Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Attend HealthLinc’s Scare Away Cancer Event For a Chance to Win Prizes & to Learn More about Screening Options

Posted on October 31, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

HealthLinc in Knox will be the site of today’s ‘Scare Away Cancer’ event.

The event will run from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m. HealthLinc Representative Angie Garner said there will be snacks and giveaways at the event. She also noted that officials from MedWise and the American Cancer Society will also be onsite.

Garner said that people will receive a small gift when they have a cancer screening done today or if they order one to be done.

The point of the event is to encourage individuals to receive necessary cancer screenings. Garner noted that it’s open to existing HealthLinc patients as well as other residents who want to check into screening options.

For instance, she said a woman who’s in need of a pap-test and mammogram screening would be able to order a mammogram screening and get a pap done.

Additionally, they will be providing IFOB (Immunochemical Fecal Occult Blood) kits free of charge. Those kits can be taken home and they’re utilized to detect blood in stool to screen for colorectal cancer.

Appointments are available today. In order to schedule one ahead of time give HealthLinc a call at 574-772-7400.

ISP Collects More Than 2,000 Pounds of Prescription Drugs During Weekend Take Back Event

Posted on October 31, 2018
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

More than 2,000 pounds of unwanted prescription drugs were collected at Indiana State Police posts over the weekend. State Police and law enforcement agencies across the country teamed up with the Drug Enforcement Administration Saturday for the 16th nationwide Prescription Drug Take Back Day.

Locally, the Bremen Post collected 20 pounds of medications, while the Lowell Post collected 6.5. The Bremen Police Department also had a collection point at the town’s CVS Pharmacy.

The goal of the take back initiative is to prevent prescription drug abuse and theft by collecting expired, unused, and unwanted medications for proper disposal.

Halloween Safety Reminders

Posted on October 31, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Tonight’s the night! Costumed kids will be trickling through the streets, trick-or-treating from door to door. The Indiana Department of Homeland Security has a few tips to keep in mind to ensure your holiday is good spooky fun rather than seriously scary.

If you’re driving, be alert, drive slow and take extra time at intersections to make sure no one is attempting to cross. Adults attending parties where they will be drinking should make plans to stay where they are or arrange for a designated driver to get them home safely.

If you’re walking around tonight, stay in well-lit areas and use sidewalks when they’re available. If there isn’t one, walk toward the far edge of the street and never cut through yards, alleys or across the road. Utilize crosswalks and be aware of potential oncoming vehicles.

To utilize your kid’s costume to help keep them safe, attach reflective tape or bright pieces of cloth to the child’s costume or candy bag. Glow sticks also work well to increase visibility at night. Avoid masks, wigs or hats that block eyesight and be sure costumes fit properly so they won’t impair movement.

Keep an eye on your kids while you’re out and about. Ask them not to eat the candy until you have a chance to check it. Tell them they should immediately throw away any pieces that are opened or not in their original wrapper as they could possibly be contaminated.

If you have pets, it’s best to keep them in a room away from the front door to avoid stress from the frequent visitors. Also be sure they have their ID tag on in case they manage to sneak out.

Additionally, many types of candy can be toxic to dogs and cause abdominal distress so be sure all treats are out of reach from animals in the home.

For more Halloween safety tips, click the following the link, DHS: Halloween Safety Tips

Monday, October 29, 2018

Starke County Humane Society

From the Starke County Humane Society Facebook page:  

If you are doing any shopping, we would very much appreciate your support through this wonderful program.

Service Dog PSA

Local Trick or Treating / Trunk or Treating Hours

**UPDATE** We've added a few new places and times to the list.
Wednesday is "candy day", so here's a list of who is doing what when this week.
Hamlet = 6:00 – 7:30 p.m.
Knox = 5:30 - 7 p.m.
North Judson = 5:30 - 7:30 p.m.
Medaryville = 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. EDT
Argos = 5:00 -7:00 p.m. EDT
Bremen = 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. EDT
Culver = 5:00 -7:00 p.m. EDT
Plymouth = 5:00- 7:00 p.m. EDT
Church of the Heartland - Starke County (Knox) = 4:30 - 7 p.m.
Knox United Methodist Church = 5 - 7 p.m.
Our Redeemer Lutheran Church (Knox) = 5 - 7 p.m.
St. Peter Lutheran Church (NJ) = 5:30 - 7 p.m.
Church of the Heartland - North Judson = 5:30 - 7:30 p.m.
First Baptist Church (Knox) = 5 - 8 pm EDT
10/31 = North Judson American Legion will be passing out candy from 5 – 7 p.m. After Trick or Treating they will have a costume contest open to the public.
10/31 = North Judson Masonic Lodge will be passing out candy from 5 - 7 p.m.
10/31 = Golden Living Center (Knox) will be passing out candy from 5:30 - 7 p.m.

Starke County Election Board Finalizes Plans for This Week’s Poll Worker Training Sessions

Posted on October 29, 2018
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Starke County expects to have a total of 20 first-time poll workers this Election Day. During last week’s election board meeting, board member Peg Brettin said voters will notice some younger people working the polls, “Because many of the older people either, one, don’t want to do it anymore, or two, are deceased,” she explained. “So that’s one of the reasons why you’re going to see a lot of new people out there.”

To make sure all the new and returning poll workers are ready, a pair of training sessions have been scheduled for this week. The first will take place Thursday starting at 5:00 p.m. for inspectors and any poll workers wanting extra training on the voting machines, and starting at 5:30 p.m. for everyone else. It will be held in the Nancy J. Dembowski Community Center in Knox. A second training session is scheduled for Saturday morning starting at 9:00 for inspectors and 9:30 for the rest of the poll workers in the courtroom on the third floor of the Starke County Courthouse.

Clerk Vicki Cooley and the rest of the election board ask poll workers to attend Thursday’s training session, if possible, “Since we have room there,” Cooley explained. “And we might even consider giving them cookies.” Election board members also encourage new poll workers to use the online training offered by the state, to familiarize themselves with the process.

Meanwhile, Cooley said her staff has been busy making sure the bags are packed with all the necessary forms, instructions, equipment, and other supplies that will be needed on Election Day, “Pencils, pens, masking tape, magnifying glass, sticky notes, screen wipes, erasers, glue stick, your rope – 50 feet, duct tape, extension cord and power strip, your red security seals for MicroVote machines.”

Election Day voting will take place on Tuesday, November 6 from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. local time.

Celebrate Community and Holiday Spirit Simultaneously with The Chamber’s Shop Local Bingo

Posted on October 29, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

With the holiday shopping season right around the corner, The Starke County Chamber of Commerce is teaming up with multiple businesses in the area to encourage citizens to shop local first.

Executive Director Jessica Craig said the Chamber is sponsoring a ‘Shop Local Bingo’ this year.

With this local business bingo game, residents can pick up a card that lists more than 20 area establishments. The game will begin the day after Thanksgiving and run through the week before Christmas.

Director Craig mentioned shop owners get to determine what a customer has to do at their particular place of business in order to get their card stamped.

Once the shopper gets enough stamps for a ‘Bingo’, they’ll turn in the card and be entered into a drawing to receive a prize basket. Craig said the basket will have about $1,000 worth of merchandise donated from the local businesses.

Bingo cards can be found at participating businesses as well as the Chamber of Commerce office. You can also pick up some other ‘Shop Small’ items there such as pens, signs, pins and reusable tote bags.

Craig shared that after taking a leadership group on a bus tour of the area, she noticed there were some people that have lived here their whole life who didn’t know about quite a few of the local businesses. She indicated that she hopes this game will help shine a light on all the various establishments in Starke County.

A few more reasons you should shop local, according to Chamber representatives, is because local competition and diversity can lead to more product choices and it also strengthens the local economy by helping support local job and opportunity creation and ensuring that tax dollars stay local.

According to the Chamber, it also helps to shape and preserve our distinctive community character and encourage community pride and ownership. Additionally, representatives highlight the fact that local businesses reinvest in our community and help fund local non-profits.

The Starke County Chamber of Commerce Office is located at 400 North Heaton Street. If you have any questions about Shop Local Bingo, give the Chamber a call at 574-772-5548.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Starke County Election Board Continues Discussing Secure Storage Options for Voting Machines

Posted on October 26, 2018
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Steps are being taken to secure Starke County’s voting machines. Clerk Vicki Cooley told the rest of the election board Wednesday that plans are in the works to build a state-compliant secure storage room, within an existing storage area.

But first, Cooley wants to talk with a MicroVote representative who has worked with other counties on voting machine storage. “So I thought if we could get him back to know what kind and how large the shelving is going to be, we would have a better estimate of how big that room should be, then,” she said, “because I wouldn’t want it any bigger than what we have to have.”

