Democratic Caucus for Starke County Treasurer Will be Held

Ethan Lowe

There will be a Democrat Caucus tomorrow night to select a replacement for Linda Belork, but the replacement will not be called the Treasurer of Starke County. Linda Belork, with counsel, appeared before Judge Kim Hall in Starke Circuit Court Wednesday morning seeking an injunction against a Democrat caucus being held to fill her position by the precinct committeemen.

Judge Hall ruled that because State Statute does not guide him in this motion he would fashion a ruling on the testimony. The judge interviewed Belork’s Attorney, Ethan Lowe, as well as Democrat Chairman Ken Wallace. When completed, Judge Hall ruled that a caucus could proceed tomorrow night, but that the person selected would be referred to as the Interim Treasurer. As the Interim Treasurer, the candidate would have the full authority of the Treasurer’s position to make decisions and sign documents.

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Roy Bell Accused of being the Shooter in Upsall Shooting

Roy Bell

The question now is who pulled the trigger in the slaying of Wilma Upsall of Leiters Ford? That’s a question investigators are trying to determine and according to some news sources, the finger is pointing at Roy Bell of Rochester.

WSBT-TV reported yesterday that court documents point to Bell as the shooter of Wilma Upsall when she was tied to a chair. She was shot multiple times.  The court documents, according to the WSBT report, said one of the accused, Jason Miller, of Plymouth, told investigators that he and William Scroggs, of Delong, were outside when they heard the shots and that Bell told them later that Upsall had seen his face.

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Arson Suspected in Apartment Fire in Winamac

The Winamac Fire Department was called to two fires Monday.

Winamac Fire Chief Bill Weaver said that firefighters were called to an apartment fire at 303 N. Market Street at about 1:30 p.m. ET. They were able to get to the scene quickly and extinguish that fire. Weaver said that an investigator from the Indiana State Fire Marshal’s office arrived on scene and determined that the fire started in the closet in a bedroom and that it was deliberately set. No arrests have been made yet in this arson case and the fire remains under investigation. If you have any information about this fire, call the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department at (574) 946-6655.

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Starke County Commissioners Hear Update on Jail Committee

Scott Cherry explains Skillman's part in the Starke County Jail project

The Starke County Commissioners were brought up to date on the activities of the Starke County Jail Committee last week. Commissioner Kathy Norem, who heads up the committee, introduced Scott Cherry, Account Executive with the Skillman Corporation, a construction management firm with headquarters in Indianapolis and a regional office in Merrillville.

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Starke County Commissioners Approve Purchase of Second Car for Sheriff’s Department

Starke County Sheriff Oscar Cowen asked the Starke County Commissioners for a second new police car this year. Cowen told the Commissioners that an insurance check for a wrecked vehicle has been received.

“I don’t know the exact number but it was over $8,000,” said Cowen. “I had asked once to buy a used car to replace but then I said just hang on to money and hopefully with that we have enough money to look toward our second new car this year.”

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Michael Allen Arrested after Making Alleged Threats

Michael Allen

Michael Allen, of Winamac, was arrested on Friday, November 25th after he allegedly threatened a female victim and a police officer over the phone.

The victim was at the Starke County Sheriff’s Department making a complaint against Allen saying that he keeps calling her phone and harassing her. While she was talking to the Jail Deputy, the phone rang and the victim said it was Allen calling. The Jail Deputy answered the phone and identified himself as an employee of the Sheriff’s Department and Allen continued to speak to the jail deputy using vulgar language and threatening the life of the jail deputy. The victim then spoke with a police officer who explained the situation. The phone rang again and the officer answered, identified himself and Allen allegedly swore and threatened the life of the victim and her family. He threatened the officer when he called her phone again. The officer called him from the Starke County Sheriff’s Department and asked if he could speak with Michael Allen and he said that he wasn’t there, but he sounded just like the suspect. The officer asked for his address and he gave it to him, but when police arrived at the residence, he was gone.

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Knox Man Arrested after Stealing TV from Neighbor

A Knox man was arrested Saturday, November 26th, after he allegedly broke into a home and stole a TV.

Knox City Police officers spoke to the victim who said that Erik Draper reportedly entered her home through an open kitchen window. Draper woke her when she heard noises coming from the living room area. She told police that she got up and saw that her front door was open. She then said she saw Draper running toward his house carrying her flat screen TV. She yelled at Draper to bring back the TV and he allegedly threw the TV over a fence and jumped the fence and took off running.

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SCILL Center Coat Drive Now at 500 Coats

SCILL Center Director Jerry Gurrado said that over 500 coats have been collected in their coat drive this year.

Do you need a coat? Is your family in need of coats? Gurrado said that the coats will be distributed at the Knox United Methodist Church from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. CT this Saturday, on December 10th from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. CT at the Knox Christian Church, and on December 17th from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. CT at the Knox United Methodist Church. If you need more information, call Jerry Gurrado at 772-8001.

