Friday, December 29, 2017

Proper Christmas Tree Disposal Urged by State Fire Marshal’s Office

Posted on December 29, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

As the holiday season continues, Hoosiers are reminded to keep an eye on the live Christmas trees in their homes. The average Christmas tree lasts for about a month after purchase, before it begins to dry out and become a fire hazard, according to the Indiana State Fire Marshal’s Office. When a tree’s needles drop, it’s time to remove it.

Fires that begin with a Christmas tree tend to be more deadly than the average house fire. The National Fire Prevention Association says about one in every 32 Christmas-tree-related fires resulted in death, compared to one in 143 for all home fires.

To prevent fires, state officials remind residents to dispose of their Christmas trees properly. You can check to see if your community offers tree disposal or pickup. If you plan to take the tree somewhere, make sure it’s secured to your vehicle, since dry trees are very light, and branches can break easily.

Another option is to dispose of the tree in your yard or garden. State officials say old Christmas trees can serve as a winter shelter for birds and wildlife. They recommend placing trees in a designated decomposition pile, rather than leaning them against any structures. You can also chop the tree for firewood. In any case, remove all decorations before disposing of your Christmas tree.

Starke County Humane Society Director Shares Success Story of Dog Found During Drug Bust

Posted on December 29, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

If you’re looking to adopt a pet, remember that even animals that come from a tough situation deserve a chance at a loving home. That’s according to Starke County Humane Society Executive Director Shanna Lloyd.

When she first met her dog Merlin, it was in some difficult circumstances. “We had responded at the request of the Sheriff’s Department, to assist them with some animals that had been left behind after they had had a major drug bust,” she says. “The dogs were in really bad shape, and unfortunately, they had been very abused, and so these dogs took time, once we had them, to get them up to weight and to get them to trust people.”

Lloyd explains that Merlin was having a particularly hard time. “I put a lot of work into him and giving him time to trust me, and it took about a month for him to actually even just warm up to me,” she says. “And then, finally, he accepted the rest of the staff, but we were just never able, actually, to place him up for adoption because he was just so very fearful of most people.”

But she says she and Merlin were able to form a bond, and he’s since become a regular sight at the Starke County Humane Society. “This has been a journey with this dog,” Lloyd says. “He has been with me now for a couple of years, and he comes with me to the animal shelter every day as my best friend and my companion. And I got to take him home with me and let him know what it’s like to be spoiled and to be what a dog’s supposed to be.”

Lloyd says there’s a lesson here for anyone thinking about adopting a pet. “Dogs and cats that come into the shelter may or may not have a sad story such as his or the other dogs from that particular drug bust, but they need a chance, too,” she says. “They need someone to be patient and understanding with them, if they’ve had a bad experience, and to know that there is a diamond in the rough behind that timid exterior that you see.”

Lloyd adds the Starke County Humane Society currently has some animals who’ve had their adoption fees sponsored by caring individuals for Christmas. She invites people to stop by the shelter and check them out.

North Judson Town Council Approves Encumbrance for Norwayne Field Wall Repairs

Posted on December 29, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

North Judson Town Council members encumbered funds for repairs to the wall at Norwayne Field when they met Tuesday night. Clerk-Treasurer Andrew Rowe explained that the wall that runs along Highway 10 is missing stones in some spots and there are places where it is crumbling.

A total of $4,400 that was left over from building improvements was encumbered to pay Chamber Masonry for work on the Norwayne Field wall. According to Rowe, the entire project is estimated to cost around $6,700. Clerk-Treasurer Rowe added that though it will not pay for the entire project, the encumbered funds will offset a good portion of the reconstruction costs.

Starke County Commissioners, Council Members Discuss Purchases

Posted on December 29, 2017
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County EMS Department will receive a much needed heater for the Medic 5 base in Grovertown.

In a specially-called joint session of the Starke County Commissioners and Starke County Council Thursday night, EMS Director Travis Clary said medications are freezing in the ambulance at the Grovertown base because there is not a proper heat source in the garage area. There is a good heat supply in the office area, but it is needed where the ambulance is parked to preserve intravenous and other perishable medications. The Starke County Commissioners declared the need an emergency and the council members approved the acquisition of a ceiling heater from McGrath’s Refrigeration not to exceed $2,057.87. The purchase will come from the 2017 budget.

Funds were also transferred and encumbered to cover payroll needs with the EMS staff.

After a presentation by IT Director Mark Gourley, the commissioners recommended buying eight new computers for use by the recorder’s office, planning commission, board of zoning appeals and EMA as an effort to upgrade the current computers. The new computers will also increase productivity as they will provide a quicker operating system and capability. The purchase price approved by the council members was just over $7,700. They also unanimously approved a motion to purchase Android tablets for use by the council and commissioners not to exceed $1,500. The idea is to receive all documents electronically to save on the amount of paperwork printed for each person at each meeting.

Starke County Surveyor Bill Crase requested the purchase of a scanner/printer large enough to scan books used by the surveyor’s office, health department, highway department and recorder’s office. It will also allow color copies of necessary documents. Crase said Eastern Engineering offered the lowest quote that best suits the needs of all departments in the amount of $8,995 with a one-year extended warranty of $795. The purchase was unanimously approved.

