Saturday, November 26, 2016

Quote of the Month - December 2016

Happy Birthday, Frank Zappa.
December 21, 1940

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Bass Lake Beach Gazebo Repaired, Planning Continues for Other Improvements

Posted on November 17, 2016
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted on November 17, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The school board unanimously approved both school improvement plans.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

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

Thank YOU Friends of the Library

Metro Recycling Cancels North Judson Transfer Station Project

Posted on November 16, 2016
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted on November 16, 2016
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted on November 16, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

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

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

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

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

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

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

BMV Touts Ride Safe Indiana Program Success

Posted on November 16, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

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

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

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

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

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

Visit for more information.

Monday, November 14, 2016

North Judson Mourns Death of Longtime Community Servant

Posted on November 14, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do Not Call Deadline Approaching

Posted on November 14, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

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

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

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

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

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

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

Avoid getting scammed over the phone by following these tips:

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

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

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

World Diabetes Day Encourages Advocacy

Posted on November 14, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

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

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

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

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

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

Click to visit the International Diabetes Foundation website.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Deer Hunters Urged to Stay Safe

Posted on November 12, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 11, 2016

Another Active Weekend

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 10, 2016

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

Posted on November 10, 2016
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

North Judson Takes Legal Action Over Unsafe Properties

Posted on November 9, 2016
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

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

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

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

Republicans Win Big in Starke County

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

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

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

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

Click here for complete election returns.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Recycling Transfer Station Discussion Draws Crowd During North Judson Council Meeting

Posted on November 8, 2016
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted on November 8, 2016
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

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

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

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

Monday, November 7, 2016

Starke County Chamber Honors Fingerhut Bakery

Posted on November 5, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Starke County Chamber Honors Longtime Knox Businessman

Posted on November 7, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

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

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

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

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

George and Della Mammarella

Starke County Community Foundation Honors Tri Kappa’s Generosity

Posted on November 7, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 4, 2016

Winter Weather Preparedness Week Is Coming

From the Starke County Emergency Management Facebook page:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information on winter weather preparedness, visit

Yep, Christmas is Fast Approaching

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

Nancy J. Dembowski Accepts Henry F. Schricker Award

Posted on November 4, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ted Hayes and Nancy Dembowski

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Indiana New Rifle Regulations For Deer Hunting

Still scratching your head over what’s legal and what isn’t in the new rifle regulations for deer hunting in Indiana this year?

Here are three questions that will guide you to the correct answers:

  1. Does the rifle have a barrel at least 16 inches long?
  2. Is the rifle chambered to fire a cartridge with a case length of at least 1.16 inches?
  3. Does that cartridge fire a bullet that is either .243 inches or .308 inches in diameter (or their metric equivalents, 6mm and 7.62mm, respectively)?

If the answer is yes to all three, then it’s legal under HEA 1231, a law passed earlier this year by the State Legislature.

If the answer is “no” to any of those three questions, it does not meet the HEA 1231 standards for new rifle options.

Remember: Bullet diameter, cartridge case length and barrel length are the determining factors of this law.

Any bullet smaller than .243 (6mm), larger than .308 (7.62mm), or in between .243 and .308 does not qualify. Neither does a cartridge with a case length that is less than 1.16 inches, or a rifle with a barrel shorter than 16 inches.

Here’s a twist, though. Some cartridges may appear to fall outside the allowable .243 and .308 requirements because of how they are labeled.

Take the .240 Weatherby Magnum, for instance. Disregard the .240 label because the bullet diameter actually is .243 inches and therefore legal to use.

Similarly, .30, .30-06 and .300-caliber cartridges are legal because their bullet diameters are .308 inches.

A few more points:

  • The new rifle options can be used only on private land.
  • Full-metal jacketed bullets are illegal.
  • A hunter can possess only 10 of these legal rounds while in the field.
  • There is no tree-stand requirement to use the new rifle options.

The new law does not change regulations previously approved for centerfire rifles chambered for so-called pistol cartridges. Those regulations allow for rifles chambered for cartridges that fire a bullet of .357-inch diameter or larger and have a case length of 1.16 inches to 1.8 inches. Unlike the new high-caliber rifle options, these can be used on private and public land to hunt deer.

