Friday, March 31, 2017

April 2017 - Quote of the Month

4/9/2017 Easter Egg Hunt @ Norwayne Field

Cost of Crude Oil, Switch to Summer Blend Driving Gas Prices Up

Posted on March 31, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Gas prices are heading up. Senior Petroleum Analyst Patrick DeHaan says Indiana and some other neighboring states have seen a notable jump in prices. “Prices in Indiana tend to engage in a price cycling behavior, we’ll call it, in which gas prices plummet and then proceed to spike,” he explains. “And that’s what we saw earlier this week with most stations going up to $2.39 a gallon on an account of a resurgence in the price of crude oil, which about a week ago was at about $47. [On Thursday] we saw crude oil prices breach $50.”

On top of that, gas prices are affected by seasonal refinery maintenance and the switch to summer gasoline. “That cleaner-burning gasoline generally costs more to produce, but perhaps the bigger challenge is that there’s over a dozen different types of summer gasoline in use across the county,” DeHaan says. “Not only is the cost of that summer gasoline higher, but certainly we feel a pinch from the logistical challenges behind supplying so many different varieties of summer gasoline, and unfortunately, as a result of those complexities, we generally pay a little bit more at the pump.” He says the yearly switch to summer gasoline is required by the Environmental Protection Agency.

DeHaan expects gas prices to continue to increase as summer approaches. “By and large, it’s likely that gas prices will continue to lurch forward every week or so,” he says, “and that could bring gas prices into the upper two-dollar-a-gallon range by Memorial Day weekend.”

Meanwhile, AAA has released a survey showing that nearly a quarter of consumers believe gas prices are already too high. AAA says that many American families still plan to take a road trip this summer, but will travel to closer destinations like national parks and theme parks.

Families Invited to Starke County Preschool Fair

Posted on March 31, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

Parents and guardians of preschool age Starke County children can learn about education options during the 4th Annual Starke County Preschool Fair.

The free event will take place Tuesday, April 18 from 4:30 until 6 p.m. at the Nancy J. Dembowski Community Center in downtown Knox.

Free snacks and activities will be offered for young children, including face painting, ambulance tours and take-home prizes. The Starke County Community Foundation will also be sharing information about preschool scholarships for local youngsters.

Representatives of local preschools, healthcare providers, agencies and other organizations that offer programs to families with young children will also be on hand to share valuable information.

Starke County Early Childhood Education Advisory Council Co-Chair Margaret Dalphond says it’s a great way for parents and grandparents to learn why preschool is important and figure out which one is the best fit for their child.

Preschool helps children to grow and strengthen their abilities physically, emotionally, socially and developmentally. The Preschool Fair coincides with the month of the young child, during which communities and individuals recognize the needs of youngsters and their families.

Preschool is a great way for children to grow and strengthen their abilities physically, emotionally, socially, and developmentally. This event coincides with the month of the young child. Since 1985, April has been celebrated nationally as Month of the Young Child. During this month, communities and individuals recognize the needs and rights of young children and their families. Each week of April celebrates a specific area of focus surrounding the development of the young child.

The Starke County Early Childhood Education Advisory Council is hosting the event, which is sponsored by the Starke County Community Foundation and Moving Starke County Forward.

For more information, contact Sarah Origer at or by calling 574-772-3665.

IRS Officials Offer Tips for Obtaining Filing Extensions

Posted on March 31, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

Taxpayers who are unable to file their federal returns by the April 18th deadline can go online to request an extension.

Keep in mind an extension gives you six additional months to file your return but does not extend the time to pay any tax due.

The fastest and easiest way to get an extension is through Free File on Taxpayers can electronically request an extension on Form 4868.

This service is free for everyone, regardless of income. Filing this form gives taxpayers until Oct. 16 to file their tax return. Taxpayers must estimate their tax liability on the form and should pay any amount due in order to get the extension.

Other fast, free and easy ways to get an extension include using IRS Direct Pay, the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System or by paying with a credit or debit card. There is no need to file a separate Form 4868 extension request when making an electronic payment and indicating it is for an extension. The IRS will automatically count it as an extension.

Direct Pay is available online and on the IRS2Go app. It’s free, does not require preregistration and gives instant confirmation when taxpayers submit a payment. It also provides the option of scheduling a payment up to 30 days in advance. Taxpayers using a credit or debit card can pay online, by phone or with the IRS2Go app. The card processor charges a fee, but the IRS does not charge any fees for this service.

Besides Free File and electronic payments, taxpayers can request an extension through a paid tax preparer, by using tax-preparation software or by mailing in a paper Form 4868. Tax forms can be downloaded from

Thursday, March 30, 2017

4/29/2017 Using DNA in Genealogy Research

4/15/2017 Easter Egg Hunt

4/18/2017 4th Annual Starke County Preschool Fair

Starke County Sees Slight Improvements in Annual Health Rankings

Posted on March 30, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Starke County has moved up slightly in annual health rankings, but it’s still toward the bottom. The County Health Rankings, which are put together each year by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin’s Population Health Institute, were released Wednesday.

They show that Starke County ranks 86th of Indiana’s 92 counties when it comes to health outcomes, like length and quality of life. That’s four places better than last year. But when it comes to health factors, which include everything from health behaviors and education levels, to air quality and access to health care, Starke County remains in 87th place.

Moving Starke County Forward was formed in 2012 to improve those rankings. Board member Jordan Morris says the group continues to make an impact, little by little. “We may not jump 40 rankings because there are also other counties that are working hard to improve health in their area,” she says. “But I think Starke County has done an excellent job, especially at collaborating and coming together, all of the different agencies joining together to impact this issue. It’s been really good here to see that.”

She points out that a few areas have seen some major improvements since Moving Starke County Forward began. “The first one being the high school graduation rate – that has improved significantly,” she says. “Back in 2011, it was 70 percent, and now we’re at 91 percent. And then also when it comes to education, the amount of individuals living in Starke County with some college has increased from 40 percent to 51 percent. The unemployment rate has significantly decreased.”

But many challenges remain. “The adult obesity rate – back in 2011, it was 30 percent, and now it’s up to 36 percent,” she says. “So that has worsened. And then we noticed that children in single-parent households, they have that impacting social and economic factor, and we do have more children this year, as opposed to 2011 that are living in single-parent households.” When it comes to clinical care, which includes access to physicians, dentists, and mental health providers, as well as the percentage of uninsured residents, Starke County ranked 90th.

As for why Starke County overall ranks far below some of its neighbors, like Pulaski and Marshall counties, Morris says the county’s premature death rate has a big impact. “That’s an area that we’ve looked at, and we’ve pulled local data,” she explains. “We’ve worked closely with the Starke County Health Department, and we’ve looked at what could be impacting the premature death rate. One of the areas that we thought would be interesting to pull is data from drug overdose deaths and looking at the ages where people are overdosing and dying.”

She says increased access to opioid antidote Narcan is making a big difference, but the changes are not reflected yet in the County Health Rankings.

State Officials Urge Prediabetes Screening

Posted on March 30, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

One in three Hoosiers are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to the Indiana State Department of Health. They encourage residents to take a prediabetes risk assessment.

Officials say people with predaibetes have blood glucose levels that are higher than normal but aren’t high enough to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Nationwide an estimated 86 million adults have prediabetes, including one-third of Indiana adults. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 90 percent of those individuals do not know their status.

Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Jerome Adams says diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in Indiana. He adds many of those cases are preventable if the disease is diagnosed before it progresses.

Risk factors for developing diabetes include being overweight or obese, having a family history of diabetes and being physically inactive.

Individuals with prediabetes can lower their risk of developing the disease by maintaining a healthy weight, eating a healthy diet, becoming more physically active, seeing a physician and checking blood glucose levels regularly and joining a Diabetes Prevention Program.

Visit to take a free online diabetes risk assessment or find a Diabetes Prevention Program.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

4/16/2017 NeuterScooter for Cats

The NeuterScooter will be in North Judson on April 16, 2017.  To make an appointment to have your cat neutered click on the link below.

INDOT Plans Open House to Discuss Transportation Projects

Posted on March 29, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The Indiana Department of Transportation wants your input on some of the projects it’s planning for the coming years. Comments are being taken on the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program.

It lists construction projects planned around the state between July 2017 and June 2021, as well as the funds available for various highway, transit, bicycle, and pedestrian projects. Transportation projects need to be listed in a transportation improvement program in order to qualify for federal funds.