Crase added that this is a step toward electronically offering these documents online.

Crase will be talking with the State Board of Accounts on configuring a fee schedule for copies. The money generated from the fees will go into a line item that would go toward the cost of toner for the machine.

In a final action of the evening, the council approved the transfer of $50,000 into the Rainy Day Fund.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

2018 - Quote of the Month: January

Happy Birthday, Virginia Woolf - January 25, 1882

Virginia Woolf was an English novelist and essayist regarded as one of the foremost modernist literary figures of the twentieth century.

Year-End Tax Tips from the Internal Revenue Service

Posted on December 28, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

For most tax payers, December 31st is the last day to take actions that will impact 2017 tax returns, according to the IRS.

For instance, charitable contributions are deductible in the year made. This means donations charged to a credit card before the end of the year count for the 2017 tax even if the bill isn’t paid until 2018 and checks made to a charity count for 2017 as long as they’re mailed by the last day of the year.

Taxpayers are urged to refrain from preparing their tax returns until all necessary forms and documents are received. Needed documentation includes W-2 forms from employers and 1099 forms from banks and other payers. Not having all required documents could cause a return to have an error that delays processing and refund issuing.

Be sure to alert the IRS, employers and the U.S. Postal service of any address changes. Also, if you’ve recently had a name change or if a dependent’s name has changed, notify the Social Security Administration to ensure the new name will match IRS and SSA records. A mismatch between the name shown on your tax return and the SSA records can cause issues with processing and could delay refunds.

Internal Revenue Service representatives say they expect more than 90 percent of all 2017 individual tax returns to be prepared using tax software, with the majority of those being e-filed.

The IRS reports that e-filing remains the safest way to file an accurate income tax return and combining it with direct deposit is the fastest way to receive a refund. IRS statistics indicate that in 2017, more than 88 million refunds worth over $260 billion were directly deposited into taxpayers’ bank accounts. They expect to issue more than nine out of ten refunds in less than 21 days in 2018.

However, by law, the IRS cannot issue refunds prior to mid-February if the return claims the Earned Income Tax Credit or Additional Child Tax Credit. They advise individuals not to count on getting a refund by a certain date, especially when making major purchases or paying other financial obligations. To stay informed you can check the Where’s My Refund tab on after January 2nd.

For more information, visit the Internal Revenue Service assistance page.

Unemployment Rates Down from Last Year in Starke, Pulaski Counties

Posted on December 28, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Unemployment rates continue to drop in Starke and Pulaski counties. Starke County’s November unemployment rate was 4.1 percent, according to the latest report from the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. That’s the same as it was in October, but a drop of sixth-tenths of a percent from November of 2016.

Pulaski County’s November unemployment rate was 3.3 percent, down from 3.5 percent the month before and 4.1 percent in November of 2016. But both counties saw their labor forces shrink over the past year, and the actual number of people working has declined, although Pulaski County has seen those figures improve slightly from October.

Marshall County continues to have the lowest unemployment rate in the local area at three percent, while LaPorte County is highest with 4.2 percent. Indiana as a whole reported 3.4 percent unemployment in November, while the U.S. had an unemployment rate of 3.9.

North Judson Town Council Members Choose Not to Encumber Funds for Utility Tractor

Posted on December 28, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

North Judson Town Council members refrained from encumbering funds for a new tractor for the utility department when they met Tuesday night. Council members conferred that they were under the impression they were waiting until springtime to take any action on that purchase.

Councilman Josh Brown stated he’d like to know what the intended purpose for the tractor would be before they establish a specific amount intended for the purchase. Brown said he wasn’t aware of any reasons the tractor would be a necessary piece of equipment.

“What are we going to use this thing for? Right now, I’ve never seen the quote big John Deere that we have on the street in the all the years I’ve lived here.” Councilman Brown said, “I think that’s what we need is a plan. I mean it’s one thing to have that thing sitting there, it’s another thing to have a $54,000 tractor sitting there as well.”

Though he was not present during this week’s meeting, back in November, Town Superintendent Marshall Horstmann alerted council members that the current utility tractor is damaged beyond repair. He said prior to the problems, the current John Deere, which dates back to 1964, was utilized for alley grating and mowing.

Though he sent out bids for a used tractor, he stated that he received a few quotes for new tractors with loaders. Horstmann presented members with a few additional jobs that a tractor with a loader attachment could be use for during different seasons.

In his November report Horstmann said, “In the winter time if we’re using a 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 or if we’re working on a dig some place and we have to fill the truck with sand or gravel we could just use it instead of driving the backhoe back and forth.”

