Friday, May 31, 2019

Quote of the Month - June 2019

Discussions Continue over Possible North Judson-San Pierre School Resource Officer

Posted on May 31, 2019
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKV

North Judson-San Pierre could have a school resource officer sometime next school year. Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin told the school board last week that they’re still in the exploratory phase, but discussions with Town Marshal Kelly Fisher are moving along quickly.

“The town is in support of this and the police department is in support of this, and she also is aware of some grants that are now available,” Zupin said. “So right now, we are in discussion, investigating, and planning with the town. I don’t have much more than that at this point, but we are moving quickly on this, to see if we can get somebody, either at the beginning of the year or halfway through the year.”

Zupin said the idea is that the officer would be shared between the elementary and junior/senior high schools. But before any official plans are finalized, she said she wants to make sure the officer would fit in with the the proactive safety initiatives N.J.-S.P. has already put in place, like the new secure entrances and the school-based social worker. “Most people think it’s to keep armed people out, but there’s so many other things to do,” Zupin explained. “And it’s to help build relationships so that they have somebody to go to. It may be to go do home visits to talk about attendance and deliver attendance letters, truancy issues, because all of those issues build up to the student who is troubled and may do something.”

Board Member Derrick Stalbaum said that at the school corporation where he works, the school resource officer has a positive impact on the school’s day-to-day operations. He noted that the officer is an advocate for students in many ways, but also adds a sense of seriousness to fights and vaping incidents.

Going forward, Zupin said there are still some logistical issues to be worked out, including how the new position would be financed and where specifically the officer would be placed.

IDNR Issues Warning About Plant Shipments Contaminated with Sudden Oak Death

Posted on May 31, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources is alerting residents that a number of plant shipments in the state that were contaminated with a fungal pathogen that kills oak trees.

This is the first time this infection has been spotted in about 10 years.

The IDNR confirmed that more than 70 Wal-Marts and 18 Rural King stores in Indiana received rhododendron plants infected with the fungal pathogen referred to as Sudden Oak Death (SOD). Contaminated shipments were also sent to 9 other states.

Workers from the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology have been visiting stores across Indiana to destroy any infested stock and to quarantine stock that’s symptomatic.

The division has made this its top priority. Any quarantined material not infected will be released following testing at Purdue University.

SOD travels in more than a hundred species of host plant material. It causes some browning of the leaves in the host but does not kill it.

As of Wednesday, the DNR had destroyed approximately 1,500 infested rhododendron plants and pulled another 1,500 from stores. Officials also ordered stores to stop selling rhododendron for the time being.

SOD has not been established in the Midwest, to date, but it has killed large tracts of oaks on the West Coast. The fungal pathogen can kill a standing oak, which could happen if SOD-positive rhododendron is planted within about 6 feet of the tree.

If you have purchased rhododendron from Wal-Mart or Rural King within the last four week, destroy them. You can also call 1-866-No-Exotic (663-9684) or your local county extension office at 1-888-EXT-INFO(398-4636) for further instructions.

This is an ongoing investigation, and guidance could change as more information is gathered. For more information, follow the links provided above.

Local Lakes Receive Grant Funding to Control Invasive Vegetation

Posted on May 31, 2019
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources has announced this year’s round of Lake and River Enhancement grants. Almost $633,000 has been awarded to fight invasive aquatic plants in 62 lakes and one river.

In Marshall County, the Four Lakes area made up of Mill Pond, Kreighbaum, Cook, and Holem lakes received $33,200 this year. Lake of the Woods got $19,600.

In Starke County, Koontz Lake received $6,500, while Bass Lake was awarded $3,900. Bruce Lake in Fulton and Pulaski counties got $4,200.

According to a DNR press release, the grants will help control aggressive non-native plants that can clog lakes, such as Eurasian watermilfoil, curly leaf pondweed, and starry stonewort. Director of DNR Fish & Wildlife Mark Reiter says that makes it easier for native vegetation to thrive, which in turn, can help improve recreational opportunities for anglers and boaters.

LARE grants are funded by boat registration fees. Project sponsors must provide a 20-percent local match.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

6/22 - 7/31 Summer Reading Challenge for Adults @ North Judson-Wayne Township Library

This year we are offering a Summer Reading Challenge for our adult patrons!

From June 22nd to July 31st, for every book you checkout, read, and return your name will be entered into a drawing to win one of three prizes. The drawing will be held on August 1st.

To kick-off our new program we will be having a Break Out Box Experience.  Think of an escape room except you have to recover a prize locked in a box and not the key to get out of the room.  Kick-off weekend will be June 21st & 22nd.  Contact the library at 574-896-2841 to schedule a 45 minute block of time for your team of up to 5 adults.

We hope you will enjoy our new Adult Reading Challenge!  As always, we are happy to help you find a great book to enjoy!

Dave Kesvormas Named Starke County Republican Party Chair

Posted on May 30, 2019
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The Starke County Republican Party has new leadership. Dave Kesvormas was formally selected as the party chair during a caucus Tuesday, following the resignation of Brenda Stanojevic. Kesvormas says he was the only one to express interest in the position.

He says he has a few goals going forward. “We’re going to look hard to work with all our candidates and office-holders in current times, as well as in the future election,” Kesvormas says. “There are a lot of changes with lots of things that lots of the other counties are doing, and I want to take a look at what some of the best practices are in other counties.”

He says party officials haven’t made a decision yet about who’ll take over his former position of vice chair, but he expects that to be done soon. Kesvormas also serves as the president of the Hamlet Town Council.

The change comes two months after Starke County Democrats chose a new party chair of their own, with outgoing Knox Clerk-Treasurer Jeff Houston taking over from Kenny Wallace.

N.J.-S.P. School Board Votes to Keep Meal Prices, Textbook Fees the Same Next School Year

Posted on May 30, 2019
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

North Judson-San Pierre’s student meal prices and textbook fees will stay the same for another year. The cost of lunch at the junior/senior high school will remain at $2.50, while elementary school students will pay $2.30. The student breakfast price is $1.50.

School officials say those prices fall within the paid lunch equity requirements for the 2019-2020 school year, meaning that no cost increase is necessary.

When it comes to textbook fees, Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin told the school board last week that neither of the schools got new textbooks this year that would lead to a cost increase. “We held off for a year because we are moving to more digital devices,” she explained. “We want to make sure that we didn’t buy textbooks this year and, perhaps, not get the digital resources we needed or pay for that and then pay again next year. So the digital resources and the software licenses, those would be looked into next year, as more and more devices will be on-hand for us.” However, Zupin said next year’s textbook fees do correct some past calculation errors.

The school board approved the 2019-2020 meal prices and textbook fees unanimously.

Starke County Council Approves Computer Purchase for Assessor’s Office

Posted on May 30, 2019
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Assessor’s Office will be getting new computers.

The Starke County Council members discussed the purchase at length on May 20.  Assessor Michelle Schouten explained that her computers are outdated and the software is no longer being supported.

She presented a quote from Dell for six computer towers, plus connectors and Microsoft licenses at a cost of $5,790.96 which is money she doesn’t have in her budget.  The computers will be used by Schouten, her two deputies and three reassessment workers.  An older computer can be used by the public to access requested records.

County Council President Dave Pearman asked IT Director Richard Franks how many other computer purchase requests may be coming from other departments.  Franks replied that he’s been working with different department heads to schedule those types of updates.  This is the only request he foresees for now.

In the end, the council unanimously voted to fund the computers with half of the funds from the CEDIT Fund and half from the Assessor’s budget.

Several Local Sites Prepare for June Kick Off of Summer Food Service Program

Posted on May 30, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

To ensure that no Hoosier student spends their summer break hungry, the United States Department of Agriculture and Indiana Department of Education partner with area schools and organizations to provide meals through the Summer Food Service Program.

This program was created to help bridge the gap for students who rely on the free or reduced breakfast and lunch as their primary source of sustenance during the school year. 

Several local sites will kick off their programs during the first week of June. The communities of North Judson, Hamlet, Knox, Culver and Monterey will be providing meals through this program this summer.

For years, the program has provided children and teens ages 18 and under with access to free, nutritious meals and snacks during the summer months.

At some of the locations, adults may also get meals for a nominal price. Costs vary depending on the site so call in advance if you have any questions.

