Friday, August 31, 2018

Frankenstein Friday #32 - Frankenstein as Science Fiction (Essay)

We may have finished the novel, but Frankenstein Friday lives on! This week we're reading "Frankenstein as Science Fiction" from Dr. Monique Morgan of Indiana University.

Community Members Encouraged to Get Involved with Hope Restored

Posted on August 31, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Lately there has been a great deal of positive buzz surrounding “Hope Restored”, the organization working to bring a sober living home into the Town of North Judson.

There are some opportunities coming up that will allow community members to get involved and learn more about the organization.

Volunteers will come together for a workday this Saturday (September 1st) at the Hope Restored facility from 8 a.m. until noon. The building that is being transformed is on the corner of Sycamore and Lane Streets.

It doesn’t matter if you have tons of building experience or if you just feel compelled to provide some assistance, all are welcome to help. Representatives say there is a lot of work that needs to be done, so they could use as many helping hands as they can get.

Additionally, community members are invited to attend an information night and dinner on Tuesday, September 4th. The meeting will be held from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. in The Front Room, located at 424 Lane Street.

Organization co-founder Zach Howisen shared that they will have pizza! He also explained that this is an opportunity for residents to ask any questions they may have while getting more acquainted with the individuals behind Hope Restored. They plan to take down the names of people who want to get involved and will discuss the next steps that have to happen to keep this initiative moving forward.

For more information, visit

National Preparedness Month a Chance to Make Emergency Plans, Learn Lifesaving Skills

Posted on August 31, 2018
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

National Preparedness Month starts tomorrow, and the Indiana Department of Homeland Security says there’s something everyone can do to be ready for disasters. During the month of September, residents are encouraged to make and practice an emergency plan; check their insurance coverage; and learn CPR, first aid, or other lifesaving skills.

Homeland Security officials urge Hoosiers to learn what types of disasters are common in their local area, along with the hazards that come along with them. They note that weather emergencies like tornadoes, fires, snow, and floods are often experienced during the course of a year.

As part of their emergency plans, families and businesses are encouraged to pick out meeting locations and create a list of emergency contacts. More preparedness tips can be found at or the Indiana Department of Homeland Security website.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Our Internet Connection Is Back

Well, we received a gmail that the incident which resulted in a major internet outage yesterday was resolved 2 hours ago so things should be back to normal.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

NJWTPL Closed Due To Major Connectivity Problems

The Library has closed early today, August 28th, due to a major malfunction affecting our internet provider which has knocked out our regular internet connection and our automation system. Hopefully this will be repaired by tomorrow.

Project Recognition Event to be Scheduled at Starke County Forest

Posted on August 28, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Commissioners passed along their support of having a celebration event for the newly finished upgrades at the Starke County Forest.

The Starke County Highway Department recently completed work to upgrade the old access trail into a gravel road with a parking lot at the site at 10655 E. Division Road in Knox.

Commissioner Kathy Norem said it would be nice to recognize the Starke County Park Board’s effort in making improvements at the Starke County Forest.

“We’ve got a major project that was finished by the park board with a nice grant from the Starke County Community Foundation,” commented Norem. “It’s one of their first big successes so I feel like we should have some kind of public welcoming ceremony, whether that be a ribbon cutting or a day where they come and tour the place. They could take some pictures and see the improvements that have been made. I’m thinking that if it was sometime around when the leaves change the weather would still be nice and they would have time to plan their festivities.”

The work was funded by a $15,000 grant from the Hardesty Memorial Endowment Fund.

The commissioners approved a motion to make the offer to the park board to host the event. The commissioners will provide funding for refreshments.

The park board may discuss details during their next meeting in September.

Tree Stump Removal Discussed by North Judson Town Superintendent

Posted on August 28, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

North Judson Town Superintendent Marshall Horstmann provided Town Council members with a few different quotes for stump removal when members met last week.

Horstmann said that Practical Tree Service offered to remove all four tree stumps by Highland Cemetery for $1100. He added that the company C&J provided a quote $200 a piece for the three smaller stumps. A representative for that company said they would be unable to do the largest stump at the corner of Central Avenue since their machinery would not be able to access it.

Councilman Josh Brown noted that the Methodist Church has offered to pay for the cost of removing the second stump south of Central Avenue that is adjacent to their park lot. He said they’ve already been in contact with someone who is going to take care of it.

The removal of the large stump on the corner and the other stumps is up to the town.

The council asked Horstmann to look into what the cost would be for Practical Tree Service to take care of the larger stump on the corner and to see if the remaining stumps could be handled by C&J for $200 each.

That proposed plan addresses all the stumps that need to be removed and would theoretically cost less than going with just one company No official actions were taken at the time, but the matter will be readdressed at a future meeting.

Moving Starke County Forward Recognizes Progress of Walking Challenge Participants with Drawing for Prize

Posted on August 28, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

To recognize all the progress that participants have made in the Moving Starke County Forward “Moon Walkers” initiative so far this year, a drawing for a Fitbit was recently held.

North Judson resident Peggy Bohac was randomly selected and MSCF representatives were pleased to award her with the prize. Another prize will be presented at the end of October when the campaign wraps up for the year.

This is the 6th year that Moving Starke County Forward has hosted a ‘Get Moving Challenge’ to encourage community members to be active by walking, running, biking or engaging in any physical activity of their choice.

Moving Starke County Forward The group is an ongoing coalition of leaders whose purpose is to improve the quality of life and encourage, create and advocate for a healthy Starke County.

It was formed in 2012 after the county ranked 91st out of 92 counties in Indiana health outcomes rankings. Since its implementation, the county has moved up more than 10 spots to 79th.

The “Moon Walkers” campaign began on July 1st and will run until October 31st. Click the following link to register for the challenge or if you’re already signed up, you can log your miles here.

MSCF Secretary Joan Haugh Beatty presents winner Peggy Bohac with a Fitbit

Monday, August 27, 2018

9/5 to 10/10 Fundamental Basketball Skills Lady Jay Style

Starke County Commissioners Consider Additional EMS Staff

Posted on August 27, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Commissioners discussed the addition of EMS staff last week.

Earlier this month, Starke County EMS Director Travis Clary and Clerk Mary Lynn Ritchie proposed three more full-time paramedics and three full-time EMTs to the staff roster in 2019. Ritchie conducted more research into the addition of benefits to what had been figured into their budget for full-time staff and Ritchie assured the commissioners that the funding is there for the staff.

Clary noted that some of the current part-time staff members, if qualified, could move into these full-time positions, or they could place outside applicants into these positions.

The main push for full-time staff is the overtime pay that is cutting deep in that line item. Ritchie says hiring full-time staff would save money in the long run. In addition to the cost savings, Clary said it would be better for the community as they would have a regular staff roster and not struggle to find part-time staff to fill shifts.

The commissioners unanimously approved the positions as presented. The request will now go before the Starke County Council members who will look at the budget figures and numbers presented to make a final decision.

The Next Stellar Step for North Judson is to Create a Comprehensive Plan

Posted on August 27, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Coordination between North Judson officials and representatives at the Kankakee Iroquois Regional Planning Committee (KIRPC) is happening as the town prepares to have a comprehensive plan created.

When North Judson town council members met on Monday, Clerk-Treasurer Andrew Rowe shared a bit about the recent meeting held at Starke County Economic Development Foundation offices about local Regional Stellar efforts.

He said the next step for North Judson is to start putting together a comprehensive plan. KIRPC Executive Director Edwin Buswell provided the clerk-treasurer with a few different official companies that can be utilized for the process. Those options will be assessed and the council will be asked to approve a viable candidate in a future meeting.

Clerk-Treasurer Rowe highlighted a related opportunity that he’ll be doing some more research on that can help pay for the plan.

“I’ll also be looking into a grant proposal that goes along with only having to spend ten cents on the dollar for that comprehensive plan.” Rowe elaborated, “In other words we’d pay $5,000 for a $50,000 comprehensive plan.”

Rowe noted he plans to write up a summary about the SCEDF meeting on August 15th to provide some additional information to the council members who were unable to attend.

North Judson-San Pierre Receives Metal Detectors, Policy Development and Staff Training to Follow

Posted on August 27, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Back in July, Governor Eric Holcomb announced that handheld metal detectors would be provided to public, private and charter schools at no cost as one element of the state’s comprehensive approach to bolster school safety efforts. North Judson-San Pierre was one of more nearly 370 Hoosier schools that requested metal detectors.

At last Tuesday’s NJSP school board meeting, Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin reported they recently received the four detectors that were requested. She said now that they have these devices, a few more steps will have to happen before they can be utilized.

