Friday, December 30, 2016

January 2017 - Quote of the Month

Cardiac Arrest vs Heart Attack

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

Thursday, December 29, 2016

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

Posted on December 29, 2016
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

1/21/2017 The Jungle Book Movie

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

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

Lawsuit Filed Against Railroad Township Trustee, Advisory Board Member

Posted on December 28, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted on December 28, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

1/10/2017 Creative Canvas with Tabitha

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

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

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

ISP Releases More Information About Fatal Police Shooting

Posted on December 27, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

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

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

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

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

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

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

State Fire Marshal Urges Proper Tree Disposal

Posted on December 27, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

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

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

All decorations should be removed before disposing of the tree.

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

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

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

Friday, December 23, 2016

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

Posted on December 23, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

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

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

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

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

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

North Judson Fire Department to Complete Replacement of Turnout Gear

Posted on December 23, 2016
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

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

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

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

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Railroad Township Board Calls for Stop to Fire Department Restructuring

Posted on December 22, 2016
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thomason was not in attendance during Wednesday’s meeting.

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

Posted on December 22, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

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

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

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

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

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

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

North Judson May Reapply for Community Center Grant in Future

Posted on December 22, 2016
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

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

Posted on December 21, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 19, 2016

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

Posted on December 19, 2016
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

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

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

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

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

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

Starke County Council to Consider Longevity Changes

Posted on December 19, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

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

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

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

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

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

Starke County Community Foundation Announces 2017 Lilly Scholar

Posted on December 19, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 16, 2016

Who's Up For A Snow Related Video?

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

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

Community Input Sought for Starke County Parks Comprehensive Plan

Posted on December 16, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

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

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

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

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

Posted on December 16, 2016
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Lutheran Air Flight Adds Ambulance at Starke County Airport

Posted on December 15, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First Starke County Jail Drug Treatment Program Participants Graduate

Posted on December 15, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted on December 15, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Knox Council Renames 150 South

Posted on December 14, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Prevent Frozen Pipes As Temperatures Drop

Posted on December 13, 2016
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

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

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

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

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

Residents Offer Input on Starke County Parks Strategic Plan

Posted on December 13, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 12, 2016

Starke Park Board Seeks Input on Five-Year Plan

Posted on December 12, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

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

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

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

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

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

North Judson Town Attorney Steps Down

Posted on December 12, 2016
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

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

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

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

Democrats Tap Dembowski for Vacant Council Seat

Posted on December 10, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 9, 2016

North Judson Community Center Grant Denied

Posted on December 9, 2016
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 8, 2016

1/4/2017 Chat & Chew

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

Posted on December 8, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

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

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

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

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

North Judson Council Looks to Fill School Board Vacancy

Posted on December 8, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

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

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

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

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

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

Posted on December 8, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

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

Posted on December 7, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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