Starke County News Items

Funds Created for Starke County Park Board Grant Funds (3/22)

posted by North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library

Posted on March 22, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI 

With the acquisition of thousands of dollars worth of grants for projects at the Starke County Forest and the Bass Lake Beach, Starke County Auditor Kay Chaffins suggested the creation of two line items within the budget for those funds.

The park board was recently awarded $15,000 from the Hardesty Memorial Endowment Fund and $5,000 in a Community Support Grant.

For transparency and tracking, two separate accounts will be set up to collect those funds.

Another fund, the Starke County Park and Recreation Fund, will be established to accept tax-deductible donations from the public. Commissioner Kathy Norem noted that any donation received will go toward projects specifically within the Starke County Park Board’s plans. That money will not be used for municipal park projects.

For more information, contact the Starke County Auditor’s Office at 574-772-9101.

Several Local Officials Attend Starke County Economic Development Foundation’s Community Retreat (3/21)

posted Mar 21, 2018, 8:47 AM by North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library

Posted on March 21, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI 

A variety of local representatives gathered Tuesday morning to learn more about development opportunities during the Starke County Economic Development Foundation’s Community Retreat.

Those in attendance included members of the Starke County Commissioners and the Chamber of Commerce as well as local officials from the communities of Bass Lake, Hamlet, Knox and North Judson.

The event ran from 7:30 a.m. until noon and was held at the SCEDF office in Knox.

Executive Director Larry Wickert came up with the idea for this workshop after attending an Economic Development Course at Ball State back in January. Community Dynamics President Bob Schaefer was the event moderator.

Speakers included KIRPC Director Edwin Buswell, OCRA’s Northwest Indiana Community Liaison Gerry White, Brian Sheehan, the Director of Special Projects and Community Development in Rushville, Indiana and Geoff Schomacker, an Economic Development Finance Professional from Ball State University.

Buswell and White provided some information about various programs and grants that are available to assist with community development efforts. Sheehan, on the other hand, came to provide some real-world examples of how the city of Rushville, which earned Stellar Community Designation status back in 2016, utilized available resources to significantly improve the state of their community.

Opportunities that were covered included the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority’s Crowd Granting Program, financial assistance available through the Indiana Bond Bank and the U.S Economic Development Association’s Public Works Program which helps distressed communities revitalize, expand and upgrade their physical infrastructure.

Schomacker provided the final presentation and focused on quality of place and shifting trends. He highlighted the fact that bringing in jobs is not the sole solution to cities and towns who are facing population decline and stagnant development.

Schomacker mentioned that just because people may work in a community, that doesn’t necessarily mean they live there or spend their time and money there. He said the major focus needs to shift from drawing industry to capitalizing on and improving the existing amenities in order to help transform communities into places where people will want to stay.

After some of the presentations, the different groups separated into break-off sessions to discuss the presentations amongst themselves in order to brainstorm ways to apply the concepts in their own communities.

Before breaking for lunch, Starke County Economic Development Foundation Executive Director thanked everyone for coming out and suggested that quarterly meetings that incorporate multiple communities could be held in the future to keep these collective conversations going.

He also reminded everyone in attendance that the Stellar Communities Designation Program now has more of a regional focus and it would be helpful to coordinate with neighboring officials about potentially forming a plan to apply for the designation.

Kankakee River Basin Commissions Discusses Pros and Cons of Yellow River Pilot Project (3/21)

posted Mar 21, 2018, 8:42 AM by North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library

Posted on March 21, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI 

A bank stabilization pilot project that was recently conducted on the Yellow River was discussed during last Thursday’s Kankakee River Basin Commission meeting.

Starke County Surveyor Bill Crase said that about 2200 feet of work was completed along both sides of the river. He told commission members that he was very impressed with the results, especially with the way the banks were able to withstand recent flooding.

He said only about 300 feet of damage was incurred and suspected that was likely from floating debris striking the spot rather than structural inefficiencies. However, there were certain issues with the way that the project that kept Crase from considering it a complete success.

“We had a successful project but at the end of the day, the cost per foot made it unsuccessful on paper. If we are going to consider carrying on with that project, we have to have our local people do it.” Crase explained, “We can not bring in big companies for big dollars with that kind of money per foot or we’re never going to get anything done.”

Crase said he was under the impression that local businesses would be utilized for aspects of the project since it was mentioned in the agreement and he was instructed to submit an approved list of local companies on more than one occasion. However, the North Carolina-based consulting firm North States Environmental reportedly went out of county for much of the work.

A few different examples were provided, but one instance Crase referenced was a time where a larger excavator was required. Crase said he offered up a local contractor who was willing to rent an excavator that could have been used right away but the firm decided to rent the equipment from a company out of the area and had to wait two weeks for it to come in.

