Thursday, May 31, 2018

Starke County Council Gets Update from SCEDF

Posted on May 31, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Several properties are up for sale in Starke County that could lead to economic development if sold.

Starke County Economic Development Foundation Executive Director Larry Wickert told the Starke County Council members last week that the B&H Supply building on North Heaton Street was recently listed for sale. The foundation’s offices may end up moving into that building, but that decision has not been finalized. Until then, the building is up for sale. Wickert said the foundation paid for a new roof on the building to help in selling the building.

The Hamlet West area is still on the market. The former SYSCO property has been shown to several potential industry officials, but no movement has been made. A bigger sign was placed on the property and a brochure highlighting the area was produced. The property has also been submitted to the Indiana Economic Development Corporation as a site location as a possible place for an industry to relocate or expand.

In the meantime, the water tower there is not in danger of deterioration or maintenance. It is not full at this time.

Some space and a few acres at the former Stelrema facility that aren’t being utilized by the Gary Poppins manufacturing facility are still up for sale as well as a few facilities in North Judson. Wickert said a Merrillville broker is assisting the county in getting interested parties to fill the vacancies.

FEMA Representatives Are Still Determining If Starke County Will be Granted Individual Assistance

Posted on May 31, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Starke County Emergency Management Agency Director J. Nier is still waiting to hear back from FEMA representatives about individual assistance for the county.

When FEMA initially declared which counties were eligible for individual assistance for flood damage, Starke County was not included. However, Nier explained that was due to an error with the organization’s reporting app, not because the county didn’t need the help.

She reported, “FEMA had an app that they originally had us using. Well, they found out that there were some glitches in the app. So the good thing is that I actually documented everything on paper and had pictures to back it up.”

After Nier submitted the necessary documentation through the proper channels, FEMA representatives were sent out to evaluate the status of the county. On Friday, FEMA crews began conducting individual assessments on damaged homes.

Nier added that aside from structural assessments, the individuals living in the damaged homes will be interviewed as well.

Starke County has already been deemed eligible for public assistance through FEMA, which allows for federal funds to be utilized by department heads for flood-related infrastructure repairs. If individual assistance is provided, federal funds will be available to assist homeowners with costs related to repairing the flood damage on their own properties.

Frankenstein Friday #18 - Chapter 14

Frankenstein Friday is back with Chapter 14! Come read with us.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

6/4 to 6/28/2018 Summer Food Service Program @ NJSP School Corporation

6/4-7/2018 Son Harvest County Fair VBS

6/11/2018 Free Blood Pressure Screenings

6/9/2018 Pancakes & Airplanes Fly In/Drive In

6/9/2018 NJVFD Fish Fry

6/9/2018 Fireworks Fundraiser - City of Knox

6/9/2018 Furry Faces Vendor Event

6/3/2018 Free Community Breakfast

6/2/2018 Ladyjays Port-A-Pit Fundraiser

6/2/2018 Backstage Studio of Dance Recital

North Judson Town Council Members Discuss Potential Expansion at Highland Cemetery

Posted on May 30, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

North Judson Town Council members are considering what to do at Highland Cemetery now that space is becoming limited.

Clerk-Treasurer Andrew Rowe alerted council members last week that there are only about 12 to 20 grave spaces remaining at Highland Cemetery.

He noted that if they were to cross a highway or county road, a whole new cemetery would have to be established so they’re looking into the possibility of land acquisition. Rowe added that after checking on GIS, he discovered there is some farmland adjacent to the south end of the cemetery that could potentially be purchased for expansion.

Councilwoman Jane Ellen Felchuck noted that Pioneer Cemetery is retired and said that option is available for Highland. However, a few of the council members stated that they didn’t like the idea of not having a functional cemetery in town.

No official actions were taken but the matter will be readdressed at future meetings.

Starke County Park Board to Give Updates to Council

Posted on May 30, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The president of the Starke County Park Board will soon give the county council members an update on projects after the request was made to do so last week.

Councilman Dave Pearman said he went by the Bass Lake Beach recently and thought it could use some maintenance and cleanup. He said he has heard of other projects that the board members are considering, but would like a formal update from Park Board President Roger Chaffins.

The Starke County Park Board has been working to get the gate house repaired after a driver hit the building and knocked it off its foundation in November. Repairs are also needed on the Bass Lake Seawall to prevent erosion and a project is anticipated at the Starke County Forest to install a new road and parking lot at the location.

Starke County Attorney Marty Lucas briefly explained some of the projects to the council last week, but Chaffins will be notified of the council’s appearance request. He will schedule a time to speak with the county council at their June meeting.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

North Judson Town Council Approves Payment to Practical Tree Service for Stump and Tree Removal

Posted on May 29, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Some troublesome trees and stumps have been removed in the Town of North Judson.

Over the past few months, North Judson Town Council members received a few complaints about an abundance of stumps in the town’s cemeteries and some trees that were potential safety hazards.

In order to address the concerns of the citizens, the town hired Practical Tree Service to take care of some problematic trees and stumps around town. When members met last Monday, they discussed how the removal work is now complete.

Clerk-Treasurer Andrew Rowe stated that they removed a total of 39 stumps, at Highland. Councilman John Rowe added that another three trees were removed east of First Farmers and 9 trees and 8 stumps came out of the other cemetery, Pioneer.

Clerk-Treasurer Rowe asked members to approve a purchase order for the removal work which came to a total $7,397. The P.O. received unanimous council approval.

Starke County to Look into Regional Stellar Communities Designation Application

Posted on May 29, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Starke County officials will look to see what it takes to become a Regional Stellar Community.

Starke County Economic Development Foundation Executive Director Larry Wickert asked the commissioners last week if they’d be willing to get things started in applying to become a Stellar Community.

“It’s a hard thing to get, but I think it would be good for us to make that effort,” said Wickert. “The communities seem to be interested. One thing is we need to know is if the county would be willing to look at it and set a meeting, have Jerry White come out, and the community and the county could come together and discuss what all would be involved to see if we can get a consensus.”

The commissioners agreed that it could help the towns of North Judson and Hamlet, the City of Knox and the unincorporated areas in the county including Bass Lake and Koontz Lake and the many townships.

Wickert will be arranging a meeting soon to get details on how to get started and what costs would be involved in moving forward with the application.

Friday, May 25, 2018

FEMA Crews Conducting Individual Assessments in Starke County Today

Posted on May 25, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Starke County EMA Director J. Nier reports that FEMA crews are in the county today conducting individual assessments to determine whether or not individual financial assistance will be provided.

Nier previously shared that there was a technical issue with FEMA’s damage reporting app which resulted in the submissions from several counties going unrecorded. That led to many places not being included in FEMA’s list of counties to receive individual assistance damage caused during February’s floods.

Fortunately, the director had pictures and physical copies of damage reports that she was able to show officials to make the case that individual assistance is a necessity in the county.

Nier stated that while conducting damage assesments, she visited over 50 homes where owners reported damage. According to standards set out by FEMA, she found that 13 house were affected, 20 had minor damage and 22 houses had major damage.

FEMA crews are conducting their own damage assement today and Nier said she hopes to know whether the county will receive individual assistance at some point today. More information will be shared as it becomes available.

April Unemployment Rates Show Improvement

Posted on May 25, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The state’s unemployment rate dropped slightly for the month of April and remains lower than the national rate. Indiana had a 2.9 percent unemployment rate in April while the U.S. has a rate of 3.7 percent.

According to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, Starke County showed an improvement of eight-tenths moving from 4.7 percent unemployment rate in March to 3.9 percent in April. Pulaski County showed a slight improvement as well moving from 3.2 percent in March to 2.9 percent unemployment in April. La Porte County also showed gains with a 3.9 percent unemployment rate up from a March rate of 4.6 percent.

