Starke County News Items

Senator Donnelly Discusses Hoosier Healthcare (1/16)

posted Jan 16, 2017, 8:32 AM by North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library

Posted on January 16, 2017
Author Abby Adams, WKVI 

U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly is discussing his plans for healthcare in Indiana following the talk of repealing The Affordable Care Act.

Donnelly said Friday there must be a plan to replace the healthcare of those currently depending on government healthcare plans following the repeal of this bill. “I’m not willing to stand aside if someone in Knox who has diabetes loses their healthcare.”

Donnelly stressed in the interview that he would work with whomever was willing, Democrat or Republican, to make sure Hoosiers do not lose their healthcare during the repeal of The Affordable Care Act.

“I’m willing to make plans, I’m willing to work together as long as everybody’s healthcare is protected,” he said.

Starke County Forest Drainage Complaints Continue (1/16)

posted Jan 16, 2017, 8:23 AM by North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library

Posted on January 14, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI 

The Starke County Forest continues drawing complaints about drainage issues.

Forester Bruce Wakeland told the Starke County Park Board Tuesday that a complaint was brought to the County Drainage Board this week by a neighboring landowner. “For some reason, he’s focused on the Starke County Forest as his problem,” Wakeland said. “He does have drainage problems up where he lives apparently, but his house is built on a swamp and it doesn’t even have connectivity to the drains.”

Beaver dams have been blamed for flooding in the area, a claim Wakeland has disputed. The county has installed a beaver control device to help solve the issue, but Wakeland told board members the work wasn’t done properly.

He said the way the device was installed, it’s far too noisy, causing the beavers to instinctively build dams. “I’ve never given it more than about a 50-50 chance of working, but I haven’t given up on it yet,” he said. “So we got a major problem to try to fix, and my intention is, in the next week or two, to go in and talk with the county surveyor and to find out who’s responsible for this mistake. And if the contractor’s not, well then what’s it going to cost to fix it because I still think we’ve got over $3,000 invested in it. It’s worth an attempt to try and fix what is an obvious problem.”

On top of that, he says someone’s been trespassing in the forest property, in an apparent attempt to fix the drainage issue. “Somebody came out there and dug a hole clear through the lane, and also, they went down to the next dam and dug a big notch in the next dam, directly west of the observation tower,” Wakeland said. “And so not only did he drain the marsh between the observation tower and the main pond, but somebody dug a ditch clear through the lane.”

Wakeland says that puts the access lane at risk of washing out and also makes the beaver control device even less likely to work. He believes the best solution to drainage issues would be to build a bypass ditch, but he guesses that would cost $30,000 – money the county doesn’t have.

Still, Wakeland feels that in spite of the complaints, he’s done a good job at maintaining the water levels according to an agreement made when Dennis Estok was county surveyor. He also believes the drainage complaints are just taking money away from maintenance and improvements at the forest.

Surveyor Bill Crase is expected to put together a report on the drainage issue, along with some suggested solutions.

Starke Park Board Seeks Documentation on Bass Lake Beach and Campground Code Violations (1/13)

posted Jan 13, 2017, 8:48 AM by North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library

Posted on January 13, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI 

Bass Lake Beach and Campground improvements continue to be monitored by the Starke County Park Board.

County Building Inspector Terry Stephenson had provided park board members with a written update, according to Board President Debbie Mix. “Everything he requested to be fixed and brought to code in the bathhouse has been completed,” she said Tuesday, “and there’s some exposed wiring in the main house that needs to be brought up to code.”

During Tuesday’s meeting, some board members were disappointed that Stephenson didn’t provide a full inspection report. Mix said the county needs the proper documentation, to have the option not to renew its lease with the operator of the beach and campground. “If we’re going to find them in violation, we need to make sure that we’re right on top of inspection report after inspection report, to make sure that they’re correcting things within the 30 days, we’re putting everything in writing,” she said. “And if we don’t do that, they’re getting that automatic extension.”

However, park board member Rosemary Rose pointed out that many people have expressed support for the current operators and their improvement efforts. She asked if the board’s goal is to end the current lease or to make sure the necessary repairs are made.

