Monday, July 31, 2017

Correction on North Judson Recycling Pickup Dates

Republic Services wishes to make a correction to the dates for recycling pick up. It will not start on Aug. 3rd as originally thought. Recycling pick up will begin on AUGUST 10TH and will be picked up every other week from then.

Quote of the Month - August

Happy Birthday, Robert Mitchum. 
August 6, 1917

SCILL Center Expects 127 Students this Fall, Plans New Welding Facility

Posted on July 31, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The Starke County Initiative for Lifelong Learning is gearing up for the start of the school year. As of last Tuesday, 127 students were signed up for SCILL’s three vocational training programs.

SCILL Center Director Ron Gifford says the automation, robotics, and equipment maintenance program is starting its second year. “That started with five students, all from Knox, last year,” he told the Knox City Council last week. “This year, we are looking to go to about 17 students in one class, so we’ve tripled our enrollment in one year. Right now, Knox has 12 of those 17 and North Judson has two, but we have two other schools in Marshall County that are sending at least one student here, as well.”

Gifford also said SCILL’s automotive program remains popular, with 71 students set to take part, with 29 of those coming from Knox. Meanwhile, he said the welding program is once again at full capacity. “This year, we had 63 applications for the welding program,” Gifford said. “We can only handle 40 in the space that we’re in, and that’s assuming we get 20 in the morning and 20 in the afternoon, which is very unlikely. So we’re out of space. This is the second year in a row we’ve had to tell kids they can’t take the course.”

The welding program is currently housed at Knox Middle School, but Gifford said plans are in the works for a larger space. “It would be just north of the existing auto facility in the industrial park, not connected to it, other than a breezeway to connect the buildings,” he explained. “Because of fire codes and the like, we can’t add onto the auto facility or do anything like that.”

SCILL Center classes for the 2017-2018 school year start this Thursday.

INDOT to Award Community Crossing Grants This Fall

Posted on July 31, 2017
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Local and county government agency officials are waiting patiently to learn if their road projects will be accepted for grant funds through the state’s Community Crossings grant program.

The competition for grant funds ramped up this year as the state dropped the local match requirement for all applications to 25 percent. Several more municipalities and city government agencies were able to submit requests this year as the local match made a $1 million grant more affordable for some.

According to Media Relations Director for the Northwest INDOT District Doug Moats, 430 applications were received by the La Porte District that encompasses 13 counties. Those 13 counties include Carroll, Cass, Fulton, Jasper, Lake, LaPorte, Marshall, Newton, Porter, Pulaski, St. Joseph, Starke and White.

The state anticipates an announcement of grant recipients at the end of August or the beginning of September.

School Schedules Affect Sleeping Schedules

Posted on July 31, 2017
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Many school corporations welcome students into the 2017-2018 school year this week which means students’ sleep schedules will be changing. Nearly 8 in 10 Indiana high school students sleep less than the recommended eight hours on school nights.

According to Pediatric Sleep Specialist Dr. Sarah Honaker, a change in internal body clocks makes it difficult for many teens to fall asleep before 11 p.m. or midnight. Decreased sleep associated with rising early and later bedtimes can lead to dangerous consequences.

The American Academy of Pediatrics states potential risks of adolescent chronic sleep loss include depressed mood, behavior and learning problems, poor impulse control, and academic performance deficits. Research also links insufficient teen sleep with increased risk of fall-asleep car crashes, hypertension, obesity, diabetes and an increased risk of self-harm, including suicidal thoughts and attempts.

Several Indiana school districts have shifted to later start times, with more districts making the move this fall. In Starke County, start times ranged from 7:20 a.m. to 8 a.m.

Parents are encouraged to set child limits on caffeine, reduce or eliminate late-night “screen time,” encourage regular exercise and incorporate at least 30 minutes of downtime before bed. Dr. Honaker says letting teens sleep-in on the weekends can be helpful, but cautions against varying weekday and weekend sleep patterns by more than two hours.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Increase in Whooping Cough Cases under Investigation

Posted on July 28, 2017
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Indiana State Department of Health is looking into an increase in pertussis, or whooping cough, cases.

Whooping cough was confirmed in 136 cases in the first half of the year in Indiana. The state recorded only 66 cases during the same time period in 2016. The number of cases is expected to continue to rise.

Pertussis is a bacterial illness transmitted by nose or throat droplets. Symptoms include prolonged cough, bursts of coughing that may cause difficulty in breathing or vomiting following coughing. Older children and adults can experience mild cases while it is more serious in infants.

Whooping cough can be treated with antibiotics and it can be prevented with two vaccines.

Although the illness can occur in people who have received all of their childhood vaccinations, the symptoms are usually milder in people who have been fully vaccinated.

Discuss any symptoms and treatment with your physician as soon as possible.

North Judson Town Council to Meet in Special Morning Session

Posted on July 28, 2017
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The North Judson Town Council will meet in special session this morning.

An executive session is set for 7 a.m. with a special meeting at 7:30 a.m. to sign a contract for asbestos removal to proceed with the demolition of 205 and 207 Lane Street. The council members are also expected to amend the salary ordinance.

The North Judson Town Council will meet in the town hall building.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

10 Things All Car & Truck Drivers Should Know About Motorcycles

9/2/2017 Woodstarke4

Treasurer Mitchell announces launch of statewide ABLE program

Hoosiers with disabilities will now be able to save money without jeopardizing their state and federal benefits.

Today, Indiana State Treasurer Kelly Mitchell announces the launch of its INvestABLE Indiana savings plan. The plan was made possible by the passing of the ABLE Act of 2014. It allows for the creation of tax-advantaged savings accounts for individuals with disabilities to save for their future, and pay for disability related expenses without endangering access to vital public benefits. The intent of these accounts is to ease financial burdens on individuals with disabilities and allow for financial savings to cover qualified living expenses including, but not limited to, education, transportation, housing and medical needs.

Treasurer Mitchell said this about the new ABLE plan, “I am pleased to be able to offer such an important service to Hoosiers. With INvestABLE Indiana, individuals with disabilities, their family members and others can contribute funds to a tax-exempt ABLE account without affecting the individual’s eligibility for state and federal benefits. This program allows individuals living with disabilities an opportunity to build assets.”

INvestABLE Indiana offers seven investment options, including a checking account option with a debit card. Up to $14,000 per year can be saved in an account, with a maximum account balance of $450,000. For an individual receiving Social Security benefits, they can save up to $100,000 in their INvestABLE Indiana account and not risk losing their monthly benefit. Money can be withdrawn and spent on qualified expenses or INvestABLE Indiana account holders can choose to grow their finances and create long-term savings with tax-free earnings. Contributions and earnings in INvestABLE Indiana accounts are not subject to federal or state income tax if spent on qualified expenses, similar to a 529 college savings account. Contributions are made with post-tax dollars.

To qualify for an ABLE account, the account owner must have the onset of disability or blindness before the age of 26 and be receiving Social Security benefits. If they are not receiving Social Security benefits, but still meet the age of onset disability requirement, they may still be eligible if they meet Social Security’s definition and criteria regarding significant functional impairment and can provide a letter of certification from a qualified physician.

In celebration of this milestone, the Indiana Treasurer of State and the Indiana ABLE Authority will be holding launch events around the state during the month of August.
August 11th – The ARC, Evansville
August 15th – The Will Center, Terre Haute
August 22nd – Logan Center, South Bend
August 30th - Turnstone Center, Fort Wayne
Indiana is part of the National ABLE Alliance, a partnership of states dedicated to providing individuals living with disabilities and their families with an ABLE investment product that offers multiple financial options at low cost. Ascensus College Savings manages and administers INvestABLE Indiana, as they do the state’s CollegeChoice 529 Savings Plans.