With the construction of the secure room still likely a few months off, Cooley said the county’s maintenance staff has installed a locking door, to limit access to the larger storage area. But she didn’t think that temporary arrangement would meet the state’s requirement for the long-term, since Clerk’s Office and court staff regularly need access to the area. “We have to unlock it in order to go to the files,” she explained. “The court has to unlock it to go to the files or even to the restroom. So that isn’t feasible.” Cooley said there are plans to move some of the files out of that particular storage area, but some criminal records will remain there. She said the area is not usually accessed by the public for searches.

Board member Peg Brettin suggested seeing whether the county could get a waiver to keep the voting machine storage as it currently is, on the condition that only Clerk’s Office and court staff have access to the area.

Starke County Clerk’s Office Warns of Fake Early Voting Texts

Posted on October 25, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The Starke County Clerk’s Office has received a number of inquiries from concerned citizens about text messages regarding early voting.

Starke County Clerk Vicki Cooley stated that one of the texts apparently claims an individual’s early vote has not been recorded as of yet. She said if you receive one of these messages it is important to know that it is absolutely not from the Starke County Clerk’s Office.

She added if you have already voted, disregard the message as your vote has been recorded and will be counted on Election Day.

If you have any questions concerning this matter, you’re asked to call 574-772-9160 or 574-772-9161.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Safety Concerns Addressed at U.S. 30 Work Site But Hamlet Officials Remain Out of Loop

Posted on October 25, 2018
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Hamlet officials hope a U.S. 30 construction project will wrap up soon. Following a spike in accidents, Town Council President Dave Kesvormas urged INDOT to address safety concerns in the work zone.

During Wednesday’s council meeting, Kesvormas said he never got a direct response, but steps were apparently taken to fix some of the issues. “They didn’t respond to me, but they also did post speed limit signs up there, which weren’t there before,” he explained. “I’m not happy with it being 50, but it’s something. I think it should be 35. I mean, if they’re picking up garbage on the Tollway or 80/94, they slow everything down to 35 miles an hour.” Construction workers also reportedly removed some sections of barrier that were causing visibility problems and stopped parking trucks in the intersection, among other changes.

Town officials felt the work zone was particularly dangerous, since it had lanes closed at an intersection along a curved section of highway without many streetlights. Kesvormas said there have been 11 accidents that he’s aware of.

Again, he complained that no one discussed the project ahead of time with town officials. “It just was never like any other project INDOT has ever done,” he said. “I think that INDOT always did a great job prior to this, and I don’t know if it’s their fault, the contractor’s fault, they’ve got a different contractor. They’ve always at least stopped in and said something to [Clerk-Treasurer Kristina Pitts] or said something to [Street Superintendent] Fred [Rowe], and this time, just to say, ‘Hey, we want to buy some water from you,’ and we’re clueless as to what they’re doing and how long they’re going to be, I think that was just bad on their part.”

At this point, it appears the worst part of the construction project is over, according to Kesvormas. He said he’s heard that work should wrap up by the end of the month, but he hasn’t gotten that information officially. In the meantime, he says Hamlet, Starke County, and state police have all stepped up patrols.

Four Starke County Candidates Miss Campaign Finance Report Deadline

Posted on October 25, 2018
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Four Starke County candidates are facing fines for failing to turn in their campaign finance reports on time. County council member Dave Pearman, county council candidate Howard Bailey, Coroner Dannie Hoffer, and former county council candidate Karl Swihart all missed Friday’s noon deadline, according to Clerk Vicki Cooley.

She told the rest of the election board Wednesday that Pearman was just nine minutes late. For Hoffer, it’s the second time in a row in which he failed to turn in the paperwork until the Monday after the deadline, after the same thing happened leading up to the May Primary. Swihart was defeated in the primary, but Cooley said he hasn’t disbanded his committee. His paperwork still hadn’t been turned in, as of Wednesday morning.

Cooley explained that some of them had offered to pay their fines when they turned in their reports, but Indiana Code requires that they be sent a letter officially notifying them of their right to appeal. The election board agreed to give them a letter, giving them 10 days to either request a hearing with the board or pay their $50-per-day fine. Cooley said she would call the candidates and encourage them to pick up the letters in person, giving them the opportunity to pay the fines then and there.

Board members stressed that there won’t be a repeat of this spring’s round of finance reports, when a disagreement among board members meant that none of the candidates who appealed their fines ended up having to pay anything. Board member Peg Brettin said that should never have happened. “Yes, the election board should take that flack for that, but it happened,” she said. “Now, we’re at a point where she’s sending that letter. I think from here on, at this point – it says $50 per day . . . unless there’s very extenuating circumstances . . . you’re not going to get by with less than $50.”

Board President Harrison Fields replied, “Medical. I can right away think of medical problems.” But others pointed out that candidates are not required to submit their paperwork in person, and can mail it, fax it, or have someone else turn it in.

Board members also emphasized that the policy and fines are set by the state, and that local election boards and clerk’s offices are now mandated to follow the process.

Chamber of Commerce Announces Winner of Henry F. Schricker ‘Service Before Self’ Award

Posted on October 25, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The Starke County Chamber of Commerce has announced the winner of the Henry F. Schicker ‘Service Before Self Award’ and it’s Civil Engineer Van Janovic.

Van is a graduate of Grovertown High School and the founder of Territorial Engineering.

According to the nomination application that was submitted on his behalf, Mr. Janovic has been active in projects all over the county, with many of those being on a volunteer basis.

For instance, during Nancy Dembowski’s term as Mayor of Knox, Van worked closely with her on the Phoenix House project, which is a facility that provides a safe haven for domestic violence victims and their families.

Demobowski was quoted saying that Janovic never billed the organization for any of the professional work that went into the home which helps so many abused women and families. She added that he has always been a person who puts community ahead of self and that his work over the years is an example of that.

It was also noted that he designed the ramp which is to be built at the depot in the Knox Gateway Area, with no charge for his professional services. Other volunteer work includes projects for the Starke County Historical Society, the public library and the Missionary Church, just to name a few.

The individual who nominated Van also included that he is active in the Koontz Lake Lions Club and noted that he took over as president when others declined leadership positions.

He has also served on multiple boards where he’s made a difference including the Historical Society and Knox Gateway, Inc.

In addition to providing assistance to Starke County and the surrounding area, Van spends several weeks each year doing volunteer work in developing countries.

Janovic will be honored at the Chamber’s Annual Awards Dinner at the Nancy J. Dembowski Community Center on Thursday, November 8th.

Tickets for the event are $35 each. They’re available on or at the Starke County Chamber of Commerce Office, located at 400 N Heaton Street.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

State, Local Police to Take Part in Saturday’s Prescription Drug Take Back Initiative

Posted on October 24, 2018
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

You can help prevent prescription drug abuse by turning in unused medications during this Saturday’s Prescription Drug Take Back Day. Indiana State Police and law enforcement agencies across the country are teaming up with the Drug Enforcement Administration for the 16th nationwide collection event.

Residents will be able to turn in expired, unused, and unwanted liquid and pill medications for free and with no questions asked. Needles will not be accepted, though.

State police say the rates of prescription drug abuse and overdoses are alarmingly high, and most of those drugs are obtained from family and friends. Not only does Saturday’s collection event seek to address that issue, but it also helps reduce the health and safety hazards of throwing drugs in the trash or flushing them down the toilet.

Saturday’s Drug Take Back event will take place from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. local time. Locally, drugs may be turned in at the Indiana State Police Bremen Post at 1425 Miami Trail and the Lowell Post at 1550 East 181st Avenue. Bremen Police will also have a collection point set up at the town’s CVS Pharmacy. A complete list of collection sites may be found on the Drug Enforcement Administration’s website.

Drop Off Hygiene Products at the SCILL Center to Help the Kid’s Closet Ministry

Posted on October 24, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

In addition to supplying Starke County’s youth with school supplies and clothing, the Kid’s Closet Ministry also provides hygiene kits for kids and teens.

To help the organization replenish their supplies, students and staff involved with the Starke County Initiative for Lifelong Learning (SCILL) are collecting hygiene products now throughout the month of November.

Community members are invited to participate by dropping donations off at the SCILL Center located at 1300 Kloeckner Drive in Knox. Some needed items include shampoo, body wash, toothpaste and toothbrushes for kids and adults as well as washcloths, bars of soap, deodorant, combs and hair brushes.

SCILL Administrative Assistant and Kid’s Closet Executive Director Linda Lewandowski shared that if children are in need of a hygiene kit, that option can be selected on the organization’s intake form.

She added that if volunteers end up with a surplus of certain products, those are placed with food pantry items and distributed to individuals as needed.

If you have any questions, call the SCILL Center at 574-772-8001. You can also contact the North Judson United Methodist Church at 574-896-5927 and then select 4 to reach the Kid’s Closet Extension.

Starke County Election Board to Finish Election Preparations, Discuss Finance Reports

Posted on October 24, 2018
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Starke County Election Board members will finish preparations for next month’s General Election when they meet this morning. Members are scheduled to review plans for the upcoming poll worker training, as well as election procedures.

