Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Quote of the Month - September 2016

Happy Birthday, Milton S. Hershey!
September 13, 1857

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Practice Makes Perfect

I really don’t know where the summer has gone. One day it was June 1st and in just a few days it will be September 1st, and there were so many things I had planned on sharing with you about the North Judson Centennial this August.

No point in moaning about the past, let’s just get back on track with some photos of the events that were going on in August of 1966.

One of the big events was the choosing of the Centennial Queen. There were 13 contestants who vied for that position. Are you related to any of these ladies? And did you know they could have been royalty?  You'll find out in a few weeks who came out with the crown. 

And let's not forget the Centennial Pageant, that took plenty of practice to get things right. Here's a picture of some of the ladies involved with a skit about the first telephone operators.

Starke County Bicentennial Torch Relay Route

It's almost September and the Indiana Bicentennial Torch Relay will be starting it's 3,200 mile journey soon.  

It starts in Corydon on September 9th, then makes its way through all 92 Indiana counties, showcasing locations of "natural beauty, local interest and historic significance" to the state. On October 15th, the torch will end its journey at the statehouse in Indianapolis with a celebration.

You can see the torch relay in Michiana on the following dates:

Kosciusko County: September 29, 10 am - 12:30 pm
LaGrange County: October 3, 11 am - 2 pm
Elkhart County: October 4, 9 am - 2: 30 pm
Marshall County: October 4, 3 pm - 7 pm
Fulton County: October 5, 10 am - 11:30 am
Pulaski County: October 7, 3 pm - 5 pm
Starke County: October 7, 5:30 pm - 8 pm
St Joseph County: October 8, 10 am - 2 pm

For more information on the exact routes through each county, click here, and select your county to view a map of the torch's exact route.

Here is the torch relay route for Starke County, click on the map to see a larger version. 

Starke Hospital Lease Negotiations Continuing

Posted on August 30, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI 

The Starke County Commissioners have reluctantly agreed to another 30 day extension of the Starke Hospital lease. The county owns the property and building at the corner of Culver Road and South Heaton Street, but the hospital is managed by Tennessee-based Community Health Systems. Their plans are to build a new hospital on the site and tear the current building down once it’s complete.

County attorney Marty Lucas says there are still a few sticking points between the county and hospital officials with regard to the proposed lease. The hospital negotiating team had asked the county for a 60 day extension. Lucas says they’re also waiting to hear whether the City of Knox will grant their request for a tax abatement.

The council and commissioners plan to meet in a joint executive session on Tuesday, Sept. 6th prior to the start of the regular commissioners meeting to discuss the lease, which has now been extended through Sept. 30th.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Volunteers Needed @ Community Services of Starke County

Recovering Addicts, Advocates Speak Frankly During Candlelight Vigil

Posted on August 29, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI 

Moving Starke County Forward is working to reduce the stigma attached to drug abuse and deaths due to overdoses. The 56 ribbons that have lined the front lawn of Starke Hospital for the past few weeks represent local lives lost to drug overdoses over the past seven years. They were moved to Wythogan Park in Knox last night for the second annual candlelight vigil to remember lives lost and celebrate those who are in recovery.

Todd Willis with Porter-Starke Services says it’s important for addicts and their families to remember they are not alone, and there is hope. He adds addiction is not an illness of weakness.

“You’re loved one that passed wasn’t weak. You and your family members that are struggling with addiction, it’s not about being weak. We known now things that we didn’t know before in terms of brain signs, and how these kind of chemicals, once they get into your bloodstream, do changes on a physical level to your brain. It makes it very difficult to stop. And so we want to encourage you, in an event where we remember, encourage you that there’s hope,” Willis said.

Nicole Dixon also spoke. She is an addict in recovery who started using drugs as a young teenager to mask her feelings and moved on to heroin in her early 20s in what she described as a “crazy spiral of drug use.” Dixon was arrested at age 23 with her ex-husband and convicted of dealing heroin. She completed a rehabilitation program while in prison, has been sober for three years and two months and just completed her probation.

“Don’t give up on your son, your daughter, your brother, your sister…I know they’re killing you, but they’re killing themselves, too, and maybe one day they might change,” she said.

Mike Hookman has been in recovery for three years. He agrees you can’t turn your back on people.

“There’s a fine line between tough love and no love. Addicts can’t recover alone. They need a support system. They just need people there to talk to, and everyone recovers differently.”

Hookman says addicts will fall down in their struggle to overcome their addiction, but says it’s what you do when you mess up that matters most.

WKVI will air the entire program on Sunday, Sept. 4 at noon on Kankakee Valley Viewpoints.

INDOT Schedules Chip Sealing in Pulaski County

Posted on August 27, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI 

A section of U.S. 421 in Pulaski County will be closed next week for chip seal work. Starting Monday, INDOT will close the highway between the State Road 14 west junction and State Road 114. It’s scheduled to reopen Wednesday, but the work is dependent on the weather.

State road detours must be along state-maintained roadways. Drivers heading north on U.S. 421 will be detoured west on 114, north on U.S. 231 and east onto 14 to get back to 421. Southbound motorists will take 14 west to 231 South to 114 east to get back to 421.

INDOT officials say chip sealing extends the life of a roadway by protecting it from moisture, ultraviolet degradation and other damaging exposures. It also reestablishes surface friction, which makes the pavement safer for the motoring public.

Drivers in Northwest Indiana can monitor road closures, road conditions, and traffic alerts at any time via the District’s social media channels: or Twitter @INDOTNorthwest. Or visit for INDOT’s TrafficWise Traveler Information Service.

Residents Reminded to Take Precautions Against West Nile Virus

Posted on August 27, 2016
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI 

Summer may be entering its final weeks, but mosquito season continues. So far this year, 92 mosquito batches have tested positive for West Nile Virus, including two in Starke County and three in St. Joseph County.

Marion County reported the greatest number of mosquito batches with the disease at 32. It also had the state’s only human case of West Nile, according to the Indiana State Department of Health.