Additional information, such as times and dates as well as the locations of local sites, can be found below:

Oregon-Davis Elementary School:
Dates: Monday, June 3rd – Thursday, June 27th
Breakfast: 7:45 a.m. – 8:15 a.m.
Lunch: 11:00 a.m. – 11:40 a.m.
Offered: Monday-Thursday

Knox Elementary School:
Dates: Monday, June 3rd – Thursday, June 27th
Breakfast: 8:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.
Lunch: 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Offered: Monday-Thursday

Knox Middle School:
Dates: Monday, June 3rd – Thursday, June 27th
Breakfast: 8:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.
Lunch: 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Offered: Monday-Thursday

North Judson-San Pierre Elementary School:
Monday, June 3rd – Friday, June 7th (Monday - Friday)
Monday, June 10th – Thursday, June 20th (Monday - Thursday)
Monday, June 24th – Wednesday, June 26th (Monday - Wednesday)
Breakfast: 7:30 a.m. – 8:15 a.m.
Lunch: 11:00 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.

Monterey-Tippecanoe Public Library:
Dates: Monday, June 3rd – Friday, August 2nd
Lunch: 11:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
Offered: Monday, Wednesday, Friday

Culver Community Middle/High School:
Dates: Monday, June 3rd – Thursday, August 1st
Breakfast: 8:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.
Offered: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday

Culver Elementary School:
Dates: Monday, June 3rd – Friday, August 2nd
Breakfast: 7:30 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.
Lunch: 11:45 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Offered: Monday-Friday

Culver-Union Township Library:
Dates: Tuesday, June 4th – Thursday, August 1st
Lunch: 11:15 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.
Offered: Tuesdays & Thursdays

The information listed above was provided through the Indiana Department of Education. If there are any errors, let us know and they will be corrected immediately.
Phone: 574-772-6241 ext: 104

Don’t Let Mosquitoes Suck the Fun Out of Your Summer

Posted on May 30, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The recent rainy weather combined with the spike temperature has created the ideal conditions for mosquitoes to thrive.

Everyone hates the little pests and the itchy bumps they leave behind and in some cases, the insects could even be carrying a mosquito-borne disease.

The Center for Disease Control has issued a few different precautionary measures you should take in order to protect yourself from bites.

Look around your property and try to spot spaces that seem like mosquito breeding grounds. Dispose of all old items such as tires and buckets and be sure there is no stagnant water in the area.

Also be sure to keep your grass mowed and vegetation under control to reduce the risk of mosquitoes being attracted to your yard.

When going outdoors, especially into heavily wooded areas or spaces near bodies of water, wear protective clothing such as long-sleeved shirts and pants. If you wear tightly woven and thick fabrics, the insects will have a harder time reaching your skin. 

Additionally, try to wear clothes on the lighter end of the spectrum because mosquitoes are drawn to dark colors.

Last, but certainly not least, wear insect repellent when you go outside.

The Environmental Protection Agency has a number of registered insect repellents that, when used as directed, are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breastfeeding women. Key ingredients in these repellents include DEET, Picaridin and Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus, among other things.

For additional information, click the links provided above.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

NJ Hoosier Girls State Delegates Announced

Wanted: NJ Mint Festival Car Show Participants

North Judson Town Council Takes Stellar Contribution under Advisement

Posted on May 29, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The North Judson Town Council was asked to consider contributing money toward the Constellation of Starke Stellar Communities initiative when members met last Monday.

Clerk-Treasurer Andrew Rowe explained that participating communities are being asked to offer a monetary contribution.

The funds will be used to help offset the cost of hiring a consultant who will assist with the creation of a Regional Development Plan and additional matters associated with the Stellar Communities process.

Clerk-Treasurer Rowe asked the members if they would be willing to put $5,000 toward the effort.

Starke County Economic Development Foundation Director Larry Wickert noted that the County and City of Knox have already committed up to $30,000 collectively.

The Starke County Community Foundation is also looking to apply for a grant that could provide additional funding for the cause.

The members decided to take the request under advisement. The topic will be addressed again when the council meets in June.

Starke County Commissioners Discuss Future of Kankakee River Basin Commission

Posted on May 29, 2019
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Kankakee River Basin Commission will be under a new name and new membership following the passage of House Bill 1270 in this session of the state legislature.

The newly-named Kankakee River Basin and Yellow River Basin Development Commission now only has nine members instead of the three representatives from each of the eight counties within the river basin which include Newton, Jasper, La Porte, Porter, Starke, Marshall, St. Joseph, and Kosciusko Counties.  The new organization will also include a representative from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources as its ninth member.

The Starke County Commissioners will need to make an appointment soon.  The appointee will serve two years and should have experience in drainage design, project management, construction and other qualifications.  County Surveyor Bill Crase and Engineer Lee Nagai have expressed interest in the position.  All interested candidates can turn in a resume to the Starke County Commissioners at 53 E. Mound Street in Knox.

Kankakee River Basin and Yellow River Basin Development Commission Executive Director and former State Representative Scott Pelath is expected to update county officials on the House Bill in an upcoming meeting.  The commissioners anticipate learning more about the assessment fee to be paid by residents that is expected to pay for projects and studies along the rivers, and to obtain federal grants.

North Judson-San Pierre School Board Approves Switch in Credit Recovery Programs

Posted on May 29, 2019
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Changes are coming to North Judson-San Pierre High School’s credit recovery program. For the past several years, students who fail classes and fall behind have been able to use the A+ software to catch up.

But Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin told the school board last week that the software has outlived its usefulness, and school officials have been exploring other options. “So Apex came in and provided a demonstration for our high school principal and counselors and some teachers, and they were very impressed with what Apex has to offer,” she said. “They had more options and courses, newer lessons, and they had a better price, quite frankly.”

The school board unanimously approved the Apex credit recovery program agreement. Zupin noted that the school corporation will get a discount for signing a three-year agreement.

Office of Community and Rural Affairs Offers Downtown Development Week Grants

Posted on May 29, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Indiana’s Lieutenant Governor and the Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA) are offering grant opportunities to communities who want to celebrate the second annual Downtown Development Week.

Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch noted that while visiting communities during last year’s first-ever Downtown Development Week, she had a chance to see all the work that Hoosiers are putting into their Main Street spaces.

In order to help cover the cost of a planned event or activity, OCRA will be awarding up to five Downtown Development Week promotion grants. The grants will be for up to $1,000 per application and a 50 percent in-kind or cash match will be required.

Applications can be filled out online and must be submitted by 4 p.m. on Friday, June 7th. Click the following links to view the grant guidelines and application.

Funded projects will be announced on Thursday, June 27th.

Crouch said she encourages all cities and towns to apply for the grants. She added that she hopes all Indiana communities will take part in Downtown Development Week which will run from Monday, October 7th through Saturday, October 12th.

In order to be eligible for the promotion grant, your event or activity must be held during that week.

According to the Lieutenant Governor’s Office, Downtown Development Week is an opportunity for communities across the state to host events and activities within their downtown commercial districts. These events help spur economic development and showcase updates that have been made to main street and downtown spaces.

Applicants are encouraged to contact their respective community liaison to discuss eligibility and competitiveness. 

The OCRA Community Liaison for Northwest Indiana is Gerry White and he can be reached at 317-694-8372.

NJ-WT Library Offers Adult Summer Reading Challenge that’s Out of this World

Posted on May 29, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library is offering a few different opportunities for adults this summer to help remind older residents that regular reading isn’t just important for children.

Director Kelsie Purcell said that this is the first year the library is offering opportunities specifically geared at adults.

She noted that one element of the adult summer reading challenge involves the potential to win a prize.

Purcell shared, “Every time you come in and check out a book and when you return it, you’ll get to fill out a card that puts your name into a drawing. We’re going to have three drawings at the end of the program for gift cards.”

Purcell said the gift cards will likely be for a book store to help keep the prizes connected to reading.

In addition to the gift card drawing, the library will also be putting a spin on ‘escape rooms’ with their “Break out Box” challenges.
The theme of this year’s Summer Reading program is “A universe of Stories” to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

To be in line with the theme, the break-out box challenges are also space-related.

Purcell said in the challenge, team members will be playing a group of astronauts who are preparing to open a museum when something goes awry.

She explained, “The night before, one of the astronauts that you didn’t allow to help on got mad and he came in and he mixed everything up and hid some things and he took your opening speech and locked it in a box.”

She added that the team will get 45 minutes to get everything put back in order and to unlock the box to retrieve the speech before the opening ceremony.

These challenges will be open to the public from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Friday, June 21st and from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Saturday, June 22nd.

There can be a maximum of 5 adults per group. She said if there’s a lot of interest in the challenges, they’ll hold more throughout the summer.

If you’re ready to blast off with the North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library this summer, give them a call at 574-896-2841.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Starke County EMA Director Working on Grant Applications

Posted on May 28, 2019
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Starke County EMA Director J. Nier is working on several grant applications.

