Posted on June 30, 2016 Author Mary Perren, WKVI The North Judson-San Pierre School Board will hold a brief reorganization meeting on Monday, July 5th. The session, which is open to the public, will take place at 7 a.m. in the meeting room at the central office. After the oath of office is administered, the board will elect a president, vice president and secretary for the 2016-17 school year. Members will also make several appointments. That list includes a business manager, purchasing agent, treasurer, school attorney, board of finance, negotiations team and bid opening committee. Board member compensation will also be set, and regular board meeting dates, times and places will be established.
Posted on June 30, 2016 Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI The Town of North Judson is calling this year’s Mint Festival a success. This year’s event celebrated the town’s sesquicentennial, the state’s bicentennial, and the 40th year for Mint Festival. To celebrate North Judson’s history, the town hosted an ice cream social in the Town Hall. Clerk-Treasurer Alicia Collins says 20 to 30 people attended the event. Residents were dressed in 1866 clothing, and town council member Jane Ellen Felchuk brought historical memorabilia. However, the town still has another historical event planned this year. A Civil War reenactment, commemorating local soldiers’ return from the war in 1866, will be held Friday, October 7 and Saturday, October 8. Organizers had originally planned to hold the event at the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum. However, Collins says that the town’s now looking for a different site, since the museum will be busy with its Pumpkin Train event that weekend. The reenactment will coincide with the arrival of the Indiana Bicentennial Torch in North Judson on October 7.
Posted on June 30, 2016 Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI
Gas prices have been heading down over the past few weeks, but the drop’s been more noticeable in some places than others. As of Wednesday, GasBuddy.com was reporting prices of $2.19 per gallon or lower in places like Plymouth and Hamlet, but about 20 cents higher in Knox and Culver. GasBuddy.com Senior Petroleum Analyst Patrick DeHaan attributes these price differences to some old-fashioned competition between gas stations that’s currently being seen in many parts of the state. “These stations are engaging in what we would call a price war,” he says. “Stations are hesitant to sell at a loss in other areas and don’t want to match those loss-leader prices, and that’s probably what’s happening, is one community may have a station or several that are engaging in a price war and another community may not.” DeHaan says that some gas stations in Central Indiana and elsewhere have prices below two dollars a gallon, but he adds that others may be hesitant to follow, “At those levels, stations are probably not making any money, and so other retailers may not really want to go down that low, in light of the fact that some stations are either breaking even or losing money, even.” On average, GasBuddy.com reports that Indiana gas prices are down more than 16 cents per gallon from last week.
Posted on June 30, 2016 Author Ed Hasnerl, WKVI Area residents are receiving emails purported to be from a Knox pastor raising money for a grant to assist needy people. The request gives a telephone number and requests that you send money with a pre-paid card from Walmart. The entire effort is a scam. Report any contact to local law enforcement officials.
Almost 25-million people in the United States are living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, according to the support group PTSD United. That includes thousands of Hoosiers who have suffered a traumatic event, from crimes or natural disasters to events surrounding military service. Dr. Matthew Friedman is a senior adviser at the Veterans Administration’s National Center for PTSD. He says the diagnosis is only part of seeking help. “On the one hand, there are resilient people who meet the full diagnostic criteria for PTSD, but they can cope with the symptoms. Then, there are other people for whom PTSD is completely debilitating.” Friedman says treatment has advanced to include cognitive behavior therapy and medications that can help people work through their illness. While it’s normal to experience stress after a traumatic event, Friedman says you should seek professional help if it lasts longer than three months, disrupts home or work life, or you find yourself reliving the event frequently and experiencing flashbacks. “We really want people to recognize that they’ve got PTSD and if they’re not sure, they should see a professional who can help them sort that out. And if they do, then we’ve got treatments that work. People who think they have PTSD, or their loved one has PTSD, should seek treatment.” The annual cost of anxiety disorders to society is estimated to be well over $42 billion, often due to misdiagnosis and under-treatment. This includes the costs of psychiatric and non-psychiatric medical treatment and prescription drugs, plus indirect workplace costs and mortality costs.
