Thursday, June 29, 2017

7/21/2017 Health Fair @ HealthLinc

July - Quote of the Month

Happy Birthday, Ernest Hemingway. 
July 21, 1899

U.S. 30 Coalition Discusses Freeway Plan with Residents

Posted on June 29, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

U.S. 30 is likely to be upgraded to freeway standards in the next 10 years, so now’s the time for local residents to get together and offer their input. That’s what a consultant working with the statewide U.S. 30 Coalition told residents during an informational meeting Wednesday in Hamlet.

Dennis Faulkenberg with transportation consulting firm APPIAN said that while it’s not a done deal yet, the U.S. 30 upgrade is a big priority for the Indiana Department of Transportation. And with recent legislation, funding may be available to make it happen.

The proposal would upgrade U.S. 30 to freeway standards between Valparaiso and Fort Wayne. In that stretch, the only way to get across U.S. 30 would be with an overpass, and the only way to get on will be at an interchange.

Faulkenberg says planning for where those would be placed hasn’t begun yet. He says local residents need to start building consensus on where they want them. Otherwise, he says INDOT will decide for them.

As for why U.S. 30 needs to be upgraded, Faulkenberg points to traffic volumes, safety, and economic development. Right now, 30,000 vehicles use the corridor on a daily basis. INDOT expects that number to increase by more than 8,000 over the next 20 years.

Faulkenberg says that the mix of truck traffic and passenger vehicles, as well as the number of stoplights, have led to safety issues, including some fatal accidents in recent weeks. By upgrading to freeway standards, INDOT projects U.S. 30 would see 323 fewer accidents and four fewer fatalities a year.

Additionally, the upgrade is projected to bring 10,000 new jobs to the U.S. 30 corridor over the next 20 years. Officials with the Starke County Economic Development Foundation say the upgrade is vital to the county’s future, since businesses often refuse to locate beyond a certain distance from freeways.

One concern raised by residents Wednesday was how much property would need to be acquired. Faulkenberg said that the current right of way is probably wide enough already in most areas. Where land acquisition would come into play is at overpass and interchange locations. Residents also questioned why INDOT hasn’t been making minor safety upgrades all along, like acceleration lanes near the Grovertown truck stop.

Residents also wondered if the real issue is trucks avoiding the Indiana Toll Road, and if the way to solve U.S. 30’s traffic problems would be to make changes to the toll road itself. Faulkenberg responded that the two highways probably serve different traffic, but agreed that it might be worth looking into vehicles’ origins and destinations.

The next step is to organize local committees made up of farmers, emergency responders, school officials, and other stakeholders. Starke County is represented in the statewide U.S. 30 Coalition by Starke County Economic Development Foundation Executive Director Charlie Weaver. Marshall County representatives include Plymouth Mayor Mark Senter and Marshall County Economic Development Corporation President and CEO Jerry Chavez.

N.J.-S.P. School Board Moves Toward Bond Issue for Renovation Project

Posted on June 29, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The North Judson-San Pierre School Corporation is moving ahead with a $5.5 million renovation project.

To pay for the upgrades, the corporation will be issuing bonds. As part of that process, the school board met in special session Tuesday to approve several resolutions, as required by law. “Basically, what we have adopted is the resolution to enter into a project that’s over a million dollars,” explains Superintendent Annette Zupin. “We have entered into a lease agreement for the $5.6 million over the seven-year period, and then also a resolution to reimburse for expenditures.”

That reimbursement resolution would allow the corporation to address some of the items on the project list before the bonds are issued, should an emergency arise. The corporation would then be reimbursed once the bonds are sold.

The bulk of the work would take place at the high school building. It would get new carpeting, LED lighting, and roof repairs.

Zupin says no comments were offered during a public hearing Tuesday, but the project architect, financial adviser, and bond counsel were on hand to review the project. Zupin stresses the the work will not affect property tax rates, as it can be done within the corporation’s existing debt service.

For now, residents have 30 days to file a petition objecting to the plan. After that, Zupin says the corporation can begin working on the financial documents.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

7/8/2017 Free Movie Night @ Norwayne Field

Railroad Township Advisory Board to Re-Do School Board Appointment

Posted on June 28, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

The Railroad Township Advisory Board will meet again tomorrow (Thursday) night to appoint a North Judson-San Pierre School Board member.

Members met last week for that purpose, but deliberated and voted privately before announcing their choice of Susan McCormack to fill the seat being vacated by school board president Pat Goin.

Taking a vote in private is against the law, which is why the appointment needs to be redone.

Cassandra Hine, Megan Korous and Deb Wappel also sought appointment to the school board.

Tomorrow’s meeting will take place at 5:30 p.m. at the old San Pierre School.

Leadership Starke County Recruiting 6th Class

Posted on June 28, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

Recruiting is under way for the sixth annual Leadership Starke County class. It begins Sept. 22 and meets once per month through May at locations around the county.

Facilitator Jim Jessup says this year’s goal is to have 12 adults and three high school students enrolled.

He says the class gives young, emerging and established leaders a new perspective on Starke County, including its history, culture, challenges, and opportunities for the future.

Topics include leadership skills, networking, the social services, local government, economic development, education, law enforcement and personal development. The class even features a bus trip around Starke County.

The program’s $300 cost includes meals, instruction, materials and transportation. Payment plans and partial scholarships may be available. The deadline for acceptance into the program is Sept. 15.

Visit the Leadership Starke Co Application and Tentative Dates for 2017-2018 for Leadership Starke County for more information

A link to the application form and a tentative class schedule accompany this story on

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

7/22/2017 Benefit for Dee Tolson

N.J.-S.P. School Board to Conduct 1028 Public Hearing on Proposed Bond Issue Tonight

Posted on June 27, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

The next step in the proposed North Judson-San Pierre School renovations is a public hearing during a special-called meeting tonight.

The school board will conduct the statutory 1028 Public Hearing and pass an the necessary resolutions to move the project forward during their 7 p.m. meeting at the central office.

Officials previously outlined an estimated $5.5 million worth of projects designed to make the three buildings safer and more energy efficient. Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin says the work will not affect property taxes, as it can be done within the corporation’s existing debt service.

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 board also agreed to make updates to the swimming pool and tennis courts. Other exterior projects include sidewalk repairs, a new pressbox and dugouts for the baseball and softball fields and a new roof for the football locker room.

The board can pay off the bonds for the work in seven years and still have some borrowing capacity should another need arise.

AAA Predicts Record Independence Day Travel

Posted on June 27, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

A record number of travelers will be leaving home this Independence Day weekend, according to AAA.

Nationwide, 44.2 million Americans are expected to travel 50 or more miles from home via plane, train, automobile or ship. That number marks an increase of 1.25 million travelers over last year.

Closer to home, more than 1 million Hoosiers are expected to travel over the holiday period. That’s a 3.2 percent increase over 2016.

The Independence Day travel period begins Friday, June 30 and wraps up Tuesday, July 4.

AAA Senior Vice President of Travel and Publishing Bill Sutherland credits combined strong employment, rising incomes and higher consumer confidence for the spike in travel this year.

Automobile travel remains the most popular means of transportation nationwide, with an estimated 37.5 people expected to drive to their destinations. That’s an increase of 2.9 percent over 2016. In Indiana, an estimated 930,606 Hoosiers will take to the roadways. That’s a 3.4 percent increase from one year ago.

Air travel is up by 4.6 percent over last Independence Day, with 3.44 million people expected to take to the skies. That’s due in part to lower airfares and car rental rates. Approximately 46,094 Indiana residents will fly during the holiday period – up 2.3 percent from 2016.

The remaining 3.27 million travelers will look to cruises, trains and buses to reach their holiday destinations.

State Health Officials Encourage HIV Testing

Posted on June 27, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

Today is National HIV Testing Day, and Hoosiers are urged to learn their status. The human immunodeficiency virus weakens a person’s immune system by destroying cells that fight disease and infection.

It can be transmitted sexually, through shared needles, blood, breast milk and other bodily fluids. HIV can also progress to a severe condition called acquired immune deficiency syndrome, or AIDS.

There is no cure for HIV, but it can be successfully managed as a chronic disease with proper care. State health officials say testing and early participation in HIV care are critical to successful disease management.

State Health Commissioner Dr. Jerome Adams encourages people who engage in high-risk sexual behaviors or injection drug use to get tested as soon as possible.

Preliminary numbers from 2016 indicate 413 Indiana residents were newly diagnosed with HIV, while 94 were diagnosed with AIDS. Nearly 80 percent of the newly diagnosed individuals were men. By the end of 2016, state officials 12,175 Indiana residents were living with HIV or AIDS at the end of 2016.

Nationally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates nearly 13 percent of Americans living with HIV do not know their status. That means they are not accessing testing and medical care that can keep them healthy and protect their loved ones from infection.

