A state law passed fairly recently may start having implications for elected officials in Starke County.
House Enrolled Act 1005 states that an individual may not hold elected office if they are working, or volunteering, for a fire department providing services to that unit of government. The language may have consequences for several individuals about to serve in county, city, and township government.
The new alternative faith-based school, the Crossing, hosted an open house Wednesday at their location in Knox. So far about 10 students are enrolled to attend. They will be hosting another open house today from 8 a.m until 3 p.m at the old Sears store in the Mint Leaf Plaza off of U.S. 35.
The Starke County Historical Society Museum celebrated their 40 year anniversary yesterday. On June 27, 1974 a group of citizens concerned about the preservation of history in the community joined together and began the Historical Society.
Starke County Courthouse
Starke County’s travel warning and emergency declaration have been canceled. The county is now under a travel watch. This means essential travel, such as to and from work or in emergency situations is allowed. The Starke County Courthouse and Annex Building are still scheduled to open at 10 this morning. Pulaski and Marshall Counties are also under watches. Roads are still slippery, so allow yourself plenty of extra time to get to where you’re going. INDOT advises plow drivers are still fighting back against drifting on state roads in some of the rural areas around parts of Starke, Pulaski and Marshall Counties. Officials in Pulaski County advise highways have patches of ice, and county roads are slick and snow covered. If you do venture out, allow plenty of time to reach your destination. Roads are still slick under the snow, and salt is not effective to melt ice when temperatures are this cold.
Starke County roads are open for essential travel, such as trips to and from work or emergency situations. Pulaski County is still under a travel advisory warning, which means non-emergency travelers are subject to receiving tickets, and Marshall County is under no restriction whatsoever. Those decisions are made by the commissioners of each county.
Check travel advisory levels for all 92 Indiana Counties:
A railroad crossing in Starke County will be closed for two weeks to allow Norfolk Southern to perform some minor crossing repairs. According to Railroad Coordinator Sandy Parisian, Norfolk Southern will be closing the crossing on County Road 1000 East, between county roads 225 North and 250 North, from Nov. 4 through Nov. 18.
There has been no official detour announced.
State troopers from the Indiana State Police Lowell Post are staying busy as a result of the snow that fell overnight into the early morning hours. They responded to 26 property damage crashes, 7 personal injury crashes, 30 slide off’s and 10 calls to assist motorists. The Lowell district includes Starke, Pulaski, LaPorte, Porter, Lake, Newton and Jasper Counties. Motorists are reminded to travel cautiously, as roads remain wet, snow-covered and slushy. Slow down and allow plenty of stopping distance.
It’s a whole different kind of March Madness across the Kankakee Valley this morning. Roads are slick and snow-covered after a late season overnight snowstorm. This is making for hazardous travel. If you do have to be out, allow yourself plenty of time to reach your destination, and remember, ice and snow, take it slow. Maintain a safe distance from other vehicles, brake early and accelerate slowly. If you see a snow plow, stay back and give it plenty of room to operate. Don’t tailgate or try to pass a plow truck, as the roadway will be clearer behind the plow than in front of it.
You can check road conditions anywhere in the state by visiting www.trafficwise.in.gov or by dialing toll-free 1-800-261-ROAD (7623) for updated Indiana travel information, including road conditions, road closures, construction information and other traffic alerts.
Snow should taper off into flurries by midday, but additional snowfall is expected tonight and into tomorrow before temperatures warm up into the 40s by the middle of the week. Fortunately the snow will not be a factor for schools today, as most school systems within the WKVI listening area are on spring break this week. However, if we receive word of any other weather-related closings or delays we will pass it along on the closings and delays page at www.wkvi.com as well as on the air and on our Facebook page.
Crews work on the tower at the Starke County Sheriff's Department
The Starke County Sheriff’s Department’s radio tower suffered quite a bit of damage from this week’s storm. Sheriff Oscar Cowen says a maintenance crew has come in and removed the portion of the tower that was damaged, and the department has had to re-adapt the antenna to allow them to stay in operation until they can have the tower replaced.
Currently, Cowen says they are waiting for the insurance company to come out and look at the damage to determine what they will replace it with, or what kind of antenna they will be putting up in its place. Cowen says they are not sure how long it will take before the damage is repaired, but he has heard the tower itself could cost anywhere from $35,000 and up – but they won’t have a certain figure until the insurance adjustor gives them the OK to have a company repair the damage.
Knox Mayor Rick Chambers
Several communities in the state have ordered water restrictions due to severe drought conditions.
Knox Mayor Rick Chambers said that the water superintendent has not ordered any restrictions for Knox, and said the water supply and level look good. Officials will be monitoring conditions.
North Judson Town Superintendent Marshall Horstmann is asking residents to monitor water use and supply. Check for leaky faucets and any other unnecessary leaks to help conserve water just in case a restriction is ordered.
