Friday, April 28, 2017

Community Foundation Awards $6,700 in Grants So Far This Year

The Starke County Community Foundation (SCCF) has awarded $6,700 in grants so far in 2017. This is the first year that the SCCF has removed deadlines for many of its grant applications.

A Community Support Grant of $5,000 was awarded to Kids’ Closet for its new outreach facility. The building will house both Kids’ Closet and the Food Pantry, two organizations that work to provide services for Starke County residents. In 2016 alone, Kids’ Closet served more than 900 children, and the Food Pantry served more than 1,800 individuals. Due to the increasing need for services, both organizations will greatly benefit from a new facility in which supplies can be stored, organized, and distributed.

Starke County Community Corrections also received a Community Support Grant. This $1,200 grant will provide nutritional food for families attending the Family Seminar at the Regional Therapeutic Community in the Starke County Justice Center. The seminars provide the opportunity for offenders to have interactions with loved ones, which provides social support as they complete the addiction and recovery program. During the seminars, loved ones also engage in helpful workshops.

A $500 community education grant was given to the North Judson-San Pierre Elementary School’s Girls on the Run program. Girls on the Run is a youth development program that integrates education and physical fitness. It also seeks to inspire third, fourth, and fifth grade girls to be joyful, healthy, and confident. The girls meet after school for ten weeks, and they will complete a community impact project at the end of the course.

SCCF grant applications are available and will be accepted throughout the year. For more information, contact SCCF Director of Development Sarah Origer at or by calling 574-772-3665.

Linda Lewandowski, Kid's Closet Exec. Dir and Sarah Origer.

Take The Erie Trail to Open Sky

Who we are

Founded in 2010, the Prairie Trails Club, Inc., is a non-profit organization dedicated to develop, manage and maintain the Erie Trail in North Judson and Monterey Indiana.

The North Judson Erie Trail is a free access, public multi-use path and greenway mostly located in southern Starke County, Indiana. Nine miles of paved trail extend eastward from the town of North Judson to U.S. 35 near Bass Lake.  A shorter paved section has been completed in the town of Monterey to the east in Pulaski County. Motor vehicles are prohibited. The route is fully paved and intended for hiking and bicycling; a separate, unpaved, equestrian trail for horseback riding shares the corridor from Starke County Road 100 West to U.S. 35.

Centered on the rail banked right-of-way of the former Erie JK Line, much of the North Judson Erie Trail is elevated offering an excellent view of the unspoiled countryside of the Kankakee sand country, and though you’ll see some of the rich farmland for which Indiana is justly famous, the landscapes are often more natural and quite varied — groves of oaks, prairies, and marshlands. The level rail bed makes for easy hiking and cycling.

The North Judson Erie Trail is part of the transcontinental American Discovery Trail, extending from the Atlantic Ocean in Delaware to the Pacific Coast at Point Reyes in northern California.

Rules of the Trail

  1. The trail is open for everyone's use and enjoyment. 
  2. Closed from dusk to dawn. 
  3. Non-motorized use only - unauthorized motor vehicles prohibited. 
  4. Do not trespass on adjoining property
  5. Obey stop signs. 
  6. Ride or walk on the right side of the trail. 
  7. Other trail users must yield to pedestrians.  Warn trail users as you approach from behind ie: "On your left"
  8. Helmets recommended
  9. Take only pictures; leave only footprints - pack out your trash. 
  10. Pets are welcome if kept on a leash and in control. 
  11. Horses are welcome on the designated horse trail.  Please do not ride horses on the asphalt. 
  12. Report problems to Starke County Sheriff's Department - 574-772-3771.  Use 911 for emergencies. 

North Judson Erie Trail, Starke County, Indiana

Dedicated to public access trails and greenways in rural northern Indiana.

May 2017 - Quote of the Month

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month 
so we thought this quote from Carrie Fisher would be appropriate as our Quote of the Month.

James Young Selected for North Judson Town Council

Posted on April 28, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The next North Judson Town Council member was selected during a Republican Party caucus Thursday night. James Young was chosen to fill the remainder of Nathan Bradley’s term, according to Starke County Republican Party Chair Brenda Stanojevic.

She says two candidates filed for the open seat, with precinct committee members picking Young over Craig Reeve. Bradley resigned from the council last week because he is moving outside the town limits.

Starke, Pulaski Counties Remove Outdated Voter Registrations As Part of Voter Roll Purge

Posted on April 28, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

County clerks around Indiana have been busy updating their voter registration lists. Voters whose registrations were considered inactive by 2014 and have not voted since then have had their voter records canceled.

In Starke County, 2,059 voter registrations have been canceled as part of the process, according to clerk’s office staff. Meanwhile, the Pulaski County Clerk’s Office has removed about 920. Statewide, more than 480,000 outdated voter registrations were canceled.

If someone’s voter record is deemed inactive, that person still has the chance to vote in two general elections before the record may be canceled. To verify or update your voter registration, visit

N.J.-S.P. Approves Teacher Retirements

Posted on April 28, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

The North Judson-San Pierre School Board last week accepted three teacher retirements and one resignation.

Karen Butler and Rebecca Chambers are both retiring at the end of the school year. They both teach 5th grade. Special education elementary teacher Sharon Richie is retiring as well.

Junior-Senior High Math Teacher Jacob White tendered his resignation, effective at the end of the school year.

In other personnel action, the board formally approved the recommended hire of Julie Berndt as elementary school principal. They also recommended hiring August Eckert as a full-time custodian and Cierra Shell as a lifeguard during open swim.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

NJUMC Food Pantry/Chat & Chew/Community Meal

Longtime North Judson Business Announces Plans to Close

Posted on April 27, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

A longtime North Judson business will soon be closing. Norwayne Lumber Company, Inc. President Jim Menis confirms the family has decided to shut down the business. No date for the closing has been announced. A post on the business Facebook page says Norwayne Lumber Company will be closing its doors “over the next few months.”

The business was incorporated on July 12, 1951 by Menis’s father, James F. Menis, according to records from the Indiana Secretary of State’s Office. His 2006 obituary lists Norwayne Lumber as “the longest running business in North Judson.”

North Judson Property Tax Bills Return to Normal Levels, Following Accidental Tax Break

Posted on April 27, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

North Judson taxpayers may see a larger-than-usual jump in their property tax bill this year, but Clerk-Treasurer Alicia Collins says it’s not due to a big tax hike.

Rather, she says a clerical error inadvertently caused property tax bills to drop last year. Collins says this year’s tax bills are more comparable to those from two years ago, which covered the year 2014.

She encourages residents with any questions to call the North Judson Town Hall at 574-896-3340

“U.S. News and World Report” Releases 2017 High School Rankings

Posted on April 27, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

Several high schools in the Kankakee Valley are ranked among the best in Indiana by “U.S. News and World Report.” The publication reviewed more than 28,000 schools nationwide for its 2017 rankings, and 136 schools in Indiana made their “Best High Schools” rankings. The publication ranks schools based on their performance on state-required tests and how well they prepare students for college.

All of the local schools on the list offer students an opportunity to take Advance Placement ®  (AP) coursework and exams.

Oregon-Davis Jr-Sr High School is ranked 59th within Indiana. “U.S. News and World Report” awarded O-D a bronze medal.  The AP®  participation rate is 37 percent. The student body makeup is 50 percent male and 50 percent female, and the total minority enrollment is 7 percent.

Knox Community High School is ranked 67th within Indiana and also earned a bronze medal from the publication. The AP® participation rate at Knox Community High School is 24 percent. The student body makeup is 51 percent male and 49 percent female, and the total minority enrollment is 6 percent.