State health officials say that while anyone may be infected with the virus, those over the age of 50 are at a higher risk of experiencing serious illness. However, most people will only experience mild symptoms, if any. These may include fever, upset stomach, body aches, or muscle weakness.

To protect yourself, the ISDH recommends using insect repellant containing DEET, and wearing shoes, socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt if you’re planning on being outdoors for long periods of time or when mosquitoes are most active. You can also help reduce the local mosquito population by getting rid of any standing water.

For more information about West Nile Virus and other mosquito-borne diseases, visit the ISDH website.

INbiz Expands Resources for Hoosier Businesses

INbiz Expands Resources for Hoosier Businesses
Posted on August 27, 2016Author Tyler Maffitt
The state of Indiana launched INbiz earlier this year, but now additional services can be accessed through the site.

INbiz was formed as a one-stop shop for businesses to register, file key reports, and request corporate documents like a Certificate of Existence. The portal allows businesses to meet all of the requirements of state statute in one location.

Now, business owners are able to access services from the Department of Revenue and the Department of Workforce Development on the portal. The additional services will now allow businesses to provide employer reporting, wage reporting, unemployment claims, and tax registration.

Officials with the state say this modernizes their current infrastructure of business resources. Since its launch in April, INbiz has logged 57-thousand users.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Moving Starke County Forward Schedules Overdose Awareness Vigil

Posted on August 26, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI 

Starke County is making strides in the war on drugs with regard to overdose deaths. Local health department officials say average of nine drug-related deaths were reported between 2008 and 2013, with numbers ranging between seven and 12 annually. Data from 2014 and 2015 indicates four overdoses, which is a significant drop.

Moving Starke County Forward is hosting its second annual Overdose Awareness Day vigil Sunday evening to raise awareness of the problem. It will take place at 6 p.m. at Wythogan Park’s Shelter 2.

Organizers say it will give the community an opportunity to remember those who have lost their lives as a result of an overdose The event will also celebrate those in recovery who are determined to triumph over addiction. Attendees are encouraged to bring a photo of anyone they would like to honor.

Moving Starke County Forward volunteers have already placed ribbons on the Starke Hospital lawn in memory of each local life lost to an overdose.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

N.J-S.P. FFA Chapter to be Featured on ‘This Week in AgriBusiness’

Posted on August 25, 2016
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI 

The North Judson-San Pierre FFA Chapter will be getting some national recognition this weekend. It will be featured on “This Week in AgriBusiness,” a weekly television program covering agriculture-related news.

N.J-S.P. FFA sponsor Emily DuVall says the recognition is part of a national contest sponsored by Nationwide Insurance. “It’s called the 2016 Nationwide FFA Chapter Tribute contest, and basically you set up an online profile and then people in the community and from the school go and vote,” she says. “And whoever has the most votes by December 15 wins.” The grand prize is $1,000 for the winning chapter, with a second-place prize of $500 and $250 for third place.

On top of that, DuVall says once a week, one of the FFA chapters registered in the contest is recognized on national television. “They look at each of those chapter profiles, and they select one to be featured on RFD-TV’s segment called “This Week in AgriBusiness” and our chapter was selected for that,” she says. During each episode’s one-minute FFA Chapter Tribute segment, co-host Orion Samuelson gives a brief profile of that particular chapter and some of its accomplishments.

North Judson-San Pierre is scheduled to be featured on this weekend’s program. It may be seen on cable channel RFD-TV at 7:00 a.m. CDT Saturday, 5:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Sunday, and 8:00 a.m. Monday. Episodes are also available online at

To cast your vote in the FFA Chapter Tribute contest, visit

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

NJ-SP FFA Chapter Featured on "This Week in Agribusiness"

The North Judson-San Pierre FFA Chapter will be featured on RFD TV's news segment this week!

Air times are (all times central) 7:00a.m. on Saturdays, 5:00a.m. and 5:00p.m. on Sundays, and 8:00a.m. on Mondays. RFDtv is viewed via satellite on either Dish Network Channel 231 or DirecTV Channel 345. You can check the television airing schedule on RFD-TV at

You can also vote for our FFA chapter everyday so we have the chance to win $1,000. Vote everyday until December 15th at

9/10/2016 10th Annual North Judson Firehouse Run

Starke County’s Get Moving Challenge Enters Final Phase

Posted on August 24, 2016
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI 

Time’s running out for those taking part in Moving Starke County Forward’s summer walking challenge to log their miles. 

“Starke County Walks to the Moon” wraps up on Labor Day. It gives residents the chance to win prizes by walking, running, biking, or taking part in another physical activity and keeping track of their progress.

So far, participants have accumulated over 9,250 miles, according to the organization. Arlene Noble has the most miles logged individually, while the Toto Trekkers continue to lead the team category. Organizers say that once the challenge ends and the miles are added up, the names of the winners will be placed on a plaque in the Starke Hospital lobby.

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. For more information, visit Moving Starke County Forward’s Facebook page.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

N.J.-S.P. Board Authorizes Budget Submission

Posted on August 23, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI 

The North Judson-San Pierre School Corporation’s annual budget hearing before the Starke County Council will take place during their Sept. 12th meeting. The school board last week authorized the submission of the budget to the council for review. They also approved the advertisement of the 2017-19 capital projects and bus replacement plan in “The Leader” and the “Pulaski County Journal.” State law requires it be published in both counties since townships from both comprise the school corporation.

The corporation is looking to use money in its budget reserves to make upgrades to some aging infrastructure needs like boilers and lighting. In May the school board hired Indianapolis-based Performance Services to evaluate the middle/high school building and offer recommendations. Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin told the school board last week they should have bids for the work by the end of the month and will be able to review bids in September. She adds several local contractors have submitted bids for the work.

Monday, August 22, 2016

9/15/2016 Wintersong Village Backs the Blue Chili Cookoff

8/28/2016 International Overdose Awareness Day

10/8, 15, & 22/2016 Hoosier Valley Pumpkin Train!

