Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Quote of the Month - November 2017

Happy Birthday, Carl Sagan
November 9, 1934

11/18 & 19/2017 Christmas Family Photographs

Three Facing Charges in North Judson Theft Investigation, Another Pending

Posted on October 31, 2017
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

An investigation into numerous thefts in North Judson has resulted in several arrests.

Sean Wilson, 18, and Anthony Morales, 18, were arrested for their alleged involvement in several burglaries, unauthorized entry into motor vehicles, and theft. They are suspected of these acts over the past few months in the North Judson area. Many of the reported incidents occurred in the overnight hours.

Wilson was arrested on Sunday, Oct. 29 and is being held in the Starke County Jail. Morales was booked into the Starke County Jail on Friday, Oct. 27 and faces a preliminary felony charge of burglary and a misdemeanor charge of theft.

Starke County Sheriff Bill Dulin said one juvenile faces charges in this case and one more arrest is expected.

Bass Lake Theft Investigation Results in Arrests

Posted on October 31, 2017
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Sheriff’s Department’s investigation into numerous thefts from vehicles in the Bass Lake area has resulted in the arrest of four teenagers.

According to Sheriff Bill Dulin, 18-year-old Anthony Lucas and 18-year-old Michael Ford reportedly stole items from unlocked vehicles during the overnight hours that span several days. Sheriff Dulin said the term “car hop” is being used as this profiles that type of behavior.

Lucas and Ford are both from the Bass Lake area.

They were taken into custody on Tuesday, Oct. 24 and booked into the Starke County Jail on preliminary misdemeanor charges of theft and unauthorized entry into a motor vehicle.  They both remain in the Starke County Jail with a $5,000 bond.

Dulin said two other juveniles face prosecution in this investigation.

Newton County Tree Stand Fall Prompts Hunting Safety Reminder

Posted on October 31, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Hunters are reminded to stay safe while using tree stands. Over the weekend, an Illinois man broke eight bones in his neck and back when he fell from a tree stand while deer hunting in Newton County, according to Indiana Conservation Officers.

They say you can help prevent falls by following a few basic safety precautions. Only use equipment that’s been approved by the Treestand Manufacturers Association, rather than a homemade platform. Use a full-body harness system, rather than a single-strap or chest harness. Before using a tree stand, read the manufacturer’s warnings and instructions, and make sure it’s in working order.

Conservation Officers say falls from elevated platforms are the top cause of hunting accidents in Indiana.

Monday, October 30, 2017

RSVP Necessary for Next Drug and Tobacco Free Starke County Meeting

Posted on October 30, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The next Drug and Tobacco Free Starke County meeting will be held on Wednesday, November 15 at 9:30 a.m. at the Starke County Jail.

Sheriff Bill Dulin graciously offered the alternate location to the organization. Chairperson Judy Jelinek said that following the meeting, the Sheriff will treat everyone in attendance to a free lunch. He advised everyone to bring along a guest to get informed, check out the jail facility and share a meal with the local authority figure and other community members.

Individuals must RSVP prior to November 13th so they can have a head count for the lunch. You can contact organization coordinator Linda Molenda with your reservation by calling 574-241-2024 or send an email of interest to dtfscinc@yahoo.com

State Fire Marshal Urges Residents Stay Safe While Heating Their Homes

Posted on October 30, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

As colder weather approaches, the Indiana Department of Homeland Security reminds residents to stay safe while keeping their homes warm. State Fire Marshal Jim Greeson says alternative heating sources, like space heaters and other devices are a big cause of home fires and fire-related deaths.

He recommends avoiding the use of space heaters, if possible. If you do use one, keep it at least three feet away from other objects, especially curtains, furniture, and bedding.

If you have a fireplace, have it cleaned and inspected by a certified professional, and make sure you have a working carbon monoxide detector nearby. Remember to put out fires and turn off heaters before leaving your home or going to bed.

Instead of using an alternative heating source, Greesen recommends trying a few other options, like reducing drafts, wearing long underwear, or simply moving around your home to keep warm. He also says that baking or cooking can help warm up the home, but don’t use an oven specifically as a heating source, because that can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.

Make sure you have a working smoke alarm, and test it regularly.

AAA Tips for Drivers Attending Halloween Festivities

Posted on October 30, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Many individuals will be utilizing their vehicles this week for various Halloween festivities. A study by the National Retail Federation found that Halloween parties for adults have been growing in popularity over the past decade. This means more adults will be out and about celebrating around the same time kids are walking from house to house to collect candy. Triple-A is offering a few tips to ensure a safe and happy Halloween for everybody.

In 2009, AAA reported that fifty-eight percent of all traffic fatalities in the U.S. that happened on Halloween night in 2008 involved a driver or motorcycle rider with a blood-alcohol content of .08 or higher, which is illegal in every state.

If you’re planning to drink, plan not to drive. Designate a sober driver in advance or, arrange to stay over night at the party is being held or at a sober friend’s place. If it comes down to it, use a taxi service to make it home or to a near by hotel.

If you’re not drinking and you see someone under the influence planning to get behind the wheel, offer to take them home. If you’re hosting a party keep an eye on your guests. Invite them to stay if they appear too impaired to drive.

In general, all drivers should obey the speed limit and be especially cautious in residential areas. Watch for children who may be walking along the side of the road or attempting to cross mid-block. If you can, try to avoid traveling through residential areas during trick-or-treat hours.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Looking For Some Family Fun This Weekend?

The weekend before Halloween is loaded with all types of events that support family fun, from church based gatherings to fun at Tippecanoe River State Park to haunted train rides/asylums/fairgrounds. Here's a list of fun events within a 30 minute drive from North Judson. You can find out more details about them on the library's web page.

Friday, 10/27 = 8 local events: 
  • 2 trunk or treats at Knox Churches (Bible Baptist & Nazarene)
  • Hamlet Haunted Fairgrounds
  • Wicked Woods in Winamac
  • Haunted Corn Maze in Knox
  • Hesston Ghost Train in LaPorte
  • Hayride & Bon Fire in Valparaiso
  • Trail of Scarecrows in Valparaiso

Saturday, 10/28 = 12 local events:
  • trunk or treat at Calvary Baptist Church Knox
  • 4th Annual Fall Fest at Heartland Christian Center in North Judson
  • Hamlet Haunted Fairgrounds
  • Haunted Corn Maze in Knox
  • Wicked Woods in Winamac
  • Tippecanoe River State Park Halloween Weekend 
  • Hesston Ghost Train at La Porte
  • Tales from the Darkside Concert in La Porte
  • Trail of Scarecrows in Valparaiso
  • Amhurst Asylum Haunted House in Valparaiso
  • Haunted Mini Golf at Zao Island in Valparaiso
  • Haunted Space Lab at Valparaiso University

Sunday, 10/29 = 6 local events:
  • Family Fun Fest at First Baptist Church Knox
  • Hamlet Haunted Fairgrounds
  • Kids Day at Amhurst Asylum Haunted House in Valparaiso
  • Amhurst Asylum Haunted House in Valparaiso
  • Haunted Mini Golf at Zao Island Valparaiso
  • Hesston Ghost Train in La Porte

Starke County Sheriff's Office is asking for your help!!

Please help us get "The People's Choice" award thru Indiana Department of Corrections for their Inaugural Garden.

On Facebook, go to Cultivating Community Partnerships with IDOC , scroll down to the People's Choice Award and vote for Starke County PLEASE Vote multiple times!!

Starke County F.A.R.M

In just our 2nd year the Starke County Justice Centers Garden yielded over 4951lbs of produce and close to 900lbs were donated to assisted living facilities and Starke County Council on Aging. The remainder was served in the Justice Center as a supplement to Offender Meals.

The F.A.R.M is an acronym for Fostering A Recovery Mentality. The FARM utilized the skills of many talented and hardworking Offenders and staff. Offender help was supplied by Starke County Inmates as well as DOC Therapeutic Community Offenders. In addition to the 2 gardens, 2 green houses were also constructed with Flowers being grown and distributed to nursing homes and businesses within Starke County free of charge.

The bulk of the produce, around 70% was used within the jail and served as part of their daily meals, the other 30% was donated to local food banks and nursing homes.

At this time of the year we are preparing the greenhouses for winter seedlings of vegetables and flowers to be planted sometime in late January. We can now use our greenhouses to their full capacity.

We will continue to donate to the organizations previously mentioned as well as using the bulk to serve to our inmate population.

