Friday, January 29, 2016

Quote of the Month - February 2016

Mapping the Muse: A Bicentennial Look at Indiana Poetry

 “Mapping the Muse:  A Bicentennial Look at Indiana Poetry” is a project designed to celebrate Indiana’s 200th year by presenting a glimpse of poetry in Indiana.  The poems included run from every-day poets to university professors, high school students to senior poets in their 90s, and a collaborative poem by a 5th grade class from Perry County.  On page 85 you will find a poem from one of our local poets.

Starke County, USA
     Carol Grubbs (Starke County)

Once surrounded by Indians,
In the marshy, wet land,
Starke County was founded,
And today, we yet stand.

In the heart of Kankakee Valley,
Where many folks live,
There are forests and rivers,
With so much to give.

The towns aren't real large,
But have much hope in their view;
We struggle at times,
But many smaller towns do.

There are festivals and parades,
Special times of the year;
Many people do gather,
Coming from far and from near.

We are a county of tradition,
And a county with heart;
We stand as a whole,
And most do their part.

We have Libraries and churches,
And Restaurants and bars;
At night, not so crowded,
That we can't see the stars.

Many years have passed,
Since John Starke did arrive;
Little did he know then,
That his dream would survive.

Starke, Pulaski Counties Join Juvenile Justice Initiative

Starke, Pulaski Counties Join Juvenile Justice Initiative

Starke and Pulaski Counties will have more options for juvenile offenders thanks to an expanded state program. They are among 13 counties the state is adding to the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) this year. It seeks to improve outcomes for underage offenders while ensuring public safety.
‘In Starke County, juvenile probation officer Kristi Nolcheff will oversee the program. Chief Probation Officer John Thorstad says she’s familiar with the structure, as the county has been utilizing sentencing alternatives for the past few years to cut costs. Last year Starke County spent about $2,000 on juvenile incarceration. In 2009 that figure was $30,000.
Money for juvenile detention comes from the Starke County Commissioners budget. Nolcheff says the JDAI will allow local funds to be redirected into programs aimed at curbing recidivism.
Thorstad says there still will be a need to detain kids. He adds the county will now be able to follow state program guidelines to determine just who they are.
Indiana implemented the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative in 2006. State officials say it and other reforms have allowed the Department of Correction to save more than $15 million annually. They also note re-arrest rates have gone from 25 to 10 percent in JDAI counties. The expansion brings that number to 32.

Starke County CASA Receives National Certification

Starke County CASA Receives National Certification

A program to help abused and neglected kids in Starke County through the court system has gotten national certification. The Starke County Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program is made up of volunteers who give of their time to help these children.
Director Rhonda Adcock says the advocates help the court make the best decisions. “As CASAs, we have two concerns, and these two concerns are always our priority and our only priority,” she says. “First of all is the wishes of the child. Whatever the child wants, it’s our responsibility to report that to the court. Now sometimes, that’s the same as our second thing, which is the best interest of the child. So, if their wishes and best interests are the same, then we report that. If not, we report what the wishes of the child are and also what we believe is in the best interest of that child.”
That often involves going out and gathering information by spending time with the child and possibly talking to parents, foster parents, or teachers. Adcock says CASAs then use all that information to compile a report for the judge, “The judge takes those very seriously. He reads each of them and considers them. They carry a lot of weight because this is a volunteer who’s not getting paid for what they’re doing. The volunteer is just in it for the benefit of the child, so the CASA report can be a very powerful thing in the life of a child, as far as making a difference.”
As proof that the Starke County program is providing a quality advocacy for these children, Adcock says it’s now been certified by the National CASA Association, “They have a long series of standards that we have to meet. They’re pretty high, and even though Starke County’s kind of remote and a smaller county, we believe that the children that we serve are worthy of the best volunteers, the best volunteer CASA program that we can get them.”
She says to keep the certification, the Starke County program will have to go through all of its policies and programs every four years to make sure they continue to meet the national standards. Meanwhile, the organization continues to be certified at the state level.
For more information or to volunteer, visit or contact Starke County CASA at or 574-772-7200.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Knox Mayor Authorizes Purchase for TCS Expansion

