Christmas

Christmas

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

3/2, 3, & 4/2018 Wizard of Oz


Starke County Election Board to Set Early Voting Hours, Set Up Ballots for May Primary

Posted on February 28, 2018
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Plans are coming together for May’s primary election. The Starke County Election Board is scheduled to set up the ballots during this morning’s meeting. Hours for early voting at the Starke County Courthouse will also be considered.

Additionally, board members will discuss training for the absentee and traveling boards, as well as proxies for the absentee, traveling, and election boards. This morning’s Starke County Election Board meeting starts at 9:30 in the second floor meeting room in the Starke County Courthouse.

Starke County Park Board Seeks Larger Compensation Offer for Bass Lake Beach Gate House Damage

Posted on February 28, 2018
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The replacement of the Bass Lake Beach gate house may require some more negotiation. The structure was seriously damaged when a pickup truck reportedly crashed into it back in November.

Starke County Park Board President Roger Chaffins says he wants a better offer from the truck owner’s insurance provider. “I’m not too happy with it,” he said. “Basically, they’re just wanting to pay us for the damages to that building after they subtract the rot and the basic wear and tear on the building from years of being there. And they’ve come up with a figure of $2,538.71 to fix that.”

During Tuesday’s park board meeting, Chaffins said the insurance company was ready to give the county a check, but he didn’t want to accept it until County Attorney Marty Lucas could get involved. “My plan is to ask Marty, if you would talk to this guy and see what’s going on with it because I would probably give a few choice cuss words to him, okay? But I haven’t talked to him since February 12 because he just upset me with what he’s got.”

Further complicating matters is the fact that Starke County’s building inspector has found the structure to be unsafe. “Terry Stephenson went out to look at it,” Chaffins explained, “and I’ve got a letter from him and it needs to come down and a new one needs to replace it, is what he stated.”

An estimate from a construction company put the cost of rebuilding the gate house at $15,000.

There have also been questions about whether it could be rebuilt in its current location or if it would have to be moved farther back from State Road 10. Chaffins said he hadn’t gotten a clear answer from INDOT, as of Tuesday’s meeting.

Potential Funding Available for Repairing Flood Damaged Roads in Starke County

Posted on February 28, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Several roads around Starke County have spent many days underwater due to the recent floods. This extended exposure to saturation will most likely result in many sections of roadway needing previously unplanned repairs.

On Sunday, Starke County Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler took county and state officials on a tour of the area to highlight some of the spots that were hit the hardest by flood waters.

He explained that once the waters recede enough, crews will be conducting thorough assessments around the county to see where work will need to be done.

“When this goes down, we have to reassess the roads, do our PASER ratings on the roads, check the bridges again so we’ll be busy doing that and we’re probably going to have to readjust our asset management plan a little bit.”

Ritzler said that after they are done assessing they will move onto repairs. He said fortunately, there is money available to the Highway Department to help with these flood-response efforts.

“We were lucky, the Community Crossings Grant money we got this last year are bridges that we have already done, we can kind of use it for anything we want really,” Rizler explained, “it will be very helpful to us. We paid for those bridges ahead of time and got reimbursed for it and now we kind of just have that money that we might need to use for something here.”

Starke County Highway Department crews have been out already and will continue to assess road conditions over the next few weeks. If you come across any major problems with County roadways or bridges, notify the Highway Department at 574-772-3011.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Starke County Surveyor Warns Residents to Be Aware of Potential Scams

Posted on February 27, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Starke County Surveyor Bill Crase is warning residents to be aware of potential scammers looking to take advantage of people during flood recovery.

Last Friday, the surveyor’s office received a call from an individual reporting that two men in a U-Haul truck drove up to his residence and told him they were from the county surveyor’s office.

They reportedly said they were replacing a culvert nearby and told the resident he needed to write them a check since it was on his property. Fortunately, the individual called the surveyor’s office and was alerted that surveyor crews will never come and demand money from you for any reason.

If you ever come across a suspicious situation such as this, feel free to contact the Starke County Surveyor’s Office with any questions at 574-772-9135 or report the incident to local authorities.

Emergency Management Officials Coordinate Response Efforts For Residents Affected by the Floods

Posted on February 27, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

As the flood waters start receding, emergency management officials are beginning to plan out ways to assist those most severely impacted by the recent floods.

The Salvation Army recently delivered a few clean-up kits to emergency management officials in both Starke and Pulaski County. Starke County EMA Director J. Nier and Pulaski County EMA Director Sheri Gaillard said they will be handing those out to the citizens who need them in the near future.

They also said they’ll be conducting more thorough damage assessments once the water recedes more. However, residents are still reminded to fill out damage assessment reports through the Indiana Department of Homeland Security to assist with relief efforts. Director Gaillard said none have been received so far from Pulaski County residents.

EMA Director Gaillard added that since she initially didn’t receive any requests for an emergency shelter, one was not established in Pulaski County. However, when a couple calls came in about a few individuals being displaced, she said she directed them to the Red Cross shelters in Knox and Plymouth.

The Plymouth site has since been closed but Red Cross Volunteers report that the emergency shelter at Knox Middle School remains open. They said there will be a notice given at least 24-hours prior to shutting down. All cots and supplies have been moved to one gymnasium in order to allow other school functions to resume.

Lead Disaster Action Team Member Sherry Fagner was in Red Cross Headquarters in South Bend yesterday, working with the Mass Care Feeding League. She said that Emergency Response Vehicles will be out in multiple counties, including Starke and Pulaski, handing out food and additional clean-up kits later this week.

She added that if individuals feel there are certain things that are currently being overlooked, contact the Red Cross and they will coordinate with local officials in order to see that those needs are met. The number to call is 1 888 684 1441.

Additionally, individuals can always call their local Emergency Management Agency for more information about how to receive assistance within the county.

Pulaski County EMA: 574-946-6391

Starke County EMA: 574- 772-9182

Monday, February 26, 2018

Flood or Disaster Sanitation Information

A quick guide by the Indiana State Department of Health to frequently asked questions and concerns after a flood or other disaster.









Residents Urged to Disinfect Flood-Impacted Wells

Posted on February 26, 2018
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Those using wells are urged to take a few steps to keep their drinking water safe, following recent floods. The Starke County Health Department reminds residents not to use the well water, as long as the well casing is submerged in flood water.

After flood waters recede, small amounts of water may be used, but only after it’s been properly disinfected by boiling or with small amounts of chlorine laundry bleach. Meanwhile, the well itself should be disinfected with chlorine bleach, as well. State health officials recommend letting the chlorinated well and distribution system stand for 12 to 24 hours. Once that’s done, the system should be pumped to waste, until every trace of chlorine is gone.

Then, the water should be tested. You can get more information about water testing from the Starke County Health Department by calling 574-772-9139.

A detailed guide to disinfecting water can be found on the Indiana State Department of Health’s website. There, you can also find information about salvaging flood-damaged food, and repairing flood-damaged buildings and property.

Starke County Budget Approved

Posted on February 26, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Starke County Auditor Kay Chaffins recently received the budget order for 2018. Starke County was the 82nd county out of the 92 counties in the state to receive this year’s budget.

Chaffins stated last week that that there were no cuts expected in this year’s budget.

The tax rates are also set so on-time property tax bills can be produced. According to the Department of Local Government Finance, the county auditor will now calculate tax bills, which the county treasurer should mail to taxpayers no later than April 13, 2018. The spring installment is due May 10.

To view the county’s budget, click here.

State Senator and Representative Meet with County Officials About Flooding

Posted on February 26, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

On Sunday afternoon, Starke County officials met with State Representative Jim Pressel (District 20) and State Senator Mike Bohacek (District 8) to discuss the recent devastation caused by flooding and what steps to take next.

Local officials who were present included Starke County EMA Director J. Nier, Surveyor Bill Crase and Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler as well as Engineer Lee Nagai and County Commissioners Kathy Norem, Donnie Binkley and Charles Chesak.

The meeting began at Starke County Annex Building where officials discussed having insufficient access to problem areas. In order to eliminate limbs, fallen trees and other debris from the river to help it flow more consistently, they would need to clear the trees along both sides of the spot they wish to access.

County Surveyor Crase explained at this point, that can’t be done because the DNR has a policy prohibiting clearing two sides so they’re unable to get the necessary permits. Nagai added that IDEM and the Army Corps have similar restrictions.

They said if they had the permits in hand, they believe the work could be done in-house as they already know of some farmers, and other individuals, who would be willing to pitch in to help clear the river.

Crase said, “You know, there’s people who would be willing to help the state if they’d be willing to help us with the permits.” Nagai added, “All we’re asking you guys to do is give us the permission to let us help ourselves. I mean, that’s what it boils down to. We’re not being allowed to help ourselves.”

Another issue brought up was the reliability of the Kankakee River Basin Commission, the organization charged with various aspects of river maintenance. A few comments were made about how certain financial information has been withheld despite numerous requests and that status reports have not been received in some time. It was also mentioned that some of the flooding problems may have been alleviated or prevented through proactive measures that KVBC did not take.