This program has been a HUGE positive experience, not only for the offenders but for the staff as well, giving them an opportunity to interact at a different level in a different setting outside the walls of the Justice Center.

Sheriff Bill Dulin

Starke County Council Approves 2018 Budgets

Posted on October 27, 2017
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Council held the county’s 2018 budget and the 2018 Starke County Solid Waste budget adoptions in a special meeting Thursday night.

The Starke County Solid Waste budget totals $205,244 while the county’s 2018 budget totals $11,647,011 with a General Fund just over $7 million. The highway’s budget is just over $3.4 million. The Cumulative Bridge Fund was approved at just over $260,000.

There were four out of the seven county council members present for the vote which acknowledged a quorum and all budgets passed unanimously.

Starke County Council’s Concerns with Coroner Brought to County Commissioners

Posted on October 27, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Salary increases for the Starke County Coroner’s Office were again discussed during Monday’s county commissioners meeting. Coroner Dannie Hoffer has been looking for a raise for himself and possibly his deputies in next year’s budget. While the final decision would be up to the county council, council members weren’t ready to approve the raise until Hoffer worked out a few concerns with the commissioners.

One of them had to do with Hoffer’s response time. “I guess there was a question, it took me an hour to get to a call in Judson,” he explained. “Well, I’m sorry. When I leave Judson come to Knox to pick up the rig to go back to Judson, I don’t know how much faster I can make it.”

To solve the problem, council members reportedly suggested that Hoffer take the vehicle home with him. Commission President Donnie Binkley was agreeable to the idea. “I don’t have a problem with you having the vehicle, but I don’t want you out shopping and stuff in it,” Binkley said. “To go to your house don’t bother me. I don’t know if it does you two. I don’t know that we’ve ever even told you to keep it in the thing. We just don’t want you out gallivanting.”

But County Attorney Marty Lucas said there are a few issues to consider when it comes to taking the coroner’s vehicle home. “The only question on the car was the deal with the IRS rules on whether that’s going to have to be included as part of your compensation,” Lucas said. Now it wouldn’t seem to add up to very much.”

There were also concerns about Hoffer’s use of deputies. County officials have suggested that instead of using a deputy on every call, he should first see if there are other emergency responders on scene, who could help lift bodies.

Additionally, council members would like to see Hoffer outfitted with an 800 MHz radio, to communicate with Starke County dispatchers. But Commissioner Kathy Norem didn’t think it was the council’s place to make those requests. “I don’t want to, like, be rude or anything here, but really, whether or not he gets the 800 MHz radio is not their decision,” she said. “That’s the commissioners’ decision. Their decision is whether they’re going to pay for his deputies or not. They either pay for them or they don’t pay for them. They’re going to pay his salary or they don’t pay for him. They’re either going to pay for the radio or they’re not.”

Norem called for Hoffer, Binkley, and Council President Freddie Baker to meet privately to discuss the issues, rather than sending Hoffer back and forth between the council and commissioners.

Starke County Police Agencies to Participate in Operation Pull Over Campaign

Posted on October 27, 2017
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

All four police agencies in Starke County will participate in the upcoming Operation Pull Over Campaign.

Chad Dulin is the coordinator for the Starke County effort. He told the Knox Board of Public Works members Wednesday morning that Starke County is getting 100 hours from the St. Joseph County’s Sheriff’s Department’s enforcement effort to participate in the campaign. Dulin said the county hasn’t been a part of an Operation Pullover campaign for some time and this is a way to get back into the program.

Dulin said Starke County is on a probationary period and will be allowed to share 100 hours equally between the Knox City Police Department, North Judson Police Department, Hamlet Police Department and Starke County Sheriff’s Department. He noted that Starke County has to show improved statistics to have a stand alone enforcement effort with more hours in the following campaign.

Dulin asked the board to pay the officer’s hours for time worked during Operation Pull Over. The dates will be specific and three officers will work eight hours to fulfill nearly 25 hours of OPO for the Knox City Police Department. The city will be reimbursed with grant money received from the state through the St. Joseph County Sheriff’s Department grant. The upcoming enforcement is from Nov. 10 to Dec. 3.

Officer Dulin noted that if Starke County can get out of the probation time and secure enforcement time, the county will become eligible for federal grant money for equipment upgrades and needs.

The Knox Board of Public Works members unanimously approved the request to pay the officers involved in OPO time-and-a-half for hours worked. The total would be a little over $770.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Last Chance For Halloween Scares

This weekend is your last chance to visit some of the Halloween events in the area. While some of them will be active until October 31st many of them are only held on the weekends, so you'll want to check to see when the one you were planning to attend closes for the season.


Starke County Economic Development Foundation Hosts U.S. 30 Upgrade Committee Meeting

Posted on October 26, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The Starke County Economic Development Foundation hosted a meeting last night with various members of the Starke County community who would be impacted by the proposed U.S. 30 Freeway Project.

SCEDF Executive Director Charles Weaver began the meeting and introduced representatives from Appian , a consulting firm that is working with the foundation. President of the organization, Dennis Faulkenberg started by saying that though the project is still very far down the line, they wanted to hear some of the ideas that were circulating within the community.

Faulkenberg advised everyone present that it is imperative to collect data and come up with a concrete plan prior to approaching INDOT. He said that’s the best way to avoid being pressured into doing the most cost effective option at the expense of what is best for the community.

Starke County Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler stated that for the past two months, the highway department has been collecting various data in order to guide any decisions that are made in the future. They are measuring various things such as traffic counts, vehicle types, speeds and accident information. The department will continue collecting this data over a year period in order to accurately assess various trends.

Individuals provided their opinions about the most ideal locations for overpasses and interchanges. The main concerns stemmed from local farmers, small business owners and individuals who administer emergency services within the county.

For instance, representatives from fire departments in the county said there would need to be gates installed for emergency use only to ensure that response times wouldn’t be impacted due to the construction.

Some local farmers expressed concerns about the size of their equipment as well as the fact that farmers utilize different roads at various times of the year so specific data collected may be missing the whole picture and any plans developed from that could be limited.

Individuals speaking for various small businesses in Hamlet were worried that if the freeway is implemented in a particular area, it would cut off the town from incoming traffic since individuals would have to go out of their way in order to get there.

Executive Director Weaver announced that another meeting will be scheduled when Highway Superintendent Ritzler can provide some more findings from his department’s data collection. Weaver and the Appian representatives thanked the community members for coming out and providing their input.

Though ultimately no definite decisions were reached, the preliminary planning stages are off the ground. Last night’s meeting was the first step in coming up with a solid proposal to provide to INDOT for consideration.

To hear more details from Wednesday night’s meeting, tune into WKVI’s program Kankakee Valley Viewpoints this Sunday at noon.

Emergency Radio Problems Continue in Starke County

Posted on October 26, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Problems persist with Starke County’s emergency radio system. Several months ago, the Koontz Lake Volunteer Fire Department was having trouble communicating with dispatchers. On Monday, it was the Knox Volunteer Fire Department that was having problems, according to County Commissioner Donnie Binkley. “The Sheriff’s [Department] had trouble again with the radios,” he said during Monday’s commissioners meeting. “Today, they couldn’t get a hold of the fire department. The fire department couldn’t get a hold of dispatch. I think we need to look into these towers or have somebody do a check, maybe see if [IT Director] Mark [Gourley] can get a couple different people and have them check to see if we’ve got enough towers or something’s going on.”

The county hired J&K Communications several months ago to improve the system, but the commissioners weren’t satisfied with the results. That’s why Binkley says he wants to have a couple different companies evaluate Starke County’s signal strength. “J&K can even do a survey for us or something, if it’s the county lacking, we don’t have enough towers, then we need to fix it, or if it’s their problem. And if it’s their problem, that’s why I would kind of like if two people do it. I don’t know what it would cost us, or if Mark could check in and see what it would cost us.”

Gourley told the commissioners that solving the problem will depend on whether the issues can be traced to the county’s equipment, or the state’s. But he said that finding the root cause of the problem could be tricky, since the issues are intermittent and are often unnoticed until officials are in the middle of an emergency.

New Partnership Aims to Bring High-Speed Internet to All Hoosier Students

Posted on October 26, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Governor Eric Holcomb and Indiana State Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Jennifer McCormick have announced a partnership that aims to give all Hoosier students access to the tools and resources needed for digital learning with high-speed internet in every classroom.