Winamac Community High School is ranked 76th within Indiana and was awarded a bronze medal. The AP® participation rate at Winamac Community High School is 30 percent. The student body makeup is 49 percent male and 51 percent female, and the total minority enrollment is 7 percent.

Culver Community High School also earned a bronze medal from the publication. The AP® participation rate at Culver Community High School is 26 percent. The student body makeup is 55 percent male and 45 percent female, and the total minority enrollment is 14 percent.

West Central High School received a bronze ranking from the magazine. The AP® participation rate at West Central is 13 percent. The student body makeup is 50 percent male and 50 percent female, and the total minority enrollment is 10 percent.

Visit for more information.

Slow Down for Farm Equipment on Roadways

Posted on April 27, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Spring planting season is now underway, and that means motorists will see an increase in farm equipment on local roadways.

Purdue Extension Agricultural Educator Phil Woolery says if you see farm implements on the road, slow down. “They often travel slow, and when you’re driving at 60 down a road, you can go up pretty fast,” he said. “Keeping your space if you’re going to try and pass it gives you better visibility, and make sure you have enough space to get around the equipment. Also, if you’re coming towards the equipment, be aware too that someone might be trying to pass it. So just kind of keep aware of the farm equipment, and slow down and take your time, so we don’t have an accident.”

Woolery says farmers are off to a good start with this year’s planting. “Things have finally dried down and warmed up, and so last week things really started to pick up, doing a lot of fertilization before planting. We’ve had some planting done, just starting last week, in a lot of the fields, mainly corn but I believe there’s some beans planted as well. And mint planting kind of wrapped up this past week, too.”

He says rain forecast for the coming days might slow down progress for a while, but that’s to be expected.

Drug Take Back Event Set for this Saturday

Posted on April 27, 2017
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Indiana State Police and the Drug Enforcement Administration are partnering to sponsor a drug take back event this Saturday.

The 13th annual prescription drug take back initiative seeks to prevent prescription drug abuse and theft through proper disposal of prescription drugs.

Liquid and pill medications that are expired, unwanted or unused may be disposed of as a free service at any Indiana State Police Post, except the Toll Road Post this Saturday, April 29. The event is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. local time. Needles, new or used, will NOT be accepted. No questions will be asked.

Officials from both the Indiana State Police and DEA will properly dispose of the medications without a threat to the environment.

A list of state police post locations can be found here.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Prairie Trails Club 5k Color Run/Walk Registration Form

North Judson-San Pierre Board Reviews Project List at Sparsely Attended Meeting

Posted on April 26, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

The North Judson-San Pierre School Board will decide between now and a June hearing on the issuance of bonds to finance capital projects how to proceed with the estimated $5.5 million in updates to the three buildings.

A scant few people attended last night’s public meeting to further explain the proposed scope of work and how it would be funded. Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin notes the estimate of $5.5 million is preliminary, as the corporation has yet to receive bids for any of the work. She adds the work will not affect property taxes, as it can be done within the corporation’s existing debt service. Zupin also stresses no decisions have been made and says additional public input is welcome.

N.J.-S.P. Project Executive Bill Payne from Fanning-Howey Architects says minimum improvements are being made at the elementary school building since its future is uncertain at this time. Proposed projects there include sidewalk repairs and greater security at the building’s entrance. Those projects carry an estimated cost of just under $92,000.

Classes are not meeting in the middle school building at this time, but the corporation is still looking at projects there to prepare it for any necessary future use. They include increasing security at the entrance, replacing the restroom partitions, cleaning the ductwork if necessary, replacing the boiler and possibly upgrading the temperature control system. Payne notes the latter two will result in energy savings for the corporation.

The most extensive work is planned at the high school, which is where 7th through 12th grade classes are currently taking place. Roof repairs, tuckpointing of exterior brick, restroom partitions, new carpet, modernizing the main staircase to comply with current building codes and a new welding hood are all on the list.

So are duct cleaning, if necessary, along with temperature control and HVAC updates, a new backup generator, motion detector lighting, upgrades from fluorescent to LED lighting systems and a replacement water heater.

The interior project list also includes $345,000 worth of optional updates to the swimming pool.

Several exterior projects are also planned on the N.J.-S.P. campus. They include additional sidewalk repairs, a new pressbox and dugouts for the baseball and softball fields, a new roof for the football locker room and the optional replacement of tennis courts.

Eliminating the optional projects from the scope of work would save the corporation about $1 million. However, Payne notes repurposing the swimming pool area will cost between $650 and $850,000.

The board can pay off the bonds for the work in seven years and still have some borrowing capacity should another need arise. However, no decisions on how to proceed have been made at this time.

Township Officials Seeking Applicants for North Judson-San Pierre Board Seat

Posted on April 26, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

Applications for the appointed Railroad Township seat on the North Judson-San Pierre School Board are now being accepted. Prospective candidates must live within the appropriate school corporation boundaries, which include Railroad Township in Starke County and part of Cass Township in Pulaski County.

All interested parties should send a letter of interest, including reasons why they are interested in the position, as well as a resume to:

The Office of the Railroad Township Trustee
Attn: Mandy Thomason
9080 West San Pierre Rd.
San Pierre, IN 46374
Applications are due May 17, 2017. Interviews for the position will take place June 13, 2017 at 5 p.m. N.J.-S.P. School Board President Pat Goin is the current Railroad Township representative.

Indiana Unemployment Rate Hits 16-Year Low

Posted on April 26, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

Indiana’s March unemployment rate is at its lowest point since 2001, according to state officials. They note the 3.9 percent rate is also well below the national average of 4.5 percent. The unemployment rate reflects the number of unemployed people as a percentage of the labor force. Indiana’s labor force increased by more than 6,000 over the past month, according to Indiana Department of Workforce Development Commissioners Steven J. Braun. Statewide employment saw a 12,322 increase, and a 6,229 decrease in unemployment.

All 92 Indiana counties saw their jobless rates fall from February to March. Starke County went from 6.5 to 5 percent unemployment. Pulaski County is sitting at 4 percent for the month of March, which represents a 1.4 percent decline.

LaPorte County has the highest unemployment rate of our neighboring counties at 5.1 percent, while Marshall is the lowest at 3.2.

North Judson-Wayne Township Firefighters Prohibited from Serving on Multiple Departments

Posted on April 26, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Volunteers with the North Judson-Wayne Township Fire Department will not be allowed to serve simultaneously on another fire department. North Judson Clerk-Treasurer Alicia Collins says fire department members voted to add the rule into their bylaws, after the question was raised during previous meetings.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

5/6 & 7/2017 Auditions for Maxinkuckee Players "Mary Poppins"

Auditions for the 2017 Maxinkuckee Players production of “Mary Poppins” will be held at the Culver High School auditorium on May 6th from 9 am to 12 pm, and 1 pm to 5 pm EST; and May 7th from 2 pm to 6 pm EST. 

Interested persons should be prepared to read from a script provided on site, and to sing a song of their choice. A pianist and a CD player will be available. Performance dates are July 21st, 23rd, 28th, 29th, & 30th. 

Any questions should be directed to Thomas Boys at For more information go to

4/26 to 5/7 4-H Paper Clover Fundraiser @ Tractor Supply Co.

It's almost that time again! Time to stop by your local Tractor Supply Co. between April 26-May 7 for the Spring 2017 #4HPaperClover fundraiser! Mark your calendar and get ready to support #TrueLeaders in your community.

This Mouthwatering Ice Cream Trail In Northern Indiana Is All You’ve Ever Dreamed Of And More

"Let’s be honest – one of the best parts of spring and summer is all the delicious ice cream we get to indulge in. From dairy farms to tiny, beloved ice cream shops, Indiana knows how to do ice cream right. If you’re a fan of this frozen treat, check out the ultimate Northern Indiana mouthwatering ice cream trail below."