Take a fun-filled ride on our most popular excursion - the Hoosier Valley Pumpkin Train! The train departs the station in North Judson and takes passengers on a journey across the Kankakee River at English Lake before visiting the pumpkin patch on October 8th, 15th, and 22nd. 

Buy your tickets now before they all sell out!  

Starke County Commissioners Bless Bicentennial Flag

Posted on August 22, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI 

Starke County will soon have its own flag to commemorate 200 years of Indiana statehood. Local bicentennial committee representative Melba Shilling told the county commissioners last week the group is putting the final touches on the design. It will reflect the county’s nine townships, the three lost to LaPorte County and the river.

Shilling says the goal is to have the flag ready to display in time for the Oct. 7th Bicentennial Torch Relay. In order to be an official bicentennial flag, it must be approved by the county commissioners. They agreed to the design concept and gave the bicentennial committee their blessing to finalize the artwork and order the flags in order to meet their timeline.

Ancilla Offers Training for Criminal Justice Careers

Posted on August 22, 2016
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

At a time when police officers often face scrutiny from their communities, an Ancilla College professor is making sure officers have the training they need.

Criminal Justice Instructor Steve VanDerAa says there are many misconceptions about police. “It’s interesting the number of perceptions that some of the students have as far as law enforcement, how it works and how things go, why don’t police do this or that, how does this happen how do laws apply to me, how they should respond to police officers,” he says. “I mean, in our society today, the police are making national news, it seems like, almost daily. And young people have a lot of questions about why this happens, and sad to say, a lot of people have a negative feeling towards police, often because of misguided information.”

VanDerAa is a former Indiana State Trooper and has also served Pulaski County in various law enforcement capacities. For about 19 years, he’s been teaching at Ancilla College, currently as a full-time instructor.

Ancilla offers an associate degree as well as a certificate in Criminal Justice. Courses include topics such as Corrections, Criminal Law & Procedure, Criminology, and Juvenile Delinquency.

VanDerAa says the program prepares students not only to become police officers but also for a variety of other job opportunities. “Normally I start the class out and I give them a sheet with about 50 to 100 careers that this can lead into, anything from teaching to being a police officer, a jailer, going into all the federal jobs – just a number of jobs – working in the prosecutor’s office, probation. There’s just numerous fields they can go into with a degree in this.”

VanDerAa also works to make sure students find the career path that’s right for them. “The way I run my classes is I try to get the students involved and make them interactive,” he says. “So I bring in guest speakers in numerous fields to share with them, maybe pique their interest in something. I also have them interview people in the field they want to go into. Say somebody wants to be a probation officer. You need to set up an appointment and go and go through an interview with them. You may say, ‘Hey, this is great. It’s what I want to do,’ or it might change your mind.”

He notes that several of the current officers in Marshall and Starke counties have gone through Ancilla’s Criminal Justice program.

For more information, visit Ancilla College’s website.

N.J.-S.P. Superintendent Seeks Strategic Plan Committee Members

Posted on August 22, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

North Judson-San Pierre Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin is still looking for community members to serve on a strategic planning group. She’s accepting applications through the end of the month from people who are interested in helping to market N.J.-S.P., increase community morale and improve communications between the school corporation and the community.

Zupin also wants the group to explore marketing strategies, fundraisers for school programs, establish and maintain focus on long-term planning for future growth and commit to a positive approach to success.

She’s looking for representatives from all of the townships in the school corporation who want to take a positive approach. Applications are available at the central office or on the N.J.-S.P. school corporation’s website.

Leadership Starke County Asking for Enrollees

Posted on August 22, 2016
Author Tyler Maffitt, WKVI 

Leadership Starke County is looking for a few individuals to sign-up for their classes starting in September.

This will be the fifth Leadership Starke County seminar. According to information provided by the group, 12 adults and three students are required to complete fill the class.

Typically, the class meets once each month at various locations around Starke County to discuss local issues, meet area leaders, and practice leadership techniques.

The group is asking community members to identify individuals that would be quality candidates for the leadership course and to gather details. More information can be gained by contacting the Starke County Chamber of Commerce.

North Judson-San Pierre Sets New Student School Bus Policies

Posted on August 20, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI 

The North Judson-San Pierre School Corporation has a couple of new policies in place for students who ride school buses.

Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin says the athletic department transportation policy will bring some uniformity to the sports traveling protocols.

“A student athlete who chooses to participate in high school team sports will be required to travel by bus to and from the event. That allows some time for the team to be together and the coach to do some reflecting afterwards and preparing before,” Zupin told the school board. “A student athlete who chooses to participate in high school individual sports, tennis or golf, or any junior high sport athlete will be required to travel to the event by school bus, but not necessarily back.”

Zupin adds the athletic director and coaches do understand there may be extenuating circumstances and will evaluate those on a case-by-case basis. The school board adopted that policy unanimously at their Tuesday night meeting.

The other policy involves the consumption of food on the bus traveling to and from school. Zupin says it’s now prohibited due to the number of students with food allergies. She says students can still bring their lunches to school but cannot eat or drink on the bus, because exposure to allergy triggers could be detrimental.

Parents have been notified of that policy change via School Messenger and a notice that was sent home with students.

Kankakee Valley REMC Hosts Successful Pack-a-Backpack Drive

Posted on August 20, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI 

Students throughout the Kankakee Valley REMC area are well equipped for the start of school, thanks to members and area residents. The nonprofit co-op sponsored its third annual Pack a Backpack program. School supply collection boxes were placed at five libraries in Starke, LaPorte and Porter Counties. Donated items were put into backpacks and delivered to eight local schools for distribution to students who needed a little extra help.

Kankakee Valley REMC officials say they were able to provide for more than 250 students.

CEO Dennis Weiss says back-to-school time creates financial struggles for many area families who have to think about new school clothes, book rental fees and other needs. He adds the Pack-a-Backpack program gives the board a way to help them out.