Tuesday night, members collectively decided to table the tractor consideration until more details can be provided. Clerk-Treasurer Andrew Rowe added that if they do decide down the line that the tractor would be a reasonable expenditure, they can assign the money for the purchase through an additional appropriation at that time.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

1/29/2018 Deadline for Visit Indiana CONTEST: The Swanky Best of Yesterday and Today

The winner will be among the first to stay in Aloft South Bend, featuring loft-inspired rooms, splash pool, & live music. Check out the Presidential carriages, military vehicles and family sedans at the Studebaker National Museum. Then learn about South Bend’s past at The History Museum, featuring Notre Dame architecture & treasures of the Oliver Mansion. The getaway has a gift certificate to the South Bend Chocolate Company, where you can take a tour and get a free sample fresh off the line! Finally, enjoy a local brew and wood-fired steak (or other delicious items) at LaSalle Kitchen & Tavern.

Contest ends 1/29/2018.

Register at:  Visit Indiana: The Swanky Best of Yesterday and Today

North Judson Town Council Members Address Appointments at Year-End Meeting

Posted on December 27, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

North Judson Town Council members appointed Councilman James Young as the council representative of the Starke County Economic Development Board, at their meeting Tuesday night.

Town Council president Wendy Hoppe also asked if any members were willing to volunteer as the representative for KIRPC or the Kankakee-Iroquois Regional Planning Commission. Councilwoman Jane Ellen Felchuck added that they could nominate a citizen, if no members are interested in filling the position. Since Councilman John Rowe wasn’t present during last night’s meeting, they decided to table that appointment until their meeting on January 2nd.

Clerk-Treasurer Andrew Rowe mentioned that he’s been going through all other regular appointments, checking the term limits to see who needs to be re-appointed or replaced. He said he will be finishing those up this week and they can be officially addressed during the January meeting as well.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

State Fire Marshal Provides Alternative Heating Tips

Posted on December 26, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Around this time of year, many people are doing whatever they can to keep the effects of winter weather out of their homes. However, for your own safety, there are a few things you should know before you do so.

According to State Fire Marshal Jim Greeson, alternative heating sources are one of the leading causes of home fires and account for 19 percent of home fire deaths in the U.S. Marshal Greeson advises Hoosiers to take particular precautions if alternative heating equipment is utilized in order to ensure safety this season.

He advises residents to never leave space heaters on in unoccupied rooms and to only have one heater plugged in to each electrical outlet. Be to keep heaters away from loose or flammable objects such as clothing, curtains, bedding and furniture.

Due to the associated dangers, Greeson says that people should avoid using space heaters and alternative heating sources if possible. He says if it is necessary to purchase a space heater, consider purchasing one with built-in tilt or heat sensors that automatically switch off it the unit tips over or overheats.

For more information about alternative heating and other helpful safety tips visit The Indiana Department of Homeland Security website.

Indiana Tobacco Quitline Can Help Guide New Year Resolution Plans

Posted on December 26, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

As the year draws to a close, many people may already be establishing their new year’s resolutions. If giving up tobacco is on your 2018 to-do-list, the Indiana Tobacco Quitline is a good resource to utilize.

The free, phone-based counseling service can assist a variety of tobacco users including expectant mothers, former smokers seeking relapse prevention and tobacco users in any stage of readiness to quit. The telephone service can also assist friends and relatives of tobacco users who wish to offer support to their loved ones.

When someone calls into the service, a trained Quit Coach will provide an assessment of readiness to quit, a customized quit plan, motivation and problem-solving advice and up-to-date information about nicotine replacement therapy. They can also send a ‘Quit Kit’ which will include materials tailored for your needs and referrals to cessation services offered by local resources or health plans.

Quitline reports that it can take an average of 7 to 11 attempts for many smokers to quit completely. They advise people not to get discouraged by that statistic since Quitline coaches have helped hundreds of people in your very same situation. Staff members are trained to deal with individuals who utilize all forms of tobacco products including pipes, cigars, e-cigarettes and smokeless tobacco.

To speak with a trained Quit Coach today call 1-800-Quit-Now (1-800-784-8669).

Mobile Health Unit to Offer Free Screenings in Knox, North Judson in January

Posted on December 26, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

LaPorte Hospital’s Mobile Health Unit will be making stops in North Judson and Knox during the month of January. Residents will be able to get free body mass index and blood pressure screenings. Information will also be available on cervical cancer and winter weather preparedness.

The Mobile Health Unit will be at Bailey’s Discount Center in North Judson on Friday, January 19 from 1:30 to 3:00 p.m. and at Starke Hospital in Knox on Monday, January 22 from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The Mobile Health Unit will also make several stops in LaPorte and Michigan City next month.

January 19th - 1:30 – 3:00 p.m. at Bailey’s Discount Center, 5900 S. Range Rd., North Judson

January 22nd - 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. at Starke Hospital, 102 E Culver Rd., Knox

North Judson Town Council to Hold Final Meeting of the Year Tonight

Posted on December 26, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

North Judson Town council members will convene tonight at 6 p.m. to tie up any loose ends during an end-of-year session. Clerk-Treasurer Andrew Rowe will fill council members in on the town’s current financial standings and alert them of any actions that must be taken before the year’s end.

One topic up for discussion will be board appointment suggestions. Though the representatives won’t be officially decided until after the first of the year, Council President Wendy Hoppe said they will be considered during this session.