A draft of the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program can be found on INDOT’s website. Residents can learn more about transportation projects during an upcoming open house at the INDOT District Office at 315 East Boyd Boulevard in LaPorte. It will take place Tuesday, April 11 from 3 to 6 p.m. CDT.

IRS Reminds Seniors to Beware of Scam Phone Calls This Tax Season

Posted on March 29, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Senior citizens are reminded to be alert for scam phone calls this tax season. Scammers go to great lengths to sound like they’re from the Internal Revenue Service, but they’re not. For example, they may use fake names or badge numbers, and may also use a fake caller ID number.

The caller may tell victims they owe money to the IRS and have to pay it through a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. The scammer may threaten the victim with arrest if they don’t pay.

On the other hand, they may also tell victims they have a refund due, but they need to share some private information first. IRS officials say the calls can be frightening or intimidating, but that’s not how the IRS does business. They say to avoid getting scammed out of hundreds or thousands of dollars, the best thing to do is just hang up.

Later this spring, four outside agencies will be authorized to contact taxpayers, as part of a new private debt collection program. However, the IRS will provide written notice before transferring someone’s account to a private collection agency. The agency itself will then send a second letter.

The IRS reminds taxpayers that it will never demand immediate payment using a specific payment method like a prepaid debit card, gift card, or wire transfer. The IRS will also never threaten to immediately bring in local police to arrest a taxpayer or ask for credit and debit card numbers over the phone.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

4/9/2017 Quilt Raffle @ The Center at Donaldson

The Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ Sisters will raffle this quilt off to raise money for the “Caring Place,” a boys school in Kenya, Africa, founded by Sister Germaine Hustedde. The Sisters have put in many hours and a lot of love into this king size quilt, which is on display at the reception desk in the Motherhouse at The Center at Donaldson. The quilt will also be on display Saturday, April 1 at the Knights of Columbus Fish Fry in Plymouth. Tickets are for sale at $1.00 each or 6 for $5.00, and the drawing will take place on April 9, 2017. Please come and support this cause and get your chance to own this beautiful and blessed work of art.

Starke County Highway Superintendent Touts Proposed Pavement Upgrades

Posted on March 28, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

Starke County officials hope to leverage money from the state to improve the county’s road infrastructure. Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler is working on a long-term truck route proposal, under which all routes in the county would be within a mile of a highway or hot mix road.

Of the 700 miles of county-maintained roads, Ritzler says only 13 are currently paved with hot mix.

“Most of them are chip sealed roads, which is the original gravel roads with two or three layers of chip seal on top of them, probably 400 miles of that,” he told the county council and commissioners last week. “We also use cold mix asphalt. We make that ourselves. The problem with that is it’s porous, and water gets to it. It can break down the roads, which means you have to chip seal it soon afterwards. It’s not as strong as hot mix.”

Ritzler adds hot mix roads are more expensive but last a lot longer, especially in rural areas with less traffic. He says a good hot mix road can last between 30 and 40 years before it needs to be redone if it is properly maintained.

Hot mix roads typically average between $100-and-$125,000 per mile. Ritzler hopes to bring that cost down significantly by working with local contractors and suppliers.

“I think we can reduce the cost to about $75,000 per mile, in conjunction with the 4-to-1 money we’re getting from the state, really that’s the reason we can do these hot mix routes and really improve the infrastructure of the county that way.”

Ritzler will present the long-term truck route plan to county officials in April in hopes of securing a local funding commitment to add 100 miles of hot mix roads over a 15-year period. Additional local money for road construction will be available after the final handful of bridge replacements are completed.

Monday, March 27, 2017

INDOT Seeks Input on Selection of Future Highway Projects

Reminder: INDOT staff hosting regional open houses starting this week

The Indiana Department of Transportation is inviting its customers and the public to provide input on the selection of future state-highway construction projects.

To use federal funds, a transportation project must be listed in a four-year budget document known as the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program. In urban areas, Metropolitan Planning Organizations produce and collect public input on their own Transportation Improvement Programs.

Provide input

INDOT’s draft Statewide Transportation Improvement Program is available for public review at The document lists construction projects planned from July 2017 through June 2021 and the funds available for transportation projects and programs including highways, transit, bicycles and pedestrians.

The public may submit comments through:

Michael McNeil,  INDOT STIP Director
100 N. Senate Ave.
IGCN 955
Indianapolis, IN 46204
  • Paper comment forms at one of six regional open houses.
  • INDOT respectfully requests that all comments be submitted or postmarked by Monday, May 1.  INDOT will then collate and respond to comments and questions on the record as an appendix to the final document.

Regional open houses

Open houses hosted by INDOT’s regional district staff offer an informal setting for the public to ask questions and discuss a variety of transportation programs including planning, multimodal, public involvement, Title VI and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The open houses will be held from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Eastern time at the dates and locations listed below.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017: INDOT Seymour District, 185 Agrico Lane, Seymour, IN 47274
Wednesday, March 29, 2017: INDOT Sub-District Office, 3650 S. U.S. 41, Vincennes, IN 47591
Thursday, March 30, 2017: Crawfordsville Public Library, 205 S. Washington St., Crawfordsville, IN 47933
Tuesday, April 11, 2017: INDOT District Office, 315 E. Boyd Blvd., LaPorte, IN 46350*
Wednesday, April 12, 2017: INDOT District Office, 5333 Hatfield Rd., Fort Wayne, IN 46808
Thursday, April 13, 2017: INDOT Traffic Management Center, 8620 E. 21st St., Indianapolis, IN 46219
    *Please note that INDOT’s LaPorte District office is located in the Central time zone, where local time for the open house is 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Special accommodations

With advance notice, special accommodations will be made for individuals needing auxiliary aids or services of interpreters, signers, readers, or large print. Anyone with such needs should contact Rickie Clark with INDOT's Office of Public Involvement at 317-232-6601 or

Submit written comments
Michael McNeil
100 N. Senate Ave., IGCN 955
Indianapolis, IN 46204

Starke County Officials Present Five-Year Strategic Infrastructure Plan

Posted on March 27, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

Updating routes into the Knox Industrial Park and improving access to potential growth areas in Hamlet are among the priorities outlined in Starke County’s five-year strategic infrastructure plan. It serves as a blueprint for the use of County Economic Development Income Tax (CEDIT) funds, along with money from the state.

The Starke County Highway Department and Starke County Economic Development Foundation looked at areas most likely to be developed and evaluated needs in those locations.

Plans for Knox include upgrading the intersection of Division Road and 300 East/Klockner Drive, extending utilities to that area and extending the county lead track. The reconstruction of 300 East from State Road 8 to Division Road is also on the major projects list for 2019.

In the Hamlet area, the county is looking to reconstruct the intersection of 500 North and 750 East, along with both roadways just east of Norton Packaging to provide easier access to U.S. 30. Hamlet is seen as a potential growth area, but Starke County Economic Development Foundation Executive Director Charlie Weaver says water and sewer services will need to be extended in order to capitalize on that potential. He says industry site selectors are looking for shovel ready properties that will require minimal infrastructure investment on their part. A Hamlet East Sanitary Sewer utility extension is on the plan for 2018.

The five-year plan also includes the resurfacing of Arlington Avenue in North Judson and the addition of shoulders to the road. It serves as the main access point to the town’s industrial park. Land acquisition and utilities for a new North Judson Industrial Park are also in progress, according to information shared last week with the Starke County Commissioners. No timeline was set for construction.

Other projects on the list include improving the intersection of Old State Road 10/600 South and CR 210 at Bass Lake, the realignment of State Road 10 from 700 East to U.S. 35 and total reconstruction of 600 East from State Road 8 to 25 North.

The county is also eyeing future construction of a bike and walking trail along State Road 10.

N.J.-S.P. School Board Approves Bus Purchases

Posted on March 27, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

The North Judson-San Pierre School Board last week unanimously approved the purchase of three new buses. Business Manager Guy Richie says they got prices through the state bid program for a 72 passenger bus, a special needs bus with a lift and a multipurpose bus with a lift.

He says Midwest Transit had the lowest price for the three vehicles at $226,491. That includes a trade-in allowance on two buses.

More High School Graduates Prepared for College, According to Commission for Higher Education

Posted on March 27, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

More Indiana high school graduates are prepared for college, but the Indiana Commission for Higher Education says there’s still more work to be done. State officials say in spite of recent improvements, nearly a fifth of recent high school graduates are still not ready to take college courses that count toward their degrees. That’s particularly true in the area of math.