North Judson Restores Water to Pioneer Cemetery, Alleys Still in Need of Repair

Posted on August 20, 2016
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI 

Efforts to restore North Judson’s Pioneer Cemetery have gotten a bit easier, thanks to some help from the town. Town Superintendent Marshall Horstmann told the town council Monday that town employees had conducted a water tap at the cemetery and installed a yard hydrant with a padlock to limit access.

Dr. Dennis Dalphond has been leading efforts to beautify the cemetery, but the site’s inoperable water system presented an obstacle to his volunteers. Rather than repair the system, the town council decided last month to install a single water source at a central location.

On Monday, Dr. Dalphond thanked council members for their help. “Friday, Marshall came into the office dripping wet with sweat, asked to speak to me, passed me a key with the ring on it. I said, ‘What’s this?’ He said, ‘It’s the key to the water that you now have up at the cemetery.’ I really thank you guys a lot,” Dalphond said. “I got on one knee, took the ring off the key, and asked him, and he turned down my proposal,” he joked. “But thank you so much. I really appreciate it, folks.”

However, North Judson’s having a bit more trouble when it comes to the town’s alleys. Horstmann blamed delays in alley repairs on equipment issues.

Council member Jane Ellen Felchuk proposed moving garbage collection to streets, to reduce wear on the alleys. However, her motion failed to receive a second. Some council members said the change wouldn’t solve the actual issue of alleys needing repair. In the end, they decided to wait for repairs to be completed before making any changes to trash pickup.

Friday, August 19, 2016

I've Had A Scathingly Brilliant Idea!

Don’t know why I didn’t think of this before.  Over the years as we’ve had to change/replace computers one of my tasks has been to make sure that the employment websites were put back on the browsers.  Needless to say it was a pain to remember all the sites and make sure that each one was put on each browser on each computer.  Whew, my brain is still spinning.

Well the idea FINALLY implanted itself in my brain that I should centralize all of those sites on the library’s webpage which would make it easier to add them to the browsers.  So here they are, along with some new ones that I followed from the Department of Workforce Development website.

So if you need to file unemployment, are looking for a job, want to explore a different career/profession, or want to upgrade your current skills here’s the place to look.  All of these sites have been bookmarked and are easily accessible through the library’s website:  Claimant Self Service Logon; Indiana Career Connect; Indiana Career Explorer; JAG – Jobs for America’s Graduates; Veterans’ Employment and Training Service; Win Career Readiness Courseware; and WorkOneWorks.

Sometimes I amaze myself!

Hospital Lease Review Meetings Postponed Amid Continuing Negotiations

Posted on August 19, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI 

The meetings tentatively scheduled for next week to outline the scope of the proposed Starke Hospital lease are on hold.

Knox Hospital LLC and Community Health Systems, Inc. have asked that the meetings be postponed, according to a statement from the Starke County Commissioners.

They are still working out final details of a long term lease and hope to reach a final agreement within the next two to four weeks. The meetings at each of the areas three high schools will be rescheduled as soon as possible.

Recent Storms Prompt Requests for Damage Reports

Posted on August 19, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI 

Recent storms have prompted the Indiana Department of Homeland Security to remind individuals they may report uninsured damage online.

Northern Indiana was pummeled with rain earlier this week, causing flooding, road closures, and rising streams and rivers.

According to the IDHS, the page provided through their website at will compile damage reports that will be used to help local Emergency Management Agency departments determine whether they should pursue federal disaster assistance or loans. The damage reports will fall under the August 15th and continuing category.

The DHS says losses often include structural damage to homes and loss of personal property.

Additionally local emergency management agencies ask that  residents who sustained damages contact their offices. They are gathering information to see whether the county meets the threshold requirements to apply for state or federal disaster assistance. Officials note reporting damage is not a guarantee of assistance. It is simply the first step in the process of determining whether assistance can be pursued.

Starke County EMA: 574-772-9182

Pulaski County EMA: 574-946-3891

Marshall County EMA: 574-936-3740

Attorney General Warns of Potential Home Repair Scams

Posted on August 19, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI
Hoosiers who sustained storm damage as a result of this week’s torrential rains are urged to proceed with caution when it comes to making repairs. The Indiana Attorney General’s Office warns home improvement scammers often lurk and prey on situations such as these by conning people into paying for shoddy, overpriced work.

So-called storm chasers travel door-to-door and urge immediate action or tempting discounts. Their goal is to keep the customer from checking the company’s references. Such contractors are often based out-of-state and offer to do work on the spot. Although such offers may be tempting, the attorney general’s office warns they can be risky without research.

They’ve received more than 950 home improvement scam complaints so far this year. The most problems were reported with roof repair, chimney and gutter work.

Consumers are urged to do their research into what they can afford and want done, get multiple price quotes from different contractors and check with the Better Business Bureau and Attorney General’s Office to see if any complaints have been filed.

Before hiring a contractor, make sure he is locally licensed, bonded and insured. A performance bond provides the most direct consumer protection. Check with your local building or code enforcement department for information.

Also ask the contractor for references you can contact directly to determine the quality and timeliness of his or her work. If the contractor came to your door unsolicited, make sure you receive a notice of your ability to cancel the contract within three days for a full refund before signing any contract.

Never pay for the entire project before the work begins. Do not pay more than a third of the total cost as a down payment and make sure that any subsequent payments or “draws” correspond to definite, significant and tangible job progress.

Make sure all required permits are obtained. Your local building department can tell you when they are needed and advise if they have been pulled by the contractor.

Visit home improvement scam for more information. If you believe you’ve been scammed by a home repair contractor, visit to file a complaint or call 1-800-382-5516.

Courthouse and Jail Renovations to Restrict Downtown Knox Parking

Posted on August 19, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI 

The old jail in downtown Knox will soon be renovated into office space for Starke County Community Corrections, Purdue Extension and the Starke County Probation Department.

The Starke County Commissioners took action this week to prepare for the renovation of the old jail and courthouse. Work will be starting soon, and the contractors will need a place to park their construction trailers and equipment. Commissioner Kathy Norem says the county-owned lot across from the courthouse next to the Moose is the best option, but the entire thing will need to be used. Right now there are semis parked there. The commissioners agreed to notify the drivers they will not be able to park there while the work is going on. Signs will be posted, and notices will be placed on their windshields.

