Starke County News Items

Starke County Park Board to Take Koontz Lake Lions Club Park Proposal to County Commissioners (12/15)

posted by North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library

Posted on December 15, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI 

The idea of Starke County taking ownership of Koontz Lake Lions Club Memorial Park will soon be brought to the county commissioners. Lions Club members say they plan to continue maintaining the park as long as they can, but transferring ownership to the county would save them the cost of insurance.

County Attorney Marty Lucas believes the cost to the county would be minimal. “We don’t have a quote on that one, but what we’ve seen in the past is that with the little increase in the insurance, it’s a real win because for an entity for them to have it, it costs them quite a bit, but for the county to add it on to our existing coverage is just a little more,” he told the park board Tuesday. “And so it sounded like they could maybe maintain the place with the money that they’d save.”

Lions Club members first presented the idea to the Starke County Park Board back in October. While they don’t expect a decision right away, the park board decided this week to keep the discussion going by getting input from the county commissioners.

Starke County Election Board Adopts 2018 Meeting Schedule (12/15)

posted by North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library

Posted on December 15, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI 

The Starke County Election Board has adopted a fixed meeting schedule for 2018. Clerk Vicki Cooley says the board will meet the fourth Wednesday of each month at 9:30 a.m. But with 2018 being an election year, Cooley says more meetings may be scheduled, as needed.

The election board approved the meeting schedule Thursday morning.

Starke County Park Board Considers Splitting Up Bass Lake Beach and Campground Operations (12/14)

posted Dec 14, 2017, 9:01 AM by North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library

Posted on December 14, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI 

Potential changes to the Bass Lake Beach and campground’s operations were discussed by the Starke County Park Board Tuesday. Operator Callahan Development, LLC plans to extend its lease with the county through April of 2028. But the company said it’s willing to consider turning over the less profitable areas of the facility back to the county, while it would continue to run the campground and pier slots.

The challenge, according to Starke County Attorney Marty Lucas, is coming up with an arrangement that benefits everyone. “I mean, the benefit to Callahan is that they get rid of managing parts of the operation that they’re not really that interested because they’re not profitable,” Lucas explained. “The benefit for the public is that the public wants to have a beach and a park there that’s a little more freely accessible ,and Callahan gets the benefit that maybe that makes the rentals there more valuable, right? Because it’s a more appealing property.”

Lucas felt that by running the beach itself, Starke County could open up the facility to potential grant funding, and also attract some volunteers. “If you had a situation where the park board was operating the beach portion, I think that volunteerism would be easier to get than it is if Callahan’s running it,” he said. “I mean most people don’t want to volunteer to help out – they might love McDonald’s, right? McDonald’s may be a great place to get a sandwich, but they don’t go volunteer for McDonald’s because it’s a private operation. So the idea is to kind of balance those things.”

Meanwhile, local resident Rick Anderson suggested seeing if someone may be interested in leasing the beach house separately and operating food service there, then using the responses to work out some sort of arrangement with Callahan. Park board members liked the general idea.

As a next step, the park board wants to seek input from the public on the idea of separate entities operating the beach house, food service, or the beach itself. But board members decided to run the idea by Callahan, before issuing any request for proposals.

Knox High School Senior Named Recipient of 2018 Lilly Endowment Scholarship (12/14)

posted Dec 14, 2017, 8:55 AM by North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library

Posted on December 14, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI 

This year’s Starke County Community Foundation 2018 Lilly Endowment Community Scholar is Knox High School senior Elizabeth McEntee.

McEntee is a varsity softball player and she is also a member of the speech team where she was a state qualifier in discussion. She was a freshman mentor and participates in National Honor Society and Science Club and tutors elementary school students.

The Starke County Community Foundation Scholarship Committee selected Elizabeth, the daughter of Alan and Connie McEntee, for this prestigious distinction from a field of twenty-nine applicants.

During the application process the identities of the applicants are removed. The Scholarship Committee scores applicants on academic performance, volunteer and paid work, school activities and honors as well as essays.

Of the twenty-nine applicants submitted to SCCF, five finalists were selected for final review. The final five had personal interviews with the Scholarship Committee and were asked to write impromptu essays.

The Committee chose one of the nominees as their recommendation and submitted all the finalists’ applications to Independent Colleges of IndianaInc (ICI) for final selection. ICI is a nonprofit corporation that represents thirty regionally accredited degree granting, nonprofit, private colleges and universities in the state.