The state is teaming up with Education Super Highway (ESH), the nation’s leading non-profit focused on upgrading internet access in every public school classroom in America, at no cost to tax payers. ESH will work with the Indiana Department of Education and local school districts to determine need, whether that’s fiber infrastructure, greater and more affordable bandwidth or Wi-Fi upgrades.

Nearly 38,500 Hoosier students currently don’t have the needed bandwidth required to take advantage of technology in the classroom. There are 30 Indiana schools that still need high-speed fiber connections, 88 percent of school districts are not meeting national benchmarks for affordable broadband and there is more than $47 million remaining in federal E-rate funding to improve Wi-Fi in Indiana Schools.

This partnership will help the state best utilize the $2 million allocated in the state budget to support school internet connectivity and leverage these funs to secure more FCC E-rate match dollars to connect schools to fiber at low or no cost to schools.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

North Judson Man Arrested on Arson Charge

Posted on October 25, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

A North Judson man is currently being held at the Starke County Jail on a preliminary charge of arson, a Level 4 felony, after he allegedly confessed to starting a fire at the old Craven’s factory back in September.

According to information disclosed by Starke County Sheriff Bill Dulin, on Monday, October 23rd detectives with the Starke County Sheriff’s Office were in the process of conducting interviews with possible suspect(s) about numerous burglaries within the county.

During questioning, 19-year-old Jacob Carter allegeldy confessed to starting a fire at a building in North Judson. Carter reportedly admitted to lighting a fire which led to a large pile of tires burning, according to the release.

North Judson Police and Fire Departments responded to the scene at 500 Sheridan Ave on September 14th. In a September comment, North Judson Fire Chief Joe Leszeck reported finding a pile of old tires on fire inside the building and said that the North Judson firefighters were on the scene for about 2 hours.

Carter was booked into Starke County Jail on Monday at 4:17 p.m. Sheriff Dulin added that any criminal charge is an initial charge and the defendant is innocent until proven guilty.

Starke County U.S. 30 Planning Committee to Hold First Meeting Tonight

Posted on October 25, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Potential upgrades to U.S. 30 will be discussed this evening by a group of local stakeholders. The Indiana Department of Transportation may consider upgrading the highway to freeway standards in the coming decade. Starke County has assembled a group of people who’d be impacted by the change, to come up with some recommendations for INDOT to consider.

That committee will meet for the first time today at 5:30 p.m. at the Starke County Economic Development Foundation office in Knox. The group is a mix of government officials, farmers, and business owners, including representatives from the Starke County Council and Commissioners, the Hamlet Town Council, and the Oregon-Davis School Board. Emergency responders from various agencies have also been invited to take part.

The committee’s goal will be to create a list of recommendations about the placement of overpasses and interchanges, among other issues. As a first step in the process, Starke County Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler has been doing traffic counts on all the cross streets. Even before tonight’s meeting, economic development officials have already been calling for interchanges at Hamlet and State Road 23. However, any final decisions would be up to INDOT.

LaPorte Construction Chosen to Replace Two Starke County Bridges

Posted on October 25, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The Starke County Commissioners have chosen a contractor to replace two of the county’s bridges, but not before some concerns were raised about the county’s responsible bidding ordinance. LaPorte Construction was selected Monday to replace a bridge on County Road 25 North over Eagle Creek for just over $325,000. The company will also replace the bridge on 800 South over Bogus Run for just under $297,000.

Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler explained that LaPorte Construction was not the lowest bidder, though. Another company offered to do the work for thousands of dollars less, but Ritzler said it didn’t provide enough proof that it takes part in apprenticeship and training programs, as required by the responsible bidding ordinance. “They basically said that they don’t have any employees eligible for it, and even though they have them available, it did not state that they were part of that program,” he explained. “And in an effort to make these things equal across the board, we felt that that did not adhere to the ordinance that was passed.”

But before the commissioners even made their decision, one of the bidders filed a protest, according to Commissioner Kathy Norem. “So either that says they have a lack of confidence in our ability to read the ordinance and apply it correctly, or they think we’re going to try to circumvent it after we passed it, which I don’t know why we’d do that,” she said. “I want that in the record because that really upset me, that that protest came before they even knew what we were going to do.”

County Attorney Marty Lucas noted that this was the first major public works project Starke County has undertaken since adopting its responsible bidder ordinance back in March. “There are a couple other things that I think, maybe, we need to improve on our end, a little bit, to give a little better instructions, one of those being ‘drug-free workplace,'” he said. “We’re going to work to make that a little more clear, what’s expected out of the bidders in that area, too. What we got was kind of boilerplate that says, ‘We do that,’ but I feel that we need to go beyond boilerplate that says, ‘We do that,’ to actual evidence that they are, in fact, doing it.”

Norem added that a lot of work went into the responsible bidder ordinance, and she didn’t want to give the impression that the commissioners chose a contractor based on the bid protest itself. The cost of the bridge replacement will be covered, in part, by Community Crossings grant money from the state.

Starke County Chamber of Commerce Announces Award Recipients

Posted on October 25, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Members of the Starke County Chamber of Commerce met earlier this week to officially decide the winners of Business of the Year, the Above and Beyond Award and the Henry F. Schricker “Service Before Self” Award.

Starke County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jessica Craig reported that the winner of Business of the Year is the North Judson-based company First Choice Insurance owned by Carrie Block.

The winner of this year’s Henry F. Schricker Award is Jim Kersting. Craig said that Kersting was a recipient of the Business of the Year award back in 2015 but he has been nominated for the Schricker award three years in a row. Henry F. Schricker Award Committee members, as well as past winners, decided to grant Kersting with the award this year for his continued service to the community.

The winner of the Above and Beyond award is Starke County A.B.A.T.E. This award can go to an individual, a business or an organization. This year the award when to the Starke County American Bikers Aimed Toward Education for their countless fundraising efforts and immersive community involvement.

The annual dinner to honor the award recipients will be held from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursday, November 2nd. This year, the Bass Lake restaurant Sporty’z Bar and Grill will be catering and the Portage-based business All About the Selfie will be on site, taking green screen photos as souvenirs for dinner guests.

In order be sure there is enough space and food, attendees are asked to RSVP by Friday, October 27th. To RSVP, contact Executive Director Jessica Craig by calling 574-772-5548. Tickets are $35 each and can be purchased before hand or the day of with cash or check but in order to pay in advance with a credit or debit card, visit the Henry F. Schricker Awards Dinner page on eventbrite.com.

Indiana WIC Program Launches Mobile App

Posted on October 25, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Those who receive WIC benefits have a new way to get program information, thanks to a new mobile app (Indiana WIC).

Officials with the Indiana Women, Infants, and Children program say the app helps users find the nearest grocery store or pharmacy that accepts benefits. Users can also check their food benefit balances and appointment information. The new app even lets WIC clients scan UPC codes while they’re shopping, to see if a product is WIC-approved.

Indiana WIC Director Eldon Whetstone says that when the app was first launched in a seven-county pilot area, it was downloaded more than 1,000 times in the first week.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

2017 Trick or Treat/Trunk or Treat Hours

Think we’ve finally filled in all the times for local Trick or Treating hours.  So if we missed a town you were looking for before, you might want to check back and see who was added.

We’ve added a few more Trunk or Treat days and times too.        

Starke Commissioners Form Committee to Research Allowing Off-Road Vehicles on County Roads

Posted on October 24, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The Starke County Commissioners are willing to explore the possibility of allowing certain off-road vehicles on county roads. After researching the issue, County Attorney Marty Lucas told the commissioners Monday that they have the authority to authorize their use, but there are some limitations. “The county can’t have a fee,” he said. “It can’t add any additional equipment. It can’t require a license for driving them, if a license isn’t required by state statute.”

But Lucas does think the county might be able to allow only certain types of off-road vehicles on county roads. While several different types of vehicles fall under the category, Starke County is most interested in allowing what state law calls “recreational off-highway vehicles.” These are commonly referred to as UTVs or side-by-sides, like Gator vehicles. While some of these might be similar to golf carts, Lucas explained that they’re regulated under a completely different system, according to Indiana law.

A big concern for the commissioners was how to ensure the vehicles are safe, if the county can’t require accessory equipment. Several utility vehicle owners in attendance Monday said that many safety features, like headlights and seat-belts, come standard on most UTVs, and they generally have to be registered through the Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

And while the county can’t require off-road vehicle users to have a license, it was noted that other counties have set an age minimum. Commissioner Kathy Norem said she’d like to look more closely at what other counties have done. “I’m not against having something like this,” she said, “but what I’d like to see is, just – I know other counties have them, so I’d like to see their ordinances and see how they compare with some of these things that we’ve discussed this evening.”

