Friday, December 28, 2018

Starke County Commissioners Approve Inmate Medical Coverage

Posted on December 28, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The medical coverage for inmates was a topic of discussion at the most recent meeting of the Starke County Commissioners.

Commissioner Kathy Norem explained that it’s for catastrophic coverage.

“In the event that somebody has an open heart procedure or a kidney transplant, or something, while under the jurisdiction of the sheriff, we have purchased what’s commonly known as catastrophic insurance to cover that loss,” noted Norem. “We could not sustain that especially if we have to cut almost $1 million from the budget. We’d be in trouble.”

The coverage is through 1st Source and there is a $10,000 deductible per inmate with a maximum of $240,000 per inmate.

Norem was unsure how many times the county has had to activate that policy, but she said she would rather have the coverage.

The 2019 premium will be at a cost of $24,820.

North Judson Town Council Adopts 2019 Salary Ordinance

Posted on December 28, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

North Judson Town Council members met a few different times this week to discuss next year’s salary ordinance.

According to Clerk-Treasurer Andrew Rowe, members initially met in a special session on Wednesday to address any matters that needed to be taken care of prior to the end of the year.

Members reviewed the 2019 Salary Ordinance line by line and were expected to adopt it during that meeting. However, since some adjustments had to be made to the language surrounding longevity pay, an emergency session was held the next day in order to reconsider the ordinance with the language changes.

Clerk-Treasurer Rowe said other than the adjusted verbiage the only other major difference was an approximate three percent raise that was applied across the board. He noted that there were some employees who received an even increase rather than one based on a percentage.

With the necessary changes made, members adopted the 2019 Salary Ordinance during Thursday morning’s emergency session.

NJSP Superintendent Discusses Extracurricular Winter Weather Protocol

Posted on December 28, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The extracurricular winter weather protocol for North Judson-San Pierre schools was covered when school board members met for their final meeting of the month last week.

Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin informed members that a particular protocol was established by former athletic director Kevin Cox and noted that the current athletic director, Greg Estok, requested one minor change.

In the first protocol, the practice hours were set between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Estok recommended changing that window so that they would run from 12 p.m. until 4 p.m. Zupin said that would provide more time to practice and would still give students time to get home before it gets dark.

Dr. Zupin shared some additional information about the procedure related to practices and cancellations.

She stated, “In the event that school is canceled for the day, they may allow varsity sports to have practices, on a voluntary basis. If parents don’t feel comfortable sending them, they don’t have to and there would be no negative consequences to that.”

Superintendent Zupin mentioned that in general, the school doesn’t have a ‘no event policy’ related to inclement weather because a number of factors and can influence that decision, such as changes to the conditions and scheduling conflicts with conferences and sectionals.

Zupin explained that the head coaches and athletic director are expected to communicate with one another on a case by case basis to determine the best thing to do. However, she said that she does have the administrative authority to override their decision, should she determine conditions are too dangerous for travel.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Starke County Commissioners Discuss Environmental Management District MOA

Posted on December 27, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Commissioners reviewed a Memorandum of Agreement with the Starke County Environmental Management District last week regarding the changes in the delivery of recycling services to residents in the county.

It was decided to remove all recycling sites in the county and move them to a single site at the Starke County Highway Garage. Contamination and the rising costs of providing the service were the reasons behind the change.

A recycling facility is being built at the northwest portion of property at the Starke County Highway Garage on 250 N. in Knox.  It will be manned at all times with employees looking at the items being recycled.  The commissioners have agreed to fund the construction of the facility while the Environmental Management District will staff and manage it.

As part of the agreement, the District will lease the facility for two years with an option for the District to renew for an additional four, two-year terms upon 30 days notice. The District will pay rent to the commissioners at a rate to be determined with amortization of the construction price over the State Board of Accounts’ calculation of the depreciation period for the structure. District officials will be responsible for any upgrade costs upon approval of the commissioners, and for all utility payments and the purchase of any office, security or recycling equipment. The commissioners will carry casualty insurance on the property, among other terms as listed in the Memorandum of Agreement.

The Starke County Environmental Management District members approved the agreement on Dec. 15 and the commissioners approved the agreement during their meeting last week.

The construction of the new facility is moving along. Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler says the doors and windows on the structure have been installed with siding work being done this week. The interior work will be next in the process. The project should be complete in January.

NJ Town Council Members Choose to Retain United Health Care for Disability Coverage Only

Posted on December 27, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

In order to ensure they’re meeting the needs of all town employees, North Judson Town Council members approved some additional disability coverage during a special session Wednesday morning.

Back in November, members selected a health insurance plan through Anthem. When members met for their regularly scheduled meeting last week, Clerk-Treasurer Andrew Rowe explained that the new provider didn’t include disability plans.

Since those plans were not administered through Anthem, Rowe noted that officials be retaining those services through their current provider. He said that the contract with United Health Care will be discontinued after the first of the year except for the short-term and long-term disability coverage that they offer.

He noted that the price for long-term disability coverage will not change. However, when it comes to the short-term coverage there will be a slight increase. Rowe said that in the past, an employee would pay 33 cents out of every ten dollars and now they’ll be paying 36 cents out of every ten dollars spent.

The clerk-treasurer mentioned that instead of receiving one bill per month for all health care-related costs, there will be a general bill from Anthem and another bill will be paid to cover the disability plans through United Health Care.

Capital Projects Summary Presented to North Judson-San Pierre School Officials

Posted on December 27, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

A capital projects summary was given to North Judson-San Pierre School Board members when they met last Tuesday.

NJ-SP School officials worked with the architecture and engineering firm Fanning Howey with these capital projects. Company representative William Payne provided members with the project summary and noted that everything was accomplished without going over budget.

Payne explained that some major safety upgrades that were made to the entrances of all the schools. The new entryways are set up to require visitors to pass through the administrative office prior to entering the school directly.

He discussed a re-roofing project that was accomplished at the high school this year and noted that some work was done to sidewalks around the schools.

Pool upgrades were also covered. Payne explained that not only did the natatorium receive a new de-humidification system but the pool water heater and filtration equipment was also replaced.

Payne went on to mention the new softball dugouts and press box as well as upgrades that were made to the infield. He also touched on the brand new tennis court and how they placed LED lighting around it.

He noted that the tennis court was recognized by the Asphalt Pavement Association of Indiana after it was submitted for consideration by the contractors at Town & Country. Maintenance Director Wilbur Collins and other project reps attended a luncheon in Indianapolis last Thursday to accept an award for the design.

There were multiple renovations and upgrades made throughout this process. Some of the other projects covered during the summary included a boiler replacement at the middle school, LED light installation throughout the schools, new carpeting in the media lab and an air handler replacement in the gym.

Click the following link if you’d like to download the entire NJ-SP Fanning Howey Capital Projects Summary, complete with pictures of the finished projects.

Starke County’s Unemployment Rate Rises to 4.2 Percent

Posted on December 27, 2018
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The unemployment rate continues to tick higher in Starke County. The county saw a 4.2-percent unemployment rate in November, according to the latest report from the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. That’s up from 4.1-percent the month before and 3.8-percent in November of 2017.

Meanwhile, Pulaski County’s unemployment rate stayed at 3.1 percent last month. That’s unchanged from the month before and the same period last year. Pulaski County’s labor force and number of people employed are both up slightly from October but still down compared to November of 2017.