Fire Chief Joe Leszek also plans to approach the board about encumbering remaining funds for next year. He brought this possibility up during the last meeting, but President Hoppe suggested that he outline the specifics and bring it to the final meeting of the year.

Any additional business that must be tended to prior to December 31st will be addressed during tonight’s meeting at Town Hall.

North Judson-San Pierre School Board Holds First Reading Over Policy Revisions

Posted on December 26, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

North Judson-San Pierre school board members held the first reading over a few different policies when they met last Tuesday. Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin explained that the proposed policy revisions were a result of the spring 2017 legislative session. She said a majority of the changes had to do with correcting typos and adapting language in some places.

However, she highlighted a few that included more details including polices over child neglect/abuse education, suicide prevention and background checks. One proposed change deals with background checks. Other than asserting that checks must be conducted on an annual basis, the policy also indicates that the specific school corporation is responsible for the cost of the background checks, once the person is an established employee.

Additionally, Dr. Zupin stated that one proposed policy revision will require staff training, “We have the student suicide awareness/prevention – we’ll need to train our staff for that in a two hour session which we’ll do in service”

The final revision mentioned by Dr. Zupin detailed age-appropriate, research based child abuse and neglect curriculum that must be implemented into all classrooms next year. Members of the board did not provide any feedback about the proposed policy changes. The second reading and the adoption proceedings will take place during the first North Judson-San Pierre school board meeting in January.

Starke County Council to Review EMS Staffing in 2018

Posted on December 26, 2017
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Council members will be looking at costs concerning full-time EMS staff and what the county is paying in overtime.

Starke County EMS Clerk Mary Lynn Ritchie will be putting together some figures for the council members in 2018 to compare what the county is paying in overtime versus hiring two more full-time paramedics for adequate coverage.

Director Travis Clary is still looking for part-time paramedics for the department, but it continues to be a challenge, as it is in all counties. Clary said there is no incentive for part-time staff to work so the full-time staff members usually pick up all of the holidays and most of the unfilled shifts.

Beyond that, Starke Hospital officials and county officials would also like to see more paramedics staffed on ambulances.

The council will review wages similar to the action taken when discussing sheriff’s deputy wages this summer. More discussion will be held in 2018.

Friday, December 22, 2017

State Funding Available to Help Early Childhood Education Providers Serve More Children

Posted on December 22, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Early childhood education providers can apply for a share of nearly $4 million in state funding to help them boost their offerings. The Office of Early Childhood and Out-of-School Learning is offering grants to help schools and child care centers serve more children and increase the quality of their services. Specifically, grants can be used for teacher training, classroom materials, or family engagement activities.

State officials say the grants will also help increase options for families taking part in the On My Way Pre-K program, by increasing the number of qualified providers. The On My Way Pre-K program is currently available to families living in Marshall and nine other counties in the state.

Those applying for the grant have to secure at least a five-percent match from the local community. Applications are due January 31. Click here for more information.

INDOT Launches Mobile App

Posted on December 22, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Just in time for holiday travel, the Indiana Department of Transportation has launched a new mobile app. It offers statewide, real-time traffic information – like current traffic speeds, road conditions, and travel advisories – for interstates, U.S. highways, and state roads. Users can also get custom alerts on accidents, road closures, and construction, and report hazards to INDOT.

The free app is available for iPhone, iPad, or Android devices. INDOT reminds motorists not to use the app while driving.

NJSP Elementary School Principal Speaks Highly of Successful Attendance Initiatives

Posted on December 22, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

At Tuesday night’s North Judson-San Pierre School Board meeting, Elementary School Principal Julie Berndt informed school board members about a few initiatives that are positively impacting the attendance records of her students.

Principal Berndt talked about the “Attendance Champions” program where each teacher’s attendance percentage is posted every month. The class with the highest number gets announced and receives a bag of candy, a temporary trophy for their class room and bragging rights. She said so far it has been a pretty competitive and successful initiative. In November, there weren’t any classes that reported less than 91 percent attendance.

She also mentioned the “Exemplary Attendance” raffle that rewards students for not missing too many days of class, “If they miss one day or less in the semester their name goes into a drawing. On Friday, we’re going to draw and one girl and one boy will go home with a sled.”

Berndt said she sent out requests for donations to buy the sleds back in October. She didn’t know what to expect, but said that the community’s response was great. Local business and citizens provided enough funds to purchases the prizes. Students who win today’s raffle will be able to take home their sled for Winter Break.

To stay up-to-date on various school programs and activities, check out the North Judson-San Pierre Elementary School Facebook page.

Starke County Council Considers Purchase for Traffic Counter

Posted on December 22, 2017
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Council members considered the purchase of a radar counter for the Starke County Highway Department during their Monday night meeting.

Economic Development Foundation Director Charlie Weaver said the radar counter will be used to collect traffic data at a quicker speed for the proposed U.S. 30 freeway project.

“The beautiful part of this is isn’t hoses you run over,” said Weaver. “It’s a lot more accurate count. After they finish the count and maintain the count for the U.S. 30 project, there are other places in the county where they can use it. The state is going to require more and more supporting data behind what happens. This allows the county to do that.”