North Judson Town Marshal Fired

Posted on April 25, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

North Judson may soon be looking for a new town marshal. John Ramos was terminated by the town council during a special session Friday, according to Clerk-Treasurer Alicia Collins. She says council members did not publicly announce a reason for his dismissal.

Ramos had been serving as North Judson town marshal since July 2016, following the death of Doug Vessely the previous April. Collins says Ramos has until this Friday at 5:00 p.m. to appeal his termination.

Caucus Scheduled This Week (4/27) to Fill North Judson Council Vacancy

Posted on April 25, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The North Judson Town Council may soon have a new member. According to officials in the Starke County Clerk’s Office, a Republican Party caucus is scheduled for this Thursday at 7 p.m. to choose a replacement for Nathan Bradley.

The town council officially accepted Bradley’s resignation during a special session Friday, according to North Judson Clerk-Treasurer Alicia Collins. Council members also formally approved several purchase orders they originally acted upon during last week’s regular meeting, after it was determined that Bradley improperly seconded the motion.

Monday, April 24, 2017

5/6/2017 Starke County Movies in the Park

Starke County Young Professionals in partnership with the North Judson Park Board present Movies in the Park at Norwayne Field from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m.

This feature presentation will be the 2016 live action version of "The Jungle Book". After a threat from the tiger Shere Khan forces him to flee the jungle, a man-cub named Mowgli embarks on a journey of self discovery with the help of panther, Bagheera, and free spirited bear, Baloo.

This film is rated PG. Parental guidance is requested, unaccompanied children may be fed to Shere Khan.

Welcome Lincoln Ryan Purcell!

Meeting Scheduled to Address Starke County Emergency Communications Issues

Posted on April 24, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

The Starke County Emergency Management Agency wants to get stakeholders in the county’s radio communications system together in an attempt to solve problems with both VHF and 800 mHz systems.

The county commissioners last week charged EMA Director Jake Lippner with resolving the matter. He wants to set up a committee with representatives from every agency on the county’s system as well as anyone with knowledge of those systems or communications as a whole. Lippner says that also includes outside agencies that work on the system.

He says the focus will be to try and find the most effective, long-term fix for both the communication process and system. Lippner wants members to brainstorm and develop a five-year plan for the system and project.

He notes the radio system affects everyone in the community. Firefighters, sheriff’s deputies, police officers, EMS personnel and first responders use radios to communication among themselves and with Starke County dispatchers. Significant dead spots have been noted in Koontz Lake since a storm toppled a tower in downtown Knox several years ago. Lippner wants a clear path toward resolving the issues before offering a recommended fix to the Starke County Commissioners.

The committee’s first meeting will take place Wednesday at 10 a.m. in the meeting room at the county annex building. Lippner asks anyone with a radio that is on the Starke County systems to either attend or send a proxy.

North Judson Council Gathers Information on Infrastructure Projects, Utility Rates

Posted on April 24, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The North Judson Town Council is a step closer to making a decision on potential water and wastewater upgrades. Vince Sommers with Commonwealth Engineers discussed a cost-savings analysis with council members last week.

Commonwealth Engineers is suggesting nearly $1.9 million in improvements to the town’s combined sewer overflow system and another $1.5 million for upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant. Water infrastructure upgrades are also planned.

North Judson Clerk-Treasurer Alicia Collins says the next step will be for council members to meet again with accounting firm Umbaugh and Associates to further explore financing options. The town is considering applying for grant funding from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs or the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development office.

The remainder of the cost would likely be covered by issuing bonds, which in turn would lead to higher utility rates to cover the bond payment. Collins says Umbaugh is currently working on water and sewer rate studies. She expects the council will make some decisions on how to proceed with the project in the next couple of months.

Walorski Touts Trump Administration Accomplishments

Posted on April 24, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski says President Donald Trump has accomplished quite a bit since taking office in January, including the successful confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch.

She says two-thirds of the people who voted for Trump wanted to see a Supreme Court justice confirmed, and that has been done.

Walorski adds the GOP push to roll back regulations will help to spark job growth in Indiana and elsewhere. She says Trump has done quite a bit through executive order while members of congress have been pursuing deregulation legislation. Walorski says that coupled with tax reform will provide a rock-solid foundation for the future and adds leaders are moving in the right direction as fast as they can.

Trump was dealt a setback on his push to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. House Speaker Paul Ryan pulled the bill after realizing there were not enough votes to pass it. Walorski says congressional Republicans are putting the final touches on a new bill.

She says it’s about patient-centered care that puts people in charge of their healthcare. She says the current law represents “government bureaucracy with a one-size-fits-all model. Walorski says the Republican plan puts authority back at the state level and notes Indiana already has innovative programs like the Healthy Indiana Plan in place along with safety nets for the most vulnerable residents.

She was the guest speaker at Saturday night’s Starke County Republican Party Lincoln Day dinner.

Abstinence Speaker Featured During Bella Vita Fundraising Banquet

Posted on April 24, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Abstinence proponent Pam Stenzel brought her message to Starke County last week.

“I don’t know what medical information you have that I am unaware of, but last I checked, abstinence works 99.99999999999-percent of the time, and the one time it didn’t work, we had Christmas!” she told the audience, during Bella Vita Pregnancy Resource Center’s annual fundraising banquet.

She condemned what she called a “culture of death” that often equates pregnancy with a disease. “The answer to a crisis pregnancy is not to end the pregnancy,” she said. “It’s to end the crisis. And that takes love and that takes the Gospel and that takes Bella Vita coming in and walking alongside these young women and saying, ‘We can help you.'”

Stenzel also praised the efforts of people around Indiana for the installation of “baby boxes.” They’re kind of like climate-controlled safe deposit boxes that provide mothers with a last-resort option to abandon their children safely. So far, they’ve been installed at two Indiana fire stations, one in the Fort Wayne area and the other near Michigan City. “At the [Coolspring] Fire Department not far from you, we’ve had seven babies abandoned within seven miles of [Coolspring] Fire Department there,” Stenzel said. “The little corridor of people running between Chicago and up through 80/90 into Michigan and Detroit is a very, very high abandonment rate of babies, and so we wanted to make sure that we had a presence there.”

The devices automatically notify emergency responders. Stenzel notes that each time a “baby box” has been used so far, a firefighter has responded within five minutes.

Starke County Volunteers Urged to Involve Youth, Ask ‘What’s in it for Me?’

Posted on April 24, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Volunteering can go a long way in helping your local community, but volunteers should also think about how they themselves benefit from their efforts.

That’s the message Leadership Starke County Facilitator Jim Jessup shared last week, during Starke County Community Services’ Volunteer Recognition Luncheon. “Volunteering isn’t a one-way street; it should be a two-way street,” he said. “You should benefit, and whoever you’re working for or helping, volunteering for, should benefit, also. But there’s a question of ‘What’s in it for me?’ and there’s a lot that’s in it for you. Believe me, there’s a lot that’s possible out there, and you need to think about that, also. And when you’re encouraging people to volunteer, you need to tell that story, too.”

For example, he said volunteers have the opportunity to learn several new skills. “You can learn how to put on a dinner like this; that’s a skill that you can learn,” he said. “You can learn to work with other people. Again, you can learn some leadership by becoming a real decision-maker within the organization. You’re needed all over the place, and you can benefit from it. Obviously, there’s the friendship that you can make. You can learn new skills. There’s all kinds of benefits for you, also.”

