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Starke County Council Working on 2015 Budget

starke-county-courthouseThe Starke County Council is in the process of crafting the 2015 budget. Once it’s finished, it will be published for taxpayer review. Council President Dave Pearman says that process is changing after this year. Continue reading

Expanded Alcohol Monitoring Approved for Court Services

Officials with court services in Marshall County are moving forward to hold offenders accountable for actions while under home detention.

Ward Byers approached the county commissioners on Monday morning with a request to enter into a contract with the BI Corporation to expand alcohol monitoring.

“Currently, we can provide in-home alcohol monitoring through our 3M contract. This will allow us to have what’s called a SCRAM, or a trans-dermal ankle bracelet, which provides continuous alcohol monitoring of those more high risk alcohol offenders,” said Byers.

The contract will allow the use of a more sophisticated breath test.

“I can set up a schedule in the computer, it notifies the offender when it’s time to provide a sample. When it does that, it takes a photograph of the offender, registers the blood alcohol content and then sends up a GPS signal so we know where that offender is at that time. Should they fail to provide that sample or if they fail their breath sample, I immediately receive a text message so then I can address whatever matter is going on with that person.”

Byers noted that this contract just gives the court and court services more sentencing options.

The BI Corporation is headquartered out of Boulder, Colorado but an office is located in Anderson, Indiana.

As with the contract with the 3M corporation, there will be no costs to the county. When the equipment is activated and assigned to an offender, all user fees will be handed down to the offender. No costs will be incurred by the county. The offender will pay $12 a day.

The commissioners approved the contract pending attorney review.

Pulaski County County Commissioners Receive Update on Zoning Ordinances

The executive director of the Pulaski County Community Development Commission updated the county commissioners this week on plans to revamp the zoning ordinances.

Nathan Origer explained that the county council approved the transfer of funds from the CDC land acquisition account for the project and plans are progressing.

“Once I have the CDC’s formal approval and the plan commission’s formal recommendation to the commissioners, I will bring it to you. I will get a copy to you in advance as soon as we tweak any details. I sent a list of minor concerns to the company that has submitted the proposal. They don’t anticipate starting the project until mid-November and finishing in early spring. We are still negotiating with Francesville and Winamac to see if either of them want to adopt that same ordinance so that even though they’ll retain their same jurisdictions the rules will be the same across the county,” said Origer.

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Nominations Sought for Starke County Park Board

The Bass Lake Beach and Campground are among the amenities the Starke County Park Board will oversee.

The Bass Lake Beach and Campground are among the amenities the Starke County Park Board will oversee.

Starke County officials are seeking nominations for volunteers to serve on the county park board. Starke Circuit Judge Kim Hall and the Starke County Council each have two nominations – one Democrat and one Republican. The Starke County Commissioners will select the fifth member. Political affiliation is not a consideration for the commissioners nominee. Continue reading

Expert Says Proposed Coal Regulations Don’t Consider “Big Picture”

The proposed Environmental Protection Agency regulations of coal-fired power plants could hit Hoosier energy consumers hard in the pocketbook. That’s the contention of organizations like Kankakee Valley REMC, NIPSCO and even Gov. Mike Pence, who are all opposed to what they say is an overreaching proposal by EPA to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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Judge Accepts Sentence Modifications for Two Defendants

 Two sentence modification requests were brought before Judge Kim Hall in Starke Circuit Court on Wednesday morning.

Matthew Baker formerly pleaded guilty in a plea agreement to dealing methamphetamine. He told the court that he participated in the CLIFF program and successfully completed it. It was part of his plea agreement in order to have the opportunity to modify his sentence. Baker has been going to Narcotics Anonymous classes once a week and has completed 12 hours of community service. His home was searched while on house arrest and no contraband was found. A case worker from Starke County Community Corrections testified on Baker’s character and confirmed his completion of requirements through Starke County Community Corrections. The judge granted the motion to move Baker from community corrections home detention electronic monitoring to daily reporting for twelve months. He will need to continue attending N.A. meetings.

Robert Singleton, who was convicted of manufacturing methamphetamine, requested that he be taken off home detention electronic monitoring to probation. Court documents indicated that he had taken 30 drug screens and breathalyzer tests and all were negative. Singleton also had successfully completed the Thinking for a Change program during his sentence. He had his home searched as well and no contraband had been found. Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Mary Ryan did not object to the modification to home detention daily reporting but could not support a modification to probation due to a mandate to serve a minimum sentence. Judge Hall approved the motion to modify his sentence to home detention with daily reporting.

New U.S. 31 to Open Today

US 31Expect traffic delays today as traffic shifts to the new U.S. 31 between South Bend and Plymouth.

INDOT crews will begin changing traffic to the new alignment of U.S. 31 after 9 a.m. ET. Traffic may be slowed or stopped as crews move barricades, barrels and other traffic control devices. To avoid delays, avoid access points for the new U.S. 31 until after 1 p.m. ET today.

Three interchanges will open today. Those interchanges are located at Kern Road in South Bend, State Road 4 in Lakeville and U.S. 6 in LaPaz. A fourth interchange will open once construction at 7th Road near Plymouth is finished later this year.

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Economic Development Foundation Director Selected as Wall of Legends Judge

Charles Weaver

Charlie Weaver

The Executive Director of the Starke County Economic Development Foundation will serve as one of 13 judges for the South Shore Wall of Legends and Legends Scholarship Project.