Commissioner Kathy Norem also discussed how the Kankakee River passes through multiple places within the area, and for that reason, she didn’t think the financial responsibility for response efforts should fall solely on the county. She added that she will fight hard to keep from using rainy day funds. Norem included that while recently speaking with U.S. Representative Jackie Walorski, she was informed that the county could receive federal assistance from FEMA, as long as the area’s problems are sufficiently reported.

After county officials finished voicing a few of their concerns, the group moved along to several sites around the county that remain flooded. Highway Superintendent Ritzler and County Surveyor Crase showed the officials around to a few different problem areas including a bridge on 700 E near SR 8, a levee break on 300 E, the Kankakee River Fish and Wildlife Area on SR 8 and 39 and Division Road.

When they stopped on Division Road, County Surveyor Crase explained that over the weekend, crews had to do work on a nearby levee to keep water from flooding over and impacting not only a residential area but also the Industrial Park and Fertilizer Plant.

The tour was to continue to English Lake, where there are other major flooding problems but Pressel and Bohacek had to leave due to time constraints.

They said they believed they had enough information to relay the severity of the damage in the area and encouraged the county officials to send over pictures and to keep in touch. Additionally, they assured the group that they would look into providing assistance with the permit problem that was previously mentioned and they would also work to address their concerns with KVBC.

Friday, February 23, 2018

UPDATED: Starke County to Remain at Travel Watch, Numerous Roads Remain Closed

Posted on February 23, 2018
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Starke County will remain at a travel watch. Emergency Management Agency Director J. Nier did consider increasing that to a travel warning this afternoon. She says she’s now confident that the higher level won’t be necessary, but she urges citizens to use extreme caution while driving and to stay away from flooded areas.

A travel watch means only essential travel, such as driving to and from work, and emergency travel are recommended. A travel advisory remains in effect for Pulaski and LaPorte counties.

Currently, the Indiana Department of Transportation is reporting road closures on State Road 8 between U.S. 421 and Starke County Road 200 East, State Road 39 between U.S. 30 and State Road 10, and State Road 10 between U.S. 35 and State Road 23.

The following county roads are also closed:

Starke County:

900 E. between SR 10 & 625 S.
800 N. between 550 E. & 600 E.
Range Rd. between 250 N.. & 600 N.
Robbins Rd. between 600 E. & 700 E.
1000 E. between SR 10 & 625 S.
850 E. between SR 10 & 550 S.
550 S. between 850 E. & 900 E.
700 N. from US 35 to 500 E.
900 E. between 400 N. & 500 N.
800 W. between 400 S. & Toto Rd.
600 N. between 150 E. & Range Rd.
850 W. between SR 10 & 500 S.
500 S. between 150 E. & 300 E.
Toto Rd. between 400 W. & 450 W.
Toto Rd. between 650 W. & 725 W.
1200 E. between 50 N. & 150 N.
100 W. between 200 N. & SR 8
Toto Rd. between 800 W. & 850 W.
Toto Rd. between 450 W. & English Lake Road
300 N. between 125 W. & La Porte County Line
1200 E. between 550 N. & 600 N.
100 W. between 50 S. & SR 8
Old US30 between US35 & 500E
Old US30 between US35 & 300E
300E between 800N & 900N
700N between 150E & 300E
50E between 700N & LaPorte County Line
300E between SR8 and 50S
850E from 850S to 750S

Pulaski County:

100 N from US 35 to 100 W
100 S from 1200 W to 1425 W
200 E from 750 S to 800 S
200 E south of SR 14 between 50 S and 125 S
200 W from 900 S to 1000 S
300 E from 200 N to 300 N
300 S from US 421 to 1700 W
450 E from SR 14 to 125 S
550 E from 975 S to 1000 S
550 W from 925 S to 1000 S
600 N from 500 to 600 E
700 N from 500 E to 600 E
700 N from 660 E to 700 E
700 N from 1275 W to 1400 W
975 S from 500 E to 600 E
1100 W from 600 to 750 N
1300 W from 100 S to 200 S
1425 W from SR 14 to 200 S
1600 W from 300 S to 450 S
Port Edwards Road from 350 S to 400 S between 100 W and 200 W
Wolf Lane at 235 W and 435 S
Old St Rd 14 from 25 S to west side of river bridge
Crestview Drive from SR 119 to Frank’s Blvd

Numerous other areas are experiencing high water.

Meanwhile, flood warnings remain in effect for local rivers. The National Weather Service reports that the Tippecanoe River is approaching record levels at Winamac and Ora.

The Kankakee River reached major flood stage at Dunns Bridge Friday morning and is predicted to reach record levels on Tuesday. The Yellow River at Knox reached major flood stage Friday afternoon.

Sandbags and sand are available for Knox residents behind city hall and for Starke County residents at the Starke County Highway Garage.

Nier adds that any kind of property damage should be reported to Starke County EMA at 574-772-9182.

Local Disaster Emergency Declared for Starke County

Posted on February 23, 2018
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The Starke County Commissioners have declared a local disaster emergency. It says that Starke County “has been impacted and is immediately threatened by widespread flooding along rivers and streams, in low elevation areas and elsewhere throughout the county.” As part of the declaration, citizens are urged to comply with emergency measures, cooperate with public officials in executing emergency operations plans, and obey the directions of officers.

The declaration was approved by the commissioners during an emergency meeting Friday afternoon. It will remain in effect for 11 days.

Additionally, residents are reminded that the travel warning previously considered has been changed to a travel watch. Starke County Auditor Kay Chaffins says residents may travel at their own risk, but urges them not to travel on a closed road. She also says not to drive through standing water on the roads because it’s dangerous.

Anyone who’s experienced property damage is asked to report it to their local emergency management agency or the Indiana Department of Homeland Security. Chaffins also suggests taking pictures of the damage for proof.

Frankenstein Friday - Frankenstein & the Missing Mother (Essay)

During this Frankenstein Friday, we're sharing Dr. Richard Gunderman's essay “Frankenstein and the Missing Mother”. Join us as we dig in deeper to Frankenstein.

North Judson-San Pierre Officials Consider Implementing eLearning

Posted on February 23, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Officials at North Judson-San Pierre schools are discussing the possibility of implementing eLearning in the future.

During Tuesday night’s school board meeting, Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin told board members that with the number of snow days and delays recently, some teachers and community members have been asking about bringing eLearning to NJ-SP

While discussing the possibility Dr. Zupin stated, “Please know that I will not do that unless the teachers are ready and not just the teachers, we need our community to understand what it is so if we choose to go this way, we’ll be sure to prepare everybody for it.”

She said she’s been researching the implementation of eLearning and talking with Department of Education representatives, who say there are expectations and parameters associated with such a decision. Requirements include ensuring that students have appropriate access to necessary technology and making sure that staff provides meaningful lessons for those days.

The superintendent later mentioned NJ-SP believes there is no “alternative” or “substitute” for quality teachers instructing students, therefore they don’t want to regularly trade a traditional school day for an eLearning day. However, she did say they feel it is important to expose students to digital learning on a regular basis and it would be nice to offset a couple of make-up days when they have inclement weather that results in a cancelation.

Dr. Zupin said that within the last two weeks, teachers and administrators have engaged in positive discussions about eLearning, and they’re ready to move forward with the concept. Before that can happen professional development and practice need to occur and parents need to be informed about the process.

Zupin said it is the hope of school officials that NJ-SP students and faculty will utilize approximately two to three eLearning days in the 2018-2019 school year. During the meeting she did say that depending on the level of readiness, there’s a chance they may even try it out sometime this spring.

North Judson Town Council Decides on Potential Dates for SCEDF Workday

Posted on February 23, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

North Judson Town Council members decided on a few potential dates to recommend for a SCEDF workday when they met Monday night.

Starke County Economic Development Foundation liaison James Young reminded council members that Executive Director Larry Wickert is attempting to set up a session of some kind so members can brainstorm some ideas for potential development.

“Just wanted to see if your schedules were conducive for sometime early in March.” Young explained, “I think if we’re going to continue supporting and being involved with them, it’s worth our time to see what they’re going to bring to the table for us and I think this work day would be a valuable thing for us to at least consider and participate in.”

After some discussion, members eventually agreed to recommend the dates Tuesday, March 20th and Tuesday, March 27th with a time frame of approximately 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Councilman Young will suggest those dates to Executive Director Wickert. Once Wickert sets the official date, he will arrange for speakers as well as any other necessary resources for the meeting.

Starke County School Officials to Work Together on Improving School Safety

Posted on February 23, 2018
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Last week’s school shooting in Florida has prompted Starke County school officials to work together to improve students’ safety.

Knox Superintendent Dr. William Reichhart told the school board Tuesday that he’s been coordinating safety discussions with the Starke County prosecutor. “Nick Bourff has come in and met with me this week and said, ‘How can I help?’ And so we are pulling all of the school safety specialists in the county together, and we’re going to meet right here in about a week, and our principals and our staff will be here, as well. And we’re going to be reviewing what can we do here in Starke County to make it even safer than what it is.”