Starke County ranks fifth in the state in terms of unemployment while La Porte ranks fourth. Pulaski ranks 48th and Marshall County is 56th.

The Indiana Department of Workforce Development report also indicates that Indiana’s initial unemployment insurance claims continue to be at historical lows.

Click it or Ticket Campaigns in Full Swing

Posted on May 25, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Local police agencies around the state are participating in the Click it or Ticket campaign designed to increase enforcement of seat-belt laws. Officers will be watching for unrestrained adults and children in cars and trucks both day and night.

Last year, more than 240 law enforcement agencies performed 8,728 hours of traffic patrols and issued more than 30,000 citations or warnings. Seat belt and child restraint citations totaled around 13,700.

In a study conducted by the Purdue University Center for Road Safety, seat belt usage between the years 2000 and 2017 increased from 62 to 93 percent.

Overtime police patrols are paid with National Highway Traffic Safety Administration funds administered by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute.

North Judson Police Department is Wrapping Up Station Renovations

Posted on May 25, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Renovations at the North Judson Police Department are nearing completion, according to Town Marshal Kelly Fisher.

“The remodel has been long and painful but we’ve gotten through it and there’s a major difference. We’re happy that’s pretty close to being done. We’ll have an open house once we get the dust cleaned up and so forth.”

Fisher said there isn’t an exact date or time for the open house quite yet but she suggested holding it prior to a town council meeting. She said it could possibly be before the one scheduled for June 4th.

Marshal Fisher added that the work to convert the boardroom into a training center is completely finished. She said the Valpo University Police Department will be leading an active shooter training session there on May 31st.

Quotes Needed for Curbing, Carpeting at Annex Buildings in Knox

Posted on May 25, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Quotes will be obtained to replace the curb along the west side of the Starke County Annex No. 2 building on Pearl Street in Knox.

The Starke County Commissioners previously asked Maintenance Director Jim Coad to talk to the City of Knox to see if they could apply for 50/50 funds to replace the curb, but Coad learned the city is just awarding funds for sidewalks at this time. Commissioner Kathy Norem noted that Coad will gather quotes for the curb project.

In the meantime, Coad is also expected to gather quotes for the replacement of carpet in the auditor’s office and the surveyor’s office in the Starke County Annex No. 1 building. A malfunctioning sprinkler system damaged the auditor’s office a few months ago. The carpeting in the offices is the original material from when the building was first built a few decades ago. The carpeting was replaced in other areas of the building over a period of time.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

DNR Finds No Flood Control Violations Near Starke County Forest

Posted on May 24, 2018
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The Starke County Forest appears to have been absolved from blame for flooding concerns in the local area. A letter from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources was presented to the Starke County Park Board last week. In it, an engineer in the department’s compliance and enforcement section addressed concerns apparently raised by a neighboring property owner.

The letter said that DNR staff inspected the area along Anderson Ditch last June. They didn’t observe any activity that violated the Flood Control Act, according to the letter, and the case is now closed.

Forester Bruce Wakeland told the park board it was nice to see a written letter showing that there was no violation.

North Judson Town Council Holds Second Reading Over Ordinance to Vacate 16-Foot Alley

Posted on May 24, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Back in April, North Judson Town Council members started taking steps to address an unresolved request to vacate an alley that was initially submitted in the 1980s.

When members met Monday night, they conducted the second reading of the ordinance that would relinquish the town’s ownership of a 16-foot alley between Dahlke and Lyle Streets. Once the alley is vacated, it will be evenly divided up amongst neighboring property owners.

The second reading of the ordinance passed unanimously. Councilwoman Jane-Ellen Felchuck asked if members could consider the ordinance on third reading as well.

However, Clerk-Treasurer Andrew Rowe explained that wasn’t possible since there has to be two published notifications about the ordinance and the next notice won’t appear in the paper until the 25th. The council will have to wait until their first meeting in June to officially adopt the ordinance.

The reason the alley wasn’t vacated even though the request received Plan Commission approval in December of 1986 and Town Council approval in January of 1987, is because it was never officially recorded. In order to keep the same issue from happening again, town officials need to be sure that the ordinance makes it to the County Recorder once it is approved.

Starke County Highway Department Requests Additional Appropriation

Posted on May 24, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

About half of Starke County CEDIT Fund will be going to the bridge program. Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler reminded the Starke County Council members Monday night that this is an annual additional appropriation request.

The money requested will pay the balance for three bridges that are on the schedule for this year. Ritzler explained that the county is being reimbursed for Community Crossings projects from last year and those leftover funds will pay for a portion of this year’s projects. Those bridge projects include Bridge No. 58 on County Road 800 South over Bogus Run, which is nearly complete, Bridge No. 36 on County Road 25 North over Eagle Creek and Bridge No. 154 on County Road 100 East over the Robbins Ditch. Construction on Bridge No. 36 will begin in June while bids will be opened on June 18 for work to be done on Bridge No. 154.

The design work will also be paid for with CEDIT funds for Bridge No. 7 over the Yellow River on County Road 1200 E.

That additional appropriation amounts to just over $688,500.

Ritzler also asked for grant match money for a Community Crossings project.

“Last October the council approved $50,000 for the match for the 300 East paving while 75 percent of that paving was covered under the Community Crossings grant,” explained Ritzler. “We bid it out in October and that’s why we constructed it now. The good news is that it came in $60,000 under the estimate. Instead of $50,000 we only need $35,857 as part of our match.”

The 300 East paving project is complete.

The council members approved the requests with a unanimous vote.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

North Judson Town Council Secures Administration Services for $550,000 Community Block Development Grant

Posted on May 23, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The North Judson Town Council members secured administrative assistance related to their $550,000 OCRA grant at their Monday night meeting. KIRPC Representative Shawn Cain presented a proposal for administrative services for the Community Development Block Grant funds that will be used for the town’s Drinking Water Project.

In previous meetings, Town Superintendent Marshall Horstmann has shared that the Drinking Water Project includes adding a backup generator for the water system to address an Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) requirement, rehabilitating some of the town’s wells and conducting external and internal upgrades to both water towers to bring them up to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards.

Aside from a services agreement, the proposal also included a letter stating that no other proposals were submitted and that the town has an existing working relationship with the organization, as well as a document requesting the environmental release.

Cain explained that everything has been submitted for the environmental review and now they’re waiting to hear back about. Cain said only Town Council President Wendy Hoppe signature was needed on that document. The expected date for the review to be returned is around June 13th and then the project can fully move forward.

She shared that she will keep in touch with officials through this process but her involvement will be more frequent once money comes into play.

She told members, “Once the project is ready to go to bid, that’s when you’ll see a lot more of my face and we will work toward taking care of the publication for the bid notice and everything of that nature.”

Members voted unanimously to accept the proposal. Cain mentioned that the proposal will go before the KIRPC Board of Directors their next meeting in order for it to be fully executed.

Starke County Council Reviews Commissioners’ Additional Appropriation Request

Posted on May 23, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Commissioners asked the Starke County Council members for just over $142,000 in additional appropriations for capital projects in the CEDIT and Jail CEDIT funds.

On Monday night, Commissioner Kathy Norem explained that the commissioners reviewed priority projects in the county and found that the tuckpointing project at the courthouse needs to be done as water is causing damage on the exterior of the building. Norem said the work needs to be done behind the gutters so the gutters have to be removed and reinstalled as part of the process. Also, stone repairs are needed over the entryways at the courthouse as part of this project. A quote from RestoreWorks was provided for $58,565. That money would come out of the regular CEDIT Fund.