The commissioners also authorized county maintenance director Jim Coad to contact scrap dealers regarding the purchase of items removed from the old jail during the renovation project since the county does not have room to store them.

N.J.-S.P. Principals Report Positive Start Amid Changes

Posted on August 19, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI 

The school year is off to a good start at North Judson-San Pierre, according to the two building principals. New Middle/High School Principal Jim Polite told the school board Tuesday enrollment is up by 14 over projections. Polite adds he was pleased with the tone of the initial staff meeting.

“The goals of setting high academic and conduct standards for students, the importance of consistency with enforcing policies. Exploring opportunities to expand the use of technology, and building positive relationship with students was stressed,” Polite said.

The staff also spent time discussing the importance of embracing change during the transition to a 7-12th grade school.

“This is a new chapter in the history of N.J.-S.P. schools. I reminded the staff that we’re setting the stage for future success by how we all approach this current school year and how we are all willing to adapt to this new 7th through 12th configuration,” Polite said.

N.J.-S.P. Elementary is now a kidnergarten-6th grade school. Principal Mike McBride says he’s very pleased with the leadership the 6th grade students are showing and with everyone’s adherence to the Bluejay Way.

“They’re all treating the staff and each other with respect and caring, so that’s always a good thing,” McBride told the school board. “Of course you know there’s always a honeymoon period, so a few will start to test you, but I feel really good about where we’re going to go from here for the rest of the year.”

McBride adds nearly 80 students are enrolled in kindergarten at N.J.-S.P., which made for some large classes. Rather than have 26 to 27 students per teacher, McBride says they’ve added a fourth section of kindergarten without an additional charge to the corporation’s general fund. That was done by transferring Sharon Fields from Title 1 to kindergarten teacher and rearranging the special schedule so teachers can provide Title 1 coverage.

Ancilla College Prepares for Fall Semester Ag Program Launch

Posted on August 19, 2016
Author Tyler Maffitt, WKVI 

Ancilla College is putting together the final touches on its agricultural degree programs.

Students return to the campus this weekend, but in addition to introducing new students, Ancilla is also introducing the new degree program. Despite being located in a heavily agricultural area, the two-year liberal arts school has not had an active academic program to this point.

College President Dr. Ken Zirkle says when he started his position with Ancilla College, he was surprised the school didn’t have an agriculture program.

“It seemed as though we were located in the perfect position,” says Zirkle. “Well then even after I got here and I realized our farm here was farming just over 1,000 acres, I’m not sure how many cattle they have, but in the spring they had just over 100 cows born. So to me it just made sense.”

Ancilla College plans to study some of the agriculture programs at major universities throughout Indiana. Being a two-year school, it allows students completing an Associates degree to transfer their credits to a four-year degree program.

Marshall County is home to many farming operations, but Pioneer Seeds has a facility located in the county that often needs employees with a two-year degree.

Right now, Ancilla College is reporting between 15 and 20 students enrolled in their agriculture program. Zirkle says there is more to it than horticulture.

“The whole business area is huge and it’s not all out on the farm,” says Zirkle. “I grew up wearing bib overalls and that was farming then. It’s a long way from that now. So the business side of agriculture has grown tremendously.”

To complete the agriculture degree, it’s often very similar to other courses offered by Ancilla College. Students will be required to complete an English, science, mathematics, and other subjects to obtain their degree.

North Judson Plans Dump Truck Replacement

Posted on August 19, 2016
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI 

The Town of North Judson is hoping to save some money by purchasing a refurbished dump truck, rather than a new one.

Town Superintendent Marshall Horstmann told the town council Monday that an increasing number of maintenance issues have caused him to look into potential replacements for the town’s International truck. “I found a company that buys used trucks then rebuilds them to the specs of a buyer,” he said. “I gave them a list of the items I’d like to have on a truck. I got a quote for a 2009 International 4300. I’ve checked with new truck prices built the way we would like, and it’d be roughly $100,000 for a brand new one.”

The town council gave permission for town officials to travel to Holt & Sons Truck Sales in Gardner, Illinois to look at the vehicle. However, council member John Rowe encouraged Horstmann to seek additional bids before buying the dump truck. Rowe noted that many of the items the town’s requesting will be available no matter what. “It looks like you’ve got new stuff on here: an $8,200 plow and a $16,500 dump,” Rowe said. “Those are new. So really, the only thing we’re concerned with is the 2009 dump truck, which is $21,000. So how hard would it be to find that $21,000 dump truck? Basically, you’re saying that’s the big question.”

Council President Wendy Hoppe suggested that Horstmann see if Holt & Sons would hold the truck for three weeks, to give the town time to make a decision. Horstmann said there’s enough money to the town’s motor equipment budget to cover the purchase.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Please Report Flood or Storm Damage

The Starke County Emergency Management Agency is asking anyone who suffered flood or storm damage to their residence or business (located in Starke County), to please report it by calling 574-772-9182. 

We are collecting this information in order to see if we meet the threshold requirements to be able to apply for state or federal disaster assistance. 

Please remember that reporting damage is NOT a guarantee for assistance. It is simply the first step in the process of determining if assistance can be pursued.

Indiana 211. Get Connected. Get Answers

We’ve just added another page to our website.  Indiana 2-1-1 is free, confidential and available 24/7.

If you need to find help on Crisis and Emergency Services, Disaster Assistance, Food Aid, Health Services, Housing and Utility Services, Jobs and Support Services, Reentry Services, or Veteran Services check out Indiana 211 to find what you need. 

Indiana 211 Partnership’s mission is to connect Hoosiers with needs to human services through 2-1-1.

Indiana 211 Partnership, Inc. (IN211) is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to providing the 2-1-1 information & referral service for Indiana. The goal is that anyone in Indiana in need of human services will have quick referrals to those who provide them. Additionally, aggregated data will be collected to assist communities in assessing needs and allocating resources.