The counter is estimated to cost $3,235 and will be paid for out of the economic development portion of the County Economic Development Income Tax fund.

This new device will accompany another traffic counter already used by the department to gather information.

Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler said the device will pay for itself in one project as it will greatly assist the crew with valued statistics. He said the crew knows how to use the equipment and Ritzler does the analysis.

The county council unanimously approved the request. The commissioners previously approved a recommendation for the purchase.

North Judson Town Attorney Presents Council Members with Railroad Bylaws

Posted on December 22, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Railroad Committee bylaws were up for discussion during Monday night’s North Judson Town Council meeting. Town Attorney Justin Schramm informed members that he received the bylaws from Rachel Arndt, the town’s former attorney.

He told the council that part of the bylaws indicates that the committee would be comprised of at least four members. It would consist of one town council member, a representative from Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum and representatives from Chesapeake and Indian Railroad and Co-Alliance. He mentioned that any freight carrier who hauls more than 20 percent of product on the railway would be able to appoint a member as well.

One piece of feed back came from Councilman John Rowe who asked whether the town could appoint a North Judson citizen to the board in place of a council member. He said the advantage would be that they could pick someone who is more versed in rail road information who could report back to them following the meetings.

However, Council President Wendy Hoppe said she believed they required a council member to be present to deal with any financial decisions that may come up during meetings.

Schramm said he would check with Arndt about the possibility of sending a representative and then asked if the remainder of the bylaws seemed acceptable. The council members agreed that they didn’t have any issues. No official action was taken but Schramm said he would contact Arndt and give her the go ahead to move forward with the bylaws as presented.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Starke County Officials Receive Updates on Economic Development

Posted on December 21, 2017
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Could the sale of the SYSCO property in Hamlet happen in 2018? Starke County Economic Development Foundation Director Charlie Weaver told the county council members this week that he’s working with two prospects to purchase land at the site.

"One of them would be REMC’s largest customer by several times over,” said Weaver. “It’s a 10 megawatt user. To give you a comparison, SYSCO was going to a five megawatt user. And we thought that was huge. The power user is looking to employ 47 employees with pay between $25 and $30 an hour.”

Weaver added that the other company looking at the site is a brand new company.

“It’s a new start up, often existing, company – they’re branching out. They’ve got contracts in place with some of the national firms so we’re hoping there. We’ve had several conversations with both of them. We’ll be meeting with them after the first of the year to see where we go. So far, everything has been positive.

Talks with the companies will continue in 2018 with the hopes of a land sale.

Meanwhile, officials at Gary Poppins are working to get operations started there. In previous discussions, Weaver said the company was going to begin production in December, but that has been delayed.

“The equipment itself has been ordered, but I don’t know when it’s going to get there. At the time they closed, they really didn’t have their equipment list done. They have some smaller units that will prepare popcorn on what they call specialty popcorn on short runs that will run on electric. The rest of it will be run on gas. We verified that there is a sufficient gas supply there.”

Gary Poppins occupies the former Stelrema building at the intersection of U.S. 35 and 250 N. north of Knox.

State Health Officials Tout Success of Naloxone Kits

Posted on December 21, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Opioid-antidote Narcan is having an impact on the number of overdose deaths. According to the Indiana State Department of Health’s winter newsletter, the rate of unintentional drug poisoning deaths increased by nearly 900 percent from 1999 to 2015. In 2016, over 1,800 Hoosiers died from drug poisoning, mainly from opioids.

State health officials say Narcan, also known by the generic name naloxone, is one of the main tools they have to help combat the opioid epidemic. The Indiana State Department of Health says it’s gotten over $1.3 million in state and federal funding to distribute naloxone throughout the state. The department has given out 13,720 naloxone kits this year.

Several local first responders have been getting a lot of use out of the drug. A Pulaski County Sheriff’s deputy’s use of Narcan on an overdose victim in Clinton County back in September earned him a recognition from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. That same month, Starke County first responders reportedly ran out of Narcan, after a series of five apparent heroin overdoses in a six-hour period.

Now, first responders in rural counties, like Marshall, Starke, and Pulaski, can apply to receive additional kits in 2018. This week, the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office got permission from the county commissioners to apply for the kits. Applications are due by January 12.

North Judson Town Superintendent Addresses New State Board of Accounts Requirement

Posted on December 21, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Town Superintendent Marshall Horstmann touched on a few different topics during his report at the North Judson Town Council meeting Monday Night.

He alerted council members that leaf and brush pick-up has officially concluded for this year and will resume in the spring.

Additionally, in Superintendent Horstmann’s report, members were told that the State Board of Accounts is requiring that the town take measures to better secure the modem tower located in Town Hall. Clerk-Treasurer Andrew Rowe explained that they had the option to either build an enclosure or install security cameras. Horstmann and Rowe both agreed that the enclosure would cost less and be more immediately feasible than a camera system. Horstmann expects the total cost for building supplies to be around $300.

