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Today's News

Knox City Council Concerned over Vandalism at Wythogan Park

Wythogan Park

Wythogan Park

The Knox City Council learned this week of ongoing vandalism at Wythogan Park.

Park Superintendent George Byer has informed authorities that there is some form of vandalism at the park on a constant basis. Recently a picnic table was thrown into the river, a toilet was blown up by a firecracker, two fountains were destroyed and the cannon in the park has also suffered damage from vandals.

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Knox Council Members to Discuss Proposed Acquisition of Gateway Property

Two members of the Knox City Council agreed to be on a committee to discuss the proposed acquisition of the Gateway property.

Discussions were held previously to enter into an agreement to transfer title of land and improvements of the Gateway property to the city of Knox. The property includes the depot, the watchman’s tower, the Nickel Plate signal tower and tracks. The depot is home to the Starke County Visitor’s Center and Starke County Chamber of Commerce. A house on West Water Street would also be part of the agreement.

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Knox City Council Approves Revised Fee Ordinance

Knox City Council

Knox City Council

The Knox City Council members discussed a revised fee ordinance Tuesday night.

Under Section 1, Article VI, Sec. 4-251. Location improvement permit fees, a commercial/industrial permit for new construction, additions and remodeling will be left at $5,000. In a previous discussion, the members considered an increase to $7,500, but later determined the $5,000 fee was sufficient.

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Knox City Council Discusses Building Permit Fee

Knox City Council

Knox City Council

The Knox City Council this week discussed building permit fees after a resident left paperwork with Clerk-Treasurer Jeff Houston explaining he felt he was overcharged when he bought a permit to add an addition to a pole barn. The resident explained he was issued a building permit for a 24-foot-by-40-foot addition to an existing pole barn and was charged $192, though he thought the accessory building permit should have only been $75.

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Knox Planning Commissioner Office Empty, Dispute Ongoing

Greg Matt

An ongoing dispute in the city administration for Knox has left one office empty, as former Planning Commissioner Greg Matt was not re-elected to his position. Worse, the Planning Commission and Mayor Rick Chambers are at odds as to who elects the planning commissioner – Chambers said he believes the planning commissioner is a department head appointed by him, but the Planning Commission believes he is an employee appointed by the commission.

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Building Project on U.S. 35 Lacks Permit

A construction project on U.S. 35 north of Knox has several people scratching their head, as no permits have been filed in Starke County nor the city of Knox.

However, despite the lack of filed permits, City Building Administrator Greg Matt said it appears that NIPSCO is building a substation. He explained a permit is required for them to build a substation, and on top of that, plans for the structure must be submitted as well.

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Demolition Date May Soon Be Set For Old Knox Theater

Greg Matt

A demolition date has not yet been set for the former home of the Knox theater and the offices of the Starke County Economic Development Foundation.

City Planning Administrator Greg Matt said the city of Knox is in the midst of applying for a grant to take down the building at the corner of Main and Lake streets. The grant’s matching funds will be paid by the Starke County Economic Development Foundation. If the grant is obtained, a date will be set for the demolition of the building in downtown Knox.

An archiving company has been inside the building to take out the antique theater chairs, the limestone from the outside of the building, and the tin ceilings.

Be On The Lookout For Unregistered Contractors

If you have damage at your residence from Tuesday morning’s storms, be careful who you hire to make repairs on your property.

Knox City Building Administrator Greg Matt asks you to exercise caution and make sure the contractor has registered with the City of Knox before you agree to any contract. Matt explains that when the registration is complete, the contractor will receive proof that he is registered with the city.

“They get a card to carry in their wallet that shows that they’re registered with the City of Knox,” said Matt. “Their vehicles also get hang-tags that have a registration number and says ‘City of Knox’. If someone comes to your door, you have every right to ask to see this identification.”

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Residents Gather to Discuss the Future of Downtown Knox

This is the one of locations discussed at last night's meeting. This is the old Everett's Drug Store/movie theatre building

Approximately three dozen people attended the first meeting called last night to gain ideas for improving downtown Knox.

The meeting was chaired by Mayor Rick Chambers and Gene Blastic from the Starke County Economic Development Foundation.

Many of the comments had to do with buildings that have fallen into disrepair. Knox City Councilman, Greg Matt, said it’s obvious the City Council is going to have to create ordinances with more stringent codes to force the building owners into action.

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City of Knox Two-Mile Jurisdiction Doesn’t Live Up to Name

Knox City Council (L to R) Linda Berndt, Jeff Berg, Ron Parker, Clerk-Treasurer Jeff Houston, Mayor Rick Chambers, Attorney David Matsey, Ed Blue and Greg Matt

A discussion of Knox’s “two-mile jurisdiction” was held last week at the Knox City Council meeting. City Attorney David Matsey pointed out that the planning jurisdiction and zoning map do not correspond. On the zoning map that is registered in the county recorder’s office, some locations, particularly near the corners, are farther than two miles, and at least one to the west takes in less than a mile.

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National Night Out in Knox to be Bigger and Better in 2012

The Knox Neighborhood Watch Committee had to cancel this year’s observation of the National Night Out event, but Greg Matt assured us that it will be bigger and better in 2012.

