Week in Review for May 21st-25th, 2012

Here is a look at some of the news that made the news in the Kankakee Valley this week.

Jonathan Hummel
Nathan Hummel

Jonathan Hummel and Nathan Hummel were sentenced in Starke Circuit Court on Thursday, May 17th. The pair were involved in an armed robbery incident in December. Jonathan Hummel was sentenced to 30-and-a-half years in the Department of Corrections as per a plea agreement. He pleaded guilty to charges of Dealing a Narcotic Drug; Robbery; Aiding, Inducing or Causing a Robbery; and Criminal Mischief. Nathan Hummel pleaded guilty to charges of Dealing a Narcotic Drug; Robbery; Aiding, Inducing or Causing a Robbery; and Disarming an Officer. He will serve 25 years in the Department of Corrections. They are both required to pay restitution in the amount of $2,900 for damages to a police squad car and $11,924 in restitution to the Knox CVS. 

This is just a small portion of vandalism done to the buildings in the Industrial Park

Vandalism was reported to several businesses in the Industrial Park in Knox over the weekend. The unknown suspects spray-painted buildings at J.W. Hicks and Toll Brothers and a truck parked at M.P.I. Starke County Economic Development Foundation Director Charles Weaver called the acts despicable and the Development Foundation has offered a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the vandalism. Call the Knox City Police Department to report any information in the case.

Starke County Jail

The Starke County Jail Committee members toured several jails in the state last week. County Council President Dave Pearman toured the Jasper County Jail and he said the reason why they toured that jail is that Jasper County is close to the same population as Starke County and that jail mirrors the needs of a possible new jail in Starke County. The Starke County Jail Committee has not decided whether or not a new jail will be built, but DLZ Engineering is sifting through statistics and data to help move the project forward so a concrete plan can be made.

Several farmers and community members went before the Pulaski County Commissioners Monday to voice concerns about an ordinance regulating the spray of irrigation systems. The Commissioners approved an ordinance that restricts the spray from entering onto roadways. Several motorcyclists and other travelers complained about the action last year and an ordinance was enacted. The farmers claim the ordinance is unnecessary and the fines are excessive. One farmer explained that the spray cannot be regulated due to the operation of the end-guns. The Commissioners voted to table the issue until the next meeting.

Firefighters from the Washington Township Fire Department have been called to several fires this spring season due to dry conditions. Assistant Fire Chief, Dave Pearman, said that there are more people starting small fires to burn brush or other yard waste, but then leave the fire and it gets out of control. Pearman suggests that you always tend to the fire and keep a rake and water available in case the fire does get out of control. Check the county’s burn ordinance to determine what is allowable to burn in the county. Starke County EMA Director Ted Bombagetti will be able to answer any questions.

IU Health Starke Hospital

An amendment of the ordinance regarding the use of Save the Hospital funds failed to pass the Starke County Council. A super majority of the Council is needed in order to pass the amendment. Two Council members were absent from the meeting and the measure may have passed if the pair were present. The amendment would authorize the use of up to $50,000 in Save the Hospital funds to hire a consultant to evaluate the hospital’s value, with that information to be used in a possible sale of the IU Health Starke Hospital to IU Health LaPorte Hospital or another interested buyer. Council President David Pearman said he expects the to pass.

Bids will be reviewed and broken down in order to get the brick bell tower in the Pulaski County Courthouse to be repaired as soon as possible. Maintenance Director, Morry Demarco, said the bids range from $7,000-$16,000 and it is imperative that the work is detailed and done right. The age of the Courthouse requires that the mortar must be replaced with a similar mix to prevent any further damage to the bricks. Demarco will be speaking with the bidders to ensure they understand the scope of the work.

Rachel Berdine
Joshua Hunnicutt

Joshua Hunnicutt, an inmate at the Starke County Jail escaped from the facility Wednesday. His girlfriend, Rachel Berdine, is believed to have picked him up at an unknown location and fled the area in her purple 1995 Geo Tracker. Hunnicutt is 30 years old, six feet tall, red hair and weighs 170 pounds. He was last seen wearing gray cut-off sweatpants and no shoes. He has several tattoos on his forearms and neck. Rachel Berdine is 35 years old, 5 foot 7, 120 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes. Hunnicutt was incarcerated for an active warrant for possession of methamphetamine and maintaining a common nuisance. If you know of their whereabouts, call the Starke County Sheriff’s Department at 772-3771.

Knox City officials, City Court Judge Charles Hasnerl and Starke County Prosecutor Nicholas Bourff were before the Starke County Council this week to request pretrial diversion funds to help ease a $80,000 shortfall in Knox City Court funds. After much discussion, no decision was made during the meeting.

Henry F. Schricker Library

The Starke County Library Board recently presented the Knox Community School Board with plans for their expansion project that included the elementary school property. The library is located just north of the elementary school and Superintendent A.J. Gappa said it would save the library time and money if they hooked into the school’s sewer lines, changed a sidewalk that connects with the elementary school’s property and cut into the horseshoe drive off Culver Road to create better traffic flow. The Board was given the plans May 7th and the Board members approved those plans during their meeting this week.

Workman compensation insurance for county employees will be increasing $34,000 to $137,000 a year. The Starke County Commissioners talked about ways to keep the cost to the employees the same or lower during their meeting this week. Several ideas were discussed including the formation of a safety committee, setting up a procedure whereby workers would be required to return to work early to do light work and establishing a fund to play claims of less than $100. 19 workman comp claims have been submitted this year, with nine of those claims made by workers from the highway department. Bids are being sought from other companies and an inquiry will be submitted into whether the current provider would be willing to reduce or maintain the cost.

North Judson voters will decide whether or not the Town Board increases from three to five members. A question regarding the issue will be featured on the November ballot. A resolution was approved by the Town Board to feature the question on the ballot and Starke County Clerk Evelyn Skronski recently certified the resolution.

The Undercover Narcotics Investigation Team executed a search warrant at the Marathon gas station near the intersection of U.S. 30 and Queen Road in Plymouth and seized multiple packages of synthetic marijuana. The establishment was issued a citation from the Indiana State Excise Police. No arrests were made in the incident, but a criminal case is being forwarded to the Marshall County Prosecutor’s Office. A bill signed into law banning the sale on synthetic marijuana enables law enforcement to issue a citation and retailers caught selling the product could lose their business license for up to a year.

North Judson Town Board

The North Judson Town Board members discussed the North Judson Industrial Park Monday night where Starke County Economic Development Foundation Representative Larry Wickert pointed out several issues as to why industry has not chosen to locate to the park. Wickert said that street access to major roads like State Road 10 and State Road 39 is not readily available and water pressure at the industrial park is not at its best. A public meeting with Economic Development Foundation Executive Director Charles Weaver, the Board and possibly the Starke County Commissioners will be set to discuss how to attract industry to the area.

And that is just some of the news that made the news in the Kankakee Valley this week.