She explained, “We need to make sure we have the guidance that we need in order to use those appropriately, we will need to have some written policy and we will need to have some training of staff.”

Dr. Zupin said that they will be referencing guidance provided by the Indiana School Board Association and the Department of Education. She also noted that some policies will come before the school board for consideration next month.

Zupin added that the policies will likely be amended as more information is provided from state officials and as the school becomes more familiar with the practice of using the metal detectors.

North Judson Town Marshal Highlights School Involvement

Posted on August 25, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

At Monday night’s North Judson Town Council meeting, Town Marshal Kelly Fisher highlighted some of the ways that the police department stays involved with the school corporation.

She told the members that she and Officer Rico Simpson recently assisted with a drill at the North Judson-San Pierre Schools.

Fisher explained, “I was very impressed, especially with the high school kids. We went into the school and if I didn’t know any better, I wouldn’t think that there was staff or students or anybody anywhere in the school.”

She said they went around, checking to see if all the doors were securely locked and they even shined flashlights through the windows and all the students remained out of sight.

Marshal Fisher added that Elementary School Principal Julie Berndt told her that the younger students still need a little bit more training about how to appropriately respond to an emergency situation but they’re on track and making progress.

In addition to assisting with the drill, Marshal Fisher shared that she and Officer Frank Thomas consistently visit the schools.

She stated, “On my days I go through the elementary school and Frank goes to the high school, just to keep in touch with the kids and I believe it’s made a big impact on them.”

Council President Wendy Hoppe mentioned that she’s heard positive feedback about the police visiting the NJ-SP campus from teachers as well as Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin.

The North Judson Police Department has held multiple events throughout the summer to help kids feel more comfortable around the police and to bring the community together. They had great success with their creative outreach ideas such as ‘Chalkin’ with Cops’ and the slip n slide events.

Curbs to be Replaced in Front of Starke County Annex Building No. 2

Posted on August 25, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Work will be done to replace the curbs in front of the Starke County Annex Building No. 2 in Knox.

A few months ago the Starke County Commissioners mentioned to Maintenance Director Jim Coad about the safety concern of the curbs alongside the Pearl Street sidewalk in front of the second annex building. A quote was approved by Covenant Concrete and that work will be done as soon as the contractor’s time allows.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Frankenstein Friday #31 - Chapter 24

Walton gives us his final thoughts on this Frankenstein Friday. Who has acted more abhorrently, the Creature or Victor? Read and tell us your thoughts.

Starke County Election Board Receives Referendum Approval from DLGF

Posted on August 24, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Election Board members previously received notification that the Department of Local Government Finance approved the wording for the Culver Community Schools referendum question for North Bend Township voters on the November General Election ballot. This week they officially accepted the wording to be included on the ballot.

The question reads:

“For the eight (8) calendar years immediately following the hold of the referendum, shall the Culver Community Schools Corporation impose a property tax rate that does not exceed seventeen cents ($.017) on each one hundred dollars ($100) of assessed valuation and that is in addition to all other taxes imposed by the school corporation for the purpose of funding academic and educationally-related programs, increasing student opportunities and students safety, managing class sizes, and attracting and retaining teachers?”

The Culver Community School Corporation is comprised of four townships in four counties: Starke, Marshall, Pulaski and Fulton. The referendum question will be posed to voters in all four townships this November. The Marshall and Pulaski County Election Board members have previously approved the wording to be added to the ballot.

The Starke County Justice Center Farm Stand Will Be Set Up Again Tomorrow and Next Saturday

Posted on August 24, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Trustees with the Fostering a Recovery Mind Set (F.A.R.M) program at the Starke County Justice Center will have their farm stand set up again this Saturday, starting at 9 a.m. As reported in the past, the F.A.R.M garden was expanded this year, resulting in a surplus of produce that is being offered to the community.

A wide variety of vegetables and plenty of plants and flowers will be available, as well as pallet art and wall hangings that the trustees have personally created. Warden Phill Cherry mentioned that they have been making some special fall and Halloween-themed art that will be for sale tomorrow.

The proceeds collected from the Farm Stand go back into the Justice Center to fund other therapeutic community programs, such as the Nurturing Fathers class and substance abuse recovery program.

Starke County Sheriff Bill Dulin previously reported that the first two Saturdays that the farm stand was open, a little over $1,200 was raised to continue funding these engaging, integral programs at the correctional facility.

They’ll have the farm stand set up out in front of the Starke County Justice Center located on State Road 8. The trustees will also be selling their produce and art products again next Saturday – same time, same place.

North Judson Fire Chief Discusses Equipment Testing With Town Council

Posted on August 24, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

North Judson-Wayne Township Fire Chief Joe Leszek informed town council members about some equipment testing that took place earlier this month. Chief Leszek told the council Monday night that the department recently tested their hoses to check for any that were damaged.

He said the hose testing went well for the most part. There was some four-inch hose that failed but since that was provided from some other departments for free, it didn’t set them back any. Leszek added that even though they had to scrap some of it, they still have a pretty good surplus of the four-inch hose.

He said there were a few other sections that had some issues but they already had hoses in reserve, so they didn’t have to spend a lot of money replacing hose.

He noted that after removing the faulty hoses from their supply, the department is back up to the standards set forth by the National Fire Protection Agency.

Leszek said, “Every hose that we had in the firehouse, whether it’s on the truck or for back up, upstairs in the rafters, it’s tested and passed for a year so we’re in compliance with NFPA again.”

In addition to checking hoses, ladders are also tested. The testing is done annually to ensure the safety of firefighters and the public.

On the Fire Department’s social media account, they mentioned that the International Organization of Standardization, the company who helps set insurance rates, likes to see this kind of testing done once a year. Representatives said that having records of consistent testing helps keep fire insurance costs lower.

North Judson Parents and Community Members Encouraged to Join Bluejay Strategic Planning Group

Posted on August 24, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

North Judson-San Pierre Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin issued her annual call-out for Bluejay Strategic Planning Group members at Tuesday night’s school board meeting. She provided a bit of information about what the expectations of the group are.

Zupin shared, “The purpose of the group is two-fold; one is to have positive communication between school and community but they also are our parent and community group for all of our plans.” She continued, “If you remember our corporation’s strategic and accountability, our wellness plan, our tech plan, they serve as that community piece.”

Interested individuals can sign up by visiting the North Judson-San Pierre school website. Under the words “I am” select the ‘community member’ tab and then click on the ‘Bluejay Strategic Planning Group’ link. It will lead you to a letter with more information as well as the necessary application.

Applications should be turned in at the Central Office Administration Building. If you have any questions call 574-896-2155.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

North Judson Clerk Treasurer Shares Plans to Get Clock on Lane Street Working Again

Posted on August 23, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

North Judson’s Clerk-Treasurer is looking to get a focal point in town back in working order. Clerk-Treasurer Andrew Rowe told council members and meeting attendees on Monday that he wants to fix the tall clock that stands in front of Grand Central Station on Lane Street.

Rowe said, “It’s a neat thing to have in our downtown and I think it’s wasted there; A: not working and B: not being lit up in the evenings.”

Rowe noted that the Starke County Community Foundation has expressed an interest in helping get the clock back up and running. The clerk-treasurer went on to share the main elements that this project will involve.

“There are a few things as far as the dynamics of fixing that go.” He explained, “One is finding someone to repair the clock itself and the lighting and second issue is that the electricity is tied into Grand Central Station.”

He said the electricity would need to be switched over to the Town or possibly the Community Foundation if they end up providing assistance in that way. He’s still looking into what that process would entail but said he doesn’t think it will be too difficult to make the change.

Rowe told the members he will continue researching to find different people and companies who take care of this type of work. Anyone who can assist with this project is encouraged to contact the North Judson Clerk-Treasurer’s Office at 574-8963340.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

8/24/2018 Port-A-Pit @ St. Peter Lutheran School

Starke County Sheriff Presents Budgets to County Council

Posted on August 22, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Starke County Sheriff Bill Dulin and new Office Manager Pam McDonald presented the Jail CEDIT and Therapeutic Community budgets to the Starke County Council and Commission members Monday night.

Among the list of changes, Dulin raised the part-time jailer line item by $32,500 and overtime line items saw an increase. The budget for meals was also increased by $20,000.

Dulin is asking for two jailers, but said one would be a start. He also requested another patrolman. However, the commissioners have not approved the additional staff members.

Councilman Dave Pearman commented that he thought with the new jail it would be easier with less staff, but the sheriff said the number of inmates has doubled and the costs have doubled and the need is there for more staff members.

