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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

Road Closed for Bridge Sealing

A three-quarter stretch of Starke County Road 800 East will be closed today. Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler tells WKVI News crews will be sealing the deck of the new bridge over Eagle Creek. As a result, 800 East will be closed between 50 South and 25 North. The road will reopen Sunday morning.

Starke County Highway Department Adopts Mailbox Repair Policy

 Starke County Highway Department snow plow drivers who take out mail boxes with their blades will have to help repair them. Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler says they will assist the department’s sign repair crew as schedules allow. He hopes it will provide an incentive for drivers to be more careful as they clear roads this winter. 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

Bridge Over Eagle Creek Open Again to Traffic

The bridge over Eagle Creek on Starke County Road 800 East just north of 50 South is open to traffic again. The road has been closed for the past two months to accommodate its replacement. Starke County Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler also told the county commissioners yesterday the bridge on 900 South over Bogus Run just west of 100 West should be finished in the next week or so as well, depending on the weather. 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 Defer Action on Highway Superintendent Contract

Starke County Highway Superintendent Stephen "Rik" Ritzler

Starke County Highway Superintendent Stephen “Rik” Ritzler

The Starke County Commissioners will revisit whether to offer a long-term contract to Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler when they meet Dec. 1. 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. Continue reading

Starke County Highway Crews Ready for Winter

 The Starke County Highway Department is ready for winter weather. Superintendent Rik Ritzler says the county has plenty of salt and sand stockpiled to help melt ice and make roads passable. Also, Ritzler says the necessary winter equipment is ready to go. Continue reading

Starke County Highway Department Notches Safety Milestone

The Starke County Highway Department recently celebrated an accident-free milestone.

The Starke County Highway Department recently celebrated an accident-free milestone.

The Starke County Highway Department got through the summer without any accidents or injuries. Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler says the last one occurred in February of this year. Each employee received a letter of commendation for helping to ensure a safe summer. Continue reading

Work Continues on Starke County Bridges

Starke County Highway Department workers add rip rap to bridges.

Starke County Highway Department workers add rip rap to bridges.

Work on two Starke County bridges should be finished by the end of the month. Starke County Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler says the replacement bridge on 800 East over Eagle Creek just north of 500 West is halfway done. Work is also under way on the bridge on 900 South over Bogus run just west of 100 West. LaPorte Construction is doing both projects for the county. They will also replace the bridges on 50 East over Smith Ditch just south of 500 South and on 450 South just west of Range Road over Smith Ditch in the spring. Continue reading

Starke County Highway Department Celebrates Safety Milestone

Starke County Highway SafetyStarke County Highway Department employees remained accident free this summer. Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler told the commissioners this week there were no reported accidents or injuries between June 21st and September 21st. Highway department employees drove more than 89,000 miles and spent quite a bit of time doing road work that required traffic control during that three month period. Continue reading

Starke County Road 800 East Closed for Bridge Replacement

Work on the new bridge over Eagle Creek is under way. LaPorte Construction Company won the bid to replace the bridge on Starke County Road 800 East. Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler tells WKVI News 800 East will be closed between 25 North and 50 South for the next couple of months. Take 25 north to 700 East down to 50 South and back to 800 East to get around the road work. Detour signs are up.

 

Road Maintenance Continuing in Starke County

Starke County Highway Department crews are busy this week re-stoning gravel roads.

Starke County Highway Department crews are busy this week re-stoning gravel roads.

The Starke County Highway Department is on pace to meet and possibly exceed its road improvement goals for the year. Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler says they paved 10 miles of roadway in August at a cost of slightly more than $21,000 per mile. He says they may add to that total by the end of September. Continue reading

Starke County Highway Department Preparing for Winter Weather

 Starke County Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler is shopping for less expensive road salt to use this winter. He told the county commissioners he’s already got one contract in place through the state bid process but is attempting to negotiate better prices with other suppliers who lost out on the state bid. Continue reading

Road Salt Prices are Saltier this Year

 Knox Street Department Superintendent Jeff Borg told the Board of Public Works members recently that the price of road salt went up about 50 percent this year.

Borg said the city gets 150 ton of salt and it will cost the city $73.32 a ton in an annual agreement with the state co-op. Last year, the price of road salt was $48.84 and the cost was $7,300. This year the city will be paying $11,000.

Continue reading

Rain Blamed For Culvert Collapse, Repair Delays

Rain is hampering efforts to repair a culvert that collapsed Monday, forcing the closure of a Starke County Road. County highway superintendent Rik Ritzler tells WKVI News the culvert on 125 West just north of 250 North collapsed Monday. A county highway crew is making repairs but was unable to finish the work yesterday due to the rain. Ritzler hopes they can wrap up the work today so the road can reopen. Until then 125 West is closed between 250 and 300 North. 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

County Road 700 East Could Reopen Next Week

 

Emergency repairs to the bridge over the Yellow River on Starke County Road 700 East are almost finished. It’s been closed since April, when a tree floating down the river struck the bridge supports and compromised the structure. Continue reading