Traffic Control Ssytems IncThe construction of a new facility for an expanding Knox business will remain on schedule after Knox Mayor Dennis Estok administratively authorized the purchase of a lift station to serve the site. City officials previously agreed to run water and sewer lines to the new Traffic Control Specialists, Inc. location west of Toll Brothers and Knox Fertilizer in the industrial park. The company broke ground on the project in November. A May 27th ribbon cutting is scheduled.
Estok’s action was necessary due to a lack of quorum at yesterday’s board of works meeting. Bob Aloi from Territorial Engineering told the members in attendance it needs to be ordered within the next few days so it can be delivered by mid-March. They decided Estok is administratively allowed to follow the previously approved agreement.
The city is using county economic development income tax money to buy and install the lift station and force main. After it’s installed, TCS will maintain the grinder. The Starke County Economic Development Foundation has agreed to pay all engineering costs. Executive Director Charlie Weaver noted they are paid to date.
Traffic Control Systems has outgrown its current location on 300 East between White Flyer and the railroad tracks. The company specializes in work zone safety and is the leading provider of signs and service throughout northern Indiana. TCS currently has 65 employees, most of whom are local. Company officials expect to add at least 22 more when the new facility opens.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

1/25 to 3/15/2016 Firewood permits available at Tippecanoe River State Park

The public is invited to cut certain downed, dead trees for firewood from picnic areas, roadsides, and campgrounds at Tippecanoe River State Park.

In January, February and March, hazardous trees and those damaged by the emerald ash borer (EAB) insect will be dropped and placed where the general public may come in, cut up, and haul it away as firewood at a cost of $10 per pick-up truck load. All revenue from these sales will be used to enhance the natural resource areas of the park.

A firewood permit must be obtained for each load at the park office between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., Monday through Friday, EST. Wood may be cut and removed between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, EST. Permit sales and cutting both begin Jan. 25 and end March 15. For further information, call the park at (574) 946-3213.

Firewood cut at Tippecanoe River State Park is for personal use only. No downed trees will be removed from dedicated nature preserves.

The ban on transporting ash between Indiana counties is being removed because the EAB insect is now widespread in the state. Regulatory tools and funding will be directed to other potential threats to forest resources.

Rules for bringing firewood to DNR properties remain in place and are detailed at The DNR does not recommend long-distance movement of firewood of any species due to the potential for moving other insect pests and tree diseases beyond locally impacted areas. “Long-distance movement” is moving beyond the immediate county or surrounding counties.

Any ash firewood obtained at the property should be burned before spring (mid-April to early May at the latest) to help limit EAB movement within your home area. EAB larvae are generally dormant in the winter—living under the bark—and emerge in late spring as adult beetles. So, if the firewood is all gone, no EAB adults could emerge from the wood if the larvae are present. If you cannot use all the wood before spring (mid-April to early May), keep it completely covered while storing it.

Tippecanoe River State Park ( is at 4200 North US 35 Winamac, 46996.

To view all DNR news releases, please see

Contact Information:
Name: Vernon Gillum
Phone: (574) 946-3213

North Judson Area Baseball Sign-Ups

North Judson Area Baseball Sign-Ups @ North Judson Civic Center.  PLEASE bring a copy of the child’s birth certificate to sign up. 
2/6 from 12 noon to 2 p.m.2/15 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. 2/21 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.2/22 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. 
If you are unable to sign up by February 22nd there will be a $20 late fee per child.  NO sign ups after March 13th. 