They will also continue working on plans for a secure storage area for voting machines. The idea has been discussed for several months, but implementation has been delayed as county officials try to figure out the best way to bring the county into compliance with state regulations.

The election board is also expected to discuss campaign finance reports today. Candidates who didn’t have them turned in by last Friday will be fined $50 per day, but they have the chance to appeal that.

This morning’s Starke County Election Board meeting starts at 9:30 in the second floor meeting room in the Starke County Courthouse.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

North Judson-San Pierre School Board Approves eLearning Policy

Posted on October 23, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

North Judson-San Pierre School members held the final reading over the schools eLearning policy when members met last Tuesday.

The members provided unanimous approval for the policy. Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin noted that following fall break, teachers will be engaging in some purposeful planning for eLearning practice lessons to prepare students for future eLearning days.

She explained, “They will do the assignments and the teacher will be there to make sure that everybody knows how to log in correctly and also submit so these are onsite.”

Unlike the practice days, students will work from home on the two pre-scheduled eLearning days. The first day is scheduled for Monday, February 18th and the other date will be determined at a later date.

Dr. Zupin noted that some teachers have already sent out specific information about eLearning to parents and others will be sending out more details out soon.

If you have any questions contact your students’ teacher directly or call the NJ-SP Administration Office at 574-896-2155.

Click the following link to view the superintendent’s informative letter about eLearning at NJ-SP.

Unemployment Rates Drop in Starke, Pulaski Counties

Posted on October 23, 2018
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Unemployment rates are down in Starke and Pulaski counties. Last month, Starke County saw an unemployment rate of 3.7 percent, while Pulaski County’s rate was 2.8 percent, according to the latest report from the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.

For both counties, that’s a decline of seven-tenths of a percent from August and three-tenths of a percent from the same period last year. But in Starke County, the number of people employed has actually dropped slightly, as the county’s labor force shrunk somewhat.

The state as a whole saw a non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of three percent last month, while the national rate was 3.6 percent.

Starke County Young Professionals to Host Networking Event Tonight, Open to All Types of Workers

Posted on October 23, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The Starke County Young Professionals group is looking to provide a platform for the community’s working youth.

In conjunction with the Starke County Chamber of Commerce, the group is hosting a networking event will be held tonight at the Bass Lake Pub and Ristorante from 6 p.m. until 7:30 p.m.

Group representative Brad Searing mentioned that the Young Professionals is a nation-wide organization and the Starke County chapter was initially started back in 2016.

He said after some key people involved moved out of the area, the group kind of laid dormant for a while. After a recent re-launch event that was deemed “incredibly productive”, members are excited to get the ball rolling once again.

Searing noted that while it was a productive meeting, the turn out was a little low. Right now the group is working to get the word about the re-launch and gather more interest with community members between 18 and 35-years-old.

Searing said that sometimes the title of the group can turn people away because they feel that their line of work doesn’t constitute them as a “professional.” He said he’s hoping people can see past that since they’re looking to have a diverse group of young workers.

Whether you work in an office, from home, at a factory or out in the field, your input would be valuable to this group as they try to fine tune their focus.

He noted, “If we get a dozen people that give a little bit, it just makes a world of difference versus trying to have three or four people do it all.”

Searing said that that they’re waiting to have more people involved before they officially determine their mission. However, he thinks that networking and working closely with various community organizations will be the two areas that the group will focus on.

He added that he completely understands that the work, family and social responsibilities keep everybody busy so even if you don’t have the time to attend meetings regularly you’re more than welcome to pitch ideas as time allows.

To send messages to group representatives and to stay up to date with announcements, check out the Starke County Young Professionals Group on Facebook.

Monday, October 22, 2018

10/27 Indiana State Police Partners with the DEA for the 16th Drug Take Back Day

Indiana - On Saturday, October 27th, 2018 the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is sponsoring the 16th nationwide “Prescription Drug Take Back” initiative.  The “Take Back” initiative seeks to prevent prescription drug abuse and theft through proper disposal of prescription drugs.

Collection sites will be set up nationwide for expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs which will be properly disposed of without threat to the environment.  This program is for liquid and pill medications.  Needles, new or used, will not be accepted for disposal.  This service is free and anonymous with no questions asked.

This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue.  Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs.  Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. In addition,

Americans are now advised that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines—flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash—both pose potential safety and health hazards.

Once again, the Indiana State Police are pleased to partner with the DEA, and as in the past, the drugs may be dropped off at any Indiana State Police Post, except the Toll Road Post.  The event will be on Saturday, October 27th, between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. 

Also, the Indiana State Police will host a drop off site on Friday, October 26th, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. inside the Indiana Government Center North public entrance off of Robert Orr Plaza in Indianapolis.  This is between the government north and south buildings, immediately west of the State Capitol building.

To locate the state police post closest to your home or business, click this link for Indiana State Police on the Map. To find other locations in Indiana or across the U.S. that are participating in the Drug Take Back initiative, click this link to the DEA.

The Drug Take Back events are the safe, popular and responsible way for the public to legally and dispose of prescription drugs. No questions asked.

North Judson Officials Review Options for Employee Health Insurance

Posted on October 22, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

North Judson Town Council members reviewed some options for employee health insurance when they met last Monday.

The Town’s insurance broker John Howard from the Wealth Care Group announced that if officials wish to stick with their current provider, the deductibles would stay at $50 for a single plan and a $100 for a family plan but they won’t receive all of the same benefits.

Howard explained, “United Health Care had determined that for your particular plan, they would offer a similar benefit next year but it would not include any coverage for out of the network doctors.”

Howard was particularly excited about a unique option being offered by Anthem. He remarked, “It’s the first time I’ve ever seen a plan offered from a major company that has a zero deductible. Anthem is now offering a 90/10 plan, 90 percent coinsurance, that has a zero deductible for single and zero deductible for family, as long as it’s in network.”

Howard noted that nowadays, most local health care providers are linked with major health insurance networks but some specialty doctors may not be. Members were also presented with a few alternatives that offer out of network coverage.

Council members are expected to take these options under advisement and make a decision at a council meeting in November.

NJ-SP Superintendent Highlights Coordination Between Police Department and School Corporation

Posted on October 22, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

A few of the ongoing collaborative efforts between the North Judson-San Pierre School Corporation and the NJPD were highlighted at Tuesday night’s school board meeting.

When board members approved the schools’ new metal detector policy, Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin explained that Town Marshal Kelly Fisher recently provided training to her and the other administrators.

Dr. Zupin indicated that while it is useful to have the training required for when reasonable suspicion calls for a search, a consistent police presence can also help create a safer environment.

Zupin told members, “I do want to emphasize the local police officers are here on a regular basis. They are welcome to come in our school, they do not have to call and they do that often.”

Zupin went on to mention another way that law enforcement will play a key role in school safety at NJ-SP. She noted, “They will also be trained in using our video surveillance that’s new on a phone app so they should have access to that.”

The superintendent said the metal detectors are one thing but it’s also important to know that school officials continue to work with local law enforcement.

Indiana Fire Marshal Issues Annual Safety Alert About Alternative Heating Sources

Posted on October 22, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Around this time of year, many people are doing whatever they can to keep cold weather out of their homes. However, for your own safety, there are a few things you should know before you do so.

State Fire Marshal Jim Greeson, reports that during the months of October through December, fire-related deaths increase because of alternative heating sources. He advises Indiana residents to take particular precautions when these sources are utilized in order to ensure safety this season.

Make sure to all smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in your home are working properly. After that initial check, be sure to test the equipment frequently and replace it as needed.

When picking out a space heater, consider purchasing one with built-in tilt or heat sensors so it automatically switches off it the unit tips over or overheats.

Only one heater should be plugged into each electrical outlet and a heating device should never be left on in unoccupied rooms. Always be sure to keep at least 3 feet of empty space around space heaters at all times and keep them away from loose or flammable objects such as clothing, curtains, bedding and furniture.

Due to the associated dangers, Greeson says that people should avoid using space heaters and alternative heating sources if at all possible. The State Fire Marshal has some simple suggestions to consider before resorting to an alternative heating source.

For instance, caulking windows and doors can prevent drafts and decrease heat loss. He also recommends wearing thick warm clothing such as socks, slippers and long johns and staying active indoors to increase body heat by exercising, dancing or cleaning.

He said some of these tips may sound strange but they can help Hoosiers stay warm without the risk of fire hazard and save them a little money on their heating bills.

You can find even more helpful information in the official press release issued by the Department of Homeland Security.

Checking This Site Prior to Trick or Treating Can Help Protect Kids from Predators this Halloween

Posted on October 21, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

As Halloween approaches, parents should be aware of the various resources that exist to help keep kids safe from predators while trick or treating.

One way parents can feel safer before heading out next Wednesday is to know which houses to avoid. Each county’s sex and violent offender registry can be accessed online. The database contains information provided by law enforcement agencies all across the country.

