Week in Review for June 4th-8th, 2012

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

Gavin Wireman

A 27-year-old Medaryville man was arrested Saturday after allegedly robbing the Lake City Bank in Medaryville at gunpoint. A teller called the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department around 9:30 a.m. ET after the man robbed the bank. Officers gathered information in the incident and after an hour, they arrested Gavin Keith Wireman on a preliminary charge of Robbery. Police recovered the stolen money plus the alleged weapon used in the incident.

Culver residents, 28-year-old Amber Rippe and 32-year-old Russell M. Fuller were arrested Thursday after police executed a search warrant at 515 W. Jefferson Street in Culver and found items used in the manufacture of methamphetamine and other drug related items. They have preliminary charges of Manufacturing Methamphetamine, Illegal Drug Lab, Possession of Methamphetamine, Possession of a Controlled Substance, Possession of a Legend Drug and Maintaining a Common Nuisance. Mark Thompson of Rochester and Tracey Holloman of Culver were also arrested at the scene.

David Hyatt

IU Health Starke Hospital’s David Hyatt took over as the Interim CEO of the facility Monday. The hospital is working on its strategic planning process and 90 residents in the county have been assembled to discuss what the hospital can do to in order to successfully move forward. He said a consultant can help crunch the information, but he wants the residents to help the consultant in his research in what the hospital needs to do in terms of services.

Drug and Tobacco Free Starke County and the Tobacco Free Coalition will be hosting an Indiana Smoke Free Law Town Hall Meeting on Thursday, June 21st at 6:00 p.m. CT at the Bass Lake Community Center where information will be discussed concerning the statewide smoke-free air law which takes effect July 1st. Information will be relayed on what the law covers, who to contact with questions and complaints and who enforces the law. House Enrolled Act 1149 prohibits smoking in restaurants, hotels and motels, movie theaters, bowling alleys, healthcare facilities and most other workplaces.

Farmers opposed to the Pulaski County Commissioners’ drafted ordinance regulating spray from irrigation systems packed the Commissioners meeting room Monday night. Several in attendance said that the ordinance would be detrimental to the farming community and that support of the farmers is needed. Commissioner Ken Boswell told those in attendance that while there is no active ordinance, discussion may be held on the topic in the future. The Commissioners made a motion stating that the ordinance, as written, died for a lack of a motion on the third reading.

Indiana Department of Transportation officials say State Road 23 in Koontz Lake will be opening sometime in early July after the Koontz Lake dam road project is complete. The bridge deck is currently being poured and that portion of the road remains closed. The Yellow River Bridge project on U.S. 35 in Knox is progressing. Beams should be set on the east side of the bridge in the next two weeks. INDOT estimates that the one lane restriction will remain in place until the project is complete in November.

Knox Mayor Rick Chambers reminds you that a fireworks ordinance is in effect in city limits. Fireworks may only be discharged June 29th-July 3rd and from July 5th-9th between the hours of 5:00 p.m. and two hours after sunset. On July 4th, you may discharge fireworks from 10:00 a.m. to midnight. Anyone in violation of the ordinance shall be subject to a $100 fine for the first offense, $250 for the second offense and $500 for a third and every subsequent offense. A burn ordinance is also in effect in the City of Knox which prohibits the ignition of any type of fire on private or public property. Exceptions include an outdoor grill, indoor fireplace or a campfire. Fines will be assessed for any type of violation. For more information, call the Mayor’s Office at 772-4553.

Starke County officials will be looking into a long term agreement with Pulaski County officials in order to house Starke County inmates in the Pulaski County Jail. Several inmates from the Starke County Jail were recently transported to the Pulaski County facility to ease the overcrowding situation and a long-term agreement with Pulaski County will be sought to house a few Starke County inmates until a new or rehabilitated jail is available to house them. Starke County Commission President Kathy Norem said that an adequate facility won’t be ready for another two-and-a-half years.

Pulaski County Commissioners

Jeff Larrison of United Consulting told the Pulaski County Commissioners this week that the next step in the Bridge 291 project is to approve the construction inspection agreement. Officials from the Indiana Department of Transportation will then review the rates for inspection and approve them if acceptable. The cost of the inspection is $194,800. The Commissioners approved a motion to sign the construction inspection agreement which will be sent to INDOT for their approval before bids can be accepted.

The Starke County Economic Development Foundation, the SCILL Center, Knox Community School Board and North Central Vocational Area School representatives are working feverishly to get a welding program started in the county. Welding classes will be held in the old wood shop in the Knox Middle School and Jerry Hollenbaugh, from the North Central Vocational Cooperative, has purchased the needed welding equipment for the program at a cost of $80,000. The Northern Indiana Community Foundation is currently working with the SCILL Center to secure a fume collection system to vent the room. Knox School Superintendent A.J. Gappa said that all involved want to get the program running as soon as possible. Adults and students would be able to benefit from this program and all participants will receive an American Society of Welders Certificate upon successful completion of the class.

Linda Belork

Jasper Circuit Court Judge John Potter heard arguments Wednesday in the case concerning the removal of Linda Belork as Starke County Treasurer last August. Attorney Martin Lucas argued that the Commissioners acted according to statute after it was learned that an alleged misappropriation of funds was discovered. Belork’s attorney, Ethan Lowe, stated that the Commissioners knew that the funds were not stolen or lost a week later and did not allow her back into office. Judge Potter took the matter under advisement and will rule in the matter in 90 days.

Seth Enders was arrested for the fourth time in two months by Plymouth Police officers on Tuesday after he was allegedly found to be in possession of over 3 grams of methamphetamine within 1,000 feet of a public park. In April, he was arrested twice in the same day with drug related charges and then domestic battery charges. On May 18th, he was arrested after he allegedly found to be shoplifting in Walmart. An initial hearing has been set for a later date in Marshall County Superior Court 1 for Tuesday’s arrest.

Plans are in the works for bridge replacement on U.S. 35, a half mile south of U.S. 30 in Starke County. The project would improve the area while increasing the required vertical clearance over the CSX railroad beneath the bridge. Construction would also require approximately 1.35 acres of new permanent right-of-way. The estimated cost of the project is $5 million. No start date has been released, but if you would like to voice your concerns about this project, submit comments by June 29th to Mary Wright, Public Hearing Examiner at INDOT, 100 North Senate Avenue in Indianapolis.

A small fire was reported at a home on U.S. 35 across from Advanced Auto Parts in Knox Thursday night. The neighbors saw the fire on the side of the vacant home and called the Sheriff’s Department. They reportedly had the fire out by the time officials arrived on scene. The fire caused a minimal amount of damage. Fire officials are saying that an accelerant was found at the scene of the fire, but can not determine at this time if it was used to start the fire. They have not officially determined the cause of the fire. If you know anything about this incident, call the Knox City Police Department at 772-4122.

Starke County Sheriff Oscar Cowen

Starke County Sheriff Oscar Cowen and the Starke County Commissioners will be discussing the Sheriff’s Department Handbook in a work session Monday afternoon to review vacation time for the staff. Sheriff Cowen explained that he needs direction on employee vacation time due to the difference in shifts. Some officers work eight hours a day and others work 12 hours a day which causes confusion when scheduling vacation time. The Merit Board Handbook states guidelines with vacation time, but the last revision was made in 1988.

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