Indiana 211. Get Connected. Get Answers.

Starke County Jail to Offer Drug Treatment for Local Inmates

Posted on August 18, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI 

Starke County Jail inmates who are awaiting sentencing will soon have access to voluntary drug treatment while they are locked up. The county recently got a grant from the Indiana Department of Correction to add a local program.

Porter-Starke Services addictions counselor Leo Smith says criminal behavior and substance abuse go hand-in-hand.

“Probably 80 percent or so of people incarcerated have an identifiable substance abuse problem, so we want to tackle that part,’ Smith told the county commissioners. “Part of the treatment program is about letting them identify what it is they’re dealing with and how they can deal with it when they get out of there.”

He adds the goal is to help people learn to stay clean and sober and to quit reoffending in order to reduce recidivism through the intensive outpatient program.

Basic addiction identification will be covered, along with relapse prevention triggers for both addiction and criminal addictive thinking. Smith says addressing those issues are critical components of treatment.

Smith plans to conduct two to three groups per week of male and female inmates. He adds treatment doesn’t stop in jail.

“A lot of times people think they get a paper and they’re fixed. Well, we want to take it from the jail into services and keep that continuum of treatment where this person has an opportunity to step out and actually follow up with not coming back.”

Porter-Starke Services will work closely with Starke County Community Corrections and the probation department to ensure inmates continue treatment after they get out of jail. Aftercare components include individual, family and group therapy.

The drug treatment program will formally launch as soon as a memorandum of understanding between Porter-Starke Services and Starke County is signed.

The local program is in addition to the Department of Correction Therapeutic Community that is also housed at the Starke County Jail. It’s for inmates who have been sentenced to the intensive inpatient drug treatment program and is the first of its kind not housed in a prison. The therapeutic community inmates are housed in a separate area of the jail and are not mixed with the county population.

Starke County Park Board Reevaluating Five-Year Plan

Posted on August 18, 2016
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI 

Efforts to create a five-year plan for Starke County park facilities have hit a bit of an obstacle. The Starke County Park Board had been discussing the possibility of getting a grant from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs to help pay for the planning process. But to qualify for the grant, the county would have to prove that residents’ incomes fall beneath a certain threshold.

During Tuesday’s park board meeting, Starke County Attorney Marty Lucas said he was told the county would not be eligible based on U.S. Census income data, but the county could pay to have an income survey completed. That caused Lucas to question what, if anything, that might accomplish, “If the U.S. Census data shows that we can’t qualify, what are we paying for when we pay for this survey? The cynical part of me kind of came up, and I thought, ‘Well, that seems a little bit fishy.’ I hate to say that, but that’s how I reacted to it because I guess I have to question why somebody else’s data would be more accurate than the census data.”

Now, the park board is considering other options for funding a potential five-year plan. Bass Lake resident Rick Anderson pointed out that the Indiana DNR website lists a few different ways such a plan could be created, “They go through things like who prepares the plan: ‘It is common for plans to be completed in-house by individual park board members and/or park department staff. However, private consultants or regional planners are possible alternatives.’ And it goes on to say public input – it should strive to do that and find common ground.”

Anderson had previously offered to work with other local residents to create a plan, using examples available online. The park board turned down that offer, in favor of finding a professional planner. However, Anderson did provide a list of improvements he’d like to see, as well as how the county might pay for them. “All Starke County residents paid – and I’m included in this – 1.71-percent individual income tax to Starke County in 2015,” he said. “In addition, Bass Lake property owners paid in 2015 thousands of dollars in property taxes. Surely, some of this money can be reallocated to our Bass Lake Beach park.”

He feels there’s widespread agreement that the Bass Lake Beach could be a major asset for Starke County. He also pointed to Wythogan Park in Knox as well as Culver’s park facilities as examples of well-maintained attractions. However, park board members pointed out that these are run by park departments, something the county doesn’t have. Starke County also currently lacks a budget for parks and recreation.

North Judson Demands Safety Improvements to Downtown Building

Posted on August 18, 2016
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI 

The condition of a Downtown North Judson building is leading the town council to consider taking action. The town council has been urging Doug Cassel to fix several items deemed to be safety hazards at his building, including a broken window, unsecured doors, falling debris, and roofing issues.

Cassel told the council Monday that he’s slowly making progress on those items. “I have new doors to put on,” he said. “It’s not the way I liked it, [but] I put up plywood. They are secured. The front door will lock, is locked, will be locked. That was one of the complaints was that it was open all the time. It can be locked, and it’s locked right now. The plywood is on the back of the building. I had two doors that wouldn’t close. I’ve got new doors to put on them. I just ran out of time.”

He added that the back porch, which the town believed was in danger of falling, had been torn down. However, Town Marshal John Ramos disputed that, presenting photographs of the site to Cassel and council members.

Ramos also noticed several other problems. “The very front of the building, he’s got some tuck-pointing work that needs to be done, and then also these bricks on the top appear to be loose, which means that they can fall right onto the street and anybody that’s walking past,” Ramos said. “It’s an extremely dangerous and hazardous position.” Cassel responded that the bricks are secure.

However, even from outside the building, Ramos said it was apparent there were interior issues, as well. “We’ve got beams inside, the i-beams – they’re rusted,” he said. “Also, you’ve got electrical wiring hanging down. I took this picture from the outside, from the sidewalk. As you could see right here, beams are rusted. Electrical wiring is hanging out. And then if you look at this one, not only can you see the roof falling down on the floor from the ceiling, you can also see daylight through the outside of the building, right here. Four years, three years you’ve been working on the building? Really?”

On top of those issues, the town claims Cassel owes $2,000, due to a streetlight in need of repairs. Town Attorney Rachel Arndt says Cassel hasn’t made any sort of payment since 2013.

Ramos, along with North Judson’s building inspector and a representative of the town’s unsafe hearing board planned to conduct a walk-through of the structure this morning. The town council plans to make some additional decisions on the property at its next meeting.

