Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Quote of the Month - August 2019

North Judson Intersection to Become Four-Way Stop

Posted on July 31, 2019Author Anita Goodan

Two stop signs will be added to a North Judson intersection to make it a four-way stop.

A complaint about safety at the intersection of 700 South and 250 West in rural North Judson was raised during a Starke County Commissioners meeting where it was noted that stop signs do not exist on 700 South.  Joe Peverelle asked that stop signs be added to make it a safer intersection.

At that time, Starke County Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler said that a study will be done by officials from Purdue University’s Local Technical Assistance Program.

The study recently conducted by LTAP found that vegetation, trees and a fence hindered sight.  Additionally, a hill on 700 South limits the approach sight distance of the stop sign and intersection.

Traffic counts performed by the highway department indicate that 550 vehicles utilize 700 South per day while 200 vehicles travel each day on 250 West.  The speed limit is 55 mph.

With this information, plus evidence of “near miss” accidents at that intersection, the Starke County Highway Department will be adding two stop signs to make 700 South and 250 West a four-way stop.  The traffic change will begin on Monday, Aug. 5.  Signs that warn of the new traffic pattern several feet before the intersection will be posted. 

Enrollment Continues for Expanded On My Way Pre-K Program

Posted on July 31, 2019
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

A program to help bring preschool within the reach of low-income families is now available in all 92 Indiana counties. The On My Way Pre-K program continues enrolling students for the 2019-2020 school year.

To qualify, children must be four years old by August 1 and set to start kindergarten in 2020. Additionally, the family’s income must be below 127 percent of the federal poverty level, and parents or guardians must be working or going to school or job training. Families accepted into the program are able to choose from a list of approved childcare providers.

The Indiana Family & Social Services Administration encourages families to act quickly, since space is limited and school is about to begin. Applications are open year-round, but as of last week, more than half of the available slots had been filled, according to an FSSA press release.

Applications are available at Families may speak to an early learning referral specialist or get more information by calling 800-299-1627.

Monday, July 29, 2019

8/10 Emma's Fight Benefit

Workshops Scheduled for Round Two of Next Level Trails Grant Program

Posted on July 29, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Anyone interested in applying for funds in the second round of the Next Level Trails grant program is encouraged to attend one of the application workshops being held during the month of August.

Governor Eric Holcomb and Indiana Department of Natural Resources Director Cameron Clark recently shared details about the second round of funding, including the dates and times for three workshops.

On Friday, August 9th a workshop will be held at Fort Harrison State Park Inn in Indianapolis. This opportunity will also be offered via webinar.

A workshop will also be held on Tuesday, August 13th at Spring Mill State Park in Mitchell. The final workshop will be held on Tuesday, August 20th at Indiana Dunes State Park in Chesterton.

All of the workshops will begin at 3 p.m. local time. Click the following link for registration information.

Next Level Trails, which will dedicate $90 million of State funds over the life of the program, is the largest infusion of trail funding in state history.

In the first round, seventeen communities and non-profit organizations were awarded a total of $24.9 million for 42 miles of trail development.

Locally, the Prairie Trails Club was awarded a grant totaling $390,750 to extend the Erie Trail by a little over 2 miles.

According to information provided about this round of funding, $25 million will be awarded to regional projects and up to $5 million will go into local projects.

Each component requires a 20 percent project match. While the match can include monetary contributions, it can also include land value and in-kind donations of materials and labor. Projects funded through the program must be open to the public.

The application period for the second round begins October 1st and ends November 1st at 5 p.m. ET. First-round applicants that did not receive funding may re-apply this round. A third-round is anticipated in 2020.

Applicants should review the updated Next Level Trails Application Handbook, as some minor changes have been added for round two.

Friday, July 26, 2019

North Judson Police Department to Host Slip-n-Slide Event on Saturday

Posted on July 26, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The North Judson Police Department plans to bring the community together this weekend with another foam-filled slip-n-slide event.

This activity is free and open to all ages. It will be held in the area adjacent to the Police Station on Saturday, July 27th and will kick off at noon.

Residents are encouraged to bring swim clothes or activewear that they don’t mind getting wet. Goggles are also recommended as a safety precaution.

When the Department first hosted a slip-n-slide event last July, it was so popular they brought it back in August to give more people a chance to participate.

This year, NJ-PD spent a few days with the slip-n-slide set up at the Starke County 4-H Fair. Local fire departments help out during these events by supplying the non-toxic foam.

To participate in this weekend’s event, a liability waiver must be filled out and turned in. Click the following link to access the NJPD Waiver of Liability.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Starke County Council Members Schedule More Budget Discussions

Posted on July 24, 2019
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Council members will hear from department heads in a budget workshop on Thursday, July 25.

Council President Dave Pearman said department heads whom are proposing the same budget for 2020 as in 2019 or have cut funds will not need to attend this meeting since they appeared during a pre-budget meeting to discuss funds.  The sheriff’s budget is expected to be reviewed during Thursday’s meeting along with the EMS department, highway department and the prosecutor’s budget.

The public hearing for the budget will be held Monday, Sept. 16 at 5:30 p.m. with the budget adoption in a special meeting on Monday, Sept. 30 at 5:30 p.m.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Starke County Visitors Guide - Digital Version

From the Starke County Chamber of Commerce

Have you checked out our digital version of the Starke County Visitors Guide? There is some good information here. We will have the physical copies here in our office soon!

Starke County Commissioners Discuss Railroad Insurance

Posted on July 23, 2019
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Starke County officials will now carry insurance on the rail lead track and spur owned by the county.

The commissioners agreed that it’s important to make sure the county is covered in case a major incident happens.   

Starke County Economic Development Foundation Executive Director Larry Wickert told the commissioners last week that the cost of the insurance will be passed onto the user and will be determined in end-of-year expenses paid for by the companies who utilize the spur.

Wickert noted that they recently decreased the amount charged per car that utilizes the lead track to $10, and now the insurance cost will be passed along to the user which is about $15 per car.  In addition, the end-of-year expenses will add another $14 per car.  Those expenses may include an electric bill, maintenance, and the service agreements for representatives to inspect the track and crossing signals.

The commissioners unanimously approved commercial general liability insurance for the railroad in the amount of $14,523.

Unemployment Figures Mixed in Starke, Pulaski Counties

Posted on July 23, 2019
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Unemployment rates moved a bit higher in Starke and Pulaski counties last month, but they’re still lower than they were during the same period last year.

Starke County saw an unemployment rate of 3.8 percent in June, according to the latest report from the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. That’s up from 3.5 percent in May, but down from 4.3 percent in June of 2018.

The trend was similar in Pulaski County. Its June unemployment rate was three percent, compared to 2.7 percent in May and 3.4 percent in June of 2018. But in both counties, the actual number of people working was up from the month before but down from the same period last year.