It’s funny how the mind will reorganize things that happened in the past to where it thinks they should have occurred. All this year I’ve been thinking that North Judson’s Centennial celebration took place in July or August and come to find out that it was actually in September. Yep, all the events were spread out from Thursday, September 1st, to Monday, September 5th of 1966. Of course that was back in the “good ole days” when school didn’t start until sometime after Labor Day, which just happened to be September 5, 1966. In looking over the schedule of events I can’t say that too many of them sound familiar to me. Lurking in the back of my mind is the vague recollection of the variety show and I do believe that I did attend the “funeral services” for Clara and Mugs that May. But the one thing that I definitely remember is the Centennial parade. You see we were incredibly lucky because the parade lineup started in the general area of our house – the corner of Vine & George Streets. It wasn’t necessary for us to get a good spot downtown to watch the parade because the parade came to us. I can remember the excitement building as people gathered to take their place in the lineup: friends from school, the band gathering at Mr. Lawson's home next door, people who waited on us at the local stores, politicians – local and state, an assortment of animals. It was all memorable. The one thing that sticks in my mind, I think it was Charlie Barker riding up and down the street on an 1855 bicycle, practicing so he wouldn’t fall off during the parade. Now why would he have to worry about falling off? Well as the saying goes learning to ride is “as easy as falling off a bike.” And any 12 or 13 year old in Starke County practically lived on their bike during the summer. But this wasn’t your ordinary bike. This was one of those high wheel bicycles, (aka Penny Farthing) that you don’t see every day. I’m not sure where it came from, I have a vague recollection of someone telling me it was owned by someone who worked at McCormick’s mortuary or he borrowed it from a friend. That front wheel stood about 5 feet high and the back wheel was only about 18 inches. According to the research I’ve done it probably was made of steel and would have weighed somewhere between 24 and 50 pounds. No comparison to your modern day lightweight aluminum alloy bicycles. Getting on and off the bicycle wasn’t very easy either. There were two little pegs above the back wheel that were used to help the rider get up on that seat so far from the ground. How he got down…? Yep, there was plenty of excitement that year about North Judson’s Bicentennial, but one memory that sticks out in my mind is Charlie Barker riding a Penny Farthing back and forth on Vine Street.
INDIANAPOLIS (June 29, 2016) –Lt. Governor Eric Holcomb, Indiana Office of Tourism Development (IOTD) Executive Director Mark Newman, Indiana Farmers Mutual Insurance President and CEO Kim Smith and Bicentennial Torch Relay State Director Noelle Szydlyk today unveiled the names of more than 2,000 Indiana Bicentennial Torch Relay torchbearers, as well as the official torchbearer uniforms. The unveiling took place during a press conference at the Indiana Statehouse.
“The 2,000 plus Hoosiers selected as torchbearers embody the Indiana traditions of service, civic pride, community involvement and volunteerism,” said Lt. Governor Holcomb. “As we reflect on Indiana’s first two hundred years, it is only fitting that we celebrate Hoosiers who serve as inspirations in their communities.”
A list of the torchbearer names and the counties they represent can be found here. Graphics of the torchbearer uniforms are also available by request.
Torchbearers were nominated by the public and selected by local committees on a county-by-county basis. More than 4,000 torchbearer nominations were received. Those selected are Hoosiers who demonstrate exceptional public service, excellence in their profession, acts of heroism or volunteer service to their neighborhood, community, region or state.
Developed by IOTD, the Relay is patterned after the Olympic Torch Relay and is designed to connect Hoosiers everywhere during the bicentennial year. The unifying nature of the torch relay underscores the achievement, influence and aspirations of Indiana and its people while symbolically passing the torch to future generations of Hoosiers. The torch relay route was charted by a committee of representatives from multiple state agencies and the private sector. The route showcases locations of natural beauty, local interest and historic significance. The Indiana Bicentennial Torch Relay will start Friday, September 9, 2016 in Corydon, Indiana’s first state capital, and culminate with a celebration on Saturday, October 15, 2016 on the grounds of the Indiana Statehouse in Indianapolis. The torch relay will touch each of Indiana’s 92 counties during the 3,200-mile journey across the state.
"Enthusiasm is building as the start of the torch relay approaches," remarked IOTD's Mark Newman. "Communities large and small are pulling out all the stops to honor their torchbearers and celebrate Indiana’s 200th birthday. Collectively, the over 2,000 torchbearers have had far reaching impact and all of Indiana should be proud.”