N.J.-S.P. Board Approves Optional Elementary School Relocation

Posted on August 18, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI 

The North Judson-San Pierre School Board is keeping options open with regard to the future of the elementary school building. It’s currently a kindergarten-6th grade school with 513 students enrolled. The board has discussed moving the elementary school into the now-vacant middle school building at the end of the current school year. Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin told the board Tuesday night the corporation isn’t clear yet how it will be used after this year.

“I’m asking for a motion for the approval of relocation to 950 Campbell Drive to be an option only,” Zupin told the board Tuesday night. “We need time to assess the needs and enrollment this year before making a decision.”

The school board approved Zupin’s request unanimously without additional discussion.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

N.J.-S.P. Board Seeks Public Input on Elected v. Appointed Board

Posted on August 17, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI 

The North Judson-San Pierre School Board wants more input from the public before making a final decision about whether future boards should be elected or appointed. They’ve posted a N.J.-S.P. Community School Board Input Google survey on their website to gauge input from all residents of the district. Those without computer access will be able to complete it at the junior/senior high school media center on Aug. 31 from 6 until 7 p.m. and Sept. 6 from 7 until 8 a.m. It will remain on the site through Sunday, Sept. 18th.

Additionally a public hearing is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 12 in the high school auditorium to give residents a final chance to weigh in. Each person will have three minutes to speak and will only be allowed to speak one time.

The board will meet in executive session on Monday, Sept. 19 and Tuesday, Sept. 20 prior to their regular monthly meeting to review the data and discuss next steps prior to announcing their decision at the 7 p.m. meeting.

Matt Bailey has led the charge to transition from an appointed to an elected board. He says the easiest and least expensive route is for the board to vote to change. Doing so would also give them the right to write a transition plan.

If they choose to maintain the status quo, Bailey is prepared to move forward with the necessary petition to bring the issue to a vote.

The entire elected versus appointed school board discussion from Tuesday’s N.J.-S.P. School Board meeting will air Sunday at noon CDT on WKVI’s Kankakee Valley Viewpoints program.

Starke County Park Board Discusses Bass Lake Beach Improvements Amid Calls for Lessee’s Removal

Posted on August 17, 2016
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI 

The Starke County Park Board continues to monitor improvements at the Bass Lake Beach and Campground. Assistant Manager Larry Clarich told the park board Tuesday that improvements to the facility’s well have been completed.

Additionally, Park Board President Roger Chaffins said he’s looking into some options for the removal of the beach’s old diving platform. “According to the state, the DNR or whoever it is, you can’t put anything in the water that’s mechanical, but we can pull it out of there,” Chaffins said. “So I was going to get a hold of Chuck Lovins, which he’s a rescue diver, and have him see what’s underneath there, what we’re dealing with, what the structure is, so that we could possibly get a hold of somebody with a dozer or something and cable it or winch it out.”

It was also reported that some local residents plan to hold a raffle next month to raise money to repair or rebuild the property’s pavilion. Last month, the park board called for its demolition, citing safety concerns and a lack of county funds to make repairs.

There was also some discussion Tuesday about restroom facilities at the Bass Lake Beach. Clarich said that when Richard Callahan began leasing the property from the county, there was only one working restroom. Now, Clarich says all public restrooms work. However, there was some debate as to which facilities qualify as public restrooms and which are intended to be off-limits to visitors. Clarich says some additional signs will be posted to help clarify the issue.

Meanwhile, some Bass Lake residents continued to voice their displeasure of the condition of the Bass Lake Beach under the Callahan’s management. Rick Anderson felt that Callahan’s failure to maintain the beach to a certain level of quality is a clear violation of his lease. “There is little sign of a first-class beach, as showcased by a main pavilion that’s closed to food service and is in disrepair,” Anderson said. “You can probably go in there and look at item after item which has not been maintained: doors, hinges, blah, blah, blah. Our beach has instead been replaced by what looks to be a marina. There’s no mention of a marina in the lease.”

However, Starke County Attorney Marty Lucas dismissed suggestions that Callahan simply be removed from the property. “I’m going to be blunt. This is a nation of laws,” Lucas said. “I don’t know if you knew about that or not, but this is a nation of laws. They have contract rights, and we don’t just shut things down. It doesn’t work that way. You know, they haven’t voluntarily closed the place. They haven’t said, ‘Oh no. We agree we’re in violation and we want to shut down,’ so it’s not that simple, okay? It’s just not that simple. Maybe it works that way somewhere else, but around here we do, you know, try to obey the rule of law.”

Lucas added that any such eviction would require a judge’s order and said there are many sides of the issue that would need to be taken into account.

Starke County’s Oldest Bridge to Be Replaced With a Culvert

Posted on August 17, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI 
The Starke County Highway Department is poised to save more than $300,000 by contracting out the replacement of a bridge with a culvert. Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler told the county commissioners Monday night the bridge on 900 South half a mile west of U.S. 421 is the lowest rated in the county.

Ritzler says it can be replaced with a culvert, as streams that once flowed through the area have been redirected since the bridge was constructed in 1930. The surrounding land is not conducive to a concrete box culvert, but Ritzler says the addition of three concrete pipes will accomplish the same thing for considerably less money.

He says the highway department originally set aside $75,000 to do the work themselves, but have instead opted to contract it out. Ritzler notes the concrete bridge was built in 1930. He says the highway department’s heavy equipment is designed for maintenance and not construction, and trying to take the bridge out may damage their excavator. Additionally, Ritzler says some of the existing structure will be maintained to facilitate the pipe installation. He says the contractor is much better at what he calls “selective demolition.”

Ritzler adds replacing the bridge would cost the county $367,000 in combined construction and maintenance costs over the next 20 years. An aluminum box culvert would carry a price tag of between $171,000 and $221,000 over the same period of time. Construction of a culvert with three concrete pipes, as he’s proposed, will cost $53,350, with total maintenance costs of less than $2,000 over the anticipated 20 year life span.

