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Starke County Commissioners Approve 2015 Holiday Schedule

CalendarStarke County government offices will be closed on Columbus Day in 2015. That’s in addition to the other holidays typically observed by governmental bodies. They include New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Veterans Day, the long Thanksgiving weekend and Christmas Day. The commissioners considered taking Martin Luther King Day off in January, but opted to keep county government open. That decision was a two-to-one vote, with President of the Commissioners Jennifer Davis voting for the closure. The county has never observed the Martin Luther King holiday in January.


Park Board Approves Bass Lake Seasonal Camping

Bass Lake CampgroundCampsite patrons at the Bass Lake Campground can breathe easier after action by the recently-appointed Starke County Park Board. They voted unanimously last night to allow seasonal campsite leases to continue. Camping season starts over Memorial Day weekend and concludes around Halloween. Overnight camping is not allowed during the winter months since the campground does not have running water or sewers after the lines are cleared and winterized. Continue reading

Starke County Commissioners Schedule Certificate Sale

starke-county-courthouseThe Starke County Commissioners have scheduled a certificate sale for Monday, Feb. 17, 2015 to rid the county of properties not sold at tax sale. Treasurer Kasey Clark will review the list of properties with county attorney Marty Lucas prior to placing the advertisements. Adjacent property owners will also be notified in case they want to make a purchase. Continue reading

Starke County Commissioners to Revisit Highway Superintendent Contract

starke-county-courthouseThe Starke County Commissioners will resume their discussion of whether to offer Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler a long-term contract when they meet this evening. His is one of the jobs that is appointed annually by the commissioners. President Jennifer Davis is leading the charge to change that. She says doing so would ensure the long-range plan Ritzler has in place for road and bridge improvements is carried out. Making the change requires a unanimous vote of the commissioners. Kathy Norem is in favor of offering Ritzler a long-term contract, but fellow commissioner Kent Danford is not. He said in a previous meeting it could open a “can of worms.”

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Starke County Commissioners Discuss Contract for Highway Superintendent

Starke County Highway Superintendent Stephen "Rik" Ritzler

Starke County Highway Superintendent Stephen “Rik” Ritzler

A philosophical disconnect between the Starke County Commissioners may keep them from offering county highway superintendent Rik Ritzler a long-term employment contract. His is one of the jobs appointed each year by the commissioners. President of the Commissioners Jennifer Davis would like to change that.

“This is to our advantage to have a contract with our current highway superintendent, because of the job that he has demonstrated that he has done. I hope that we will be able to consider that at our next meeting,” Davis said during the Monday, Nov. 3 Starke County Commissioners meeting.

That will require a unanimous vote. Commissioner Kathy Norem supports the notion, but Commissioner Kent Danford does not. Continue reading

Starke County Commissioners Approve Landfill Probe Addition

The Starke County Commissioners hope the addition of a new well at the site of the former county landfill will adequately address problems with gas levels. They call it a “first line of defense” to remedy the issue and keep costs down. The additional probe will cost the county between $2,000 and $4,000. The Indiana Department of Environmental Management is still monitoring gas levels at the site. Recently methane levels tested higher than normal. The probe will help determine how far the gas is from the site.

Starke County Officials Celebrate Completion of Highway Intersection

Starke County officials cut the ribbon to officially open the intersection of State Road 8 and County Road 300 East.

Starke County officials cut the ribbon to officially open the intersection of State Road 8 and County Road 300 East.

The intersection of State Road 8 and Starke County Road 300 East now has turn lanes, guardrails, acceleration and deceleration lanes. Members of the Starke County Council, County Commissioners and Starke County Economic Development Foundation Board of Directors celebrated the completion of the project with a ceremonial ribbon cutting Monday morning.

“This was extremely dangerous before for trucks and motor vehicles to come to pass. They couldn’t make the turns. If a truck wanted to go toward 35 from 300, they crossed both travel lanes into the berm,” Starke County Economic Development Foundation Executive Director Charlie Weaver said.  Continue reading

Starke County Officials Celebrate Completion of Road Project

A major Starke County road project is substantially complete. Members of the county council and commissioners and officials from the Starke County Economic Development Commission will celebrate the reconstruction of the intersection of State Road 8 and 300 East later today. The intersection has been rebuilt to accommodate traffic to and from the Knox Industrial Park. It now features a turn lane and acceleration and deceleration lanes to help trucks more easily navigate the corner. Continue reading