She told the Starke County Commissioners last week that one grant approved so far this year is the Hazardous Materials Emergency Preparedness grant worth $10,000.  She submitted grant applications for the Indiana Department of Homeland Security for new radios for all county emergency responders.  She noted on the application that when the state upgrades to the next phase of radios, the county’s radio communications will be non-existent.  The grant would be for $149,353.50 for the radio upgrade.

Nier also applied for an SHSP grant for a public information and warning system, similar to a NIXLE system where she can send important messages to residents on cell phones.  She explained that she could also have the capability to alert residents in a certain area by distributing information on a certain cell phone tower.  That grant is in the amount of $6,250.

Another grant would assist the county in upgrading the county’s servers in the amount of $118,799.50.

Information on the status of those grants will be given once Nier is notified.

Nier also submitted a grant application for $3,100 that would help purchase breathing protection apparatus for police officers.  She mentioned that police officers are often the first to arrive at an accident that may involve a chemical or they enter a house where methamphetamine was manufactured.  Sometimes officers aren’t properly equipped with proper breathing protection so funding would help purchase the necessary equipment.  That grant is anticipated to be awarded in 2020.

The commissioners praised her efforts and noted that in 2018 she secured almost $200,000 in grants to help with the purchase of the Computer Aided Dispatch System at the sheriff’s office and salary reimbursement funds.

All North Judson-San Pierre Buses Now Equipped with Stop Arm Cameras

Posted on May 28, 2019
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The North Judson-San Pierre School Corporation has completed a major safety initiative. “All of our buses now are equipped with the stop arm cameras,” Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin told the school board last week.

The school corporation began installing stop arm cameras as part of a pilot program in December, following bus-related fatalities in other nearby counties. School officials say the effort has already helped catch some disobedient drivers.

North Judson Town Council Alerted About Code Enforcement Concerns

Posted on May 28, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Concerns surrounding a recent code enforcement effort in the Town of North Judson were brought to the attention of council members at their second meeting of the month. 

On Sunday, May 5th a number of untagged vehicles were removed from Mike’s Repair located on the corner of SR 10 & SR 39. The owner’s son addressed the council when members met last Monday.

He introduced himself, “I’m Kenneth Blough, active duty military right now, mobilized away from home. I store vehicles at my dad’s current shop. I do not register them in the current year, they’re not running, they’re being worked on.”

Blough explained that his vehicles were unjustly removed from his father’s property during the code enforcement effort conducted earlier in the month.

He told members, “This is a town ordinance that I’ve looked into that covers that but also there’s a state Indiana Code that covers abandoned vehicles, salvaged vehicles and everything like that when being stored for military members.”

Blough cited the legislation, (IC-9-22-1-1), stating that the chapter does not apply to vehicles stored as the property of members of the armed forces who are in active duty.

Marshal Kelly Fisher noted that he was contacted over a year and a half ago about his cars. She said that conversations were held in the past where they had apparently reached an agreement with Blough to have the vehicles taken care of.

Kenneth stated that his JAG Office had spoken with the town police in the past, reportedly citing a federal exemption that applied to Blough’s case.

He added that he has worked to address their concerns, noting that he used to have five cars stored at the property and he has cut that down to three.

Blough added that his father has also been making efforts to address the issues at his property.

He explained that a request to install a privacy fence to hide some of the parts that accumulate was submitted last year but it was denied.

He also shared that he felt it was unfair his father was facing a $50 fine for a not complying with a trash violation after he paid to have a company come in and clean the lot.

Another individual whose car was towed claimed that the car had up-to-date registration and everything else was in order but there was a mix up with the license plate.

They were each seeking financial reimbursement for fees they incurred from the towing and storage of their vehicles. Blough added that the $50 fine should not be assessed since they were showing progress by hiring a company to clean up the refuse.

While addressing an additional concern with the recent code enforcement effort, Kenneth told officials that he contacted the Indiana Department of Revenue and said he was informed that the towing company they utilized was not registered through the agency and therefore shouldn’t have been used by the town.

Fisher explained that Indiana State Police were consulted about the towing company and they confirmed they were a viable option.

Kenneth Blough also presented the council with information indicating that they didn’t give the required 72 hour notice.

Ordinance Officer Kerry Rust mentioned that he had been at the business on Sunday, April 21st to discuss a vehicle that was parked on the sidewalk. Rust said at that time he spoke with the owner about the other violations at the lot.

Rust explained, “I also told him that there were a lot of vehicles in there with no tags. Mike asked me if I would work with him and I said, would two weeks be fine, is that enough time and he said yes. I said if we don’t get cars tagged and everything they will be towed. That’s two weeks notice”

Mike recalled the meeting differently, claiming, “You didn’t say that. Your last words to me were ‘You don’t want me to come back.’”

Kenneth Blough said that even if a verbal warning was given in advance, authorities should have tagged the cars indicating they were unregistered, contacted the owners and given them at least 3 days to address the violation.

Blough then asked why his father was ticketed for the untagged cars instead of the registered owners.  Councilwoman Wendy Hoppe mentioned that the owner of establishment is responsible for what is on their property.

She also commented that this is not the first time that the property has been addressed.

Hoppe stated, “We have people who come through this town for the love of our restaurants, our businesses and to get to their lake properties.”

She added, “The biggest problem we have right now is ‘Why do we have to look at this all the time.’ Can you not help us to benefit this town with the beautiful park we have across the street.’

Hoppe continued, “This isn’t something that happened just now, this isn’t something that happened last year, this isn’t even something that just happened five years ago. This has been an ongoing thing for quite some time.”

She proposed holding a meeting in the future to come up with a solution that would benefit the town’s enhancement efforts without interfering with Blough’s business.

Town Attorney Justin Schramm weighed in, noting that this should be viewed in two separate phases.

He said the council can address the code violations that were issued to the owner of the business, Mike Blough, separately from the requests for reimbursement that were submitted by his son and the other vehicle owner.

The full council was not in attendance at last Monday’s meeting so the present members opted to schedule a future special session to address the matter further.

Mike and Kenneth Blough both agreed to that arrangement. Kenneth noted that he was already using vacation days to attend this council meeting in person so he’ll have to take part over the phone.

Hoppe indicated that the ordinance violation fees would not be enforced for the time being. Officials added that the individual reimbursement requests will have to be addressed on a case-by-case basis.

No official actions were taken during the meeting and a specific date for the special session was not determined. However, by law, this meeting will require posting and it will have to be open to the public.

5/31 Garbage & Recycling Pickup

Just a reminder - because of the Memorial Day Holiday garbage and recycling won't be picked up until May 31st.

Friday, May 24, 2019

6/21 & 6/22 Break Out Sessions @ NJWTPL

6/8 Summer Splash @ Ivy Tech

RSVP by May 30th or find out more information at:

Grab A Skill At Ivy Tech

Constellation of Starke Public Engagement Meeting Draws a Stellar Turnout

Posted on May 24, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

About 100 people from all across the county turned up to the Nancy J. Dembowski Community Center Thursday afternoon to show their support for Constellation of Starke.

The purpose the meeting was to inform the public about Constellation of Starke and the region’s mission to be designated a Stellar Community through the Office of Community and Rural Affair’s multi-year, multi-million dollar investment program.

The event began with a presentation from Stellar Communities Program Manager Michael Sinnet. He listed the various agencies that contribute funding to the program, shared a program timeline and provided a general process overview.

The information he provided will be available through the Stellar Communities tab on OCRA’s website.

Following Sinnet’s presentation, Constellation of Starke team members had a chance to share why the community is in a good position to be involved in the Stellar program at this point in time.

A video created by Mirth and Whimsy creatively captured the region and emphasized why the community would be an ideal candidate for the Stellar designation.

In addition to the video, County Attorney Marty Lucas shared a power point presentation with some statistics that highlighted Starke County’s potential for growth.

A panel discussion that featured input from the community’s leaders was also included.  Starke County Economic Development Foundation Executive Director Larry Wickert prompted panelists to share why they felt participation in this program was important and asked them to talk about some potential project goals.

Panelists included County Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler, Hamlet Clerk-Treasurer Kristina Pitts, North Judson Clerk-Treasurer Andrew Rowe and Knox Mayor Dennis Estok.

The event concluded with officials from Ball State’s Indiana Communities Institute (ICI) providing some community engagement exercises that gave the public a chance to participate in the regional development plan process.

The information they gathered will be analyzed by the ICI and shared in future meetings with the Constellation of Starke executive team and advisory committee.

Ultimately, the goal is to accurately represent the community’s needs and desires into the regional development plan that will be submitted for consideration this fall.

If you didn’t have a chance to attend, you can view elements of the event on the Constellation of Starke Facebook page.