Indiana’s 2017 College Readiness Report analyzes data on students who graduated from high school in 2015 and entered college the following fall. The report indicates that 65 percent of Hoosier high school graduates went directly to college, which is slightly below the national average. Seventy-four percent of Indiana students go to public colleges, 13 percent attend private colleges, and 12 percent go to out-of-state schools.

Those who graduated from high school with an Honors diploma were generally more prepared for college, with only three percent needing remediation. That compares to half of those with a General Diploma and one-fifth of students who earned a Core 40 Diploma.

However, state education officials say the overall trend is positive. They credit changes in the Ivy Tech system that tie math remediation more closely into degree coursework. Instead of having students take a series of standalone remedial courses, they’re now being placed directly into college-level courses with “additional wraparound support.” Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education Teresa Lubbers says the changes are designed to make math “a gateway rather than a barrier to student success” and that they’ve been “tremendously effective.”

More information, including data for each county, school district, and high school in the state, can be found on the Indiana Commission for Higher Education website.

Sign Up to Donate Blood During National Volunteer Month

Posted on March 27, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

April is National Volunteer Month, and the American Red Cross says it’s a good time to donate blood. Red Cross officials note that volunteer blood donors are the only source of blood for many patients who need transfusions.

Locally, blood drives will take place Monday, April 3 from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Ancilla College Administration Building in Donaldson; Tuesday, April 11 from 12:30 to 6:00 p.m. at the Nancy J. Dembowski Community Center in Knox; and Thursday, April 13 at St. Peter Lutheran Church in North Judson.

Additional blood drives will be held Monday, April 24 at North Judson-San Pierre High School; Wednesday, April 26 at the Knights of Columbus in Winamac; Thursday, May 4 at Knox Community High School; and Wednesday, May 10 at Culver Community High School.

For more information or to find a blood drive near you, visit

Friday, March 24, 2017

Starke County Council Sets Tax Rates

Posted on March 24, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

Property owners in Starke County will pay cumulative bridge and capital development taxes in 2018 after a Monday vote by the county council to reestablish both rates.

The cumulative bridge fund rate is .027 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. Proceeds are earmarked for the replacement of bridges on county roads.

The new cumulative capital development fund rate is .03 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. That money is used for non-budget, big-ticket items like new vehicles, equipment and unanticipated building repairs and maintenance.

The council approved both rates unanimously.

N.J.-S.P. Superintendent Presents Quarterly Enrollment Report

Posted on March 24, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

Enrollment at North Judson-San Pierre Schools reflects the transient nature of the student population, according to Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin.

She shared a quarterly enrollment report with the school board on Tuesday and noted there have been ups and downs in the past 18 months. Enrollment on the February ADM count date was 1,051, which was up from 1,025 in September. The state counts students two times per year. Each corporation receives a set amount of tuition money per pupil based on those counts.

The high number in the past 18 months was September of 2015, with 1,056 students. It dipped by 20 before the February 2016 count date.

As of Tuesday, N.J.-S.P.’s enrollment was 1,043. Zupin is also tracking where students are going when they leave. She told the board 11 the students who left the elementary school moved out of the district. At the high school, eight students moved, two transferred to Knox, one went to Winamac, five are taking virtual classes, and two students dropped out to take the TASK, which is the revamped GED.

Zupin says N.J.-S.P. needs to figure out how to help students who are struggling to complete their high school curriculum and keep them in school until they graduate. She says that will be a focus of the strategic planning group.

North Judson Alley Repairs Almost Done

Posted on March 24, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Long-awaited alley repairs are nearing completion in North Judson. As of Monday, the alley project was about three-quarters of the way done, according to Town Superintendent Marshall Horstmann. He told the town council that contractor Frank Dietrich expects to have the project wrapped up within the next week or so, depending on weather.

Dietrich has been working on the alleys over the winter, as weather allowed. Still, council member John Rowe expressed displeasure at how long it’s taken. “I mean, it’s been a pretty mild winter, and then they kind of stopped, so that’s why I thought they were done,” he said. “Then I called [Clerk-Treasurer] Alicia [Collins] and she’s like ‘We haven’t even got a bill yet,’ and I thought, ‘Okay, well what’s the deal here?’ I don’t know. It doesn’t seem right to me.”

Council President Wendy Hoppe explained that Dietrich wasn’t given a deadline. Rowe said that’s a problem. “We’ve done this like three times now,” he said. “We’ve got to stop doing that. Everything should have a deadline. It’s just how business works. That’s ridiculous.”

Dietrich began work on the 26-alley project back in October.

In other business this week, town officials clarified that next week’s Board of Zoning Appeals meeting will be held on Tuesday at 7 p.m.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

3/29/2017 Registration Deadline for Dining With Diabetes Cooking School

This April and May Starke County Purdue Extension will be partnering with the IU Health Starke Hospital to provide a 5 week Dining with Diabetes cooking school for members of the community.

This program includes:

  • Planning meals and snacks with delicious and healthy recipes
  • Cooking demonstrations and food sampling
  • Motivation and support – connect with others who are living with diabetes
  • Ideas for being more active
  • An understanding of how diabetes affects your overall health

And so much more! For more information or to register for these classes please call the Extension office at 574-772-9141.

North Judson-San Pierre School Board to Consider Capital Projects

Posted on March 23, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

The North Judson-San Pierre School Board wants input from residents before finalizing plans for building renovations and updates. Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin told the school board Tuesday night the bond for the auditorium project is almost paid off. She says the corporation can maintain the debt service rate and take care of some other needs on the campus.

Board members will meet for a work session in early April to discuss options prior to the April 18th board meeting. Zupin says they will formally discuss the preliminary project scope, tax impact, which should be zero, and potential financing options at that meeting.

A special called community meeting will take place sometime in late April at the auditorium to provide more information about estimated costs and savings and get community input with regard to the proposals.

Meanwhile, Zupin encourages any member of the community who would like to tour the campus to call maintenance supervisor Wilbur Collins at 574-896-2158 ext 282 to make arrangements.

Past discussions have involved investments in making the buildings more energy efficient.

Starke Council Adds Skilled Part-Time Classification to Salary Ordinance

Posted on March 23, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

A handful of part-time county employees could be getting pay raises following Monday action by the Starke County Council. They agreed to create a “skilled part-time” wage classification as part of the salary ordinance.

The issue was first raised by Starke County Clerk Vicki Cooley when she requested a pay increase for her election clerk. Cooley says it’s a 32.5-hour-per-week position, but since it’s considered part-time there are no insurance benefits or paid time off.

The skilled part-time classification also includes cooks at the Starke County Jail. The commissioners set the starting wage for skilled part-time employees at $10.13 per hour, which can go up to $12.13 per hour after 90 days at the discretion of the supervisor.

Council members note the policy only applies to a few employees. They do not anticipate a major budgetary impact as a result of the new policy.

Starke Commissioners Approve Independent Inspection of Bass Lake Beach and Campground

Posted on March 23, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The Bass Lake Beach and Campground will be inspected by an independent contractor.

Starke County Park Board President Debbie Mix has been working for months to obtain a formal inspection report on the property. “We’ve tried to get the county inspector; that hasn’t worked out,” she told the county commissioners Monday. “And then also the city, and that hasn’t worked out.”

She said the park board would like to hire a certified inspector from Valparaiso. The commissioners approved that request, choosing to pay for the $300 inspection with money from the cumulative capital development fund.

Having formal documentation of the beach and campground’s condition is seen as a way to possibly get the county out of its lease with operator Callahan Development, LLC. Otherwise, it would automatically be extended.

County Attorney Marty Lucas said it made sense to the park board to get someone with no involvement in the deal to inspect the property. He added they’d like to have the inspection completed within 30 days, to give the park board time to make some decisions before the summer season begins.

North Judson Utility Projects May Lead to Big Rate Hike

Posted on March 23, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The North Judson Town Council is trying to figure out how to pay for some much-needed utility projects, while minimizing the impact on utility rates. Representatives from Commonwealth Engineers and accounting firm Umbaugh and Associates met with the council Monday to discuss the projects and possible funding options.

The first project would upgrade the combined sewer overflow system to bring it into compliance with Indiana Department of Environmental Management regulations. It would include a new storm sewer along Main, Franklin, and Railroad streets, discharging in an area past Arlington Avenue, near the Wastewater Treatment Plant, costing nearly $1.9 million.