Commissioner Kathy Norem and Councilwoman Nancy Dembowski want a spreadsheet to show which line items are being increased and which are being reduced to get a better funding outlook. During a budget workshop earlier this month, the council cut nearly $200,000 from the sheriff’s department budget within the General Fund. The Jail CEDIT and Therapeutic Community budgets are separate.

Dulin said he’d work on getting the spreadsheets for the council and commissioners to review. He will appear at the next Starke County Commissioners meeting on Sept. 4 to request the additional staff.

Portions of State Road 39 Closed Today and Tomorrow for Paving Work

Posted on August 22, 2018
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Additional sections of State Road 39 will be closed today and tomorrow. Chip and seal work will have the road closed between State Road 10 and State Road 14, according to the Indiana Department of Transportation. That stretch is already closed to through traffic, due to a bridge replacement project.

Chip sealing involves spreading liquid asphalt on the roadway, then covering it with crushed stone to create a new surface. Once the asphalt cures, any excess chips are swept off the roadway. INDOT says the work extends the life of the pavement by protecting it from moisture, ultraviolet rays, and other damaging exposures.

Meanwhile, State Road 16 will be closed today between U.S. 421 and White County Road 200 West for a culvert replacement. Another culvert project will close State Road 14 tomorrow between Jasper County Roads 100 and 200 West.

‘Hope Restored’ to Bring Sober Living Home into North Judson

Posted on August 22, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Some inspirational individuals impacted by drug addiction came before the North Judson Town Council this week to discuss the steps they’re taking to bring a sober living home into the community.

A building at the corner of Sycamore and Lake Streets in North Judson is currently being transformed into the ‘Hope Restored’ rehabilitation center and living facility.

Recovered addict Zach Howisen shared that while he was incarcerated on drug-related charges, he felt compelled to change his ways and wanted to do something to give back to the community.

He shared, “I want to help people, I want to make a difference, I want to save one person, two people, a thousand people; I don’t care. I just want to be able to help people move forward.”

He mentioned that he has lost several friends to overdoses and said he knows that is something everyone in this community has an unfortunate familiarity with. Howisen said he wants to play a role in addressing this obvious problem by letting people with substance abuse disorders know that there are people who care about them and want to help them.

Howisen said when he was released from the Starke County Justice Center, he began attending the English Lake Church and with the assistance of the people he regards as his new-found family, the process of starting the ‘Hope Restored’ program began.

At Monday’s meeting, Howisen was joined by Megan Johnston. She also struggled with drug addiction in the past and she now works for a recovery community center in Valparaiso. She explained the Hope Restored program would be limited to males and they would be able to accept eight different applicants initially. It would be primarily funded by community donations, grants and participant contributions.

They’re still ironing out all the details but Johnston explained that the plan is to provide a safe, alcohol and drug-free place to stay while participants go through a 90 to 180-day program that would teach life skills and financial responsibility.

The first 30 days would be focused on rebuilding a positive self-image and getting the individuals involved in volunteer work. After that, the participants would seek out employment opportunities.

One of the key elements of this program will be creating positive community and business connections with people who recognize the importance of helping people in recovery get back on their feet.

The Town Hall was packed with people in support of the idea and the town council stated they were on board with the efforts as well. Program officials have also been coordinating with representatives from community corrections and the probation department who are behind the plan.

For those looking to learn more about Hope Restored, there will be a presentation about the organization at English Lake Church at 9 a.m. on Sunday, August 26th.If you’re interested in helping with renovations to the Hope Restored building they hold work days where volunteers are welcome to pitch in. The next one will take place at 8 a.m. on Saturday, September 1st.

Their presentation from Monday’s Town Council meeting will also be the focus of this week’s Kankakee Valley Viewpoints Program, airing this Sunday at noon on K99.3 WKVI.

North Judson-San Pierre School Officials to Present Proposed Budget for 2019 to the Starke County Council

Posted on August 22, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The Starke County Council will be considering the proposed 2019 budget for the North Judson-San Pierre Community School Corporation at their next meeting.

When NJ-SP School Board members met Tuesday evening, they approved a motion to submit the budget to county officials. Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin explained since they have to provide the document to the county council members since the school board is appointed. The Starke County Council will meet on Monday, September 17th.

In addition to approving the budget submission, school board members also permitted a “notice to the taxpayers” to be advertised. The notice will simply inform the public about a hearing that will be held over the Capital Projects and Bus Replacement Plans.

The hearing will be held during the school board’s next meeting on Tuesday, September 18th.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

State Road 39 Closed for Chip Seal Project

Indiana Department of Transportation: Northwest

ROAD CLOSED: SR 39 in Starke and Pulaski counties

SR 39 will be closed Wednesday and Thursday in Starke and Pulaski counties for a chip seal project. The road will be closed between SR 10 and SR 14, though a portion of that stretch is already closed for a bridge project.

9/15/2018 6th Annual Poker Paddle @ Tippecanoe River State Park

Starke County Fire Departments Address Radio Problems with Council, Commissioners

Posted on August 21, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Firefighters from Knox-Center Township, North Judson-Wayne Township, Hamlet-Davis Township, Koontz Lake-Oregon Township, Railroad Township, and Washington Township Departments are pleading with county officials to help fix an ongoing communication problem with radios.

The Hamlet Fire Department was called to a mobile home fire on Monday shortly after midnight at 218 Railroad Street with possible entrapment. Hamlet Fire Chief Brad Hazelton, who is also the Starke County Council President, explained that he was about to send firefighters into the burning building to check for occupants when the radios weren’t working. The 800 mhz system, UHF and VHF methods were silent. Koontz Lake Fire Chief Andy Lawrence said he received a phone call for mutual aid, and had to go to his fire department to tone out other firefighters to assist because the radios aren’t working right.

Lawrence indicated that when a radio test was done Sunday evening, he thought everything was working, but nothing was working when the fire occurred after midnight on Monday.

Lawrence said for the past six years, since the tower went down at the old Starke County Jail facility on Pearl Street in Knox in a fierce wind event, nothing has worked properly. The radio communications company, J&K Communications, claims to have fixed the problem, but the radios don’t work properly and haven’t since that time.

In addition, North Judson firefighters reported problems in the Denham and Railroad Townships areas.

Firefighters also told the county officials that there are times when they can hear other radio communication and other times they cannot.

After much discussion, the Starke County Commissioners and Starke County Council members asked IT Director Richard Franks to talk to the J&K Communication representatives to be in the county today to resolve the problem. If things aren’t remedied, then other action may be taken such as another vendor. Councilman Dave Pearman suggested moving the tower for the Koontz Lake Fire Department to the Washington Township Fire Department for better signal for communication. That will be reviewed.

Lawrence said they need proper working equipment for safety and to do their jobs to the best of their ability. They don’t want to experience a tragedy due to radio issues.

According to Hazelton, the there were no injuries in the fire that occurred Monday. The cause is under investigation with the Indiana State Fire Marshal’s Office.

New Full-Time Officer Welcomed North Judson Police Department at Town Council Meeting, Reserve Officers Recommended

Posted on August 21, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

North Judson Town Officials and residents welcomed a new full-time officer to the police force during Monday night’s town council meeting.

At their first meeting of the month, town council members approved hiring Officer Jamie Conklin to the force full-time. Town Marshal Kelly Fisher shared a little bit about Officer Conklin.

She told members and meeting attendees, “He’s been through the academy, he’s worked part-time for me for a year and he’s an excellent employee, I’m glad to have him full-time. Prior to working with law enforcement, he had 8 years of active duty with the Navy so we’re definitely happy to have him aboard.”

Conklin introduced his family to the community members and thanked the council for bringing him onto the full-time force.

In addition to welcoming Officer Conklin, members were asked to consider adding two reserve officers to the force. Marshal Fisher noted that they would be utilized for covering events and school functions. She said since they’re reserve officers, they work on a volunteer basis and would be responsible for paying for any equipment that they don’t already have.

She also mentioned that she has been coordinating with the town’s insurance provider about adding them on as town employees since there have been some legislation changes at the state level.

At the recommendation of Marshal Fisher, members approved hiring Byron Gentry and Kerry Russ as reserve officers for the NJPD.

North Judson Town Marshal Kelly Fisher and Officer Jamie Conklin

Starke County Community Foundation Impact Grant Utilized to Help Save Lives

Posted on August 21, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

A recent impact grant awarded by the Starke County Community Foundation is helping local emergency personnel save lives.