In addition to the selected torchbearers, the relay will employ other modes of conveyance that are symbolic of the history and heritage of Indiana, including watercraft, farm equipment, racecars, horse and wagon, antique automobile and others.
In order to conduct an event the size of the Indiana Bicentennial Torch Relay, a strong team and critical partnerships are necessary. Newest among those partners is Indiana Farmers Mutual Insurance who is the official sponsor of the uniforms that will outfit the torchbearers, community volunteers and torch relay staff. The specially designed torch bearer uniform is comprised of a light weight lined wind resistant jacket made of ripstop polyester fabric, a 100% micro polyester moisture wicking t-shirt and a specially designed cap.
“We are excited and proud to be an official partner of the Bicentennial Torch Relay. It’s not often that you have the opportunity to participate in a historic event that will touch every county across the state, and we are honored to join with our fellow Hoosiers in celebrating 200 years of statehood,” said Kim O. Smith, President and CEO of Indiana Farmers Mutual Insurance Company.
Posted on June 29, 2016 Author Tyler Maffitt, WKVI Ancilla College says it intends to use grant funds to help develop programs for those diagnosed with Aspeger’s Spectrum Disorder. The Ball Brothers Venture Fund helped provide $75-thousand worth of grants for various projects through the Independent Colleges of Indiana. Ancilla College’s share of the benefits is just more than $20-thousand.
In the coming months, Ancilla College is looking to train staff and begin development on a web-based resource for Asperger’s students. They intend to use local, regional, and national experts on the subject to help aid in project development. That information will then be shared with faculty and staff at other campuses. According to college President Dr. Ken Zirkle, there are few Aspergers-related programs available for young adults after high-school. Many of those students are gifted in several areas. Online learning tools for students on the spectrum are part of a larger plan for Ancilla College to create an on-campus center for autism education. That program will include life skills training and college-level classes for students meeting the criteria. According to the National Autism Indicators Report from 2015, about 36-percent of adults diagnosed with autism attend college or vocational schools.
Posted on June 29, 2016 Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI Now that summer’s here, the Town of North Judson is reminding residents about permits for pool installations. Clerk-Treasurer Alicia Collins says permits are required for both permanent pools, as well as temporary ones. Collins says pools must be enclosed by a fence with a locking gate. Permits cost $100 for a permanent pool and $25 for a temporary a pool.
Posted on June 28, 2016 Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI The North Judson Town Council has officially chosen a site for a proposed community center. Last week, the council decided to stick with project organizers’ original plan to build the facility behind the town’s fire station. Efforts to obtain grant funding for the facility from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs were delayed last month, while council members reconsidered the location. The land’s owner originally offered to donate it, but later asked the town to pay $25,000 for the rest of the property. That led the town council to consider building the proposed community center on land the town already owns, instead. While this meant the project missed one grant application deadline, there was also danger that the application would be delayed even further if a location wasn’t finalized quickly. North Judson Clerk-Treasurer Alicia Collins says the selection of a site means work on the project has once again started to move ahead. Fund-raising efforts are once again taking place, and organizers are making another push for residents who’ve gotten income surveys to complete them, to determine the project’s eligibility for grant funding. A letter of intent for the grant is due August 19, with the grant application itself due October 14. Collins says the $25,000 cost of the additional land will be split between the Town of North Judson and Wayne Township. That purchase will also serve as the local share of the matching grant.
Posted on June 28, 2016 Author Mary Perren, WKVI The Starke County Commissioners hope to expand their success with a WorkOne job training program to other departments within county government. Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler was the first to take advantage of the agency’s offer of free help to teach young people so-called “soft skills” like showing up to work on time, following directions and adhering to a schedule. WorkOne pays the employees to hone their job skills, and there is no cost to the county. Last week Starke County Maintenance Director Jim Coad received approval from the commissioners to hire one or two assistants through the program to help with custodial work throughout the county. The commissioners also suggested Starke County Emergency Management Agency Director Jacob Lippner speak to WorkOne about a program participant to help with clerical work in his office. Lippner says having the extra help would free him up to focus on other areas. He says the prospective helper will also have the opportunity to complete free FEMA training in order to learn valuable job skills.
