not a quorum of the township’s legislative body present during the Dec. 15th meeting. Only one advisory board member was in attendance, and two are required to meet that requirement.

Also, the trustee is required to obtain the township board’s approval before expending funds on fire protection services and equipment, according to the lawsuit. It contends the trustee has failed to obtain said approval for the funding of the new entity.

State law also sets checks and balances between the trustee and advisory board for the purchasing of fire protection equipment and employing full or part-time personnel to staff a department. According to the lawsuit, “The Trustee lacks the express statutory authority to incorporate a Township’s volunteer fire department and to run same on behalf of the Township.”

The lawsuit notes a quorum of the township advisory board passed a resolution during a special called Dec. 21 meeting stating the board rejects fire protection services provided by any other entity than the San Pierre Fire Department and directed the Trustee to present them with a contract for consideration and approval during a scheduled Dec. 30 special meeting. The suit claims the trustee has yet to provide a contract to the advisory board.

View a copy of the railroad-township-lawsuit by clicking the attached link.

Editor’s note: The Railroad Township Trustee also has a Township Trustee Clerk, who receives a salary from the township and is responsible for taking minutes for the trustee. She is not named in the lawsuit.

N.J.-S.P. School Board Reviews ISTEP Scores

Posted on December 28, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

The North Judson-San Pierre School Corporation has been working for several weeks to raise ISTEP scores and school letter grades. Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin told the school board officials were anticipating low letter grades, and they were right. Last year was a new test, which made preparation difficult.

Overall, the corporation scored a “D” letter grade. The middle and high schools individually received D’s, while the elementary school got a B.

Math proficiency continues to be an issue, and it is addressed in both the elementary and junior/senior high school improvement plans. Both were presented to the school board in November.

N.J.-S.P. Elementary School Principal Mike McBride says school officials are collecting and analyzing data from a range of sources and adopting it to their in-house training and updated curriculum mapping. McBride says the elementary school is also working to improve academic proficiency across the curriculum and to continue to meet targets in reading and math.

N.J.-S.P. Elementary also has a Title 1 School-wide plan that is funded in part by the federal government. McBride says it includes making sure all core classes are taught by highly qualified teachers, ongoing professional development, inclusion of faculty in decision making, parental involvement through activities like literacy nights, assistance for students who are not proficient and working with all area preschool programs to ensure students are ready to start kindergarten.

N.J.-S.P. Junior/Senior High School Principal Jim Polite’s plan recognizes the first year of the new configuration. He says the school has increased its advanced placement and dual credit course offerings and is proud of its extremely successful agriculture program.

Polite acknowledges the needs to improve student proficiency in math by increasing the mastery of key concepts. He says they are administering STAR assessment tests at least three times per year to identify areas in need of remediation.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

1/10/2017 Creative Canvas with Tabitha

On the second Tuesday of each month Tabitha Dillner will host a painting class at the North Judson-Wayne Township Library.

Classes will run from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at a cost of $10 per 8x10 canvas.  (If interested in a different canvas size - 11x14 or 16x20 - contact Tabitha at 219-314-2030. ) The fee includes all materials, instructions, and light refreshments.

Class size is limited.  You can RSVP for classes by contacting the North Judson-Wayne Township Library by calling 574-896-2841 or emailing

ISP Releases More Information About Fatal Police Shooting

Posted on December 27, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

The Indiana State Police have released more information in last week’s fatal, police-involved Starke County shooting.

William R. Newman, 46, of Plymouth had an active Fulton County warrant for failure to appear for dealing methamphetamine and was also wanted for a parole violation by the Indiana State Parole Board.

Officers from the Starke County Sheriff’s Office and Knox City Police Department were trying to serve a felony warrant at Bailey’s Furniture, located just south of Toto Road on U.S. 35 last Wednesday morning.

In the process of the warrant service, investigators say a black GMC pickup truck drove through the closed garage door of the business and struck a marked Starke County Sheriff’s patrol car. The GMC driver then tried to run over another officer while attempting to flee.

That’s when officers fired their weapons, striking the truck and the driver, who was the sole occupant. He was taken to Starke Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

According to the Indiana State Police, Knox City Police Chief Harold Smith, Cpl. Chad Dulin and Detective Donald Ferguson with the Starke County Sheriff’s Office were involved in the shooting. The three have a combined 40 years of law enforcement service. None of the officers were injured.

State Fire Marshal Urges Proper Tree Disposal

Posted on December 27, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

Christmas is over, and Indiana State Fire Marshal Jim Greeson reminds Hoosiers to properly dispose of their live trees.

When a tree starts to drop needles, it means it is too dry and should be removed from the home, according to Greeson. He says dry trees are a fire hazard. The National Fire Prevention Association notes roughly one of every 34 reported home fires that begin with a Christmas tree resulted in death, compared to an average of one death per 142 total reported home fires.

All decorations should be removed before disposing of the tree.

Many communities offer a disposal or pickup service for Christmas trees. In Knox they can be dropped off at the brush pile behind city hall.

Recycle Indiana has a statewide list of Solid Waste Management Programs, which can found here: This service allows Indiana residents to locate waste management district and disposal options in their area.

If disposing of a Christmas tree at home, treat a tree as garden waste. Do not lean the tree against any structures, instead place in designated decomposition pile. Placing the tree in a garden or backyard can provide winter shelter for birds and other wildlife. Another option is chopping the tree for firewood for summer bonfires, or indoor use next winter when the wood is properly seasoned.

Friday, December 23, 2016

N.J.-S.P. Board Updated on Lighting Projects, Band Room Relocation

Posted on December 23, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

The North Judson-San Pierre School Corporation is taking on some lighting projects during the holiday break. Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin told the school board Tuesday improvements at the bus garage are already underway. During the break lighting upgrades will be made in the middle and high school gym. Zupin says care has been taken to ensure that project does not interfere with any scheduled games or practices.

Zupin was also asked about when the band may get their room back now that repairs have been made to the upstairs space that was formerly the weight room. Structural concerns forced the closure of that space two years ago, and the weight room was moved into the band room in the music suite.

Zupin says the weight room cannot be moved back upstairs due to weight restrictions for the mezzanine. It is now being used as a practice area for other athletic programs.

The band director conducts classes on the auditorium stage, but that becomes an issue when functions are scheduled. Also, due to the size of the beginning band, the class is split into two groups, with some of the students taken to the cafeteria to practice.

Zupin promised to find a permanent space for the band by the start of the 2017-18 school year. She says that’s preferable to moving them multiple times. Zupin adds the former band room is an ideal location for the weight room due to its proximity to the gym and locker rooms.

North Judson Fire Department to Complete Replacement of Turnout Gear

Posted on December 23, 2016
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The North Judson-Wayne Township Fire Department continues to update its equipment. North Judson Clerk-Treasurer Alicia Collins says the department is encumbering money to 2017 to buy additional turnout gear.

She says 10 sets have recently been purchased. Now, the department will buy about another 10, to complete the replacement process.

Also during Monday’s North Judson Town Council meeting, the town’s building inspector reported that 66 permits had been written in 2016, the most ever in a single year.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Railroad Township Board Calls for Stop to Fire Department Restructuring

Posted on December 22, 2016
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The Railroad Township Board is calling for a stop to the restructuring of the township’s fire protection services. Board members Gus Eckert and Clarence Gehrke gathered in special session Wednesday to pass a resolution rejecting a plan to sever ties with the San Pierre Volunteer Fire Department.

The department is a legally-separate organization that’s contracted to provide fire protection to Railroad Township. Township Trustee Mandy Thomason announced plans last week not to renew that contract at the end of the year.

In addition to contracting with volunteer departments, townships do have the option to hire firefighters and operate the service directly, which Thomason seems to favor. But board members say changing the fire protection method can’t be done without their approval.

Reading from a prepared resolution, Eckert said the township board has not agreed to Thomason’s plan. “The board has not approved procuring fire protection from any entity other than the San Pierre Fire Department, Inc.,” he said. “The board rejects procuring fire protection from any other entity other than the San Pierre Fire Department, Inc. The creation of a new township fire department must cease, and no aspect of it has been approved by the board.”

The resolution also calls for Thomason to present a contract with the San Pierre Volunteer Fire Department for the board’s approval during another special session to be held Friday, December 30 at 6:00 p.m. “Which means the trustee must put together a contract,” Eckert said. “She must give it to the fire department with enough time that they can review it, and at the special meeting, the contract approved by both parties will be brought to the board for signature.” If no contract is approved at that meeting, board members plan to vote on emergency fire protection measures.

