Week in Review for Sept. 10-14

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

Starke County Coroner Kris Rannells released the identity of a man who was found dead in his home at Bass Lake on Saturday, September 8. 52-year-old David Griffin was found by his brother who went to Griffin’s home to check on him as no one had heard from him in some time. A forensic autopsy was performed at the Northeast Indiana Forensic Center in Fort Wayne but no cause of death has been announced. Rannells says the cause of death will be released when the autopsy report is finalized. He did say that foul play is not suspected. 

Starke County ranks 10th in the state for the number of meth labs discovered and dismantled by the Indiana State Police Lowell District this year through July. The total number of dismantled methamphetamine labs in the Lowell District was 60 in 2011 and the number of labs so far this year numbers 46. You can help the State Police in their quest in eradicating the meth problem in Indiana. Report suspicious activity to police and make note of any ammonia smells or possible drug lab paraphernalia that may be present at any location. Call your local police department with these findings or the Indiana State Police Drug Tip Line at 1-800-453-4756.

Brandi Underwood of Rochester was arrested by Pulaski County police Sunday after she reportedly hit another woman in a disagreement over an alleged missing Amazon Kindle. The victim was reportedly yelling and cursing at Underwood while poking her in the chest. Underwood then hit her twice with a closed fist. Underwood was arrested on a preliminary charge of Battery with Bodily Injury. The case has been forwarded to the Pulaski County Prosecutor’s Office for further review.

Wendy Hoppe

North Judson Town Board President Wendy Hoppe has asked the Starke County Commissioners to help transfer two parcels of land that had been deeded to the county. Hoppe explained to the Commissioners that a property at 213 Lane Street and another on Luken Street was supposed to be deeded to the town, but instead was deeded to the county. Hoppe asked that the commissioners draw up a quick claim deed to transfer the property to North Judson. The North Judson Town Board has no immediate plans for the property but the board hopes to use it for a municipal building sometime in the future.

On September 17, the Knox Community School Board and the Facility Study Committee will meet with a consultant to discuss how a construction referendum can be successful. The Board is looking to add a referendum to a May Primary ballot for the construction of a new Palmer Wing of the Knox Elementary School. Dr. Mike Trego, a professor at Indiana Wesleyan University and a former Ohio Superintendent, will meet with the Board to discuss the best outcome of holding a referendum.

The cleanup at Wythogan Park in Knox is almost done and Mayor Rick Chambers says he hopes the park will be open to visitors again soon. This will be done pending a final inspection of the park. Park Superintendent George Byer told the Knox City Council last night that the brush pickup is nearly two-thirds complete and the cleanup of trees and hanging branches is almost halfway complete. The city received an insurance check in the amount of $94,645.21 for repairs, but $7,536 was held until all park equipment has been purchased.

David Hyatt

The IU Health Starke Hospital Community Board officially named David Hyatt as the President of the Knox facility. He had been serving in the capacity of Interim President since June of this year. Hyatt has been at IU Health Starke Hospital since September 2009 after serving as a Business Development Associate at IU Health LaPorte Hospital. Board President Ben Bennett said the board is impressed with Hyatt’s enthusiasm and he feels that Hyatt is ready to help the hospital move forward.

Gas prices spiked to $3.99 in the Knox area and up to $4.19 in the LaPorte area this week. Patrick Dehaan, GasBuddy.com Senior Petroleum Analyst, says this increase in prices should be temporary. While he doesn’t believe the prices will fall in the next week or so, he does believe that prices should fall to between $3.40 and $3.80 per gallon between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

West Central School Superintendent Charles Mellon informed the school board last week that the current enrollment is 868 students which is identical to last year’s enrollment. Enrollment numbers are important as funding follows the student. If you lose students, the funding goes with them. Eastern Pulaski School Superintendent Dr. Robert Klitzman reported a loss of 30 students to his corporation’s enrollment and added that the idea that funding follows the student is flawed and doesn’t serve public education very well.

A Special Event Fund has been established for the City of Knox. Clerk-Treasurer Jeff Houston had asked a representative with the State Board of Accounts what to do with donations for specific events, like the Fourth of July fireworks. Houston was instructed to create a Special Events Fund which will be separate from the city’s Donation Fund which is used for donations to organizations or departments, such as the police department. All donations going into this fund must be labeled for a specific purpose. The Knox City Council approved the establishment of the fund this week.

The Starke County Sheriff’s Department released more information concerning two serious injury accidents Monday afternoon. Connie Boyer, of North Judson, had pulled into the path of a vehicle driven by Michelle Howard of North Judson on State Road 10 at Range Road which caused a head-on collision. Howard was trapped inside her vehicle with incapacitating contusions to her body. She was airlifted to Memorial Hospital in South Bend for treatment. The second accident, which happened 45 minutes later near the intersection of State Road 10 and 300 East, involved Thelma Smith of North Judson who reportedly turned in front of a vehicle driven by Marsha Hayes of Monticello. The impact caused Howard’s vehicle into the opposite lane and struck another car driven by Michael Taylor of Monterey. A juvenile in Taylor’s vehicle was flown to Riley Children’s Hospital for treatment. The others were treated at the scene.

Jamie R. Elkins of Medaryville was sentenced to 10 years in the Indiana Department of Corrections after pleading guilty to the Class B Felony charge of Dealing in Methamphetamine. Eight years of that sentence was suspended and the remaining two years will be executed on in-home detention through the Cass/Pulaski Community Corrections Program. Judge Michael Shurn ordered that this sentence be served consecutively to another sentence he is currently serving on home detention. Judge Shurn noted that Elkins is making substantial progress on rehabilitation with his previous sentence. Elkins will serve eight years on probation. As part of the plea agreement with the State, four felony charges were dropped.

Barbara Gilden of Medaryville and the family of a minor who died as a result of the ingestion of medication prescribed to Gilden and given to the minor by Gilden’s grandson have come to an agreement in a civil lawsuit filed against Gilden. As a result, the September 18 jury trial in the case has been vacated in Pulaski Circuit Court. The family alleged that Gilden was negligent in properly storing her medication and allowing the narcotics to be accessible to minors at her residence.

Dennis Hamilton of Knox was arrested Wednesday morning after he allegedly attacked and stabbed a woman during an argument. The woman and her brother were arguing with Hamilton in the kitchen when he reportedly grabbed a knife and swung it at the pair. Hamilton allegedly stabbed the woman in the wrist, causing a one inch wound. The victim’s brother hit Hamilton over the head with a screen door shock and Hamilton fled the scene. He was later located and arrested and formal charges of two counts of Battery with a Deadly Weapon, Domestic Battery with a Prior Conviction, Strangulation, three counts of Intimidation, Invasion of Privacy, and Battery have been filed against him.

Kurtis Singleton of Knox was arrested Tuesday after Knox City Police officers found him in possession of methamphetamine. Police were notified of an alleged drug deal in the Knox Post Office parking lot and when they arrived on scene, they found Singleton and a passenger, Aaron Brewer, in a vehicle. The officers smelled burnt marijuana coming from the car and asked them to exit the vehicle. When Singleton got out of the car, he allegedly dropped a cigarette package and a foil package that reportedly contained a white powdery substance that field tested positive for methamphetamine. He was taken into custody and when Singleton was getting out of the squad car at the Starke County Jail, he allegedly dropped another foil package containing the same substance. He was booked on a preliminary charge of Possession of Methamphetamine.

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