The new surface will be 28 feet wide per the county’s new standard for bridges.

Ritzler says the county sent out three requests for bids via email as per the State Board of Accounts guidelines and got one response. He told the commissioners he’s pleased with the price the county was offered. The commissioners approved the work unanimously.

North Judson Council Approves Nighttime Golf Cart Operation

Posted on August 17, 2016
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

North Judson residents will soon be allowed to drive their golf carts at night. The town council gave its final approval to a revised golf cart ordinance Monday.

It allows golf carts to be used after dark, if they meet certain lighting requirements. Golf carts must be registered with the Town of North Judson before they may be driven on town streets, according to the town’s 2012 golf cart ordinance.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Starke County Officials Close to Finalizing Hospital Lease

Posted on August 16, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI 

The Starke County Commissioners have tentatively set three public meetings for next week to go over terms of the proposed Starke Hospital lease. They’re still working out the last of the details of the agreement, which will clear the way for construction of a new hospital on the current site at the intersection of South Heaton Street and Culver Road in Knox.

Commissioner Kathy Norem says the meetings will cover the sum and substance of the proposed agreement. County attorney Marty Lucas is going to speak to Starke Hospital officials today to make sure they do not object to the public sessions prior to the scheduled Aug. 29th special session between the county council and commissioners and hospital board to execute the agreement.

The tentative sessions will take place Monday, Aug. 22 in the Knox High School cafeteria, Tuesday, Aug. 23 in the North Judson-San Pierre auditorium and Wednesday, Aug. 24 in the cafeteria at Oregon-Davis High School. All three sessions will start at 6 p.m. Norem will confirm the dates with the schools if the hospital agrees to the meetings.

Another delay in the process would mean another extension of the lease between the county and the hospital. Their current agreement expires at the end of the month.

Organizers Discuss Need for North Judson-Wayne Township Community Center

Posted on August 16, 2016
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI 

Building a new North Judson-Wayne Township community center would be more affordable in the long-term than converting an existing building. That’s the message organizers of the community center project shared during a public hearing Monday.

Some residents asked about converting the current North Judson-San Pierre Elementary School into a community center, at a time when the school corporation is considering closing the building to match a decline in enrollment. However, project organizer Bill Crase says there are a few issues with that idea. For one thing, the school corporation hasn’t finalized plans to close the building. Instead, it’s decided to keep its options open for the near future. At the same time, he says grant opportunities prefer, if not require new construction. “There’s no money to remodel the school to turn it into anything, and the building being as big as it is, old as it is, and what it takes to heat it, those no way we could afford,” he said.

Instead, organizers hope that a smaller structure built from scratch would largely be able to sustain itself. While no specific numbers were given, organizers believe the building will get enough use to justify its construction. Some local groups plan to use it. For example, Community Services of Starke County plans to use the proposed facility as a base of operations for its meals on wheels service.

Beyond that, the North Judson-Wayne Township Fire Department and the town often hear from people looking to rent out the fire station for events. Crase said that the current fire station is not designed for that purpose like the old one was. He added that when the new station was built, the extra cost of the required fire sprinklers, restrooms, and ADA compliance was considered too expensive. The cost to add these features now would not be covered by grant funding, and there would still be issues with storing fire trucks and other equipment in the winter.

Crase added that a slightly more upscale community center would allow events like wedding receptions to be held, which he says might help boost the local economy. “Another thing you’ve got to look at with this project is the people coming into town that are also going to spend money for their forgotten items at our grocery stores, our gas stations, different things, and that’s something else that that’s going to bring to our community,” he said. “It may not be in a large draft, but it’s still going to bring people to the community.”

Plans for the new community center call for a 104-by-60-foot structure to be built behind the town’s fire station. It would be capable of holding 250 to 300 people. However, it wouldn’t have a full-service commercial kitchen, but would instead have more of a food warming station. In total, the new community center is expected to cost nearly $840,000. Grant funding from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs would cover $500,000 of that. Monday’s hearing was designed to give residents a chance to voice their opinions before the town submits a letter a intent to OCRA later this week. The grant application itself is due in October.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Public Hearing Scheduled for North Judson Community Center

Posted on August 15, 2016
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI 

The proposed North Judson-Wayne Township community center will be up for discussion during a public hearing this evening.

Residents once again have a chance to offer their input on the project. An application for grant funding from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs had to be delayed while the location of the proposed building was called into question. However, by waiting until the fall round of grant applications, some additional funding may be available, since OCRA has increased its maximum grant amount to $500,000 from $400,000. In total, the project’s expected to cost over $800,000.

A letter of intent for the grant funding is due by this Friday. The grant application itself will be due October 14.

Tonight’s public hearing takes place at 6:00 p.m. at North Judson Town Hall, followed by the regular North Judson Town Council meeting at 6:30.

Tonight, council members will decide whether to give their final approval to an updated Golf Cart Ordinance. It would allow properly registered golf carts to be driven at night, if they have the required lighting.

Starke Council to Review Levy and Circuit Breaker Limits

Posted on August 15, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI 

The Starke County Council is preparing for budget season. Tonight’s meeting agenda includes a review of the levy limits and circuit breakers for county taxing entities. The levy is the cap on the amount of property taxes each is allowed to collect. The circuit breaker limits the amount of property taxes an individual pays.

Their meeting starts at 6 p.m. instead of 5:30 due to a joint executive session of the council and commissioners, presumably to finalize details of a new lease between the county and Starke Hospital. The commissioners are expected to announce tonight the dates and times for a series of public meetings to share details before executing the deal later this month.

Other items on tonight’s Starke County Commissioners agenda include discussion of saleable scrap items from the old jail and the parking of construction trailers at the north side of the Moose during the upcoming courthouse renovation project and restrictions on the parking of other vehicles there while that work is going on.

Sheriff Bill Dulin will present an agreement for the counseling of local inmates grant, and Bicentennial Committee member Melba Shilling will talk to the commissioners about the bicentennial flag. Tonight’s commissioners meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. at the annex building.