Already postponed once because of the Andy Howes Memorial Service in Knox, the event was rained out Monday night. Matt said the event was canceled for this year but it will return in August next year.

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National Night Out Activities Scheduled in Knox Tonight

The City of Knox will observe the National Night Out event tonight.

“We’ll have a street dance for everyone of all ages,” said Knox Neighborhood Watch Committee Spokesman, Greg Matt, of the festivities. “The Boy Scouts will be downtown helping us out and there were will be police cars, the new Hummer and the fire trucks will be there. We’re going to have the flashlight parade starting dusk and this year we’re going to take the parade, lead by new Hummer, down Main Street.”

The Police Department will be doing fingerprinting for the kids and there will be informational items for you concerning Neighborhood Watch.

The purpose of the National Night Out event is for you to get out and meet officers on the police force, the emergency responders and others in your neighborhood.

Knox to Observe National Night Out on August 8th

The National Night Out event is on Tuesday, August 2nd, but the City of Knox has postponed its observation until Monday, August 8th at 7:00 p.m. Greg Matt from the Knox Neighborhood Watch organization said he didn’t want to interfere with Andy Howes Memorial Service which is scheduled for the same evening.

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Knox Neighborhood Watch Meeting to Focus on Gang Activity

The Knox Neighborhood Watch meeting is tonight at 6:30 p.m. in the Knox City Court Room in Knox City Hall. Greg Matt, from the Neighborhood Watch Committee, says it will be an important meeting for residents to attend.

“We’re going to have a program on gangs,” said Matt. “If you’ve noticed in the past few months around Knox, we’ve had some gang taggings on buildings downtown, in the alleys and in other neighborhoods. There are other gang signs that have been going up like sneakers over power lines. Thom Morin will be coming in and discussing gangs and the telltale signs of whether your children are getting involved. It’s something that every citizen in the City of Knox should be aware of and hopefully concerned with.”

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Marsh Manor Fate to be Decided May 25th, 2011

Marsh Manor is pictured here shortly after the fire

The fate of Marsh Manor on Main Street in Knox will be decided on May 25th. According to Planning Commissioner Greg Matt, the building has been boarded up after the last of the renters were evicted. According to some, the building had been home to several “squatters” too before it was finally emptied.

Once a home to Dr. Kelly, a prominent dentist in the community, the home had been turned into an apartment building. It had fallen on hard times during the past few years, with a fire the final blow to its viability as a rooming house.

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Incumbents Re-Elected in City of Knox Primary Election

Rick and Marlene Chambers

Knox City Democrats went to the polls yesterday and re-elected Mayor Rick Chambers, Clerk-Treasurer Jeff Houston, and City Councilman Ron Parker in the contested races.

Chambers defeated challenger Mark Smith 401-288 in the mayoral race, and at party headquarters, he thanked his supporters.

“It’s been an exciting four years and I’m just humbled by the public coming out and voting and supporting me,” said Chambers. “We’re here to support the public. I’ve got to thank my family. My Mother-in-Law, my kids, everybody else that helped me, and the City workers who have made me look good for the past four years. We’ve got to thank them.”

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Greg Matt and Jeff Berg Run Unopposed in Primary Election for Seats on Knox City Council

Greg Matt

Jeff Berg

There are two other candidates running for a seat on the Knox City Council and they are unopposed in the Knox Primary Election.

Greg Matt has served for eight-and-a-half years on the Council and he says that his focus is the economy and jobs.

“In the next four years, I hope we can continue our partnership with the Starke County Economic Development Foundation and bring in more industry and more jobs,” said Matt. “Charlie’s been a great asset to us and we’ve been quite successful. A lot of that is because he had a great opportunity to bring in the rail into our Industrial Park. I’m very pro industry because that gives us a lot of employment and that’s what we would all like to see.”

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Knox City Council Approves Knox Industrial Park Name Change

Knox City Council #2

Back Row: Mayor Rick Chambers, Ed Blue, Clerk-Treasurer Jeff Houston, Greg Matt and Attorney David Matsey. Front Row: Linda Berndt, Jeff Berg and Ron Parker

At the recent meeting of the Knox City Council, Starke County Development Foundation Director, Charles Weaver, requested that the Council change the name of the Knox Industrial Park to the Starke County Rail Park. The Council unanimously approved the name change and the proposal will be taken to the Starke County Commissioners for approval. The name was changed to give it a county feel rather than a city feel.

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Knox City Council Discusses the Budget at Recent Meeting

Knox City Council #2

Back Row: Mayor Rick Chambers, Ed Blue, Clerk-Treasurer Jeff Houston, Greg Matt and Attorney David Matsey. Front Row: Linda Berndt, Jeff Berg and Ron Parker

The Knox City Council learned that the budget order came back from the State and the Council will need to cut $71,932 from the 2011 budget.  During the Council meeting Tuesday night, Clerk-Treasurer, Jeff Houston, recommended that the Council cut the purchase of a new backhoe that was put in the budget for 2011.  That budgeted item was approximately $72,000 and the Council unanimously approved Houston’s recommendation.  Houston added that the budget is at the “bare bones” and spending will be tight in 2011.  Election costs had to be added to the 2011 budget as well.

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