Starke County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) used the $14,350 they received from the SCCF to purchase a LUCAS CPR Device, and paid for one year of maintenance for the medical apparatus. The technology performs non-stop CPR, freeing the EMS responder to treat and transport the patient to the emergency room.

According to a press release from the Community Foundation, grant committee members received a demonstration of the device from a company representative and learned that the device had been used on a patient for 21 hours, saving the patient’s life and resulting in 99 percent brain function post-event. The device will be housed in the Knox Starke County EMS location.

So far this year, the SCCF has awarded for than $315,000 in grants and scholarships and more than $40,000 has been granted through the Community Support and Impact Grants program.

Other grant recipients include the Starke County Park Board which received $5,000 for Bass Lake Beach improvements, the North Judson Beautification Committee which was awarded $7,970 for the band shell at Norwayne Field, the Yellow Stone Trail Festival which got $3,900 for programming, Psi Iota Xi was awarded $2,000 for the 2018 Young Artists’ Conference and $600 was awarded to Starke County Community Corrections for Therapeutic Community programming.

In addition to assisting those organizations, SCCF also provided $2,674 to the North Judson-Wayne Township Fire Department for protective gear, $2,000 to the Habitat for Humanity Starke and Pulaski Counties, $1,000 was given to the Knox and Winamac Community Health Center for health fair supplies and $2,279 in various grants was awarded to Starke County Schools.

Area nonprofits interested in a grant should visit or contact Associate Director Corrine Becknell Lucas at 574-223-2227.

Little Change in Starke, Pulaski County Unemployment Rates

Posted on August 21, 2018
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Unemployment rates are largely unchanged in Starke and Pulaski counties. According to the latest report from the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, Pulaski County’s unemployment rate dropped slightly to 3.3 percent last month. That’s a tenth of a percent lower than it was the month before and in July of 2017.

Starke County’s unemployment rate stayed at 4.3 percent in July. That’s the same as it was the previous month and during the same period last year.

Compared to July of 2017, both counties’ labor forces have grown and the actual number of people employed has increased. The state as a whole saw an unemployment rate of 3.5 percent last month, while the national rate was 4.1 percent.

Monday, August 20, 2018

8/24/2018 Port-A-Pit @ St. Peter Lutheran School

Our Port-a-Pit chicken fundraiser will be on Friday, August 24 from 3:30-6:30 pm. Chicken half and pit-tatoes are $10 (pre-sale only), just a chicken half is $7, and pit-tatoes are $4. (Save a dollar on the combo with pre-sale ticket only.) Pre-sale guaranteed until 5pm. Tickets can be purchased from school families or in the school office. Funds raised help purchase student computers and support the library, music, and project funds.

Local Officials Consider Existing Assets Within Starke County while Talking with Stellar Community Project Manager

Posted on August 20, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

When community leaders gathered in the Starke County Economic Development Foundation’s office last week for an informational meeting about OCRA’s Regional Stellar initiative, they were asked to consider some of the existing assets within the county.

Stellar Community Project Manager Michael Sinnet said they should consider a variety of different elements within the community that could encompass a number of categories including natural, human, financial and physical assets.

Knox Mayor Estok noted the relaxed atmosphere as an existing asset as well as the air quality and safety compared to bigger cities.

Starke County Commissioner Kathy Norem mentioned a few of the county’s natural resources such as the lakes and reserve as well as the county forest. She said officials are working to better utilize these areas but there are definitely some things that could be done to build on those existing resources.

She also said she considers the Starke County Justice Center as a strong asset. She noted that it has been recognized as a model for small and medium-sized jails. She mentioned that some discussions have been happening about the possibility of expanding some of the helpful substance abuse recovery programs and potentially utilizing the additional acreage around the jail to build a rehabilitation center.

She said in addition to addressing the existing drug problem that plagues the county and surrounding areas, it would also result in the professionals who work at that type of facility searching for homes and utilizing local services in the community.

North Judson Clerk-Treasurer Andrew Rowe listed the cross-country trails that the Erie Trail is a part of as something that their town brings to the table.

He noted that while it does result in people from across the continent coming into the area, it would be great to get a local connection going to give people who bike from Knox to North Judson to have a more direct pathway.

Hamlet Councilman Brian Earnest noted that though it may be considered negative currently, the existing space that they have can be an asset when looking for places to build and expand within the county.

Knox Clerk-Treasurer Jeff Houston added that he considers the altruistic nature of the citizens to be an asset, with a large portion of the community members who are willing to volunteer to lend a helping hand and assist with events. It was also mentioned that Starke County also has a very good network of charitable organizations that work together to assist the community in so many ways.

Sinnet stated that while it’s good they were able to come up with a few key assets, in order to construct useful comprehensive plans and a compelling letter of intent, they would need to have a lot more in mind.

An asset mapping exercise will be held in the future to help local officials identify more assets and to assist them with developing their own plans for improving or capitalizing on the existing ones.

Starke County Forest May Host Cross Country Meets

Posted on August 20, 2018
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The Starke County Forest could soon host high school cross country meets. Starke County Park Board President Roger Chaffins brought up the idea during last week’s meeting, on behalf of board member Chris Lawrence, who was not in attendance. “He mentioned that we’d see if we’d be open to that,” Chaffins explained, “and if it would work, I don’t see why the schools couldn’t do something like that.”

Forester Bruce Wakeland said as long as the forest meets the requirements for a cross county course, he didn’t see a problem with it. Wakeland added that hosting meets would introduce the property to a lot of new people.

Laws in Place Looking Out for the Health and Well Being of Hoosier Students

Posted on August 20, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

With the back-to-school season in full swing, State Representative Jim Pressel recently sent out a release that highlights some of the ways legislators are looking out for students.

Some different laws that were passed this year were emphasized in the release, including a few that focus on the health and well being of students.

There is one law that focuses on the safety of student-athletes. House Enrolled Act 1024 establishes a certified coaching education course on how to prevent and respond to heat-related medical issues. School and intramural sports coaches for students in grades 5 through 12 are required to undergo this training.

Another law is meant to support foster youth. Nationally, 56 percent of children in foster care graduate from high school and only three percent graduate from college.

State officials are apparently working to develop tools to help foster care students succeed. House Enrolled Act 1314 requires the Department of Education, the Department of Child Services and the State Board of Education to produce annual reports on the educational outcomes of students in foster care.

Another very important law that was put into place addresses the high number of Hoosier students who report feeling suicidal. According to the Indiana Youth Institute, Hoosier youth are significantly more likely to consider or attempt suicide than their peers nationally.

Senate Enrolled Act 230 aims to prevent suicide deaths by updating awareness programs for educators, health care providers and emergency medical technicians. With this new law, the already mandatory annual training must be demonstrated to be an effective or promising program and it has to be recommended by the Indiana Suicide Prevention Network Advisory Council.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Native Plant Garden to be Added to Starke County Forest Parking Area

Posted on August 18, 2018
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The Starke County Forest will soon get a native plant garden. The recently-upgraded access road now ends at a circular parking loop, with an open space in the middle.

The Starke County Park Board agreed Tuesday to let Naturally Native Nursery of South Bend fill the space with a colorful arrangement of flowers and grasses. Rough Blazing Star, Smooth Aster, Black-eyed Susan, and Prairie Flox are among the types of flowers that will be included.

Forester Bruce Wakeland presented the proposal. He said he would help maintain the new garden for the first couple years, but it shouldn’t require much work after that, since most of the plants are perennial.

The plants and installation are expected to cost $1,050. That will come out of the Forest Fund, which is funded by the forest’s timber sale revenues.

A cost estimate was also presented for a linear planting along the west side of the road, but Wakeland and the park board said they’d rather keep the space open for overflow parking.

La Porte and Starke Hospitals to be Governed by Single Ownership Structure

Posted on August 18, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

La Porte and Starke Hospitals will now be governed by a single ownership structure.

In an amicable agreement made on Wednesday, August 15th, Indiana University Health sold its remaining 20 percent minority interest in the joint venture, according to a press release from the hospitals’ Regional Manager of Community Relations Stacey Kellog.

Kellog commented that IU Health’s remaining interest was sold to the majority interest holder which is a subsidiary of community health interests.

The release goes on to say that the main change that community members will notice is that signage, brochures and other materials will no longer use the trident symbol or the language “an affiliate of IU Health”.

Patients will continue to receive the same quality care from the hospitals’ skilled and compassionate colleagues and medical staff and both of the hospitals’ boards of trustees will remain in place to continue to provide local oversight to the facilities.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Frankenstein Friday #30 - Chapter 23

On this Frankenstein Friday, Victor recounts his dogged pursuit of the creature until we end where we began – on the ship of Robert Walton.

