The Starke County Council this week balked at a request from the county EMS department to allocate money they’ve received for services rendered to purchase a new ambulance. Business manager Mary Lynn Richie says they’ve collected a significant sum from federal Medicaid reimbursements that were not paid in prior years. Continue reading
Plans are moving ahead for Starke County’s celebration of the state’s bicentennial next year. Continue reading
A state law aimed at curbing conflicts of interest by prohibiting volunteer firefighters from holding certain elected offices does not apply to Starke County Council members. President Dave Pearman is also an 18 year veteran of the Washington Township Volunteer Fire Department. He sought clarification about the policy when he ran for reelection. Continue reading
Some changes have been made in the way fire departments are being dispatched in Starke County with the way medical calls are being handled and a meeting is scheduled for tonight to explain some of those changes.
Dave Pearman from the Washington Township Fire Department said the process is being streamlined.
“There were Post-it notes that were covering the monitors in our 911 dispatch office and we looked within the fire service and within emergency services altogether and asked ourselves what could we change about that?” stated Pearman.
The Starke County Council last night held a special meeting to take care of some end-of-year business and discussed a necessary transfer for the prosecutor’s office to ensure that none of their budget items are in the negative come the new year. Council President Dave Pearman told the council that the prosecutor’s office budget was negative $9381, and in the past, the council has approved a transfer from the pretrial diversion fund to cover the deficit.
Officials with the State Board of Accounts have significantly slashed the budget submitted by Starke County officials earlier this year.
“I really felt like you guys all did a really great job in getting together and preparing a budget that I thought was very slim. We have a very slim levy in Starke County, and personally I was very disappointed in the state, but the state came back and said we have to shave $465,000 off our budget,” Pearman said.
Members of the Starke County Council are considering their ambulance purchase options and may vote next month to buy a new vehicle for the county EMS. Last year they put $60,000 earmarked for the purchase of a new ambulance into the rainy day fund. A super-majority is required in order to authorize that money to be spent. It would only cover part of the cost for a replacement rig, as diesel trucks range in price from $80,000 for a new chassis with a refurbished box mounted on it to $150,000 for a completely new truck. Council President Dave Pearman says the crush specifications on the boxes change each year, so the savings could place the county in a precarious position should a refurbished truck ever be involved in a wreck. A third option is to buy a new unit with less than a couple thousand miles from a vendor that has offered the county a favorable price on such a vehicle. Based on the quote from Fire Service, Pearman says the county could get a truck that is essentially new for $108,000. Many of their vehicles are used at trade shows and elsewhere as demonstrator models. Pearman presented the three options to the council, and members opted to take them under advisement and make a decision later.
The Starke County Sheriff’s Pension Fund is funded at a historically high level thanks to action earlier this week by the county council. Members voted unanimously to move $65,890.98 from the County Adjusted Gross Income Tax fund into the pension line item. Auditor Kay Chaffins explained that the state Department of Local Government Finance does not want the CAGIT money to go into the county general fund this year. Council President Dave Pearman says the transfer is consistent with the overall vision for the pension fund.
Two state certified classes were recently taught by Dave Pearman at the Washington Township Fire Department over the course of five weeks.
Pearman taught an Instructor 1 class that will bring additional instructors into the fire service which will allow them to enhance training at their departments. Those who successfully complete the rather extensive Instructor 1 training can then train students in mandatory, firefighter 1 and firefighter II classes. These training sessions are the foundation of all firefighter classes.
The Starke County Council this week performed the non-binding review of other taxing units’ 2014 budgets throughout the county, and according to Council President Dave Pearman, the proposed budgets mostly seemed to follow a trend of proposing increases in their budgets that exceed the state’s annual growth rate.
“As you know, we spend a lot of time working on our budget, trying to fit within the calculated annual growth rate, which for the state, was 2.6 percent, it was actually 3.6 for Starke County. But the expectation from the state is that, that rate would be at a 2.6 percent growth quotient. Several of the non-binding reviews had spoken to the fact that many of those budgets were over the calculated annual growth rate,” said Pearman.
An investigator from the state fire marshal’s office will be in Starke County today to investigate the origin of a house fire in Grovertown. The Washington Township Fire Department received the call around 2:30 yesterday afternoon, according to Assistant Chief Dave Pearman. The house at 200 North and 900 West was fully engulfed when they arrived. Firefighters from Hamlet, Koontz Lake and Knox also assisted, and with their help the blaze was contained in about 30 minutes. Pearman says the owners were home when the fire started. No injuries were reported.
