Thursday, January 31, 2019

Quote of the Month

NJ American Legion Schedule of Events

Bill to Reduce Size of Kankakee River Basin Commission Advances to State Senate

Posted on January 31, 2019
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

State Rep. Gutwein presents Kankakee River Basin legislation at the Statehouse on Jan. 24
A bill to restructure the Kankakee River Basin Commission is advancing in the Indiana General Assembly. House Bill 1270 authored by State Representative Doug Gutwein of Francesville would cut the number of members from 24 down to nine.

He says the change would allow the commission to respond to issues more quickly. “The flooding last February caused severe damage to homes and farms and prevented the farmers from getting into the fields and planting crops on time,” Gutwein said in a press release. “To better protect the homes and livelihoods of Hoosiers living in the area, we need to take steps to prevent and manage future floods.”

Under the proposal, each of the eight counties in the Kankakee and Yellow river basins would appoint one representative to the new commission. Those include Starke, Marshall, and LaPorte. The ninth member would be appointed by the governor.

Additionally, Kankakee and Iroquois counties in Illinois would get two non-voting representatives. Meanwhile, any county surveyors who aren’t appointed to the new commission would have the chance to serve on a technical advisory committee.

The bill was approved by the Indiana House of Representatives last week. It now goes to the Senate for consideration.

North Judson “Freezin’ for a Reason” Fundraiser Will Help Bring Winter Apparel to Kids in Need

Posted on January 31, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Some North Judson officials and local emergency personnel will be “Freezin’ for a Reason” next month, with a special fundraiser scheduled for Saturday, February 23rd.

At the North Judson Town Council’s second meeting of the month, Town Marshal Kelly Fisher shared plans for a fundraiser that would help collect funds to purchase boots, hats and gloves for kids in need.

The event would involve police officers, firefighters, EMS personnel and even some town council members jumping into a container filled with icy water.

If someone from the community would like to jump in as well, they can provide a $20 to participate. Fisher said there will also be another way for residents to play a part in the event.

She mentioned, “I think what we’ll do is if the public wants to participate and bring in a tray of ice cubes and put them in the water to kind of add to it, we’ll do that.”

Fisher noted that they will have an ambulance on site in order to ensure no one is in any danger, should they feel they’re getting too cold for comfort.

All monetary donations will go towards purchasing the apparel mentioned above. However, citizens are also welcome to bring in those items in lieu of a cash contribution.

The Police Department will hold a distribution day at their station sometime after the fundraiser so kids can come in to pick up the donated winter-wear.

Marshal Fisher said this is the first year they’re doing a fundraiser like this, but she hopes it can become an annual tradition where they raise money for various local needs.

If you have any questions, contact event organizers through the NJPD Facebook page or call 574-772-5914.

Starke County Commissioners Support Prairie Trails Grant Application

Posted on January 30, 2019
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Commissioners will submit a jurisdictional letter of support toward the Prairie Trails Club’s application for the state’s Recreational Trails Grant Program.  Governor Holcomb has set aside $90 million in grant funding for walking and biking trails to connect throughout the state.

The club members would like to extend the current trail two miles from U.S. 35 east and south to the Pulaski County line and toward Monterey.

Starke County Economic Development Foundation Executive Director Larry Wickert explained in a previous report that the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum representatives have given their approval to move forward with the project as they own the property involved in the proposed plans.

The grant application is due Feb. 15.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

NJ Billing Clerk Issues Alert About Trash Delay & Other Winter Weather Reminders

Posted on January 29, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

North Judson residents are being alerted that this week’s weather will have an impact on trash pick-up.

According to NJ Billing Clerk Jennifer Vanek, Republic Services is expecting a delay in pick-ups due to the inclement weather. Company officials report that they’re hoping to have residential pick-ups entirely complete by Friday.

Additionally, those living in North Judson are reminded that since there is a Freeze Warning in place, all faucets should run at a trickle in order to keep meters and pipes from freezing. Vanek confirmed that officials will adjut off any extra charges that you incur on the wastewater portion of your bills.

She added that, if you’re able to, check in on your neighbors to ensure they’re doing okay despite the frigid temperatures. This especially applies to residents who have mobility issues or those who experience certain limitations due to age or medical conditions.

If you have any questions, you can contact Vanek’s office by calling 574-896-2711 and press extension 1.

Starke County Sheriff to Discuss Ordinances with Commissioners

Posted on January 29, 2019
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Starke County Sheriff Bill Dulin will be presenting some updates on current ordinances, or new ordinances in some cases, to help put teeth into some of the calls that officers are constantly responding.

He wants to present ordinances that address noise, animals running at large, vicious dogs, false alarms, and amend the golf cart ordinance concerning open containers.

He explained that officers are responding to a number of these calls that can be reduced if updates are made that can put a fine or other provisions to prohibit the same behavior from the same people.

Sheriff Dulin will discuss these topics with County Attorney Marty Lucas to be presented for consideration at the commissioners’ next meeting on Monday, Feb 4.

Monday, January 28, 2019

1/29 Purdue Extensions-Starke Co and Starke Co Soil & Water Conservation Meeting Postponed

The Purdue Extensions – Starke County and Starke County Soil & Water Conservation District Annual Meeting scheduled for Tuesday, January 29, 2019 @ 6:00 is postponed and will be Tuesday, February 19, 2019 @ 6:00 pm at the Nancy Dembowski Community Center.

1/28 NJWTPL Closing Early

January 28, 2019

The North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library will be closing at 5pm due to the weather and the Orange Watch Travel Advisory.  Please stay safe and warm at home.  As always, we ask our patrons to call the library at 574-896-2841 before leaving home to make sure we are open. 

1/28 Starke Co. Court Services Drug Testing & MRT Class Cancelled

From Starke Co. Court Services

ATTENTION: Due to unsafe travel conditions, we have cancelled all drug testing and MRT class for today. Please stay safe at home!

Don't Let Snow Shoveling Give You a Heart Attack

Roughly 100 people in the US die from shoveling snow every year. Here’s tips on doing it safely...

Don't let snow shoveling give you a heart attack

Trash Pickup Delayed This Week

From the Town of North Judson

Republic Services expects delays this week due to the weather. Trash pick up should be completed by Friday for Town residents.

1/28 Knox City Court Closed

Knox City Court will not be having hearings today, closed due to the weather. If you can not make the Tuesday 9 am hearing there will not be a penalty.

Clear Snow From Gas Meters & Dryer Vents

A friendly reminder to keep your gas meters clear of ice and your dryer vents clear of snow. Doing this will help keep natural gas and carbon monoxide from backing into your home.

1/28 St. Vincent de Paul Meeting Cancelled

Ss Cyril & Methodius of North Judson

There will be no St. Vincent de Paul meeting this evening, Monday, January 28. Stay safe and warm!

1/28 SCEDF Board Meeting Cancelled

The Starke County Economic Development Foundation Board meeting for tonight is cancelled! Please be safe out there this week everyone!!

1/30 Relay for Life of Starke County Meeting Cancelled

Our January meeting for this Wednesday is CANCELLED! If you have any ideas for kickoff please message the page! We will be having a group chat meeting instead and would love to include you!

Freeze Warning

With temperatures continuing to drop and a freeze snap predicted for Tuesday and Wednesday, the Freeze Warnings that were issued last week are still in effect.

