Today's News

Bridge Inspector Signs Off on 700 East Repair

A new pile and pier were added to the bridge on County Road 700 East over the Yellow River to replace the ones damaged last spring.

A new pile and pier were added to the bridge on County Road 700 East over the Yellow River to replace the ones damaged last spring.

A Starke County road that has been closed since April is once again open to traffic. The county’s bridge inspector signed off on the emergency repair on 700 East over the Yellow River. A log floating down the river struck the bridge supports, rendering the structure unstable and forcing the emergency closure. A field inspection performed Sunday recommended additional monitoring of the timber piles, as they are starting to deteriorate, but found the bridge is able to handle traffic again.

 

Starke County Commissioners to Repair Vehicle for EMS Director

Interim Starke County EMS Director Keith Emigh will continue to drive a county-issued four-wheel-drive until a recently retired patrol car is road ready. The vehicle Emigh is currently using to travel between the EMS bases in North Judson, Knox and Grovertown will be transferred to plan commission director Terry Stephenson. Continue reading

Starke County Highway Department Waiting on Bridge Inspector

Starke County Highway Department employees paved the new bridge earlier this week.

Starke County Highway Department employees paved the new bridge earlier this week.

Repairs to the bridge over the Yellow River on Starke County Road 700 East are finished, but it’s not open to traffic yet. County Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler tells WKVI News the bridge needs to be inspected first. Continue reading

Starke County Highway Department Chip Seals Record Number of Road Miles

Starke County Highway Superintendent Stephen "Rik" Ritzler

Starke County Highway Superintendent Stephen “Rik” Ritzler

The Starke County Highway Department recently finished chip sealing 47 miles of roadway, which ties 2013 as the most miles of roads done in the last 15 years. They did set a record by completing the work in nine days, compared to 16 last year. They credit good weather and minimal equipment delays with getting the work done quickly and say they have also developed a good system which allows them to be more efficient. Continue reading

Starke County Highway Department Continues Chip Sealing Roads

Portions of Toto Road east of Knox will be closed today for chip sealing. The Starke County Highway Department will be working between 700 and 1200 East. They started chip sealing roads in Oregon Township earlier this week. So far they’ve finished 3.8 miles of roads in Koontz Lake, and 2.4 more on 700 North, 800 North and 850 North. They’ve also done quite a few sections of road in Washington Township.

Starke County Highway Department Stretches Road Repair Dollars

Starke County Highway Department employees recently made asphalt and patch material for seasonal road repairs.

Starke County Highway Department employees recently made asphalt and patch material for seasonal road repairs.

Starke County Highway Department crews are ready to begin chip sealing roads. Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler told the county commissioners they will start in the Koontz Lake. He says they’ve made more than 6,000 tons of asphalt and more than 445 tons of patching material. Continue reading

Starke County Officials Take Bridge Bids Under Advisement

starke-county-courthouseBids to replace two bridges in Starke County are officially under advisement after they came in considerably higher than expected. LaPorte-based JCI Bridge Group and LaPorte Construction Company both bid on the replacement of bridges on 900 south just west of 100 West over Bogus Run and on 800 East over Eagle Creek, just north of 50 South. The base bids for the 800 East bridge were $323,121 from JCI and $307,099.42 from LaPorte Construction. JCI bid $318,110.76 for the bridge replacement on 900 South, and LaPorte Construction bid $308,018.84 for the work.

Widespread Storm Damage Reported in Starke County

Starke County Highway Department crews are cleaning up damage from San Pierre to Koontz Lake and south to Bass Lake after strong storms tore through the area late last night and early this morning. Numerous trees are down, and electrical lines are tangled in them.

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Starke County Highway Department Announces Mowing, Paving Plans

Starke County Highway Department employees plan to mow county rights-of-way for the first time tomorrow, weather permitting. This will be the first of at least six planned mo

wing cycles this summer. Crews will mow five feet off the edge of the pavement at each road and 20 feet back at intersections in order to clear the necessary sight distance for drivers. The Starke and Marshall County Highway Departments are also coordinating their paving schedules in order to share resources. Starke County will make Marshall County’s pug asphalt, and Marshall will loan Starke County their distributor trucks and two-lane chipper box. The pug will be made in late May for paving in July.