Cost:    $50 per child (+ MUST sell 5 Raffle Tickets)
             $30 per each additional child (+ MUST sell 10 Raffle Tickets)

League Ages
4-5 = T-Ball (must be 4 by May 1st)
6-7 = Rookie
8-10 = Minor
11-12 = Major
13-15 = Junior 

Questions?  Call: 
Mike Wilcox @ 574-249-8615 
Michelle Ginder @ 574-806-0331
Amanda Reeve @ 219-816-1146
Blake Radtka @ 574-806-6285

Championship Pictures @ North Judson-San Pierre High School

From the Facebook page of:  North Judson-San Pierre High School - JayFeed 

Our newest champion picture was recently hung in the PE hallway--The 2015 Sectional Volleyball Champions! This is right down the hall from the oldest pictures in the hallway from the 1970's!

Starke Commissioners Approve Hospital Lease Transfer

Starke Commissioners Approve Hospital Lease Transfer

The soon-to-be new operators of IU Health Starke Hospital now have a signed lease in effect with the county for the facility. The commissioners last night unanimously approved an assignment of lease for the building and the land on which it sits to Knox Hospital Company, LLC. It’s a wholly-owned subsidiary of LaPorte Health Systems, LLC. The assignment of lease is necessary because Tennessee-based Community Health Systems is purchasing 80-percent of the rights to operate the hospital. IU Health will retain the other 20 percent. Starke County Attorney Marty Lucas says such arrangements provide a combination of financial backing and management expertise.
“CHS is asserting it is responsible for the obligation of Knox Hospital, LLC. It has the capability in terms of knowledge of operation, and that you can rely upon that assertion,” Lucas told the commissioners.
The land and building are still owned by the county. CHS has committed to build a $15 million structure between the current hospital building and medical offices within the next five years. Once it’s finished the old building will be torn down and used for parking.
No changes have been made to the lease at this time. Now that it has been transferred to CHS, the county council and commissioners are in a position to consider their request for tax incentives as part of a new land lease arrangement. The current contract expires at the end of September. Hospital and county officials believe a new lease can be worked out before then.

ACA Deadline Brings Information to Rural Indiana Residents

ACA Deadline Brings Information to Rural Indiana Residents

The deadline is approaching for Indiana residents to sign-up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, and several organizations are hoping to target rural Hoosiers.
Those eligible to receive health insurance on the marketplace have until January 31st. A conference call on Wednesday was used to explain why rural Hoosiers are an area of need for uninsured populations in the United States.
The Department of Health and Human Services’ Region 5 Director Kathleen Falk says it’s a critical time to meet the sign-up deadline, especially for those may be at-risk of not receiving health insurance.
“For those who don’t sign up for 2016 and have the opportunity and can afford to do so, there’s a fine that will be imposed in 2017 and we don’t want that to happen to anyone,” says Falk. “The fine is $695 or 2.5% of your income, whichever is larger.”
The U.S. has seen 18-million citizens insured as part of the ACA that were previously uninsured.
According to Falk, prior to the passage of the ACA, rural uninsured residents were paying 50-percent of their healthcare costs out of pocket. In addition, one in five farmers were carrying some form of debt to pay for medical bills.
Falk says this is particularly important because rural residents typically suffer from chronic diseases at a higher rate than those living in urban areas.
“We know they are likely to be older than their urban counterparts, they tend to have lower incomes, and they’re more likely to be self-employed – which means less likely to have health insurance through their jobs,” says Falk.
Residents have until the end of the month to sign-up for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
By dialing 211 on their phones, rural Indiana residents may also be put in touch with an in-person counselor to help them navigate the healthcare market place.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