Norem said the commissioners also would like to appropriate $50,000 out of the regular CEDIT Fund for the 10 percent grant match for the courthouse elevator project. The county received a K-IRPC grant for the project in the amount of $500,000.

Lastly, the commissioners asked for $34,000 out of the Jail CEDIT Fund to purchase a squad car for the Starke County Sheriff’s Department. Sheriff Bill Dulin was granted permission to use any extra funds to wire the lights and radios.

The council members approved the requests with a unanimous vote.

Commissioner Norem reviewed other projects that the commissioners will be requesting funds for this year including a new ambulance, a Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system for the Starke County Sheriff Department, an IT server, and a new telephone system.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

NJ Town Council Approves Amended Owner-Engineer Agreement for Drinking Water and Wastewater Projects

Posted on May 22, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

North Judson Town Council members approved an amended version of the owner-engineer agreement with CommonWealth Engineers when they met Monday night.

Project Engineer Rob Bellucci spoke on behalf of the firm. He alerted members that since the base agreement only covered the services provided for the environmental report, an amendment had to be made in order for the agreement to encompass other aspects of the projects. Bellucci explained, “This amendment will take us into the design the phase and on page three is an outline of all the phases covered under this amendment; preliminary/final design, it will take us through bidding and construction and also through post-construction.”

Bellucci mentioned that his design team has already held a preliminary meeting with Town Superintendent Marshall Horstmann on site to go over some initial information.

Clerk-Treasurer Andrew Rowe noted that the agreement with CommonWealth Engineers pertains to both the drinking water and wastewater projects. Town officials will be working with the engineering firm to handle as many portions of the project concurrently to save time and money.

Starke County Park Board Updated on Bass Lake Beach Seawall Repairs

Posted on May 22, 2018
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Repairs to the Bass Lake Beach House seawall are getting underway. The Starke County Park Board has been working with Bass Lake Beach operator Callahan Development, LLC, as well as the County Highway Department, to fix the wall and try to prevent future damage.

During last week’s meeting, Park Board President Roger Chaffins said the stone and sand were about ready to be delivered to the site. “The wall had cracked down, and the water’s rushing in underneath the building and washing the sand out,” he explained. “They’re going to put rock out there and then put sand in there, and fix it back the way it should be.”

Bass Lake Beach Assistant Manager Larry Clarich explained that the stone will shore up the wall and help preserve the work that’s being done now. He agreed to work with Starke County Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler to coordinate the delivery of the stone. Meanwhile, Chaffins offered to ask Sheriff Bill Dulin about the possibility of getting jail inmates to help haul it in by hand.

The park board was recently awarded a $5,000 Community Support Grant from the Starke County Community Foundation, to help with the cost of materials.

Starke County Council Considers Bond Issue and Additional Appropriation Request from NJSP Schools

Posted on May 22, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

North Judson-San Pierre Schools will be getting money for technology and security upgrades thanks to a decision by the Starke County Council members last night.

School Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin explained that the school completed paperwork for a $1.1 million General Obligation bond which will help pay for technology upgrades and security upgrades at the schools. Students would be able to have updated technology devices while security cameras would be installed at the elementary school. In addition, new, secure entrances would be constructed at a cost of approximately $400,000. Zupin said the rest of the funds would be set aside for about three years to gauge enrollment at the elementary school. If the student population stays status quo or increases, the remaining money will be used to update the building.

Councilman David Pearman asked what the funding would be used for if the elementary school is no longer needed. Zupin answered that it would be used to re-roof the remaining buildings or be used for other capital projects. The bond money cannot be used for other purposes other than capital projects.

The Liberty Elementary School is the oldest building owned by the school corporation. It dates back to about 1952.

Curt Pletcher from Umbaugh and Associates said the school has debt falling off in 2019 and the payments for the three-year bond could be made without impacting the levy.

The school board last week held a public hearing regarding this funding request and no public comment was provided. The school board members approved all paperwork in order to move forward with this process.

Councilman Freddie Baker commented that the school corporation has been very responsible with its budget since its large scale restructuring a few years ago and he supported the bond issue and additional appropriation request.

The council members did unanimously approve the request as presented. The projects could begin yet this summer.

Monday, May 21, 2018

5/27 - 28/2018 5th Annual Memorial Day Watch

North Judson Town Council Meets Tonight

Posted on May 21, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The North Judson Town Council members will hold the second reading over an ordinance to vacate a 16-foot alley between Dahlke and Lyle Streets when they meet tonight at 6:30 p.m.

The ordinance deals with a request that was initially submitted and considered by the Town Council and Plan Commission back in the 1980s.

However, the original request was never processed by the County Recorder so it wasn’t officially implemented. Current Town Council members are working to address the issue by adopting this ordinance which would finally vacate the alley.

Members are expected to address an amendment to the owner-engineer agreement between the town and CommonWealth Engineers. They will also consider a proposal from KIRPC over Community Development Block Grant Administration Services for the town’s drinking water project.

Prior to tonight’s town council meeting, an executive session to discuss pending litigation will be held. The executive session is closed to the public and restricted to discussion only.

North Judson-San Pierre School Board Approves Corporation Plans

Posted on May 21, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

North Judson-San Pierre School Board members approved the corporation plans for next year when they met last Tuesday.

The wellness, technology and the corporation strategic and accountability plans all received unanimous approval on their final readings.

As a reminder, the wellness plan addresses nutritional education and promotional as well as physical activity and other school-based activities that promote healthy habits.

The technology plan addresses a few different areas including teaching and learning as well as professional development, specifically with the new eLearning curriculum. It also deals with adding more devices and lays out ways to address infrastructure and financing.

The accountability and strategic plan includes the corporation’s vision, purpose, direction, core values and beliefs. It states that school officials are dedicated to providing a diverse and relevant curriculum and ensuring that a student’s academic achievement exhibits continuous growth.

This plan also deals with engaging parents, businesses and community members in the educational process while establishing and maintaining a cash balance that ensures financial stability

Bass Lake Beach Gate House Repairs Underway

Posted on May 21, 2018
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Repairs to the Bass Lake Beach gate house have begun. The structure was seriously damaged when a pickup truck reportedly crashed into it back in November.

Bass Lake Beach and Campground Assistant Manager Larry Clarich told the Starke County Park Board last week that the building has been pushed back onto its foundation. But he said there’s extensive termite damage on one side and part of the front and back. The front door will also have to be replaced, following last year’s crash.

Park Board President Roger Chaffins said the county received its $2,500 insurance settlement on April 30. A group of local community members and campground users has volunteered to help with repairs.

Clarich said he hoped to get the work done before the Bass Lake Beach officially opens this coming Friday. Until then, he asks members of the public to stay off the beach for their own safety, as various construction projects continue.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Frankenstein Friday #17 - Chapter 13

Frankenstein Friday returns this week with Vol. 2, Chapter 6.

Starke County Forester Voices Concerns with Proposed Name for County Forest Access Road

Posted on May 18, 2018
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The Starke County Forest’s access trail will soon be upgraded to a gravel road, but what it should be called is up for debate. The Starke County Park Board recently got $15,000 from the Hardesty Memorial Endowment Fund to build the road, along with a 10-to-12-car parking lot.

The work will be done by the Starke County Highway Department, and the new road will be added into the county’s road inventory. Since it will need a name, county officials have suggested calling it Hardesty Lane, rather than using the county’s road numbering system.

But during Tuesday’s park board meeting, Bruce Wakeland, who donated the forest to the county and continues to manage it, voiced his opposition to that idea. For one thing, he was afraid that potential visitors might be confused if they’re directed to Hardesty Lane, rather than the forest’s Division Road address. Wakeland added that he wasn’t thrilled with someone else’s name being placed on the property, when his isn’t.

