Starke County News Items

24 Hour Ceremony Honors the Fallen at Knox VFW Post (5/27)

posted May 27, 2016, 8:51 AM by North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library   [ updated May 27, 2016, 8:54 AM ]

Posted on May 27, 2016
Author Tyler Maffitt, WKVI 

The VFW Post in Knox will be on watch leading up to Memorial Day, and they’re inviting the public to pay their respects.

Beginning on Sunday at 11:30 a.m., VFW members will hold a short ceremony with invited speaker Major James Pradke giving the keynote address. Starting at Noon, volunteers will stand on watch at the flag for 24 hours as a way to honor fallen service members.

Leslie Baker is a member of the VFW Auxiliary. She says her family has close ties to the Memorial Day holiday, and the watch is a part of that.

“It was something that when we moved back to the area, we wanted to see it be revived,” says Baker. “The first year that the VFW started doing it was in 2013.”

In the past three years, the event has grown, allowing the VFW to promote themselves as active members of the community.

The volunteers on watch change shifts at the flag every half hour. The 24 hour display is followed by a closing ceremony that sees the American flag raised to full staff. Baker says observing the ceremony helps raise public awareness.

“One of my biggest pet peeves is when people say Happy Memorial Day because it’s most certainly not a happy holiday,” says Baker. “The whole purpose is to pay our respects to those who have fallen. I think the community, it’s important, because I think we lose sight of what the holiday is.”

Prior to the watch ceremony, the Auxiliary is hosting a pancake breakfast. Funds raised through the breakfast will be used to support wounded veterans in Northwest Indiana.

Baker says the VFW post started fundraising for the effort after the recommendation of Auxiliary member Jewel Arnett. She says that a check is delivered directly to a veteran that has been interviewed by the VFW as opposed to an organization.

Michigan City Native Tapped as Democrats Lt. Gov Candidate (5/26)

posted May 26, 2016, 9:11 AM by North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library

Posted on May 26, 2016
Author Tyler Maffitt, WKVI 

A LaPorte County native has been named to the Democratic Party’s ticket as a candidate for Indiana Lt. Governor.

Christina Hale was announced as the running mate for John Gregg on Wednesday morning. She is currently completing her second term representing the Northside of Indianapolis in the state’s House of Representatives.

Originally from Michigan City, Hale is a graduate of Purdue University and has previously worked as a newspaper reporter and with Kiwanis International.

In a statement, Gregg says he has found a running mate that is able to build consensus in the General Assembly, and one who isn’t afraid of the tough issues. During her time in the statehouse, Hale is credited with working on issues related to crime, sexual assault, utility rates, and small businesses.

Gregg and Hale will square off against Indiana Governor Mike Pence and Eric Holcomb heading into November’s General Election.

New Walk-in Clinic Offers Expanded Healthcare Access to Local Community (5/25)

posted May 25, 2016, 8:59 AM by North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library

Posted on May 25, 2016
Author Tyler Maffitt, WKVI 

The opening of a walk-in clinic in Knox may have increased immediate access to medical care for Starke County residents.

Dr. Majed Alhamwi with Integrity Medical Center says the clinic began operations about one month ago. The service is intended to give sick patients same-day access to medical care.

Alhamwi says it all comes down to improving accessibility.

“A lot of times patients call for a doctor’s appointment and it’s going to take them a week or two weeks to see their doctor,” says Alhamwi. “And by that time, they’re more sick and they’re probably going to end up in the emergency room.”

The walk-in clinic seeks to fill that gap, potentially lowering the expense of medical treatment to the patient. The practice in Knox may also fill the travel gap. It’s listed as the only walk-in clinic within a 20-mile radius.

Health education is considered a focus of the walk-in clinic. In rankings compiled by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Starke County consistently ranks near the bottom of the state for health outcomes and other factors, though local community organizations are working to improve that standing.

Dr. Alhamwi says he provides medical service at the site, but so does Certified Nurse Practitioner Melissa Grcich. She has been a resident of Starke County for the past nine years, and says patients could experience benefits in other areas of medical treatment.

“So there are a lot of people going to the emergency room department to get treated for ear infections, upper respiratory, all that stuff because they can’t see their primary care provider right away,” says Grcich. “So the walk-in clinic opens that up so they can come to us instead of visiting the emergency room department and not utilizing that in the manner it’s not meant to be used for.”