State Board of Education Releases 2014-15 A-F Grades

State Board of Education Releases 2014-15 A-F Grades

 Schools throughout the WKVI listening area fared well overall on the A through F grades approved Tuesday by the State Board of Education. The scores reflect changes fast-tracked through the Indiana General Assembly to hold corporations harmless due to last year’s significant drop in ISTEP+ scores.
According to Senate Enrolled Act 200, no school could earn a lower accountability grade during the 2014-15 academic year than it did during the previous year. Under this law, school grades could improve but no school’s A-F accountability grade would drop. The General Assembly and Governor Mike Pence also signed into law House Enrolled Act 1003 which prevented individual teachers from being negatively impacted in their performance evaluation by lower ISTEP+ scores.
In Starke County, Knox Elementary and High Schools got A’s, while Knox Middle School received a C. North Judson-San Pierre Elementary School got an A as well. N.J.-S.P. Middle and High Schools both received C’s. Oregon-Davis Elementary posted a B, and O-D Junior-Senior High School got a C. Culver Community Elementary and Middle Schools both earned A’s, while the high school got a B.
All three Eastern Pulaski Schools received A’s, as did West Central Elementary and High Schools. West Central Middle School got a C.
Both LaCrosse and Wanatah posted A’s. South Central Elementary got an A as well, while South Central Junior-Senior High School got a B.
Visit 2014-15 Final A-F Grades Statewide for a complete list of grades.
Statewide the number of A ranked schools increased and the number of failing schools decreased over the previous year.

Starke Commissioners Poised to Approve Hospital Lease Assignment

IU HealthThe Starke County Commissioners will clear the way for the sale of IU Health Starke Hospital during a special meeting later today. They will formally approve the assignment of the hospital lease to Knox Hospital, LLC during the special-called 4:30 p.m. session. That’s the limited liability company set up by IU Health and Community Health Systems. The Tennessee-based company is in the process of buying IU Health LaPorte and Starke Hospitals.
Starke County owns the hospital and leases it to IU Health. CHS officials say the assignment of the lease needs to be done this week in order to keep the acquisition on track. They’ve expressed a desire to work with the county to switch it to a land lease in order to allow for construction of a new hospital between the current building and doctors offices in what is now the parking lot and helipad at the existing site.
Tentative plans call for construction to start two years after the sale closes later this year and finish in five. The current hospital will stay open until the new building is complete and later be torn down to accommodate parking.
CHS officials have asked the county for some tax incentives as part of the process and said they would like to sign an initial 25-year lease with five 10-year renewal options, for a total of 75 years. Details of those plans still need to be worked out. If they aren’t finalized by the March 31 deadline to renew the current lease, the county commissioners have verbally agreed to a six-month extension of the current terms.
Community Health Systems operates 199 hospitals in 30 states.

N.J.-S.P. Moves Closer To Budget Adjustment Goals

North Judson-San Pierre Admin buildingThe interim superintendent with the North Judson – San Pierre school corporation says they are still in the assessment phase of their plans when it comes to readjusting their finances.
Following the retirement of their previous superintendent, and a property tax levy referendums’ inability to receive sufficient support for passage at the ballot box, N.J.-S.P. says it has some work to do for 2016.
Superintendent Bob Boyd says they did achieve a small cash balance of $182-thousand for 2015.
“We’re in the process of planning some steps to assure that that occurs in 2016,” says Boyd.
North Judson – San Pierre schools are facing a similar situation to many rural school corporations in the state: declining enrollment and reduced revenue support from the state of Indiana.
Boyd says it’s still early in his tenure, but he’s working to review data and information with the school corporation’s Board of Education. This week, Boyd says he will be meeting with the administrators of the three schools to find out where adjustments can be made to their expenditures.
The goal, according to Boyd, is to balance the budget without impacting student performance.
“It’s going to take more than just tweaking,” says Boyd. “It’s going to take some structural re-alignments of the district and at this point a lot of options are on the table to be looked at.”
Boyd says that as more concrete plans are developed, the school board’s plan is to share their vision with the public prior to implementing changes to their budgets.
Action by the board to react to the changes in revenue expectations is anticipated at some point this year.

Monday, January 25, 2016

2/13/2016 Valentine’s Dinner Dance & Fundraiser for Seniors 55+

Looking for something unique to do on Valentine’s Day?  Community Services of Starke County is having a dinner/dance on February 13, 2016 from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. 

The price is $20 per person and includes:  Choice of two entrees, salad, vegetables, rolls, dessert, and tea or lemonade.  There will be dancing, live entertainment, door prizes, valentine’s treats, and photographs available for purchase. 