County Attorney Marty Lucas told board members that the naming process is on hold, until a solution is reached. “I think one of us needs to meet with that fund to see what their thinking on it is, and I will say, it wasn’t their idea in the first place, so I think we can solve that,” he said. “[Highway Superintendent] Rik Ritzler says the number system, nobody understands it anyway. I do, so I know somebody does, I guess, that the numbering system is logical. He didn’t think that’s a big issue because he figures people don’t know how to read it, anyway.”

As for the actual project, Lucas said construction still hadn’t begun as of Tuesday, but crews have been taking measurements.

Starke County EMA and EMS Directors Attend Briefing over FEMA Public Assistance

Posted on May 18, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Starke County Emergency Management Agency Director J. Nier and EMS Director Travis Clary attended a briefing with FEMA representatives on Thursday in order to learn more about the public financial assistance that is available to the county to help with flood relief.

EMA Director Nier explained that in order to be eligible for public assistance, the county had to reach about $85,000 spent dealing with flood recovery. Nier said that number was not only reached, but it was surpassed, with close to $2 million spent during the immediate response.

The public assistance provided deals specifically with infrastructure concerns and the federal funds will be provided on a reimbursement basis. The funding is offered to county departments including the Surveyor’s Office, the Highway Department, Debris Management, EMS, various fire departments and multiple other agencies who were involved in the flood response.

The county’s department heads will utilize a reporting portal through FEMA where they will upload their invoices directly. Director Nier said that during this process, it is imperative that department heads take detailed records of everything that a repair entails including equipment, materials, man hours and anything else that has a cost associated with it.

A FEMA representative will be in the county, working with department heads to show them how to utilize the portal.

Nier noted that once the representative is no longer working with the departments on an individual basis, individuals will still be able to reach them over the phone if any questions or concerns arise.

Additionally, Director Nier shared that she has submitted documentation to help bring individual assistance into the county as well.

She said FEMA experienced some technical difficulties with their reporting app that led to damage in multiple counties going unrecorded even though it was submitted. Nier said fortunately she had pictures and physical copies of her reports that she has since turned in for consideration.

An appeal will be submitted to FEMA, asking officials to reconsider providing individual assistance to those areas. While public assistance focuses on infrastructure, individual assistance would help impacted residents on a more personal basis.

State Police Warn of Scam using Lowell Post Phone Number

Posted on May 18, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Indiana State Police Troopers in the Lowell District are warning residents that scammers are using the Lowell District’s phone number to steal personal information and money.

According to the Indiana State Police, the scammers are portraying police officers and telling residents that jury duty was missed and an arrest warrant has been issued. The scammers may also call saying that taxes are owed to the IRS or that a grandchild is in jail and needs money to be bailed out of jail. In any case, the scammer will ask you to send money via pre-paid debit card or wire transfer.

State Police Troopers encourage people to ignore phone calls where a demand for money is made. If you receive such a call from a person whose identity is unclear, call the police or call the agency identified by the caller. If there is a question about an arrest warrant or if a certain person is in jail, call the police.

Police urge residents never to give out private information such as date of birth, social security number, or credit card numbers over the phone. Don’t be pressured into making a hasty decision over the phone and always think twice before sending money by prepaid card or wire transfer.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

NJSP School Board Holds Hearing Over $1.1 Million General Obligation Bonds

Posted on May 17, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

North Judson-San Pierre school board members took a few major steps in the General Obligation Bond process at their Tuesday night meeting.

A public hearing was held over the proposed bond issuance, which will be for a total of $1.1 million. Curt Pletcher from Umbaugh provided a general overview of the bond process, explaining that it will take the place of the 2006 bonds that will soon be retired.

He said there is about a 2 percent interest rate and the bond will be paid back over a three year period. Fletcher stressed that the school corporation will be maintaining their annual payments going forward.

Dr. Zupin noted that about $400,000 of the bond money will be used to purchase new technology devices. Another $100,000 dollars will be spent to enhance safety and security. The remaining money will be set aside for future repairs and potential upgrades to the elementary school building.

Following the hearing, members considered three resolutions that dealt with issuance, appropriation and reimbursement.

The school corporation’s bond counsel, Thomas Peterson, explained that the first two resolutions had to do with issuing the money and making an additional appropriation in the school’s budget so the money can be spent.

Peterson said the third document is a reimbursement resolution created by the Internal Revenue Service. It establishes that the school is borrowing on a tax-exempt basis, and acknowledges that the money will be utilized for projects that are “purposeful for tax exemption” and that any money given to the school is reimbursement for an appropriated expense. He said that the IRS put that resolution in place to keep individuals from abusing the system.

All three resolutions were approved unanimously by the school board members. The request to make an additional appropriation now has to go before the Starke County Council at their next meeting on May 21st. If that is approved, the school can move forward with the process. Dr. Zupin said that if all goes according to plan, they can expect to see the money from the bond issuance in mid-June

Starke County Park Board Approves Rent Increase on Bass Lake Beach and Campground

Posted on May 17, 2018
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Starke County is raising the rent on the Bass Lake Beach and Campground. The Starke County Park Board voted Tuesday to increase Callahan Development, LLC’s rent payment by eight percent, the maximum allowed by the lease agreement.

Callahan recently exercised an option to renew its lease through April of 2028, but board member Debbie Mix continued to voice concerns with the renewal Tuesday. She felt that Callahan has not been complying with the terms of the lease, when it comes to maintenance.

Mix complained to lessee Richard Callahan that many of the repairs suggested by an independent inspection of the property still haven’t been made. “You have had a year to complete things, and it was not completed,” Mix said. It’s not an argument with you. It’s just a matter of ‘This is what I’ve seen. This is what I can show hasn’t been done.’ Period.”

“This conversation, that’s two ways,” Callahan replied. “I think that the purpose of this board is to improve the situation at the beach, so the whole county can make money, and we’re not doing that. We’re just tearing down. Every meeting is tearing down. It’s just unbelievable what you’re coming up with.”

“The beach has not been done,” Mix responded. “That campground has been wonderful.”

“The beach is 50 times better than it ever was, ever!” Callahan added.

Assistant Manager Larry Clarich noted that some of the repairs were made, but day-to-day safety concerns have been keeping him busy. Mix acknowledged Clarich’s efforts in improving the beach and campground over the past two years. “He’s doing that in spite of Mr. Callahan,” Mix said. “He is not doing that because of him. And my point of my objection and what I say about the maintenance is because Mr. Callahan did not do it all those years. It is nothing against Larry or Mara. It has to do with Mr. Callahan and his name being on that contract, and that is my concern because I don’t think he gives a darn.”

However, County Attorney Marty Lucas pointed out that those issues are not directly related to the lease renewal. “I don’t think it would matter if it was three years into the lease or it was two weeks into the lease or whatever,” he said. “Those issues are still something that you can raise. But the one thing that comes up now, that only comes up now, is whether you’re going to raise the rent up to eight percent. That only comes up once. That only comes up at renewal. I guess that’s my legal opinion for you. That’s the issue that you really have a decision on.”

But Lucas said it isn’t clear whether the park board may continue to raise the rent every year for the remainder of the lease, or if the board is limited to a one-time increase. Mix abstained from voting on the rent increase.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Starke County Economic Development Foundation Discusses Population Estimates

Posted on May 16, 2018
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Starke County’s population continues to decline. Ron Gifford with the Starke County Economic Development Foundation discussed the recently-released 2017 population estimates with the Hamlet Town Council last week. “We’re down 683 people since the 2010 census was taken,” he said. “Part of the reason for that is that deaths in the county are outnumbering births in the county in five of the last seven years. That’s certainly not a good trend. There’s 27 counties in Indiana, of the 92, the have a population between 15,000 and 30,000. Only one of those had a population increase between 2016 and 2017.”

