County Commissioners to Discuss NIPSCO Project

starke-county-courthouseThe Starke County Commissioners will meet earlier than usual this evening to discuss a utility project that is coming through the county. They’ve called a special session for 5:30 p.m. in advance of their regular 6 p.m. meeting to talk about NIPSCO’s Reynolds-Topeka transmission line project.

The utility company is in the process of building a 100-mile transmission line from Reynolds in White County to Topeka in LaGrange County. Starke County is the halfway point for the project. NIPSCO contractors are using the vacant lot just south of the Astoria Inn on U.S. 35 for equipment storage as right-of-way clearing work continues. NIPSCO officials have previously said the infrastructure update will improve reliability and reduce energy costs.

The agenda for the regular commissioners meeting includes second reading of an ordinance to allow the sheriff to charge convicted inmates a fee to offset the cost of their incarceration. Sheriff Bill Dulin will also talk to the commissioners about staffing needs for a proposed Department of Correction therapeutic community at the jail. Such settings provide intensive drug rehabilitation to prisoners. If state approval is granted, the Starke County Jail would be home to the first non-DOC-based therapeutic community. The state would pay the county to house inmates.

The commissioners will also discuss inmate medical catastrophic insurance renewal and an inmate Medicare issue this evening. Other items on tonight’s agenda include EMS and county highway monthly reports and a price quote for a loader purchase for the highway department. IT Director Brian Pinson will also present a quote for a server upgrade, and Clerk Vicki Cooley will update the commissioners on the implementation of a new software program for her office.

The meetings will take place in the commissioners meeting room at the annex building.