Thursday, September 27, 2018

Pumpkin Train Tickets On Sale Now

From the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum: 

Tickets for the Pumpkin Train are on sale now! Buy tickets with this link: The train departs the depot in North Judson, Indiana, on October 6th, 13th, and 20th at 10:00 am, 12:30 pm, and 2:30 pm Central time (Chicago time). Choose between coach and open-air seating when you purchase your tickets. Don't forget to purchase your pumpkin tickets. The 13-mile round-trip train lasts approximately 75 minutes. We'll try to answer questions here if we can, but please read our website for full travel and ticket information.

The Pumpkin Train departs the station at North Judson, Indiana, and travels to English Lake with a stop at our pumpkin patch where passengers can pick up a pumpkin (pumpkins are $2.50 each). The train then returns to the station. Ticket prices are as follows: $12 adults (16+), $10 youth (6-15), $6 children (1-5). Children under 1 are free. Passengers must choose between coach or open air car when making their purchase (if you choose open air car, make sure you dress warmly for the trip). The train ride lasts approximately 75 minutes and is 13 miles round trip. Remember that we are on central time (Chicago time) and times listed are departure times. Please arrive before your departure time.

This is one of our most popular train rides, so we definitely recommend purchasing your tickets ahead of time to avoid disappointment. Please make sure to purchase your pumpkins when you buy your tickets for the train.

Purchase 6 or more tickets and receive our group rate ($2 off per ticket). All tickets of the same type/time/date must be purchased at the same time to receive this discount. We do not mail tickets - all tickets must be picked up at the station in North Judson when you arrive.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

9/28/2018 Class of 1998 Reunion

Starke County Commissioners Approve Purchase of BiPAP Equipment

Posted on September 26, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Commissioners discussed the purchase of BiPAP equipment for use on the county’s proposed ambulance transfer unit.

The equipment is required by Starke Hospital officials in order to be in service for hospital transfers. A BiPAP includes a non-invasive oxygen mask that assists a patient with breathing.

Starke County EMS Director Travis Clary said the quote that was provided to the commissioners covers adult masks, ventilators and circuits for $4,814.75. The masks are to be the disposable type and they alone cost $200 apiece. The purchase will be made out of the Cumulative Capital Development Fund. The commissioners approved the provided quote.

Clary said once the equipment is available, he will need to train staff on its proper use. That could take about a month or so to get every employee trained.

The commissioners are expected to get more information on when the transfer unit would need to be available to the hospital once the Memorandum of Understanding is signed by both the county and Starke Hospital officials.

Unemployment Rates Up from Previous Month, Down from Last Year

Posted on September 26, 2018
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Starke and Pulaski counties’ unemployment rates went up last month, but they were lower than the same period last year. According to the latest report from the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, Starke County saw an unemployment rate of 4.4 percent last month. That’s a tenth of a percent higher than the July figure, but a tenth of a percent lower than it was in August of 2017.

The trend was similar in Pulaski County. Its August unemployment rate was 3.5 percent, up from 3.2 percent the month before but down from 3.7 percent in August of last year.

Both counties’ labor forces grew slightly and the actual number of people employed also went up, when compared to August of 2017. The state as a whole saw a non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 3.7 percent last month, while the national rate was 3.9 percent.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

10/6/2018 Erie Trail Travelers Chili Ride

Join us! On October 6th the Erie Trail Travelers will host a bike ride followed by a chili dinner and bonfire! 1:00 PM starts the day with a trike ride for ages 6 and under (riders receive a goodie bag and participant ribbon), 3:00 begins the bicycle ride (participants receive a t-shirt). The cost is $20, kids 6 and under are $5, and that price includes your chili dinner. Group and family rates are available. The North Judson rest park is at corner of Hwy 10 and 250 W. To register contact Donna Osborne at 219-689-2567.

Registration forms are also available at the North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library.

Voter Registration ENDS on October 9th.

Register to Vote Online
Register to vote online by visiting Indiana residents with a valid Indiana driver’s license or Indiana state-issued identification card will be able to use this tool to submit a new voter registration application or to update an existing voter registration record.
In addition to registering to vote online, this site provides Hoosiers with the ability to validate their voter registration status, 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.

County Receives SHSP Grant to Help Fund CAD System

Posted on September 25, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Commissioners learned last week that the county is the recipient of a grant to help pay for a new Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system for the Starke County Sheriff’s Department.

The system would be $253,555 for dispatch, mobiles, Mobile RMS and InterAct RMS, while the JailTracker software would be an additional $55,394 for a total cost of just about $309,000. After the second year of usage, an annual maintenance fee will go into effect that is $23,597.

Starke County EMA Director J. Nier helped secure a $100,000 State Homeland Security Program grant to help toward the cost of obtaining the new system that will better update calls and information. In addition, the Starke County Probation Department will help with the cost with $30,000 in funding along with $15,000 from Starke County Community Corrections.

Another $50,000 grant is still outstanding for part of the system as well.

County Attorney Marty Lucas found a few things that needed to be changed in the contract that the company, Caliber, agreed to and the commissioners signed the paperwork.

A kick off meeting to determine the installation timeline is set for Wednesday.

North Judson Officials Receive Preliminary Info About Paying Bills Online

Posted on September 25, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Now that North Judson Officials are talking website design, members asked Billing Clerk Jennifer Vanek to look into the possibility of paying bills online. She provided some of the information she found at last week’s town council meeting.

Vanek said while researching the options, she found something that would work called Invoice Cloud. She noted that it would be a fee-based system. In order to utilize a debit or credit card, a $2.95 flat fee would be assessed along with a 95 cent fee for electronic checks. She said customers can set up reoccurring payments or sign up for auto pay.

Additionally, customers have the option to sign up for paperless billing. This would help save the town money on postage and paper.

Vanek mentioned that this option would allow customers to view the payments they’ve made and those that are due. She explained, “Just like your NIPSCO, Century Link, or anybody you set up an account with you can go online and look at your statements, you can see everything.”