If you still have questions about new rifle options for deer hunting, call (317) 232-4003 or (317) 232-4200.

For more information on deer hunting season check out the DNR: Indiana Deer Hunting page.

INDOT/NHTSA: Changing Your Clocks Means Changing Your Driving Habits


The first weekend in November is almost here and that means spending the weekend raking leaves and this Sunday, setting our clocks back one-hour as Daylight Saving Time ends.

INDOT and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reminds Hoosiers that sun glare and darkness will now occur during different parts of your familiar driving or walking routine, so drivers and pedestrians should exercise greater caution.  Pedestrians are also being urged to make yourself more visible and to give traffic an extra look before crossing the street.

INDOT and NHTSA offer these tips and urge you to give them a look and share them with your loved ones:
  • Slow down. During the evening hours, you need more time to see a pedestrian in your path.
  • Don’t drive distracted or impaired. Any behavior that slows your reaction time, increases the risk of a crash.
  • Keep in mind that pedestrians who are wearing headphones, hats or earmuffs may not hear your vehicle as it approaches.
  • Keep your windshield, windows, and mirrors clean.
  • Make sure your defrosters and windshield wipers are working properly and that washer fluid is replaced as needed.
  • Carry a flashlight or attach reflective materials - such as fluorescent tape - to clothing, backpacks, purses, and briefcases. These materials reflect light from headlights back to drivers, making it easier to see you.
  • Don’t depend on the traffic signal to protect you. Motorists may be distracted, especially when adjusting to the nighttime travel environment.
  • Avoid jaywalking and crossing between parked vehicles. Crosswalks offer a safer alternative.
  • Walk on sidewalks whenever possible. If you must walk on the street, face traffic.
  • When crossing the street, look left-right-left for cars from the curb.
  • Do not cross the street if a car is coming, and always use a crosswalk if available.
  • Watch out for cars at every driveway and intersection.
  • Stay completely focused on the road and avoid distractions like smartphones and tablets when walking.

Richard’s Disposal Merges with Republic Services

Posted on November 3, 2016
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Richard’s Disposal’s former customers will see better service following the company’s merger with Republic Services. That’s according to Richard’s Disposal owner Richard Warner.

Republic Services officially took over the business’s services on Tuesday. Warner says he opted to merge with Republic, rather than invest in several pieces of new equipment. He adds that the new equipment that Republic has available will mean some improvements for customers. Meanwhile, customers’ rates are expected to remain the same for at least a year, according to Warner.

As for what effect the change will have on Richard’s former employees, Warner says several of them were offered positions with Republic Services. He adds that Republic offered an increase in employees’ hourly wages, as well as better benefits. However, he says only one driver and one mechanic decided to make the transition to Republic. At the same time, Warner says he will remain available to consult with the new operators.

In a statement, Republic Services says it’s “honored to continue the legacy of Richard’s Disposal.” The company adds that customers will begin receiving invoices from Republic Services for service provided after October 31, and that any prepayments will automatically be applied to customers’ accounts. Residents should expect garbage pickup days to remain the same, unless the company notifies them of any changes.

More information about Republic Services is available at or by calling 574-896-5700.

N.J.-S.P. Junior/Senior High Hosts Successful Donation Drive

Posted on November 3, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

The Christmas season will be a bit merrier for area military members, thanks to the generosity of the North Judson-San Pierre Junior/Senior High School community. They recently wrapped up a donation drive for St. Joe Valley Blue Star Mothers. They are a group of military mothers who support local veterans, active-duty military and National Guard members. Laura Undem of Hamlet accepted the donations on behalf of the group and says she’s impressed with the school’s efforts.

“The kids did a really great job in doing collection for the soldiers, and all these items will be going into care packages for the deployed soldiers and sailors and marines and airmen for their Christmas packages.”

Undem’s son, Stephen is in the Marine Corps., and her son, Joshua, is in the Air Force. She says donation drives like these are vitally important.

“We need to support our military, even though they’re not headline news anymore. They are still out there fighting on the lines, and they need to know the people at home have not forgotten them.”

N.J.-S.P. Junior/Senior High School Principal Jim Polite says the school promoted the drive for the past month as part of their daily announcements. Students responded well, and a few teachers even held friendly classroom competitions. Polite says he’s pleased with the number of donations that were brought in.