Learn more at

Starke Hospital Earns Another Joint Commission Gold Seal of Approval for Hospital Accreditation

Posted on July 27, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Starke Hospital has been re-accredited for another three years. Hospital officials say a recent Joint Commission survey found Starke Hospital to be in compliance with various performance standards, earning the hospital another Gold Seal of Approval for Hospital Accreditation.

Starke Hospital Interim CEO Jeff Vice says the survey involves an unannounced inspection covering all areas of the hospital, including patient care, emergency management, leadership, facilities, and engineering.

There were a few things Starke Hospital is doing particularly well, according to surveyors. The medical/surgical unit’s “frequently asked questions” materials were commended, and the Joint Commission has asked to include them in its Leading Practice Library. Starke Hospital was also found to be transparent when it comes to hospital falls. The engineering/facilities department was also commended for its door inspection program.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Rules for Recycling Totes in North Judson

7/27/2017 Jumping Over The Moon - A Puppet Musical

8/5/2017 Movies At Norwayne Field - Trolls

After the Bergens invade Troll Village, Poppy (Anna Kendrick), the happiest Troll ever born, and the overly-cautious, curmudgeonly Branch (Justin Timberlake) set off on a journey to rescue her friends. Their mission is full of adventure and mishaps, as this mismatched duo try to tolerate each other long enough to get the job done.

The movie will start at dusk - about 8 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Sponsored by R & L Elephant Ears      Hosted by Starke County Young Professionals

North Judson Council Hears Complaints About Cemetery Mowing

Posted on July 26, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Unmowed grass at Highland Cemetery has led to a complaint to the North Judson Town Council. During last week’s meeting, one resident said the condition of the cemetery was a disgrace and asked council members to fix the problem.

Clerk-Treasurer Alicia Collins explained that the town gets eight mowings per year, under its contract with J. Rogers Services. So far, the cemeteries are being mowed twice a month, but residents and council members pointed out that when it rains, the grass grows faster. While the town has the option to get additional mowings for an extra cost, town officials said they hadn’t asked for any, before last week.

The town council has had a few issues this year, when it comes to the timing of cemetery mowings. Back in May, the town received numerous complaints, after the grass wasn’t mowed before Mother’s Day weekend. At the time, town officials said they contacted the contractor, but the cemetery wasn’t mowed until Mothers Day itself. Town officials are also concerned that the contractor hasn’t always been trimming around the headstones and fences.

It was suggested that rather than bidding the mowing contract out each year, the town have inmate work crews from the Starke County Sheriff’s Department do the work, instead. Council member Jane Ellen Felchuk said when she’s requested work crews in the past, the Sheriff’s Department refused.

June Unemployment Rates Down from Last Year, Up from May

Posted on July 26, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Starke and Pulaski counties’ June unemployment rates are lower than last year’s, but the number of people employed has actually dropped slightly.

Last month, Starke County reported 3.5-percent unemployment, compared to 5.2-percent during the same period last year, according to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. Meanwhile, Pulaski County’s June unemployment rate dropped to 2.9 percent from 4.4 percent in 2016.

But those numbers don’t tell the whole story. The drop in unemployment rates comes at the same time as a a drop in the labor force. The number of people actually employed decreased by 120 in Starke County and 27 in Pulaski County from June 2016 to June 2017. In both counties, last month’s unemployment rates were also a bit higher than the May figures.

LaPorte and Jasper counties had the highest June unemployment in the local area, at 3.8 percent. Marshall and White had the lowest in the area at 2.6 percent. Statewide, Indiana had 3.1-percent unemployment last month, while the U.S. average was 4.5-percent.

Bass Lake Festival this Friday through Sunday

Posted on July 26, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The 2017 Bass Lake Festival is this weekend. It gets underway this Friday with the Miss Bass Lake, Junior Miss Bass Lake, and the Little Miss/Mister Bass Lake pageants. Saturday’s activities include a 5K run/walk, sailboat races, and a fireworks display over Bass Lake.

The festival wraps up Sunday, with a bike race, cardboard boat race, and the Bass Lake Festival Parade. This year’s grand marshal is local businesses owner and longtime festival volunteer John McGrath.

Food and entertainment will be featured all weekend long. For a complete schedule and more information, visit

Vouchers Available for Free Mammograms

Posted on July 26, 2017
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Women in Starke or La Porte Counties who do not have the resources to pay for screening and diagnostic mammograms may apply for a voucher for these services.

Vouchers are available for low-income, uninsured or underinsured women age 40 and older and women of any age who are at-risk for breast cancer. Women should contact their physician’s office to see if they meet the qualifications for a voucher.

Vouchers are made available thanks to grant funding through the Indiana Breast Cancer Awareness Trust. $18,000 in grant money was secured for this year to help in this effort.

Contact the Healthcare Foundation of La Porte for more information at (219) 326-2471.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

7/27-30/2017 Tippecanoe River State Park

Attorney’s Fees Adding Up in North Judson Railroad Dispute

Posted on July 25, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Legal costs continue to add up for North Judson in the dispute over the town’s short line railroad. The town is paying several thousand dollars a month to Chicago-based railroad regulatory attorney Thomas McFarland to help deal with two ongoing lawsuits.

Last week, the town council approved a payment of over $4,700 to McFarland, which is a bit higher than the last couple of months’ payments. One reason for the increase, according to Clerk-Treasurer Alicia Collins, was that the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum emailed McFarland directly with questions. “You can figure out how much we’re paying an hour fairly easy,” Collins said. “That’s a lot of money. So his email, all that stuff, it’s adding up.”

Museum officials were seeking information about what impact the litigation would have on a $32,000 tourism grant the museum’s set to get from the state.

The town council decided a year ago to lease the line to Michigan-based Lake State Railway, but the Chesapeake and Indiana Railroad still hasn’t vacated it. Meanwhile, Chesapeake and Indiana has blocked the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum from running excursion trains beyond English Lake and into LaCrosse.

Museum officials say that and other issues with Chesapeake and Indiana have cost the museum over $200,000 in lost revenue over the past four years. The museum has turned to crowdfunding to help cover its own legal expenses in the dispute.

At the same time, North Judson officials say the town has spent around $300,000 in legal fees and maintenance costs since the dispute began. While North Judson has a specified fund for its railroad, town officials say that money’s currently unavailable because of the litigation.

Attorney General Warns Hoosiers of Tech Support Scams

Posted on July 25, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

If you see a pop-up saying your computer has a virus, there’s a good chance it’s a scam. That’s according to Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill.

The messages typically resemble security alerts from legitimate sources. However, by following the instructions and giving remote access to your computer, scammers can obtain personal information, user names, and passwords, and steal your identity. In addition to pop-up alerts, scammers may also contact victims by phone, claiming to be from Microsoft or another trusted company.

The Attorney General’s Office says its Consumer Protection Division has gotten 111 tech support complaints so far this year.

Kid’s Closet Ministry Pack-a-Backpack Event a Success

Posted on July 25, 2017
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The volunteers behind the Pack-a-Backpack event call Saturday’s school supply drive a success. School supplies were purchased from members of the community to help students in need through the Kid’s Closet Ministry at the North Judson United Methodist Church at 210 Central Ave.

Any Starke County student in kindergarten through 12th grade who qualifies for free or reduced lunch is welcome to attend the 5th annual Kid’s Closet Pack-a-Backpack on Monday, July 31 and Tuesday, Aug. 1. School supplies may be chosen at that time. The child must be present and the parent must have proper identification.