RSVP and pick up your tickets no later than February 6th.  

Call 574.772.7070 for more details. Limited seating available.

Indiana Hunting and Trapping Seasons 2016-2017

2016-2017 hunting and trapping seasons have been established. Further, the deer reduction zone boundaries are subject to change and will be released at a later date.

Starke County Commissioners Review Proposed Nuisance Ordinance

starke-county-courthouseThe Starke County Commissioners want the planning commission to take another crack at a proposed nuisance and unsafe building ordinance. It aims to regulate what is and is not allowed in unincorporated areas of Starke County in the interest of health, safety and welfare.
County attorney Marty Lucas has reviewed the plan commission’s proposal and offered several suggestions. For starters he thinks the enforcement needs to be handled through the court in order to ensure land owners receive due process rather than through administrative enforcement. Additionally Lucas says the state’s Right to Farm law needs to be incorporated into the proposal. It sets allowable practices for farming operations and protects farm operators from lawsuits.
The proposed ordinance addresses things like inoperable vehicles, junk, debris, dangerous structures and improperly maintained wastewater disposal systems and wells. It also finds the accumulation of pet and animal feces to be a nuisance, along with vermin infestations, graffiti and the defacement of public and private property and the storage of construction materials or an accumulation of garbage.
Rather than enacting an across-the-board policy, Lucas suggested considerations based on the land use. Plan Commission Director Terry Stephenson believes the proposed regulations should apply equally to all and feels common sense enforcement in a better route.
After discussing the matter, the commissioners voted unanimously to send the ordinance back to the planning commission for further study.

Friday, January 22, 2016

2016 Indiana Festival Guides

Looking for the 2016 Indiana Festival Guide or Festival brochures for a particular region in Indiana? (You can download a copy to your computer.)

N.J.-S.P. Joins Fight Against Truancy in Starke County

North Judson-San Pierre Admin buildingThe North Judson-San Pierre School Board has agreed to take part in a program that they hope will reduce the likelihood of truancy among students.
During this week’s Board of Education meeting, “Project Attend” was discussed. The program is being operated between the Starke County Prosecutor’s office and Probation Department, along with the local school corporations.
Interim N.J.-S.P. Superintendent Bob Boyd says it’s designed to enhance the attendance of certain segments of their student body.
“So it kicks in a process after 10 days of absence during the course of the school year that involves the parents, the student, the school personnel as well as the county people in terms of the prosecutor’s office and so forth,” says Boyd.
According to statements made by Starke County Prosecutor Nick Bourff earlier this month, a step process will be involved that hopes to intervene with students missing class for an extended period.
Certain cases of truancy are remedied simply by providing an alarm clock to families in need. Other cases are referred to phone calls for unexcused absences with an intervention by the Juvenile Probation Department in Starke County.
Boyd says North Judson – San Pierre would partake in the plan if a student has unexcused absences.
“Then a meeting would be called to bring together the school people, the parent, the child, the folks in the probation office and work out a plan for how to get the child back in school,” says Boyd.
The Knox School Corporation agreed to the plan earlier this week.
The N.J.-S.P. School Board approved participation in Project Attend, unanimously.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Starke EMS Prepared to Treat K-9s