Gifford added that Starke County’s population decrease is projected to continue over the coming decades. “We’re not in a horrible position on those numbers, but boy, some of the counties around us are really starting to see that. Pulaski, for instance, is projected to be down around 10,000 people by 2050. So that’s tough.” He noted that this particular area of Indiana is losing people dramatically.

North Judson San Pierre School Board Approves Dean of Students positions at Elementary and Jr.-Sr. High Schools

Posted on May 16, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The North Judson-San Pierre Elementary and Jr.-Sr. High Schools will each have a Dean of Students starting in the 2018-2019 school year, following the school board’s approval of the two new personnel positions during their meeting Tuesday night.

Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin said that school board members, teachers, and administrators have been discussing staffing for the last several months. She said after speaking with faculty, she realized there were a few matters that were consistently brought up.

“There’s a common theme,” Zupin explained, “the attendance and minor discipline issues at both schools kind of slip through the cracks because we just don’t have somebody to handle those.”

Zupin said that many meaningful and positive discussions were held, considering potential positions that could address those concerns. School officials also took into consideration the fact that the corporation is in a much more stable financial position than it was in 2-years ago when major restructuring had to take place. After weighing various options, Zupin said they reached the conclusion to hire a Dean of Students for each building.

The Dean of Students for the Elementary School was an inside hire. Kindergarten Teacher Margaret Radkte will fill that position. She will work 180 days during the year, the same amount as a typical teacher.

However, due to the additional responsibilities associated with the double school format, the Dean of Students for the Jr.-Sr. High will work about 200 days during the year. Dr. Zupin said that position was filled by Cary McKay, an outside hire.

Dr. Zupin noted that neither position is administrative, meaning that the salary and benefits will be based on a teacher contract.

Monday, May 14, 2018

About 60 Students, Job Seekers Attend Starke County Job Fair

Posted on May 14, 2018
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Last month’s Starke County Job Fair was a success. That’s according to Ron Gifford with the Starke County Economic Development Foundation. “We had about 20 companies there,” he told the Hamlet Town Council last week. “They weren’t all industrial companies. Some were personnel agencies on behalf of companies, and some were commercial facilities. We had one of the auto parts stores there, for example. Some of the nursing homes were there. So lots of people were looking. We had about 60 people, total, that went through there. We saw one of the companies hire two people on the spot.”

Gifford explained that the job fair was held at the request of some of the county’s employers, who wanted a chance to meet with graduating high school seniors. It was held at Knox High School on April 26. “Every single month, we have more people in the labor force looking for jobs, and I think the job fair showed that we have lots of companies out looking for people to work,” Gifford said. “It’s just a significant problem trying to find people.”

In addition to students from around Starke County, the general public also had the chance to attend last month’s job fair.

Starke County Courthouse Elevator Project to Begin Soon

Posted on May 14, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Courthouse elevator project will get underway this summer.

Maintenance Director Jim Coad and Commissioner Kathy Norem met with John Kirk from DLZ two weeks ago and noted that the advertisement for bids has been given. A special meeting will be held later this month to open the bids in order to meet K-IRPC grant requirement deadline of May 31.

A start date is expected in mid-July. The substantial completion date is Dec. 1.

A general contractor will bid on the exterior part of the elevator project while the interior cart is expected to be bid by another company.

The elevator will be constructed to be more handicapped accessible. Special arrangements may need to be made to work around the construction during the November General Election.

The county received a $500,000 grant for the project with a 10 percent match. The commissioners did agree to approve the appropriation of the grant match during their meeting last week.

Ribbon Cutting Set for Norwayne Field Stage Cover

Posted on May 14, 2018 
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

This Saturday, the Town of North Judson and the Starke County Chamber of Commerce are hosting a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the completion of the Norwayne Field stage cover.

When town council members met last Monday, Park Board representative Nick Radke informed them that the remaining stonework was nearly complete. The ribbon cutting will take place at 6:30 p.m. on May 19th. Following the ceremony, there will be a free showing of the movie Field of Dreams, sponsored by the North Judson Park Board.

If you have any questions about the ceremony or the movie showing, you can contact North Judson Town Hall at 574-896-3340.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Frankenstein Friday #16 - Slavery and Race in Frankenstein

This Frankenstein Friday we're taking a break from the novel for an essay on Frankenstein and race from Dr. Jason Kelly.

Starke County EMS Transfers Increase, New Personnel Hired

Posted on May 11, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

When giving her report to the Starke County Commissioners, EMS Clerk Mary Lynn Ritchie mentioned that EMS transfers were up in the month of April. Transfers were up to 21 percent of the run volume which is the highest that percentage has been since July of 2017. The department relies on those numbers to be high to ensure a good revenue stream.

EMS Director Travis Clary said he’s had the chance to hire some new staff.

“I’ve hired three part-time paramedics since our last meeting,” stated Clary. “I’ve also hired one part-time Basic EMT. That’s going to cut down on the overtime production.”

Clary added that he selected three current full-time paramedics to move into the role of Paramedic Shift Captain. That became effective on May 1. He will be setting up a meeting with the auditor to go over workman’s comp claim paperwork in the case that Clary is not immediately available to complete that work.

5/15/2018 FINAL Mint Festival Pageant Sign-up

OK, you've been thinking about it - should you sign up/sign your child up - for the Mint Festival Mint Darling Pageant / Queen & King Pageant.  Well your absolutely LAST chance will be May 15th at the North Judson-Wayne Township Library. 

Mint Darlings sign ups are open to all children – newborn to 4 years – who reside in Starke County. Fundraiser required.  Mint Darlings Pageant will take place June 9th, 11a.m., at the Knox Middle School Cafetorium.

Queen and King sign ups are open to all children who attend Starke County School ages 5-19. Registration fee is $20 and fundraiser is required.  Pageant will be held June 9th, 6 p.m., at the Knox Middle School Cafetorium.  
Additional information at sign-ups or contact Donna Henry at 219-395-6504 or email 

Thursday, May 10, 2018

5/13/2018 Knights of Columbus Mother's Day Breakfast

Materials From Old North Judson Fire House Used for Memorial Wall, Fire Chief Shares Grant Success

Posted on May 10, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The North Judson Fire Department plans to commemorate their old firehouse with a monument in front of the new building. At Monday night’s North Judson Town Council meeting, Fire Chief Joe Leszek explained that some material from the old firehouse was retrieved during the demolition process.

Leszek told members, “When the old firehouse was torn down, some of our members went over there and we salvaged some of the limestone and it was always our plan to build a small little memorial wall.”

Chief Leszek said that Brian Allen Masonry is the company being utilized to erect the wall in front of the flagpole outside the new fire station.

In addition to informing members about the memorial wall, Leszek stated that members of the department are constantly working to find and apply for grants in order to bring in some extra funds.

He announced the Starke County Community Foundation recently awarded the department a grant worth $5,673.75 and mentioned they’re currently waiting to hear back about whether or not they’ve received a $3,500 grant from Starke United.

Leszek explained that last year with grant money received through the Community Foundation and REMC, the department was able to purchase new brush and extrication suits. They’re planning to use the grant money this year to buy boots and gloves for the suits.

Leszek added that the department has acquired more than $11,000 in grant funding that they’ve been able to use to supplement their budget at no cost to the town. He said they will continue to seek out those opportunities in order to keep money coming in for needed equipment and potential fire station additions, such as a new sign.

Starke County Commissioners Discuss Capital Projects

Posted on May 10, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Commissioners took time Monday night to discuss several capital projects on the schedule for this year.