Kankakee Valley REMC employees delivered cases of school supplies to the church last week to help in the supply drive. Items were purchased by Kankakee Valley REMC members and community residents. REMC has been a part of this effort for four years in each of the communities they serve: Lake, Porter, Starke, St. Joseph, Pulaski, Marshall, and La Porte Counties.

Monday, July 24, 2017

North Judson Town Council Approves Phone Upgrades, Discusses Website Plans

Posted on July 24, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The Town of North Judson is looking to save some money by upgrading its phone system. Last week, the town council approved a proposal from IT company Datacrates to install an Internet-based phone system.

The town will get five phones for a cost of $199 a month, plus a one-time installation charge. Currently, the town pays CenturyLink about $974 a month for combined phone and Internet service, according to Clerk-Treasurer Alicia Collins. While the town plans to switch the phone service, it will continue to pay CenturyLink nearly $245 a month for Internet.

Council member John Rowe said the switch seemed like a no-brainer. “After three months, it pays for itself, basically,” he said. “Four months, it’s completely paid for, and then we’re just saving $450 a month, every month.”

Datacrates has also offered to build and maintain a website for North Judson, for $45 a month, plus a one-time setup charge. Under the plan, each town department would get its own web page, and residents would be able to pay water bills and view the town’s ordinances online. Collins suggested that the town hold off on the website until next year, but use Datacrates’ estimate to build the cost into the 2018 budget.

Council member James Young has also been gathering estimates for a new website. Datacrates was recommended by Town Marshal Kelly Fisher. Company owner Brian Pinson used to be Starke County’s IT director. He’s built websites for the Starke County government, the Starke County Sheriff’s Department, and the City of Knox.

Council members agreed that Collins should include the cost of a website when working on next year’s budget.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Starke County Council to Review Part Time Employee Status

Posted on July 22, 2017
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Council will revisit its salary ordinance pertaining to classifications of employees as part-time or skilled part-time.

There are different pay scales for those employees who work part-time and those part-time workers who have developed skills that can be interchangeable between departments. It is up to the department head to determine which level of pay that employee receives.

After a lengthy discussion, the council members asked Auditor Kay Chaffins to give County Attorney Marty Lucas a copy of the salary ordinance and they will discuss changes, if any, during their meeting in August.

North Judson Council Accepts Property Donation for High School Memorial

Posted on July 22, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Plans to mark the site of the old North Judson High School are moving ahead. A group of volunteers has been working for the past year and a half to construct a memorial where the school used to stand on Keller Avenue.

Committee member Marshall Field told the town council Monday the bank that currently owns the land has agreed to donate it to the town. The town council voted unanimously to accept the property. Field says the updated deed will be presented to the council at a later date.

Federal Trade Commission Warns of Publishers Clearing House Scam

Posted on July 22, 2017
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Don’t be scammed when it comes to Publishers Clearing House.

The Federal Trade Commission and Publishers Clearing House have received numerous reports about people pretending to be from Publishers Clearing House to scam people out of money.

The scammers are calling victims to say they’ve won a sweepstakes. In order to claim the prize, a payment of fees and taxes is required. They will ask to send money by Western Union or MoneyGram or by prepaid credit card or gift card.

Paying to collect a prize is a scam. If you receive a phone call like this, report it to the FTC by calling (202) 326-2222.

If you have sent money to a scam artist, report the loss immediately to the company you paid the claim and then call the FTC. If you paid through Western Union, you may be eligible for a refund.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Starke County Council to Review Officer Pay

Posted on July 21, 2017
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Starke County Sheriff Bill Dulin asked the county council members to review the pay scale for the sheriff’s department.

Sheriff Dulin said he’s losing officers to other departments and the salary offered is not competitive with other departments. In fact, he told the council that he’s lost four officers. He said it’s hard to attract applicants with what he’s able to offer. Dulin mentioned that his department is the lowest paid department in the county and the eighth lowest in terms of competitive salaries in the state.

The sheriff added that his department has not gotten any sort of raises outside of the cost of living in 25 years. He has submitted a $5,000 pay increase for officers in the 2018 budget.

A committee will be put together to analyze the budget and what kind of salary amendments can be brought to the table. In addition, the matter of officer retention will be discussed and leadership with the commissioners and council.

Budget discussions are set to begin Aug. 11 at 9 a.m.

North Judson Compliance Officer Gets to Work, Pay Raise Approved for Part-Time Police Officers

Posted on July 21, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

North Judson’s new compliance officer is getting to work. Joe Leszek was selected earlier this month to fill the part-time position. Town Marshal Kelly Fisher told the town council Monday that Leszek has been working on addressing issues at 202 Lane Street.

Also during Monday’s meeting, council members approved a pay raise for part-time police officers. They’ll be paid $18 an hour, rather than $15, following this week’s amendment to the salary ordinance.

North Judson-San Pierre Announces New Student Registration Dates

Posted on July 21, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The North Judson-San Pierre School Corporation will hold registration for new students beginning July 31.

Elementary school registration for students in kindergarten through sixth grade will take place Monday, July 31 through Friday, August 4 from 9:00 a.m. to noon and 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. Junior-senior high school registration will be held Friday, August 4 from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and Monday, August 7 from noon to 7:00 p.m.

Superintendent Annette Zupin told the school board Tuesday most returning students have already registered. “Both schools did a mailing registration, so most of our students have registered via mail,” she explained. “So new students need to come in, or students who need to change information or who did not register via mail. They can come in.”

Elementary school “Meet Your Teacher” nights are August 7 and 8. Seventh grade orientation will take place August 8 at 5:00 p.m. The first day of school is Thursday, August 10.

Starke County Commissioners Seek K-IRPC Representative

Posted on July 21, 2017
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Commissioners are looking to appoint a representative to the Kankakee-Iroquois Regional Planning Commission (K-IRPC) Board.

Betty Dotlich recently resigned as Starke County’s representative. That resignation will need to be filled soon.

The K-IRPC Board meets quarterly in Monon and the county does offer a stipend for mileage. Commissioner Kathy Norem mentioned that this serves as a good opportunity for a candidate to get his or her feet wet in county government. It is an annual appointment made by the commissioners. If the person chosen to fill the position does not feel comfortable in continuing in the role, the commissioners will simply appoint a replacement.

Letters of interest be addressed to Auditor Kay Chaffins at 53 E Mound Street, Knox, IN 46534.

Two Starke County Organizations Receive Operation Round up Grants

Posted on July 21, 2017
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Two Starke County organizations have been awarded grant funds from the Kankakee Valley REMC Operation Round Up program.

Community Services of Starke County received $3,300 grant to help purchase a computer system that will better serve the organization’s needs and the needs of clients. The organization helps low-income, elderly and disabled citizens in Starke County. Community Services hosts a food pantry, senior activities, meal assistance, and transportation assistance.

The Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum is the recipient of a $1,500 Operation Round Up grant. This funding will help museum volunteers make repairs to the asphalt in the handicapped parking lot after a water line leak caused significant damage in 2015. The museum is home to a vast array of railroad history in Starke County.

Operation Round Up has returned over $1 million to non-profit organizations in the community since 2000. Operation Round Up participants contribute an average of $6.00 per year when their electric bill is rounded up to the nearest dollar. Those funds are put into the grant program and managed by Kankakee Valley REMC members.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

7/22/2017 Movies @ Norwayne Field

"The Shallows" (PG-13)

Still reeling from the loss of her mother, medical student Nancy Adams (Blake Lively) travels to a secluded beach for some much-needed solace. Despite the danger of surfing alone, Nancy decides to soak up the sun and hit the waves. Suddenly, a great white shark attacks, forcing her to swim to a giant rock for safety. Left injured and stranded 200 yards from shore, the frightened young woman must fight for her life as the deadly predator circles her in its feeding ground.