Vanek noted that if a customer’s payment gets rejected, the Town is charged $15 fee that they then collect from the customer. She asked Town Attorney Justin Schramm if an existing fee would cover that charge. Schramm noted that the fee ordinance would need to be amended to reflect this specific penalty fee.

No official actions were taken but this is an option that officials plan to keep in mind as they start to create the town’s website.

NJ-SP Superintendent Updates School Board on Outside Assessment Process

Posted on September 25, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

North Judson-San Pierre Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin provided some details about an outside assessment that’s being done at the schools at last week’s school board meeting.

In the past, school officials would receive an audit from AdvancedEd. However, due to factors such as money, time and stress they decided to go with a more meaningful outside audit this year.

Whereas AdvancedEd would just do a general review, these new assessors will look at test scores and work with staff to get a feel for the schools. The audit is done in two phases, the first phase is assessment and the second phase is professional development.

When school board members met last Monday, Dr. Zupin shared that the assessment phase has already begun. She said a few weeks ago, curriculum specialist interviewed all elementary school teachers and core teachers at the 7th and 8th-grade level.

“We’re concentrating on a K-8 audit because the high school test and the graduation pathways is a whole different beast so we’re going to be concentrating on curriculum for the iLearn test.”

Dr. Zupin said now that teachers have been interviewed, the next step will be for the representatives to come back and meet with her at the beginning of October After that, they will return to meet with administrators and the school improvement teams to devise a plan on how to instruct students more efficiently.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Starke County Council Tables Request for EMS Transfer Unit

Posted on September 24, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Council members heard a proposal for a primary transfer unit to work out of Starke Hospital in Knox.

EMS Director Travis Clary and Clerk Mary Lynn Ritchie previously provided information to the commissioners about retiring an ambulance once the new ambulance arrives and use the retired unit as the transfer vehicle. The commissioners supported the idea. A memorandum of understanding has been discussed between the county and Starke Hospital to make this the primary transfer unit. The document has not been signed, but County Attorney Marty Lucas has provided an agreement to hospital officials.

Ritchie said having the transfer unit would create over $200,000 next year in net revenue. With the council’s approval of three full-time paramedics and three full-time EMTs, staffing costs would work to be within the gross revenue.

In order to get this transfer unit started with supplies and payroll, Clary and Ritchie asked for $198,348.06. A new line item would be provided in the EMS budget for this transfer unit.

There was some question of when the transfer agreement would start. Commissioner Kathy Norem stated that it is the assumption that once the paperwork is approved and signed a primary transfer unit will be immediately be in service. The members of county government are unsure if there will be a spare ambulance available before the new rig is in the county’s possession in February or March in 2019. The two spare rigs currently available are often in service as other ambulances are undergoing maintenance.

The county council agreed to table the request until more information can be gathered by the commissioners.

Starke County School Officials, Emergency Personnel Take Part in Active Shooter Tabletop Exercise

Posted on September 24, 2018
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Starke County’s educators and first responders recently tested how they’d react to an active shooter situation. Knox Elementary School Principal Michelle Tarnow reviewed this month’s tabletop exercise with the school board last week.

“So although it was not a light topic, I will tell you I left felling positive from the standpoint that we have really dedicated community first responders here,” she said. “And God forbid something were to really happen here, there is a really good team in this county to help us.”

She explained that Porter County Emergency Management Agency Director Lance Bella created a scenario of a 40-minute period following a hypothetical shooting. Taking part in the exercise were representatives from Knox, Oregon-Davis, and North Judson-San Pierre schools; Starke County Emergency Medical Services; local, county, and state police; and several other agencies.

Tarnow said Bella separated the scenario into different “moves.” Participants were asked to think about what they would normally be doing, and how they would react at each step as the event unfolds. Each group separately discussed their response to each move, and then shared it with the other participants.

Hamlet Town Marshal Clint Norem explained the purpose of the exercise with the town council during a recent meeting. “The schools have their own policies, how they’re going to handle this situation, which isn’t necessarily going to be what we would think would be the best,” he said. “However, we’re going to have to learn how to work together on that and understand that there are going to be things that will be kind of out of the law enforcement control or the school’s control. But everybody will have a better idea of why that’s happening.”

Tarnow told the school board that the various groups will look at ways they can refine their plans, and everyone will meet again in December to share them. Superintendent Dr. William Reichhart added that the tabletop exercise was funded by a grant from Good Oil to the three school districts.

North Judson Officials Receive Initial Design Plan for Proposed Splash Pad

Posted on September 24, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Plans are coming together for the potential splash pad at Norwayne Field. Councilman James Young shared some details from a preliminary design plan that was provided to him by Vortex Aquatic Structures.

The splash pad in the design would encompass the entire concrete slab that already exists at Norwayne Field. It would utilize about 69 gallons of water per minute and have 21 flush mount water fixtures.

The splash pad would not be running the entire time that it’s on. Instead, there would be something in place for kids to activate in order to get the water going.

To get the cost down to the figure that the Town proposed, the potential lighting fixtures were scrapped from the plan. The quote provided was for $60,000, which was the maximum amount that town officials said they were willing to pay for the recreational water feature.

Young said that Vortex representative Bill Smith will be present at their next meeting to answer any questions that the council may have.

To download the proposal provided to the council members click the link below:

Vortex Aquatics Structures – North Judson Splash Pad Design Plan

North Judson-San Pierre Principals Cover School Improvement Plans

Posted on September 24, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

When the North Judson San-Pierre School Board met last Tuesday, members heard school improvement plan presentations from both school principals

Both Elementary School Principal Julie Berndt and Middle/High School Principal Jim Polite emphasized creating curriculums that are driven by test results, specifically, scores from the Northwest Evaluation Association test or NWEA.

Polite noted that this is the second year they’re utilizing this specific test, “That’s a test that’s given to our students at three different points during the year that monitors their progress in a multitude of different areas.