Research into Bass Lake Erosion Solutions Continues

Posted on August 17, 2018
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Preventing the erosion of the Bass Lake shoreline is the goal of a planned research effort. Resident Rick Anderson told the Starke County Park Board Tuesday that it’s a challenging issue, due to the lake’s big waves and hard winter ice, but there are a couple officials with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources who might have some ideas.

“I would like to get those two gentlemen to the beach and walk the beach and see what could be done and what could realistically be permitted by the DNR to help the erosion problem,” Anderson told the park board. “And maybe it’s nothing, but maybe it’s something.”

Anderson pointed out that any potential solution would likely require the cooperation of local property owners. But he noted that the county’s recent installation of glacial stone at the Bass Lake Beach has already led to 32 property owners expressing interest in putting it in front of their seawalls, as well. That itself should make a big impact, according to Anderson.

He said if a solution is identified, the plan is to pursue grant funding. County Attorney Marty Lucas added that the county’s efforts to be designated a Stellar Community could also help. “If there should be a consensus about a project that would work out there, that’s the kind of thing that they do on the Stellar Communities Program,” Lucas said. “And sometimes, there’s pretty significant grants, and Bass Lake is the kind of thing that they really might be interested in.”

The park board agreed to let Anderson proceed with scheduling a DNR site visit and gathering information.

North Judson Police Department is Bringing Foam Filled Slip-n-Slides Back to Norwayne Field Tomorrow

Posted on August 17, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Back by popular demand, the North Judson Police Department will be hosting another foam filled slip n slide event in Norwayne Field.

The event is happening tomorrow from noon until 2 p.m. CST. The North Judson-Wayne Township and Bass Lake Fire Departments will assist the police department by supplying the foam.

Town Marshal Kelly Fisher said there was such a positive response to the event that was held in June so they decided to do it again before the end of the summer to give anyone who didn’t come out in June a chance to participate.

The event is free and open to all ages. Participants are encouraged to bring swim clothes and goggles. Fisher mentioned that this time, the owner of Pop’s Pit Stop will be on-site selling hotdogs and sno-cones.

Citizens are required to fill out and turn in a liability waiver before they can participate. Those will be available the day of the event or in order to save some time, you can print out the necessary liability waiver and fill it out beforehand then bring it with you.

Click the link to download the NJPD Waiver of Liability.

Stellar Strategizing Continues in Starke County

Posted on August 16, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The Starke County Economic Development Foundation hosted another informational session about the Regional Stellar Communities Designation Program.

Leaders from Hamlet, North Judson and Knox as well officials at the County level and individuals from other entities looking to get involved in the process gathered at the SCEDF office Wednesday night to receive more details about obtaining “Stellar” status.

OCRA’s Liaison for Northwest Indiana Gerry White returned and this time he was joined by Stellar Community Project Manager Michael Sinnet.

Sinnet went over some of the items that were covered during the first meeting held in June, including the requirement that every entity must have a comprehensive plan that is less than 7 years old. Knox already has a viable comprehensive plan and County officials noted that they have taken steps to get the process started.

He also reiterated that regardless of whether or not the region receives a Stellar designation, this process is beneficial since everyone walks away with solid partnerships in place, plans for the future, and access to resources through the various agencies involved.

Additionally, Sinnet brought some new ideas to the table while discussing how to prepare a letter of intent. For instance, he asked the group to consider who else should be involved in this process at the planning level. Attendees noted that school officials, hospital administrators and business owners would be good people to approach about getting involved.

On a similar note, Sinnet mentioned the importance of a cyclical collaboration versus a hierarchal one.

He explained that though there will be individuals who are more involved in the Stellar planning process, it’s important to include all community members, especially those who may often feel overlooked because their input is also valuable. Gathering as many perspectives as possible will provide a more accurate reflection of what is needed in the region.

Sinnet stressed the importance of assessing assets and mentioned that OCRA offers an asset mapping exercise that shows what beneficial resources already exist in a community and establishes how they can be capitalized on or improved. SCEDF Executive Director Larry Wickert said he would coordinate with Sinnet about hosting that type of exercise to allow local officials to better understand what they’re already working with.

The next step for this local cooperative is to establish a Stellar Committee consisting of individuals who will be able to invest a lot of time and energy into the effort. It is important that at least one representative from each of the involved partners is included.

One of the first responsibilities that these committee members will have is to attend an upcoming series of workshops being offered through OCRA. More information about that opportunity will be provided in the future.

Starke County EMS to Update Reporting Software

Posted on August 16, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The reporting software for the Starke County EMS Department is getting an upgrade.

EMS Director Travis Clary told the Starke County Commissioners last week that the state is requiring the department to be system compliant with report writing software. The department has to show substantial progress of upgrading software by Nov. 1 or else face a $500 fine per occurrence.

There are certain statistics the state is looking for and the current software doesn’t allow for that to be reported to the state.

Two systems were reviewed and Health EMS was the cheaper option at $9,792 which is a yearly payment for five years paid for by the EMS Department. Clary and Clerk Mary Lynn Ritchie are pleased with this company and the programming available. It will also speed up billing.

ESO provided a quote for the same type of software for an additional $5,000.

IT Director Richard Franks hasn’t extensively looked at the program, but said it would work fine.

The Starke County Commissioners approved a motion to approve the proposal from Health EMS pending the review of the legal agreement by County Attorney Marty Lucas.

The reporting software can be linked with the Physio Control devices used by paramedics and EMTs. Laptops can be used by the personnel to fully work with the new reporting software as it all links together. The commissioners asked Clary and Franks to work with options to purchase those computers and that will be reviewed at the next meeting.

Starke County Forest Access Road Upgrades Complete

Posted on August 16, 2018
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The Starke County Forest’s new access road is now complete. The County Highway Department recently upgraded the old access trail into a gravel road with a 10-to-12-car parking lot. The work was funded by a $15,000 grant from the Hardesty Memorial Endowment Fund.

Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler told the Starke County Park Board Tuesday that the cost of materials only ended up being a little over $7,000. He asked board members which of the project’s optional items they’d like to complete with the leftover money.

However, Board President Roger Chaffins said $7,000 will go to Bob Aloi with Territorial Engineering. Ritzler took issue with that amount. “He didn’t do the plans,” Ritzler said. “We told him. We outlined where it was supposed to be. We don’t him the depth of the thing. The only thing he was was the draftsman. If he charged $7,000 for that, that was a little too much.”

But Ritzler admitted that Aloi did handle the survey marks, and County Attorney Marty Lucas pointed out that the project had to go through the county’s zoning board. “That ended up being kind of time-consuming, I have to say. It took more of my time than I thought it was going to take, too,” Lucas said.

In spite of the engineering fee, the park board was able to include a few of the optional items. Board members agreed to add a $531 bike rack, as recommended by member Debbie Mix. “Because someone who’s going to walk the forest certainly would also be the same type of person that would be riding a bicycle there,” Mix said.

Other additional work will include more than $700 worth of signage in and around the forest, and a new gate to block access to the back of the forest, for just under $600. Since not all of that can be covered by the grant, the park board authorized up to $1,500 to be spent out of the dedicated forest fund. That money comes from the forest’s timber sales.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

8/18/2018 Slip N' Slide Returns!

Starke County CASA

Starke County Highway Department May Repair Bass Lake Patio, Amid Ongoing Safety Concerns

Posted on August 15, 2018
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Concerns about the safety of the Bass Lake Beach House patio have led Starke County officials to look into repairing it themselves. The patio was the topic of a heated discussion during Tuesday’s County Park Board meeting. Board member Debbie Mix said the facility’s operator, Callahan Development, LLC, still hasn’t made repairs that have been discussed for several months or longer.

Her biggest concern was the patio’s guardrail. “I’m telling you, you can take that fencing and almost lift it up out of the cement because the cement is cracked,” Mix said. “There’s a hole where the posts go in. The posts are rotted. I mean, even if you wanted to cement them in, the post itself is rotted.” Mix was worried that someone could get hurt, and the county would be liable.

She repeatedly argued that Callahan was in breach of its lease. “They’ve already been given 30-day notice,” Mix said. “They were given a 30-day notice a year ago. And they haven’t done it. So if we’re going to be complacent, then we’re a joke. Then at that point, we might as well not even exist, if we can’t enforce them to do what we were asked to do.”