Jessup also challenged local volunteer organizations to get younger people more involved in their activities. “We do a terrible job of getting our youth to volunteer and become active in the community,” he said. “We all do a terrible job of that. We need to get our youth much more involved in our community, in our decision-making, in our volunteering. They’re a huge resource out there that we forget about or we ignore or we don’t want to mess with it, whatever it is.”

He also recommended that potential volunteers find their passion, find what they’re good at, and consider what resources they can bring to an organization.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

N.J.-S.P. Board Approves Handbook Updates for Junior/Senior High

Posted on April 22, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

Changes to the North Judson-San Pierre Junior/Senior High School Handbook approved this week by the school board reflect both the consolidation of two buildings into one and the changing times. Principal Jim Polite says next year students will no longer be able to bring backpacks or book bags into classrooms. He says the practice raises safety concerns but it’s been a necessity at N.J.-S.P. because the lockers are too small to hold books and bags and are in bad shape overall. Earlier this year the board approved the purchase of new lockers, which will be installed this summer.

Polite says another policy change addresses an issue that has arisen since middle school students were moved into the high school building. He says they are interacting too much with high school students during passing periods. That will be prohibited in the new handbook.

Another change tweaks the policy for cell phone use in the classroom. Polite says it’s currently at the discretion of individual teachers. The new language will require there to be a valid academic reason for a student to use a cell phone in class.

Additional handbook changes expand the academic integrity section to address copied work and work not done entirely by the student in addition to plagiarism, restrict elevator use to students with a given health concern who are issued a pass and state that students with poor attendance and who are not passing their classes may not be eligible to attend field trips.

The school board approved the policy changes unanimously. Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin says new elementary school principal Julie Berndt will review the handbook and offer recommended changes after she begins her job.

Starke County Community Foundation Honors Volunteers

Posted on April 22, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Starke County Community Services recognized several local residents and organizations during a volunteer recognition luncheon Thursday.

During the event, Community Services staff member Rhonda Overmyer announced the winner of the Community Services Senior Volunteer of the Year Award. “Today, we come together as one voice to honor and lift up this incredible woman,” Overmyer said, “a woman who has worked her whole life to tend to the needs of others, a woman committed to treating those in need with dignity and respect, a woman who possesses the ability to show brotherly and sisterly love to the unlovable, a woman whose name is Doloras Dan.” Following her retirement from Smith Farm Store in 2008, Dan has been involved with many local organizations, including Starke County Community Services since 2011.

Meanwhile, Community Services Board Secretary Mark Rippy honored Lori Dunning with the Community Volunteer of the Year Award. “Starke County is blessed to have Lori Dunning,” Rippy said. “Lori’s a seasoned volunteer at Community Services of Starke County and is the program coordinator for Hope for the Holidays Christmas program. Originally initiated by former executive director Joan Haugh, Lori has taken the reins and works full-time each year to help ensure the less fortunate children of Starke County are provided for on Christmas morning.”

The program typically serves over 500 people a year.

Indiana State Police Troopers Urge Drivers to Buckle up

Posted on April 22, 2017
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

With the investigation of two separate vehicle accidents that ejected multiple people out of vehicles, Indiana State Police troopers urge drivers and passengers to use seat belts.

Indiana law requires all passengers to be restrained while in a moving vehicle. Children and adults need to be properly restrained while the vehicle is in operation. If anyone is observed not wearing a seat belt, law enforcement can write a ticket for the law violation.

A total of 21,022 drivers and passengers died in 2014 as the result of motor vehicle crashes and more than 2.3 million people were injured and treated in emergency departments, as detailed by America’s Health Rankings United Health Foundation. In addition to those statistics, over half of teens and adults who died in those crashes were not wearing their seat belts at the time of the crash.

Information compiled by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute revealed that there were 250 unrestrained passenger vehicle fatalities in Indiana. That is a 31.6 percent decrease from the previous year.

In June 2015, the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute Law Enforcement Liaison conducted an observation seat belt study to determine usage rates for drivers and passengers of all vehicles. That study found that pickup truck occupant usage rates for 2015 was at 83.1 percent and the car rate was at 94.8 percent.

Troopers ask that everyone buckles up every time for every trip, long or short.

Friday, April 21, 2017

5/4/2017 How to Use Find-A-Grave

6/3/2017 Prairie Trails Club 5k Color Run/Walk

The North Judson Prairie Trails Club is hosting a 5k color run on June 3rd! The race and registration will begin at Norwayne field at 8am. You can find the registration form in the Market newspaper starting the week of April 24th or you can pick one up at Osborne Advantage Real Estate (202 Schricker Ave, North Judson, IN 46366).

The entry fee is $20 and includes a shirt and a personal color packet. Entries must be in by May 27th. You can sign up after this date or you can register at the race but an extra fee of $5 will apply.

For more information contact Madison Osborne at 574-896-2567.

North Judson Council Member Resigns, Special Council Meeting Scheduled

Posted on April 21, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The North Judson Town Council will soon have a new member, following the resignation of Nathan Bradley. Clerk-Treasurer Alicia Collins says Bradley is moving out of town, requiring him to give up his council seat.

It will be up to the Starke County Republican Party to choose a replacement. A caucus is expected to be called sometime within 30 days of when the seat became vacant.

Meanwhile, the rest of the town council has a few steps to take to move the process along. They’re tentatively scheduled to meet this morning at 8:00 to formally accept Bradley’s resignation, unless Town Attorney Justin Schramm determines it can wait until the next regular meeting. The town council also has to revisit the purchase orders approved during Monday’s regular meeting, since Bradley improperly seconded the motion.

Bella Vita Touts New Location, Ultrasound Equipment During Annual Fundraising Banquet

Posted on April 21, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Bella Vita Pregnancy Resource Center in Knox is working to step up its efforts.

During the organization’s annual fundraising banquet Thursday, Executive Director Angela Courtney Sutton said an ultrasound machine was recently donated to Bella Vita. Donations are also helping to send volunteers to the week-long training required to use the new equipment.

Beyond that, Sutton said Bella Vita expects to move into a new facility next month. “We’ll be moving to 801 Heaton Street,” she said. “It’s a house across the street from Burger King, if you’re familiar with the neighborhood. And we just feel that that’s a warmer, inviting place for our young ladies coming through.”

In addition to offering pregnancy tests, counseling, and other services, Sutton said Bella Vita also provides material support to new moms. “When our moms go through our program, we give them a free crib, so in 2016, we were able to give out 16 cribs, based on the support from each and every one of you in this room and others in our community – and that’s a mattress, as well,” she said. “We give them diapers every time they come to take a class, so we gave out approximately 2,000 diapers in 2016. That’s a lot of diapers.”

Sutten added the organization also offers help for new dads. “I will say, we have quite a few dads taking our programs, and that says a lot about our community support,” she said. “We definitely need to be supporting our young men out there and getting them on board. So hopefully in the future, we’ll be having a men’s group, and it will grow. And I’m looking forward to several of the pastors in our community to come on board and open some ministries with these young men, so they can have some strong role models to look at. That way they can grow.”

Bella Vita Board President Becky Bailey says the expansion in the organization’s efforts will require more help from the community. “We need a staff of volunteers like no other because we have so many things that we’re going to be doing that we’re going to need people there every day, whether it be counseling – if you’re not comfortable with that, you can wrap diapers,” she said. “You can just be there. You can hold their baby while they’re shopping in the baby bucks room. You can do all kinds of things.”

For more information, call Bella Vita Pregnancy Resource Center at 574-772-2877.

N.J.-S.P. Adds Additional Math and English Instructional Time

Posted on April 21, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

The North Judson-San Pierre School Corporation is taking significant steps to raise standardized test scores for 7th and 8th grade students. Junior/Senior High School Principal Jim Polite told the school board Tuesday they will expand math and English/language arts offerings during the school day.