At Knox Community Schools, Reichhart said students already take part in state-mandated evacuation, fire, and tornado drills. “We also have a school safety committee that’s represented,” he said. “Each teacher has a school safety plan, this is what you do in this particular situation.”

He added that one of the big concerns at Knox is adding secure entrances to the three school buildings in the coming years. They would require visitors to pass through the school office, before they can get into the rest of the building.

But Reichhart said that unfortunately, all these precautions may not be able to deal with every possible situation. “I’m going to tell you that I can’t guarantee that your students here are always going to be safe,” he said. “I mean, it’s our number-one priority, but I can’t put my life on the line and say that they’re always going to come home every night. We have crazy people in this world, and unfortunately, we may have some crazy people living here in Knox. That could happen and could affect us.”

He says teachers and administrators always have to have common sense to be able to react to every situation that might occur.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Starke County Commissioners Hear Request on Road Abandonment

Posted on February 22, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Commissioners entertained a request from a resident about the abandonment of a road during their meeting this week.

Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler explained that resident Dan Gumz just bought property on 200 East north of 50 S. from 50 S. to the dead end and Division Road from 300 East to the dead end that meet. The previous owner gated the road to keep out trespassers and the county hasn’t maintained it for about 25 years, according to Ritzler. The road is in the county inventory. However Gumz asked if the county would like to abandon the road or resume maintenance.

Commission President Donnie Binkley was asked to look at the road and he stated that he doesn’t want any county property vacated. There is a culvert that needs changed and the road needs re-stoned.

Commissioner Kathy Norem said if the county is to maintain the road, then the gate would have to be removed as a gated road could be recognized as a private road.

After much discussion, the commissioners suggested getting opinions from the adjacent land owners on their opinion about the ownership of the road and if the road is to remain under the maintenance of the land owners. If the wish is for the county to maintain the road, the gate would need to be removed.

The commissioners will get an update at their next meeting.

Amended Salary Ordinance Fails to Pass on First Reading at NJ Town Council Meeting

Posted on February 22, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

An ordinance amending the approved 2018 salary ordinance was considered on first reading during Monday night’s North Judson Town Council meeting.

When the town council members passed the salary ordinance back in January, it included a 3 percent raise across the board, except for Town Marshal Kelly Fisher who forfeited her raise to supplement the raises of her officers.

In the initial ordinance, town council members were included in the individuals who would receive the raise. However, Town Attorney Justin Schramm said that due to when the ordinance was passed, that raise could potentially be seen as questionable by state officials.

“Because we had so many things that were stacked up, we actually didn’t get ours passed until January 2nd of 2018. The State Board of Accounts doesn’t like that, they consider it a conflict of interest if you’re a legislative body and you vote yourself a raise, you can’t take it until the following year.” Schramm explained, “Since we didn’t get ours passed until 2018, the Town Council, the legislative body, can’t vote themselves a 3% raise.”

Schramm elaborated, saying that this was really just an issue of timing, rather than an ethical concern since the council members didn’t know they weren’t permitted to accept the raise. However, should they ever be audited, he said the members could be asked to return that money at some point down the line.

Schramm added that if they wish to take a raise in 2019, it will need to be approved prior to the first of the year.

When it came time to vote, Council President Wendy Hoppe, Councilman Josh Browne and Councilman James Young voted in favor, while Councilman John Rowe abstained. Since Councilwoman Jane Ellen Felchuck was not present, the ordinance was not passed. Schramm explained that in order for it to pass on first reading it would have needed 2/3rd approval and it only received 3/5ths.

The amended ordinance will be considered on second reading during the next North Judson Town Council meeting.

North Judson-San Pierre School Board Approves Contractors for Lease Project

Posted on February 22, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

North Judson-San Pierre School Board members awarded several contracts for the corporation’s Lease Project when they met Tuesday evening.

Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin explained that when bids were opened in January, they discovered that they came in under budget. This will allow the corporation to move forward with some of their alternate bids which included upgrades to the baseball and softball fields, stairwell renovations, roofing and lighting work.

Zupin added that they will also be able to have signage installed on route 10 to inform motorists they’re on the NJSP campus. She said it will be an electronic sign where they will be able to put various school information and community announcements.

NJSP Maintenance Director Wilbur Collins presented a list of contractors for the various work that will be done with this Lease Project.

Town & Country Paving submitted the lowest bid for the tennis courts in the amount of $296,996. Collins added they’re teaming up with Leslie Coatings Inc, an Indianapolis-based company that is recognized as one of the biggest tennis court builders in the area.

Korellis Roofing, Inc submitted a base bid of $568,633 and Wilbur also included their alternate bid of $142,870 for a total roof replacement bid of $711,503.

For general construction, Millwood Roofing and Construction submitted a base bid of $718,000 and Wilbur mentioned their alternate bid for stairway panels which was $15,000. Their total bid for general construction came in at $733,000.

D.A. Dodd, LLC submitted a bid of $203,920 for plumbing. Collins added that D.A. Dodd has worked with the school in the past. Continental Electric Company, Inc submitted a bid of $139,400 for the electrical contract.

H&G Services submitted a bid of $1,464,000 for mechanical work. Collins said that work will include the air handlers, the temperature controls and the dehumidification system for the pool. H&G Services also submitted a bid of $102,650 for the technology contract.

The lighting contract was divided up because there are several spots on the schools’ campus that will be getting new lighting. The company EMCOR Hyre Electric submitted a base bid of $467,000, an alternate bid of $51,000 for house lights, another alternate bid of $25,850 for tennis court lights and a third alternate bid of $24,000 for atrium lights for a total lighting bid of $567,850.

The contractors recommended by Collins received unanimous board approval. Fanning Howey Construction Administrator Edward Sawa added that the next step is to issue the notice to proceed and get the contracts to the companies.

He mentioned that sometime over the next few weeks, they will need to hold a pre-construction meeting with the contractors to lay out schedules and discuss responsibilities.

Indiana Department of Homeland Security Collecting Property Damage Reports, Following Flooding

Posted on February 22, 2018
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Those who’ve experienced property damage due to recent flooding can report it to the Indiana Department of Homeland Security. Department officials say homeowners, renters, businesses, and non-profit organizations can all report uninsured damage caused by severe storms and flooding since February 15. That could include structural damage to homes, as well as the loss of personal property.

The Indiana Department of Homeland Security stresses that the damage report is not an application for grant funding. Instead, the information will help state and local agencies figure out whether they might qualify for state or federal aid for recovery efforts.

To fill out a damage assessment report, visit the Indiana Department of Homeland Security’s website.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Starke County Council Discusses Funding for SCEDF

Posted on February 21, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Funding for the Starke County Economic Development Foundation and the SCILL Center was discussed by the Starke County Council members Monday night.

Larry Wickert from the Starke County Economic Development Foundation presented the additional appropriation requests. He said the funding amounts are requested every year and the funding amount hasn’t changed. The foundation appropriation is in the amount of $180,000 while the SCILL Center would be funded at $80,000. The county normally pays the amounts in a spring installment and fall installment. Also included in the request was funding for maintenance and electric for the Hamlet firewell totaling $15,000.

A question about an upcoming contract negotiation between the county and the foundation was mentioned, but the funding amount was not modified in preliminary discussions.

The council approved the requests as presented with a unanimous vote.

North Judson Police Department Welcomes K9 Jimy to the Force

Posted on February 21, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The highly anticipated addition to the North Judson Police Department is finally here.

Yesterday, Officer Rico Simpson picked his K9 partner out of more than 300 dogs at Vohne Liche Kennels. The dual-purpose K9 that he chose is named Jimy.

As a dual-purpose dog, Jimy will be able to assist with patrol work such as narcotics detection and apprehension, as well as tracking. Town Marshall Kelly Fisher previously reported that the tracking capabilities could not only help with finding criminals, but they could also come in handy for missing persons cases.

The purchase of this police dog was made possible through the gracious donations of many community members and business owners.

Aside from countless monetary donations, some services have been offered along the way. Various local businesses have assisted with outdoor kennel construction and required vehicle attachments for the K9 SUV, while others have volunteered to help with things such as food, grooming and veterinary visits at no cost to the department.

Officer Simpson will spend about a week with his new K9 partner before they head off to training on Monday. Simpson will be making the commute to the Vohne Liche Kennels facility for 6 weeks in order to complete necessary training.

NJPD K9 Jimy

Officer Rico Simpson, K9 Jimy & 
Town Council President Wendy Hoppe.

Officer Simpson & K9 Jimy at
Vohne Liche Kennels. 

North Judson-San Pierre School Board Approves Purchase for Three Buses

Posted on February 21, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

North Judson-San Pierre will be adding a few new buses to their fleet, following a decision made by school board members last night.

