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.

The site near the U.S. 35 river bridge has claimed the lives of other youngsters throughout the years who went in to cool off. The swirling waters were designated a “no swim” area by the DNR shortly after the tragedy. You might say a prayer for the family who will be facing their first Christmas without Tony, this year.

Story #9

Gordon Richie

After not running in the 2010 Starke County Primary Election, Gordon Richie was drafted by the Starke County Republican party to be its candidate in the election. In August, Richie was disqualified after the Election Board voted 2-1 that he did not properly file his candidacy in a timely manner.

That could have been the end of the story, but it wasn’t. Richie and the Republican party protested that decision, and another hearing was held.

In the end, Mr. Richie was allowed to be on the ballot, when Election Board member, Jim Henriott, changed his vote saying he did not want to cost the County upwards of $20,000 if the matter was taken to Starke Circuit Court, and the Board lost. That could have meant a special election.

Mr. Richie lost in the fall general election to current Democrat Sheriff Oscar Cowen.

Story #8

Story number 8 is fresh on our minds. It’s the early blizzard of 2010, and it occurred just a few days ago. With mind boggling snowfall amounts in the Kankakee Valley, all governmental offices, some businesses, and all schools took the day off last Monday, December 13th.

Wanatah had 33 inches of the white stuff to top the charts, although some Starke County locations recorded near 20. Our own Tom Berg and Lenny Dessauer took turns staying overnight at the station to keep everyone informed of the storm’s fury.

WKVI recorded 16,000 internet hits with concerned residents checking listed closings and road conditions. Is this a forerunner for 2011? We hope not.

Story #7

Sonny Newbauer, Plant Manager at Hoosier Custom Plastics, was struck by lightning in the business’ parking lot on Tuesday, August 3rd.

Gordon Shank, owner of Hoosier Custom Plastics, told WKVI that day that he had heard a clap of thunder at 7:45 a.m., looked outside the plant, and saw Sonny Newbauer on the ground after he was struck by lightning. Newbauer, of Knox, was given CPR by a fellow employee and while still unconscious, he was taken to Starke Memorial Hospital. The medical staff sedated Newbauer and he was flown to a Fort Wayne Hospital.

Newbauer is still recovering from the incident.

Story #6

Pete Daley

August 12th was an ordinary day in Starke County, except for Pete Daley who claimed his dog was killed when it jumped into a drainage ditch while playing fetch with its owner. The problem was the water temperature was near 200 degrees after the ditch was infused with scalding water from a Mint Still.

Although mint farmers in Starke County doubted the claim, it was not disputed that the water was very hot. It was hot enough to scald a dog to death. That prompted a meeting between growers and two officials from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management to hear rules on what the water temperature can be when Mint Still residue is poured into County ditches.

An emotional story, and our number 6 story of the year 2010.

Story #5

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.

Sheriff Oscar Cowen
Sheriff Oscar Cowen

Then came election night and the vote totals became surprising figures on the tote board at Democrat Election Headquarters. In the end, it was a nail-biter right down to the last precinct. Dulin had come close, oh, so close, to one of the major upsets in Starke County politics. 1,310-1,283 was the final count, but even in defeat Dulin set himself up as the man to beat.

To show that “all is well that ends well” in Starke County politics, the Sheriff made Dulin his First Deputy, and the pair are working hand-in-hand to keep the citizens here safe and sound.

Story #4

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 Francis 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.

Story #3

Samuel Hewitt

After 44 years of searching, the remains of Samuel Hewitt, a 1965 Oregon-Davis graduate, were found near a military base near Da Nang, Vietnam in September of this year. Hewitt was a United States Marine stationed at a base near Da Nang when he suddenly came up missing. That was on March 22nd of 1966. Until his skeleton was unearthed and identified he had not been heard from since that date.

Hewitt served outside Da Nang with the 3rd Battalion of the 9th Division Marines, assigned to night patrols and scouting missions. His sister feels that when Hewitt was out on night patrol, he was shot and killed.

His mother, who lives in Medina, Ohio, scheduled services for her son on November 19th in Medina and he was buried in the Western Reserve Military Cemetery. He was remembered at Oregon-Davis’ Veteran’s Day service on November 11th and in a parade down Main Street in Knox the same day.

Story #2

Ernest Wireman

When it happened, it rocked the County. A Starke County woman had been brutally attacked and killed by her estranged husband. Mary Wireman had been at home when her husband Ernest stabbed her. Following that, he went to his step-son’s house and attempted to murder him, too.

A year later, Ernest Wireman was found guilty by a Starke County jury after several days of emotional testimony. Judge Kim Hall eventually sentenced Wireman to 110 consecutive years in the Indiana Department of Corrections, bringing closure to one of the most grizzly cases of murder ever in Starke County.

Story #1

Michael Drogosz

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.

A second frightening event then unfolded, as John Brooke in body armor approached the home on foot. John Brooke, it was reported at the time, was carrying an assault rifle. Officer Fred Baker was in the vicinity and it was felt he would have been in imminent danger had shots been fired. It ended well, when tear gas flushed Drogosz from the home.

But that was not the end of the story, as police found a cache of guns, and molotov cocktails that law enforcement officers subsequently found out were to be used in the robbery of one or more Starke County banks.

Drogosz was sentenced to 70 years in prison and the other arrested participants either have been sentenced, or are awaiting trial. What it showed was that just because we live in a peaceful rural county, crime can break out in many ways. Since the event, the police have upgraded their firepower and training.