Thursday, December 14, 2017

Starke County Park Board Considers Splitting Up Bass Lake Beach and Campground Operations

Posted on December 14, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Potential changes to the Bass Lake Beach and campground’s operations were discussed by the Starke County Park Board Tuesday. Operator Callahan Development, LLC plans to extend its lease with the county through April of 2028. But the company said it’s willing to consider turning over the less profitable areas of the facility back to the county, while it would continue to run the campground and pier slots.

The challenge, according to Starke County Attorney Marty Lucas, is coming up with an arrangement that benefits everyone. “I mean, the benefit to Callahan is that they get rid of managing parts of the operation that they’re not really that interested because they’re not profitable,” Lucas explained. “The benefit for the public is that the public wants to have a beach and a park there that’s a little more freely accessible ,and Callahan gets the benefit that maybe that makes the rentals there more valuable, right? Because it’s a more appealing property.”

Lucas felt that by running the beach itself, Starke County could open up the facility to potential grant funding, and also attract some volunteers. “If you had a situation where the park board was operating the beach portion, I think that volunteerism would be easier to get than it is if Callahan’s running it,” he said. “I mean most people don’t want to volunteer to help out – they might love McDonald’s, right? McDonald’s may be a great place to get a sandwich, but they don’t go volunteer for McDonald’s because it’s a private operation. So the idea is to kind of balance those things.”

Meanwhile, local resident Rick Anderson suggested seeing if someone may be interested in leasing the beach house separately and operating food service there, then using the responses to work out some sort of arrangement with Callahan. Park board members liked the general idea.

As a next step, the park board wants to seek input from the public on the idea of separate entities operating the beach house, food service, or the beach itself. But board members decided to run the idea by Callahan, before issuing any request for proposals.

Purdue Extension to Host Local Government Finance Workshop

Posted on December 14, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The Purdue Extension Community Development Program is hosting a local government finance workshop for economic development professionals, community leaders and  local elected and appointed officials.

The workshop will be held at the Plymouth Public Library from 1p.m. until 3:30 p.m. on Friday, December 15th. It is geared toward community members from a number of counties including Marshall, Pulaski and Starke.

The program will dig deeper into data from our counties and the region in general. Presenters will also highlight how Indiana’s property tax system functions and provide information about how tax caps work.

The program is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be provided.

If you’re unable to attend but still wish to access some information from the event, the county reports will be available on the Purdue Extension Community Development Website, following the program.

If you have any questions contact Purdue Extension Community Development Regional Educator Tamara Ogle at 317-523-8804 or email her at

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Starke County Park Board Looking to Replace Bass Lake Beach Gatehouse, Following Accident

Posted on December 13, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The Starke County Park Board may be looking at replacing one of the structures at the Bass Lake Beach, after it was seriously damaged in an accident last month. Park board member Roger Chaffins explains that a pickup truck apparently backed itself into the gatehouse, “The guy was deer hunting over there, had a new vehicle, didn’t realize that he didn’t have it fully in park, and the vehicle ran over him and then ran into the building.”

Chaffins says the man was not seriously injured, but the gatehouse was knocked off its foundation. “The guy that backed into that building, his insurance is supposed to pay for it,” he explained during Tuesday’s park board meeting. “But we want to get this taken care of as quickly as we can because, from the looks of it, it’s going to have to take a building.”

“Yeah, and there’s some stuff in there. I don’t know if he’s been able to get it out,” said Starke County Attorney Marty Lucas. “He’s afraid to go in there because it looks dangerous to go in, even, actually.”

During Tuesday’s meeting, Chaffins agreed to serve as the park board’s liaison to help oversee the process. Meanwhile, he also offered to work with the Bass Lake Beach’s operator to coordinate some work at the beach house.

Operator Callahan Development, LLC agreed earlier this fall to repair the seawall surrounding the beach house patio, and also work with the county to install glacial stone around the facility. But County Attorney Marty Lucas said much of that work still hasn’t taken place. “We discussed that building maintenance issue, and I don’t think it’s a problem with it. We just need to make it happen. I haven’t had any negative reaction to it. We don’t have a specific plan or date yet. That’s the problem. We’re trying to set up this cooperation. Getting them out there together has been the problem. No one said they don’t want to do it, but they haven’t gotten it done yet, either."

Specifically, Lucas wants Bass Lake Beach Assistant Manager Larry Clarich to meet with Starke County Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler to figure out how to install the glacial stone. That was first suggested back in October.

Starke County Election Board to Enforce Deadlines on Candidate Financial Statements

Posted on December 13, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The Starke County Election Board is cracking down on candidates who don’t turn in their financial statements on time. “They have to close out their candidacy by preparing the forms according to the deadlines,” Election Board President Peg Brettin explained during last week’s meeting. “If they don’t, the way the law is set up, the county election boards throughout the State of Indiana can have a hearing for them, can bring them before the board, can assess them.”

Brettin explained that policy’s been in effect for a while, but it hasn’t really been enforced in Starke County. “In the past year or so, we more or less kind of waived that,” she said. “And we said that as of 2018, any of those candidates that do not fill out the forms in a timely manner to the Clerk’s Office and file them, we will be assessing them $50 a day until they are paid.”

Election board members said they’d be willing to pursue legal action against candidates who fail to pay.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Starke County Working to Increase Voting Machine Storage Security

Posted on December 12, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The Starke County Election Board is taking steps to keep voters’ ballots secure. New regulations now require that voting machines be locked up when they aren’t in use, to prevent tampering.

Starke County’s maintenance staff has recommended securing the machines by placing a wooden beam in front of their current storage space. They say that will prevent anyone from pulling them out without having a key. Last week, the election board authorized maintenance staff to draw up a plan, so the Clerk’s Office can make sure the arrangement would comply with the new rules.

The voting machines do not connect to the Internet, so the biggest concern has to do with their physical security. On top of that, the machines’ design makes them difficult to hack into, according to MicroVote representative Steve Shamo. “The reality of it is, there’s no USB port on it,” he told the election board.

“No USB, no wireless,” added Starke County IT Director Mark Gourley. “You’d have to have one of the specialized cards to get into it, and that’s even if you had managed to figure out the bit format on that card to make modifications, assuming you got past the election judge at the polling place.”

The election board has also agreed to pursue upgrades to the voting machines themselves, to bring them up to the latest federal standards.

Monday, December 11, 2017

On North Judson...

Ah, memories - sitting in the NJ-SP high school gym for a pep rally, listening to the band playing “On North Judson”, and admiring the BlueJay logo recently painted in the jump circle.  Does this give you any clue as to how old I am? 

For several years (OK, it’s been decades) the North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library has been in possession of the jump circle from the original North Judson High School.  During that time it has undergone a few tweaks, although we haven’t done anything to change the condition it was in when we received it, just a few minor things to preserve it and make it easier to present.  And just last Friday (December 9, 2017) it was mounted behind the circulation desk so everyone could enjoy it. 

So the next time you come in to the library take a few minutes to check it out and let the memories come flooding back. 

Starke County Election Board to Pursue Voting Machine Upgrades

Posted on December 11, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The Starke County Election Board has decided to proceed with upgrades to the county’s 46 voting machines. Steve Shamo with vendor MicroVote said the goal is to bring the machines up to the latest federal standards, in time for the 2020 presidential election. “The difference is primarily how the software and the firmware, which is the resident software in each panel, thinks,” he explained. “For instance, the system that you have, the software coding is written like line one through 250,000. That’s how it thinks in logic. The new software requirements require that all functions are remained in very compartmental small blocks of code, and require what’s called a transactional operation.”

He said that will require the replacement of internal components, like processors and motherboards. “The only visible difference that your voters will see is that the screen will be different,” Shamo said. “The screen will have a dark image with white lettering on it, so it’s much more clarity. And there’s a different glare shield on the top, which, ironically, is the cheapest component that does the best work. It’s a one-dollar plastic screen.”

One thing that will not be added to Starke County’s voting system is a printed receipt for voters. Shamo said that while it might make the process seem more secure, it actually has the potential of complicating matters. “If you had some sort of device that was printing, and it missed even a single one . . . that entire audit-ability is void. You’ve missed one,” he said. “And then the second factor of it is that it’s a receipt that is sell-able, and it’s maintainable. So unless it’s you’re guaranteeing 100-percent collection of those receipts, as they’re being handed out or whatever, showing how to vote, if it leaves the polling site, that unto itself can void an election.” However, he said the system does have the ability to print individual vote records, to allow a recount to be done by hand.