The board rejected a previous contract proposal back in October. Eckert and Gehrke said Wednesday they felt the contract was unacceptable for firefighters. Firefighters say Thomason failed to schedule a meeting for further negotiations, before announcing her plan to restructure the department last week.

Eckert said the current situation is uncharted territory, with the board never having significant disagreements with a township trustee before. “I did not know what our powers really were, and I have talked to gentlemen and people in this township,” he said. “We were lax. We were lazy. That’s why the state wanted to get rid of trustee government was because the boards were like us. I am making the promise to you that this next year will be entirely different.”

Former trustee Roger Chaffins, who was unseated by Thomason two years ago, also offered his input on the situation. “She’s stirred up some stuff that, maybe it’s a big deal. I don’t think it is,” Chaffins said. “She’s just trying to stir up things with the fire department and cause problems. She wants total control over everything, and that’s not right. That’s just not going to work. The fire department works great. I never had any trouble with them. My wife, prior to that, never had any trouble with them.”

Thomason was not in attendance during Wednesday’s meeting.

N.J.-S.P. Invests in Transportation Software

Posted on December 22, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

The North Judson-San Pierre School Board hopes an upfront investment in transportation mapping software will save the corporation money in the long run.

The board Tuesday night voted unanimously to spend $14,420 on the Transfinder transportation routing system. Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin says that cost includes installation, training and mapping. She adds there’s a lot more to bus route planning than there used to be, and having software to assist may allow for the elimination of one or two routes and possibly fewer buses in the fleet.

Additionally the software will be able to generate a passenger list for each bus to make it easier to keep up with the whereabouts of students should an emergency arise. Zupin says the system should limit the likelihood of human error and help the corporation to use resources efficiently.

The initial purchase price and $5,000 annual maintenance cost were both included in the annual transportation budget.

During the public comments portion of the meeting, Larry Wappel questioned the need for the software and the cost to the corporation. He pointed out community members have previously taken care of bus routing and asked if the corporation was sure they would get their money’s worth from the software.

School Board President Pat Goin says she has spoken to Transportation Director Wilbur Collins, and he felt several routes were overlapping. Collins took over the transportation director position earlier this year and personally drove every route before school started.

North Judson May Reapply for Community Center Grant in Future

Posted on December 22, 2016
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

North Judson may try again for grant funding for a planned community center. The project narrowly missed out on a Public Facilities Program grant from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs.

Clerk-Treasurer Alicia Collins says project organizers met last week with officials from the Kankakee-Iroquois Regional Planning Commission to review the scoring of the project’s grant application. They determined that the project came in third place, but only the top two were selected for funding. KIRPC officials felt it would be worth trying again, according to Collins.

North Judson has been partnering with Wayne Township on the project. Collins says one of the next steps will be to meet with the township board, to discuss how they would like to proceed. She adds that the town would like to move forward with some version of the project, and expects discussions to continue in 2017.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

N.J.-S.P. Elementary Principal Announces Retirement Plans

Posted on December 21, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

A local school corporation will soon be looking for a new elementary school principal. Mike McBride told the North Judson-San Pierre School Board last night he is leaving at the end of the school year. His last day will be June 30, 2017.

“Although I have enjoyed working with everyone, personal reasons necessitate that I vacate my position and focus on improving my health,” McBride told the board.

He also promised to do whatever is necessary to ensure a smooth transition as the corporation moves ahead.

McBride has been principal at North Judson-San Pierre Elementary for the past 17 years and was at LaCrosse for 20 years before that. He was previously named district principal of the year and had four 4-Star Schools at LaCrosse.

His tenure at N.J.-S.P. includes five A’s and three B’s in eight graded years at N.J.-S.P.

McBride has also been a member of the Indiana School Safety Academy since 1999. He’s also a board member of Starke United, Marshall Starke Communities in Schools and has served as a Mint Festival Officer for 27 years.

N.J.-S.P. Principal Dr. Annette Zupin says a retirement celebration for McBride will take place later in the school year. Both she and school board president Pat Goin thanked him for his years of service and wished him well in his future endeavors.

Monday, December 19, 2016

U.S. Rep. Walorski Anticipates Additional Federal Resources for Mental Illness

Posted on December 19, 2016
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

U.S. Representative Jackie Walorski visited Winamac last week, as part of an apparent victory tour.

She said her meet-and-greet was prompted in part by a recent South Bend Tribune article highlighting Pulaski County’s role in securing her reelection last month. “If you could hear me shouting from the mountains, I was, because the point they were making up there is that the smallest county in the district, Pulaski County, is the county that produced just as many votes that we lost by in St. Joe County, and literally carried this election,” she said. “And when I saw that they were writing about Pulaski County, I’m like, ‘I am coming to Pulaski County and just thanking this county.'”

But the event was also an opportunity for local officials to offer input, ahead of the start of the legislative session in January. Pulaski County Sheriff Jeff Richwine said help for the mentally ill is a particular concern. “I was just looking this week; we’ve had like six calls from people that obviously have mental trouble,” he said. “And they wind up in our jails. We can’t handle them; we can’t afford them.”

Walorski responded that resources are being provided in the recent continuing resolution that funds the federal government through April, as well as other legislation. “Once we get through the first of the year and some of those resources start shaking loose and shaking into the agencies, I think we absolutely will see an uptick in being able to offer more help for the mentally ill,” she said.

She also stressed the need to help those suffering from opioid addiction, calling it a “national crisis.”

Starke County Council to Consider Longevity Changes

Posted on December 19, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

The Starke County Council will discuss a how a proposed change to employee longevity will affect the 2017 budgets during their regularly scheduled meeting this evening. They will also review the salary ordinance for the upcoming year.

The council will also set up a committee to work on a new contract between the county and the Starke County Economic Development Foundation. Executive Director Charlie Weaver previously agreed to that process. SCEDF works to market the county to new and existing businesses in hopes of adding jobs and growing Starke County’s tax base.

Year-end budget transfer request from the auditor, veterans officer, surveyor, sheriff and highway department are also on the agenda for tonight’s 5:30 p.m. Starke County Council meeting.

It will be followed by a session of the Starke County Commissioners. Their brief agenda includes EMA Director Jacob Lippner to discuss reimbursable grant funding and Starke County Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler to talk about the county’s road inventory.

Both meetings will take place at the annex building in the first floor meeting room.

Starke County Community Foundation Announces 2017 Lilly Scholar

Posted on December 19, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

A Culver Community High School senior is the Starke County Community Foundation 2017 Lilly Scholar.

Joshua Kresk will receive a four-year, full-tuition scholarship to an Indiana college or university of his choice and a $900 annual stipend for required books and equipment.

The son of Steve and Terry Krsek, Joshua plans to attend Purdue University and major in engineering.

Joshua is a member of Culver Youth Community Organization, National Honor Society and Science Club. He was Hoosier Boys State delegate and a Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Conference Ambassador. Joshua has also participated in football, basketball and baseball for four years.

The Starke County Community Foundation Scholarship Committee selected him from a field of 40 applicants. In past years, the winner has been announced in the spring. This year applications were due in September. The change was made in an effort to identify Lilly Scholars earlier in the school year to give recipients more time to decide which college or university to attend.

The identities of the applicants are removed during the selection process. The committee scores each applicant on academic performance, volunteer and paid work, school activities and honors and essays.

Of the 40 applicants, five finalists were selected for a final review. They were asked to write an impromptu essay and had a personal interview with the scholarship committee, which narrowed the field to one recommended nominee. Finalists’ applications are submitted to Independent Colleges of Indiana, Inc. (ICI) for the final selection of the recipient.

ICI is a nonprofit corporation that represents thirty-one regionally accredited degree granting, nonprofit, private colleges and universities in the state.

The scholarships are the result of a statewide Lilly Endowment initiative to help Hoosier students reach higher levels of education. Indiana ranks among the lowest states in the percentage of residents over the age of 25 with a bachelor’s degree.

The students who were finalists and interviewed for the scholarship were Alyssa Amidei of Knox High School, Jason Danford, Jr. of Tri Township (LaCrosse) High School, Noelle Heise of Knox High School and Sarah Hopkins of North Judson-San Pierre High School.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Who's Up For A Snow Related Video?

