Starke County Council, Commissioners to Meet Tonight

The Starke County Council members will hold several public hearings on budgets tonight. Those public hearings will include the budgets for Starke County, North Judson-San Pierre School Corporation, Starke County Airport, Solid Waste Department, and the Koontz Lake Conservancy District. A public hearing is also set for the Cumulative Capital Development Fund Additional Appropriation.

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RSVP Necessary for Next Drug and Tobacco Free Starke County Meeting

The next Drug and Tobacco Free Starke County meeting will be held on Wednesday, November 15 at 9:30 a.m. at the Starke County Jail.

Sheriff Bill Dulin graciously offered the alternate location to the organization. Chairperson Judy Jelinek said that following the meeting, the Sheriff will treat everyone in attendance to a free lunch. He advised everyone to bring along a guest to get informed, check out the jail facility and share a meal with the local authority figure and other community members. Continue reading

Drug and Tobacco Free Starke County Receives Grant

Amanda Steeb, Operation Roundup Trust Coordinator presents a grant check    to Wendy Elam and Linda Molenda, Drug and Tobacco Free Starke County Coordinators.
Amanda Steeb, Operation Roundup Trust Coordinator presents a grant check to Wendy Elam and Linda Molenda, Drug and Tobacco Free Starke County Coordinators.

The Drug and Tobacco Free Starke County organization is the recipient of a Kankakee Valley REMC Operation Roundup grant worth $5,000.

The grant will be used to bring in professional speakers to talk to area students and residents on the dangers of drug abuse. The mission of the organization is to stop abuse through educating youth and raising awareness and education in the community.

Drug and Tobacco Free Starke County gotten support of the REMC Roundup grant for the past several years. REMC officials commented that the organization is a great help to the community.

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Racing for Recovery Founder and President to Speak at LifePlex

Todd Crandell
Todd Crandell

Addict turned triathlete Todd Crandall will share his story of overcoming a 13-year addiction to drugs and alcohol with the community during a program tonight at LifePlex in Plymouth. Crandall is the founder and president of Racing for Recovery. It’s a nonprofit organization that strives to save lives and improve the quality of life for addicts and their friends and family by promoting a lifestyle of health, fitness and sobriety. Crandall first tried alcohol at age 13 to cope with the depression and confusion of his mother’s suicide 10 years earlier due to her struggles with addiction. For the next 13 years Crandall says he tried every type of drug he could get his hands on before making the decision to quit.

“By the grace of God – that sounds so cliché, but it’s true – and I wasn’t raised in a religious upbringing, but I do believe that God, and I’m going to say my Mom, had something in there that told me on April 15th of 1993, after getting my third drunk driving charge, that’s it. I wanted something better, and that was all it took was that notion in my head that I wanted something better. Then I put the work into rebuilding my life,” Crandall said. Continue reading

Recovering Addict Shares Story With Local Students

Todd Crandell
Todd Crandell

With sobriety, anything is possible. That’s the message addict turned triathlete Todd Crandell is sharing with students in Starke and Marshall Counties during Red Ribbon Week. He first tried alcohol when he was 13. Crandall says his life was” normal on the outside” but he was pretty emotionally distraught due to his Mom’s suicide 10 years earlier due to her struggles with addiction.

“I had a giant void that I was looking for something to fill it with, and unfortunately trying alcohol at age 13 was the catalyst for the next 13 years of destruction,” Crandall said.

He says he used “anything I could get my hands on” to try to numb the pain. Continue reading

Pregnant Smokers Urged to Quit on Mother’s Day


Drug and Tobacco Free Starke County urges expectant mothers who smoke to quit on Mother’s Day.

Coordinator Linda Molenda says 17 percent of pregnant women in Indiana smoke. That’s nearly double the national average. Experts say quitting smoking can reduce the risks of respiratory illness, miscarriages, stillbirths and infant deaths.  Additionally children from families who smoke are twice as likely to pick up the habit.

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Advocacy Group Says Smoking Raises Diabetes Risk


Drug and Tobacco Free Starke County leaders are sounding the alarm about another health risk factor tied to smoking. Coordinator Linda Molenda cites a Surgeon General’s report that smokers are 30 to 40 percent more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than nonsmokers. They are also more prone to having trouble with insulin dosing and controlling their disease. Smokers with diabetes are also at a higher risk of developing more serious complications like heart and kidney disease; poor blood flow in the legs and feet than can lead to infections, ulcers and possibly amputation; retinopathy, which is an eye disease that can cause blindness; and peripheral neuropathy, which is damage to the nerves in the arms and legs that causes numbness, pain, weakness and poor coordination. Molenda says smokers with diabetes have better control of their blood sugar levels when they quit. Free help for smokers who want to quit is available by calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW or visiting



DTFSC Supports Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Quit Smoking


The Office of the Surgeon General recently released a report that reviewed the health consequences of smoking, entitled “The Health Consequences of Smoking: 50 Years of Progress.” The report indicates 151,000 Indiana youth will become smokers and die prematurely, killing 9.5 percent of those age 17 and younger – nearly one out of every 10 Hoosier kids.

The report calls on Americans to make the next generation tobacco free, and Linda Molenda, coordinator for Drug and Tobacco Free Starke County, said the organization will continue to work to support policies that aim to protect community members from the dangers of tobacco use and secondhand smoke. Continue reading

Great American Smoke Out Approaching; Quit Smoking Now

The American Cancer Society’s 38th Great American Smoke Out is approaching, and on Nov. 21, Starke County residents are encouraged to drop the habit in celebration of the event. Linda Molenda, coordinator for Drug and Tobacco Free Starke County, said now is the perfect time to quit with the holidays just around the corner.