The state as a whole saw a non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 3.3 percent in June, while the national rate was 3.8 percent.

Monday, July 22, 2019

North Judson Looking to Resurface Four Roads with Community Crossings Funds

Posted on July 22, 2019
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The Town of North Judson is hoping to resurface four roads, with the next round of Community Crossings funding. That preliminary list includes George Street from Vine to State Road 10, Garden Street from State Road 39 to Luken, Liberty Street, and Hubeny Street, according to Clerk-Treasurer Andrew Rowe.

“This year, Fleis & VandenBrink did what’s called a PASER rating, so they go through and they study the roads and they give it a grade,” Rowe explains, “and these four were identified as four of the worst roads in need of resurfacing in town.” Rowe says that while that’s fewer roads than last year’s application, the actual amount of pavement will end up being about the same.

He adds that the town is planning for an estimated $135,000 worth of paving projects. If the grant is approved, the town’s 25-percent share of the cost would be just under $34,000, which would come out of the Motor Vehicle Highway and Local Roads and Streets funds.

Last week, the town council approved a pair of documents related to the Community Crossings application. In addition to the funding commitment letter, Rowe says council members also signed off on Title VI assurances. “As a condition of receiving federal financial assistance, from the DOT and the Federal Highway, we assure them, basically, that we comply with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act,” he explains. “We have those policies in place already, but to formulate, in a sense, that it’s official, on our books and that it’s passed by the council, to maintain compliance with all regulations, nondiscrimination, solicitations and contracts, procurements, materials. It covers all that kind of stuff.”

Similarly, the town also has to have an ADA transition plan, but Rowe says it already has one on file.

Starke County Government Leaders Continue Looking Toward Acquiring Sysco Property

Posted on July 22, 2019
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Starke County government leaders, along with officials from the Starke County Economic Development Foundation, are reportedly working with some partners to possibly acquire the Sysco property in Hamlet.

Foundation Executive Director Larry Wickert said a meeting with two entities to discuss the acquisition of the property in a potential partnership was held in the last couple of weeks.

County Council President Dave Pearman clarified that the county is hoping that they can work with Sysco officials in giving back to the county since their proposition failed to come to fruition that would have brought in hundreds of new jobs to the county several years ago.

Pearman also clarified that the county is not committing any money toward this project at this point as discussions continue.

Efforts Continue to Add Kayak, Canoe Access Points to Yellow River

Posted on July 22, 2019
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Starke County officials are confident that kayak and canoe access points will soon be coming to the Yellow River. During a recent Starke County Park Board meeting, board member Rik Ritzler said river access would likely be one of the first projects, if the Constellation of Starke region is designated a Stellar Community, according to County Attorney Marty Lucas.

But Ritzler reportedly said the upgrades would still be pursued even if the region isn’t selected, although it would take longer. Lucas says board members continued discussing the river access project, along with the need for improvements at the point where the Kankakee and Yellow rivers meet.

Constellation of Starke’s list of potential projects also includes upgrades in and around the Bass Lake Beach. Lucas says Ritzler reported that the community reaction to the plans has generally been enthusiastic.

WKVI to Celebrate 50th Birthday

Posted on July 20, 2019
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

It was on July 21, 1969 when the WKVI-FM transmitter was turned on at 6 a.m. CT in Knox, Indiana.  Fifty years later, K99.3 WKVI-FM continues to provide thousands of listeners daily programming with music, news, sports and community information.

Morning show host Charlie Adams has featured several guests in the last few months who worked at WKVI at one time over the years.  They have delivered many anecdotes reflecting on their time at the station that lives on in the station’s legacy.

Kankakee Valley Broadcasting, Inc. expanded in 2015 to include WYMR MAX 98.3 FM.  Country programming is available on Kountry KVI AM 1520.

Information on an open house to celebrate the station’s 50th birthday will be announced at a later date.

Stellar Designation Could Mean Park Upgrades, Downtown Revitalization for North Judson

Posted on July 20, 2019
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The Town of North Judson may see some park upgrades and downtown beautification projects, if the Constellation of Starke region is designated a Stellar Community. Clerk-Treasurer Andrew Rowe says he gave an update on the group’s efforts during Monday’s town council meeting.

“We have our comprehensive plan that HWC Engineering is doing,” he explains, “and DLZ is doing the regional plan with the the Stellar group directly, that the town also has a hand in.”

He says the regional plan calls for improvements to the Town Park, as well as Norwayne Field. Meanwhile, the comprehensive plan specific to the town will likely include some recommendations for revitalization. “HWC’s comprehensive’s planning more has a look towards our downtown streetscapes, revitalization, beautification, and that area,” Rowe adds. “So they’re sort of split along parks and more of our downtown streetscapes and revitalization.”

Constellation of Starke is one of four finalist regions for this year’s Stellar designation. The winner is scheduled to be announced in December.

Starke County Council Receives Update on SCEDF Activity

Posted on July 20, 2019
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

A Hamlet industry continues to work on an expansion project.

Starke County Economic Development Foundation Executive Director Larry Wickert reminded the County Council members Monday night that Norton Packaging’s $3 million project is financed with a bond that was secured by the foundation.  The foundation owns the building and is paying for the construction through a $1.7 million bond.  Norton leases the building from the foundation.   

A 40,000 square foot addition is being constructed with at least 20 more jobs to be added over the next three years.  Wickert said the expansion should be done in the fall.

Wickert also mentioned Constellation of Starke’s ongoing process in gathering data for the Regional Development Plan toward the Regional Stellar Communities application.  Officials are also working on projects and getting funding for local matches as well as comprehensive plans.

Summer Projects Wrapping Up at North Judson-San Pierre Schools

Posted on July 20, 2019
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The North Judson-San Pierre School Corporation is making progress on a few summer projects. In her report to the school board Tuesday, Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin said the track has been resurfaced. The tennis court cement project is complete. At the junior-senior high school, painting and the installation of white boards was wrapping up.

Zupin also reported that the school corporation’s new iPads have been delivered. As part of N.J.-S.P.’s new “devices on demand” initiative, each fourth, fifth, and sixth grade student will have access to an iPad. iPads will also be available in every language arts and math classroom at the junior-senior high school. But so far, students will not be allowed to take the devices home.

Forester Pleased with Growth at Starke County Forest

Posted on July 20, 2019
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The Starke County Forest is responding well to a recent timber harvest. Forester Bruce Wakeland told the Starke County Park Board last week there’s been a good amount of natural regeneration, according to County Attorney Marty Lucas. That’s preferable to planting new trees, when it comes to the forest’s management.

Lucas says Wakeland also reported that the native plant garden that was installed in the middle of the parking loop last year is also doing very well, and it’s been fairly low maintenance. Going forward, improved signage will soon be installed to help guide visitors to the forest’s main entrance, according to park board member and highway superintendent Rik Ritzler.