HIV can be detected through testing of oral fluids and blood. Health care providers, local health departments and other entities can provide testing. To find a testing site near you as part of National HIV Testing Day, visit and enter your ZIP code.

IRS Warns Tax Industry of Phishing Emails

Posted on June 27, 2017
Author Justin Perry, WKVI

The IRS, along with the tax industry and state tax agencies,warn tax professionals to beware of phishing emails

Emails have been sent out disguised as a tax software education provider trying to receive large amounts of data. Officials don’t know where the emails originated from, but are thinking the emails are linked to cybercriminals who could be operating from anywhere in the world.

The IRS wants to remind all tax professionals that legitimate businesses and organizations will never ask for usernames, passwords, or sensitive data via email.

Electronic Filing Information Number, the Preparer Tax Identification Number, and the Centralized Authorization File number, along with their e-Services credentials are highly wanted by identity thieves. Anyone handling that data has a legal obligation to protect the data.

If you received an email or were victimized by the email, please forward a copy of the email to If you sent out any information to the email, contact e-Services Help Desk to reset your password. If any information and taxpayer data were stolen, please contact your local stakeholder liaison.

Monday, June 26, 2017

North Judson Resident Plans to Fight Chicken Removal

Posted on June 26, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The chicken debate is heating up in North Judson. Last week, the town council voted to have police officer Frank Thomas enforce the town’s existing animal ordinance by removing all remaining chickens in town, after next month’s county fair. But one resident says the action unfairly singles her out.

Sarah Burkett says her chickens were grandfathered in by the town council several years ago, and there hasn’t been much of an issue since then. “I actually have spoke to the town, and there have been no complaints about noise or smell, just that they were alive,” she says. “I have gone to most of my neighbors, and no one has an issue with them. Nobody has had any complaints. There have not been any noise complaints from anyone.” She says that the chickens roost and sleep at night, making it unlikely that they’re keeping neighbors up.

But exactly how those chickens were grandfathered in has been a source of confusion during recent council meetings. Council President Wendy Hoppe believed the measure only applied to the specific chickens on the property at the time, and no new chickens could be obtained. To settle the question, council members requested that documentation be provided. As of last week, they hadn’t received any.

However, Burkett says she has a copy of the minutes of the meeting when her chickens were grandfathered in. And she says she wasn’t the only one allowed to keep chickens. “There’s also another farm, that is an actual farm, that has been grandfathered in, and they have not had anything going on,” she says. “So I just don’t know why I’m being singled out.”

Town officials said last week the issue was acreage. Clerk-Treasurer Alicia Collins said when it comes to having animals, there’s a difference between living on a farm and living in the middle of a neighborhood. Collins suggested that council members may consider adding acreage requirements into the ordinance.

Burkett says that several cities allow residents to keep a certain number of chickens with no acreage minimum, including Indianapolis, South Bend, Valparaiso, and Chesterton. But some rural communities have been reluctant to follow suit. Last year, the Winamac Town Council narrowly voted down an urban chicken ordinance. At the time, Winamac officials contacted eight other communities in the area, and none of them recommended allowing chickens within city limits.

However, Burkett says becoming more chicken-friendly could make North Judson more attractive to new residents. “Why are we not trying to attract younger people that are asking to have this? This is the craziest thing. Let’s worry about getting more movies at Norwayne, which is fantastic, getting more color runs. Let’s focus on those things,” she says. “Chickens that aren’t bothering anyone – or I’m sorry, bothering one person – it just seems like a very small thing. I don’t understand it, when I have already been allowed to have them.”

Burkett also takes issue with a comment made during last week’s council meeting by Officer Thomas, regarding the timeline of the chickens’ removal, specifically, “They can get through their 4-H, and then it’s dinner time.”

“I find the humor in it, but very distasteful,” Burkett says, “when you have an eight-year-old that loves her chickens, and then also my three-year-old that goes out and collects chickens. And we have one hen that is very sweet and will allow you to pick her up. My kids are learning how to feed and water and collect eggs. They’re learning where their food comes from. What is the harm in this?”

Burkett plans to discuss the issue with the town council during its next regular meeting on July 3. It’s scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at the North Judson Town Hall, but Burkett says the interest being generated may mean it will have to be moved to a larger venue.

Starke Council Proposes Annex 2 Utility Split

Posted on June 26, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

The Starke County Council has come up with a proposal to pay for utilities at the former jail. Now known as Annex 2, it houses the probation and health departments, Starke County Community Corrections and Purdue Extension.

Last week the council proposed asking probation and community corrections to each cover 40 percent of the cost. The health department and Purdue Extension would each pay 10 percent, under their recommendation.

They agreed to move forward with enacting the plan and asked that any department with remonstrance come to their next meeting on Monday, July 17 to discuss the proposal.

North Judson Planning for 2018 Paving Projects, Fork Truck Purchase

Posted on June 26, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

North Judson’s streets that need to be repaved will have to wait a year. During last week’s town council meeting, Town Superintendent Marshall Horstmann said the town wouldn’t be able to do paving this year. But he went ahead and got two quotes, so the town will be ready to go next spring. “What I was wanting to do is, whichever company you pick, I can get with them and they can do up a contract, so we can encumber the money from this year to next year,” he explained.

The prices range from just under $167,000 up to nearly $183,000. The town council plans to choose a paving contractor next month. Efforts are also underway to get some state funding to cover the cost. Horstmann is finalizing the town’s application for a Community Crossings matching grant.

Meanwhile, he said he’s still working to repair a lift station damaged by a hit-and-run driver last month. “We received both the pumps and the disconnect box,” Horstmann said. “I’ve got the hose cut into the disconnect box now for the conduit, so I’ll probably go out there tomorrow and change out the disconnect box. We’ve dug up the conduit, found it, and we’re going to just dig back a little ways and reroute it, so it comes up alongside the concrete. We can’t use the old piece of conduit because it’s broke off right at the concrete. So we’ll take care of that.” The next step is to wait for the arrival of a new control panel.

Additionally, the planned closure of a local business will mean some new equipment for North Judson. When Norwayne Lumber Company ends operations, the town will buy its fork truck for $7,500, following approval from the council last week.

Shoe Drive Marches Toward Education Funding Goal

Posted on June 26, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

The local chapter of an international organization wants your old shoes. Philanthropic Educational Organization, P.E.O. for short, has teamed up with an organization called for a shoe drive. The nonprofit international women’s sisterhood raises money to help women meet their educational goals and dreams. Local member Jacalyn Ciboch says the local chapter is very active.

“We support a Starke County woman who wishes to continue her education after an interruption. We have scholarships for high school seniors, women who are studying for their master’s degrees and their PhD’s. We offer scholarships and grants ranging up to $15,000.”

Fulfilling the organization’s goals both locally and nationally takes money, which member Mary Kleinfehn says prompted the shoe drive. She says their goal is to collect 100 bags of 25 pairs of shoes each by July 31st.

“All the donated shoes will be redistributed throughout the Funds2Orgs network. And they give them to these micro-enterprise partners who help them maintain and create and grow small business in developing countries, like Haiti, where educational opportunity is limited.”

Kleinfehn says the shoe drive is a fundraiser for P.E.O. but it will also benefit families in developing countries by helping them to self-sustain.

“They pay 40-cents a pound, and our goal is to collect enough to get $1,000. The people in the developing countries, they get benefits because they can use these to help support themselves. In the United States alone, we dispose of 600-million pairs of shoes a year that end up in landfills. It takes about 80 years to decompose those shoes, so we’re actually helping the environment by helping to keep a lot of those shoes out of the landfills.”

Ciboch and her husband have already collected 25 pairs of shoes toward the goal by going through their own closets.

Drop boxes are available at Five Star, Community Services of Starke County and at the WKVI studios at 400 West Culver Road in Knox. All sizes and styles of new and gently worn men’s, women’s and children’s shoes are welcome.

Beware of Skimmers at the Pump

Posted on June 26, 2017
Author Justin Perry, WKVI

Make sure you take extra precaution when visiting the gas station. Skimmers, illegal card readers that grab data off a credit or debit card, are becoming more and more undetectible. People who have information stolen from their card will not even notice until they receive a statement or an overdraft notice.

When going to the pump, make sure the gas pump panel is closed and shows no signs of tampering. Look at the card reader itself, if it looks different than the others, notify an attendant.

Other precautions you can take are: run your card as credit, monitor accounts daily, or pay inside.

North Judson Council to Revisit Golf Cart Ordinance

Posted on June 24, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

North Judson may soon revisit its golf cart ordinance. Police Officer Frank Thomas told the town council Monday that residents are buying vehicles expecting to be able to register them as golf carts. But he said they’re clearly not what the ordinance envisioned. “The problem is over the years, even since 2012 when we put this into place, things have changed and we’re seeing more of these utility vehicles that are kind of lumped in with golf carts, and it’s gotten really, really gray,” he said.