At the Middle/High School, Polite said areas of achievement include the school’ dual credit and AP offering, the very popular and successful Ag program, the fact that progress was made in 4 out of the 6 ISTEP testing groups and that despite a drop in the overall state average, 10th Graders ISTEP Scores in language arts and math increased.

Some areas of achievement that Berndt highlighted at the elementary school are the increased use of new technology by both students and staff, unique incentives that reward students for good behavior and attendance, having an active PTO that has helped to improve school-family correspondence as well as utilizing Facebook and the school website to help improve communication.

Click the below to download details from the School Improvement Plans, which will be up for adoption at the school board’s October meeting.

Notes From September 18th NJSP School Board Meeting

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Starke County Commissioners Confirm Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at Starke County Forest

Posted on September 22, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Commissioners this week confirmed the date and time for the ribbon cutting ceremony at the Starke County Forest.

County officials and residents will be celebrating the recent upgrades at the Starke County Forest. The highway department recently upgraded the old access trail into a gravel road with a 10-to-12-car parking lot with funding from the Hardesty Memorial Endowment Fund. A native plant garden was also planted in the middle of the lot with money from the Forest Fund.

The ribbon cutting ceremony will be Wednesday, Oct. 3 at 4 p.m. at the Starke County Forest at 10655 East Division Road. All are invited to attend.

Budget Hearing Held at NJ-SP School Board Meeting

Posted on September 22, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

North Judson San Pierre school board members held a hearing over the 2019 budget, capital project plan and bus replacement plan when they met on Tuesday.

No public comments were provided. The hearing was adjourned and members moved onto the budget adoption section of the meeting, where a number of items were listed for their consideration.

In addition to adopting the 2018 General Fund and Rainy Day Fund appropriations reduction resolutions, members adopted the budget and the capital projects and bus replacement Plans for 2019.

Members also adopted a resolution for an advertised budget reduction, resolutions to establish the Education and Operation Funds, as well as resolutions to establish the initial funding for those funds.

The final resolution permitted funds to be transferred from the Education Fund to the Operation Fund.

Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin provided some clarification about this resolution, stating that certain non-education related expenses that used to be paid out of the General Fund will now need to be paid out of the Operation Fund.

However, since the funds that were previously stored in the General Fund will now go into the Education fund, a resolution has to be in place to allow those transfers to be made. Zupin added that any future transfer requests will still need to come before the school board for approval.

Presentation Over the Merit Foundation Provided to NJ Town Council

Posted on September 22, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The North Judson Town Council received an informative presentation about the Merit Foundation when members met Monday night.

Chairman of the organization David Weinberg explained that Merit’s goal is to help improve the county’s health statistics.

He informed the council members and meeting attendees that county health statistics are gathered by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which is the second largest charity organization in the world. During the measuring process, 35 various health indicators are measured.

Currently, Starke County is ranked at 79. The Merit Foundation is in the process of gathering various community resources to help develop a strategic plan so the county can improve 10 points every year for the next 8 years to shoot up to the top of the list.

Weinberg highlighted the fact that in some areas, Starke County is already doing better than Hamilton County, which is currently ranked as number one.

He explained, “We have less alcohol-related deaths per person than Hamilton County, we have less income inequality than Hamilton County, we have better air quality, we have better drinking water quality and less people drive alone to work. So in five of them, we’re already better.”

Weinberg stressed that we don’t need to be ranked number one in every category to be considered number one, we just need to strategically improve our statistics in a few areas to help boost our ranking.

The Merit Foundation will be hosting the first of many cornerstone events on Sunday, September 30th. This event will feature local artists and musicians and will be a chance for community members to connect and reflect on ways to improve the overall health of our county’s residents.

For more information from Weinberg’s presentation, tune into Kankakee Valley Viewpoints tomorrow at 12 p.m. CDT.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Frustration Continues with Firefighter Radio Communication Issues

Posted on September 21, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Firefighters from several departments told the Starke County Commissioners on Monday night that they continue to have problems with radio communication.

Andy Tilleraas from the Railroad Township Fire Department said representatives from J&K Communications were at his fire station on Monday. He stated that they know that there’s a problem, but couldn’t quite pinpoint the issue. He said the siren doesn’t work along with radios that used to open. He did say that his department’s radio communication was a little better, but interference is a problem. Also, there is a lot of static after the firefighters are toned.

Dave Pearman from Washington-Township Fire Department reported the same communication issues where firefighters can’t talk to each other. Hamlet Fire Chief Brad Hazelton said it’s unacceptable and a directional signal may need to be changed.

Bass Lake Fire Chief Les Jensen also reported communication issues.

The Starke County Firefighters Association met on Tuesday night where there was constructive discussion on the radio issues. According to Pearman, it was reported that J&K Communications was finished with modifications and programming.

The Starke County Commissioners took note that the firefighters are asking for a vendor change if these issues can’t be resolved. These issues have plagued departments for several years.

More discussions will take place concerning the changes and current status during a fire chiefs meeting on Monday, Oct. 8 at 6 p.m. CT.

North Judson Police Department to Save Big with Glock Buyback Program

Posted on September 21, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

With time running out to take part in Glock’s buyback program, North Judson Town Marshal Kelly Fisher discussed the related cost for some new guns with Town Council members this week.

At a meeting back in July, council members gave Marshal Fisher permission to peruse this opportunity which allows the department to trade in their current models that are about 2 decades old and get new ones at a reduced price.

Fisher told members, “We’re looking to get the new Glock 17 gen 5 9 millimeters versus the 357s that we have.”

Fisher added that the upgrade is long overdue, seeing that NJPD is one of only four departments in the state who still carries 357s.

The 357s are worth $299.50 each while the 9 millimeters are valued at $428.50, meaning the department only has to pay about $129 for each new gun they receive.

Fisher presented a purchase order of $1,928.50 to cover the cost of 11 new guns and extra magazines. She explained that four are for the full-time officers and the remaining 7 are for those who work part-time. Officers will still be able to utilize their current holsters and magazine carriers.