Treasurer Guy Richie explained that the school utilized the Central Indiana Education Service Center to conduct an online bidding process. In their bid, Kerlin Bus Sales included that NJSP would be able to trade-in three buses for a trade-in allowance totaling $16,500. Richie said after factoring in the trades, the lowest bid came in at $232,169 from Kerlin.

Richie added that the funds for the purchase were already appropriated into the bus replacement fund in this year’s budget. He recommended that the school board members approve the lowest bid from Kerlin.

The board members voted unanimously to accept the bid from Kerlin Bus Sales and as a result, three 72-passenger buses will be purchased.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

North Judson Town Council Members Discuss Advertisement for Cemetery Mowing and Additional Duties

Posted on February 20, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

North Judson Town Council members considered the advertisement for cemetery mowing when they met Monday night.

Individuals applying for this job would be bidding on lawn care, leaf clean up and debris removal for both Highland and Pioneer Cemeteries. They would be expected to provide all labor, equipment and fuel.

Members noted that the proposed advertisement was the same as last year’s. However, since they experienced some problems with last year’s service, they wanted to avoid any potential confusion by clearly stating what is expected of the bidder.

Clerk-Treasurer Andrew Rowe was asked to add a part that includes fence clean-up in the duties, as trash often blows over and gets stuck there and in the past that has been neglected.

Town Attorney Justin Schramm added that they should use the phrase “organic and inorganic refuse” when discussing debris in order to cover things such as leaves, sticks and grass clippings as well as trash and other items that may be cluttering the cemetery.

Council members agreed to send the advertisement to past bidders and to post it in the Leader and the Market once Clerk-Treasurer Rowe adjusts the language to reflect their suggestions.

According to Rowe, the plan is to have the advertisement out by March 2nd. He said they’ll be accepting bids until noon on April 2nd. The submitted bids will then be considered when the town council meets that at 6:30 p.m that evening.

Starke County Council Tables Payment to U.S. 30 Coalition

Posted on February 20, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Council members want more information about what will be offered to Starke County in the proposed U.S. 30 freeway project before they pay $10,000 toward consultation fees for coalition efforts.

Councilman Dave Pearman asked Larry Wickert from the Starke County Economic Development Foundation about the payment as it was requested. The funds would come out of the commissioner’s County Economic Development Income Tax Fund. Wickert explained that six out of the seven counties involved in the proposed U.S. 30 project pay into the coalition. La Porte County is the only county that doesn’t pay. Wickert believes that U.S. 30 would stay rural in La Porte County and not see an impact. The county has the toll road for a focus.

The members of the U.S. 30 coalition have met several times to discuss how a proposed freeway would benefit Starke County. Pearman doesn’t want Starke County to “get the short end of the stick” in the process as he says there is plenty of agriculture opportunities and industry with the industrial park in Hamlet that would access Starke County off of U.S. 30. He specifically noted the Sysco property that is currently for sale on the west side of town.

Pearman said he supports the coalition, but he just wants more information.

Wickert and Pearman will be sitting down to discuss what the U.S. 30 coalition has to offer Starke County. In the meantime, Pearman made a motion to table the request until the council’s March meeting so more information could be obtained. The motion was seconded by Councilman Freddie Baker and all members voted in favor of the action.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Frankenstein Friday - Chapter 4

Celebrate Frankenstein Friday with us! Read along as the monster comes to life in Chapter 4.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

4/7/2018 Talking Sports with David Haugh

It's a bit early, but if you mark this on your calendar now you won't feel like a Fool for forgetting it when April comes.


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

2018 Pet Tags

Don't forget your 2018 pet tags are due by February 15th. After that a late fee of $10 is assessed. If your pet is spayed or neutered they are $10; if not $25. If tags aren't purchased and the Police Dept. or our Ordinance Officer receive any complaints you may be fined $50 ☹️

Pulaski Memorial Hospital Group Opens Doctor’s Office in North Judson

Posted on February 14, 2018
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

North Judson residents have a new health care option. Pulaski Memorial Hospital Medical and Surgical Group has opened a new physician office at 414 Lane Street. The move marks the return of Dr. Curtis Bejes to North Judson as the facility’s medical director. He’ll be joined by nurse practitioners Beth Ruff and Chantel Anderson. According to a press release, the office will initially focus on family medicine, offering medical care to patients of all ages.

Dr. Bejes says the desire to help improve the quality of health in the town where he grew up is part of the reason he’s returning to North Judson. In the press release, he notes that when it comes to health outcomes and behaviors, Starke County still ranks near the bottom in the state.

Starke County Closing in on Zero Deficient Bridges

Posted on February 13, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Highway Department is working toward a goal of having zero deficient bridges in the county.

The effort has shown as there are only two that remain on the list. Referring to the Phase 2A report that pertains to bridge inspections, Starke County Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler told the county commissioners they are mindful of a couple of areas to make sure they don’t worsen too quickly.

“One of the aluminum box culverts doesn’t need to be replaced, but we need to keep an eye on it so we’d like that inspected every 12 months, as well as the 300 East bridge over the Yellow River by the industrial park. We want that looked at as well. Those are in there for kind of safety reasons. They don’t need to be replaced yet,” commented Ritzler.

He said the county may not have any deficiencies for two weeks until the new report comes out in September. There are two bridges that could be close to being considered for replacement, but the county will know when the report is disbursed.

There are four bridge projects in the works this year. Construction will begin in March on Bridge No. 58 on County Road 800 South over Bogus Run east of County Road 200 W. Construction on Bridge No. 36 will begin in May. That bridge is located on County Road 25 North, west of 600 East over Eagle Creek. Bids will be opened in April for Bridge No. 154 on County Road 100 East over the Robbins Ditch north of County Road 400 North. Plans are open bids in July for Bridge No. 7 on County Road 1200 East over the Yellow River north of County Road 250 South.

NJ Town Council Receives Report from Starke County Economic Development Foundation

Posted on February 13, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

North Judson Town Council members received a brief monthly report from Starke County Economic Development Foundation Interim Director Larry Wickert when they met last week.

Wickert handed out a report which described different highlights from January.

One of those highlights included a meeting that Wickert and Special Projects Coordinator Ron Gifford attended with representatives from the North Judson-San Pierre School Corporation. Gifford and Wickert met with Superintendent Annette Zupin and School Board President Sheila Akers to discuss workforce development through SCILL programs.

Additionally, Wickert reminded council members that he would like to set up a retreat in order to brainstorm some ideas for future development. He said that the SCEDF would arrange for the location, the moderator and the special speakers. He encouraged them to let him know what date and time would work best for interested members so they can get it scheduled as soon as possible.

Monday, February 12, 2018

North Judson Police Department Plans Future Events

Posted on February 12, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The North Judson Town Council members heard some future event suggestions from Town Marshal Kelly Fisher during their meeting last week.

Fisher said they’re considering a “Canine Mud Run” as a potential summertime fundraiser. She said it would be like any other mud run but they would invite individuals to bring their dogs along.

She said the police department plans to team up with the park board to have community-centered events every month. She suggested box car races, basketball and softball games as other potentials.

Fisher said these types of events could strengthen the connection between the police force and the community.

The Town Marshal said, “We’d like to get to the point where the kids will be like ‘okay what’s next month?’ just to keep them out of trouble and to have something to look forward to.” She said they want to keep kids from saying ‘oh there’s the police’ in a negative way. Fisher explained that they’d rather have them say ‘Oh there’s the police, what can we talk about?’

She said they’re already working on building trust with students in the North Judson by going into the schools on a regular basis.

Starke County EMS Trying New Dispatch Program, Researching Grants

Posted on February 12, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County EMS staff is trying out a new program that acts as a live radio streaming device, according to EMS Director Travis Clary.

“Basically, this turns your smartphone or any other thing into a live radio streaming device,” said Clary. “It’s great for off-duty members, especially with a size like ours with mainly part-time people. They can hear the call live. It’s pretty neat and again it’s just a trial thing. We’re just seeing how it works with our IT Department.”

In addition, Clary said he’s been working with Starke County EMA Director Jean Nier on obtaining grants for some equipment.

“We submitted a large grant for 800 MHz radios last week. We spent many hours looking for further grants for equipment for our service such as cardiac monitors and cots that come at a higher price.”

Clary will update the commissioners on the status of those grants in upcoming meetings.

Races Set for May Primary

Posted on February 12, 2018
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The races are set for May’s primary elections. In Starke County, one hotly-contested office is county clerk. Current auditor Kay Chaffins is challenging incumbent Vicki Cooley for the Democratic party nomination. The winner would presumably face Republican Bernadette Welter-Manuel in November’s general election.

Meanwhile, Democrats Kasey Clark and Rachel Oesterreich are vying to replace Chaffins as auditor. Prosecutor Nick Bourff faces a Democratic primary challenge from Richard Ballard, with the winner expected to face Leslie Baker in November.

Three candidates are also running for District 2 County Council Member: Democrats Dale Conley and Chuck Estok, and Republican Howard A. Bailey Jr. District 1 County Council Member Brad Hazelton faces a Democratic primary challenge from Karl Swihart.