The weatherman is predicting snow for today and the weekend (along with sleet and rain).  For those of you who actually LIKE snow, here's a video I looked forward to all year long when WGN played it on Garfield Goose and Friends.  (And that last comment lets you all know how ancient I am!)

If the weather gets too sloppy and the kids can’t get outside to build their own snowman this weekend, then sit them down in front of the computer and let them watch this version of Frosty the Snowman. Another favorite from my long ago childhood.  

Community Input Sought for Starke County Parks Comprehensive Plan

Posted on December 16, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

The consulting firm hired to craft a five-year parks and recreation plan for Starke County wants input from as many local residents as possible. The Mishawaka-based Troyer Group has come up with a survey to gauge usage of the county’s recreational areas.

Specifically they are looking at Bass Lake Beach and Campground, Koontz Lake, the Starke County Forest and the trail system as assets to the county. Having a draft five-year plan in place by Jan. 15 is a first-step to eligibility for grants from the DNR in 2017. The final plan is due to the state by April 15 and will serve as a priority action list based on community needs and demographics.

That’s a short turnaround, but Troyer Group representatives are confident they can deliver. They stress the importance of input from local residents as part of the process. The draft plan will be presented to residents in late January. Visit Starke County Parks and Recreation Survey to complete the questionnaire.

U.S. Rep. Walorski Touts House Republican Tax Plan

Posted on December 16, 2016
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Republican victories in last month’s election will pave the way for comprehensive tax reform, according to U.S. Representative Jackie Walorski.

She told a group of residents, business and community leaders in Winamac Tuesday that House Republicans are proposing a “complete reset” of the U.S. tax system. “It’s a fairer, flatter tax system completely, and it really brings the corporate rate down,” she said. “The proposal from the House side is the corporate rate is 20 percent. Trump’s proposal’s 15 percent. It means someplace in the middle is where that will settle. But it will bring us down for every job creator in this country, to actually have a fair and flat, finally, tax code to work with and not the most punitive in the world.”

For individuals, Walorski said the proposal would reduce the number of tax brackets to three: 10, 25, or 30 percent. It would also include an option to deduct mortgage interest and charitable contributions. “The reason those two are on here and the reason they’re so important to leave on here, especially from a Republican House perspective, is because the issue of home ownership is a foundational principle in this country, and we want to encourage people to buy family homes,” she explained. “And the second one is the 501 (c) (3)s in this country are the quality parts of most of our communities, and we believe in them and I can tell you that I’m a huge believer in being able to contribute to 501 (c) (3)s.”

Walorski added that House Republicans’ tax plan is about 80-percent the same as the one put forward by President-Elect Donald Trump. But there’s one element of Trump’s plan that Walorski’s apparently unsure about: a so-called “border tax” on imports. “That’s going to be, potentially, an issue that we’re going to have to deal with,” Walorski said. “And so the question is, ‘Do you support that? What do you think about that?’ I’d just really like to hear from you.”

In any case, she expects something similar to House Republicans’ plan to be enacted, although it may take up to three years to fully implement. Walorski also expects several regulations to be rolled back, either through legislative action or executive order.

During Tuesday’s event, she emphasized that Republicans are bringing change to Washington, D.C., “To have a House and a Senate and a president, and for us to have the vice president from our state, when people ask me in D.C., ‘How are you? What are you thinking?’ I’m like, ‘I’m the happiest Hoosier alive! Are you kidding me?’ We have such access to what’s actually happening on this reset in our country.”

Walorski expects Vice President-Elect Mike Pence to play a more influential role than some of his recent predecessors.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Lutheran Air Flight Adds Ambulance at Starke County Airport

Posted on December 15, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

The Starke County Airport in Knox has a new tenant. The Fort Wayne-based Lutheran Air Flight program is adding a third Lutheran Air Helicopter to its critical care transport fleet. It will go into service today.

The Lutheran Air III crew will be stationed 24-hours a day, 365 days a year in a new 1,500 square foot office and its adjoining hangar at the airport north of Knox.

The air ambulance will provide patients, hospitals and first responders in northwest Indiana greater access to lifesaving medical care. Beneficiaries include Lutheran Hospital’s sister facilities, Starke, LaPorte, Porter Regional and Kosciusko Community Hospitals.

Lutheran Air is mainly known for transporting seriously injured patients from accident scenes or airlifting burn patients. However, the air ambulance is also used by patients who need various other forms of advanced care. The Lutheran Air program is part of a full spectrum of critical and specialty services offered by Lutheran Health Network. They include level II adult and pediatric trauma centers at Lutheran Hospital, the St. Joseph Regional Burn Center and prehospital EMS coverage in Fulton, Kosciusko, Miami, Wabash and Whitley counties.

“Being able to connect Starke and its surrounding counties to highly advanced medical care is part of our mission to improve the health of our patients and the region. We are now able to provide faster access to critical services like heart and kidney transplant programs, major trauma centers, and more,” Starke Hospital Interim CEO and LaPorte Hospital COO Jeff Vice said in a statement.

The choice of the Starke County Airport for Lutheran Air III’s base has also led to the creation of 16 local jobs.

Starke County Airport Authority President James R. Long said in a statement, “Lutheran Air’s choice of our airport for its newest helicopter is a huge win for the health of all who live and work in this area, and another example of the importance of aviation to Starke County and its businesses.”

Lutheran contracts with Air Methods to provide the aircraft, pilots and flight mechanics. Air Methods was the first helicopter and EMS operator in the country to reach Level 4 of the voluntary Safety Management System program overseen by the Federal Aviation Administration. Currently, Air Methods is in transition to conform to the next level of the FAA’s voluntary SMS program.

First Starke County Jail Drug Treatment Program Participants Graduate

Posted on December 15, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

The first graduates of the Starke County Jail’s substance abuse treatment program for inmates awaiting sentencing were recognized during a ceremony yesterday at the facility. The voluntary, grant funded program launched in September as a partnership with Porter/Starke Services.

It’s separate from the Indiana Department of Corrections Therapeutic Community, which is also based at the local jail. That program is for area inmates who have been sentenced to the intensive rehabilitation program while in prison. The local program is offered to county jail inmates with a history of substance abuse problems who are waiting to be sentenced.

Participants meet three times a week in a jail conference room with program coordinator Leo Smith from Porter/Starke Services and his staff. As part of their graduation, each member of the class wrote a letter to his addiction and read it out loud to the assembled room of dignitaries. Each man’s story was deeply personal, but many shared common themes about how choosing drugs over loved ones cost them relationships, jobs and freedom.

Another recurring message in the letters was that of deep gratitude to Sheriff Bill Dulin, Warden Phil Cherry, Jail Commander Nate Caudill and Program Coordinator Leo Smith for offering the program.

Graduates also spoke candidly about having a path to addiction recovery they didn’t believe was possible before entering the treatment program and building relationships with Jesus to help them stay strong.

Participants will transition to outpatient recovery services through Porter/Starke’s Knox office after they are released from jail and will also have resources available through Starke County Community Corrections and the probation department.

WKVI will air the entire therapeutic community graduation program on Sunday at noon on Kankakee Valley Viewpoints.

12/16/2016 WKVI Food Drive Scheduled Tomorrow at Five Star

Posted on December 15, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

WKVI Morning Show Host Ray Grossman is once again taking his show on the road, but he doesn’t have very far to go this week. He’ll be broadcasting live from Five Star in the Knox Mall tomorrow morning from 5 until 10 a.m.

The live broadcast is part of WKVI’s annual food drive for Starke County Community Services. All non-perishable food and monetary donations will go to the food pantry in order to help Starke County residents who need a bit of assistance.

Items like canned fruits and vegetables, peanut butter, cereal, pasta and the fixings for a traditional Christmas dinner make a big difference for the food pantry.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Knox Council Renames 150 South

Posted on December 14, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

The Knox City Council last night unanimously approved a name recommendation for 150 South. It’s the street that runs between Roosevelt Road and South Heaton Street past the Knox bus barn. The city recently used Community Crossings grant money from the state to connect the two ends.

Mayor Dennis Estok suggested the street be formally named before submitting the inventory to the state. He recommended Veterans Parkway as a name to honor the servicemen and women of Knox and Starke County. The road comes out just south of the Knox VFW by Sandy Acres Park.