He adds the lessons learned from the successful collection effort transcend the classroom.

“It’s very important that they look at things they can do and have an impact beyond just the walls here at the school. Whenever they have an opportunity to give back to those that are helping to serve us, I think that’s extremely important to help instill that value into them.”

The St. Joe Valley Blue Star Mothers will package these and other donations after Veterans Day and ship them overseas. They collect items like nonperishable food, books and magazines, batteries for electronic devices and personal care items, as well as money to offset postage costs. Contact Undem at for more information, or visit the St. Joe Valley Blue Star Mothers IN #6 Facebook page.

NIPSCO Submits IRP Plan, Recommends Coal-Power Slowdown

Posted on November 3, 2016
Author Tyler Maffitt, WKVI

NIPSCO this week submitted their plans to continue providing energy to its customers to the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission.

The plan is required to show just how the utility service provider will be supplying energy over the next 20 years or so. The plan often addresses changing consumer habits, population and business development, and projected energy demand.

The process is conducted every two years by NIPSCO and involves meetings with the public and environmental organizations. Months of analysis is conducted by NIPSCO to ensure their projections meet standards.

Since August, officials with NIPSCO have concluded that they will be ceasing energy production at four of its seven coal-fired power plants. The company says they will provide ongoing work opportunities for the employees at the coal plants as they begin ceasing production.

The impact of this will likely be seen in Porter County and in Wheatfield at the Bailly and R.M. Schahfer Generating Station between 2018 and 2023.

Due to the relatively low prices of natural gas, NIPSCO says its energy portfolio is already shifting away from the use of coal. Currently NIPSCO operates three coal-fired generating stations, one natural gas, two hydroelectric facilities, and purchased wind power.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

NJSP Pop Warner- 2016 Division 4 State Champs!

The Holiday Rush Is Here!

Well, it's started! The holiday rush is upon us.

Now I’m not talking about television and stores advertising about what they have available for Christmas and how you need to put it on lay-a-way now. No, I’m talking about that rush where we jump in the car and rush around the county to bazaars; vendor shows; bake sales; and cookie walks. We’re either looking to make a purchase for ourselves or others, involved in the manufacture of items for sale – crafts or food, selling products from a company we believe in, or working to support a local cause.

This weekend is gonna be busy, and if you plan it right you won’t have to cook! On Saturday there are seven local events vying for your attention:
  • Woof Studios will be at the Starke County Humane Society (time to get that yearly family portrait taken),
  • a Hillbilly breakfast,
  • a Vesper Circle Bazaar (also serving breakfast),
  • a Fall Bazaar (serving lunch),
  • a Winter Wonderland (proceeds to benefit the Starke County Humane Society),
  • a bake sale to support the renovation at Pioneer Cemetery,
  • and in the evening a fund auction to support education.
Sunday has more food coming our way with
  • 3 pancake breakfasts spread throughout the county,
  • a turkey lunch/dinner (depending if you eat in or carry out), and then
  • a Fall Festival in the evening where refreshments will be available.
But be sure to save some money for next week. So far there’s a cookie walk, another bazaar & lunch, and two more vendor events. And who knows what will be listed in The Market next week.

You can check out these events, and find information on monthly/weekly events too, at the North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library’s website.

11/7/2016 NJ Town Council Meeting Moved

Railroad Township Negotiations May be Influenced by State Statute

Posted on November 2, 2016
Author Tyler Maffitt, WKVI

Conflicting perspectives have set Railroad Township on edge, but state statute may ultimately settle the matter of a contract with volunteer firefighters.

Following a short meeting last Wednesday, the Railroad Township Board voted down a 2017 contract proposal with the fire department on a 2-1 vote. Sources close to the situation said the contract was in need of further discussion after the township trustee again proposed financial oversight of the San Pierre-Railroad Township Volunteer Fire Department.

Attorney Stephen Buschmann with Thrasher Buschmann & Voelkel, P.C. represents Township Trustee Mandy Thomason, and acts as general counsel for the Indiana Township Association. He says requiring financial oversight in contracts between the township and the fire department is seen in contracts throughout the state.