The board tasked Commissioner Charlie Chesak with forming a committee with County Attorney Lucas, Sheriff Bill Dulin, and possibly others, to research the issue further.

Unemployment Rates Down in Starke, Pulaski Counties, But Number of People Working Also Declines

Posted on October 24, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Unemployment rates are down in Starke and Pulaski counties, but so is the actual number of people working. According to the latest report from the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, Starke County had an unemployment rate of 4.3 percent in September.

That’s down from 4.6 percent the month before and 4.9 percent in September of 2016. Meanwhile, Pulaski County’s September unemployment rate was 3.5 percent, a drop of half a percentage point from both August of 2017 and September of 2016.

But both counties also experienced a drop in their labor force, and the actual number of people working has declined slightly. Marshall County had the lowest September unemployment rate in the local area at three percent. Indiana as a whole saw an unemployment rate of 3.6 percent last month.

This Saturday is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day

Posted on October 24, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

This Saturday, individuals have the opportunity to help prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous, expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs. The Indiana State Police and the Drug Enforcement Agency are holding the 14th Prescription Drug Take Back on Saturday October 28th from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

This service is free, anonymous and there are no questions asked. The initiative addresses the prevalent public safety and health issue of prescription drugs being obtained from family and friends in order to be abused or sold. In the past 13 drug take back events, the DEA and its partners have taken in over 8.1 million pounds of pills, which is more than 4,000 tons.

The program is unable to accept liquids, needles or sharps. They only accept prescription pills and patches. Follow this link to find the nearest drop-off spot in your area.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Starke County Commissioners to Discuss Allowing Utility Vehicles on County Roads

Posted on October 23, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Whether utility vehicles should be allowed on Starke County roads will be discussed during tonight’s county commissioners meeting.

Last year, the Pulaski County Commissioners adopted an ordinance allowing off-road vehicles to be driven on county roads for agricultural and governmental purposes. Meanwhile, the North Judson Town Council decided earlier this year to stop allowing utility vehicles to be registered as golf carts. At the time, town officials noted that while some Gator vehicles are very similar to golf carts, others allow for much higher speeds.

In other business tonight, Starke County Clerk Vicki Cooley will discuss voting equipment, while officials from the Starke County Economic Development Foundation will give the commissioners their monthly report. Tonight’s Starke County Commissioners meeting starts at 6:00 p.m. in Starke County Annex Building No. 1.

Red Ribbon Week Starts Today

Posted on October 23, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

According to National Family Partnership, children of parents who talk to their teens about drugs are 42 percent less likely to use drugs than those who don’t, yet only a quarter of teens report having these conversations. Today kicks off the start of Red Ribbon Week, a campaign that aims to educate youth about the dangers of drug, alcohol and tobacco use and to promote prevention.

From October 23rd through the 31st, educators, parents and citizens are encouraged to look at the ways they can help stomp out drug and alcohol abuse in our communities. Since it’s inception in the 1980s, the Red Ribbon program has helped educate millions around the world.

Thanks to financial donations from the local businesses, First National Bank of Monterey, Good Oil, Kersting’s, OTES Signs and Simon Speed Shop, officers from North Judson Police Department will be able to visit the NJSP Elementary School with some Red Ribbon Week themed supplies to give to students, including pencils, stickers and coloring pages.

North Judson Town Marshal, Kelly Fisher, said she feels it is important to participate in Red Ribbon Week to create a good connection between students and local law enforcement.

Check out the Red Ribbon Campaign website for ideas on how to get involved with the program that has been making a difference in communities all across the country for decades.

North Judson Town Council Receives Update About Community Center Committee Funds

Posted on October 21, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The North Judson Town Council held the final reading of their 2018 Budget when they met earlier this week. Following the reading, the council adopted the budget which has an estimated total of $983,546 according to Indiana Gateway.

Additionally, the clerk-treasurer at the time, Alicia Collins informed the council members where the $12,000 of funds raised by the Community Center Committee will go now that the project is no longer being pursued.

Collins said when the committee was being formed, she had to let the Starke County Community Foundation know where funds would go in the event that grants were not received. Back then, committee members agreed to allocate the money to the park if the committee did not get grant funding.

Since then, Community Center Committee members have met with the North Judson Park Board as well as individuals who donated significant funds and they decided to spend the money adding a cover to the stage at Norwayne Field.

Collins specified that about $5,862 will come out of the Community Center Committee’s fund, with the rest of the payment coming from the park beautification fund and the fun day at the park fund. She said to cover the rest of the cost, approximately $7,300 will come out of each of those funds and no money will need to come from the town. The remaining $6,138 in the Community Center Committee fund will be put toward maintenance of the stage cover.

Collins said the cover will be delivered in the next few weeks but since the winter season is coming, it will be stored in the town park garage until the spring when it can be installed. Collins and council members agreed that the stage cover will be a great addition to community events such as movies in the park and the Mint Festival.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Posted on October 21, 2017
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Domestic violence affects one in four women at some point her lifetime. Three women are killed every day at the hands of a current or former intimate partner.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  Pulaski County Prosecutor Dan Murphy and Chief Deputy Prosecutor Kelly Gaumer note that changes in economic circumstances or stress can have a devastating effect on relationships. Domestic violence can be emotional, financial, physical, or sexual.

Murphy said it’s important to recognize the signs of domestic violence and to consider what actions to take.

They urge anyone suffering from domestic violence to call 911 or the Indiana Coalition against Domestic Violence hotline at 1-800-332-7385.

North Judson-San Pierre School Board Receives Quarterly Enrollment Report

Posted on October 21, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The quarterly enrollment report for North Judson-San Pierre was discussed during the NJSP School Board meeting on Tuesday. Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin said the enrollment stayed pretty consistent with the Average Daily Membership count that was taken back in September, which was around 1,030 students.

Superintendent Zupin stated that she has been keeping a close eye on enrollment trends since last year. This year the elementary school had 46 student withdrawals. Dr. Zupin broke that down into specific categories; 1 student left to be home-schooled, another left for virtual schooling and 35 students moved out of the district.

The superintendent said the remaining 9 elementary students still live within the district but their parents chose to have them transferred. Dr. Zupin broke that down even more, stating that three transferred to Knox, two went to Eastern Pulaski Schools, two left to go to St. Peter’s Lutheran School and one more transferred to West Central.

She went on to describe the report from the Jr./Sr. High School where 41 students withdrew.

There were twenty-one students who moved out of the district, five that went on to be home-schooled, five who changed over to to virtual schooling and the remaining ten students transferred. Of those ten, one went to Kankakee Valley, one went to Knox, one went to West Central, three transferred to South Central and four left for Eastern Pulaski.

Dr. Zupin said she plans to keep watching the trends and wants to work with faculty on ways to keep students at NJSP. “Now if you look at the virtual schools, we need to continue to monitor that and work with our Jr./Sr High principal and counselors to see if we can offer an option for that because that’s the one where we see some sort of trend.” Dr. Zupin explained, “We’ll keep an eye on that virtual/online, is there a way to keep them here?”

The superintendent added that she also wants to look further into the reasons why people are choosing to transfer to other schools in order to work on specific areas that would help keep students enrolled at their school corporation.

Friday, October 20, 2017

11/2/2017 Learning Disabilities & ADHD Conference

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West Side of North Judson Proposed as Ideal Spot for Future Industrial Development

Posted on October 20, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Starke County Economic Development Foundation Board President Larry Wickert provided the North Judson Town Council with a report when they met earlier this week.

Wickert’s report began with an update about the SCEDF Ag-Initiative. He said as a part of the initiative to advance agriculture industry in the area, foundation representatives have been researching alternative crop options that would be more profitable for local producers.

SCEDF board members have been discussing the most advantageous area in North Judson for future developments. North Judson Town Council President Wendy Hoppe and former town councilman Tim Cummins both serve as members of the SCEDF board. Wickert said that after some discussion with them and other committee members, they came to the conclusion that the best place would be on the west side of town near where OTES Signs & Graphics is located.

He explained that since water and sewer utilities reach out to that area it would be the ideal vicinity for future industrial development within the Town of North Judson.

NJSP Superintendent Provides a Peek at Some Preliminary Work Being Done on Lease Rental Bond Projects

Posted on October 20, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

North Judson-San Pierre Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin had a plethora of project updates to provide to the school board when they met Tuesday night.