The tool allows you to enter in an address, that can be your own residence or someplace you’ll be trick or treating near, such as a school or government building. It then provides a list of offenders in the area as well as details like a picture, full names, descriptions and specific offenses.

However, it’s important to note that registered sex offenders are informed that they’re not permitted to participate in this youth-oriented activity.

For more than a decade the Indiana Department of Corrections has participated in a state-wide initiative called ‘Operation Safe Halloween” as a way to monitor sex offenders and keep them off community streets during the holiday.

IDOC officials report that each year, staff members in the Parole Services Division work with local law enforcement, probation and community corrections agencies to ensure full compliance and accountability.

On October 31st, paroled sex offenders in each of the state’s ten parole districts must adhere to a special curfew and restrictions during scheduled trick or treat hours.

The offenders are required to attend a mandatory meeting, turn in a safety plan for the evening or remain at home without passing out candy. All sex offenders are also subject to unannounced home visits and compliance checks.

To access the registry for sexual and violent offenders, click the link provided above or just visit

Friday, October 19, 2018

10/19, 20, 21/2018 Horror Weekend

The local cooks have taken this weekend off; so, I’ll either have to do my own cooking, get myself invited to a friend’s house, or start looking through the menus on my fridge. 

But if you’re a horror fan this is your lucky week end.  There are Haunted Fairgrounds, Wicked Woods, and a Haunted Library that you can visit.

Haunted House (Children’s Version)
10/20 = 10am – 12noon  Children love to do what their parents and older brothers and sisters do, but haunted houses can be too intense for them.  Well, younger and more sensitive patrons can visit our spooky setup at the North Judson-Wayne Township Library.  Since it will be during daylight hours our Ghosts and Ghoulies won’t be too scary because they’re not fully awake, just enough to give the kids a thrill.
Price: Free

Those of you will stronger nerves might want to test yourself at some of the other events set up for the weekend.

Hamlet Haunted Fairgrounds:  Haunted barn is NOT recommended for young children.)
10/19 = Children’s carnival games 5pm-9pm & Haunted Barn 6pm-10pm Cst
10/20 = Children’s carnival games 5pm-9pm & Haunted Barn 6pm-10pm Cst, Sales Vendors 6-10Pm
10/21 = Haunted barn 5:30pm-9pm 
Price: Games are $.50 each, Haunted barn $5.00/person

Broken Arrow Campgrounds Wicked Woods:
10/19 & 20 = Do you dare to enter their haunted trail between the hours of 7:30 and 10:30 pm (EST)? 
Price:  Adults = $8 / 12 & under = $6

Haunted House (PG13 version)
10/20 = 7-9pm   After darkness has descended we can’t refrain these creatures from showing their true spirits, unleashing the horrors that dwell within.  Why not stop in at the North Judson-Wayne Township Library and see how much horror is packed into such a small space. 
Price:  Free

Ordinance Proposing Water Rate Increase Introduced at North Judson Town Council Meeting

Posted on October 19, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

An ordinance proposing a 15 percent rate adjustment to water utility bills in North Judson was introduced at this week’s town council meeting.

Eric Walsh from Umbaugh and Associates informed council members and meeting attendees that the bump would result in a customer who uses an average of 4,000 gallons per billing cycle seeing an additional charge of approximately $3.40.

The rate increase is associated with the town’s water system improvement project.

As a reminder, that project includes the rehabilitation the town’s water towers to bring them up to OSHA standards, adding a backup generator for the water system to address an IDEM requirement, upgrading the existing well pumps and adding another well.

The cost for that work will be covered by a combination of grant funds as well as money from a State Revolving Fund (SRF) Loan.

Walsh explained, “You adjusted rates last year in anticipation but when you adjusted those rates, remember, we said this doesn’t take you all the way to it but it gets you a lot closer than you were at that point.”

While the first phase included both utilities, only water bills will be impacted with this proposal.

The rate increases to sewer and water utilities last year has helped the Town replenish funds, as rates had not be raised for nearly 10 years. Prior to that adjustment, officials had to dip into reserves to cover the operation costs.

In order to meet the revenue requirements to have enough for future system maintenance and operation as well as the water project’s associated financial obligations, another increase is needed.

The figure provided isn’t officially set at this point. Walsh said officials are waiting until the project is bid out before they finalize anything.

He did note that the rate is based on engineers’ estimates. It also includes a bit of a buffer because while it could be lowered, the rate can’t be increased once the ordinance is introduced.

Councilwoman Jane Ellen Felchuck asked if rates will need to be raised again after this second phase.

Walsh remarked that barring any other major long-term operation costs coming to light, the Town shouldn’t need to raise them significantly anytime soon.

However, he noted that it’s important to monitor things and make adjustments as needs fluctuate.

Councilman John Rowe added that the second proposed increase seemed a little higher than he remembered.

Walsh explained that it is slightly more due to the SRF Loan. When the Town applied for those funds, they didn’t make the cut for the specific round they were applying for.

Walsh said the Town still had an opportunity to pay for the water project from a different pool of funds.

When the amount was initially predicted, officials were utilizing the expected rate of 2 percent. It had to be changed once the Town entered this separate category where the applied interest rate is a little over 3 percent.

Walsh said that while that is higher, it’s still significantly less than what one would get outside of the SRF program.

The document was only introduced to the council during Monday’s meeting so no official actions had to be taken .

The water rate ordinance will be considered on first reading once a public hearing is held in November.

Walsh said he will coordinate with Clerk-Treasurer Andrew Rowe about the specifics for the hearing. That information will be announced as soon as it is confirmed.

The full presentation from Monday’s meeting will be featured during this week’s Kankakee Valley Viewpoint program which airs every Sunday at noon here on K99.3.

North Judson-San Pierre Superintendent Discusses Voluntary Curriculum Audit With School Board

Posted on October 19, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The North Judson-San Pierre School Board received an update about the corporation’s voluntary curriculum audit when members met on Tuesday.

Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin reminded the members that two curriculum specialists performed an evaluation during the month of September. During their assessment, they conducted interviews with teachers in grades K-8.

She told members that the specialists met with her about two weeks ago to present their findings and she asked them to come back to share that information with staff members.

The superintendent informed the board, “I have asked them to come back to share the findings with our entire teaching staff, K-12. Even though the emphasis was with K-8, I think everybody needs to hear this.”

Dr. Zupin said the specialists will highlight some of the areas where the corporation is doing well and share information about where improvements can be made.

The curriculum specialists will present their findings on Monday, October 29th. Dr. Zupin mentioned that is a BCT (Bluejay Collaboration Time) day so all the teachers will be able to attend the informational session that morning.

Zupin added that these findings combined with the goals that have already been identified by school officials will be the perfect springboard into revising the corporation’s wellness, technology and strategic and accountability plans for next year.

Safety Officials Learn Basic Skills to Help Save Pets and Advanced Techniques for Police Dogs

Posted on October 19, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Safety Officials in Starke County are prepared to perform various life-saving techniques for pets and police K9s thanks to a training course held on Wednesday.

The class was taught by Dr. Lisa Booth from the Vale Park Animal Hospital and it was attended by members from local fire departments, the Starke County EMS as well as officers from the Knox, North Judson and Starke County K9 Units.

The group was taught some basic life support care techniques for animals that are saved from a fire. All Starke County ambulances are equipped with small, medium and large oxygen masks for that purpose.

Starke County EMS Director Travis Clary mentioned that Dr. Booth actually helped steer the EMS department toward a grant from Invisible Fence that was utilized to purchase those masks.

Safety officials also learned some advanced life support and paramedic care techniques. Those skills included how to decompress a collapsed lung, check for brain damage, insert a tube, start IV’s and supply life-saving medications.

Clary specified that those techniques cannot be used on all animals.

He said, “If we pull a dog out of a house fire, we can provide them oxygen but we can’t do all these other things like start IVs and give fluids and stuff. We can only do that to a certified police K9 dog.”

Clary said if a situation calls for it, EMS officials are able to accompany K9 units to the closest emergency vet clinic. All the ambulances contain K9 protocol cards that list the certified police dogs and updated weights so emergency personnel will know how much medication to administer if the need arises.

In addition to coming away from the course with some helpful skills, all the K9 handlers were given special kits that had various safety supplies such bandages, needles and medications as well as signs and symptoms to look out for.

Clary mentioned Dr. Booth also provides NARCAN to the handlers in case the police dogs accidentally ingest narcotics in the line of duty.

Director Clary noted that this was a refresher course, as local officials also attended a similar class held by Dr. Booth about three years ago. He added that the collaboration during this class emphasized the fact that local emergency officials are all working together on one team.

Starke County Court Services to Host Fall-o-Ween Event for Home Detention Participants

Posted on October 19, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Starke County Court Services representatives will host a Fall-o-Ween Family Fun Fest event today for those participating in home detention supervision. Activities, food and prizes will be given to participants and their family members during the festivities at Wythogan Park in Knox.