For example, Thomas said he’s been asked to register Gator vehicles, but some are more golf-cart-like than others. “There’s so many variables,” he said. “Now one Gator maybe only goes 10 or 15 miles an hour. It’s very much like a golf cart. But then there’s another Gator that has 200 horsepower and goes 50 miles an hour. ‘Well, that guy’s got a Gator, and I want my Gator done,’ and so we’ve gotten into this kind of a pickle.”

Council President Wendy Hoppe said that when the council adopted the ordinance five years ago, members considered a provision that would define golf carts based on horsepower or engine size. However, it wasn’t included in the final version.

Town officials plan to look at other communities’ golf cart ordinances, to see how they’re handling the issue.

Starke Commissioners Discuss E-Poll Books, Accessible Absentee Voting

Posted on June 24, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

Starke County Clerk Vicki Cooley wants to modernize the election process and make absentee voting at the courthouse more accessible. She spoke to the commissioners Monday about the addition of e-poll books to replace the paper voter lists used at polling sites around the county.

Voter data is accessible on tablet computers which communicate with the county’s electronic voting machines. Cooley says they lessen the likelihood of error, as the sign-in process cannot be completed without all of the necessary information.

Cooley says the technology carries an estimated cost of $50,000.

She also asked the commissioners about the possibility having absentee voting in the first floor conference room at the courthouse. That space is shared by several offices and will need telephone jacks, a copier and a printer to accommodate the needs of the clerks’ office staff. The commissioners suggested she talk to county IT director Mark Gourley about those needs prior to the elections.

Cooley also brought up the need for a new copier for her office, as parts for the current one are becoming obsolete. It can be traded in toward a new machine with fax capabilities. It’s unclear at this time how much if any the electronic filing of some court documents will reduce copier use. The commissioners did not take any action on the request.

Friday, June 23, 2017

7/8/2017 Free Movie Night @ Norwayne Field

Another FREE Movie night coming up at Norwayne Field on Saturday evening, July 8!!!


Frank Adler (Chris Evans) is a single man raising a child prodigy - his spirited young niece Mary (Mckenna Grace) - in a coastal town in Florida. Frank's plans for a normal school life for Mary are foiled when the 7-year-old's mathematical abilities come to the attention of Frank's formidable mother, Evelyn (Lindsay Duncan), whose plans for her granddaughter threaten to separate Frank and Mary.

North Judson Seeks Applicants for Compliance Officer Job

Posted on June 23, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The search is on for a compliance officer for North Judson. The part-time employee would issue warnings and citations for tall grass and other code violations.

Clerk-Treasurer Alicia Collins told the town council this week that the opening has been advertised in a local newspaper. As of Monday, no one had applied yet.

Those interested in the job still have another week to turn in their applications to the town. They’re due by Friday, June 30 at 3:30 p.m.

North Judson Police Officer Frank Thomas suggested the town add a compliance officer, to allow police to focus more on fighting crime.

N.J.-S.P. School Board Schedules Public Hearing on Proposed Bond Issue

Posted on June 23, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

The North Judson-San Pierre School Board is moving forward with proposed renovations and updates at the three schools.

They’ve scheduled a special meeting Tuesday, June 27 to conduct a 1028 Public Hearing, as required by law, and pass an the necessary resolutions to move the project forward.

Officials previously outlined an estimated $5.5 million worth of projects designed to make the three buildings safer and more energy efficient. Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin says the work will not affect property taxes, as it can be done within the corporation’s existing debt service.

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 board also agreed to make updates to the swimming pool and tennis courts. Other exterior projects include sidewalk repairs, a new pressbox and dugouts for the baseball and softball fields and a new roof for the football locker room.

The board can pay off the bonds for the work in seven years and still have some borrowing capacity should another need arise.

Tuesday’s meeting will take place at 7 p.m. at the central office meeting room.

Catholic Youth Group Plans Bella Vita Day of Service

Posted on June 23, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

A group of teenagers from a Catholic Church in Lowell will be in Starke County on Monday to assist a local nonprofit organization.

The 10 teens and adult leaders from St. Edward Catholic Church’s Youth Ministry program will spend the day painting interior walls at the new Bella Vita Pregnancy Resource Center in Knox. Expectant and new mothers spend time there with counselors and staff to become more equipped to handle the demands of parenting. As a result, they want to create a welcoming and calming environment.

St. Edward Youth Ministry leaders set out to create a service experience in which teens would learn about and assist the people in Starke County. Statistically it is the poorest county in Indiana, based on data from 2015.

St. Edward Youth Ministry Coordinator Vicky Hathaway believes the project will help her teach teens about complex issues surrounding pregnancy and poverty.

The Bella Vita Pregnancy Resource Center offers counseling, resources, referrals, education, financial support and supplies to young women in need.

The new Bella Vita Pregnancy Resource Center is located at 801 South Heaton Street in Knox.

Starke United Expands Kindergarten Countdown Offerings

Posted on June 23, 2017
Author WKVI

Starke United Fund’s Kindergarten Countdown received a grant to expand the program to all Starke County schools.

This summer, Knox, Oregon-Davis and North Judson-San Pierre will begin to prepare children that did not receive a preschool education for kindergarten. Students will learn school routines and learn to be comfortable in a school setting. With the grant money, students will also be able to take books home to build their home library.

Knox’s program will take place in June, North Judson-San Pierre in July and Oregon-Davis will host the program towards the end of the summer.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Starke County Highway Superintendent Finalizes Community Crossings Project List

Posted on June 22, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

The Starke County Highway Department has finalized applications for Community Crossings three-to-one matching funds for seven projects. Superintendent Rik Ritzler told the commissioners Monday three bridge replacements and one repair on the list are already complete.

If approved, the county will get the state match back as a reimbursement, and the money would go into the local bridge replacement fund for other projects.

The Community Crossings list also includes the county’s first hot mix asphalt road under the 10-year truck route paving plan. For a local cost of $56,750 the county would be able to complete hot mix paving for the Knox Industrial Park by going north from MPI to State Road 8.

The commissioners rejected a similar proposal to pave Arlington Road in North Judson from 350 West to the dead end to better accommodate heavy truck traffic through the North Judson Industrial Park. Instead Ritzler says the county will seek reimbursement for culverts that have already been installed at several locations this year.

The final project on the initial Community Crossings grant list is the bridge replacement on 800 South over Bogus Run just east of 200 West.

Each application is several pages long and requires a local funding commitment letter, a map for each project, an estimate of funding costs, asset management plan and supporting documentation.

Ritzler also plans to seeking funds for additional local projects should there be additional state money available.

Legal Questions Prevent North Judson Firefighters from Carrying Narcan, Public Training Planned

Posted on June 22, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

A recovering addict from the North Judson area wants to make Narcan more widely available in Starke County, so local residents can live to have a chance at recovery. Kevin Glisic says he was an active addict for nearly 20 years. Now, he serves as the executive director of Moraine House, a recovery-based transitional house in Valparaiso.

Glisic met with the North Judson Town Council Monday to discuss offering Narcan training classes for both first responders and the general public. The training would be conducted by the Overdose Lifeline, a non-profit group based in Indianapolis. Public training sessions would be about an hour long, and residents would be given Narcan free of charge.

North Judson-Wayne Township Fire Chief Joe Leszek says drug overdoses have caused his department’s medical calls to triple in the past few years. A big concern is fentanyl, a powerful synthetic drug often mixed with heroin. Leszek says firefighters now wear chemical-protective suits when responding to drug-related calls, to protect themselves from accidental overdose.

He says most of his firefighters have already been trained with Narcan, but they’ve stopped carrying it, due to legal concerns. “The reason we don’t carry Narcan right now is because the state is very unclear,” he explains. “We are a BLS non-transport department. So what that means for us is when we put in our state certification, there is not medication that we carry.”

Leszek is afraid that carrying the potentially life-saving drug could jeopardize the fire department’s certification. Officials from the Overdose Lifeline agreed to research the situation. Town Council President Wendy Hoppe also asked if grant funding may be available to purchase protective clothing for police officers.

Town officials expressed support for Narcan training and discussed some possible locations.

West Nile Virus Confirmed in Indiana, State Officials Offer Mosquito Safety Tips

Posted on June 22, 2017
Author WKVI

State officials have confirmed the first cases of the West Nile Virus in Indiana. As the mosquito season progresses, the state is urging citizens to take preventive action against the virus.

To prevent yourself from getting the virus and other mosquito borne viruses, you can wear insect repellant, cover exposed skin by wearing a hat, long sleeve shirts and pants in places like wooded areas.

  • West Nile Virus starts out with a mild form of the illness. Symptoms include fever, head and body aches, swollen lymph glands or a rash. If you or someone you know have these symptoms, please see a health care provider.
  • Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are active (especially late afternoon, dusk to dawn and early morning).
  • Apply an EPA-registered insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol to clothes and exposed skin.
  • Cover exposed skin by wearing a hat, long sleeves and long pants in places where mosquitoes are especially active, such as wooded areas.
  • Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out of the home.