The city council enthusiastically approved that suggestion. They also agreed to submit Veterans Parkway and the Henry Drive extension to INDOT as part of the city’s road inventory. Doing so will ensure Knox receives money to maintain both routes.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Prevent Frozen Pipes As Temperatures Drop

Posted on December 13, 2016
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

With temperatures expected to remain below freezing for the rest of the week, residents are reminded to take steps to keep pipes and water meters from freezing.

Let your faucet run at a trickle, as long as temperatures are consistently below 30 degrees. That’s the advice the Town of North Judson is giving to its utility customers. The town also recommends not removing any snow that may accumulate in your meter pit, since it acts as an insulator.

If your water meter does freeze, North Judson utility crews will attempt to thaw their customers’ meters, at no charge if it’s the first time it’s happened. However, crews will not be able to thaw frozen water lines.

For more information, call the North Judson town superintendent at 574-896-3332 or the town’s water department at 574-896-2711.

Residents Offer Input on Starke County Parks Strategic Plan

Posted on December 13, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

The consulting firm that’s working with the Starke County Park Board to develop a five-year master plan for parks and recreation is confident they can meet next month’s deadline to complete a draft document.

Representatives from the Mishawaka-based Troyer Group met last night with residents interested in offering their input on the process. Before breaking into groups, the consultants explained the DNR requires a master plan in order to be eligible for various parks and recreation grants. In addition to meeting those guidelines, the plan will guide the growth and development of Starke County’s parks.

The draft plan is due to the DNR by Jan. 15, with a final version to be submitted by April 15. Such a document is a priority action list based on community needs and demographics.

Suggestions offered by attendees include making the Bass Lake Beach and Campground a first-class recreational spot for both residents and tourists and improving several of the other public areas around the lake.

Another high priority is continued development of trails in and around North Judson, including a spur to connect the existing trail to the lake. Public access to the Yellow River for canoeing and kayaking was also suggested as a way to draw visitors to the community and encourage people who live here to take advantage of natural resources.

The park board is also looking at Koontz Lake and the Starke County Forest as assets in its inventory. A lack of knowledge of the forest prompted a discussion of adding better signage to direct people to the county’s attractions as well as finding a way to market the entire county parks system.

Those suggestions and others will be incorporated into the draft plan, which will be presented to the public during a meeting in late January.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Starke Park Board Seeks Input on Five-Year Plan

Posted on December 12, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

The Starke County Park Board wants input from the public on a five-year parks and recreation plan.

They’ve hired the Troyer Group from Mishawaka to help with the process of setting long-term goals for Bass Lake, Koontz Lake, the county’s trail system, the Starke County Forest and the Range Road crossing.

A public hearing is scheduled tonight at 6 p.m. to solicit input from Starke County residents. It will take place in the meeting room at the Starke County Annex building.

The park board hopes to complete the plan and submit it to the DNR by Jan. 15th in order to be eligible for parks and recreation grants in 2017.

The Starke County Commissioners have allocated $18,000 for the strategic plan development. They anticipate recouping that investment with grant money from the state.

North Judson Town Attorney Steps Down

Posted on December 12, 2016
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

North Judson is looking for a new town attorney. Rachel Arndt has decided not to renew her contract with the town when it expires at the end of the year, citing increasing responsibilities at law firm Peterson Waggoner & Perkins.

North Judson Clerk-Treasurer Alicia Collins says town officials are meeting with potential replacements.

The change comes as North Judson faces a lawsuit from the former operator of its short line railroad. At the same time, the town has also been taking legal action against various property owners, in an effort to crack down on unsafe building violations.

Democrats Tap Dembowski for Vacant Council Seat

Posted on December 10, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

The Starke County Council has a new member. The Democratic Party recently selected Nancy Dembowski to serve the remaining two years of the late Jennifer Davis’ term.

She previously served on the Starke County Council and was mayor of Knox for 11 years. During that time the community center, named in her honor, was built, and the historic Gateway Depot at the north edge of the city was restored. The city also received two prestigious Achievement Awards from the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns during her tenure.

In 2002 Dembowski was elected to the Indiana Senate to fill an unexpired term. She narrowly lost a reelection bid in 2005 but returned to the statehouse a year later after winning election to the Indiana House of Representatives.

Dembowski retired from the legislature in 2012. She’s since formed the nonprofit group Moving Starke County Forward to address negative local health statistics.

Friday, December 9, 2016

North Judson Community Center Grant Denied

Posted on December 9, 2016
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Funding for a planned North Judson-Wayne Township community center has been denied by the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs. Organizers were hoping to get a $500,000 Public Facilities Program grant to help cover the projected $840,000 cost.

North Judson Clerk-Treasurer Alicia Collins says the next step will be to meet with officials from the Kankakee-Iroquois Regional Planning Commission next week and go over the scoring from the application. They want to see if the project scored high enough to make it worth trying again for the same grant.

Community centers are listed as one of the eligible projects in the Public Facilities Program. However, Collins says project organizers didn’t realize they would be competing with libraries and educational facilities.

Last week, OCRA announced the Town of Walkerton had been awarded $400,000 through the program, for the construction of a new library. This cycle’s other grant recipient was Orange County. It got $500,000 for upgrades to its First Chance Center, which provides employment help and other services for people with disabilities.

As for North Judson’s community center, Collins says organizers will meet with the Wayne Township Board before any further decisions are made. More than $10,000 has been collected in monetary donations for the project.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

1/4/2017 Chat & Chew

Starke Park Board Hires Consultant, Schedules Five-Year Plan Meeting

Posted on December 8, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

The Starke County Park Board hopes to have a five-year plan in place by mid-January. President Roger Chaffins told the county commissioners Monday they’ve enlisted the Troyer Group from Mishawaka to help with the process. The commissioners previously allocated up to $15,000 for the project. Chaffins advised the park board had negotiated Troyer Group down to $18,000 from their original price of $21,300 and requested additional money to pay the difference.

The commissioners agreed to allocate an additional $3,000 from the Cumulative Capital Development Fund to proceed. A five-year plan is necessary to qualify for state grants for parks and recreation. It must be sent to the DNR by Jan. 15, 2017 in order to qualify for next year’s cycle.

The plan will include long-term goals for Bass Lake, Koontz Lake, the county’s trail system, the Starke County Forest and the Range Road crossing.

Members of the public can offer input during a Monday evening meeting. It will start at 6 p.m. at the county annex meeting room.

North Judson Council Looks to Fill School Board Vacancy

Posted on December 8, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

The Town of North Judson is looking to fill a vacancy on the North Judson-San Pierre School Board.

Prospective applicants must live within the town limits and need to submit a letter of intent along with a brief explanation of why they are qualified. Those materials are due to the Town of North Judson, 310 Lane St. no later than noon on Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2016.

Mike Sharkozy currently represents the town on the school board. He was appointed in April of 2015 and began his term at the completion of the 2015 school year.

Town Council members will interview applicants for the seat and select a member.

WKVI’s Grossman in the Morning Hosts Food Drive in Winamac

Posted on December 8, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

WKVI morning man Ray Grossman is taking his show on the road tomorrow for a good cause. He will be broadcasting live from Sanders grocery store in the Winamac Plaza from 6 until 11 a.m. EST as part of a food drive for the Pulaski County Human Services food pantry.

In past years WKVI has done a bi-county food drive in Pulaski and Starke Counties the Saturday before Thanksgiving to help prepare for the holiday season. This year we decided to split the events up and hold them between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Non-perishable items like canned fruits and vegetables, peanut butter, cereal and past, as well as fixings for a traditional Christmas dinner, a go a long way toward helping families stretch their food budgets. Monetary donations are also welcome, as they allow Pulaski County Human Services to purchase items of particular need.

A similar food drive is planned Friday, Dec. 16 at Five Star in the Knox Mall during the Grossman in the Morning Show. Stop by to say hello, and please give generously.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Ancilla Officials Urge Prospective College Students to Research Scholarships, Complete FAFSA

Posted on December 7, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

Admissions officials at Ancilla College say December is prime time for students to begin applying for scholarships to pay their tuition next year.

Vice President for Enrollment Eric Wignall says the first step is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA . It determines whether a student qualifies for need-based assistance like grants and low-interest loans from government.

However, he says those are not the only sources of funds to offset the cost of a college education. Many community groups, foundations, companies and individuals have set aside funds for scholarships. Wignall encourages students to begin researching scholarships and their application requirements now. He says deadlines vary but many are coming up at the end of the year or in early January.