Starke County Council Continues Discussion on Knox Moose Family Center Building

Posted on July 19, 2019
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The Starke County Council members and Starke County Commissioners are still considering the acquisition of the Knox Moose Family Center Building at 115 N. Main Street.

Councilman Don White and Commissioner Bryan Cavendar toured the building two weeks ago.  White said they noticed a few issues.

“We noticed there’s a lot of leakage through the roof and things like that,” said White.  “Other than that, the building seemed to be in fairly decent shape.  The roof did have an issue.”

An estimate received to replace the flat, rubber roof on the building is about $51,900.  If the county were to move forward with obtaining the property, a different roofing configuration would be constructed to extend the life, create better insulation and cut costs on repairs.

The furnace would need to be replaced as well.

The purchase price of the building is $119,000.

The government leaders discussed uses for the building, including storage and office space.  Councilman Brad Hazelton recommended tearing down the building to create more parking for the courthouse.

Before any decisions are made, two appraisals need to be conducted, which is required.

The commissioners approved a motion to get two appraisals on the building not to exceed $1,000.  More discussion will be held in future meetings.

Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum to Get New Quotes for Tie Replacement

Posted on July 19, 2019
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

The Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum’s railroad tie replacement project continues to be considered by the North Judson Town Council. After council members had asked for more information before agreeing to help fund the effort, Clerk-Treasurer Andrew Rowe says Bob Barcus attended Monday’s meeting.

“He’s a member of the board at the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum and just sort of gave us an update on the dynamics of the railroad ties out there,” Rowe explains. “So many out of so many ties need to be new and in new shape for us to maintain a class one rail line.”

Rowe says at this point, it doesn’t appear the museum would be able to get a full truckload of 200 ties until October, “But it’s sort of in a maintenance mode, where as ties need replaced, they would be able to fix those and implement the new railroad ties.”

Rowe adds that Barcus has agreed to get some updated quotes for the ties, since the estimates that had been presented to the town council are now several months old. Much of the track that the museum uses to operate its trains is owned by the Town of North Judson. Rowe stresses that the council members are still interested in purchasing the ties but simply want to do their due diligence.
In any case, he says it’s important that the museum and town are willing to work together. “With the litigation that went on when I first came in – I hadn’t been exposed to a whole lot of that, but all I knew was that there were some contentious issues surrounding the railroad,” Rowe says. “So it was good to have an individual from the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum here to come talk to the council in a proactive way, looking towards the future.”

He noted that a museum representative is taking part in the town’s comprehensive planning process, while the museum is also working on a comprehensive plan of its own.

North Judson-San Pierre School Board Raises Adult Breakfast Price, Approves NEOLA Policies

Posted on July 19, 2019
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

North Judson-San Pierre teachers will soon have to pay a bit more to buy breakfast at school. The school board has already voted to keep student meal prices the same for the coming school year, but Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin says the Department of Education had an error in calculating the adult breakfast price.

“We needed to raise the price by one penny,” she explains. “We decided to avoid the pennies and raise it by five cents, so now our adults will pay $1.85 for their breakfast meal. This does not affect the students whatsoever.” The increase was formally approved by the school board Tuesday.

Zupin says board members also approved a round of policy updates recommended by consultant NEOLA. She says they simply bring the policies up to date with new state and federal mandates, and make sure the school corporation is in compliance with the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Starke County Sheriff, Court Services to Apply for Grant

Posted on July 18, 2019
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Starke County Sheriff Bill Dulin and Starke County Court Services Director Shawn Mattraw will be applying for a grant to help address opioid use disorders and substance use disorders.

Sheriff Dulin said Starke County Court Services is part of a Justice Partners Addiction Response Training Group.  Through this group, Court Services officials can apply for a grant through the Sequential Intercept Model for $60,000 for two consecutive years to enhance partnerships with law enforcement and behavioral health care providers.

Dulin said the funds will help the county with a new position.

“The creation of a part-time re-entry coordinator position that would help assist offenders in getting a job, getting their banking things in order, possibly helping them get to and from jobs, and possibly housing.

Funding would also allow training for a Moral Recognition Therapy program at Hope Restored in North Judson and potential cross training with Healthlinc’s Mobile Response Team.

“A huge thing is a Mobile Response Team which would include an on-duty law enforcement officer and that funding would help cover the overtime costs for that officer.”

The dedicated officer would be a part of Healthlinc’s Mobile Response Team as a first line of defense in a situation.  The Mobile Response Team will assist the individual in making sure they attend the addiction treatment appointments and will meet with them on a regular basis.

The county would not need to provide a grant match.   The grant announcement will be made in the fall.

Commissioner Bryan Cavendar commented that he supports anything that can help combat the drug problem in the county.

With that, the commissioners approved the request to proceed with the grant application.  They also approved the creation of the part-time re-entry coordinator.

School Board Considers List of Potential Elementary School Building Improvements

Posted on July 18, 2019
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

A list of proposed upgrades to North Judson-San Pierre Elementary School was presented to the school board Tuesday. Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin says architectural firm Fanning Howey visited the school on June 6.

“In summary, Fanning Howey felt like the facility was well-maintained – so kudos to our maintenance staff – and that the existing structure is in good condition. So in about two years, we will address some of those major areas that need to be improved”

Some potential improvements may include upgrades to the windows, roof, and exterior doors, along with flashing and tuck-pointing work. Inside the elementary school, the architects noted that the gym, cafeteria, and some of the classrooms are too small, and some of the rooms need to be repurposed. They also recommended renovating the restrooms, replacing the gym bleachers, and upgrading plumbing, electrical, and mechanical systems. Flooring, walls, and ceilings may get improvements, as well.

In addition to the elementary school, Fanning Howey also suggested some improvements at the bus garage and equipment maintenance area.

The firm will continue working on plans and cost estimates, according to Superintendent Zupin. More details will be discussed during the school board’s August meeting. The plan is to be able to do the work without raising the school district’s property taxes.

North Judson Water Tower Rehabilitation Project Moves Downtown

Posted on July 18, 2019
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI

Water tower upgrades continue in North Judson. Clerk-Treasurer Andrew Rowe says the focus is now shifting to the downtown water tower.

“The west water tower’s finished and it looks great,” he says, “and so now the same sort of work is beginning on our downtown tower, which we’re excited about because that’s been a thing we’ve wanted to get fixed for quite a long time.” One of the more visible changes is a new paint scheme for each of the water towers.

The water tower rehabilitation is part of a larger series of upgrades to the town’s water and wastewater infrastructure. Rowe says construction is set to start on improvements to the wastewater plant and combined sewer overflow system in the next several weeks. He says Rob Bellucci with Commonwealth Engineers gave an update to the town council on Monday.

Starke County Council, Commissioners Discuss Communications Contract

Posted on July 16, 2019
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

A service contract with communications company J&K Communications was reviewed by the Starke County Council and Starke County Commission members Monday night.

