Starke County Commissioners Approve CenturyLink Agreement for New Jail

starke-county-courthouseThe CenturyLink equipment used by the Starke County Sheriff’s Office will be upgraded when they move into the new jail east of town. The county commissioners Monday approved an agreement for $1,431 for one-time upgrades and a monthly fee of $5.75 for the next three years. IT Director Joe Short advised the communications company is recommending new equipment at the new facility. Continue reading

Starke County Commissioners Reiterate Support for Veteran Grave Flags, Markers

The Starke County Commissioners want to make sure every veteran who is buried in the county has an American flag and grave marker for Memorial Day. They’ve agreed pay for both if the American Legion posts in Knox, North Judson and Hamlet will take care of placing the orders and putting them on graves. Commissioner Don Binkley has tried without success to reach the commander of the Knox American Legion to discuss the process and find out how many flags and markers need to be ordered. Auditor Kay Chaffins says she’s spoken with officials in North Judson, and their order has been placed. Hamlet officials have yet to place theirs. Continue reading

Commissioners to Discuss Memorial Day Flags

The Starke County Commissioners hope to settle what has become a contentious issue when they meet this evening. Historically the county has purchased flags to place on the graves of veterans each Memorial Day. They coordinate the project with the local veterans service organizations. This year questions arose about how funds would be distributed. The commissioners have stressed their commitment to the tradition in prior meetings and have vowed to ensure every veteran in the county has a grave marker during the upcoming holiday. Continue reading

Starke County Commissioners Hit Brakes on Road Improvements

starke-county-courthouseA request for funds to further improve Klockner Drive through the Knox Industrial Park hit a speed bump in Monday’s Starke County Commissioners meeting. Starke County Economic Development Foundation Executive Director Charlie Weaver asked for a significant appropriation from the county economic development income tax fund to rebuild the intersection with Division Road. The project carries an estimated cost of $343,000. Continue reading

Starke County Highway Department Shifts Focus to Spring Projects

The Starke County Highway Department’s focus has shifted to spring and summer projects now that the last of the snow is gone. Superintendent Rik Ritzler says drivers are making repairs to roads in their areas that were damaged by thawing frost over the winter. He says they’re patching for now, but a more permanent fix will be made in the next few months as weather allows. Continue reading

Starke County EMS Still Seeking Part-Time Paramedics

Starke County EMS still needs a few part-time paramedics to ensure county-wide advance life support coverage around the clock. Director Keith Emigh told the county commissioners Monday the base in Knox is always fully staffed to meet ALS requirements, and the base in North Judson is between 95 and 98 percent of the time. He says a few more are needed to pull shifts in Grovertown. Continue reading

Starke County Sheriff Raising Funds for Second K9

Starke County Sheriff's Department BadgeStarke County Sheriff Bill Dulin hopes to raise enough money through donations to add a second drug and search dog to his department. The county commissioners Monday gave him permission to proceed with fundraisers to cover the cost of a dog, training for the animal and its handler. Money will also go toward veterinary expenses, food and equipment for the county’s existing dog. Continue reading

Commissioners to Consider Starke County Sheriff’s Request for a Second K9

starke-county-courthouseThe Starke County Commissioners could consider Sheriff Bill Dulin’s request for a second K9 when they meet this evening. Dulin previously asked the commissioners for their blessing to raise funds through donations to buy a dog capable of detecting drugs and tracking people. He says the dog would only be purchased if enough money was raised to do so. Continue reading

Starke County Government Offices to Close for Jail Dedication

starke-county-courthouseStarke County government offices will close so employees can attend the dedication ceremony for the new jail. It’s scheduled Friday, May 22. Last week the county commissioners agreed to close the courthouse, annex and other county offices from 11:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. Continue reading

Starke County Commissioners Bless Inmate Work Crew, Defer Action on K9

Starke County Sheriff's Department BadgeInmates at the Starke County Jail could soon be picking up trash along county roadways under the supervision of a corrections officer. The Starke County Commissioners last night blessed Sheriff Bill Dulin’s plan to establish an inmate road crew of between three and five people to bag up debris for the county highway department to collect. Superintendent Rik Ritzler says it shouldn’t be a problem if the inmates stay in one area and Dulin coordinates schedules with him in advance. The road crew will not cost the county any additional money. The commissioners agreed it will be beneficial to the county in terms of beautification and making the inmates work. Continue reading