Shamo said the upgrades will cost the county just over $1,400 per machine, compared to $3,900 for a brand new one. With the election board’s approval last week, the proposal now goes to the county commissioners and county council for further consideration.

The work would likely take place after the 2018 election cycle. Clerk Vicki Cooley said that might allow the election board to fund the upgrades in the 2019 budget.

Starke County Commissioners Discuss Relinquishment of County Road

Posted on December 11, 2017
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Commissioners discussed a proposal to relinquish County Road 450 West, north of Toto Road to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler said DNR representative Bryan Boggs made the request. Ritzler said the road is adjacent to the DNR property and believes the DNR could better maintain the road.

“They have their equipment and they’re out there all of the time and if they want to do that extra half-mile they can. It’s a dead-end road. It goes into private property at the northern end of that road. I’m all for it. I think it’s a good thing. I think it’s good for DNR. They’re in control of it.”

Ritzler noted that Boggs has approached neighboring property owners to get permission and written letters supporting the change would be obtained if the request is approved.

The road would be under the DNR jurisdiction and the DNR could decide what to do with the road. Commission President Donnie Binkley asked Boggs, who attended last week’s meeting, if the DNR would put up gates. Boggs explained that if a gate would be installed, the three property owners who live along that road would have access to any locks or codes to gain access to their property. A gate, if constructed, would only be functional from October to March.

Commissioner Kathy Norem asked why the DNR would want to take ownership of the dirt road. Boggs said it’s a dead end road and it doesn’t get as much maintenance as he would like. Also, water fowl hunters use that road and the DNR ends up plowing the half-mile road anyway so they are able to hunt. He said it’s not much extra work.

After the discussion, Ritzler recommended talking to the property owners and County Attorney Marty Lucas to gather more details before approving the relinquishment.

North Judson Code Enforcement Officer Provides Update to Town Council, Suggests Removing Outdated Ordinances

Posted on December 11, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

North Judson Code Enforcement Officer Joe Leszek provided an update about the code enforcement program that was implemented in mid-July.

Leszek said that they’ve seen good results and they continue to make improvements. He alerted council members that Town Marshal Kelly Fisher is currently working on a procedure to “put a little more teeth” into the abandoned vehicle policy.

He also mentioned that for the first few months, they were being more lenient by giving warnings and allowing people a few weeks to deal with citations. However, he said now that they’re more than six months into the code enforcement program, they’ll cut that down to 48 hour warnings and then ticketing if the issue is not handled.

North Judson’s town photographer Peggy Bohac presented a concern that she received from a fixed-income resident who was worried that stricter code enforcement could result in fines that would potentially be unmanageable.

Marshal Fisher responded, saying as long as citizens are making a noticeable effort to correct the violation, then they will not be continuously fined. Fisher and Leszek agreed that there is a difference between an individual who is obviously making an effort and someone who is blatantly disregarding the violation notification.

Additionally, Leszek suggested that the town council members go through the existing codes and pick out any that seem outdated. He proposed removing or amending irrelevant ordinances to avoid having people doubt the legitimacy of ordinance enforcement.

Leszek explained, “I’d hate, as we’re really cracking down on some of the ordinances, some of the ones that are very out dated, get somebody that wants to kind of start really being picky and say well you wrote a citation for this and not for that.”

Council President Wendy Hoppe asked him to look into towns of a similar size and compare their existing ordinances to North Judson’s in order to get some inspiration on what to add, remove or edit.

U.S. Marshal Phone Scam Alert

Posted on December 11, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

If you receive a call from someone claiming to be a U.S. Marshal, be wary of their instructions. The Federal Trade Commission is warning people about a recent scam involving impostors threatening individuals with arrest in order to get money from them.

Consumer Education Specialist Bridget Small said that U.S. Marshals do a lot of things, they protect the federal courts, track down dangerous fugitives and transport thousands of prisoners. What they don’t do is make calls and threaten to arrest people or fine them for missing jury duty.

She warns that scammers can use fake caller ID information to seem more legitimate so you can’t always trust a name or number that appears on your phone. Criminals will call, posing as a U.S. Marshal or other government officials, and tell people they’ll be arrested unless they immediately pay a fine.

If you receive a suspicious phone call never send money by prepaid card or wire money since the transaction cannot be easily traced or reversed. Small also says not to share any personal or financial information because it can be used to commit identity theft.

If you get a call that fits this description, report it to the FTC and to your local Marshal Service District Office.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Starke Hospital Winter Clothing & Food Drive

The little elves in Food and Nutrition Services at the Starke Hospital are setting up to help our community stay warm and healthy this winter. The public is invited to drop gently used winter clothing and non-perishable food items in the main lobby at the Starke Hospital until Dec. 23. Together we can make a difference!

12/9/2017 Culver Academies Christmas Concert

The Poor Handmaids will host the Culver Academies Christmas Concert on Saturday, December 9 at 4 p.m. EST. All are welcome to come and enjoy the Academy choir, band and orchestra. If you cannot make it, the event will be streamed live at

Official NORAD Santa Tracker

I know it's a little early, but when Christmas Eve rolls around you'll need this site to let the kids know just where Santa is on his travels around the world. So here you go so you can bookmark it now, the address for the Official NORAD Santa Tracker.

Starke County Ahead of Others in Collecting Data for Potential U.S. 30 Upgrade

Posted on December 8, 2017
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Starke County is ahead of other entities in preparing for the possible upgrade of U.S. 30 to a freeway. That’s what Starke County Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler told the county commissioners this week in his report of a recent U.S. 30 Coalition meeting in Warsaw.

“We’ve held public meetings, we have a committee in the county and we’ve done most of our traffic study work that needs to be done,” said Ritzler. “We’re way ahead of all of the other counties to do that. That meeting went well.”

In his report, Ritzler noted that he has also worked with a consultant to assess the feasibility of interchanges and overpasses at various locations, as well as origin and destination studies at relevant locations.

Ritzler added that a representative from MACOG offered to provide the county with data they’ve collected to help the county with their assessments. The county should be done with traffic data collection in February and the first draft of the report will be reviewed in a Starke County U.S. 30 Coalition meeting in March.

North Judson Town Council Members Approve Purchase of New Camera for Utility Department

Posted on December 8, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

North Judson Town Council members approved the purchase of a new push camera at the request of Town Superintendent Marshall Horstmann during Monday evening’s town council meeting.

Horstmann explained that a push camera is an inspection tool that can be utilized for their fee ordinance where water and sewer lines are inspected at the request of homeowners for a $100 fee. He added that it could also be used for checking the town’s lines in general.

He said the current camera is more than 10 years old and they’ve had consistent problems with it not turning on. He added that there were also issues with the way that material was recorded and stored on to discs.

The town superintendent said he initially contacted 5 companies and two came out to demo their products. Both of the demoed cameras had 200 foot cables and self leveling camera heads. He also said the cameras included a feature that could help them pinpoint particular problems.

He explained, “You can record to a flash drive, and while you’re recording, if you need to take a picture you can take a snap shot of whatever might be an issue.”

During the public presentation portion of the meeting, town council members approved a reimbursement of $1,000 to Nancy and Richard Capouch because they had to pay out of pocket to repair a damaged sewer line on a John Street property. Horstmann mentioned that it was likely that utility department unintentionally caused the damage.

Councilwoman Jane Ellen Felchuck asked if having a working push cam could have assisted with that situation. Horstmann said that it would help prevent those types of accidents from happening in the future. A purchase order was presented in the amount of $9,600 to Best Supply to buy the new piece of equipment; Horstmann’s request received unanimous council approval.

Salvation Army Bell Ringers Needed!

Posted on December 8, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Salvation Army Bell Ringers are still needed in Starke County! Starke County Bell Ringer coordinator Joe Lopez stressed the fact that funds collected at the local collection centers remain in the area.

Lopez explained, “The money does not go out of the county, all the money collected is spent here in Starke County and it helps a lot of people that need help during the holiday so we really appreciate any help we can get.”

The two Starke County Bell Ringer locations are Bailey’s Discount Center in North Judson and Five Star in Knox. Lopez mentioned that there is a special perk to working these spots.

“I know that a lot of people watch the Salvation Army Bell Ringers out in the cold,” he said, “we’re fortunate to have Bailey’s indoors and Five Star also indoors so you’re not standing out in the weather freezing.”

There are only a few weeks left until Christmas, so the organization is in dire need of some helping hands. If you’re interested in helping collect funds to assist local families this holiday season contact Coordinator Joe Lopez at 574-329-4743.