Director of Court Services Shawn Mattraw explained why they are having this unique happening.

“By law, individuals sentenced to home detention supervision in-lieu of prison are highly restricted regarding movement to-and-from their respective residence,” said Mattraw. “Generally, medical leave, court approved counseling and treatment programs, religious programs, and work are the few times an individual is permitted to leave their residence. Our agency complies with the law and program staff members do a good job of monitoring approved movement and sanctioning unauthorized movement.

“The eight principles of effective intervention and (evidence-based research) has shown that by increasing an individual’s engagement in pro-social activities in the community, there is a greater likelihood of reducing overall recidivism. That is why, for the second year in a row, our agency has sponsored a family fun day, where program staff and the individuals they supervise, can engage in fun-filled, pro-social activities while working on positive and professional relationship-building skills. It also gives participants an opportunity to view staff in a different light, not just as rule enforcers, but as agents of change.

“We do extend an invitation to other members of the criminal justice community (courts, probation and prosecutor) to attend, because it allows participants to view these individuals in a more relaxed setting as well, outside of their respective and traditional roles.”

Thursday, October 18, 2018

North Judson Police Department to Host Women’s Self-Defense Class Next Month

Posted on October 18, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The North Judson Police Department wants to ensure that local women and girls are equipped with the skills necessary to protect themselves in case of an emergency.

In her report at Monday night’s North Judson Town Council meeting, Marshal Kelly Fisher mentioned that the police department will host a women’s self-defense class on Saturday, November 10th.

Fisher said she’s been approached by some local ladies who expressed an interest in a class where self-defense skills are taught. She noted some of those women were mothers who have daughters that attend after-school activities on their own or ones who are about to head off to college.

According to the event description, some simple, yet valuable, self-defense techniques will be taught during this four-hour session. Instructors will teach women of all fitness levels various options to escape attacks quickly and effectively.

Participants must be at least 10-years-old to attend. Girls who are younger than 18-years-old must be accompanied by their mother or another adult. Individuals are encouraged to wear comfortable yet appropriate clothing and to bring along some water to stay hydrated.

The training class will be held on the second Saturday in November from 8 a.m. until noon at the North Judson San Pierre High School. Registration will start at 7:30 a.m.

For more details, such as specific contact information, visit the event page for the ‘Fight Like a Girl Women’s Self Defense Class.’

NJ-SP School Board Adopts School Improvement Plans

Posted on October 18, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The North Judson-San Pierre School Board adopted the school improvement plans for the elementary school and the junior/senior high school when members met on Tuesday.

Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin highlighted the key goals that the building principals discussed in detail at last month’s meeting.

Dr. Zupin explained, “At the elementary, they will work on collecting and analyzing data and then academic proficiency in math and reading.”

She went on to say, “At the junior/senior high, math skills and honing in on vocabulary and comprehension skills as well as promoting that positive school environment and communication with the stakeholders.”

Every year, all Hoosier schools are required to submit school improvement plans to the Indiana Department of Education prior to October 12th. Dr. Zupin said that corporation’s plans were submitted to the state before the deadline.

Kid’s Closet Ministry Completes Their Move, Volunteers Still Needed for Additional Work

Posted on October 18, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The Kid’s Closet Ministry has finished moving into their spacious new home. However, there’s still some additional work that needs to be done before the facility is completely up and running.

Executive Director Linda Lewandowski reported that everything has been moved from the basement at the North Judson United Methodist church into the new building located on the west side of North Judson on Highway 10.

Lewandowski said all of the additional space will help significantly with storing and sorting.

She said they had a difficult time fitting volunteers into their former location which had less than 1,000 square feet. With 2,900 square feet at the new place, there is plenty of room for volunteers to work comfortably plus extra space for storage.

A lot of progress has been made in regards to organization with a wide variety of clothing, shoes and toys already sorted and stored neatly.

Director Lewandowski mentioned that three washers and three dryers were donated to help with laundering the items.

She noted that some plumbing work and a gas line needs to be installed and hooked up before those are functional. They’re also still working to get the water turned on at the location but Lewandowski said that should be done by the end of the week.

Lewandowski explained that the move temporarily halted the organization’s typical duties of packaging and delivering clothing but she says they hope to start that up again by this weekend.

In addition to serving as the headquarters for Kid’s Closet, the church’s food pantry will eventually be at this location. Lewandowski said a lot of reconstruction has to be done to that portion of the building before anything can be stored there.

The needed renovations include removing a garage door and installing a window and door as well as doing some drywall work and putting up shelves.

If you’re interested in providing assistance, call 574-896-5927 and select extension 4 to reach Kid’s Closet. Individuals with plumbing and construction experience are especially encouraged to provide a helping hand but all volunteers are welcome.

Clothing and food donations still need to be dropped off at the North Judson United Methodist Church until the donation building is moved and the space for the food pantry is ready.

To view pictures of the new facility and to see the latest updates, check out the Facebook page for the Kid’s Closet Ministry.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

North Judson Town Superintendent Discusses Stolen Saw with Town Council

Posted on October 17, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

A recent theft that occurred in the Town of North Judson left the utility department without an important piece of equipment.

At Monday night’s Town Council meeting Town Superintendent Marshall Horstmann reported that the department’s TS 700 Stihl Saw was stolen from the back of their pick-up truck while they were in town. He noted that the saw is used for cutting asphalt and concrete.

Horstmann mentioned that the Utility Department has never experienced an incident like this before.

He told the council, “This is the first time anything been taken out of the back of a truck, I can’t imagine somebody [doing that] in broad daylight.”

He added that once he realized it was taken, he scoped out a local pawn shop to see if the item was put up for sale but he didn’t have any luck finding it. He added that members of the utility department also scoured their garage and surrounding buildings make sure it wasn’t put back in an unusual place.

Horstmann explained that since they were unable to recover the item, he received three different quotes for a replacement. He asked the council to approve a purchase order of $1,039.95 from Smith Farm Stores. The members unanimously approved the PO.

Horstmann said he already submitted a theft report to local law enforcement but if you have any information that could assist the police, contact North Judson PD at 574-772-5914.

Starke County Council Discusses Additional Appropriation Resolution

Posted on October 17, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Council members discussed an additional appropriation resolution Monday night.

As explained by the Starke County Auditor, about $100,000 was budgeted for the Cumulative Capital Development Fund this year. The tax rate increased and about $200,000 is expected to come in, which was not expected. The additional appropriation will allow that money to be used in the Cumulative Capital Development Fund so the commissioners can fund equipment purchases or other capital assets as needed.

The new ambulance will be paid for out of that fund this year even though it won’t be delivered until February of 2019. The ambulance purchase will be about $127,000

The council members unanimously approved the resolution as presented.

The Starke County Justice Center Fall Fest was a Howling Success!

Posted on October 17, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The first ever Starke County Sheriff’s Department ‘Howl-oween Fall Fest’ was a huge success.

Sheriff Bill Dulin reported that more 500 Starke County kids and adults stopped by the Justice Center on Saturday.

The day was full of fall time fun with a costume contest, hayrides to the F.A.R.M pumpkin patch and a craft activity where children had a chance to paint a wood cutout in the shape of a bat or pumpkin. All the kids also received a treat bag, some popcorn, a hot dog and a juice for free.

Sheriff Dulin shared that he was very happy with the turnout and felt that the event was positive for the individuals in the substance abuse program.

Dulin said, “I think it’s tremendous the support we get from the community because without there support, we wouldn’t be doing what we’re doing.”

He continued, “A lot of the rehabilitation with the substance abuse program goes to the support that the inmates get from either their family or the public.”

Sheriff Dulin mentioned that about $800 was raised during the event from the sale of concession items and pallet art. The pallet art is created by trustees who are in the substance abuse program. The money raised goes back into that program for books and other materials.

Dulin indicated that while they’re very grateful to the community for the monetary contributions that help keep the program running, that isn’t the most important element of holding community events like this.

He explained, “There’s more to than just getting the money, it’s more about integrating them back into society so they don’t feel like an outcast and revert back to their old habits.”

A used ornament drive is currently being held for the trustees’ next project which is making wreaths for the holiday season. These wreaths are donated to various local organizations including nursing homes, the VFW and American Legion posts.

Ornaments can be dropped off at the Demotte State Bank in Knox as well as the Justice Center, located on State Road 8. If you have any questions, call 574-772-3771 ext 2.

5th-Grade Boys and Girls Basketball Added to North Judson-San Pierre Athletics Program

Posted on October 17, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

North Judson-San Pierre 5th graders will have the opportunity to play basketball this season following a decision made by the NJ-SP School Board Tuesday evening.

The board unanimously approved a recommendation to add 5th-grade boys and girls basketball to the school’s athletics program.

Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin explained that since this is the first year, it will be a bit of an exploratory endeavor. She said they’ll play about four to six games and there are other schools that they’ll be able to compete against.