North Judson Town Council Receives Update on Well Project

Posted on May 24, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The North Judson Town Council was recently informed that a good portion of the well project at Norwayne Field is complete. However, crews are currently at a standstill as they await the delivery of a necessary part.

CommonWealth Engineer Intern Sarah Prizio shared a Water Project update with the council Monday night.

She explained, “Division A which is in the park and at the Water Treatment Plant has virtually halted for now because we’re waiting on a part for the well. It’s called a pitless adapter and it’s what connects the pipe underground to the well itself.”

Prizio noted that the part is scheduled to be delivered sometime between June 10th and June 14th. She mentioned that crews are aware of the upcoming Mint Festival and they plan to have the site in a presentable condition by then.

Project Engineer Rob Bellucci added that rather than attempting to get the job done prior to the festival, he will coordinate with the contractors to see if they can wait until after Father’s Day weekend to install the part since it wouldn’t negatively impact the project schedule.

Starke County Officials to Consider Adjusting Rate for Railcars

Posted on May 24, 2019
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

A change could be coming to rates paid by companies who use the lead rail track in the industrial park.

Ron Gifford from the Starke County Economic Development Foundation told the county commissioners this week that the owners of the companies that use the lead track want to reduce the fee that currently sits at $51 per car.

Gifford said as of the end of last year, the fees collected thus far have exceeded expenses by about $200,000 and could probably recommend that the reduction request be granted.

He commented that the rail is in good shape.

“There’s no need to worry about the rail for some period of time,” said Gifford.  “They’re recommending that there be some tie work done in the future.  It’s probably not necessary until about 2024.  We’re going to replace one of the degreasers and put in four point protectors this year, but the other major expenses aren’t going to happen for a while.”

The request is to reduce the railcar rate to $10 per car.

“That money is to generate enough money to continue adding to that cash balance.  At the end of the year, we’ll take the total expenses that we spend on the rail that year, divide it by the number of cars, and then appropriate an additional cost to each of the users based on their use.”

Gifford said $13 would be added to the bill to pay expenses.  The rate could be reviewed every year to be considered by the Starke County Economic Development Foundation and the Starke County Commissioners. 

A contract will be drawn up for County Attorney Marty Lucas to review.  He then could recommend it to the commissioners who would evaluate and consider the request.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Starke County Commissioners Table Solar Farm Ordinance

Posted on May 23, 2019
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

A solar farm ordinance sits on the burner for two weeks for more consideration by the Starke County Commissioners.

Building Inspector Terry Stephenson presented the commercial energy systems guidelines for the installation of solar farms in Starke County.  He commented that the tech committee took a similar document approved in Jasper County and molded it to fit the county’s needs.

“And it’s not restrictive enough to keep the solar companies out,” said Stephenson.  “We have a lot of interest in putting these in Starke County.  I believe there’s like four different companies are trying to negotiate.”

Commissioner Kathy Norem pointed out that the solar farm operations are limited to agriculture zoning with a 40-year contract.  However, the length of the contract is not listed in the ordinance.  County Attorney Marty Lucas said there are several items that aren’t involved in the ordinance including glare reduction for aviation, landscaping buffer, indemnification of the county if road damage happens during installation, or the basis for denying a permit, among others.

Two representatives from companies looking to get solar farms initiated in the county attended Monday night’s meeting where they told the commissioners that it all depends on location if a solar farm would be initialized.  Any-sized acreage would work as long as power lines cross and other factors line up that make it an ideal location for solar panels.  A commercial area would not be an interest to the companies.

While Commissioner Bryan Cavendar voiced his support of the ordinance, Commissioner Kathy Norem said she wants more time to review the document and tour properties where the companies have approached property owners as a potential site.  The commissioners then voted to table the ordinance until the commissioners’ next meeting on Monday, June 3.

North Judson Town Council Opens Bids for Sewer and CSO Project

Posted on May 23, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

North Judson officials made a major decision related to their Wastewater and Combined Sewer Overflow project when members met Monday night.

Bids were opened and CommonWeath Project Engineer Rob Bellucci noted that the lowest base bids came in about 30 percent higher than what was estimated.

However, the Town’s rate consultant Eric Walsh from Baker Tilly shared some uplifting news from the financial side.

Walsh noted that despite the bids coming in higher than expected, there will still be no need for a rate adjustment. He added that would still be the case even if Town officials decide to take on alternates that were listed in the bid specifications.

Members made a motion to allow CommonWealth to submit all necessary paperwork to the USDA.

The associated paper work will indicate that Town officials approve of CommonWealth’s recommendation to go with the lowest bidders, authorizing the Division A contract to be awarded to Thieneman Construction, Inc and the Division B contract to be awarded to H & G Underground Utilities.

Bellucci noted that the bid awards are currently tentative since they won’t execute contracts until the funds are in place.

North Judson-San Pierre School Board Approves Agreement for New iPads

Posted on May 23, 2019
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

North Judson-San Pierre students will soon have access to new iPads. The school board Tuesday approved a lease agreement with Apple that will allow the school corporation to get 420 of the devices.

Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin said it’s part of the school corporation’s “devices on demand” initiative. “So every fourth, fifth, and sixth grader will have a device,” she explained. “They will not go home yet. We’re working on that. But they will have it at school. And then every English and Language Arts teacher will have a set of 30, and every Math teacher will have a set of 30 at the junior/senior high.”

To pay for the iPads, Zupin said N.J.-S.P. will continue a lease program for another two years with an annual payment of almost $60,000 that had already been budgeted. But beyond that, the school corporation will also make an up-front cash payment of almost $128,000, using money from last year’s general obligation bond issue for technology upgrades.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Starke County Commissioners Approve Resolution on Behalf of PTC

Posted on May 22, 2019
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

In an effort to move forward with plans for the trails system in Starke County, Prairie Trails Club member Steve Lucas presented a resolution for consideration by the Starke County Commissioners Monday night.

The club members are looking modify the American Discovery Trail (ADT) in Starke County to improve public safety.  According to Steve Lucas, the modification would take the trail in a safer route off of U.S. 35 and US 421.

“We want to have conversations with the ADT people and if you’re agreeable to the concept of course we’d have Rik Ritzler working with us to what he would be comfortable with, have them both cross at English Lake while the American Discovery Trail could continue on 421 to LaCrosse and go through that way,” stated Lucas.

He said traffic is heavy along U.S. 35 and U.S. 421 so the trail through English Lake would provide a safer, more scenic route for those utilizing the trail.

Lucas hopes that share-the-road signage can be installed to note the routes of the American Discovery Trail, the U.S. Bike Route 35 and the Great American Rail-Trail.  The resolution also includes a request to create a design for a trailhead at the intersection of County Road 450 E. and County Road 210 at the south end of Bass Lake where a bench and bike rack could be included.

The commissioners unanimously approved the request to work in cooperation with the Northern Indiana Coordinator of the ADT to modify the route.  The Starke County Highway Department plans to assist in putting up signage along the trail.

In addition to this discussion, the commissioners thanked those who worked to get a grant of nearly $400,000 for the addition of two miles on the Erie Trail.

North Judson Kicks Off Comprehensive Plan Process with Public Workshop

Posted on May 22, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Grand Central Station in North Judson was bustling Tuesday evening as members of the community gathered to contribute to the Town’s comprehensive plan.

Clerk-Treasurer Andrew Rowe reminded the public that the Town applied for a substantial amount of grant funding through the Office of Community and Rural Affairs to hire HWC Engineers to assist with the comprehensive plan process.

The firm is also working with Starke County and the Town of Hamlet. As a reminder, the municipalities were required to establish up-to-date comprehensive plans when they became involved with the Regional Stellar Communities initiative.

Councilwoman Jane-Ellen Felchuck noted that while the Stellar Communities program requirement helped get this effort off the ground, there has been a desire to get a plan in place for many years.

One member of the public noted that that a lot of people moving out metropolitan areas are looking for communities with “elbow room” to settle down in. He indicated that there is a lot of potential in North Judson but it will take some planning. 

He shared, “This is a good thing for this community here. We need to get together and talk and hash out some ideas to get something started, whatever it may be, whatever may be the first step so I’m glad we’re all here starting on this.”

After some additional discussion, the group was divided up and was given the opportunity to provide input through some interactive exercises.

There were various boards set up that prompted the public to engage in different ways. One board simply asked what people like about North Judson and another asked what residents would like to see. There was also a station that focused on establishing ideal locations for future development and identifying priority projects. 

In another station, people were encouraged to put red or green stickers on certain options to gauge the public’s preference about particular kinds of projects.