The state as a whole saw a non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 3.7 percent last month, while the national rate was 3.5 percent.

Special Swearing-In Ceremony Held in Starke Circuit Court Wednesday Evening

Posted on December 26, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

In an unprecedented ceremony, Starke Circuit Court Judge Kim Hall invited all elected officials, regardless of party, to be sworn into office Wednesday evening.

Judge Hall mentioned that while serving in his position at the Starke County Courthouse for more than three decades, he’s never witnessed a swearing-in ceremony where democrats and republicans were recognized simultaneously.

In a media advisory, Judge Hall noted that doing it this way seemed to emphasize a county-wide cooperative spirit.

Not everyone who was invited was able to make it but a handful of officials were recognized during the ceremony.

Democrat Robert E. Olejniczak Jr. stood alongside Republican Roy McCray as they took their oaths to serve as advisory board members for Washington Township and Oregon Township, respectively.

Next, Judge Hall swore in two County Council members; Howard Bailey Jr. who will represent District 2 and David Pearman who will serve as the District 3 representative. The new County Commissioner for District 2, Bryan Harold Cavender, was also present and took his oath of office. All of those elected officials are Republicans.

Republican Mandy Thomason took the oath to serve as the County Recorder, Democrat Rachel Milner Oesterreich was sworn into her new position as Starke County Auditor, Republican Jack Rosa took his oath to become the next County Coroner and Bernadette Welter Manuel (R) was sworn in as Circuit Court Clerk.

Incoming Prosecuting Attorney Leslie A. Baker (R) and her Deputy Prosecutor John M. Acosta Jr. stood together as they took the oath of office and were sworn in by Judge Hall.

Starke County Sheriff Bill Dulin was also in attendance to take the oath of office to continue serving in his position next year.

Before the event concluded, State Representative Jim Pressel stood and recognized the uniqueness of the bi-partisan swearing-in ceremony.

Pressel shared, “I represent LaPorte County and Starke County and I haven’t seen them do anything like this in LaPorte County.”

He continued, “I’m pretty amazed at all the people that came together to celebrate all the hard work and efforts of all the candidates this year that are out there wanting to do good things for their county.”

Though these officials took their oaths, Judge Hall mentioned that they won’t start performing the duties of their elected positions until January 1st.

More pictures from the event can be found on the Tri-County News Facebook page.

Starke County Commissioners Approve SCEDF Contract

Posted on December 26, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

It took nearly a year, but the Starke County Commissioners signed a contract with the Starke County Economic Development Foundation for two years.

Commissioner Kathy Norem said there is a three-month termination clause built into the agreement along with a reduction in funding.

“Part of that came to be with this budget cut and the subsequent need to continue to dip into the CEDIT funds for other things that we’ve needed,” explained Norem. “That will go from $180,000 a year to $159,480.”

The contract also states that the Starke County Economic Development Foundation will continue to be the primary point for the county’s community and economic development. They will conduct business recruitment activities designed to provide new employment and tax base in Starke County. The foundation staff will also provide marketing and promotion. They will also strive to assist the entities currently doing business in Starke County to promote their retention and expansion.

The foundation will also establish small business loans for qualified applicants, among other responsibilities. An outside entity will conduct a performance review at the commissioners’ discretion and the foundation will pay half of the cost of that review.

With that, the commissioners unanimously approved the contract and it will now go before the foundation’s board of directors for their approval.

Bus Stop Safety Concerns Prompt Renewed Push for All of Indiana to Observe Central Time

Posted on December 26, 2018
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

After an early morning accident at a Fulton County bus stop left three children dead back in October, some local school officials think a time zone change could improve student safety.

The Culver School Board passed a resolution last week calling for the entire state to observe Central Time. “With the recent bus safety concerns and students’ transportation to school concerns, there’s been a re-synergy of that desire to be on Central Time,” says Culver Community Schools Superintendent Karen Shuman, “so that kids are going to school when there’s light out.”

Shuman also notes that Culver is in the unusual position of serving students in both the Central and Eastern time zones. “So with that component and addressing that need of bus safety, it kind of makes it a win for us, as far as all our students being on one time,” she says. While all of the corporation’s schools are in the Eastern Time Zone, the Starke County portion of the Culver School District observes Central Time.

NJ-SP School Board Considers Resolutions As Well as Final Reading Over NEOLA Policies

Posted on December 26, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

North Judson San Pierre School Board approved two different resolutions when they met last Tuesday.

With one resolution, Treasurer Guy Richie was given the authority to pay claims and make necessary transfers so he can tend to any year-end financial obligations that may come up prior to the board’s next meeting in January.

Another resolution simply determined that any interest that the school corporation earns on money that’s invested will be placed in the newly established education fund in 2019.

In addition to approving those resolutions, members also held the final reading over the most recent series of NEOLA policies. Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin also explained how NEOLA works so new Railroad Township rep, Sandy Kersting Rudd, would be aware of what the organization does for the school corporation.

She noted, “NEOLA helps us stay compliant with the new laws. Many school corporations have them write the policies and then we make them fit our needs and so when there’s a new state law, NEOLA is on it. About three times a year, I would say, we have policies up for review.”

Zupin also noted that most of the changes just have to do with updating language and then summarized some of the key policies since the new board member was not present during the first reading.

Members approved the new NEOLA policies on final reading with a unanimous vote.

Friday, December 21, 2018

NJ-SP Maintenance Director to Start on Bus Cameras Pilot Project Over Christmas Break

Posted on December 21, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Over Christmas Break, North Judson-San Pierre Maintenance Director Wilbur Collins plans to get started on a pilot project related to improving school bus safety.

When NJ-SP School Board members met on Tuesday, Collins explained that the recent bus-related fatalities in surrounding counties prompted him to look into some ways to improve safety and discourage motorists from putting students in danger with unsafe driving practices.

Collins reported that, unfortunately, at least once or twice a month, someone passes the stop arms on their buses while it’s extended. He said it happens most frequently on the highway.

In order to address that problem, Collins said representatives from the security company Vermillion Systems will be coming in over Christmas break to install cameras on the stop arms of three of the newest buses in the school corporation’s fleet.

Collins explained, “The front camera actually takes a few [pictures] as it comes by and the back camera gets the license plate.” He continued, “I’ve talked with Leslie Baker, the incoming Prosecutor, and that’s the information she needs and she’s more than willing to take and use it.”

Collins mentioned that the reps from Vermillion will also be inspecting the rest of the vehicles to see what adjustments have to be made to affix cameras to the stop arms on some of the older models.

He noted that they also have a few MPV (multi-purpose vehicle) buses which don’t have stop arms. However, he said cameras can be installed on the front and back of those.

In addition to the camera installation pilot project, Collins said that the bus routes are being reviewed as another safety precaution. He said school officials are working to make changes wherever they can so right-side only drop-offs and pick-ups can be made at as many stops as possible.

North Judson Town Council Considers Rich Grove Township Fire Contract

Posted on December 21, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

North Judson Town Council members approved a contact between the North Judson-Wayne Township Fire Department and Rich Grove Township when they met Monday night.

Fire Chief Joe Leszek was not present during this week’s meeting but he has been keeping Clerk-Treasurer Andrew Rowe informed about his correspondence with Doloris Locke, the Rich Grove Township Trustee.