Hosted by Starke County Young Professionals Group. Sponsored by Downtown Depot. Film will be shown at dusk, approximately 8 - 11 p.m.

9/15/2017 Deadline - Leadership Starke County Seeks Applicants for Community Training Program

Leadership Starke County is seeking nominations for the 6th community leadership training class which begins on September 22nd.  The class meets once each month from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. from September through May at locations around Starke County.  “Our goal this year is to have 12 adults and 3 high school students in the class,” according to Jim Jessup, class facilitator.  This unique curriculum provides 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.  There is even a bus trip around Starke County included.

The training is perfect for new citizens, those wanting to learn more about the county, and anyone who is seeking to become more engaged and to make an impact on the future of Starke County.  Interaction with current community leaders and other class members is a key component of the experience.

The cost of the program is $300 which includes meals, instruction, materials, and transportation.  Payment plans and partial scholarships may be available.  Deadline for acceptance into the program is September 15th.  Contact the Chamber Office (574-772-5548) or Charmaine Dunkel at Community Services (574-772-7070) for dates, details, and an application form.

Jim Jessup, Facilitator
219-716-3622 (cell)

7/24-28/2017 NJ-SP Blujay Summer Football Camp

7/31 & 8/1/2017 Pack-A-Backpack Event @ Kids Closet Ministry

North Judson-San Pierre Encouraged by Early Enrollment Numbers

Posted on July 20, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Enrollment is looking promising at the North Judson-San Pierre School Corporation.

Superintendent Annette Zupin told the school board Tuesday the corporation ended last school year with 1,050 students. So far, 1,029 are signed up for the upcoming year, and that number is expected to go up when new student registration gets underway. “I do know that our kindergarten class right now is 71,” she said. “We have four sections. From what the teachers have told me, historically, you get five to 15 more. So I’m not going to the bank with that, but we’re encouraged.”

If those expectations are met, that would put the size of the incoming kindergarten class on par with last year’s senior class. Zupin added that the elementary school may consider adding a fifth kindergarten section, if necessary.

Meanwhile, she said the corporation is still in the process of hiring teachers for the upcoming year, but she’s happy with the ones they have so far. “Now I will say, we have hired two science teachers at the junior/senior high, one this month and one last. Those are difficult to fill, and I know some neighboring schools are having difficulty,” Zupin said. “So I feel pretty fortunate that we were able to solidify those hires.”

Elementary School Principal Julie Berndt hopes to wrap up teacher interviews in her building this week.

North Judson Council Decides Not to Revise Golf Cart Ordinance

Posted on July 20, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

North Judson residents will no longer be able to register their utility vehicles as golf carts. Some Gators and similar types of vehicles have been permitted in the past, even though the town’s golf cart ordinance is not designed to apply to any other vehicles.

After discussing the issue with Town Marshal Kelly Fisher and Chief Deputy Frank Thomas, the town council has decided to leave the ordinance alone, and stop granting permits for vehicles that aren’t golf carts. Council member John Rowe said Monday there are too many variables to consider, to allow other vehicles. “There’s some that do 40 miles an hour. There’s some that only do 25,” he explained. “But those variations are just too hard to decipher between which is which. It’s just too hard. So by sticking with the ordinance, the ordinance just states, simply, ‘golf carts.'”

As for what qualifies as a golf cart, the ordinance gives this definition: “A motorized cart or car in the context of this ordinance is an electric- or gasoline-powered motor vehicle commonly called a ‘golf cart,’ designed and intended to transport one or more individuals and golf clubs for the purpose of playing the game of golf on a golf course.”

Town officials say there are two vehicles that don’t fit that description that currently have valid golf cart permits. Those vehicles will be allowed on town streets for the rest of the year, but their permits will not be renewed next year.

Collins pointed out that the only utility vehicle explicitly allowed by the town is owned by Osborn Advantage Real Estate for use during the Mint Festival.

Starke County Commissioners Discuss Document Pertaining to Contaminated Property

Posted on July 20, 2017
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Starke County Attorney Marty Lucas presented the Starke County Commissioners this week with a document that clarifies disclosure of properties sold in a tax sale.

Lucas said there’s a fine line of tax sale properties being sold at a “buyer beware” condition, but there should be disclosure of known issues. He’s working with Frank Lynch in the health department on this subject as the commissioners recently refunded money in a tax sale as the property was deemed contaminated. The refund was given as a case the commissioners felt warranted the action. Refunds are not common in tax sales.

The county does not guarantee properties in the tax sale as the county does not own the properties. The county is also not responsible for the condition of the structures on the property. That responsibility still lies with the previous owner.

Lucas stressed that the county sells the tax liens on the properties, not real estate.

Commissioner Kathy Norem asked Lucas to take the disclosure form back to Frank Lynch and that they recommend that the form be filed in the office for any questions.

Starke County Coroner Seeks Additional Funds

Posted on July 20, 2017
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Starke County Coroner Dannie Hoffer approached the Starke County Council Monday night seeking additional funds to help pay autopsy fees.

Hoffer explained that three cases of accidental overdoses have caused additional expenses that his budget doesn’t allow. The cost of an autopsy is $1,600 and sometimes more depending on the forensic pathologist used. Hoffer said he typically uses the service of a forensic pathologist south of Indianapolis as his fee is $1,500 while the fee in South Bend is $3,200 and $2,800 in Fort Wayne.

He noted that it’s hard to judge how much funding is needed for fees at budget time as the number of autopsies fluctuates from year to year. An outstanding balance of $10,000 for autopsy fees has yet to be billed to the county.

Hoffer is also looking to pay for supplies.

The council suggested looking at the invoices next month and then making a decision how to pay for them at that time. Rainy Day funds may be able to get the coroner’s office out of this round of debt.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

8/15/2017 Vegetable & High Tunnel Field Day

7/22/2017 Tippy-Tri Challenge 2017

Tippy-Tri Challenge 

Registration 7:30-8:30 a.m./Race starts 9 a.m. at the Playing Field (turn by the nature center).

HIKE IT:  1 mile hike/run along Trail #1 or 3.5 mile hike/run along Trails #6 & #1 from the Nature Center to the Fire Tower.

BIKE IT:  6.5 mile ride along the paved trail through the northern end of the park.

CLIMB IT:  Climb the fire tower 110 steps and 90 feet high.

We are altering the event for safety reasons to exclude the river portion because the river is too high and flowing so fast.

Cost:  $20 for individuals or $45 for a team of 3.

Snacks/Drinks will be provided for all race participants.   Spectators can purchase snacks and a drink for $2.

Yard games will be at the Nature Center following the race.

7/20-23/2017 Program Schedule @ Tippecanoe River State Park

Red Cross Blood Donation Schedule in Starke County

7/28/2017  = 2:00-7:00 PM
VFW Post 748
1511 South Heaton Street
Knox, IN 46534

8/8/2017 = 12:30-6 p.m.
Knox Community Center
55 E Lake Street
Knox, Indiana  46534

8/10/2017 = 1-5:30 p.m.
St. Peter Lutheran Church
810 W. Talmer Avenue
North Judson, Indiana  46366 

10/3/2017 = 12:30-6 p.m. 
Knox Community Center
55 E Lake Street
Knox, Indiana  46534

To schedule your appointment, use the free Red Cross blood donor app, visit or call 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767).