For instance, while a lot of people put green stickers on the ‘grocery store’ and ‘local boutique’ options, the ‘big box store’ option had many red stickers affixed to it. 

The participation boards will be displayed in North Judson Town Hall for a little while to give people who missed Tuesday’s meeting the chance to weigh in as well.

Individuals are also welcome to take the comprehensive plan survey online to assist with the process. That will be open to the public until Monday, June 10th.

The results of the online survey and the ongoing public input sessions will be incorporated into a draft plan which will be presented during a meeting in August.

North Judson-San Pierre School Board Finalizes 2019-2020 Student Handbooks

Posted on May 22, 2019
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

North Judson-San Pierre students will have new transportation procedures as well as a weighted grading system at the high school, as part of the 2019-2020 student handbooks approved by the school board Tuesday.

One of the big goals is to have more consistency in how students get to and from school, according to Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin. “What we’re trying to do is eliminate the number of changes that we have,” she explained. “I just want you to know that last Friday, 111 bus changes at the elementary, so it’s not safe.”

Zupin said school officials have been working on the new transportation policy for about a month. “The main thing here is to have a card for transportation where the parents will dictate what is their regular morning and afternoon drop-off, and we want that to stay as consistent as possible and not go away from that,” she said. “If there are emergencies, that can be arranged with the administration, but the key is having that consistent pickup and drop-off.”

She noted that board members had expressed concern with the idea of limiting families to a single pickup and drop-off location, rather than various locations over the course of the week. Zupin said the policy now recognizes that multiple locations may be needed, as long as they’re consistent.

The handbook update will also prohibit students from using the school bus to travel to after-school get-togethers or parties, due to capacity issues and safety concerns. However, next year’s handbook will also make it easier for elementary school students to use an active form of transportation, by creating a designated area for bikes, scooters, and skateboards.

At the junior/senior high school, one of the major changes is the implementation of weighted grades for certain courses, starting with the class of 2023. Other minor changes have to do with the high school cell phone policy, the elementary school discipline plan, eLearning, and other previously-approved policy updates.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Starke County Commissioners Approve Dog Noise Abatement Ordinance

Posted on May 21, 2019
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Commissioners adopted the Dog Noise Abatement Ordinance Monday night.

There were no public comments concerning the contents of the document during a public hearing.

The ordinance states that a violation of the ordinance will be considered if “any dog or dogs excessively barks, howls or yelps intermittently or continuously for more than 15 minutes” that results in a complaint to law enforcement officials.  Action will also be taken if two or more complaints are filed by people in different households using public spaces such as roads, trails or parks, and are bothered by incessant barking, yelping or howling dogs.

Hunting dogs are addressed in the document.  The ordinance currently states that if a dog is engaged in lawful hunting and is accompanied by the owner or custodian, or if a dog is in the act of herding domestic animals for the benefit of the owner, they are considered exempt from violation of the ordinance.

The first offense will result in a warning to the dog owner, and additional offenses within a three year time frame will result in a fine not to exceed $100.  Habitual offenses will result in a fine not to exceed $500 per violation.

The ordinance must be published before it takes effect due to the fact that fines are involved.

The Starke County Sheriff’s Office will enforce the ordinance once it takes effect.

The entire ordinance can be downloaded here.

Plan for North Judson’s Future during Tonight’s Public Input Workshop

Posted on May 21, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

As an updated comprehensive plan is being created for the Town of North Judson for the first time since the 1950s, officials are interested in hearing from the public about how they envision the future.

Community members will have a chance to have their voices heard during a public input workshop tonight at 6 p.m.

Clerk-Treasurer Andrew Rowe briefly discussed the event with town council members Monday night.

Rowe noted, “We’re meeting at Grand Central Station, it’s a little bigger, gives us a little more room so it should be a good time. I’m hoping to get quite a few people there.”

Grand Central Station is located on Lane Street, diagonally across the street from North Judson Town Hall.

Rowe noted that representatives from HWC Engineering will be running the meeting, engaging with the public.

He said they will have some large boards set up for brainstorming and they’ll be asking questions about the kind of projects residents would like to see happen within the next 10 years or so.

According to officials, comprehensive plans serve as a tool to help community leaders make decisions about housing, economic development, transportation, land use and quality of life.

In addition to participating in public events like tonight’s meeting, individuals are also encouraged to take an online survey to assist with the comprehensive plan process. Click the following link to take the Comprehensive Plan Survey.

Starke County Youth Club Secures Grant to Install Statue in Knox Serenity Gardens

Posted on May 21, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The Mayor of Knox has been coordinating with the Starke County Youth Club about an artistic addition for the downtown area.

Mayor Dennis Estok informed council members last week that the Youth Club has acquired a grant to install a statue in Serenity Gardens, the gathering space adjacent to the Nancy J. Dembowski Community Center.

Estok mentioned, “I think that coincides with what we’re trying to do in the city because that’s another thing that we want to start promoting is the arts in the City of Knox so I think it’s only fitting to partner with the Youth Club to do that.”

The statute unveiling will be held at the site at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, May 29th.

A member of the public inquired about when the Serenity Gardens mural would be finished.

Mayor Estok noted that he still needs to touch base with the artist to discuss the timeline for the completion of the project. However, he did note that he expects the artist to be able to work on it more once school is out since he is a teacher.

Area Educators Voice Concern with New License Renewal Requirements

Posted on May 21, 2019
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

A new state law will mean changes for the license renewal process for teachers. Now, area educators are voicing their concerns.

House Enrolled Act 1002 has several provisions related to workforce development, but it’s also creating a lot of frustration, according to Plymouth School Superintendent Andy Hartley. “For teachers who look to renew their license using professional growth points or PGPs, they have to have 90, if they’re taking that route, to renew their license,” he explained to the school board last week. “The requirement in that bill says that 15 of those PGPs have to be through an externship with a local business or through professional development provided by a local, state, or national group or organization that is providing professional development in the area of workforce development and local workforce needs or national needs or things like that.”

Hartley said the school corporation is doing everything it can to be as helpful as possible to teachers. “I’m not going to discredit the continued need for us to work with our local businesses and continue to strengthen those partnerships that we have,” he said. “It is an additional hoop for teachers and other certified staff to jump through that is really quite frustrating.” Plymouth Education Association President Laura Kruyer called the law an unfunded mandate that was developed with no input from teachers.

Hartley also mentioned that the state will be going back to two student count days to determine how much money each public school district receives. “We had that previously, a September and a February count that went away two years ago,” Hartley explained. “It’s come back. It’ll be present moving forward. There’s an outrageously high number of school districts who experience enrollment loss throughout the year, so that would impact funding, as well, throughout the year, if we were to see that same trend.”

Hartley said there are several more bills that Indiana educators are still going through and analyzing.

Unemployment Rates Drop in Starke, Pulaski Counties

Posted on May 21, 2019
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Starke County saw a big drop in its unemployment rate. It went from 5.4 down to 3.7 percent between March and April, according to the latest report from the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.

That’s also four-tenths of a percent lower than it was in April of 2018. The decrease is in spite of the fact that fewer Starke County residents appear to be working, as the county’s labor force appears to have shrunk somewhat.

Pulaski County’s unemployment rate continues to go down, too. Its April unemployment rate was three percent, down from 3.6 the month before but up from 2.9 in April of 2018.

The state as a whole saw a non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 3.1 percent in March, while the national rate was 3.3 percent.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Starke Taskforce for Overdose Prevention to Hold Meeting in Bass Lake Tonight

Posted on May 20, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WVKI

An organization focused on understanding the nation-wide opioid crisis and its impact on Starke County is holding a public meeting this evening. 

The Starke Taskforce for Overdose Prevention or STOP will be meeting from 5:30 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. tonight in the Bass Lake Property Owners Association (BLPOA) Community Center.

According to officials, the overall goal of STOP is to reduce the rate of disease and death associated with opioid overdoses.

The taskforce is working to bring community members from various backgrounds and sectors together to address prevention, treatment and recovery in regards to opioid abuse disorder.

During tonight’s meeting, officials shared that they will be discussing the opioid crisis and what it means for Starke County.

They’re planning to share more about what STOP is doing and they’d like to hear public input about how to effectively reduce opioid abuse disorder within the community.

For additional information visit

Friday, May 17, 2019

5/17-19 Equals a Busy Weekend

Warmer weather means that there are more outside activities being held.  Early this week they were predicting a nice weekend, now they're talking about rain and more rain.  Let’s hope the weather people are wrong about the rain as this weekend things kick off tonight, followed by a jam-packed Saturday, and a relatively calm Sunday. 

