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Thursday, February 28, 2019

Quote of the Month


Starke County Election Board Discusses Courthouse Elevator Project

Posted on February 28, 2019
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Election Board members discussed, at length, Wednesday morning the elevator construction project at the Starke County Courthouse in Knox.

The commissioners gave a project timeline during their most recent meeting that will affect early voting in the May Primary Municipal Election.  It will affect where early voting will take place leading up to May 7.

When there is an elevator concern, early voting is typically held in a room on the first floor of the Starke County Courthouse where it is a secured location and equipment can be stored properly to prevent security issues.  However, that room is expected to be used by the contractors for storage of tools or other equipment throughout the duration of the construction of the elevator which is expected to continue through the early voting time.

Starke County Election Board member Peg Brettin researched satellite locations around the City of Knox, but couldn’t find a place where security of the machines and voters would meet requirements.

During last week’s commissioners meeting, it was suggested that if early voting has to be housed in the second floor conference room that members of Starke County EMS can assist early voters up the stairs to cast a vote.  The possibility of carrying voters up the stairs to vote was raised as a concern, which Election Board Members Harrison Fields and Peg Brettin found unacceptable.

“This idea to carry people up these stairs is absolutely ridiculous,” said Fields.

Brettin commented, “These people should deserve the same right and have the same access to a polling place disabled or not.  This is regarding the voters and not the convenience of a contractor.”

“That’s my position,” added Fields.  “I don’t think it’s fair to the voters.”

Fields and Brettin believe that the contractors’ equipment can be stored in a different location to allow early voting to be accessible on the first floor of the courthouse.

They both commented that all of the Election Board members should have been notified of the construction meetings so this issue could have been remedied sooner.

The matter will be taken back to the Starke County Commissioners at their meeting on Monday, March 4.

Two North Judson Park Board Members Plan to Resign Due to Well Site Opposition

Posted on February 28, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

North Judson Officials will be seeking two new members for the Park Board after opposition to the well site at Norwayne Field caused two members to tender their resignations.

When members met for their second meeting of the month they learned that long-time Park Board members Rich Akers and John Origer plan to resign as soon as construction on the well commences.

In their resignation letter, the members noted that the Park Board wasn’t sufficiently consulted about the location of the well site. They said their concerns go beyond issues with the aesthetics because they also fear the placement could pose a safety hazard to individuals who utilize the tobogganing hill. 

They also cited potential limitations to future park development and periodic damage from maintenance vehicles as reasons that they oppose the well site.

Town officials reiterated that they are unable to move the well site as it was designated by officials with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. An original location that was more “out of the way” did not meet IDEM’s stringent setback requirements.

Members voted unanimously to accept the pending resignations.

Clerk-Treasurer Andrew Rowe informed the council that there is an ordinance on the books that requires that the Park Board contains two democrats and two republicans. Officials said once they confirm the political parties of the remaining members, they will be seeking potential appointments that will keep the board balanced.

As a reminder, this project is an IDEM requirement, as the town is currently not equipped with a back-up well offsite.

Council members noted that once they were aware of the concerns, project officials did everything in their power to lessen the impact, including switching the type of well to a subterranean model so a majority of the equipment will be housed underground. Money has also been set aside to purchase a rock-like well cover that will disguise the items that will stick out so that they can maintain a natural look.

Starke County Commissioners Discuss GPS Devices in County Vehicles

Posted on February 28, 2019
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Commissioners revisited the topic of installing GPS systems on the county vehicles.

Commissioner Charlie Chesak said a couple of department heads approached him opposed to the idea.  Chesak commented that he thought it was a waste of money to have them on the vehicles.  Plus, they would be using the highway department’s GPS devices and that’s where he said they should stay.  They could purchase new ones, but thought they don’t need to be used.

Commissioner Kathy Norem replied saying that the main purpose of the GPS monitors on the county-owned vehicles is to get a better liability insurance rate and they can prove whereabouts of the vehicle in case a lawsuit was to be filed.  She added that they’re there for safety purposes.

The action of tracking where an employee is isn’t necessarily why the devices are being installed on the vehicles, according to Norem.

Commissioner Bryan Cavendar asked about enforcement and monitoring, and Norem stated that could be up to the department head.

Cavendar made a motion to dismiss the installation of the GPS devices, which would reverse a previous motion to install them.  Chesak seconded the motion.  Cavendar and Chesak presented an affirmative vote while Norem opposed the vote.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Starke County Recycling Site Open


Starke County Commissioners Approve SCILL Draft Grant

Posted on February 27, 2019
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Commissioners discussed a contract with the SCILL Center for county support for programs.

The commissioners annually support the SCILL Center with an $80,000 amount each year for the programs offered.  Commissioner Kathy Norem commented that they asked for an additional $75,166 which was not included in this agreement.

As part of the agreement, if SCILL can show an analysis of how the organization enhances economic and social conditions in Starke County, improve employment opportunities, along with enhancing locally marketable skills in the workforce, the commissioners may consider an increase in support next year.

Norem noted that these goals were discussed with SCILL Center officials in detail in previous negotiations.

The commissioners commented that they are grateful for the companies, businesses and industries that are located in Starke County and who employ many residents here, but salaries and wages just aren’t competitive.  Money earned in surrounding counties appears higher and the commissioners want to be competitive in attracting workers to work locally and improve the economy in Starke County.  They hope that SCILL can be instrumental in making the change, as well as officials from the Starke County Economic Development Foundation.   

The agreement was unanimously approved by the commissioners.  It will now go to SCILL Center officials for their consideration.

Members of the public encouraged economic leaders to do more to attract business and opportunities to Starke County.  The commissioners commented that lengthy discussions have been held with economic leaders to help improve the forecast of employment in the county.

North Judson Officials Discuss the Installation of Outlets on New NIPSCO Poles

Posted on February 27, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

North Judson officials are planning ahead to make sure they’ll be able to line Highway 10 with lighted decorations when the holiday season rolls around. 

During his report at the second meeting of the month, Interim Town Superintendent Randy Schwartz informed town council members that NIPSCO has been replacing poles along SR 10. He explained that when they replace the poles, the do not replace the outlets.

Council President John Rowe mentioned that while this may not pose an immediate issue, it will present a problem when it comes time to decorate for the holidays.

Rowe said, “We’ve identified that we have a problem, right? The problem is we put Christmas lights down through here, it doesn’t matter if you do it, I do it, she does it or some company does, we have a problem because we don’t have power.”

Schwartz said a certified electrician will likely need to be hired in order to do the installation. He told Rowe he will check into exactly how many poles will need the outlets and noted that he will do some research to see who they could get to do the work.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

3/2 Do You Have A Passion for the Outdoors?


The Department of Natural Resources is conducting a job fair for seasonal positions at Tippecanoe River State Park.  Onsite interviews will be conducted at the job fair, and priority will be given to those who pre-register online.

Come prepared with a copy of your resume!

March 2, 2019 / 12pm – 3 pm ET
     Pulaski County Public Library
     121 S. Riverside Drive
     Winamac, Indiana  46996

To complete your registration, visit www.surveymonkey.com/r/2019TippecanoeRiverStateParkJobFair.

Be sure to specify the position(s) and location(s) you would like to be considered for on your application.

Available positions include: 
Gate Attendant
Laborer

Town of North Judson Awarded Grant to Assist with Comprehensive Plan

Posted on February 25, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

In order to help update the comprehensive plan for the Town of North Judson, officials applied for a grant through the Office of Community and Rural Affairs back in January.

Clerk-Treasurer Andrew Rowe provided members with an update about the grant last Monday.

Rowe shared, “We were awarded the grant…It was good news to hear we got that with Stellar in mind but also just having a plan. The last master plan, I believe, is from 1956 so it’s been awhile.”

As a reminder, to cover the cost of the $44,000 Comprehensive Plan project, officials applied for a $39,600 Community Development Block Grant that requires a local match of $4,400. Officials will be working with HWC Engineering on this project.

Starke County Economic Development Foundation Director Larry Wickert noted that town officials will not need to rush the creation of their comprehensive plan to coincide with the County’s regional Stellar efforts.

Wickert said, “There’s a letter of intent that we all want to sign coming up in May and I just wanted you to know that it’s important to go ahead and do that this year.” He continued, “You can finish your comprehensive plan through the summer, you don’t have to have that done before we do that.”

