April is Child Abuse Prevention Month

Commissioners Kathy Norem, Donnie Binkley and Charlie Chesak sign the proclamation. Larry Harris witnessed the signature

The Starke County Commissioners signed a proclamation Monday naming the month of April as Child Abuse Prevention Month in Starke County.

Larry Harris representing the Starke County Coalition Against Domestic Abuse presented the proclamation for approval last week. The document stresses the need to address the issue as it’s a community problem where child abuse is preventable. Children in abusive situations often become involved in criminal and risky behavior, participate in substance abuse, and experience health problems.

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Golf Cart Signage at Bass Lake Causes Confusion

The Starke County Commissioners discussed signs posted by INDOT concerning the operation of golf carts on State Road 10 at Bass Lake.

Commissioner Kathy Norem said she received several comments from members of the Bass Lake Property Owners Association about the signs. Norem said there are conflicting interpretations of the signs that urge motorists to watch for crossing golf carts.

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Starke County Commissioners Hear Request on Road Abandonment

 

The Starke County Commissioners entertained a request from a resident about the abandonment of a road during their meeting this week.

Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler explained that resident Dan Gumz just bought property on 200 East north of 50 S. from 50 S. to the dead end and Division Road from 300 East to the dead end that meet. The previous owner gated the road to keep out trespassers and the county hasn’t maintained it for about 25 years, according to Ritzler. The road is in the county inventory. However Gumz asked if the county would like to abandon the road or resume maintenance.

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Starke County Council, Commissioners Finalize Appointments

The Starke County Council members made several appointments to boards and commissions when they met this week.

The council reorganized with a change in leadership. Brad Hazelton was elected as council president and Dave Pearman retained as council vice president. Freddie Baker opted to step down from leading the council. He held the position in 2016 and 2017.

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Dollar General Project to Move Forward

The Starke County Commissioners gathered public comment Monday night on the proposed construction of a Dollar General store at the corner of 200 South and U.S. 35 south of Knox.

Commission President Donnie Binkley noted that he wanted to gather public opinion on the project as the intersection poses a safety concern. Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler said INDOT expedited a traffic study at that intersection and found that it does not warrant the installation of a stop light. About 8,000 northbound and southbound vehicles pass that intersection on U.S. 35 each day. Less than 30 cars turn east on 200 South which is the location of the driveway.

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Public Input Sought in Plans for Dollar General Driveway

The Starke County Commissioners are asking for public input concerning the development of a Dollar General Store, more specifically the driveway into the property.

Starke County Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler told the commissioners Monday night that he only recently learned that the City of Knox approved plans for the proposed store at 4015 E. 200 S. in Knox at the intersection of U.S. 35. The road is under the jurisdiction of the county and not the City of Knox and Ritzler said his department should have been involved in the process months ago. He mentioned that the original plans called for two driveways on 200 S. and the westernmost driveway was too close to U.S. 35. Ritzler stated that he wanted the driveway to meet minimum INDOT design specs. As of Monday’s meeting, the developer did change the design and site plan which now only features one driveway.

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Starke County Commissioners Concerned about Drop in Ambulance Transfers

Starke County EMS Director Travis Clary presented ambulance transfer figures to the county commissioners Monday night and the numbers caused concern.

The percentage of transfers dropped from 35 or 25 percent to 10 percent last month. Clary explained that Porter Regional brought in a full-time ambulance that is available at Starke Hospital 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. The Porter ambulance service is getting a majority of the Basic Life Support, Advanced Life Support and nursing home transfer calls while Starke County EMS is not getting as many.

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Starke County Commissioners Select EMA Director

The Starke County Commissioners are prepared to offer the EMA Director position to one of the many candidates they interviewed for the opening.

Commissioner Kathy Norem commented that all of the applicants brought a varying degree of strengths that would have worked for what the commissioners had in mind for an EMA Director. Norem thought Danielle Stormy stood out as the candidate that would best fit the role for Starke County. Stormy has a degree in meteorology with a minor in emergency management.

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New Starke County EMS Director Appointed, EMT Interviews Start Today

The Starke County Commissioners appointed a new EMS Director during their meeting Wednesday night.

Interim Assistant Director Travis Clary was offered the position by the commissioners and he accepted the offer. Commissioner Kathy Norem noted that he will be placed on a probationary period for six months. He will be evaluated after three months and if his work is satisfactory Clary will receive a raise. If the commissioners continue to be satisfied with his work at the end of his probationary period, he will be bumped up to his intended salary of $59,000.

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Starke County EMS Finalizing Expansion Proposals

 
 

Starke County EMS Director Paul Matthewson and Council President Dave Pearman hope to have a final recommendation for the county commissioners at their next meeting with regard to expanded paramedic service. They’re still crunching numbers to determine if the county can sustain the additional cost of adding more paramedics and ambulances in order to provide transfers from IU Health Starke Hospital to other facilities. Commissioner Kathy Norem says they need to proceed carefully and make a sound financial decision so as not to incur a huge deficit. She says while offering additional transportation services will increase revenues, overhead costs will go up as well. Money to cover those costs would come from the county’s general fund.

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