Commonwealth Engineers is also suggesting over $1.5 million in upgrades to North Judson’s Wastewater Treatment Plant. That project would improve aerators and add pumping capacity to handle biosolids. On top of that, the town’s also planning upgrades to its water system.

The town may apply for state or federal grants to cover the costs, in addition to issuing bonds. To cover the potential bond payments, utility rates would likely increase, possibly by as much as 54 percent. However, that would depend on state and federal funding options and whether both projects are done at the same time.

While spreading the projects out could lessen the immediate impact, North Judson could save some money in the long term by doing everything at once. Clerk-Treasurer Alicia Collins notes that the utility rates haven’t been raised since 2003, and are due for an increase. The town council plans to discuss funding options in more detail with officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development office.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Starke County Commissioners Pass Responsible Bidder Law

Posted on March 22, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

Starke County now has a responsible bidder law on the books. The county commissioners adopted the measure Monday evening following a brief public hearing. It sets clear and objective criteria contractors must meet in order to be eligible to bid on public works construction projects.

They include proof of licensure to do work in the state, disclosure of any federal or state law violations, tax liens or delinquencies, description of the project management team’s qualification and experience, proof of participation in construction apprenticeship training programs and assurance the workers’ employment status will be properly classified.

Prospective bidders must also show proof of an employee drug testing plan as required by state law and proof of any required professional licenses. They must also list any projects of similar size or scope that they’ve completed and provide proof of adequate surety coverage.

Representatives of the Indiana-Illinois-Iowa Foundation for Fair Contracting say defining “responsible bidder” ensures all contractors are able to compete on a level playing field. Such policies also protect employees from exploitation and ultimately lead to greater taxpayer value.

N.J.-S.P. School Board Prepares for Possible Reduction in Force

Posted on March 22, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

The North Judson-San Pierre School Board has taken the first step toward a reduction in force, should one be necessary this year.

They voted last night to follow procedures outlined in state law if and when teacher layoffs are necessary. Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin says a lot will depend on the success of the upcoming kindergarten roundup and enrollment at the junior/senior high school for next year.

She adds any actual reductions will take place between May 1 and July 1.

School board member Derrick Stalbaum asked for clarification of how RIFs are handled if two teachers have identical certifications, licensure and evaluations. Zupin says the board then looks at what is the best interest of the school, experience and seniority to make a decision.

Downtown North Judson Building Demolition Delayed by Legal Action

Posted on March 22, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The demolition of a Downtown North Judson building appears to be on hold.

Town Attorney Justin Schramm told the town council Monday the owner of 205 and 207 Lane Street wants to retrieve his personal property from inside the building. “But our position from day one has been that building was unsafe,” Schramm explained. “Nobody’s going into that property unless it’s a contractor that’s going to tear the place down.” So to get his stuff back, the owner has filed a replevin action in Starke Circuit Court.

Schramm said that when the town bid the demolition project, it specified that the contractor could dispose the building’s contents, along with the rest of the debris. Since those specifications could change depending on the court decision, Schramm asked the town council to simply reject the seven bids the town received and rebid the project once the specifications are known. “What I want to avoid doing is since there is personal property in there that the current owner is saying is of a lot of value, I don’t want us to destroy all of that and the town’s on the hook for whatever is in there because we can’t prove what it was actually worth,” he said.

At the same time, the town may also make a few other updates to the demolition specifications. One potential contractor pointed out the current specifications lack some of the features typically required by the state. These include notification of the Indiana Department of Environment Management and the completion of an environmental study to locate potential asbestos in the property.

The North Judson Town Council voted unanimously to reject the current bids.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

5/6/2017 North Judson Mint Festival Queen/King Pageant

5/6/2017 North Judson Mint Festival Mint Darlings Pageant

North Judson Police Department Ordinance Enforcement

4/2017 American Legion Post #92 Honorees

4/15/2017 Easter Trains @ Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum

Tickets are now on sale for the 2017 Easter Trains, which run on Saturday, April 15, 2017.

These trains leave from our station in North Judson and proceed to English Lake before returning to our park for an Easter Egg Hunt and a visit with the Easter Bunny. The trips run rain or shine and last approximately 75 minutes.

The trains depart at:

  • 10:00 am, 
  • 12:30 pm, and 
  • 2:30 pm (all times are Central time). 

Tickets are available for coach or open air car seating. These trains always sell out, so make sure you buy your tickets early!!/Easter-Trains/c/17958770/offset=0&sort=normal

5/19/2017 Deadline for Sleep Awareness Creative Video Scholarship

At, we value education highly and want to give back to our community at large. We are also passionate about promoting sleep awareness and created this scholarship to both help further that cause and to help students pay for the increasing costs of higher education. This scholarship is intended to be used for tuition during the 2017-18 school year.
  • Amount Awarded – $1,000
  • Deadline – May 19th, 2017
  • Non-Renewable (However, will run a new scholarship every year. is looking for creative video applications that answer the following two questions:
  1. How important is sleep as a public health issue? Sleep has gotten a lot of coverage in the last few years and we’d like to know how you think it stacks up and why you feel that way. Please use research and statistics to back up your opinions.
  2. Describe your current relationship with sleep and assess the quality of that relationship. Research and cover at least two to three ways you think you should change your lifestyle/sleep hygiene habits to improve your sleep health and how you plan to implement them over the next year of your life.

3/22/2017 Starke County Local Emergency Planning Committee Meeting

LEPC Legal Notice

The Starke County Local Emergency Planning Committee will hold its meetings for the year 2017 at 10:00AM (CST) at the Starke County Annex Building, 53 E Mound Street Knox, Indiana 46534 on March 22 and at such other times as shall be duly authorized by the Committee or its Chairman. All interested parties are encouraged to attend.

The Starke County Local Emergency Plan for Hazardous Materials Incidents may be reviewed during regular business hours at the office of the Emergency Management Agency at 53 E Mound Street Knox Indiana 46534. All information filed covers SARA Title III facilities in Starke County may be reviewed during regular office hours at the office of the Emergency Management Agency at 53 E Mound Street Knox Indiana 46534. Copies of documents may be obtained at this office, and the Committee may charge a fee for copies. For further information on these matters, please contact Jacob W. Lippner, Chairman, at 574-772-9182.

2017 Youth Spring Turkey Season Hunter Education Classes

We are just over a month away from the 2017 Youth Spring Turkey Season! There are several Hunter Education opportunities between now and then in District 10 and they can be found here:

Starke County Council Clears Way for Stelrema Building Occupant

Posted on March 21, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

A long vacant Starke County industrial building could soon have a new occupant. Chicagoland-area-based gourmet snack food producer Gary Poppins plans to move into the Stelrema building on U.S. 35 this summer and be fully operational in that space by the end of the year.

The company opened as a gourmet popcorn retail storefront in Evanston, Ill. in 2003 and expanded to a wholesale producer and distributor a few years later. Officials say it’s no longer feasible to rent their existing space in Franklin Park, Ill. They plan to make Knox their sole production and distribution center for their global operations.

Gary Poppins officials are seeking real and personal property tax abatements from the county to help offset the cost of their relocation. The first step in that process is to designate the site as an economic revitalization area, which the Starke County Council did last night. The public hearing on the proposed abatements totaling $1.7 million will take place at their April meeting.

Gary Poppins General Manager Ryan Amos told the council the company has tremendous growth potential and will likely hire 40 or so local employees once the relocation is complete. He adds the company is looking to put down roots and make Starke County its permanent home.

North Judson Council Reestablishes Cumulative Capital Development Fund

Posted on March 21, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

North Judson residents will soon see a bit of a tax increase. The town council voted Monday to reestablish the town’s cumulative capital development fund at 0.05 percent.

Ross Hagan with accounting firm Umbaugh and Associates told council members that will boost the town’s revenue by $13,000 to $14,000 a year. “That’s revenue that you guys currently don’t have access to because the CCD fund is outside of your maximum levy,” he explained. “So this is new revenue that you guys don’t currently get, and it’s revenue that can be used for any legal purpose, so it has a lot of different uses that it can have for the town.”

The owner of a $50,000 home can expect to pay an extra $3.73 a year in taxes, while someone who owns a $75,000 home will typically pay about $6.15, according to Umbaugh’s calculations.