Fisher highlighted some of the advantages to using the new guns, stating that they’re more durable, have more advanced sights, have a higher magazine capacity and less recoil.

Marshal Fisher also noted that the ammunition is half the price. Councilman John Rowe commented on the impressive cost savings.

“As far as the 9-millimeter versus the 357 sig, every time you pull the trigger you’re going to save 15 cents at the range so that’s huge.” He went on, “That will pay for itself. That’s an unbelievable deal. I couldn’t believe this when I read this, that they’re going to give you $300 each.”

Council members voted unanimously to pay the PO for the new guns as well as the additional PO that was submitted for 2,000 rounds of full metal jackets for the range and 2,000 rounds of 9-millimeter hollow points.

Yellow River Pilot Project Reviewed at KRBC Meeting, Followed by Site Visit

Posted on September 21, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

An overview of the Yellow River Pilot Project was presented when the Kankakee River Basin Commission met at the Nancy J. Dembowski Community Center Thursday morning.

Siavash Beik from Christopher B. Burke Engineering presented a summary of the project. The meeting was followed up by a site visit where Beik and his colleague Bob Barr pointed out some of the items that were highlighted during the presentation.

While providing the background, Beik explained that the Yellow River was assessed in order to address river erosion and to develop an effective method of sediment management.

Multiple points along the river were reviewed, but one spot specifically presented a major problem. With water moving side to side, it was continuously pressing up against the banks, washing excess sand into the river and destabilizing the banks themselves. This area is just outside of the Knox city limits, behind a property on State Road 8.

This is where the pilot project was implemented. Beik noted that about a half a mile along both sides of the river were worked on. They utilized a nature-based method called the “Toe Wood Technique” where large woody debris is placed along the banks as a way to prevent erosion.

During the site visit, Burr explained that something similar to this occurs naturally when trees fall into the river and lodge themselves into the sides. He explained that as long as it’s not running all the way across, blocking the flow, the placement can actually be helpful in securing the bank.

They also reworked the vertical, ineffective banks into step like river benches that are above the strategically positioned wood.

One of the things they had to deal with onsite was a natural gas line that is very close to the bottom of the river.

Burr explained that is pretty common around the state and is a problem that often has to be worked around since the gas company won’t allow developers to work on their easement.

They were able to avoid any future interference with the gas line by putting in some stones in a‘ V’ formation to help redirect the water and keep the bottom of the river from eroding.

The difference between this project and others that have been tried in the past is that it was created to work with nature and ultimately be self-sustaining. Though it will require monitoring, the project representatives noted that they wanted to ensure that little to no human interference will be required in the future.

One of the most measurable successes of using this technique was the fact that the system held up during February’s flooding before the vegetation even had a chance to grow back and the project was fully stabilized yet.

The next step for this pilot project is that it will be presented to state legislatures, with the hope that they will understand its usefulness and provide some funding to implement it in other areas that require the same sort of system. Aside from stressing the visible results, project representatives will also highlight the fact that self-sustainability will cut down on overall maintenance costs in the long run.

In the meantime, county officials associated with the KRBC will be working to secure local matches, as the state has said nothing with be provided without some “skin in the game.”

eLearning Policies Considered by North Judson-San Pierre School Board

Posted on September 21, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Since it is their first year implementing eLearning, North Judson-San Pierre School officials had to create some policies to go along with the program. School Board members considered the policies on first reading when they met Tuesday evening.

Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin noted that the Teacher’s Association and the schools’ administrators were consulted to craft a document that fits for NJ-SP. She added that they also utilized support and resources from other area schools.

The policies passed on first reading and will be up for adoption at the board’s next meeting on Tuesday, October 16th.

She reminded the members that they’ll be holding two pre-planned days this year. She added that though practice days will take place in October, many teachers are already preparing students and getting them familiarized with the process.

Dr. Zupin emphasized that students will not be penalized if they don’t have access to the internet. There are mechanisms in place to allow students extra time to turn in an assignment if they were unable to get it completed due to connectivity issues.

Within the next few weeks, parents will receive some informative letters from the superintendent as well as their child’s teacher regarding eLearning and what is expected of their student.

SCEDF Receives Purdue IN-MaC Micro Grant

Posted on September 21, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The upcoming Manufacturing Day events in Starke County will be covered in part by a Purdue IN-MaC micro grant.

The grant program is designed to help provide financial support for those businesses and organizations who implement creative projects that enhance youth exposure and experiences to manufacturing in collaboration with Manufacturing Day initiatives. The micro grants support innovation and encourage organizations to dedicate funds toward development and program implementation that impact manufacturing.

The Starke County Economic Development Foundation applied for and was awarded $2,000 to assist with planned events in October.

On Oct. 4, approximately 350 seventh grade students from Knox, North Judson-San Pierre, Oregon-Davis and Culver Community School Corporation will gather at Knox Middle School to learn what each company manufactures, who they sell their products to and for what use, what types of jobs are available in a particular company and what job skills and education are necessary to secure employment at the company. It will be held in conjunction with a Career Fair which will occur on Wednesday, October 3rd from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m. in the Knox Middle School Auxiliary Gymnasium.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Sensory-friendly Shakespeare

Shakespeare at Notre Dame, in partnership with South Bend Civic Theatre, is proud to introduce an exciting series of workshops and performances specifially designed for children on the autism spectrum.
Inspired by the trailblazing work of theatrical artist Kelly Hunter, these extraordinary workshops incorporate a world premiere adaptation of As You Like It, with a special sensory-friendly performance of the play following in November.

For more information visit

Starke County Council Holds Budget Hearings

Posted on September 20, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Council members held several public hearings on budgets during their meeting on Monday night.

Charles Weaver, who is the legal representative for the Starke County Airport Board, said the airport budget is $1,777,921.