Mix felt that the board needs to be in a position to take action. “It really depends on if we want the status quo for the next 10 years or if we want to be able to implement some of these ideas that are going into the five-year plan,” she said. “I mean, that will certainly make a difference. So if we like what we see and we like how everything is running, then let’s keep the status quo. If we see room for improvement, then we need that report.”

Mix said the operator has had plenty of time to make the necessary repairs, and now the park board should hold them to their end of the lease, even if that means making repairs over the winter.

Justice Center Receives Heartland Award for Therapeutic Garden Program (1/13)

posted Jan 13, 2017, 8:05 AM by North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library

Posted on January 13, 2017
Author Abby Adams, WKVI 

The Starke County Justice Center’s community garden received The People’s Choice Heartland Award from the Indiana Department of Correction. The award was chosen by residents of Indiana for their successful 2016 harvest. To win the award, the program had to attain the most votes on Facebook and Starke County won by a landslide.

Officials from the IDOC visited the justice center Thursday to present the award. The community garden produces tomatoes, pumpkins, watermelon, and potatoes currently, with plans for even more variety next year. The inmates also keep track of 36 chickens, which produce about 20 eggs a day.

The food that isn’t used to help feed the Justice Center is donated to local nursing homes and food pantries.

Jim Bradford, the IDOC director of culinary arts for vocational reentry, who set up the People’s Choice Award, said he was impressed with the popularity of the facility. “I can’t tell you how much (Starke County) came behind this to support this award. It’s one fine facility.”

Phil Cherry, the jail warden, takes great pride in the program. “Because we’re a farming community, we thought this is something everyone will look at and pay attention to. Their family members are proud of what they’ve done and I think that’s important. We’re excited to expand next year.”

The County Justice Center has had a very successful therapeutic recovery program, with inmates coming in from eight surrounding counties. The inmates are organized into different groups, and mentor each other throughout the program. The inmates had a lot of praise for the different aspects of the program.

“We have GED classes, so some of us who don’t have a GED or a high school education got to participate in that. And I’d just like to say it is a great program.” Said an inmate in the recovery program.

Other inmates brought up being able to participate in raking leaves for the community, and cleaning up the fairgrounds. Inmates also have intensive family re-connection programs, where they get to have family discussions about home life for their return and healing processes within the family.

There are also fun activities for members of the recovery program. They have a dog come in every once in awhile to relieve stress which means a lot to the inmates, as well as football viewing parties. 

Starke County Park Board Updated on Five-Year Plan (1/11)

posted Jan 11, 2017, 8:25 AM by North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library

Posted on January 11, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI 

The Starke County Park Board is ready to submit a draft of its five-year plan, but what effect it will have on the Bass Lake Beach and Campground remains to be seen. The Troyer Group has been gathering input about the county’s park facilities and is now putting the finishing touches on a 34-page draft.

Troyer Group representative Mike Reese told board members Tuesday that in spite of a tight schedule, public participation has been amazing. “I thought we had a good turnout for the public meeting, about 20 people,” he said. “I think South Bend had less than that show up for their five-year park master plan meetings. And 364 surveys were turned in in that 10-day window, which I think is very impressive and shows the support that’s out there.”

Now that input has been gathered, Reese says planners are now turning their attention to creating an implementation plan for the suggested improvements. “For each of the facilities, we will have kind of a list of goals and some strategies to accomplish those goals,” he explained. “That will kind of be summarized into a matrix that will say each of the tasks, the people or parties responsible, the time line for completing that, and for the applicable line items, a construction cost or cost to achieve that line item.”

For now, though, the main goal is to submit the draft to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources by this Sunday. That would allow Starke County to possibly be eligible for DNR grant funding this year.

Reese pointed out that Starke County does face a few challenges. “Starke County is a little bit different than some of the ones they see, just because there’s not a parks department established,” he said. “You don’t have an annual budget. You’re kind of starting things.”