Classes will meet for a period and a half each, which amounts to roughly 75 minutes per day of math and of English/language arts instruction.

Polite says N.J.-S.P. students are capable of learning, but they need some extra time to absorb the subject matter. He hopes catching them when they start junior high will close the achievement gap quickly. Additionally Polite says there’s more scheduling flexibility in the younger grades. The state requires high school students to have a certain number of credits in order to gradate. Polite says focusing on students in the middle grades will help them obtain the tools necessary to be successful in high school.

He adds classes will be smaller, as students will be grouped based on their achievement level. “High level” students are ones with demonstrated ability in one or both subjects, while “mid-level” are performing at their grade average. Students who are struggling and may need some extra help will be in a class that’s team taught by a general teacher and one accredited in special education.

Polite says students will still take agriculture, health and physical education, band and choir classes in junior high. The only class that’s being dropped is art for 8th grade students.

Starke County Commissioners Seeking P.T.A. B.O.A. Member

Posted on April 21, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

The Starke County Commissioners are seeking candidates to fill a vacancy on property tax assessment board of appeals. Republican member Ed Hasnerl resigned, so the appointee will fill his term through the end of the year.

A background in real estate is preferred but not required. Republican Ron Simoni and Democrat Rebecca Ferch are the other two board members. State law requires the body to have a mix of Democrats and Republicans. Since there is one of each, there is no party affiliation requirement for this appointment. Political party affiliation is determined by how a person voted in the last primary election.

Interested applicants can submit letters of intent to the Starke County Auditor’s Office by 4 p.m. on Friday, April 28. The address is 53 East Mound Street, Knox, IN 46534 and the telephone number is 574-772-9101.

Young Professionals Organize Volunteer Project

Posted on April 21, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

Members of the Starke County Young Professionals group are rolling up their sleeves for a good cause tomorrow.

They are meeting at the Starke County Chamber Depot at 400 North Heaton Street in Knox at 10 a.m. to volunteer for Starke-Pulaski Habitat for Humanity. Tomorrow they will stencil logos on Habitat’s trailer that will hopefully be ready for use on the upcoming home construction project on Prettyman Street in Knox.

Organizers say additional volunteers are always welcome. The informal group was formed several months ago in an effort to get input from more people on a vision for Starke County. The term “young” also has a loose definition, as it is considered to be anyone who is not retired.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Range Road Closed 4/24 to 4/28

From the Starke County Highway Department Facebook page:

The Starke County Highway Department will be closing Range Rd. between 500 S. and just North of Bailey’s Discount Centers Cabinet Workshop (the old Preferred Flooring) beginning Monday, April 24, 2017 at 5:00AM. This closure is scheduled to be reopened by end of day Friday, April 28th, 2017. Bridge approach and abutment repairs will be completed at the bridge on Range Road just south of 500S during this time.

If you have any questions please let us know. Thank you!

Public Input Sought on N.J.-S.P. Capital Improvement Recommendations

Posted on April 20, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

The North Judson-San Pierre School Board wants input from the public before moving forward with proposed capital improvement projects. They’ve scheduled a public meeting Tuesday evening at 6 p.m. at the high school auditorium to give community members a chance to weigh in on the list. It includes almost $92,000 worth of improvements at the elementary school and $4.7 million at the junior/senior high school building.

CPA Pooja Shrestha from Umbaugh and Associates says the work can be done without a tax increase and without taking away money from teacher salaries or student programs.

“This is not coming out of the existing general fund or anything,” she explained. “We are assuming that the school corporation will be issuing property tax-supported bonds.” They will be repaid with money from the corporation’s existing debt service fund, so a tax increase will not be necessary.

The debt service fund can only be used for bond-financed projects like renovations, repairs and additions. The bond on the auditorium project will be retired soon, which will free up enough money to pay the work off in seven years and maintain some borrowing capacity should another need arise.

Community members in attendance at Tuesday’s school board meeting questioned the need to invest in all three buildings given the corporation’s declining enrollment and the essentially empty junior high. Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin says updates to things like the boilers need to be done regardless of current occupancy. She says the corporation is keeping its options open with regard to future uses of all of its space, and it needs to be ready should a need arise.

Zupin adds state lawmakers set up a debt service fund so school corporations can ensure their infrastructure needs are met without jeopardizing their operating budget.

Projects under consideration at the elementary school include a new boiler, duct cleaning if necessary, restroom partitions, secure entrances, electronic access and video surveillance.

The junior/senior high school list includes new roofs, tuckpointing of the brick exterior, restroom partitions, secure entrances and electronic access, improvements to the main staircase, temperature control upgrades, new carpeting in the office, media center and computer lab and restroom partitions.

Other projects at the junior/senior high include a welding hood system, new baseball dugouts and a pressbox, a new tennis court, a new roof for the football locker room and repairs to the swimming pool which could extend its life by 15 to 20 years.  Should the corporation decide to do away with the amenity, the estimated cost for repurposing the space is between $650 and $850,000.

Starke County Commissioners Approve Silent Alarm System Addition

Posted on April 20, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

Government offices in Starke County will soon have an extra security measure in place. The commissioners Monday approved Safety Committee Chairman Bill Crase’s recommendation to add a silent alarm system. It will be hard-wired to the dispatch center at the jail and accessible by staff in all county building offices, including the highway garage. The annual $500 cost will be paid from the information technology budget.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

5/3/2017 Understanding Thunderstorms & Their Associated Hazards

From the Facebook page of Starke County Tourism:

 The American Pickers on History are heading to Indiana in June and need help finding leads on interesting people with interesting items. Share this post with anyone who might fit!

4/25/2017 NJ-SP School Community Meeting

4/24-28/2017 Clean Up @ Highland & Pioneer Cemeteries

Open House Showcases Starke County Building Renovations

Posted on April 19, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

Visitors to the Starke County Courthouse will notice some major changes thanks to recent building renovations. Public access is now limited to the west entrance, which faces the Knox Moose Lodge. It is fully handicap accessible. All visitors will be greeted by a uniformed security officer and asked to pass through a metal detector. Anyone in possession of a weapon will be asked to return it to their vehicle before entering the building.

The first floor of the courthouse now features restrooms that comply with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. The basement restrooms are no longer in use. The Starke County Prosecutor’s Office now occupies the first floor. Prior to the building renovations they were housed in the basement of the former jail.

That building has been turned into office space for the health and probation departments, Starke County Community Corrections and Purdue Extension. All of their telephone numbers are the same.

The probation department and Starke County Community Corrections both have conference rooms available for meetings and other programs. Access to the offices and non-public spaces is only gained via swipe card, and cameras are installed throughout the space to monitor and record interaction between staff and program participants. The county’s IT staff spent considerable time installing the technology infrastructure in both buildings.

Starke County officials formally dedicated both buildings yesterday. The renovations were made possible with funds from the special income tax levied to pay for construction of the new jail east of Knox. The former jail was put up as security for the bond financing. As a result, the building had to be used for corrections programs.

Starke Commissioners Reject Communications Invoice, Suggest Committee to Address Radio Woes

Posted on April 19, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

The Starke County Commissioners voted unanimously Monday to reject an invoice for repairs to the county’s radio system. They agreed vendor J&K Communications did not adequately fix the system as promised and contend they used existing equipment without authorization. J&K has since told the commissioners they need to spend an additional $4,000 on a new VHF antenna to ensure adequate county-wide coverage.

The issue is part of an ongoing emergency communications problem that has plagued the county since a radio tower in downtown Knox was toppled by strong winds several years ago. It could not be replaced due to height restrictions within the city limits. As a result, there are dead spots in Koontz Lake and North Judson. Members of the Koontz Lake Volunteer Fire Department struggle to communicate with dispatchers.