But County Attorney Marty Lucas wasn’t so sure. He pointed out that Callahan’s representatives previously said they were working on the repairs and that the structure was safe, overall. Lucas didn’t think he had the capability to prove otherwise.

Mix continued arguing that Callahan had breached its contract, even as Board President Roger Chaffins tried to move on to other topics. “I know you’re frustrated about it,” Chaffins said. “But I’ve heard it. I’ve had enough of it. . . . What do you want me to do? You want me to go out there and hold a whip over him and say, ‘You do this right now or I’m going to kick you!’?”

Mix replied, “No, I want a letter saying the contract is broken!”

“Then we get sued, and it costs us thousands of dollars,” Chaffins responded.

“Not if we’re in the right!” Mix said.

Eventually, Starke County Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler agreed to have someone install caution tape around the railing. He also offered to have his operations foreman and another construction person take a look and see what they think needs to be done to repair the patio.

Ritzler said that if the job is small, the highway department might be able to do it, with the approval of the county commissioners. The county could then charge Callahan a bill. Lucas felt that solution was more practical than threatening a lawsuit.

Starke County Commissioners Approve Purchase for Backup Infrastructure

Posted on August 15, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Starke County IT Director Richard Franks presented the county commissioners last week with information to purchase a new computer backup system.

Franks said that the purchase of the appliance, support and cloud retention would be $36,000 up front. The county doesn’t have adequate backup for all of the county’s data and this would ensure a reliable backup system as well as an off-site back up with the cloud retention.

In addition to the products, Franks said there is ransomware software included and it will notify him of any attacks. Also, if the server goes down because of an attack, the server can be restored in a few hours instead of weeks or months. If the drives fail, it will send Franks a notice and a new drive will be sent for free within 12 hours.

In addition, it comes with a lifetime warranty.

Franks assured the commissioners that he’s viewed several webinars and research on this particular appliance and believes it will be a good fit for what the county needs.

The commissioners approved the upfront cost of the equipment for about $36,000 from PCMG. The money will be taken from the county’s County Economic Development Income Tax fund.

The insurance company will contacted for any potential savings with this new equipment.

Starke County COAD Sets Meeting Schedule, Discusses Establishing a Board

Posted on August 15, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Members of the Starke County Community Organization Active in Disaster group established a more consistent meeting schedule when they convened Tuesday night.

Previously, the COAD was meeting every other month due to various obligations during the summer months. However, in order to keep people more engaged, members opted to move to monthly meetings. They will now meet the first Tuesday of every month at 5:30 p.m.

Additionally, members discussed the development of a COAD Board. Starke County EMA Director J. Nier has been facilitating the creation of COAD but said ultimately, it is meant to be run by community members. There are a few existing members who seemed like they would be a good fit for certain positions but additional representatives are still needed.

Red Cross Doug Farmwald suggested approaching various organizations within the community who would need to be involved with disaster response and recovery. He encouraged directly communicating with people who work with those organizations to let them know that they may want to get involved with the COAD.

For instance, somebody who already works with a charitable organization or financial institution would be a good candidate for the treasurer’s position since that person will be responsible for keeping track of the finances and helping the group obtain a 501(c) (3) status.

The existing members will be reaching out to other individuals in the community who would benefit from being involved with the group. Even people who don’t want to serve on the board could still be helpful as a member and volunteer.

The next COAD meeting will take place on Tuesday, September 4th. All interested community members and organization officials are encouraged to attend. If you have any questions visit the Starke County COAD Facebook page or contact EMA Director Nier at 574-772-9182.

NJ-SP to Host Youth Educator for Indiana’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force

Posted on August 15, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

A Youth Educator for Indiana’s Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force will be in Starke County tomorrow presenting information to North Judson-San Pierre students in grades 3 through 12.

The ICAC Task Force works with state and local law enforcement agencies to develop an effective response to technology-facilitated child sexual exploitation through investigations, training, prevention and community education.

Youth Educator Cathie Bledsoe will be discussing the dangers that the internet poses for children and teenagers. She will present information to students during the school day and a parent program will take place at 5:30 p.m. Thursday evening in the NJ-SP auditorium. All parents and community members are invited to attend.

Bledsoe has been a presenter on Internet Safety and Cyber Bullying for the past 7 years and she has 10 years of teaching experience with children, adults, gifted students and juveniles in the probation system.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Starke County Commissioners Approve Hamlet Paving Quote

Posted on August 14, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Highway Department presented to the county commissioners last week a quote for paving projects for the Town of Hamlet.

The Starke County Highway Department will pay for the labor and equipment for the road improvements while the Town of Hamlet will pay for cost of materials.

The initial estimate for the cold mix application is about $17,500 while the hot mix asphalt application is $30,600.

Work will be done on Maple from Plymouth to Oak, Madison from Hamlet to Main, Davis from Division to Lincoln, and Main from Terry to Madison.

Any work outside of the scope will need to be agreed upon by the Starke County Highway Superintendent and the Hamlet Street Supervisor.

The commissioners approved the quote with a unanimous vote.

Starke County Justice Center Warden Recognized as Jail Commander of the Year

Posted on August 14, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

A Starke County Sheriff’s Department employee who goes above and beyond for this community was recently recognized for his outstanding work.

Warden Phil Cherry was presented with the Jail Commander of the Year Award at the annual Indiana Sheriff’s Conference in French Lick on Thursday, August 9th.

Starke County Sheriff Bill Dulin commented that Warden Cherry’s tireless approach and out of the box thinking with incarcerated people is second to none. Sheriff Dulin said he is very grateful for the much-needed humility that Cherry brings to the job.

Cherry reportedly came on board in late 2015. Since he has been Jail Warden, the Starke County Justice Center has become the model for small and medium-sized county jails. The Justice Center provides an exceptional example of how jails should operate in the current jail culture with the recognition of substance abuse and mental illness as some of the main causes of incarceration.

Starke County Park Board to Get Updates on Bass Lake Beach and Campground, County Forest

Posted on August 14, 2018
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The conditions of the Bass Lake Beach and Campground will be discussed by the Starke County Park Board tonight. During last month’s meeting, it was reported that glacial stone had been installed around the beach, and Assistant Manager Larry Clarich was getting ready to replenish the beach with new sand. He was also working on repairs to the beach house patio.

Also during tonight’s meeting, board members will get an update on the Starke County Forest. The County Highway Department has been upgrading the existing access trail into a gravel road with a 10-to-12-car parking lot.

Tonight’s Starke County Park Board meeting starts at 6:00 in Starke County Annex Building No. 1.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Starke County Highway Department Working on Community Crossings Application

Posted on August 13, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Starke County Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler has several projects on tap to include in the first round of INDOT’s Community Crossings grant application.

There are two grant rounds in 2019. Ritzler noted that next year will be the final year that INDOT will accept proposals to fund completed projects. The county will provide a 25 percent match for whatever money is awarded up to $1 million.

As presented to the Starke County Commissioners last week, the highway department plans to request funds to pay for the work done on Bridge No. 154 and Bridge No. 36. Bridge No. 36 is already complete while a bid was awarded for Bridge No. 154 with construction to begin in September. Plans also call for hot mix asphalt projects on County Road 400 S. between County Road 650 W. and U.S. 421, County Road 50 South from State Road 39 to the Knox City Limits, County Road 250 N. from U.S. 35 to Range Road, Range Road from State Road 10 to Toto Road, County Road 25 N. from U.S. 35 to State Road 23, and County Road 1100 E. from U.S. 30 to Circle Ave.

Ritzler said plans are in the works to submit the official grant application this week. The application window closes Friday, Sept. 28.

North Judson Town Council Approves Company for Sewer Line Replacement Project

Posted on August 13, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Two quotes for a sewer line replacement project near the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum were presented to North Judson Town Council members last Monday.

Town Superintendent Marshall Horstmann has been attempting to obtain quotes for this project for a few months. He initially presented the members with one quote and they asked him to obtain some other offers for comparison.

He said he called 4 companies but was only able to get one additional quote. Horstmann previously informed council members about a quote from JD Excavating who offered to do the work for $14,500 and the new quote presented was for $53,702.40 from H&G Underground Utilities.

Due to the significant difference between the two offers, members opted to go with the lowest quote. After ensuring that all old business had been resolved with the company, members permitted Horstmann to draw up a contract with JD Excavating and asked him to bring it to the next meeting.

He reminded them that the project will require dewatering work as well as 150 feet of 10-inch sewer line being replaced. He also noted that after speaking with a representative at JD Excavating, they said they could get started on this work during the first week in September and proposed that it could be completed in approximately 3 weeks.