Dr. Zupin informed the board that although they won’t be receiving money from their lease rental bonds until January, plenty of preliminary work has been done so far. She stated that quotes are out for the bathroom partition replacement portion of the project and she anticipates that work to be completed over Christmas Break while students are out of the building.

The superintendent mentioned that on Monday, drilling was conducted on the school’s campus in three different areas to assess the best location for the proposed tennis court. She said those results will be back soon and then they can begin designing that plan.

Dr. Zupin said that the Elementary and Jr./Sr. High School principals have been speaking with representatives about the proposed security measure, “The architects have spoken with both Mrs. Berndt and Mr. Polite about how what secure entrance will look so they’re designing that plan right now.”

Zupin added that last week crews were looking at the roof, checking to see the extent of the damages and what kind of materials will be needed for those repairs. She also said that within the next week, they will have someone come in to check the ducts, to assess whether or not they need to be cleaned before they spend money on a cleaning crew.

Starke County Council Discusses Additional Appropriation for SCILL Center

Posted on October 20, 2017
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Council members discussed an additional appropriation request made Monday night by Starke County Economic Development Foundation Executive Director Charlie Weaver.

“It’s for $40,000 and that’s for the second half of the calendar year for the SCILL Center. It’s consistent with what’s been done in the past,” said Weaver.

The money helps keep the SCILL Center operations going at the facility located in the industrial park in Knox.

The funding request was before the Starke County Commissioners at their last meeting and discussed in several meetings before Monday’s meeting.

The council unanimously approved the request as presented.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Halloween is Creeping Closer!

And that means there are only two weekends left to:

  • plan that Halloween party
  • visit a Halloween maze
  • get the heck scared out of you 
  • admire some scarecrow art
  • take a ride on a Halloween Train
  • or find some other way to celebrate
So check out the list of mazes, haunted houses, pet fests, trips to a "haunted" zoo, a wicked woods, haunted mini golf, etc. that we've gathered for you at the North Judson-Wayne Township Library's web page. 

But don't worry, once Halloween is over we'll start working on our list of things to keep you busy over Thanksgiving and Christmas.  

New North Judson Clerk-Treasurer Scheduled to be Sworn-In Friday Morning

Posted on October 19, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Tomorrow morning at 7:30 a.m. Andrew J. Rowe will be sworn in as North Judson Clerk-Treasurer. Rowe was voted in during a democratic caucus last Thursday and a resolution to appoint him to the position received unanimous council approval at a North Judson Town Council meeting on Monday night.

The resolution also states that Rowe is granted the authority to be the signature of all bank accounts, accounts payable, accounts receivable and all other financial records required by the office of clerk-treasurer.

Though Rowe will be sworn-in by Alicia Collins during Friday’s ceremony, North Judson Council President Wendy Hoppe specified that his term does not officially begin until 12:01 a.m. on Monday, October 23rd. The resolution passed Monday states that his term will run from that Monday until Wednesday, January 1st of 2020.

Starke County Council Addresses Loss in Ambulance Transfers

Posted on October 19, 2017
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Starke County EMS is losing ambulance transfers to another ambulance service which has caused a reduction in revenue for the county.

EMS Director Travis Clary mentioned the issue to the commissioners earlier this month in his report to the board and the Starke County Council discussed it this week.

Council Vice President David Pearman said county officials met with Starke Hospital personnel recently and they said they would work with the county to assist the EMS service. The fact that a Porter Regional ambulance is at Starke Hospital is still bothering some county officials.

Pearman added that another reason for the change is that the EMS service is not equipped with particular breathing equipment.

“One of the things that had been discussed before was that they would help us fund and train us but also help us fund the piece of equipment,” said Pearman. It’s not super expensive but supposedly that’s why they’ve been sending so many. My point is our patient mix could not have changed that much in three months where all of a sudden we’re not qualified to do our own transfers. They’re saying we don’t have the required equipment and training.”

Starke Hospital Interim CEO Jeff Fites told WKVI News, “In a recent meeting with county commission and EMS officials, we discussed ambulance transfers from Starke Hospital. It’s important to note that transfers overall at the hospital have been down for the time period that the county indicated they’ve seen a decrease. Our number one priority at Starke Hospital is our patients, some of whom have a higher acuity than Starke County EMS can accommodate, and some of whom must travel farther than the Starke County EMS service area.

We will continue to work with various ambulance services in addition to Starke County EMS for transfers from Starke Hospital so our patients can receive the timely and medically-necessary transfer services they need. We intend to continue collaborating with Starke County EMS, including offering them additional training if they would like it. We value our relationship with Starke County EMS and feel confident we can work together to offer excellent ambulance transfer care to our communities.”

It is also bothering residents in Starke County who are waiting on transfer service as Starke County EMS is not being called to perform transfers as often. Residents reportedly often wait hours for the alternate service to complete the transfer request.

EMS Director Travis Clary reported to the commissioners on Oct. 2 that the percentage of transfers dropped from 35 or 25 percent to 10 percent last month.

2% Increase to Base Salary Included in North Judson-San Pierre Master Teacher Contract

Posted on October 19, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The North Judson-San Pierre Teacher’s Master Contract was ratified by the teacher’s association on Thursday of last week and received board approval during the NJSP school board meeting on Tuesday night.

Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin stated that the contract is a 2 year agreement which will be retroactive to the beginning of this school year. She shared that some of the highlights include that the beginning teacher base pay was raised to $35,000.

Dr. Zupin said that a two percent increase was applied to existing teacher salaries. She went on to thank the teachers, “They’ve been patient through our financial issues and they are here because they are loyal and committed to North Judson-San Pierre so they deserve what we were able to work together to accomplish.”

Zupin added that the extra curricular schedule was re-structured to reflect the school’s new set-up with the Jr./Sr. High School. For that reason, any language referring to the “middle school” was removed.

11/5/2017 FAFSA Workshops Planned for November, As Part of College Goal Sunday

Posted on October 19, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Those planning on attending college next fall can get an early start on the financial aid process. On Sunday, November 5, students and their parents can get some free help filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. As part of College Goal Sunday, volunteers around Indiana will be holding FAFSA workshops.

By filling out the free application, students may be eligible for state and federal grants, scholarships, and loans at most colleges and universities. To qualify for state aid, the form needs to be filed by April 15. However, event organizers say many people are worried that the process is complicated and time consuming.

During the free College Goal Sunday workshops, volunteers will be available to guide students and their parents through the process. Locally, FAFSA workshops will be held at Plymouth High School, Purdue University Northwest in Westville, and Ivy Tech Community College in Valparaiso. Families are asked to bring their completed 2016 tax returns and other income and benefits information. Students and parents are also encouraged to create U.S. Department of Education FSA IDs online before going.

All workshops start at 2:00 p.m. local time on Sunday, November 5. More College Goal Sunday events are planned for February. For more information about College Goal Sunday or for a complete list of locations, visit CollegeGoalSunday.org.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Looking For Family Friendly Events For The Holidays?

Families will be gathering for the Holidays over the next few months and there are at least 72 events taking place within 50 miles of North Judson between now and the end of the year.  So if you're looking for family friendly things to do, check out the Events & Festivals site provided by the State of Indiana. 


11/13/2017 Real Estate Taxes Are Due

North Judson Town Council Receives Updates About Water System Improvement Project

Posted on October 18, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The potential of a supplemental round of grant funding being offered through the Office of Community and Rural Affairs could provide more financial assistance for proposed projects in the Town of North Judson. Vince Sommers of Common Wealth Engineers came before the North Judson Town Council members to fill them in on the process so far and to alert them of the potential supplemental round of grant funding.

The town is pursuing SRF Drinking Water Funds for their water system improvement project. Sommers said that any time federal money is utilized an environmental impact report must be conducted. The State Revolving Fund reviewed the preliminary engineering report for the water system improvements and instructed the organization who helped secure the grant, Kankakee-Iroquois Regional Planning Commission (KIRPC), to advertise a finding of no significant impact.

Once the report is advertised, there will be a 30 day public comment period. If no significant public input is provided then the plan will receive approval. Sommers said the possibility have having the project approved soon would be advantageous for the supplemental round that OCRA may be offering at the end of the year.

“They have some additional money. They’re looking at a round beginning in December of this year.” Sommers explained, “We’ll have an approval of your plan, like I said probably in the next 35 to 45 days, which will fit very very nicely for KIRPC to pursue a half million dollar grant.”