Commissioner Kathy Norem pointed out that the tuckpointing needs to be done on the courthouse. A portion of it was done a couple of years ago, but problems persist.

“It was not tuckpointed behind the gutters,” said Norem. “There’s water coming in there that is already damaging some of the new stuff that we had done. So, we got a quote last year for that but it was too late in the year for them to do that.”

The downspouts will need to be removed in order to complete the tuckpointing and then they would be reinstalled. Some stone repairs over the entryways will be done as part of this quote. The new quote came in at around $58,500 which was unanimously approved. The project may not begin until August.

The commissioners also discussed the purchase of a new ambulance for Starke County EMS at over $130,000 and two squad cars for the Starke County Sheriff’s Office. The commissioners approved a motion that requests the county council members to appropriate up to $34,000 for a new squad car out of the Jail CEDIT fund.

Other projects discussed include fencing around the air conditioners at the courthouse, a new Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system at the Starke County Sheriff’s Office, a new computer server at the jail, and the replacement of curbing on the west side of the Starke County Annex No. 2 building. Quotes will be obtained for the projects to determine if they can be done yet this year.

In addition, the commissioners approved a motion to request approximately $50,000 for the county’s grant match in CEDIT funds for the courthouse elevator project. The county council will discuss that later this month.

If quotes allow all of the projects to be complete this year, they will be paid for in stages as money becomes available in the CEDIT fund each month.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

North Judson Town Council Considers Ordinance Addressing Unresolved Request From the 80’s

Posted on May 9, 2018 
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

A 30-year-old oversight is one step closer to being rectified after North Judson Town Council members held the first reading of an ordinance Monday night.

The ordinance that members considered addresses a request that was initially submitted in 1986 that asks for the town to vacate an unused alley that is located south of Dahlke Street and north of Lyle Street.

At a meeting in April, former town council member Tim Cummins alerted the current members that the request to vacate was initially approved by the Plan Commission in December of 1986 and a public hearing was held by Town Council members in January of 1987.

Cummins said the only reason the alley wasn’t vacated was that the paperwork never made it to the County Recorder so it was not officially recorded or implemented. The oversight was brought to his attention as he was attempting to have his nearby property surveyed.

The ordinance indicates that the town would vacate the 16-foot alley and extinguish claims to it. If the ordinance is passed, the alley would be divided up and ownership would be evenly distributed amongst the neighboring property owners.

The ordinance was approved on first reading and will be up for adoption at the next North Judson Town Council meeting on May 21st.

Starke County Community Crossings Projects Complete

Posted on May 9, 2018 
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The three projects awarded INDOT Community Crossings funding in Starke County are complete.

In a report provided by Starke County Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler and presented by Office Manager Rachel Oesterrich to the county commissioners Monday night, the replacement projects on Bridge 50 and Bridge 47 and a hot mix overlay project on 300 East from State Road 8 to 250 feet south of Division Road are done.

The total reimbursement will be $575,000 for the three Community Crossings projects.

The commissioners approved a motion to provide the match for the projects out of the CEDIT fund in the amount of just over $35,850. It is less than what the county council appropriated for the 25 percent match last year as bids for the work came in under expectations. The recommendation will be sent to the county council for final approval.

Oregon-Davis School Referendum Passes During Starke County Primary Election

Posted on May 9, 2018 
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

One major result that came out of Starke County’s primary election was that the Oregon-Davis School referendum passed, with 61.5 percent of voters voting in favor of it.

The public questioned posed to Oregon and Davis Township residents was:
“For the eight calendar years immediately following the holding of the referendum, shall the Oregon-Davis School Corporation impose a property tax rate that does not exceed twenty-nine cents of each one-hundred dollars of assess valuation and that is in addition to all other property taxes imposed by the school corporation for the purposes of funding current and future educational and operational expenditures?”
There were 447 people who voted yes and 284 individuals who voted no. More information about what O.D. school officials plan to do now that the referendum passed will be covered in future stories.

Additionally, in Tuesday’s Primary Election, incumbent Prosecuting Attorney Nick Boruff beat Richard Ballard on the Democrat ticket. He now will face off with Republican Leslie Baker for the position during the November General Election.

Other contested races included the Democrat County Auditor race where Rachel Oesterreich pulled ahead of her competitor Kasey Bula Clark and the Democrat Circuit Court Clerk race where Incumbent Vicki Cooley won over Kay Chaffins.

There were a few county council races that were also contested, including the County Council District 1, where Brad Hazelton won over Karl Swihart and County Council District 2 where Chuck Estok was the winner over Dale Conley.

All of the men running for those positions were listed as Democrats. Estok will go up against Republican Howard Bailey Jr. for the District 2 County Council seat in the General election.

In the Republican Railroad Township Trustee race, Mandy Thomason was beaten by Debra Wappel. Wappel will now face Democrat Roger Chaffins for the position in the General Election.

A little less than 23 percent of registered voters in Starke County cast a vote for this year’s Primary Election, with 3,765 voters accounted for out of the 16,446 residents who are registered.

Election officials provided the total absentee ballot numbers about 45 minutes after the polls closed and then delivered the final count after the results from all 21 reporting precincts were tallied.

Click the following link if you’re interested in seeing all the final results from Starke County’s 2018 Primary Election.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

The Registration Deadline for North Judson Mint Fest Pageants is This Thursday

Posted on May 8, 2018 
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Thursday, May 10th is the final day to register for the North Judson Mint Festival pageants! Sign-ups will be held at the Henry F. Schricker Public Library in Knox from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m.

Starke County students ages 5 through 19 are permitted to sign up for the Mint Festival Queen and King Pageant. The registration fee is $20 and a fundraiser is required.

The county’s youngsters, ranging from newborns up to 4-year-olds, can register for the Mint Darlings Pageant, where a fundraiser is also required.

On Saturday, June 9th, The Mint Darlings Pageant will be held at 11 a.m. and the Queen and King Pageant is scheduled for 6 p.m. Both pageants will be held at Knox Middle School Cafetorium.

Any questions can be directed to Mint Fest organizer Donna Henry at 219-395-6504.

North Judson Town Council Approves Reimbursement Resolutions

Posted on May 8, 2018 
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The approval of two resolutions by North Judson Town Council members Monday night will allow the town to be reimbursed for expenditures made toward the water and sewer projects prior to the completion of the bonding process.

Town Attorney Justin Schramm told council members about what approving the Water and Sewer Bonds Reimbursement Resolutions would mean.

“It’s just to reimburse us for any cost that we’re out” Schramm stated, “Most of it’s going to be done through bonding anyway but it’s just the idea that if there are any expenses before we bond the project, then they’re reimbursable then through that bonding procedure.”

Schramm explained that the documents were put together by Dennis Otten, a senior partner at Bose, McKinney and Evans LLP, the firm hired as the town’s bond counsel for these projects.

Schramm said reviewed the paperwork and restructured the resolutions a bit and they were ready for approval as long as the council members didn’t have any questions or objections. Both resolutions passed with unanimous approval.

Schramm noted that most times, reimbursements are not necessary since payments are typically arranged so they can be made after grant money is received and the bond issuance is completed. However, the resolutions are in place just in case the town needs to pay for a portion of the project before those funds become available.

Officers to Cite State Statute Regarding Loose Dogs

Posted on May 8, 2018 
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Local law enforcement now has the backing of a state statute when it comes to complaints of dog owners and loose dogs.

Starke County Attorney Marty Lucas told the county commissioners Monday night that Indiana code (IC 15-20-1-4) allows officers to cite animal owners who “recklessly, knowingly or intentionally fail to take reasonable steps to restrain the dog” when the dog enters a property other than the property of the dog’s owner. The penalties get stiffer if the dog bites another person without provocation resulting in bodily injury or death.