Residents are still asked to take precautions to keep their pipes from freezing.  Let your faucets drip and keep the pipes warm. 

1/28 4-H Adult Club Leader Meeting Postponed

Purdue Extension-Starke County

The 4-H Adult Club Leader meeting scheduled for tonight, Monday, January 28th will be postponed until February. Be on the lookout for the new date!

1/28 Starke Co. CLoverleaf 4-H Meeting Cancelled

Starke County Cloverleaf 4-H Club

Due to the predicted weather forecast we are cancelling the club meeting that was scheduled for Monday January 28, 2019. Our next meeting will be Monday February 25, 2019.

Your Furnace and the Arctic Blast

Starke County EMA Arranges for Warming Centers to be Established in the Area

Posted on January 28, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

In anticipation of the cold snap that is expected to hit the area hard Tuesday and Wednesday, the Starke County Emergency Management Agency has arranged for a few local facilities to be utilized as warming centers.

In order for people to gain access to the facilities they need to contact Starke County EMA Director Jay Nier and she will coordinate with the site volunteers and work to get you placed as soon as possible. 

These places are available for residents who experience unforeseen circumstances that leave them without heat, such as a furnace going out or a power outage.

If you have any questions or if you need to access a warming center, contact the Starke County Emergency Management Agency at 574-772-9182.

Starke County Sheriff Updates Commissioners on CAD System

Posted on January 28, 2019
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Starke County Sheriff Bill Dulin and IT Director Richard Franks are working on updating the Computer Aided Dispatch system.

Dulin told the Starke County Commissioners last week that the Knox City Police Department, North Judson Police Department and the Hamlet Police Department have been asked to contribute money toward paying for licensing, support and maintenance for their participation in the system.  County Attorney Marty Lucas will be drafting a letter that specifies the amount that would need to be budgeted for 2020 when local government officials begin budget discussions in July.

This year’s contribution will be included in the grant.

The current system is outdated and no longer meets compliance to support securities.

A $100,000 State Homeland Security Program grant was obtained to help toward the cost of obtaining the new system that will better update calls and information for police. In addition, the Starke County Probation Department will help with the cost with $30,000 in funding along with $15,000 from Starke County Community Corrections.  The remainder of the funding comes from the county.

Town Council Revisits Sign Project at North Judson-Wayne Township Fire Department

Posted on January 28, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

A potential sign project at the North Judson-Wayne Township Volunteer Fire Department was revisited when town council members met last Monday.

Fire Chief Joe Leszek reminded the council that this idea was first brought up a couple of months ago.

He stated that the Fire Department has $3,500 set aside for the project and asked if the Town would be willing to provide their portion of the remaining project costs, which was discussed in the past.

Leszek shared that he received a quote from Premiere Signs. They offered to provide preliminary drawings and perform the specified job for a total of $9,200. If they went with that company, the Town’s contribution would be $5,700.

Clerk-Treasurer Andrew Rowe noted that the project has been budgeted for in 2019.

Leszek was asked to discuss the type of signs would be purchased.

He explained, “They’re going to be poly signs that would be placed on the sign of the building, so they’re going to be 3-D, they’re going to be raised”

Leszek continued to elaborate on the work that was quoted, “And that would actually be taking our sign that’s in front out the firehouse now, that’s lighted, changing that over to LEDs and changing the panels inside that to match the building too.”

Councilwoman Wendy Hoppe asked if any other companies provided a quote. Leszek said he also checked with Steindler Signs & Graphix and they offered up a quote that was about $3,000 – $4,000 more than the one provided by Premiere.

Clerk-Treasurer Rowe recommended also checking with Simko Signs out of Valparaiso. Councilman James Young said he could provide Leszek with the necessary contact info.

Council President John Rowe asked Leszek to get one more quote and said that the members could likely act on it when the council meets next on Monday, February 4th.

Friday, January 25, 2019

2/16 Pet Registration @ NJPD

It's that time again to register your pets. We are trying to make it easier to obtain your tags. FEBRUARY 16, 2019 from 8 am to Noon we will be at the Police Department to issue your tags. Please bring your information about your pets.

This is for those who live in the Town limits and have difficulties making it to our office due to work schedules. There will be no late fees assessed on tags that day. We look forward to serving you.

1/26 NJUMC Free Community Meal Cancelled

The North Judson United Methodist Church Free Community Meal has been cancelled for Saturday, January 26th due to the weather.  See you next month and stay warm!

Be Aware of How Freezing Temperatures Can Affect Your Water Pipes

As we continue to face freezing and below freezing temperatures in the coming days, home owners will need to take precautions to keep their pipes from freezing. 
When temperatures reach extreme lows, it is recommended that residents leave water running from a faucet, with a stream that’s approximately the size of a pencil lead. In order to help protect exposed water pipes, citizens are also asked to keep crawlspace doors and any other openings closed to prevent drafts from entering the home.

As of Thursday afternoon, some places, such as Knox and Hamlet, had issued an official Freeze Warning for residents.

If you have any specific questions, you can contact your local water department officials. Any water-related emergencies should be reported to the authorities and they will alert utility crews immediately.

Starke County Council Unable to Give Raises to Employees in 2019

After all of the work was done to cut about $833,800 from the 2019 budget, the Starke County Council found that they are unable to give raises to county employees this year.

They were hoping to salvage at least a three percent increase, but there wasn’t enough to make it happen. 

All council members were quick to say that the county has quality employees and want to reward them for a job well done, but the funds aren’t available to do that in 2019. 

Councilman Howard Bailey Jr. hopes the council members can make it up to the employees in the coming years.

“Maybe we can make that up by a four-and-a-half percent or three percent with a stipend of some type.  I would like to put that idea out there that we have not forgotten about them.”

A three percent raise was given in 2018. 

Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler pointed out that his budget is separate funding from the state and it was approved.  He said he cut nine percent, while many office holders did not.  He commented that he hopes the council takes into consideration that fairness works both ways, but will go with what the council says. 

Budget discussions begin in July. 

Along with the budget discussion, the council members voted 5-1 to approve the salary ordinance as presented.  The only change was longevity.  Tom DeCola abstained from the vote. 

NJ Police Officers and Firefighters will be ‘Freezing for a Reason’ this February

Posted on

North Judson Town Marshal Kelly Fisher announced plans for a ‘Polar Plunge’ fundraiser involving the Police and Fire Departments when town council members met Monday night.
She explained, “It’ll be a fundraiser. I think what we’ll do is if the public wants to participate and bring in a tray of ice cubes for a dollar and put them in the water to kind of add to it, we’ll do that.”
In addition to being able to add ice to the chilly water for a $1.00, community members are also welcome to provide a donation to be able to participate.

The funds collected will go to provide boots, hats and gloves to local kids in need. The event is entitled ‘Freezin’ for a Reason‘ and has been scheduled for Saturday, February 23rd.

Any questions can be directed to the North Judson Police Department through their Facebook page or by calling 574-772-5914.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Starke County Council Reorganizes, Makes Appointments

Posted on January 24, 2019
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Council members reorganized on Tuesday night and made several appointments to county boards and commissions.

David Pearman was elected president while Brad Hazelton was elected vice president.  Marty Lucas was retained as county attorney.