Clerk-Treasurer Rowe stated that he will continue coordinating with Shawn Cain from the Kankakee Iroquois Planning Commission (KIRPC) and representatives from HWC Engineering about the service agreements related to the comprehensive plan project. He said those documents will likely come before council for consideration during their first meeting in March.

Starke County Officials to Look into Barking Dog Ordinance

Posted on February 26, 2019
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Starke County officials are looking into creating an ordinance to silence barking dogs in unincorporated areas of the county.

Commissioner Kathy Norem brought up the subject last week after receiving calls from a Toto resident asking for help in getting enforcement into dogs who incessantly bark.  She said she’s received phone calls from other residents in the past few months with similar complaints.

Usually when a resident complains to the sheriff’s department about barking dogs, the issue is taken to the commissioners as there isn’t a county ordinance that addresses barking dogs or fines associated with repeat calls to the same residence.

Sheriff Bill Dulin said that he would draft an ordinance for consideration at the commissioners’ next meeting on Monday, March 4.  Several other ordinances and ordinance amendments that Sheriff Dulin presented to the commissioners at an earlier meeting will be addressed in March.  One ordinance addressed an amendment to the golf cart ordinance that would require registration only during the open registration time.  A fee would be imposed if it occurs outside the registration time.  The other ordinances discuss animals running at large, an inmate booking fee, and home and business alarm calls.  County Attorney Marty Lucas is currently working to finalize those ordinances for approval.

North Judson-San Pierre Incorporating Curriculum Audit Suggestions in Updated Corporation Plans

Posted on February 26, 2019
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The North Judson-San Pierre School Corporation is making headway in addressing the some of the concerns brought forward during last fall’s curriculum audit, according to Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin.

She told the school board last week that school improvement leaders have spent the last couple months developing a curriculum mapping format. “It’s going to be a very simple document on Google Sheets, and it will have what the standards are, how they teach it, what resources they use,” Zupin explained. “And they can just pull it out and look at it every so often and make adjustments, as needed.”

Zupin said they also came up with a schedule to guide teachers’ discussions about data and curriculum over the next school year. “An example of that would be that at the junior/senior high, seven, eight, nine, 10, 11 English teachers can talk about making sure that they are overlapping or that there aren’t gaps,” she said. “But then also, they need to have a conversation with the elementary, sixth grade, in particular, fifth grade English teachers, to make sure that they’re all aligned. We haven’t had time for them to do that, and we have created time for them. That’s important.”

The curriculum audit also suggested enhancing the schools’ use of technology. Zupin said the school corporation will be able to address that, thanks to a recent $30,000 planning grant. “That will help us get organized, so that we have a plan so that every student, when they’re here at school, will have a device. So that is the plan.”

Zupin said school officials are in the process of reviewing the corporation’s strategic, wellness, and technology plans. The updated plans will be unveiled to the entire staff in March and April.

Law Enforcement Agencies across Indiana Plan to Increase Patrols this March

Posted on February 26, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

As spring sets in, temperatures start to rise and winter ice and snow recede from the roadways, authorities report that drivers typically become more tempted to increase their speeds and take more risks behind the wheel.

To address this anticipated spike in risky driving behaviors, multiple law enforcement agencies across the state of Indiana will be increasing patrols for aggressive driving violations this March.

The Culver Police Department and La Porte County Sheriff’s Department will join with about 230 Hoosier law-enforcement agencies that will be upping their efforts during the month of March.

According to information provided by authorities, failing to yield the right of way is one of the top causes of crashes that lead to injuries and deaths. Other top causes of crashes include following too closely and unsafe lane movement violations.

Additional aggressive driving violations can be traveling at a speed too fast for weather conditions or an unsafe speed in general, disregarding traffic signals or signs and improper passing, turning and lane usage.

Police officials shared that the rules of the road are not only the law – they are designed to help everyone reach their destination safely and efficiently. The purpose of the informing the public about the increased patrols is to prevent unsafe driving and save lives.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Starke County Council Approves New Line Items in the Sheriff’s Budget

Posted on February 25, 2019
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Starke County Sheriff Bill Dulin asked the county council members last week to create new line items in the sheriff’s budget to ensure money is being deposited into separate accounts for different aspects at the sheriff’s department.

He explained that money received for funds by use of confidential informants for undercover drug buy operations should have its own account with money transferred from the Therapeutic Community.  The county does receive that money back if requested in a court order when a suspect is sentenced in a case.

Sheriff Dulin said the money is needed as Starke County leads the state in heroin overdoses and this drug buy money could help stop criminals from the vicious cycle of drug abuse.

After some discussion, the council did approve the creation of the fund and to transfer $5,000 in that fund.

On top of that, the council members approved the creation of a line item for the Fostering a Recovery Mindset (F.A.R.M.) program that will hold funds from the sale of produce and other items the inmates sell while participating in the program.

North Judson School Board Considering Wednesday Family Night Policy

Posted on February 25, 2019
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

North Judson-San Pierre students may soon get one night a week off from extracurricular activities.

Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin told the school board last week that starting next school year, she would like to designate Wednesday nights as “family nights,” “Which means that no games are scheduled or extracurricular after 5:30,” she explained, “and if you notice, our Wednesday schedule is light when it comes to athletics. That’s because all of the schools around here have it, and so that gives us a light schedule. The concept is that every family should have one night when they’re not running all over the place.”

Board members seemed to be in favor of the change, noting that a similar policy had been in place decades ago.

Zupin said a couple of details would still have to be worked out, such as whether the schools’ athletic facilities could still be rented to outside organizations on Wednesday nights. “We have a lot of, I would call it, traveling teams and AAU teams that practice after hours here,” she said. “They fill out the request forms. But I’m not for sure we should allow that on Wednesday nights because those are our students and it defeats the purpose.” Board members seemed split on that issue but generally agreed that 5:30 was a good cut-off time for extracurricular events.

Zupin said she’d continue to research what other schools do, and the school board is expected to vote on an official policy in the next couple months. But she pointed out that it would take a while for the “family night” policy to take full effect, since the athletic department schedules games years in advance.

North Judson Officials Asked to Consider Designs for Town Emblem

Posted on February 25, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

As development continues on the official website for North Judson, Council members are being asked to weigh in on a new potential emblem.

Clerk-Treasurer Andrew Rowe recently told council members that much of the content has been added to the page. However, he noted that since they’re still in the design phase, officials have the ability to take a look at it and suggest formatting changes or any other recommendations. 

Rowe said, “They have all of our pictures, all of our code, all of our ordinances, all of that. A ton of information they have, most all of it’s up.” He continued, “I’ll share the user name and password with you guys so you’ll be able to get on and log in.”   

In addition to contributing ideas for the website’s design, Rowe asked the members to be thinking of a symbol that they could use to represent the town. He said currently the town doesn’t really have an official emblem.

Rowe told members, “Up in the left corner is just a blank, generic, seal of nothing. You know they left a space for a town emblem so I have kind of been kicking some ideas, thinking about it so I just wanted to put it to the council as something that we might need to establish.”


Clerk-Treasurer Rowe proposed utilizing the town’s current letterhead as inspiration.

He explained the letter head features mint leaves which could stand for agriculture. He said he’s also hoping to incorporate the railroads and other key symbols of North Judson.

Members discussed the topic briefly, bringing up a few different suggestions including how to best utilize space with the potential wording and incorporating the blue jay symbol.

Rowe took notes on the recommendations and asked members them to let him know if they have any other ideas over the next few weeks. He said he plans to come back to the council with some potential emblem designs in the future. 

Starke County Fire Association Looking Toward First Responder Reimbursement

Posted on February 23, 2019
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Fire Association members are currently reviewing the First Responder program operations.

Starke County Council President Dave Pearman, who is also active with the Washington Township Fire Department, said discussions have started about the possible reimbursement to fire departments for answering calls that require First Responder assistance.

“What I’d like to propose to the commissioners that we form a committee and do some discovery on that and look at some possibilities on how we could do that,” stated Pearman.

Councilman and Hamlet Fire Chief Brad Hazelton explained the basis for the conversation.

Hazelton commented, “The big thing is that the city, towns and townships are kinda wanting to know, ‘hey, why are my trucks running all the time to all these medical calls and we’re getting nothing in return?’”

Pearman is looking for a few council members, a commissioner, EMS Director Travis Clary, and the President and Vice President of the Starke County Fire Association to be part of the committee to find a possible solution.  Pearman believes he has an idea on how to work on it with budget figures.