He said OCRA just closed out their round two grants last week and added that proposals for the additional funds would be due in February of 2018.

North Judson-San Pierre 6th Grader Spreads Kindness with Her Award Winning Design

Posted on October 18, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

A North Judson-San Pierre middle school student was chosen as a finalist in a nation-wide charitable design contest. At last night’s NJSP School Board meeting, sixth grade teacher JoAnn Gappa and her student Hailey Wright spoke to board members about the Wonder Kind Project.

Mrs. Gappa told board members that her students have recently been reading and working with the book Wonder by R.J. Palacio. One activity she provided to her students was to create a visual representation of kindness and inclusion for a design challenge. GAP Kids started the Choose Kind Challenge inspired by the book, which centers around a child with a Craniofacial condition.

Wright explained the challenge to the members of the board saying, “We all had to design a t-shirt and bunch of other teachers around the world did it and they only picked 8 finalists.” She said her inspiration for her design was to show how we are all different but still “fit in”

Mrs. Gappa explained that 100 percent of the proceeds gathered from the student-designed shirts will be donated to charities that work to educate, empower and transform the lives of children and families living with Craniofacial differences.

As an added bonus, Wright also won a GAP gift card, shirts for her class and a pre-showing for her and her classmates of the upcoming movie inspired by the book. Mrs. Gappa said if all goes according to plan, they’ll also be able to face-time with some of the actors from the movie for a Q&A prior to the screening.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Happy 25th Anniversary, CADA!

Fall Leaf Pick Up in North Judson

North Judson Town Council Holds First Reading Over Animal Ordinance

Posted on October 17, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

An ordinance which has resulted in quite a bit of public attention as well as council consideration received its first reading during last night’s North Judson Town Council meeting. The ordinance regulating the housing and maintenance of animals in the Town of North Judson received unanimous council approval on first reading.

The ordinance is divided into three sections. Section one provides definitions of animals such as cats, dogs, chickens, pot-bellied pigs, rabbits and swine as well as other poultry and domestic animals. It also provides the definitions of phrases such as at large, dangerous animal, feral, free-roaming, harboring, impound and housing.

Section two of the ordinance deals with the regulation of animals. This includes general care as well as registration. The ordinance specifies that individuals must annually register their animals at the Clerk-Treasurer’s Office on or prior to February 15th of the current year.

There are specific subsections pertaining to the requirements associated with chickens, horses and ponies, cats and dogs, rabbits and swine. It specifies that any animals not listed in Section 2 of the ordinance cannot be housed within corporate Town limits. It also says that housing and setbacks are required to conform to the acceptable standards listed in the specific subsection for that animal and must be set a minimum of fifty feet from any property line.

The third section deals with penalties and prohibitions. Section three is divided into subsections dealing with confinement, running-at-large, non-immunized animals, capture and removal and bodily injury caused by an animal.

It goes on to list the penalties which include a first violation fee of $50 and the violator would be given 10 days to correct the violation and a second violation fee of $100 with 5 days allotted for the violation to be corrected. Any violation can result in the potential impoundment of the animal(s) in question. The Town’s code enforcement officer would be in charge of determining whether a violation has occurred but the NJ Police Department and Starke County Humane Society would deal with capture and impoundment respectively.

The final subsection of the ordinance declares that if any part of the ordinance is for any reason determined to be illegal, invalid or unconstitutional by any court of competent jurisdiction, such portion shall be deemed an independent provision and will not affect the validity of the remainder of the ordinance.

This is just a general synopsis of the proposed ordinance which will receive a second reading in the near future. In order to receive a full copy of the ordinance, contact the Clerk-Treasurer’s Office at 310 Lane Street by calling 574-896-3340.

Starke County Council Holds Budget Hearings

Posted on October 17, 2017
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Council members opened public hearings for the 2018 county budgets and the Solid Waste District with no public comment Monday night. The budget presented by the council totals $11,647,011. The General Fund is listed on Indiana Gateway as $7,022,851.

The 2018 Starke County Airport Budget was adopted with a total of $302,659. Phase one of a runway extension project is included for next year. Starke County Economic Development Foundation Director Charlie Weaver explained that the entire project was not fully funded by the FAA so only a portion will be completed with plans to gather grant funding for phase two.

The county council members tabled a request from Coroner Dannie Hoffer for an increase in his pay from $7,500 to $9,000 in the 2018 budget. The council members would like more details on surrounding county wages, death calls, assessed valuation, and a possible job description and position policy manual.

The council members would also prefer that Hoffer use an 800 mhz radio to be called to a scene. There is also a question about his ability to take the vehicle home that is used when responding to calls.

The council will discuss the issue further when they meet in a special session on Thursday, Oct. 26 at 5:30 p.m. in the meeting room in the Starke County Annex Building No. 1 in Knox.

North Judson-San Pierre School Board Meets Tonight

Posted on October 17, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The North Judson San-Pierre School Board will meet tonight at 7 p.m. in the school corporation’s administrative office.

Items up for discussion and action include a donation from Farm Bureau, the approval of certified handbook modifications and amendments to the non-certified handbook. The approval of the teachers’ master contract and approval of advertising the tax anticipation warrant are also on the agenda for tonight.

Board members will also receive some information about the Wonder Kind Project when they meet this evening.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Watch Out For This New Amazon Phishing/Phone Password Scam

Watch Out For This New Amazon Phishing/Phone Password Scam

Are You Interested in Becoming a Child Care Provider?

Northern Wood Products Offers $8,500 for Starke County Forest Timber

Posted on October 14, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The Starke County Forest will make $8,500 with its timber sale. Northern Wood Products of Walkerton submitted the only bid. It was formally accepted Tuesday by the Starke County Park Board, at the recommendation of Forester Bruce Wakeland.

The Starke County Forest is designed to be a self-sufficient park facility, with timber sales being the main funding source.

Two Local Communities Receive Grant Funds for Projects

Posted on October 16, 2017
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch and the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs recently announced $15 million in Community Development Block Grants.

Thirty-one rural communities received funds in an effort to ensure health and safety, and to improve the quality of life of citizens.

Starke County was the recipient of a $500,000 Public Facilities Program Grant. The county will use the grant funds to replace the elevator at the Starke County Courthouse. The project will help the county meet requirements put forth by the Americans with Disabilities Act. The new elevator will assist all residents in utilizing the offices on all levels of the courthouse.

The Town of Winamac is the recipient of a $500,000 Stormwater Improvement Program Grant for stormwater improvements to include new inlets and sewers, rehabilitation of existing storm sewers and installation of new drywells.

Starke County Council to Meet Tonight

Posted on October 16, 2017
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Council will meet tonight where public hearings are scheduled for the 2018 county budget as well as the 2018 budget for the Starke County Solid Waste District. The council is also expected to adopt the 2018 budget for the Starke County Airport.

The council held public hearings on these items in a prior meeting, but the hearings could not be counted as legal as a proper quorum was not in place. Three council members were physically in attendance while another was present via teleconference which didn’t count as a legal meeting.

A transfer and appropriation request is also on tonight’s agenda. A monthly report from the Starke County Economic Development Foundation is anticipated and Starke County Coroner Dannie Hoffer will discuss a request for pay increases in next year’s budget.

The Starke County Council will meet at 5:30 p.m. CT in the meeting room in Starke County Annex Building No. 1 in Knox.

Community Members Encouraged to Attend Tomorrow’s Starke County Health Fair

Posted on October 16, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Starke Hospital will be holding their annual health fair tomorrow in the Knox Middle School gymnasium. WKVI will be broadcasting live from this free community event which will feature a number of interactive health exhibits, health screenings, healthy snack samples and more.

From 3 p.m. until 7 p.m. a number community vendors will be on site. “Ask a provider” is a feature of the fair where health care professionals from Knox and North Judson will be present to answer various questions.

There also will be CPR and self-defense demonstrations. Free flu-shots for adults will be available while supplies last. They will even hold some for individuals who won’t be able to attend until after 5 p.m.

For more information, visit starkehealth.com or call 574-772-6231.

10/16/2017 North Judson Town Council Meets Tonight

Posted on October 16, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The North Judson Town Council is scheduled to hold the adoption of the 2018 budget this evening. During the last town council meeting, members held the public hearing and first reading over the proposed budget which contains an estimated total of approximately $983,500.

Council members will also revisit old business such as the proposed animal ordinance and receive updates from the Town Marshal and Town Superintendent as well as other present department heads.