The contract with the company expired on June 30.

Matthew Noonan from the Starke County Communications Committee presented a one-year service contract for $42,000 for consideration.  It covers all radios and 911 dispatch equipment and labor costs.  Software updates, which are costly, are included in the contract.  J&K Communications Representative Ted Hurley said if the software updates are not done on some of the equipment, then new equipment would have to be purchased.

Noonan stressed that J&K Communications is the only company that could service the county’s needs.

Council President Dave Pearman asked if an itemized estimate was available to see what it would have cost the county last year without a contract and it was about $47,000 for labor only.  Noonan said the service agreement covers material and labor so it was a benefit for the county to have the agreement in place.

A five-year contract proposal was presented which would cost the county $189,000 over the course of five years with annual payments of about $38,000.  Hurley said a discount of $21,000 would be realized for a multi-year agreement.

After further discussion, the council approved a motion to approve the five-year contract with J&K Communications.  They also approved a payment that would take the county through the rest of this year with the rest of the contract to be budgeted out of the Sheriff’s Department budget.  The amount of $18,904.59 was approved for the remainder of the year with the money coming from the Rainy Day Fund.  The commissioners also approved the contract.  County Attorney Marty Lucas will clarify a few issues with the contract with company representatives before it is signed.

North Judson Town Council Postpones Decision on Railroad Tie Replacement

Posted on July 13, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

North Judson Town Council members discussed the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum and a proposed railroad tie replacement project when members met for their first meeting of the month.

Council President John Rowe explained that, back in June, the Town’s railroad liaison Wendy Hoppe presented three cost estimates for the replacement of railroad ties to officials.

However, he noted that he didn’t feel comfortable moving forward with choosing from the quotes at that time.

Rowe stated, “I asked the question of ‘Who says we have to have these replaced, is it a want or is it a need?’

He continued, “They can’t be the ones to tell us that. We need a professional to tell us that, we need a company to come that verifies that. I mean, it’s $11-12,000 it’s not like it’s $200.”

Rowe emphasized that he isn’t opposed to the idea of helping cover the cost but he would feel better if more details were provided.

After some deliberation, members came to the consensus they wouldn’t make a decision about the railroad tie replacement until they see some documentation with additional information identifying the necessity and justifying the cost. 

During their discussion, the Council went into greater detail about the railroad and potential plans for the future.

The discussion over this topic will be featured during WKVI’s Kankakee Valley Viewpoints Program this Sunday at noon.

Friday, July 12, 2019

See You At the Fair!

New leadership brings new ideas, so this year when you’re browsing the booths at the Starke County 4-H Fair keep an eye out for current, and former, staff of the North Judson-Wayne Township Library and stop by for a visit. There will be a table top version of Corn Hole Toss for the kids and we’re also bringing along a simpler version of our Break Out Box for people to try. We’ve streamlined it so it won’t take you 45 minutes to find the clues and open the box. But, if you want to have the full experience, we’ll be glad to schedule a session for you and your team at the library.

North Judson-Wayne Township Fire Department Battles House Fire

Posted on July 12, 2019
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Firefighters from the North Judson-Wayne Township Fire Department battled a house fire in the 5,000 South block of Holiday Street on Thursday night.

Officials say that the home was nearly totally engulfed when firefighters arrived at the scene around 9:30 p.m.  Entry was made at the front of the house while a search team made entry on the side of the house.  The fire was quickly extinguished and no one was injured.

The occupants of the home were not there when officials arrived at the scene.

The cause and origin of the fire will be determined by the Indiana State Fire Marshal.

Firefighters were on the scene for about an hour. There were 19 volunteers who responded.  About 6,300 gallons of water was used.

In a post on social media, firefighters stressed the importance of keeping doors closed while sleeping or not at home when a fire erupts as it can save lives.  The difference can be seen in the pictures posted with this story.

The North Judson-Wayne Township Fire Department was assisted at the scene by the Starke County Sheriff’s Department and Starke County EMS.

Photos provided by the North Judson-Wayne Township Fire Department.

Inspector Change and Apparent Tree Damage Covered During NJ Water Project Update

Posted on July 12, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

When the North Judson Town Council met last Monday, CommonWealth Engineer Intern Sarah Prizio shared that there was recently a change to who is representing their firm on site.

She explained “We’ve had a new resident project representative or inspector. He’s not new to the company, he’s actually one of our better inspectors who’s been with us the longest but he’s just new to the North Judson job.”

Town Superintendent Joe Leszek mentioned that he met with the new inspector Wayne Boyer. Leszek said he seemed knowledgeable and good to work with and that he was happy to have him aboard.

The council unanimously passed a motion that accepted Boyer as the new inspector and permitted President John Rowe to sign the associated documentation that was required by the funding agencies.

Prizio explained that the former inspector had to be moved to another project. In the interim, she was spot inspecting and was on site whenever work was being conducted. 

However, due to some last minute rearrangements toward the end of June, there was a day where she was unable to be in Norwayne Field while contractors were working.

She noted, “They were supposed to be here Thursday and then Thursday morning while I’m on the road to North Judson they called me and said ‘Hey due to rain we can’t be there until tomorrow.’ And I said ‘Alright, well I don’t know if I can schedule somebody that fast to be there.”

During that time, a tree in the park was apparently damaged. Prizio said once she was aware there was a problem she came into town to check it out for herself.

Prizio told members, “After Joe [Leszek] called and talked to me, I came up and did a site visit and took pictures and we have a picture with clear track marks going right around the tree so as of right now it’s CommonWealth’s position that the contractor has to pay to repair it.”

She said they’ll be holding retainage until the damage is paid for. She also noted that the contractors originally claimed they were not responsible. However, the photos she took and timeline seem to paint a different picture.

She explained, “The bottom line is when I was here Thursday, there was no damage. They were on site actively working Friday and Monday.”

Prizio continued, “Wednesday I was on site, took the pictures so between Thursday and Tuesday it was damaged and they were the only ones on site working.”

She asked the members how they would like to have the tree repaired. The council members discussed it briefly, noting that it was more of a shrub-like bush but it was quite tall.

They agreed to coordinate with Park Board members to get their input on how they’d like to proceed.

Prizio added that Inspector Boyer will be on site for the remainder of the Water project and will serve in a similar capacity for the upcoming Wastewater project.

New Director Selected for Starke County Chamber of Commerce

Posted on July 12, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

After a few months of searching for the perfect fit, a new executive director has been selected for the Starke County Chamber of Commerce.

Chamber President Jerry Gurrado reported they were fortunate that there was great interest in the position.

After multiple rounds of interviews, Gurrado said a number of candidates were on the brink but the committee felt that Brenda Palmer checked all their boxes.