Posted on June 28, 2016 Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI As the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum continues its efforts to resume excursions to LaCrosse, it’s asking the public for help covering its legal fees. The museum believes the restriction of its trains is a violation of the terms of an INDOT grant the Town of North Judson received in 2004 to purchase the line. To argue its case, the museum says it’s had to hire both a local attorney and a federal one, and now it’s launched a GoFundMe page to help pay the legal bills. While the track is owned by the Town of North Judson, it’s operated by the Chesapeake and Indiana Railroad, under an extension of an agreement that expired in December. However, the terms of that extension have severely restricted the museum’s ability to run trains past English Lake and into LaCrosse. While the museum believes this violates the terms of the INDOT grant, North Judson has questioned whether these provisions are in conflict with federal law. INDOT’s attorneys say the terms are valid, since it doesn’t appear that they prevent the operator from delivering freight. Meanwhile, the town hopes to resolve the issue by leasing the railroad to a new operator, and including further protections for the museum in the lease agreement. Proposals from potential operators are due this Friday.
Posted on June 27, 2016 Author Mary Perren, WKVI The Starke County Highway Department is upgrading some of its bridge replacement standards. Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler says plans for the new bridge on 250 West south of Toto Road over Bogus Run include a longer guardrail. “We’ve been using the minimum standards,” Ritzler told the county commissioners last week. “The last couple bridges we’ve built, even though it’s technically within standards, we think they should be a little bit longer. It’s minimal cost to do that. We’re adding 10 feet at each end. We think that’s much safer.” Plans also call for a widening of the bridge from 22.5 to 28 feet to accommodate farm equipment. Ritzler says that will be the new minimum standard for all bridges in order to keep guardrails from being torn up and signs from being knocked down. He says the county will save the extra $8 to $10,000 in the long run. The design plans also include epoxy coating the bridge pilings to extend their life. “The reason we’re doing that is because the internal cure concrete we’re using has extended the deck life from 25 years to 75 years,” Ritzler said. “Normally we weren’t concerned about the pilings as much. They would last 50 to 60 years, but when you did the deck they would just replace those. But now with the decks lasting a lot longer, we want the pilings to last a lot longer. This will make them last 75 years with that stuff. So we’re going to add that as a minimum standard as well for these bridges.” Ritzler says the approaches will also be done in eternal cure concrete to extend their lifespan. As for existing bridges, Ritzler says the concrete decks can be replaced for between $60 and $70,000 each and classified as repair projects. He’s looking into doing so. The Starke County Commissioners last week approved the bid design. The project will be advertised for a July 18th bid opening, with construction expected to start in early September. Ritzler says that will coincide with the bidding of the next three bridges. He says work is slow for a couple of contractors right now, and hopes that will result in a good deal for the county on multiple projects. Procedurally, the bid packets will be sent electronically to prospective contractors, which will also save the county time and money. Sealed bids must still be turned in to the auditor’s office by the deadline.
Posted on June 27, 2016 Author Tyler Maffitt, WKVI Construction on the Reynolds-Topeka Transmission Line is getting underway and NIPSCO says they continue to expect operations to begin in 2018. The project is a multi-county, multi-million dollar project designed to increase the effectiveness of utilities providers in Northern Indiana. NIPSCO isn’t alone, however, in their efforts. Similar projects are going on across the country in an attempt to meet federal renewable energy standards.
Construction on the project was initially expected to begin in the summer of 2015, but NIPSCO Public Affairs Director Larry Graham says access to a 20 foot right-of-way over the 100 mile expansion has created some delays. “The project is still on schedule,” says Graham. “We’re still looking at an in-service date of 2018. So our plan and construction is still right where we want it to be.” NIPSCO says they are currently communicating with county government officials, landowners, and stakeholders to discuss what construction will look like and what the company expects during that period. NIPSCO recently signed an agreement with Pulaski County for moving heavy construction equipment and materials along local roadways. NIPSCO says that is an important part of the construction process. Graham says that as they enter the construction phase, proper permitting and addressing concerns about road usage is important. “There are things that happen that we need to make sure local officials are aware of such as increased traffic and construction equipment being on the road,” says Graham. “Then just making sure they have a point of contact that if issues come up, that they have a point of contact that if issues come up, they have somebody they can contact to address those issues or answer any questions they might have.” The line will travel between White and LaGrange counties once completed. That route was approved by the state in 2013 after several meetings with the public on the issue. NIPSCO says they believe the Reynolds-Topeka Transmission line will create jobs and provide a cost savings to their customers.