Starke County Commissioners, Council to Appoint Candidates to Boards, Commissions

Posted on December 8, 2017
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Commissioners and county council members are looking to fill several seats on various boards and commissions for 2018.

The commissioners need one appointment to the Starke County Drainage Board, two appointments to the Kankakee Iroquois Regional Plan Commission, two appointments to the Starke County Planning Commission, one appointment to the Starke County Board of Zoning Appeals, two appointments to the Starke County Health Board, one appointment to the Starke County Library Board, one appointment to the Starke County Aviation Board, one appointment to the Starke County Alcoholic Beverage Board, two appointments to the P.T.A.B.O.A Board, plus candidates for the Innkeepers Convention and Visitor’s Commission, and the Starke County Building Corporation.

The Starke County Council members have one appointment each to the North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library Board, Alcoholic Beverage Board and P.T.A.B.O.A. Board.

Many of these appointments require specific party affiliation. Party affiliation is determined by the most recent primary election in which the individual voted. Support can be provided by the party chairman.

Those already seated in the positions may be given preference for another term.

More information concerning responsibilities to these various positions can be downloaded here: 2018 appointment list (1).

Letters of interest are to be submitted to the Starke County Commissioners by 4 p.m. CT on Wednesday, Dec. 27. They may be submitted in care of the Starke County Auditor, 53 E. Mound St., Knox, IN, 46534.

New Graduation Pathways Approved by Indiana State Board of Education This Week

Posted on December 8, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

On Wednesday, the Indiana State Board of Education(SBOE) approved several new graduation pathways for Hoosier high school students beginning with the 2019 freshman class.

Though these changes have been a topic of contention lately, the Board states that they were designed to give all students the skills and experiences they will need to take the next step in their educational journeys and to secure good jobs.

The pathways were developed by the Graduation Pathways Panel, a subcommittee of the State Board of Education. They gathered input from hundreds of stakeholders during 30 combined hours of discussion over the past year.

According to a SBOE press release, beyond earning a high school diploma, the pathways outline several options for students to gain and demonstrate academic and employability skills that ensure they are ready for their next step, whether that’s the military, industry training, college or a career.

School officials across the state have expressed concern about these requirements, fearing a sufficient amount of resources are not available to implement them immediately. State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Dr. Jennifer McCormick, released a statement claiming that while she was disappointed in the vote, she is extremely proud of her K-12 colleagues. She said it is clear that Indiana educators are committed to being part of a solution to workforce and higher education concerns.

McCormick said The Department of Education will continue to collaborate with those who deal with students on a daily basis and working with legislators to successfully implement the Graduation Pathways in accordance with public input.

If you wish to view the graduation pathways in greater detail you can download a copy at: Indiana State Board of Education Grad Pathways.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Ambulance Transfers Gain in Numbers

Posted on December 7, 2017
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Starke County EMS Clerk Mary Lynn Ritchie informed the commissioners Monday night that the number of ambulance transfers is increasing.

She said the number of transfers in November was at 16 percent which is up from seven percent the month before, but not where they were earlier this year. Basic Life Service transfers from the area nursing homes have increased where the EMS department had not been getting those calls.

EMS Director Travis Clary noted that open communication with the hospital and all involved has helped the numbers increase.

Transfers create revenue for Starke County EMS and with the reduction in transfers, the county hasn’t gotten the revenue as expected. However, Ritchie indicated that the revenue is still up from this time last year.

North Judson Fire Chief Shares Ways The Department is Raising Funds for the Town

Posted on December 7, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

North Judson Fire Chief Joe Leszek presented council members with a few different ways the fire department is helping bring money into the town at Monday’s town council meeting.

Leszek shared that the fire fighters host a number of fundraisers which prove successful and added that the volunteers also go out of their way to apply for grants. They recently received $8,000 worth of grant funding

“We got a $3,000 dollar Starke County Community Foundation Grant, no match, it’s $3,000 of free money for us. We also got a $2,500 REMC Grant and then we also got a $2,500 Monsanto Grant.”

Leszek explained that the grant funds will be put toward the purchase of brush fire gear for all members and will also be spent to upgrade some leaky tanks on a couple of trucks.

The fire chief also shared the status of a few different township contracts. He explained that Wayne and Jackson Townships have fixed contracts where they pay $10,000 annually. He added that Rich Grove Township, on the other hand, has a contract where they pay $660 per-run.

Leszek said last year, Rich Grove only required 5 runs but this year they had a total of 46, resulting in a bill of $30,360. The payment has yet to be made, however Leszek presented a proposal of how the additional money could be used.

He told council members, “What I’m asking is, since that’s such a huge chunk and unexpected chunk, I believe those contracts usually get paid into the general. I was hoping that we could split that and use $15,000 to reinvest into the department for equipment.”

He said the department is currently working towards a goal of $23,000 to purchase some edraulic extrication tools. Council President Wendy Hoppe said the matter would be taken under advisement and further action could be taken once the funds are received.

Additionally, Leszek said he’s discussed the possibility of implementing a fixed contract with Rich Grove Township. He was asked to come present some additional information at one of their advisory board meetings and then they’d deliberate about which option would be more beneficial to the township.

Starke County Highway Department Ready for Winter Weather

Posted on December 7, 2017
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Highway Department crew is prepared for the winter season.

Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler told the county commissioners this week that everyone is set to go when the snow arrives.

“We’re fully prepared,” said Ritzler. “We have as much salt as we can safely stockpile. We have all of our winter supplies stocked. All of our frontline trucks are in working order. We’ve done multiple snow plow training and dry runs of our routes. The experienced drivers are showing all of the new guys how to operate all of the equipment. The only thing missing is snow and ice.”

There is snow in the forecast this week.

WKVI Food Drive Sites In Pulaski and Starke Counties This Friday

Posted on December 7, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Tomorrow morning, get into the giving spirit with some of Kankakee Valley Broadcasting’s best and brightest. This Friday, from 9 a.m. until noon (CT), members of the KVB staff will be stationed in Starke and Pulaski County, collecting food items and monetary donations.

WKVI’s Morning Show Host Charlie Adams is teaming up with MAX’s Morning Show host and sportscaster Tony Ross for a remote broadcast at Five-Star in Knox. They will be there collecting donations for Community Services of Starke County.

Meanwhile, WKVI’s father-son sports broadcast duo, Nathan and Harold Welter will be at Sanders Foods in Winamac collecting donations for Human Services of Pulaski County.

Five Star is located at 1209 S Heaton Street in Knox while Sanders Foods is located 858 N Plymouth Road in Winamac. If you have any questions about what kind of items are needed, contact the Human Services of Pulaski County at (574) 946-6500 or Community Services of Starke County at (574) 772-7070 for some helpful supply suggestions.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Starke County Commissioners Hear American Legion’s Concerns about Flags

Posted on December 6, 2017
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Ron Clemons and Commander Matt Fox from the North Judson American Legion Post #92 approached the Starke County Commissioners Monday night concerning the American flags that are placed at Round Lake Cemetery.

Clemons explained that the American Legion members place flags at every veteran’s grave for Memorial Day at eight different cemeteries. He said that the flags stay on the graves all year round except at Round Lake Cemetery. He noted that he’s not sure if the flags and flag holders have been removed for mowing purposes or if the cemetery association members are removing them, but he doesn’t think it’s right that they’ve been removed from the veteran’s graves.

He also mentioned that a larger flag that the American Legion members have installed on the flagpole at the cemetery is no longer there.

The commissioners give the American Legion $1,500 a year to help purchase the flags and flag holders for placement at veteran’s graves and they conduct fundraisers to collect the rest of the funds.

Commission President Donnie Binkley offered to talk to the cemetery association to learn more about the situation and return any information learned to the American Legion for clarification.

North Judson Town Council Considers Proposal to Add K-9 Officer to NJ’s Full-Time Police Force

Posted on December 6, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Town Marshal Kelly Fisher presented a request to purchase a dual-purpose K-9 officer during Monday night’s North Judson Town Council meeting.

Fisher addressed the fact that one of their part-time officers, Scott Beishuizen, does have a K-9 but she feels having one on the full-time force would be advantageous.  She explained that after conducting some research, she found that the Peru-based organization Vohne Liche Kennels has the best available training program. She also mentioned that Vohne Liche dogs are less likely to be involved in law suits due to the level of training they have. She presented council members with booklets detailing what the organization offers.