“We have to replace the card reading system for all fueling facilities,” said Weaver. “I think we’re pretty close to last year. Our total appropriation went up about $17,000. It’s pretty consistent to where we’ve been in the past.”

In addition, he said the airport board members recently signed a grant with the FAA to complete the runway extension project. There are also plans to apply for federal dollars with no match to triple the size of the aircraft apron. Another future project is to upgrade the T-hangars.

North Judson-San Pierre Corporation Business Manager and Treasurer Guy Richie and Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin presented their total budget of about $12.1 million during a public hearing. Richie mentioned that there is a decrease of $200,000 in the 2019 budget compared to 2018. No public comment was given.

The Solid Waste Department 2019 budget of about $219,000 was also brought forward for public comment. Starke County Environmental Management Director Carrie Trent-Kuchel said one line item was increased.

“We just increased the recycling line item from $13,800 to $24,000. They are look at putting in a building and bins at the site [at the county highway garage] to control all of the illegal dumping,” commented Trent-Kuchel.

No public comment was given.

The newly-formed Koontz Lake Conservancy District will have an initial budget of $203,000 which will not exceed 16.5 cents of $100 of assessed valuation. The district’s purpose is to improve conditions in and around Koontz Lake. Once it becomes an elected board in a few years, the members will submit their own budget without going through the county process of budget adoption and public hearings. No public comment was given during the public hearing for the district’s budget.

All budget adoptions are scheduled during the county council meeting on Oct. 15.

To Ensure Students Get All the Help they Need, NJ-SP Adds School-Based Counselor

Posted on September 20, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

When the North Judson-San Pierre School Board met Tuesday night, Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin highlighted a new counseling position that has been created.

Zupin noted that with all the various types of testing and additional mandates, school counselors across the state have their plates full. In order to ensure that the NJ-SP students who need extra attention are getting it, a part-time school-based counselor position was created.

Zupin explained, “Sometimes those students that have reoccurring social and behavioral issues, they don’t get seen enough. This school-based counselor should be able to assist our students, in talking and speaking with them and working on those skills.”

Dr. Zupin noted that the position is being paid for with Title IV grant funds.

North Judson native Tristan Fletcher was selected for the position. Dr. Zupin shared that Fletcher graduated from NJ-SP in 2014. She earned her Bachelor’s degree from Purdue University Northwest with a major in Social work and minor in Psychology. She has experience working with K-12 students.

Dr. Zupin added that school officials are very excited for students and staff to have the opportunity to work with Fletcher.

Comprehensive Plan Timeline Shared with North Judson Town Council

Posted on September 20, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The North Judson Town Council received a schedule of upcoming dates related to the creation of a comprehensive plan.

As a reminder, a comprehensive plan is one of the requirements to be eligible for OCRA’s Regional Stellar Initiative. North Judson officials are coordinating with the Kankakee Iroquois Regional Planning Commission on the matter.

NJ Clerk-Treasurer Andrew Rowe alerted town council members on Monday that KIRPC provided him with a timeline of important dates related to the process.

He noted that statements of qualification will be received by October 9th and town officials will review the list on the 10th and 11th. Next, they’ll begin interviewing the companies vying for the opportunity to create the town’s comprehensive plan on October 18th and a selection will be made that day or on the 19th.

Rowe added that the goal is to submit the necessary documents to OCRA by November 15th. He reminded them that the town will be obtaining a grant that will assist with the cost. The Town just has to pay $5,000 for the plan and then the remaining $45,000 will be provided.

He said they’re hoping this portion of the Stellar process will be completed by the end of the year.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

9/23/2018 St. Peter Pork Chop Dinner

The Starke County Stellar Executive Team Has Been Assembled

Posted on September 19, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The Stellar Executive Team of Starke County has been assembled.

Starke County Economic Development Foundation Executive Director Larry Wickert is serving as one of the members and shared the other individuals who will be involved.

The towns will be represented by North Judson Clerk-Treasurer Andrew Rowe and Hamlet Clerk-Treasurer Kristina Pitts while Mayor Dennis Estok will represent the City of Knox and Commissioner Charlie Chesak will be the County’s representative.

The team also consists of County Attorney Marty Lucas, Sarah Origer from the Starke County Community Foundation, Christine Romine from 1st Source Insurance and County Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler.

Wickert indicated that the Executive Team is meant to be a steering committee as officials delve deeper into the Regional Stellar Communities process.

One of the first things that this group will tackle is a series of OCRA workshops. From now until March, the County’s Stellar Executive Team will be attending five workshops and will have one webinar to view.

Wickert said the first workshop entitled ‘Vision, Leadership and Strategy’ is being held in Peru on Monday, September 24th. OCRA officials recommend that at least 80 percent of a region’s stellar committee attend these events. Wickert said that the majority of members have already indicated that they’ll be there.

Share this:

Starke County Council Holds Public Hearing on Proposed 2019 Budget

Posted on September 19, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Council members opened a public hearing on the county’s proposed 2019 budget.

The proposed budget is $12,287,126 with the proposed levy at $5,812,188.

They approved a three percent pay increase pending the approval of the budget. The council may reduce that level, depending on the budget approval. The notice could come as early as December or as late as February. The state was tardy in getting notices out to county governments this year.

That increase, if ultimately approved at three percent, would be over $200,000.

The council anticipates adopting the budget on Monday, Oct. 15.

North Judson-San Pierre School Board Considers Metal Detector Policies

Posted on September 19, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

North Judson-San Pierre School officials were tasked with developing some new policies related to metal detectors.

Over the summer, a state-wide safety initiative allowed schools to apply to receive handheld metal detectors for free. Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin said that most Hoosier schools are now faced with incorporating appropriate usage rules for the new devices.

Zupin said, “We received four here at North Judson-San Pierre. With that, they did not send any policies or guidance so in the meantime the School Board Association and some legal teams around the state have put together some sample policies.”