Rowe told council members that while contract talks are still continuing between the Fire Chief and the trustee, Leszek did advise them to draw up a 1-year contract, as opposed to 2-year contract like the past. Other than shortening the length of time, no other changes were recommended.

Clerk-Treasurer Rowe noted that the Town Attorney Justin Schramm took a look at the paperwork. As everything was found to be in order, the contract was up for council consideration this week. They approved it, as presented, with a unanimous vote.

As a reminder, Rich Grove Township has a pay-by-call contract with the town Fire Department where $660 is paid per call, unlike other townships that are on fixed-contracts, such as Jackson and Wayne, where a $10,000 fee is paid annually.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Starke County Commissioners Approve Security Ordinance

Posted on December 20, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Starke County Attorney Marty Lucas presented the commissioners this week with an ordinance for enhanced security at the Starke County Annex Building No. 1 at 53 E. Mound Street in Knox.

The ordinance states that certain restrictions on possession of firearms and other weapons inside the annex building would be beneficial to the maintenance of security, the health, safety, and welfare of everyone present. The enhancement of security will be present during the regular work day and at public and government meetings.

Effective Jan. 1, there will be only one entrance into the annex building. That entrance is located on the first level of the building that faces Pearl Street. It will be manned by a security officer. A metal detector is also present at that entrance where all visitors will pass through the device and can be subject to a search. Bags, packages, or other containers may also be inspected at that time.

Any person found to be in violation of the ordinance faces a fine not to exceed $2,500.

The commissioners suspended the rules and passed the ordinance with a unanimous vote.

North Judson-San Pierre Receives Nearly $130,000 from NIPSCO Rebate

Posted on December 20, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The North Judson-San Pierre School Corporation is reaping the financial benefits of some energy-saving projects that were completed in 2017 and 2018.

Kirby Dipert from Lockheed Martin Energy, the company that administers NIPSCO’s energy efficiency programs, presented school officials with a check for $129,943.37 when they met Tuesday night.

That amount represents the cost savings reached through a few different projects including a boiler replacement at the end of 2017 and a transition to LED lighting that was completed this year.

Dipert explained that overall, the corporation was able to see more than one million kilowatt hours saved per year. He added that the corporation also utilized less gas, with approximately 50,000 therms saved.

Zupin thanked project officials from the engineering firm Fanning Howey since they took energy savings into account during the bidding process. Maintenance Director Wilbur Collins was also recognized by Superintendent Zupin, as well as by Dipert, for his diligence and dedication during the application process. Dr. Zupin added while the whole thing was a collaborative effort, Collins played an integral role in ensuring the school saw those savings.

Starke County Sheriff Participates in Sheriff’s Roundtable

Posted on December 20, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

A recent roundtable discussion to combat the state’s opioid epidemic involved a local representative.

Starke County Sheriff Bill Dulin was part of a joint effort between the Indiana Sheriff’s Association and the Rx Abuse Leadership Initiative with Porter County Sheriff Dave Reynolds, state senators and other officials to collaborate the best practices in order to reduce opioid abuse.

Sheriff Dulin said it was a productive discussion.

“It was an honor to represent Starke County in this roundtable discussion with area sheriffs and other leaders in the state,” commented Dulin. “We talked about the experiences and the biggest challenges that it’s had on local law enforcement and public officials with over-prescribing medications, opiates, prescription misuse – the legal and the illegal drugs – the heroin epidemic that we all face.”

Representatives from the Rx Abuse Leadership Initiative Indiana announced a $24,000 donation to the Indiana Sheriff’s Association to enhance sheriffs’ efforts in the education and prevention of opioid abuse in communities and county jails. Also donated were 5,000 safe drug disposal pouches in an effort to prevent the unsafe disposal of unwanted prescription medications.

The Rx Abuse Leadership Initiative Indiana was launched in July 2018 and the coalition is dedicated to finding and supporting solutions to end the opioid crisis. For more information, visit

Three Officers Honored with Life Saving Award

Posted on December 20, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Three jail officers at the Starke County Justice Center were honored on Friday evening for their efforts in saving the life of an inmate in September.

Starke County Sheriff’s Jail Sergeant Rudy Allen, Jail Officer Ethan Biggs and Jail Officer Earl Mayo were given a Life Saving Award as well as a pin during a holiday gathering hosted by the sheriff’s office.

As previously reported, a woman was arrested on Sept. 28 and was processed into the jail facility around 9 a.m. She reportedly showed symptoms of distress after eating lunch. Jail officers realized that she was showing signs of an overdose and quickly started doing CPR. The officers then administered about four shots of NARCAN and she regained consciousness. She was then taken to the hospital by ambulance for further treatment.

The three jail officers along with Starke County Community Corrections officer Alyssa Cook have been commended for their actions in saving the inmate’s life.

North Judson Police Department to Recognize St. Peter Lutheran School on New K9 Vest

Posted on December 20, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The new bullet-proof vest for the North Judson Police Department’s K-9 Jimy has been ordered and plans are in the works to somehow acknowledge everyone who donated the funds for the purchase.

In her report during Monday’s Town Council meeting, Marshal Kelly Fisher asked for the council to approve a purchase order of $699 for the vest. She reminded members that the money for the K9 safety gear came from the week-long fundraiser that was held at the St. Peter Lutheran School in November.

The payment of the purchase order was approved unanimously by the council.

Marshal Fisher noted that once the vest comes in, they want to include something on it that would reflect that it was bought thanks to the charitable students and staff who participated in the fundraiser at St. Peters.

Fisher noted that she’s currently looking into a few different options that are available to get something like that done. She said there’s a chance they could have it embroidered or they may put a patch with the schools’ emblem on it.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Winners of the Light Up North Judson Outdoor Holiday Decorating Contest Announced!

Posted on December 19, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The winners of the Light Up North Judson outdoor holiday decorating contest were announced at Monday night’s town council meeting.

Judges were out over the weekend, taking a look at all the homes that were registered in the contest and judging them categorically on factors such as initial impact, cohesiveness and holiday spirit.

Clerk-Treasurer Andrew Rowe announced the judges’ findings during the council meeting. He shared that the two best-decorated homes in town were determined to be the house belonging to the Kozak family at 107 Wilson Street and the Cunningham’s residence located at 206 W. Sycamore Street.

Both of the winning families were awarded a $125 gift card on Tuesday.

Town Photographer Peggy Bohac captured the moment that North Judson officials provided the winners with their prizes. Those pictures can be found below:

Cunningham Residence - 206 W. Sycamore Street

Kozak Residence - 107 Wilson Street

There were a few other residences that judges listed as honorable mentions. While those homeowners will not receive a monetary prize, they do get bragging rights for their notable decorations.

The honorable mentions included the houses at 207 Main Street, 4755 W. James Street, and 508 Keller Avenue.

North Judson residents are encouraged to take a drive around town to view all the lovely decorations that their neighbors put up this year.

New Railroad Township Representative Sworn in to NJ-SP School Board

Posted on December 19, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Recently appointed Railroad Township representative Sandra Kersting Rudd was officially sworn into the North Judson-San Pierre School Board Tuesday night.

Treasurer Guy Richie provided Kersting Rudd with the necessary wording and she repeated the following oath:

“I, Sandra Kersting Rudd, do solemnly swear that I will support the constitution of the United States, the constitution of the State of Indiana, the laws of the United States and the laws of the State of Indiana. I will faithfully execute the duties of my office as a member of this governing body, so help me god.”