Pearman and Hazelton were appointed to serve on the Starke County Economic Development Foundation Board of Directors, Councilwoman Kay Gudeman was appointed to the Kankakee-Iroquois Regional Planning Commission, Councilman Howard Bailey was elected to serve as the council’s representative on the Starke County Planning Commission, Councilman Freddie Baker was elected to serve on the Starke County Solid Waste Board, Susan Lucas on the Starke County Library Board, Rik Ritzler to the Starke County Park Board, Rebecca Ferch to the P.T.A.B.O.A Board, and Kenny Wallace to the Alcoholic Beverage Board.

Councilman Tom DeCola made a motion to be the president and vice president of the council which died for a lack of a second.  He also made a motion to be the council representative on many of the open positions available in this year’s appointment schedule which gathered no support from the remaining council members.  With the exception of the library board appointment, he abstained from all votes.

There were no appointments made to the Starke County Convention and Visitor’s Commission.  The council members voted to take a closer look into that organization as county officials have had trouble finding interested candidates to serve.

NJPD Night Officers Receive Flashlight Attachments for Firearms

Posted on January 24, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

At Monday night’s North Judson Town Council meeting, Marshal Kelly Fisher told members that the night officers on the force recently received some new attachments for their service weapons.

According to Fisher, the officers were given flashlights that attach directly to their firearms. She mentioned that the lights were obtained as a safety measure

Fisher shared, “We ended up going with the TLR-1, it’s 800 lumens. It’s a tool that frees up the hand of the officer so we’re not holding a flashlight in one and a firearm in the other.”

Fisher said that both night officers have received the flashlights and Officer Jamie Conklin has been trained on how to use the new equipment.

She noted that the flashlight attachment will be especially helpful for K9 Handler Rico Simpson since he has the additional responsibility of holding the leash of his K9 partner Jimy.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Starke County Councilman to Respond to Allegations

Posted on January 23, 2019
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Starke County Councilman Tom DeCola will submit a response to allegations in information presented during the Starke County Council meeting Tuesday night.

Starke County Commissioner Kathy Norem took DeCola to task for his alleged misconduct during a meeting of the Indiana Association of Counties in Indianapolis in December. 

“I’m asking the county council to address the behavior and actions of Mr. DeCola when he was in Indianapolis at the Association of Counties meeting, and specifically I have two witness statements and I have a police report that all identified him accosting the women there in an inappropriate sexual manner, offering them cocaine if they allow him to stay in his room…there’s a whole host of things there,” said Norem.  “There were more calls over this than I’ve gotten in six months over anything else.  That is egregious behavior, that is inappropriate behavior, and that is certainly not how we want to be represented at a state meeting in Starke County.”

“You’re going to have a slander lawsuit here as soon as possible,” fired DeCola.

The police report from the Greendale Police Department provided to all of the council members and the media lists pending charges of disorderly conduct and public intoxication.

DeCola said it is all fictitious and asked that it be stricken from the discussion.  Newly appointed Starke County Council President David Pearman said it was legitimate information and County Attorney Marty Lucas noted that by law the county council can determine what appropriate behavior is concerning its members.

DeCola said this is new information to him and would like to have time to answer to the allegations and Lucas said he agreed with him, in part, as due process does exist in the matter.

Councilman Bob Sims made a motion that DeCola address the allegations against him which was approved by the council members.  DeCola will have an opportunity to answer to the charges or dispute them and provide just cause of why they would not be in violation of the rules of the council.

He said he will send a certified letter to the county to answer to the charges of whether or not they are legitimate.  The council members gave him 30 days to complete that action.

He also commented that he doesn’t think this pertains to county business and rather it’s a police matter.

Aside from this matter, DeCola’s residency is still in question.  Commissioner Kathy Norem initially brought the issue to light during the council’s meeting in December.  DeCola said that he obtained a Certificate of Occupancy and that a copy of that document is filed in Starke County Building Inspector Terry Stephenson’s office when it was confirmed it was not on file.  DeCola registered for candidacy with the address 7410 W. 250 S. in North Judson.

Norem noted Tuesday night that the Starke County Election Board has not yet met this month to discuss it.  She also mentioned that she submitted all documents to the Starke County Prosecutor for review.

With that, Pearman asked for a motion to ask the Starke County Election Board and the Starke County Republican Party to provide confirmation that DeCola is from the district, lives in the district, and qualifies for his seat.  The motion was approved with a vote of 5 to 1 with DeCola presenting the dissenting vote. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

NJ Town Council to Compose Letter of Support for Erie Trail Expansion Project

Posted on January 22, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The Prairie Trails Club is looking to apply for a grant to that would help extend the Erie Trail in North Judson.

Starke County Economic Development Foundation Executive Director Larry Wickert informed North Judson Town Council members about the Club’s plans Monday night.

Wickert explained, “They want to extend that trail 2 miles from 35, on East so it would go from North Judson all the way to just about the Pulaski County line, over towards Monterey over there.”

SCEDF Executive Director Wickert told members that the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum owns the associated property and stated that representatives have provided their approval to move ahead with the project.

He added that county officials agreed to supply a jurisdictional approval letter to assist with the efforts.

Wickert asked the town council members if they’d be interested in providing a letter of support, as it would be an advantageous thing for the Prairie Trails Club to have during the grant application process.

He noted that the grant application will be due by Friday, February 15th so he’ll need the letter prior to that date.  Council members agreed unanimously to provide the letter of support.

While this expansion does tie into the county’s ongoing Stellar conversations, trail projects are also a big focus at the state level right now. Wickert mentioned that Governor Eric Holcomb has about $90 million set aside for such projects after he realized more connectivity would be beneficial to the state.

 “We’ve got a lot of trails around Indiana, but their not connected.” Wickert continued, “He really thinks it would benefit Indiana, not just for our own people but also to an attractive thing for companies who want to move here from other places.”

If there are any other local entities that are interested in submitting a letter of support for the Erie Trail expansion project, contact the SCEDF at 574-772-5627

Monday, January 21, 2019

North Judson Town Council Meets Tonight

Posted on January 21, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

North Judson Town Council members will appoint the new Town Superintendent during their meeting tonight.

As previously reported, former Town Superintendent Marshal Horstmann announced his resignation at the first meeting of the month. At that time, he noted he would be preparing Randy Schwartz to take on superintendent responsibilities once he leaves. 

CommonWealth Project Engineer Rob Belluci will be back before the council to continue talking about a proposed change order for the well project at Norwayne Field that was presented earlier this month.

Additionally, when members go over new business they will discuss an agent of record change for the railroad insurance and fire department liability and workers’ compensation policy. A letter to property owners and tenants, pursuant to a recently passed ordinance, will also be covered as well.

The meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. in North Judson Town Hall.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Be Sure To Take Care Of Your Animals In This Cold Weather

From the Starke County Humane Society:

We are expecting blowing snow and frigid temperatures this weekend. Please bring your animals indoors if at all possible. Animals that remain outside should have shelter with dry bedding ( preferably straw ) and fresh water. Straw can be purchased at some of the local farm stores.

5 Ways To Protect Pets This Winter

Don't Let Your Water Line Freeze!

The Town of North Judson wants to remind you: 

Don't forget to leave your water trickle during the cold weather to avoid meters and service lines freezing. We issue credits on the sewer portion of your bill. With snow in the forecast they may not be able to assist you immediately with frozen meters.

Starke County Courthouse Elevator Project to Begin in February

Posted on January 18, 2019
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Work on the Starke County Courthouse elevator project is set to start in February.