Since the project was started late in the fall, Crase said there wasn’t really an opportunity for them to stop the work in order to address the consulting issues due to time constraints. He added that the anticipated cost of the project was expected to be about $300,000 and it came in a bit over $500,000.

Commission Secretary and Jasper County Surveyor Vince Urbano stated that as a representative of the commission and a county surveyor he was dismayed to hear that the size of the project could have potentially been doubled for the same price, had local help been utilized.

Commission Treasurer Kevin Breitzke said though the KRBC isn’t involved with creating the contract, he was upset to learn that local workers were not utilized or trained since they were told that they would be. Vice Chairman Ken Purze stressed the fact that the KRBC is a funding source and that project supervision is out of their control. He said that responsibility falls to the individual county surveyors and drainage boards.

Though the discussion got a bit heated with various county officials weighing in on the perceived failures or coming to the defense of the KRBC, Crase ended his report saying that it doesn’t do any good to sit and argue about it now. He stated that the purpose of his report was to highlight the pros and alert commission members of the cons.

He added that if the KRBC does plan to fund similar bank stabilization projects in other counties, officials now know that the utilization of local workers and the importance of maintaining individual project control will need to be emphasized as an absolute requirement in order to keep any future projects from facing the same problems.

Chairman Chris Knochel thanked Starke County Surveyor Crase for his report and said this pilot project has served as a valuable learning opportunity for the commission members.

Starke County Council Discusses Expenditures for Sheriff’s Office (3/21)

posted Mar 21, 2018, 8:39 AM by North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library

Posted on March 21, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI 

The Starke County Council members discussed funding for a new industrial-type washer and dryer at the justice center.

Starke County Sheriff Bill Dulin told the council members Monday night that one set is from the old location on Pearl Street and they need an additional set to keep up with the amount of laundry. A quote from Miller Laundry Service was provided at a cost of $15,152. The price includes delivery and installation.

The council members supported the purchase, but asked Sheriff Dulin to get a second quote just to be on the safe side.

The sheriff also discussed an outstanding dental services bill that the county has had for the past three years. The estimated bill due is approximately $10,000-$12,000.

He explained that if an inmate has a dental issue, the jail nurse is required to assess the issue and if a tooth is to be extracted a dentist comes to the jail and performs the extraction. Sheriff Dulin said extractions are the only services given to the inmates. For example, services including fillings, crowns, plates, dentures, or cleanings are not part of the agreement.

The county is required by state law to offer dental services.

Sheriff Dulin asked the council to pay the bill so the practice can continue at the jail to avoid a lawsuit.

The council members approved action to settle the bill. Half of the cost will come from the Jail Commissary Fund and the other half will come from the Therapeutic Community Fund.

Inmates Graduate from Chemical Dependency and Addictions Program (3/20)

posted Mar 20, 2018, 10:21 AM by North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library

Posted on March 20, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI 

Eight inmates from the Starke County Justice Center are now graduates of the Chemical Dependency and Addictions Program.

The program allowed inmates the opportunity to obtain counseling services and substance abuse education while incarcerated in the Starke County Justice Center. It was a 14-week treatment program facilitated by Porter-Starke Services and led by Chemical Dependency and Addictions Therapist Leo Smith. Therapists assisted inmates in restructuring behaviors and thoughts in addiction remediation. Skills taught included the management of stress, anger, cravings, triggers, critical reasoning and decision making.

A graduation ceremony was held Monday morning at the Starke County Justice Center where the graduates shared a goodbye letter to the drug of their choice and how they are motivated to change. Supporters were also given time to offer words to encourage a successful return into the community.

The program was also made possible in part by the Starke County Sheriff’s Office jail staff, Starke Circuit Court Judge Kim Hall, and officials with the Starke County Prosecutor’s Office, Starke County Probation Office, and Starke County Community Corrections.

Monday’s ceremony concluded the 5th program of its kind at the sheriff’s office.

Starke Circuit Court Judge Kim Hall (L) and Leo Smith (R) 
stand with the graduates of the Chemical Dependency and and Addiction Program

Be Prepared for Severe Weather (3/20)

posted Mar 20, 2018, 8:28 AM by North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library

Posted on March 20, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI 

Be prepared for severe weather by creating a safety plan and prepare a household disaster kit.

The Indiana Department of Homeland Security encourages residents to practice severe weather emergency plans which include identifying an evacuation route in your home and in neighborhoods. During a tornado, the safest place is the basement or storm cellar. If those options are not available, go to an interior room on the lowest level with no windows. Seek shelter from flying debris by getting under a desk, table or sturdy object.