Zupin stated, “With the Hoosier North Athletic Conference developed a few years ago, other schools in the Conference have 5th-grade teams, so it’s an opportunity to have that competitive spirit at that level.”

She added that since an additional coaching position was not budgeted for this year, the coach will serve in a voluntary position. She noted that all applicants will be subject to a background check, as is school policy with any adults who work for the corporation.

Zupin said that the board will most likely consider a recommendation for the coach’s position at their meeting in November.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

North Judson Officials Repeal Old Ordinance Forbidding Tattoo Parlors

Posted on October 16, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

North Judson Officials took action Monday night to repeal an outdated ordinance that prohibited tattoo parlors from being established within the town limits.

The ordinance, which was passed in 2002, also prohibited any facilities where piercing or scarification was performed.

At the town’s last meeting, the Town’s attorney Justin Schramm described this ordinance as “unconstitutional” since it bans a certain type of business from town.

Schramm said while municipalities do have the ability to regulate zoning to control where particular places are set up, a certain kind of business cannot be forbidden altogether.

At this week’s meeting, council members unanimously passed a new ordinance which repeals the rule from 2002. Schramm indicated that no other official actions need to be taken on the matter.

With the repeal finalized, business owners looking to establish that type of facility in town just need to go through with local permitting procedures and follow state health regulations.

Absentee Voting Begins in Starke, Pulaski Counties

Posted on October 16, 2018
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The November General Election is three weeks away, but hundreds of local voters have already cast their ballots. Pulaski County has had 143 early ballots cast, as of Monday afternoon. Officials in the Clerk’s Office say that’s a higher number than average. Meanwhile, the Starke County Clerk’s Office says 250 people have voted in-person, along with 232 mail-in ballots.

In Pulaski County, early voting takes place Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and 1:30 to 4:00 p.m. EDT at the Pulaski County Justice Center in Winamac. Voters can also cast their ballots on two Saturdays, October 27 and November 3, from 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

In-person absentee voting will also take place at the Francesville Fire Station on two Fridays, October 26 and November 2 from 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and 1:30 to 4:00 p.m., and on Saturday, October 27 and Saturday, November 3, from 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Starke County voters can cast their ballots early Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to noon and 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. in the Starke County Courthouse. Extended hours will be offered on Friday, October 26 and Friday, November 2, when polls will remain open until 6:00 p.m. Early voting will also be available on two Saturdays, October 27 and November 3 from 8:30 a.m. to noon and 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.

In-person absentee voting will end Monday, November 5 at noon local time. Election Day voting will take place on Tuesday, November 6 from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Starke County Council Approves Budgets

Posted on October 16, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

In a brief meeting held Monday night, the Starke County Council members approved the budgets for Starke County, Starke County Airport, North Judson-San Pierre School Corporation, Solid Waste, and the Koontz Lake Conservancy District.

The proposed county budget is just over $12.2 million while the proposed levy is about $5.8 million. As previously mentioned, the council will assess the three percent pay raise, depending on when the budget comes back from the state.

The Starke County Airport’s budget is around $1.7 million. The board plans to replace a card reading system for all fueling facilities in 2019 and there are plans to apply for federal grant funds to triple the size of the aircraft apron. The grant money would require no match from the county. An FAA grant was already signed to complete the runway extension project in 2019.

The North Judson-San Pierre School Corporation is moving ahead with a $12.1 million budget. The Solid Waste Department’s budget of about $219,000 includes an increase in the recycling line item to include the construction of a building and bins at the county highway garage to help curb illegal dumping.

The newly-formed Koontz Lake Conservancy District will have an initial budget of $203,000 which will not exceed 16.5 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. It’s a new taxing entity created by Starke Circuit Court Judge Kim Hall. The district’s purpose is to improve conditions in and around Koontz Lake.

Join the Starke County Chamber of Commerce at their Annual Awards Dinner

Posted on October 16, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Tickets are currently on sale for the annual Starke County Chamber of Commerce Awards Dinner.

This dinner will be held on Thursday, November 8th from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. at the Nancy J. Dembowski Community Center.

During this awards ceremony, the Chamber will recognize the recipient of the Henry F. Schricker Service before Self Award, the designated Business of the Year as well as the winners of the Above and Beyond Awards.

Tickets for the event are about $35 each. They’re available at the Starke County Chamber of Commerce Office or you can purchase them through

Chamber Executive Director Jessica Craig said the award recipients will be selected and announced on Monday, October 22nd. The selection committee consists of a few local officials as well as past award recipients

Craig noted that all past nominations remain in the running until they’re selected. She said the person who is most likely to win the ‘Service before Self Award’ is someone who has been nominated multiple times since that shows a long-term commitment to making an impact on the community.

She added that last year, the attendance for this event grew by about 40 percent and they’re hoping to see an even larger turn out this year. If you have any questions, you can contact the Starke County Chamber of Commerce at 574-772-5548.

NJ-SP School Board to Consider Adding 5th Grade Basketball to Athletics Program

Posted on October 16, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

North Judson-San Pierre School Board members will consider a recommendation to add 5th-grade boys and girls basketball to the corporation’s athletic program when they meet tonight.

The school improvement plans will be up for adoption and members will consider the metal detector and eLearning policies on final reading as well as a request from the FFA to attend a national convention.

Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin will deliver an update to the board, visitors will have a chance to provide input and board members can discuss any additional business that they deem as necessary.

The NJ-SP School Board will meet at 5:30 p.m. in the board meeting room of the Central Office, located at 801 Campbell Drive.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Starke County Asset Mapping Workshop Uncovers Moments of Excellence

Posted on October 15, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

One of the final topics that local officials took a look at during last week’s asset mapping workshop were moments of excellence in Starke County’s history.

Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jessica Craig spoke on behalf of the group who looked identified some of these important moments.

One historically significant item that was brought up was the fact that Governor Henry F. Schricker was a Starke County native. Craig also mentioned that there are a few notable festivals in the area that have been around for decades. She said those have become things that people look forward to, stay for and come into town for.

Another moment that the group highlighted was the creation of the Starke County Youth Club which has been around for 17 years. Craig noted that prior to that nothing, similar existed. She also talked about the two trails in North Judson that are a part of national trail systems.

Additionally, the introduction of the SCILL Center was noted as an important addition. Craig mentioned that the recent addition of automation classes is a way that SCILL continues to adapt to the county’s need for local workers.

The construction Starke County Justice Center was also considered as a significant moment in the county’s history. The group specifically mentioned the importance of the Therapeutic Community initiatives such as the Fostering a Recovery Mentality (F.A.R.M.) gardening program.

Craig added that the county was recently awarded a broadband planning grant through OCRA which is going to allow for some major development to take place.

The purpose of this exercise was to identify how these past accomplishments were reached in order to help future progress be made. When asked to explain how these additions were made possible, Craig said it came down to three major things; volunteers, strong leadership and community buy-in.

This asset mapping workshop is just one example of how officials are preparing themselves for the Regional Stellar Process. The local Stellar Executive team is currently in the process of attending a series of other workshops offered by the Office of Community and Rural Affairs.

If Starke County wants to be considered for the next grant round, a letter of interest would need to be submitted next spring. More meetings that bring in the perspectives of multiple members of the community will be organized by the Starke County Economic Development Foundation in the future.

Assist Aspiring Musicians with the Drew’s Gift of Music Instrument Drive

Posted on October 15, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

There’s an ambitious student musician who’s waiting to give that unused instrument of yours a new home.

Drew’s Gift of Music has been instrumental in providing band students throughout Indiana with the equipment they need to pursue their musical passions.

Deb Johnson, Drew’s mother, previously shared that the charity partners with more than 20 schools across the state and they hope to continue making more connections.

Officials annouced on social media that this year was the largest request and placement to date.

And fortunately, there’s a way you can help with providing instruments to aspiring musicians.

The charity holds an instrument drive, year-round, where people can make drop-offs at a few different locations, including the Demotte State Bank in Knox and Legacy Salon in Culver. Right now there’s a need for more woodwinds specifically but all donations of a reasonable size are welcome.

Organization representatives say that each instrument received is cleaned, repaired, and then ready for a student to pick up and play.

Even broken and damaged instruments will be accepted. Whatever cannot be repaired is repurposed into unique items to be auctioned at the annual Drew’s Gift event held on the first Saturday in August.

Drew’s Gift of Music was established to commemorate the giving spirit of Drew Shearin, an inspirational student who passed away unexpectedly in October of 2011.

Drew touched the lives of many, near and far. At 17, he had already mastered multiple instruments, served as drum major for the Knox Redskin Brigade and was an award-winning composer, just to name a few accomplishments. His love for music and his memory live on through the Drew’s Gift initiative.

To learn more, check out the Drew’s Gift of Music Facebook page or visit

Key Problems Identified and Potential Solutions Presented at Starke County Asset Mapping Workshop

Posted on October 13, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Residents and local representatives worked to identify some key problems in Starke County and come up with some solutions when they met for an asset mapping workshop earlier this week.