North Judson Town Council Updated on 205 and 207 Lane Street Demolition Process

Posted on July 19, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Demolition plans for a partially collapsed downtown North Judson building are being finalized by the town council. A contract with Dirt Works Excavating is complete, and Town Attorney Justin Schramm presented it to council members for their signatures Monday. “One thing we did work out between he and I is on the original bid, he talked about having salvage rights to that property once it’s knocked down,” Schramm said. “I just wanted to make sure we had the right to repurpose those windows through a third-party contractor. He said he had no problem with that.”

An individual has offered to buy the building’s windows for an estimated $2,000. So far, it looks like that’s all of the demolition cost the town will be able to recoup. Dirt Works’ bid was for nearly $100,000, plus the cost of asbestos handling.

But there are still a couple more steps to be taken before the building at 205 and 207 Lane Street can finally be torn down. As of Monday, Dirt Works was still waiting for the necessary permits from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.

On top of that, the demolition contractor and the structural engineer who evaluated the building will both have to give information during a hearing in Starke Circuit Court. Schramm said Monday he was still trying to finalize a court date with Special Judge Michael Shurn of Pulaski County. “The judge seemed confused why I was asking for another hearing, and I reminded him that he told me I had to go in on another hearing before we were to demolish the building,” Schramm said. “Then I was referred to Starke Circuit Court. So I’m hoping we can get it in this week. I’m really hoping. But at the latest, before we get those certifications back from IDEM because I don’t want to hold up our contractor any longer. I know he has other projects he wants to get to.”

Starke Circuit Judge Kim Hall has recused himself due to a conflict of interest. Once the court hearing takes place and the certifications are received, Dirt Works has 60 days to complete the demolition.

Updates on Economic Projects Given to Starke County Government

Posted on July 19, 2017
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

A report given by the Starke County Economic Development Foundation updated the Starke County Council members and Starke County Commissioners on a few projects.

The sale of the Stelrema building on U.S. 35 north of Knox that would become a manufacturing home to the Gary Poppins Gourmet Popcorn company is not yet finalized. According to SCEDF officials, the contract is still on the table, but both sides have not agreed to sign to the terms.

The 320 acres of commercial property purchased by the Sysco company in Hamlet over 10 years ago is now for sale. The purchase price is $1,200 per acre. Councilman Dave Pearman asked if the county’s contribution into infrastructure enhanced the value of the property by making those improvements. Regardless, the infrastructure is there for another business for development. County Attorney Marty Lucas advised that he would look into the agreement.

The SCEDF hosted a meeting at the Oregon-Davis Schools concerning a U.S. 30 freeway proposal which is thought by the organization to be a beneficial move in terms of economic growth.

In addition to this discussion, the council and commissioners in their separate meetings approved the appropriation of $40,000 for the spring installment to start the school year for the SCILL Center.

ADA/Title VI Implementation Plan Presented to Starke County Commissioners

Posted on July 19, 2017
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Starke County Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler presented a plan to the Starke County Commissioners this week on updating some ADA requirements in terms of communication.

Ritzler commented that the American Disabilities Act forms on the website are outdated and he’s been in touch with the IT Director to work on getting those forms changed and add some required elements to the website.

A form will be available at each commissioners and council meeting for a chance for the members of the public to complete surveys and provide comments. Ritzler said a packet for each department will also be prepared.

“I want to put together a packet for each office that has a complete policy, complaint form, public involvement survey, language identification flashcards, and sign-in sheets for public meetings in there,” noted Ritzler. “At the next department head meeting, we’ll show each department head how to use those packets. It could be a folder that they can just stick somewhere for when an ADA or Title VI issue comes up they can grab that and immediately know what to do.”

The proposed packet will be presented on Tuesday, Aug. 22 during the department head meeting.

Ritzler also plans to create an ADA/Title VI line item with $500 from the Motor Vehicle Highway fund in next year’s budget.

Additionally, Ritzler will be doing an assessment of all the buildings with Maintenance Supervisor Jim Coad to ensure ADA/Title VI compliance.

Updated Elementary School Discipline Policy Approved by North Judson-San Pierre School Board

Posted on July 19, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The North Judson-San Pierre School Board approved an updated elementary school discipline policy Tuesday. New Elementary School Principal Julie Berndt said it simplifies the procedures, by breaking them down into four levels. “The Level One would be the small offenses that happen,” she explained. “Teachers are still going to have their individual classroom behavior plans. They’re still going to have those, whether it’s red, yellow, green lights, sticks, whatever that they may use. And then when it comes to the points where it needs to be documented and come maybe to the administrative level, that’s when we would use the discipline form that we’ll create from this.” Consequences will generally be left up to each teacher’s discretion for Level One offenses.

Level Two offenses are a bit more serious. If a student gets four Level Two offenses in a semester, a group meeting would be held with the student, parent, teacher, and counselor, to come up with a solution.

Berndt said Level Three offenses are generally issues that require immediate action. “Those are the big ones, that would need probably an immediate removal from a bus, immediate removal from a classroom, the playground or whatever,” she said. “And they’re sent down to the office, and then we deal with that.”

Level Four is reserved for drugs, alcohol, and other similar offenses.

Berndt said the policy change came out of a survey she sent out to teachers last month. “One of the needs was to move forward with a different discipline plan, something that will help keep our building safe, our classrooms productive, and also so that everyone knows the responsibility of who’s responsible to do what, with the teachers, what they’re responsible for and the administrator,” she said. “And also something that is very usable and easy to use.”

Berndt and six teachers spent three hours last week working on the new policy. She said it’s similar to policies that have worked well in her past experience.

The school board approved the addendum to the 2017-2018 handbook, unanimously. Board members originally approved the handbook in May, with the understanding that Berndt might request a few changes, once she officially took over as principal.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship Application Available August 1

Posted on July 18, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Incoming high school seniors in Starke County have the chance to apply for a four-year, full-tuition scholarship to an Indiana college or university. Applications for the 2018 Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship will be available on August 1.

The program picks one graduating senior from each county to get a scholarship to any accredited public or private college or university in Indiana. In addition to reviewing students’ application essays, the selection committee also looks at their academic performance, as well as school, work, and community service activities. Finalists will also be interviewed by the committee.

Scholarship applications are due September 1, 2017, and a winner will be announced in early December. For more information, visit the Northern Indiana Community Foundation website or contact your school’s guidance department.

Starke County Council Discusses Ambulance Finances

Posted on July 18, 2017
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Starke County EMS officials approached the Starke County Council members Monday night to request a transfer of funds to cover ambulance repair costs.

Starke County EMS Director Travis Clary informed the board that an inactive rotation roster for primary and backup ambulances as led to a large amount of breakdowns recently. The costs for repairs have gotten to the point that funds have gone into the red with constant work being done.

There are five ambulances on the fleet: three primary and two backup.

Clary said the Medic 1 ambulance has 180,000 miles on it and it keeps breaking down. He did point out that a remodeled ambulance with a newer chassis can help with costs.

Councilman Dave Pearman questioned why the trucks are so frequently out of service when it seems the younger fleet is running, but it’s the extent of the repairs that are needed on the primary ambulances.

Mary Lynn Ritchie said the department was cut about $88,000 in the budget for the past two years which has led to this fund shortage.

The council decided to table the request so the commissioners could assist them in finding the additional money needed to fund repairs for the remainder of the year.

The council did pass a motion to approve a transfer of $6,325 from the assistant EMS director salary to the director’s salary. This is to accommodate the approval of the salary ordinance approving Clary’s promotion to EMS Director by the commissioners. After much more discussion, the council agreed to update Clary’s position in the form of a salary ordinance. He will get a $2,000 raise after three months and another $2,000 in six months if his evaluations are favorable. He will be up to a $59,000 salary offered by the commissioners to be included in the 2018 budget. His training as a paramedic was noted when deciding his wages.