However, North Judson Clerk-Treasurer Alicia Collins said residents may see a bigger jump initially, after the town learned that taxpayers were being charged the wrong amount. “There was an error a couple years ago that the tax amounts were lower,” she explained. “It will go up, and it has nothing to do with this cume cap that we’re talking about. It will go to the amount that it was supposed to be, and then it will go up an additional three dollars or six dollars or whatever.”

Hagan added that the town can expect to see the increased revenue in its 2018 budget.

Starke County Park Board Finalizes Five-Year Plan

Posted on March 21, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The Starke County Park Board has finalized a five-year plan for the county’s park and recreation facilities. The document will help guide improvements at parks, such as the Bass Lake Beach and Campground, the Starke County Forest, and Yellow River access sites at Range Road and English Lake. On top of that, it makes the county eligible for grant funding from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources to help achieve some of those goals.

Board President Debbie Mix says a few minor updates were made to the plan since a draft was submitted to the DNR in January. She says the county’s ADA transition plan was added, as requested by the DNR.

Additionally, the plan no longer refers to Bass Lake Beach and Campground operator Callahan Development, LLC by name, instead just referring to “the lessee.” The terms of the county’s existing lease with Callahan are considered a challenge to making improvements at the property. However, residents complained last month that it was unfair to call out the lessee by name, when the plan didn’t necessarily do so with other individuals and organizations.

The updated plan will be submitted to the DNR by April 15. If it gets final approval, Starke County will be able to apply for grants later this year.

At the same time, Mix says the board is already considering ways to start implementing some of the plan’s suggestions. During last week’s meeting, members began discussing potential grant opportunities for some of the relatively easy projects on the list.

Taxpayers, Tax Preparers Targeted by Last-Minute Email Scams

Posted on March 21, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Tax filing season is heading into its final weeks, and the Internal Revenue Service says to be on the lookout for a few last-minute email scams. IRS officials say this is the time of year when tax-related scams reach their peak.

One thing taxpayers should look out for is emails appearing to be from their tax software provider, bank, or credit card company asking them to update their online accounts. They could be a scam to obtain passwords, Social Security numbers, bank account information, or other sensitive data.

Meanwhile, tax professionals are also being targeted with email scams. According to the IRS, tax preparers have been getting emails which appear to be from their clients. They ask them to make a last-minute change to their refund destination, often to a prepaid debit card. The IRS recommends that tax professionals verbally check with their clients, should they receive such a request by email. Tax professionals are also encouraged to update and strengthen their email passwords to help protect their clients’ data.

The IRS says never open an attachment or link from an unknown source. If you get a suspicious email, forward it to

More security tips can be found on the IRS website.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Indiana FAFSA Deadline Extended to April 15th

Posted on March 17, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Hoosiers planning to attend college this fall have another chance to get financial aid from the state. Students were required to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid by March 10 in order to be eligible for state aid, but a problem with the online data retrieval tool means that deadline’s been pushed back to April 15.

Ancilla College Vice President for Enrollment Eric Wignall says there were serious security issues in the FAFSA system. But instead of letting the states know about the issue, he says the federal government simply turned off the data retrieval tool, which is supposed to import previous tax data.

Ancilla College officials say the extension gives those who had trouble with the tool a chance to go back and enter their 2015 tax data by hand. At the same time, those who simply chose not to fill out the FAFSA or forgot have another chance to apply for state aid.

Ancilla College encourages Hoosiers to seek help from the state, noting that the amount of funding available for low-income students has increased from last year.

Visit for more information or to complete the form.

Starke County CASA Volunteer Shares Her Insights

Posted on March 17, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

A longtime Starke County CASA volunteer says working with abused and neglected youngsters has changed her life. Ivyl Wallace first learned of the Court Appointed Special Advocates program when she saw a call for volunteers in her church bulletin.  From there she kept seeing commercials and decided to heed God’s call. That was 10 years and dozens of cases ago.

Wallace said drugs are the main issue she sees as a CASA. She believes most parents want to do better, but says some can’t. Wallace says the CASA in those situations works with the children to try and get the best results for them.

She adds children who wind up in the court system and assigned a CASA volunteer are often bewildered at first.

“The best thing to do is just listen. Children like the one-on-one, and if you just shut up and listen they like to talk about themselves and what’s going on.”

Wallace says signing up to be a CASA is the best thing she’s ever done and adds it’s so much easier than what she was afraid of. She credits the extensive training classes volunteers complete and the support of Starke County CASA Director Rhonda Adcock with making the process a smooth one.

The start date for the next CASA Volunteer training sessions has been pushed back to early April. Visit call 574-772-7200 or email for more information.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Indiana Tobacco Quitline Offers Free Resources for Hoosier Smokers

Posted on March 15, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Indiana smokers who want to quit can now get free help from the state. Those who enroll in the Indiana Tobacco Quitline between now and April 2 or until supplies run out, will be eligible for free medication, such as gum or patches.

The Quitline connects tobacco users with trained coaches who help them create a personalized quit plan. Officials with the Indiana State Department of Health note that counseling and medication are more effective when used together.

They add that about 20 percent of Indiana adults smoke, more than 330,000 Hoosiers live with smoking-related diseases, and over 11,000 Hoosiers die each year from smoking. State health officials say that quitting tobacco use lowers the risk for lung cancer, heart disease, stroke, and several other health problems.

The Indiana Tobacco Quitline promotion coincides with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Tips from Former Smokers national tobacco education campaign. For more information, call the Indiana Tobacco Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW or visit

Starke Hospital Earns National Lung Cancer Screening Designation

Posted on March 16, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

Area residents who need to be screened for lung cancer have access to a Designated Lung Cancer Screening Center at Starke Hospital in Knox. The American College of Radiology recently awarded that designation to the local facility after a voluntary rigorous review to ensure it meets or exceeds high standards.

Starke Hospital is already accredited for CT chest imaging by the ACR. That’s a requirement to become a designated lung cancer screening center.

Interim CEO Jeff Vice says the designation showcases the superior quality of Starke Hospital’s lung cancer screening program and is a testament to the hard work of the professionals in the diagnostic imaging department. He adds it’s a win for the community to have a designated program available so close to home. The certification is based on nationally-recognized guidelines and technical standards.

Starke Hospital invested in a new CT scanner in 2015. It provides high-quality images while using the lowest dose of radiation possible.

In Starke County an estimated 23 percent of adults smoke, according to University of Wisconsin County Health Rankings. Former smokers or people who live with smokers could also be at risk for lung cancer. It is the number one cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States and is responsible for more deaths annually than breast, prostate and colorectal cancers combined. Lung cancer is second only to heart disease in the number of deaths caused annually.

Starke Hospital Director of Diagnostic Imaging Josephine Klicek says a CT scan to screen for lung cancer requires a doctor’s order. She adds the test is easy, painless and potentially life-saving. That’s because it can detect lung cancer at an earlier, more treatable stage.

Patients must meet certain criteria for CT lung cancer screening, and Medicare as well as most insurance companies will cover the screening if patients are eligible.

Criteria for CT lung cancer screening are as follows:

  • Age 55 to 77 years old
  • Asymptomatic – no signs or symptoms of lung cancer
  • History of tobacco smoking of at least 30 pack-years (one pack-year is the same as smoking one pack per day for one year; one pack equals 20 cigarettes)
  • Current smokers or those who have quit smoking within the last 15 years; AND
  • A written order for a low dose CT lung cancer screening from a qualified health professional following a lung cancer screening counseling and shared decision making visit.
  • Candidates cannot have signs or symptoms of lung cancer to qualify for a lung cancer screen.

Utility Assistance Programs Continue, After Winter Disconnection Moratorium Ends

Posted on March 16, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Low-income residents who are delinquent in their heating bills may have their natural gas service disconnected. Between December 1 and March 15, Indiana utility companies don’t shut off natural gas service to customers taking part in the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program or LIHEAP.Now that that period has come to an end for 2017, NIPSCO is reminding customers that there’s still some help available for those struggling to pay their utility bills.

The federal LIHEAP program offers help to households falling within 150 percent of federal poverty guidelines. Applications for heating assistance will be taken through May 12, and summer cooling assistance will also be available between June 5 and August 11. LIHEAP participants are also eligible for additional discounts of up to 26 percent from NIPSCO through May 31 or until funding is used up.

On top of that, households falling between 151 and 200 percent of the federal poverty level may take part in the NIPSCO Hardship Program. It offers up to $400 in gas bill assistance through May 31 or until funds are exhausted.

Additional energy assistance funds may be available through local township trustee’s offices, and payment agreements are also offered through NIPSCO. More information can be found on NIPSCO’s website.

