John Loftus Jr. Trial Begins Today in Starke Circuit Court

John Loftus, Jr.

A jury trial will begin in Starke Circuit Court today. John Loftus Jr. was arrested on August 19th by the Starke County Police and the Prosecutor’s office has filed five charges against him for which he has plead not guilty. He is charged with Attempted Robbery, a Class C Felony; Domestic Battery with a Child Present, a Class D Felony; Resisting Law Enforcement, a Class A Misdemeanor; Battery, a Class A Misdemeanor; and Battery, a Class B Misdemeanor.

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Statehouse Christmas Trees Delivered to Indianapolis

Crews get ready to cut down the first tree. Picture provided by Hensler Nursery

John Hensler, of Hensler Nursery near Hamlet, Indiana, followed the trees he sent to Indianapolis, Monday.  The trees make it on time for the ceremony, but the inclement weather prevented him from attending the affair.  The ceremony for the tree provided for the Rotunda was hosted by Governor Mitch Daniels and the one for Lieutenant Governor Becky Skillman’s office was hosted by the Lieutenant Governor herself.

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Starke County ABATE Helps Families in Need this Christmas

ABATE members unload the truck

Many churches and other organizations pitch in to help the less fortunate at Christmas time. Ted Hayes talked about two that were distributing toys and gifts Saturday, and that’s CLASP down at Winamac, and ABATE at Bass Lake.

Ted was at ABATE’s party on Saturday where the Bass Lake Country Club was packed with parents and children. Deb Young was there early signing in parents who were to receive gifts.

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Starke Co. Commissioners Go to Level Two Weather Warning

Starke County Highway Superintendent Steve Sidell has announced that the County is now under a Level Two Snow Warning.

A level two warning states that “Conditions are threatening to the safety  of the public.  Only essential travel is recommended, (to and from work, emergency situations etc.)   Emergency action plans have been or should be implemented by businesses, schools, government  agencies and other organizations.

Sidall advises against travel and ask for the Counties patience as they  work to remove the snow from the roads.

Commissioners Question Prosecutors Expenditures

Prosecutor Julie Ann Haven and the county commissioners are in a skirmish over money that has been promised from funds out of Starke County Prosecutor Julianne Haven’s office.

The commissioners have held up over $60,000 in claims to find out if the funds can be used for what the prosecutor is using them for. For instance firearms, at least one car, light bars, and some office equipment has been promised to various law enforcement departments.

In a special meeting Friday night, it was discovered that some of the money has already been spent. At least $12,000 has been spent on firearms and ammo.
Hamlet Police Chief Jeremy Patrick, and Deputy Don Ferguson with the Starke County Sheriff’s Department said the firearms cannot be returned as new equipment because they have already taken possession of them.

Appearing before the commissioners Havens said she wasn’t aware that the claims would be finalized before the December 20th. meeting, and may have changed funding sources before that meeting if she had known they were acting upon those claims at this time.

Starke Circuit Court to Hold Swearing In Oath of Office Ceremony

There will be a ceremony for newly elected officials in Starke County to take their oath of office on December 28th, 2010, at 5:00 p.m.   Starke Circuit Court Judge Kim Hall said that all elected officials are invited to attend and be sworn in during the ceremony in the courtroom.

The courthouse will be open to everybody and photos will be permitted.

There will be refreshments following the ceremony.

Standing Order Issued by Starke Circuit Court

The Starke Circuit Court has issued a standing order in the interest of judicial economy to identify certain felony crimes with the intent to establish a standard condition of bond for each,  which would allow offenders to be released without judicial intervention.    This would help alleviate some of the on going over crowding situation in the Starke County Jail and help expedite the process for the Sheriffs Office, Prosecutors Office and the Circuit Court.

The new bond amounts are shown below and and the charges to which they apply.  Charges involving  unusual, violent, resisting arrest, burglaries, and assault or battery type crimes would not be subject to the order and those bonds would be set by the presiding Judge.   The complete standing order is set forth below.



The Judge of the Starke Circuit Court deems it necessary, and in the interest of judicial economy, to identify certain felony crimes, and to establish a standard condition of bond for each, which would not require judicial intervention.

If an individual is arrested in Starke County based upon probable cause that the individual has committed one of the following felony crimes, and transported and booked into the Starke County Jail, then the following bonds are ordered:

Possession of Marijuana – class D felony = $250.00 cash.

Possession of a Controlled Substance – class D felony = $250.00 cash.

Possession of Methamphetamine – class D felony = $500.00 cash.

Possession of Chemical Reagents or Precursors -class D felony= $500.00 cash.

Maintaining a Common Nuisance – class D felony = $250.00 cash.

Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated – Resident = $750.00 cash.

Non-resident = $7,500.00 surety.

Habitual Traffic Violator – class D felony = Own Recognizance.

Theft (under $200.00) – class D felony – Resident = $250.00 cash.

Non-resident = $2,500.00 surety.

Forgery – class C felony – Resident = $1,000.00 cash.