North Judson Council Requests Petition, Before Moving Ahead with Urban Chicken Ordinance

Posted on July 18, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The North Judson Town Council is willing to consider an urban chicken ordinance, but first, they’re asking for a petition with 300 residents’ signatures. Council member John Rowe proposed the petition Monday, to gauge the amount of support that exists out in the community and not just among people showing up at council meetings. “If the town wants something, the town can speak and want that,” he said. “If it’s the entire town, then we should change it. That’s how this is meant to be. That’s why we’re here. It isn’t personal. It shouldn’t be our personal feelings.”

For the petition to be accepted by the town council, the 300 residents who sign it must live within the North Judson town limits, be at least 18 years of age, and provide their address or another way of verifying their residency. If the 300 signatures are obtained by August 31, council members will then begin discussing the specifics of the ordinance, such as permit fees, space requirements, and limits to the number of chickens at a particular home. The town council narrowly voted to accept Rowe’s proposal to request the petition, with members Jane Ellen Felchuk and Wendy Hoppe opposing the measure.

Resident Sarah Burkett will be responsible for gathering the necessary signatures. She has been leading the renewed push for an urban chicken ordinance in North Judson, after the town council decided to more strictly enforce the existing animal ordinance. That would have forced Burkett to remove her chickens, but council members have backed down from that decision, at least temporarily.

While Burkett says her chickens were grandfathered in six years ago, there’s an ongoing debate about whether that still applies to the chickens she has now. Council President Wendy Hoppe said Monday that wasn’t the council’s intention at the time the decision was made. “I can say because I sat on that board, and I can honestly say it was said it would be grandfathered until the time the chickens were deceased. . . . If you read the thing, that’s how it was.”

Burkett’s father and landlord Steve Ransom disagreed. “I’ve got an attorney that will argue with you on that,” he said.

“Well, Todd’s going to cite what he wants, but let me cover this now,” responded Town Attorney Justin Schramm. “I haven’t covered this yet because there’s a very convoluted, long, complex, legal argument when it comes to grandfather clauses. I’ve heard this term now for a month, ‘grandfather, grandfather, grandfather.’ A grandfather clause is built into an ordinance or resolution when it is written.”

Schramm said that’s not what happened in this case. “It’s not on that resolution, and it’s not of legal effect,” he said. “They shouldn’t have done that to you. It was bad that they did that to you. But if it didn’t make it into that final resolution or ordinance, my position and my reading has indicated that it is not a legally-enforceable grandfather clause.” However, he pointed out that Burkett is not in violation of the ordinance because the ordinance has not been fully enforced.

7/22/2017 Tippy-Tri Challenge Changes

Tippecanoe River State Park Facebook

7/22/2017 Kid's Closet Ministry School Supply Drive

Last year we helped over 400 kids start school with a new backpack and all their supplies. Our donation boxes are in the Dollar Stores in Knox and North Judson. Please consider donating school supplies.

We will also be at these stores on July 22 from 8 a.m. to 12 noon for the last push to get the supplies for these kids in Starke County that really need this. Let's send all these kids to school with the right tools for success!

Thank you for your support!!!

2017-2018 NJ-SP Elementary School Supply Lists

North Judson-San Pierre Elementary School
2017-2018 Supply Lists

Please put your child’s name on everything.  

Gym class:  Check the bottom of gym shoes for “non-marking materials”


  • 2 boxes of tissues (Kleenex, Puffs, etc.) 
  • 3 bottles of Elmer’s Brand School Glue 
  • 1 Vinyl pocket folder – no prongs 
  • 3 boxes of Crayola Crayons (24 count) 
  • 1 box of Crayola Markers (10 or 12 count) 
  • 2 boxes of Crayola Colored Pencils (12 count) 
  • 2 Dry Erase Markers 
  • Vinyl rest mat – MUST BE 5/8” by 19” by 45” (Blue/Red) 
  • Large back pack – big enough to hold a school folder (A zipper style backpack works best)  NO Wheels!
  • 1 box of Quart size Ziploc bags 
  • 4 glue sticks 

Grade 1

  • Backpack – NO wheels 
  • Supply box 
  • 2 Pink bar erasers 
  • Pair of metal Fiskar scissors 
  • Bottle of Elmer’s Brand School Glue 
  • 2 boxes of tissues 
  • 6 Elmer’s Brand School Glue Sticks 
  • 24 #2 Pencils 
  • 2 boxes of 24 count crayons 
  • 6 Black Dry Erase Markers 
  • Boys – Box of Gallon Ziploc Bags 
  • Girls – container of disinfecting wipes 

Grade 2

  • Backpack – NO wheels 
  • 2 Elmer’s Brand School Glue Sticks
  • Pair of Fiskar scissors – no plastic 
  • Supply box 
  • 2 boxes of facial tissues
  • 4 Flat bar erasers 
  • 48 #2 Pencils 
  • 2 boxes of 24 count crayons 
  • 6 Black Dry Erase Markers (low odor)
  • Boys – Box of storage bags 
  • Girls – container of disinfecting wipes

Grade 3

  • Set of ear buds 
  • 2 non-color glue sticks
  • Box of colored pencils (12 count)
  • 2 boxes of Kleenex 
  • Pair of scissors – child size 
  • Boys – Box of gallon size bags 
  • Girls – Box of Quart size bags 
  • 2 folders
  • 2 packs of 24 pencils 
  • 2 boxes of baby wipes 
  • 4 Black Dry Erase Markers 
  • Boxes of Crayons
  • 3 packages of Loose Leaf paper “Wide Ruled”
  • 1 composition notebook

Grade 4

  • 1 inch binder
  • Package of large erasers or cap erasers
  • 2 boxes of Kleenex
  • 6 Pocket folders
  • Box of baby wipes or hand sanitizer wipes 
  • 4 Black Expo Markers 
  • 3 24-pack of pencils 
  • 1 package of loose leaf paper “Wide Ruled” 
  • Boys – box of gallon size bags 
  • Girls – box of quart size bags 
  • Pack of index cards (3x5)
  • 1 composition notebook 
  • 1 pack of Post It Notes 
  • 1 hand held pencil sharpener
  • 1 box of colored pencils (24 count)
  • 1 box of Crayola Markers Broad Line Tip 

Grade 5

  • 2 boxes of Kleenex 
  • Large Glue Sticks 
  • 2 pocket folders 
  • 2 packs of #2 pencils (24 count)
  • Pair of pointed scissors 
  • Pack of cap erasers (50 count) 
  • Package of 24 count colored pencils 
  • 2 packages of loose leaf paper “Wide Rule” – will be collected 
  • 2 hand held pencil sharpeners – a must 
  • Plastic ruler 
  • Pencil bag – NO pencil boxes 

Grade 6

  • 3 2-pocket folders with prongs (various colors) 
  • 4 packs of loose leaf notebook paper
  • 1 5-subject notebook (Science) 
  • Headphones for computer lab
  • 2 4-pack of Dry Erase markers
  • Colored pencils 
  • 3 boxes of #2 pencils 
  • 2 red pens 
  • 1 1-inch binder with plastic (NO trapper keepers – binders are cheaper and take up less space than keepers) 
  • 2 pink erasers 
  • 2 boxes of Kleenex 
  • 2 yellow highlighters
  • 1 container of Clorox wipes 

Monday, July 17, 2017

8/12/2017 North Judson Town-Wide Garage Sale

7/31 to 8/4/2017 NJ-SP Elementary School Student Registration

North Judson-San Pierre Elementary School Student Registration

7/31 to 8/4 = New Student Registration
9 a.m. to 12 noon; 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Grades K-6 

8/7/2017 = Meet Your Teacher Night
Grade 6 – 4:30 p.m.
Grade 1 – 5 p.m.
Grade 5 – 5:30 p.m. 

