Week in Review for Sept. 17-21, 2012

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

Wythogan Park in Knox opened this week. There are some areas still blocked off due to the amount of debris yet to be cleared. The walking trail is accessible. Contractors will continue working in the park, but the majority of the larger logs and branches have been removed. The park has been closed since July 24 when a fierce storm reeled through the Knox area, causing thousands of dollars in damage within the park. 

LaPorte County Sheriff's Department
La Porte County Sheriff's Office

The LaPorte County Sheriff’s Merit Board has filed a lawsuit against former LaPorte County Jail Matron, Lauren Arnold, claiming that she owes the county $34,000 for falsely-claimed pension. The merit board says Arnold was not a law enforcement officer at the time she obtained a pension. She chose not to participate in the pension program in 1999 but she was awarded over $20,000 in retroactive payments in 2006 when she sought the pension that she claimed had been owed to her from 1999 to 2004. Her husband, Jim Arnold, was sheriff at the time of her employment and has vowed to defend them against the legal action.

A Hamlet Police officer shot and killed a dog that was attacking him and the Town Marshal found that he was justified in his actions. The officer had gone to a residence at 218 Railroad St. where he was looking for a wanted subject on Saturday. The subject wasn’t there and when the officer asked to speak to Kenneth Schoff, a pit bull ran from the house barking and growling and the dog attacked the officer. The dog continued to bite him and this action forced the officer to shoot the dog. The officer shot the dog three times and it fell, but attacked the officer again. The dog was then fatally shot. The dog owners were extremely upset and called the officer a murderer. Town Marshal Frank Lonigro III reviewed the case and found that according to the department’s operating procedures, the officer was justified in discharging his weapon to stop the aggressive nature of the dog.

Damaged Starke County Sheriff's Department tower

Starke County IT Director recently met with a few radio tower authorities and a recommendation was made to build a 180-foot tower and a 2-foot antenna to replace the damaged radio tower at the Starke County Sheriff’s Department. The information was presented to the Starke County Commissioners last night and now the officials will need to find a location for the tower which could take at least six weeks. Until then, two antennas will be replaced on the current tower at a cost of $2200 apiece, but those can be moved once the new tower location is established.

The West Nile virus has been detected in Pulaski County. Four out of ten mosquito pools located near the Winamac Waste Water Treatment Plant have tested positive for the virus. Pulaski County Health Nurse Andrea Keller urges you to protect yourself by removing water-filled containers around your property and using a mosquito repellent that contains DEET. If you are in need of mosquito repellent, you may pick up some at the Pulaski County Health Department. You are also encouraged to wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors, especially from dusk to dawn.

Linda Belork

Jasper Circuit Court Judge John Potter has been given an extension in making his decision concerning the case between former Starke County Treasurer Linda Belork and the Starke County Commissioners. The Commissioners claim Belork misappropriated $900,000 during her time as treasurer. The attorneys for both sides presented evidence in their cases in June and the judge was given until October to render his decision. Judge Potter is expected to make a decision before October 22.

Indiana State Police officers were notified Monday night of an erratic driver on U.S. 30 near Oak Road in Plymouth and when police stopped the vehicle for a traffic violation, they found the vehicle to be stolen with a meth lab in production. The driver, 49-year-old Bradley Shopoff of Fort Wayne, and passengers Joshua Baughman of Fremont, Terrence Welch of Fort Wayne and Dana Moon of Angola were arrested and taken to the Marshall County Jail on preliminary charges of Manufacturing and Dealing Methamphetamine.

Oregon-Davis Jr./Sr. High School

The Oregon-Davis High School’s bio-science department is the recipient of a $10,000 grant from the Monsanto Fund to purchase necessary equipment for the program. The BioAg course combines the curriculum of both Biology and the fundamentals of agriculture. Graphing calculators will be purchased along with Proscopes, probeware and other equipment. 10 other schools in Indiana were awarded similar grants.

Robert Spencer was sentenced to a total of 54 months in the Indiana Department of Corrections in a hearing yesterday in Starke Circuit Court. Spencer was sentenced on charges of Escape and Criminal Mischief. He was charged after he had escaped community corrections home detention by cutting off his ankle bracelet. Spencer has been to prison three times and had previously been sentenced in Starke Circuit Court on charges of burglary and meth-related charges, which were factors Judge Kim Hall took into consideration before Spencer was sentenced. As part of his sentence, Spencer was ordered to pay community corrections $250 for the cost of an ankle bracelet.

Ted Bombagetti

Starke County Emergency Management Agency Director Ted Bombagetti told the commissioners that the EMA has exceeded their assessment goal and for the third year in a row, the EMA earned a wage reimbursement for the county. Bombagetti and Mary Lynn Ritchie also secured $4,050 in bonus money for performing so well on the assessment. The wage reimbursement totaled $30,000 which covers half of the department’s wages. The bonus is expected to be spent on necessary equipment.

Joseph Givens
Kristen Webb

Kristen Webb and Joseph Givens were sentenced in Starke Circuit Court yesterday. They had pleaded guilty to charges of Possession of Methamphetamine and Maintaining a Common Nuisance. They will serve three years on the possession charge which will be served on home detention. They were ordered to serve three years in the DOC on the charge of Maintaining a Common Nuisance but that sentence was suspended to be served on probation. Webb and Givens were arrested after an incident on November 23, 2011 when Knox City police officers executed a search warrant at a home on Portland Street where drug activity was present.

Roy Bell

Roy Bell of Rochester will be headed to court on Tuesday where he faces murder charges. He allegedly shot and killed Wilma Upsall after he, William Scroggs of Delong and Jason Miller of Plymouth entered her daughter’s home in order to steal items from the home and she was in the residence. Bell reportedly tied Upsall to a chair in the home and shot her after he thought she could identify him as the robber. Miller allegedly told investigators that he and Scroggs were outside of the residence when the shooting took place. Bell will appear in Fulton Superior Court on Tuesday and if he is convicted of the murder charge, he could face the death penalty.

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