Fisher said, “The course teaches the K-9 and the handler the proper techniques to be a successful team and what we what we thought would fit best and what would give us the most for our money would be to get a dual-purpose K-9.”

A dual-purpose dog would be able to assist in patrol work with narcotic detection and other patrol duties and could also do tracking. Tracking capabilities would not only be useful for criminal cases but the K-9 could also assist with amber-alerts, silver-alerts and other missing person cases.

She added that the company states if there are any medical issues or other problems with the assigned dog, the company will take it back and replace the animal for no additional cost.

She said she and Officer Rico Simpson, who has volunteered to be the handler for the potential K-9 officer, visited San Pierre Veterinary Clinic and they said they could provide the same benefits to NJPD that they give to the Sheriff’s Department which would be free vaccinations and a free annual physical. She said she also looked into the cost of insuring the dog and it would be a $160 yearly fee.

The total cost to purchase the dog from Vohne Liche would be approximately $15,000. Fisher said the Police Department does have some left over funds in their budget but they’d also be willing to do fundraisers to come up with the remainder of the money. She added that many local businesses have also said they’d provide financial assistance.

Town Attorney Justin Shramm said that the Town may have some public safety funds available that could also go toward this cause. Clerk-Treasurer Andrew Rowe said he would look into that possibility and report back.

Council President Wendy Hoppe suggested that Fisher draw up a time-line and work out when they would want to have a certain amount of money raised. She said the council would take the request under advisement and revisit the topic at future meetings.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Provides Winter Tips for Motorists

Posted on December 6, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

As winter weather approaches driving conditions will become more hazardous with an increase of snow and ice on the roadways during the coming months. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has a few tips to keep in mind, to ensure all motorists have a safe holiday travel season.

Be sure to check that your vehicle’s battery, windshield wipers, tires and heating system are all in proper working order before severe winter weather hits. NHTSA also advises drivers to clean snow, ice or dirt from all windows, sensors, headlights and taillights before taking off in a vehicle.

Keep your vehicle stocked with necessary safety supplies in case of an emergency. These supplies should include blankets, a snow shovel and ice scraper as well as some abrasive material such as sand or kitty litter in case your vehicle gets stuck. Also carry jumper cables, flashlights and warning devices such as flares or emergency markers.

For more winter driving tips from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration click here.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

12/8/2017 WKVI Annual Food Drive

12/7/2017 Blood Drive @ St. Peter Lutheran Church

Starke County Recreational Utility Task Vehicle Ordinance

Starke County Commissioners Pass UTV Ordinance

Posted on December 5, 2017
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Commissioners held a public hearing Monday night on the proposed UTV Ordinance.

The county’s ordinance authorizes and regulates the use of Recreational Utility Task Vehicles (UTVs or side-by-sides) and Off-Road Vehicles (ORVs) on certain county roads.

Betty Boggs spoke against the use of UTVs or ORVs on the county’s roads citing a noise nuisance, property damage, road damage, crop damage in some cases, disregard of laws and speed, and general carelessness of drivers.

Another comment was given by a resident stating that he wants to use his ORV to have fun on property where he has permission to do so. This ordinance allows him to use his ORV to get to his destination for this purpose.

Commissioner Kathy Norem stated that while she respects Betty Boggs’ statements and knows her personally, Norem has received less opposing comments than supportive comments toward the ordinance.

“It seems to me that there’s an overwhelming number of folks that do want this ordinance, and as a public servant I feel like we have to attempt to pay attention to what the bulk of the folks ask us to do,” said Norem. “I think that every attempt to make it as safe, comprehensive, and very specific as possible has been done. While I don’t personally care for this, I think it’s reasonable and in keeping with what the majority of what folks want.”

The commissioners did unanimously approve the ordinance on third reading, thus adopting the ordinance. It will be advertised and go into effect on Jan. 1, 2018.

A copy of the ordinance is available in the auditor’s office or you can download a copy by clicking here.

North Judson Town Council Approves Town Employee Health Insurance Policy

Posted on December 5, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

North Judson Town Council members reached a decision about town employee health insurance during last night’s town council meeting.

The town’s insurance broker John Howard with Wealth Care Group informed the council that the request submitted to National General was denied. The remaining options came from their current provider United Health Care.

He presented them with a few different plans explaining that one option only allowed for coverage by a specified network of health care providers. He said that while a majority of local physicians would fall into this category, but if an employee needed to seek medical attention by a specialist or someone outside of the community, it would not be covered under the insurance.

The other option, what he called AU63, allowed for coverage outside the network for an additional fee. He also said that option is the closest to what they currently have.

Councilman John Rowe said he felt that was the most advantageous option to have just in case someone needs specialized attention. Council members unanimously approved that insurance policy.

Additionally, since they were unable to receive coverage from National General, the proposal to add Town Attorney Justin Schramm to the insurance was no longer possible. Instead, council members will review his contract and retainer and act on it at the next town council meeting.

Starke County Jail Inmates Making Christmas Wreaths for Senior Citizens, Veterans

Posted on December 5, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Inmates at the Starke County Jail have been spreading some holiday cheer by making Christmas wreaths. Jail Warden Phil Cherry says the project was inspired by the jail’s popular garden program. “It was just kind of a natural extension from what we did all summer, and the guys thought it would be something admirable to give back to the community,” he explains. “It was mostly focused on senior citizens and veterans.”

Cherry says 176 wreaths and 52 centerpieces had been given out, as of Monday afternoon. “We dropped off 20 or 25 at the Council on Aging, and there’s home-bound people, some terminally-ill people. They said they’d pass them along to them,” he says. “The sheriff went over next to the VFW, the seniors over there. A lot of them are home-bound. And then we went to the one on Williams Street, dropped some stuff off there, and then he had some deliveries that he actually personally made, too.”

On top of that, he says the VFW and American Legion were each given 10 wreaths Monday. Cherry says the inmates still have enough material to make a few more.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Cookies With Mrs. Claus

Happy Birthday, Madam C. J. Walker
December 23, 1867

Starke County Commissioners to Meet Tonight

Posted on December 4, 2017
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Commissioners will meet tonight where a public hearing is set for the UTV Ordinance. The county’s ordinance authorizes and regulates the use of Recreational Utility Task Vehicles (UTVs or side-by-sides) and Off-Road Vehicles (ORVs) on certain county roads. A copy of the ordinance is available in the Starke County Auditor’s office in the Starke County Annex Building No. 1 on 53 E. Mound Street in Knox.

A GIS agreement will be discussed as well as a request from the American Legion Post 92 to place Memorial Day flags at Round Lake Cemetery.

A list of open appointments for 2018 will be presented for the commissioners to review so those openings can be filled by Jan. 1.

EMS Director Travis Clary and Clerk Mary Lynn Ritchie will have the monthly EMS report and Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler will have a report. Purdue Extension Agent Julia Miller will present a Purdue University 2018 contract.

The Starke County Commissioners will meet at 6 p.m. CT in the meeting room in the Starke County Annex Building No. 1 in Knox.

North Judson Town Council Meets Tonight

Posted on December 4, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

At tonight’s North Judson Town Council meeting Nancy Capouch will provide a public presentation pertaining to a sewer/water issue on John Street. Members will also continue to deliberate about the most cost effective town employee health insurance option.

At the last meeting, the town’s insurance broker John Howard alerted members that their current plan with United Health Care would not allow for the addition of 1099 employees, such as the town attorney and the council members. He said there is a more lenient plan through National General that would accept 1099 employees, but he needed to obtain additional employee information before he could get quotes.

The town council meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. in North Judson Town Hall at 310 Lane Street.

Annual Christmas Cantata Scheduled for This Sunday

Posted on December 4, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

This Sunday, more than 40 singers from various churches around the community will perform at the Knox United Methodist Church as a part of the annual Community Christmas Cantata.

Members of the choir have been rehearsing nearly every Thursday since September. The singers will perform ‘And it Came to Pass, Emmanuel’ twice, with the first performance at 2 p.m. and another at 6 p.m.Director Nan Folkers said that each performance will last about one hour. She said some of the pieces are narrative and commented about how much fun they’ve had preparing for Sunday’s event.

The Christmas Cantata is open to everyone and free to attend. If you have any questions contact Nan Folkers at 574-772-6248.

Friday, December 1, 2017

North Judson Town Council Authorizes List of Additional Appropriations

Posted on December 1, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

North Judson Town Council members approved appropriations for several funds when they met last Monday. Town Council President Wendy Hoppe explained that it was determined that more money is now needed than was originally established in the annual budget.

