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Today's News

LaPorte 1st Source Bank Branch Robbed

bank robberyLaPorte police are investigating a bank robbery that occurred Thursday at a 1st Source Bank branch.

The suspect entered the bank on Boyd Blvd, approached a teller’s window and requested a deposit slip. He then reportedly passed the slip back to her and on that slip he wrote instructions to hand over money. The teller did so and the suspect left the establishment with an undisclosed amount of money.

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Criminal Charges Against Todd Boldry Dropped, Voluntarily Surrenders Teacher’s License

Todd Boldry

Todd Boldry

A motion was filed and signed to drop the criminal charges against Todd Boldry in an agreement that he would surrender his teaching license permanently.

Starke County Prosecutor Nicholas Bourff explained that the victim in the case didn’t want Boldry to necessarily get prison time for the offense that occurred between 2007 and 2008; she just wanted him to lose the ability to teach.

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Pulaski County Commissioners Face Open Meetings Law Violations

Pulaski County Commissioners Larry Brady, Vice President Terry Young, and President Tracey Shorter

Pulaski County Commissioners Larry Brady, Vice President Terry Young, and President Tracey Shorter

The state agency charged with making sure open meetings laws are followed is investigating a citizen complaint regarding recent actions by the Pulaski County Commissioners. Questions were first raised regarding their compliance with the law when no vote was taken to suspend then-county highway superintendent Kenny Becker and administrator Lin Morrison were suspended with pay. Becker was reinstated as county highway manager during the next commissioners meeting, at which time Commissioner Larry Brady was named interim superintendent. Becker was fired Monday during an executive session meeting for unspecified employee policy handbook violations. Dale Brewer with the Office of the Indiana Public Access Counselor says that action needs to be taken in a public meeting

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Harkness Sentenced to 12 Years in DOC for Dealing in Meth

Starke County Courthouse

Starke County Courthouse

Several people pleaded guilty to charges against them and received their sentences in the Starke Circuit Court yesterday from Judge Kim Hall.

Bobby Harkness pleaded guilty to Dealing in Methamphetamine as a Class B felony and was sentenced to serve 12 years in the Department of Corrections with none suspended; however, if he completes the CLIFF or GRIP program offered by the Department of Corrections, he may petition the court for a modification of his sentence. He must first also complete the first ten years of his sentence before he can request the modification. The prosecutor dismissed a charge of Driving While Suspended as part of the plea deal.

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LaPorte County Man Arrested on Warrant in Alabama

Maurice Ward

Maurice Ward

A man wanted out of LaPorte County was found and captured by the U.S. Marshals Service in Birmingham, Ala. on Tuesday. Maurice Ward, 28, was reportedly in the company of a 15-year-old girl reported missing from Detroit.

The warrant out of LaPorte County was for Failure to Register as a Sex Offender, a Class C felony. Ward was also wanted by the Indiana Department of Corrections Parole Board for a parole violation.

He had been previously convicted of Criminal Confinement and was identified as a sexually violent predator and was required to register as a sex offender on a quarterly basis. He failed to do so when he was recently living in Michigan City and a warrant was issued.

Argos Man Injured After Car Accident

An Argos man was injured in a single vehicle accident on 13th Road west of Olive Trail in Marshall County on Tuesday evening.

The driver, 27-year-old Brandon Hensley, reportedly went off the road at that location and into a tree. Emergency personnel were able to remove Hensley from the vehicle and he was transported to St. Joseph Regional Medical Center for treatment.

Officers from the Marshall County Sheriff’s Department believe alcohol and speed were factors in the crash and it remains under investigation.

Locally-Filmed Horror Flick to Premiere This Weekend in Winamac

Sam Wallace is the main character of "And Then You Die," set to premiere March 2.

Sam Wallace is the main character of “And Then You Die,” set to premiere March 2.

