Starke County News Items

Starke County Coroner Receives Certification (2/12)

posted by North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library

Posted on February 12, 2016
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI 
Starke County’s coroner has received his state certification. Dannie Hoffer Jr. says he’s finished the required Medicolegal Death Investigators training and is now certified through the Indiana State Coroners Training Board. He was elected to the position in September of last year, following the resignation of Adam Gray.

Hoffer says the next step is to get his deputies certified, “At the present time, I’ve got three deputy coroners that are down in Indianapolis this week going through their training, so we will have four legal death investigators in Starke County.”

Hoffer says he’s also handing the coroner’s duties in Pulaski County this week while their coroner is going through training of his own.

Starke County Absentee Ballot Applications Available (2/12)

posted by North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library

Posted on February 12, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI 
Registered Starke County voters who cannot get to the polls to vote in the May 3rd primary election can get their absentee ballot request in now. The Starke County Clerk’s Office will start mailing them on Friday, March 18. Requests for absentee ballot applications by mail are due in the clerk’s office by 11:59 p.m. on Monday, April 25th.

Contact the Starke County Clerk’s Office Voter Registration Division at 574-772-9160 to request an absentee ballot application by mail. Applications may be submitted to the clerk’s office via mail, fax or email.

Starke County voters will elect two county commissioners, three county council-at-large representatives, a surveyor and a treasurer. Republican state convention delegates and precinct committeemen will also be selected.

Moving Starke County Forward Seeks Volunteer Program Coordinators (2/11)

posted Feb 11, 2016, 9:32 AM by North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library   [ updated Feb 11, 2016, 9:36 AM ]

Posted on February 11, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI 

Moving Starke County Forward is seeking volunteers from across the county to help with the fourth annual Get Moving Challenge.

The goal is to get people moving and healthy. The volunteer coordinator or coordinators will design the program, recruit, advertise and follow up with participants. The initiative will start in the spring and wrap up in late August or early September.

Moving Starke County Forward is an ongoing coalition of leaders whose purpose is to improve the quality of life and encourage, create and advocate for a healthy Starke County. The group was formed in 2012 after Starke County ranked 91st out of 92 counties in Indiana health rankings.

Program coordinators should have a computer. Interpersonal and computer skills as well as a desire to see a more healthy Starke County are desired. Anyone interested in helping Starke County take another step forward should call Irene Szykonyi at 574-772-1600, ext. 1857 or email

Zika Is Now in Indiana – What You Need to Know to Stay Safe (2/10)

posted Feb 10, 2016, 10:16 AM by North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library

From IU Health Starke Hospital:  

The Indiana State Department of Health has announced its first case of the Zika virus.  The case was reported on Tuesday morning.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who confirmed the case, the individual was a non-pregnant Indiana resident, who had recently traveled to Haiti, but was not sick enough to be hospitalized for treatment.  Read the full ISDH news release here.

The occurrence of this new case in Indiana has inspired a continued call to action for all Americans (not just those in the South or living in coastal areas) to use caution and be more aware of this serious virus.

“The risk of contracting Zika virus here in Indiana remains low, but we know that many residents are concerned,” State Health Commissioner Jerome Adams, M.D., M.P.H. said.  “We urge anyone visiting affected areas to take steps to avoid mosquito bites.”

The CDC has also reported isolated cases of Zika spread through unprotected sexual contact with an infected person.

Here are some other helpful facts to keep you informed.

Challenger Withdraws from Starke County Race (2/10)

posted Feb 10, 2016, 9:49 AM by North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library

Posted on February 10, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI 
Cross one candidate off the list in Starke County. Republican Tim Brettin has withdrawn from the treasurer’s race, according to staff in the clerk’s office. That leaves incumbent Democrat Kasey Clark unopposed in the November election.

Primary elections will take place Tuesday, May 3. In-person absentee voting starts 28 days prior to elections. Prospective voters have until April 4th to either register or update their information.

A complete list of local candidates follows ((I) denotes incumbent):

Starke County Commissioner District 1

(I) Kathy Norem (R)
Pete J. (Buddy) Ringle, Jr. (D)
Lonnie Boley (D)

Starke County Commissioner District 3

Karen Tibbs (D)
Anthony R. Bailey (D)
Robert G. Manning (D)
Tony Minix (D)
Kenneth Arnett (D)
Joseph Woods (D)
Charles Chesak (R)

Starke County Council-at-Large

(I) Bryan Cavender (R)
(I) Freddie Baker (D)
(I) Robert Sims (D)
“Al” Barrera (D)


(I) Bill Crase, Jr. (D)
Rusty Poort (D)


(I) Kasey Clark (D)

Precinct Committeemen candidates: Jacqueline Masterson, Center 1; Dave V. Kesvormas and Larry Jernas, Davis; Rutherford Byron Walters, North Bend; Roy McCray, Oregon 1; Peggy J. (Peg) Brettin, Washington 2; C. Jerome (Jerry) Jernas, Wayne 1; Brenda Stanojevic, Wayne 2; Don White and Gregory Wireman, Wayne 3.