Gibson-Lewis, LLC officials will set up equipment and materials beginning Feb. 22 with demolition of the current elevator slated to begin that day.  That process is expected to take three weeks.  The schedule predicts elevator upgrades to begin March 15 and continue through April 25.  The state will inspect the structure following the completion of the installation with the substantial completion date of April 26.

Any construction items that may remain will take a few days to finish.  The final completion date is anticipated to be May 1.

The Starke County Commissioners initially had trouble finding bids for the project.  In August, the lowest bid was submitted by Gibson-Lewis at $288,500.  The county was awarded grant funds through K-IRPC for this project.

North Judson-San Pierre School Board Approves 2019-2020 School Calendar

Posted on January 18, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The calendar for the 2019-2020 school year was up for approval at Tuesday night’s North Judson-San Pierre School Board meeting.

The proposed calendar lists Wednesday, August 7th as the first student day. New teacher orientation will be held on Friday, August 2nd and Monday, August 5th and Tuesday, August 6th are listed as teacher work days. 

NJ-SP students will get one week off in October for Fall Break and then three days off in November for Thanksgiving Break. Winter Break will be two weeks long, running from Monday, December 23rd through Friday, January 3rd. Spring break in 2019 will run from Monday, March 30th through Friday, April 3rd.

The last student day is tentatively scheduled for Thursday, May 21st. However, there are make-up days built into the calendar. Those are listed as Tuesday, May 26th through the Friday, May 29th.

Members unanimously approved the calendar as presented. Click the following link to download the NJ-SP 2019-2020 School Calendar.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Safely Setting Up a Computer/Tablet For Kids

Starke County Highway Department Presents Roadside Mowing Policy to Commissioners

Posted on January 17, 2019
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

A roadside mowing policy was presented to the Starke County Commissioners at their most recent meeting.

Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler said the policy includes straightaway mowing.

“It is the policy of the Starke County Highway Department to mow five feet from the edge of the roadway,” explained Ritzler.  “This allows ample room for motorists to safely pull to the side of the road if necessary and also creates better visibility to reduce collisions with deer and other animals.  Additionally, maintaining a five foot right-of-way keeps plant from encroaching onto the road surface and causing damage.  If they do get too close, they mess up the shoulder.”

The policy also gives provisions on mowing at corners and intersections.

“It is the policy of the Starke County Highway Department to mow 15 feet in all directions at corners and intersections.  At some corners and intersections, additional visibility is required to ensure the safety of motorists.  In those instances, additional mowing will be necessary.  I will go out there and inspect those myself.  I will try and talk to the property owner of the field ahead of time.  If not, driver safety is more important than anything else.”

The commissioners unanimously approved the roadside mowing policy as presented. Questions may be directed to the Starke County Highway Department at 574-772-3011.

NJ-SP Teacher Awarded $12,000 Teacher Creativity Fellowship Grant

Posted on January 17, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

A North Judson-San Pierre teacher was one of 100 Hoosier educators to receive a grant through the Lilly Endowment Teacher Creativity Fellowship Program.

NJ-SP Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin recently announced that sixth-grade teacher Debbie Bolen was awarded a $12,000 grant for her project ‘Innovation across the Nation.’ The project is described as a study of the life and works of Thomas Edison, especially his perseverance and innovative thinking.

According the Lilly Endowment website, the Teacher Creativity Fellowship Program is one of the Endowment’s longest standing programs.

It was started more than three decades ago as a way to help public school employees renew their commitment to teaching. Officials report that the fellowship enables educators to pursue their dreams and passions, explore new areas of interest and expand on and develop new and existing talents.

North Judson Officials to Include Reminder About Garbage Bins on Utility Bills

Posted on January 17, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

North Judson Town Marshal Kelly Fisher notified Town Council members last week that she’s received some questions about bins remaining in the road after garbage pick-up has taken place.

Council President John Rowe noted that he’s also had some people inquire about whether the Town has a policy about that. Marshal Fisher asked if there was any kind of ordinance on the books with a recommended procedure.

Councilwoman Wendy Hoppe noted that there isn’t an ordinance but it has been addressed by the council in the past. She said that residents are asked to have the bins taken away from the curb within 24 hours after pick-up. 

Rather than developing an ordinance on the matter, Hoppe recommended including a reminder on the new utility bills since they’re designed to allow for such notifications.

On the old card-style bills, officials were limited to 30 characters and if a customer had some sort of notice about their service, they wouldn’t receive the information that was issued by the town. 

With the new letter-style bills, as long as the message is included with the file that is sent in advance, they can include as much additional information as they want and all customers will be able to view it.

Clerk-Treasurer Andrew Rowe said he would coordinate with Billing Clerk Jennifer Vanek about putting a reminder about the garbage bins on the bills.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Why Is Reading So Important?

1/20 Welcome Reverend Joseph Mollet

Starke County Republican Caucus Held to Fill County Council Seat

Posted on January 16, 2019
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Republican Central Committee held a caucus on Saturday to fill the unexpired term of Bryan Cavendar who held the Starke County Council At-Large seat.  He was elected District 2 Starke County Commissioner in the November General Election.

According to the Starke County Voter Registration Clerk, four Republican candidates were in the running for the seat including Donald White, Diana Kay Gudeman, Steven Ahlenius, and David Metz III.

A vote by precinct committeemen selected Diana Kay Gudeman and she was immediately sworn into office by Starke County Clerk Bernadette Welter Manuel.

Gudeman will attend her first Starke County Council meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 22 which will be the first meeting of the fiscal body in 2019.

Starke County to Apply for Another Round of Community Crossings Grants

Posted on January 16, 2019
Author Anita Goodan,WKVI

The Indiana Department of Transportation opened the first round of the 2019 Community Crossings Grants and Starke County will be submitting more projects for consideration.

Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler told the Starke County Commissioners last week that six projects will be included in the application.  Hot mix overlay and preventative maintenance will be requested on 400 S. from U.S. 421 to County Road 650 W., County Road 50 S. from State Road 39 to the Knox City Limits, County Road 250 N. from Range Road to U.S. 35, County Road 25 N. from U.S. 35 to County Bridge #38, County Road 1100 E. (Tecumseh Road) from U.S. 30 to Circle Ave., and County Road 600 E. from U.S. 30 to the La Porte County line.

Ritzler noted that two projects were awarded during the 2018 Community Crossings grant application process.

“First is the intersection improvement at County Road 600 S. and County Road 210,” explained Ritzler.  “That project will be bid in February.  We’re doing that for safety and traffic flow reason.  The second project is a hot mix overlay on 25 N. from 600 E. to State Road 23.  That will also be bid in February.”

Applications for the first round in 2019 are due by Friday, Feb. 1.

Potential Lighting Upgrade Considered at North Judson-Wayne Township Fire House

Posted on January 16, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

A possible lighting upgrade is being considered at the North Judson-Wayne Town Volunteer Fire Department building.

During the first North Judson Town Council meeting of the year, Fire Chief Joe Leszek informed members about the potential lighting overhaul.

Leszek explained, “We’ve had ballasts going out in the lights in the fire house. I got a quote from a company to switch those from ballast style lights to LED lights which would last 10 years and be more efficient.”

Fire Chief Leszek provided members with information from the only quote he’s received thus far.

