Starke County Cleanup Efforts Continue In Wake Of Storm

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.

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No Water Restrictions in Starke County… For Now

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.

Starke County Relay For Life Kicks Off Today

Megan Hamand

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.

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Health Forum Scheduled for Tonight

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.

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Starke County’s Unemployment Rate Still In Double Digits

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.

January 11th First Day to File for Office

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.

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Starke County Signs Contract with Cedarbridge Youth Center

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 Money Found in Starke County

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.

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Knox City Council Discusses Fireworks Celebration

Knox City Council #2

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.”

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Absentee Voting Begins Saturday

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.

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Officials Discuss Knox City Court Situation

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.

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From the WKVI Archives: Kingsbury Ordnance Plant

Workers put together munitions at KOP.

It was 71 years ago today that one of the defining moments in Starke County history occurred. On September 28th, 1940, LaPorte had been chosen as one of 73 sites in the country for the construction of an ordnance plant. That led to the building of the Kingsbury Ordnance Plant better known as KOP.

For residents of Starke County and those who followed them here, that meant loading shells, assembling fuses, boosters, detonators and primers, and packing complete rounds of ammunition.

After the government had cleared all the families off the 13,454 acres of land it had purchased, it began construction of KOP. By May of 1942, the number of people employed reached a high of 20,785. Nearly half of the people employed were women. For many it was their first job outside the home.

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September 11th Service Held in Knox

Starke County firefighters attended the September 11th services

Starke County citizens turned out to remember and reflect during September 11th ceremonies in North Judson and Knox. At Knox, WKVI sponsored a service at the Knox High School Football Field.

The day was arranged by Gene Blastic, and featured talks by Ted Hayes, Tom Berg and Paul Mathewson. Mae Crider provided three patriotic songs, and Pastors Ed Hasnerl, Paul Begley, Jim Pradtke, and James Adcock added spiritual messages. Continue reading

Andy Howes Returns Home

Chief Warrant Officer, Andy Howes, returned to Starke County yesterday 41 years after he left for the war in Vietnam.

Howes left Hawaii yesterday morning in a trip that ended in Knox at 8:10 p.m. last night. Hundreds of people turned out along the way home, especially in Knox.

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Johnson County Man Arrested in Starke County after Escaping Home Detention

A Greenwood, Indiana man was arrested in Starke County Sunday after cutting off his electronic monitoring device attached to his ankle and fleeing his home.

An anonymous tip was called into the Starke County Sheriff’s Department that Zackary Schacht was in the area on a warrant out of Johnson County. Officers went to the residence in question and found Schacht at the residence. Police announced their presence and Schacht ran. K9 officer, Chad Keen, warned Schacht to stop or the K9 would be deployed. Schacht did not yield to the warning and K9 Marco was given the command to apprehend the suspect. The K9 stopped Schacht from fleeing. Schacht was then taken to IU Health Starke Hospital for treatment. When he was medically cleared, he was transported to the Starke County Jail on the active warrant and was charged with Resisting Law Enforcement.

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John Dillinger in Starke County in 1934?

John Dillinger

There have been many stories about John Dillinger being in Starke County. The famous outlaw may well have been in Starke County on this date 77 years ago. He may not have been here long, as the Dillinger gang held up the Merchants’ National Bank in South Bend just before noon.

The man identified as John Dillinger entered the bank carrying a machine gun and announced the holdup. Dillinger fired the machine gun into the ceiling creating panic as he and his gang members took $28,500. Once on the street, they encountered Patrolman, Howard Wagner, and killed him.

They escaped and their getaway car was later found in Newton County in Goodland, about 100 miles away.

Goodland is southwest of Starke County and very well could have been on the escape route.

Forestry Discussion Tomorrow at Country Kettle Restaurant

Bruce Wakeland

The Arrow Head Country RC&D Forestry Committee and Forester Bruce Wakeland invite you to the Country Kettle in Knox, tomorrow, to discuss issues you may be having in your woodland areas.  The event will be tomorrow, June 21st, from 7:00-8:30 a.m. CT.

Wakeland and representatives from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Purdue, Consulting, and Industry Foresters will be available for conversation and questions.

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Starke County Mint Farmer Pleads Guilty to Discharging Pollutants without a Permit

A Starke County mint farmer has pleaded guilty to knowingly discharging pollutants without a permit in violations of the Clean Water Act.

Michael Materna, 56, of Hamlet was operating a still which harvests mint leaves and distills them to create mint oil. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, water that was heated to temperatures of 160 to 190 degrees and mint oil was also being discharged from the facility into a roadside ditch which then flowed into the stream. The water reportedly scalded a dog to death when Starke County resident, Pete Dailey’s, dog entered the heated water. Charges were filed May 31st as a result of an investigation by the Envrionmental Protection Agency-Criminal Investigation Division and IDEM.

Jim Shilling to be Featured on Friday’s “Ted Hayes Remembers” Program

Jim Shilling


This week on “Ted Hayes Remembers”, Ted will talk with Jim Shilling.

Jim and Melba Shilling have been in the forefront of collecting and maintaining a history of Starke County for decades. Jim has shown the Starke County Courthouse to hundreds of people, and taken hundreds more on tours of the Starke County Museum.

Ted asked Jim to talk about historical events over the past 50 or so years that have impressed him.

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