Wignall adds Ancilla College’s four favorite search databases are all free. Applicants will need to complete an online form, and information may be sold to colleges and universities that will send you promotional information. However, he says it might be worth it.

These sites have their own listings and search engines that allow you to dig around looking for scholarships in your region, state, degree interest, and other criteria.

FastWeb, maybe the biggest of these sites, with over a billion dollars in scholarships listed. Fastweb is an acronym for Financial Aid Search Through the WEB.

Chegg, began as a student job and textbook-trading website but today has great student resources and loads of scholarship resources to search though.

Big Future from College Board is the same company that produces the SAT.

CollegeNet, a developer of web technology for higher education and non-profit institutions, is another great resource.

Start by searching for scholarships in the subject matter or degree field you want. Use your interests, and geographic location, to narrow the search.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Quote of the Month - December 2016

Happy Birthday, Frank Zappa.
December 21, 1940

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Bass Lake Beach Gazebo Repaired, Planning Continues for Other Improvements

Posted on November 17, 2016
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Upgrades are continuing at the Bass Lake Beach and Campground. Assistant Manager Larry Clarich told the Starke County Park Board Tuesday that repairs to the gazebo are basically complete.

He said that the roof is on and the structure is secure, but painting still needs to be done. Clarich also reported that water at the beach and campground will be shut off for the season on Sunday.

However, just because the facility is closing for the season doesn’t mean that planning for improvements should stop, according to park board member Debbie Mix. “There’s a lot of issues there and if we don’t talk about those issues, they’re not going to be addressed,” she said. “Once we say something needs to get fixed, they have 30 days to address it. If we just wait until it opens up again, we’ve lost all those months and I don’t want to see that happen. We’ve been here almost two years now.”

Clarich says he does have a list of improvements he’d like to make at the beach and campground. “Maybe my suggestions of the things that I want to do don’t coincide with things that you guys want to do,” he said. “But it all comes down to money and time, regardless of how things get done, but there are things that I’d like to do over the winter. One of the biggest downfalls is over the winter we have no water down there because the place wasn’t designed to have water. It was designed as a summer campground and beach.”

To discuss those improvements, Clarich invited the park board to conduct a walk-through of the Bass Lake Beach and Campground. Board members requested that County Building Inspector Terry Stephenson also be present.

Tuesday’s discussion of the beach and campground came in response to a letter sent to the park board by a group of residents. It calls on the board not to renew the current operator’s lease of the facility and goes on to suggest ways the county could fund improvements, according to Mix. But board member Rosemary Rose pointed out that while some people think the county should get out of the lease, others appear to be happy with the improvements being made at the site.

N.J.-S.P. Board Approves School Improvement Plans

Posted on November 17, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

The two principals at North Judson-San Pierre schools have finalized their school improvement plans ahead of the state’s Dec. 1 deadline to submit them.

Even though ISTEP scores are still embargoed, both elementary Principal Mike McBride and junior/senior high school Principal Jim Polite are anticipating sub-par math scores.

McBride did tell the school board Tuesday that 98 percent of 3rd graders passed the IREAD test, and other indicators point to strong reading proficiency.

As for math, he says school officials are collecting and analyzing data from a range of sources and adopting it to their in-house training and updated curriculum mapping. McBride says the elementary school is also working to improve academic proficiency across the curriculum and to continue to meet targets in reading and math.

N.J.-S.P. Elementary also has a Title 1 School-wide plan that is funded in part by the federal government. McBride says it includes making sure all core classes are taught by highly qualified teachers, ongoing professional development, inclusion of faculty in decision making, parental involvement through activities like literacy nights, assistance for students who are not proficient and working with all area preschool programs to ensure students are ready to start kindergarten.

Polite’s plan recognizes the first year of the new North Judson-San Pierre Junior/Senior High School configuration. He says the school has increased its advanced placement and dual credit course offerings and is proud of its extremely successful agriculture program.

Polite acknowledges the needs to improve student proficiency in math by increasing the mastery of key concepts. He says they are administering STAR assessment tests at least three times per year to identify areas in need of remediation.

The junior/senior high school is also promoting a positive school environment by recognizing students for doing things “The Bluejay Way.” It includes respect, responsibility and achievement, and any teacher may nominate any student for going above and beyond in those areas.

Polite says they are also working on increased vocabulary and reading comprehension skills through curriculum-wide exposure to key vocabulary terms and utilization of the STAR test to identify potential weaknesses.

He also stresses shareholder involvement from parents, teachers, administrators and staff.

The school board unanimously approved both school improvement plans.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

12/2/2016 Santa Arrives & Christmas Tree Lighting @ Norwayne Field

Thank YOU Friends of the Library

Metro Recycling Cancels North Judson Transfer Station Project

Posted on November 16, 2016
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Metro Recycling has decided not to add a facility in the North Judson Industrial Park, after all. Complaints raised by a number of residents during last week’s North Judson Town Council meeting appear to have been successful in causing the company to reconsider its proposal to add a recycling transfer station, just outside the town limits.

Metro Recycling CEO Neil Samahon says that while the company attended the meeting to provide information, they also went to take input. “We heard what the folks were saying and assessed the situation and decided to cancel the project as it stands,” he says. “We’ll take a look and see in the future if we’ll remain looking within Starke County. We like that area, as far as what we’re looking to do. But right now, there’s no firm plans and there isn’t another site per se that we’ve identified, but we’ll continue to review that.”

While he believes the actual facility would have eliminated the concerns residents had, he conceded they raised some important questions. “Certainly, some of the truck traffic, if that was a concern. I mean, yeah, we’ve got to get the garbage out of there, and that might have been more than what they wanted,” Samahon says. “Honestly, it is an industrial park and to think whether it’s us or someone else, that isn’t going to require to go in and out of there with truck traffic, then I question why is there an industrial park there. But that’s not for me to assess or try to determine.”

The cancellation of the project also raises the question of what happens to the piece of land in the North Judson Industrial Park that Metro Recycling already purchased. Samahon says the company plans to work with the Starke County Economic Development Foundation to find a potential buyer, but he also doesn’t rule out keeping the property and using it for other purposes. “I mean, the reality is we have the ability to put in a recycling yard, just as we do at any of our other facilities, non-garbage. For us to have a transfer station there, that requires an [Indiana Department of Environmental Management] permit,” he explains. “But as far as putting in a retail buyback center that would handle metal or put in a facility that recycles cars or trucks or whatever the case may be, that does not require any additional permitting.” However, he acknowledges that it would be difficult to add any operation there without the community’s support.

Starke County Economic Development Foundation Executive Director Charlie Weaver says the organization is saddened by Metro Recycling’s decision not to proceed with the transfer station. “We understand why they did that, and they heard what the people had to say. It’s just unfortunate because this is a needed facility for this community, this county community,” he says. “There were several benefits not only because of the recycling and the transfer station, but with the transfer station, we could have generated enough money to the Environmental Management to do curbside recycling out in the county.”

As for the future of the North Judson Industrial Park, Weaver says area roads are sufficient to handle the weight of the trucks. He adds that the site of the park was chosen by North Judson officials, and that the area has been industrial for over 100 years.

We will air the public comment portion from last week’s North Judson Town Council meeting this Sunday at noon on Kankakee Valley Viewpoints.

Starke County Park Board to Meet with Two Firms Interested in Creating Five-Year Plan

Posted on November 16, 2016
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The Starke County Park Board plans to meet with two planning firms interested in putting together a five-year plan for the county’s park facilities. The park board has been working with the Kankakee-Iroquois Regional Planning Commission Executive Director Edwin Buswell to find potential contractors. “I think we sent it out to seven or eight agencies,” he told the park board Tuesday. “We included Purdue and Ball State and neither one of them responded.”

The two responses the county did receive came from Arion Consultants out of Warsaw and the Troyer Group of Mishawaka. Buswell said the next step is for the county to meet with the two firms, with each one getting a chance to give a presentation, followed by a question-and-answer session. Park board members plan to conduct those interviews by the end of the month.

Having a five-year plan in place would make the county eligible for grant funding from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. But in order to qualify for next year’s grants, a draft of the plan has to be created and submitted to the DNR by January 15.