The group tasked with finding key problems in the area identified a few main issues that the county faces.

They mentioned an image problem, a low rate of educational attainment, a lack of housing and public transportation, limited local jobs, apathetic residents and the drug epidemic. One person noted that the drug epidemic could be regarded as a symptom of some of these other issues.

On the topic of education, they also included a problem with “brain drain”, which refers to young “home-grown” residents who do obtain a college education but then find work elsewhere.

In order to address these issues, some solutions were presented such as cultivating aspirations for people of all ages, providing more opportunities for college grads in order to encourage them to return to their hometowns and implementing and retaining effective drug rehabilitation programs.

It was also suggested that to dispel the reported image problem and attract more people to the area, officials should market the quality of the county, focusing on the rural aspect, the fresh air, outdoor activities and other positive aspects.

Group members added that another way to draw in more people would be to work to improve the quality of life by capitalizing on existing assets and determining areas where adjustments could be made. This would not only motivate more people to make the move to Starke County but it would make it a more appealing place for industries and developers.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Another busy weekend ahead!

It all starts on Friday (10/12) with the opening night of the Hamlet Haunted Fairgrounds.   They will be open every weekend through October 28th.  On Fridays & Saturdays there will be children’s carnival games from 5-9 pm and the Haunted Barn from 6-10 pm.  Sundays it will only be the Haunted Barn from 5:30-9 pm.  (The Haunted Barn IS NOT recommended for young children.  But the North Judson-Wayne Township Library will have a Haunted House for young children from 10am-12 noon on October 20th.)

Saturday (10/13) could have you running all over the county and three of the events have food attached.

10 – noon there will be a Community Giveaway at the Bible Baptist Church.  There will be a selection of gently used clothing and household items.  If they have what you need you can take it for free.

10 – 1pm is the Community Howl-Oween Fall Fest at the Justice Center.  Costume judging is at 11am with prizes for the top three costumes.  Children under 12 will receive a treat bag, hotdog, drink, popcorn and can do activities – Hayride, paint a pumpkin – for free.  There is a nominal charge for everyone over 12.

11:30 -12:30pm the Christian Ladies Society of Ss. Cyril & Methodius Catholic Church are sponsoring a Free Soup Luncheon in the church parlor.  Homemade soup, just the thing for this cool weather.

11-4pm you have a chance to support Bluejay Youth Football by buying from the Nelson’s Port-A-Pit in front of the Elementary School.  Profits will be used to send the team to Lucas Oil Stadium to play in the Red Zone Games. 

Strong Volunteer Base Highlighted During Starke County Asset Mapping Workshop

Posted on October 12, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

When local officials met for an asset mapping workshop on Tuesday, they were encouraged to focus on 7 different capitals; Financial, Built, Natural, Cultural, Social, Political and Human.

The workshop facilitator and OCRA Project Manager Michael Sinnet emphasized the importance of finding specific assets that fit into these categories and identifying where strengths and deficiencies exist.

Sinnet asked the group, “Can you put together a fully formed regional development plan if one of these seven capitals is lacking or missing? Probably not.”

A few examples that were provided for financial assets were the Community Foundation, local banks, private donors and businesses as well as KIRPC, REMC and NIPSCO. Some of the natural assets that were highlighted included lakes, rivers and various specialty farms and the county forest.

For built assets, people talked about the courthouse, town and city hall buildings, fire stations, the Industrial Park, Bailey’s Discount Center and the Kankakee Valley Fish and Wildlife Building. Cultural assets included the Mint and Bass Lake Fests as well as the Drive-in, the Historical Society, as well as the various community events put on in the parks and offered by the Chamber of Commerce.

As far as the political capital goes,  people said they felt that Starke County has an advantage because there is a familiarity between constituents and their local representatives and that in itself is an asset. However, it was mentioned that there is a bit of a disadvantage at the state level as the county is split between congressional districts.

For human capital, the SCILL Center, WorkOne, the Youth Club, 4-H, and the Justice Center Therapeutic Community programs were just a few of the items discussed. When considering what Starke County’s social capital would include, individuals mentioned the Fire and Police Departments, the local radio station and newspaper, the Kiwanis Club, churches and schools.

Sinnet went on to say that while it is important to have all of these capitals fleshed out and to understand how they can intermingle there is one that is the most important and that is the social capital.

He explained “Social capital will bond to things in the community; family, friends, neighbors, work associates,” Sinnet explained, “or they will bridge to organizations, institutions, programs.”

One of the major strengths that continuously came up as attendees discussed what Starke County has to offer is a strong sense of altruism and a dedicated volunteer base. Many people felt that compared to bigger cities, the communities around here have people who go out of their way to help.

However, individuals did recognize that often times, it is the same people volunteering and they’re typically focused on their own specific projects. Finding ways to engage the apathetic or the unmotivated portions of the community in the same way was discussed as a potential way to lighten the workload and avoid “burn-out” with the people who continuously volunteer.

Something else that was highlighted was the fact that, while there is a sense connection, it can be limited to the people who come from the same area. Idenitfying common values and goals to link each of the various communities together in the same way that they feel connected to one other is a way that Starke County would be able to create cohesion amongst its residents and improve the social capital.

Starke County Economic Development Foundation Reviews This Year’s Manufacturers Day Event

Posted on October 12, 2018
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Almost 400 middle and high school students took part in the Starke County Economic Development Foundation’s Manufacturers Day events last week. That’s according to Special Projects Coordinator Ron Gifford.

He told the Hamlet Town Council Wednesday that more than 330 seventh graders had the chance to meet with 14 manufacturers and the SCILL Center during the main event last Thursday. “So they could ask questions of people to find out what kind of jobs they have, what kind of education is needed in order to get a job there,” Gifford said. “They have time at each booth.”

Gifford added that high school seniors were able to attend a career fair the night before. “Last year, we tried to mix seniors with seventh graders and the employers said ‘That doesn’t work. We’re trying to make too many elevator pitches to two different constituencies, and it didn’t work,'” he explained. “So we tried to move them into the night before the regular Manufacturing Day event, and we had about 60, pretty much all seniors in high school, show up from various communities. So it was fairly successful.”

Last week’s activities also included the foundation’s annual Prospectus and Achievement Luncheon. Gifford said those in attendance got to hear from a guest speaker from Kemin Industries. “Kemin, if you don’t know, is a mint company just south of North Judson on 39,” he said. “They take a particular brand of spearmint that’s grown by the family there. They originally were going to use the product for shelf preservation life on different products all over the world, and they have since found that there is some ingredient in that spearmint that they’re processing that staves off dementia.”

Meanwhile, Alex Weisheit was presented with the foundation’s 2018 Robert E. Hamilton Award.

You’re Invited to Tomorrow’s Howl-oween Event at the Starke County Justice Center

Posted on October 12, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Fall time is officially upon us and to celebrate the season, families are invited to attend Saturday’s Community Howl-oween Fall Fest at the Starke County Justice Center.

From 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. on October 13th, the Starke County Sheriff’s Department and the F.A.R.M Program are hosting a fun, outdoor event in the west parking lot of the facility with a variety of activities scheduled.

Feel free to don your Halloween costume a little early as a costume judging contest will be held around 11 a.m. The top three costumes will be awarded a prize.

There will also be hayrides into the pumpkin patch and kids have a chance to choose between a couple of wooden Halloween themed cutouts to draw and paint on.

Warden Phil Cherry said that kids 12 and under will receive a free goody bag and will be able to have a hot dog, popcorn and a drink for free. Anyone over 12 can get those items for a minimal charge. They will also have chili available.

F.A.R.M artists will have some holiday and seasonal decorations for sale, including ones with Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas designs. All proceeds raised go back into the Justice Center’s Therapeutic Community programs.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Starke County LEPC Discusses How to Get Incident Command Trailer Up and Running

Posted on October 11, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Members of Starke County’s Local Emergency Planning Committee are focused on getting the incident command trailer back in working order. When they met Wednesday afternoon, they discussed how the trailer is structurally fine but it’s currently not functional.

Officials report that it does not have power and they believe that the generator needs a new battery to alleviate the issue. There is some money remaining in the EMA Department’s maintenance fund that will be utilized to purchase a new battery.

Right now, the trailer is sitting out on the County Highway Department’s property. LEPC members noted that it should be moved to an area where it will be more accessible so officials can continue to work on it as needed and it will be close by when an emergency strikes.

EMS Director Travis Clary mentioned that it used to be stored next to the EMS Base and it could be placed there again. He added that he has a security camera available that can be set up to watch the spot where it would be situated.

Members suggested putting some gravel down to keep it from sinking into the grass and to limit damage to the yard. He said he will consult with the county commissioners to make sure that it would be permissible.

Another problem is that the trailer has the wrong kind of communication equipment for its intended use. While it has a plethora of HAM radios, it is not equipped with radios that responders would be able to use in case of an emergency.