President Hoppe read from the proposed resolution before listing the accounts in need of appropriations, “Be it ordained, resolved by the Town Council, the civil town of Starke County that the expense of the tax units of the following additional sums of money are hereby appropriated out of the funds named and for the purpose of specified subjects to law governing the same.”

President Hoppe went on to list amounts requested to be approved in the specific funds, stating that $3,500 was requested for the unsafe building fund to be used for the cost of demolition and excavation on a blighted Lane Street building. She also said $1,035 was requested for the continuing education fund and $3,938 was requested for the IPP safety grant fund. There was a request of $3,300 for the CCI fund and $65,000 for the CCD fund. The requested amount for the edit fund was $30,000 and $25,000 was requested for the total railroad maintenance fund.

The total amount of appropriated funds requested came to $131,773. The town council members voted unanimously to authorize the requested resolutions.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Starke County Treasurer Gives Information on Website Opportunity

Posted on November 30, 2017
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Starke County Treasurer Kasey Clark approached the Starke County Commissioners last week to discuss an opportunity to create a website to make property records available online.

She explained that the county could have a website designed to grant taxpayer access to information from the treasurer’s office, assessor’s office and auditor’s transfer history. The information could include the property owner’s tax bill, property assessment information, or how much in taxes has been paid or how much is owed. Tax bills could be reprinted for records or for information for payment.

She said the information is public record but it would just be accessible online instead of having to contact the government office for specific inquiries.

She noted that she saw an increase in online payments for property taxes this year, which is a preferred method.

The first year of online access would be free and then the county would pay $12,000 a year. The second year is not required, according to Clark, but she would check on that information. Clark said she’d rather not pay that much for this access, so the commissioners asked her to check to see if the price could be negotiated or if Starke County could be a test site.

Clark will come back with more information for the commissioners at a future meeting.

First Weekend of December to Feature a Variety of Community Festivities

Posted on November 30, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

This weekend, there are few different ways you and your family can kick-off the Christmas season with various local holiday events in Culver, North Judson and Knox.

On Friday, December 1st, the Culver Academies Community Service Club, the Cavs Club and the Culver Youth Community Organization will sponsor a Christmas tree lighting ceremony at the Train Depot in Culver Park. Light refreshments will be served at 6:15 p.m. ET and the tree lighting will be at 6:30 p.m.

Another part of Culver’s Christmas celebration will be the Holiday Hop which will run from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. Citizens can visit participating businesses on Lake Shore Drive and Main Street to get in some early Christmas shopping and for a chance to win a $300 shopping spree. Carolers will sing throughout town during the Holiday Hop and will also be at Millers Merry Manor.

The Town of North Judson will also hold their holiday celebration on Friday, with their event taking place in Norwayne Field. Trees have been decorated by local groups and families. The lighting ceremony is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. CT. Santa will be on site, stationed at the top of the hill by the fire place.

Citizens are invited to head over the North Judson United Methodist Church Hall following the tree lighting ceremony. Kids will have chance to chat with Santa and hot cocoa and cookies will be provided.

On Saturday, Santa will head over to Knox to be a part of the 2nd Annual Peppermint Parade. The parade will feature more than 20 other participants who will be in the running to be awarded the title of best in their category or best overall Christmas spirit. The parade line-up starts at 2:30 p.m. CT and the parade will commence at 3 p.m.

After the parade, Santa will be set up in Wythogan Park to meet with families. Parents are encouraged to bring along their own camera to capture their child’s visit. Hot chocolate, cider and s’mores will be served. The tree lighting ceremony will take place at 5 p.m. in the park.

These family-friendly events are free to attend and are open to individuals of all ages.

Local Community Foundations Report Success with Giving Tuesday

Posted on November 30, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

This week’s Giving Tuesday initiative proved to be a success for local community foundations. Kim Krause with the Community Foundation of Pulaski County had a good response. “I know we still have some gifts that are trickling in, but it’s safe to say that we’ve raised well over $30,000 in one day, for Giving Tuesday,” she says.

The Starke County Community Foundation also saw a good number of donations, according to the foundation’s director of development, Sarah Origer. “In total, we received more than $15,000 in gifts on Giving Tuesday,” she says, “and it was a really nice day to celebrate the accomplishments of our many nonprofits and the work that they’re doing to make Starke County a better place.”

To celebrate Giving Tuesday, both community foundations held open houses. In Pulaski County, Krause says events were held in both Winamac and Francesville. “We had a great turnout at both locations, actually,” she says. “We just had a lot of different tasty treats, and we had people able to come in and decorate our giving tree with just reasons why they gave.”

Meanwhile, Origer says the Starke County Community Foundation gave donors an extra incentive to give to one of the foundation’s community funds. “We offered a match of $2,500 to community funds,” she explains. “So individuals could give up to $250, and it would be matched as long as it was going to a community fund. I do know that we have some additional dollars remain, so we’re continuing to match gifts to community funds, until those dollars are used.”

Giving Tuesday is a global initiative that encourages people to give back to their communities on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.

North Judson Town Superintendent Talks Tractor Replacement with Council Members

Posted on November 30, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Town Superintendent of North Judson, Marshall Horstmann, alerted council members that the John Deere tractor that is utilized for utility purposes needs replaced.

During his report at last week’s town council meeting, Horstmann explained that there is a leak in the hydraulic pump on the tractor and the clutch is also going out. He said the tractor is from 1964 and it isn’t worth it to pay to repair the broken parts. Rather than spending money on the old tractor, he attempted to locate a slightly used one that could be purchased to replace it.

One quote for a used tractor was received and the other two quotes were for new models with loaders. Horstmann said he wasn’t initially looking for a tractor with a loader but he said it could come in handy for uses at various times of the year.

“In the wintertime if we’re using the backhoe with the snow box, and then we have to fill the salt box, I don’t have to stop with the snow box to go fill it, we could just use the other one to fill it.” Horstmann went on to say, “If we’re working on a dig someplace and we have to fill the truck with sand or gravel then we could use it instead of driving the backhoe back and forth”

Councilman John Rowe mentioned that he briefly spoke with fellow Councilman Josh Brown prior to the meeting and Brown suggested waiting to purchase the tractor until next year unless the need was immediate.

Clerk-Treasurer Andrew Rowe said there was some concern about whether or not appropriated funds that were set aside would carry over into next year. Councilwoman Jane Ellen Felchuck stated that it’s a common misconception that unused funds are lost and said that they can still be spent in the future.

After realizing that the funds would still be available down the line, Horstmann said that replacing the tractor does not need to be done right away. Councilman Rowe said they’ll definitely revisit the request in the future when the tractor will be more a more necessary purchase.

Hensler Nursery Christmas Tree to be Displayed at Indiana Statehouse

Posted on November 30, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

A Christmas tree grown in Starke County will be displayed at the Indiana Statehouse. Hensler Nursery says one of its trees will be placed in the capitol rotunda.

It’s part of the Indiana Christmas Tree Growers Association’s long-running program to provide trees for various state offices. Ten Indiana tree farms donated a total of 11 trees this year, according to Hensler Nursery.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Starke County Treasurer Discusses Tool to Collect Delinquent Property Taxes

Posted on November 29, 2017
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Starke County Treasurer Kasey Clark discussed with the commissioners last week a tool that is being pushed by AIC (Association of Indiana Counties) officials to help collect delinquent property taxes.

According to Clark, the organization members came up with the idea of capturing state income tax refunds to pay delinquent property taxes. She said $1.5 million is not collected in the county every year and believes it could be a good tool to gather the funds.

She added that the notion was pushed during a recent annual conference she attended. The AIC asked that all counties consider the tool with potential implementation in January.

The commissioners did not take action on this request. County Attorney Marty Lucas said he would like to see a projection of what the organization believes could be collected as not much money is usually refunded in state income taxes. He thinks the action could have unpredictable circumstances.

Clark will present more information for discussion at a future meeting.

North Judson Town Council Continues Health Insurance Deliberation

Posted on November 29, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

At last week’s North Judson Town Council meeting, Insurance Broker John Howard with the Wealth Care Group informed council members of a new piece of information he discovered since the last time they discussed health insurance policy options.

During their first November meeting, members voted to allow Town Attorney Justin Schramm to be added to the insurance policy in lieu of paying him a retainer fee. Board member Josh Brown inquired about a similar possibility for council members.

A last Monday’s meeting, Howard explained that the town attorney and council members are classified as 10-99 employees and their current health insurance provider, United Health Care, does not allow those types of employees to be added to the group plan.