During Tuesday’s meeting, resident Kathy Lucas suggested that a link between Bass Lake and the North Judson Erie Trail be considered as the planning process moves ahead. “We have talked to some people,” she said. “We have some ideas that we’re floating. We have some potential donors who might be able to assist. But the idea is that we would either extend the trail or, in the meantime, use existing roadways to reach over to 600, which would then be a straight shot up to the lake. We had a meeting last night of the Prairie Trails Club where this was discussed, and the club is very enthusiastic.”

Lucas believes the link could help boost revenues for county park facilities by attracting new visitors to the area and bringing current trail users to Bass Lake.

Adventure Island Preschool to Lease Space at Former N.J.-S.P. Middle School

Posted on November 16, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

The former North Judson-San Pierre Middle School building will have another new tenant come January. The school board voted last night to lease the former family and consumer science classroom to Adventure Island Preschool through May for $350 per month.

School officials stress the preschool is not a formal part of N.J.-S.P. but is merely a tenant, as is the Starke County Community Foundation.

Access to the school building is already restricted, and gates will be in place to keep the preschool students in a separate area. Also, the school corporation will not provide transportation to and from preschool. That will still be the responsibility of the parents.

Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin says the preschool for several years has asked the high school guidance counselors for students to assist with the program. She says now it will be easier for students to walk next door rather than drive downtown.

Right now Adventure Island Preschool has 46 total students enrolled in three classes, with a maximum size of 17. They do not offer a summer program at this time and will revisit the lease with the school corporation before classes resume next year.

Zupin says any organization interested in leasing space in the middle school building can contact her office at 574-896-2155 or by email at

BMV Touts Ride Safe Indiana Program Success

Posted on November 16, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

A record number of motorcycle riders have completed a state-mandated safety course as the first training season draws to a close.

The Ride Safe Indiana program fills the statewide need for quality training to lower the number of motorcycle-related injuries and fatalities, according to BMV Commissioner Kent Abernathy.

He says the state exceeded the goal of 6,000 riders completing the program the first year, in part because mild fall weather extended the riding season and provided more opportunities for both new and veteran riders to complete the training. As of Nov. 13, more than 7,450 riders statewide had completed the safety course at 27 locations around the state.

Abernathy says riders as well as motorists who share the road with them will all benefit from the safety program.

A certification course for instructors to teach the class using three-wheeled motorcycles was developed as well, and the first student riders completed it in August. Curriculum for all RSI instructors was improved, standardized and streamlined this year.

Visit for more information.

Monday, November 14, 2016

North Judson Mourns Death of Longtime Community Servant

Posted on November 14, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

A lifelong North Judson resident recognized for his service to both his country and Starke County died on Veterans Day. Perry Lucas was 89. He was born on Sept. 2, 1927 in Knox to Perry Franklin and Mary Frances (Baughman) Lucas and lived in Starke County his entire life.

He married Marian Jean Johnson in LaCrosse on May 20, 1951. She survives, along with his daughter, Pam Stalbaum; Sister, Lila Cowley; three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his son, Gary.

Perry was a member of the North Judson United Methodist Church, American Legion Post 92, VFW Starke Memorial Post 748, 40/8 Voiture 1472, North Judson Lodge 438 F&AM, Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, Valley of South Bend, Orak Shrine Temple, Pulaski-Starke Shrine Club, Order of Eastern Star, Round Lake Cemetery Association and many other organizations. He  also served on the Starke County Council for 20 years.

Perry was chosen to carry the Bicentennial Torch from Bass Lake to the Caifornia Township School, but his health prevented him from doing so. Instead his daughter, Pam, and family friend, Peggy Bohac, did the honor.

Funeral services for Perry Lucas will be Friday, Nov. 18 at 7 p.m. CST at O’Donnell Funeral Home in North Judson, with visitation there from 4 p.m. until the time of the service.

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested memorials to be made to Children’s Hospitals or Disabled Veterans charities.

Do Not Call Deadline Approaching

Posted on November 14, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

The Indiana Attorney General’s Office credits nearly 3,500 complaints filed with his office about an IRS imposter scam for cutting down on the number of phony phone calls. They resulted in a raid in Indiana last month, which broke up the telemarketing ring. Since then Attorney General Greg Zeoller says complaints have dropped from nearly 500 in September to just 67 in October.

In early October, Indian Police arrested 70 people in Mumbai responsible for the so-called IRS imposter scam. In late October the U.S. attorney general’s office arrested nearly 20 alleged co-conspirators in this country. Scam callers claim to be from the IRS and threaten to arrest people unless the immediately pay delinquent taxes.

Zoeller expects another scam to pop up in its place and encourages Hoosiers to continue to be vigilant in not offering personal or financial information to people who contact them by phone.

Zoeller said the best way for people to know whether a call they are receiving is a scam is by registering their number on the Do Not Call list. Legitimate companies will not call numbers on the Do Not Call list, so if someone is on the list and is receiving unsolicited contact, it is likely a scam.

The next quarterly deadline to register cellular and landline residential phone numbers on the Do Not Call list is midnight EST on Tuesday, Nov. 15. The updated list will take effect Jan. 1, 2017.

To sign up or to confirm a number is on the Do Not Call list, visit or call 1-888-834-9969. Consumers do not need to re-register unless their address has changed. To achieve compliance with Indiana law, telemarketing companies may obtain a copy of the list from the Attorney General’s Office.

Avoid getting scammed over the phone by following these tips:

  • Don’t let a telephone solicitor pressure you to make an immediate decision.
  • Ask for a caller’s contact information and tell them you will call them back.
  • Verify that the number they give you is tied to a legitimate company or agency by doing your own research.
  • Know that most government entities, including the IRS, will not initiate contact over the phone. Additionally, they will never ask you for credit card, debit card or prepaid card information over the phone.
  • Do not wire any money or make payments over the phone unless you have independently verified the caller.Check unfamiliar companies with the AG’s Office or the Better Business Bureau before agreeing to a purchase.
  • Hang up on recorded message calls or “robocalls.” Don’t press any numbers.

Additionally, Zoeller urged Hoosiers to take advantage of available call-blocking options to help stop scam calls. The Attorney General’s Office created a non-exhaustive, call-blocking reference sheet to inform the public about available options and encourage development of new options. This reference sheet outlines various call-blocking applications and information about each option, including who is able to use it, the cost, benefits, and weaknesses, and how to get it.

People who receive an unwanted call or are targeted by a phone scam can file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office by visiting or calling 1-800-382-5516.

World Diabetes Day Encourages Advocacy

Posted on November 14, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

This is World Diabetes Day. The world’s largest diabetes campaign features a new theme chosen each year by the International Diabetes Federation to address issues facing the global diabetes community. Past topics have covered diabetes and human rights, diabetes and lifestyle, diabetes and obesity, diabetes and the disadvantaged and vulnerable and diabetes in children and adolescents.

The International Diabetes Federation encourages the global diabetes community to produce a powerful voice for diabetes awareness and advocacy. This year’s them is “Eyes on diabetes.’ Key messages include screening for Type 2 diabetes is important to modify its course and reduce its risk of complications and that screening for diabetes complications is an essential part of managing all types of diabetes.

In 2015 415 million adults were living with diabetes. By 2040 that number is expected to increase to increase to around 642 million or one in 10 adults. Right now one in two adults with diabetes is undiagnosed, and many people live with Type 2 diabetes for a long time without being aware of their condition. By the time of diagnosis, diabetes complications may already be present.

Experts says up to 70 percent of type 2 diabetes cases can be prevented or delayed by adopting healthier lifestyles. That’s the equivalent of up to 160 million cases by 2040.

Untreated diabetes can lead to vision loss, which is why adults are encouraged to get their vision screened as soon as possible to head off any complications.

Click to visit the International Diabetes Foundation website.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Deer Hunters Urged to Stay Safe

Posted on November 12, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

Today marks the opening of firearms season for deer hunters. All hunters are reminded to always treat their weapon as though it is loaded and always point the muzzle in a safe direction. Keep your finger outside the trigger guard until you are ready to take a shot to avoid an unwanted discharge if you trip. Also be absolutely sure of your target before taking a shot.

That’s why it’s imperative for hunters and anyone who might happen to be in the woods during firearms season to prominently wear hunter orange that is visible from all directions. Ground blinds should be marked with hunter orange as well.

If you hunt from a tree stand, check it carefully before getting into it, and use a safety harness to protect yourself in case of a fall.

Always tell someone where you will be hunting and when you plan to return, and take a charged cell phone with you in case you need to call for help.

Hunters should also check the weather before heading out and dress for the worst possible conditions. Experts advise dressing in layers and always bringing rain gear.