Drug and Tobacco Free Starke County chairperson Judy Jelinek said the goal is to give smokers the initial push they need in order to beat their nicotine addictions.

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Recovering Addict Speaks Candidly About Consequences of Meth Use

David Parnell
David Parnell

David Parnell of Dresden, Tenn. was in prison in Oklahoma for selling drugs when his oldest daughter was born and didn’t meet her until she was two years old. That didn’t stop the father of seven from getting high on and dealing in methamphetamine.

Parnell spent 23 years addicted to drugs, tried twice to kill himself and nearly succeeded in February of 2003 when he shot himself in the face with a hunting rifle. The bullet went in under his chin, came out between his eyes and broke every bone in his face. Parnell survived the 2.5 hour ambulance ride from his rural West Tennessee home to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. His family members were expecting a telephone call telling them he didn’t make it. Somehow he survived, and three days later learned that his wife, Amy, was pregnant with their seventh child.

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Drug and Tobacco Free Starke County Double Dare Challenge Set for Sunday

The Drug and Tobacco Free Starke County Double Dare Challenge will be held tomorrow afternoon as a kick-off event for Red Ribbon Week.

Starke County middle and high school students will come together and answer questions about the harmful effects of alcohol, tobacco and drugs. If a correct answer can not be agreed upon within a team, that team may pass it onto the next team and if that team cannot answer, a physical challenge may ensue. Those usually include some sort of messy challenge between teams and the team who comes out ahead will get the points for that question.

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DTFSC Announces Annual Grant Awards

Drug and Tobacco Free Starke County, a substance abuse prevention coalition, has announced its annual grant awards to several agencies, made possible with funding received form the county’s drug free community fund. DTFSC has worked together as a coalition since 1988 under the direction of the Governor’s Commission for a Drug Free Indiana and the Criminal Justice Institute with the mission of reducing the abuse of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs among youth and adults in Starke County.

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Starke County Triad Places Drop Box at Starke County Sheriff’s Department

Starke County Chief Deputy Brack Rowe and Joan Haugh, Executive Director for Community Services of Starke County place unused medications in the newly-installed and secured pill drop box located at the Starke County Sheriff's Office entry.
Starke County Chief Deputy Brack Rowe and Joan Haugh, Executive Director for Community Services of Starke County place unused medications in the newly-installed and secured pill drop box located at the Starke County Sheriff’s Office entry.

A new secured drop box for unwanted prescription medication has been placed in the lobby at the Starke County Sheriff’s Department.

Starke County Triad raised funds to purchase a permanent drop box for residents who would like to dispose of their unwanted, unused and expired prescription medications. Those medications can be placed in the box at any time at the Starke County Sheriff’s Department on Pearl Street.

No liquid medications or needles will be accepted.

Community Services of Starke County plans on applying to the Drug and Tobacco Free Starke County for a pill drop box for the North Judson Police Department as well. The Knox City Police Department has a secured and monitored pill drop box in the department’s lobby and you are able to drop-off medications 24 hours a day and seven days a week at that location.

Statewide Smoking Ban Takes Effect July 1

The first statewide smoke-free air law takes effect July 1.

Drug and Tobacco Free Starke County and the Tobacco Free Coalition will be holding an Indiana Smoke Free Law Town Hall Meeting on Thursday, June 21 at 6 p.m. at the Bass Lake Community Center, where information will be provided concerning the new law and how it affects businesses and organizations. Information will be given on what the law covers, who to contact with questions and complaints, and who enforces the law.

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Jennie Carter Appears in Starke Circuit Court for Initial Hearing

Jennie Carter

Jennie Carter appeared for her initial hearing in Starke Circuit Court this morning. Charged with a felony count of theft, Carter pleaded not guilty to Judge Kim Hall. She is currently out on $5,000 cash bond.

Carter requested a court appointed lawyer, but under questioning by the judge, she said that she was gainfully employed, and paid $2,600 a month. When asked if she had anything of value that could be sold to pay a lawyer, she said she had a four-year-old television and a 2007 Ford Taurus that she was making payments on. Her on-hand cash was listed as $200.00, and she said her $5,000 bond money was borrowed.

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Jennie Carter Charged with Theft

Jennie Carter

The woman who was at the center of a controversy that ultimately involved the Starke County Tourism Office and Drug and Tobacco Free Starke County was arrested yesterday on a State Police warrant and charged with Theft. Jennie Carter was booked into the Starke County Jail and eventually bonded out on a $5,000 cash bond.

Carter was accused of mishandling $7,140 in 2011. She eventually admitted to the misappropriation of the funds and agreed to pay it back by March 15th of this year.

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Jennie Carter Remains as Drug and Tobacco Free Starke County Coalition Coordinator

Jennie Carter

The Drug and Tobacco Free Starke County Board voted 8-2 yesterday to have Jennie Carter remain as its Coalition Coordinator at least until an audit of the organization is completed. Two of the board members, Leo Smith and Clint Norem, voted no and Smith said he felt Carter should be suspended until the audit is received to show the community that the organization was transparent.

Another member, Diane Koenig, who made the motion, said she was of the opinion that because of the Double Dare event coming up, Carter was needed to plan and coordinate the activities.

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