He shared, “Right now, the one quote we got was about $30 a bulb so to do the whole firehouse would be around twenty-six hundred bucks [$2,600]”

Leszek told members that he received another number to call to get an additional quote and a few of the members said they had companies in mind that he could check into as well.

Leszek said once some more concrete plans and figures are available for comparison, he will bring those into a meeting to keep the council informed about the selection process.

NJ-SP School Board Approves Officers for Finance Board, Confirms Starke County Library Board Appointment

Posted on January 16, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

While the internal officer elections for the North Judson-San Pierre school board are held in the summertime, members did address finance board elections when they met Tuesday night.

Board President Sheila Akers and Board Secretary Jim Menis were selected to serve in those same positions on the board of finance. Members also provided unanimous approval for First National Bank of Monterey to continue to serving as the depository bank for the school corporation.

In addition to discussing matters related to the board of finance, members also approved the appointment of Nicole Salazar to the Starke County Library Board of Trustees. President Akers explained that Salazar has held this position for many years and noted that she serves as the representative for multiple schools. She is the joint-appointee for NJ-SP and Oregon-Davis and the Culver Community School Corporation as well.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Security Updated at Starke County Annex Building

Posted on January 15, 2019
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

A single-point entry will now be featured at the Starke County Annex Building No. 1 in Knox.

Patrons needing to visit a department inside the building will be required to use the lower level entrance facing Pearl Street where a security checkpoint is located.  A resident will need to go through the body scanner-type metal detector exactly like the equipment used at the Starke County Courthouse.  A wand-type metal detector may also be used by a security officer stationed at the facility, if necessary.  Bags or purses may also be subject to a search.

The effort is a response to a heightened awareness of security needs at all government buildings as witnessed across the country.

Those attending government meetings in the annex building for the last two months have also been greeted by the full-standing body scanner and a security guard to ensure the safety of those gathered at the public forums.

Alternative Well Plan Presented to North Judson Town Council Members

Posted on January 15, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Project officials are addressing concerns over plans for an above-ground well enclosure at Norwayne Field.

Project Engineer Rob Bellucci from CommonWealth Engineers came before the North Judson Town Council last week with a proposed project amendment.

As a reminder, the Town is moving forward with the addition of an off-site well to address an Indiana Department of Environmental Management requirement. Project officials told members and meeting attendees last Monday that the placement of this well was also stipulated by IDEM.

Originally, there was a plan to place it more out of the way but when IDEM officials came in for a site check, they determined the proposed location wasn’t going to work and specified the well would have to be placed at the current location due to stringent setback requirements.

Since the location cannot be changed this far into the project, Project Manager Belluci coordinated with contractors to come up with another solution. He said they could eliminate the above ground well house and construct a ‘pit-less’ type well that would place 95 percent of the well underground.

He noted that with this version, there would only be a small duct line pipe protruding out of the ground. He added that the option to include a decorative, rock-like feature to disguise the pipe has been incorporated into the amended plan.

Bellucci said that with the plan amendments, the net impact on the project cost was an increase of $21,700.

He added, “We do have sufficient contingency funds built into the job to cover this cost and should the town elect to pursue this option, we would obviously, actively work with the contractors during construction to come up with some other value engineering options to offset this cost.”

The general consensus from the council members who weighed in on the matter was that this was a good solution to the problem but no official actions were taken at the time.

Bellucci specified that the proposed project amendment would not be officially incorporated into the plans until the crews selected to perform the work are under contract.

He said once the construction contracts are signed then change orders can be executed. The change order will only be submitted if council members decide to carry forward with amended plan.

North Judson-San Pierre School Board to Meet Tonight

Posted on January 15, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The North Judson-San Pierre School Board members are expected to consider next year’s school calendar when they meet tonight.

The approval of an appointee for the Starke County Library Board will also be up for board consideration. There will be time set aside for board members to discuss any other business deemed necessary and citizens in attendance will have a chance to speak before the meeting is adjourned.

After the regular meeting concludes, an NJ-SP Board of Finance meeting will be held. Members are anticipated to elect a president and secretary and approve the depository bank.

The meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the Central Office Board Meeting Room on the North Judson-San Pierre campus.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Starke County EMS Receives Another Donation for Lucas Device

Posted on January 14, 2019
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Another Starke County ambulance will be equipped with another Lucas Device, thanks to the generosity of the Knox VFW Post #748.

Starke County EMS Director Travis Clary told the Starke County Commissioners last week that the $15,000 donation from the Knox VFW Post #748 will purchase the piece of equipment.  The Lucas Device delivers automated chest compressions at the recommended depth and rate with no pauses.  With this upcoming purchase, all three primary ambulances will be equipped with the life-saving equipment.

With this recent donation, the VFW has donated $30,000 toward the purchase of the equipment for the EMS Department.

Clary also presented a quote to the commissioners for a new cardiac monitor to replace one that recently failed.

“These cardiac monitors are state-required for paramedic ambulances,” said Clary.  “They measure blood pressure, pulse oximeter, cardiovert, the fast heart rate, they pace the slow heart rate, they defibrillate, they do everything. They come with a big price tag at $21,158.”

The commissioners approved the purchase with the $6,000 trade-in value for the failed monitor.  Clary said the device will arrive in about a week.

The county council will have to decide if they want to finance the device like what they previously approved with the purchase of two similar devices last year.  It was a five-year, zero percent financing option.  They will discuss that next week.

New Furnace and Air Conditioning Unit Needed at North Judson Town Hall

Posted on January 14, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

When North Judson Town Council members met for their first meeting of the year, they learned that a new furnace and air conditioning unit is needed in Town Hall.

Current Town Superintendent Marshall Horstmann told council members last Monday that the existing unit has a crack in the heat exchanger.

Horstmann said the first quote he received came from Stacy Heating and Air and it accounted for a complete new unit as well as crane rental, labor, equipment and material.

Councilwoman Wendy Hoppe asked if he would be able to get two more companies to bid on the replacement project since there is a requirement that three quotes must be received. Horstmann said he would obtain some more quotes that could be presented to the council for consideration at a future meeting.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Starke County Commissioners Finalize Sale of Highway Equipment

Posted on January 12, 2019
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Commissioners finalized paperwork for the purchase of two pieces of highway equipment from the Marshall County Highway Department.

Starke County Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler said the highway workers are familiar with the chipper box and distributor after having to borrow the equipment from Marshall County over the summer.  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, among other uses.

Ritzler said the county will be saving money by purchasing the equipment in his manner.

“The 9.8 percent reduction in the budget – remember when I said that made us switch our vehicle purchases a little bit?  It went from a new chipper and distributor to used ones.  That saved us a lot of money – almost a whole $300,000 right there,” said Ritzler.

The purchase price was for $60,000 which is $30,000 each for the chipper box and distributor.

The commissioners approved the intergovernmental resolution with Marshall County Monday night in order to complete the transaction.

North Judson Fire Chief Addresses Recent Runs with Town Council

Posted on January 12, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The North Judson-Wayne Township Volunteer Fire Department has been busy recently, according to Fire Chief Joe Leszek.

Chief Leszek gave Town Council members a brief synopsis of some of the department’s runs during Monday night’s meeting.

He explained, “From November 28th to December 30 we had 29 calls. We had nineteen medical, four 10-50 car accidents, one brush fire, two structure fires, one call was a gas odor call and then we had two power lines down.