“It is not un-normal for townships, the trustee, and the board to have financial information on how the department is using taxpayer money to make sure it’s spent right and, quite frankly, to make sure you’re budgeting properly in future years,” says Buschmann.

This counters statements made by sources close to the situation that the trustee may not have the authority to oversee the fire department’s financial records.

One source says the Railroad Township Board may attempt to push adoption of the 2017 contract into the New Year to prevent financial reporting to the trustee from continuing. Financial reports have been a point of tension between the township and the fire department, recently. Buschmann has issued letters to the township government alleging contract violations have taken place. Some have since been corrected.

Despite the current 2016 contract, Buschmann says there is not a statutory requirement that the information be shared with the township.

“They could be subject to audit by the State Board of Accounts so the State Board of Accounts will get it,” says Buschmann. “So it’s clearly a best practice.”

Even without a contract, the fire department is still expected to provide firefighting and emergency services in the area.

Following their down vote of the contract last week, the Railroad Township Board advised they would be sitting down with the trustee and the fire department as a group to assess the disagreements and come up with a solution.

Buschmann says that those meetings with the board and the fire department may also not be allowable. According to state statute, the trustee may contract with the volunteers and present it for adoption to the board, but the board itself may not negotiate the contract.

“It would be just like the general assembly trying to take over the executive branch of government,” says Buschmann. “Can’t do it.”

A new contract proposal is expected to come forward in the coming weeks. The fire department says they are working to understand the alleged violations and will work to communicate their contract issues in future meetings.

Democratic Party Bus Tour Schedules Starke County Stop

Posted on November 2, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

Several candidates for statewide elected office will be stumping for votes in Starke County on Friday. Democratic Gubernatorial nominee John Gregg and his running mate, Christina Hale, former Gov. and U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz, Democratic Attorney General nominee Judge Lorenzo Arredondo and former First Lady Judy O’Bannon are scheduled to visit the Knox VFW Friday at noon for a meet and greet.

Members of the public are encouraged to come by and see them.

New Garbage Company Means Changes for North Judson Trash Pickup

Posted on November 2, 2016
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI
North Judson residents have some new procedures when it comes to garbage pickup. Starting this week, Republic Services is taking over trash pickup, according to North Judson Clerk-Treasurer Alicia Collins.

As part of the change, residents should place trash next to the street rather than the alley. Collins says that from now on, blue Republic Services trucks will be picking up the garbage. She adds that Republic Services employees may request to speak with residents if they encounter any issues with trash placement. Additionally, crews will complete trash pickup on one side of a given street before starting on the other side. Collins requests that residents be patient before assuming their house has been skipped, inadvertently.

Residents currently place garbage in their own cans for pickup, but Collins says that Republic Services plans to provide garbage totes to residents starting next year.

Officials with Republic Services and Richard’s Disposal could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

Energy Assistance Applications Now Available

Posted on November 2, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

Families who struggle to pay their heating bills can now sign up for energy assistance from the federal government. NIPSCO, state agencies and other organizations offer various types of assistance each year.

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, LIHEAP for short, is available to households falling within 150 percent of federal poverty guidelines. Between Dec. 1 and March 15, Indiana utilities do not disconnect service to customers enrolled in LIHEAP who are behind on their bills.

Additionally, the NIPSCO Customer Assistance for Residential Energy (CARE) Discount Program provides further gas bill reductions to LIHEAP-eligible customers. Once enrolled in LIHEAP, customers are automatically enrolled in the program.

The NIPSCO Hardship Program offers up to $400 in gas bill assistance to households between 151 and 200 percent of the federal poverty level, which is just outside the guidelines for LIHEAP.

Program eligibility is based on income and family size. Visit for more information and a listing of agencies that help administer assistance programs.

Documents typically needed to apply for LIHEAP assistance include an Indiana picture ID, Social Security cards for all household members, a NIPSCO bill, proof of residency and proof of income.

NIPSCO customer care agents trained to help connect customers with available funds are available Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. CST at 800-4-NIPSCO (800-464-7726).

In addition to assistance programs, NIPSCO customers can also visit to learn about programs designed to help manage energy usage.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Metro Recycling Responds to Residents’ Concerns with North Judson Transfer Station

Posted on November 1, 2016
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Concerns with a recycling transfer station planned for the North Judson area have led to a response from the company, as well as local economic development officials. Metro Recycling is currently moving ahead with a permitting process with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. The company plans to add a recycling transfer station on Oakwood Street in the North Judson Industrial Park.

