Starke County News Items

Starke County Highway Superintendent Finalizes Community Crossings Project List (6/22)

posted by North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library

Posted on June 22, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI 

The Starke County Highway Department has finalized applications for Community Crossings three-to-one matching funds for seven projects. Superintendent Rik Ritzler told the commissioners Monday three bridge replacements and one repair on the list are already complete.

If approved, the county will get the state match back as a reimbursement, and the money would go into the local bridge replacement fund for other projects.

The Community Crossings list also includes the county’s first hot mix asphalt road under the 10-year truck route paving plan. For a local cost of $56,750 the county would be able to complete hot mix paving for the Knox Industrial Park by going north from MPI to State Road 8.

The commissioners rejected a similar proposal to pave Arlington Road in North Judson from 350 West to the dead end to better accommodate heavy truck traffic through the North Judson Industrial Park. Instead Ritzler says the county will seek reimbursement for culverts that have already been installed at several locations this year.

The final project on the initial Community Crossings grant list is the bridge replacement on 800 South over Bogus Run just east of 200 West.

Each application is several pages long and requires a local funding commitment letter, a map for each project, an estimate of funding costs, asset management plan and supporting documentation.

Ritzler also plans to seeking funds for additional local projects should there be additional state money available.

Legal Questions Prevent North Judson Firefighters from Carrying Narcan, Public Training Planned (6/22)

posted by North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library

Posted on June 22, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI 

A recovering addict from the North Judson area wants to make Narcan more widely available in Starke County, so local residents can live to have a chance at recovery. Kevin Glisic says he was an active addict for nearly 20 years. Now, he serves as the executive director of Moraine House, a recovery-based transitional house in Valparaiso.

Glisic met with the North Judson Town Council Monday to discuss offering Narcan training classes for both first responders and the general public. The training would be conducted by the Overdose Lifeline, a non-profit group based in Indianapolis. Public training sessions would be about an hour long, and residents would be given Narcan free of charge.

North Judson-Wayne Township Fire Chief Joe Leszek says drug overdoses have caused his department’s medical calls to triple in the past few years. A big concern is fentanyl, a powerful synthetic drug often mixed with heroin. Leszek says firefighters now wear chemical-protective suits when responding to drug-related calls, to protect themselves from accidental overdose.

He says most of his firefighters have already been trained with Narcan, but they’ve stopped carrying it, due to legal concerns. “The reason we don’t carry Narcan right now is because the state is very unclear,” he explains. “We are a BLS non-transport department. So what that means for us is when we put in our state certification, there is not medication that we carry.”

Leszek is afraid that carrying the potentially life-saving drug could jeopardize the fire department’s certification. Officials from the Overdose Lifeline agreed to research the situation. Town Council President Wendy Hoppe also asked if grant funding may be available to purchase protective clothing for police officers.

Town officials expressed support for Narcan training and discussed some possible locations.

West Nile Virus Confirmed in Indiana, State Officials Offer Mosquito Safety Tips (6/22)

posted by North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library

Posted on June 22, 2017
Author WKVI

State officials have confirmed the first cases of the West Nile Virus in Indiana. As the mosquito season progresses, the state is urging citizens to take preventive action against the virus.

To prevent yourself from getting the virus and other mosquito borne viruses, you can wear insect repellant, cover exposed skin by wearing a hat, long sleeve shirts and pants in places like wooded areas.
  • West Nile Virus starts out with a mild form of the illness. Symptoms include fever, head and body aches, swollen lymph glands or a rash. If you or someone you know have these symptoms, please see a health care provider.
  • Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are active (especially late afternoon, dusk to dawn and early morning).
  • Apply an EPA-registered insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol to clothes and exposed skin.
  • Cover exposed skin by wearing a hat, long sleeves and long pants in places where mosquitoes are especially active, such as wooded areas.
  • Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out of the home.
Mosquitoes breed in standing water. Even a container as small as a bottle cap can become a breeding ground, so residents should take the following steps:
  • Discard old tires, tin cans, ceramic pots or other containers that can hold water.
  • Repair failed septic systems.
  • Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers left outdoors.
  • Keep grass cut short and shrubbery trimmed.
  • Clean clogged roof gutters, particularly if leaves tend to plug up the drains.
  • Frequently replace the water in pet bowls.
  • Flush ornamental fountains and birdbaths periodically.
  • Aerate ornamental pools, or stock them with predatory fish

Lightning Safety Week Raises Awareness of Weather Dangers (6/22)

posted by North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library

Posted on June 22, 2017
Author WKVI

The Indiana Department of Homeland Security and the National Weather Service have partnered to celebrate Lightning Safety Awareness Week in the state, June 18-24. The week is designed to have Hoosiers have a better understanding of the dangers of lightning.

If thunder is heard and no lightning is observed, the chance of one being struck by lightning is still there.

One can reduce the chance of being struck by lightning by staying away from water, high grounds, open areas, metal objects and electrical wire during a storm.

Railroad Township Advisory Board Votes Privately on School Board Member (6/21)

posted Jun 21, 2017, 8:29 AM by North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library

Posted on June 21, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI 

The Railroad Township Advisory Board chose a North Judson-San Pierre school board member last night, but there are questions about how the process was handled.

Advisory board members selected Susan McCormack to replace outgoing board president Pat Goin, who did not seek reappointment.

However, they did not take the vote in a public meeting, as required by state law. Instead, they recessed, went next door to discuss the four candidates, came back and announced their selection.

When audience members objected, the advisory board president defended their action and said they would redo the vote if necessary, but for now McCormack’s appointment stands.

She previously served on the LaPorte School Board.

Cassandra Hine, Megan Korous and Deb Wappel also sought appointment to the school board.