Dr. Zupin said the majority of schools are starting out with these sample policies. Over the next few years, these rules are expected to expand. The superintendent said NEOLA doesn’t even have a policy yet but they’ll likely develop one in the near future.

She added that as officials get more familiar with the equipment, the policies will likely be amended to reflect what works best for NJ-SP.

Superintendent Zupin emphasized that the metal detectors will only be used in cases where there is reasonable suspicion that a student has a weapon on campus.

She noted that school officials will go through some metal detector training with the Police Department over the next few weeks, before the policies go up for adoption at the board’s next meeting in October.

North Judson Town Council Secures Potential Domain Names for Website

Posted on September 19, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

North Judson officials took a major step forward with their website creation process this week by securing viable domain names. Officials have been brainstorming about potential names to give the Town’s website. Those options were provided to Datacrates, the company the Town is working with on this project.

Clerk-Treasurer Andrew Rowe came before the council with a proposal on Monday, that gave them the option to own a few different names for 1 year at a cost of $187.93 or they could secure them all for five years for a total of $498.14.

Rowe recommended going with the five-year option since it would cost the Town more, in the long run, to keep renewing them each year. Members opted to go with Rowe’s recommendation.

As a reminder, members decided to take ownership of a few different names to leave their options open and to reduce the likelihood of someone utilizing a town-related page for a different kind of website.

As a result of their decision, the Town will own the domain names,, and for the next five years.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

10/13/2018 Woof Studios @ Starke County Humane Society

Starke County Council Discusses Additional Staff for EMS, Sheriff’s Department

Posted on September 18, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Council members discussed requests from the Starke County EMS Department and the Starke County Sheriff’s Department for additional staff members in 2019.

The Starke County Commissioners previously approved three additional full-time paramedics and three additional full-time EMTs for the EMS Department. It came before the council members Monday night where Clerk Mary Lynn Ritchie outlined how the salaries would work and explained how much money the department would save on overtime costs. She said overtime is what is currently killing their budget and they anticipate asking for an additional appropriation soon to help keep that fund solvent through the rest of the year.

The council members agreed that the additional full-time paramedics and EMTs would save the county in the long-run and approved the request.

Starke County Sheriff Bill Dulin previously went before the commissioners to request one additional jailer and one additional patrolman for 2019 and it met their approval. The pay for both positions would be paid for out of the Therapeutic Community Fund. Since the commissioners approved the recommendation, the council followed suit and approved the additional positions.

In addition, the sheriff and Office Manager Pam McDonald presented a more detailed funding outlook and what changes are anticipated in the sheriff’s budget in 2019 which was well received by all of the council members and the commissioners.

Mint Opportunities Explored in Starke County

Posted on September 18, 2018
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Those involved in Starke County’s mint industry got together earlier this month to exchange ideas. Ron Gifford with the Starke County Economic Development Foundation discussed the event with the Hamlet Town Council last week.

“We started at Callisons and looked at their operation, just to see what they do and how they do and things like that,” he said. “And then a couple representatives from Callisons went with us down to Kemin, down in North Judson, where they also handle mint but they do something totally different. They don’t have the same processes, but there’s probably some things they might be able to work together on. And then we went out to the Wappel mint farm, that still was operational and learned about it out there.”

Gifford said representatives from NIPSCO and “agbioscience” company AgriNovus were also in attendance. He said the goal is to come up with more ways that mint can benefit everyone in the county.

North Judson Town Council Approves Special Event Request from Max Health

Posted on September 18, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Max Health in North Judson is permitted to host a 5-K run to benefit the Kid’s Closet Ministry, following a decision made by the Town Council members Tuesday evening.

Kathy Holem came before the council and informed them that she recently took over the Max Effex facility on Sheridan Avenue. She noted that it’s been renamed Max Health.

Holem explained that the organization is looking for a community service project so they decided to hold a 5-K walk and run event and donate the proceeds raised to the Kid’s Closet Ministry.  The plan is to hold it on Saturday, October 27th.

Some details about the proposed route were provided to the council. She told members, “I know we can’t cross 10 but we can at least start on Sheridan Avenue and kind of go around the outskirts of the subdivision up to Arlington and back through. We can get the whole 5-K without crossing any major roads and obstructing traffic or anything like that”

She elaborated that the event would kick-off at Max Health, with runners leaving at 9 a.m. and walkers taking off around 9:30. It would end at the proposed site for the new Kid’s Closet facility. Holem said their intention is to have bounce houses, music and refreshments at the finish line to mark the end of the race.

Town Superintendent Marshall Horstmann told Holem that if the route requires any barricades, that the Town could provide them. He asked her to notify him about how many they would need prior to the event.

Council members voted unanimously to waive the associated fees and supply the event permit. Holem was encouraged to coordinate with Town Marshal Kelly Fisher about the planned route, to ensure there would be no issues. Fisher added that the Police Department could assist with supervision the day of the event.

Starke County Youth Club Joins CASA Family Day to Help Keep Kids Drug Free

Posted on September 18, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Statistics indicate that nine out of ten Americans who meet the medical criteria for addiction began smoking, drinking or using other drugs before the age of 18.

Adolescence is a critical period for the initiation of drug use and the subsequent consequences. That is why the Starke County Youth Club wants to ensure that parents are forming meaningful connections with their children to encourage open dialogue throughout childhood, into the teen years and beyond.

According to a SCYC press release, preventing or delaying teens from using addictive substances for as long as possible is crucial to their health and safety. Every year that initiation of drug use is delayed, the risk of addiction reportedly goes down.

In order to celebrate the simple, everyday things that parents do to connect with their kids, the Youth Club is joining CASA (Center on Addiction) in recognizing Family Day. Family Day will be celebrated at SCYC on Monday, September 24th and Friday, September 28th.

Youth Club Executive Director Irene Szakonyi notes that a great way to connect with your kids is to simply ask them about their day and make time for fun family activities such as game nights or sitting down together for dinner. She added that when parents are actively involved in the lives of their children, it helps build strong bonds. That solid connection allows parents to make sure their kids stay healthy and achieve academic and personal success.