The section pertaining to this law does not apply to a non-aggressive dog that goes beyond the owner’s premises onto agricultural or forested land or is engaged in lawful hunting and accompanied by the owner.

A Class D infraction ticket, or first offense, is a fine of $25 while a Class C infraction, or second offense, is a fine of $500. The fines get higher if the owner continues to violate the law (IC 34-28-5-4).

Lucas said he spoke with Starke County Prosecutor Nicholas Bourff who agreed that officers can write these tickets in all jurisdictions in the county and violators will be prosecuted.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum Offers Mothers Day Specials for Your Special Mother

Posted on May 5, 2018 
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

If you’re looking for a unique way to celebrate Mother’s Day, the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum has a few opportunities that may interest you.

The Guest Engineer Program will give adventurous moms a chance to operate a diesel locomotive. Guest Engineers are supervised and have the option to drive the train for 30 minutes or 1 hour for a nominal fee.The program is open to anyone over the age of 18 who holds a valid driver’s license.

Aside from the Guest Engineer Program, the Railroad Museum is offering another special the day before Mother’s Day. On Saturday, May 12th train fare for mothers will be half-price and all ladies will receive a carnation.

Round-trip excursions leave from the HVRM depot and then travel through the countryside to the small town of English Lake before returning. Passengers have the option to ride in open-air cars, vintage cabooses or a commuter coach. The trains depart at 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. CT.

The HVRM is open Saturdays from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. year-round and regular Saturday train rides will continue now through the end of October, with additional rides for special events sprinkled throughout the year. For more information or to make an advanced reservation, visit!/Mothers-Day-Train-May-12-2018/p/62273374/category=18067507

Crude Oil Costs Keep Pushing Gas Prices Higher, but a Peak May be Near

Posted on May 5, 2018 
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Gas prices may be reaching a peak, but the cost of crude oil continues to cause concerns. “We’re very close to putting the worst days behind us,” says Senior Petroleum Analyst Patrick DeHaan, “though gas prices probably will still stay in the upper two-dollar range this summer, which is likely to be the highest since 2014.”

He says crude oil prices remain relatively high, rising back up to $69 a barrel Friday morning. “That’s considerably higher than where we were last year, when oil prices were around $50,” he explains. “So the big jump in the price of oil has continued, by and large, over the last couple of months, and that’s really behind the bulk of the increase that we’ve been witnessing in gas prices.”

When it comes to some other minor factors that helped push gas prices higher, like refinery maintenance, DeHaan says they’ve pretty much wrapped up. “There are some projects that linger but aren’t really making a dent to how much gasoline is being supplied to the market,” he says. “In addition, the transition to summer gasoline is largely complete. All refineries now are producing that stringent summer gasoline.”

DeHaan says that barring any unforeseen circumstances, prices shouldn’t go much higher in the near future. “I don’t know that we will breach that three-dollar mark. If we do, it would be temporary. I think for most of the summer, prices should be in the upper two-dollar-a-gallon range.”

According to, Indiana gas prices are more than 70-cents-a-gallon higher on average than they were a year ago.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Starke County Humane Society Schwans Fundraiser

Mother's Day, Father's Day, 4th of July, picnics, and plenty of lazy summer weekends call for easy to prepare meals. If you place an order now for some delicious Schwans food you can benefit both yourself AND the Starke County Humane Society. Their fundraiser is running for another 91 days.

Frankenstein Friday #15 - Chapter 12

Frankenstein Friday is back with the 12th Chapter! Dive into the novel with us

Early Voting Continues Through Monday

Posted on May 4, 2018   Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Local voters have a few more chances to cast their ballots early, ahead of next week’s primary. In-person absentee voting continues today from 8:00 a.m. to noon and 1:00 to 6:00 p.m. at the Starke County Courthouse in Knox. Pulaski County residents may vote today at either the Pulaski County Justice Center in Winamac or the Francesville Fire Station from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Tomorrow, early voting will take place at the Starke County Courthouse from 8:00 a.m. to noon and 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. The Winamac and Francesville early voting locations will both be open tomorrow from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Meanwhile, the Culver Town Hall will serve as an early voting site tomorrow from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

The last day to cast an absentee ballot is Monday. Polls will be open at the Starke County Courthouse from 8:00 a.m. to noon and at the Pulaski County Justice Center from 9:00 a.m. to noon.

On Election Day, polls will be open from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

6/16/2018 Herb Ufkes 5k Run / 2 Mile Walk

North Judson Mint Festival Ufkes 5K Run and 2 Mile Walk held on Saturday, June 16, 2018, in memory of Dr. Herbert Ufkes who started the 5K run in the seventies. Our Mint Festival Committee took on the race after Dr. Ufkes death.

PRICE: $25.00 Race Fee + $2.50 SignUp Fee

Registration ends June 15, 2018 at 12:00pm CDT

Learn2Ride Motorcycle Classes

We are fully endorsed by the State of Indiana to be able to offer the BRC1 and BRC2. We also are available for the State Skills Testing to assist you in getting a full Indiana Motorcycle Operators Endorsement on your Indiana Drivers License. We have 4 coaches trained by the State of Indiana through the MSF curriculum and have classes going on almost every weekend beggining immediately. Please Call Katie today to register for a class.

Where Do I Go To Vote?

As you know, next Tuesday, May 8th, is Primary Election Day. If you're not sure where you go to vote provides Hoosiers with the ability to find their polling place location, look into their provisional ballot status information, find county contact information, and determine “Who's on My Ballot?” for an upcoming election.

This Useful Acronym Can Help you Spot Stroke Symptoms FAST

Posted on May 3, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

May is recognized as Stroke Awareness Month and the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association have provided a useful acronym to keep in mind to help people act FAST when a stroke is suspected. Remembering the acronym ‘F.A.S.T’ can help people recognize the signs of a stroke.

‘F’ stands for Face; if a person suddenly has drooping on one side of their face, this is a telltale sign that a stroke may be occurring.

The ‘A’ in the acronym stands for Arm; it could be a warning sign if someone reports sudden weakness in one arm.

The ‘S’ stands for speech since slurred speech is another key sign of a stroke.

The final letter ‘T’ stands for time to call 9-1-1, which is what you should do immediately if an individual is exhibiting any of these warning signs.

Neurologist Dr. Jeffrey Hillburn mentioned that in most cases, a stroke is treatable but time is of the essence. Dr. Hillburn explained that strokes cause blood flow to be cut off from the brain. Every minute it goes untreated, millions of brain cells die, which is why it is vital to contact 911 if any person shows symptoms of a stroke.

Dr. Hillburn added that every year, nearly 800,000 people have a stroke but officials are working to educate people that strokes, just like heart disease, are preventable.

Since high blood pressure is one major risk factor, Hillburn said people should take time to get their blood pressure checked and talk with their physician about how to keep it under control. Other preventive measures include quitting tobacco use, exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables.

Several Pounds of Medications Collected in Drug Take Back Event

Posted on May 3, 2018 
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Officers from the Starke County Sheriff’s Office and officials with the Drug and Tobacco Free Starke County organization took in several pounds of unwanted, unused or expired medication as part of the recent Drug Take Back Event.

About 18.5 pounds of medications were collected in the annual event which sponsored by the DEA. The goal is to help prevent pill abuse and theft.

The Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department will continue to collect medications in its secure drop box in the lobby of the Pulaski County Justice Center. Sheriff Jeff Richwine said previously that several hundred pounds of medications are collected every few months.

BMV Extends Hours for Primary Election Day

Posted on May 3, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) will be holding extended hours of operation next week in order to issue ID cards and driver’s licenses which will be required at polling places on Primary Election Day. Offices will be open 8:30 a.m. until 8 p.m. on Monday, May 7th and from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Tuesday, May 8th.