A household disaster kit should include food and water for three days, a battery-operated all-hazards radio, flashlight, extra batteries, first-aid kit, extra clothing, rain gear, blankets, personal hygiene items, a list of important phone numbers, important documents, cash, and special items including prescriptions and baby and pet supplies.

During this National Severe Weather Preparedness Week, a family drill is recommended so everyone is familiar with the evacuation plan. Children should be aware of how to call 9-1-1 and what information to provide emergency personnel.

For more information, visit

Starke County Council Approves Cardiac Monitor Funding (3/20)

posted Mar 20, 2018, 8:22 AM by North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library

Posted on March 20, 2018
Author Anita Goodan, WKVI 

The Starke County Council members approved funding for two Lifepak 15 cardiac monitors during their meeting Monday night.

The commissioners deemed the purchase as an emergency during their March 5 meeting after EMS Director Travis Clary reported that two decades-old devices recently quit working. That left the county with no backup devices. To ensure that each ambulance had a working device with spares, the emergency purchase was made. Clary told the county council members Monday night that the devices arrived earlier in the day.

Clary previously mentioned that the cardiac monitors are just a newer version of the old devices so no additional training is needed.

The monitors were priced at just over $42,500 that includes a trade-in cost of the broken cardiac monitors worth $10,000.

The council members voted unanimously to fund the cardiac monitors by opting for the five-year, zero-percent interest payment option. The first $8,500 payment will be made out of the Rainy Day Fund. The EMS Department will include the rest of the payments in their budget for the remaining years.

INDOT Announces Complete Closure on U.S. 421 Near Medaryville for Bridge Deck Replacement (3/19)

posted Mar 19, 2018, 9:16 AM by North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library

Posted on March 18, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI 

The Indiana Department of Transportation has announced that all lanes of U.S. 421, north of the Medaryville Town limits will be closed beginning Monday, March 19th and will remain closed until early September.

INDOT crews will be replacing the bridge deck for the structure over Antrim Ditch, just north of County Road 200 North.

Since state road detours must be along state-mandated roads only, INDOT officials stated that drivers traveling northbound on U.S. 421 will be detoured west on SR 14, north on SR 49, east on SR 10 and back to U.S. 421. Drivers traveling southbound on U.S. 421 will be detoured west on SR 10, south on SR 49, east on SR 14 and back to U.S. 421.

State Wide Test of Emergency Alert System to be Held Tuesday Morning (3/19)

posted Mar 19, 2018, 9:12 AM by North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library

Posted on March 19, 2018
Author Jacque Ryan, WKVI 

As a part of Severe Weather Preparedness Week, which runs from March 18th through the 24th, Indiana broadcast stations will participate in a statewide tornado drill on Tuesday, March 20th.

The National Weather Service test of the statewide Emergency Alert System will be issued for 15 minutes at 9:15 a.m. CT/10:15 a.m. ET tomorrow morning.

The tornado test drill is being conducted to ensure that the statewide Indiana Emergency Alert System network is operating properly and that it will be ready to respond in the event of a tornado warning.

Indiana Broadcasters Association Executive Director Dave Arland commented that all Hoosiers know how erratic Indiana weather can be so officials just want to make sure their systems are firing on all cylinders in case Mother Nature shows us her worst.

According to Arland, the IBA has been participating in this drill for more than three decades and broadcasters remain committed to doing all they can to keep Hoosiers safe at times when they are often most vulnerable.

In the event of severe or inclement weather, the test will be rescheduled and held on Wednesday, March 21st.

Starke County Park Board Agrees to Compensation Offer for Bass Lake Beach Gate House Damage (3/19)

posted Mar 19, 2018, 9:09 AM by North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library

Posted on March 19, 2018
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI 

The Starke County Park Board is ready to accept an insurance settlement for damage to the Bass Lake Beach gate house. The structure was seriously damaged when a pickup truck reportedly crashed into it back in November.

The truck owner’s insurance provider offered the county just over $2,500 in compensation. Starke County Park Board President Roger Chaffins originally felt that amount was too low, after Starke County Building Inspector Terry Stephenson determined the gate house was unsafe and called for its removal.

However, Bass Lake Beach and Campground Assistant Manager Larry Clarich and others disagreed. Clarich told the park board last week that he felt the building could be repaired, and the $2,500 figure should be enough to cover the cost. Based on that recommendation, the park board voted to accept the insurance offer, as long as Stephenson agrees to the plan.

Chaffins suggested that local community members can help with the repairs, after similar efforts were used to save a pavilion that was ordered to be demolished. Clarich said some of the campground users said they’d be willing to help.

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