Senator Decries Legislature’s “Education Session”

Senator Jim Arnold

Senator Jim Arnold

A local lawmaker says the recently completed session of the Indiana General Assembly was the most trying and most contentious of his nine-year legislative career. Gov. Mike Pence touted it as the education session. Sen. Jim Arnold, D-LaPorte, agrees this year’s 2.2 percent increase in school funding and next year’s 2.5 percent hike are the largest increases in education funding in history.

“It sounds very good. The downside of that is that the vast majority of our increased money now is going to vouchers and going to charter schools, not going to public school systems,” Arnold recently told the Starke County Council and Commissioners. “The big winners of this are going to be the urban schools. The rural schools such as Knox are going to be the big losers.” Continue reading

Starke County Officials Seeking Redevelopment Commission Candidates

starke-county-courthouseStarke County officials are looking for members to serve on the long-dormant county redevelopment commission by appointing new members. It was established in 2006 to oversee a tax increment financing district set up by the county as part of the effort to bring Sysco to Hamlet. Continue reading

County Council Sets Sanitarian Salary, Defers Building Inspector Request

starke-county-courthouseStarke County’s new sanitarian will earn considerably less per hour than his predecessor after action last night by the county council. Health nurse Frank Lynch asked the council to lower the wage for the position from $20.28 per hour to $18.50 to start. After 90 days and a successful performance evaluation it will go up to $19.00 and top out at $19.50. Lynch says this is consistent with what other counties pay for the same position and addresses the salary discrepancy between that job and his as head of the health department.

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Starke County Council Approves Purchase of New Court Software

starke-county-courthouseStarke County will soon switch to a new court software program. IT Director Joe Short says the Windows-based Odyssey program will replace the DOS-based CSI program that’s currently in use. The switch will also save the county the $25,000 a year they are currently paying for a maintenance contract. Continue reading

Starke County Council Sets County Vehicle Maintenance Rate

starke-county-courthouseThe Starke County Council reluctantly set a labor rate of $18.50 per hour for work on county-owned vehicles by mechanics at the highway garage. That’s the journeyman mechanic’s hourly rate. Continue reading

Starke County Council to Consider Jail Commander Pay

starke-county-courthouseThe Starke County Council will decide tonight whether to increase the salary for the jail commander. Sheriff Bill Dulin’s request to boost the pay for the position to reflect the additional responsibilities at the new jail got a favorable recommendation from the county commissioners. Dulin told them he can transfer money from within his budget to cover the extra expense. Continue reading

Starke County Council Prepares For Budget Planning

 Starke County department heads will soon begin work on their annual budgets for the upcoming year. Auditor Kay Chaffins says preliminary budgets need to be submitted to the state Department of Local Government Finance by the end of June. This will be the first budget session for Sheriff Bill Dulin and Clerk Vicki Cooley, both of whom were elected last fall and took office in January. Continue reading

Starke County Council Approves Salary Ordinance Amendments

starke-county-courthouseThe Starke County Council last night approved two amendments to the salary ordinance to reflect changing job duties. The county highway bookkeeper/clerk will work eight hours per day instead of seven. Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler says the first and last hours of the work day are the busiest, and this will ensure efficient work flow. He adds the department administrator has taken on more responsibilities due to internal restructuring and needs the additional hour to get everything done. Continue reading

Starke County Council to Consider Salary Ordinance Changes Tonight

starke-county-courthouseThe Starke County Council will take up the agenda from their rescheduled May 18 meeting during a special-called 5:30 p.m. session tonight. It includes a request to create a new position and proposed amendments to the county’s salary ordinance. Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler is also on the agenda to request a transfer and an amendment to the salary ordinance to create an administrative assistant position. The meeting will take place in the first floor meeting room at the county annex building.

Courthouse Repairs on Starke County Commissioners Agenda

starke-county-courthouseThe Starke County Commissioners should have a better idea how much repairs to the courthouse will cost after their meeting tonight. They’ve asked for quotes on tuckpointing the brick in order to set a budget for the work. Fixing the masonry is one of several repairs that need to be made to the historic structure. Wiring needs to be upgraded, and the roof needs to be fixed as well. Continue reading

Starke County Council Authorizes Mailing of Inkeepers Tax Letters

starke-county-courthouseStarke County inkeepers taxes are now payable to the county treasurer’s office each month. The forms that need to be submitted with those payments are available on the county’s website, and any questions can be directed to the treasurer’s office. Payments were previously submitted to the state. Continue reading

Starke County Council Approves Mower Purchase for Jail

Starke County Sheriff's Department BadgeStarke County officials have opted to do their own lawn maintenance and snow removal at the new jail in an effort to contain costs. On Monday the county council approved the purchase of a mower with a commercial grade deck for the facility. It will be paid for with tax money set aside for construction of the building east of Knox on State Road 8. 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 Council Approves Computer Purchases

 Starke County IT Director Joe Short can purchase a new server for the county and update several obsolete computers. The county council recently approved his request to appropriate funds from their county adjusted gross income tax certified shares. He’s replacing an antiquated server and six Windows XP computers he says pose a security risk to the county’s network. Continue reading

Starke County Council Approves Sheriff’s Vehicle Purchases

Starke County Sheriff's Department BadgeStarke County Sheriff Bill Dulin can buy two 2016 Ford Interceptor Utility Vehicles. The county council Monday evening approved the purchase, which will cost slightly more than $70,000. The money will come from the county adjusted gross income tax, or CAGIT, certified shares. The equipment list for both was whittled down significantly due to budgetary constraints. Dulin says new light bars need to be purchased for the SUV’s, as the ones on the existing Dodge Charger patrol cars will not fit.

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