8/8/2017 = Meet Your Teacher Night
Grade 3 – 4:30 to 5 p.m.
Grade 4 – 5 to 5:30 p.m.
Grade 2 – 5:30 to 6 p.m. 

First Day of School is Thursday, 8/10/2017
Students are encouraged to bring their school supplies when they come to their “Meet Your Teacher” night.  We are looking forward to another great school year!

North Judson Town Council to Continue Discussing Animal Ordinance

Posted on July 17, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

North Judson’s animal ordinance will continue to be discussed during tonight’s town council meeting. Council members recently decided to enforce the ordinance more strictly, following complaints about chickens and other animals.

While chickens are technically prohibited in town, resident Sarah Burkett says her chicken farm was grandfathered in six years ago. A debate about whether that still applies to the chickens she has now has reopened the discussion about whether chickens should be allowed in general.

Also during tonight’s meeting, the North Judson Town Council is scheduled to hear a presentation from Starke County Economic Development Foundation Special Projects Coordinator Ron Gifford. The town council will meet tonight at 6:30 at North Judson Town Hall.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Starke County EMA Director Position to be Part-Time

Posted on July 7, 2017
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Commissioners made a decision concerning the employment status of the Starke County Emergency Management Agency Director.

During their Wednesday night meeting, Commissioner Kathy Norem noted that when former EMA Director Ted Bombagetti was at full-time status, half of his salary and benefits were reimbursed by the state while 25 percent of Mary Lynn Ritchie’s salary and benefits was reimbursed as the director’s secretary. With a part-time position, only 50 percent of the director’s salary would be reimbursed. It would be a cost savings to the county, but Norem was unsure how much, if any, would be reimbursed when it comes to Ritchie’s salary.

Commissioners Norem and Charlie Chesak approved a motion to make the Starke County EMA Director a part-time position. Commission President Donnie Binkley was absent from the meeting. The commissioners will have the option of making the position full-time if several factors come into line.

Several applicants have expressed interest in the EMA Director position. Norem stated that the EMA Board will need to be notified to convene in order to interview candidates. The EMA Board will then recommend a candidate to the commissioners for hire.

North Judson Council to Meet Monday to Open Demolition Bids for Partially Collapsed Building

Posted on July 7, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The Town of North Judson will make a third attempt at hiring someone to tear down a partially collapsed downtown building. Demolition bids for 205 and 207 Lane Street are due by 3:30 this afternoon. They will be opened during a special meeting of the town council Monday morning at 7:00.

It’s just the latest step in a long process to tear the building down. The town first solicited demolition bids back in February. But the council ended up rejecting all of them, after building owner Doug Cassel began a lengthy legal battle to retrieve his personal property from inside, including a 1978 Cadillac Eldorado.

The town again attempted to hire a demolition contractor last month, after part of the building collapsed in on itself back in May. However, the town only got one quote, and it was for over $250,000.

During Monday’s town council meeting, Clerk-Treasurer Alicia Collins emphasized that the lack of progress is not because the town can’t afford the demolition. “$250,000 that we’re going to spend on this building and never recoup anything for is way too much,” she said. “So thankfully, the board decided not to go with that, opened it up for bid. Now if things come back – I’m not going to give a number because I don’t want to tell people what we’re willing to pay – but they should come back significantly less than that, and yes, there is money.” No quotes had been received by Monday’s meeting, but Collins said there has been a good amount of interest this time around.

Because of the urgent nature of the demolition, North Judson has not been able to apply for grant funding to help cover the cost, and town officials don’t expect to recoup anything from Cassel. However, Town Attorney Justin Schramm said someone has offered to buy the building’s windows. “I told this individual that I would put him in contact with our contractor so he can talk about removal of those windows because from the sounds of it, if we can recoup three, four, or five thousand dollars – what he’s willing to pay for those windows for the guys who’s re-purposing, I think it’s probably worth our time, if we can get something out of it,” Schramm said.

If a contractor is chosen Monday, another court hearing will have to take place before Special Judge Michael Shurn. Both the demolition contractor and the structural engineer who evaluated the building will be required to give information in court.

Threat of IRS Scams Continues Over the Summer

Posted on July 7, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Even though tax filing season is over, the Internal Revenue Service still urges taxpayers to beware of tax-related scams over the summer months. IRS officials say there are many variations, but most scams demand that taxpayers make an immediate payment to avoid being arrested.

In a new phone scam, a caller claiming to be from the IRS will tell the victim that two certified letters were mailed but returned as undeliverable. The scammer then demands that the taxpayer make a payment with a specific prepaid debit card, supposedly linked to the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System.

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

The IRS also says that if you know you don’t owe any taxes, hang up immediately. If you’re not sure, you can check your tax account online at

Blood Donations Desperately Needed

Posted on July 7, 2017
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Blood supplies are at critical levels at the local hospitals and the American Red Cross is asking for your help to replenish the inventory.

Red Cross officials say that only three percent of the U.S. population gives blood, which means repeat donors are picking up the slack to help maintain the blood supply. New blood donors are needed at this time of the year when school is out during the summer break. Many blood drives occur during the school year and it is difficult to plan donation drives during the summer vacation.

The American Red Cross will hold a blood drive on Wednesday, July 12 from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET at the Culver Community Junior/Senior High School. Another opportunity to give blood is Friday, July 28 from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. CT at the VFW Post #748 in Knox. To schedule your appointment, use the free Red Cross blood donor app, visit or call 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Thursday, July 6, 2017

New Starke County EMS Director Appointed, EMT Interviews Start Today

Posted on July 6, 2017
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Commissioners appointed a new EMS Director during their meeting Wednesday night.

Interim Assistant Director Travis Clary was offered the position by the commissioners and he accepted the offer. Commissioner Kathy Norem noted that he will be placed on a probationary period for six months. He will be evaluated after three months and if his work is satisfactory Clary will receive a raise. If the commissioners continue to be satisfied with his work at the end of his probationary period, he will be bumped up to his intended salary of $59,000.

Norem noted that Clary’s experience as a paramedic will be beneficial in directing the department to the standard of which the commissioners are envisioning. Norem and Charlie Chesak approved the appointment. Commission President Donnie Binkley was not in attendance.

Prior to his appointment, Clary told the commissioners that he will be interviewing candidates to fill three open EMT positions. Seven candidates will be interviewed for the openings that Clary hopes will help cut down on overtime hours.

The applications for paramedics are lacking, but it’s a problem that departments across the area are experiencing. Clary said the department will continue their efforts in requesting applications for the available paramedic positions.

North Judson Council Votes to Proceed with Water Infrastructure Upgrades

Posted on July 6, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The North Judson Town Council is taking steps to upgrade the town’s water infrastructure. Council members voted Monday to proceed with a plan to rehabilitate the two water towers, add a well, and upgrade the existing well pumps, among other improvements.

To pay for the upgrades, the town will pursue a loan through the State Revolving Fund, as well as grant funding from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs. That’s a different approach than the town’s taking with its wastewater projects, which the town plans to finance with a bond from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Office.

While council members approved the wastewater projects last week, they held off on the water improvements, over concern with Commonwealth Engineers’ cost estimates for a new well. It would serve as a backup for the town’s existing wells. Town Superintendent Marshall Horstmann told council members this week that Commonwealth was able bring that cost down by about $130,000. “He took off the well house that they had originally put on there and replaced it with the type of well house that we’ve got on the existing wells now,” Horstmann explained.