He noted they’ve also fielded a number of calls in January so they were actually up to more than 30 calls, as of Monday night’s meeting.

Leszek asked the council members they would prefer to receive information from his department in paper copies or if they’d rather have it emailed over. The general consensus was to have the reports sent electronically.

The chief said he’d acquire everyone’s email addresses so he could do that from now on. Leszek mentioned that he will regularly send department breakdowns like the one he delivered during the meeting. He added he will also include how many runs the individual firefighters have responded to throughout the year.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

We Have A New Website!

Thank you VERY VERY much to our IT person - Tim Kasten - for all the time he spent working to get our new website to work. You can visit it at

Starke County Commissioners Reorganize, Make Appointments

Posted on January 10, 2019
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Commissioners reorganized during their first meeting of the year.  Charlie Chesak was appointed as commission president, Kathy Norem was appointed Vice President while newly-elected Commissioner Bryan Cavendar was appointed secretary.  County Attorney Marty Lucas was retained as counsel.

The commissioner to contact for the jail is now Bryan Cavendar, Kathy Norem will handle courthouse and annex information, and Charlie Chesak will be the commissioner in charge of the highway department, EMS and landfill.

All department heads will stay the same in 2019.

More appointments can be found with this story here -> 2019 Starke County Appointments

Democratic Chairman Kenny Wallace mentioned that there are vacancies on the township advisory board positions in Jackson and Wayne Townships.  A caucus will be held to fill the necessary spots. A meeting is set for today to settle more information. If residents in those areas need more information, call the Starke County Clerk’s Office at 574-772-9160.

North Judson Town Council Reorganizes for the New Year

Posted on January 10, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The North Judson Town Council reorganized when the met Monday evening.

Councilman John Rowe will replace Councilwoman Wendy Hoppe as the President and Councilman Josh Brown was selected to be the Vice President.

Members also addressed various appointments during their first meeting of the year.

The town’s building inspector is an appointed position. Since last year’s inspector, Jeff Abrams, is no longer eligible after moving out of town, members appointed Nick Radke to the position.

Councilman James Young was appointed to serve on the Kankakee Iroquois Regional Planning Commission. He will be required to represent the town at various KIRPC meetings scheduled in January, May, July and October.

Clerk-Treasurer Andrew Rowe told members he has been coordinating with other appointments who have reached the end of their terms to determine if they wish to continue.

He added that he will put out an advertisement about seats that still need to be filled. So far, he knows there are three open seats on the unsafe building authority so he will put out an ad for those positions

Stellar Efforts Continue in Starke County

Posted on January 10, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Entities involved Starke County’s Stellar efforts are currently working to update their comprehensive plans to meet a program requirement set by the Office of Community and Rural Affairs.

Applicants can submit a letter of intent for this round of OCRA’s Regional Stellar Communities program any time between now and Friday, April 5th. Starke County Economic Development Foundation Executive Director Larry Wickert said that the current plan is to apply by this spring’s deadline.

However, he said the region’s readiness will be determined as Hamlet, North Judson and Starke County officials work on their comprehensive plans. All three entities will be working with HWC Engineering. Not only will this allow for general consistency but it will give officials a chance to spot similar goals throughout the process.

The City of Knox is also involved in Starke County’s Stellar initiative but they already have a viable comprehensive plan in place.

If Starke County’s region does submit a letter of intent for this round officials would find out in they’ve been selected as a finalist in May. Despite the fact that the application deadline is coming up in less than four months, Wickert said that individual comprehensive plans wouldn’t need to be completed until the fall.

At that time, the details laid out in each local plan would be incorporated into a regional development plan. The regional development plan would identify potential projects and the goals of the region as a whole.

The regional development plan would be due in September and it would only need to be submitted if Starke County’s region is selected as one of the finalists.   

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Position Open - Part-Time Library Clerk

Starke County Soccer Signups

1/15 NJ Area Baseball & Softball Meeting

1/12 Free Soup Luncheon

Municipal Primary Election Candidate Filing Begins Today

Posted on January 9, 2019
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Candidates wishing to file for office for this year’s Municipal Election cycle can do so in the county clerk’s office in Starke County and Pulaski County today.

In Starke County, the candidates for the City of Knox include Center 1, Center 2, Center 3 and Center 4 City Council seats, City Council At-Large seat, the Mayor of Knox, Clerk-Treasurer and Judge of the City Court.

Knox Mayor Dennis Estok has announced his intention to file for re-election.  Jeff Houston mentioned previously that he will not seek re-election as clerk-treasurer for the City of Knox.

Those open positions on the Hamlet Town Council and the North Judson Town Council and the Clerk-Treasurer will be determined by town conventions to be held later this year to be included on the General Election ballot in November.

In Pulaski County, Medaryville and Monterey positions will be on the May ballot with the clerk-treasurer seats available and all three board members in both municipalities.

According to a representative at the clerk’s office, the 2019 Medaryville Town Council positions will be elected to a one year term and then all seats will be on the ballot in 2020 to be on the county’s election cycle.  They will resume four-year terms at that time.

The Town of Monterey is working on an ordinance to move their election to the county’s election cycle.

The filing window closes Friday, Feb. 8 at noon local time in the Starke County Clerk’s Office and in the Pulaski County Clerk’s Office.

Starke County Highway Department Keeping Busy Despite Lack of Snow Removal

Posted on January 9, 2019
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

It’s unusual for the Starke County Highway Department to have nearly all of the materials hauled in for spring and summer operations in January, but Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler informed the commissioners Monday night that they’re doing just that.  With the lack of snow removal efforts this winter, crews have been busy with several other projects to prepare for the summer paving season and completing some minor bridge maintenance work during the down time.

Ritzler said the mild winter has saved money in the budget.

“We’ve saved about $7,000 in diesel, $600 in gas, $36,000 in salt savings, $17,000 in sand, $14,000 in driver overtime, $3,700 in mechanic overtime, for just under $80,000,” said Ritzler.  “That doesn’t include wear and tear saved on trucks and blade use and other costs associated with winter.  So, we’re ahead of the game.”

Ritzler recorded one inch of snow in December 2018 compared to 14 inches in 2017.  There were only 175 plow hours by all drivers in December 2018 compared to 1,632 hours in December 2017.

Ritzler also noted that Construction Inspection Supervisor Bob Lorenz has been able to inspect all of the county’s 661 culverts and structures less than 20 feet wide.

“More than 50 percent of our culverts are good, very good, or new while 186 of those are fair and 99 are poor.  Of those 99, 22 were deemed by Lorenz to be replaced.  We may raise that number like we did last year.  One reason why we don’t necessarily replace a poor culvert is that if it not damaging the roadway and there’s no drainage problem there’s really no reason to tear up the road to replace it.”

Ritzler stressed that crews are ready for when the snow comes.  Road salt is mixed and equipment is properly prepped for the season.

Proposed Legislation Would Increase Penalties for School Bus Stop Arm Violators

Posted on January 9, 2019
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

State legislators are looking to crack down on motorists who ignore stopped school buses. Under a bill filed by Senator Randy Head, failing to stop when a school bus arm is extended would go from a Class A infraction to a Class C misdemeanor.

Recklessly passing a school bus with its stop arm extended would increase from a Class B to a Class A misdemeanor, or from a Class A misdemeanor to a Level 6 felony if it causes injury. First-time offenders would also have their driving privileges suspended for 90 days, under the legislation, or one year for repeat offenders.