Mosquitoes breed in standing water. Even a container as small as a bottle cap can become a breeding ground, so residents should take the following steps:

  • Discard old tires, tin cans, ceramic pots or other containers that can hold water.
  • Repair failed septic systems.
  • Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers left outdoors.
  • Keep grass cut short and shrubbery trimmed.
  • Clean clogged roof gutters, particularly if leaves tend to plug up the drains.
  • Frequently replace the water in pet bowls.
  • Flush ornamental fountains and birdbaths periodically.
  • Aerate ornamental pools, or stock them with predatory fish

Lightning Safety Week Raises Awareness of Weather Dangers

Posted on June 22, 2017
Author WKVI

The Indiana Department of Homeland Security and the National Weather Service have partnered to celebrate Lightning Safety Awareness Week in the state, June 18-24. The week is designed to have Hoosiers have a better understanding of the dangers of lightning.

If thunder is heard and no lightning is observed, the chance of one being struck by lightning is still there.

One can reduce the chance of being struck by lightning by staying away from water, high grounds, open areas, metal objects and electrical wire during a storm.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Who's Having Fireworks In Indiana?

Did you know there's a site that lists who's having fireworks in Indiana?

It has them listed by city, county, date, and even baseball stadiums! So if you're a fireworks fan you can use the site to plan your summer travels around Indiana.

9/30/2017 Indiana Vision Expo

Please join us for the 12th annual Indiana Vision Expo at the Indiana State Library, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  Attend information sessions from Dr. Richard Windsor, Dr. Laura Windsor, and more.

In April 2006, the Indiana State Library hosted its inaugural Indiana Vision Expo for persons with vision loss, their friends and families, service providers, educators, health care professionals, librarians, and other consumers interested in products and services designed to promote independent living. That first year, fifteen vendors exhibited and sold a variety of products from computer software and magnifiers to games and kitchen gadgets, and promoted services available to people with visual impairments.

The Vision Expo has been more successful than anticipated. The Expo now welcomes over 30 vendors and 300 attendees annually, and features multiple presentations on topics relevant to the blind and visually impaired community.

Vision Expo provides an opportunity for people with vision loss, their friends, families, and service providers to learn about the resources available that help promote independent living.  It is also a great opportunity to meet the Talking Book staff as well as fellow Talking Book patrons.

Admission is free of charge.

Thank You From Prairie Trails Club

Railroad Township Advisory Board Votes Privately on School Board Member

Posted on June 21, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

The Railroad Township Advisory Board chose a North Judson-San Pierre school board member last night, but there are questions about how the process was handled.

Advisory board members selected Susan McCormack to replace outgoing board president Pat Goin, who did not seek reappointment.

However, they did not take the vote in a public meeting, as required by state law. Instead, they recessed, went next door to discuss the four candidates, came back and announced their selection.

When audience members objected, the advisory board president defended their action and said they would redo the vote if necessary, but for now McCormack’s appointment stands.

She previously served on the LaPorte School Board.

Cassandra Hine, Megan Korous and Deb Wappel also sought appointment to the school board.

Grant Funds Unlikely for North Judson Building Demolition

Posted on June 21, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

It’s looking unlikely that North Judson will be able to get grant funding to help demolish a downtown building believed to be in danger of collapse. Part of the structure at 205 and 207 Lane Street already collapsed in on itself on May 11, forcing North Judson to close off a portion of its downtown area.

Town officials asked the Kankakee-Iroquios Regional Planning Commission if any resources were available to help cover demolition costs. The problem, according to Clerk-Treasurer Alicia Collins, is that a blight elimination grant would take too long, and the state’s urgent need funds are designed mainly for weather-related emergencies, meaning the emergency demolition wouldn’t qualify.

The town didn’t have much more luck with state lawmakers. “We contacted both our legislators and just got back a kind of generic ‘We’ll look into it,'” said town council member Jane Ellen Felchuk. “But I had it from another source that the state doesn’t have any money they’re passing out.”

A demolition quote previously received by the town was for over $250,000. The town council voted earlier this month to reject it, in part, because of the high price. Town Superintendent Marshall Horstmann told the town council Monday that since then, three companies have expressed interest in doing the work. One of those planned to visit the site Tuesday.

All demolition quotes are due by Friday, July 7 at 3:30 p.m.

County Council Nixes North Judson Paving From Funding Disbursement Request

Posted on June 21, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

Starke County government officials want to wait on an upgrade to a road in the North Judson Industrial Park proposed by the Starke County Economic Development Foundation.

Their request for an appropriation from the County Economic Development Income Tax, or CEDIT, fund included $75,000 to repave the main road through the North Judson Industrial Park with hot mix asphalt to withstand heavy truck traffic.

The council discussed the benefit of doing so, seeing as how there are only 11 available acres in the landlocked park on the east end of town. They generally agreed any future heavy industrial development in North Judson will occur west of town on State Road 10 due to the proximity to U.S. 421.

Starke County Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler pointed out the county can spend between $50 and $75,000 to pave 300 East from MPI north to State Road 8 in the Knox Industrial Park thanks to available matching funds from the state.

He adds the county can always upgrade the road through the North Judson Industrial Park later if a need to do so arises. Meanwhile, Ritzler says the chip seal surface will last between five and six years.

The council did approve the remaining $195,000 in CEDIT appropriations sought by the SCEDF. All but $15,000 of that money will be allocated to the foundation’s economic development consulting contract. The remainder will pay for the Hamlet fire well and industrial park projects.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

North Judson to Evict Chickens, Town Council to Continue Reviewing Animal Ordinance

Posted on June 20, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

North Judson’s chickens will soon have to find a new home.

After reviewing the town’s existing animal ordinance, Town Council President Wendy Hoppe said Monday that it clearly prohibits farm animals from being kept inside the town limits. “These animals include but are not limited to the following species: cattle, horses, donkeys, mules, sheep, swine, goats, chickens, roosters, geese, turkeys, ducks, and other related fowl, et cetera,” Hoppe read from the ordinance.

However, members of the Ransom family previously said they had a letter from the town, saying they could continue to have a certain number of chickens. During Monday’s town council meeting, though, Clerk-Treasurer Alicia Collins said the Ransoms failed to present such a letter to town officials, as requested.

The town council voted to have police officer Frank Thomas enforce the ordinance and remove the chickens. But since they’re being raised as part of a 4-H project, Thomas agreed to let the chickens stay until after next month’s county fair. “They can get through their 4-H, and then it’s dinner time, or however you want to look at it,” he said.

Council member Jane Ellen Felchuk opposed the motion, due to some concerns with the animal ordinance as it currently exists. Specifically, she wanted to see a provision explicitly prohibiting the feeding of feral cats.

Collins agreed the ordinance needs some review, since enforcing it would also mean 4-H families in more rural parts of town would also have to give up their animals. “We may need to look at doing an acreage thing or something,” Collins said. “Obviously, people that live right in the middle of town do not have eight acres that they could have animals on, but some people that live on the boundaries of town that have 4-H animals do and that were annexed in. So that will be the next thing that we’re going to deal with.”

Town Attorney Justin Schramm agreed to start researching other communities’ animal ordinances. However, he reminded council members that any ordinance needs to be based on rational standards and can’t be designed to target individual people.

Monday, June 19, 2017

North Judson Council to Get Update from Starke County Economic Development Foundation

Posted on June 19, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The North Judson Town Council will get an update from Starke County Economic Development Foundation Executive Director Charlie Weaver tonight. Recently, Weaver’s been discussing plans to bring U.S. 30 up to freeway standards in the northern part of Starke County, as well as efforts to develop properties around North Judson and elsewhere.

North Judson’s animal ordinance is once again listed on tonight’s town council meeting agenda. Town officials planned to review it, following complaints last month about chickens in town.

Tonight’s North Judson Town Council meeting starts at 6:30 at the town hall.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Stay Safe While Using Fireworks This Summer

Posted on June 17, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

As the Fourth of July approaches, so does the season for firework-related injuries, according to the Indiana Department of Homeland Security. Last year, over 70 percent of firework-related injuries occurred during the first week of July.

State officials say it’s important to keep some safety tips in mind, during your summer celebrations. Only use fireworks in a clear, open area, and light them one at a time. Keep a fire extinguisher or a water supply nearby. Don’t drink alcohol or smoke when using fireworks.

The Indiana Department of Homeland Security says never let children handle or light fireworks without adult supervision. Consider giving younger kids glow sticks instead of traditional sparklers, which can burn hot enough to melt glass, according state officials.

Last year, the Indiana State Department of Health got 230 reports of fireworks injuries. That’s nearly 50 more than in 2015. More than 40 percent of those involved people age 18 or younger.

You can find more fireworks safety tips at

Friday, June 16, 2017

Starke County Environmental Council Discusses Curbside Recycling

Posted on June 16, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

The Starke County Environmental Management District is looking into alternatives to the drop-off recycling bins placed at locations around the county. Last week the ones in both North Judson and Knox were pulled due to excessive dumping of trash and other non-recyclable items in and around the containers.