Unique Local Farm Included in Indiana State Fair’s Featured Farmers Program

Posted on August 13, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The Troike Family  Adults: Debbie, Ed, Kristen and Jason  Children: Jackson and Zoe

A local family farm that offers fresh, saltwater shrimp is one of the 17 Hoosier farms being highlighted in the Indiana State Fair’s Featured Farmers program.

The Troike family’s Walkerton-based “Hoosier Shrimp Farm” will be in the spotlight at the State Fair in Indianapolis this week. Their day of recognition is Tuesday, August 14th.

According to an article provided by the Indiana State Fair, Jason and Kristen Troike started the Hoosier Shrimp farm in the spring of 2014, with the help of Jason’s parent Ed and Debbie. Kristen commented that the family is very proud to be able to provide landlocked northwest Indiana with a seafood product that can’t normally be obtained in-state.

The article also explains the unique farming practices that the Troike family takes on in order to provide this rare service to Hoosier consumers.

Rather than a field like most farmers, the Troikes have a temperature-controlled insulated facility that is constantly kept at 83 degrees Fahrenheit.

Inside the large metal building, there are apparently 16 above-ground swimming pools which each hold about 5,000 gallons of saltwater. Each 16-foot tank is first stocked with about 4,000 7-day old larval shrimp and after about five to six months, the desired shrimp are harvested for retail sale.

The Troikes are reportedly quite proud of their environmentally friendly production system. They only add water, salt, baking soda, growth bacteria and lime to their tanks.

Kristen noted that there is a lot of trial and error involved in this process. She stated they have learned a great deal but still have a lot of knowledge to gain about how to improve their yield and since there isn’t much information out there about it she said they have to learn on the fly.

Though the family is admittedly still learning, their business is taking off. Kristen noted that since they’ve had such great community support, they haven’t had to look outward for additional customers.

If you happen to miss the Troike family at the Indiana State Fair this week, don’t fret. They also offer free tours of their operation. The farm is open to the public from 2 until 6 p.m. on Fridays and from 1 until 4 p.m. on Saturdays. For more information, visit

Signage Installed Around North Judson to Help Guide Trail Travelers

Posted on August 11, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

[Photo Source: NJ Town Photographer Peggy Bohac]

Bicyclists and pedestrians utilizing the trails in North Judson now have some signage to guide them.
Back in May, Prairie Trails Club Representatives Steve and Kathy Lucas came before Town Council members, requesting permission to place signs around town that would help guide people using the trails. The members unanimously approved the request.

As a reminder, The Erie Trail in North Judson runs a little more than 9 miles and is a part of two major trails that stretch across the whole country. It is included in Indiana’s portion of the U.S. Bike Route 35 that starts in Canada and ends near New Orleans. That trail will eventually reach the Gulf of Mexico. The Erie Trail is also a part of the American Discovery Trail which runs from Delaware to California.

[Photo Source: NJ Town Photographer Peggy Bohac]

Ever since they received permission, Steve, Kathy and other members of Prairie Trails Club have been coordinating with Clerk-Treasurer Andrew Rowe with Town Superintendent Marshall Horstmann about the ideal places to erect the signs.

On Thursday, August 9th, they put their plans into action, according to Prairie Trails Club rep Peggy Bohac. Bohac also serves as the town photographer and she followed around crews on Thursday and snapped pictures as they put signs up in various places around town.

Multiple people also joined in with Thursday’s excursion around town including Town Superintendent Marshall Horstman and members of his utility crew Kim Kapp and Jason Manns as well as Clerk-Treasurer Andrew Rowe and Steve and Kathy Lucas. The Starke County Community Foundation’s Jessica Martinovic and Miranda Shepherd were also present and so were Nan Wellman and Amanda Brewer from OTES, the company that created the signs.

L to R: James Manns, Peggy Bohac, Kim Kapp 
[Photo Source: NJ Town Photographer Peggy Bohac]

In addition to alerting travelers that they’re on a specific trail, Bohac noted that these signs will help direct people toward local services on their way through town. She mentioned that since North Judson is the only municipality that travelers pass through between LaPorte and Rochester, it is crucial to let them know where they can find resources in town.
Bohac added that with the initial plans for the US Bike Route 35, it wouldn’t have passed through the heart of North Judson. She stated that back in 2011, the Hoosier Rails to Trails Council recommended a route that would have skirted the northern edge of town. However, Bohac said that Town Council members made a decision in 2012 that led to the route that is there currently in place, which gives better access to commercial and public services in town.

L to R: Nan Wellman and Amanda Brewer, Kathy and Steve Lucas, Andrew Rowe, Jessica Martinovic and Miranda Shepherd [Photo Source: NJ Town Photographer Peggy Bohac]

History of North Judson-San Pierre Schools

Be sure to watch the “History of North Judson-San Pierre Schools” video on the “NJSPBlueJayWay” YouTube channel! This informative and entertaining video features a brief overview of the North Judson and San Pierre area’s public schools - from humble beginnings in a log cabin in 1850 through periods of growth, change and the eventual consolidation of North Judson and San Pierre Schools in 1964.

The video was produced by Conncepts Marketing in cooperation with North Judson-San Pierre Schools, the Starke County Historical Society and North Judson Public Library. You can watch this “NJ-SP History” video by clicking here.

Friday, August 10, 2018

8/16/2018 Parent and Community Presentation on Internet Safety

A parent program will take place at 5:30 on Thursday evening in the NJ-SP Auditorium. All parents and community members are invited.

Cathie Bledsoe, a Youth Educator for Indiana’s ICAC Task Force, will discuss dangers that the internet poses for children and teenagers.

The Internet Crimes Against Children or ICAC works with state and local law enforcement agencies to develop an effective response to technology facilitated child sexual exploitation. ICAC encompasses investigation, training, prevention and community education.

Cathie Bledsoe has over 10 years of teaching experience with children, adults, gifted students and juveniles in the probation system. and has been a presenter on Internet Safety and Cyber Bullying for the past 7 years. She holds a Master Degree in Secondary Education-Instructional Technology.

Frankenstein Friday #29 - Destiny and Honor in Frankenstein

In what way does destiny play a role in Frankenstein? Join us as we read Dr. James Norton's essay "Destiny and Honor in Frankenstein" on this Frankenstein Friday.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Additional Starke County EMS Full-Time Staff Proposed

Posted on August 9, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Starke County EMS Director Travis Clary and Clerk Mary Lynn Ritchie are proposing more full-time paramedics and EMTs to the staff roster in 2019.

Clary said it could save in overtime costs.

“Part-time just sometimes doesn’t work especially during the summer months,” said Clary. “You’ve got people who work a full-time job and they want to go out on the boat or to the beach. So, it’s difficult to fill our schedule. If you look at the cost savings, it’s about $35,588.24 and it’s a savings on personnel with putting on three more EMTs and three more paramedics full-time.”

Clary clarified that some of the current part-time staff members, if qualified, could move into these full-time positions, or they could place outside applicants into these positions.

Ritchie will look closer at the numbers with Auditor Kay Chaffins to include in their projections in terms of insurance costs, PERF and other benefits. Despite these costs, Ritchie believes it will end up saving the overtime line item in the budget.

“That would take care of 960 hours with 24 part-time for EMTs and 24 paramedic part-time hours and that’s all we would need per week,” explained Ritchie. “I’m sure we could fill that and our overtime would just be cut.”

North Judson Town Council Considers the Possibility a Splash Pad at Norwayne Field

Posted on August 9, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Some questions were raised when the possibility of installing a splash pad at Norwayne Field was brought up at Monday night’s North Judson Town Council meeting.

Councilman James Young told members that in an effort to find something that could draw young families to the area while simultaneously giving local kids something to do, a few town officials recently met with a representative from the company Vortex Aquatic Structures.

He said the options they looked into were similar to Valparaiso’s splash pad.

He explained, “It’s flush mount so we wouldn’t have fixtures sticking out of the ground. It’d be more like one solid fixture they would touch, it would kick the splash pad on, they could go play in it for three or four minutes and it would switch itself off until someone touched it again.”

He added that this type could be equipped with LED lights that could flash in different colors. Young said that would be a nice addition during events that are held at Norwayne in the evening.

Young said there were two different flush mount versions that the representative provided them with. The first version would pump 74.5 gallons of water per minute and the equipment would cost around $41,000. The second version presented to the council would pump 69 gallons of water per minute and cost $61,000.

There were other options that would allow the recirculation of water. Those would cost more up front but could potentially save money in the long run since the water would be recycled.