While those in attendance at Tuesday’s meeting applauded the planning effort, some questioned whether the changes recommended for the Bass Lake Beach and Campground will be implemented. It was pointed out that the facility’s operator can’t be forced to make improvements that aren’t specified in its existing lease with the county.

However, Park Board President Debbie Mix says she’s optimistic. “The five-year plan addresses other areas that we actually can very fairly quickly get accomplished but wouldn’t be able to get accomplished without it,” she said. “So there’s several reasons for the five-year plan. We may be kicked back in time, waiting for the lease, but I’m hoping that won’t happen.”

The plan is expected to be presented to the public later this month or early next month. The park board will then decide whether to officially adopt the plan in March, before a final version is sent to the DNR.

State Officials Urge Testing for Potentially Deadly Gas (1/11)

posted Jan 11, 2017, 8:21 AM by North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library

Posted on January 11, 2017
Author Mary Perren, WKVI 

Hoosiers are urged to test their homes for a cancer-causing, radioactive gas during the month of January. Radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

It’s responsible for an estimated 21,000 lung cancer deaths annually. Smokers who are exposed to especially high radon levels are at an especially high risk for lung cancer.

Radon is a tasteless, colorless and odorless radioactive gas that comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water. It seeps through cracks and gaps in floors, walls and construction joints and around service pipes. It accumulates in the air within homes and in drinking water. Radon can be found throughout the United States and can get into any type of building. The greatest exposure risk is at home, where people spend the majority of their time.

State Health Commissioner Dr. Jerome Adams says testing for radon helps to determine how high levels are so immediate action can be taken if necessary to reduce them. He adds it makes sense to test homes that are winterized since gases are sealed in.

The EPA estimates nearly one of every 15 homes in the United States has an elevated radon level. If a high level is detected, licensed contractors can install mitigation systems to eliminate the problem and protect residents.

Testing is the only way to determine your home’s radon level. Test kits are available at local hardware and home stores and can be done within a few minutes. Adams says Hoosiers should retest their homes every two years.

Find more information on the Indiana State Department of Health’s radon page.

State Lawmakers Looking to Bring Back Small School Grant (1/10)

posted Jan 10, 2017, 3:30 PM by North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library

Posted on January 10, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI 

Several local school corporations would stand to benefit from a bill introduced last week in the Indiana House of Representatives. Francesville Republican Doug Gutwein has co-authored a bill that would reestablish a small school grant for 2017 through 2019.

Under the proposed legislation, school corporations with 1,000 students or fewer would be eligible for a grant of $200 per student. Corporations with between 1,001 and 2,400 students would get $100 per student. That would cost the state an estimated $27.3 million in fiscal year 2018, going up to $27.5 million in 2019. The bill, authored by Representative Bill Friend, now goes to the House Ways and Means Committee for further consideration.

Several rural school corporations throughout the local area, including Culver and West Central, have been joining together to ask lawmakers to increase funding for small and rural schools.

Prevent Frozen Pipes As Temperatures Drop

posted Dec 13, 2016, 8:15 AM by North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library

Posted on December 13, 2016
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI 

With temperatures expected to remain below freezing for the rest of the week, residents are reminded to take steps to keep pipes and water meters from freezing.

Let your faucet run at a trickle, as long as temperatures are consistently below 30 degrees. That’s the advice the Town of North Judson is giving to its utility customers. The town also recommends not removing any snow that may accumulate in your meter pit, since it acts as an insulator.

If your water meter does freeze, North Judson utility crews will attempt to thaw their customers’ meters, at no charge if it’s the first time it’s happened. However, crews will not be able to thaw frozen water lines.

For more information, call the North Judson town superintendent at 574-896-3332 or the town’s water department at 574-896-2711.

Community Services of Starke County Collection Sites

posted Jun 18, 2014, 3:29 PM by North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library   [ updated Sep 8, 2016, 9:18 AM ]

Community Services of Starke County’s Food Pantry has two collection sites in North Judson.  You can drop off much needed food items during regular business hours at: 

414 Lane Street                     

Dr. Dalphond’s Office
108 West State Street

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