President Gurrado added that Chamber officials are excited to have Brenda hit the ground running and extend the quality of previous Directors.

Her predecessor, Jessica Craig, sat on the Chamber Board of Directors for three years and served as the executive director for two. She stepped down from her position as director in April of this year and now works as the Center at Donaldson Marketing Director.

Palmer comes to the Chamber with a variety in her background and is described as uniquely qualified. She said she used work as a trucking manager and had extensive experience working with agencies such as the DOT and OSHA.

Palmer said while she doesn’t have past experience with the Starke County Chamber of Commerce, she’s looking forward to getting out in the community to help familiarize residents with everything the organization does.

She added that she wants to make people more aware that the Depot, the Chamber’s headquarters, has a lot to offer, including materials with various things to do in the area, resources for a variety of reputable businesses as well as a lot of local history.

Palmer’s responsibilities will include various duties at the Chamber office and working with tourism as well as bouncing throughout the county to serve current membership and secure new ones. She will also be manning the Chamber Wheel at the 4-H Fair next week. Feel free to stop by and say hi.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Starke County Highway Superintendent Updates Commissioners on Concerns

Posted on July 11, 2019
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Starke County Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler updated the county commissioners on a few concerns that have been addressed in previous meetings.

Ritzler is still waiting on word from INDOT representatives concerning a flooding issue at Iroquois and State Road 23 at Koontz Lake.

“We are awaiting a response from their maintenance supervisor.  We may place a catch basin in there in the meantime where we can do it and pump it out.  We would ideally like to connect to their sewer.  If they don’t respond quickly then we’ll set up that meeting where we will go up there and talk with them,” said Ritzler.

Another item that was discussed in a past meeting was the realignment of State Road 10 where it would bypass Bass Lake, which Ritzler says was in the state’s plans years ago.

“They did plans on that about 20 years ago.  It would alleviate some problems at the lake.  INDOT is looking for their old plans, but have not been able to find them yet.”

Additionally, Ritzler said a traffic study is being done on U.S. 35 near 500 S. to make that area a no passing zone.

Ritzler and Commissioner Bryan Cavendar look to meet with INDOT officials concerning an agreement for the county to assist the county with local needs.

“As you know, sometimes we do some of their work late at night.  With downed stop signs, sometimes they take four, five, or six hours.  We don’t like that.  We do it in about a half hour or 45 minutes. It’s the same thing with fallen trees.  We’d like to start billing them for those. There could be an agreement where we will do that if they don’t have the forces to do it, because we don’t think that’s safe.”

There is a drainage issue by the Bass Lake Property Owners Association building along State Road 10 that will be addressed with INDOT as well.

A meeting will be scheduled soon to discuss these things with INDOT representatives.

NJ Town Council President Proposes Potential Decoration Purchasing Plan

Posted on July 11, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

There was some talk of Christmas in July during the North Judson Town Council’s first meeting of the month.

At that time, Council President John Rowe told members that a request related to their holiday decorations was recently received.

He explained, “We got a letter from the people that have done this for us for the last few years. They want us to sign another three-year contract for around $5,948.”

He noted that their contract would cover enough decorations for 42 poles, with 16 of those in town and the rest lining Highway 10.

In the past, President Rowe has expressed an interest in potentially obtaining some town-owned decorations instead of renting them so he presented the council with an alternate plan.

Rowe shared, “My proposal is we sign a two-year contract with them for just the 26 on that highway and we ask them what they would charge us for two years we buy 16 for the ones downtown so we would invest $5-6,000.”

Clerk-Treasurer Andrew Rowe mentioned that’s an approximate cost estimate and noted that this is the time of year where many places are offering 30-40 percent off decoration purchases.

President Rowe said his proposal also includes buying additional decorations during that two-year contract period. 

He told members, “Then next year we buy another 13 or 14 maybe 16 again would probably the right number and we buy 16 three times so then eventually, after two years, we’re doing 16 here [in town] and 32 down there, because I think we should do more we actually do on the highway.”

Rowe noted that since the majority of the decorations utilize LED lights they’ll also be long-lasting.

He recommended possibly establishing a selection committee who could search through the various options and pick out some worth purchasing.

No official actions were taken, but the matter will be re-addressed in future meetings.

North Judson Town Council Informed About Outcome of Recent IDEM Inspections

Posted on July 10, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The North Judson Town Council heard about some recent inspections conducted by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) when members met last week.

Marshal Kelly Fisher provided some information about the agency being called into town on behalf of Code Enforcement Officer Kerry Rust who was unable to attend the first meeting in July.

She explained, “IDEM has been in town. I think it was a couple of businesses that called on each other.”

She added, “They were out at B&T Towing. No violations were found.

Fisher said that they went through and checked that all paint and garage materials were being stored properly before coming to the conclusion that there were no violations at the Lane Street business.

She stated that IDEM officials also were also sent to check out Mike’s Repair located near the corner of SR 10 and SR 39. Fisher said that the agency did discover multiple violations at that business.

She told members, “The violations were for excessive tires, the chemicals that weren’t marked in the 55-gallon barrels, not properly stored propane tanks, the inside of the garage – the maintenance, and some of his tire balancing equipment and so forth wasn’t up to what it needed to be.”

Following the inspection, Marshal Fisher said the business owner was given 30 days to address the violations.

Councilwoman Jane-Ellen Felchuck asked what would happen next if he didn’t fix the issues. Marshal Fisher responded that the matter is now in IDEM’s hands and any additional consequences will be up the agency.

She noted, “I talked to the IDEM employee that had come out and he said he would take care of it. He also offered their services if there’s any kind of burn complaints that we could call him and he would address them as well.”

A community member also unofficially addressed Felchuck’s question. He noted that he was under the impression that if IDEM comes back and sees that nothing has been done to fix the violations, they have been known to shut a place down.

Ongoing Radio Issues in North Judson Set for Repairs

Posted on July 10, 2019
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The North Judson-Wayne Township Fire Department has experienced issues with their radio communications and repairs to the equipment are anticipated soon.

Matthew Noonan from the Starke County Communications Committee explained to the Starke County Commissioners last week that the problem was found at the site and wasn’t an issue with the radios as initially thought.  He said through testing he found that voter was disenabled and the transmitter wasn’t working.  Officials from J&K Communications were contacted and they were able to gain remote access and enable everything.  It was working, but further testing found it to be inoperable.

Noonan explained that during the tower maintenance project in North Judson, where the fire department’s radio equipment is placed, the cables were found to be damaged.  The equipment was not moved from the site during the project, because of cost.

The commissioners did approve a quote for $2,005 to repair the cables which will be presented as an additional appropriation for the council to approve.

In addition, the air conditioning unit was also found not to be working to help cool the equipment to a preferable operation temperature.  Arctic Air made necessary repairs for just over $100 as an emergency expense.