Deer firearm season continues through Nov. 27.  All hunters, including those using archery equipment, must meet hunter orange requirements during firearms, muzzleloader (Dec. 3-18) and special antlerless firearm (Dec. 26- Jan. 1, 2017) seasons.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Another Active Weekend

Well this weekend doesn’t us as much variety in the way of meals as last weekend did, but there will still be lots of food available. 

On Saturday there’s the Artisan’s Bazaar and Bake Sale; Friends of the Library Cookie Walk at Bailey’s; a Second Hand Christmas sale; and a Spaghetti Dinner & Bake Sale.  Sounds like the time to stock up on some goodies to put in the freezer for the holidays.  Then there is also the North Judson American Legion Balloon Lift Off if you want to send off a balloon or just see them lift off be at the Legion (208 Collins Street) at 3 pm.

Sunday there are only two things scheduled locally but they will be filled with lots of vendors.  There’s a Christmas Shopazarr @ Chesapeake Run and the BLPOA Vendor Event. 

You can find more information about these events on the library’s website:

Thursday, November 10, 2016

North Judson Fire Department Gets New Helmets, Coordinates Railroad Museum Safety Plan

Posted on November 10, 2016
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

North Judson-Wayne Township firefighters are getting some new equipment, thanks to Wayne Township. Fire Chief Joe Leszek told the town council Monday that the township had purchased 10 new helmets for the fire department. “All 25 members have brand new helmets in this last year,” he said, “so I want to thank Wayne Township for that.”

During his report to the town council Monday, Leszek also said that he’s planning to meet with officials from the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum to put together a safety plan for potential emergencies.

Leszek also reported that he was chosen to continue as fire chief, during the volunteer fire department’s yearly election of officers.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

North Judson Takes Legal Action Over Unsafe Properties

Posted on November 9, 2016
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The Town of North Judson is proceeding with legal action over a couple properties deemed to be unsafe. A legal notice has been published that the town is suing the owners of 205 and 207 Lane Street.

Doug Cassel had been instructed to fix several safety hazards at the property, including a broken window, unsecured doors, falling debris, and roofing issues. Town Attorney Rachel Arndt declined to elaborate further on the lawsuit Monday, but she did say a hearing is scheduled for Monday, November 21 in Starke Circuit Court.

Meanwhile, Arndt will also be assisting the town with legal action on 302 Jones Street, following approval by the town council Monday. During the meeting, it was reported that the owner of 302 Jones Street had not made the improvements requested by the town. Owner Bryan Dollahan was not present to provide an update.

Republicans Win Big in Starke County

Posted on November 8, 2016
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI
Starke County favored Republicans in many key races in Tuesday’s election. The race to replace Kent Danford as the District 3 County Commissioner ended with Charles Chesak gaining 59 percent of the vote, compared to 37 percent for Democrat Karen Tibbs. Meanwhile, Kathy Norem keeps her District 1 seat, after defeating Buddy Ringle by a margin of 65-to-35 percent. The Starke County Council saw Republican Bryan Cavender and Democrats Freddie Baker and Bob Sims reelected to their at-large seats.

Meanwhile, several current Knox School Board members were reelected. Kirk Bennett, Jerry Fletcher, and Wendy McIntire keep their three Center Township seats, while Kurt Kemble remains the board’s California-Washington Township representative. At the same time, Annette Ferch and Kurt Hays beat Kyle Hinds for the two available Oregon-Davis School Board at-large seats.

Democrat Bill Crase ran unopposed for county surveyor, and Democrat Kasey (Bula) Clark ran unopposed for county treasurer. Starke County voters also chose Republican candidates for national and state-level races.

Fifty-two percent of Starke County’s registered voters took part in the 2016 General Election. Just over a quarter of those voted absentee.

Click here for complete election returns.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Recycling Transfer Station Discussion Draws Crowd During North Judson Council Meeting

Posted on November 8, 2016
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

A proposed recycling transfer station in the North Judson Industrial Park drew several complaints from residents during a contentious North Judson Town Council meeting Monday. The planned by Metro Recycling facility would handle municipal solid waste, as well as construction debris like concrete and untreated wood.

Charlie Weaver with the Starke County Economic Development Foundation and Brian Moench, the engineer designing the facility, attended Monday’s meeting in an attempt to explain the project. But residents repeatedly voiced their concerns about truck traffic, noise, odors, and other issues.

The proposed site on Oakwood Street northeast of town would make it difficult for trucks to reach the site, according to some residents, with the only options being to travel on county roads or through North Judson itself. Moench said Metro Recycling has been working with Starke County Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler on a solution. “We have proactively reached out to the county highway superintendent to have dedicated truck routes to move material in and out of this industrial park,” Moench said. “So at the discretion of the County Highway [Department] who has jurisdiction over these roadways, we are proactively working with them on defining a truck route, for the appropriate pavement sections, so on, and so forth, to get trucks in and out of this industrial park.” Residents questioned why the facility couldn’t be placed in a location with better highway infrastructure, such as Hamlet.

Concerns were also raised about the noise level of the portable concrete crushing equipment that would be used at the facility. Moench estimated it would be in the 70-to-90-decibel range. He also said the equipment would only be used on an as-needed basis, and that the company would be open to limiting concrete crushing to daytime hours.

But many residents were even more concerned about why they hadn’t heard about the project before the past couple weeks. Weaver said he had been in contact with county and local officials and that the project had been discussed in several public meetings. Many of those attending Monday’s meeting did not feel their concerns were being addressed adequately, and audience members interrupted speakers at several points during the meeting. Complicating matters is the fact that the site in the industrial park is located outside of the North Judson town limits and out of the town council’s jurisdiction.

San Pierre resident and former North Judson Town Attorney Cassandra Hine called for a meeting to be held at the county level to better address residents’ concerns. “We’ve had several comments made about meetings with the county highway superintendent,” she said. “We’ve had numerous comments about ‘This isn’t the town of North Judson; this is the county.’ So when is this all going to be addressed at the county level?”

However, County Commissioner Kathy Norem said that while the commissioners knew the Starke County Economic Development Foundation was in discussions with a recycling company, they didn’t know the details until the last few weeks. “We did not recruit them,” she said. “We did not negotiate anything with them.”

Norem said she has spoken with Ritzler about the truck routes. “What he told me this afternoon when I talked to him was that the truck routes that go through town would probably sustain the traffic,” she said. “But I’m fairly certain if there’s going to be continuing negotiations, they’re going to try to move that somewhere else, and then those roads are not going to sustain that kind of traffic. So that’s a problem that the county’s going to have to deal with if they continue to go forward.”

At the same time, Norem felt that it was up to the residents to convince Metro Recycling to locate elsewhere, not elected officials.

Starke County Fair and 4-H Get $10,000 from Rural Cooperatives

Posted on November 8, 2016
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The Starke County Fair and 4-H program have received $10,000 in grant funding, thanks to Kankakee Valley REMC and CoBank. Kankakee Valley REMC says its $5,000 donation is just the latest part of its regular support of county fairs in Starke, Pulaski, LaPorte, and Porter counties. The electric cooperative says its financial contributions to county fairs and 4-H programs reflect the organization’s strong commitment to youth and local communities.

However, Kankakee Valley REMC’s $5,000 contribution to Starke County was doubled as part of CoBank’s Sharing Success program. CoBank is a cooperative bank serving industries in rural areas around the country. With the help of its customers, the Sharing Success program has provided nearly $20 million to nonprofit organizations, since 2012.

Kankakee Valley REMC says the $10,000 will be used to support the 4-H program and help maintain the fairgrounds.
Kankakee Valley REMC Director of Marketing and Communications Amanda Steeb 
presents the grant to Starke County Fair Board Treasurer Beverly Albright

Monday, November 7, 2016

Starke County Chamber Honors Fingerhut Bakery

Posted on November 5, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

A local institution for seven decades is the Starke County Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year. Fingerhut Bakery’s famous buttercream coffee cake recipe dates to Bohemia in the 1700s. It’s just one of the legendary products offered at the North Judson, Knox and Bass Lake stores. Owner Keith Fingerhut is a sixth-generation baker and works alongside his sons, Doug and Greg each night to ensure fresh, flaky pastries and breads for their loyal customers six days a week.

The Fingerhut family was honored Thursday night. Starke County Chamber Board member Sarah Lawrence read from the comments received by the nominating committee, including several from bakery employees.