As previously reported, Kersting Rudd is filling the seat of former school board member Susan McCormack who had to step down from her position due to a move. She will serve out the remainder of McCormack’s term which runs until June 30th of 2021.

Starke County Councilman-Elect Questioned about Residency

Posted on December 19, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The residency of Starke County Republican Councilman-Elect Tom DeCola is in question after the issue was raised during the Starke County Council meeting.

DeCola was elected as the Starke County Council District 4 representative in the General Election gathering 84 votes more than his opponent Democrat Karen Tibbs.

Starke County Commissioner Kathy Norem addressed the council Monday night where she claims that DeCola does not reside at the address he put on the application to file for candidacy in the election. She said the address used on the application is 7410 W. 250 S. in North Judson. However, he reportedly doesn’t reside there.

She also said that the Starke County Sheriff’s Department investigated the property who found a barn on that property and the barn is said to be rented by another person. She went on to say that DeCola owns more property at 7310 W. 250 S. where another person occupies the home and rents from DeCola.

There is alleged recorded evidence where DeCola stated that he’s lived outside of the county for about three years.

County Council Vice President Dave Pearman said he spoke with Republican Chairperson Brenda Stanojevic and met with DeCola who said that he is living in the district and that he plans to move forward with his elected position.

DeCola was in attendance during Monday’s meeting where he stated that he has a Certificate of Occupancy at 7410 W. 250 S. in North Judson and lives in one of the barns on the property. He also said that the fact that another person rents the barn and allows him to live there is “misinformation.”

He also reportedly has multiple lawsuits involved in a tax sale in 2013 against the county alleging fraud.

WKVI News verified that the address used on DeCola’s application is 7410 W. 250 S. in North Judson, confirmed by the Starke County Voter Registration officials. Starke County Building Inspector Terry Stephenson told WKVI News that DeCola does not have a Certificate of Occupancy for that property on file in his office. Additionally, there is no file of that sort in the assessor’s office. Stephenson explained that DeCola tore down a house on the property and installed a septic and other infrastructure at the pole barn. Stephenson said he did not issue a Certificate of Occupancy because he wasn’t able to see the infrastructure underneath the structure.

It was also noted that the property is registered in Ronald DeCola’s name.

County officials continue to look into the issue.

Meanwhile, prior to this discussion, the Starke County Council members considered a resolution that outlines the action of the council if a member is in violation of official duty, fails to perform the duties of the member’s office, or expel a member or vacate a member’s seat, as allowed by Indiana code. It also describes code of conduct for members and actions under the council code of conduct while in the elected office of county council. It passed with a unanimous vote.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Placement of New Well at Norwayne Field Addressed at North Judson Town Council Meeting

Posted on December 18, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Contractors from Peerless Midwest attempted to get an unauthorized head start on the installation of the new well in the Town of North Judson and council members dealt with some concerns about the issue Monday night.

Park Board President John Origer addressed the council and noted that he and board member Rich Akers were quite stunned to find contractors at Norwayne Field without receiving any notice.

He added that park board members have spent the last few decades working to beautify the Town’s focal point and they fear the placement of the 12 by 8 foot, 6-foot-tall, fiberglass well enclosure would be an unflattering addition.

He also said that the proposed placement is right at the bottom of the tobogganing hill so there are safety and liability concerns as well.

Town Superintendent Marshall Horstmann mentioned that the current placement was not his idea or the engineer’s idea. They had a different plan where it would be more out of the way but due to the stringent setback requirements which limit where the well can be installed, project officials took the recommendation of representatives from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.

Project Engineer Rob Bellucci from Commonwealth Engineers noted that the contractors got “eager” about the project and shouldn’t even have been on site yet. He added that they’ve since packed up their equipment and left the area.

While Peerless Midwest was awarded the bid for the project, Bellucci explained that they’re not technically under contract yet since officials are waiting for funding to come through after the first of the year.

Bellucci added that since there is a concern with the present plan that involves an enclosure, he will do some research into placing a “pitless well” there instead.

He said with this design, all the equipment would be installed underground. There would be a minor protrusion, indicating where the well is located but it would be significantly less visible than the above ground option. Horstmann did note that while looking into that option, he discovered it would likely result in an additional cost of approximately $20,000.

The scope of the project is remaining the same, with the ultimate goal of installing a third wel off site

Bellucci said, aside from some additional paperwork and the possibility of needing to have the IDEM construction permit amended, there shouldn’t be a problem with shifting the plan to accommodate this new request.

The project engineer plans to bring in additional information as well as some cost estimates for the council members to consider at their first meeting in the New Year on Monday, January 7th.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Officer Recognized for Saving Inmate’s Life

Posted on December 13, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

A Starke County Community Corrections officer was honored with the Starke County Sheriff’s Department Life Saving Award Thursday morning.

Officer Alyssa Cook was presented with an award and a life saving insignia for helping to resuscitate an inmate in the jail following a reported overdose.

Jail Warden Phill Cherry said Cook and three officers took quick action.

“We had a male and female arrested on September 28th and they came in around 9 a.m., ate their lunch, and then at about 1:30 p.m. or 2 p.m. the female started showing signs of distress. Jail officers moved her out of the holding cell. Miss Cook was here interviewing somebody for Community Corrections and they started doing CPR. They hit her with, I believe, four shots of NARCAN. By then, she came around, the ambulance came and she was taken to the hospital. The four of them really did a great job.”

In a brief ceremony Thursday morning at the Starke County Justice Center, Jail Commander Nathan Caudill recounted Cook’s heroic actions and presented her with the award.

“Miss Cook, here’s the Life Saving Award along with the Life Saving Pin. We at the Sheriff’s Department appreciate your actions,” announced Caudill.

Cook was surrounded by her colleagues as she was honored for this action. The other three officers who were involved in the effort will be honored tomorrow evening during the staff’s holiday gathering.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Starke County Court Services Welcomes Santa this Saturday!

Posted on December 13, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Santa will be at the Starke County Court Services office on Saturday, Dec. 15 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Starke County Annex Building No. 2 at 108 N. Pearl Street in Knox.

The staff members welcome all families and children to visit with Santa. Pictures will be taken and all may have some cookies and refreshments before leaving the event.

Court Services Director Shawn Mattraw invites those attending to bring a non-perishable food item or personal hygiene item to be donated to the Community Services of Starke County food pantry.

Any questions may be directed to Shawn Mattraw at (574) 772-9151 ext. 152.

NJ Billing Clerk to Coordinate with Town Attorney about Ordinance Pertaining to Utility Bills and Rental Properties

Posted on December 12, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

North Judson’s billing clerk came before the Town Council last Monday to discuss the possibility of developing an ordinance that would change the way the town bills utilities at rented properties.

Billing Clerk Jennifer Vanek described the current method of billing renters for their utilities as cumbersome. She asked the council to consider creating an ordinance that would require a property owner to keep all bills in their name.

She noted that Town Attorney Justin Schramm is familiar with the process since he just recently created a similar ordinance for the Town of Winamac.

Vanek mentioned that there would be a couple of benefits to switching the procedure. For instance, the Town would save significantly on postage and envelopes since they would be able to bulk the bills for a particular property owner and send them all together rather than sending out one bill to each individual tenant.

