The Starke County Council members recently received a Notice
of Claim from Tom DeCola who was expelled from his seat on the Starke County
Council on Feb. 18.
DeCola claims that he was not given the full 30 days to respond to allegations of disorderly conduct and public intoxication during a “social event hosted by the Indiana Association of Counties” in Indianapolis. He stated that the deadline was technically Feb. 21 and he was asked to provide an explanation during the council’s meeting on Feb. 18. During that meeting DeCola had this comment, “After reviewing the paperwork that was handed to me, I read it and decided that it was my in persona civil cause of action and that it wasn’t an authoritative official cause of action. So, I decided it’s not even worthy to respond to it.”
DeCola also claims the Starke County Council wrongfully expelled him for allegations that were outside his term. He took office on Jan. 1, 2019 and the allegations occurred on Dec. 12, 2018. He said he wasn’t acting under any type of official duty and has not been criminally charged. He also claims the witnesses who gave statements were unreliable.
DeCola’s oath of office was filed on Dec. 7. Witnesses at the conference in Indianapolis stated he
introduced himself as a Starke County Councilman.
Starke County Attorney Marty Lucas said the claim is
currently under review.
In a press release, Starke County Council President Dave Pearman said the fiscal body may, by state statute, “(1) expel any member for violation of an official duty; (2) declare the seat of any member vacant if the member is unable or fails to perform the duties of the member’s office; and (3) adopt its own rules to govern proceedings under this section, but a two-thirds ( 2/3 ) vote is required to expel a member or vacate a member’s seat.”
Pearman stated that DeCola’s Notice of Claim will be
discussed during the council’s next meeting on Monday, March 18 at 5:30 p.m. CT
in the meeting room in the Starke County Annex Building No. 1 at 53 E. Mound Street
The Culver Town Council members were updated on the trailer
court property on West Jefferson
Street last week.
The Starke County Election Board members are expected to
talk to the commissioners tonight about an early voting location for the May
Primary Municipal Election. Early voting
is usually held on the second floor of the courthouse, but with the courthouse
elevator replacement project underway, the room on the first floor of the
courthouse that would be used to hold early voting in this case is said to be
in use by the contractors for the storage of tools and other equipment. The Election Board members believe the
contractors can store their items in another location. That discussion will continue tonight.
The Starke County Election Board members took action this
week to set absentee voting hours for the May Primary Municipal Election.
Firefighters from the Culver-Union Township Fire Department
made a couple of water rescues in the past two weeks and the purchase of
equipment to aid in those rescues has successfully helped firefighters,
according to Fire Chief Terry Wakefield.
The Starke County Environmental Office is open and accepting recyclables on-site.
The bridge on U.S. 35 in downtown La Porte will be under construction beginning
on Monday, March 4.
The Koontz Lake-Oregon Township Fire Department will be
getting a newer vehicle as a fleet vehicle for medical calls and to assist
firefighters at the scene.
Culver Town Manager Jonathan Leist updated the town council members this week on the upcoming Culver Beach Lodge project.
The Starke County Election Board members discussed, at
length, Wednesday morning the elevator construction project at the Starke
County Courthouse in Knox.
The Starke County Commissioners revisited the topic of
installing GPS systems on the county vehicles.
The Culver Town Council members learned Tuesday night that
the owners of the former City
have filed an appeal from the judge’s decision to demolish the building.
The Starke County Commissioners discussed a contract with
the SCILL Center for county support for programs.
The Culver Town Council members adopted rate ordinance
amendments for ambulance services and park rental fees.
Officials from the Oregon-Davis School Corporation announced
snow make-up days this school year.
Firefighters were called to a pole barn fire in the 10,900
East block of 150 N. Monday morning.
Five people were arrested on Monday after officers of the Starke
County SWAT executed a search warrant at a home in the 1700 North block of 300
E. in Knox.
Starke County officials are looking into creating an ordinance to silence barking dogs in unincorporated areas of the county.
The Culver Town Council members will meet tonight where they
will hold the second and third reading on an ordinance that amends ambulance
rates and park rental rates.
A Rensselaer man died Saturday after falling through the ice
on a private pond in Jasper