The county still maintains five drop-off sites: 6996 S. State Road 10 in Knox, which is behind the Bass Lake Property Owners Association building; 4820 N. State Road 23 in Grovertown, which is east of the Starke County EMS building; West Plymouth Street in Hamlet, underneath the town’s water tower; 7784 N. SR 23 in Walkerton, in the north parking lot of the Koontz Lake Fire Department; and across from the San Pierre Fire Station at the Corner of San Pierre Road and Fisher Street.

After a lengthy and at times spirited discussion, environmental district board members agreed that providing curbside recycling totes to rural residents is the most workable solution. Knox has offered that for several years. Koontz Lake and Hamlet also have curbside recycling, and North Judson is implementing it Aug. 1.

Together those communities equal about 3,000 households served by curbside recycling, which leaves 9,000 with minimal options.

A representative from Republic Services says mandating curbside recycling pickup keeps costs down due to improved efficiency. He says the county could also realize greater savings by entering into a longer-term contract.

The board also discussed adding trash pickup for rural residents as a way to possibly realize additional savings. However, opinions of those at the meeting were mixed, and it was noted the items go into separate trucks.

For now the board is just gathering information in order to present a proposal to the Starke County Commissioners for consideration in the next few months. They want quotes on mandatory and optional curbside recycling and recycling coupled with trash pickup.

Mint Festival Organizers Working Around Unsafe Lane Street Building

Posted on June 16, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The North Judson Mint Festival is set to get underway this evening, in spite of an unsafe building on Lane Street. “We knew that this was a possibility and so we had a plan B and we’re working with plan B and it’s going fine,” says Mint Festival President Donna Henry.

The structure at 205 and 207 Lane Street is believed to be in danger of collapse. Part of it already fell in on itself last month. Town officials had hoped to have it torn down before the Mint Festival begins, but the town council last week rejected the only demolition quote.

However, Henry says the town has taken steps to keep festival-goers safe this weekend. “The town has put up temporary fencing around it, so that it’s completely blocked off,” she says. “The festival-goers will still be able to walk along the one sidewalk along that area, but it’ll be protected from the building.”

Henry says some of the festival’s vendors will be relocated, as a result. “We’re going to start our vendor spots at that second half of that block of Lane Street,” she explains. “Our vendor committee has worked really hard to make sure that we have enough space for all of our vendors, and as far as I know, all of our spaces are filled. They have done a great job, and I want to thank Paige and Bob [Barnett] for that.”

Henry reminds visitors that pets, bicycles, and unauthorized golf carts will not be allowed into the Mint Festival. Otherwise, she says organizers are looking forward to a successful event. “We have some new attractions this year, and we have some enhancements for our 5K run,” she says. “We have some new and different bands for our music arena. We are just looking forward to a great Mint Festival weekend, and we are praying that Mother Nature cooperates.”

The North Judson Mint Festival gets underway this evening at 5:00 p.m., with an opening ceremony at Norwayne Field. The festival continues through Sunday.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Public Input Sought on U.S. 30 Freeway Proposal

Posted on June 15, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

Plans are in the works at the state level to turn U.S. 30 into freeway within the next decade. Starke County Economic Development Foundation Executive Director Charlie Weaver says a public meeting is scheduled Wednesday, June 28 at 5 p.m. in the Oregon-Davis Junior-Senior High School Cafeteria. Consultants and members of the seven-county coalition that runs from Porter to Allen Counties will be on hand to discuss the project. Weaver says it’s critical to Starke County’s future.

“Quite frankly, without upgrading U.S. 30 to a freeway, the chance of this community, this county community, succeeding, it is not good,” he told the Knox City Council. “If you look at our prospects, we did submit a lot of them, they’re looking at between five and 15 miles of an interstate.”

Weaver says there’s already more truck traffic on U.S. 30 than there is on parts of I-65 and I-69. That’s expected to triple in the next several years as more trucks avoid the toll road. There’s also a push to make U.S. 30 a major thoroughfare through Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Iowa. Weaver says that effort has the support of the federal government.

He adds Starke County residents have quite a bit of input when it comes to how the upgraded road will be designed.

“The farmers do not want to see U.S. 30 leave its present road bed and go someplace else, because it disturbs the fields, it cuts off at angles, it makes it inconvenient. So we can say we want it to be redone in its present location, which INDOT would like because it’s cheaper.”

Weaver says a group of local stakeholders is also being assembled to help with project development.  It will include farmers, fire department members, representatives of the Oregon-Davis schools, emergency management officials and others.

There’s not been a determination made yet as to how many exits there will be in Starke County. He says that will depend on needs identified by the stakeholders group.

Bass Lake Beach Replenishment Considered by Starke Park Board for Future Grant Application

Posted on June 15, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The Starke County Park Board may have missed this year’s deadline to apply for a grant from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, but plans are already in the works for next year’s grant cycle.

Edwin Buswell with the Kankakee-Iroquois Regional Planning Commission met with the park board Tuesday. He explained that up to $200,000 in matching grants are available from the Land and Water Conservation Fund. To qualify for that money, the park board recently completed a five-year plan.

One area that board members feel could use grant funds is the Bass Lake Beach, specifically, replenishing its sand. Resident Steve Lucas has been discussing that effort with representatives from the DNR Division of Water. To see what such a project would entail, park board members plan to schedule a site visit with DNR officials.

Should the county decide to pursue grant funding, starting now would give them a chance to coordinate with Callahan Development, LLC, which leases the property from the county. It also gives them time to start raising money for the local match. Grant applications for Land and Water Conservation funding are due June 1, 2018.

Four N.J.-S.P. School Board Candidates Interviewed by Railroad Township Board

Posted on June 15, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The Railroad Township Board heard from four candidates Tuesday who’d like to represent the township on the North Judson-San Pierre School Board.

Cassandra Hine is an attorney specializing in family law. She told board members she’s seen the effect the local school corporation has on the community. “Actually, I currently have a case where a mom lives here in San Pierre, and her former significant other lives in Valparaiso, and a guardian ad litem was involved in the case, and did an evaluation of who should have custody of this child,” Hine said. “And one of the factors in her evaluation in ruling for the father to have custody of a two-year-old girl was the Valparaiso school systems far exceed the school systems here in this county.”

Megan Korous has two children at N.J.-S.P. When it comes to deciding how to prioritize taxpayer money, she said it’s important to adjust to students’ unique learning styles while preparing them for the workforce. “I think we need to look at different types of teaching and making sure that all children are being taught to how they learn, and making sure that there are classes available for not only those kids that are high learners, if you will, but also the kids that maybe are more hands-on, book work isn’t for them, but they need something after high school,” she said.

Susan McCormack has prior experience serving on a school board. She said her six years on the LaPorte School Board have prepared her for just about anything that could come up at N.J.-S.P. “LaPorte Community School Corporation is a much bigger corporation than this,” she said. “So I’m hoping that this would not be as big of a job as that was, and believe me, it was a big job. We had 10 board members and two alternates, and we went through the process of replacing the superintendent three times, and I served as board president, as well as a couple of other positions on the board.”

Deb Wappel is a former N.J.-S.P. teacher. She’s been following the school board for the past couple years and has been looking for ways to get more involved with the corporation. “I have applied many times at the schools,” she said. “Most recently, I met with the school board president and vice-president and offered to work for the school system for one dollar a year, as a communications manager/director/liaison because there have been many, many bad feelings in the community because of the referendum and the elected school board thing. So I’ve done everything I can to try to help, and I feel like this may be my last effort and chance to make the difference.”

When asked how they’d deal with complaints from angry parents, Korous, McCormack, and Wappel all said they’d refer them to school staff first to go through the proper chain of command. Hine said she would gather all the facts, and address concerns in public, during a school board meeting. However, most of the candidates emphasized the importance of listening to parents’ concerns.

When it came to how they’d prioritize money, Korous and Wappel both talked about increasing vocational training, while Hine opposed sacrificing arts and sports programs for the sake of boosting test scores.

The Railroad Township Board will meet Tuesday at 5:00 p.m. at the old San Pierre Elementary School to appoint a new school board member. That person will replace current N.J.-S.P. School Board President Pat Goin.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Town of North Judson Taking Applications For Part-time Code Enforcement Officer

The Town of North Judson is taking applications for a part time code enforcement officer.

Location:  North Judson, Indiana
Benefits:  None
Salary Range:  $12 per hour
Type:  Part-time


Under the direction of the Town Marshal, identify and investigate code and ordinance violations within North Judson town boundary including responding to citizen complaints of related violations such as blight, garbage/refuse, weeds/grass, non-compliant or abandoned vehicles and other applicable codes and ordinances.  Conducts field inspection and follow-up activities as required of properties to determine conformity, prepares notice of violations, and documents non-compliance.  Maintains and updates files including preparing periodic status reports.  Perform other duties deemed necessary by the Town Marshal. 