However, much of that money was added back, after town officials asked that an altitude valve for the downtown water tower be added into the plan. While one was delivered when the tower was built over 20 years ago, an apparent oversight by the engineer meant it was never installed. That’s prevented the town from filling the water tower all the way.

As long as North Judson is able to get the OCRA grant, the town will be able to make all the proposed upgrades without increasing water rates. Otherwise, the town may have to scale back its plans, raise rates again, or pursue other grant opportunities. Council member Jane Ellen Felchuk said State Senator Ed Charbonneau’s office has told her about some new grants that may be available.

New N.J.-S.P. School Board Members to Be Sworn in During Reorganization Meeting Tuesday

Posted on July 6, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The North Judson-San Pierre School Board will welcome some new members next week. Last Friday, Gerald Bacon was appointed as Jackson Township’s representative. The township board chose Bacon over Denise Cultice, after current school board member Michael Shireman did not seek reappointment.

A day earlier, the Railroad Township Board selected Susan McCormack as its school board representative, after interviewing four candidates. Railroad Township tried to make the appointment a week before, but it had to be redone because board members didn’t take the vote in public. McCormack was picked over Deb Wappel and Megan Korous. Cassandra Hine was also interviewed but withdrew from consideration.

Bacon and McCormack will be sworn in for four-year terms on Tuesday, during a 7:00 a.m. reorganization meeting at the North Judson-San Pierre Central Office. School board members will also plan for the next school year and make several yearly appointments. They will also pick a new school board president, to replace outgoing Railroad Township representative Pat Goin.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Library's Rock

Chicken Supporters Meet with North Judson Town Council, As Animal Ordinance Review Continues

Posted on July 5, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

North Judson’s chickens will be allowed to stay for at least a while longer, as the town continues to review its animal ordinance. Residents filled North Judson Town Hall Monday, as chicken owner Sarah Burkett spoke out against the town council’s decision to more strictly enforce the ordinance. It currently prohibits residents from keeping chickens and other farm animals.

The two main questions are whether the chickens Burkett currently has were grandfathered in, and whether residents should be allowed to have chickens, in general. About 15 people, many of whom live within the town limits, spoke in favor of allowing chickens Monday. There was even a “Save the Chickens” sign.

Supporters of an “urban chicken ordinance” say it would give people the chance to produce their own food, provide educational opportunities for children, and make North Judson more attractive to new residents. Some people added that chickens are less of a nuisance than dogs. Burkett presented copies of animal ordinances from Valparaiso and Chesterton, which both allow chickens.

However, resident Kay Cummins opposed allowing Burkett’s chickens to stay. Cummins said that not having to live next to farm animals was one of the reasons her family chose to live in North Judson several decades ago. But beyond that, she said as long as the town has an ordinance, it should be enforced, whether people like it or not.

Town Attorney Justin Schramm said that council members have three options going forward. “As of right now – and I’m sure people in the room will disagree – it is a legal ordinance,” he explained. “However, the town council has the right and it should either universally enforce it, universally, repeal it, or replace it with something you think would be more palatable to individuals.”

The chicken debate has escalated in recent weeks, after residents complained that certain people were being allowed to keep the animals, even though they’re technically prohibited. The town council granted Burkett an exception six years ago, but there’s an ongoing debate about whether that still applies to the chickens she has now.

Council members voted last month to ban all remaining chickens after this month’s Starke County Fair, after Burkett failed to provide them with requested documentation on the matter. During Monday’s meeting, though, Burkett presented minutes from town council meetings when the issue was discussed in August of 2011. She also complained that town officials never contacted her directly.

However, council member John Rowe disputed Burkett’s claims that the town was singling her out. “None of us went out seeking her chickens or a problem,” he said. “There was an issue brought to the board, like any other issue in the community, brought to us five. We talk about the issue. We review the issue. We review the ordinance. We review everything, and then we sit and talk like we are here tonight. So nobody went over there and tried to maliciously go after these chickens. I’m not for or against it. I want to hear both sides and figure out what’s best for North Judson, and I think I can speak for everybody on that.”

Council members didn’t offer much input Monday, but said they would review the information before taking any action. Schramm said that it wasn’t necessary for Burkett to formally appeal the council’s decision to remove the chickens, since no citations have actually be issued yet.

Starke County Commissioners to Meet Tonight

Posted on July 5, 2017
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Commissioners will meet tonight where contracts will be signed for the elevator at the courthouse. Paperwork from K-IRPC and DLZ will be approved in that process.

The search for a Starke County EMA Director is on tonight’s agenda. The commissioners will be discussing making it a full-time or part-time position. Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler will have a report from the highway department, Maintenance Director Jim Coad will present a fire contract for the second annex building, and EMS Clerk Mary Lynn Ritchie and Assistant Director Travis Clary will provide a department report.

The commissioners will discuss the 2018 proposed budget timeline and Clerk Vicki Cooley will request the purchase of a copier.

The commissioners will meet at 6 p.m. CT tonight in the commissioners meeting room in the Starke County Annex Building.

Monday, July 3, 2017

North Judson Council Discusses Financing Options for Water, Wastewater Upgrades

Posted on July 3, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The North Judson Town Council has taken the first step toward upgrading the town’s wastewater infrastructure.

The first priority is to improve its combined sewer overflow, to bring the system into compliance with Indiana Department of Environmental Management regulations. Town officials also want to modernize the wastewater treatment plant. The projected cost for all those upgrades is $3.1 million.

Accounting firm Umbaugh and Associates believes the town can make those improvements without any more rate increases, beyond those set to take effect next month. During a special town council meeting last week, Clerk-Treasurer Alicia Collins recommended that the town make all the upgrades at once. “Typically, we are behind the ball on most things, so I think we need to look at the future,” she said. “If it’s not going to cost us any more money to do this, we may need to maximize what we can do, and the interest rates are only going to be this low for a certain amount of time.”

To make the upgrades, the town council voted to pursue a 40-year bond through the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Office. However, that financing plan depends on whether Rural Development will let the town refinance its outstanding sewer bond as part of the process.

Council members also voted to hire Bose McKinney & Evans as the bond counsel for the project, at the recommendation of Town Attorney Justin Schramm. Construction is estimated to begin in 2019.

Meanwhile, the town council is also considering various improvements to the town’s water infrastructure, such as rehabilitating the two water towers, adding a well, and upgrading the existing well pumps. To cover the cost, council members plan to pursue a grant from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs. However, they decided not to make any decisions yet on the water projects, until they can get some more detailed cost estimates from Commonwealth Engineers.

They plan to continue the discussion during their regular meeting tonight at 6:30 p.m. at North Judson Town Hall.

Chicken Debate to Continue During North Judson Town Council Meeting

Posted on July 3, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

North Judson’s chicken debate is expected to continue during tonight’s town council meeting. The town’s existing animal ordinance prohibits chickens and other farm animals from being raised within the town limits, but there are still some chickens in town.

Last month, the town council voted to enforce the ordinance and remove all remaining chickens after this year’s Starke County Fair. But resident Sarah Burkett says the town council previously decided to let her keep her chickens. She feels the apparent reversal unfairly singles her out. Burkett says many people support the idea of allowing residents to raise chickens in town, and she’s been encouraging them to speak up during tonight’s council meeting.

The town council has already announced plans to review the animal ordinance. Town officials have suggested allowing farm animals on properties that meet certain size requirements and specifically prohibiting the feeding of feral cats.

In other business tonight, council members are expected to get an update on the town’s new compliance officer position. The part-time employee would issue warnings and citations for tall grass and other code violations. Applications for the job were due last Friday.

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