Councilman John Rowe said the proposed placement is an unused slab of concrete that sits behind the library building currently. Town Superintendent Marshall Horstman noted that there isn’t a sewer line near there, so additional work would need to be conducted in order to hook it up to the nearest line on Keller Avenue.

Members mentioned that currently, there are North Judson residents who venture out of town to use these types of structures elsewhere, so there is an apparent appeal.

They also noted that grant funding is available for these types of projects so those funds could potentially be used for installation costs or maintenance. Councilman Young added that he’s also spoken with a few different businesses who expressed an interest in funding the project.

One of the main concerns raised was about how much money it would cost to increase water usage and the impact it would have on residents. Members asked Superintendent Horstmann to run some figures to see what the long-term effects would be.

Additionally, members thought it would be a good idea to have a representative from Vortex come to a meeting to provide some additional information and to answer any questions that town officials or citizens may have.

Officials are still in the preliminary stages of considering this possibility and nothing is set in stone. They will soon be considering the budget for 2019 so they will be looking into the feasibility of such a structure and whether or not this could be tackled next year or if it would have to wait.

No official actions were taken Monday night but the topic will be revisited in future meetings.

Don’t Let a Skimmer Scam Ruin Your Summer

Posted on August 9, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Federal Trade Commission officials are warning motorists to avoid being scammed by skimmers this summer travel season.

A “skimmer” is an illegal card reader that attaches to credit card slots and steals data off of your card’s magnetic strip. They’re used most frequently at gas pumps. Criminals sell this info or use it to buy items online. Card owners may not even realize their information has been stolen until they receive their statement or an overdraft notice.

Fortunately, there are a few ways to spot a skimmer to protect your personal information from potential thieves.

Always make sure the gas pump panel is closed and doesn’t show signs of tampering. Stations often put a security seal over the cabinet panel which will read “void” if it has been opened.

Skimmers do usually resemble card readers but they look different. They often protrude from the unit rather than be set in. Before putting your card into the slot, wiggle the reader. If it if moves, immediately report it to an employee.

Additionally, if your phone has Bluetooth scanning capabilities, you can turn that on to check for skimmers embedded in the pumps. If a random series of numbers and letters pop up it could be a telltale sign that a skimmer has been installed. DO NOT connect to the Bluetooth device and immediately notify a gas station attendant of your concern.

If you use your debit card at the pump, run it as a credit card rather than entering your PIN. FTC representatives say this way, your PIN is safe and the money isn’t deducted immediately from your account. If you’re concerned that it may not be safe to pay at the pump, pay inside.

Left: Regular Credit Card Reader
Right: Skimmer Attached

Last but certainly not least, monitor your credit card and bank accounts regularly to spot any unauthorized charges immediately.

If your credit card has been compromised, the FTC encourages you to report it to your bank or card issuer right away. Federal law limits your liability if your credit, ATM or debit card is stolen but it may depend on how quickly you report the loss of theft.

“The Hive” Gives Starke County Women Something to Bee-lieve In

Posted on August 9, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Have you heard the buzz about the “The Hive?” The members of this ladies’ giving circle work together to fund local charitable projects and organizations.

Representatives say the name “The Hive” comes from a comparison between the giving circle and the way honey bees work.

They shared that similar to the way that bees work together to produce honey that helps sustain the entire hive, the giving circle works together by pooling their resources in order to enhance the quality of life in the community.

The group was established through the Starke County Community Foundation by Co-Founders Andrea Cox and Jessica Martinovic. Cox serves as the Chairperson of the organization.

At their inaugural gathering, held in February of this year, the group gave away a total of $5,000 to four different nonprofit organizations. The recipients were the Kid’s Closet Ministry, Starke County Community Corrections, Bella Vita Pregnancy Resource Center and the Prairie Trails Club.

Approximately 60 women were in attendance for their first gathering, and the group is hoping to reach at least 100 members by their 2019 event. Individuals can sign up to be a “Hive” member online or through the mail (click to download Hive flyer).

The group is open to all Starke County women who are sixteen-years-of-age or older. Members who are 16 to 22 would pay monthly dues of $5 or $60 per year while members who are older than 22 are asked to supply a monthly contribution of $10 or a $120 yearly donation.

The monetary contributions from members are pooled together to give annual grants to charitable organizations in the county.

Half of the dollars are awarded in the current grant cycle and the other half is put into The Hive Giving Circle Endowment Fund with the Community Foundation to ensure the group will be able to provide grants well into the future.

If you have any questions, contact the Starke County Community Foundation at 574-772-3665.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

8/11/2018 Saturday = Dining Out For A Good Cause

I don't think it's supposed to be terribly hot on Saturday, but if you want a break from cooking check out these two good causes. You can pick up a pulled pork sandwich/chips lunch (corn on the cob is available for an additional $1) at Bella Vita's fund raiser out at Bailey's. Then for dinner you have the choice of dining in or carrying out at the Kid's Closet Fish Fry & Bake Sale at the NJSP High School. Breakfast, as they say, is on your own.

Starke County Officials to Consider Ambulance Purchase, Transfer Unit

Posted on August 8, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Starke County government officials will decide on the purchase of a new ambulance and a possible transfer unit in the next few weeks.

Starke County EMS Director Travis Clary told the commissioners Monday night that he received all of the quotes he’s been looking for to purchase an ambulance. Four quotes were received: Medwerks/Crossroads Ambulance at just under $122,000, Osage Ambulance at nearly $127,000, Demers Ambulance at $131,600 and Hoosier Fire Equipment/Lifeline Ambulance at $158,500.

Commissioner Kathy Norem noted that a couple of Starke County Council members have specific thoughts about a new ambulance so it was suggested that Clary and EMS Clerk Mary Lynn Ritchie appear before the county council members on Aug. 20 to present the information for their approval. The commissioners agreed that the money to pay for the ambulance will come out of the Cumulative Capital Development Fund. Any additional equipment that may need to be purchased such as a cot, radios, a monitor, and decals will come out of the same fund.

In a parallel conversation, Clary noted that the Porter Regional ambulance that was stationed at Starke Hospital is no longer there and Starke County EMS has seen an uptick in transfers which will help gain revenue for the department. Clary suggested securing a transfer unit to gather more funds for the department. The transfer unit could take hospital transfers outside of the EMS jurisdiction which is limited to a 50-mile radius.

Clary stressed that there is one ambulance designated for local transfers only within the 50-mile radius so there could be two rigs available and that would generate funds. Ambulances will be available as they always are for 9-1-1 emergencies as that is the department’s priority.

Clary and Starke County Commissioner Charlie Chesak will set up a meeting with Starke Hospital officials to discuss the proposal and a possible memorandum of understanding before any decision is made.

Town-Wide Yard Sale Discussed at North Judson Town Council Meeting

Posted on August 8, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Saturday’s town-wide yard sale was a topic of discussion when North Judson Town Council members met Monday evening.

Clerk-Treasurer Andrew Rowe told members that there were 43 individuals who signed up in time to be included on the maps and eight additional individuals came in to purchase permits after the fact.

He noted that there was some negative feedback provided about the fact that the town wide yard sale is not free to participate in.

However, Rowe mentioned that signs are provided with the purchase of every permit, so it isn’t a service that is cost-free to the Town. Additionally, Town Council members do lower the price for permits every year to make the opportunity more accessible to citizens.

Rowe said that despite some additional complaints that were made about the heat and certain residents not having their sales set up early enough, it seemed to be a successful event.

Starke County COAD Meeting Rescheduled to Next Week

Posted on August 7, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The Starke County Community Organizations Active in Disasters meeting scheduled for tonight (8/7) had to be rescheduled due to unforeseen circumstances.

Starke County EMA Director J. Nier proposed rescheduling the meeting for next week with a tentative date of Tuesday, August 14th. It will still be held at 5:30 p.m. in the lower level of Starke County Annex Building #2 in the Purdue Extension Offices.

In the meantime, citizens can brainstorm some ideas to bring to the table and existing group members are encouraged to recruit some friends, family members and colleagues who would be interested in joining.

The group is still actively seeking members as well as individuals who would be willing to serve on the board. If you have a passion for leadership and drive to provide assistance within Starke County please set aside some time to attend the meeting next week.

From the major flooding that was experienced at the beginning of the year to a house fire that leaves a family without anything at all, disasters can take many forms. The Starke County COAD encourages collaboration between local residents and officials in order to help the community be better equipped for disaster response and recovery.

If you have any questions, Starke County EMA Director J. Nier can be reached 772-9182 or