Yesterday afternoon’s weather provided a brief respite from the sticky, humid heat and heavy rains that have been taking turns around the area, and Starke County officials jumped at the opportunity to provide an appreciation day for county employees. County Council President Dave Pearman said it’s a concept that they’ve tossed around for a while and, finally, they decided to just get the ball rolling and start a new tradition.
The Starke County Council this week discussed a number of options available to grow the county’s levy, specifically three options regarding income tax and property tax.
Council President Dave Pearman explained that the state froze levy growth for the majority of Hoosier counties back in the 1970’s, and several counties are now wondering how to go about unfreezing that growth. He explained that the levy was frozen to prevent counties from extending their levy growth beyond the means of their local growth – essentially spending beyond their means.
With the Starke County Jail construction project pending, Starke County Sheriff Oscar Cowen and the county officials are still dealing with overcrowding issues in the jail. Some inmates are being housed in the Pulaski County Jail, per an agreement, to help in the overcrowding situation.
Starke County Council President David Pearman said that he hopes that agreement will continue until the new jail is built.
“The state has certified our jail for 62 beds and as we approach that number, we will continue to house inmates outside our jail in another facility. Hopefully, Pulaski County will want to continue working with us.”
The Starke County Commissioners and the Starke County Council met in a joint session Monday night to discuss the proposed jail project.
Council President David Pearman talked about the overall objective of the meeting.
“The overall goal of the meeting was to finally end up with getting the first look at the proposed ordinance that would enable us to utilize the 0.65 percent tax rate,” said Pearman. “However, what we did for the benefit of the rest of council, was basically go through the jail presentation but also, during each slide, kind of give a feel and some flavor of what the public had during our presentations.”
Thursday’s public information meeting regarding the progress of the Starke County Jail Committee answered a number of questions from the community.
One question asked was whether or not prisoners could be used to clean up roads and do other work for the county, and committee member Dave Pearman said that is one possibility that is being considered. However, Pearman pointed out that prisoners need to be supervised at all times, and they also have to factor in the cost of transportation and the chance of escape.
The Washington Township Fire Department was called to a fire on 1025 East Monday night.
Assistant Fire Chief Dave Pearman said a big oak tree fell on some electrical lines in that area which caused two transformers to explode. The tree then fell into the road, and a driver soon struck the tree. The fire was extinguished by the fire department and the driver received minor injuries and refused treatment at the scene.
REMC was called to the scene to deactivate the electrical lines so cleanup could begin.
With the exception of some rain yesterday, it has been a dry spring and Dave Pearman, Assistant Fire Chief with the Washington Township Fire Department, says the firefighters have been called to several fires this season due to the dry conditions.
“We’ve seen a lot more property damage and really what it boils down to is that people are going out and they might be having a small fire and they leave it unattended,” explained Pearman. “They tend to not have any tools such as a rake, shovel and a hose available and really what we’ve seen with 90 percent of those fires is had they attended the fire, had they had tools and water present that they probably could have controlled those fires.”
Starke County Council members will resume discussion tonight concerning an amendment to an ordinance that, if approved, would allow the county to use up to $50,000 in Save the Hospital Funds to hire a consultant to evaluate the hospital’s real and personal property.
The Council had discussed the proposed amendment during a special meeting on May 14, but it was voted down. Council President Dave Pearman said the motion needed a five-member approval, but only gained four “yes” votes.
“The thing that I really want to reiterate about this is this is not necessarily saying that we are going to spend even one dollar to start with, but we need some enabling legislation to allow us to seek a consultant for this project to make sure that we make the wise decision for the public’s best interest,” said Pearman.
Members of the Starke County Jail Committee toured a number of jail facilities throughout the state last week. Starke County Council President and Jail Committee member Dave Pearman was just one of the members who went to the Jasper County Jail, and he explained why the members went to that jail.
“One of the key reasons why we were taken to Jasper County Jail is their community, at the time of their jail planning, was about the size of ours. We have about 23,000 in our community and they have about 35,000 today. They have a 120-bed facility, it’s state of the art and it very much fits what we think our model possibly could be if we actually do decide to build a new facility,” said Pearman.