Posted on June 27, 2016 Author Mary Perren, WKVI The moon is the destination for this summer’s Moving Starke County Forward Get Moving Challenge. The fourth annual event encourages community members to get up and get moving by walking, biking or taking part in any physical activity of their choice. This year’s theme is Starke County Walks to the Moon, with a goal of virtually reaching the lunar surface by late August. Participants are reminded to log their miles each week so they will count toward the collective total. So far, the summer challenge has over 135 individual participants in addition to 15 different teams. The “Toto Trekkers” is currently in the lead with over 386 combined miles. As for individual standings, Jennifer Moore is leading the way to space with over 105 personal miles in less than one month. As a county, participants have already logged more than 1,214 miles. Together, participants have exceeded the highest altitude ever reached by a paper plane (21.77 miles). They’ve also surpassed the point at which suborbital space begins (62 miles) and currently remain in low Earth orbit. They sped quickly past the International Space Station, which is an estimated 249 miles from Earth and zoomed on by the Hubble Space Telescope with an orbit height or 347 miles. The group’s next destination will be the area in space where the Explorer 1 orbited at a height of 903 miles. They will be exiting low Earth orbit and entering medium Earth orbit at 1,243 miles, so promoters urge participants to check their oxygen! Winners will be announced in late August, and prizes will be awarded to those with the highest number of miles or steps for the entire challenge. There’s still time to sign up. Moving Starke County Forward is an ongoing coalition of leaders whose purpose is to improve the quality of life and encourage, create and advocate for a healthy Starke County. The group was formed in 2012 after Starke County ranked 91st out of 92 counties in Indiana health rankings; Starke County currently ranks 90th in health outcomes and 87th in health factors among Indiana’s 92 counties. For more information about Moving Starke County Forward, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. To join the walking program, visit Moving Starke County Forward’s Facebook page for more information.
Posted on June 27, 2016 Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI An organization with the goal of improving Starke County residents’ access to higher education is touting its efforts so far this year. The Starke County Career and College Success Coalition says it’s given over $5,000 in grants to help out some local organizations. Among those receiving funding is the Starke County Youth Club for its summer career and college programs. Knox High School was provided funding for its Freshman Mentoring Program, as well as its leadership development efforts. The North Judson-San Pierre School Corporation also received a grant, which it will use for the development of its band program. The goal is to increase the number of student leaders, raise students’ level of achievement, and provide student mentoring. Additionally, the Starke County Career and College Success Coalition says it will once again have a booth at the Starke County 4-H Fair next month. Residents will have the opportunity to learn about the coalition itself, as well as get information about college, trade schools, vocational programs, the military, and the 21st Century Scholars program.
Posted on June 27, 2016 Author Tyler Maffitt, WKVI As Independence Day draws near, the State Fire Marshal’s office is reminding Hoosiers about fireworks laws currently on the books. In Indiana, the person setting off the fireworks may be held liable for damage to any property. In addition, fireworks are only allowed to be discharged on the owner’s property, or on the property of someone who has consented to it. Some communities may have specially designated areas for fireworks usage. According to a press release, starting June 29th through July 9th, fireworks may be used between the hours of 9:00 a.m. until two hours after sunset. Otherwise, local ordinances are responsible for determining their times of use. Damaging property with fireworks may result in a $5-thousand fine and up to one year in prison. The State Fire Marshal’s office also says that children discharging fireworks are expected to be in the presence of an adult. Fireworks retailers are expected to be licensed and abide by the rule that no one under the age of 18 may purchase them.
Posted on June 25, 2016 Author Mary Perren, WKVI A local vendor will make the necessary repairs to the third floor air conditioning unit at the Starke County Courthouse. County officials contacted eight vendors, and four looked at the job. Of those four, three submitted quotes. North Judson-based Jackson Refrigeration Heating and Air Conditioning had the lowest price at $11,737.36. It was significantly less than the $33,839 price offered by Herman & Goetz, Inc. from South Bend. The third bid from DA Dodd of Mishawaka was $43,850. The part needs to be ordered and will be here in about three weeks. The repair cost will come from the special County Economic Development Income Tax dedicated to the jail and related expenses. The commissioners noted the air conditioning repair was included in the scope of work for the courthouse renovation project scheduled later this year.
