Week in Review for June 11th-15th, 2012

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

A State Board of Accounts report has identified financial discrepancies in a special report for the Town of North Judson. Starke County Prosecutor Nicholas Bourff has confirmed that he received the report that alleges financial discrepancies that total $74,408 from a period of January 1st, 2010 and December 31st, 2011. The largest discrepancy was found in the cemetery lot sales category while other discrepancies were found in utility receipts, ordinance violation collections, police department receipts, and reimbursements that were not deposited intact. Former Clerk-Treasurer Connie Miller was asked to repay all of the funds, but has stated in a letter to the State Board of Accounts that she objects to any allegations or suggestions that she did any wrong for personal gain. She is confident that the discrepancies can be rectified.

Oregon-Davis Jr./Sr. High School

Two members are needed to fill vacancies on the Oregon-Davis School Board. A District III and an At-large member are needed. If you are interested in serving on the board, submit a letter of interest with background information and reasons why would want to be a school board member. Candidates will be considered during the Oregon-Davis School Board meeting on June 18th. Send your letter of interest to the Oregon-Davis School Corporation 5998 N. 750 E. in Hamlet.

Over $58,000 was raised during this year’s Starke County Relay for Life Event. Event Chair, Megan Hamand, said they met all of the goals the American Cancer Society set for them this year. They even met the goal of 43 teams. The Hog’s Wild team was named the top fundraising team and captain Erica Taylor Joseph said it was the effort of the entire team to make the goal of $100 raised per member. Separate fundraisers were also held by the team throughout the year. Planning is already underway for the 2013 Relay event in Starke County.

If you are having trouble reading or performing simple math, a new literacy council has been formed to help you with those needs, especially if it will help you with possible employment. Several tutors and students have already been paired to start the process. Starke County Library System Director, Sheila Urwiler, said that many adult patrons have come to the library seeking materials to help them with literacy issues, but they’re embarrassed because they may need to be led to the children’s section for those tutorials. Now, they have tutors their own age to help them with their education. If you would like to train to be a volunteer at the library, call Sheila Urwiler at 772-7323.

Paul Mathewson

Starke County EMS is looking into purchasing more modern equipment to assist the EMS staff in transporting patients. Starke County EMS Director Paul Mathewson is pricing power lifting cots and chair stairs in order to reduce the number of Workmans Compensation claims. In many cases, staff members have to lift patients which leads to back injuries and Mathewson said this new equipment would reduce the number of these injuries. Quotes will be given to the Starke County Commissioners in a future meeting.

Thomas Parker was arrested by Pulaski County police on June 7th after he was found to be in his uncle’s house in Winamac without permission. His uncle told police that he was allowed to be on the property to check on the mail, but he was not allowed inside the house. A DVD player was found to be displaced inside the home and a chain saw was in the home where it wasn’t supposed to be. Police found that Parker had entered the home through a window and had injured himself upon entry. Parker was arrested on preliminary charges of Burglary, Residential Entry, Attempted Theft and Possession of a Schedule II Controlled Substance.

The Kankakee Valley Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #129 held a fundraiser on Saturday to aid the Shop with a Cop Program. The $3,200 raised will be used to help selected students purchase much-needed school clothes and school supplies for the 2012-2013 school year. Children in Kindergarten through fifth grade will get to shop for these items with members of the FOP. Last year, the FOP was able to help 33 children. Knox City Police Department Officer and FOP President, Chris Kisela will announce plans for the Shop with a Cop program near the start of the school year.

The dry, hot weather has caused stress on this year’s corn crop and no rain is forecast for at least five or six days. Eugene Matzat, Agricultural and Natural Resources Extension Educator for Purdue University, said the leaves on the corn plants are curling which is an indication of stress. The plant is attempting to store what moisture it has by curling the leaves. Corn plants need enough soil moisture to develop their root systems. If we don’t get rain soon, the plants may be stressed to the point of permanent damage and the plants may perish.

Arson is suspected as the cause of two car fires at the Carl Manns residence at 503 S. Heaton Street late Tuesday night. An investigator with the Indiana State Fire Marshall’s Office and Knox City Police detectives processed the evidence and found that the fires were intentionally set. Police are also investigating a suspicious fire that occurred next to Carl Manns’ residence last Thursday. A small fire damaged some siding and a shutter. If you have any information about either incident, call the Knox City Police Department at 772-4122.

Joshua Hunnicutt

An inmate from the Starke County Jail who escaped from the facility on May 23rd appeared in Starke Circuit Court yesterday for an initial hearing on charges of Escape and Conspiracy to Commit Escape. Joshua Hunnicutt pleaded not guilty to the charges and Richard Ballard was appointed as his pauper council. He was given his court dates which will be shared with his other case in Starke Circuit Court involving charges Possession of Methamphetamine and Maintaining a Common Nuisance.

Winamac Town Hall

The Winamac Town Board is currently working on putting together an implementation plan for its newly approved nepotism law. The law mirrors the state law that will go into effect July 1st. The law prohibits any family member to be in a direct line of supervision over another relative. A relative of an elected official or an individual who works who is appointed to any department or board on any basis will not be approved for employment under this policy. This policy also regulates contracting with relatives of individuals employed by the town of Winamac for goods, services, and public works projects.

A burn ban has been enacted in Marshall County. County officials found that the county-wide drought conditions make the county vulnerable to widespread fire hazards. The Emergency Declaration is in effect until further notice. A burn ban has not yet been issued for Starke County or Pulaski County. Starke County EMA Director, Ted Bombagetti, said that he and the County Commissioners are monitoring the conditions and will announce a ban if it is deemed necessary.

Knox-Center Township Fire Chief Ken Pfost

The dry conditions have prompted Knox-Center Township Fire Chief Kenny Pfost to urge you not to burn anything. His department has been fortunate to not be called to many brush fires, but other fire departments in the county have been called to several fires. If you have to burn, make sure you have water available to douse the fire, keep the grass wet around the area of the fire and use common sense. Smokers should be aware that cigarettes discarded outside of cars will start fires on the side of the road and fireworks have a great risk of sparking a fire.

Knox Community Center

The Knox City Council fielded comments from members of a women’s exercise group who have been forced to take their exercise sessions out of the Knox Community Center. The group had been meeting at the Community Center twice a week since 1998 for free as it was recognized as a service to the community and since the recent closure of the New Millennium gym in Knox, the City has gotten requests from other groups to use the Community Center for free, but charge the participants for the activity. They feel since they already allow one group in for free, they should be able to do the same. Officials decided to cease all of that activity. The Knox City Council has agreed to continue discussion on the matter and have an answer by the next Council meeting on June 26th.

A question of dates and other pertinent information on tax abatement compliance forms has forced the Knox City Council to postpone approval of those forms for Hoosier Custom Plastics. Research will be done in the clerk-treasurer’s office and the county assessor’s office that will help company officials correctly fill out the forms. Compliance is not the issue – the informational problems may originate with the company’s C.P.A. firm.