Today's News

Starke County Seeking Convention and Visitors Bureau Board Members

starke-county-courthouseThe Starke County Commissioners are struggling to fill out the county’s Convention and Visitors Commission Board of Directors. The nine-member panel was established according to state guidelines, which outline the political balance and other qualifications to serve.

Knox Mayor Rick Chambers is the city’s lone representative. The other eight members are appointed by the Starke County Commissioners. State law requires a simple majority, in this case 5 members, be engaged in convention, visitor or tourism business or be involved in promoting conventions, visitors or tourism. If available and willing to serve, at least two members must be engaged in the business of renting or furnishing rooms, lodging or accommodations as described in state law. Additionally, not more than one member may be affiliated with the same business entity, and no more than a simple majority of members may be affiliated with the same political party. Also, each board member must live in Starke County. Continue reading

Starke County Commissioners Continue Discussion of Vehicle for Coroner

Starke County CommissionersThe former Starke County Sheriff’s Department prisoner transportation van may be road-worthy in the mechanical sense, but it doesn’t provide the most dignified means of transportation for the recently deceased. That’s the consensus of the Starke County Commissioners after further discussion Monday night. Recently-elected coroner Adam Gray has access to a Starke County EMS vehicle on an as-needed basis but will eventually need something more permanent. The commissioners want to give him the Dodge Durango used by the Starke County Sheriff’s Department if it has adequate cargo space to meet his needs. Continue reading

Starke County Commissioners Award Jail Courtroom Bids

This building on SR 8 at CR 550 E is part of the new Starke County Sheriff's Office and Detention Center.

This building on SR 8 at CR 550 E is part of the new Starke County Sheriff’s Office and Detention Center.

Work on the courtroom at the new Starke County Jail east of Knox should start the first week of February and be done by the end of April. The county commissioners awarded bids for the project during their meeting last night. Continue reading

Starke County Commissioners, Building Corporation to Award Jail Courtroom Bids

This building on SR 8 at CR 550 E is part of the new Starke County Sheriff's Office and Detention Center.

This building on SR 8 at CR 550 E is part of the new Starke County Sheriff’s Office and Detention Center.

The Starke County Commissioners are expected to award bids this evening for the interior build-out of the Starke County Jail Courtroom. The commissioners received eight bids for general services and four each for mechanical and electrical work. Representatives from Skillman Corporation took them under advisement at the Jan. 8 bid opening and have reviewed them to make sure they meet the specifications outlined in the project documents. Base bids range from a low of $167,500 to a high of $227,250, with five alternates each. Continue reading

Starke County Commissioners Exploring Vehicle Options for Coroner

Starke County CommissionersStarke County Coroner Adam Gray will either have the old sheriff’s department prisoner transport van or former Starke County Sheriff Oscar Cowen’s Dodge Durango for use as a body transport vehicle. He broached the subject to the Starke County Commissioners last week. President Kent Danford is checking into whether the van is road-worthy before a decision is made. Continue reading

Starke County Creates Sheriff’s Department Receptionist Position

The Starke County Sheriff’s Department will soon have a receptionist in addition to the full-time matron after action last week by the Starke County Council and Commissioners. Sheriff Bill Dulin sought permission to add an employee to process civil papers, answer the telephone, greet visitors and provide general clerical support to the department. Some of that work has been done by dispatchers in the past, but Dulin advised the council and commissioners the state jail inspector could cut funds to the 911 center if they are caught doing work not that’s not part of their statutory job description. The county council discussed the issue and decided it’s not worth the risk, especially since funds for the new position are already in the sheriff’s budget. Dulin also noted the floor plan for the new jail is different, and 911 center and main entrance are in separate parts of the building. The matron will continue handling sheriff’s sales and processing payroll and claims for the sheriff’s department. Continue reading

Starke County Council, Commissioners Reorganize

Starke County Council members Bob Sims, Jennifer Davis, Pam Stalbaum, Freddie Baker, David Pearman, Bryan Cavender and Brad Hazelton

Starke County Council members Bob Sims, Jennifer Davis, Pam Stalbaum, Freddie Baker, David Pearman, Bryan Cavender and Brad Hazelton

Democrat members of the Starke County Council banded together and elected a new president during a special-called organizational meeting. Freddie Baker replaces Republican Dave Pearman in that role. Councilman Bob Sims nominated Baker, and recently elected Democrat members Jennifer Davis and Pam Stalbaum voted for him. Councilman Bryan Cavender nominated Pearman, but nobody stepped forward to second his motion. Pearman was elected vice-president of the council. Continue reading

Starke County Highway Superintendent Breaks Down Snow Removal Expenses

 Winter has finally arrived, and it is keeping the Starke County Highway Department extremely busy. Crews have been spreading salt and plowing roads for the past week. In spite of the uptick in activity, highway superintendent Rik Ritzler says the county’s snow removal costs remain significantly lower than last year’s at the same time. He told the commissioners yesterday the department is still working on its first load of salt and has only used 200 tons. By this time last year, Ritzler says they had already used more than 1,000 tons of salt. Continue reading

Starke County Commissioners Open Courtroom Bids

This building on SR 8 at CR 550 E is part of the new Starke County Sheriff's Office and Detention Center.