FRIDAY, May 17th
7pm ET / 6pm CT = Friday Night Under the Lights Rock N Roll Concert featuring Seldom Told @ Kersting’s Cycle Center - Bring your chairs and canopies for a Rock & Roll tailgate! 

SATURDAY, May 18th

  • FREE FISHING DAY = Indiana residents do not need a fishing license or a trout/salmon stamp to fish the state's public waters on Free Fishing Days. On all other days, only youth (age 17 and younger) and a few other special anglers are exempt from the license requirement.
  • 9am-1pm = Bicycle Safety Course and Build A Bike Workshop @ NJ Police Department - Summer is right around the corner! We want our kids safe riding bikes. This course will give them safety instruction.  If your bike is broken our Department will help you fix it. If you need a bike, some will be available.
  • 10am-2pm ET / 9am-1pm CT = Starke-Pulaski Master Gardeners Plant Sale @ Pulaski County Highway Garage - Annuals, perennials, shrubs and plants from our gardens.  Numerous vendors added this year featuring all sorts of home, craft and garden items. Free advice & design ideas.  Demonstrations.  Lunch sponsored by Paw Prints 4-H Club.
  • 10am-2pm = Port-A-Pit for Hope Restored Recovery Home @ Bailey’s Discount - We will be a fundraiser at to raise money for the Recovery Home! Pre-sale pickup by 1:00pm  Prices:  Half Chicken $8.00 / Pit-tatoes individually $3.50 / Combo Half Chicken & Pit-tatoes $11.00
  • 11am = Mint Darling’s Pageant @ NJ-SP High School Auditorium (followed by)
  • 1pm = Mint Queen/King Pageant @ NJ-SP High School Auditorium – See who the judges choose as royalty for this year’s Mint Festival. 

SUNDAY, May 19th

  • 1pm = 1st Annual Paul Hale Memorial Turkey Shoot @ Bass Lake Lion’s Building  
  • 1:30pm = Color Me Green Fun Run/Walk @ Starke Co. 4-H Fairgrounds - Open to anyone who wants to have fun, get healthy.  All proceeds will benefit Kids’s Closet in North Judson.  Registration begins at 1:30pm CDT  Walk/Run begins at 2pm CDT   Registration fee = $5 / Under 6 = Free  Participant Waiver required.  Under age 18 will Parent/Guardian signature.  Forms available that day or can be printed at

Bass Lake Beach Manager Discusses Submerged Lifeguard Tower, Glass Hazards

Posted on May 17, 2019
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

A couple of hazards in and around the Bass Lake Beach were discussed during Tuesday’s Starke County Park Board meeting. Facility Manager Larry Clarich asked board members if something could be done about a structure, believed to be an old lifeguard tower, that’s now submerged in the lake.

“I mean, this has been going on for years now and luckily nobody’s gotten hurt yet,” Clarich said, “but at some point, there’s going to be an issue with that.” Board Member Chris Lawrence questioned why that would be the park board’s responsibility, and Clarich agreed it might be worth asking the state to remove it.

Clarich also told the park board that glass continues to be an issue and showed board members some examples that were recently found. “This was coming out from underneath the tree roots,” he said. “They said this is probably 1940s glass. And you can see, this is a Pepsi-cola, so you can imagine how old that is.”

While glass may be a pretty typical problem at beaches, Clarich said he wants to make sure people are aware of the potential hazard. “Nobody can walk that lakefront and find all of that glass,” he said. “It’s just impossible. It just keeps poppin’ up, poppin’ up, poppin’ up.”

Clarich noted that glass bottles are prohibited on the beach.

North Judson Town Attorney Proposes Creation of Right-of-Way Form

Posted on May 17, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

A request from Mediacom has prompted North Judson Town Attorney Justin Schramm to create a right-of-way form for the town.

When members met last Monday, Schramm explained that he’s unaware of all of the specifics at this time but Mediacom was requesting to install some data-cable in the area which would require them to work in the town’s right-of-way.

He told members, “We don’t utilize a right-of-way form but I did see that INDOT uses one because I found their state form so it might not hurt to have a right-of-way form or certificate in case of requests to do work in a right-of-way.”

Schramm continued, “I think it would help from the standpoint that it will lay out the scope of their project.”

He noted that understanding the scope of a particular project before it gets underway is beneficial because it allows officials to have documentation explaining what the company plans to do.

For instance, if a company were to ever deviate from a project, officials would be able to reference the form to prove that crews didn’t stick to the initial plan.

Clerk-Treasurer Andrew Rowe noted that with that form, there would also be a potential fee. He explained that once the amount is established, the council will be required to authorize an amendment to the schedule of fees.

Schramm told members that he will begin developing a right-of-way form for North Judson, based on the form used by INDOT

Thursday, May 16, 2019

5/20 Town Hall Meeting for Starke Taskforce for Overdose Prevention

Starke County Park Board to Create Budget

Posted on May 16, 2019
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The Starke County Park Board does not have a dedicated source of funding, but it still apparently has to have a budget. That was the information shared during Tuesday’s meeting.

The park board does not receive tax revenues from the county, but it is able to accept grants and donations. The board has two funds under its jurisdiction to handle that money, and apparently, the state has asked that they be included in the annual budget.

As for how much money to budget, Board Member Rik Ritzler suggested that it might be easier to have more money available than the board plans to use, to avoid the need for an additional appropriation if grant funding were to become available.

In the end, board members agreed to request a budget of $10,000 for each of the two funds, even though neither of them actually has that amount, currently. The idea is that if the park board were to get a grant in the future, the money would immediately be available for the board’s use.

NJ Officials Agree to Advertise for School Board Representative Appointment

Posted on May 16, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The North Judson Town Council decided to put out an advertisement for their school board representative appointment when members met for their first meeting of the month.

When members met last Monday, they discussed the fact that the term for the North Judson-San Pierre school board representative will be coming to an end later this month. The new term will run through June of 2023.

It was noted that School Board president Sheila Akers currently serves as the representative. Council members mentioned that the school board selected her as the rep after the individual appointed by the Town Council stepped down in the middle of his term.

Council President John Rowe proposed posting the open position and conducting interviews with the prospective appointees. Councilman Josh Brown agreed and explained why that would be beneficial to the council and the community.

He noted, “Whether we decide to reappoint or whatever, I think we owe it to people to do our due diligence and see if there’s other people interested.”

Officials explained that this appointment does not have to be a school board member. However, the individual has to live within the incorporated town limits. There is some compensation for the position but the specific figures were not shared during last week’s meeting.

Councilwoman Wendy Hoppe noted that to stay on good terms with the school board, they should make sure school officials are aware about the decision to advertise the position. Members agreed that would be a good idea to keep them informed about the process.

The position opening is scheduled to be published in the paper today, as well as on Thursday, May 23rd and Thursday, May 30th.

Council President Rowe said that candidates will be discussed at the council’s first meeting in June and interviews will be conducted that week. He added that the selection announcement can be made later that month when members meet again on Monday, June 17th.

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

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

5/22 HealthLinc Open House

Change in State Regulations Creates Challenges for Bass Lake Beach Erosion Prevention Efforts

Posted on May 15, 2019
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Efforts to prevent erosion in the Bass Lake Beach area have hit a funding snag. The Starke County Park Board has obtained glacial stone, and the county commissioners agreed to let the Highway Department install it.

But during Tuesday’s park board meeting, board member and highway superintendent Rik Ritzler said a change in state regulations means that installation can’t continue as planned. “The rules have changed on January 1, and now we cannot pay for anything outside of the county right of way with [Motor Vehicle Highway] funds,” he explained. “Anything out of that has to be from a different fund.”

Ritzler said the commissioners have asked the park board to cover the cost of Highway Department employees’ labor, which he estimates would amount to between $2,500 and $3,500. The problem is that the park board only has a little more than $1,300.

In the end, the park board agreed to contribute $1,000, and ask the commissioners to look into other funding sources for the rest.

5/18 NJPD Plans Event to Teach Kids Bike Safety & Assist With Repairs

Posted on May 15, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

To help prepare the community’s kids for a safe summertime, the North Judson Police Department will be hosting a Bike Safety & Build-a-Bike Workshop this Saturday.

Town Marshal Kelly Fisher shared some information about the event when Town Council members met last week.

She explained, “That will be on May 18th at 9 a.m. at the police garage behind the police station. We’ll have a course set up to go through some safety instruction for the young bike riders.”

She noted that officers will also be prepared to help fix broken bikes.

In addition to providing the safety course and the repairs, the department will be offering some donated bicycles to kids who currently don’t have one. They’re still collecting donations so if you have an unused bike that you’d like to pass on to a child in need, get in touch with Marshal Fisher.