As the recipient of the 2018 Starke County Community Foundation Lilly Endowment Scholarship, McEntee will receive a four-year, full tuition scholarship to the Indiana college of her choice, as well as a $900 annual stipend for required supplies and books. McEntee plans to pursue a major in Neurobiology at Indiana University in Bloomington.

Purdue Extension to Host Local Government Finance Workshop (12/14)

posted Dec 14, 2017, 8:47 AM by North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library   [ updated Dec 14, 2017, 8:49 AM ]

Posted on December 14, 2017
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI 

The Purdue Extension Community Development Program is hosting a local government finance workshop for economic development professionals, community leaders and  local elected and appointed officials.

The workshop will be held at the Plymouth Public Library from 1p.m. until 3:30 p.m. on Friday, December 15th. It is geared toward community members from a number of counties including Marshall, Pulaski and Starke.

The program will dig deeper into data from our counties and the region in general. Presenters will also highlight how Indiana’s property tax system functions and provide information about how tax caps work.

The program is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be provided.

If you’re unable to attend but still wish to access some information from the event, the county reports will be available on the Purdue Extension Community Development Website, following the program.

If you have any questions contact Purdue Extension Community Development Regional Educator Tamara Ogle at 317-523-8804 or email her at togle@purdue.edu.

Starke County Park Board Looking to Replace Bass Lake Beach Gatehouse, Following Accident (12/13)

posted Dec 13, 2017, 8:38 AM by North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library

Posted on December 13, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI 

The Starke County Park Board may be looking at replacing one of the structures at the Bass Lake Beach, after it was seriously damaged in an accident last month. Park board member Roger Chaffins explains that a pickup truck apparently backed itself into the gatehouse, “The guy was deer hunting over there, had a new vehicle, didn’t realize that he didn’t have it fully in park, and the vehicle ran over him and then ran into the building.”

Chaffins says the man was not seriously injured, but the gatehouse was knocked off its foundation. “The guy that backed into that building, his insurance is supposed to pay for it,” he explained during Tuesday’s park board meeting. “But we want to get this taken care of as quickly as we can because, from the looks of it, it’s going to have to take a building.”

“Yeah, and there’s some stuff in there. I don’t know if he’s been able to get it out,” said Starke County Attorney Marty Lucas. “He’s afraid to go in there because it looks dangerous to go in, even, actually.”

During Tuesday’s meeting, Chaffins agreed to serve as the park board’s liaison to help oversee the process. Meanwhile, he also offered to work with the Bass Lake Beach’s operator to coordinate some work at the beach house.

Operator Callahan Development, LLC agreed earlier this fall to repair the seawall surrounding the beach house patio, and also work with the county to install glacial stone around the facility. But County Attorney Marty Lucas said much of that work still hasn’t taken place. “We discussed that building maintenance issue, and I don’t think it’s a problem with it. We just need to make it happen. I haven’t had any negative reaction to it. We don’t have a specific plan or date yet. That’s the problem. We’re trying to set up this cooperation. Getting them out there together has been the problem. No one said they don’t want to do it, but they haven’t gotten it done yet, either."

Specifically, Lucas wants Bass Lake Beach Assistant Manager Larry Clarich to meet with Starke County Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler to figure out how to install the glacial stone. That was first suggested back in October.

Starke County Election Board to Enforce Deadlines on Candidate Financial Statements (12/13)

posted Dec 13, 2017, 8:35 AM by North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library

Posted on December 13, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI 

The Starke County Election Board is cracking down on candidates who don’t turn in their financial statements on time. “They have to close out their candidacy by preparing the forms according to the deadlines,” Election Board President Peg Brettin explained during last week’s meeting. “If they don’t, the way the law is set up, the county election boards throughout the State of Indiana can have a hearing for them, can bring them before the board, can assess them.”

Brettin explained that policy’s been in effect for a while, but it hasn’t really been enforced in Starke County. “In the past year or so, we more or less kind of waived that,” she said. “And we said that as of 2018, any of those candidates that do not fill out the forms in a timely manner to the Clerk’s Office and file them, we will be assessing them $50 a day until they are paid.”

Election board members said they’d be willing to pursue legal action against candidates who fail to pay.

Starke County Working to Increase Voting Machine Storage Security (12/12)

posted Dec 12, 2017, 9:28 AM by North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library

Posted on December 12, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI 

The Starke County Election Board is taking steps to keep voters’ ballots secure. New regulations now require that voting machines be locked up when they aren’t in use, to prevent tampering.