Position consists of an average of 12 hours per week for 12 months with a cap of $7,000.00 annually at the discretion of the Town Marshal.


  • High School Diploma 
  • Must possess a valid Indiana driver’s license. 
  • Be able to work flexible schedule, have a basic knowledge of computer applications and be able to use a digital camera. 
  • Possess the ability to develop and promote positive, customer-friendly communications and procedures as it relates to the fair and consistent enforcement of codes and ordinances in the pursuit of compliance. 
  • Basic knowledge of codes and ordinances is preferred
  • Must be a Town of North Judson resident. 

Disclaimer:  The above information on this description has been designed to indicate the general nature and level of work performed by the employee with this classification.  It is not designed to contain or be interpreted as a comprehensive inventory of all duties, responsibilities and qualifications required of employees assigned to this classification.  All positions are subject to a pre-employment drug screen and a criminal background check.

Applications may be obtained at the North Judson Town Hall during business hours (M-F, 8:00-4:00; closed 12:00-1:00).  Send completed applications or resumes to Inc. Town of North Judson, Clerk-Treasurer, 310 Lane St., North Judson, Indiana  46366 by 3:30 p.m. FRIDAY June 30, 2017.

Thank You From NJWT Volunteer Fire Department

Judge Hall Swears in 13 New CASA Volunteers

Posted on June 14, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

Starke County has 13 new Court Appointed Special Advocates ready to shepherd abused and neglected children through the legal system. Starke Circuit Judge Kim Hall yesterday swore in the 13 newest graduates of the CASA volunteer training and applauded them for their willingness to step up and do something out of their comfort zone.

“You were willing to do it, whatever it took, because you’re interested in these children who have been abused or neglected in some fashion, and their parents have fallen down by the wayside a little bit, so you’re interested in helping them out.”

The CASA volunteers meet with the children as well as their family members, teachers, medical providers and other adults to get an insight into the child’s life and determine the best long-term option for their care.

Rock Miller of Grovertown is a retired safety manager. He was the only man to complete this CASA volunteer training course and encourages others to do likewise.

“There’s kids out there that need us, Miller said. “Our ultimate task is to reunite the family, and get the kids back into a safe home where they came from, but if that’s not the case into a safe home somewhere, whether it be in foster care or adoption.”

June Sunderland of Bass Lake is also a new CASA. She says being a CASA will be more time-consuming than she expected, but that’s OK since she is retired.

“Also, I’ll be doing more good than I anticipated. I’ll have a wider spectrum, not only helping children but helping families, and that’s a positive thing. And the children are our future, so that’s a vital thing.”

The 13 new CASA volunteers have cut the program’s backlog considerably. Collectively they will serve 20 children, as the goal is to keep families together. Starke County CASA Director Rhonda Adcock says the next training class will take place this fall. If a similar number of volunteers sign up, she says the program will be able to clear its backlog. Volunteers undergo a rigorous screening process, and applications can be turned in at any time. Email for more information.

We will present Tuesday’s Starke County CASA graduation ceremony Sunday at noon CDT on Kankakee Valley Viewpoints on K993. WKVI FM

The Crossing Closes Knox Campus, Citing Declining Enrollment

Posted on June 14, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

High school students looking for an alternative learning environment will soon have a bit farther to travel. The Crossing School of Business and Entrepreneurship is closing its Knox campus. Starting this fall, Starke County students will attend The Crossing’s Plymouth location.

CEO Rob Staley says the Knox campus has experienced a decline in enrollment since it opened in 2014. “Unfortunately, we do not have enough students in that county to be able to fund the school because we have expenses,” he says. “So we’ll be transporting those students from Knox to Plymouth every day.”

That will mean an even longer trip for students from other parts of Starke County, like the North Judson-San Pierre School Corporation. However, Staley says that most of the students at the Knox campus were from the local area.

He adds that when it first opened, Starke County’s public school corporations joined together in a “primary cluster contract” with The Crossing. That guaranteed the Knox campus would get a minimum of 40 students, according to Staley. “Then over the years, due to a change in administration, some differences with the principals, maybe, they felt that the program was no longer needed,” he says. “And so they stopped sending kids to The Crossing, stopped contracting with us, and eventually, we fell all the way down to only 17 of those 40 kids being funded.”

The Crossing provides a faith-based learning environment for students recovering from drug addiction or criminal histories, as well as those who’ve simply struggled in traditional public schools. As part of that, students participate in job training programs.

While Knox students refurbished and sold furniture, Staley says there are some other opportunities available in Plymouth. “Our Plymouth [campus] has some expanded job training opportunities, including an excavation team that’s clearing 12 acres of land over there,” he says. “So our students are operating heavy equipment and doing some really interesting things, leaving with multiple certifications and job placements.”

Meanwhile, Staley also expresses his appreciation for the Knox community. “They have been extremely supportive of our program,” he says. “We even had an exit celebration with the community, the students, the former graduates. I can’t say enough about how we feel about that community and how passionate they are to help kids. It’s just unfortunate that we have to have a minimum number of students.” He adds that while difficult business decisions need to be made, the Crossing is glad to be able to transport students to its Plymouth campus.

Former Veterans Service Officer Explains Job Duties, Position Still Open

Posted on June 14, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

The Starke County Commissioners are still looking to fill the vacant Veterans Service Officer position. Mark Gourley recently took the information technology director job with the county. The VSO helps veterans and their families obtain benefits from the VA, get copies of records and handle other matters related to their military service.“The key elements are being able to work independently and be organized, Gourley said. “That’s key to not letting any one vet slip through the cracks.”

Gourley adds patience is also a critical when it comes to dealing with the VA, both as a service officer and as a consumer.

“The VA timelines are months and years instead of days or weeks. You might file a claim in March and not hear anything until November, and you’ve got to be able to remember what that veteran needs when he comes back six months later.”

Gourley says computer literacy skills are also essential, as many of the VA’s internal documents are stored online. However, a lot of the claim forms for benefits are still filled out by hand and faxed to a regional processing center.

The Starke County Commissioners have extended the deadline for applications. Resumes and cover letters for the Veterans Service Officer job can be sent to the Starke County Commissioners in care of Starke County Auditor Kay Chaffins, 53 East Mound Street, Knox, IN 46534.

Starke County Park Board to Pursue Quality of Place Grant for Yellow River Access Site Upgrades

Posted on June 14, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The Starke County Park Board hopes to bring more visitors to the Yellow River with state grant funding. Carolla Heilstedt plans to coordinate efforts to improve the county’s Yellow River access site at Range Road.

She told the park board Tuesday that the project would involve a new parking lot, a way to get to the riverbank, and a launch for canoes or kayaks. Restrooms could also be added in the future.

County Attorney Marty Lucas noted that the upgrades are already in Starke County’s five-year park plan, and the county already owns the land. “Sometimes, we have a lot of little legal issues, but this one looks pretty clear because not only does the county actually have a deed to the property, fee simple, but the deed specifically says it’s for use as river access,” he said. “So nobody can say that’s any misuse of the property, either. That’s actually a term of the acquisition, so it’s kind of unique. It’s the only one I know of in the county that kind of has that nice clean situation.”

The improvements would accomplish a couple goals. They would make the Yellow River more friendly to out-of-county tourists by making it clear where they can access the river. The Range Road site would also provide a convenient stopping point between Wythogan Park in Knox and the Kankakee Fish and Wildlife Area.

To help pay for the upgrades, the Starke County Park Board plans to pursue a Place Based Investment grant from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs and the Indiana Office of Tourism Development. That grant would require a local match. Potential funding sources include the Starke County Council and the county’s tourism group.

The grant application is due Friday, July 14.

North Judson Council Rejects Lone Building Demolition Bid, Approves Fence

Posted on June 13, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

A structurally unsafe building in downtown North Judson will not be able to be torn down before this weekend’s Mint Festival. The town only received one quote to demolish the structure at 205 and 207 Lane Street, and it was for more than $250,000. The council last week formally voted to reject it, citing a lack of detail in the specifications as well as the price.

The vacant building does contain asbestos, so additional care will need to be taken with the demolition. The contractor will also be required to submit paperwork to the state Department of Environmental Management.

Council members asked town superintendent Marshall Hortsmann to solicit additional quotes. They’re due in the town office by 3:30 p.m. on Friday, July 7th. Contractors must have an asbestos certification and be able to complete the necessary IDEM paperwork.

Meanwhile, the council agreed to erect a temporary 6 foot fence around the building and into Lane Street in front of the structure. However pedestrian access to the west sidewalk will still be maintained.

Town officials also want to talk to state Rep. Doug Gutwein and Sen. Ed Charbonneau about any available state money to offset the demolition cost. Realistically they don’t expect to recoup anything from building owner Doug Cassel. They’re also going to speak to representatives from the Kankakaee-Iroquois Regional Planning Commission and from U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski’s office about possible emergency financial assistance.