Horstmann also presented council members with a request to allow water department employees in the office and at the plant to take the day off Friday. Horstmann explained that typically, the employees get two days off for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Since Christmas Eve falls on a Sunday, Horstmann suggested giving the employees tomorrow off instead. Council members unanimously approved the request.

North Judson-San Pierre Pool Repairs Complete, Facility Renovations Expected to Start in the Spring

Posted on December 21, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

North Judson-San Pierre Superintendent Dr. Annete Zupin told school board members that repairs to the pool are finished. The final step in the project was being completed during the school board meeting Tuesday night.

During her report Dr. Zupin said, “The pool is filling with water as we speak, so it will be ready to go in January and we’re excited about that.”

The school corporation recently had to deal with an unexpected issue where corroded main drain boxes needed replaced and the area had to be re-tiled. The NJSP Swim Team was permitted to utilize Knox Community School facilities while the work was being done over the last few months. Zupin previously expressed her gratitude to Knox Schools for lending a helping hand.

Superintendent Zupin said that aside from the advantage being able to utilize the facilities for swim team practices and meets again, the pool can also reopen for faculty water aerobics classes and community swim.

Additional work will be done to the temperature control and de-humidification systems in the pool area when the capital projects commence next year. Work is expected to start in the spring and be completed in the summer in order for the facility to be ready by the 2018-2019 school year.

Local Community Service Organizations Benefit from WKVI December Food Drives

Posted on December 21, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The WKVI food drives held in early December resulted in community members providing a plethora of goods to Community Services of Starke County and Pulaski County Human Services.

Community Services of Starke County Executive Director Charmaine Dunkel said that more than 700 pounds of food was donated at the Five Star site. They also received about $108 in cash donations and a $500 gift certificate for the food pantry.

Pulaski County Human Services representatives shared that nine carts of food were donated at the Sanders Foods site in Winamac. They also received $1,200 in cash and credit donations. Sanders donated credit to the organization to allow them to buy goods from the store in the future.

Much appreciation goes out to everyone who pitched in to help out these local charitable organizations. You can find out more ways to provide assistance to your community by following the links below:

Starke County Community Services

Pulaski County Human Services

BMV Branches to Close for Holidays

Posted on December 21, 2017
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

If you need to conduct business at your local BMV branch, you may want to get it done as soon as possible as the branches will be open limited hours between today and Tuesday, Jan. 2.

All branches of the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles will be closed Saturday, Dec. 23 through Tuesday, Dec. 26. Branches will open again on Wednesday, Dec. 27, but will close again on Saturday, Dec. 30 and will reopen on Tuesday, Jan 2.

For a complete list of branch locations and hours, or to complete an online transaction, visit

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Round Lake Cemetery Officials Respond to American Legion Complaint

Posted on December 20, 2017
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Round Lake Cemetery Association President Harrison Fields appeared before the Starke County Commissioners on Monday night to discuss the North Judson American Legion Post’s complaint about the removal of American flags from veteran’s graves following Memorial Day.

Post Ex-Commander Ron Clemons told the commissioners during the Dec. 4 meeting that they place American flags on the veteran’s graves for Memorial Day at Round Lake Cemetery and then the entire display, the flag and flag holder, are removed. He would like to see them on the graves throughout the year.

Fields explained why the flags are removed.

“I went on the computer and got this information,” stated Fields. “The very first thing that came up on this issue with the flags and what I can tell you as you read this is this is the facts as far as I know. When should small flags displayed on graves on Memorial Day be removed? Answer: All legion posts should follow the practice of removing flags from veteran’s graves as soon as possible after Memorial Day. I spoke to the ex-commander in North Judson and he tells me they leave them on for a whole year.”

The flags were removed two weeks after the Fourth of July and they were turned over to the VFW for proper disposal.

Another issue that Fields addressed was the large flag being removed from the flag pole at the cemetery.

“As for the proper flying of the flag at night, out there at Round Lake in the county we do not have a light and a light is required if you’re going to fly the flag at night.”

The county pays $2,000 to North Judson, Knox and Hamlet American Legion Posts for the purchase of flags and flag holders for Memorial Day. Fields suggested moving some funds from North Judson to Knox so Knox could take over Round Lake Cemetery.

American Legion District Vice Commander Mark Gourley said all legion posts should receive the same amount of money. He added that the major expense this year has been the flag holders as they keep coming up missing.

Commission President Donnie Binkley suggested that the American Legion members and the Round Lake Cemetery Association members get together to settle any miscommunication. Fields said the next association meeting is Monday, Jan. 8 at 9 a.m. at the Round Lake Church.

Binkley added that if nothing can be settled, the commissioners will oversee the situation.

North Judson Town Council Permits Fire Chief to Utilize Call Fees for Equipment Purchase

Posted on December 20, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

During Monday night’s North Judson Town Council meeting, Fire Chief Joe Leszek told members that the first installment of Rich Grove Township’s call-fees has been submitted.

At the last town council meeting he explained that Rich Grove Township is on a pay-by-call basis where the Township pays $660 per call.