Vanek said the change would also reduce the clerical work since Clerk-Treasurer Andrew Rowe would no longer be required to take deposits or establish new accounts every time a renter switches.

Councilman James Young voiced his support for the proposed ordinance and noted that it would add more accountability into the renting process. Councilwoman Jane Ellen Felchuck mentioned that as someone who rents properties, this is a practice she has personally been utilizing for years and she doesn’t find it to be difficult.

A motion was made to allow Vanek to work with Town Attorney Schramm to create the ordinance described in her request. The motion passed with unanimous council approval

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

North Judson Fire Chief Shares Plans to Form Grant Committee with Town Council Members

Posted on December 11, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The North Judson-Wayne Township Volunteer Fire Department will soon be forming a grant committee.

Fire Chief Joe Leszek told council members last week that the firefighters will be putting together a committee at their next meeting in order to have as many eyes as possible searching for available funding.

He explained, “We want to try and get more people involved to learn the learn the grant process and know what to look for and you know, maybe there’s something that I’ve missed or one of our other guys have missed so we could find some other opportunities.”

Leszek indicated that it has primarily been him and a select few who have been seeking out alternate funding options so it will beneficial to get some additional people actively engaged.

He added that he emphasizes the importance of finding various ways to supplement the Department’s budget as a way to help limit the amount of money the Town has to spend.

Starke County Community Foundation Reports Successful Giving Tuesday

Posted on December 11, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Giving Tuesday brought in more than $90,000 to many funds within the Starke County Community Foundation. The total amount included a promise from Lilly Endowment, Inc. to match all gifts to community funds $2.00 for every $1.00 donated.

Starke County Community Foundation officials are calling this year’s effort the most successful Giving Tuesday to date.

Giving Tuesday harnesses the potential of the generosity of people around the world to bring real change in their communities. The mission of the Community Foundation is to improve the quality of life in communities by assisting donors in fulfilling their charitable wishes. The foundation does this by building endowment funds for communities with contributions, both large and small.

For more information, contact the Northern Indiana Community Foundation toll free at 877-432-6423, or Sarah Origer at the Starke County Community Foundation at 574-772-3665.

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Monday, December 10, 2018

NJ Police Officers Fine Tune Skills to Move Department Toward Self-Sufficiency

Posted on December 10, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

North Judson Town Marshal Kelly Fisher talked with town council members last week about how NJPD is working to achieve self-sufficiency.

She noted, “We’d like to get our department pretty much self-sufficient to where we could do all of our training in-house. We’ve got our training center there at the PD now.”

Marshal Fisher highlighted a few ways they’re accomplishing that feat. For instance, she said that Officer Jamie Conklin recently completed the training to become a certified firearms instructor.

She explained the benefits of having their own instructor on the force, “When we do our qualifications, he can do that.” She continued, “Also we’re going to reach out to other departments and see if we can bring in a little bit of revenue with that.”

Fisher said that all of the full-time officers now specialize in a particular area. She’s trained in defensive tactics as well as emergency vehicle operations (EVO), Officer Rico Simpson is the force’s K9 handler and Chief Deputy Frank Thomas specializes in detective work and crime scene processing.

She added that Officers Simpson and Thompson are continuing to look for ways to gain new skills within their specific areas of expertise.

“Rico has Jimy and he’s is looking into a DRE class, that’s Drug Recognition Expert. Also Chief Deputy Frank Thomas, I enrolled him in Reid Interrogation and Interview class coming up in February.”

Fisher explained that she has attended the four-day interrogation and interview class before and feels that it will be beneficial for Officer Thomas. She submitted a $575 purchase order related to the class which council members approved unanimously.

Marshal Fisher told members that she’ll be reaching out other departments to let them know when specific classes will be available. If there are any law enforcement agencies interested in training with the North Judson Police Department, give them a call at 574-772-5914.

Appointees Needed for 2019 Starke County Boards, Commissions

Posted on December 10, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Commissioners are looking for interested, qualified candidates to fill several vacancies on boards and commissions in 2019.

Two commissioner appointments are needed for the Starke County Regular Drainage Board and the Kankakee Iroquois Regional Plan Commission while representatives are needed for the Innkeepers Tax/Visitors Association Board and one ex-offender appointment to the Starke County Community Corrections Board.

The commissioners will also appoint two people to the P.T.A.B.O.A. Board while a Democratic appointee is needed on the Aviation Board. One Republican will be appointed by the commissioners to the Alcoholic Beverage Board while a Republican and Democrat are needed to fill seats on the Starke County Hospital Community Board.

One Democratic appointee will fill a spot on the Starke County Plan Commission as well as a Township Trustee. Two Democratic appointees are sought for the Starke County Health Board.

The Starke County Council will appoint a library board member and a candidate for the P.T.A.B.O.A. Board. The council members will also appoint a Democratic representative to the Starke County Alcoholic Beverage Board.

Those interested in filling these vacancies may submit a letter of interest by Friday, Dec. 28 at end of the business day to the Starke County Commissioners, c/o the Starke County Auditor, 53 E. Mound St. in Knox. The same address applies for any Starke County Council appointments.

Currently seated board members may be given preference for a subsequent term.

A link to a list of complete list of boards and commissions, as well as Indiana code, can be found here.

Volunteers Work Hard on Greenhouse for Ken Craig Community Garden, Fundraiser Planned for February

Posted on December 10, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The Ken Craig Community Garden had a very successful summer of supplying fresh food to community members and various local organizations. Representatives report that they’ll be able to support even more growth in the future thanks to a grant provided by the Starke County Community Foundation.

Ever since funds from the Foundation were received back in October, garden volunteers have been racing against the cold weather to get a greenhouse put in place. They’ve made significant strides over the last few months.

Officials shared on social media that so far, gravel has been laid for the floor, the external structure has been completely assembled and enclosed and electric equipment has been installed. Most recently, volunteers were working on grow and mix tables for inside.

To help sustain the current garden and gather funds for potential future developments, the organization will be holding their second annual spaghetti dinner fundraiser from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. on Sunday, February 10th. Tickets will be $10 for adults and $4 for kids. They can be purchased in advance or at the door.

The Ken Craig Community Garden was founded in 2017 and is situated behind the Knox Church of the Nazarene. It is named after the church’s pastor Kenneth Craig who served as a dedicated leader in the congregation until he passed away in 2014.

His memory lives on through the garden, which organization officials say was created to provide a communal garden space that will allow for relationships to be built within the community while simultaneously promoting sustainable gardening practices through education and hands-on experience.

If you have any questions about ways you can help out between now and the fundraiser, visit the Ken Craig Community Garden Facebook page where they share volunteer opportunities and progress updates as well as general gardening tips.

Starke County EMS Transfers on the Rise

Posted on December 8, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

After seeing a sharp decline in revenue for Starke County Emergency Medical Services, Clerk Mary Lynn Ritchie informed the Starke County Commissioners this week that revenue is swinging in a positive direction.

Ritchie said the number of transfers from Starke Hospital was at 35 percent, which is a lot higher than numbers reported earlier this year. The transfers were either Basic Life Support or Advanced Life Support services. The transfers help sustain the EMS budget and are the main source of revenue for the department.

As a result of in the increased number of transfers, the revenue was able to catch up compared to 2017 to about a $22,000 difference.

