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Today's News

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

Starke County Highway Superintendent Outlines Road Improvement Goals

 The Starke County Highway Department is already making plans for next year’s scheduled road improvements. Superintendent Rik Ritzler says they’ve been hauling in loads of stone and may have it all stockpiled by the end of the year if the weather continues to cooperate. Continue reading

Commissioners Defer Vote on Highway Superintendent’s Contract

Starke County Highway Superintendent Stephen "Rik" Ritzler

Starke County Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler

The Starke County Commissioners did not act on a proposed contract for the highway superintendent as planned. Commissioner Kent Danford was not at yesterday’s meeting, and his vote is needed in order for the measure to pass. President of the Commissioners Jennifer Davis clarified the measure can pass by a simple majority but said she does not want to vote on it since she is stepping down as a commissioner at the end of the year. Continue reading

Starke County Commissioners to Discuss Highway Superintendent Contract, Morgue Space

starke-county-courthouseThe Starke County Commissioners will revisit the notion of offering Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler a long-term contract when they meet this morning. President of the Commissioners Jennifer Davis is spearheading the effort in order to maintain continuity within the department. She notes Ritzler has a multiple-year plan for road and bridge improvements and wants to see that it is carried out.

Commissioner Kent Danford previously raised concerns about the precedent such an action would set. He says possibly offering Ritzler a contract is a “test case” and adds he will say no to anyone else who requests a long-term employment contract until he sees how this works. Commissioner Kathy Norem agrees and says the county commissioners need to approach any such matters with an abundance of caution. Danford agreed at the last commissioners meeting to meet with county attorney Marty Lucas before today and come up with contract language to address his concerns. Continue reading

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.”

Continue reading

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

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