That agreement didn’t present much of an issue when they only had 5 calls in 2016 but this year they had a total of 46 calls, resulting in a charge of $30,360. Leszek said a check for $18,000 was recently sent from Township Trustee Deloris Locke. Locke told him that the remaining $12,360 will be paid after the first of the year.

Since Rich Grove Township is on a 2-year contract, no changes will be made in 2018. However, Trustee Locke did ask the fire chief to provide a summary of runs in June so she can better allocate funds to pay for the calls when the time comes.

Chief Leszek also revisited his request from the last town council meeting, seeking permission to utilize some of the Rich Grove Township funds for equipment. He explained that the extrication tools the department wants to purchase from 5-Alarm are on a price hold until after the first of the year. He said if they aren’t purchased by then, the price would jump up seven percent.

He said if they make the purchase prior to January 1st, all three tools would cost a total of $23,999. The town council members unanimously approved Leszek’s request to utilize the first portion of the Rich Grove Township fees to help cover the cost of the tools.

North Judson-San Pierre School Board Discusses Year-End Financial Business

Posted on December 20, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

North Judson-San Pierre Corporation Treasurer Guy Richie presented board members with tax anticipation warrant bids during Tuesday night’s meeting. Richie explained that the corporation advertised for the $230,000 that needs to be borrowed for the capital projects plan and two bids were received.

Richie told board members, “One was from Centier Bank at 2.24 percent and the other from our local First National Bank of Monterey at 1.5 percent so it is my recommendation that the board approve the First National Bank of Monterey at 1.5 percent.”

The board members unanimously approved the treasurer’s recommendation.

Additionally, as a formality, members granted Treasurer Richie permission to balance accounts before the end of the year to ensure that none are at zero or below and allowed him to pay any additional claims that may come up before the first school board meeting in January.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Beginner's Guide to Grant Writing

A registration form is available by going to

Public Input Sought in Plans for Dollar General Driveway

Posted on December 19, 2017
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Commissioners are asking for public input concerning the development of a Dollar General Store, more specifically the driveway into the property.

Starke County Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler told the commissioners Monday night that he only recently learned that the City of Knox approved plans for the proposed store at 4015 E. 200 S. in Knox at the intersection of U.S. 35. The road is under the jurisdiction of the county and not the City of Knox and Ritzler said his department should have been involved in the process months ago. He mentioned that the original plans called for two driveways on 200 S. and the westernmost driveway was too close to U.S. 35. Ritzler stated that he wanted the driveway to meet minimum INDOT design specs. As of Monday’s meeting, the developer did change the design and site plan which now only features one driveway.

On top of the driveway placement, Ritzler is concerned about the location of the proposed store as he deems the intersection of U.S. 35 and 200 South a “bad intersection”.

“The whole intersection would be a whole lot safer if there was a stop light there,” said Ritzler. “They’re [INDOT] starting the process to look into that. It takes time for them for them to do that. It may take a year, maybe longer.”

Apparent miscommunication over road jurisdiction has created a delay in the project. Ritzler said usually this takes about six months to plan, but he only knew of the plans a few weeks ago when they have been in the works over the past six or seven months. The engineer and developer expedited amended plans to keep on schedule and worked with full cooperation with Ritzler and the county.

Ritzler made a recommendation to take public input about this project due to the high volume of traffic at that intersection. It was stated that a public hearing notice was published and opened during the recent Knox Plan Commission meeting concerning this topic, but no members of the public were present to speak on it.

Engineer Michael Thompson asked the commissioners to approve the amended plans so Developer Joe Leonard could close on the property with the seller this week. Leonard said he’s ready to move on with the project. He’s investing $1 million toward the project and creating full-time and part-time jobs.

The commissioners did note that they are happy that the business is coming to the county, but they are concerned about safety at that intersection.

Commission President Donnie Binkley asked for a motion to delay approval to gather more public comment on the matter during the commissioners’ next meeting. The motion was made by Commissioner Charlie Chesak and Binkley seconded the motion and it passed. Commissioner Kathy Norem was not present during Monday night’s meeting.

Public comment will be taken concerning this topic at the next meeting of the commissioners on Tuesday, Jan. 2 during the time suggested on the prepared agenda. The meeting begins at 6 p.m.

Progress Made in North Judson PD K-9 Fundraiser, Additional Donations Still Needed

Posted on December 19, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The North Judson Police Department is already nearing their $20,000 goal for the purchase of a K-9 and subsequent training thanks to a decision made by town council members Monday evening.

Town Marshal Kelly Fisher requested for $15,000 to be encumbered from the general police insurance fund into the K-9 fund to help cover the cost of purchasing a K-9 from the Peru-based company Vohne Liche Kennels. The council members unanimously approved Fisher’s request.

Fisher also acknowledged some local businesses and organizations that are already offering assistance to the NJPD. San Pierre Veterinary Clinic offered to donate annual shots and physicals and Feed Barn is donating all food needed for the K-9.

Ozinga in Knox has offered to donate concrete for the home kennel that will be required at Officer Rico Simpson’s residence and Kankakee Valley Auction in Walkerton is donating the wood for that project.