Commissioner Charlie Chesak said he would be a part of the organization and Clary agreed to the discussions.  Pearman and Hazelton will serve on the committee as well.  Once communication with other committee members is made, a meeting will be scheduled to begin discussions. 

Event Goers will be “Celebrating Our Local Champions” At this Year’s North Judson Mint Fest

Posted on February 23, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The theme of the 2019 North Judson Mint Fest has been decided.

According to information provided by Event Organizer Donna Henry this year’s theme will be “Celebrating Our Local Champions” and the State Championship Volleyball Team and Coaches will serve as the Grand Marshals for the parade. 

Festival representatives said they want to honor the girls’ volleyball team for being the first and only athletic team to win a state championship.

They’re also encouraging other local champions to join in the celebration by having an entry in the parade.  They noted that the entries can come from a number of categories including, but not limited to, those who have accomplishments in the public sector, athletics, academics or in band and choir.

To learn more about this year’s event visit the 2019 North Judson Mint Festival event page.

Special Ed Transportation Needs Prompt Amendment to N.J.-S.P. Bus Replacement Plan

Posted on February 23, 2019
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The North Judson-San Pierre School Corporation is adjusting its bus replacement plan to accommodate the need for special ed transportation. Rather than getting three new full-size buses as originally planned, the school board agreed Tuesday to let the corporation buy one full-size bus and two multipurpose vehicles, instead.

Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin explained the white multipurpose vehicles are designed for extracurricular activities and special education. “Because of the special ed transportation, the number of trips we are making, we need that,” she said. School officials noted that the change will save the school corporation some money this year.

In other business Tuesday, the school board appointed Linda Schumacher to the North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library Board through the end of 2022.

Friday, February 22, 2019

North Judson-San Pierre Schools to Upgrade Technology with Help from E-Rate Program

Posted on February 22, 2019
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The North Judson-San Pierre School Corporation is upgrading its technology infrastructure. The school board agreed Tuesday to move forward with a list of improvements, at the recommendation of Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin.

“So these upgrades will include running new fiber everywhere – we have fiber optics in a few places but this will be everywhere, all new access points and five-year licenses with those, new cabling, and all new switches,” Zupin said. “I don’t know what all of that means, but our tech person does. And I believe it’s important as we move forward with our device enhancements and our digital learning, that this is done.”

The total cost of the project is $225,000, but Zupin said the school corporation will only have to pay less than have of that, since part of the work qualifies for a federal E-rate funding match. “Those opportunities have always been there for schools,” she explained. “However, the schools have to have some cash available, and until the auditorium bond issue went off, our cash flow was an issue. So now, we have some money with our G.O. bonds, that we can take advantage of this.”

Zupin added that school officials chose the company N2N to complete the project. She said N2N’s bid was the lowest of the five the school corporation received, and the company scored the highest for the work that needs to be done.

County Officials Approve Funding for EMS Transfer Unit

Posted on February 22, 2019
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Council members approved Rainy Day Funds to clear up a fund in the red and for equipment for a transfer unit at Starke Hospital.

Starke County Council President Dave Pearman explained that the purchase of the new ambulance put the Cumulative Capital Development fund in the red by $9,575.  Pearman proposed taking money out of the Rainy Day Fund to clear up that issue.

Further, Commissioner Kathy Norem said once the new ambulance arrives in the first part of March, a current ambulance in the fleet will be used as the primary transfer unit at Starke Hospital.  It will need to be outfitted to accommodate state regulations.  All of those items total $57,000.

She proposed using Rainy Day Funds to pay for those needs as well.

The county council did approve both measures totaling $67,114.24 from the Rainy Day Fund.  Pearman commented that hopefully that money could be put back into that fund from revenues generated from the transfer unit.  The balance of the Rainy Day fund as of Monday evening was $1.46 million.

It’s anticipated that the transfer unit won’t be operational until the first part of April.

Starke County Courthouse Elevator Project to Begin Friday

Posted on February 21, 2019
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The replacement of the Starke County Courthouse elevator will begin on Friday morning.

Commissioner Kathy Norem says crews will move equipment at 5 a.m. CT on Friday which include scaffold building and material mobilization.  She said the demolition is expected to begin on Monday.

“That will be quite noisy they tell me,” mentioned Norem.  “They tell me it will take approximately a week or two.  The biggest problem is they have to take the top off the elevator that is concrete and it will be quite noisy.”

Elevator upgrades are expected to begin March 15 and last until April 25 with the final completion day of May 1.

Norem noted that the project must be complete by May 1 to satisfy the terms of the K-IRPC grant the county received in the amount of $500,000.

The elevator project will impact upcoming trials in March and April in Starke Circuit Court as well as early voting for the May Primary Municipal Election.  Decisions concerning those changes will be delivered in the near future.

Gibson-Lewis, LLC will be doing the construction work on the Starke County Courthouse elevator which will bring it up to ADA and safety standards.

North Judson-San Pierre School Board Schedules eLearning and In-Class Make-Up Days

Posted on February 21, 2019
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

In spite of weather-related cancellations, North Judson-San Pierre students will still end the school year before Memorial Day. But it will take a couple of Saturday eLearning days to do it.

Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin told the school board Tuesday that students have missed eight days of class due to weather, but only four eLearning days have been held so far to make up for them. That’s because school officials had originally planned to schedule eLearning days in advance this school year, but Zupin said they changed plans during last month’s stretch of cold temperatures. “The teachers and students are aware that moving forward, if we have inclement weather, on that day, they are ready for eLearning assignments,” she added.

To make up the remaining four days, the school board agreed to schedule eLearning days on Saturday, March 2; Saturday, April 13; and Good Friday, April 19. For those Saturdays, Zupin said assignments will be posted the afternoon before. “If they have busy weekends, they can get started,” she explained. “Then they can have all weekend and then three more days. So they don’t have to turn in it until Wednesday because we realize that they may have plans that weekend, so we’re trying to offer some flexibility there.”

Students will also have an in-class make-up day on Friday, May 24.

Zupin said that although eLearning isn’t perfect, teachers and students have generally been doing well with it. “eLearning, no it isn’t the same as having your teacher instructor, but days in May with 25 kids in a classroom, their effort and they behavior declines,” she said. “So how do we choose the most productive? And our teachers and even myself, we believe that this is the best way to get some productivity.”

She added that the eLearning days will serve as a good practice opportunity before the ILEARN test.

North Judson Officials Choose to Save Well Cover Decision for Next Month

Posted on February 21, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The North Judson Town Council was presented with details about the decorative rock well cover that will be placed in Norwayne field when members met Monday night.

CommonWealth Engineer Intern Sarah Prizio provided members with the information. While a majority of the equipment will be stored underground, the wellhead, which is expected to be approximately 36’’ in height, will be sticking out. The rock-like well cover will be used to disguise the protruding wellhead and the disconnect.

Two different sizes are available and officials have the option to choose between various texturized colors including sandstone, riverbed, fieldstone and autumn bluff.

Councilwoman Wendy Hoppe noted that the fieldstone would likely match best with existing elements at the park. Park Board member Nick Radke was also provided with a copy of the different designs but he didn’t indicate a preference. 

No official actions were taken about this aspect of the project as town and park officials decided to take the options under advisement for the time being. Town Council President John Rowe said an official decision will be made at the next meeting.


School Board Members Meet with Legislators during School Boards Association’s Statehouse Day

Posted on February 21, 2019
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

School board members from around Indiana met with state legislators in Indianapolis Tuesday. The Indiana School Boards Association says it held its first annual Statehouse Day.

ISBA officials discussed the association’s legislative priorities for the year. As of last week, the organization was tracking 188 bills that it said were relevant to education, including proposals related to a school safety referendum, handgun training for teachers, and state tuition support, as well as the biennial state budget.

During Tuesday’s event, the ISBA also hosted a panel discussion with Senate President Pro Tempore Rod Bray and House Education Committee members Ed Delaney and Bob Behning. A resolution congratulating the ISBA on its 70th anniversary was presented in the Senate.

Among the local school board members in attendance was Annette Ferch, who serves as the Oregon-Davis School Board’s legislative liaison, according to a press release from school officials.

Bee-utiful Turn Out at the 2nd Annual Social Gathering of The Hive

Posted on February 21, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The Hive, a local ladies giving circle established through the Starke County Community Foundation, helped provide a platform and funding to four amazing causes during their second annual Social Gathering at the Nancy J. Dembowski Community Center Wednesday evening.