This building on SR 8 at CR 550 E is part of the new Starke County Sheriff’s Office and Detention Center.

Bids for the courtroom build-out at the Starke County Sheriff’s Office and Detention Center are under advisement. The county commissioners opened eight bids for general trades and four each for mechanical and electrical work. The project design engineer is reviewing all to make sure they meet specifications prior to a special-called Starke County Building Corporation meeting on Monday, Jan. 19. The building corporation will make formal recommendations to the Starke County Commissioners, who are also scheduled to meet that evening. Continue reading

Travel Advisory Implemented in Starke, Marshall Counties

The Starke County and Marshall County Commissioners and EMA directors have implemented an advisory level travel restriction.

The advisory level is the lowest level when talking about travel restrictions. The advisory level means that routine travel or activities may be restricted in areas because of a hazardous situation. Individuals should use caution or avoid those areas. Continue reading

Starke County Commissioners to Reorganize, Open Courtroom Bids

starke-county-courthouseThe Starke County Commissioners will reorganize and make annual appointments during their first meeting of the year this morning. The agenda for the 10 a.m. session also includes a report on jail operations from Starke County Sheriff Bill Dulin, reports from Starke County EMS and the Starke County Highway Department and discussion of a vehicle for Starke County Coroner Adam Gray. Elisabeth Smith from Purdue Extension will discuss the office contract, and Ron Gifford from the Starke County Economic Development Foundation will share information about the College Success Coalition Program. Other business includes discussion of the county food inspector contract and a report from Starke County Council President Dave Pearman on the Indiana Bicentennial Committee. Continue reading

Starke County Officials Preparing for Winter Wrath

starke-county-courthouseStarke County officials are keeping a close eye on the weather and may issue travel restrictions if necessary. Emergency Management Agency Director Ted Bombagetti says the county commissioners have the final say and consider several factors, including the safety of snow plow drivers, first responders and the public in general.

He adds the county highway and EMA have been rehearsing their response to a winter weather emergency since late summer.

“We’re kind of like the fashion stores where in the winter time they’ve got the swimsuits out. We’re always preparing a season ahead. The drivers have been out practicing their areas.” Continue reading

Starke County Officials Seeking 2015 Board Appointees

starke-county-courthouseThe Starke County Council and Commissioners are seeking qualified, community-minded individuals to serve on a variety of boards and commissions in 2015. Many of the seats require specific party affiliation under Indiana Code. It is determined by the prospective nominee’s vote in the most recent primary election or a letter of support from the party chairman. Currently seated board members may be given preference for a subsequent term. Continue reading

Starke County Commissioners Award Bridge Design Bids

starke-county-courthouseThe Starke County Commissioners Monday chose a South Bend-based engineering firm for design work on two bridges slated for construction in the summer of 2015. Jones Petrie Rafinski submitted the lowest price of the four requests for proposals, coming in at $61,000. Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler says they’ve designed several bridges for the county and will be able to realize additional cost savings by continuing that work. The company is now tasked with drawing up plans for a new bridge on 700 North over the Robbins Ditch and on 100 East over the Smith Ditch. Continue reading

Starke County Commissioners Approve Contract for Highway Superintendent

Starke County Highway Superintendent Stephen "Rik" Ritzler

Starke County Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler

Starke County Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler has an employment contract through March of 2017 after action last night by the county commissioners. They agreed to offer him a two-year, three-month contract to allow for a transition to the next administration. Continue reading

Starke County Commissioners to Consider Highway Superintendent Contract

Starke County Highway Superintendent Stephen "Rik" Ritzler

Starke County Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler

The Starke County Commissioners could vote tonight to offer highway superintendent Rik Ritzler a long-term contract. President of the Commissioners Jennifer Davis is spearheading the effort to ensure the long-term road repair and bridge maintenance plans for the county are carried out. However, she does not plan to vote on the measure since she is stepping down as commissioner to take a seat on the county council. Continue reading

Starke County EMS to Bill for Non-Transport Services

Starting Jan. 1, patients who are treated by Starke County EMS but refuse transportation to the hospital will be billed for services. Several nearby counties have such a policy on the books already, and the Starke County Commissioners last week approved one. EMS officials say charging for things like lift assistance and routine checks will help cover the costs of things like fuel and medical supplies. Continue reading

Starke County Officials Seeking 2015 Board Appointees

starke-county-courthouseThe Starke County Council and Commissioners are seeking qualified, community-minded individuals to serve on a variety of boards and commissions in 2015. Many of the seats require specific party affiliation under Indiana Code. It is determined by the prospective nominee’s vote in the most recent primary election or a letter of support from the party chairman. Currently seated board members may be given preference for a subsequent term. Continue reading

Starke County EMA Gets Grant Money for Radio Upgrades

 Starke County will be able to upgrade the radios used by police departments, firefighters and other emergency responders without a cost to the county thanks to a grant from the state. Continue reading