Heavy rains in May caused the partial collapse of the building. Cassel sought permission to remove personal property, including a 1978 Cadillac Eldorado, from inside, but a structural engineering found it to be unsafe for entry.

North Judson Town Attorney Justin Schramm told the council Pulaski Circuit Judge Michael Shurn wants to be notified within 24 hours of selecting a demolition contractor. He will then schedule a hearing to determine whether it’s safe to remove anything from the building. Schramm says both the contractor and the structural engineer will be expected to testify during that proceeding.

Interested contractors can contact Hortsmann at 574-896-3332 or

Starke Commissioners Eyeing Courthouse Elevator Upgrades

Posted on June 13, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

The Starke County Commissioners are moving forward with a grant application to improve the courthouse elevator. Specifically they are seeking a maximum $500,000 award from the state Office of Community and Rural Affairs to make the elevator ADA compliant. The competitive grant would require a $50,000 match, which would come from the commissioners’ portion of the county economic development income tax fund.

The existing elevator does not meet the strict standards outlined under the ADA. The grant application is due July 7. A public hearing will take place during the Monday, June 19 county commissioners meeting. Additionally letters of support for the project will be sought to turn in with the grant application.

The commissioners should find out by early fall whether the county qualifies for the grant.

Tradeshow Business Updates North Judson Council on Progress

Posted on June 13, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

A tradeshow products business is up and running in North Judson. Outstanding Tradeshow Exhibit Services (OTES) moved into the Thermo Products building west of town on State Road 10. The company produces exhibit booths for tradeshows, as well as banners for a variety of uses.

OTES President Nan Wellman told the North Judson Town Council last week that the company has done a lot of renovations to the building, with more work still to be done. She also said they’ve hired five local people so far. Many of those positions are carpentry jobs, but Wellman said she’ll also be looking for help in the graphics department, both with design and operating equipment.

OTES received a seven-year, $360,000 tax abatement on equipment and an additional 10-year, $665,000 phase in of taxes on real estate improvements from the Starke County Council last July.

Monday, June 12, 2017

North Judson Abolishes Recycling Drop Off

Posted on June 12, 2017Author Mary Perren

The drop-off recycling bin at the corner of Sycamore and Railroad Streets in North Judson has been removed. Town officials opted to take it out last week due to excessive illegal dumping in and around the bins. Residents who live within the town limits will soon have curbside recycling pickup every other week through Republic Services. The council signed a contract for that service during a special-called Friday meeting.

A fence and no trespassing signs will be added at the former North Judson recycling site. Interim Police Chief Frank Thomas says officers are prepared to crack down on anyone who attempts to dump trash there.

Knox has also had problems with illegal dumping at their recycling drop-off site behind city hall and across from the Knox Police Department.

Contact the Starke County Environmental Management District with any questions about recycling drop-off sites. Their telephone number is 574-772-7085.

Starke County Chamber of Commerce Hires Executive Director

Posted on June 12, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

The Starke County Chamber of Commerce has a new executive director. Jessica Craig was appointed to that position last week. She’s been serving in an interim capacity since Debbie Mix left in April after seven years at the helm of the organization.

Craig previously served on the Starke County Chamber Board of Directors. President Jerry Gurrado says she knows the county well, thanks to her background as a broker with Century 21 Affiliated.

Craig is also a founding member of the Young Professionals of Starke County organization. They recently grew out of the Quality of Place group and are the driving force behind the outdoor movie presentations around the county. She’s also a Leadership Starke County graduate.

“Jessica brings a dynamic energy with many innovative ideas to the chamber, and we are thrilled that she was interested in becoming the new executive director,” Gurrado said. “Look for her to be out and about in the county, making new contacts and renewing existing ones.”

Railroad Dispute Costing Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum, Town of North Judson

Posted on June 12, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The legal battle over North Judson’s short line railroad has town officials considering the line’s future. Last July, the town council decided to lease the line to Michigan-based Lake State Railway, but the Chesapeake and Indiana Railroad still hasn’t vacated it.

During last week’s town council meeting, Clerk-Treasurer Alicia Collins said the ensuing legal battle has meant that no money may be spent out of the town’s railroad budget. That means the town’s had to find other ways to fund legal expenses, as well as maintenance costs. “All that money that is in the railroad fund is frozen,” Collins explained. “So you still have money in your railroad fund, but we can’t use it. We can’t do anything with it because that’s what this whole litigation is over. So it’s coming out of town funds, taxpayer funds.”

So far, the town’s spent nearly $300,000 out of its non-railroad funds, money town officials say they won’t be able to get back. That means the town may not be able to pave streets, fix water mains, or upgrade its wastewater infrastructure, according to council member John Rowe. “What’s more important? Is the railroad more important to us, or is the sewage more important? So that’s how we’re trying to weigh all this out,” Rowe said. “Not that I’m trying to personally lessen this. I’m just saying that it’s not a priority. That’s not the top priority is to have the trains run. I mean, we want to fix the problem, but we have other issues that are major issues.”

The subject was raised last week when officials with the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum wanted an update on the lease process. For the past year, Chesapeake and Indiana has blocked the museum from running excursion trains beyond English Lake and into LaCrosse. On top of that, the museum used to store railcars on its property, until a dispute with Chesapeake and Indiana in 2013 put an end to that business. Those two issues have cost the museum over $200,000 in lost revenue since then, according to museum officials.

Additionally, they say the lack of progress on the lease is jeopardizing nearly $32,000 in tourism grant funding the museum’s set to receive from the state. Town officials say they’re waiting for the Surface Transportation Board to take action, before they can finalize the lease.

Council President Wendy Hoppe said railroad issues have gotten much more complicated, since the town bought the line in 2004. “Well, it’s a horse of another ballgame from the time it took over to the time that you see it today. I mean, I can tell you that, “she said. “In 2004, it was starting to be developed. And until the grain and we got a short line operator, did the town even realize what was going to happen? And once the STB and the federal government stepped in because there was grain and stuff rolling on the track, then the ballgame all changed.”

Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum officials also asked why the town plans to spend up to $35,000 to have the railroad appraised, when an appraisal was just completed last year. Hoppe said last year’s appraisal was much more limited in scope. “That was for to have the RFP done, and that was an emergency thing done,” she explained. “As far as what we could use it for, it wasn’t for our use to see what the value of the railroad is really worth.” She added that it’s important that town officials know what the railroad’s worth, considering how much money they’re putting into it.

Meanwhile, the town continues to maintain the railroad. The town council voted last week to spend $980 to apply weed-killer to the property.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

6/17/17 LuLaRoe Fundraiser for Kids Closet

Join us on 6/17/17 from 1-4 p.m. CST for a multi consultant LuLaRoe fundraiser benefitting Kids Closet!

The event will take place during the Mint Festival at 305 Lane Street, North Judson.

Starke County Officials Tabulating Road Damage Caused by NIPSCO

Posted on June 10, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

Starke County Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler is keeping close tabs on the damage the NIPSCO transmission line project in California and North Bend Townships is doing to local roads.

He says the utility company previously agreed to reimburse the county for damages caused by their equipment.

Ritzler told the county commissioners Monday employees in his department take video of the road conditions each week for documentation. So far he estimates the tab is in excess of $500,000.

Ritzler adds the local portion of the project is not expected to wrap up until late this year or possibly early in 2018. At that time the county will submit a total to NIPSCO.

Ritzler says they’ve also promised the highway department the gravel used to make temporary access roads to the tower sites. He says it will be used as a base to make the necessary repairs.

North Judson Council Hires New Town Marshal

Posted on June 10, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

North Judson will soon have a new town marshal. The council voted unanimously to hire Kelly Fisher during a special-called meeting yesterday. She’s currently a deputy with the Starke County Sheriff’s Office and will start her new job on June 27th.

Until then, Frank Thomas will continue serving as interim town marshal. He’s been doing so since the council abruptly fired John Ramos back in April. He was hired last July as a full-time replacement for longtime North Judson Town Marshal Doug Vessely, who died last April.

Ramos initially appealed his termination but later agreed to resign. In exchange, the town agreed to drop all disciplinary charges against him. Otherwise they would have been made public during a hearing.

The town also agreed to pay him through May 30, 2017 and provide two months worth of severance pay. North Judson will also provide a neutral job reference, if requested, without any mention of the disciplinary charges.

Council members also approved the necessary purchase order to pay Ramos during yesterday’s meeting.

North Judson Council Approves Over $31,000 in Lift Station Bills

Posted on June 10, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The North Judson Town Council approved the payment of over $31,000 in lift station bills this week. The bulk of that is to replace the control panel and pumps at the 3rd Street lift station, after it was damaged by a hit-and-run driver last month.