Patients are able to access the walk-in clinic in Knox Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

Alhamwi says that if a patient is experiencing symptoms the walk-in clinic is unable to treat, they are able to refer them to a specialist for additional care.

Valpo Native Declares Democratic Candidacy for State Senate (5/25)

posted May 25, 2016, 8:55 AM by North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library

Posted on May 25, 2016
Author Tyler Maffitt

tA Valparaiso resident has declared his candidacy for Indiana’s 5th District State Senate seat.

Jim Harper announced his candidacy for the Democratic Party’s nomination on Tuesday, saying he is running to bring independent leadership to the State Senate. Harper is a 2001 graduate of Valparaiso High School, receiving a law degree from Indiana University and Georgetown University.

In a statement, the candidate says he believes state government must do more to move the economy forward. In addition, he says he will work to support State Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz in an effort to help restore funding to public education in Indiana.

Harper’s candidacy follows the state’s May 3rd primary election. No candidates on the Democratic side filed to run, meaning a caucus will be conducted by party officials to determine their nominee for the job heading into November. If selected, Harper will square off against State Senator Ed Charbonneau.

His announcement for office says that over the past four years, Indiana’s reputation and economy suffered as an extreme agenda was advanced.

State Sen. Charbonneau Touts Steps Taken to Protect Drinking Water (5/25)

posted May 25, 2016, 8:50 AM by North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library

Posted on May 25, 2016
Author Tyler Maffitt, WKVI 

State Senator Ed Charbonneau is promoting steps Indiana is taking to ensure the state’s drinking water supply is kept safe for future generations.

The Valparaiso Republican writes that given recent the crisis in Flint, Michigan, Hoosiers are wondering if the state has taken steps to ensure a similar disaster is prevented, locally. Flint was the subject of national attention after it was determined lead pipes were polluting drinking water. Donations poured in from across the country to aid residents.

For three years, Indiana’s General Assembly has been working to review and assess whether the state’s water supply is protected from similar problems. Past efforts have included regulations on above ground storage tanks, and implementing monitoring of groundwater resources in the state.

This year, the General Assembly considered the topics surrounding distressed water utilities. Specifically, a study was commissioned to evaluate the amount of water lost to leaky pipes. Information gleaned from the review was intended to give municipalities a bit of confidence when considering infrastructure upgrades.

Investments are expected to better preserve drinking water supplies to prevent water loss.

Charbonneau says the study commissioned during 2016 will also help determine how to invest long-term in preserving water as a natural resource.

6/4/2016 Pioneer Cemetery Concrete Terrace

posted May 24, 2016, 4:54 PM by North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library

North Judson Community Center Grant Application Stalls (5/24)

posted May 24, 2016, 8:24 AM by North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library

Posted on May 24, 2016
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI 

Efforts to obtain grant funding for a North Judson-Wayne Township community center are being put on hold, as project organizers reevaluate the proposed site of the facility. They think a change in location may save the town some money, while boosting North Judson’s downtown.

Project organizers met with members of the North Judson Town Council Monday to discuss the project. The plan was to build the new community center on donated land north of the town’s fire station, but project organizer Bill Crase says the terms of the deal with the site’s current owner have changed. “We were working on a donation, but the gentleman has already donated one piece to us, and so he’s come to the term that he would sell us all remaining pieces,” Crase says. “There’s five parcel numbers left over there, which would be all the property left north of the firehouse, from the firehouse to Sycamore Street, and he will sell us the rest of the property for $25,000.”

However, Justin Davis, another member of the community center committee, had another idea. He suggested using a currently-vacant piece of land on Lane Street that’s already owned by the town, “A 10-year plan or 20-year plan to get something back on Lane Street is going to be worth a lot better having it sit there than a block over. What else is going to go there? You’re going to have a Friday and Saturday night, the street’s going to be packed. That hasn’t been that way in 20 years.”

Crase said the idea hadn’t been considered previously because organizers had hoped to obtain enough land to be able to fit both the community center and a parking lot. While a parking lot might not be able to fit in the Lane Street location, Davis says a building next to the site is set for demolition, which will leave an open space that could be used. Additional parking can also be placed near the fire station. On top of that, the site already has utility lines, and not having to purchase land may free up money the town can use for the local share of other upcoming grant projects.