Non-resident = $10,000.00 surety.

10. Check Deception – class D felony – Resident = $1,000.00 cash.

Non-resident = $10,000 surety.

If there is probable cause to believe that the person committed more than one of the above crimes, then the bond for each crime shall be added to each other to arrive at the total bond.

If there is probable cause to believe that the person committed one of the above crimes and a crime that does not appear on the above list, then the judicial officer of the Starke Circuit Court shall set the bond.

If there is probable cause to believe that the person committed a crime that does not appear on this list then a judicial officer of the Starke Circuit Court shall set the bond.

Prior to the person being released from custody, he or she shall execute the Recognizance Bond Agreement, together with the Terms and Conditions of Recognizance Bond, which are attached hereto.

The person is ORDERED to appear in the Starke Circuit Court on the first Wednesday after the person’s release from the Starke County Jail, at 1:30 p.m.

A judicial officer of the Starke Circuit Court may issue an Order, at any time, that departs from the provisions of the Bonds Standing Order, the Recognizance Bond Agreement, and the Terms and Conditions of Recognizance Bond.


Knox Mayor Lifts Snow Emergency Declaration

Knox Mayor Rick Chambers has announced that the snow emergency in the City of Knox only has been lifted.  This applies only to the City of Knox. The Mayor explained that snow has been plowed in the City from curb to curb but that no alley-ways have been touched.  the drivers will go home at 3.00pm today and get some rest and will be back at it again tomorrow at 4.30am.

At that time the City will be plowing and removing the snow from the intersections that have been piled up.

Starke Co. Sheriff’s Dept. Report Accidents

The Starke County Sheriff’s Department has reported that there have been approximately eleven accidents and twenty eight slide offs since last night due to the winter storm we are experiencing.  The Sheriff’s Department requests that only emergency travel be undertaken at this time until the snow emergency is lifted.

Hensler Nursery to Deliver Trees to the Statehouse

Crews get ready to cut down the first tree. Picture provided by Hensler Nursery

Trees from Hensler Nursery in Hamlet are going to Indianapolis today. Hensler’s will provide a 25 foot Concolor Fir for the Statehouse Rotunda. The tree is approximately 28 years old and had stood for years at Hensler’s main location.

A second tree grown by Hensler Nursery is an 8 foot Fraser Fir that is being presented to Lieutenant Governor Becky Skillman.

Starke County Commissioners Discuss Burn Ordinance at Recent Meeting

Starke County Commissioners ( L to R ) Kathy Norem, Dan Bridegroom, Jennifer Davis

When is a burn ban, not a burn ban? According to the Starke County Commissioners, it’s when a local ordinance is updated that would spell out the penalties for violations. Commission President, Dan Bridegroom, said this week that when the burn ordinance was discussed it came out as meaning a “burn-ban” and that is not what the commission wanted to convey to the public.

“I think the biggest misconception right away was the word ‘ban’ was in everything they read,” said Commission President, Dan Bridegroom. “As soon as I would explain to the people that called me and talked to me and stopped me, it’s not a ban, then they were ok. They were ok almost immediately to know that they can still burn their leaves and burn their brush. I guess that part of the blame should fall back on us in that we didn’t get it out, specifically, what we were looking at.”

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Starke County Development Foundation Holds 25th Anniversary Celebration

Back Row: Charles Weaver, Bill Sonnemaker and Terry Kimmel. Front Row: Chris Madsen, Matt Swanson, Marvin Peters, Steve Spaw, and Jack Lynch. Picture by Jayme Goetz

Dignitaries from throughout the county and Northwest Indiana attended the 25th Anniversary celebration for the Starke County Development Foundation Friday afternoon at the Knox Community Center.

Emcee, Ted Hayes, brought a number of people to the microphone during the program. They included State Representative Nancy Dembowski, State Senator Ed Charbonneau, Northwest Indiana Forum President, Mark Maassel; Starke County Development Foundation President, Bill Sonnemaker; Foundation Director, Charles Weaver; and former Foundation Director, Terry Kimmel.

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Marvin Allen Wins Hubert Hawkins History Award

IHS Board of Trustees Chair Thomas Hoback and Marvin Allen

Marvin Allen of Knox is this year’s recipient of the Indiana Historical Society’s Hubert Hawkins History Award. The presentation will be made during the Society’s annual Founders Day Dinner at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center, located at 450 W. Ohio St. in downtown Indianapolis. The Hubert Hawkins History Award is made annually to a local historian for his or her distinguished service and career in local history.

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Starke County Community Foundation Awards Grants

The Starke County Community Foundation made the holiday bright for many community organizations during its 2010 Grant Award Banquet. Over $24,000 was awarded on Monday, December 6th at the Community Center in Knox.

The grants are part of the Community Foundation’s Unrestricted Funds which allow the Community Foundation to assess the greatest needs of the community and assist the individual agency programs. Since 1998, the Community Foundation has awarded over $1.7 million to local organizations and projects that make a difference in Starke County.

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