He said that if they still wish to pursue that avenue, their option is National General, a company that is more lenient about who can be included on the group policy.

Howard mentioned that they applied to this company last year and were declined for the outlying health issues of various employees. He said those individuals are no longer employed by the town and stated that the possibility of receiving a decent offer from National General seems more promising with this year’s group.

In order to receive a quote, he needs to collect health data from town employee so he requested permission to distribute the necessary applications. The council voted unanimously to allow Mr. Howard to collect that data and acquire a quote from National General.

The members agreed to hear the results and compare costs at their next town council meeting on December 4th.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Maxinkuckee Singers 2017 Christmas Tour

North Judson Residents Encouraged to Help Secure Competitive Grant for Water System Improvements

Posted on November 28, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

A public hearing was held over a $550,000 OCRA wastewater/drinking water grant during last week’s North Judson Town Council meeting.

Executive Director of Kankakee-Iroquois Regional Planning Commission Edwin Buswell provided some information about the proposed Office of Community and Rural Affairs grant, explaining that it will be utilized for various water system improvements. He said the local match of $1,268,000 would come from the state revolving loan fund.

One individual asked about the potential impact this could have on taxes. Buswell replied that he believes the rate increase that was implemented earlier this year would cover the cost and no additional increases will be necessary.

Town Superintendent Marshall Horstmann elaborated on the needed improvements, saying they include rehabilitating four wells and bringing both water towers back up to OSHA standards with internal and external painting, repairs and sandblasting.

Another major element of the project includes purchasing a back-up generator for the water department. Horstmann said the Indiana Department of Environmental Management has a requirement about having a stand-by generator and the town currently doesn’t own one. He said in the case of an emergency, they could face some serious issues.

“So if we had a major storm or something come through where we’re going to be without power for three or four days or whatever, we’d be scrambling to find a portable generator from some place that we’d be renting.”

Since this OCRA grant is competitive, Buswell encouraged citizens to write letters indicating why these water system improvements are needed in the Town of North Judson. He said to be as detailed as possible to increase the likelihood of making an impact. Those letters can be delivered to Clerk-Treasurer’s Office at 310 Lane Street.

Another public hearing will be held over this matter at the beginning of next year, prior to the application deadline in February.

Knox City Police Department Hiring Police Officer

Posted on November 28, 2017
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Knox City Police Chief Harold Smith is looking to hire a new full-time officer for the department.

Officer Chad Dulin reported to the Knox Board of Public Works on Wednesday that Detective Dave Combs submitted his resignation in November after serving 11 years with the department. He served the Starke County Sheriff’s Department for several years as well. He is now the Town Marshal for the Town of Medaryville.

Mayor Dennis Estok noted that Combs was a great detective and served the police department to standards put forth by the city. The board of works members echoed his comments.

With Combs’ resignation, Officer Eric Vanderhoff moved into the detective position while Chad Keen moved to patrolman. Dulin said they are currently accepting applications for an officer through Dec. 7. The number of applications was at 14 as of last week’s meeting.

Police Chief Smith will hold initial interviews and agility tests will be given. Officials will narrow the field down to three and those applicants will be interviewed by the board of works members.

NJSP School Board Held Work Session Over Proposed Graduation Requirements

Posted on November 28, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The North Judson-San Pierre school board held a work session last week to discuss proposed changes to graduation requirements and accountability grades. These changes would not only impact NJSP, but all Indiana public schools.

Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin clarified that some things are still not set in stone but she wanted the board to meet to go over some of the issues that could arise from these educational adjustments at the national and state level.

There were quite a few topics that were discussed but a potential change causing major concerns is the different graduation requirements that are being proposed. With the adjustment, schools could no longer accept any diploma less than a Core 40.

Board President Sheila Akers mentioned this would mean that general diplomas would no longer count. There were some concerns about how this could be a disadvantage to certain groups of students such as those in the special education and alternative learning classes.

As a part of the work session, Dr. Zupin shared some ways that North Judson-San Pierre can stay on top these shifts. She emphasized the importance of open communication between the board members, faculty, parents and students. She wants everyone to be well informed about the potential impact of these changes. She said she will continue to pass along new information that is made available to her.

She also proposed drawing up a template to send out to concerned parents and community members so they could effectively voice their concerns to representatives. They’re looking to have those letters of concern submitted by December 5th.

In order to acquire the template contact the administration office at 574-896-2155.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Starke County Emergency Planning Committee Kick-Off Meeting Scheduled for January

Posted on November 17, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Starke County Emergency Management Agency Director J. Nier {Nigh-er} officially assumed her position back in early October. Currently, she’s working on organizing a meeting for the Starke County Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) for January of next year.

Director Nier stated the responsibilities of the EMA include promoting preparedness and acting a logistical support for first responders. The LEPC specifically deals with tracking where hazardous materials are within the community and coming up with plans to take action on potential spills if they occur.

She said the Local Emergency Planning Committee is comprised of various individuals who represent specific sectors within the county.

“Basically, its made up of twelve members.” Nier said, “We’ll have somebody that represents the government, the community, EMA, police and police.”

She added that there can be more than one person from a specific department who serves on the committee. They also try to promote the use of proxies, just in case the members are unable to attend themselves. She said that LEPC isn’t open to just anyone due to the hazardous chemicals the committee members deal with and address.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

11/17-19/2017 Another Busy Holiday Weekend

It's going to be another busy Holiday weekend locally, especially on Saturday.   (Be sure to check out our Christmas page for more events coming up in the weeks to come.)

Friday, 11/17

  • Santa’s Clauset = 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 
  • Country Music & Gospel Bluegrass Jam = 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Saturday, 11/18

  • Knox Moose Bazaar & Craft Show = 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. 
  • NJWTPL Friends of the Library Cookie Walk = 8:30 a.m. until they are Sold Out
  • Christmas Family Photographs @ Schricker Home = BY APPOINTMENT ONLY 
  • Santa’s Clauset Opening = 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 
  • Starke County Chamber String Art Deer = 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. (MUST HAVE PRE-REGISTERED) 
  • North Judson American Legion Feather Party = 2 p.m. to ??
  • Winter Lights Night Festival (Valparaiso) = 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. 
  • Bass Lake Lions Annual Feather Party = 7 p.m. to ??

Sunday, 11/19

  • Christmas Family Photographs @ Schricker home = 10:30 until the last group leaves
  • Santa’s Clauset Opening = 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. 
  • Christmas Shopazaar @ Cheseapeake = 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

11/18/2017 Friends of the NJ-WT Library Cookie Walk

Just a reminder about the Cookie Walk this Saturday. You still have a few days to do some baking and you can drop cookies off at the North Judson-Wayne Township during business hours on Friday or bring them out to Bailey's on Saturday.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

12/20/2017 Deadline for Quantum Leap Poetry Contest

Participate in the Quantum Leap Poetry Contest by submitting a science-themed poem! This contest, in partnership between The Wabash Review of Wabash College and Indiana Humanities, is a two-part contest for Hoosiers of ALL ages and disciplines.

Participants must submit an entry form (details below) along with his or her poem by mail or email by Dec. 20, 2017. Our judges will reveal the top 10 finalists by Jan. 7, 2018 and invite the top 10 to recite their poems at a special Quantum Leap Poetry Contest event. The winner will receive $300 and have his or her poem published in The Wabash Review. Adam Henze, who was named the Official Track Poet of the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 thanks to another poetry contest presented by Indiana Humanities, will return as a judge alongside Indiana’s former poet laureate, Karen Kovacik.

The Poetry Contest reading will be held at Indy Reads Books on Jan. 19 from 7 to 9 p.m. and registration is free, but seating is limited. Sun King Brewery will provide alcohol; light appetizers will be available. All ages are welcome. You can register here:

Poetry submissions must include both the poem and the attached entry form, and they can be submitted in one of three ways: through the portal at, emailed to, or mailed to:
Wabash College
301 West Wabash Avenue
Crawfordsville, IN 47933
Poetry submissions must not include any identifying information on the actual poems. Instead, participants must fill out the entry form (directly below). Please read all instructions carefully.

My Social Security - How to Create an Online Account

HealthLinc - Your Community Health Center

Winter Weather Preparedness Week

Posted on November 14, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

It is Winter Weather Preparedness Week and the Indiana Department of Homeland Security is encouraging Hoosiers to become better equipped to deal with the approaching winter season.

IDHS provided a couple of tips to help inspire individuals to be actively involved with winter preparedness now through November 18th.