Starke County Sheriff to Discuss Request for Second K9

starke-county-courthouseStarke County Sheriff Bill Dulin will discuss the acquisition of a second K9 with the county commissioners when they meet this evening. Last year the county bought a dog from the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department after one of their K9 handlers left for personal reasons. K9 Terror is a certified drug and tracking dog and has already assisted with numerous drug-related investigations since joining the force in December. Dulin will also talk to the commissioners about establishing a county inmate road crew, according to the advance agenda for tonight’s meeting. It starts at 6 p.m. at the annex building. Continue reading

Starke County Commissioners Maintain Annual Golf Cart Inspections

Owners of golf carts who want to operate them on Starke County roads will still need to have them inspected annually. The county commissioners last week briefly discussed changing the inspection requirement to every two or even three years. A golf cart owner raised the issue, noting the carts have to be loaded onto a trailer and taken to the sheriff’s department. Continue reading

Starke County Commissioners Bless County Technology Purchases

 Starke County IT Director Joe Short can replace a network server and several computers that pose security threats to the network. The county commissioners Monday authorized him to spend $24,000 from the cumulative capital fund on the technology upgrades. Continue reading

Starke County Highway Superintendent Makes Case for Additional Mechanic

starke-county-courthouseStarke County Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler has the blessing of the county commissioners to seek funds for a third mechanic. Right now the two mechanics maintain 106 county-owned vehicles and pieces of equipment, with top priority given to those used by EMS and the sheriff’s department. Highway vehicles are third on the list, and those used by other departments are fourth. All of the money for repairs comes from the highway department’s budget. The mechanics are also responsible for completing all of the necessary paperwork. Continue reading

Starke County EMS Anticipates Significant Savings With New Oxygen Vendor

A change of oxygen vendors is expected to save Starke County EMS a significant amount of money. Director Keith Emigh told the county commissioners Monday he’s been comparison shopping from several suppliers. The county presently uses Praxair from South Bend for tank rentals and refills. However, Emigh says Plymouth-based American Welding charges quite a bit less for the same supplies. The county will save $225 per month on portable oxygen tank rentals and will also realize a savings on M and K tanks. Over the course of a year the savings will total nearly $3,000. Continue reading

Starke County EMS Still Searching for Paramedics

Starke County EMS Director Keith Emigh is still trying to hire enough paramedics to staff all three bases around the clock. He told the Starke County Commissioners Monday many paramedics pick up shifts at departments all over the northern third of the state. As a result he says coordinating schedules is challenging. Continue reading

Starke County Highway Department Well Stocked to Wrap Up Winter

 The Starke County Highway Department has plenty of salt and sand on hand to finish winter operations. Superintendent Rik Ritzler says even with the significant amount of snow that fell in February they’ve used considerably less than last year. Continue reading

Starke County Commissioners Approve Jail Hiring, Bless Vehicle Purchases

Starke County Sheriff's Department BadgeStarke County Sheriff Bill Dulin will hire two additional part-time jail officers for now in anticipation of the new jail opening in a few months. They may eventually be promoted to full-time once the facility is online and the county is housing more prisoners.

Dulin is also looking to hire a part-time maintenance person for the new jail soon. The position will require quite a bit of technical expertise to handle the state-of-the-art correctional facility. Applications for that job close Friday. Dulin says he’s already gotten a dozen or so resumes. He plans to review them all with the commissioners in an executive session after the application deadline. Continue reading

Starke County Officials Preparing for Jail Opening

Starke County Courthouse

Starke County Courthouse

Starke County Sheriff Bill Dulin will discuss the staffing needs for the new jail with the county commissioners when they meet this evening. The facility east of Knox on State Road 8 is scheduled to open in June and will house nearly twice as many inmates as the existing jail. The advance agenda for the 6 p.m. meeting indicates Dulin will ask for permission to hire two more full-time jail officers. He will also review the revised listing of needed equipment with the commissioners. Continue reading