Demand for CASA Volunteers Grows as Children Wind Up in Court System

Posted on March 15, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

A program that shepherds abused and neglected children through the court system needs more volunteer advocates to serve as voices for the youngsters they serve. Starke County CASA Director Rhonda Adcock says the number of children served by the program has exploded since she took over as director seven years ago. “The year before that there were 21 children who came into the system as a result of abuse or neglect. Last year it was in the mid-70s. So the number of children coming into the system per year has tripled since I’ve been director. When I became director we had about 15 volunteers who were actively working cases. We now have 29 who are actively working cases.”

Adcock says that has created a backlog in the system.

“We have 30 children right now waiting who, if I had a volunteer trained and ready today, I could assign them today. These children are going through their court cases without someone to be their voice, without someone to take care of putting it all together and to voice all of the little things that are important to a child but can easily get missed by a professional DCS worker.”

Adcock says those children work with other professionals, but they are stretched thin.

“They might have a therapist and a doctor and a DCS caseworker, and all those people are wonderful. But those people might have 25 to 30 children on their caseload. A CASA has one family or two families. If they have a family of two and a family of one they have three children, versus the 25 to 30, so we can spend the additional time and attention the child needs to make them comfortable and lessen the trauma of going through a court case.”

CASA volunteers spend between five and 15 hours a month advocating for the children in their care. The next CASA Volunteer training sessions begin on March 21st. All will be scheduled in the evenings. Call 574-772-7200 or email for more information.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Closed 3/15/2017

The North Judson-Wayne Township Library will be CLOSED today, March 15th.  Enjoy this - hopefully - last blast of winter snow and we will see you tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Cheryl Lyn Welter Family Foundation Launches

Posted on March 14, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

A local family is honoring the memory of their late daughter by giving back to school-age children throughout the Kankakee Valley. WKVI sports legend Harold Welter announced the establishment of the Cheryl Lyn Welter Family Charitable Foundation during a Monday appearance on “Grossman in the Morning.” He says it represents a major commitment to helping underprivileged children in our local schools.

“It’s a tax-exempt 501(c)3 organization with an endowment from which grants are going to be issued to help underprivileged kids in grades K to 12 with expenses which may be out of their reach. Our initial goal in this is to have $100,000 in the endowment to begin awarding grants,” Welter said.

The foundation’s namesake, Cheryl Lyn Welter, was a senior at Knox High School when she was killed in a car accident on Oct. 12, 2000.

“Her dream was always to help others. She had been accepted at Purdue University in the family counseling department. That was going to be her major. We’re basically asking people to help us carry on her dream,” Welter added.

The foundation will award grants to teachers throughout the area to help students who need an extra financial boost.

“A lot of local kids can’t even afford little things like field trips or school supplies or practice packs for athletes. Through the endowment we’re going to be able to help kids with those immediate needs that are geared to specific purposes. Teachers will be coming to us and applying for these grants.”

The foundation is working to build an endowment of $100,000 to ensure its work can carry on for generations to come. Interest from the fund will be used to fund the grants, with a goal of awarding the first one before the end of this school year. Visit for more information or to donate.

Mobile Health Unit to Visit Starke County for Colon Cancer, Sleep Apnea Awareness

Posted on March 14, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Colon cancer prevention will bring LaPorte Hospital’s Mobile Health Unit to local communities this month. March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and LaPorte Hospital officials will be traveling around Starke and LaPorte counties to hand out take-home test kits. They’re designed to screen for blood in the stool, which could be a symptom of cancer.

However, hospital officials say the best way to prevent colorectal cancer is by getting regular colonoscopy screenings. Men and women age 50 and older should have a colonoscopy done once every ten years, or more, depending on family history and other risk factors.

The Mobile Health Unit will be at
Bailey’s Discount Center in North Judson this Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Starke Hospital in Knox on Thursday, March 23 from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. 
Residents will also have the chance to fill out a sleep apnea survey, as part of National Sleep Awareness Month.

5/6/2017 Maxinkuckee Players Announce Audition Schedule for Summer Production

Posted on March 14, 2017
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Maxinkuckee Players are inviting interested residents to audition for this year’s stage production of the ever-popular Disney musical “Mary Poppins.”

Those auditioning are asked to sing a song of their choice as well as read from a script provided on site. A pianist and CD player will be available for accompaniment needs.

The audition dates are Saturday, May 6, from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, May 7, from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET in the Culver High School Auditorium.

The musical will be presented on stage in July.

For more information, call Director Thomas Boys at (574) 933-2535 or visit

Monday, March 13, 2017

Cheryl Lyn Welter Charitable Family Foundation


The Family of Cheryl Lyn Welter is excited to announce a MAJOR COMMITMENT to help underprivileged kids in our local schools!

Cheryl’s Family has established the “Cheryl Lyn Welter Charitable Family Foundation”, a tax-exempt 501(c)3 organization with an endowment from which grants will be issued to help underprivileged kids in grades K-12 with expenses which may be out of their reach.

Our initial goal is to have $100,000 in the endowment in order to begin awarding grants.

Our daughter Cheryl was killed in an auto accident on October 12, 2000, when she was a Senior at Knox High School. Cheryl’s dream was always to help others, and, to that end, she had been accepted at Purdue University as a Family Counseling major. Now, we’re asking you to help us carry on her dream of helping families, and, in particular, children of families with limited financial means!

Many local kids can’t afford even simple things like field trips, school supplies or practice packs for sports. Through the endowment, we will be able to help kids with immediate needs through grants geared to specific purposes as outlined by teachers, coaches and others involved with these children.

If you’d like to have an immediate impact in helping local kids, go to Cheryl’s website: to learn more about the Foundation and to contribute!

The need is great…the time is now…the inspiration is Cheryl!

Starke County CASA Program Recruiting Volunteers

Posted on March 13, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

Starke County is in need of more volunteers to serve as Court Appointed Special Advocates. Executive Director Rhonda Adcock says a passion for helping children is a must.

CASA’s are appointed by the court to advocate for a child who has come into the system as a result of either abuse or neglect.

“They do whatever the child needs. They will go in, investigate the child’s life, see what their needs are, and then advocate for that child to the people around the child, but most importantly to the court,” Adcock said.

The CASA’s recommendations carry quite a bit of weight with the judge. Adcock adds children come into the court system for various reasons.

“In 85 percent of the cases in Starke County there’s a drug component to the case. So maybe they came into the system because their home was dirty, and by dirty I mean not fit for human habitation. And maybe they come to the court because the house is dirty, and that’s considered neglect, and you find out the parents have a drug problem, and they’re not mentally or emotionally there to clean the home and take care of the children.”

Adcock says in other instances children wind up in the court system after their parents are arrested because there is nobody else to care for them.

“On occasion there’s medical neglect, some of which could be neglect and some of it could be parents are just wrapped up in their own lives trying to do the best they can, and then their child’s needs get put on the back burner. Sometimes there’s drug manufacturing in the home, and we do have a few cases of physical abuse.”

CASA volunteers spend between five and 15 hours a month advocating for the children in their care. The next CASA Volunteer training sessions begin on March 21st. All will be scheduled in the evenings. Call 574-772-7200 or email for more information.

Starke Hospital Invests in New Patient Beds

Posted on March 13, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

Patients who are admitted to Starke Hospital can recover in new beds. The hospital recently spent $96,000 on 12 new beds and mattresses for the second floor medical/surgical unit.

They offer a high-tech advantage over traditional hospital beds and also improve patient comfort and safety.

Director of Inpatient Nursing Janet Gillon says the new beds feature side rails that offer different support positions for patients when they are getting in and out of bed. They also have awareness monitors that let the staff know how the patient is positioned in the bed at any given time.

The beds are also designed to reduce the chance of patients slipping down to an uncomfortable position, which means the nursing staff doesn’t need to boost them up in bed as often.

Additionally the new gel-type mattresses are more comfortable for patients. Gillon says they are pressure-sensitive, which reduces the possibility of skin breakdown.

“Starke Hospital has an exceptional safety record when it comes to falls and pressure ulcers. The new beds will just reinforce these best practices that we already have in place, and provide a safe, more comfortable stay for our patients,” Gillon said.

Hospital staff have found the beds to be easier to operate, and more functional as well. They are easier to clean, and have more convenient foot controls so nurses and caregivers don’t have to bend as much or move equipment around to access the bed controls.