The big day is quickly approaching as cast and crew prepare to unveil their three-year project. “And Then You Die,” a horror movie filmed entirely in Pulaski and Fulton counties by Daniel Murphy and Brian Gaillard, is set to premiere this weekend in Winamac.

The movie will be shown twice at the Isis Theater in Winamac on March 2: once at noon and again at 10 p.m. The cast and crew will host a question-and-answer session at the first showing of the movie, which Murphy said has not been rated.

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Pulaski County Health Dept. to Purchase Mobile Cooling Centers

The Pulaski County Health Department will soon be receiving a decent chunk of change to purchase two canopy cooling centers. Sherry Fagner with the health department said the two mist shelters will be purchased using a $20,000 grant, and obtaining that grant was not easy.

Fagner said the health department has to justify the purchase in order to obtain the grant, and said they justified the purchase by stating that it could be employed in a possible distribution site for medical countermeasures. That is, if the department ever offered a drive-through or a walk-through, the cooling centers would be useful.

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Downtown LaPorte Joins Indiana Main Street Program

Downtown LaPorte is joining more than 100 other communities in the Indiana Main Street Program.

The Indiana Main Street Program is administered by the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs and focuses on four different strategies to promote downtown development: organization, design, promotion and economic restructuring. All aspects are vital in restoration efforts of the community.

Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann recently made the announcement of this development and the program manager for Indiana Main Street stressed that the members of the LaPorte community are supportive of the organization’s revitalization efforts.

Knox City Council Approves Change of Insurance Provider

Knox City Council

Knox City Council

The Knox City Council is reconsidering their insurance agreement for city employees. With insurance costs set to go up on March 1 for their current provider, Starmark, Mayor Rick Chambers informed the council that the total monthly premium would increase by $4000. Employees currently pay 15 percent of the cost of their insurance with the city covering 85 percent.

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Knox Board of Works Approves Change Orders in Phoenix House Project

Knox Board of Public Works

Knox Board of Public Works

The Knox Board of Public Works approved three change orders to the Phoenix House construction project Wednesday morning.

The construction project began in mid-January with site preparations beginning in December. The Phoenix House suffered flooding and grant money was sought by K-IRPC to aid in the construction project. The garage is being expanded to include a storage area, a group meeting room, a library and computer area.

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Turkey Tracks Hunt Approaching; Fish Dinner Planned This Weekend

Eric Corey

Eric Corey

In memory of Eric Corey, the Turkey Tracks annual hunt in Starke County is quickly approaching and the organization is gearing up with a Saturday banquet at the Washington Township Community Center on State Road 23. The fish dinner – more than a fish fry as in previous years – is being prepared by the San Pierre Fire Department with all-you-can-eat fish, baked potatoes, green beans, coleslaw, and dessert. Carol Corey, Eric’s mother, said the hunt – created as part of the Eric Corey Foundation – means a lot to her and it continues in his honor.

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Ancilla Board of Trustees Votes to Reduce Tuition

While most colleges and universities in Indiana have made headlines with their tuition increases, the Ancilla College Board of Trustees have voted to approve a four percent across-the-board tuition reduction for the 2013-2014 school year.

The new tuition cost will be $6,500 per semester for a full-time student enrolled in 15 credit hours.

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Starke United Plans “Back to the Future” Night

Starke United

Starke United

A local organization seeking to provide financial aid to other non-profit organizations in Starke County is planning a fundraising dance in just over a week. Starke United will be hosting the “Back to the Future with Starke United” event, which will feature a variety of foods, dancing, a cash bar, and live music at the Nancy J. Dembowski Community Center in Knox.

Live music will be provided by Category 5, food from a variety of decades – 50s, 60s, and 70s – will be provided, and attendees are encouraged to dress casually in the style of their favorite era. Social hour begins at 6 p.m. on March 9, while dinner starts at 7 p.m. with dancing immediately afterward from 8 to 11 p.m.