Drew’s Gift of Music and The Cheryl Lyn Welter Family Charitable Foundation will each receive a $750 grant, The Koontz Lake/Oregon-Township Volunteer Fire Department will be getting $1,500 and the Hope Restored Recovery Home will be awarded a grant of $2,000. 

Each group had a chance to speak about their organization and discuss how the funding was going to assist their cause. The amount of grant funding was determined by how many votes the various organizations gathered from Hive members.

Representatives of the Hope Restored Recovery Home Steve Purtha and Megan Johnston talked about the need for accessible addiction treatment in the community.

Their grant money will be spent on construction supplies for the facility being built on Lane Street in North Judson. Their anticipated date of completion is fall of this year.

Koontz Lake/Oregon-Township Volunteer Fire Department Captain Kyle Hinds explained that a lot of the funding the department receives comes directly from fundraising and the firefighters themselves.

He said their money will go toward purchasing medical supplies as well as a new rescue saw.

Drew’s Gift of Music Founder Deb Johnson discussed how their charity was established in memory of her son, former Knox High School Drum Major Drew Shearin. She said they’ll be using their money to expand their reach in the community to get instruments in the hands of even more students.

She also emphasized a new program they started at Knox Schools called Music Reycled where the organization pays for one student to get professional lessons and then they teach 10 more students what they learned.

Cheryl Lyn Welter Family Charitable Foundation Founder Harold Welter highlighted the giving spirit of his daughter who passed away in 2000.

He emphasized that in 2018 they were able to provide 17 grants that made a difference in the lives of teachers and students all across Starke County. The funding provided by the Hive will be used to continue their mission of helping local educators and underprivileged children.

In addition to spotlighting those charitable organizations, some officials from the ladies giving circle spoke as well. SCCF Director of Development and Hive Founder Jessi Martinovic and Hive Chairwoman Andrea Cox started the event out by sharing a bit about the organization and past grant recipients.

Northern Indiana Community Foundation Associate Director Corinne Becknell Lucas also took to the podium.

She highlighted how a portion of the dues collected from the Hive members goes to fund the annual grants and how another part is set aside in an endowment fund.

She also shared a recent development that will bring more funds into The Hive to help fund future projects.

She explained, “We are pleased to announce that the Starke County Legacy of Women, a former giving circle of the Starke County Community Foundation, has agreed to move their endowment dollars into the Hive Giving Circle.”

A powerful presentation from ‘The Giving Gal’ Stephanie Jones was another element of the event. She spoke about the importance of giving and living a grateful life.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Meet Libby!

As of February 19th, the North Judson-Wayne Township Library has gone live with OverDrive!

You now have access, through your active library card, to 36,942 books (fiction & nonfiction) / 4,177 audiobooks / 314 magazines that you can read on your phone, tablet, or computer.

All you need to do is download Libby, the Overdrive app, from the App Store or Google Play.  Libby does all the work and makes it easy for you to sign in to our Overdrive consortium so you can check materials out.  You will need to enter your library card number so Libby can check to make sure the card is active.

If you have any problems stop in at the North Judson-Wayne Township Library and our staff will be glad to help set up Libby and get you started.

Potential Conversion Considered as Problems Persist at James Street Lift Station in North Judson

Posted on February 19, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

With non-flushable items consistently causing problems with North Judson’s James Street lift station, officials are preliminarily considering converting it over to a Variable-Frequency Drive (VFD).

Interim Town Superintendent Randy Schwartz informed council members Monday night that they’re still pulling the pumps on that lift station quite often. He noted that as a result, start kits will sometimes get burnt out and that costs about $140 each time it happens.

While the utility department is doing what they can to combat the problem, Schwartz said he’s going to meet with someone soon to talk about a possible conversion project.

Schwartz explained, “We do have baskets in the manholes to catch the non–flushables and we dump them Mondays and Fridays.” He continued, “I do have Flow-Technics coming next week to try to get a quote on getting that station converted over to VFD.”

Fire Chief Joe Leszek mentioned that the VFD would also allow crews to reverse the pumps and that could potentially clear a clog without having to pull the pump. Schwartz added that VFD is more durable and it would mean the station would no longer require start kits.

No official actions were taken but Schwartz will provide the council with additional information as soon as it becomes available.

North Judson isn’t the only municipality that experiences issues such as this. The persistent problem spans the globe. Subsequently, a number of different efforts are being made to address it, including Ireland’s “Think Before You Flush” initiative and the National Association of Clean Water Agencies’ “Toilets are not Trash Cans” campaign.

Starke County Council Votes to Expel Councilman Tom DeCola

Posted on February 18, 2019
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

After deciding not to respond to allegations against him in an incident in Indianapolis, the Starke County Council voted by a majority to expel Tom DeCola from his seat on the council.

At the last meeting of the Starke County Council in January, DeCola’s alleged misconduct during a meeting of the Indiana Association of Counties in Indianapolis in December was brought into question where he apparently accosted women there in an inappropriate sexual manner and was later intoxicated in public.

He was sworn into office prior to that meeting was representing the county in an official capacity.

A police report from the Greendale Police Department and sworn statements by witnesses were provided to all of the council members and the media that lists pending charges of disorderly conduct and public intoxication.

During the January meeting, DeCola asked to respond to the allegations in writing in 30 days, or the date of February’s meeting.  No written notice was provided during Monday night’s meeting.  He said he didn’t feel that he needed to provide a written response.

“After reviewing the paperwork that was handed to me, I read it and decided that it was my in persona civil cause of action and that it wasn’t an authoritative official cause of action.  So, I decided it’s not even worthy to respond to it,” stated DeCola.

He did not deny the allegations against him during the council meeting Monday night.  He did, however, make a motion to strike the entire discussion from the minutes of Monday’s night meeting and the similar discussion held during the January meeting which failed for a lack of a second.

County Attorney Marty Lucas noted that by law the county council can determine what appropriate behavior is concerning its members.  DeCola’s conduct was reportedly considered unbecoming of a county official.

County Council President Dave Pearman gave DeCola two options.

Pearman asked, “Do you want to have your fate decided tonight, or do you want to have a hearing scheduled?  Those are your only two choices.”

County Attorney Marty Lucas read the statute out loud of what “fate” the council members could decide in this event.

“A fiscal body may 1. expel any member of the fiscal body for the violation of an official duty and 2. declare the seat of any member vacant if the member is unable or fails to perform the duties of their office.  A two-thirds vote is required to expel or vacate a member’s seat,” read Lucas.

DeCola was asked several times if he wanted to have a hearing to which he never gave a straight answer.

A motion and a second was made to allow DeCola a hearing, but it only gathered two affirmative votes by Brad Hazelton and Tom DeCola.  A second motion was made to expel, or remove, DeCola from his seat on the council which was approved with at least a two-thirds vote.  There were five council members in favor of the motion with one opposed.   With that vote, the action was deemed immediate and DeCola got up and left his seat on the council.

DeCola has the right to appeal the action which will need to be filed in a court of law.  He did not make an official indication on appealing the action.

In addition, the council approved a motion to have the Starke County Republican Party schedule a Caucus to find a candidate to fill the rest of DeCola’s four-year term.

Friday, February 15, 2019

New HVAC Unit Installed at North Judson Town Hall

Posted on February 15, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

A new heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) unit has been installed at North Judson Town Hall.

Billing Clerk Jennifer Vanek said a majority of the installation was finished up on Wednesday of this week and some remaining work on the thermostat system indoors was completed Thursday.

The work was done by the North Judson company Davis Plumbing, Heating & AC at a cost of $6,250. That included the price of crane rental, materials and labor.

Town Council members settled on Davis when they met last Monday after considering their quote as well as figures submitted by the Knox companies Stacy Heating & Air and McGrath Refrigeration.

Members discussed the quotes and noted that the prices provided by Stacy and Davis were very close. Ultimately, Councilwoman Wendy Hoppe made a motion to approve Davis’ quote because they’re local and they pay taxes within the town. Her motion was unanimously supported by the rest of the council members.

Financial Aid Workshops to be Held Next Weekend (2/24) for College Goal Sunday

Posted on February 15, 2019
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Students planning to attend college next fall will be able to get some free help with some of the paperwork next weekend. As part of College Goal Sunday, financial aid professionals around the state will be hosting workshops on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). It needs to be filed by April 15, in order for students to qualify for federal and state grants, scholarships, and student loans.