Metro Recycling CEO Neil Samahon says the transfer station will handle municipal solid waste. Meanwhile, asbestos, PCBs, hazardous waste, lead-acid batteries, tires, infectious waste, and bio-medical waste will all be prohibited from the facility, according to its IDEM application.

Starke County Economic Development Foundation Executive Director Charlie Weaver says the transfer station will actually be cleaner than other recycling centers around the county and more controlled than the Richard’s Disposal facility already in North Judson. “They’ve got things that they transfer between gondolas,” Weaver says. “They’ve got stuff that they dump on the open ground. And the people of North Judson are perfectly happy with that because they don’t think it bothers them. [Metro Recycling is] putting it on concrete with drains, where the drainage is going to be controlled, filtered, it’s going to go through oil separators and everything else and monitored.”

Weaver and Samahon note that the majority of the operations will take place indoors. Samahon adds that the waste received at the facility will generally come from within a 25-mile radius. Once it arrives, it will only be allowed to stay at the transfer station for a maximum of 24 hours. “That garbage has to turn around and go,” he says. “This isn’t a landfill. This isn’t somewhere where we can sit on garbage. It literally is a transfer station. The garbage comes in, and then it gets loaded into a transfer trailer, then goes out, and it heads to the landfill.”

Weaver says that before planning on the North Judson transfer station got underway, he arranged for several local officials to tour Metro Recycling’s existing facilities. “I then approached Ted Bombagetti, who was the director of emergency management in Starke County; Terry Stephenson, director of the county planning commission; and Dennis Estok, who was county surveyor at the time,” Weaver says. “They toured the facilities, and came back and reported to me that they were very clean. They were extremely impressed with the facilities. They were very neat and orderly, very clean. There was no junk laying around.” Weaver also notes that while steps are being taken to protect the local environment, the site of the proposed North Judson transfer station has been an industrial area for well over a century.

Samahon adds that a big goal of Metro Recycling is to help protect the environment by reducing the amount of garbage that ends up in landfills. “I’m not sure when it was bad to try to recycle,” he says. “And that’s the part that I don’t want to say frustrates me but I just kind of question. We’re trying to offer a benefit to the community by taking items because if it isn’t for facilities that are recycling, then we need to set aside more land for landfills, and I don’t think anybody’s going to be too happy about that.”

Samahon estimates that the new transfer station would create about five jobs initially. That could eventually increase to up to 15, depending on the success of the facility.

Metro Recycling plans to discuss the proposed facility with residents during Monday’s North Judson Town Council meeting at 6:30 p.m. Town officials have announced that Monday’s meeting has been moved to the North Judson–San Pierre Junior/Senior High School Auditorium. The presentation will be for informational purposes only, since the proposed site actually sits outside of the North Judson town limits and out of the town council’s jurisdiction. However, Weaver says council members have been involved in the project for at least the past year.

If the process continues to move along as scheduled, the new transfer station could open in the summer of 2017.

North Judson Denies Wrongdoing in Rail Line Suit

Posted on November 1, 2016
Author Tyler Maffitt, WKVI

Officials with the Town of North Judson say they do not have a formal response at this time to claims by a former railroad operator that they violated contract, confidentiality, and the law.

The Chesapeake and Indiana Railroad Company filed suit on Friday against the town government alleging the community owes them more than $1-million in contract obligations.

According to the suit, the company says it is entitled to book value for improvements made to non-removable parts of the rail line if the town does not renew its contract with the business. Those improvements involve 30 miles of railroad traveling through Porter, LaPorte, and Starke counties. The Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum also uses the rail for tourism purposes.

Chesapeake and Indiana Railroad President Powell Felix says residents of North Judson should not have to carry the cost of the lawsuit, claiming town officials have demonstrated poor judgment.

According to North Judson Clerk-Treasurer Alicia Collins, the town has not received anything in writing indicating that a lawsuit will proceed. She also says the town denies any wrongdoing.

