Week in Review for June 18th-22nd, 2012

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

A burn ban was enacted Monday in Pulaski County. The Commissioners are prohibiting open burning of any kind using conventional fuel such as wood or other combustible material, with the exception of grills. The burning of debris, such as timber or vegetation and recreational campfires, unless enclosed, is prohibited. You are also asked to not discharge any fireworks. This ban is in effect until Noon ET on Monday, June 25th when conditions will be reevaluated. The Starke County Commissioners have enacted a burn ban in the county which is in effect until July 2nd.

The Knox City Council is considering a water rate increase of $6.70 a month to help make the water department more self-sufficient. The increase would be spread out over the next two years with the first half possibly beginning in August. Umbaugh and Associates conducted a water study and recommended the increase to help keep up with expenses, especially unforeseen expenses like fire hydrant maintenance. Currently, Knox residents pay $55.40 a month for all utilities and it is considered to be the lowest utility bill in the immediate area.

A committee will be formed to research a way to lower the fire rating for those living outside the Knox city limits. Knox-Center Township Fire Chief, Kenny Pfost, was notified that the fire rating for residents inside the city limits was six and nine for those outside the city limits. Pfost says Insurance Service Offices, or ISO, found that residents that have Knox addresses don’t necessarily live inside the city limits which drops the fire rating. He hopes to provide a scenario for ISO in the future to show that the department has the water supply and equipment to provide proper coverage to those outside the city limits.

Michael Krebes, the deputy prosecuting attorney for Howard County, has been named the special prosecutor in the case against former North Judson Clerk-Treasurer Connie Miller. Starke County Prosecutor Nicholas Bourff asked for a special prosecutor in this case as he worked with Miller as the Town’s Counsel during the period in which the Indiana State Board of Accounts reportedly found receipts, deposits, collections and reimbursements as not being deposited intact by Miller between January 1st, 2010 through December 31st, 2011. Court dates in this case are not known at this time.

July 3rd is the deadline for the Starke County Republican Chair and the Democrat Chair to fill empty slots on the November Election ballot. Republicans need to fill the positions of Surveyor and Treasurer, while the Democrats need to find a candidate for County Commissioner in District 1. Any candidate wanting to file for a school board position can file a petition in the clerk’s office from July 25th-August 24th.

State Representative Nancy Dembowski

State Representative Nancy Dembowski of Knox was picked by the Indiana State Democrats to attend the National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. She received the most votes to go to the National Convention where she will cast a vote for Barack Obama. Representative Joe Donnelly said that Dembowski is widely thought of and revered in the Democrat party.

A super majority of the Starke County Council approved an amendment to the Save the Hospital Fund to allow up to $50,000 to be used on a study that would assess the value of the property and operations of IU Health Starke Hospital. Starke County Council President Dave Pearman said that the Council will select a consultant to conduct the study and get out of the hospital business.

The Culver Community School Board is looking to fill the Elementary School Assistant principal’s position. Assistant Principal Craig Hopple has left the position to take a job at Lincoln Jr. High in Plymouth. The School Board is also looking for a social studies teacher and an English teacher at the high school as well as an IT assistant position for the corporation. The Board could fill the positions at their next meeting on July 16th.

Bats have become a concern in Pulaski County. Terri Hansen from the Pulaski County Health Department and Animal Control Officer Debra Tiede have taken three bats to the lab for rabies testing in the past five weeks. They have been receiving a higher volume of indoor bat calls and are encouraging you to close up chimneys and fireplaces when they are not in use. If animals are inside with a bat, whether they have been suspected to have been bitten or not, the State recommends that the animal be placed in a 45-day quarantine to ensure it has not been infected.

Several Starke County inmates are being held in the Pulaski County jail to keep down the overcrowding situation in the Starke County Jail. Starke County officials discussed the finances involved in this action this week. It has cost the county to transport and house the inmates in the Pulaski County Jail and Starke County Council President David Pearman says it’s the most cost-effective solution they have found so far. If the jail inmate count reaches past 62, those inmates will be transported to Pulaski County. This will continue until a new jail situation is established.

A semi-trailer caught fire Wednesday in the area of Roosevelt and Michigan Streets in Walkerton. A large boom was heard by witnesses who later learned the semi-trailer caught fire. Fire officials at the scene did not offer any details about the incident and could not identify the cause of the fire. No injuries were reported. The incident remains under investigation.

Officials were on hand to answer questions about the new smoke free law at the Bass Lake Community Center last night. The law, which becomes effective July 1st, only covers enclosed areas. The State Excise Police will enforce businesses that sell alcohol and tobacco while county health departments will be responsible for enforcement for all other businesses. Starke County Health Nurse Frank Lynch said that his department will simply be trying to comply with the new law and is not out to pick on anyone or any business. For businesses wishing to remain smoke-friendly, an exemption form must be delivered to the Alcohol and Tobacco Commission before June 30th.

The Starke County Fireworks celebration is set for Wednesday, July 4th at the Starke County Airport. The gate opens at 6:00 p.m. and you are encouraged to go early to enjoy demonstrations by the Starke County Amateur Radio Club as well as the remote control plane club. Food and souvenirs will be available from several vendors. The fireworks show begins at dusk.

The Marshall County Commissioners have scheduled a public hearing on July 2nd in order to hear comments on a proposed golf cart ordinance. The ordinance only allows golf carts to be operational around the county’s eight lakes and around the Culver Military Academy. The ordinance also states that a driver must have a valid driver’s license and proof of insurance must be present at all times when operating the cart. A specific time for the public hearing has not yet been established.

The North Judson Town Board discussed the recent State Board of Accounts audit report which identified financial discrepancies totaling over $74,000. Based on information posted in the cemetery book and the confirmations that were returned with receipts, the examiners determined that $40,350 was collected but not documented in the books. Former Clerk-Treasurer Connie Miller denies allegations of impropriety in the investigation. Current Clerk-Treasurer Donna Henry told the Board that a system of checks and balances is being worked on so this doesn’t happen again and every transaction has been documented.

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