Additionally, EMS Director Travis Clary said four ventilator transfers and five BiPAP transfers have been made. The BiPAP equipment is required by Starke Hospital officials in order to conduct for hospital transfers. A BiPAP includes a non-invasive oxygen mask that assists a patient with breathing. The commissioners previously approved the purchase of ventilator and BiPAP machine to meet the requirements.

Students at St. Peter Lutheran School Help Raise Funds for K9 Bullet-Proof Vest

Posted on December 8, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

NJPD K9 Jimy     Photo Source: Peggy Bohac

Students at the St. Peter Lutheran School recently held a fundraiser to help purchase a new bullet-proof vest for the North Judson Police Department’s K9 Jimy.

At Monday evening’s Town Council meeting, Town Marshal Kelly Fisher shared that about $630 was raised through the school’s fundraiser. Marshal Fisher, K9 Handler Officer Rico Simpson and his trusty partner Jimy went to the school at the end of November in order to take part in the incentive event that was promised to students.

Fisher explained, “Over a week, the kids had to raise money and they had a jar that they put the money in for the principal and, I believe, the vice principal and whoever got the most got duct taped to the wall so we went and participated with that.”

Other faculty members had jars in their classrooms as well. The two jars that gathered the most funds were those belonging to Principal Rhonda Reimers and 7th and 8th-grade teacher Steve Lee. As promised, the principal and teacher were good sports and allowed themselves to be duct-taped to the wall in the gym to celebrate the successful fundraiser.

More pictures from the event taken by Town Photographer Peggy Bohac can be found below:

Officer Rico Simpson, K9 Jimy, 7th and 8th Grade Teacher Steve Lee and his students

Students standing in line to tape up Principal Rhonda Reimers

Town Marshal Kelly Fisher and Principal Reimers

Officer Rico Simpson, 3rd Grade Teacher Rebecca Wenzler, 
Town Marshal Kelly Fisher and K9 Jimy

Friday, December 7, 2018

Public Hearing Held on Broadband Planning Grant

Posted on December 7, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Commissioners held a public hearing Monday night on a Broadband Readiness Planning Grant.

Jessica Craig from the Starke County Chamber of Commerce wrote a successful application to get the grant for Starke County.

Edwin Buswell from the Kankakee-Iroquois Regional Planning Commission explained that the county’s proposed grant application is to study broadband opportunities for the county.

“We’re working on some of the paperwork,” said Buswell. “The grant can be a maximum of $50,000. This is a pilot program. The state only awarded five in the state. We’re still learning exactly how this is going to work so we don’t have a whole lot of answers on all of that yet.”

Marshall County was also among five rural Indiana communities awarded the Broadband Readiness Planning Grant.

The grant money comes from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and was distributed by the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs.

Craig mentioned that the governor’s office will have additional grants going out to actually implement programs after the pilot program is done and Starke County will have preferential treatment after being a part of the initial process.

She added that this would be a big game changer for the county.

“North Judson-San Pierre Schools is one of the only schools that’s kind of held out on going to a lot more eLearning days with a lot of gaps in internet over there,” stated Craig. “Even the area where I live there’s a waiting list.”

Assessments will be conducted in this pilot program to target areas where broadband access is lacking. Other grants to implement broadband service will follow.

A $5,000 match is required. It was suggested to request the matching funds to be split between the Starke County Economic Development Foundation and the Starke County Community Foundation, although that hasn’t been determined.

The Starke County Commissioners voted unanimously to support all documents need to move forward with this planning grant and pilot program.

The Final Starke County F.A.R.M Event of the Year is Happening this Saturday!

Posted on December 7, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The Starke County Justice Center’s F.A.R.M. program will be hosting their final sale of the year this Saturday.

Community members are invited to come to the Starke County Justice Center on December 8th from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. to see if they can find the perfect decoration or Christmas present.

A variety of winter and holiday themed art created by trustees in the Fostering A Recovery Mentality program will be on display and for sale at the Starke County Justice Center.

Additionally, Santa Claus is expected to make a special stop at the Starke County Justice Center to visit with all the kids who come by. Parents are encouraged to bring their along their phone or a camera to capture the moment.

Over the last several months, community members have had the chance to see the Justice Center’s F.A.R.M. program grow right before their eyes.

Back in July, Justice Center staff members and trustees hosted the very first farm stand event where vegetables and flowers grown in the jail garden were sold to the community.

In addition to growing food and plants, some of the more artistically inclined inmates began making pallet art to sell as well.

Since then, multiple events have been hosted where a good deal of revenue has been raised to help fund therapeutic community initiatives at the jail, such as the substance abuse program.

Due to the success of these events and the overwhelming amount of community support, it’s likely that the Starke County Sheriff’s Department will continue to host them in 2019.

The Last Leaf Pick-Up for North Judson Will be On Monday

Posted on December 7, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The last leaf pick-up day in the Town of North Judson will be Monday, December 10th.

When Town Superintendent Marshall Horstmann presented his report to council members Monday night, he noted that he was planning to have the final pick-up be at the end of the week. However, Councilman Josh Brown recommended moving it to Monday in order to give citizens one final weekend to tend to their yards.

Following the meeting, Billing Clerk Jennifer Vanek put the information on the Town’s Facebook page and noted that people should place leaves next to the street in long, narrow rows.

Residents are reminded that their piles should not contain other debris such as sticks or garbage. Any leaves that don’t get picked up this time around will be collected in the spring.

If you have any questions, contact North Judson Town Hall at 574-896-3340.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

12/7 - 9/2018 Local Christmas Events

Remember how I told you that things were going to pick up the closer we got to Christmas?  Well this weekend is going to be incredibly busy!

Friday, December 7th
6pm – Madrigal Dinner @ St Peter Lutheran School Cafetorium for a night of music, feasting and festivities.  Tickets:  Adults = $22, Children 12 & Under = $12.  Contact Amanda Ness at the NJSP High School for tickets and details – 574-896-2158.

Saturday, December 8th
9-3am – Holiday Market @ Knox Mall.  A Holiday shopping event, catered to those who love art, handmade items, and supporting the “shop local” push. 
9am – Backstage Studio of Dance Bake Sale @ Bailey’s Discount.  Backstage Studio of Dance Competition Dance Team is having a bake sale to raise money for the upcoming competition season and “Dance the World Broadway.” 
9am – Altar Rosary Society Cookie Walk @ St. Thomas Aquinas Church (Knox).  Cookie Walk starts at 9am and ends when all the cookies are sold. 
10-1pm - Final FARM Event @ Starke County Justice Center (Knox).  Winter and holiday themed art created by trustees will be for sale and Santa Claus is expected to stop in for a visit.
11-1pm – Lunch with Santa @ Hamlet American Legion.  Each child will receive a hot dog, chips, drink and a gift from Santa.  Adults may purchase a lunch for $2. 
11-3pm – Pets Pictures With Santa @ Grand Central Station (North Judson). The Starke County Humane Society is sponsoring a Pet’s Picture with Santa for a $1 donation.  Bring your camera. 
11:30-12:30pm - Free Soup Luncheon at Ss Cyril and Methodius Catholic Church Parlor (North Judson). All are welcome! (We do have a chairlift to get down the stairs) 
12pm – Feather Party @ North Judson American Legion.

6pm – Madrigal Dinner @ St Peter Lutheran School Cafetorium for a night of music, feasting and festivities.  Tickets:  Adults = $22, Children 12 & Under = $12.  Contact Amanda Ness at the NJSP High School for tickets and details – 574-896-2158.