Several candidates have expressed interest in Railroad Township government. Incumbent Trustee Mandy Thomason faces a Republican primary challenge from Deb Wappel. The winner will presumably square off against former trustee Democrat Roger Chaffins in November. Meanwhile, four Democrats and three Republicans have filed to run for the three Railroad Township Board seats. In California Township, Trustee Judy Ahlenius faces a Democratic primary challenge from Evelyn Trusty.

Pulaski County also has its share of contested races. Republicans Tim Murray and Mary Welker are running for Circuit Court Judge. Coroner John Behny faces a Republican primary challenge from Alan Mitchell. District 3 County Commissioner Mike McClure will face Tyler Campbell in May’s Republican primary.

Pulaski County’s most hotly-contested race is for the District 3 County Council seat. Incumbent Democrat Linda Powers will face Jessye Gilley in the May primary, with the winner expected to face Republican Brian Young in November’s general election.

The Winamac and Francesville town council races have each attracted three candidates for the available seats.

Candidate Filings As of February 9 Filing Deadline:

Starke County

Assessor: Michelle Snowdon (D)

Auditor: Kasey Bula Clark (D), Rachel Milner Oesterreich (D)

Clerk: Katherine (Kay) Dolezal Chaffins (D), Vicki Cooley (D), Bernadette Welter-Manuel (R)

Coroner: Dannie Ray Hoffer Jr. (D), Jack E. Rosa (R)

Prosecutor: Leslie A. Baker (R), Richard (Dick) Ballard (D), Nicholas Allen Bourff (D)

Recorder: Rebekah Sponaugle Wagner (D)

Sheriff: Thomas Decola (R), Bill Dulin (D)

Commissioner District 2: Don Binkley (D), Bryan Harold Cavender (R)

County Council District 1: Bradley J. Hazelton (D), Karl Swihart (D)

County Council District 2: Howard A. Bailey Jr. (R), Dale Conley (D), Chuck Estok (D)

County Council District 3: David Pearman (R)

County Council District 4: Karen Tibbs (D)

California Township Trustee: Judy Ahlenius (D), Evelyn Trusty (D)

California Township Board Member: Michele Albon (R), Richard Anderson (R), Matthew McGowen Sr. (R)

Center Township Trustee: Julie Manns (D)

Center Township Board Member: Steve A. Berndt (D), Ben Warren (D)

Davis Township Trustee: Robin Latimer (D)

Davis Township Board Member: Rebecca Ferch (D), Robert Ferch (R), Rebecca (Becky) Pflugshaupt-Davis (R)

Jackson Township Trustee: Robert Schmidt (D)

Jackson Township Board Member: Michelle R. Hounshell (R), Perry Thompson Jr (R)

North Bend Township Trustee: Rutherford Byron Walters (R)

North Bend Township Board Member: Sam Bailey (R), 1. Richard Wieczorek Sr. (D)

Oregon Township Trustee: Mark Allen (D)

Oregon Township Board Member: Corey Louzon (D), Carole Noble (D), Joseph I Reed Jr. (R)

Railroad Township Trustee: Roger Chaffins Sr. (D), Mandy Thomason (R), Debra Wappel (R)

Railroad Township Board Member: Bart D. Egolf (R), Joe Krzyzanowski (D), Mike Lawecki (R), Deborah (Debbie) Pavloff (R), Clayton (Clay) Redlin (D), John Scott Roy (D), Steven Watson (D)

Washington Township Trustee: Cathy Ewing Benko (D)

Washington Township Board Member: Kimberly Temple (R)

Wayne Township Trustee: Shirley A. Kots (D)

Wayne Township Board Member: Joe Griffo (D)

California 2 Democrat Precinct Committeeman: Shirley Fields

Center 1 Democrat Precinct Committeeman and State Convention Delegate: Jeffery J. Houston

Center 1 Democrat Precinct Committeeman: Rick Chambers

Center 1 Convention Delegate “At-Large”: Michaelene J. Houston (D)

Center 2 Democrat Precinct Committeeman: Linda D. Berndt

Center 3 Democrat Precinct Committeeman and State Convention Delegate: Jeff V. Berg

Center 5 Democrat Precinct Committeeman and State Convention Delegate: Kenneth Wallace

Railroad Township Democrat Precinct Committeeman: August (Gus) Eckert II

Washington 1 Democrat Precinct Committeeman: Robert Olejniczac Jr.

Washington 2 Convention Delegate “At-Large”: Bernadette Welter-Manuel (R)

Wayne 1 Democrat Precinct Committeeman: Isaiah Collins

Wayne 2 Convention Delegate “At Large”: Brenda Stanojevic

Wayne 4 Convention Delegate “At Large”: Christopher Lee (R)

Wayne 4 Democrat Precinct Committeeman: Bill Crase Jr.


Pulaski County

Assessor: Lorena H. (Holly) VanDerAa (R)

Clerk: Christina L. Hoffa (R)

Coroner: John Behny (R), Alan S. Mitchell (R)

Prosecutor: Daniel P. Murphy (R)

Sheriff: Jeffery K. Richwine (R)

Surveyor: Jenny Weaver-Keller (D)

Circuit Court Judge: Timothy J. Murray (R), Mary C. Welker (R)

Superior Court Judge: Crystal A. Brucker Kocher (R)

Commissioner District 3: Tyler Campbell (R), John Michael “Mike” McClure (R)

County Council District 2: Ronald “Rudy” Desabatine (R), Douglas Roth (R)

County Council District 3: Jessye Gilley (D), Linda Powers (D), Brian Young (R)

Francesville Town Clerk: Cathy Lynn Elston (R)

Francesville Town Council: Pamela G. Antrim (R), Lynn Johns (R), Rosa M. Wuethrich (R)

Winamac Town Council: Alvin R. Parish (R), Dave Schambers (D), Dan Vanaman (R)

Cass Township Trustee: Christopher Hudson (D)

Harrison Township Trustee: Betty Stinemetz (R)

Harrison Township Board: Christopher A. Graves (R), Alice L. Gudas (R)

Indian Creek Township Board: David Weaver (D)

Jefferson Township Trustee: Betty L. Kruger (R)

Jefferson Township Board: Roscoe “Bud” Cummins (R), Carl G. Kopka (D), Steven Sommers (D)

Monroe Township Trustee: Michelle Schmicker (R)

Monroe Township Board: Jeremy L. Beckner (R), Timothy F. Hoffa Jr. (R), Marcia Link (D)

Rich Grove Township Trustee: Deloris Locke (R)

Salem Township Trustee: Kay Beasey (R)

Salem Township Board: Maurice Kopka (D), Gregory C. Stone (R), Charles R. Yeoman (R)

Tippecanoe Township Trustee: Martie White (D)

Tippecanoe Township Board: Tedmund R. Bauer (R), William E. Bauer (Bill) (D), Kelli Denton (D)

VanBuren Township Trustee: Lenora K. Hoover (R)

VanBuren Township Board: David W. Bailey (R), Kathleen (Kathi) Thompson (D), Tom Wallace (R)

White Post Township Trustee: Karen S. Wagner (R)

White Post Township Board: Richard Lee Brick (R), Patricia L. Tiede (R),

State Convention Delegate: Doug Gutwein (R), Emily Hizer (R), Daniel P. Murphy (R), Brian Young (R)

Saturday, February 10, 2018

NJ Town Marshal Updates Town Council on Department Renovations

Posted on February 10, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Renovations to the North Judson Police Department are underway. The town council members recently approved Town Marshall Kelly Fisher’s request to convert the conference room into a training area.

At Monday night’s town council meeting, Marshal Fisher informed members that two old radiators were recently removed with the help of the utility department. She said they were so heavy that they had to be removed from the porch with a backhoe. She told members that they continue to progress on dressing-up the inside of the building.

Fisher also mentioned that all the necessary attachments for the K9 vehicle, including the cage, the lights and all other internal features will be installed in the SUV in time for the pick-up date on February 20th.

Starke County Commissioners Discuss Appointments, SCEDF Contract

Posted on February 10, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Commissioners are attempting to complete their appointments for the year.

At the last meeting, the commissioners appointed Todd Leinbach to the Board of Zoning Appeals, but he doesn’t reside in the proper jurisdiction. He actually lives in the incorporated town of Hamlet and the person appointed must live in an unincorporated area of the county. The commissioners voted to rescind his appointment. Instead, Leinbach was appointed to an opening on the P.E.T.A.B.O.A. Board.

The commissioners will accept letters of interest from either a Republican or Democrat to fill the vacancy on the BZA.

No discussion was held on annual appointments for the Convention and Visitor’s Commission. County Attorney Marty Lucas noted that the members currently holding their position will continue in their appointments until further notice.

The commissioners also unanimously voted to give notice that the Starke County Economic Development Foundation contract will not be renewed. They are looking into revising the contract and have further discussion on the matter in a future meeting. The action to adjust some things in the contract has been in the works for a while. The commissioners and the foundation have a year to work out another contract.