Monday, September 10, 2018

9/25/2018. Schedule Change For Painting Class

The painting class that was scheduled for September 11th at the North Judson-Wayne Township Library has been rescheduled for September 25th.  

Friday, September 7, 2018

North Judson Clerk-Treasurer Addresses Potential Expansion at Highland Cemetery

Posted on September 7, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

North Judson Town Council members received an update about the potential expansion at Highland Cemetery when they met Tuesday night.

Clerk-Treasurer Andrew Rowe first brought this matter to the attention of the council back in May when he alerted them that there were only about 12 to 20 available plots remaining.

Property owner Marie Bullis had an informal discussion with Rowe in June where she expressed an interest in selling a portion of her property for the town to use for an expansion project.

Initially, she was offering to sell about 75 percent of an acre located to the west side of the cemetery. However, when speaking with Rowe more recently, she told him that she’s willing to sell approximately 5.64 acres of land to the town.

Rowe said that going from adding one section to the equivalent of nine sections is quite a big difference. He mentioned if they were to take her up on the full offer, they would obviously be set on cemetery space for years to come.

However, he noted that the council members have a few factors to consider about the potential purchase. Rowe explained, “So it’s a matter of whether or not the price, the work after the sale and all of that makes sense financially and just in general.”

Town Council President Wendy Hoppe added that they have to be sure that the land can be used for the intended purpose.

She said the last thing they want to do is buy all that land and then learn that it can’t be incorporated into the cemetery. Hoppe and Rowe said they will do some research to find out which state entity would need to sign-off on the use before the council makes any official decisions about the matter.

The Highland Cemetery expansion will be addressed more during future meetings as talks between the landowner and town officials continue.

Commissioners Discuss Construction of New Building for Recycling Efforts

Posted on September 7, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Commissioners are considering the construction of a new building to house the Starke County Environmental Management Agency.

The building would be constructed on the northwest portion of property that is home to the Starke County Highway Department. Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler submitted figures for a new well or tie-in to the existing well, a new entrance with new culvert, septic installation, and fencing at a preliminary cost of nearly $27,500. If an automated gate can be installed, the estimated cost would be nearly $28,700.

These estimates are in addition to the construction of a new building.

Commissioner Kathy Norem, who serves on the Solid Waste Board along with Commissioners Don Binkley and Charlie Chesak and other appointees, said the board members are looking at this option as the cost of recycling will increase dramatically.

“The Solid Waste Board has to look at what options we have at this point because we can no longer afford, with the present stream of revenue, to keep all of the recycling bins out,” explained Norem. “So, our options would be, which we really didn’t discuss, to increase the tax to the people or to consolidate into one focal point where people could bring their true recyclables – because a lot of the problem is the bins are being contaminated.”

A separate building placed at the highway garage would allow Director Carrie Trent-Kuchel to better police what items are being deposited into the recycling bins, especially with an automated gate.

According to preliminary talks, the commissioners would fund the construction costs to build the building and then lease it to the Solid Waste District.

The commissioners did unanimously approve a motion to move forward with discussions concerning this option rather than raising taxes. More will be reviewed at the next Solid Waste Board on Wednesday, Sept. 19 at 5:30 p.m. in the meeting room in the Starke County Annex Building No. 1 at 53 E. Mound Street in Knox.

This Volunteer Training Course Will Help You be Prepared If a Disaster Strikes

Posted on September 7, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

If you’re interested in preparing yourself to provide assistance in the event of an emergency, you should consider attending the free Red Cross volunteer training session scheduled for Sunday, September 23rd.

This training course is being held in conjunction with the Starke County COAD’s efforts to form a local Disaster Action Team. The course will be held at the Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Knox. Prospective volunteers should show up around noon CST.

The whole program will run about for about 2 hours and participants will learn the basics about various aspects related to volunteering for disaster response and recovery with the Red Cross.

Parish Nurse Sharon Krick said that about a dozen individuals have already signed up to participate. Krick added that she would like to get a head count before the event because a light lunch will be provided.

If you’re interested in attending contact her at 219-205-0033.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Local Fire Departments Continue to Report Radio Issues

Posted on September 6, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Some fire departments are still reporting radio issues in Starke County.

During the Aug. 20 meeting of the Starke County Council and Commissioners, several firefighters aired frustrations over the constant issues with the county’s radio system, reporting that they are unable to speak to one another and aren’t receiving their tones to respond to emergency situations.

Representatives from J&K Communications were in the county that week to remedy the situation and it seemed to work, until Ted Bombagetti from the Knox-Center Township Fire Department told the Starke County Commissioners Tuesday that he ran into the same, recurring issues Monday night.

“I sat with a 100 watt radio in my tanker parked at the jail and I couldn’t even talk to the jail,” said Bombagetti. “I sat there and I listened to Porter County, La Porte County and Pulaski County and guess what? They all come in perfectly clear on VHF. So they’re not getting the static problems that we’re having, but yet our guy keeps telling us it’s because of the narrowbanding. Something is wrong somewhere!”

Another firefighter reported issues Monday night and alerted Commissioner Charlie Chesak of the problems he experienced.

IT Director Richard Franks confirmed that tone checks are clearing and J&K Communications is continuing to look into the issue. They’re expected to be in Starke County today (Thursday, Sept. 6).

Bombagetti agreed to contact another company to check the system to see what the underlying issue is so the firefighters, first responders, police and EMS can all talk to each other without any problems as it’s an extreme safety issue.

The commissioners agreed that the issue needs to be solved and they assured that steps are being taken to alleviate any lingering issues.

North Judson Town Council Decides on Company to Create Official Website

Posted on September 6, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

North Judson Town Council members took a major step toward getting an official town website created when they met this week.

Clerk-Treasurer Andrew Rowe told council members on Tuesday that he’s been having conversations with Brian Pinson from SpiderByte IT about the costs associated with such a project.