As required by state law, branches will only process new, amended or replacement ID cards, driver’s licenses and learner permits. Customers who are required to take knowledge or driving skills exam to obtain or renew a license may choose to apply for a free ID card to use for voting purposes.

The Indiana BMV provides free, state-issued ID cards for voting purposes to any unlicensed Hoosier who is a U.S. citizen. To receive one, individuals must be able to provide proper documentation and be at least 18-years-old on or before the next general or municipal election.

BMV officials report that individuals who hold a driver’s license or ID card that expired after the last general election may still use that card as identification for voting purposes. They say that it is also acceptable to utilize the paper interim credential that is issued at the license branch at the time of a transaction or after a customer has completed an internet credential transaction.

The documents that are required in order to obtain a new state ID card or driver’s license can be found below:

  • Proof of identity document, such as a birth certificate or passport
  • Proof of Social Security document, such as a W-2, pay stub or Social Security Card
  • Proof of lawful status, such as a birth certificate or passport
  • Two documents that show proof of residency, such as voter registration card, utility bill or bank statement

Ancilla College President Dr. Ken Zirkle Announces Retirement, Board Appoints Replacement

Posted on May 3, 2018 
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Dr. Ken Zirkle, who has served as the president of Ancilla College for the past four years, has announced his retirement, effective Monday, May 14th.

During his time an Ancilla, the college saw a lot of growth. Two new residence halls and a student life center were built on campus and a few new programs were added including the Autism Program at Ancilla and the culinary arts and agriculture programs.

Following Zirkle’s retirement announcement, the Ancilla Board of Trustees appointed and affirmed Dr. Michele Dvorak as the new president. Prior to being appointed to the position, she was serving as the chief operating officer at Ancilla College

She holds a master’s degree in administration as well as a doctorate in Catholic Education Leadership. Dr. Dvorak took her first vows as a Poor Handmaid in 1976 and has served as a member of the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ Leadership Team for the past five years.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

5/5/2018 Norwayne Field Movies in the Park

Join us for the 2018 Movies in the Park Series!

The May Movie is Justice League, sponsored by Bill Dulin. We will start the movie at approximately dusk (7:30 pm).

Congratulations Academic Junior Bowl Teams!

Congratulations to the Academic Junior Bowl Teams! They competed on Saturday at Laporte High School against 57 other teams in our class. The Social Studies team placed 8th in the state! The English team placed 10th in the state! The Social Studies and English teams received at 2nd place at our area competition! The math team placed 12th in the state. The Math team received a 4th place at our area competition. Great job by all teams! We are proud of our Bluejay Academic Teams!

Application For NJSP School Board Member - Wayne Township

National Day of Prayer Events to be Held in Starke and Pulaski Counties

Posted on May 2, 2018 
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Tomorrow is the National Day of Prayer and this year’s theme is unity as the nation joins together to pray for one another, as well as the country as a whole.

In order to bring community members together on this special day, events are being held with special speakers who are sure to inspire individuals with their unique perspectives.

A National Prayer Day event will be held in Pulaski County on Thursday afternoon. Community members are invited to attend this free event that will be held at the Isis Theater in Winamac at noon ET. Many community leaders will be speaking at this event, including WKVI Sportscaster Harold Welter.

In Starke County, Knox Mayor Dennis Estok will be sponsoring the annual Prayer Breakfast at the Nancy J. Dembowski Community Center at 7 a.m. CT.

The keynote speaker for the event will be Gold Medalist Mark Wells, who served as a team member on the USA men’s hockey team when they narrowly beat the Soviet Union at the 1980 Winter Olympics. That win was the inspiration for the 1981 TV “docudrama” Miracle on Ice and the 2004 film Miracle.

Tickets for the breakfast are sold out. However, if you would like a chance to hear Wells talk about his inspirational experiences, he will be speaking at a convocation at Knox High School at 2 p.m. on Friday. The event at the high school is free to attend and open to the public and citizens are asked to arrive by 1:45 p.m. and enter through door 5.

Starke County Youth Club Radiothon Friday

Posted on May 2, 2018 
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

WKVI listeners will once again have the chance to support fun and educational programs for local children. The Starke County Youth Club’s annual radiothon is this Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. “The Starke County Youth Club is a youth development agency supporting children and families with after-school, summer, and recreational programs,” explains Executive Director Irene Szakonyi. “So that means we have programs all across the county during the after-school hours and across the summer, where we provide personal and academic support to kids and their families.”

She says listeners will hear about the impact that Starke County Youth Club has on local communities, from local kids and families. “In addition, people from all over the United States call in their pledges of support on that day, and we are really humbled and thrilled by that,” Szakonyi says. “We raise a good bit of money to support the high-quality programs of club in that one day alone.”

More information is available at

Reminder: Real Estate Taxes Are Due Thursday, May 10th

Posted on May 2, 2018   
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI 

Taxpayers should be working to finalize their real-estate taxes since the submission deadline is coming up on Thursday, May 10th.

According to Starke County Treasurer Kasey Clark, Tax payment drop-off locations include the First National Bank of Monterey in Monterey and North Judson, the 1st Farmers Bank and Trust in Knox and North Judson and the DeMotte State Bank and 1st Source Bank in Knox.

Payments may also be put in the drop-box in front of the Starke County Treasurer’s Office in Knox. A self-addressed and stamped envelope should be included so an official receipt can be sent.

Any questions regarding age, disability, veteran, homestead or mortgage exemptions can be submitted to the Auditor’s Office at 772-9101. If you have any questions about assessed value, contact the Assessor’s Office at 772-9107. Any other questions can be directed to the Treasurer’s Office at 772-9111 ext 3.

Residents are asked to come into the Treasurer’s Office if they have any questions that cannot be answered over the phone or if they wish to submit their taxes in person. Bring your statements with you for faster service. If you haven’t received a bill, come in to check if it’s been returned. If your address has changed, you will need to come into the office to get the new one recorded.

Drop-off Location addresses can be found below:
Starke County Treasurer’s Office: 53 E Mound Street – Knox
1st Farmers Bank and Trust: 1402 S Heaton Street – Knox
1st Source Bank: 1620 N US Hwy 35 – Knox
DeMotte State Bank: 1501 S Heaton Street – Knox 
First National Bank of Monterey: 6222 E Main Street – Monterey 
1st Farmers Bank and Trust: 310 Lane Street – North Judson
First National Bank of Monterey: 902 W TAmer Avenue – North Judson

Governor Requests Federal Assistance for Starke, Marshall Counties, Following Flood Damage

Posted on May 2, 2018 
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

A request for a major disaster declaration for areas hit by February’s floods now heads to President Donald Trump. If approved, the declaration could open the door to grant funding for home and business owners in nine Indiana counties, including Marshall and St. Joseph. That could include money for temporary housing, home repairs, and loans from the Small Business Administration.

Governor Eric Holcomb is also asking for public assistance for 27 counties. Those include Marshall, Starke, LaPorte, and St. Joseph. That money would help reimburse local response agencies for debris removal, road repairs, and possibly other costs.

In a letter sent to President Trump Friday, Governor Holcomb explained that 35 Indiana counties had declared local disaster emergencies during the floods. Throughout the state, the floods resulted in six deaths, 11 homes being destroyed, and another 631 homes suffering major damage, according to Holcomb.

The letter also says that 13 levee breeches had occurred in Northern Indiana by February 27. Ten of those were in Starke County.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Quote of the Month - May

Happy Birthday, Edmund Wilson (1895-1972) 
May 18, 1895

He is widely regarded as the preeminent American man of letters of the twentieth century.