Starke County Election Board Finds Harris Ineligible for Railroad Township Board Race

Posted on February 10, 2018
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

A Railroad Township Trustee candidate is now out of the race, but another name has been added. John Harris is officially off the ballot following a pair of challenges against his campaign, according to Starke County Clerk Vicki Cooley. She says the Starke County Election Board reviewed the challenges Friday and determined that Harris was not an eligible candidate for the May primary.

Harris had filed to run as a Republican. Cooley says the problem was that he had no actual party affiliation. Normally, that would be determined by the most recent primary in which a person voted. But since Harris doesn’t have a voting record, he would have needed written permission from the Starke County Republican Party chair. That apparently was not obtained.

The other challenge accused Harris’s campaign of running advertisements that failed to identify who paid for them. But Cooley says that because it was determined that Harris was not an elegible candidate based on party affiliation, the election board decided to waive any penalties stemming from the ad.

Cooley says Harris then signed paperwork officially withdrawing from the race. However, there was also a last-minute addition to the ballot Friday, as Debra Wappel filed to run as a Republican, essentially taking Harris’s place. She’ll face incumbent Mandy Thomason in the May primary, with the winner expected to square off against former trustee Democrat Roger Chaffins, in November.

Meanwhile, by the time of Friday’s filing deadline, a total of seven candidates had filed to run for the three Railroad Township Board seats.

Friday, February 9, 2018

2018 Indiana Master Naturalist Program


Frankenstein Friday - Chapter 3

Start your weekend right by reading Chapter 3 of Frankenstein with us for #FrankensteinFriday!

Starke County EMS Director Interviewing Paramedics, Issuing Recertifications

Posted on February 9, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Paramedics are needed everywhere in the state and nationwide. Starke County EMS Director Travis Clary told the commissioners this week that they are interviewing paramedics for two full-time opportunities.

“We implemented a new standard of hiring which requires a written test, skills test and oral interview to get the best candidate possible,” said Clary. “If nothing else, we can get more part-time paramedics, but really no luck so far. It seems like there’s a shortage nationwide. I know Pulaski County and LaPorte County are kinda hurting. So, that’s where we’re at with that.”

In the meantime, Clary said paramedics on staff were recertified in advanced cardiac life support. He has also traveled to some fire departments to provide medical training.

“We have seven volunteer departments in the county. In the past, a couple of them have decided to kinda get away from the first responder thing just because of training people and things like that. We’re trying to get that back in play so it helps out our community more.”

Clary has also recertified several firefighters in CPR and that same activity will occur at the Starke County Sheriff’s Department later this month.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Chesapeake and Indiana Railroad Plans Track Upgrades

Posted on February 8, 2018
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The operator of North Judson’s short line railroad plans to rehabilitate 15 miles of track, thanks to a $300,000 Industrial Rail Service Fund grant. The Chesapeake and Indiana Railroad says it will install more than 4,400 new ties on a stretch of track through LaPorte County. Railroad representatives say that will bring the segment up to Class 1 track standards, which allow freight trains to travel at up to 10 miles per hour.

Chesapeake and Indiana also plans to improve the Thomaston interchange with the Norfolk Southern Railway, to handle increased traffic from Co-Alliance, the line’s major customer. Chesapeake and Indiana plans to cover the required local funding match with $300,000 in private money. The company plans to complete the upgrades by this fall.

Public Hearing Over OCRA Grant Application Held During NJ Town Council Meeting

Posted on February 8, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

A public hearing over a proposed grant application was held during the North Judson Town Council meeting earlier this week.

On Monday, KIRPC Executive Director Edwin Buswell explained that the grant application requesting a $550,000 wastewater/drinking water grant is due to the Office of Community and Rural Affairs on Friday. Buswell said the local match is for $1,268,000 which will come in the form of an SRF Loan.

Vince Sommers from Commonwealth Engineers shared some project details explaining that they broke it down into phases, first addressing matters which are critical to the town. He said work will need to be done to the wells and mentioned a few other necessary projects that have been brought up in past meetings.

Sommers listed the other critical items, “Standby power at the water treatment plant, altitude valves so you’ll be able to fill both tanks to the top and then we’re looking at considerable rehabilitation for both water tanks.”

No public comments were provided during the hearing. Once it was adjourned, members voted to pass a resolution which authorized the grant application to be submitted to OCRA and confirmed that the town will pay the match if the grant is awarded.

Buswell said the award announcement will likely be in late March or early April.

Starke County Commissioners Consider Request for Code Enforcement Officer

Posted on February 8, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Starke County Building Inspector Terry Stephenson asked the commissioners for permission to hire a code enforcement officer.

Stephenson told the commissioners that he needs someone to help with investigating code and ordinance violations and “help clean up the county”.

According to the proposed job description, the code enforcement officer would work in the unincorporated areas of Starke County and respond to citizen complaints of related violations such as blight, garbage/refuse, weeds/grass, abandoned vehicles or any other violations. The officer will abide by code and ordinances. Field inspections will be handled by the code enforcement officer as well as maintaining files for status reports. The officer would report to the Starke County Planning Commission.

The position will be part-time with no benefits with a salary range of $10.43 to $12.50, not to exceed $17,500 a year.

Stephenson indicated that the county council did fund the position and that the officer is desperately needed.

The commissioners unanimously approved the request to hire a code enforcement officer.
Applications are available in the Starke County Planning Commission Office in the Starke County Annex Building No. 1 at 53 E. Mound St. in Knox.

Starke Election Board to Review Challenges Against Railroad Township Trustee Candidate

Posted on February 8, 2018
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The Railroad Township Trustee’s race is already generating some controversy. Tomorrow, the Starke County Election Board will consider two challenges against John Harris. He’s running against incumbent Mandy Thomason for the Republican Party nomination in the May primary.

One of the challenges accuses Harris’s campaign of running an improper campaign ad. County Clerk Vicki Cooley explains that according to the complaint, the ad states that it’s a paid political advertisement but doesn’t specify who paid for it, as required by law.

She says the other challenge has to do with Harris’s party affiliation. Normally, that’s determined by the most recent primary election in which a person voted. But if someone’s never voted in a primary, which appears to be the case here, that person would need permission from the party chair. Cooley says that wasn’t obtained.

She says the election board will ask a series of questions, to determine whether Harris is a legal candidate. Tomorrow morning’s Starke County Election Board meeting starts at 9:30 in the Starke County Courthouse.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

2/13/2018 Railroad Township Meeting


Taxpayers Urged to Beware of Tax-Related Identity Theft

Posted on February 7, 2018
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Indiana’s attorney general is urging Hoosiers to be on the lookout for tax fraud. Identity thieves can use other people’s social security numbers to file fraudulent tax returns and keep refunds for themselves.

Attorney General Curtis Hill says most victims won’t know right away that their identity has been stolen, but there are a few warning signs. Those who use e-filing may find out that a tax return has already been filed. Victims may also find that they owe additional taxes or that they’ve had collection actions taken against them for a year they didn’t file. Another sign of a scam is if IRS records show income from an employer you never worked for.

If you think someone may have stolen your identity, you can make a complaint with the Indiana Attorney General’s Office at IndianaConsumer.com or by calling 1-800-382-5516. More tips can be found on the Identity Theft Resource Center website.

Norwayne Field Amphitheater Was Delivered and is Being Stored Temporarily

Posted on February 7, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The amphitheater for Norwayne Field in North Judson has been delivered and its size called for alternative storage options to be utilized.

Initially, the plan was to temporarily store it in the park garage, but at Monday’s town council meeting, Clerk-Treasurer Andrew Rowe stated that it was a bit too big for that. Town Superintendent Marshall Horstmann said they were able to store part of it where they originally planned and another portion is being stored in a building out on Railroad Street.

Rowe added that when the weather was nice, the concrete for the foundation was cut. He said there hasn’t been an official date set for installation. However, they’re shooting for March if the weather cooperates.

In a previous meeting, former clerk-treasurer Alicia Collins explained that the amphitheater was purchased with money from the community center committee, park beautification and fun day at the park funds for about $13,160. An additional $6,138 was set aside from the community center committee fund for future maintenance.

Starke County Highway Department Looks into Brine Application

Posted on February 7, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Starke County Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler told the county commissioners Monday night that the county is getting closer to being able to apply brine to roads to help clear them of snow and ice.

Ritzler said INDOT uses brine on the roads. He said there was a great amount of brine applied on Friday which turned the road white. He noticed that the roads were “clear and wet almost immediately after the snow stopped falling. The county can’t clear the roads to the caliber of the state’s abilities, but Ritzler said that soon may change.

“We’re making steps to do that,” stated Ritzler. “We used a little bit last year. We have one truck for it, but we really can’t make our own brine. We have in our budget this year to install a brine machine. We’re also going to add a second sprayer truck. Upgrading the fleet is very expensive to do so we’ll just use the two water trucks.”