Posted on June 25, 2016 Author Mary Perren, WKVI The North Judson-San Pierre School Board Tuesday night expressed appreciation of the man who has led the corporation for the past six months. They recognized Interim Superintendent Dr. Robert Boyd during the “Bluejay Way” portion of the meeting for his “outstanding service” in that capacity. Boyd took over in January following Superintendent Lynn Johnson’s abrupt retirement at the end of December. He led N.J.-S.P. through the “right sizing” of the corporation, which resulted in the issuance of 24 reduction in force notices. At the time officials said those cuts were necessary in order to reconcile cuts in state funding due to declining enrollment following last fall’s failed push for a tax increase. The school board last month hired Dr. Annette Zupin as superintendent. She will take over that job July 1st.
Posted on June 24, 2016 Author Mary Perren, WKVI The Starke County Council this week tabled a request from Sheriff Bill Dulin to move money around within his budget. They opted instead to revisit the transfer between the sheriff’s budget and the jail budget in the fall just in case an expense pops up between now and then. The jail budget is running in the red due to the expense of operating a larger facility. The operating budget for the new jail is based on a study done by the Indiana Sheriff’s Association. However it did not take into account the fact the old jail was understaffed or that Starke County was paying Pulaski County to house inmates due to the conditions at the old facility. Also the county commissioners’ approved the addition of two more full-time jailers last fall, but those positions were never funded by the council. Dulin told the council he’s just trying to “help the cause” by finding available money. A committee consisting of Dulin, Commissioner Don Binkley and County Councilmen Freddie Baker and Bob Sims is also reviewing the budget. They want to meet one more time with Starke County Auditor Kay Chaffins to set priorities before taking any action. Dulin also noted income from the Department of Correction for housing inmates in both the therapeutic community drug treatment program and general population is increasing each month. The county has billed the D.O.C. $112,175 year to date through the end of May.
Posted on June 24, 2016 Author Mary Perren, WKVI The North Judson-San Pierre School Board Tuesday night approved a revised memorandum of understanding with their special education cooperative. The corporation is a member of Joint Educational Services in Special Education, or JESSE. As part of the “right sizing” initiative approved earlier this year, N.J.-S.P. cut special education services. Oregon-Davis has since picked up the speech and language pathologist hours N.J.-S.P. cut. The new memorandum of understanding reflects 70 percent pay for that employee will come from N.J.S.P. and the remaining 30 percent from O-D.
The Starke County Council this week took preliminary steps to clear the way for the relocation of a Chicagoland-area business to North Judson. Outstanding Tradeshow Exhibit Services, OTES for short, is looking to buy the Thermo Products building on State Road 10 west of town and set up shop in there. The company creates tradeshow exhibits for businesses. Starke County Economic Development Foundation Executive Director Charlie Weaver says the project is a big win for Starke County. “You get the new investment in the county. You get the new employees. You keep Kemin, which is very important, because Kemin is going to be expanding in this county. They’re already bringing rosemary up from Texas to process in Indiana, in addition to the mint they’re doing now. Third, you keep Thermo Products, and if you didn’t keep Thermo in there they would be in North Carolina in a heartbeat. I know that because my brother-in-law’s an engineer there.” OTES President Nan Wellman plans to buy and renovate the building and lease space to the other two tenants. Weaver has already given her a list of local contractors who can do the work. The company is seeking real estate and personal property tax abatements worth about $1 million total over the next 10 years as well as a designation of the property as an economic revitalization area. Weaver told the council granting preliminary approval to those requests is non-binding and will keep the project moving forward. “Chances are because of her schedule she’ll probably have to look someplace else. I’m going to tell you folks, I’ve shown that Thermo Products building about 25 times. There broker has shown it never, and so I know the condition of that building. It’s tough to get someone in there when you’re waking through water that’s two inches deep.” Wellman founded the business in 2012 and says she needs a place where it can really soar. “Quite frankly Illinois is killing me in taxes. Companies over there are a dime a dozen. Also being from Indiana I’m looking forward to coming back here as well, putting my roots back here and staying. I have family in Indiana.” The council granted a preliminary approval of the abatement and designation as an economic revitalization area, on the condition that any abated taxes must be repaid should OTES leave prior to the end of the 10-year phase in. A public hearing on the tax abatement requests will be scheduled during their July 18th meeting.
