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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 Council Hits Pause on Highway Department Pay Scale Request

starke-county-courthouseStarke County Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler’s request to reorganize the wage scale for truck drivers is on hold for right now. He presented the concept to the county council Monday evening as a way to level the playing field between new hires and experienced employees who have worked for the county for several years. Continue reading

Starke County Officials to Discuss Staffing at New Jail

starke-county-courthouseStarke County Sheriff Bill Dulin will present the amended staffing report for the new jail to the county council and commissioners this evening. The facility east of Knox is scheduled to open in June and will require additional staff to handle the increased inmate capacity. Dulin will present the report to the council during their 5:30 p.m. meeting and to the commissioners when they meet at 6. Both sessions will take place at the county annex building. Continue reading

State Approves Starke County Budgets

starke-county-courthouseThe State Department of Local Government Finance has approved the Starke County General Fund budget as presented. Auditor Kay Chaffins shared that news with the county commissioners Monday evening. She says the 100-percent approval is a testament to the hard work done by the county council and department heads to hold the line on spending. Continue reading

Starke County Commissioners Bless Addition of Second Shift Detective

Starke County CommissionersStarke County Sheriff Bill Dulin plans to add a detective sergeant to work second shift Monday through Friday. He told the county commissioners doing so will give the department a third person to respond to calls and will cut down significantly on overtime. Right now any detective calls outside of the day shift incur overtime wages. 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 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

State Nepotism Law Not Applicable for Starke County Council Officials

A state law aimed at curbing conflicts of interest by prohibiting volunteer firefighters from holding certain elected offices does not apply to Starke County Council members. President Dave Pearman is also an 18 year veteran of the Washington Township Volunteer Fire Department. He sought clarification about the policy when he ran for reelection. Continue reading

Starke County Council Approves Blanket Bond Purchase

starke-county-courthouseThe Starke County Council has authorized the purchase of a blanket bond to cover the various elected officials. It’s less expensive than purchasing individual bonds for the auditor, recorder, surveyor, sheriff, coroner, assessor and clerk. The county pays about $1,000 per year for the policy from its insurance carrier. 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

Coroner’s Budget Contains Money to Cover Body Storage Costs

starke-county-courthouseThere’s a big difference between a morgue and a coroner’s office with cold storage available for bodies. That’s why Starke County Coroner-elect Adam Gray has opted to wait on construction of space for his department. He told the county council last night he wants to take his time and make sure the county’s needs are met. Per the state, a morgue has space available for a pathologist to work and must adhere to strict guidelines. An office space with storage is less restrictive. Continue reading

Starke County Council to Discuss Funds for Body Storage

starke-county-courthouseStarke County Coroner-Elect Adam Gray will talk to the Starke County Council about funds for body storage when they meet this evening. Gray is the first non-funeral director to be elected coroner in several years. In the past, the funeral directors have used their facilities to store bodies until they are claimed. 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 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 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