Spaces for this event are limited contact the Police Department today to RSVP. You can reach NJPD officials through their Facebook page or call Marshal Fisher directly at 574-806-5907. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Uncertainty with U.S. 30 Plans Draws Concerns from Hamlet Council President

Posted on May 14, 2019
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Uncertainty about the future of U.S. 30 is making it hard for Hamlet to attract businesses, according to Town Council President Dave Kesvormas. During last week’s meeting, he said that local officials have been told that INDOT wants to upgrade U.S. 30 to freeway standards, but now, they’re hearing proposals for a J-turn intersection at State Road 39.

“When I talk to people that are interested in building, one fast food chain said, ‘I would love to be in Hamlet on 30, but I don’t know what’s going to happen over there,'” Kesvormas said.

He didn’t see how installing J-turns fit with the goal of turning U.S. 30 into a freeway. “INDOT was the one that came out and said that they’re going to push for this project to be from [State Road] 49 to [Interstate] 69 and it was going to be interstate standards, we’re going to be doing some reroutes, and there were all these public hearings,” Kesvormas added. “So all these folks that have gone to public hearings, is it a waste?”

Ron Gifford with the Starke County Economic Development Foundation said that the U.S. 30 freeway project appears to have fallen slightly on INDOT’s priority list, but progress continues to be made. “This county and Whitley County have done all of the homework,” he said. “There’s all kinds of information about how many cars cross the road at any intersection where we have that. We were way ahead of anybody else.”

Gifford had his doubts that J-turns will actually get built at U.S. 30 and State Road 39, noting the fierce local opposition as well as the viability of the freeway proposal.

James Street Lift Station in North Judson Converted to VFD

Posted on May 14, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The problematic lift station on James Street in North Judson has been converted over to a Variable Frequency Drive (VFD) system.

Back in February, Utility Department employee Kim Kapp informed the council that the Department was consistently addressing issues at that lift station. Utility Crews had to pull pumps more than once and start kits kept burning out, costing the town about $140 for each replacement.

A note went out on water bills, reminding people to be mindful about what they were flushing. However, when problems persisted, a conversion to a VFD system was recommended.

When members met last week, Town Superintendent Joe Leszek reported that Flo-Technics recently finished the James Street upgrade. He noted that they rewired the lift station and installed two new pumps, as well as two VFDs.

In a previous meeting, Leszek mentioned that a VFD allows crews to reverse the pumps and that could potentially clear a clog without having to pull the pump.

Though the James Street lift station conversion has been completed, residents are still reminded that they should never flush items such as baby wipes, diapers, q-tips, feminine hygiene products, and other inorganic materials.

These items can cause lift station issues in other areas and damage the town’s wastewater infrastructure.

Ancilla College to Host Multiple Registration Day Events in May and June

Posted on May 14, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

If you’re seeking a local option for post-secondary education, you won’t want to miss the upcoming registration day events at Ancilla College.

Ancilla will be holding two registration day events this week from open until 7 p.m. on Wednesday, May 15th and from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Friday, May 17th.

The next registration day events will be held from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Friday, May 31st and on Wednesday, June 5th from open until 7 p.m.

At these events, you’ll have a chance to complete your college placement testing, submit your enrollment deposit, finalize financial aid, register for fall classes and take a tour of the campus all in one day!

If you have any questions, you can contact the Office of Admissions at 574-936-8898 ext. 330.

For more information or to sign-up for one of the registration day events, visit

Monday, May 13, 2019

5/21 What's Your Vision for North Judson?

Do you have a vision for North Judson? Share with us at the public meeting for the Town of North Judson Comprehensive Plan.

This meeting will take place May 21st at 6:00 pm at Grand Central Station.

An online survey has been created to hear your thoughts about the future of North Judson please complete at your earliest convenience.

Starke County Commissioners Discuss Courthouse Maintenance

Posted on May 13, 2019
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The third floor of the Starke County Courthouse may get a new look if funds can be provided for remodeling efforts.

Commissioner Kathy Norem told fellow Commissioners Charlie Chesak and Bryan Cavendar that she’s spoken with Starke Circuit Court Judge Kim Hall about improving aspects of the third floor of the courthouse.

“The remodeling up there is from 1960,” commented Norem.  “When you go up there it’s dim, it’s dark, it’s dingy, you can’t hear what’s going on, the wallpaper is peeling off the walls, the carpet is the original carpet, the fixtures are from 1962, and the seats are atrocious.”

She said a representative from architecture firm DLZ could talk to Judge Hall about what needs to be worked on and come up with an estimate for the commissioners’ consideration.

The commissioners agreed to move forward with that proposal.

On the heels of that conversation, the commissioners also agreed to look at funds at the end of the year to transfer into a dedicated fund for courthouse repairs.  They will look to put funding into that line item every year in order to make an effort to keep up with maintenance needs at the courthouse.

Constellation of Starke Establishes Pass-Through Fund with NICF

Posted on May 13, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The Constellation of Starke Stellar Executive Team is receiving some assistance from the Northern Indiana Community Foundation.

When members met last Thursday, there was a unanimous vote to enter into an agreement with the NICF that establishes a non-permanent pass through fund with the organization. NICF offered to contribute $2,500 to get the account started.

Members authorized a portion of that money to be used to pay the invoice for Mirth and Whimsy’s marketing campaign.

In addition to taking care of that financial business, the executive team also welcomed a couple of new members. A few more North Judson officials, some representatives from Koontz Lake and Bass Lake and a local community wellness coordinator have now joined the group.

The two main things the team is focused on right now are selecting a consultant to assist with the regional development plan process and preparing for a public meeting scheduled for Thursday, May 23rd.

Members are expected to review a few different consultant proposals and reach a decision when they meet later this week.

Next week’s public meeting will be held at the Nancy J. Dembowski Community Center in Knox starting at 1 p.m.

A creative video, an informative power point presentation and panel discussion will be utilized to answer the questions: Why Stellar, Why now?

The meeting will also include a process overview presented by OCRA representatives and officials from Ball State’s Indiana Communities Institute will be there to engage with the community.

Everyone in the community is welcome to attend. The more perspectives that are included in this conversation, the more Constellation of Starke’s regional development plan will truly represent the region’s strengths and needs.

Town of North Judson Prepares for Trip Down Memory Lane

Posted on May 13, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Photo Source:

The Town of North Judson will be speckled with reminders of yesteryear on Saturday, June 8th as a group of alumni take to the streets for the NJ-SP High School Memorial Cruise.

Memorial Committee Chair Marshall Field provided the Town Council with some information about the upcoming event when members met last week.

Field shared, “Bring your hotrod and decorate your favorite set of wheels, we’ll cruise the same downtown circuit as back in the day with signage to point out the landmarks of past eras.”

Registration will start at 5:30 p.m. in the NAPA parking lot. Drivers will take off around 6 p.m. A map of the proposed route appears below:

The cruise will end at the site of the NJ-SP High School Memorial. If there is inclement weather, the dedication ceremony will be held in the Firehouse.

The event is being held the same day as the North Judson-Wayne Township Volunteer Fire Department’s annual Fish Fry Dinner so participants are encouraged to grab a bite to eat after the cruise and dedication ceremony.

Field shared what people can expect following the memorial cruise.

He explained, “We’ll conclude the evening with a dedication of the memorial at 7 p.m. with guest emcee Charlie Adams from WKVI and an invocation from alumnus Reverend Garry Wickert. The festivities will include the opening of the time capsule that was placed in the cornerstone in 1921.”

To help cut down on disruptions, Memorial Committee representatives coordinated with Town Marshal Kelly Fisher at last week’s meeting about closing off a portion of Keller Avenue during the dedication.

She confirmed that they could get some barricades to do that and noted that officers will also be monitoring the cruise to ensure that things go smoothly.

For more updates check out the NJ-SP High School Alumni Facebook Group.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Starke County Commissioners Adopt Alarm Systems Regulation Ordinance

Posted on May 11, 2019
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Commissioners approved the third reading of the Alarm Systems Regulation Ordinance, thus adopting the measure.

The ordinance was proposed by Starke County Sheriff Bill Dulin in an attempt to reduce the number of false police and fire alarm calls in residences and businesses in Starke County.  The ordinance ensures registration and control of alarm systems for more safe, prompt and reliable dispatch of emergency personnel.

The ordinance encourages alarm businesses and users of security alarm systems, home medical emergency panic alarms, and fire notification systems to maintain the systems and properly use them to limit unnecessary service responses to alarms.

Owners of alarm systems shall register with the Starke County 911 Director with a one-time $40 non-refundable fee.  Registration must include the persons responsible for proper maintenance of operation of the alarm system, the type of system, the alarm company information, and the date of installation.