EMA Director J. Nier said that there was one 800 MHz (megahertz) radio in the trailer but it isn’t programmed with “P25” which is the standard designed for use by public safety organizations.

Nier said she’s done some research and it would cost approximately $1,000 to $2,500 to get that specific radio flushed and to have the necessary programming installed. However, she’s investigating some other options where they may be able to have it done less expensively.

Additionally, Nier said she’ll check to see if a portion of the $10,000 LEPC Grant that the organization received for equipment can be utilized for some additional radios for the trailer.

Meanwhile, a few members said they’ll take a look at what surrounding counties have to see what type of extra features and equipment would be useful as they work to revive Starke County’s mobile emergency command center.

Asset Mapping Workshop Touches on How A Community Can Drive Their Own Development Conversations

Posted on October 11, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

One focus of this week’s asset mapping workshop in Starke County was identifying how local communities interact with one another and outside entities. Stellar Project Manager Michael Sinnet discussed the difference between horizontal relationships and vertical relationships and how they inevitably work together.

The best way to describe a horizontal relationship is that it is a continuous process where local perspectives are being gathered to meet a common goal.

Sinnet gave the cyclical example of how a governmental body communicates a need to social services and how those officials then communicate with the public to learn how to best provide valuable resources and then the public communicates with the government about the effectiveness.

For a vertical relationship, He highlighted OCRA’s Stellar Community Program because it’s a relationship where a community or region is working with the state to obtain opportunities and funding.

Sinnet emphasized that it’s essential for communities to identify their core values and beliefs prior to engaging in serious interactions with outside entities to keep external influences from driving local conversations and development plans.

He said that realizing the importance of having cohesive horizontal relationships at the local level will, in turn, lead to positive vertical relationships where the community can speak for itself when it comes to important decisions about development and the future.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Officials in Starke County Take Some More Stellar Steps with Asset Mapping Workshop

Posted on October 10, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The Starke County Economic Development Foundation hosted an asset mapping workshop in conjunction with representatives from the Office of Community and Rural Affairs Tuesday night.

Stellar Community Project Manager Michael Sinnet facilitated the exercise which was held at the Nancy J. Dembowski Community Center. Over the last few months, SCEDF officials have been working with town, city and county representatives about a local Stellar initiative.

Sinnet mentioned that it’s important to see who is already a part of the conversation and then to identify which portion’s of the community aren’t currently being represented. He emphasized that community coordination is fundamental during this process.

Sinnet told attendees, “Any development plan, any community plan that moves forward, you have to ask yourself one of two things; are you doing this TO a community or are you doing this WITH a community?”

Sinnet noted that the ideas raised during the workshop would eventually be expanded upon and incorporated into a regional development plan.

He said a regional development plan would need to be submitted to OCRA in the event that Starke County’s group is selected as a finalist in next year’s grant round.

However, he also mentioned that, regardless of whether a Stellar designation is received, developing this type of plan lays the groundwork for years of future development and continued collaboration.

More details from the asset mapping workshop will be covered in future stories on WKVI.

Starke County Leaders Gather to Kick off Opioid Planning Grant Consortium

Posted on October 10, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Starke County and Knox City officials, medical professionals, law enforcement representatives, local organization leaders and state agencies gathered Tuesday afternoon to get an idea of what will be involved in a Starke County Opioid Planning Grant Consortium.

The presentation was facilitated by Todd Willis from Porter-Starke Services who welcomed all Starke County participants who will be overseeing the efforts made to promote prevention, treatment and recovery when it comes to opioid abusers in Starke County.

The consortium members will be putting together a work plan to help abusers in Starke County seek treatment in a plan that includes workforce assistance as well as housing and more. The county was recently awarded a $200,000 planning grant to assist consortium participants in determining the gaps and to fill those holes to curb the opioid abuse problem in the county.

This is just the first step in the process.

Once the planned work is off the ground, it will be the members’ priority to sustain what is built and keep the aspects working to produce a stronger community.

Those interested in becoming a part of the consortium, email Todd Willis at

North Judson Fire Chief Highlights Recent Hose Training, Commends Firefighters on Educational Progress

Posted on October 10, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Fire Chief Joe Leszek shared some updates about the North Judson-Wayne Township Fire Department when the town council met last Monday.

Chief Leszek highlighted some hose technique training that the firefighters participated in during the month of September. He explained that the techniques that were taught are ones that are frequently utilized by the Valparaiso Fire Department.

The fire chief also noted the educational progress of a few of the department’s members, “Firefighter Paul Rains completed his module A and B, which is his basic mandatory firefighter class. He’s actually going to be able to run some calls for us now.” Leszek added that Rains is the process of taking the C and D module through the MAAC Center in Valpo.

He continued, “We had Firefighter Keaton Leszek just his complete his EMT written test and his practical test and passed that.” He said Keaton Leszek is just waiting to hear what date he can take his state test and once that is passed, he’ll be a licensed EMT for their department.

Chief Leszek has frequently emphasized that continuing education and finding ways to improve how the firefighters provide assistance to the community is a major focus of North Judson’s fire department.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Starke County Highway Department Completes 2018 Paving Program

Posted on October 9, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Highway Department wrapped up its scheduled 2018 paving season in September.

Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler told the Starke County Commissioners it was a rather busy month with nearly several miles of operations complete.

“We completed just about 53 miles,” said Ritzler. “We started crack sealing and we’ll be doing about 10 miles of that on some of our hot mix asphalt roads. So, we’ll end up with just a little more than 62 miles done this year. We did more cold mix asphalt than we thought we were going to because of the flooding. We did 26 miles of that and we reduced our chip sealing a little bit. We spent over just about $1.1 million in road improvements this year. People ask where the money goes and that’s exactly where it goes.”

Ritzler said October is the month for training as the winter season approaches.

“On Oct. 17, there’s in IPEP Safety Training. We send all of our new drivers to that. We’re sending 11 this year. Mark Ennis of Bliss McKnight will be bringing the driving simulator with a special winter plowing program on it this year and he will also be doing the winter snow plow safety. We will also have LTAP coming down to do that. He’s more liability side and LTAP Purdue is more actual hands-on operations part of the snow plow training.”

Seven employees are also attending the LTAP Road Scholar Class.

Ritzler stressed that the $10,000 extra they do in training each year saves the county hundreds of thousands of dollars in the long run.

North Judson Resident Addresses Dog Problem at Town Council Meeting

Posted on October 9, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Officers with the North Judson Police Department and Code Enforcement are working to address citizen concerns related to dogs in town. One resident came before the town council last Monday to alert them about a residence with some troublesome dogs on Leslie Street.

He said the house in question has about 7 seemingly aggressive dogs and reported that his granddaughter was chased by one in September.

He explained that he didn’t contact police because he had called about them in the past and felt that the matter wasn’t handled properly by local authorities. He told council members he believed that this wasn’t only a safety concern but the individuals have more dogs than the town permits and they’re apparently unlicensed as well.

Code Enforcement Officer Joe Leszek said that any time there is an incident the police need to be notified immediately. Leszek added that due to privacy laws, there are certain ways that the police and code enforcement officers are limited when it comes to responding to these calls.

Leszek explained, “The problem is if the dogs aren’t outside when we stop by to do our patrols and our checks and we can’t see them, we don’t have the authorization to kick down someone’s door to see if they have a dog.”

The resident mentioned that he has surveillance cameras and he knows what times the dogs are typically out so he’s going to attempt to get pictures to assist the police and code enforcement with addressing the issue.

Leszek added that the residence he’s referring to is already on the radar for other code violations and while he hasn’t seen any dogs so far, he said he’ll keep an eye out for any unregistered animals on the premises.

Marshall Kelly Fisher said police have increased patrols in areas where problems are reported frequently. However, Fisher and Leszek both said one of the biggest problems they face is that they receive calls about strays that were seen in a particular area and when officers respond, the dogs are long gone.

Marshal Fisher encourages residents to call the police department as soon as they spot an untagged animal to increase the likelihood that officers will be able to catch it and turn the dog over to the humane society before it moves elsewhere.

You can reach NJPD through dispatch by calling 574-772-5914. Additionally, if you have any code violations to report, Clerk-Treasurer Andrew Rowe said you can contact town hall and he’ll be able to notify Code Enforcement Officer Leszek immediately. You can reach his office at 574-896-3340.

Commissioners Approve Tax Sale Property Resolution

Posted on October 8, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Commissioners discussed a resolution last week that completed the tax sale of a property in the City of Knox.

The resolution allows the City of Knox to purchase the property at 315 Spruce Dr. in the Parkview area. The tax deed was for $35 ahead of the commissioners’ tax sale.

It was noted that city officials want to clean up the property to improve that area in town.

County Attorney Marty Lucas said the action is allowed under state statute.

“That’s under a statute that allows a municipality to purchase a property that’s listed for a commissioners’ sale prior to the sale if it’s located within the municipality,” said Lucas.

The commissioners approved the signing of the resolution with a unanimous vote.