Starke County Dedicates Therapeutic Community Program

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Judge Kim Hall addresses the crowd gathered at the Starke County Justice Center for the dedication of the Therapeutic Community Center.

Regional, state, and local officials gathered at the Starke County Justice Center on Monday for the dedication of Indiana’s first Therapeutic Community Center.

The program – sought after learning that Starke County reports a high level of drug use and production – is designed to offer inmates addicted to drugs an opportunity to receive treatment and programming with increased levels of responsibility in a non-prison environment.

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Davis Presides Over Final Commissioners Meeting, Cowen Honored

President of the Starke County Commissioners Jennifer Davis and Starke County Sheriff Oscar Cowen
President of the Starke County Commissioners Jennifer Davis and Starke County Sheriff Oscar Cowen

Jennifer Davis has presided over her final meeting as president of the Starke County Commissioners. Instead of seeking reelection to that body, Davis opted instead to run for a seat on the Starke County Council.

“It’s been an honor and a pleasure to serve,” Davis said at the conclusion of Monday’s county commissioners meeting. Democrat Don Binkley is taking her place.

Davis attended yesterday’s reception at the Starke County Sheriff’s Department in honor of Sheriff Oscar Cowen. He’s held that office for eight years and is stepping down due to term limits. Democrat Bill Dulin will take over as sheriff in January.

Democrats Emerge Victorious in Starke County

Democratic Party DonkeyElection Day was all about the Democrats in Starke County.

“We had a strong bunch of candidates this time. Not only that, but we had the backing of the Democrat Party. Everyone worked together and we were able to do stuff for the candidates that we haven’t done in the past. The bottom line was it paid off,” Democratic Party Chairman Kenny Wallace said.

Longtime Sheriff’s Deputy Bill Dulin posted a solid victory over Republican Bill Bope in his quest to succeed term-limited Sheriff Oscar Cowen. Dulin plans to take a comprehensive look at how the department is run. Continue reading

Starke County Voters Choose Dulin and Bope


Voters in Starke County have selected the Democratic and Republican Party nominees for sheriff. Bill Dulin got the most votes of any candidate on the ballot, beating fellow Democrat Harold Smith by nearly 1,000 votes, according to unofficial totals.

“We’ve got a lot of momentum going in. We’re going to take a couple months off and regather our thoughts and hit it again come November,” Dulin said.

Smith got 850 votes to Dulin’s 1,840 and admits he’s disappointed. “We tried. Like I said, the final results came in, and it is what it is,” he told WKVI news.

On the Republican side, Bill Bope beat Greg Wireman by a margin of 646 to 381 and said he’s excited about the Nov. 4 General Election. Continue reading

Starke County Officials Continue to Study Jail Needs

Starke County Commissioner Kathy Norem recently led a group of county officials to a National Institute of Corrections Conference in Denver, Colorado where they studied the procedure for identifying jail needs and how a project moves along after a decision is made.

Norem also led officials on tours of other jails. One thing we have not heard is what the price range might be of a new jail. She talked about how she viewed the make-up and price of the Miami County Jail.

“Miami County was probably more suitable for something that we would want to see locally and that was around $12 million or $14 million.”

One thing the group heard in Colorado is that there is a danger with a jail in the condition of the Starke County Jail because of the possibility of lawsuits. The Jack Haut Class Action lawsuit is still moving through the legal system. Even though Kathy Norem has never expressed guilt in the suit, she has mentioned that there might be others that are brought with merit.

“Basically, that lawsuit is alleging his constitutional rights are being violated and we deny that. That is not true. We do not believe that to be true and we intend to vigorously defend that. However, that doesn’t alleviate us from addressing ongoing issues within that jail. One thing that we need to do is take a look at how other people are doing their facilities and what some of their policies and practices are and try to adopt some of the best ones here.”

Chief Deputy Bill Dulin of the Starke County Sheriff’s Department will be in to discuss jail issues with us tomorrow.

A Recap of the Top 10 Stories of 2010

Story #10

Tony Kerby Memorial at the Yellow River

Tony Kerby lost his life in the Yellow River attempting to save his younger brother’s life. The good looking boy went in the treacherous waters to save his 8-year-old brother Dominick when the youngster slipped off a rock. Dominick was saved when a person in the park pulled him to safety, but Tony could not swim to the banks.

Community members were so saddened by the death that a cross was put at the site to honor his efforts and his life. The memorial was created by Shelby Clemons of North Judson, his wife, Danielle, and Misty Baldridge of Knox.