Use this week to create or maintain a home readiness kit that may be needed during winter storms. Kits should include a first aid kit and necessary medications, extra clothing, shoes and blankets as well as copies of important documents such a photo ID and Social Security cards. It would be helpful to have a battery-powered or hand crank radio and flashlight. Also include food and water for up to three days, with one gallon of water per person per day.

Make sure homes are well insulated, including proper weather stripping around all doors and windows. If you have issues with insulation, consider using storm windows or plastic coverings to retain heat.

IDHS officials say to take some time to be sure your house is properly stocked for potential emergency situations. Alternative heating and cooking has been known to cause fires in the winter, be sure to have a working fire extinguisher on hand and check the status of all smoke alarms in the household.

Be aware of how to shut of water valves properly, in case of a burst pipe. Lastly, review homeowner insurance polices to ensure that coverage is adequate for winter weather. For more information visit

Monday, November 13, 2017

Pulaski County Sheriff Granted Permission to Sell Automatic Firearms to Starke County

Posted on November 13, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Ten automatic firearms owned by the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office will soon be sold to the Starke County Sheriff’s Office. Last week, the Pulaski County Commissioners authorized Sheriff Jeff Richwine to sell the ten MP5s.

He said he plans to use the money to replace his department’s rifles. “Right now, our rifles are the military rifles, and they’re showing issues,” Richwine explained. “I’m really not interested in being in that military program, as far as the firearms. It’s a yearly inventory that I’m working on right now. I just can’t give them back to the military if I say I want to get rid of them. We’ve got to put them on a website. If somebody wants them, they contact us.”

Richwine feels Starke County has given him a good price for the MP5s. “There’s 10 of them that they’ll pay $1,500,” he said. “So that would be some money towards these new rifles.”

He plans to cover the remainder of the cost out of his department’s Commissary Fund.

Starke County Highway Department to Apply for Federal Grants

Posted on November 13, 2017
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Starke County Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler will be applying for federal funds for three projects.

The deadline for the federal roll call for project applications is at the end of the month. Ritzler said the county will be applying for funds to complete an intersection improvement at County Road 210 and old State Road 10. That project also includes plans for a bike trail station that would be coordinated with a local trail organization.

Ritzler said Purdue LTAP recommended improvements at this intersection as it’s dangerous. They recommended making it a T-intersection.

Another project would be the replacement of Bridge #154 which was not approved for Community Crossings money this year. Bridge #154 is on County Road 100 East over Robbins Ditch. If this project does not receive this funding, Ritzler said the highway department will bid it out locally in the spring of 2018.

Ritzler also hopes to get funding to repave four truck route projects on County Road 1100 E., County Road 700 East, Range Road, and County Road 400 South.

Ritzler said he’s confident the county will be awarded funds for at least one of the projects.

North Judson-San Pierre Elementary School to Serve as Healthy Mobile Market Site

Posted on November 13, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The Healthy Mobile Market will be making a stop in North Judson tomorrow to assist local families in need of food assistance. From 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, the Food Bank of Northern Indiana will have their mobile unit stationed in the North Judson-San Pierre Elementary School parking lot.

The service is provided free of charge for families in need but it is first come, first served based on available product while supplies last. Bring along bags or boxes to transport items home. Items that will be offered include frozen and canned meats including ham, whole chicken, hamburger as well as canned fruits, flour, fresh cheese and more.

The Food Bank provides SNAP Outreach at all healthy mobile markets. If weather conditions are inclement or product is unavailable, there is a possibility of cancellation. Location is also subject to change.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Second Opinion Sought on Possible Starke County Intersection Improvements

Posted on November 11, 2017
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Three intersections have been studied for potential upgrades in Starke County, but the highway superintendent wants a second opinion.

Superintendent Rik Ritzler told the county commissioners this week that he is enlisting the help of officials from Purdue University’s Local Technical Assistance Program to decide how to go about improving these intersections.

“As you know, sometimes they come down and review intersection safety for us,” explained Ritzler. “We have three intersections that we’ve done traffic studies on. We always want a second opinion when there are some differing opinions.”

One of the intersections in question is County Road 210 and Boa Shores at Bass Lake.

“They want a crosswalk installed there. We’re going to have Purdue do a little study for us on that and make a recommendation. There has been a request for a four-way stop at 300 E. and 700 S. that we’ve looked at and we’d like help with. In Bourne’s Subdivision, there’s a four-way stop request near the daycare center there. We think that all of these things should happen, but there are some technical things we want them to help us with and how to do the signage. It’s always good to have a second opinion.”

These issues are expected to be reviewed in early December.

Knox Water Superintendent Provides Tips for Winter

Posted on November 11, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Knox Water Department Superintendent Todd Gardner has a few helpful tips for citizens as temperatures start to drop below freezing.

Gardner advises individuals to disconnect hoses from faucets so they can drain. He said a “frost free faucet” will freeze up and can break at temperatures just below freezing if a hose is left attached to it.

He also explained that homes with crawl spaces need to have those closed up as securely as possible. If crawlspace vents have louvers, or slats, they need to be closed up for the winter season.

Gardner added that with last year’s mild winter, only a few homes froze up. However, all of those incidents could have been avoided if the individual took precautions to protect their water lines from freezing.

Starke County Highway Department Continues Safety Measures

Posted on November 11, 2017
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Starke County Highway Department crews are continuing efforts to make county roadways safer for drivers.

Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler said the installation of reflective post enhancers is ongoing.

“We’ve put the reflectors on the stop signs and they’ve worked very well,” said Ritzler. “We’re doing that throughout the county and we’re about a fifth of the way done. There is still a lot to go with that.”

“We’re also going to put these reflectors on the bridges. All of our new bridges have these reflectors on them. If you’ve gone down one of the new bridges, it looks like a runway. None of our old bridges have them and one reason why we never did that in the past is because they cost so much. They’re $17 a reflector and there are 50 to 60 on a bridge. We found a vendor when I was at my last conference that sells them for $3 apiece. So, we’re going to put them on all of the bridges and we can do that for just a few thousand dollars.”

Highway crew members have also been training in snow plow operations. A representative from the Kosciusko County Highway Department recently visited to relay information to the drivers and Bliss McKnight will be in to discuss safety and liability on Tuesday, Nov. 14.

Ritzler said on the job training will be coming soon.

“The first few times somebody plows we don’t have them plowing. They sit with an experienced driver. After about the second or third snowfall, they’ll get in the driver’s seat. The experienced driver will get in the other seat. As you know, we have a lot of drivers who haven’t been through a heavy snowfall. The last really heavy season was in 2014 and about half of our drivers came to the department after that.”

Other training will be ongoing throughout the winter months.

Starke County Law-Enforcement Agencies Join State-Wide Initiative

Posted on November 11, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

For the first time in awhile, the law-enforcement agencies of Starke County are joining the state-wide Operation Pull Over campaign. The initiative started on Friday and will run through December 3rd. During this time, there will be increased patrols where officers will be on the look out for motorists violating the seat belt and impaired driving laws.

North Judson Town Marshall Kelly Fisher said her officers will be joining members of the Hamlet and Knox Police Departments as well as the Starke County Sheriff’s Office with the operation. She said it’s important to have this blitz at this time of the year since more people are out on the road visiting friends and family for the holidays.

One bit of advice she had for motorists was to have a designated driver if they plan to be attending a party where they’ll be drinking. She explained the procedure of what happens when an officer has probable cause to pull a vehicle over for driving under the influence.

“Once we get them pulled over we’ll ask them for their license and registration and at that time we’ll be looking for impairment and then we’ll use field sobriety and portable breath tests and then they’ll be transported to the jail pending what the results are.” Fisher said, “Then we run a certified test and if at that point, they’re over then they’ll be arrested.”

Other things officers will be watching for are distracted drivers and people failing to wear their seat belts. Fisher said unbuckled drivers and passengers can face a fine of up to $25. She added that young children must also be properly secured in car or booster seats.

Back in October, WKVI News reported that Knox Police Officer Chad Dulin spoke to the Board of Public Works about Starke County receiving 100 hours from the St. Joseph County Sheriff’s Department’s enforcement effort to participate in this campaign.

He explained that Starke County is on a probationary period so during this campaign they will split the 100 hours equally between all four law-enforcement agencies in the county. In order to have a stand alone enforcement effort with more hours in the next campaign, they must show improved statistics this year. When it is determined that they’re no longer in a probationary period, they can then become eligible for grant funding for equipment and other needs.

