Here is a look at some of the news that made the news in the Kankakee Valley this week:
No one was hurt in a Saturday morning train crash in Knox. U.S. 35, East Division Street and North 300 East were closed so crews could clear the wreckage. A Norfolk Southern employee was performing maintenance on the tracks when a train collided with the service truck. It had been parked on a set of parallel tracks at the time of the accident. The employee was not in the truck at the time of the crash. It took crews nearly four hours to clear the wreckage and open the roads.
North Judson-San Pierre Superintendent Lynn Johnson reported an increase of 25 students in the recent Average Daily Membership, or ADM count. This is an approximate increase of $125,000 in funding to the school corporation. Johnson said this was great news for the corporation after it has suffered funding losses for the past several years.
Republican State Representative Tom Dermody has been endorsed by Farm Bureau and he accepted that endorsement last week at the Northern Starke County farm of District One Indiana Farm Bureau Director, Larry Jernas. The state board recently approved the endorsement after locally interviewing Dermody and the recommendation was passed to the state level. Dermody was excited for the endorsement and said he’s had a long-standing relationship with Farm Bureau. Agriculture is important in this area and he pledged to help agricultural communities and to listen and help farmers.
An overcrowding situation in the LaPorte County Jail reportedly caused a mini-riot Friday afternoon. A floor of the LaPorte County Jail was closed last week after the LaPorte County Council denied payment of $70,000 for overtime and the prisoners in that part of the jail were placed amongst other cells in the jail. On Friday, inmates refused to lock-down into their cell and deputies had to use tasers and pepper spray to bring order to the population. Sheriff Michael Mollenhauer said no deputies were hurt in the uproar. He’s afraid more instances like this will happen if the County Council does not approve the overtime funding for adequate jail staff and the reopening of the wing in the jail.
Knox-Center Township fire crews were called to Taco Bell in Knox Monday after an electrical issue started a fire by the drive-thru window. Fire Chief Kenny Pfost said an extension cord plugged into an outlet may have overloaded the circuit and caused the fire. The breakers did not trip. The fire was put out with a fire extinguisher by the employees before the fire department arrived at the scene. The business was closed for approximately three hours.
A Starke County Sheriff’s deputy approaching Jay Dollahan’s residence in Knox shot and killed a dog last week as the officer felt the dog was displaying aggressive actions toward him. The officer was serving civil court papers and noticed a “Beware of Dog” sign but continued walking toward the home. Dollahan said his dog ran out of the front door toward the officer in a manner which he claims was not aggressive. The officer indicated that the dog, a pitball, charged out of the home and barked and growled at the officer. The officer raised his weapon and Dollahan screamed at the officer not to shoot the dog, but for his safety, the officer shot and killed the dog. Sheriff Oscar Cowen and Chief Deputy Bill Dulin spoke to Dollahan and said the deputy was justified in shooting the animal because his safety was at risk. Dollahan insists that the dog was not aggressive and the officer should have communicated differently after seeing the “Beware of Dog” sign.
Fred Koman faces Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated-Endangering charges after a single vehicle accident in Starke County Sunday afternoon. Koman, of Knox, was traveling on Toto Road west of U.S. 35 and for unknown reasons, left the road and struck a concrete drain. Emergency crews arrived on scene and extricated him from the vehicle. He was later airlifted from IU Health Starke Hospital after suffering a broken or fractured neck and an injury to his arm. After an investigation, police found that Koman was intoxicated at the time of the crash and has a preliminary charge of Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated-Endangerment.
Knox Park Superintendent George Byer reported to the Knox City Council Tuesday night that cleanup at Wythogan Park should be complete by today or tomorrow, but work will continue toward the back of the park. At least 100 trees need to be cut down in the back of the park, but the walking trails and the general park area is open to visitors. More than 125 tree stumps were ground down along the walking trail. The Council approved a request to spend $1,500 to remove two trees near the wastewater treatment plant.
Brandon Zachary and Jonathan Cortez were arrested last week after allegedly stealing a desktop computer and printer from a home in the west 9000 block of Toto Road in North Judson. Zachary allegedly admitted to police that they were at the residence and saw Cortez steal the computer and he allegedly threw it in a ditch. Cortez reportedly told police that they were at the home but were looking for a lost cell phone. They were detained and led police to the location of the stolen items. Police found the computer and printer in four feet of water in a ditch on 875 West, south of 2150 South in LaPorte County. The LaCrosse Fire Department assisted the officers in retrieving the stolen property and Cortez and Zachary were arrested on Burglary and Theft charges.
Ryan Taylor was on trial in Starke Circuit Court this week as he faces charges of Arson. It is alleged that Taylor set a car on fire and the state and the defense indicated a disagreement in who owned the car at the time of the fire. In opening arguments heard yesterday, the state claimed the car rightfully belonged to Taylor’s mother and Taylor had no right to destroy the car, while the defense argued that the vehicle did belong to Taylor and he had every right to burn it. The car reportedly had mechanical issues and the repairs would have exceeded the value of the car.
Three soldiers from Starke County arrived back home this week after serving a one-year tour of duty in Afghanistan. Clinton Jordon and Jared Dietrich were escorted, by convoy, to the Knox VFW where a welcome home ceremony was held. Jordon said this day was one he worked hard for and it was great to be back. Dietrich added that the whole thing was surreal and is excited to see what the next few weeks has in store for him. Another soldier who returned home yesterday was Tim Watts, a 2004 graduate from Knox High School.
Henry Allen of North Judson was arrested Thursday after he allegedly fired a gun at a neighbor’s home. The bullet from the gun went through a teenage girl’s room and grazed her back. Police asked Allen why he was shooting a gun and he said he was shooting at a gourd. Then he allegedly told police that his neighbor fired the first shot and he was shooting back at him. Officers indicated that Allen may have been impaired at the time of the incident and took him into custody. Allen faces a preliminary charge of Criminal Recklessness with a Deadly Weapon, a Class C Felony. He remains in the Starke County Jail under a $100,000 surety bond.