College Goal Sunday workshops will be held on February 24 at 2:00 p.m. local time at 39 locations in Indiana. Locally, sites include Plymouth High School, Purdue Northwest in Westville, Rensselaer Central High School, and Ivy Tech Community College in Logansport and Valparaiso.

Organizers say students should attend the event with a parent or guardian. They should bring 2017 tax returns, W-2 forms, and other income information. Students and parents are also encouraged to create a U.S. Department of Education FSA ID online before going to the event.

For more information about College Goal Sunday or for a complete list of locations, visit CollegeGoalSunday.org.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

North Judson Town Council Passes Wastewater Project Funding Resolution

Posted on February 14, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

A resolution related to funding for the North Judson Wastewater/Combined Sewer Overflow project was passed when members met during their first meeting of the month.

This project will be partially funded with a loan through United States Department of Agriculture. The resolution presented to Town Council members last Monday sets up the borrowing conditions for those federal funds.

Town Attorney Justin Schramm noted that he utilized a USDA form for the resolution so it includes everything the agency requires.

He said that one thing the resolution doesn’t include is a specific loan amount and added that was done intentionally. CommonWealth Project Engineer Rob Bellucci explained that they won’t know what figure to stick there until the contract bids come in.

Since the resolution had to be passed that night to stay on schedule, Schramm asked Bellucci how to word the motion to account for the missing figure.

Belluci provided his recommendation, “You could pass it with language that states an amount not to exceed to the budget funds from the letter of conditions issued by USDA.”

He continued, “If for whatever reason it needs to be amended, this wouldn’t be the first project where we have to come back and amend a resolution after the fact.”

Schramm felt that was a reasonable suggestion and so did the council members. A motion to that effect was made and then passed with unanimous approval.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Congrats to Maddy Schumacher

North Judson-San Pierre Girls' Basketball Team

Congrats to Maddy Schumacher! 🏀 Selected as top 100 senior basketball players in Indiana.

Hoosier Basketball Magazine

2/20 Open House for Dr. Dalphond


2/22 Fish Fry @ St. Peter Lutheran School



2/16 Pet Registration & Golf Cart Inspections @ NJPD

On Saturday, February 16th the North Judson Police Department will be open from 8am until noon for any resident with unregistered pets who would like to purchase pet tags before a penalty is assessed. Be sure to bring proof of your pet’s up-to-date vaccinations.

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.

Depending on the weather, golf cart inspections and permitting can also be performed. You MUST bring your insurance documentation (not just an insurance card) as we will not be contacting insurance companies on your behalf.

Also, to any residents or individuals with outstanding Ordinance Violations, this will be your last chance to settle past due violations before they are forwarded to the County Prosecutor to be processed with the Knox City Court, which will result in court costs & attorney fees! If you have any questions, please call Town Hall @ 574-896-2711, option 1.

Starke County Highway Superintendent Presents Public Communication Policy to Commissioners

Posted on February 13, 2019
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The accreditation process will begin soon at the Starke County Highway Department and Superintendent Rik Ritzler told the commissioners last week that a new policy will be presented every month.

The policy presented on Feb. 4 discussed public communication.  Ritzler said the drivers are often the face of the Starke County Highway Department in the public eye and there is a policy they will follow when approached by a member of the public.

“We tell the drivers not to answer any questions or say anything or make any comments.  They will give them my name or give them my business card and tell them to talk to me.  They can also email me or look at our website,” said Ritzler.

Questions or concerns may be emailed to sritzler@co.starke.in.us.  Resident may also call 574-772-3011 or visit the website at www.co.starke.in.us/index.php/departments/highway/.

Ritzler noted that they are adding policies to the website in an effort to be more transparent and to deliver general information.

NJ Town Council Approves Financial Commitment for Fire Station Sign Project

Posted on February 13, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The North Judson-Wayne Township Fire Department has plans to revamp the fire station’s look with a sign replacement project in the works.

Fire Chief Joe Leszek has been discussing the project with town officials as he sought out three viable quotes. When members met for their first meeting of the month, Leszek provided them with the final figures.

A quote from Premiere Signs out of Goshen came in at $9,181.88. A second quote from Steindler Signs out of Wanatah was about $11,480 and the final quote he received from Simko signs out of Valparaiso was for approximately $15,900.

Leszek recommended going with the lowest quote from Premiere. He noted that the Fire Department has $3,500 set aside for this project so moving forward would require a $5,681 contribution from the town.

Chief Leszek went on to share what the cost would cover, noting that it will include the company redoing the street sign as well as the signs on the front and the parking lot side of the firehouse.

 “That will be them coming and doing all the work, all the electrical work, and that’s also figuring in for permits if they need to get them through the town.” He continued, “They’ll also be doing the street sign with new panels and converting that to LEDs and putting a base cover over the bottom of it to dress it up.”

He added that while the composite lettering on the building will not be backlit, a portion of the new design will be.

He said “We’ll have the Maltese Cross with our emblem in it, that will be backlit so the box with the Maltese Cross will be back lit on each side of the firehouse.”

Members unanimously approved Leszek’s recommendation to go with Premiere for the project as well as the town’s financial commitment.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

NJ Lift Station Pumps Pulled Multiple Times Due to Non-Flushable Items

Posted on February 12, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

North Judson officials will be issuing an alert to remind residents to be mindful about what they flush down the toilet.

During the utility department report at last week’s town council meeting, members were informed about some consistent issues with the Oakwood and James Street lift stations due to non flushable items causing problems.

Utility Department employee Kim Kapp provided members with some more details about what was found when the pumps had to be pulled.

She explained, “The one on James Street, there was a big chunk of plastic that had it jammed up. Over here [on Oakwood Street], it’s some kind of disposable diaper or something that they’re putting in and the pumps are not handling that.”

After having to pull the pumps on those lift stations multiple times recently, Kapp recommended sending out letters or putting an alert on the water bills.

Clerk-Treasurer Andrew Rowe and Billing Clerk Jennifer Vanek confirmed that a reminder could be included on the next water bill.

In order to protect the town’s infrastructure and prevent the need for costly repairs, residents should refrain from flushing anything inorganic.

For more information about the kind of damage non-flushable items can cause and for a list of items you should never flush, visit ThinkBeforeYouFlush.org.


Starke County EMS Department Obtains Grant Funds

Posted on February 12, 2019
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County EMS Department has secured some additional grant funds.  Starke County EMS Director Travis Clary updated the Starke County Commissioners about the funds received last week.

“The Hardesty Memorial Endowment Fund gave us $8,200 and that’s going to go toward the purchase of 800 MHz radios,” explained Clary.  “We’re hoping to get five.  They’re about $1,700 apiece.  We’re very thankful for that.  We couldn’t have done that without the Community Foundation here in Starke County. They helped us quite a bit with that.”

This grant announcement comes on the heels of the Knox VFW Post #748 donation of $15,000 that will help the EMS Department acquire a second Lucas Device.  The life-saving equipment delivers automated chest compressions at the recommended depth and rate with no pauses.

Clary said that he’s continuing to look locally for grant funding including a Firehouse Subs grant for an ambulance cot and a First Source Bank grant.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Starke County’s New Ambulance to Arrive Soon

Posted on February 11, 2019
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The new Starke County EMS ambulance should arrive in March.

Starke County EMS Director Travis Clary gave the commissioners an update last week.

“It’s scheduled to be completed on March 6,” said Clary.  “Dave Cole from Osage Ambulance will then take us down to Linn, Missouri which is about a six hour drive. We’re going to inspect the truck and hopefully drive it back on the 7th.  I have an application filled out to get our new certification numbers and things for that truck, and then we can go from there.”

When the county acquires the new ambulance, action will move forward with an ALS transfer ambulance for Starke Hospital. They will use an ambulance from their current fleet and designate it as the transfer vehicle.  The unit will create more revenue for the department.

Clary gave the commissioners a list of the state-mandated equipment needed to outfit the ALS transfer unit which includes a cot, cardiac monitor, backboards, radios, and more.  The cost is about $57,000.

The commissioners will take a look at fund balances to see where line items are in order to fund the needed equipment.  A decision will be made in a future meeting.

North Judson-Wayne Township Fire Department to Receive New Suits for Water and Ice Rescues

Posted on February 11, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

North Judson-Wayne Township Volunteer Firefighters will be receiving some specific gear for water and ice rescues. 

Fire Chief Joe Leszek informed council members on Monday that currently, firefighters are responding to all calls in their turn out gear so they’ve been checking into different options that would be more fitting for particular types of calls.