The town has been working to get a $400,000 grant for the community center from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs. Since the grant application is tied to a project’s specific location, the proposed change means the town has to start the process over again.

Instead of submitting an application next month, the town will now have to wait until this fall for its next opportunity to apply for funding. A letter of intent would be submitted in August, followed by a formal application in October. Since there are limits on the number of grant projects the town can undertake at a time, the delay in the community center grant application may also delay funding for additional work on the town’s water facilities.

Council Wrestles With Jail Expenses (5/24)

posted May 24, 2016, 8:20 AM by North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library

Posted on May 24, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI 

The Starke County Council has scheduled a special meeting to try to get a handle on expenses related to jail operations. They deferred Sheriff Bill Dulin’s request for an additional appropriation until they can take a closer look at things like utility costs for the building. It’s been open for a year, and extensive studies were done beforehand to project costs. The council should have findings from an energy audit in time for their scheduled June 13th meeting. It will take place at 5:30 p.m. at the annex building.

A recent change from paid overtime to comp time for full-time jail employees should also save money, but the council noted that won’t help when it comes to part-time hours. Another expense involves the transportation of inmates from the jail east of Knox to the Starke County Courthouse or Knox City Court for proceedings. Depending on the court schedule, more than one jail officer may be required for such trips. The council questioned why the new courtroom at the justice center isn’t used more to reduce travel.

The county is receiving money from the state for Department of Correction employees housed in the therapeutic community program, but payments are a few months in arrears. When money comes in, it goes into the county general fund and must be transferred into the sheriff’s budget in order to be used.

Older Hoosiers Can Benefit from SNAP Program (5/23)

posted May 23, 2016, 8:35 AM by North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library

Posted on May 21, 2016
Author Mary Perren, WKVI 

Older Hoosiers aren’t signing up for federal food assistance programs, but many are going to local food banks for help each month. Statistics indicate 13 percent of Indiana’s food-bank clients are more than 60 years old. The National Council on Aging has an effort under way to close the “SNAP Gap.” More than 40 percent of seniors eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program have not applied, and the numbers are even lower in the Hoosier State. Emily Weikert Bryant of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry says many seniors aren’t getting healthy food they need because they just can’t afford it. She says 77 percent purchase cheaper, unhealthy food because it’s what they can afford. Additionally half are getting help from family and friends, and about a quarter of Hoosiers 60 and older are gardening or growing food in a community garden to offset their needs.

Weikert Bryant add a quarter of Indiana households have one family member who’s over 60, and many of those homes also have small children. The average senior SNAP benefit is $110 per month, which comes out to just over a dollar to spend per meal.

“A large number of them are also doing things like watering down their food or drink and 29 percent of older adults selling or pawning personal property. 46 percent are receiving help from friends,” she said.d

Many seniors face barriers because they don’t have a computer or transportation to sign up for benefits, and many think they aren’t eligible. Weikert Bryant says we should pitch in and help them.

“They’ve worked hard their entire careers, they’re in a position where they might need help, they’re most decidedly in a position where they’ve earned that help. So we want to make sure that they have that nutrition that’s enabling them to live healthier and longer lives to stay in their homes and stay active in their communities.”

May is Older Americans Month Weikert Bryant says more than 7 million seniors across the country get some or all of their meals from food banks.

The Circus Comes to Hamlet in Early June (5/23)

posted May 23, 2016, 8:33 AM by North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library

Posted on May 21, 2016
Author Tyler Maffitt, WKVI 
The circus will be coming to Hamlet in just over two weeks.

The Culpepper & Merriweather Circus says they will be setting up at the Starke County Fairgrounds on June 6th. Performances will run that day at 5:00 and 7:30 p.m.

This is the 31st edition of the show. There is more to the circus festivities than the 90 minute performances, according to a press release.

The morning of the circus, animals used in the show are unloaded, the big top tent is set-up, and a tour of the site is offered. That tour will allow families an opportunity to meet the performers and learn about the animals and their caretaking.

Several performers, including: Trapeze Artists, Unicyclists, and Tight Rope Walkers are included in the lineup.

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