The bed purchase marks the first major investment in hospital equipment since the new high-tech CT scanner, which was installed in 2015.

IRS Officials Offer Security Tips for Personal Information

Posted on March 13, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

The Internal Revenue Service reminds taxpayers to protect their personal, financial and tax information.

They say personal information should be treated like cash and should not be handed out to just anyone. This includes Social Security, credit card, bank and utility account numbers, all of which can be used to steal money or open new accounts. Taxpayers are urged to think about whether requests for personal information are truly necessary, as scammers will do anything possible to appear both trustworthy and legitimate.

IRS officials note the easiest way for criminals to steal sensitive data is simply to ask for it. Taxpayers should learn to recognize phishing emails, calls or texts that pose as familiar organizations such as banks, credit card companies or even the IRS.

Such bogus communications generally urge taxpayers to give up sensitive data like passwords, Social Security numbers and bank account or credit card numbers. They are called phishing scams because they attempt to lure the receiver into taking the bait. The subject line may suggest the recipient just won a free cruise or that they must immediately update an account. Never open a link or an attachment from a suspicious email. It may contain malware.

Also, don’t assume internet advertisements, pop-up ads or emails are from reputable companies. Before doing anything online, check companies to make sure they are legitimate. When online, a little research can save money and reduce security risks. If an ad or offer looks too good to be true, take a moment to check out the company behind it. Type the company or product name into a search engine with terms like “review,” “complaint” or “scam.”

Never download “security” software from a pop-up ad. A pervasive ploy is a pop-up ad that indicates it has detected a virus on the computer. It urges users to download a security software package. Don’t fall for it. It most likely will install some type of malware. Reputable security software companies do not advertise in this manner.

Do not carry Social Security cards or any documents that may include the number with you. Provide Social Security numbers only when necessary, as businesses will occasionally request them when they are not essential.

Personal information should only be shared over encrypted websites. To determine if a website is encrypted, look for “https” at the beginning of the web address. The “s” stands for secure. Keep in mind some websites only use encryption on the sign-in page. If any part of the session isn’t encrypted, the entire account and the included financial information could be vulnerable. Look for “https” on every page of the site.

Lake Maxinkuckee Film Festival to Accept Short Film Entries

Posted on March 13, 2017
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

High school and college undergraduate student film makers are encouraged to submit short films for the upcoming 10th Annual Lake Maxinkuckee Film Festival.

The theme is “The Gift of Warmth”. Entrants will be separated in two categories: high school students up to age 18 and college undergraduate students up to age 24. Cash awards will be given during the Labor Day Film Festival weekend.

Entries must be submitted by Sunday, May 15.

For complete rules and entry information, visit

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Starke County Commissioners Advance Responsible Bidder Ordinance

Posted on March 9, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

The Starke County Commissioners will conduct a public hearing on a proposed responsible bidder ordinance during their March 20th meeting. The measure is also slated for adoption that night.

Such policies set clear and objective criteria contractors must meet in order to be eligible to bid on public works construction projects.

They include proof of licensure to do work in the state, disclosure of any federal or state law violations, tax liens or delinquencies, description of the project management team’s qualification and experience, proof of participation in construction apprenticeship training programs and assurance the workers’ employment status will be properly classified.

Prospective bidders must also show proof of an employee drug testing plan as required by state law and proof of any required professional licenses. They must also list any projects of similar size or scope that they’ve completed and provide proof of adequate surety coverage.

Representatives of the Indiana-Illinois-Iowa Foundation for Fair Contracting note while state and local laws require public construction contracts to be awarded to the lowest responsible bidder, the law rarely defines “responsible.”

They contend that adopting a Responsible Bidder Ordinance ensures all contractors are able to compete on a level playing field, and employees are protected from exploitation, which in turn leads to greater taxpayer value.

Several local governing bodies in Indiana have RBOs on the books, including the Town of North Judson, LaPorte County and the LaPorte Community Schools.

Click Responsible Bidding Ordinance to read a copy of the proposal.

Donnelly Raises Concerns Over GOP Health Care Plan

Posted on March 9, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly says he can’t support the Republican alternative to the Affordable Care Act in its current form. He’s not opposed to improvements aimed at making health insurance more affordable but says he’s not going to vote for anything that takes healthcare away from those struggling with conditions like diabetes or heart disease who have finally gotten coverage.

Donnelly says the GOP plan slashes costs on the backs of his constituents by reducing or eliminating benefits for millions of people.

During a Wednesday appearance on WKVI’s “Grossman in the Morning” Donnelly said many of the people he represents have coverage for the first time thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

“If someone in San Pierre or in North Judson or in Knox has diabetes, I’m not going to stand by and let them lose their coverage because they struggle from a disease. They had no part in winding up with that situation. That’s just something that happens. I just want to make sure we keep the commitments we’ve made to folks.”

The proposed bill includes a broad Medicaid overhaul that could mean reductions in benefits. Vice President Mike Pence has called the measure a “framework for reform.”

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

3/17/2017 Neuter Scooter in North Judson

Neuter Scooter will be in North Judson on March 17th. Location will be 302 Lane Street, across from Heartland Market. 

Check in is at 9 a.m. You must register and may do so by clicking on the link. The cost is $ 50.00 cash or money order only. 

5/20/2017 Hoof, Hound & Purr Festival

Lack of Snow Saves Starke County Money

Posted on March 8, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

Starke County had no snow events in February. Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler says the little bit of snow that fell recently didn’t linger long enough to send plows out. He told the commissioners Monday that translates into big savings for the fuel budget. The Starke County Highway Department used about 6,000 gallons of diesel fuel last month, compared to 12,000 in February of 2016 and 14,000 the previous year.

Ritzler says the county highway department also has plenty of salt and sand and will be able to stockpile extra ahead of next winter. He’s already submitted the county’s bids for treated and untreated salt to the state in order to lock in a good price.

Ritzler hopes to have a one-year stockpile at all times at the garage. He says that will keep the county from having to pay high per-ton prices if supplies dwindle due to increased demand. Ritzler notes the county will need to add some additional storage space for salt in the next year or so.

Ancilla College Forms Collaboration with University of Evansville Business School

Posted on March 8, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

Ancilla College students who complete a two-year business degree have an opportunity to continue their education in a nationally recognized program.

The two-year private college has a formal collaborative agreement with the University of Evansville in support of Ancilla students who wish to pursue a four-year degree. The school’s Schroeder School of Business is the number-one rated business administration program in the country for small colleges.

Several Ancilla students, faculty and staff members attended a recent orientation on the University of Evansville campus.

They heard from several students about the School of Business comprehensive career placement program, which begins when students enroll. The Schroeder School has a 98-percent placement rate for graduates, with a median starting salary of $42,500.

The University of Evansville also has the number-one-ranked study abroad program in the United States at its Harlaxton College in Grantham, England. The school is housed in a massive historic estate and hosts an extensive array of courses, often partnering with other colleges.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Directory and Community Guide for Starke County

Working on a new page for the North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library's website and I hope to have it finished by the end of the day. The Directory and Community Guide for Starke County will have a listing of contacts for child care, workplace training, counseling, elderly services, emergency assistance, scholarships, plus a listing of the governmental units - towns, township trustees - and other sources.

Starke County Commissioners Award Bridge Design Bids

Posted on March 7, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

The number of structurally deficient bridges in Starke County is dwindling. Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler told the county commissioners last night five of the seven bridges are scheduled for repair and completion this year.

The commissioners last night awarded design contracts for three bridges to South Bend-based Jones, Petri, Rafinski. They bid a total of $48,868 to design the new bridges on County Road 25 North just west of 600 East over Eagle Creek and on 800 South over Bogus Run just east of 200 West.

Ritzler told the commissioners the firm does efficient designs. He also asked them for a quote to design the replacement bridge on 100 East over Robbins Ditch just north of 400 North. The commissioners accepted their price of $25,000 for the work, contingent on county attorney Marty Lucas double checking the propriety of doing so.

Ritzler says the department is keeping an eye on eight additional bridges that aren’t structurally deficient yet but that will need to be replaced within the next decade or so.

Hoosier Lottery Encourages Responsible Play

Posted on March 7, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month, and the Hoosier Lottery encourages players to be responsible in their wagering.

The Hoosier Lottery offers a free online money management course . It provides four modules of practical knowledge on topics like creating a budget, buying a home or car, managing credit and planning for retirement.

Indiana Council on Problem Gambling Executive Director Jerry Long says many people require money management skills to maintain a large win long term.