On top of that, the service contract with J&K Communications, the only company that Noonan said can service the radios that all the fire departments use, expired June 30.  Noonan presented a one-year service agreement contract for the commissioners to review in the amount of $42,000.  The contract will be discussed by the Starke County Council along with the commissioners on Monday, July 15.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Supply Lists for NJ Schools

Sorry kids, but the school supply lists are out which means that school will be starting sooner than you'd like.

North Judson Town Marshal Addresses Curfew Enforcement

Posted on July 9, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

With summer break in full swing, North Judson Town Marshal Kelly Fisher said that her department has stepped up patrols to make sure curfew is being followed.

Fisher addressed the matter during her report at the first Town Council meeting in July.

She explained, “The officers know that we’re not going to tolerate the kids being out after curfew. Anybody that is out after curfew, they’ll be ticketed and taken home by the officer and the parents will be contacted.”

She said during the week, the curfew is 10 p.m. and it is extended to midnight on the weekends. Fisher added that it is applicable to any community member under the age of 18.

Starke County EMS Transfers Steady

Posted on July 9, 2019
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

Ambulance transfers continue to be a steady income for the Starke County EMS Department.

Clerk Mary Lynn Ritchie reported to the county commissioners last week that 34 percent of the ambulance runs are transfers from Starke Hospital.  The dedicated transfer unit at the hospital helps in the statistics.

Ritchie said the revenue situation is an incredible contrast from last year’s figures.  The county was losing revenue due to a dedicated transfer unit from another entity at the hospital.  Less than 20 percent of the county’s ambulance runs last year were transfers which hurt the revenue stream.  Now with Starke County EMS staffing a transfer unit at the hospital 12 hours a day for the past three months, officials are starting to see larger numbers.

Ritchie reported that revenue is up in the first six months of the year.

“We’re up $31-grand and now we’re up for the first six months really so about $143,000,” said Ritchie. “The transfer unit is just a win-win for the community and for the county.”

EMS Director Travis Clary noted that the hours of operation for the transfer unit depends on the call volume, but it typically runs from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

“We continue to branch out of the 50-mile radius of the county,” explained Clary.  “We recently took a transfer to Chicago.  We’ve been going to Fort Wayne and Indianapolis – areas we weren’t going before.  We’re working closely with the hospital to meet their needs.  We were commended at a recent meeting with the CNO and department directors.  Everything has been going smoothly and they’re really happy with our services. We’ve actually been getting calls from other facilities wanting us to transfer people out!  It’s just a need across Northwest Indiana trying to find ALS transport vehicles.”

The dedicated transfer unit at Starke Hospital has been in operation since the county’s reception of a new ambulance in March.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Libby Is Ready For Your Road Trip

Lots of people are packing up and hitting the road right now. Whether it’s a family vacation, a weekend getaway, or moving out to the fairgrounds next week you’ll want to pack as much as you can in as little space as possible. That’s where Libby can save you plenty of space.

Libby by Overdrive is a free app for your smartphone or tablet; it allows you to take out a total of 10 books/audiobooks. Just download Libby by Overdrive from your app store, follow the simple instructions (enter our name - North Judson-Wayne Township Library - and your library card number) and you’re set to go. Should you have any problems setting up Libby, just stop in at the North Judson-Wayne Township Library and we’ll be glad to help you get started.

Then just browse the library of over 50,000 items – and more are added daily, or search for titles you want to read; Libby will tell you if they are available or checked out. If a book is out, Libby will let you know how many holds are on it, how many copies are in the system, and approximately when it will be available. If you reserve a book that is out, Libby will send an email letting you know when it is your turn and will automatically download it to your phone/tablet. (HINT: We do recommend that under “Preferences” you set “Compatibility” to Libby for a more direct download.)

The items you choose are downloaded over Wifi connections and are yours for 14 days, with the option of 1 renewal if needed. Finished a book before it’s due?  Just reconnect to Wifi, return it, and pick out some more. Any book you don’t renew will be automatically returned after two weeks for the next person to use.

If you haven’t tried Libby you don’t know what you’re missing.

Traffic Study Planned for Requested Stop Signs at Intersection

Posted on July 8, 2019
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

A traffic study is planned in order to move forward with a request for a four-way stop at the intersection of County Road 250 W. and 700 S. in North Judson.

Joe Peverelle asked for the Starke County Commissioners’ help in making the intersection a four-way stop for safety reasons.  Peverelle said there is a stop sign for traffic traveling east or west, but there is not a stop sign for traffic going north or south.

“On 250 W., you’ve got a rise and a fall,” explained Peverelle.  “The stop sign is 65 feet before the intersection.  It’s the same type of intersection where I lost my leg.  Then because of the terrain you have to pull ahead another 10 feet to be able to see if anything is coming from the north.”

Starke County Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler said Purdue LTAP Specialist Laura Slusher will review the safety needs at that intersection before putting up any signs there.

“It’s very important that Purdue comes to look at that because it’s going to make the intersection more dangerous when we put the signs in because people are going to be going through those signs.  That’s a proven fact for about three to six months.  The danger of leaving the signs the way they are is worse than that.  There are things that we can do with ‘new traffic pattern ahead’ and ‘stop ahead’ signs and we do do that, but we need a traffic engineer to set that up because it probably was not set up at the beginning whenever that was there 30, 40 or 50 years ago,” commented Ritzler.

Ritzler said he will give an update on when the study will happen.

LTAP traffic studies are also anticipated to assess the safety at the intersections of 300 E. and Toto Road and 500 S. with 260 W.

North Judson Town Attorney Explains Impact of HEA 1347

Posted on July 8, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The North Judson Town Council will be required to repeal an ordinance passed in January following a change to state legislation.

When the town council met last Monday, Town Attorney Justin Schramm presented members with a repealing ordinance and mentioned which existing Town policy House Enrolled Act 1347 will impact.

He explained, “It’s the ordinance pertaining to property owner liability for utility delinquencies. A month after we passed the legislature stepped in and passed HEA 1347 effectively making it impossible for us to compel property owners to put utility services in their name.

Schramm indicated that the state statute only addresses electricity, water and gas utilities

He said, “There is an exemption there; we can still do that with regard to wastewater.”

Schramm continued, “so you’ll see on that in that ordinance I say specifically that even though we are repealing the ordinance, that doesn’t stop our clerk-treasurer from adopting a policy to do something different with wastewater.”

The Town Attorney said that he attended a seminar put on by the law firm ICE Miller where they addressed the matter. To protect themselves from potentially unpaid utility bills, Schramm said municipalities are permitted to require a higher monthly deposit from tenants who could be considered high-risk financially speaking.

He stated, “They seem to say that two full months deposit is reasonable if somebody doesn’t have a least 24 months of established credit history with the town specifically or if they have bad credit history.”