The Starke County Sheriff’s Office is donating a K-9 police car cage. Simon’s Speed Shop is donating work for fabricating the police car kennel and they’re also donating the printing for the K-9 fundraiser t-shirts.

Additionally, Chief Fisher provided council members with a timeline for the K-9 purchase and training process. She said that on January 30th the home kennel and police car kennel will both be installed. On January 31st, all funds will be evaluated and properly allocated.

On February 20th, K-9 selection will be conducted at Vohne Liche and the dog will be place with Officer Simpson at his home. The final step will the 6 week training course which will start on February 26th.

Approximately $5,000 is still needed to help cover training costs for Officer Simpson and his new K-9 partner. Any additional money raised will be saved for maintenance and any extra expenses that may come up. Individuals can donate by cash or check that can be delivered to the police department or town hall. As long as the donor includes an address, all donations will result in a certificate of appreciation. Any donors who provide over $100 will also received a NJ K-9 Supporter t-shirt.

People can also donate through the online crowd funding website GoFundMe. Click the following link to view the page for the North Judson Police Department K-9 Fundraiser. Any questions can be directed to Town Marshal Fisher via email at or by phone at 574-772-5914.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Starke County Council, Commissioners to Meet Tonight

Posted on December 18, 2017
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Council will be reviewing several transfers and budgets during their monthly meeting tonight.

Starke County EMS, IT Director Mark Gourley and Surveyor Bill Crase will discuss transfer requests, and Sheriff Bill Dulin will discuss his budget status and present transfer requests. Starke County Economic Development Foundation Executive Director Charlie Weaver will have his monthly report and initiate discussion on the appropriation of Fund 112.

The Starke County Commissioners will meet directly following the conclusion of the council business agenda in the same meeting space. Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler and County Attorney Marty Lucas will open bids for the County Road 300 East paving project. Discussion will also involve a driveway for a proposed Dollar General Store on County Road 200 East and U.S. 35. Charlie Weaver will present the monthly report from the Starke County Economic Development Foundation.

The county handbook and county highway handbook will be reviewed tonight as well as a contract for the food inspector for the Starke County Health Department. The contract for the Skillman Corporation will be discussed as the commissioners may revoke it.

The Starke County Council will meet at 5:30 p.m. in the meeting room in the Starke County Annex Building No. 1 with the commissioners meeting to follow at 6 p.m. CT.

North Judson Town Council Meets Tonight at 6:30 p.m.

Posted on December 18, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

North Judson Town Council members will hold a discussion over railroad committee bylaws when they meet tonight.

Additionally, members will appoint a member to the Public Library Board and consider a resolution to transfer funds.

Department heads will also provide reports to the council members. Town Marshal Kelly Fisher will deliver an update about the fundraisers that have been put in place since she presented a proposal about bringing on a dual-purpose K9 to the North Judson Police Department at the last town council meeting

The North Judson Town Council will meet at 6:30 p.m. in Town Hall at 310 Lane Street.

Park Board Gets Update on Starke County Forest

Posted on December 16, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The Starke County Forest is starting to build up some savings. It’s designed to be a self-sufficient park facility, with timber sales being the main funding source. Forester Bruce Wakeland told the Starke County Park Board Tuesday that the forest will soon have enough money on hand to start looking at some improvement projects.

The forest recently got $8,500 by selling timber to Northern Wood Products. Wakeland reported that logging is complete, and he found no issues during a final inspection.

Wakeland also told the park board that he rented out the forest to hunters over the Thanksgiving weekend. He said he does this every year to help control the deer population, but also to raise some extra money for the forest, typically around $300.

Wakeland also told board members that he continues making improvements to the facility. He said he’s upgraded a bridge, to make it easier for people to get across the spillway, and he also recently graded the walking trails

Friday, December 15, 2017

Starke County Park Board to Take Koontz Lake Lions Club Park Proposal to County Commissioners

Posted on December 15, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The idea of Starke County taking ownership of Koontz Lake Lions Club Memorial Park will soon be brought to the county commissioners. Lions Club members say they plan to continue maintaining the park as long as they can, but transferring ownership to the county would save them the cost of insurance.

County Attorney Marty Lucas believes the cost to the county would be minimal. “We don’t have a quote on that one, but what we’ve seen in the past is that with the little increase in the insurance, it’s a real win because for an entity for them to have it, it costs them quite a bit, but for the county to add it on to our existing coverage is just a little more,” he told the park board Tuesday. “And so it sounded like they could maybe maintain the place with the money that they’d save.”

Lions Club members first presented the idea to the Starke County Park Board back in October. While they don’t expect a decision right away, the park board decided this week to keep the discussion going by getting input from the county commissioners.

Starke County Election Board Adopts 2018 Meeting Schedule

Posted on December 15, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The Starke County Election Board has adopted a fixed meeting schedule for 2018. Clerk Vicki Cooley says the board will meet the fourth Wednesday of each month at 9:30 a.m. But with 2018 being an election year, Cooley says more meetings may be scheduled, as needed.

The election board approved the meeting schedule Thursday morning.

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.