Head’s bill would also put new requirements on schools. Buses traveling on a state or U.S. highway would be banned from loading or unloading students at a place that would require them to cross a roadway, unless no alternative is available. On other streets and highways, buses would have to pick up and drop off students as close to the right-hand curb as possible. On top of that, schools would have to review their bus routes and safety policies each year by September 1.

Meanwhile, the bill calls on the state school bus committee to work with the Indiana Department of Education to develop a list of bus safety guidelines, to be posted on the department’s website.

During a press conference Tuesday, Head mentioned the recent school bus accidents that have claimed the lives of four children in the area, according to a subsequent press release. He said he’s hopeful the legislation “would help prevent similar accidents from occurring by encouraging drivers to slow down, follow the rules of the road and keep the safety of our children in mind.”

The bill has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

North Judson Town Superintendent Announces Resignation

Posted on January 9, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

North Judson Town Superintendent Marshall Horstmann announced his plan to resign from his position during Monday night’s Town Council meeting.

At this end of his report, Horstmann informed the council that he was submitting his formal two weeks notice. He said that his final day working for the town will be Monday, January 21st.

Horstmann added that at 4 p.m. on that day, he will turn his phone and keys over to Assistant Town Superintendent Randy Schwartz. He explained that he’ll be working with Schwartz in the coming days to ensure he’s aware of everything the position entails.

“During the next two weeks, I plan to make sure Randy is up to date on instructions he will need to fill out water and wastewater reports with IDEM.” He continued, “I will work to make sure that the transition is as smooth as possible for my crew.”

Horstmann thanked all the devoted employees he’s worked closely with in the department and extended his gratitude to them for working well together as a team.

Councilman James Young took a moment at the end of the meting to thank Horstmann for his dedication to the Town while serving as an employee over the last 14 years.

Councilwoman Wendy Hoppe added that Horstmann’s shoes will be tough to fill and thanked his wife, Marsha, for the support she’s provided throughout her husband’s time as Town Superintendent.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Starke County Commissioners to Look for Different Radio Communications Vendor

Posted on January 8, 2019
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

With the lack of resolution to the ongoing radio communications with the Starke County’s firefighters, the Starke County Commissioners will be looking for a different radio vendor.

IT Director Richard Franks presented an invoice from current vendor J&K Communications for work done on radios and the radio tower at North Judson-Wayne Township Fire Department and Railroad Township.   Eric Wappel, who is the captain at the North Judson-Wayne Township Fire Department, asked the commissioners to not pay that invoice as nothing has been repaired.  He said firefighters can’t receive pager notifications and can’t talk to each other with their radios without having to be inside the fire truck.

He also gave other commentary.

“On Sept. 12, a man had a heart attack and it was witnessed.  He ended up passing away.  We had a CPR-certified firefighter less than one mile away who didn’t know about this incident because his pager didn’t break.  Our squad, which made scene before the ambulance, could have had a paramedic on it to provide advanced care on arrival, but his pager also didn’t break.  Up to this day almost every call I have someone tells me that their pager didn’t break.  Our VH radio system has always had some issues, but since springtime it’s been broken.  Along with pagers not alerting us to calls, or breaking as it’s commonly called, our handheld radios will not work.  We’ve asked multiple times and we’ve had all departments in here before to tell you that J&K is not the answer.  They’ve told us probably10 times that they’ve fixed our system.  As of a few days ago, it still doesn’t work,” stated Wappel.

He also discussed an issue with frequency changes.

Wappel agreed to produce a list of possible vendors for the commissioners to consider other than J&K Communications.  Commissioner Kathy Norem agreed that it’s critical that the county’s emergency services have the necessary equipment and capabilities for communications.

Interviews will be set up with the commissioners and fire personnel from each department to get a qualified vendor.  Meetings will be set up once the vendors are contacted and interest is confirmed.

The invoice was not approved or discussed beyond that point.

North Judson Officials Seek Public Input About Updating Outdated Comprehensive Plan

Posted on January 8, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Officials in North Judson are seeking public assistance to secure funding in order to comprise an updated Comprehensive Plan, as the Town’s hasn’t been amended for more than 20 years.

KIRPC Community Development Planner Emily Albaugh appeared before the town council on Monday and informed them that North Judson did not receive the Office of Community and Rural Affairs grant they applied for in November.

She explained that the state is currently going through a transitional period and they’re now scoring their planning grant applications the same way they score construction grants. Albaugh said that made the process a bit more competitive and added a few new requirements. 

Some feedback the Town received from OCRA was that there wasn’t enough community input in the initial application.

In order to gather more responses from the public, a survey has been comprised which asks citizens to reflect on various items related to North Judson and the necessity of a comprehensive plan. That survey can be accessed on the Town of North Judson Facebook Page.

While the Town Council recently decided to take action about the comprehensive plan because of a requirement for the Regional Stellar Initiative, they’re apparently long overdue for an update according to Albaugh and Clerk-Treasurer Andrew Rowe.

Rowe commented, “It’s been a long time since we’ve had one, so that’s a part of it too, just having a direction to look toward is a big deal.”

Albaugh added, “And we looked it up, 1956 was the original comprehensive plan and it was amended in, I believe, 1998 is what we were able to find…so there’s a definite need.”

Printed copies of the survey can be picked up at North Judson Town Hall. The online survey will be open until this Friday at noon.

Albaugh said she will be in town that day to collect the hard copies and take some photos to include in the application, which is another new requirement.

While a few changes were made to account for the new scoring, the conditions in the application will remain the same. In order to cover the cost of the $44,000 Comprehensive Plan project, the Town is applying for $39,600 Community Development Block Grant that would require a local match of $4,400

Albaugh said that the adjusted grant application will be resubmitted on January 15th and the award announcement should be made by the end of the month or in early February.

Click the following link to directly access North Judson’s Comprehensive Plan survey.

OCRA Accepting Stellar Letters of Intent

Posted on January 8, 2019
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The opportunity for those involved in a regional partnership that intends to seek an application in the Regional Stellar Communities Designation Program can do so now until Friday, April 5 at 4 p.m. ET in Indianapolis.

The regional collaboration includes neighboring towns, cities and counties.  Eligible participants include local units of government that are a county, city or an incorporated town that participate in the Indiana Community Development Block Grant program.

According to the Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA), the Stellar Communities Program is a multi-year, multi-million dollar investment that works with communities in the development of regional development plans, promoting local and regional partnerships and increasing economic development.

The Marshall County Crossroads Regional Stellar Initiative was a finalist in the 2018 application process, but did not receive the designation.  Another bid by the group is expected this year.  Starke County officials are attempting to get the paperwork started to be an applicant in this year’s effort.

All participating communities must commit at least four years to the project.

Those selected as finalists will be notified this spring.

Monday, January 7, 2019

2/5 to 3/19 Strengthening Families Program

Is 2019 The Year You Start Searching?

If you decided that 2019 is the year to dig into your family genealogy, then these programs at the Valparaiso Public Library will be of interest.

1/15/2019 NJWTPL Board of Finance Meeting

The North Judson Wayne Township Public Library will be holding their Board of Finance Meeting on January 15th during the Board of Trustees meeting that starts at 6:30 pm.