Starke County Emergency Management Agency Director Jake Lippner has spoken to another vendor who recommended installing two additional towers at a cost of between $2 and $3 million. He’s reached out to two other companies for proposals but has yet to receive any information. Lippner told the commissioners he’s waiting for direction from them before proceeding.

The commissioners recommended a committee be formed to look into the issue and suggested former EMA Director Ted Bombagetti, who now works for the state, and former county IT director and volunteer firefighter Joe Short serve on it. They also told Lippner to stay on the vendors he’s contacted until he gets information.

Property Tax Payments Due May 10th, Bills in the Mail

Posted on April 19, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

Starke County property tax bills are in the mail. Treasurer Kasey Clark says changes at the state level pushed the mailing date back to April 19th. Spring property tax payments are due May 10th and can be made via cash, check or money order. Property owners are urged to bring their statements along for faster service.

Payments can be made at First National Bank of Monterey, First Farmers Bank and Trust, DeMotte State Bank and 1st Source Bank locations in Knox, North Judson and Monterey or mailed to 1st Source Bank in South Bend for processing. A drop box is also available outside the treasurer’s office in the county annex building. Please include a self-addressed stamped envelope so a receipt can be sent. For questions about payments, please call 574-772-9111 ext 3.

Credit and debit card payments can also be processed for a fee. Visit to look up how much money you owe and to find information about electronic payments.

Taxpayers who don’t receive their bills within a few days should check with the treasurer’s office to see if it has been returned.

Taxpayers with questions about their assessed value can call the Starke County Assessor’s Office at 574-772-9107. Questions about age, disability, veterans, homestead or mortgage exemptions can be directed to the Starke County Auditor’s Office at 574-772-9101.

N.J.-S.P. School Board Hires Elementary School Principal

Posted on April 19, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

A veteran school administrator will soon be the principal at North Judson-San Pierre Elementary. The school board last night voted unanimously to hire Julie Berndt for the opening created by Mike McBride’s retirement.

She is currently the assistant principal at Culver Junior/Senior High School, where she also serves as the corporation’s testing coordinator and curriculum director. Berndt has 12 years of school administrator experience and has serves as assistant principal at Culver Elementary, principal at Culver Middle School and principal at Monterey Elementary.

The N.J.-S.P. School Board approved Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin’s recommendation of offering Berndt a two-year standard administrator’s contract with an annual salary of $76,000. She will start her new job July 1st.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

5/20/2017 Railroad Township Volunteer Fire Department Car Show

Car Show and more, May 20th 8am-2pm at the old Holy Cross property (7520 US-421, San Pierre, IN 46374 - a half mile south of the fire station on 421, if you've reached 10 west you've gone to far).

We will have a DJ, food and more! Pre-register to enter your vehicle (anything with wheels) to save 50% !!!

You can email or call 219-828-5843 with questions!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Starke County EMA Director Continues Radio Research

Posted on April 8, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

Starke County Emergency Management Agency Director Jacob Lippner is still gathering information about what needs to be done to repair the county’s emergency radio communications system.

There are gaps in coverage in both Koontz Lake and the North Judson area. He’s spoken to one vendor who recommended installing two additional towers. Doing so carries an estimated price tag of between $2 and $3 million and includes hard updates every two years for the next 20.

Lippner spoke to them on Monday prior to the Starke County Commissioners meeting. He still needs to meet with two other companies and will present detailed information about the county’s options at a future meeting.

Friday, April 7, 2017

5/12/2017 Relay For Life Lock In

Check out their Facebook page at:  

Starke County EMA Director Reaches Out to Residents

Posted on April 7, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

Spring means storms, floods and other unpredictable weather are imminent. Starke County Emergency Management Agency Director Jacob Lippner is harnessing social media and technology to share information about preparedness with residents. He posts quite a bit on the Starke County Emergency Management Facebook page, including severe weather watches and warnings and other information from the National Weather Service along with videos and information about emergency preparedness.

Lippner also shares a lot of information via the Nixle mass messaging system. It allows messages about things like bad weather to be disseminated quickly via email and/or text message to subscribers. He says the service is free and is used by government agencies around the state and across the country. Visit for more information or to sign up.

North Judson Council Approves Zoning Variance for Doctor’s Office

Posted on April 7, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

A doctor’s office will be able to move in at 701 West Talmer Avenue in North Judson, following action by the town council Monday. Clerk-Treasurer Alicia Collins says a zoning variance was approved, changing the designation from Single-Family Residential to Local Business.

She says an abandoned house has been demolished on the property. Now, the owners are turning their attention to constructing a new building.

Starke County EMS Refining Electronic Claims Submission

Posted on April 7, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

The electronic billing process Starke County EMS is using to submit claims to BlueCross BlueShield is going well so far. Director Keith Emigh told the county commissioners Monday the service is tracking the time from billing to payment. He says the insurance company pays claims in the same time frame, regardless of whether they are mailed or submitted electronically.

The biggest difference is Starke County EMS is able to submit claims faster. Also, Emigh says the electronic filing process catches errors right away so they can be corrected and resubmitted.

Emigh also told the commissioners he’s in the process of applying for grants to purchase new equipment for the ambulances. Specifically he’s looking to upgrade the cots and monitors.

Move Over for Stopped Emergency Vehicles

Posted on April 7, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

Indiana is gearing up for highway construction season as Work Zone Awareness Week wraps up. The goal is to raise awareness of both motorist and worker safety in work zones.

Indiana’s Move Over Laws are in place to protect all workers performing necessary duties on Indiana’s roadways.

Motorists are reminded to reduce their speed and increase their distance from the vehicle in front of them as soon as they see flashing emergency lights. This increases visibility and the ability to safely react to whatever situation is ahead.

If you are on a mutli-lane highway, change lanes away from the emergency vehicle if it is safe to do so. If you can’t change lanes, slow down to at least 10 miles per hour below the posted speed limit, move as far away as possible within your lane and proceed with caution. Do not stop in the road, as doing so can cause a chain reaction crash.

Motorists should watch for police vehicles, ambulances, fire trucks and rescue equipment, incident response, highway maintenance and utility service vehicles, tow and garbage trucks.

Violating the state’s Move Over Law can result in a fine and license suspension of up to two years if the driver causes damage to emergency equipment. Injuring or killing an emergency worker can lead to a prison sentence.

Drivers should also give motorists who are broken down on the side of the road ample room to safely repair their vehicles.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

4/29/2017 Kersting's "Blessing of the Bikes"

Mark your calendars! Kersting’s Annual “Blessing of the Bikes” Saturday, April 29, Noon. Live Music & Food Vendors.

Rev. Adam Speicher will share the message and blessing at 1pm. All event times are Eastern time. Sponsored by Heartland Christian Center and Kersting's Cycle Center, 8774 W 700 N, Winamac, Indiana 46996.

4/23/2017 Color Me Green 4-H Fun Run

The waiver and registration are available at:

N.J.-S.P. School Board Schedules Facility Tours, Work Session

Posted on April 6, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

Residents of the North Judson-San Pierre School Corporation are invited to go through the buildings prior to a Tuesday evening school board work session to discuss future projects.

Maintenance Supervisor Wilbur Collins will offer a guided tour of the facilities and discuss needs. Anyone interested in taking part should meet in the high school cafeteria at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The school board will meet at 6:30 p.m. in the junior/senior high school media center for a work session to discuss proposals and review the corporation’s strategic plan. That meeting is open to the public, but no formal action can be taken.

Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin previously said the board will formally discuss the preliminary project scope, tax impact, which should be zero, and potential financing options at that meeting. She adds the bond for the auditorium project is almost paid off, which will allow the corporation to maintain the debt service rate and take care of some other needs on the campus.