Grant Funds Unlikely for North Judson Building Demolition (6/21)

posted Jun 21, 2017, 8:26 AM by North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library

Posted on June 21, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI 

It’s looking unlikely that North Judson will be able to get grant funding to help demolish a downtown building believed to be in danger of collapse. Part of the structure at 205 and 207 Lane Street already collapsed in on itself on May 11, forcing North Judson to close off a portion of its downtown area.

Town officials asked the Kankakee-Iroquios Regional Planning Commission if any resources were available to help cover demolition costs. The problem, according to Clerk-Treasurer Alicia Collins, is that a blight elimination grant would take too long, and the state’s urgent need funds are designed mainly for weather-related emergencies, meaning the emergency demolition wouldn’t qualify.

The town didn’t have much more luck with state lawmakers. “We contacted both our legislators and just got back a kind of generic ‘We’ll look into it,'” said town council member Jane Ellen Felchuk. “But I had it from another source that the state doesn’t have any money they’re passing out.”

A demolition quote previously received by the town was for over $250,000. The town council voted earlier this month to reject it, in part, because of the high price. Town Superintendent Marshall Horstmann told the town council Monday that since then, three companies have expressed interest in doing the work. One of those planned to visit the site Tuesday.

All demolition quotes are due by Friday, July 7 at 3:30 p.m.

County Council Nixes North Judson Paving From Funding Disbursement Request (6/21)

posted Jun 21, 2017, 8:23 AM by North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library

Posted on June 21, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI 

Starke County government officials want to wait on an upgrade to a road in the North Judson Industrial Park proposed by the Starke County Economic Development Foundation.

Their request for an appropriation from the County Economic Development Income Tax, or CEDIT, fund included $75,000 to repave the main road through the North Judson Industrial Park with hot mix asphalt to withstand heavy truck traffic.

The council discussed the benefit of doing so, seeing as how there are only 11 available acres in the landlocked park on the east end of town. They generally agreed any future heavy industrial development in North Judson will occur west of town on State Road 10 due to the proximity to U.S. 421.

Starke County Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler pointed out the county can spend between $50 and $75,000 to pave 300 East from MPI north to State Road 8 in the Knox Industrial Park thanks to available matching funds from the state.

He adds the county can always upgrade the road through the North Judson Industrial Park later if a need to do so arises. Meanwhile, Ritzler says the chip seal surface will last between five and six years.

The council did approve the remaining $195,000 in CEDIT appropriations sought by the SCEDF. All but $15,000 of that money will be allocated to the foundation’s economic development consulting contract. The remainder will pay for the Hamlet fire well and industrial park projects.

Starke County Unemployment Hits 19-Year Low (6/21)

posted Jun 21, 2017, 8:21 AM by North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library

Posted on June 21, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI 

Starke County continues to enjoy historically low unemployment. The May jobless rate of 3.2 percent is tied with the Indiana average and is down slightly from April. It’s also the lowest Starke County has seen since May of 1998. The local unemployment rate back then was 3.5 percent, which was up half a percentage point from the month before.

Pulaski County’s May 2017 unemployment rate is 2.7 percent. Marshall is the lowest in the surrounding area at 2.3 percent, while LaPorte County is the highest at 3.5 percent. That’s still well below the national May unemployment average of 4.3 percent.

North Judson to Evict Chickens, Town Council to Continue Reviewing Animal Ordinance (6/20)

posted Jun 20, 2017, 8:51 AM by North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library

Posted on June 20, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI 

North Judson’s chickens will soon have to find a new home.

After reviewing the town’s existing animal ordinance, Town Council President Wendy Hoppe said Monday that it clearly prohibits farm animals from being kept inside the town limits. “These animals include but are not limited to the following species: cattle, horses, donkeys, mules, sheep, swine, goats, chickens, roosters, geese, turkeys, ducks, and other related fowl, et cetera,” Hoppe read from the ordinance.

However, members of the Ransom family previously said they had a letter from the town, saying they could continue to have a certain number of chickens. During Monday’s town council meeting, though, Clerk-Treasurer Alicia Collins said the Ransoms failed to present such a letter to town officials, as requested.

The town council voted to have police officer Frank Thomas enforce the ordinance and remove the chickens. But since they’re being raised as part of a 4-H project, Thomas agreed to let the chickens stay until after next month’s county fair. “They can get through their 4-H, and then it’s dinner time, or however you want to look at it,” he said.

Council member Jane Ellen Felchuk opposed the motion, due to some concerns with the animal ordinance as it currently exists. Specifically, she wanted to see a provision explicitly prohibiting the feeding of feral cats.

Collins agreed the ordinance needs some review, since enforcing it would also mean 4-H families in more rural parts of town would also have to give up their animals. “We may need to look at doing an acreage thing or something,” Collins said. “Obviously, people that live right in the middle of town do not have eight acres that they could have animals on, but some people that live on the boundaries of town that have 4-H animals do and that were annexed in. So that will be the next thing that we’re going to deal with.”

Town Attorney Justin Schramm agreed to start researching other communities’ animal ordinances. However, he reminded council members that any ordinance needs to be based on rational standards and can’t be designed to target individual people.

North Judson Council to Get Update from Starke County Economic Development Foundation (6/19)

posted Jun 19, 2017, 8:17 AM by North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library

Posted on June 19, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI 

The North Judson Town Council will get an update from Starke County Economic Development Foundation Executive Director Charlie Weaver tonight. Recently, Weaver’s been discussing plans to bring U.S. 30 up to freeway standards in the northern part of Starke County, as well as efforts to develop properties around North Judson and elsewhere.

North Judson’s animal ordinance is once again listed on tonight’s town council meeting agenda. Town officials planned to review it, following complaints last month about chickens in town.

Tonight’s North Judson Town Council meeting starts at 6:30 at the town hall.

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