Schramm mentioned that the repealing ordinance was only up for consideration during the member’s first meeting in July since the full council was not in attendance and they didn’t have enough members to pass it on first reading.

It will be readdressed when members meet next on Monday, July 15th.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Starke Co. 4-H Fair Schedule

People kept telling us that they wanted a rodeo, so we are excited to announce that this year on Sunday, July 21st we will be hosting the 3 Bar J Rodeo starting at 6:00 p.m. central time. None of this would be possible without our amazing and generous sponsors. Stop by their business, give them a shout out, or just let them know how much we appreciate it!

Starke County Co-Op
Wagner Heating & Cooling
Shaffner Tire Service, Inc.
Tractor Supply Company
Cambe Chevrolet Buick
GreenMark Equipment
OTES Signs & Graphics
JML Family Farms
In Memory of Brad Lawrence
Given by Donna & Matt Lawrence
Wings Etc.
Norton Packaging
K & D Bennett Farm & Beck’s Hybrids
Broken F Farm
1st Source Bank

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

7/20 Bass Lake Festival Pageant

7/14 St. Vincent de Paul Pork Chop Dinner

7/13 Blue Star Moms Motorcycle Ride

7/15-7/20 Starke County 4-H Fair

Starke County 4-H Fair is coming up soon, here are some events you'll want to mark on your calendar.

7/7 Starke Co. Historical Society Ice Cream Social

Starke County Highway Department Assessing Culvert Collapse

Posted on July 3, 2019
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The culvert collapse on County Road 700 East between County Road 600 North and County Road 750 North in Starke County is still under assessment.

Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler told the Starke County Commissioners Monday night that he and County Surveyor Bill Crase are monitoring the site.

Mark Wilson from Jones, Petrie and Rafinski looked at the issue the day it occurred and delivered four recommendations for repair.

Ritzler said Wilson’s recommendation is a bridge replacement project.

“The pros on that are a long life span, it’s easy to maintain, and has the best bank stabilization,” said Ritzler.  “The problems are it’s expensive, and the road would be closed for most of the fall school semester near Oregon-Davis and the Oregon-Davis buses use that route.”

The cost would be somewhere between $300,000 to $350,000.

Other types of repair include a modular bridge, aluminum box culvert and twin culverts.  These are less expensive options, but Ritzler is going wait to make a decision.

“I’m going to wait until those estimates come in.  I’m going to recommend we do that and then at the next meeting I’ll come and make a recommendation and we can go from there. How’s that?”

Commission President Charlie Chesak and Commission Bryan Cavendar replied, “Sounds good!”

For now, the road remains closed.

Starke, Marshall Counties Receive FEMA Reimbursements

Posted on July 3, 2019
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

FEMA reimbursement funds were recently distributed to Marshall County and Starke County from the 2018 flooding event.

Marshall County Highway Superintendent Jason Peters told county officials on Monday that FEMA released $106,615.75 to the county with another $76,154.  The funds were deposited into the Rainy Day Fund.  The county initially paid for repairs from the flooding from that account.

Starke County Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler told the county commissioners on Monday that the county received $58,000.  He filled out additional paperwork where another $260,000 is expected in reimbursement money.  Ritzler said that money will go right back into improving roadways.

Constellation of Starke Stellar Projects Discussed with DLZ Employees

Posted on July 3, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The proposed Stellar projects for the Constellation of Starke region are starting to take more shape following recent conversations between community representatives and officials from DLZ.

As a reminder, DLZ is the firm that was selected to serve as a consultant as the regional development plan is being created for the Stellar Communities Designation Program.

Various members of the Constellation of Starke Executive Team partnered with community members who could provide an additional perspective to go over project details with DLZ employees throughout the day on Tuesday.

Some things that were discussed during those sessions included beach improvements at both Koontz Lake and Bass Lake, park upgrades in Hamlet, North Judson, Knox and San Pierre in addition to a county-wide connector project. 

DLZ officials will work on a number of things with the information gathered, including attaching some more solid figures to the projects. That data is expected to make its way back to the Executive Team by Monday, July 22nd.

DLZ Program Coordinator Jodi Coblentz went through and identified the various Stellar funding sources that could potentially cover specific projects and included the anticipated match commitments.

She mentioned that from Tuesday’s conversations, she was confident that local communities felt the match commitments could be acquired. She noted that project representatives will be busy solidifying match sources in the coming weeks.

It’s worth noting that matches are not always monetary. They can also include labor, equipment, land donations and things of that nature.

There are some other important projects, such as ones related to daycare, the arts and transportation that are conceptual or programmatic so they will rely more on local collaboration rather than DLZ’s input.

In addition to holding project discussions, the Stellar Executive Team also set dates for future organizational meetings.

To discuss the housing aspect of Constellation of Starke’s regional development plan in greater detail, members of the Stellar Housing Committee will be meeting with a developer on Monday.

More specific committee meetings will be scheduled in the near future and community members who expressed an interest in serving on one will be notified.

The Executive Team also intends to meet up to coordinate prior to a Stellar Technical Assistance meeting scheduled for the afternoon of Tuesday, July 9th.

Looking further ahead, the Team is interested in hosting another public presentation in August. This will be an opportunity to fill every one in on the Stellar process and to gather additional community input. A specific date, time and location will be shared once those details are finalized.

In the meantime, to keep up with the Constellation of Starke Stellar efforts, follow their social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Also keep an eye out for COS representatives at upcoming events including the 4-H Fair, the Bass Lake Festival and HealthLinc’s Annual Summer Health Fair.

NJ Town Superintendent Issues Reminder About Alley Responsibility

Posted on July 3, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

North Judson Town Superintendent Joe Leszek discussed unkempt alleyways with Town Council members Monday night.

He explained, “Homeowners’ vegetation and brush has been over growing the alleys and it’s really the homeowners’ responsibility.”

He continued, “They should be cutting that brush back two feet onto their property. The alley is a right-of-way, an easement, they shouldn’t allow their shrubbery to grow over into it and expect the Town to go do it.

Leszek said they will deal with an obstructive alley similar to the way they treat overgrown lawns.

Homeowners will be issued a warning and given 10 days to address the problem. If the violation is not fixed within that time frame, Leszek said town employees will go take care of it themselves but the resident will be charged for the service.

Council President John Rowe asked how many homes currently have a problem that needs to be addressed. Leszek replied that there approximately 20 to 40 properties where some alley maintenance needs to be conducted.

He said he has provided Clerk-Treasurer Andrew Rowe and Billing Clerk Jennifer Vanek with some information to put out on the town website and Facebook page. He added that he feels most property owners will be receptive to the reminder.

UV Safety Month Reminds People to Protect their Largest Organ this Summer

Posted on July 3, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

Skin is technically the largest organ that humans have and it serves an incredibly vital purpose. Not only does it protect your internal organs but it guards against injury and infection. That’s why it’s important to make sure you’re doing everything you can to care for it.