Posted on June 23, 2016 Author Mary Perren, WKVI The North Judson-San Pierre School Board Tuesday night hired a new principal for the combined junior/senior high school. The vacancy was created by the recent promotion of Dr. Annette Zupin from high school principal to superintendent. Jim Polite will take over the job on July 1. His administrative experience includes one year as assistant principal at Kankakee Valley High School, and four years each as principal and assistant principal at Thomas Jefferson Middle School in Valparaiso. He will be paid $86,000 per year. Polite graduated from Washington Township High School in rural Porter County and says he always appreciated that small school setting. “I really enjoyed having an opportunity to work with both ends of the spectrum – the younger students at the middle school level and then also the older student at the high school level. This provided me a wonderful opportunity to be able to demonstrate and work with both ranges of students, who I feel I’m very effective with. It also gave me an opportunity to return to a small school setting, which I’ve longed to do.” Polite’s goals include improving the schools’ letter grades and working to bring ISTEP scores up, especially in the math area. He also wants to establish better communication with the community and share with them all of the good things that are taking place at North Judson-San Pierre Junior/Senior High School. Beyond that Polite says he wants to continue to create and establish an environment in the building that’s conducive to learning and to helping each and every student each and every day to reach their full potential. The school board on Tuesday also approved salaries for North Judson-San Pierre Elementary Principal Mike McBride for $86,060 and Junior/Senior High School Assistant Principal Kevin Cox. He will earn $67,400 in 2016-17. Those are the same salaries both were getting during the 2015-16 school year.
Posted on June 23, 2016 Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI Less than a year after opening its first residence hall, Ancilla College will be dedicating its second student housing facility next month. Bishop Kevin Rhoades will be at Ancilla on Monday, July 18 for a blessing ceremony for the new residence hall, as well as the recently-added dining hall/student life center. The building blessing will take place at 3 p.m. EDT on July 18, and tours of the new facilities will be available. College officials say the addition of dorms has been a big boost to enrollment.
Posted on June 23, 2016
Author Tyler Maffitt, WKVI
The Starke County Park Board is providing an update on drainage issues in the Starke County Forest.
The greenspace and public access area has been a consistent point of discussion for the Park Board due to what county officials say is a back-up of water due to beaver activity in the forest.
Park Board member Debbie Mix says Starke County Surveyor Bill Crase was said to have visited the forest, recently.
“What he had seen was the beaver dam had been removed,” says Mix. “The water was flowing well and he said as long as it continues that way, he is going to keep it as is and they won’t remove the beavers.”
The county’s Drainage Board, according to the discussion, believes it is within its authority to trap the beavers if a dam prevents the flow of water in the future. An alternative home for the beavers was considered by the county, but officials are required to relocate them within the same county, creating difficulties.
Local forester Bruce Wakeland has previously argued the water back-up was not the responsibility of the beavers at all, but instead the result of a ditch that is in need of dredging.
Mix says the Surveyor continues to disagree.
“It was very evident that all the water flowed and no water was backed up so it was very evident that that was the issue,” says Mix.
The conversation started after neighboring property owners submitted complaints to the state of Indiana about the water issues.
No action was taken by the Park Board on the issue, Tuesday night.
The North Judson-San Pierre School Board last night deferred a request to voluntarily relinquish their appointed status to clear the way for the establishment of the first elected board in the corporation’s history. That happened after an hour’s worth of discussion and public comment before an audience of 150 or so people in the high school cafeteria. The board reconvened there after North Judson Town Marshal Frank Thomas advised them the administration building was beyond its capacity as audience members spilled from the meeting room into the hallway and out the doors.
Following the public comments, N.J.-S.P. School Board President Pat Goin raised numerous procedural questions about how a transition from an appointed to an elected board would work.
“We certainly don’t want to have a separate election and incur additional costs,” Goin said. “We need to be cognizant of our money here at the school corporation, of your taxpayer dollars. How is it going to be phased in? Is it going to be phased in in July or January? What would be the new seating of board members? If a special election petition occurs, who is responsible for the cost of this, because there is a cost?”
