Constellation of Starke Officials Preparing for Stellar Presentation

A standing ovation ushered in conversations surrounding the announcement that Starke County is a finalist in the Regional Stellar Communities Designation Program.

While an outside consultant did not assist the Constellation of Starke Executive Team in the Stellar Communities Letter of Intent, Starke County Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler said a consultant should be hired to assist the county in the next phase with grant writing and the overall application.

He said since HWC is putting together the comprehensive plans for the county, the City of Knox, Town of North Judson and Town of Hamlet, the company would be a natural fit.  However, Ritzler thinks it would be good to invite other consultants to submit thoughts and quotes. 

Ritzler suggested that the county invest $20,000 toward the cost of hiring a consultant with contributions anticipated from grant funds, the Starke County Community Foundation, and the county’s municipalities.  The commissioners approved the money to come from the Bridge CEDIT Fund in the budget. 

In order to put together a quality application, the community’s input is needed.  Starke County Economic Development Foundation Executive Director Larry Wickert invites community members to attend a planning session hosted by Ball State and the Office of Community and Rural Affairs on Thursday, May 23 at 1 p.m. at the Nancy J. Dembowski Community Center in Knox.  Activities are anticipated with the planning process. 

Commissioner Kathy Norem commended those involved in the process thus far.

“I can’t say enough good things about the efforts of the group that have gotten us to this point,” said Norem. “To be a finalist with the short time frame that we had – I mean, you guys – it’s incredible.  Things are really looking up for Starke County.  It’s really an exciting time right now.”