An experienced INDOT maintenance supervisor will be meeting with highway department personnel next week to show them how to install the brine maker, a process he’s been doing with all of INDOT’s facilities.

“INDOT has allowed him to spend the day with us and really show us what to do and not make any mistakes. I have quotes for three different brine machines and he’ll be able to tell us the positives and negatives about each one so we’re excited about that.”

Ritzler added that some other steps will need to be done in order to offer a brine operation.

“We’ll need to add some storage areas and we’ll have to have a little more salt. We’ll add a truck wash bay. It’s very important to get that salt off the trucks. Also, there’s a lecture at road school this year about Harrison County. They upgraded their facility to include brine. He’ll be making a presentation on the mistakes he made and the good things that were done so we’ll be doing that.”

Ritzler will report back to the commissioners about what he learns at road school in a future meeting.

Starke County Sheriff’s Department to Utilize Third K9

Posted on February 7, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Sheriff’s Department will have a third K9 unit.

Sheriff Bill Dulin asked the Starke County Commissioners for permission to officially approve the addition to the department Monday night.

“We’ve got a unique opportunity to have a third K9 on the force at no cost,” said Sheriff Dulin. “We hired an individual who already had a certified K9 from another department. The dog is five years old. He’s certified as dual purpose like the other dogs. I contacted Carrie Block with First Source Insurance and it will be $75 or $100 extra a year.”

The commissioners unanimously approved the request and added that it will be a great asset to the county.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

2/15/2018 Mobile Health Unit @ Bailey's Discount Center

From Starke Hospital: 

La Porte, Starke counties, Ind. – The Mobile Health Unit of La Porte Hospital will be out in the community throughout February to provide free blood pressure screenings, as well as education on the importance of dental health as it relates to heart disease. February is Heart Month, so stop by to check your blood pressure and jump start your way to a healthy heart.


1 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. - Bailey’s Discounts Center, 5900 S Range Rd., North Judson

2/16-19/2018 Great Backyard Bird Count

In this year of the bird, take part in the great backyard bird count February 16-19 at
www.audubon.org/conservation/about-great-backyard-bird-count  

The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) is a free, fun, and easy event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of bird populations. Participants are asked to count birds for as little as 15 minutes (or as long as they wish) on one or more days of the four-day event and report their sightings online at birdcount.org. Anyone can take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count, from beginning bird watchers to experts, and you can participate from your backyard, or anywhere in the world. 

Today is Safer Internet Day in the USA

Posted on February 6, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Nowadays, internet usage is so common and some may not realize the dangers that could be lurking behind the screen. Today is recognized as Safer Internet Day.

According to organization representatives, the initiative aims to create an internet environment that empowers everyone to use technology responsibly, respectfully critically and creatively. It is geared toward children and young people as well as parents, caregivers and educators to make the most of out the internet’s potential to bring people together.

On Safer Internet Day, consider some of these tips from Indiana’s Attorney General’s Office.

First off, realize the web is a lot more public and permanent than it seems, be smart about what you post and what you say to others while online. Also, understand that sharing pictures of a sexual nature can land you in serious trouble as an underage minor. Those pictures, even when shared with other minors, are considered child pornography, a very serious crime.

Lastly, if you end up feeling uncomfortable with something that takes place online, don’t be afraid to report it. Depending on the case you can contact site management, the CyberTipLine, which serves to protect children from sexual exploitation, or even the local police if the incident is severe enough.

These tips are for young people to use and guardians and educators to encourage in order to help create a safer “cyber-space” for all.

North Judson Residents Wish Officer Beishuizen and K9 Gunner a Happy Retirement

Posted on February 6, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

At Monday night’s North Judson Town Council meeting, members of the community and the council wished Reserve Officer Scott Beishuizen and his K-9 Gunner farewell.

Town Marshal Kelly Fisher presented the team with a plaque and thanked them both for their service with the department and their commitment to the community. The town council shook hands with Officer Beishuizen and he issued a statement expressing his gratitude.

“I really enjoyed my down time here and I know my dog did. You know, he’s at his age and I’m at my volunteering capacity.” Beishuizen said, “We had a really good run, got a lot of drugs off the street, got a lot of bad guys off the street. I worked with a really good crew of guys and I appreciate it.”

Beishuizen said he will spend his retirement from the force focusing on coaching and playing hockey, which he joked is much safer than being in the line of duty. He also mentioned how he is thankful to Town Marshal Kelly Fisher for letting him know that the door is always open for him to come back.


Scott Beishuizen and Gunner
Photo Credit: NJ Town Photographer Peggy Bohac

Starke County Commissioners Review Job Description for Jail Employee

Posted on February 6, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Starke County Sheriff Bill Dulin presented the county commissioners with a proposed job description for an employee at the Starke County Sheriff’s Office.

The sheriff previously explained that he hired Ron Lawson as a part-time jailer but he doesn’t necessarily do the duties of a jailer. He hired him in that position because the wage was at a higher rate. Lawson has 34 years of law enforcement experience and the sheriff believed that Lawson should be paid a higher wage because of his experience.

The Starke County Council members urged Sheriff Dulin to make a job description for the duties that Lawson would be conducting for review by the commissioners.

The commissioners Monday night reviewed the job description of a jail analyst at a rate of pay of no more than $14 an hour. A summary of the duties entail providing the sheriff, administrative staff, detectives, and county executives with information for decision making purposes; develop statistical data and assist in proactive and targeted investigations; interact and communicate with the sheriff and the community on crime analysis and research issues; collect and organize criminal information from all available sources and collect intel to determine crime patterns; and case support.

The jail analyst will not be out on patrol.

The commissioners unanimously approved the job description.

Monday, February 5, 2018

3/8/2018 Food Presentation @ NJWTPL


Starke County Highway Department Making Intersection Safety Improvements

Posted on February 5, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

For the past several months, the Starke County Highway Department workers have been installing reflective strips to the poles that hold traffic signs to enhance safety at all intersections in the county. Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler said the safety devices have been installed first on highly traveled roads.

“The state has given us permission to put the reflective strips on all of the signs. That’s what we’re focusing on now. We’re just about done with all of the state roads. I think we have part of State Road 8 left to do and maybe a little section on State Road 23. Once we’re done with that we’re going to start going on the non-main roads and getting them on there. Eventually, we’d like those strips on every sign in the county. We have about 7,000 signs so that’s going to take a while,” said Ritzler.

He commented that it may take a year to complete that task. The county has already seen a reduction in crashes as a result of the reflective strips.

Ritzler added that they are also in the process of making all signs highly reflective.

“Right now we’re at 30 percent of our signs. We’re actually having one of our people redoing our sign inventory this spring to get the exact count and exact locations of the signs we need to replace.”

Ritzler explained that these improvements are an inexpensive way to increase safety.

Stellar Communities Designation Program Widens Scope to Encourage Regional Collaboration

Posted on February 5, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Once geared toward individual towns and cities, the Stellar Community Designation Program will now be asking communities to come together to propose regional development plans.

The Stellar Community program, which is offered through the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs, will now focus on encouraging towns, cities and counties to form partnerships to develop comprehensive solutions to regional and local challenges throughout rural Indiana.

“We believe that it is extremely important that communities work together and that we utilize and combine resources.” Crouch explained, “So we’re looking at a lot of our programs and looking at encouraging that collaborative effort.”

Only communities that participate in the state Community Development Block grant program are eligible. Qualified communities include local units of government that are a county, city or an incorporated town that is not currently considered a Housing and Urban Development recognized entitlement community.

All participants are required to commit at least four years to the project. Crouch said with this shift, they’re hoping to encourage neighbors to work together to help attract, retain and develop talent in and around Indiana.

The Lieutenant Governor said, “If we can break down the barriers between communities, everybody benefits”

Although all municipalities are eligible, Crouch said regional mentorship with past Stellar Designees and finalists is highly encouraged.

Candidate Filings Continue as Deadline Approaches

Posted on February 5, 2018
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The deadline is approaching for candidates to file to run in the May primary. Candidates have until Friday at noon to file their paperwork with the county clerk’s office.

The list of candidates continues to grow in Starke County. Republican Leslie Baker has filed to run for county prosecutor, joining incumbent Democrat Nick Bourff. The Starke County Clerk’s race is now up to three candidates: incumbent Democrat Vicki Cooley, Democrat Kay Chaffins, and Republican Bernadette Welter-Manuel.

The race for County Council District 2 also has its third candidate. Democrat Chuck Estok joins Republican Howard A. Bailey Jr. and Democrat Dale Conley.

Recent filings in Pulaski County include Democrat Jessye Gilley for the District 2 County Council seat and Republican Dan Vanaman for reelection to the Winamac Town Council.