Goin added the school board is willing to sit down with a few members of the group leading the charge to change from an appointed to an elected board and talk things over before the board takes a position.
Matt Bailey is one of those spearheading the effort. After the meeting adjourned he said the comments offered by Goin were positive.
“We would love to just give our input. We know they have the final say. We know that they make that final decision. If they’re the ones that vote yes to have a new plan drafted, then they have that final say, but it would be so important. I think we have a great group of people that could be a part of that to see a new plan drafted and really do what the people want.”
Bailey added the majority of those in attendance favor a change to an elected school board. Most just came to listen, but 17 people spoke. Of those who did, several spoke in favor of changing to an elected school board, while others support the current appointed system. WKVI will present the comments in their entirety Sunday at noon on Kankakee Valley Viewpoints.
Bailey says he’s going to see what the board does next before making any decisions. He adds he’s prepared to take the issue to a referendum if necessary.
Starke County’s May unemployment rate is equal to that of the state for the first time in at least a quarter of a century. Both are 5 percent for the month. County unemployment records were first maintained in 1990, according to officials with the Starke County Economic Development Foundation.
The local unemployment rate fell 1.1 percent from April to May of 2016. Ron Gifford with the Starke County Economic Development Foundation notes this is the most significant month-to-month drop of any contiguous county.
Marshall and Pulaski Counties are both below the state average unemployment, with 3.6 and 4.3 percent respectively. LaPorte County is slightly above the state average at 5.7 percent for May. The national unemployment rate for May is 4.7 percent.
The Starke County Park Board held preliminary discussions on what they intend to do in the coming years.
The Park Board has been operating for the last couple of years, but was advised by the Starke County Commissioners the development of Five-Year Plan is advisable. Members of the Park Board would be expected to use the plan during their efforts to improve the Bass Lake Beach and Campground, but also to better manage other green areas within the county.
Acting Board Chair Debbie Mix says its development will help the park board.
“In order for us to get any kind of grants, and the county forest is probably the easiest one to address as far as that goes, but if we wanted to get any type of grant money, we would have to make sure we have a Five Year Plan,” says Mix.
A Five-Year Plan is required as part of any grant application Starke County may be interested in. State agencies often require evidence to show how the project requested for funding fits into that overall vision.
Starke County Attorney Marty Lucas says an inventory of the property in the county is a good place to start for the Park board. He says members may want to prioritize what they believe the board’s jurisdiction happens to be.
Lucas says there are several interesting legal issues they could run across.
“You’re going to run into public dedications for properties that pre-date the time of Park Boards,” says Lucas. “One thing we can look at is: what do those look like? Do they clearly show an intent to create park property? And if they do what has happened in other jurisdictions. That’s come up before in other counties.”
The Five-Year Plan will be considered a work in progress for Starke County.
Members of the Park Board expect to be meeting in public to develop a list of ideas that will influence their actions in the coming months.
Moving Starke County Forward says its summer walking challenge is off to a good start. So far, residents have logged over 1,500 miles as part of “Starke County Walks to the Moon.”
The organization says that puts participants in “medium Earth orbit.” The goal is to reach the equivalent of the distance to the moon by Labor Day. Those taking part in this year’s challenge are reminded to log their progress by filling out this form.
Moving Starke County Forward was formed in 2012 to improve the health of local residents. The county has consistently ranked near the bottom in state health rankings.
The Starke County Commissioners last night approved another extension of the lease deadline with Starke Hospital. The county owns the land and building at the corner of Culver Road and South Heaton Street in Knox. Starke Hospital wants to build a new facility there. Once it’s finished they plan to tear down the current building and use that spot for parking and green space.
Starke Hospital CEO Craig Felty says the site is centrally located and in a close proximity to a number of area physician offices.
He remains hopeful they can break ground on a new building by the end of 2016. Construction will take between nine and 12 months to complete, according to Felty. Once everything is transferred to the new building, demolition of the existing structure will take between three to six months. After it’s down, the area will be turned into green space and parking.
The commissioners and council have been meeting in executive session with hospital officials for several months to work out details of a new lease. Last night the commissioners unanimously approved a 31 day extension of the current lease, pushing it out to July 31st.