State Convention Delegate candidates: Jacqueline Masterson, at-large, Center 1; Dave V. Kesvormas, at-large, Davis; Bernadette Welter-Manuel, at-large, Washington 2; Brenda Stanojevic, at-large, Wayne 2; Gregory Wireman, at-large, Wayne 3; Christopher Lee, at-large, Wayne 4.

Prospective Students Invited to Access Ancilla Day (2/10)

posted Feb 10, 2016, 9:40 AM by North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library   [ updated Feb 10, 2016, 9:46 AM ]

Posted on February 10, 2016
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI 

Students deciding which college to attend have the chance to learn about Ancilla College next month. The school is hosting Access Ancilla Day on March 3.

Prospective students and their families will have the chance to learn about the college’s degree options, new campus housing, and other facilities. You’ll also be able to talk with faculty, counselors, and current students.

Access Ancilla Day will begin with a free lunch at noon Eastern, followed by information sessions, workshops, and student round-table discussions.

Click here to register for the event.

State Officials Working to Increase FAFSA Completion (2/10)

posted Feb 10, 2016, 9:36 AM by North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library

Posted on February 10, 2016
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI 
The State of Indiana is working to help students continue their education with its Cash for College campaign. It aims to increase the number of students who file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by Indiana’s March 10 deadline.

Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education Teresa Lubbers said in a statement that the state has plenty of resources available for those who need help, but she says thousands of Hoosiers miss out, simply because they don’t file the FAFSA on time. As part of the effort, the state is encouraging schools and communities to host FAFSA Friday events this month, to provide assistance with filling out the application, opening 529 Savings plans, and other ways to be financially ready for college. Additionally, February 21 will be College Goal Sunday, with FAFSA-filing events taking place at 42 locations around the state.

To see how successful these efforts are, the Commission for Higher Education will be tracking FAFSA completion in 115 school corporations and making a weekly ranking of their progress.

Click here for more information on FAFSA events taking place around the state.

Starke Highway Safety Plan Results in Fewer Wrecks (2/9)

posted Feb 9, 2016, 9:27 AM by North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library

Posted on February 9, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI 

The safety program implemented in March 2013 by the Starke County Highway Department is apparently paying off. Superintendent Rik Ritzler cites crash data from the state.

“Our crashes in the past two years have dropped dramatically. It was at 196 in 2012, 154 in 2013 and 128 in 2014. We believe it’s even lower than that in 2015. They should be getting those statistics out sooner this year because they have it more automated than they’ve had in the past.”

Ritzler shared that data with the county commissioners last week. He says a lot of factors are responsible for the drop in the number of crashes but notes the safety program plays a significant role.

He says the drop in wet roadway crashes are due to snow removal protocols, while animal and intersection crashes are lower because of the county’s brush clearing program. The wet roadway crashes, animal crashes have gone down. Intersection crashes have gone down.

The state data also compares Starke to other rural counties in the area. It looks at crashes per 1,000 residents, in which Starke is the second lowest around. Ritzler says the highway department intends to continue the safety program. It involves the continuous identifying of improvements, such as brush cutting, and monitoring to make sure they are done in a timely fashion.

State Approves Starke County Budget Order, Tax Rates (2/8)

posted Feb 8, 2016, 10:11 AM by North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library

Posted on February 8, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI 

Starke County’s 2016 budget order and tax rates have received final state approval. Last month’s certification of both by the Department of Local Government Finance paves the way for on-time property tax bills. Starke County taxes are due May 10th.

DLGF officials say the certification of the budget order allows local governments to better plan for their operations in 2016 based on the approved budget and anticipated revenue figures.

The first step in the process is the completion of property assessments. It culminates with the submission of a ratio study. It’s a comparison between property sale prices and assessed values in the county to ensure market values are being used to determine assessed values. These are typically submitted to the state and approved by May 31st the year prior to tax billing. Starke County’s ratio study was submitted on May 15, 2015.

After the state approves the ratio study, the assessor sends the gross assessed values to the county auditor, who applies exemptions, deductions or abatements to determine the net assessed values. Those are the amounts on which tax rates are based. Starke County’s certified net assessed values were submitted on Aug. 17, 2015.

Now that the DLGF has certified the 2016 county budget, the next steps are handled at the county level. The auditor is to calculate tax bills, which the treasurer should mail to taxpayers no later than April 19, 2016.

Visit for more information about Starke County taxes.

USDA Touts Rural Development Efforts (2/8)

posted Feb 8, 2016, 9:47 AM by North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library

Posted on February 8, 2016Author Tyler Maffitt

The United States Department of Agriculture is giving itself a pat on the back discussing programs available to rural residents in Indiana.

Key among the USDA’s programs is its financial support for water and sewer systems, housing, and emergency services facilities.

The federal branch’s Rural Development operations have provided more than $213-billion in loans and guarantees to aid in economic development in rural areas of the country. $780-million of that was distributed throughout Indiana’s 92 counties.

Apart from its broad reach, the USDA says it is looking to help businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers through their outreach programs. Officials with the Rural Development operation say that those interested are able to reach out to the local offices based in Knox.

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