The North Judson meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. tonight in North Judson Town Hall located at 310 Lane Street.

Friday, October 13, 2017

North Judson Native Andrew Rowe Appointed to Clerk-Treasurer Position

Posted on October 13, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The caucus to determine the new North Judson Clerk-Treasurer took place Thursday evening. Democrat Chairman Kenny Wallace announced that one individual had submitted a letter of interest by the Tuesday deadline. Wallace then introduced the candidate, Andrew Rowe, who provided a bit of background information about himself and why he was interested in filling the open position.

Rowe was born and raised in North Judson. He has experience working with government representatives and economic development officials. He said after speaking with an individual about the importance of generational integrity and hometown pride he felt inspired to return to his roots and work to make the town of North Judson a better place to live, work and raise a family.

He said aside from working specifically with the Town of North Judson, he mentioned wanting to be involved with the Democratic Party at the local level.

Three representatives from precincts within North Judson voted at the caucus. Jackie Bridegroom and Paula Eckert are the presidents for their precincts and Vice President Pam Stalbaum was filling in for President Isaiah Collins who was unable to attend. He submitted a notification of his absence to Chairman Wallace 72 hours prior to the caucus in order to allow the VP to stand in.

A secret ballot was taken and there was a unanimous vote to name Andrew Rowe as the new North Judson Clerk-Treasurer. Chairman Wallace thanked Alicia Collins for her service to the community and wished her the best of luck at her next position. Following the announcement, Rowe had his mind set on what comes next,

“I’m just looking forward to getting acquainted with the job, the position, what it entails and getting to know the council members who I don’t know very well. There’s a couple people on the council who I haven’t had a lot of experience with, and seeing how we can work together into the future.”

Alicia Collins will be working with the appointee who will begin training soon and said she will be available to help him if any questions arise further down the line.

Her advice included that communication is key when it comes to working with the town council and told him to be prepared for a variety of responsibilities. She said that since North Judson doesn’t have a mayor, the clerk-treasurer is sometimes the first point of contact when citizens have concerns.

Rowe will be attending the next North Judson Town Council meeting on October 16th to shadow Collins during her final meeting.

Bass Lake Beach Operator Considers Giving Part of Beach Back to County, As Lease Renewal Proceeds

Posted on October 13, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The Bass Lake Beach and Campground will continue to be operated by Callahan Development, LLC for another 10 years, but the company may be willing to turn some of the property back over to Starke County. The county owns the facility, but has leased it to Callahan since 2008. Now, Callahan has given the county written notice that it will exercise its option to renew the lease through April of 2028.

Callahan’s attorney Todd Wallsmith discussed the process with the Starke County Park Board Tuesday. “The lease is effectively renewed at this point,” he explained. “We’ve given notice of our intent to renew the lease. There is not an option in the lease for another renewal after the 10 years. There is not a rewriting of the lease or anything else. The only issue that remains in the lease to be resolved is how much the county intends to raise the rental.”

But Wallsmith said Callahan is open to the idea of giving the beach itself back to the county, while the company would continue to run the more profitable campground and pier slots. “The reality is the expenses of maintaining a beach, perhaps the way some people want to see it and certainly in light of some of the things that the DNR had recommended with the stone being put down, et cetera, it’s cost prohibitive. It’s not something that any business would be able to do. It’s more akin to something that a government would do. A government would have to seek grants for it, in order to really effectuate that.”

Wallsmith and County Attorney Marty Lucas said there are a lot of issues that would need to be worked out. But Lucas said if that could be done, there would be many potential benefits, like grant funding and increased public involvement. “I just think you’re going to find the public is going to be more interested in volunteer activities if the beach was being operated publicly,” Lucas said.

Still, a group of local residents wants both parties to work together to clarify some of the terms of the lease. Park Board President Debbie Mix has suggested forming a work group to help set some future goals.

Starke County Community Foundation Announces Lilly Endowment Scholarship Finalists

Posted on October 13, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Nearly 30 students applied for the 2018 Starke County Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship and recently, the Starke County Community Foundation announced the five students who were chosen as finalists.

Seniors from Knox High Community School, Culver Community High School and North Judson-San Pierre High School are in the running to receive the scholarship.

The student chosen from Culver was Cody Rieckhoff who plans to study criminal justice. The North Judson-San Pierre finalist is Ashley Rearden who wants to go into business management. Three finalists are from Knox Community High School and they are Elizabeth McEntee, who plans to study neuro-biology, Cassandra Waletzko, who is considering concentrations in biology and forensic science and Daniel Darda who plans to study animation.

The finalists will be interviewed and the recipient of the scholarship will be announced at a later date. The winner will have 8 semesters paid for by the Lilly Endowment and they can choose from any public or private Indiana institution. The recipient also receives a book stipend of approximately $900.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Hamlet Interchange Recommended, As U.S. 30 Improvement Discussions Begin

Posted on October 12, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

As Starke County prepares to put together its wish list for the proposed upgrade of U.S. 30, one of the things it’ll be pushing for is an interchange at Hamlet. That’s what Starke County Economic Development Foundation Executive Director Charlie Weaver told the Hamlet Town Council Wednesday.

He explained that installing an interchange at Starke Street would be difficult, due to the amount of land that would need to be acquired, but there are other options. “Take an example, where Old 30 meets New 30 east of Hamlet. That might be an opportunity,” he said. “It’s an easy route to the town, plus the schools. So I mean those are things are a long ways out, but the whole idea is, even among ourselves we said, ‘You’ve got to respect Hamlet. You can’t limit it to 35.'” They’re also hoping for an interchange at State Road 23.

A committee of local stakeholders will meet for the first time on October 25. Its goal will be to come up with recommendations for the Indiana Department of Transportation to consider, if and when they decide to upgrade U.S. 30 to freeway standards. Weaver said the members were chosen by the Starke County Commissioners. “We have the gentleman that owns Gun Town. He’s on there. I think we have the fire chiefs from Hamlet and Koontz Lake. We have several farmers that farm on both sides, so we can get their reaction to what’s going on. We have the hospital. We have emergency management. We have a county commissioner, county council, a representative from Knox City Council.”

The Hamlet Town Council’s representative is Brian Earnest. He said he plans to work with the town’s fire department to come up with a list of the routes it uses to respond to different locations. “I know with talking to some of the state people that that’s one of the things, like emergency time is one of the big arguments you want to use,” Earnest said.

Meanwhile, Weaver said that Starke County Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler is doing traffic counts on all the cross streets. “He’s going to be doing it monthly because you’re going to see different traffic counts whether it’s harvest season, whether Hensler’s are having tree sales and that sort of stuff,” he explained. “So we need to have all that data.”

Starke County is a member of the U.S. 30 Coalition, which is advocating for the upgrade of U.S. 30 to freeway standards between Valparaiso and Fort Wayne. The Hamlet Town Council decided Wednesday to move its October 25 meeting to 7:00 p.m., to allow Earnest to attend the committee meeting.

Knox Community Schools Partner With Cheryl Lyn Welter Family Charitable Foundation

Posted on October 12, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Harold Welter approached the Knox School Board Tuesday night to discuss how the charitable foundation that was created in memory of his daughter could be a helpful resource to the school corporation. The Cheryl Lyn Welter Family Charitable Foundation was formed in order to assist underprivileged students in grades K-12 with expenses that are beyond what their families are able to afford.

Knox School Board members permitted the principals at each of the buildings to work with the Cheryl Lyn Foundation to process grants that would be provided to disadvantaged students at the elementary, middle and high schools.

Knox was just the first school board that Welter approached. He made plans to speak to the Eastern Pulaski School board in November and is meeting with the superintendent at North Judson-San Pierre later this week to arrange to be put on the agenda for their next board meeting.

Over the next 6-8 weeks Welter wants to reach all 9 schools in the Kankakee Valley area. He is hoping that by early 2018, grants from the foundation can start being awarded to students in need.

The foundation wants to reach their endowment goal by Cheryl’s birthday on November 5th. For more information about the foundation or to donate to this one-of-a-kind cause, visit the Cheryl Lyn Welter Family Charitable Foundation website or their Facebook page.