Since this is the time of year where we typically begin seeing sunshine-filled days more frequently, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recognizes the month of July as UV Safety Month.

Officials use this time to remind people to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves from the effects of ultraviolet rays.

In addition to increasing the risk of developing skin-cancer, UV rays from the sun and indoor tanning devices can cause other health complications such as eye problems and a weakened immune system.

Fortunately there are some easy ways to protect yourself this summer.

For instance, you can reduce your risk by staying out of the sun during “peak burn hours”. According to the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization, that time is between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If at all possible, head for the shade during that time.

Wearing protective clothing is another good way to avoid complications. This includes sunglasses and hats as well as long sleeve shirts and pants to guard against UV rays directly.

However, when you consider the typical temperature during this time of year, clothing that covers skin can be uncomfortable and impractical.

That’s why it’s also a good idea to stock up on sunscreen to cover all exposed skin. Make sure to initially apply a generous amount to all exposed areas and regularly re-apply, even if it’s described as water resistant.

Keep in mind that just because you see the sun dip behind the clouds that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re less at risk. Individuals are not immune to sun damage on cloudy days so be sure to keep these UV safety tips in mind, regardless of the forecast.

Click the following link for additional Sun Safety Information.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

DNR Collects National Award for Floodplain Project

From the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Facebook page

The Indiana DNR, Division of Water was nationally honored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Cooperating Technical Partners program (CTP) for using technology to better communicate flood risks to Hoosiers. The division merged the National Flood Hazard Layer to create the Indiana Best Available Floodplain Layer (BAFL). BAFL includes more than 18,000 stream miles of updated floodplain information used for planning and better understanding potential flood risk. Learn more at

View the award-winning DNR work at

National Weather Service Issues Heat Advisory

Posted on July 2, 2019
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

The National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory today from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. CT.

Starke County EMA Director J. Nier urges residents to limit time outside today.  Seek shelter in an air conditioned area or find shade to rest.  Nier also advises residents to stay hydrated by drinking a lot of water.  Stay away from pop or alcohol.

Heat exhaustion can occur quickly.  The symptoms of heat exhaustion include feeling faint or dizzy, excessive sweating, clammy skin, nausea or vomiting, rapid weak pulse, and muscle cramps.

Heat stroke symptoms include a throbbing headache, no sweating, red dry skin, nausea or vomiting, and loss of consciousness.

Seek medical attention if either medical condition occurs.

Check on elderly neighbors and make sure small children are safe.

Starke County EMS Director to Get Updated Vehicle

Posted on July 2, 2019
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI

A newer vehicle will be a part of the Starke County EMS fleet as a non-ALS transport vehicle.

EMS Director Travis Clary said the newer vehicle would be able to handle all of the equipment needed with more ease.

Clary presented the commissioners with a quote Monday night for a 2013 Ford Explorer with 80,000 miles and all-wheel drive at a purchase price of $11,000.  A $3,000 trade-in value was quoted for the current 2011 Dodge Charger used as the non-ALS transport vehicle.

The vehicle would come from Chicago Motors, a company that sells pre-owned government discounted vehicles and that has been used by other county officials to purchase vehicles.   

Clary said the best part of the deal is that enough grant money has been obtained for the purchase of the vehicle with no additional funding needed.  Grant funds were obtained through Starke United and the Starke County Community Foundation from the Hardesty Memorial for this purchase.

Auditor Rachel Oesterreich asked about the IT vehicle and Emergency Management Agency vehicle, both of which are in much more worse condition than Clary’s vehicle he’s trading in.  With the trade-in value, they could trade-in the IT vehicle or Emergency Management Agency vehicle and the commissioners would pay the difference.  The IT or Emergency Management Agency department would then use the 2011 Dodge Charger.

Commissioner Bryan Cavendar made a motion to approve the purchase of the EMS vehicle with the grant money and then pay the difference of the trade-in value of the IT or Emergency Management Agency vehicle out of the Cumulative Capital Development Fund.

North Judson’s Town Website Now Includes Feature for Paying Utility Bills

Posted on July 2, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

The Town of North Judson website now includes a feature that will allow residents to pay their utility bills online.

During Monday night’s Town Council meeting, Clerk-Treasurer Andrew Rowe told members and meeting attendees that the Invoice Cloud feature has officially been added to the website.

He noted that their first residential customer recently signed-up and successfully paid their bill utilizing the online system.

In addition to making that announcement, Clerk-Treasurer Rowe asked the council to consider approving the final payment for the company Datacrates.

That cost covered the second installment for the development and completion of the Town Website as well as email addresses for the council members. The purchase order (PO) Rowe presented totaled $1,875. Members voted unanimously to pay the PO.

To access the online billing feature, residents can visit and click ‘Utility Payments’. If you have any questions, contact NJ Town Hall at 574-896-3340.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Quote of the Month - July 2019

Garbage Pick Up Friday 7/5

Just a reminder - because of the 4th of July Holiday

garbage won't be picked up until July 5th.

Don’t Become a Statistic, Stay Safe this Fireworks Season

Posted on June 29, 2019
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI

As Independence Day draws closer, fireworks will start speckling the sky and the National Safety Council is hoping you’ll leave the pyrotechnics to the professionals.

While it may be legal to purchase fireworks, they can be quite dangerous if handled improperly.

Officials report that in 2017, 8 people died and more than 12,000 were injured badly enough to require medical treatments after firework-related injuries.

While the majority of those incidents were due to amateurs attempting to use professional-grade, homemade or otherwise illegal fireworks, an estimated 1,200 were from less powerful devices such as small firecrackers and sparklers.

In addition to the safety hazard they cause to humans, they’re also a fire hazard, accounting for an average of 18,500 fires each year.

The National Safety Council advises everyone to enjoy fireworks during public displays conducted by experts. However, if you do choose to buy fireworks this season, the NSC has a few things for you to keep in mind.

Never allow young children to handle fireworks and yes, that means sparklers as well. While they seem harmless, sparklers burn at about 2,000 degrees which is hot enough to melt some metals.

The National Fire Protection Association estimates that sparklers alone account for more than 25 percent of emergency room visits for fireworks injuries. Parents are encouraged to use safer alternatives such as glow sticks or colored streamers.

Additionally, never use fireworks while impaired by drugs or alcohol, utilize protective eye where, never hold lit fireworks in your hands, never light them indoors and only use them away from people, houses and flammable materials.

Be sure to maintain a safe distance once the device is lit and never light more than one device at a time. If a firework malfunctions, do not try to re-light or handle it. On a related note, soak both spent and unused fireworks in water for a few hours before discarding them.

Also it is a good idea to keep a bucket of water nearby to fully extinguish fireworks that don’t go off or in case a fire starts somehow.

For additional information, visit the National Safety Council’s Fireworks Safety Page.