Season Wrapping Up at Bass Lake Beach and Campground

Bass Lake Beach and Campground will soon close for the season. Manager Richard Callahan and his attorney Dave Wallsmith advised the Starke County Commissioners last night the group piers have been removed from the beach area and all but a few boats are out of the water. Wallsmith also told the commissioners he has not gotten any complaints about the amenities of late and has received complements about how nice and well maintained the facilities are. Continue reading

Starke County Council Sets Budget Adoptions

Starke County Courthouse

Starke County Courthouse

The Starke County Council will adopt budgets for several taxing units when they meet this evening. Their advance meeting agenda includes adoption of the county budget for the upcoming year as well as those for the Starke County Airport, Starke County Solid Waste and North Judson-San Pierre School Corporation. Continue reading

Starke County Economic Development Foundation Seeks Planning Grant

The Starke County Economic Development Foundation is seeking a $15,000 grant to plan for future workforce needs through the SCILL Center. Executive Director Charlie Weaver says they are looking at the cost of implementing vocational and adult automation robotics equipment maintenance programs. He says there is a growing need for that skill set in manufacturing settings. Continue reading

Starke County Shreds Obsolete Records

starke-county-courthouseStarke County’s first attempt to shred obsolete files and records was successful in terms of both volume and cost, according to the county commissioners. A committee reviewed records and approved the ones to be shredded. County Maintenance Supervisor Jim Coad says they got rid of nine tons of paper for a cost of $2,222.76. Continue reading

Starke County Commissioners Seeking Health Board Nominee

The Starke County Commissioners are looking to fill a health board vacancy. Nurse Taylor Davis resigned. By law, her replacement must be a health care professional and a Democrat. Prospective nominees can contact the Starke County Auditor’s Office at 574-772-9101 for more information.

Commissioners Prepare Packets for Park Board Members

The five members of the Starke County Park Board will have plenty of reading material prior to their first meeting. The Starke County Commissioners are sending them welcome packets, which will include copies of the state statute under which the board was formed and the state law pertaining to camping on public properties. One of their first challenges will be to decide whether to allow year-round camping at Bass Lake Beach and Campground. The park board members will also get a copy of the management lease between the county and Richard Callahan. The board is charged with oversight and management of the Starke County Forest and other county-owned public lands.

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Starke County Commissioners Award Bridge Replacement Bids

The Starke County Commissioners this week awarded bids to replace two bridges to a LaPorte-based contractor. LaPorte Construction Company was the low bidder for Bridge 70, which is located on 50 East south of 500 South across the Smith Ditch. Their price of $396,104.50 includes an additional 400 feet of pavement up to 500 South. They also submitted the low bid for Bridge 79 on 450 South over the Smith Ditch. JCI Bridge Group of LaPorte and Mishawaka-based Northern Indiana Construction Company also bid on both projects. Repairs to both bridges will be done in the spring.

Starke County Officials Studying Morgue Options

The Starke County EMS base in Grovertown is one possible location for a county morgue.

The Starke County EMS base in Grovertown is one possible location for a county morgue.

The Starke County Commissioners have tasked coroner-elect Adam Gray with finding a suitable space for a morgue. He told the commissioners he needs a completely secure facility to house the county’s cooler and provide a viewing area for family members should an identification need to be made. Gray says the cooler needs 16 feet of clearance. He adds a 20-by-20 space with concrete floors and metal walls will be adequate to meet the county’s needs. The commissioners suggested adding on to the west side of the existing Starke County EMS building in Grovertown or possibly building on another parcel of county-owned land. EMS Director Keith Emigh notes the ambulance garage is a bare-bones facility and said pipes freeze in cold weather. Continue reading

Starke County Commissioners Name EMS Director

Keith Emigh can remove the “interim” from his title as Starke County EMS Director. He’s been serving in that capacity since Paul Matthewson stepped down in July. Yesterday the commissioners offered Emigh the job on a permanent basis. He accepted their offer of the position for $40,000 per year with a $1,000 raise after his 90-day review. Emigh asked if he will be expected to run the service and also work a truck and was told that is his call to make as director. He was one of eight applicants interviewed for the position.

Starke County Commissioners Set to Name EMS Director

starke-county-courthouseThe Starke County Commissioners are set to hire a new county EMS director. Keith Emigh has served in an interim capacity since Paul Matthewson resigned in July and was one of the applicants for the position. That hiring is one of the items on their agenda for today’s meeting. Continue reading

Final Members Named to Starke County Park Board

starke-county-courthouseStarke County’s Park Board is now fully populated. Judge Kim Hall named Mike Meadows and Skyler Ellinger to the five-member panel. They join Starke County Council appointees Debbie Mix and Rosemary Rose and Starke County Commissioners appointee Marsha Bedrock. Continue reading

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