Any person who causes an alarm notification from a site that is not registered shall be subject to a fine not to exceed $100 per notification.

A copy of the ordinance can be found below: 

Alarm Systems Regulation Ordinance Download

Community-Wide Matching Efforts Help Secure Next Level Funding for Prairie Trails Club

Posted on May 11, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Members of the Prairie Trails Club gathered together Thursday night to celebrate receiving a Next Level Trails grant that’s going to help extend the Erie Trail. 

According to officials, the first three-mile segment of the Erie Trail was built in 2008 connecting the Town of North Judson to County Road 100 W. Another segment of a little over six miles was completed in 2010. State and federal funds were utilized for those projects.

Currently, the trail is a little over 9 miles long and extends from the Town of North Judson up to U.S. 35. The planned expansion will add an additional 2 miles that will reach toward Ora.

Prairie Trails Club President Carolla Heilstedt said the Club was incorporated as their own non-profit organization in 2017, which allowed them to start applying for grants on their own. Up to that point, they’d been coordinating with the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum.

The Erie Trail isn’t only for bipeds and bicyclists. A portion of the trail running from County Road 100 W to U.S. 35 has an adjacent sand-based equestrian path, which will be a part of the extended trail as well.

In addition to giving local travelers a safe route to use, the Erie Trail is also a draw for people from all across the country, according to Club President Heilstedt.

She explained, “We have a couple of different coast-to-coast trail lines that we’re a part of; so we’re a part of The American Discovery Trail, which extends from the east to the west coast, U.S. Bike Route 35 and we actually just received word that we were included in a new coast-to-coast trail system called The Great American Rails to Trail System.”

The Next Levels Trails Grant required a local match. Heilstedt mentioned that they never would have been able to secure the funding without the generous help of many.

Prairie Trails without Next Level extension

Specific details about those contributions can be found below.

Key Sources for the Next Level Trails Grant Local Match:

  • Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum: Has played an integral role in the PTC for years; donated the land where the trail is to be extended
  • Greenways Foundation: An Indiana organization that promotes green and blue-ways provided a $5,000 grant
  • The Luminous Fund: A charitable foundation led by the Carrier family provided a $5,000 grant
  • Starke County Community Foundation: The local philanthropic organization donated $5,000
  • Starke County Highway Department: With the authorization of the Starke County Commissioners, the Highway Department was permitted to provide up to $5,000 in labor and materials for an in-kind donation
  • SCILL Center: built three bike racks that were valued at about $1,000 each
  • Kankakee Valley REMC: supplied grant funding for bike rack materials
  • Prairie Trails Club:
  • Provided $5,000 from treasury fund for general construction costs
  • Collected plastic bottle caps for the Lids to Benches Program to recycle material into seating for the trail
  • Committed to furnishing and coordinating safety and identification signage through partnerships already established with the Highway Department and local signage manufactures
Club officials shared that this expansion will greatly improve safety by extending the trail past U.S. 35 to reach broad, quiet, rural roads that allow easy connection to the Bass Lake community which has numerous amenities for trail users.

Additionally, it will provide a safer route to Tippecanoe State Park, a forested area with cabins and equestrian camping facilities. The PTC is also working to close the gaps between the existing Panhandle Pathway and the Nickel Plate trails.

Erie Trail including Next Level extension

Heilstedt mentioned that there is a lot of preliminary work that must be done before any construction efforts can begin on the extension.

She shared, “We’ll have to have permitting, we’ll have to have surveying and just so much engineering and architectural planning submitted to INDOT and DNR for approval before we’ll be able to begin work.”

She added that she’s been coordinating with Territorial Engineers, the firm that assisted with the grant proposal and past work, about what they can do before the funding is in hand. The state is not expected to release the grant money until the end of their fiscal year in July.

Looking ahead, the Prairie Trails Club has more plans for the future.

Heilstedt noted, “We are very interested in expanding, not just the trail, but the opportunities along the trail and one of those opportunities that we’d like to offer the community are learning kiosks.”

She said they would like the kiosks to be digital and interactive. The trail-side devices would allow path-users to learn more about the plants and animals in the surrounding area and the efforts that Prairie Trails Club volunteers take to ensure invasive species are removed so native foliage and fauna can thrive.

Aside from informational kiosks, the organization is also interested in installing bike repair stations intermittently along the trail to help people who hit a snag during their travels.

There will be more grant rounds provided through the DNR’s Next Level Trails program yet this year and Heilstedt noted that officials consistently apply for grants from other sources to help fund future development.

For more information or to get involved with the organization visit

Starke County Employers ‘Desperate for Workers,’ According to Economic Development Foundation

Posted on May 11, 2019
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Efforts continue to try to match high school seniors with local employers with positions to fill.

Ron Gifford with the Starke County Economic Development Foundation says the foundation recently teamed up with WorkOne to host a job fair. “This one was just for high school seniors,” he told the Hamlet Town Council Wednesday.

“We had them from North Judson, O-D, Knox, and Culver. We had 12 or 13 employers, a whole variety of employers, that were there. We had about 200 students go through that.”

He continued, “Some of them came with résumés. Some of them were dressed appropriately, to try to get a job, and we know that some people did get hired even as a result of that. So that’s good.” Gifford said this was the second year for the event.

He added that employers are getting desperate for workers. “I think you can go by about any industrial plant that we have in the county and there’s a sign out that says, ‘We’re hiring.’ So there’s jobs.”

In other business Wednesday, the Hamlet Town Council agreed to contribute $150 toward this summer’s Knox fireworks display, as it has for the past few years.

NJ Town Superintendent Addresses Money Saving Adjustment to Pothole Procedures

Posted on May 11, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

A cooperative effort between the North Judson Utility Department and the Starke County Highway Department is helping get potholes patched in a more cost-effective way.

Town Superintendent Joe Leszek informed council members this week that utility crews are working to patch potholes around town and they are saving money thanks to a new procedure.

In the past, the department was getting its materials from a supplier out of town. Leszek said they recently made a switch and it’s made a major difference.

Leszek told members, “So far, it’s working out. It’s a fraction of the cost. We’re paying about $30 a ton and we’re not having to drive out to Logansport to pick it up.”

He explained that they started out with about three tons of the material to see how it would work and noted that there were plans to acquire about 7 tons more to continue necessary patchwork.

If you need to report a problematic pothole, contact North Judson Town Hall at 574-896-3340 and select the extension for the Utility Superintendent.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Starke County Commissioners Revise Security Plan

Posted on May 10, 2019
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Security at the county buildings in Starke County will change slightly.

The Starke County Commissioners took action Monday night to change the security plan where the standing metal detector will be taken from the Annex Building No. 1 and go back to the Starke County Justice Center.  Those attending evening meetings in that facility will be checked by a security guard using a handheld metal detector.

In speaking with Director of Courthouse Security Larry Keiser, security cameras at the Starke County Annex Building No. 1 and No. 2 will still be in use while a security guard will check both buildings every hour.

Security guards will be present in the annex building during tax time to ensure safety of the employees in the Treasurer’s Office.

Keiser said their main focus is the third floor of the courthouse where the courtrooms are located.  Two guards are always on duty at the courthouse while an additional guard can do roaming security checks.

The plan can always be evaluated, but the commissioners approved a motion to make these changes as discussed.

North Judson Town Council Receives Project Updates from CommonWealth Engineers

Posted on May 10, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Updates over the Town of North Judson’s water and wastewater projects were provided at Monday night’s council meeting.

CommonWealth Engineering Intern Sarah Prizio told officials that the wastewater project is currently out to bid. She said contractors have the chance to review the project and contact officials with any questions.

She noted that the bid opening date was moved.

Prizio explained, “In order to get better bids and more bids, we pushed bid opening from today until next Monday, the 13th. A: it gives everybody more time and B: it doesn’t negatively affect our schedule.”

She then moved onto the water project update, noting that the well project at Norwayne Field is nearly complete for now. Prizio said a part is supposed to come in around June 10th. It will be installed at that time and then they will work on-site restoration.

She added that the contractors are aware of the Mint Festival Father’s Day weekend and are expecting to have the site presentable by that time.

The water tower rehabilitation projects were also discussed. Crews are currently working on the West Water tower.

Prizio explained that they’ll be sand blasting off the old paint and repainting the tower over the next few weeks. She said the schedule calls for crews to remove the containment system around the beginning of June. They’ll then disinfect and fill the tank by the 17th of June.

She said they’ll start on the downtown tank after the Mint Festival.

While only text will be featured on the West Water Tower, the downtown tower will have a more detailed design that includes the phrase “Home of the Bluejays” as well as a picture of the mascot.