Sunday, December 9th
1pm - Madrigal Dinner @ St Peter Lutheran School Cafetorium for a night of music, feasting and festivities.  Tickets:  Adults = $22, Children 12 & Under = $12.  Contact Amanda Ness at the NJSP High School for tickets and details – 574-896-2158. 
3-4:30pm – Christmas at the Center @ The Center in Donaldson.  Family-friendly activities include face painting, live nativity, pictures with Santa, and cookie-decorating. 
5-7pm – Drive-Thru Live Nativity @ Sorrowful Mother Church (Wheatfield).  Drive thru the live nativity scene then stop in the Parish Hall for cookies, hot chocolate, make an ornament for your tree at home, and visit with St. Nick!

Starke County Looking for More FEMA Reimbursement Funds

Posted on December 6, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Highway Department anticipates more reimbursement funds from the February flooding event to come in from FEMA.

Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler said the county received about $13,000 for the debris removal portion of the reimbursement requests from the federal agency.

“They just asked for more information last week,” commented Ritzler. “They asked for more maintenance records for the roads. They’ve approved about half of ours and they just wanted to get more of the records on some of the others. Rachel [Oesterrich, Office Manager] was scrambling the last week-and-a-half like we all were and get the records. We turned them in on Friday.”

Ritzler said much more money should be coming in once they approve this last round of requested paperwork.

North Judson Officials Discuss Loose Dog Problem with Town Council

Posted on December 6, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Officials in the Town of North Judson are working together to address an apparent loose dog problem.

During his department report at Monday night’s town council meeting, Code Enforcement Officer Joe Leszek said they’re still experiencing issues with dogs, specifically on Franklin Street.

Town Marshall Kelly Fisher also noted the persistent problem. She told members she’s been reading up on Indiana code to see if there was anything that addressed the issue.

She explained, “Some of these people, we’ve written three or four tickets and nothing ever happens so I was doing some research on an IC code called reasonable control of your dog and it basically states that you have to keep it on your property”

Fisher mentioned that if they were to write up a ticket citing that particular code it would be a class D infraction which would require the individual to go through city court. She said if the fine is not paid the person runs the risk of having their license suspended.

Fisher indicated that the purpose of potentially changing the procedure is to inspire people to take the tickets seriously and to ensure their dogs securely kept on their property. She noted she will continue coordinating with the Town Attorney Justin Schramm about the matter.

No official actions were taken but this topic will likely be readdressed in future meetings.

Residents are reminded that if they spot a loose dog, they should contact the North Judson Police Department immediately so officers can address the issue as quickly as possible. You can reach the NJPD at 574-772-5914.

Mobile Food Pantry to Stop by Knox United Methodist Church this Friday

Posted on December 6, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Nearly 13 percent of Northern Indiana residents suffer from food insecurity; that’s approximately 279,240 Hoosiers!

Such a startling statistic reflects that you may have neighbors, friends or family members who suffer silently as they wonder where their next meal will come from.

In order to assist those in need, the Food Bank of Northern Indiana will have their mobile food pantry at the Knox United Methodist Church this Friday.

The Mobile Pantry will be stationed at the church from 10 a.m. until noon and the service is available to all northern Indiana residents in need of food assistance.

The pantry will offer fresh perishable items such as dairy, grains and proteins as well as dry goods. The items are provided on a first come, first served basis while supplies last. Individuals are asked to bring bags or boxes to carry items home.

Food Bank officials note that if weather conditions are adverse or there is a limited amount of product available, there is a possibility of cancellation and the location is subject to change.

According to information provided on their website, the Northern Indiana Food Bank is affiliated with the organization ‘Feeding America.’ That organization has been responding to the hunger crisis for 35 years by providing food to people in need through a nationwide network of food banks.

Last year alone, the Food Bank of Northern Indiana was able to distribute more than 7 million pounds of food to its network of 165 member agencies.

For more information visit

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Marshall County Highway Department Agrees to Sell Equipment to Starke County

Posted on December 5, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Two pieces of equipment from the Marshall County Highway Department will be added to the fleet at the Starke County Highway Department.

Marshall County Highway Supervisor Jason Peters told the commissioners Monday morning that Starke County Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler made an offer for the outgoing chipper box and distributor.

“They offered us $60,000 for the two,” said Peters. “Now, with us trading them in with Southeastern I think they were going to give us $18,000 for our distributor and $20,000 for our chipper box. I think it’s a pretty good deal to sell with them (Starke County), plus it keeps that working relationship with the adjacent county, you could say. We’ve done some sealing down there in the past so they know exactly what the machines are and we’ve borrowed machines from them from time to time as well.”

Marshall County will be getting a new chipper box and distributor as approved by the commissioners in November. The chipper box was quoted at $313,500 while the distributor truck was at $227,800 from Southeastern.

A chipper box aids in the chip sealing process as well as spraying emulsion and putting down stone. A distributor truck helps with fog sealing chip sealed roads.

Marshall County Attorney Jim Clevenger said the purchase could be handled through an intergovernmental resolution.

The commissioners approved the sale of the equipment to the Starke County Highway Department.

Starke County Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler presented the negotiation to the Starke County Commissioners who agreed that it would be a great addition to the fleet.

“We originally wanted to buy new ones, but because of the flooding damage and other things we had to delay that a little bit,” stated Ritzler. “They’re (Marshall County) working up the agreement now. They’re county lawyer is doing that. Once they do that, I’ll forward it to you guys and you can vote on that at the next meeting, hopefully. It’s $425,000 for two new ones and $60,000 for those. They’ll last for at least five to 10 years as they’re in good shape. We use them now. I would recommend that purchase, but I’ll know better when we have the agreement.”

Ritzler will obtain comparable quotes for the equipment at the time they were manufactured just to have supplemental documentation.

The Starke County Commissioners will review the documentation at their Dec. 17 meeting.

North Judson-San Pierre School Board Selects New Member

Posted on December 5, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Following a series of interviews with three qualified candidates, North Judson-San Pierre School Board members selected the new Railroad Township representative Tuesday night.

Sandy Kersting Rudd was the candidate selected by the board members. She was in the running for the position with Ann Dolezal and Megan Korous. Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin noted that all three women are North Judson alumni.

Each woman had a chance to speak with board members individually, while the other candidates waited in the lobby out of ear-shot.

They were asked to speak about a number of matters including why they were motivated to apply for the open position, the skills that made them a qualified candidate and what they thought were the roles and responsibilities of the board.

While being interviewed the candidates were also asked to identify the strengths of NJ-SP as well as areas that need improvement.

All the board members had rubrics they were scoring during the interviews. Once the process concluded, Board Vice President Derrick Stalbaum tallied the scores and declared the new board member.

Superintendent Dr. Zupin spoke about the candidates, noting that they all seemed to be aware of the schools’ strengths and weakness and showed that they want the school corporation to do well. She encouraged the individuals who weren’t selected to stay involved with NJ-SP in different capacities.

Though members announced their choice after the interviews, Board President Sheila Akers noted that Kersting Rudd’s appointment is technically pending the verification that she is a registered voter and that she meets the residency requirements.

Once those two items are confirmed, Kersting Rudd will be officially sworn into the board during their next meeting on Tuesday, December 18th.