He said the creation cost for a default framework that would be customizable would be around $1,500 to $2,500. There would also be an annual $200 hosting cost.

Pinson told Rowe that it would take approximately one month to get the site created and then there would be about one year where officials would communicate back and forth about adjustments they’d like to make.

The clerk-treasurer added that for an entirely new website to be created from scratch it would take at least three to four months to build and it would be exponentially more costly. Council members were in agreement that a pre-existing template would be the best way to go.

Rowe added that the town utilized this company for their phone system and mentioned that they designed the County’s website as well as the website for the Starke County Sheriff’s Department.

Rowe said the first task for the council members would be to come up with some potential domain names they could use for the official website. He said he has jotted down a couple and encouraged to them to contact him with any suggestions.

Councilman James Young noted that it would be advantageous to purchase as many of the domain names related to ‘North Judson’ in them in order to keep others from making sites that utilize the town’s name.

Councilman John Rowe mentioned that this has been on the docket for the while and said since the town has successfully worked with the company in the past, he’d feel comfortable moving forward with them rather than shopping around.

The remaining council members agreed and a unanimous vote was cast to utilize SpiderByte IT for the creation of the town’s website.

October will be Full of Career Building Opportunities For Starke County Students

Posted on September 6, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The Annual Starke County Economic Development Foundation Manufacturers Day is about a month away.

For the last six years, the SCEDF has partnered with the Oregon-Davis, North Judson-San Pierre, Knox and Culver School Corporations to provide this opportunity to middle school students in Starke County.

This year’s Manufactures Day event will be held on Thursday, October 4th. At that time, approximately 350 7th grade students from all four school corporations will gather at Knox Middle School to learn what local companies have to offer.

According to a SCEDF press release, students will venture around to see what each company manufactures, who they sell their products to and for what use, what types of jobs are available in a particular company and what job skills and education are necessary to secure employment at the company.

When the tour concludes, students will receive a “goodie bag” that will include a brochure highlighting SCILL and each of the industries they visited as well as a word search puzzle for the students to complete related to their visit.

During this same week in October, senior students and their parents are invited to attend a “Career Exploration” event. This will be a chance for seniors to meet one-on-one with local manufacturers to explore employment opportunities.

It will be held in conjunction with a Career Fair which will occur on Wednesday, October 3rd from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m. in the Knox Middle School Auxiliary Gymnasium. Job seekers are also encouraged to attend the Career Fair. This event is co-sponsored by WorkOne and the SCEDF.

According to SCEDF representatives, they offer these events as a way to answer the industry’s cries for help in finding workers with proper job skills while simultaneously engaging students in the opportunities that are available in their community.

If you have any questions, contact the Starke County Economic Development Foundation at 574- 772-5627

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Starke County Commissioners Approve Additional Staff for Sheriff’s Department

Posted on September 5, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Commissioners discussed a request put forth by Sheriff Bill Dulin Tuesday night concerning additional staff at the Sheriff’s Department.

In his 2019 budget, the sheriff asked for two additional jailers and two additional patrolman, but said that he’d be happy with one jailer and one patrolman. He said it’s a matter of providing safety to the citizens of Starke County.

Commissioner Kathy Norem was concerned about the salaries being paid for out of the Jail CEDIT fund and proposed that they be paid for out of the Therapeutic Community fund. Dulin explained that he asked that the salaries be paid for out of the CEDIT fund as there is enough money in there  where the money fluctuates in the Therapeutic Community Fund.

After much discussion, Commissioner Charlie Chesak made the motion to fund the new jailer and new patrolman out of the Therapeutic Community fund and Commission President Don Binkley seconded the motion. Norem stated she wouldn’t second the motion, but when it came to a vote all commissioners cast an affirmative vote.

The measure will now go before the Starke County Council members to be approved as an addition in the sheriff’s budget for 2019.

North Judson Clerk-Treasurer to Serve as Town Representative in Regional Stellar Community Efforts

Posted on September 5, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

North Judson Town Council members decided who would serve as their community representative for the local Stellar Executive Team when they met Tuesday night. Clerk-Treasurer Andrew Rowe had expressed an interest in representing the town and council members voted unanimously to allow him to serve in that capacity.

Starke County Economic Development Foundation Executive Director Larry Wickert was present at the meeting. He noted that one of Rowe’s responsibilities as the community liaison will be to attend a series of workshops that OCRA will be offering throughout the wintertime.

He also provided some information about an opportunity coming up next month that’s related to the Regional Stellar Communities initiative.

Wickert said that an asset mapping exercise will be held at the Nancy J. Dembowski Community Center in Knox on Tuesday, October 9th from 6 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. This will be a chance for community members to assess all the existing assets within the county and develop plans for how to better utilize or expand on them.

If you feel that you’d have something valuable to bring to the table during these discussions, contact the SCEDF office at 574-772-5627.

September is National Recovery Month

Posted on September 5, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

September is recognized as National Recovery Month. It’s a time where we come together to congratulate those who have overcome their addictions and to recognize the achievements of people currently working toward sobriety. It’s also meant to promote the societal benefits of prevention, treatment and recovery for substance use and mental health disorders.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) with the United States Department of Health and Human Services is behind this initiative. They say the point of this month is to spread the positive message that behavioral health is essential to overall health, prevention works, treatment is effective and recovery is possible.

In addition to promoting the message that recovery in all forms is possible, the goal is to encourage citizens to take action to help expand and improve the availability of effective prevention, treatment, and recovery services to those in need.

There are a few local organizations that are currently working to create places for recovery within our communities, including David’s Courage in Plymouth and Hope Restored in North Judson.

For more information about National Recovery Month, visit

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Frankenstein Celebration @ Indianapolis Public Library

Indianapolis Public Library

Our three month celebration for the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, in collaboration with Indiana Humanities, WFYI, Indiana Writers Center, and the National Endowment for the Arts begins this week. We're hosting over 30 programs! Check them out at