“We are more like a family than coworkers…The quality of our products are better than anything out there…Fingerhut Bakery is a tremendous place to work…Been in business for 70 years, must be doing something right.”

All three Fingerhut Bakery locations were nominated individually. Lawrence says the committee’s favorite comment was the proverbial icing on the cake.

“Providing the Starke County area with the items we need to get up in the morning and make the world go ’round. Here’s to coffee and donuts, cheers!”

Keith Fingerhut accepted the award on behalf of the entire family.

“The wives, they have to put up with a lot for this nighttime stuff, but if you don’t do it at night, you don’t have fresh donuts in the morning. I thank you all for the award. Thank you.”

The plate of custom Bicentennial Torch Relay cookies at the Bass Lake Fire Station didn’t last very long. That’s where the torch was officially handed off from Pulaski to Starke County during last month’s celebration.

The Fingerhut Bakery location in North Judson did a custom banana cake with cream cheese frosting for WKVI News Director Mary Perren’s recent celebration. It was almost, but not quite, too pretty to eat.

Starke County Chamber Honors Longtime Knox Businessman

Posted on November 7, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

The Starke County Chamber of Commerce presented a special award to a longtime member during last week’s awards banquet. Until recently George Mammarella owned and operated Economy Auto Sales in Knox for several years. In 2012 he was chosen Independent Dealer of the Year by the Indiana Independent Auto Dealers Association.

Since 1989 the Mammarella family prided itself on offering in-house financing for vehicles and financing a customer’s future, not their past. The familiy-owned, buy-here, pay-here used car lot was also voted the #1 Used Car Lot in Starke County the last six years in a row by the Reader’s Choice Awards.

Mammarella recently closed the business and has the building listed for sale.

In addition to running Economy Auto, Mammarella is also active in the Starke County Youth Club, the North Judson Masonic Lodge and serves on the Kankakee Valley Broadcasting Board of Directors.

George and Della Mammarella

Starke County Community Foundation Honors Tri Kappa’s Generosity

Posted on November 7, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

The Starke County Community Foundation recently honored a local nonprofit organization for the outstanding work they do in the community. The Zeta EtaTri Kappa Chapter received the 2nd annual James R. Hardesty Leadership in Philanthropy Award during the SCCF 20th anniversary celebration.

The award was created in honor of SCCF founder, generous donor and beloved friend, James “Jim” Hardesty. He passed away in 2014.

The Zeta Eta Tri Kappa Chapter has awarded more than $250,000 in scholarships and awards to graduating Starke County seniors over the last 54 years. That’s in addition to other philanthropic support they provide to Starke County.

SCCF officials say the annual award will alternate between an individual and an organization. Last year Marilyn and Mathew Swanson received the Hardesty Award in recognition of their contributions to the Community Foundation, where they helped create the Ancilla/SCILL Center Fund, as well as The Mat and Marilyn Swanson Family Fund.

Carol Blastic, Melba Shilling, Debbie Mix, Suzy Bishop, Colleen McCarthy, President Rhonda Cavinder, Kelly Manning, and Marilyn Swanson. Rhonda Cavinder accepted the acrylic plaque for the 32 active members of the local chapter, who support the local community in the areas of charity, culture, and education.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Winter Weather Preparedness Week Is Coming

From the Starke County Emergency Management Facebook page:

Despite Recent Warm Weather, IDHS Encourages Hoosiers to Prepare for Winter During Winter Weather Preparedness Week

Even though it may not seem like it with recent warm weather, temperatures are beginning to cool and the potential for winter storms is approaching. The Indiana Department of Homeland Security is encouraging Hoosiers to get ready during Winter Weather Preparedness Week, November 13-19.

“Indiana has repeatedly seen severe winter storms that have the capability of producing dangerous amounts of snow and ice,” said John Erickson, director of public affairs for the Indiana Department of Homeland Security. “Taking appropriate steps to prepare for these types of storms can help reduce the risk of life-threatening situations and costly damage.”

One step that Hoosiers can take to prepare their homes for winter is ridding gutters of debris or leaves before snow and ice accumulate. When gutters are clogged and the ice and snow from winter storms melt, water can back up and flow beneath a roof, causing costly water damage. A way to prevent debris and leaf build-up is to purchase a screen to cover the gutters.

IDHS also recommends removing dead branches from trees surrounding the home. Ice and snow can weigh down branches which can lead to them snapping and damaging property.

Before winter arrives, homeowner insurance policies should be reviewed to ensure that coverage is adequate for the winter weather that occurs in Indiana each year.

Hoosiers should use Winter Weather Preparedness Week to create or maintain a preparedness kit that may be needed during winter storms. Items to add to a preparedness kit include:

  • Food and water for three days, including one gallon of water per person, per day 
  • Battery or hand crank all-hazard (weather) radio 
  • Flashlight 
  • Extra batteries 
  • First aid kit 
  • Extra clothing, sturdy shoes, blankets and personal hygiene items 
  • List of emergency phone numbers 
  • Copies of important documents (photo ID, Social Security card, etc.) 
  • Cash in small bills (Power outages can limit use of ATMs and credit cards.) 
  • Special items based on specific needs (baby formula, extra medication, etc.)

A car readiness kit should also be placed in cars in case motorists are stranded during a winter storm. These kits should include:

  • Cell phone and charger for vehicle use 
  • At least two blankets or a sleeping bag 
  • Bottled water and non-perishable food 
  • Flashlight and extra batteries 
  • First aid kit and necessary medication 
  • Jumper cables 
  • Emergency flares 
  • Extra clothing, including boots, hats and gloves 
  • Shovel 
  • Sand or non-clumping cat litter for tire traction 
  • Ice scraper and snow brush

For more information on winter weather preparedness, visit

Yep, Christmas is Fast Approaching

Yes, I know that Halloween has barely passed and Thanksgiving is yet to come; but if you haven’t already started on those personalized, DIY, Christmas gifts you better start soon.  So I've gathered a few sites together for you to look at and help with planning what to give who.

Nancy J. Dembowski Accepts Henry F. Schricker Award

Posted on November 4, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

A lifelong Knox resident who has made a career of community service is the recipient of the 2016 Starke County Chamber of Commerce Henry F. Schricker Award. The honor is named after the former governor and is given annually to someone who embodies his credo of “service before self.”

Nancy J. Dembowski worked at WKVI for 25 years, served on the Starke County Council and was mayor of Knox for 11 years. During that time the community center, named in her honor, was built, and the historic Gateway Depot at the north edge of the city was restored. The city also received two prestigious Achievement Awards from the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns during her tenure.

In 2002 Dembowski was elected to the Indiana Senate to fill an unexpired term. She narrowly lost a reelection bid in 2005 but returned to the statehouse a year later after winning election to the Indiana House of Representatives.

Dembowski describes her foray into public life as “accidental leadership” and says it began over a lack of money for Christmas decorations in downtown Knox several years ago. That’s when the Candy Cane Committee was formed.

“We decided maybe we could step up and see what we could do. In the end, we got donations of materials, and a crew to help us make over 100 candy canes. It was pretty cold in some of those garages, but we did it, and many of the candy canes I think are still in use today.”

Dembowski says she was told that in politics people get the kind of government they deserve. She adds the same is true of the community.

“Don’t complain and say it will never change. Find others who feel as you do, and work together to change it. Work together to make it better, to make it the way you want it to be. Don’t leave it to others. It’s your community. Stand up and work for change. You’d be amazed at what you can do.”

Dembowski retired from the legislature in 2012. She’s since formed the nonprofit group Moving Starke County Forward to address negative local health statistics.

“We’ve made some real progress, even without a funding source, and we mainly rely on some small grants from local organizations. We would certainly welcome anyone who wants to work to change these statistics. We really can make a difference, and it truly will change lives in Starke County. Starke County is our home. If we won’t work to make it better, who will?”

Dembowski’s longtime friend and former WKVI colleague, Ted Hayes, had quite a bit to say about her career as well. We’ll share the entire presentation Sunday at noon on Kankakee Valley Viewpoints, as well as the recognition of Fingerhut Bakery as Business of the Year. We will have a complete story on their award and community contributions tomorrow.

Starke County Chamber of Commerce Director Debbie Mix and 
2016 Henry F. Schricker Award Winner Nancy Dembowski

Ted Hayes and Nancy Dembowski