The annual Starke County Relay for Life event begins today with opening ceremonies at 6 p.m. at the Starke County Fairgrounds in Hamlet. Event Chairperson Megan Hamand says there are a number of activities planned for the event.
“We’ve got games for kids, food, a car show, bands will be performing, including Narrow Gate and Konundrum, an American Red Cross blood drive, a food drive for Community Services of Starke County, and then we’ve got our regular relay events that you’ve learned to expect from us every year,” said Hamand.
Hamand says that two activities in particular are popular at the event.
“The Survivor Lap where we really honor and celebrate our survivors, and our solemn Luminaria ceremony which takes time to remember and honor those who that have fought cancer and those who have unfortunately lost their lives to it,” said Hamand.
The second session in a community-wide forum on health will be held tonight from 5:00-8:00 p.m. CT at the Bass Lake Property Owners Association Building. In the first session, four priority opportunities for improving health and preparing Starke County for a radically different health and jobs economy of the next generation were discussed. They included job readiness initiatives, county-wide healthy adult living initiative, healthy kids initiative, and healthy early childhood initiative.
Starke County will have a tax sale today at 10:00 a.m. CT in the Commissioner’s Room in the County Annex building. According to Interim Treasurer Kasey Clark, there will be 265 properties on the spring sale. Properties that are not sold will go on a later certificate sale.
Starke County’s unemployment numbers are still in double digits. The February figures were released this week, and even though we’re down 0.4 percent from January, the unemployment rate still is over 11 percent at 11.3 percent. This places Starke County at number five in the state.
The number one county is Vermillion at 12.5 percent, followed by Fayette at 11.8 percent, and Clay and Lawrence both at 11.4 percent.
Hamilton County is the lowest in the state at 5.9 percent.
Pulaski County is the lowest of the surrounding counties at 7.3 percent, followed by Porter at 8.1 percent. Fulton at 9.2 percent, Marshall at 9.6 percent, St. Joseph at 9.9 percent, and La Porte at 10.9 percent.
Indiana’s figure is 8.4 percent with only Ohio at 7.6 percent lower in the Midwest.
Starke County Clerk Evelyn Skronski said that January 11th will be first day that you can file candidacy for office in the 2012 election.
The office of Starke County Surveyor will be up for election in 2012, as well as Starke County Treasurer, Commissioner District 1 and District 3 and three at-large County Council seats.
Because Starke County does not have a juvenile holding center, a contract is being signed with a Muncie facility to hold our young prisoners. Cedarbridge Youth Center normally charges $150.00 a day for holding such prisoners, but because Starke County officials paid in advance for 2011, they were given a reduced rate of $89.00 per day.
Of the 160 days contracted for, only 89 were used, leaving 71 days to be carried over to 2012.
The county commissioners voted last week to secure 89 days, and use the 71 day carry over to guarantee another 160 days for 2012. The discounted rate for 2012 has increased to $99.00 a day.
Juveniles cannot be co-mingled with adults, so Starke County has to “farm-out” youngsters who are being held for possible criminal causes.
Counterfeit $20 bills are circulating around the Starke County area.
Carla Musial from Demotte State Bank told WKVI that they’re the best that she’s seen. A Starke County merchant got one this weekend. While the bills look real, they will mark brown, not yellow, and the hologram is missing along with glitter on the bottom of the bills and a strip.
Back Row: Mayor Rick Chambers, Ed Blue, Clerk-Treasurer Jeff Houston, Greg Matt and Attorney David Matsey. Front Row: Linda Berndt, Jeff Berg and Ron Parker
The topic of fireworks came up again at the most recent meeting of the Knox City Council. Even though it’s billed as the Starke County Fireworks celebration, Mayor Rick Chambers explained to the Council that the City has been on the losing end monetarily while trying to support the effort.
“A fireworks contract was sent to me…what do we want to do with the fireworks?” Mayor Chambers asked the City Council. “We took quite a beating on that this year really because of the weather. We didn’t collect what we had collected in the past. Starke County didn’t donate like they’ve donated in the past. We got stuck with $4,700 which was the City’s cost this year. Last year, it cost us $640. We hustled, we worked, we got donations, and this year it sort of fell through with the economy and the bad weather that night.”
Absentee voting begins this Saturday, October 29th in Starke County. Voting will be conducted on the voting machines for the races in the City of Knox and the towns of North Judson and Hamlet in the Starke County Courthouse.
Voting will be from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 1:00-4:00 p.m. on Saturday, and Monday through Saturday next week. Absentee voting will also be available from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. on Monday, November 7th and Thursday, November 3rd from 1:00-4:00 p.m. and from 5:00-9:00 p.m.
Knox City and Starke County officials put their heads together this week to see if they could come up with making the Knox City Court solvent. The court, which handles judicial matters from throughout the city and county, is running close to $100,000 in the red. Officials and others gathered for a work session Tuesday night before the regular Knox City Council meeting.