He noted, “We’ve been looking to purchase some rescue suits for a lot of the ditch and water rescues we have to do around here.”

Leszek told council members they had a chance to look at some different types of suits when a few of NJ’s firefighters joined up with members from the Kouts, Boone-Grove, Morgan Township and LaCrosse Fire Departments for a training exercise in January.

“Each department brought their suits to the training so we were able to check them all out” Chief Leszek continued, “We were actually able to participate in the training, get trained ourselves on the ice rescue.”

The Fire Chief asked council members for permission to spend $1,170 out of the Department’s equipment budget to buy two Survive Tech Ice Rescue Suits from Five Alarm Fire. The members unanimously granted him permission to purchase the suits.

Chief Leszek said now that they have some suits of their own on the way, the firefighters who attended the training in January will conduct their own class to share the skills they picked up with the rest of the Department.

You can see the video of the training exercise at:

https://www.facebook.com/187879008060565/videos/1133322760169021/

Friday, February 8, 2019

Starke County Election Board to Meet with Microvote Representatives on Monday

Posted on February 8, 2019
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Election Board members were to speak to the commissioners Monday night about legislation concerning election cyber security, but board members will meet with Microvote representatives before moving forward with a decision.

Senate Bill 570 proposes a number of new requirements related to election cyber security including a voter verifiable paper audit trail starting in 2022.

To be in compliance with the legislation, if passed, the Starke County Election Board would have to replace all of the county’s voting machines.  The board members have been discussing updating the machines, but updating the machines wouldn’t allow proper accountability standards in Senate Bill 570.  To upgrade all of the components involved could cost over $200,000.

Clerk Bernadette Welter Manuel told the Starke County Commissioners Monday night that they will have more information to present during their next meeting after meeting with Microvote on Feb. 11.

North Judson Officials Discuss Water Tower Rehabilitation Project

Posted on February 8, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Some concerns about the water project in North Judson interfering with the Mint Festival in June were addressed at Monday night’s town council meeting.

CommonWealth Project Engineer Rob Bellucci informed members that after speaking with contractors, plans to renovate the water towers have been adjusted so that efforts won’t coincide with the Town’s annual event.

He explained, “The council had asked me to check on coordination with the Mint Festival and we did that with the tank rehab contractor and they have basically flipped flopped and they’re going to do the west tank first and then they won’t start on the work on the east tank until the week after the Mint Fest.”

Bellucci also informed members that they should be finalizing ideas for the towers. He said work on the west tank won’t start until April 1st but he’s hoping that they can have a solid design plan by the end of this month.

He presented them with some figures associated with the two basic options but emphasized the fact they could get creative.

“If we just do the change in lettering, you’re looking at about a $9,000 total cost.” Bellucci continued, “If you look at the lettering plus the logo it’s about a $21,000 total. If you want to do different combinations, I’m sure it’s kind of ‘a la carte’ here.”

Members discussed the possibility of including new lettering as well as their blue jay logo on the south side of the tower that’s in town and just doing a basic design with new lettering on the tower that’s out of town.

Bellucci said if they’re only planning to put the logo on one side that would reduce the cost for that tower to about $10,500 rather than $21,000 since the figures he presented factored in placing the design on both sides.

He added that the contractors have been really receptive to suggestions so he encouraged the members to email him any other ideas they come up with. No official actions were taken Monday night but the topic will be revisited in future meetings.

Starke County SWAT to Hold Fundraising Banquet in April

Posted on February 8, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The Starke County Sheriff’s Department Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Team will host a fundraising banquet later this year.

The event will be held at the Nancy J. Dembowski Community Center in Knox from 5 p.m. until midnight on Saturday, April 20th.

Tickets can be bought for $25 each. According to event organizers, that gives you access to the buffet dinner and covers the cost of two alcoholic beverages or soft drinks. The banquet is limited to individuals 21 and up.

The event will also feature a cash bar, a DJ and a silent auction with various items that will begin at 8 p.m.

Gun raffles for a Henry-Lever Action 30/30 and a Henry-Lever Action .22 Caliber will take place during the event.

Funds collected will be used to purchase some much needed equipment. This will be the first event of its kind but officials have indicated they’re hoping to make this an annual occurrence.

Tickets can be purchased by visiting the Starke County Justice Center or by contacting any Starke County police officer. You can also buy them online through EventGroove.com.

For more information, visit the SWAT Fundraiser event page or call the Sheriff’s Office at 574-772-3771.

Starke County Young Professionals Discuss Success of First Trivia Night, Make Plans for Feb’s Event

Posted on February 8, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The Starke County Young Professionals group made more than $200 at their very first Trivia Night.

When the group held the first Trivia Night in Knox on Thursday, January 31st, they collected a total of $225 in registration fees.

January’s Trivia Night featured 35 questions. When the Young Professionals held a meeting Thursday night, Representative Brad Searing noted that the most consistent suggestion he got from participants was that the game was too short. During February’s game there will be four rounds with 25 questions each, with a total of 100 questions.

Local businesses have the opportunity to sponsor a round for $25. Currently, only one of the rounds for February’s event has been sponsored.

If your business is interested in sponsoring a round, contact group officials through their facebook page or send an email to starkecountyYPG@gmail.com.

Keep an eye out on the Starke County Young Professionals Group facebook page for updates about February’s Trivia Night which will be held in North Judson.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

2/10 Knights of Columbus Pancake Breakfast


2/9 Free Soup Luncheon


2/9 NJ Area Baseball & Softball Signup


NJ Seeking Town Superintendent Candidates


2/20 Connect America Medical Alert Workshop


National Weather Service Issues Flood Warning for Tippecanoe River

Posted on February 6, 2019
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Tippecanoe River is on the rise and the National Weather Service has issued a flood warning until further notice.  Rain and snow melt are causing water levels to rise.

As of 6 a.m. ET Wednesday morning, the flood stage was at 12.2 feet and rising.  The flood stage is at 12 feet.  National Weather Service officials say the river will rise to a crest near 12.9 feet around 1 a.m. on Sunday, Feb. 10 and begin falling.

This notice affects locations in Fulton, Kosciusko, Marshall, Pulaski and Starke Counties.

At 13.0 feet, flooding begins to affect streets and homes in Monterey.

Starke County Sheriff Presents Proposed Ordinance Amendments to Commissioners

Posted on February 6, 2019
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Starke County Sheriff Bill Dulin presented several ordinance amendments to put more teeth into enforcement.

Dulin suggested fines for dogs running at large.  He said the sheriff’s department received 477 phone calls concerning dogs running at large and he believes it will be beneficial to impose fines for repeat calls to a residence.  The Starke County Humane Society would impound the dog if several complaints are received.  County Attorney Marty Lucas will review the document and legal terms.

A new ordinance presented by the sheriff would require homeowners and business owners with alarm systems to install or update their system to be more efficient.  Dulin said the sheriff’s department was called to 877 alarm calls in 2018.

“We’re running a Signal 10 which is lights and sirens to these alarms which we respond to them as burglary in progress and we get there and we find out it’s nothing,” explained Dulin.  “We usually run those as top priority calls over other calls except accidents.  I do have a vendor that would install software and help us run the system.  We could collect the fines and fees and whatnot out of that.”

A golf cart ordinance amendment would fine a Bass Lake or Koontz Lake resident $25 who asks to register a golf cart outside of the active registration time from April to June.

Those ordinance amendments will be reviewed by the county attorney who may have recommendations for the commissioners at the next meeting.

One item the commissioners did approve Monday night was a motion to support the transfer of $5,000 from the Therapeutic Community Miscellaneous line item out of the sheriff’s budget to a drug buy line item so officers have money available to conduct investigations.  The matter will go before the Starke County Council members on Feb. 18.

Two more ordinances will be presented to the commissioners in future meetings that deal with excessive noise and an inmate booking fee.

North Judson-Wayne Township Fire Department Secures Grant Funding for Light Conversion Project

Posted on February 6, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Officials at the North Judson-Wayne Township Volunteer Fire Department will be able to convert multiple lights over to LED without utilizing any money from their budget.

During his report Monday night, Fire Chief Joe Leszek told town council members that he was able to secure some grant funding to cover the cost of the light conversion project at the firehouse.

He shared, “Through the Starke County Community Foundation and the Hardesty Endowment, we received an $8,000 grant.”

Leszek noted that the grant money will allow them to do even more than what was originally discussed with the council. 