Friday, January 4, 2019

North Judson Town Council Creates Assistant Town Superintendent Position

Posted on January 4, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

A resolution establishing the position of Assistant Town Superintendent was approved when North Judson Town Council members met last week.

According to Clerk-Treasurer Andrew Rowe, the language in the resolution states that the position of Assistant Town Superintendent can be held by an employee of the utility department who possesses all four certifications required to perform the duties associated with the job.

The resolution also states that, in the event of Town Superintendent Marshall Horstmann’s absence, the individual in the Assistant’s position would assume his responsibilities and serve as the point of contact for the Department.

Rowe mentioned that since utility employee Randy Schwartz has the necessary qualifications and has already been acting in this capacity, without the official title, he will most likely be the one to assume the position.

The clerk-treasurer noted that the new position and wage was included in the 2019 Salary Ordinance, which was also approved by the council before the end of the year.

He explained that when a member of the utility crew receives a certification, their pay increases and when all four certifications are received, the employee’s compensation tops out at $17.82 per hour. The individual who serves as the Assistant Town Superintendent would receive an additional 25 cents per hour, bringing them up to an hourly wage of $18.07.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Ride the Rails and Learn Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana History

Did you know that during its 90-mile-long run, trains on the South Shore pass near or through two units of the National Park Service (NPS), two affiliated NPS units, and four state parks – including the Indiana Dunes and Potato Creek? Did you know that the South Shore Line has been deemed America’s last electric interurban railroad and is more than 100 years old? Where does the South Shore cross the path of Abraham Lincoln’s famed funeral train between Washington, D.C. and Illinois? For answers and more information on all of these topics - and much more - you’ll have to join the Midwest Rail Rangers for an upcoming ‘history talk’ on the South Shore Line.

If you are interested in riding, check the Midwest Rail Rangers’ website - - for a listing of upcoming program dates. They currently include: January 5, January 19, January 26, February 2, February 23, February 24, March 2, March 9, March 23, April 6, April 13, and April 27. Eastbound onboard programs are presented on the train that leaves Chicago-Millennium Station at 8:40am CT and westbound programs are presented on the train that leaves South Bend Airport Station at 1:05pm ET. Rail Rangers programs are presented in only one car of the train, where seating is strictly available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Reservations are not needed and programs are presented at no additional charge to passengers who hold a valid South Shore Line ticket. The round-trip cost between Chicago and South Bend for adults is just $28.50!

The Rail Rangers’ onboard educational programs are great for families too as up to three children thirteen (13) years of age or under ride the South Shore Line free when accompanied by a parent on all weekend, holiday and off-peak trains. Select programs also feature a ‘Junior Rail Rangers’ program, where children, teens, and even kids at heart can earn a prize by completing an activity book that aids in their learning of Chicago and Indiana history.

If you can’t make one of the Midwest Rail Rangers’ formal on-board educational programs you can still learn about the route. The organization has released a detailed 120-page route guidebook, e-book, and MP3 podcast covering the landmarks along the South Shore Line route; it is available for sale at Proceeds fund the organization’s expenses in presenting programs between Chicago and South Bend.

NJ Town Council Approves Ordinance that Makes Property Owners Responsible for Service Fees

Posted on January 3, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

When North Judson Town Council members met in a special session at the end of December, they approved an ordinance establishing a policy that makes property owners responsible for the collection and payment of service fees at all of their properties.

This ordinance was constructed by Town Attorney Justin Schramm, at the request of Billing Clerk Jennifer Vanek.

Vanek came before the council with this suggestion during their first meeting in December, noting consistent problems with utility bills being in the name of individual renters. At that time, she noted that Winamac recently passed a similar ordinance after facing the same type of issues.

In addition to stating that property owners will now be responsible for collecting and paying utility service fees at all of their properties, North Judson’s ordinance gives owners six months to get the utilities switched over to their name. That means that by June 30th of 2019, all properties must be in the owner’s name.

Since the ordinance deals with fees, Clerk-Treasurer Andrew Rowe said it had to be published before it could go into effect. The notice was initially posted in the newspaper on December 28th and the ordinance will go into effect on January 27th.

Town officials noted that there is no charge associated with switching the fees over and that property owners can take care of that by contacting or visiting North Judson Town Hall, located at 310 Lane Street.

If you have any questions about the ordinance itself or the process of switching over the utilities call 574-896-3340.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

NJ-SP School Board Learns More About Graduation Pathways

Posted on January 2, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

North Judson-San Pierre School Board members are now more informed about the new state-required graduation pathways expected to apply to incoming freshman in the 2019-2020 school year.

Jr./Sr. High School Principal Jim Polite provided a detailed presentation about the anticipated changes during the school board’s final meeting in 2018.

Polite explained that beginning with the class of 2023, students who are currently in 8th grade, will be required to complete a graduation pathway to be eligible to receive a diploma.

Polite noted that there is an advantage to this for students in higher grade levels who struggle with ISTEP testing, as they will have the opportunity to graduate through fulfilling pathway requirements instead of relying on their test scores.

The principal shared that here are three components of the graduation pathway. Students still have to earn a total of 42 credits through out their high school career.

While the number of credits required has not changed, Polite said there will be more of an emphasis on students getting all their credits as freshman and sophomores so they can fulfill other obligations associated with the new graduation pathways method.

Under the new requirements, students must demonstrate employability skills and display postsecondary-ready competencies.

There are a few different ways that NJ-SP students will be able to demonstrate employability skills; through project-based, service-based or work-based learning experiences. Polite explained that athletics, clubs and academic teams will count toward this component.

He noted that it will include a reflective element, where students will be required to explain how their participation assisted with developing employability skills.

Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin added that coaches and sponsors will review the student reflections to ensure that they’re accurately describing their level of involvement.

Ways that students can fulfill the post-secondary competency requirement will be by either earning a technical or academic honors diploma, achieving the required scores on the ACT, SAT or ASVAB, or earning so many credits in AP or dual-credit courses.

Students could also fulfill this requirement by completing a career and technical education concentration area through vocational education or completing an approved apprenticeship.

Polite mentioned that this component may prove difficult for some but school officials are working to make sure all necessary resources will be available, should a student require additional guidance.   

Polite shared one of the benefits of the new requirements, stating that it is more personalized and gives students the chance to explore their specific field of interest prior to entering the workforce or heading off to college.

However, he also shared some challenges that he expects to face, such as establishing a consistent procedure of tracking and monitoring a student’s progress and making sure that the school corporation continues to offer as many opportunities as they can so students can achieve these new requirements.

School officials continue to fine-tune NJ-SP’s graduation pathways procedures but Polite said he just wanted to highlight some of the general information about the changes so that school board members would be aware of what’s to come.

North Judson Town Council Selects ONI Risk Partners as Property and Casualty Insurance Carrier

Posted on January 2, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

North Judson Town Council members selected a new property and casualty insurance carrier when they met last week.

According to Clerk-Treasurer Andrew Rowe, quotes were received from ONI Risk Partners as well as the Town’s provider over the last few years, First Source. Members voted unanimously to go with ONI Risk Partners in 2019.

Clerk-Treasurer Rowe noted that the Town’s current policy with First Source will end on January 10th.

In addition to offering a less costly deductible, ONI representatives also provided the Town with a cost-free insurance assessment and proposed multiple ways they could improve coverage.

They also highlighted some additional services that would be included if they were selected, such as assessing the employee handbook and performing mock audits to ensure compliance.