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Number of Minor Consumption Incidents on the Rise

In an annual report, the Indiana State Excise Police found that the arrests of minors for possession and consumption of alcohol rose 37 percent from 2011 to 2012. Arrests of those who provided alcohol to minors rose 46.2 percent.

On a positive note, the Indiana Excise Police noted that since the start of the Intensified College Enforcement program, fewer alcohol-related crashes have been reported that involved teen drunk drivers. Taking place on six college campuses, the program saw a 53.4 percent decrease in alcohol-related crashes involving 15- to 20-year-old drunk drivers in 2012 from the year before.

Governor Pence Signs SEA 319 into Law

Mike Pence

Mike Pence

The first piece of legislation was signed into law by Indiana Governor Mike Pence Tuesday afternoon.

Senate Enrolled Act 319 prevents an estimated $57 million property tax increase on farmers by delaying the use of new soil productivity factors in farmland assessment until the Department of Local Government Finance and the Purdue University College of Agriculture complete a study on the process.

The legislation passed unanimously in both the Indiana House and Senate.

The proposed new soil productivity factors used for farmland assessment in Indiana could have caused an estimated 25 percent average increase in property tax payments for Indiana’s farmers, depending on the county in which they live.

Pulaski Memorial Hospital Expands Oncology Coverage

Dr. Michael Slaughter

Dr. Michael Slaughter

Dr. Laurence Bates

Dr. Laurence Bates

Pulaski Memorial Hospital has begun expanding their oncology coverage to three Fridays each month in an effort to provide the community with quicker and more convenient medical oncology appointments at a location not too far from home.

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Former highway superintendent files notice of tort claim against Pulaski County Commissioners

Pulaski County Commissioners Larry Brady, Vice President Terry Young, and President Tracey Shorter

Pulaski County Commissioners Larry Brady, Vice President Terry Young, and President Tracey Shorter

Pulaski County Commissioners, the county auditor and county attorney have 90 days to answer a notice of tort claim signed late Wednesday by former highway superintendent Kenny Becker.
The notice contends he has been damaged in the sum of $500,000 by their actions, which began with his Jan. 22 suspension with pay after unspecified accusations of wrongdoing. Becker immediately retained Valparaiso attorney Steven Bush, who sent a letter to county attorney Kevin Tankersley on Feb. 1 asking for the allegations against his client and the names of his accusers. Tankersley refused, and three days later Becker was demoted to the position of “county highway manager” during a commissioners meeting. Bush was there and was told by Tankersley that he could not question the commissioners.
“It is clear by the way in which the entire situation was handled that Tracey Shorter, Larry Brady, Shelia Garling and Kevin Tankersley conspired together to damage the reputation and name of Kenneth Becker by leaving a cloud of suspicion with the public as to what acts or misdeeds may or may not have been committed by Kenneth Becker to justify his demotion; by suggesting criminal activity in the form of infractions, and by jointly refusing to provide any information whatsoever regarding the allegations, accusations and accusers;” the complaint reads. It also contends that Becker’s name, reputation and character were slandered and his civil and constitutional rights were violated by the refusal to provide him the names of his accusers, what their accusations were and what proof they had as to those accusations.
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Attorney Anticipates Filing Tort Claim Notice Against Pulaski County Officials

Pulaski County Commissioners Larry Brady, Vice President Terry Young, and President Tracey Shorter

Pulaski County Commissioners Larry Brady, Vice President Terry Young, and President Tracey Shorter

The attorney for the former Pulaski County highway superintendent anticipates filing a notice of tort claim against the Pulaski County Commissioners, county attorney and auditor by the end of the week. Kenny Becker was fired Monday night during an executive session meeting for unspecified violations of the county personnel policy. The firing follows his paid suspension last month while commissioners looked into unspecified complaints of wrongdoing. Becker was reinstated as county highway manager after that investigation failed to find any criminal misdeeds. His attorney, Steven Bush of Valparaiso, says he plans to file as soon as Becker can come in and sign the necessary paperwork.

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