Help is available 24 hours a day from the Indiana Problem Gambling Referral Line at 1-800-994-8448.

Monday, March 6, 2017

4/2/2017 From the Farm Cooking Show with Phil Potempa

Join Columnist and Published Cookbook Author Phil Potempa for a feast of fun and surprises as he recreates on stage the charm and traditions of the family farm kitchen he writes about each week in his popular “From the Farm” newspaper column. Phil, joined by family members and the special guests readers have come to know from his writing, will prepare seven courses of favorite recipes, with time to spare for prizes and giveaways, all in a 2-hour whirlwind of entertaining, inviting and appetizing down-home hospitality.

Sunday, April 2, 2017 at 2:30pm at The Theater at the Center (1940 Ridge Road, Munster, Indiana)

Tickets:  $25

Brunch $23 plus tax

Buy Tickets Here

Starke County Commissioners to Consider Responsible Bidder Ordinance

Posted on March 6, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

The Starke County Commissioners will consider adoption of a responsible bidder ordinance on first reading when they meet tonight. Such policies set clear and objective criteria contractors must meet in order to be eligible to bid on public works construction projects.

They include proof of license to do work in the state, disclosure of any federal or state law violations, tax liens or delinquencies, description of the project management team’s qualification and experience, proof of participation in construction apprenticeship training programs and assurance the workers’ employment status will be properly classified.

Prospective bidders must also show proof of an employee drug testing plan as required by state law and proof of any required professional licenses. They must also list any projects of similar size or scope that they’ve completed and provide proof of adequate surety coverage.

Representatives of the Indiana-Illinois-Iowa Foundation for Fair Contracting recently approached the commissioners to discuss the proposed ordinance. They note while state and local laws require public construction contracts to be awarded to the lowest responsible bidder, the law rarely defines “responsible.”

They contend that adopting a Responsible Bidder Ordinance ensures all contractors are able to compete on a level playing field, and employees are protected from exploitation, which in turn leads to greater taxpayer value.

Several local governing bodies in Indiana have RBOs on the books, including the Town of North Judson, LaPorte County and the LaPorte Community Schools.

Other items on the agenda for tonight’s Starke County Commissioners agenda are monthly reports from the EMS and highway departments. Tonight’s meeting starts at 6 p.m. at the annex building.

INDOT Closes U.S. 421 for Bridge Deck Replacement

Posted on March 6, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

Motorists traveling north on U.S. 421 through LaPorte County will need to find a new route for the next few months. The Indiana Department of Transportation is replacing the entire bridge deck over the Bailey Road railroad tracks in Wanatah, just south of U.S. 30.

Work on the project starts today and will wrap up in mid-June. Until then the marked detour route around the closure uses State Road 8 to State Road 39 to U.S. 30.

Drivers in Northwest Indiana can monitor road closures, road conditions, and traffic alerts at any time via the District’s social media channels, or Twitter @INDOTNorthwest or online at

Saturday, March 4, 2017

North Judson-San Pierre Receives $8,000 Lilly Endowment Counseling Initiative Grant

Posted on March 4, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The North Judson-San Pierre School Corporation has gotten a Lilly Endowment Counseling Initiative planning grant.

Superintendent Annette Zupin says N.J.-S.P. was awarded $8,000 through the program. “That will be used for guidance department professional development and also some computers for the guidance counselors to use with our students to help them when they need to apply for colleges, apply for scholarships, maybe register for the SAT,” she explains. “So that will be helpful in the guidance department.”

Zupin adds that N.J.-S.P. is one of several local schools to benefit from Lilly’s Counseling Initiative.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Community Services of Starke County Names New Executive Director

Posted on March 3, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

Community Services of Starke County has a new executive director. The board of directors selected longtime employee Charmaine Dunkel to head the nonprofit agency.

Dunkel has served as interim executive director since Becky Anspach was terminated in January. She’s previously worked as an administrative assistant, energy assistance intake specialist and nutrition site manager at Community Services of Starke County and will take over as executive director immediately.

Dunkel holds a bachelor of human resource management from Indiana State University and a MBA from Indiana Wesleyan University.

Community Services of Starke County provides services to low-income and senior citizen Starke County residents. They include information and assistance, outreach, public transportation, nutrition services like homebound and congregate meals, energy assistance programs, the food pantry and homemaker services.

Starke County Council Establishes Courthouse Security Officer Position

Posted on March 3, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

The Starke County Sheriff’s Office will be in charge of security at the courthouse once renovations are finished. Sheriff Bill Dulin told the county council last week he will need more part-time officers to handle the responsibility.

After discussing the best approach, the council agreed to create and fund a new “security officer” position within the sheriff’s office. They also agreed to appropriate $50,000 from the county economic development income tax earmarked for the jail to pay the officers.

Larry Keiser will still serve as chief of court security and will be in charge of scheduling the staff.

Starke County CASA Volunteers Needed

Posted on March 3, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

Volunteers are needed in Starke County to shepherd abused and neglected children through the court system. Court Appointed Special Advocates, CASAs for short, represent the best interests of children in state custody during all of their court proceedings. Their recommendations carry a lot of weight when it comes to determining a permanent placement for youngsters.

Volunteers are asked to commit between five and 15 hours per month visiting children and gathering information. They also accompany the youngsters to whom they are assigned to court hearings.

The first of 10 training sessions begins on March 21st. All will be scheduled in the evenings. Call 574-772-7200 or email for more information.

North Judson-San Pierre School Board Approves WiFi Upgrades, Locker Purchase

Posted on March 3, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The North Judson-San Pierre School Corporation will be getting a bit of a technology upgrade, as well as some new lockers.

Last week, the school board gave permission to proceed with a WiFi project. Superintendent Annette Zupin says the corporation currently has enough bandwidth to handle new devices, but more access points are needed. “Right now, if we bring new devices over to the elementary school, the access points don’t allow for those devices to be used,” she explains. “So we’ll improve that, and then at some point we’ll be able to make a decision as to how we want to move forward with devices for our students.”

Last week, the school board also approved the purchase of new lockers for the junior/senior high school. Zupin says the current lockers are original to the building. “They are getting old, getting more difficult to fix,” she says. “And the main thing, though, is that they do not fit the backpacks, and so that’s a safety issue. Right now, our students are using backpacks, and those should go in lockers but they don’t fit. So we will be getting new lockers this summer.”

Zupin says the two projects will be funded with money from last year’s general obligation bond issue.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

2017 Schedule of Social Security Benefit Payments

Starke Council Takes Step to Set Tax Rates

Posted on March 2, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

The Starke County Council will vote to reestablish a couple of tax rates when they meet in a few weeks. The cumulative bridge and cumulative capital development funds have both dropped off and need to have rates set again.

The proposed cumulative bridge fund rate is .027 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. Proceeds are earmarked for the replacement of bridges on county roads.

The proposed cumulative capital development fund rate is .03 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. Money in the cume cap fune is used for non-budget, big-ticket items like new vehicles, equipment and unanticipated building repairs and maintenance.

The council conducted the required public hearing on the proposed rates at their meeting last week. Members will vote to set the rates for taxes payable in 2018 when they meet on March 13.

2017 BASIC RIDERCOURSE For Motorcyclists

Ride Safe Indiana (RSI) offers a Basic RiderCourse for beginning motorcyclists and a Basic RiderCourse 2 for riders who want to improve their skills. The RSI Basic RiderCourse is designed for beginning riders of all ages and uses the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s (MSF) curriculum. Five hours of classroom instruction prepares you for 10 hours of practical riding exercises in a controlled, off-street environment. Motorcycles are provided free of charge for your use during the course.

To become a safer, more responsible rider, RiderCoaches will also discuss:

  • Types of motorcycles
  • Layout and operation of the basic controls
  • Types of safety gear worn for protection and comfort
  • How alcohol and other drugs impair a rider's ability

Next you'll move to the riding range and your RiderCoach (an experienced motorcyclist certified by MSF) will start you off with straight-line riding, stopping, shifting and turning. You'll gradually progress to swerving and emergency braking.

The course concludes with a knowledge test and a riding-skill evaluation. Once you have successfully completed your training course, you will be happy knowing you have gone the extra mile to develop your own safe riding techniques

Click Here to Find a RiderCourse Near You

Kersting’s “Learn to Ride” Classes start March 23 and continue through October.  Fee is $175.  Call Katie at (574) 896-2974.