A special called community meeting will take place later this month at the auditorium to provide more information about estimated costs and savings and get community input with regard to the proposals.

North Judson Council Considers Funding Options for Infrastructure Projects

Posted on April 6, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The North Judson Town Council continues gathering information about how to pay for potential water and wastewater upgrades. Commonwealth Engineers is suggesting nearly $1.9 million in improvements to the town’s combined sewer overflow system and another $1.5 million for upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant. Water infrastructure upgrades are also planned.

David Hacker with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development office met with the town council Monday to discuss potential grant opportunities to help cover the costs. Grant funding from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs is also a potential option. Clerk-Treasurer Alicia Collins says accounting firm Umbaugh and Associates will further analyze the potential grant opportunities.

Funding the upgrades will also involve issuing bonds and possibly refinancing existing ones at a better interest rate. Covering the future bond payments could require a significant increase in utility rates, depending on how much grant funding the town gets. Even without the additional expense, the rates are already due for an increase, having stayed the same since 2003.

Town officials have been working with Umbaugh to minimize the impact. Additionally, Collins says Town Superintendent Marshall Horstmann is fine-tuning the infrastructure projects, to prioritize which items absolutely need upgrades and which can wait.

She adds a preliminary engineering report was approved by council members Monday.

Local Group Works to Raise Awareness During Child Abuse Prevention Month

Posted on April 6, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, and a local organization is working to raise awareness of the issue.

Annette VanSchoyck with Prevent Child Abuse Starke County and the Starke County Coalition Against Domestic Abuse says there are a few signs to look out for. “The yelling, the screaming, the cursing, the name-calling – if you see that, it’s definitely a red flag that that parent or that person doesn’t have real good impulse control or control of their anger,” she says, “especially if they’re doing it in a public place where other people are seeing that and hearing that and that child is then being publicly humiliated.”

She says sometimes, parents simply don’t know any other way. “It’s the way they were raised, and it’s the parenting skills that they’ve been handed down,” VanSchoyck says. “So once they learn some other more positive, less abusive parenting skills, the better off they’re going to be, and the less child abuse there’s going to be.”

VanSchoyk says there are resources available to help people learn more positive parenting techniques. “Tips for tears, tips for stress, talking about parenting being the most stressful job that you can ever have, and tips for not lashing out in anger and what you can do to stop that and take a timeout yourself as a parent to think about it, take a deep breath, to take a break, to walk out of the room, and then come back and deal with that,” VanSchoyck says.

She adds that organizations like Prevent Child Abuse Starke County seek to educate the public and prevent abuse before it happens. “A lot of programs all over the country are turning funds towards prevention, versus band-aids after the fact, and I think the earlier you start, the better,” she says. “That’s why a lot of the programs are prenatal programs and all those things are starting so much earlier because they’re learning that the sooner you start, the less likely that you are to have a problem later on down the line.”

In recognition of Child Abuse Prevention Month, the organization is placing pinwheels at libraries and other public buildings around the area, along with informational packets. The pinwheel is the national symbol of child abuse prevention. Additionally, representatives of Prevent Child Abuse Starke County will be at the Starke County Preschool Fair on Tuesday, April 18.

VanSchoyk encourages anyone who’d like to help raise awareness of child abuse to join the group by calling 574-772-3331.

IRS Turning Seriously Delinquent Accounts Over to Collections

Posted on April 6, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

The Internal Revenue Service is preparing to turn seriously delinquent accounts over to private-sector collection agencies. The agency notes these are unpaid individual tax obligations that are not currently being worked by IRS collection employees and often were assessed by the tax agency several years ago.

Affected taxpayers will first receive mailings and subsequent telephone calls from the agency advising them of the pending collections. The mailing will contain the contact information for the private collection agency and include a copy of Publication 4518, What You Can Expect When the IRS Assigns Your Account to a Private Collection Agency.

IRS officials note only four private groups are participating in the program: CBE Group of Cedar Falls, Iowa; Conserve of Fairport, N.Y.; Performant of Livermore, Calif.; and Pioneer of Horseheads, N.Y. The taxpayer’s account will only be assigned to one of these agencies, never to all four. No other private group is authorized to represent the IRS.

After the IRS letter is sent, the designated private firm will send its own letter to the taxpayer and their representative confirming the account transfer. To protect the taxpayer’s privacy and security, both the IRS letter and the collection firm’s letter will contain information that will help taxpayers identify the tax amount owed and assure taxpayers that future collection agency calls they may receive are legitimate.

The private collectors will be able to identify themselves as contractors of the IRS collecting taxes. Their employees must be courteous, respect taxpayer rights and follow provisions of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

They are authorized to discuss payment options, including setting up payment arrangements with taxpayers. However, payments must be made electronically or by check to the IRS. Payments should never be sent to a private firm or anyone besides the IRS or U.S. Treasury.

Additionally, private firms are not authorized to take enforcement actions against taxpayers. Only IRS employees can file notices of Federal Tax Lien or issue a levy.

Private firms are not authorized to take enforcement actions against taxpayers. Only IRS employees can take these actions, such as filing a notice of Federal Tax Lien or issuing a levy. Visit the Private Debt Collection page on for more information.

IRS officials concede scammers may pose as private collection firms. They remind taxpayers such firms will only be calling about a tax debt a person has had and been aware of for several years. In all cases, the IRS will have contacted the taxpayer previously. If you have paid your taxes and get such a call, it is probably a scam.

Taxpayers who are unsure whether they have an unpaid balance from a previous year can go to If the account balance says zero, that means nothing is due, and you typically wouldn’t be getting a contact from the IRS or the private firm.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

6/17/2017 NJ-SP Class of 1967 Reunion

4/11/2017 NJ-SP Facility Tour and Board Work Session

Starke County Commissioners Approve Additional Erie Trail Access

Posted on April 5, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

The volunteer organization that’s responsible for promoting and maintaining the Erie Trail between North Judson and Bass Station has received approval to add more access points to the route.

The Starke County Commissioners Monday approved access points on Range Road, 450 East at the southwest corner of Bass Lake and 600 East, which will connect to the campground. The Prairie Trails Club will purchase the necessary signs and will work with the Starke County Highway Department on their installation.

Eventually a trailhead will be added at Mark Bailey’s Discount Center at the intersection of State Road 10 and Range Road to provide an additional access point for bicycle riders and pedestrians to get on the route.

Both the American Discovery Trail between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and the U.S. Bike Route #35, which will connect Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, will pass through Starke County on the Erie Trail.

Prairie Trails Club President Bruce Fingerhut told the commissioners they hope to connect to Tippecanoe River State Park in Pulaski County at some point. That’s also the goal for the Panhandle Pathway, which currently stops in downtown Winamac. Once that happens, outdoor enthusiasts will have more than 40 miles of paved trail from North Judson to France Park in Cass County.

Part of the Erie Trail is also accessible to equestrians, with an adjacent bridle path from 100 West to U.S. 35. However, horse enthusiasts note there’s not a good place to unload their animals and park their trailers in order to access the route.

Additionally brush, vines and honeysuckle need to be cleared from the path. The Prairie Trails Club plans to schedule a cleanup day later in the spring. Visit for more information.

Dial 811 Before You Dig

Posted on April 5, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

April is National Safe Digging Month, and NIPSCO officials remind customers and contractors to pick up the phone before they pick up a shovel. A call to 811 at least two days before the start of any digging project will give utility locators time to find and mark buried underground utilities.

Failure to locate lines can result in damage to gas, electric, communications, water and sewer lines, which in turn can lead to serious injuries and service disruptions.