Starke County Sheriff’s Department Fundraiser Helps Pay Off Negative Lunch Accounts at Local Schools

Posted on December 5, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Starke County elementary school students in need of some financial assistance recently benefited from a fundraising effort through the Sheriff’s Department.

Last month, the Starke County Sheriff’s Department participated in “No Shave November.” Staff members were permitted to grow out their facial hair and residents were able to make donations essentially “sponsoring” an officers’ beard and mustache.

The purpose of the fundraiser was to gather some money to help pay off negative lunch accounts at the Oregon-Davis, Knox and North Judson-San Pierre Elementary Schools. Sheriff Bill Dulin said no child should go hungry just because of their economic status.

The Department managed to raise a total of $900 and donated $300 to each school district.

On their Facebook Page, Starke County Sheriff’s Department officials publically thanked everyone in the community for their donations to this often overlooked cause. They noted that the smiles on the faces of the kids was worth it all.

Don’t Miss Your Chance to Participate in North Judson’s Outdoor Holiday Decorating Contest

Posted on December 5, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

So far, only a handful of people have signed up for the Light Up North Judson outdoor holiday decorating contest and time is running out to get involved!

Registration forms can be downloaded and must be turned in at Town Hall, located at 310 Lane Street, no later than Friday, December 7th. There is no registration fee and forms can be submitted in the office or placed in the payment drop box.

A cash prize of $125 will be awarded to the two best-decorated homes located within the incorporated town limits.

When town council members met Monday night, they confirmed that the contest will be judged categorically, taking into account things such as initial impact, cohesiveness and holiday spirit.

Town officials shared that the contest is for exterior decorations only, although judges will take into account any visible window decorations. They also note that the judging will be based on “curb appeal” as viewed from the street so judges will not enter properties to access side or backyards.

Registered homes will be judged during the weekend of Saturday, December 15th and Sunday, December 16th. The winners will be announced during the council’s meeting on Monday, December 17th.

To access the contest guidelines and the registration form, visit the town of Town of North Judson Facebook page. If you have any questions call 574-896-3340.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Police Investigate Armed Robbery at Koontz Lake Gas Station

Posted on December 4, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Sheriff’s Department is investigating an armed robbery at the Marathon Gas Station at Koontz Lake.

Starke County Sheriff Bill Dulin says around 7:30 p.m. CT on Monday, Dec. 3 an off-duty officer responded to the scene after hearing radio traffic of the incident occurring. The officer was able to get to the gas station within two minutes with an officer from the Walkerton Police Department.

The scene was secured and additional officers from Starke County, Knox, Hamlet, Walkerton, Marshall County and DNR established a perimeter in the area and used four K9 officers to aid in the search.

Police were looking for several armed subjects who reportedly entered the gas station wearing masks and bullet proof vests. Police say numerous shots were fired, but no injuries were reported. Investigators believe the suspects left the store into a wooded area. They reportedly left behind some cash and latex gloves at the scene.

The Indiana State Police Crime Scene Technicians were brought in to help process the scene.

If anyone has any information that could lead to the arrest of the armed robbers, call the Starke County Sheriff’s Department at 574-772-3771.

Starke County Commissioners to Increase Security at Annex Building

Posted on December 4, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Commissioners are working to upgrade security at the Starke County Annex Building No. 1.

Those attending the commissioners meeting Monday night were greeted by a full-standing security standard metal detector. The apparatus was purchased by Starke County Sheriff Bill Dulin out of commissary funds and it arrived in his possession in about two days.

The effort stems from an increased concern across the country of security in government places.

The commissioners plan to create a single-point entry at the Starke County Annex Building No. 1 where a security guard will be present during regular business hours at the lower level entrance facing Pearl Street. Any person entering the building will go through the scanner, similar to the process at the Starke County Courthouse. A third security guard will need to be hired, who will be entered in a three-person rotation with those stationed at the courthouse.

The cost would be about $28,000, but Larry Keiser, the Director of Courthouse Security, recommended eventually hiring a full-time person so the person can be in charge of the personnel schedule and other administrative duties.

Once this process is settled, additional security at the Starke County Annex Building No. 2 will be added.

A motion was made and unanimously approved to provide a recommendation to the Starke County Council members of the addition of a security guard at the Starke County Annex Building No. 1. The funding for the additional officer would come out of the commissioners’ regular CEDIT fund.

The matter will be discussed during the county council’s Dec. 17 meeting.

North Judson Town Council Approves Resolution Finalizing Bank Transfer

Posted on December 4, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

North Judson Town Council members considered a resolution that would finalize a bank transfer when they met Monday evening.

Earlier this year, the council members approved transferring their General Fund from the First National Bank of Monterey to First Farmer’s Bank and Trust. Rather than taking all the funds out at once, Clerk-Treasurer Andrew Rowe has been transferring the money incrementally.

The resolution presented Monday night, authorized the transfer of the rest of the money. Billing Clerk Jennifer Vanek shared that there was about $565,691 remaining in the account that still had to be transferred.

While reading the resolution into the record, Town Council President Wendy Hoppe noted that the switch would allow the Town to receive the highest rate of return on their investment.

Councilman John Rowe noted that their previous rate was 0.4 percent with the First National Bank of Monterey and by transferring their account to First Farmer’s Bank and Trust, they’ll now be receiving a rate of 1.8 percent.

Members unanimously approved the resolution, permitting the transfer of the remaining funds.

North Judson-San Pierre School Board to Interview Candidates For Open Seat

Posted on December 4, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Three Railroad Township residents are vying for the open seat on the North Judson-San Pierre school board. In order to interview the candidates, the NJ-SP school board members will meet in a special session this evening at 5:30 p.m.

Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin said the three individuals who submitted a letter of interest by the November 16th deadline are Sandy Kersting Rudd, Ann Dozel and Megan Korous.

Dr. Zupin previously mentioned that the new member will likely be chosen following the interviews. However, they will not be officially sworn in until the board’s next meeting on Tuesday, December 18th.

As previously reported, the selected individual will take the place of former Railroad Township representative Susan McCormack who had to step down from her position due to a move. The appointee will serve out the remainder of McCormack’s term which runs until June 30th of 2021.

The meeting will be held in NJ-SP’s Central Office Board Meeting Room located at 801 Campbell Drive.

Gas Prices May Soon Head Back Up, Pending OPEC Announcement

Posted on December 4, 2018
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The steady drop in gas prices may soon come to an end. Senior Petroleum Analyst Patrick DeHaan says the average price of gas in Indiana has dropped from almost three dollars a gallon at the start of October to $2.20 on Monday. “But that may soon coming to a halt,” he says. “Oil prices are up sharply on the prospects that OPEC will cut oil production when it meets later this week at its annual meeting. In addition, there’s some optimism that a trade deal could be looming between the U.S. and China, thus bolstering the economy in the near short-term future.”

DeHaan adds that OPEC’s decision this week will be a major factor in determining where gas prices will go between now and the end of the year. “It’s really going to be read like a Fed statement, whatever OPEC decides to do,” he explains. “It’s very likely at this point that they will cut oil production to stem the 25-percent decline in the price of crude oil the last two months.”

He says that could put prices at the pump on an upward trajectory during the last weeks of 2018 and maybe into 2019.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Quote of the Month - December 2018

Happy Birthday, Karen DeCrow!
December 18, 1937
Karen was an American attorney, author, activist and feminist.