Candidate Filings As of February 2:

Starke County

Assessor: Michelle Snowdon (D)

Auditor: Kasey Bula Clark (D), Rachel Milner Oesterreich (D)

Clerk: Katherine (Kay) Dolezal Chaffins (D), Vicki Cooley (D), Bernadette Welter-Manuel (R)

Coroner: Dannie Ray Hoffer Jr. (D)

Prosecutor: Leslie A. Baker (R), Nicholas Allen Bourff (D)

Recorder: Rebekah Sponaugle Wagner (D)

Sheriff: Thomas Decola (R), Bill Dulin (D)

Commissioner District 2: Don Binkley (D), Bryan Harold Cavender (R)

County Council District 1: Bradley J. Hazelton (D)

County Council District 2: Howard A. Bailey Jr. (R), Dale Conley (D), Chuck Estok (D)

County Council District 3: David Pearman (R)

County Council District 4: Karen Tibbs (D)

California Township Board Member: Michele Albon (R), Richard Anderson (R), Matthew McGowen Sr. (R)

Center Township Trustee: Julie Manns (D)

Center Township Board Member: Ben Warren (D)

Davis Township Trustee: Robin Latimer (D)

Davis Township Board Member: Robert Ferch (R), Rebecca (Becky) Pflugshaupt-Davis (R)

Jackson Township Trustee: Robert Schmidt (D)

Jackson Township Board Member: Michelle R. Hounshell (R)

North Bend Township Trustee: Rutherford Byron Walters (R)

Oregon Township Trustee: Mark Allen (D)

Oregon Township Board Member: Corey Louzon (D), Carole Noble (D), Joseph I Reed Jr. (R)

Railroad Township Trustee: Roger Chaffins Sr. (D), John Harris (R), Mandy Thomason (R)

Railroad Township Board Member: Bart D. Egolf (R), Joe Krzyzanowski (D), Mike Lawecki (R), Clayton (Clay) Redlin (D)

Washington Township Trustee: Cathy Ewing Benko (D)

Washington Township Board Member: Kimberly Temple (R)

Wayne Township Trustee: Shirley A. Kots (D)

Wayne Township Board Member: Joe Griffo (D)

California 2 Democrat Precinct Committeeman: Shirley Fields

Center 1 Democrat Precinct Committeeman and State Convention Delegate: Jeffery J. Houston

Center 1 Democrat Precinct Committeeman: Rick Chambers

Center 3 Democrat Precinct Committeeman and State Convention Delegate: Jeff V. Berg

Center 5 Democrat Precinct Committeeman and State Convention Delegate: Kenneth Wallace

Railroad Township Democrat Precinct Committeeman: August (Gus) Eckert II

Washington 2 Convention Delegate “At-Large”: Bernadette Welter-Manuel (R)

Wayne 2 Convention Delegate “At Large”: Brenda Stanojevic

Wayne 4 Convention Delegate “At Large”: Christopher Lee (R)



Pulaski County

Assessor: Lorena H. (Holly) VanDerAa (R)

Clerk: Christina L. Hoffa (R)

Coroner: John Behny (R), Alan S. Mitchell (R)

Sheriff: Jeffery K. Richwine (R)

Surveyor: Jenny Weaver-Keller (D)

Commissioner District 3: Tyler Campbell (R), John Michael “Mike” McClure (R)

County Council District 2: Douglas Roth (R)

County Council District 3: Jessye Gilley (D)

Francesville Town Clerk: Cathy Lynn Elston (R)

Winamac Town Council: Alvin R. Parish (R), Dan Vanaman (R)

Cass Township Trustee: Christopher Hudson (D)

Harrison Township Trustee: Betty Stinemetz (R)

Harrison Township Board: Christopher A. Graves (R)

Jefferson Township Trustee: Betty L. Kruger (R)

Jefferson Township Board: Roscoe “Bud” Cummins (R), Carl G. Kopka (D), Steven Sommers (D)

Monroe Township Trustee: Michelle Schmicker (R)

Monroe Township Board: Timothy F. Hoffa Jr. (R), Jeremy L. Beckner (R)

Rich Grove Township Trustee: Deloris Locke (R)

Salem Township Trustee: Kay Beasey (R)

Salem Township Board: Maurice Kopka (D), Charles R. Yeoman (R)

Tippecanoe Township Trustee: Martie White (D)

Tippecanoe Township Board: Tedmund R. Bauer (R), William E. Bauer (Bill) (D), Kelli Denton (D)

VanBuren Township Trustee: Lenora K. Hoover (R)

VanBuren Township Board: David W. Bailey (R), Kathleen (Kathi) Thompson (D), Tom Wallace (R)

White Post Township Trustee: Karen S. Wagner (R)

White Post Township Board: Richard Lee Brick (R), Patricia L. Tiede (R),

State Convention Delegate: Doug Gutwein (R), Daniel P. Murphy (R)

Friday, February 2, 2018

Frankenstein Friday - Chapter 2

It's #FrankensteinFriday! Join us to read, think and talk as we dive into Chapter 2 of Frankenstein.

That’s Not The Secretary of State Emailing You, It’s an Imposter

Posted on February 2, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

There are many scammers who pose as government officials in order to swindle unsuspecting individuals out of money.

In the past, we’ve warned about IRS, FTC and Social Security imposters, but in the latest reported scam, people say they are receiving emails from someone claiming to be Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

In the email, the fake Secretary of State alerts the recipient that they are owed a payment and claims that this was discovered during an FBI and CIA investigation. They go on to say the person will receive an ATM card with $1.85 million on it and even provides a phony PIN code. The catch is that they then ask individuals to provide personal information and pay a $320 fee.

Be aware of the fact that no government agency will ever instruct you to pay a fee to collect funds owed to you. Even if money was owed to you, the Secretary of State would not be sending a personal message.

If someone claiming to be from the government calls or emails you and says you’ve won a prize, owe money or you might go to jail and that the only way to get that prize, or get out of trouble, is if you make a payment right way, someone is likely attempting to scam you. Under no circumstances do you need pay them, provide them with information or even reply with a response.

What you should do is immediately contact the FTC.

North Judson Town Council Members Address Leftover Financial Matters of 2017

Posted on February 2, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

North Judson Town Council members took care of some final financial business from 2017 when they met in a special session earlier this week.

Monday night, members approved a resolution to transfer appropriated funds from various motor vehicle highway accounts. Clerk-Treasurer Andrew Rowe explained that while meeting with Umbaugh representatives, he was alerted there were a few adjustments that needed to be made to keep everything in the black.

The resolution transferred $22,530 from the Motor Vehicle Highway (MVH) motor equipment, cold patch, street salaries, employer FICA and SUTA, fuel funds into an MVH other expenses fund.

The approved resolution ensures that all accounts are balanced going into the 2018 fiscal year. The full version is included with this story on our website WKVI.com

Knox Habitat for Humanity Home Nearly Complete Thanks to Dedicated Volunteers

Posted on February 2, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The Habitat for Humanity Home in Knox is nearing completion, according to organization representative Carolla Heilstedt.

“We’ve got flooring and cabinetry in, paint is done. So our next phase is going to be light fixtures, which they’ve started on, the rest of the plumbing fixtures, the vanities and interior doors.”

Volunteers have been working on the home at 301 E Delaware Street since September. They meet from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. every Wednesday and Saturday. They look for professional and amateur workers, and invite anyone interested in helping to show up to the site on those days.

She said they’re incredibly grateful to everyone in the community who assists. Heilstedt added that the assistance even extends beyond construction, with some local individuals and organizations providing meals for the volunteers.

She said Knox resident Hope McIntire should be able to move into the home by mid-February. Additional landscaping work will be tackled in the spring, once the weather breaks.

According to Heilstedt, Hope has done a great job putting in the “sweat equity” for the home, meaning that she’s been a part of the process of constructing her new residence. That is one of the requirements when someone signs up to receive a Habitat home.

She added that McIntire was proactive in making sure that she fit all the specified criteria for the home-build. Heilstedt encourages individuals to check out the Starke Pulaski Habitat for Humanity website in order to see the specifications.

Heilstedt said they typically do home-builds every other year due to the amount of resources and labor that it entails. She said that downtime will allow people to do their research and be prepared for the next project.

If you have any questions about the program or if you wish to inquire about donating meals or volunteering, call 574-896-2811.

More Narcan Kits Made Available to Local First Responders

Posted on February 2, 2018
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

First responders in Marshall, Starke, and Pulaski counties will be able to get more Narcan kits. The Indiana State Department of Health has awarded a total of $127,000 to 95 first responder agencies in 34 rural counties. That will cover the cost of nearly 3,400 Narcan kits, training for first responders, and expanding referrals to treatment and recovery options.

State health officials say Narcan is a non-narcotic and non-addictive drug that can reverse opioid overdoses. They add that it’s especially important in rural areas, where residents may be many miles from the nearest health care provider.

Funding was awarded to counties with a higher number of emergency room visits for overdoses, more opioid prescriptions, and a lower use of Narcan by first responders, according to the ISDH. That money comes from a four-year, $3.2 million grant awarded to the State Department of Health back in October by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

The State Department of Health says it’s already given more than 13,700 Narcan kits to local health departments, as part of its naloxone distribution program.