Additionally not calling 811 could result in fines of up to $10,000 along with repair costs for any damages incurred.

NIPSCO officials urge anyone with plans for an outdoor project involving digging to call 811 or enter a request online at two business days before the start of any project. The service is always available, but advance notice is required in order to schedule. Avoid staring projects until you’re sure all lines are marked. 811 will read a list of companies that should respond.

If the original planned project is near utility line markings, choose another spot on the property for the project. Also if your planned excavation is within two feet of any marked facility use hand tools for digging. If vacuum excavation must be used, be extremely careful.

Confirm that any contractors you are using have called 811 prior to starting a project. Do not allow them to begin if lines are not marked. NIPSCO officials say it is safe to begin digging carefully around accurately marked areas after a site has been marked.

Visit for more information and safety tips.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Starke County Commissioners Consider Truck Route Ordinance

Posted on April 4, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

The Starke County Commissioners have taken a first step towards adopting a truck route ordinance. It restricts routes for vehicles with a gross weight of more than 36,000 pounds to specified county-maintained roads or highways.

Under a proposal offered by Starke County Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler, all locations in the county will eventually be within a mile of either a highway or a county road paved with hot mix asphalt which can better withstand the weight of heavy vehicles.

School buses are exempt from the proposed ordinance, as are delivery trucks. Over-the-road truck drivers and farmers who need to access fields within Starke County will be able to purchase annual permits designating which roads they can use.

Fines ranging from $100 for a first offense to $300 for a third or subsequent violation will be levied in an attempt to enforce the policy once it takes effect. Violators may also be liable for the cost of repairs to roadways. County Attorney Marty Lucas says the idea is to encourage compliance rather than generate tickets.

Ritzler sought input from Sheriff Bill Dulin, Starke County Economic Development Foundation Executive Director Charlie Weaver, county government officials and representatives of the farming community.

Farmer Lee Nagai was part of that process. He saw the proposed ordinance for the first time yesterday and asked for more time to review it and discuss its implications with other farmers. He says there’s no guarantee future commissioners will understand the importance of good transportation to the agriculture sector. Nagai also raised concerns about the unspecified permit costs. He told the commissioners he doesn’t mind paying his fair share, but he’s not sure what that is.

The commissioners adopted the proposed ordinance on first reading, which will allow for a public review of the proposal before a final vote is taken. Ritzler will also share the draft ordinance with the advisory group before the next commissioners meeting.

Courthouse and Old Jail Renovations Wrapping Up

Posted on April 4, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

The renovations to the Starke County Courthouse and former jail building in downtown Knox are on schedule and under budget.

Contractors will clean the exterior of both buildings this week with an organic solution to brighten the brick and stone. However the clock tower on the courthouse will be done later this year because a heavy boom lift will be required.

Interior work at both buildings is wrapping up, and various departments are in the process of moving into their new space. The probation department moved into the former jail last week, and the prosecutor’s office will move into the courthouse soon.

A public open house is scheduled Tuesday, April 18 from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. Starke Circuit Judge Kim Hall will offer remarks during a program on the courthouse lawn, and tours of both buildings will be offered.

Commissioner Kathy Norem wants taxpayers to see how the county is spending money and says the open house will be the only opportunity to see areas that will eventually have restricted access.

The courthouse will have one point of entry once the renovations are finished. Metal detectors will be installed, and uniformed officers will be stationed there as well.

FEMA Urges Residents to Prepare for Spring Flooding

Posted on April 4, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

With spring comes the chance of heavy rainfall and flooding, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency says now’s the time to make sure you’re ready.

FEMA officials suggest putting together an emergency supply kit with food, water, first aid supplies, medications, and a battery-operated radio. They also say residents should plan an evacuation route and practice it. Also, designate someone out of state as a “family contact” person and make sure everyone in your family knows that person’s phone number and address.

FEMA also has a few suggestions for protecting your home’s valuables. Conduct a household inventory and keep a record of all major items and valuables. Keep irreplaceable documents like birth certificates and passports in a safe deposit box, and store copies in a safe, dry place. FEMA officials urge residents to consider flood insurance, since homeowner’s insurance policies typically don’t cover floods. They warn not to wait until it’s too late, since policies don’t go into effect until 30 days after application and payment.

More flood safety tips can be found at

Be Aware of Construction Workers in Work Zones

Posted on April 4, 2017
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

April marks the beginning of the highway construction season. The Indiana Department of Transportation urges motorists to slow down in construction zones.

This will be a busy road construction season. INDOT will oversee more than 300 construction contracts totaling more than $1 billion in capital investment. Pavement resurfacing will encompass 3,047 miles. Work will focus on improving traffic mobility and safety. Dozens of interchanges and intersections will be improved across the state. INDOT and its contractors will also rehabilitate or construct 486 bridges and small structures.

Since 2014, at least 12 people are killed each year in INDOT work zone crashes. Eighty percent of those killed are motorists or their passengers.

With this being Work Zone Awareness week, INDOT officials urge motorists to look for signs for reduced speed limits and narrow driving lanes and highway workers. Merge early. If drivers merge as soon as they see signs, traffic will flow much more smoothly. Maintain a safe distance on all sides of the vehicle and adhere to posted speed limits. Drivers should minimize distractions and plan ahead. Expect travel delays during construction season and allow extra travel time.

For an interactive online map to keep up to date on current road construction projects, click on this link for more details.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Starke County Chamber Executive Director Announces Departure

Posted on April 3, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

The Starke County Chamber of Commerce will soon have a new executive director. Debbie Mix is leaving after seven years in that position to pursue a new career opportunity.

In a letter to chamber members, Mix says Friday, April 7 will be her last day. She adds she appreciates living in Starke County and knowing all the wonderful people and places that make this such a great place to live.

Starke County Chamber of Commerce President Jerry Gurrado praises Mix for her work in transitioning the chamber into a county entity, expanding membership and being the face of the organization.

“On behalf of every Chamber member and Board of Directors member, I wish to thank Debbie for her dedication and service,” Gurrado added.

He says the next executive director will need to “wear a variety of hats.” In addition to conducing day-to-day chamber of commerce operations, he or she will spend nine hours per week working to expand tourism in Starke County.

Gurrado adds experience in a nonprofit is desired but not necessary. The chamber is looking for a people person who believes in the mission of serving the entire county. He says a working knowledge of Microsoft Word and Excel are critical and a general knowledge of QuickBooks is necessary.

Board members will conduct essential chamber services until a new executive director can be hired. Gurrado says the board will strive to find just the right person rather than hurrying the selection process just to fill the spot.

Applicants can email a resume to

INDOT Bridge Projects to Affect Area Highways

Posted on April 3, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

The Indiana Department of Transportation will close State Road 14 halfway between State Road 39 and U.S. 421 next week for a bridge repair project.

Crews are rehabilitating the bridge deck over the Monon Ditch and resurfacing it. The bridge will be closed to all traffic from Monday, April 10 through the end of October.

State road detours must be along state-maintained roadways. INDOT’s marked detour will use State Road 10 to get around the work.

INDOT will also begin work on the State Road 16/39 bridge over the Tippecanoe River in Buffalo on Monday, April 10. That project will also continue through the end of October.

The highway in White County will be open to all through traffic during that project but will be restricted to one lane in both directions. Motorists should expect periodic delays and allow extra time to travel through the Buffalo area. INDOT urges motorists to pay close attention to signs in the work zone, obey the posted speed limits and be on the alert for workers and equipment.

Drivers can monitor road closures and traffic alerts at any time via the INDOT Northwest District social media channels: or Twitter @INDOTNorthwest. Or visit for INDOT’s TrafficWise Traveler Information Service.