Linda Belork’s Attorney Files Challenge to Thursday Night’s Caucus

Linda Belork

The attorney for Linda Belork has notified Starke County Democrat Chairman, Kenny Wallace, that he, on behalf of his client, is challenging the right of the party to hold a caucus Thursday night, December 1st to name a new Starke County Treasurer.

Belork was removed from office by county officials in August when a State Board of Accounts report noted funding discrepancies totaling thousands of dollars. Those discrepancies eventually were resolved, but Belork was never reinstated to the office.

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Former Starke County Resident Found Dead in House Fire in Elkhart County

Dewey Smith, Jr.'s mobile home was a complete loss. Photo courtesy of Goshen News

Dewey Smith, Jr., 40, a 1989 Knox High School graduate, was found dead inside a burning mobile home just south of New Paris, in Elkhart County on Friday, November 25th.  The Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department was able to identify Smith’s body today.  An autopsy was scheduled for today to determine the cause of death.

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Oregon-Davis Community Stands By Their School

Dr. Disney addresses concerned patrons during Monday night's School Board meeting

Indiana’s recent change in how school funding is calculated at the state level has caused more local backlash, as the Oregon-Davis School Corporation discussed options Monday night to prepare financially for the upcoming school years.

Superintendent Steven Disney told WKVI that schools were previously funded in a large part by the state while the general fund tax levy for Oregon-Davis covered roughly one-third of the budget, allowing the state to cover the remainder. However, new legislation has switched all school funding to the state, eliminating the local tax levy. On top of that, recent changes in funding formulas at the state level have reduced the amount of funding given to schools, forcing Oregon-Davis to make some tough decisions.

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Five Arrested after Officers Execute Search Warrant

Nikki Givens
Kristen Webb
Brooke Webb
Zachariah Whitfield

Officers from the Knox City Police Department executed a search warrant at 605 South Portland Street.  Police learned of possible drug activity at the residence and executed a search warrant on Wednesday, November 23rd. Officers reportedly found methamphetamine, marijuana, controlled substances and paraphernalia at the residence. Five people were arrested as a result of the search warrant. Continue reading

North Judson Town Board Discusses Safety Issues

North Judson Town Board

Walter Block presented the North Judson Town Board with information from a contractor’s union representative regarding procedures, violations and training for confined spaces.

Garland Rose had provided him with this information in regards to the recent incident in which a utility employee hung by his feet off a backhoe to remove a root ball that clogged a sewer line at American Oak. The employee of the department volunteered to be strapped to a strap by his feet suspended by a backhoe and he was lowered approximately 16 inches into a four-and-a-half foot manhole to retrieve the root ball. The employee successfully retrieved the obstruction within a matter of seconds and no injuries were reported.

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Knox City Council Approves Amended Salary Ordinance

Knox City Council (L to R) Linda Berndt, Jeff Berg, Ron Parker, Clerk-Treasurer Jeff Houston, Mayor Rick Chambers, Attorney David Matsey, Ed Blue and Greg Matt

It appears that the Knox City Council members will be getting a two percent salary increase after all.

On the first reading of the ordinance giving an across-the-board increase for employees and city officials, the motion died with a 2-2-1 vote. Linda Berndt and Ron Parker favored eliminating council members from the raise.  Continue reading

Knox Man Arrested after Meth Lab Found in Residence

Lonzo Jackson, Jr.

Lonzo Jackson, Jr., 20, of Knox, was arrested on Saturday, November 26th, on drug charges after officers from the Knox City Police Department reportedly found a meth lab in his residence.

Police were called to 206 N. Cleveland Street and when they arrived they reportedly smelled a strong odor of ether. Officers attempted to get Jackson out of the house but were unsuccessful. Officers reportedly kicked in the north door and entered the residence. Officers announced their presence and found Jackson and two young children inside the house. The two children, who are Jackson’s brothers, were taken out of the residence and placed into the custody of the Department of Family and Children. Jackson was handcuffed and taken into custody.

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Gabriel French Sentenced

Gabriel French

Gabriel French received his sentence in the Starke Circuit Court last week for charges of Dealing in Methamphetamine as a class B felony. As part of a plea agreement, the defense and the state would argue the sentence to Judge Kim Hall up to a maximum of 15 years in the Department of Corrections and the other counts against him would be dismissed.

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North Judson Man Arrested on Warrant, Resisting Arrest

Dusten Clary

A North Judson man was arrested on Wednesday after he reportedly resisted arrest after police tried to take him into custody on an active arrest warrant.

Dusten Clary, 28, was seen at the a local restaurant and he had an active arrest warrant from the Knox City Court. North Judson Police Department officers entered the business and Clary allegedly ran into a back room. He then reportedly resisted arrest as he was being handcuffed and he kicked a North Judson Reserve Officer. He was restrained and taken to the Starke County Jail.

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