Starke County’s maintenance staff has recommended securing the machines by placing a wooden beam in front of their current storage space. They say that will prevent anyone from pulling them out without having a key. Last week, the election board authorized maintenance staff to draw up a plan, so the Clerk’s Office can make sure the arrangement would comply with the new rules.

The voting machines do not connect to the Internet, so the biggest concern has to do with their physical security. On top of that, the machines’ design makes them difficult to hack into, according to MicroVote representative Steve Shamo. “The reality of it is, there’s no USB port on it,” he told the election board.

“No USB, no wireless,” added Starke County IT Director Mark Gourley. “You’d have to have one of the specialized cards to get into it, and that’s even if you had managed to figure out the bit format on that card to make modifications, assuming you got past the election judge at the polling place.”

The election board has also agreed to pursue upgrades to the voting machines themselves, to bring them up to the latest federal standards.

Starke County Election Board to Pursue Voting Machine Upgrades (12/11)

posted Dec 11, 2017, 8:34 AM by North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library

Posted on December 11, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI 

The Starke County Election Board has decided to proceed with upgrades to the county’s 46 voting machines. Steve Shamo with vendor MicroVote said the goal is to bring the machines up to the latest federal standards, in time for the 2020 presidential election. “The difference is primarily how the software and the firmware, which is the resident software in each panel, thinks,” he explained. “For instance, the system that you have, the software coding is written like line one through 250,000. That’s how it thinks in logic. The new software requirements require that all functions are remained in very compartmental small blocks of code, and require what’s called a transactional operation.”

He said that will require the replacement of internal components, like processors and motherboards. “The only visible difference that your voters will see is that the screen will be different,” Shamo said. “The screen will have a dark image with white lettering on it, so it’s much more clarity. And there’s a different glare shield on the top, which, ironically, is the cheapest component that does the best work. It’s a one-dollar plastic screen.”

One thing that will not be added to Starke County’s voting system is a printed receipt for voters. Shamo said that while it might make the process seem more secure, it actually has the potential of complicating matters. “If you had some sort of device that was printing, and it missed even a single one . . . that entire audit-ability is void. You’ve missed one,” he said. “And then the second factor of it is that it’s a receipt that is sell-able, and it’s maintainable. So unless it’s you’re guaranteeing 100-percent collection of those receipts, as they’re being handed out or whatever, showing how to vote, if it leaves the polling site, that unto itself can void an election.” However, he said the system does have the ability to print individual vote records, to allow a recount to be done by hand.

Shamo said the upgrades will cost the county just over $1,400 per machine, compared to $3,900 for a brand new one. With the election board’s approval last week, the proposal now goes to the county commissioners and county council for further consideration.

The work would likely take place after the 2018 election cycle. Clerk Vicki Cooley said that might allow the election board to fund the upgrades in the 2019 budget.

Starke County Commissioners Discuss Relinquishment of County Road (12/11)

posted Dec 11, 2017, 8:32 AM by North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library

Posted on December 11, 2017
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI 

The Starke County Commissioners discussed a proposal to relinquish County Road 450 West, north of Toto Road to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler said DNR representative Bryan Boggs made the request. Ritzler said the road is adjacent to the DNR property and believes the DNR could better maintain the road.

“They have their equipment and they’re out there all of the time and if they want to do that extra half-mile they can. It’s a dead-end road. It goes into private property at the northern end of that road. I’m all for it. I think it’s a good thing. I think it’s good for DNR. They’re in control of it.”

Ritzler noted that Boggs has approached neighboring property owners to get permission and written letters supporting the change would be obtained if the request is approved.

The road would be under the DNR jurisdiction and the DNR could decide what to do with the road. Commission President Donnie Binkley asked Boggs, who attended last week’s meeting, if the DNR would put up gates. Boggs explained that if a gate would be installed, the three property owners who live along that road would have access to any locks or codes to gain access to their property. A gate, if constructed, would only be functional from October to March.

Commissioner Kathy Norem asked why the DNR would want to take ownership of the dirt road. Boggs said it’s a dead end road and it doesn’t get as much maintenance as he would like. Also, water fowl hunters use that road and the DNR ends up plowing the half-mile road anyway so they are able to hunt. He said it’s not much extra work.

After the discussion, Ritzler recommended talking to the property owners and County Attorney Marty Lucas to gather more details before approving the relinquishment.

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