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Local Detour Available to Bypass U.S. 35 Construction

Motorists traveling between Knox and Winamac on U.S. 35 can avoid taking the long way around during the next few weeks of road work. INDOT has closed the highway from 850 S. to the Starke/Pulaski County line in order to replace a culvert. The state’s marked detour sends drivers west on 10, south on 39 and back east on 14 because INDOT can only use roads maintained by the state to divert traffic. Starke County Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler says drivers heading south on 35 can turn left on 800 S., right on 600 East and right on 900 S. to get past the construction and back to U.S. 35. Northbound motorists can follow that route in reverse. Ritzler says those roads are paved and are more suited to heavy traffic. He says several drivers have used 850 S. and 400 E. to get around the construction. Those roads are gravel and are becoming rutted. The project should wrap up by the end of the month, weather permitting.

Starke Council Approves New Position for Highway Department

Starke County Highway Superintendent Stephen "Rik" Ritzler

Starke County Highway Superintendent Stephen “Rik” Ritzler

The Starke County Highway Department this week cleared another hurdle as they seek to establish a new position in the county to hire a construction inspection supervisor. Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler had previously approached the commissioners seeking their approval to create the position and his request was approved unanimously.

Monday night, the council reviewed the amendment to the salary ordinance regarding the new position and approved a motion to amend the ordinance to allow for the hire of the inspection supervisor. Ritzler said this will allow the county to forgo hiring inspectors for projects, saving money in the long run.

The supervisor would have to be INDOT certified, but Ritzler said there are already a number of residents within the county who would qualify for the position. He said he estimates the savings would be around $140,000 over two years, and the supervisor could train other highway department employees as well.

On top of that, Ritzler said there is a possibility that INDOT may reimburse some of the expense in hiring a supervisor.

Starke County Highway Department Working Hard to Repair Roads

The Starke County Highway Department has been focusing a large part of its efforts this week on patching and other road repairs, with two patch boxes out working on the North Judson, English Lake, Knox and Hamlet areas. According to the highway department’s Facebook page, many areas throughout the county are in need of patching work and the department is progressively making its way to all of them.

Anyone with pothole concerns is encouraged to call the highway department at 574-772-3011.

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Frost Law in Effect Throughout Starke County

Signs like this one were posted throughout Starke County.

Signs like this one were posted throughout Starke County.

Travelers in Starke County may have noticed a few new signs posted on county roads advertising the “frost law” now in effect throughout the county. Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler said the frost law ordinance prevents big trucks from being on the roads and potentially causing more damage before the county has a chance to repair them.

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Starke County Highway Department Remains Busy

 The Starke County Highway Department continues to stay busy with plowing efforts, as Superintendent Rik Ritzler yesterday morning told the commissioners that his department spent most of the month of February plowing, with 17 days of the month spent clearing roads. He said five of the days were spent hauling material, with the other days used for general maintenance.

Over the past two months, Ritzler said, the county has plowed nearly 100,000 miles, building a total cost of $561,000. Fortunately, he said they did spend less in February – but that may just have been because the month was shorter, Ritzler explained. Continue reading

High Water Areas May Hinder Travel

Water remains high in portions of the area today. INDOT and local crews have been scouting out high water areas on roadways and posting signs warning of high water areas. If you encounter high water, do not attempt to drive through it. Turn around and find a different route to your destination.

Starke County Highway Department officials are reporting high water at the intersection of 250 N. and 100 W., 50 S. between 700 E. and 800 E. and 300 E. between 50 S. and 100 S. Signs have been posted. Most roads including state roads have standing water at least in one lane.

What was once standing water could have frozen overnight which could cause extremely dangerous driving conditions.

Starke County Crews Working to Clear Roads

Starke County Highway Superintendent Stephen "Rik" Ritzler

Starke County Highway Superintendent Stephen “Rik” Ritzler

The Starke County Highway snow plows will be out in full force this morning to try and keep up with the snow that has falled and drifted in the area.

Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler told WKVI News crews have been called out this morning to tend to the roads.

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Highway Crews to do Their Best in Clearing Snow

The Starke County Highway snow plows will be out in full force to try and keep up with the snow that is falling and drifting in the area.

Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler told WKVI News that if the snow gets to be too much to keep up with, then the plows will be taken off the roads. When blowing and drifting becomes an issue, it does no good for the crews to be out as roads drift shut just as soon as they pass.

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