Starke County Park Board May Consider Taking Ownership of Koontz Lake Lions Club Park

Posted on October 12, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Koontz Lake Lions Club Memorial Park could soon be under county ownership. The Lions Club bought the site in the 1970s and has been running it as a park ever since. But with declining membership, club member Van Janovic approached the Starke County Park Board Tuesday to discuss the possibility of gradually handing the park over to the county. “There’s going to come a time when we’re going to have difficulties in keeping this park and maintaining it,” he said. “So the say we’re approaching you now is just in a discussion mode, as to wonder if this board would be interested in the future – that may be years from now – to begin to take over ownership.”

Meanwhile, the Lions Club plans to keep maintaining the park, for as long as it can. Starke County does not currently have a budget for park maintenance.

One big benefit of giving the park to the county is that it would relieve the Lions Club of having to pay for the park’s insurance. Starke County Attorney Marty Lucas said a cooperative agreement could be a win-win for both groups. “Based on what I’ve seen, if the county was the insurer, and almost like you had the Lions continue to be like the Friends of the Park there or whatever and continue to do the maintenance, that could be a huge savings possibly,” he said. “So I think that would be a great place to start, to look at, just simply, what kind of arrangement would allow your organization to be relieved of that insurance. Then, when you had some money, you could put it into upgrades or maintenance, instead.” Lucas expects that it what it would cost for the county to add the park to its insurance would be less than what the Lions Club is currently paying.

Koontz Lake Lions Club Memorial Park contains a playground, shelter, basketball court, and lighted baseball field. Janovic said it’s the only park of its kind in Oregon Township. “It’s been there a long time. It’s popular within the community. And we continue to make improvements on it and keep it up, and we think it’s a real asset to the community there. And we enjoy that part of our public service, as Lions.”

While the park board was not asked to make any decisions Tuesday, discussions are expected to continue.

NIPSCO Projects Winter Heating Costs to Stay Close to Last Year’s Levels

Posted on October 12, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

NIPSCO’s home heating bills are expected to stay about the same as they were last year. Projections released by the company Wednesday say an average residential customer can expect to pay about $390 on gas bills between November 1 and March 31. That’s just three dollars more than last year. NIPSCO says the projections are based on current market forecasts and assume normal winter weather.

But don’t get too used to those prices. NIPSCO is seeking permission to begin phasing in a rate hike in mid-2018. The company says it’s been more than 25 since it last raised its natural gas base rates.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Indiana Legacy Databases Aid in Genealogical Research

The Indiana State Library recently launched Indiana Legacy, which combines many of the library's most popular online indexes into a database containing over four million entries covering vital records, newspapers, marriage indexes and more. This database is free to use and may be accessed from any computer.

The database incorporates existing Indiana State Library databases with the Vital INformation Exchange (VINE), a collaborative statewide database composed of Indiana local history and vital records from Indiana libraries, historical societies, genealogy societies and related organizations.


10/17/2017 Friends of the NJ-WT Library Meeting

NJSP Memorial Monument

CORRECTION: The phone number should be 574-772-3665.

Moving Starke County Forward/North Judson Erie Trail

Caucus to Replace NJ Clerk-Treasurer Scheduled for Tomorrow

Posted on October 11, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

A caucus to find a replacement for the clerk-treasurer position in North Judson is scheduled for this Thursday. The current clerk-treasurer, Alicia Collins, announced her resignation during the first North Judson Town Council meeting in October.

Alicia Collin’s last North Judson Town Council meeting will be October 16th and her final day at the office is October 20th. She told council members she will make her self available for training during the transition period.

In order to be eligible for the position, candidates had to vote Democrat in the last primary election and submit a letter of interest to the Democratic chairman 72 hours prior to the scheduled caucus.

Tuesday afternoon, Starke County Democrat Chairman Kenny Wallace said that only one person had submitted the required letter of interest at that time. However, since yesterday was the last day for submissions, he was expecting more to come through.

The caucus will take place at 6:30 p.m. tomorrow night at the VFW in Knox.

Bass Lake Beach Operator Agrees to Concrete Repairs, Asks County to Install Glacial Stone

Posted on October 11, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The operators of the Bass Lake Beach have agreed to make some repairs to the property’s seawall, but they’re asking for the county’s help with some related work. The Starke County Park Board has asked the operator of the facility, Callahan Development, LLC, to stabilize the seawall surrounding the beach house patio.

It needs to be refilled with sand to protect the facility from a potential collapse, according to a group of local residents and park board members who’ve been researching the site. The Indiana Department of Natural Resources has also suggested installing glacial stone around the seawall, to protect it from incoming waves and also help prevent sand erosion.

The park board previously suggested the work should be considered maintenance, making it Callahan’s responsibility to pay for it. Callahan’s attorney Todd Wallsmith responded to that request Tuesday. “The repair of the damage to the concrete surrounding the beach house, we agree would fall under the category of maintenance, and I understand they’re taking steps to address that now,” he told the park board. “The issue concerning the glacial rock, which would need to be put in, we would suggest is probably not part of maintenance but is rather a capital improvement.”

But he acknowledged that it doesn’t make sense to repair the concrete without installing the glacial stone to help control future erosion. For that, they’re asking for some help from the county. “I believe that the county has sources for stone, and certainly being a tax-exempt organization, will be able to get the stone at a much lower rate,” Wallsmith said. “They could probably do the labor at a lower rate.”

What exactly counts as maintenance and what is a capital improvement has been an ongoing debate between Callahan and county officials. But Starke County Attorney Marty Lucas said the arrangement seemed reasonable. “I mean, I think their position makes sense, in the sense that obviously, the stone wasn’t there when they acquired the place,” he said. “So they would be maintaining what they had, and the county would pick up – but obviously I can’t make a commitment on that. We don’t know what it would cost. It might not be that much, actually, for the county to do it. I’m hopeful that it might be under $2,000, actually for the county to do it, that portion of it.”

Wallsmith added that Callahan’s goal is to work together with the county. “It would be an opportunity for Callahan properties to engage in something with the county, where we aren’t at odds with each other and do something together on this,” Wallsmith said.

The park board voted to have Starke County Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler determine the costs and feasibility of installing the glacial stone. The proposal will then go to the county commissioners for funding consideration.

Starke County Inmates Graduate from Nurturing Fathers Program

Posted on October 11, 2017
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Fourteen students in the Nurturing Fathers program formally graduated yesterday. They attended the program while incarcerated in the Starke County Jail.

The program was facilitated by Jerome Kelly of Family Focus, Inc. out of Valparaiso who said that he gives the attendees the understanding of how to change behavior.

“They’re learning how to communicate better to their children,” said Kelly. “They’re trying to have a better understanding with their children and to be able to know that they’re still the parent and they’re still in control. There shouldn’t be any argument of moments. I’m not saying that they will never yell or argue. But if you’re in control of things, especially yourself, then where is there room to argue?”

He mentioned that he does not have all of the answers to each individual problem that arises, but he can relay the tools to those attending the class to make the right decisions in the moment.

“You have to make up your mind and make good, healthy decisions for yourself first which will then domino effect down to your children.”

Starke County Sheriff Bill Dulin applauds the benefits of the program.

“I think it’s a huge asset for what we do here as far as trying to rehabilitate the inmates that will re-enter society and be a productive citizen,” said Sheriff Dulin.

The Nurturing Father course is approximately 12 weeks long. The program graduated seven men in the same program in April.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Community Mourns the Loss of Retired Starke Circuit Court Judge

Community Mourns the Loss of Retired Starke Circuit Court Judge

Marvin McLaughlin Passing the Indiana Bicentennial Torch in 2016
This week, the Starke County community learned of the passing of long-time Starke Circuit Court Judge Marvin D. McLaughlin. Though he was retired at the time of his death, community members remember his years of service to the county. The 87-year-old North Judson resident was at Pulaski Memorial Hospital when he passed away on Saturday, October 7th.
Marvin McLaughlin attended Butler University and obtained his law degree from Indianapolis University. In 1957, he moved to North Judson to start a law practice. He served as Starke County Prosecutor for four years. McLaughlin went on to serve as a Starke Circuit Court Judge for nearly three decades, from 1963 until his retirement in 1992. 
He was also a former member of the Starke County Council. Judge McLaughlin was a well respected and admired member of the community, being nominated and chosen as the recipient of the 2010 Henry F. Schricker “Service before Self” Award and serving as a one of the notable community members in the Indiana Bicentennial Torch Relay last year.
Details regarding a celebration of life service for Judge McLaughlin are pending at this time. Memorial contributions in his honor can be made to the McLaughlin-Leonard Family Community Fund or the North Judson United Methodist Church Building and Maintenance Fund through the Northern Indiana Community Foundation.