 “That’s going to be able to take care of our LED light conversion for the whole firehouse,” Leszek continued, “and that’s also going to be upgrading four LED scene lights on our main engine, out on engine one.”

Chief Lezek added that department officials are always on the look out for future funding opportunities.

 “Two things that we really wanted to get done this year we were able to do without any cost to us or taking anything out of our budget so that’s awesome. We’re continuing to look for other grant opportunities still to continue to upgrade equipment and get more equipment in.”

If you come across any grants or funding programs that seem like they could be beneficial to the town’s firefighters, you can contact them through the North Judson-Wayne Township Volunteer Fire Department facebook page or by calling 574-896-2712.

Gas Prices Expected to Fluctuate Throughout February

Posted on February 6, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Hoosier drivers can expect to see gas prices continue to fluctuate during the month of February. GasBuddy’s Head of Petroleum Analysis Patrick DeHaan said drivers probably noticed higher prices starting on Monday of this week.

 “A lot of stations raised their prices to $2.39 a gallon which is likely in response to the price of oil which has been slowly creeping up and now it stands at about $55 a barrel compared to $43 a barrel on Christmas Eve.”

DeHaan explained that there are few other factors aside from the price of oil that can affect what you pay at pump, “We’re starting to see refineries do seasonal maintenance.”

He continued, “We also saw a couple kinks, you could them, last week as a result of the very cold weather so some of those kinks and maintenance are impacting prices to a slight degree.”

According to DeHaan, it’s likely that prices will see a slight decrease before they climb back up again.

He said “Over the next three to five days, prices should start trickling back down. But overall, buckle up, in the next few weeks we’ll likely continue to see gas prices working their way up and that will probably continue most of the spring.”

He noted that over the last decade, national gas prices have typically gone up an average of about 25 cents in the 10 weeks following Valentine’s Day.

He said while that partially has to do refinery maintenance season, it’s also because of the transition from cold weather gasoline to warm weather gasoline that begins in late February and early March.

DeHaan shared why motorists will see a steady increase in prices leading into the spring.

“What you tend to see in the late winter is that we essentially go from a clearance sale of winter gasoline that has to be purged from the system to the more expensive summer gasoline in which supply is generally quite tight to start the season.”

Click the following link to view the latest fuel insights for your area.

More Than 460 Automated External Defibrillators Donated to Indiana State Police Since 2014

Posted on February 6, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Indiana State Police Troopers are now better equipped to assist individuals suffering from cardiac arrest and other heart problems thanks to a recent equipment donation.

This year, the Bolt for the Heart Foundation was able to provide 134 Automated External Defibrillators (AED) to the Indiana State Police.

While Bolt for the Heart was able to raise funds to purchase 114 of those units during their Thanksgiving Day fundraising run, the remainder of the units were bought with a special donation from HeartSaver.

HeartSaver is a committee of volunteers representing the Deaconess Foundation and the Heart Hospital at Deaconess Gateway in Evansville.

Governor Eric J. Holcomb welcomed ISP, Bolt for the Heart and HeartSaver representatives into his office in January to recognize this incredible effort.

Back in 2014 Bolt for the Heart pledged to put an AED unit in as many state police road patrol vehicles as possible.

This most recent donation brings the total number of AED units donated up to 465. The value of this equipment exceeds $600,000, according to an ISP press release.

When asked to comment on what the future holds for Bolt for the Heart, the president of the non-profit organization Pierre Twer said they’re ready to turn their efforts toward the many other local and county police agencies in Indiana that could benift by having an AED in their patrol vehicles.

He noted that their ultimate goal is to have an AED in every police vehicle in Indiana.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

2/15 Blood Drive @ Knox High School


2/15 Girl Scout Cookie Cash & Carry


Chocolate Fest @ Golden Living

Golden Living in Knox will be hosting a Chocolate Fest on February 14th at 1p.m. and would love to sample your masterpiece!

If you are interested in participating please contact Phyllis @ 806-4755 for more details.

You just may be Starke County's Chocolate Champion!

Outside Company to Evaluate Starke County Radio Communication System

Posted on February 5, 2019
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

An outside company will be evaluating Starke County’s radio system for the firefighters in order to come to a firm conclusion on what issues plague the radio communication with the county and firefighters and the firefighters themselves.

Firefighters have been expressing extreme issues with communications with county officials for several months and while some problems have been repaired, other large problems still exist.

Starke County Fire Association President Kenny Pfost told the Starke County Commissioners Monday night that he spoke with IT Director Richard Franks who said it was a training issue on the part of the firefighters.

“The fire chiefs and I had a meeting and we do agree, to a certain extent, that we do need to get better at switching off the dispatch channel and moving to an attack channel or fire ground channel once we’re on scene,” said Pfost.  “However, the problems that are being described from the majority of the departments, there’s no way possible it’s a training issue.”

Pfost said calls continue to be missed and there is no portable or mobile communication for the firefighters.

He proposed asking an outside company to evaluate the system to pinpoint the issue.

Miner Electronics can do an evaluation at a cost of $1,200.

Commission President Charlie Chesak suggested that fire officials, rather than the commissioners, explain to company representatives what specific problems are plaguing the firefighters.

Commissioner Kathy Norem said the quote is a good investment to get down to the underlying complication.

The commissioners unanimously approved a motion to allow Miner Electronics to evaluate the system.  Where to go from information in that report will be discussed in a future meeting.

EMT Class to be Held in North Judson Police Department Training Center

Posted on February 5, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The North Judson police officers will be able to brush up on some of their certifications while allowing Med One Mobile to utilize the Department’s training center.

Last year, the board room in the North Judson Police Department was converted into a training center. Town Marshal Kelly Fisher informed council members Monday night that she was recently approached about holding an EMT class there.

Fisher highlighted the fact that hosting the class at their department would give officers a chance to take care of some of their mandated training.

She explained, “Some of the things that I went through that we can definitely get recertified in is CPR, first aid, HAZMAT, autism, mental illness, SIDS, some work related injuries and OSHA regulations.”

Fisher said the classes would take place on Sundays from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. and would consist of about 12 to 14 students. She noted that a representative of the class told her if the officers need their training center for any other reason, they’d be willing to move out

The council members gave Fisher the go ahead to coordinate with Med One Mobile about hosting their classes at the Department.

Highway Officials Cover How Temperature Fluctuation Can Result in Pothole Formation

Posted on February 5, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Though it’s likely you’re enjoying this week’s moderate temperatures far more than last week’s frigid weather, unfortunately, those fluctuations can cause ideal conditions for pothole formation.

Starke County Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler shared why these damp, dynamic conditions can result in the unwanted road hazards.

He stated, “Potholes generally form by water on the roadway and it gets into the cracks in the roadway and then during a freeze and thaw the water turns to ice and expands and then contracts.”

Ritzler continued, “That expansion and contraction, over time, causes the structure of the pavement to deteriorate and the asphalt starts breaking up eventually it pops out in what we call holes”

In a past interview with Marshall County Highway Superintendent Jason Peters, he asked drivers to remain alert and understanding when temperatures rise and fall in such a way.

Peters shared, “Be patient this time of year because it’s really hard to maintain them. The big thing is we could fill potholes this week and we could get snow next week so just try to be as cautious as you can and understand it’s just that time of year.”

While temperature fluctuation can result conditions that are ideal for potholes popping up, Pulaski County Highway Supervisor Terry Ruff added that it typically it takes a bit longer than a couple of days for them to form.

Ruff said, “Normally our biggest problem will be later on in the year when it stays warm for quite a spell then the potholes really get bad but we haven’t had a spring thaw yet, this has just a couple of days, so the roads should take it for awhile like this.”

If you come across a pothole on a county road, contact your local highway department so they can send a crew out to address it as soon as possible.

Contact information for each highway department appears below:

Starke County Highway Department: 574-772-3011
Pulaski County Highway Department: 574-946-3942
Marshall County Highway Department: 574-936-2181

Keep in mind that these Highway Departments can only address issues on county roads. Local road problems should be reported to the street supervisor in your town or city.

Meanwhile, potholes found on state roads should be reported to the Indiana Department of Transportation. To inform INDOT about an issue, follow the ‘report a concern’ link at potholes.indot.in.gov.

Monday, February 4, 2019

February Tot-Time & Story Hour @ NJWTPL

Are you ready to spend some time at the library with your friends? We are ready for Tot-Time (18 months to 3 years) and Story Hour (3-5 year olds) to come and spend some time with us!