Charlie Weaver will help select inductees from among several who are nominated each year. The Wall of Legends is located at the Indiana Welcome Center in Hammond and honors people from northwest Indiana who have changed the world and reflect the values of exploration and courage and innovation.

This year’s induction ceremony will be held on Dec. 18 at 5:30 p.m. CT at the welcome center.

Property Taxes Will Increase to Build Hamlet Fire Station

The new fire station will be built between the Starke County Fairgrounds and the Wayne Apartments in Hamlet.

The new fire station will be built between the Starke County Fairgrounds and the Wayne Apartments in Hamlet.

Davis Township property owners who live outside the Hamlet town limits will see a property tax increase of about 14-cents per $100 of assessed valuation to pay for the new 9,300 square foot, $750,000 fire station. That’s an estimate provided by officials with accounting firm Umbaugh and Associates during Monday’s public hearing on the project. Continue reading

Pulaski County Commissioners Approve Purchase of New Ambulance

The Pulaski County Commissioners approved a quote for a new ambulance during their meeting on Monday night.

EMS officials announced last week that the ambulance damaged from a February fire and subsequently repaired did not pass state inspection so it was totaled by the insurance company.

During this week’s meeting, EMS Director Nikki Lowry presented the commissioners with four quotes for a new ambulance. They approved a quote from Arrow in the amount of $130,700. Since the insurance company totaled the truck, an $82,000 settlement will go toward the purchase of a new ambulance.

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Metronet Nearing Completion, One Connection Approved

 The Metronet project is expected to finish ahead of schedule.

The Marshall County Commissioners noted that the installation of conduit has been going smoothly for the most part and the installation should be complete in mid-September. The Metronet officials will then install the dark fiber and companies should be able to connect to high-speed internet soon after the construction.

Roland Houin with Fourway Computer Products at 12700 4A Road told the commissioners that he’s ready to tap into the service to run to his facility as soon as possible. He plans to lay down conduit and to be prepared once the fibers are lit. He said he wants to experiment running the conduit and fibers to a communication tower and to homes in that area which is by the Tri-Way Theatre and the state highway garage.

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Oregon-Davis School Board Approves Firearms Policy

Oregon-Davis Jr./Sr. High School

Oregon-Davis Jr./Sr. High School

The Oregon Davis School Board members approved the revised firearms policy during Monday’s meeting.

As per state law, firearms may be in a school employee’s locked car out of the sight of the public, which Oregon Davis’s policy will reflect. School Superintendent Greg Briles said the only person or persons who would be allowed to have firearms in the buildings would be the schools resource officers or police officers.

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Starke County Tax Rates Unchanged for Upcoming Year

starke-county-courthouseStarke County’s local option income tax rates are not going up. The county council Monday set the rates for the County Adjusted Gross Income Tax (CAGIT) and County Economic Development Income Tax (CEDIT) Funds and the Starke County Jail CEDIT. Continue reading

North Judson Town Maintenance Building Nearing Completion

he North Judson Town Council members held discussion on a number of topics during their Monday meeting.

Town Superintendent Marshall Horstmann told the council members the new maintenance building should be completed by the end of the month. The project was to be complete a few months ago, but the weather and other unforeseen circumstances delayed the start of the project until late March. The town employees have been working on the building’s interior.

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Mayor Chambers Clears an Issue with Outdoor Storage Ordinance Confusion

Knox Mayor Rick Chambers informed the city council members last week that a fundraising concept has been nixed at a few businesses in the city because there is some confusion with the outdoor storage ordinance.

Mayor Chambers explained that a non-profit organization attempted to have a port-a-pit chicken sale at a business but the organization members were told it couldn’t be held at the location because it conflicted with the outdoor storage ordinance.

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Kankakee Valley FOP Holds Successful Event

06-04-14 FOP pictureThe Kankakee Valley Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #129 held a shop with a cop event prior to the start of school.

FOP President Chris Kisela told WKVI News that they were able to assist 40 children with $125 in school supplies this year. On Aug. 10, the kids got to shop for clothes, shoes or whatever school supplies they needed with officers, dispatchers and officials from the Starke County Prosecutor’s Office at a department store in Valparaiso.

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Michigan City Native Joins SCILL Center Welding Program Staff

Elizabeth Tylisz

Elizabeth Tylisz

A Michigan City native with extensive hands-on welding experience is set to join the staff of the SCILL Center welding technology program. Starting Monday, Elizabeth Tylisz will be teaching the morning vocational welding class and some of the adult welding classes. Continue reading

Preschool scholarships available at SCCF

 Many local preschools still have openings for children to ensure your child is ready for kindergarten.

Full and partial scholarships are still available at several local preschools through the Starke County Community Foundation’s Preschool Scholarship Program. Preschools participating in the scholarship program that still have openings include Foundations Preschool and Little Lambs Preschool, both located in Knox plus adventure Island Preschool and St. Peter Lutheran Preschool in North Judson.

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Fate of Bass Lake Seasonal Camping in Park Board’s Hands

Bass Lake Beach

The Starke County Park Board will oversee Bass Lake Beach and Campground

The future of seasonal camping at the Bass Lake Beach and Campground is in the hands of the five yet-to-be-named Starke County Park Board members. The county commissioners previously announced plans to limit camping to 15 days at a time after this season concludes but have not yet sent a formal notice to manager Richard Callahan and his attorney David Wallsmith. They contend those statements have caused damage to the business, as many campers are uncertain whether they will be able to return next year. Continue reading

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