Travis Clary and Candice Austin show off the pet oxygen masks Starke County EMS recently obtained through a grant.
Travis Clary and Candice Austin show off the pet oxygen masks Starke County EMS recently obtained through a grant.
Starke County EMS ambulances are now equipped to help the county’s four-legged law enforcement officers as well as civilian animals. The county ambulance service recently got a grant from Invisible Fence for free pet oxygen masks.
Starke County Sheriff's Office K-9 Terror and handler Det. Sgt. Rob Olejniczakm Sheriff Bill Dulin and the left, Sheriff Dulin and K-9 Zardoz and handler Det. Sgt. Adam Gray.
Starke County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Terror and handler Det. Sgt. Rob Olejniczakm Sheriff Bill Dulin and the left, Sheriff Dulin and K-9 Zardoz and handler Det. Sgt. Adam Gray.
EMS Director Keith Emigh, Assistant Director Travis Clary and Starke County K-9 Officers Rob Olejniczak  and Adam Gray have been working together to help EMT’s and paramedics become more prepared for an incident involving the police dogs.
Paramedics recently volunteered their time to take a class from Dr. Lisa Booth of Vale Park Animal Hospital in Valparaiso. She runs the nonprofit organization “Kits for K-9’s” and provides special first aid medical kits to local K-9 officers. Booth donated kits to both the Starke County Sheriff’s Office and North Judson Police Department.
Starke County EMS officials also made individual cards for each county K-9 officer that will be placed in each ambulance in case of emergency. Each lists the dog’s weight and life-saving medications that can be administered. Clary says Starke County EMS also learned they can transport a wounded K-9 in an emergency situation to the nearest 24-hour emergency vet at Purdue North Central in Westville.
Legal restrictions prohibit the transportation of non-law enforcement pets. However, the pet oxygen masks on the ambulances can be used to provide supplemental oxygen to civilian animals in need after, for instance, being rescued from a house fire. Each truck is equipped with small, medium and large masks.

Don’t Overpay for Property Information

starke-county-courthouseAn Indianapolis-based company offering to sell Starke County property owners copies of their deeds is not affiliated with county government. Starke County Recorder Lisa Minix says several people have received official-looking letters from “Local Records Office.” The company has an Indianapolis address and toll-free telephone number.
The letter offers a “property profile” which includes the address, owner’s name, comparable values, legal description property history and public and private schools report for an $89 “processing fee.”
Minix says property owners can obtain a copy of their deed from her office for $1 per page.  Click Deed Letter to view a copy of what “Local Records Office” is sending.  Any Starke County property owner with questions can call the Recorder’s office at 574-772-9109.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Pioneer Cemetery Transformation Fund

Donations to the Pioneer Cemetery Transformation Fund can be made through the Northern Indiana Community Foundation.

Their website is  Information is available there or through their contact information below:
Starke County Community FoundationP.O. Box 563Knox, Indiana  46534 
Office location:
North Judson Town Hall310 Lane StreetNorth Judson, Indiana  46366Phone:  574-772-3665

1/28/2016 Railroad Township Advisory Board Meeting

1/30/2016 Karaoke at Knox VFW Post #748

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

North Judson Council Signs Off on Patrol Car Purchases

Council Member Justin Davis, President Wendy J.Hoppe, Council Member Josh Brown, Council Member Jane Ellen Felchuk, Clerk-Treasurer Alicia Collins, Council Member Nathan Bradley, Town Superintendent Marshall Hortsmann, Town Attorney Rachel Arndt , Town Marshal Douglas Vessely, not pictured is Fire Chief Joe Leszek. Photo by North Judson Town Photographer Peggy Bohac
Council Member Justin Davis, President Wendy J.Hoppe, Council Member Josh Brown, Council Member Jane Ellen Felchuk, Clerk-Treasurer Alicia Collins, Council Member Nathan Bradley, Town Superintendent Marshall Hortsmann, Town Attorney Rachel Arndt , Town Marshal Douglas Vessely, not pictured is Fire Chief Joe Leszek. Photo by North Judson Town Photographer Peggy Bohac
The North Judson Police Department once again has four patrol vehicles in its fleet. The town recently purchased two 2014 ½ Dodge Chargers to replace a 2011 Ford Crown Victoria and a 2013 Charger that were destroyed in a fire last October.
Their insurance company covered all but $3,800 of the vehicle replacement costs. Town Marshal Doug Vessely told the council last night they’re also reimbursing more than $17,000 in costs for unattached equipment that was in the two cars. That list includes rifles, shotguns, cameras, vests and other tactical gear.
The council approved the payment voucher for the cars and signed off on the proof of loss documents for the insurance company. The addition of two new cars mean North Judson likely won’t have to purchase patrol vehicles for another three to four years.