This month both groups will be meeting on Tuesdays at 10:30am.

February 12th - We will be painting with puffy paint.

February 19th - February is National Bird-Feeding Month, so join us as we make a bird feeder.

February 26th - We will be celebrating National Tell a Fairy Tale Day by trying to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

Abdo Zoom Database

For the next month we are sharing a database which we are considering purchasing for our younger patrons. It contains Abdo Zoom Animals, Biographies, Animales (En español), and STEAM databases. You will want to have the sound on as it can read what is on the screen. 


Why not test it out and let us know what you think about it. You can drop us a line at lib.norjud@gmail.com

Reserved Turkey Hunt Permits Now Available

Posted on February 4, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Starting today and running through March 22nd, hunters have the ability to apply for a reserved turkey hunt by visiting Hunting.IN.gov. To apply, click on the ‘reserved hunt info’ link that appears on that page.

No late entries will be accepted and applicants must possess a valid hunting license for the species they wish to hunt.

According to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, the online method is the only way to apply. The application process is now consolidated into the online services website along with licenses, check-in game and registration for the migratory bird harvest program.

Hunts without registration fees will follow the same procedure as those with one. For hunts with no fee, you will still be asked to select the options “add to cart, proceed to check out and place order.” If the transaction total is $0, you won’t be required to enter in your credit card information.

The Winamac Fish and Wildlife Area is one of the multiple properties that will be hosting reserved hunts this spring.

For more information, view the press release the DNR issued about reserved turkey hunt permits.

Proposed Senate Bill May Force Replacement of Starke County’s Voting Machines

Posted on February 3, 2019
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Plans to upgrade Starke County’s voting machines may be put on hold, pending the outcome of a bill in the Indiana Senate. Senate Bill 570 proposes a number of new requirements related to election cyber security. Notably, any electronic voting systems would have to have a “voter verifiable paper audit trail,”starting in 2022.

For more than a year, equipment vendor MicroVote has been working on plans to rebuild the county’s existing voting machines. But that probably wouldn’t be enough to bring Starke County’s system into compliance with the new standards that are being proposed.

During Friday’s election board meeting, board member Harrison Fields said he didn’t see the point in moving ahead with the planned upgrades now. “To upgrade these machines is about $70,000,” he said. “So why upgrade them for two years or one year? Why spend that money, when we might spend that money towards [the new ones]?

Election Board President Peg Brettin said the cost of replacing all of the county’s voting machines would be about $200,000. Board members were hopeful that the state would provide some funding to help with that.

Members of the election board plan to meet with the county commissioners tonight, to discuss the proposed legislation and the resulting change in plans for the county’s voting equipment.

Starke County Council Member Fails to Show Up for Election Board Meeting

Posted on February 2, 2019
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Starke County Council Member Tom DeCola failed to appear before the county election board Friday. DeCola had apparently asked to be on the agenda, but by the end of the meeting, he still hadn’t arrived. “Let the minutes show that a second calling for Mr. Tom DeCola to come before the board after his request was sent to us, and he is not present,” said Board President Peg Brettin. “And the request was in writing.”

This comes after questions about DeCola’s residency were raised during recent county government meetings. Last week, the rest of the county council asked the election board, as well as the Starke County Republican Party, to confirm that DeCola actually lives in the district he represents. DeCola has said he has a certificate of occupancy for a structure at 7410 West 250 South, but Building Inspector Terry Stephenson has denied having one on file.

Council members have also asked DeCola to respond to allegations of misconduct during the Indiana Association of Counties meeting in December.

Local Philanthropist Provides $100,000 Donation To Starke County Community Foundation

Posted on February 2, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The Starke County Community Foundation recently received a $100,000 donation from local philanthropist Jerome “Jerry” Scherf. It will become $300,000 thanks to a $2 for $1 matching opportunity available through a Lilly Endowment contribution.

According to a press release from the SCCF, Mr. Scherf said he is thankful to Starke County because it has allowed him to become successful so he wanted to find a way to give back and help.

Mr. Scherf began coordinating with the Community Foundation when he decided to start a scholarship fund. Jerry shared that he feels education is the most important thing to have today and he started the scholarship to help others receive a quality education.

Jerry moved to Starke County with his father, mother, and two brothers, Milton and Maurice, when he was seven years old.

He attended Knox High School and graduated in 1951.

After graduation, Jerry began his career as an entrepreneur. He started his career in buying and selling cars. He later began working in real estate by selling mobile homes and renting out homes.

After seeing the impact of his fund, Jerry began giving back even more, leading to this recent $100,000 gift.

Foundation officials stated that they are thankful for Jerry’s generosity and leadership in the charitable community.

SCCF Director of Development Jessica Martinovic stated that they’re grateful for the matching opportunity through the Endowment and also for Jerry’s decision to leave a legacy with his donation to the Community Foundation.

She added that meeting the match will help them fund charitable causes in Starke County including helping children in need, funding quality of place efforts and so much more.

Mr. Scherf’s donation helps the organization significantly with their personal goal to raise $250,000. The Lilly Endowment has provided $500,000 to the Community Foundation to match gifts to community funds $2 for every $1 that’s donated through December of 2020 or until funds are depleted.

Director Martinovic emphasized that while the SCCF is so appreciative of Jerry’s generous gift, it doesn’t only take large contributions to meet their goal. She quoted one of their founders Jim Hardesty and stated, ‘If you can’t do a lot, do what you can.’

She mentioned that when we all work together and do what we can, we will accomplish great things for our community.

For more information or to make a donation, contact the Starke County Community Foundation by sending an email to starke@nicf.org or by calling 574-772-3665.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Starke County Council Member’s Residency to be Discussed by Election Board Today

Posted on February 1, 2019
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The issue of Starke County Council Member Tom DeCola’s residency is expected to go before the county election board this morning. Last week, the county council voted to ask the election board and the Starke County Republican Party to confirm that DeCola actually lives in the district he represents.

County Commissioner Kathy Norem raised questions about his residency in December. DeCola has said he has a certificate of occupancy for a structure at 7410 West 250 South, but Building Inspector Terry Stephenson has denied having one on file.

Also during today’s meeting, the election board will reorganize for 2019. Members will discuss this year’s municipal elections, including candidate filings for Knox offices, as well as upcoming town conventions in North Judson and Hamlet. Planned upgrades to the county’s voting machines will continue to be discussed.

This morning’s Starke County Election Board meeting starts at 9:30 in the second floor meeting room in the Starke County Courthouse. The meeting was originally scheduled for Wednesday, but was postponed due to weather.

Community Support Commended in Letter Addressed to North Judson Officials

Posted on February 1, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

North Judson Clerk-Treasurer Andrew Rowe read a letter of thanks into the record when town council members met last Monday.

Clerk-Treasurer Rowe explained that the letter was received from a resident who experienced an extremely unfortunate circumstance last year where he had his home broken into.

The subsequent response was a generous amount of community support that the individual wanted to recognize.

Rowe read from the letter, “The thief set a fire which caused considerable smoke and some fire damage. I am writing this letter to commend your excellent police and fire departments.”

Rowe kept reading, going into more detail about the key players who helped make this tragedy more manageable.

He continued, “Officer Frank Thomas was especially helpful and sympathetic, actually everyone in town who I contacted were most helpful and understanding. Just to name a few Marty and Corrine Lucas, Mr. Menis who closed the house for me and of course, Office Thomas who I am not able to thank and praise enough. Thanks for being such a supportive community, you guys are really great.”

The town council members and the officials who were present at the meeting expressed their gratitude to the individual for taking the time to show his appreciation.

Little Hats, Big Hearts Program Raises Awareness About Congenital Heart Defects

Posted on February 1, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

More than 3,000 newborn babies will be able to keep their heads warm this winter thanks to the American Heart Association’s ‘Little Hats, Big Hearts’ program.

Every year, hundreds of volunteers lovingly craft tiny red hats to donate to hospitals during the month of February, which is recognized as American Heart Month.

Heart Disease remains the number one cause of death in the United States and in the State of Indiana and congenital heart defects (CHDs) are the leading birth defect in newborns.

According to information provided by the American Heart Association, approximately 1 out of every 110 babies is born with a CHD and about 25 percent of those cases require an invasive surgery within the first year.

The Little Hats, Big Hearts program is meant to raise awareness about heart problems, such as congenital heart defects, while simultaneously offering new parents information about leading a heart-healthy lifestyle.