Community Provides Input to Senator Donnelly at Ancilla Farm Bill Listening Session

Posted on November 11, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

On Friday, Senator Joe Donnelly visited the Ancilla College campus to hold a listening session over the farm bill that is currently being written. Before Donnelly talked with group gathered in Cana Hall about business, he got comfortable by removing his tie and greeting individuals in the crowd.

Ancilla President Kenneth Zirkle began the event by briefly discussing the agriculture program at the college, stating that when they started two and half years ago they only had three individuals involved, now that number is up to nearly 50 agriculture students.

Agriculture director Tim McLochlin introduced the senator, but first he acknowledged all the community members who help make Ancilla’s agriculture program so immersive and impactful.

During the session, various individuals voiced their concerns about the needs of the agriculture community. One individual spoke about how the current farm bill does little to help the dairy industry and suggested that more needs to be done with supply and control management. Many people spoke about the importance of family-run farms and asked Senator Donnelly to build the bill with generational farms in mind.

Crop insurance was an issue that Donnelly said is a cornerstone of the farm bill. He also specified that there are rules and regulations in place to avoid cases of fraud. The insurance is there to help farmers when nature plays a role in crop failure when things like floods and droughts inevitably take place.

He also talked about the role that bio-fuel plays in the agriculture industry and said that its up to farmers whether or not they wish use their supply for food or fuel. He added that conservation and environmental efforts will continue to play a major role in the future farm bill.

He thanked everyone in attendance for sharing their input and reiterated the importance of community involvement. Donnelly said the bill is anticipated to be completed sometime next year.

To hear more from Friday’s session, tune into WKVI’s Weekend Program,  Kankakee Valley Viewpoints this Sunday at noon.

American Heart Association Seeks Donations for the Little Hats, Big Hearts Program

Posted on November 11, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Can you knit or crochet? Your skills are needed to help the American Heart Association with their Little Hats, Big Hearts program.

Now through December 31st the AHA is collecting knitted or crocheted red baby hats to distribute in Indiana hospitals in the month of February, American Heart Month. The program is meant to raise awareness of heart disease, the number one killer of Americans and congenital heart defects, the most common birth defect in the country.

They are seeking hats for newborns and preemies made of red yarn that is either cotton or acrylic, medium to heavy weight that can be machine washed and dried. Don’t worry if you’re not the knitting or crocheting type, yarn can also be donated to the cause.

This is the third year of the program and last year, 3,000 hats were delivered to more than 40 Indiana hospitals.

Donations can be sent to the American Heart Association in Indianapolis at 65000 Technology Center Drive, Suite 100. To view some helpful hat patterns or to find out more about the initiative, visit Little Hats Big Hearts

Leaf Pick-Up Extension Suggested at North Judson Town Council Meeting

Posted on November 11, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

As usual, North Judson Town Superintendent Marshall Horstmann addressed the town council members when they held their first November meeting Monday night.

In his report, he proposed that the last date for leaf and brush pick-up be November 30th. However, Council member John Rowe mentioned that could pose a problem, seeing as many trees haven’t dropped all their leaves quite yet.

Horstmann agreed that it does depend on the weather and other conditions. He said leaf pick-up could be extended if it needs to be but added that his department plans to do another round of pick-up in the springtime to get rid of any remaining piles of leaves.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Starke County Highway Department Continues with Traffic Studies

Posted on November 10, 2017
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Highway Department is continuing an effort to conduct traffic studies in order to collect data for a proposed U.S. 30 freeway that will travel through northern Starke County.

A coalition is putting together suggestions to present to INDOT that would include benefits to Starke County in a U.S. 30 freeway proposal between Valparaiso and Fort Wayne. In that stretch, the only way to get across U.S. 30 would be with an overpass, and the only way to get on will be at an interchange.

Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler told the Starke County Commissioners this week that they’ve collected several pieces of information during the county’s traffic studies.

“We’ve been doing accident data, speed data, vehicle types, and traffic counts at all of the intersecting roads,” said Ritzler. “We’re going to continue to do that throughout the year. The more information we gather the better when it comes time to work with INDOT in the planning process and see what we have to work with when there’s limited access on U.S. 30.”

He added that the highway department has completed studies on all of the roadways. There are about 50 intersections and nearby roads left to complete.

The highway department will soon get some additional equipment help when conducting this work.

“The Starke County Economic Development Foundation has agreed to purchase another one of the radar recorders for us. We did that as a department, but they’re going to purchase one for us as well. We’ll be able to double the efforts that we’re doing now. I told you that it would take about a year or two to do it. Now we can do it in about six months to a year.”

Particular Purchase Order Raises Questions at North Judson Town Council Meeting

Posted on November 10, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

When it came time to approve purchase orders at the North Judson Town Council meeting on Monday, members chose to refrain from paying the second installment charge for consulting services from the Starke County Economic Development Foundation until more details can be gathered.

Clerk-Treasurer Andrew Rowe alerted the council that bill was for $8,273.60. Before the purchase orders could be approved, Council Member Josh Brown asked what the SCEDF is doing specifically to warrant a total of $16,000 owed with the two installments.

Council Member Jane Ellen Felchuck explained that Executive Director Charlie Weaver does send reports and John Rowe said that representatives have attended recent meetings in order present new information. Council President Wendy Hoppe also mentioned that they brought in OTES and that they’re hopefully working to bring in more industry.

Resident, and former Clerk-Treasurer, Donna Henry added that when she was in office, after the Town entered into the contract with the Starke County Economic Development Foundation, she ran into a similar issue.

“The billing that I got the second time, I found it to be inaccurate.” Henry explained, “I forget exactly what it was but when I pointed that out to Charlie in an email, he agreed with my calculations so just be careful, don’t just take their calculation as it, just make sure that it is correct.”

Clerk-Treasurer Rowe assured the council members that he would contact representatives with the Foundation in order to check the accuracy of the bill and assess the specifics of the existing contract between the Town of North Judson and the SCEDF.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Starke County Ambulance Calls Still a Concern

Posted on November 9, 2017
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Commissioners remain concerned about the number of transfers by Starke County EMS personnel.

EMS Director Travis Clary reported to the commissioners on Oct. 2 that the percentage of transfers dropped from 35 or 25 percent to 10 percent in September.

Clerk Mary Lynn Ritchie said the number of transfers were down to seven percent in October.

“I tracked the next 14 days of runs that are in the office. Some are billed and some aren’t so they’re not on this report and actually the transfer ratio of those went up to 15 percent,” said Ritchie. “We had a meeting during that time and so we’re hoping that that means that we’re all on the same page. We’ll see. I’ll keep tracking those very, very closely.”

Starke County officials met with Starke Hospital representatives in October who said they would work with the county to assist the EMS service. A Porter Regional ambulance is at Starke Hospital on a constant basis.

Starke Hospital Interim CEO Jeff Fites previously told WKVI News that the hospital will continue to work with various ambulance services in addition to Starke County to meet patient needs. He said overall transfers are down, but some patients need additional care that Starke County EMS may not be able to provide. He added that some patients need to travel farther than the county’s service area.

Ambulance transfers produce a large income for the county’s EMS service.

Veterans Will Be Honored at Various Events this Friday

Posted on November 9, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Several local schools will be hosting various events tomorrow in honor of Veterans Day.

Eastern Pulaski Elementary School will hold their program at 8:30 a.m. ET while Winamac High School’s event will commence an hour later at 9:30 a.m. ET

Oregon-Davis Junior/Senior High School is hosting a breakfast Friday morning. Doors will open at 8:15 CT and breakfast will be served at 8:30 a.m. Following that, their program will commence at 9:45 a.m. sharp.

North Judson San Pierre Elementary School’s program will commence at 8:30 a.m. CT. Their guest speaker is Matt Fox, a member of American Legion Post 92. The NJSP Junior/Senior High School is holding their event at 9:30 a.m. Individuals attending are asked to utilize the east entrance, athletic door #3. Veterans in attendance are invited to attend the luncheon that will follow.

The Knox Community School Corporation will also host events at all of their buildings. The High School’s program will start at 9 a.m. CT in the gym. At 10 a.m. the middle school will host their convocation in the Weinberg Gym. Both programs will feature guest speaker Command Sergeant Major Richard Mathews. A reception for veterans and their family members will be held in the Redskin Room at the middle school following the program

Later in the day, at 6 p.m. CT Knox Elementary School will host their annual 5th grade Veteran’s Day Program.

These events are all open to the public. Veterans and enrolled service members are encouraged to attend. Contact the individual school corporation if you have any further questions.