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Week in Review December 27th-31st, 2010

Here are a few of the stories that made the news in the Kankakee Valley this week:

Megan Smithson, 19, of Illinois, died in an auto accident Sunday afternoon at the intersection of State Road 10 and State Road 35 in Starke County. Police say she pulled out onto US 35 and into the path of a vehicle driven by Tony Wagner of Winamac.

We heard from three of the four Starke County Councilmen who attended their last meeting December 20th. Chuck Estok, Bill Dulin, and Bruce Fingerhut (pictured right) said that they enjoyed working with the people of Starke County.

Gerald L. Broude, Jr. was sentenced in Starke Circuit Court, Tuesday. Judge Kim Hall sentenced him to 50 years in the Indiana Department of Corrections. A jury had found him Guilty on four counts of Child Molestation on December 1st.

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Top 10 Stories of 2010; Story #1

Michael Drogosz

For the past two weeks, we have been scrolling down the top 10 stories of the year 2010. Here is the top story of 2010:

It was like a shootout from the wild-west. On February 15th, two Starke County officers tried to serve a felony warrant on Michael Drogosz at Bass Lake.

After he failed to come out, officers called for a SWAT team. Before those officers could arrive, officers Don Ferguson and Bill Dulin took fire from inside the residence. With bullets whizzing too close for comfort, the officers fired back in self defense.

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Bill Dulin Finishes Term on Starke County Council

Bill Dulin

Three of the four Starke County Councilmen going off the board at the end of the year attended their last meeting December 20th. Dan Awald was not present. Bill Dulin is one of the Council members leaving, after 2 years on the board.

“I enjoyed getting to know people on a personal basis and trying to deal with them through this side of it,” Dulin replied after being asked his feelings as he leaves office. “It was pretty enjoyable and I’m grateful to be able to serve on the Council the way that we did.”

Bill Dulin will be replaced by David Pearman.

Bruce Fingerhut Leaves Starke County Council after 12 Years

Bruce Fingerhut

Four new Starke County Council members will be taking office January 1st. After 12 years, Bruce Fingerhut decided to not seek re-election this year.

“I’d say just working with all of the people in the County,” said Fingerhut on his most proudest accomplishment. “I’ve enjoyed meeting the folks and I was trying to think of all the names of the different Councilmen that Chuck and I have served with over the last 12 years (Chuck the last 16) and I’ve gotten to know some really nice folks. Starke County is a great place to live and I’m going to continue to live here and enjoy it and spend more time working on the Trail.”

Wednesday, we hear from Bill Dulin who has been on the Starke County Council for only two years.

Top 10 Stories of 2010; Story #4

The number four story of 2010 is the Republican resurgence in Starke County.

Long a bastion of Democrat government, the Republicans rode the wave of national sentiment to local success. The major impact will be felt on the Starke County Council where the Republicans won three of four seats up for election. Tony Radkiewicz defeated longtime council member Chuck Estok, Mitchell Semans defeated Becky Ferch in a seat that had been held by Dan Awald, and Dave Pearman defeated E.J. Rogers in the seat held by Bill Dulin.
Judge Kim Hall beat back a challenge by former Judge David Matsey by a wide margin.

The state races went Republican, as did the U.S. Senate Race that saw Dan Coats return to the senate by a wide margin. Democrat Representative Joe Donnelly was returned to his seat with a narrow victory over Jackie Walorski, and Democrat Nancy Dembowski got by Frances Ellert for the 17th District House seat. Both candidates, though, blamed the votes that went to the Libertarian candidates for their defeats.

The Republicans gave notice in Starke County that the GOP Party is back, and to be reckoned with in the future.

Starke County Councilman, Chuck Estok, Attends his Last Council Meeting

Chuck Estok

Four County Councilmen are being replaced in January. Chuck Estok, Bruce Fingerhut, and Bill Dulin attended their final meeting last week. Dan Awald, who is the fourth Councilman being replaced, was not in attendance at his last meeting.

Following the meeting, Ted Hayes talked with the three who were in attendance, starting with Chuck Estok, who has served the longest at 16 years. Ted asked the veteran Democrat Councilman what he is most proud of during his long service to the citizens of the County.

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Top 10 Stories of 2010; Story #5

Sheriff Oscar Cowen
Sheriff Oscar Cowen
Bill Dulin

It was the primary election of 2010 and the Starke County Sheriff’s race was one talked about by citizens around the County. Of course, Sheriff’s races always create interest, but this one was different. Deputy Bill Dulin came out early with signs, a sure sign that this was to be a serious effort. Even though Dulin worked hard during the campaign the political pundits game him little hope of upsetting incumbent Oscar Cowen. On Election Day itself, most predicted a sizable win by Cowen.

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