The Chesapeake and Indiana Railroad Company further alleges that during the town’s bid process to find a replacement railroad operator, the town government included the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum in the discussions. The company alleges that proprietary secrets were shared – something they say is a violation of federal law.

Calls placed to North Judson Town Attorney Rachel Arndt have not been returned.  

Open Enrollment Starts Tuesday for Healthcare Exchanges

Posted on November 1, 2016
Author Tyler Maffitt, WKVI

Open enrollment on the Affordable Care Act exchange starts Tuesday, and local medical service groups are providing assistance for those looking to shop their options.

The sign-up period takes place between November 1st, 2016 and January 31st, 2017. As in past years, a majority of those enrolled on the exchanges are expected to receive financial assistance.

The federal government uses household income to determine who is eligible for any insurance subsidies, or even Medicaid. Starke County Health Department Nurse Frank Lynch says their department can give vaccinations to those on Medicaid, those who still don’t have insurance, or those whose insurance does not cover the vaccine.

“We don’t need any documentation that your insurance doesn’t cover it or there is no documentation whether you have insurance or not,” says Lynch. “So basically it’s all we need. If you have insurance and it covers vaccinations, then you need to go through your healthcare provider.”

Aid often includes tax credits to help pay for premiums, or discounts on co-pays and deductibles. Those without health insurance will pay a penalty – either 2.5% of family income, or a pre-determined flat rate. Lynch says they typically don’t see a big influx of patients during open enrollment periods.

“We had a lot of people that call in regards to: will my insurance cover it? Well we don’t do any insurance billing here at the health department,” says Lynch. “Then what I would recommend in regards to adults or anyone with insurance for their children or anything like that, 9 and up, they can be done at a local pharmacy, Walgreen’s or CVS.”

Those interested in searching their options, however, will have access to certified assisters. They are available at Starke Hospital. Appointments can help assess coverage needs and pricing, and are available by calling 855-400-2045. Residents can also receive help filling out the application for insurance.

This is the fourth annual campaign to extend health coverage to more than 13-million Americans. Individuals who are re-enrolling are encouraged to find the best option for them. Comparing plans can, many times, save individuals money from year-to-year.

Insurance providers cannot deny individuals based on a pre-existing condition.

Starke County Clerk Reassures Voters, Offers Tips to Verify Information

Posted on November 1, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

The Starke County Clerk’s Office has not experienced any unusual problems with voting machines or registrations. Clerk Vicki Cooley wants to reassure local voters given the ongoing Indiana State Police investigation into possible fraudulent voter registration and concerns that systems may be hacked. Starke County does use electronic voting machines, but they are not connected to the internet. Additionally Cooley says vendor MicroVote is certified by the federal and state government.

She says the county also takes steps to make sure all registered voters are able to cast ballots. In-person absentee voting is going on now at the courthouse. Cooley says homebound voters and their caregivers can vote by travel board if they make arrangements through her office.

Additionally, all registered voters are urged to confirm their status by visiting to make sure their information has not been compromised. Cooley says voters need to check the name under which they are registered, for instance “James” instead of “Jim.”

She adds there’s no cause for immediate panic if information cannot be located.

“Call up to our office and just even check to make sure the registration is here, because possibly maybe a letter could have got transposed or something very minor.”

Cooley says the best way to prevent problems is to vote during the absentee period, as that provides more time to fix potential problems.

“And immediately say something if something’s wrong. Because you’ve got two people in there that are working that will answer your questions, and more than likely it’s a question they can answer.”

Cooley also urges voters to take their time and review each page before hitting the button to submit their vote.

Absentee voting at the Starke County Courthouse continues through Monday, Nov. 7 at noon. All prospective voters must reside in Starke County and have a government issued photo ID.  Construction is ongoing at the courthouse, so prospective voters are asked to use the west (handicap) entrance, which faces the Moose Lodge. Look for the “Vote Here” sign. Cooley adds that door will be open during all absentee hours.

Absentee voting information can be found here.

Visit who are your elected officials and 2016 Candidate Information Summary for more information.

If you prefer to vote on Election Day, here is a list of Starke County polling places. Find yours here. Contact the Starke County Clerk’s Office at 574-772-9160 or for more information. Their mailing address is: Starke County Election,  P.O. Box 395, Knox, IN 46534