The $26,970 cost will be covered by insurance. Town Superintendent Marshall Horstmann said the equipment’s been ordered, but it won’t arrive for at least another couple weeks. “We’ve been spending about an hour-and-a-half a day vacuuming out the lift station,” he said, “in order to keep everything operating out there in the subdivision.” On top of that, Horstmann said the disconnect box and 40 feet of wiring will also have to be replaced.

Meanwhile, the town council also agreed to spend $1,800 to replace a pump that failed at another lift station. Council members also approved the town’s annual $2,700 payment to Flow Technics for pump inspection at the town’s lift stations and wastewater treatment plant.

Starke County Election Board Considers E-Poll Books

Posted on June 10, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Starke County voters may notice a new piece of technology the next time they head to the polls. County Clerk Vicki Cooley is recommending that the county purchase e-poll books. Under the new system, voters would sign their name on a digital tablet when they go to cast their ballot, rather than a traditional paper book.

Cooley says the technology would lead to better record-keeping. She discussed the potential purchase with the Starke County Election Board Wednesday.

At this point, Cooley says Starke County hasn’t gotten many quotes yet for e-poll books. Making sure the devices would be able to communicate with the county’s existing equipment is a big concern when choosing a vendor.

Marshall and Pulaski counties have both adopted e-poll books in the past couple years.

Veterans Service Organizations Eligible for NIPSCO Grants

Posted on June 10, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Organizations serving veterans can apply for a share of $100,000 from NIPSCO. As part of NIPSCO’s Charity of Choice program, local nonprofits can apply for grants of $500 to $5,000.

Applications are due by July 22. Winners will be announced the last week of August.

Each year, NIPSCO lets its employees choose a cause for its Charity of Choice fundraising campaign. For 2017, they decided to raise money for organizations that offer programs and services to Northern Indiana veterans.

For more information or to apply, visit

State Fire Marshal Stresses Fireworks Purchase Safety

Posted on June 10, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

Independence Day is less than a month away, and the Indiana State Fire Marshal is reminding Hoosiers about safe and legal ways to purchase fireworks.

Jim Greeson says consumer-grade fireworks should only be purchased from authorized sellers in the interest of safety.

Indiana Department of Homeland Security’s (IDHS) Fire and Building Safety Division, which is overseen by the State Fire Marshal, issues Indiana fireworks sales permits to retail establishments.

Greeson says it is acceptable to ask an employee to see the permit before completing a purchase if it is not on display.

If a fireworks retailer is not displaying a copy of its permit and cannot present it, citizens can call the IDHS Division of Fire and Building Safety at 317-232-2222 to verify a retailer’s permit or report a retailer without a permit.

Additionally, fireworks cannot be sold to our bought by anyone younger than 18.

Greeson also recommends buying glow sticks instead of sparklers for young children. He notes sparklers can burn at temperatures hot enough to melt glass. Consumers should also check packages and labels to make sure only 1.4G consumer fireworks are purchased.

Greeson says any other types are illegal for consumer sales or purchase in Indiana and may be more explosive and dangerous.

All fireworks should be stored in a cool, dry place out of the reach of children.

Visit for more safety tips.

Friday, June 9, 2017

7/22/2017 Tippy-Tri Challenge 2017

Fund Established for North Judson Family Involved in Porter County Fatality

Posted on June 9, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

A North Judson church is rallying around the local family who was involved in a fatal head-on collision near Boone Grove late Tuesday afternoon.

Heartland Christian Center Pastor James Young has set up a gofundme page for Katie Fitzgerald and Deanna Yetsko of North Judson, with a goal of raising $10,000. Their mother, Amber Fitzgerald; grandmother Bonnie Sowles and cousin Hannah Cullen were coming home from swimming at a friend’s house when the SUV Amber was driving hit a dump truck head-on. The wreck happened on State Road 8.

According to Young, Katie was also involved in the crash but is recovering from her injuries. She was airlifted from Crown Point to Loyola Medical Center. Both Katie and Deanna are part of the Heartland Christian Church youth ministry.

“These are precious girls. This is a life changing event for the both of them,” Young posted on the page.

He says the fund will help the girls and their family with the costs associated with losing loved ones in this manner.

Additional Men Graduate From Drug Treatment Program at Starke County Jail

Posted on June 9, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

Another nine Starke County Jail inmates have graduated from the voluntary drug treatment program offered in partnership with Porter/Starke Services. The grant funded program launched last September for men and women with a history of substance abuse problems who are awaiting sentencing.

It’s separate from the Indiana Department of Corrections Therapeutic Community, which is also based at the local jail. That program is for area inmates who have been sentenced to the intensive rehabilitation program while in prison.

Participants meet several times a week with coordinator Leo Smith from Porter/Starke and members of his staff. Their final assignment was to write a goodbye letter to their addiction and read it to their classmates and members of the law enforcement and corrections community at the ceremony.

Daniel Allen says he’s learned addiction is a disease.

“For the last 15 years my addiction has ruled my life and made me more miserable than I ever thought was possible. It took me further than I ever wanted to go, cost me more than I wanted to pay, and kept me longer than I ever wanted to stay. It makes me sick to wonder what my life could have been without addiction and to realize all the potential and opportunities I’ve thrown away.”

Allen says he’s got a plan for the first time about how to live a sober life after he is out of jail.

Trenton Mullet admits he got lulled into a false sense of security by his addiction only to realize the light he was following was leading him into a deep, deep darkness.

“I’m not alone anymore. You are strong, but we are stronger. I won’t forget what we’ve been through. I will use what you’ve taught me against you. I will go on with my life and tell others just how sneaky and dangerous you are. I just pray that God will grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Amen. Goodbye, addiction.”

John Schacht has struggled with alcohol and drug addiction for many years and says the goodbye to his addictions and criminal behavior is long overdue.

“I’ve learned how to stop and think before I respond. I’ve learned how to decipher my defects, avoid the triggers, and change my thinking before the thought or the situation to use or negative acts come about. So my once friend to the end, this is the end. Thank you.”

We’ll hear from all of the program graduates on Sunday’s Kankakee Valley Viewpoints pubic affairs show. It airs at noon CDT on K99.3 WKVI FM.

Starke Highway Superintendent Readies First Hot-Mix Road Projects

Posted on June 9, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI

Starke County Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler hopes to start on the county’s first new hot mix asphalt road soon. He told the county commissioners Monday the plan is to improve 300 East through the Knox Industrial Park from State Road 8 to the railroad tracks. He says the route will also be a test case for the county when it comes to hot mix asphalt roads as they try to use a less expensive, more efficient process.

Ritzler adds they may also be able to do the road near the North Judson Industrial Park this year. He notes all of the hot mix roads will be widened, and new bridges will be adjusted as necessary.

Curbside Recycling Coming to North Judson, Amid Calls for Removal of Recycling Drop-Off Site

Posted on June 9, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

North Judson residents will soon have curbside recycling. The town council voted Monday to enter into a five-year contract with Republic Services. Under the arrangement, residents will get a new recycling tote. Recycling will be picked up every other week, likely starting in August.

Republic Services representative Peter Callan presented a deal where the town would see lower costs initially by locking into a five-year contract for both trash and recycling. Council member John Rowe pointed out that residents will see an increase on their bills. “So everybody’s going to be, ‘Okay, this sounds great. This is all fine,’ but then when they see these bills, everybody’s going to start asking questions,” Rowe said. “So I think everybody here needs to take this little picture and realize this is another bill that’s going to be added.”

Each household would pay a monthly fee of $2.82 initially for recycling. That’s on top of the $9.25 they’re already paying for trash pickup. However, both of those fees will go up over the five years of the contract.

Both Republic Services and the Town of North Judson hope to benefit from the arrangement. It will allow for the removal of the recycling drop-off site offered by the Starke County Environmental Management District. It’s become an eyesore, according to town officials, due to the dumping of trash and large items in the area around the dumpsters.

The Environmental Management District planned to have the dumpsters removed by July 1, but the town council wanted them gone sooner. In exchange for the five year contract on curbside trash and recycling pickup, town officials asked that Republic Services remove the recycling dumpsters and clean up the surrounding area as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, Republic Services wants to add a few policies into its new contract with North Judson. Callan said the contract the company inherited when it took over Richard’s Disposal was not very clear. That’s led to some confusion when it comes to the pickup of extra trash or bulk items like furniture.

Rowe added that there were few, if any, parameters with Richard’s Disposal. “You’ve got to realize, our guy before took everything, every time,” Rowe told Callan. “It didn’t matter. He always took it. I mean, I’d pile stuff up. I’d clean my house out once a year, and it would be huge. And I’d come out – gone, all of it. We’re spoiled. So that’s why everybody’s so questioning. Not that I don’t think anybody wants to work with you guys or do it correctly, or whatever. It’s just that we’ve been so spoiled for so long, now it’s kind of like, ‘Whoa, we have parameters!'”

Callan agreed to help educate residents on Republic Service’s policies and how the new recycling service will work. Council members planned to sign the new contract during a special session this morning.