Here is a look at some of the news that made the news in the Kankakee Valley this week:
Former Marshall County Commissioner, 82-year-old Donald Ferguson, of Plymouth, was killed in a semi truck/car accident late Sunday afternoon. Ferguson was attempting to turn onto Cedar Road off of U.S. 30 in Bourbon and a semi rear-ended the vehicle. Marshall County Coroner, Bill Cleavenger, said that Ferguson died of blunt force trauma and his wife, who was a passenger in the vehicle, was taken to St. Joseph Regional Medical Center in Plymouth for her injuries. The accident remains under investigation.
Selected Furniture LLC will be coming to Knox and Starke County Economic Development Foundation Executive Director, Charles Weaver, said that the Managing Director heard of Knox’s workforce and decided to locate to Knox. Tommy Shelef told Weaver that he was unhappy with the delivery aspect while operating in China and feels locating to the United States will improve the manufacturing process and the product will be better. Select Furniture will be located in the old Rockwell Plant on Culver Road in Knox.
The state’s March unemployment rate came in at 8.2% which is the same as the national rate. Starke County’s rate dropped from 11.3% to 10.8%. Starke County remains one of the top five counties with the highest rate of unemployment. Pulaski County’s rate is at 6.9%, Marshall County 9.2%, LaPorte County 10.7%, Fulton County 9.1%, St. Joseph 9.7% and Porter County 8.0%.
The City of Knox is in discussion with the Starke County Historical Society and the Knox Gateway organization to transfer the deed of the Gateway property to the City of Knox. The Gateway property includes the depot, caboose, signal tower and watch tower. No decision was made during the recent Knox City Council meeting and discussions on the issue will be held in the future.
Wayne M. Davis, 24, of Plymouth, was arrested on a preliminary charge of Rape with Force after detectives determined that he and a female victim had non-consensual sexual activity at a residence on Rose Road in Plymouth. After the alleged incident, the victim walked to a residence in the area of Rose Road and Mill Pond Trail to tell the homeowner to contact police as she had been assaulted.
Kristin Redlin and Michael Babcock, of Monterey, were arrested on April 24th after police reportedly found an active meth lab at a residence in which they were both living. Police stumbled upon the evidence while looking for a suspect, Pete Rowe, who Bart Shank said he was scrapping with and reportedly had stolen scrap metal from a residence in Monterey. Babcock was arrested on a preliminary charge of Maintaining a Common Nuisance while Kristin Redlin faces preliminary charges of Dealing in Methamphetamine, Possession of Methamphetamine, Possession of Precursors and Possession of Paraphernalia.
The LaPorte County Sheriff’s Department is investigating an attempted suicide incident within the inmate population at the LaPorte County Jail. On Sunday, jail staff discovered that a 17-year-old inmate had attempted to take his own life, but the jail staff’s quick response and CPR efforts revived him, and he was breathing on his own when taken from the facility by ambulance. The inmate is charged with a revocation of suspended sentence from work release, with original charges stemming from an offense for which he was charged as an adult due to the seriousness of his offense. This case remains under investigation.
Firefighter training was recently completed at the Washington Township Fire Department at the new training facility on the grounds. Firefighters met three days a week for lectures and hands-on learning. Several certifications were given during the training course. Some of the topics included fire service history, health and safety, fire behavior, rescue, extrication, ladders, water supply fire control and more.
The Knox City Police Department has moved! The office is now located across the street from Knox City Hall. The Knox City Council approved the purchase of the building from Dean Wells last year. Each officer now has their own work space and there is a garage area for the police vehicles. More space is now available for evidence and storage. City Planning Administrator, Greg Matt, will be moving into Police Chief Clint Norem’s old office and Matt’s office will be used by attorneys who need to conduct private meetings with clients before their case is heard in Knox City Court. The other space will be used by Knox City Court officials.
The Starke County TRIAD members discussed the organization’s future at their recent meeting. The organization helps alert senior citizens and the public about scams and fraud incidents. The program also offers beacon lights and the Files of Life to seniors for emergency situations. Community Services of Starke County Executive Director, Joan Haugh, said that when the organization meets July 23rd, they will discuss either partnering with the LaPorte County TRIAD or disbanding.
Matthew Quaife was arrested on Friday, April 27th, after he allegedly battered his estranged wife and children. His wife had been moving items out of their home in North Judson when, according to police, he went “crazy” and battered his wife and children. He was arrested and has been charged with three counts of Battery as a Class D Felony and is to have no contact with the alleged victims.
$800,000 was collected during the Spring Property Tax Sale in Starke County. Interim Treasurer Kasey Clark said that 54 properties were sold, including a quarter-million-dollar home and property at Bass Lake. A certificate sale will be conducted soon and a fall tax sale is planned.
Raymond Higdon, 32, of Knox, was arrested Friday, April 27th, after leading Starke County police on a pursuit at speeds of 100 mph. The pursuit ended in a driveway on Division Road where Higdon was taken into custody. He reportedly apologized to the officer for endangering his life in the pursuit and said he knew he had a suspended driver’s license and didn’t want his newly purchased motorcycle to be towed. He has been charged with a felony count of Resisting Law Enforcement and misdemeanor counts of Driving While Suspended and Reckless Driving. He remains in the Starke County Jail with a $100,000 surety bond.
The gas prices did go up slightly this week, but Don Good from the Good Oil Company says that gas prices should go down and stay below $4.00 as we head into the Memorial Day Weekend and the summer season. He does not expect prices to reach $5.00 as some reports indicated earlier this year. Good is optimistic about the future of gas prices. He says a pipeline in the U.S. should open soon and there’s talk about putting in legislation that would curb a lot of the speculation in fuel prices which Good says is a lot of the problem.
The good weather in March prompted farmers to plant corn and soybeans early and some may have jumped the gun. Some reports indicate that some crops were damaged from early planting or even destroyed. Some of the farmers who planted crops are concerned that any damaged or destroyed crops will not be covered by insurance. Gene Matzat, Ag Natural Resources Educator in LaPorte, said that by Sunday, 70% of the corn and 28% of the soybeans had already been planted. 24% of the corn crop has already started to grow.
Shelby Thomas was sentenced in Starke Circuit Court Thursday to 15 years in the Department of Corrections after pleading guilty to two counts of Intimidation as a Class C Felony. He attempted to kill two police officers with a knife during an incident in Starke County. He will be entered into the CLIFF Program and none of his sentence was suspended. Donald Kissinger was also sentenced Thursday to four years in the Department of Corrections on an enhanced charge of Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated Causing Serious Bodily Injury with a Previous Conviction. None of his sentence was suspended. Magistrate Jeanene Calabrese denied home detention to the sentence for Rhonda Gayheart as Gayheart gathered new theft charges while she was out on bond. She pleaded guilty to Burglary as a Class B Felony and she was sentenced to six years in the DOC with three years suspended. She was ordered to pay $573 in restitution.
Ancilla College President, Dr. Ron May, was the guest speaker yesterday at a Prayer Breakfast in Knox. He spoke of the importance of prayer and how it comes into play when making decisions. He said that if the nation’s leaders just work together, this would be a better place. The Prayer Breakfast was coordinated by the Prayer Day Breakfast Committee and it was catered by Christos Restaurant in Knox.