Knox Officials Prepare for Transition

City_of_Knox_LogoKnox Mayor Rick Chambers has instructed city department heads to develop priority lists for the new administration. Dennis Estok is set to take over as mayor on Jan. 1.

He will decide what to do about two vehicles the city no longer uses. One is a Chevrolet Tahoe with a motor problem, and the other is a 2009 Ford Crown Victoria patrol car with transmission issues. The recent purchase of a new Dodge Charger for the Knox Police Department means it can be retired from the fleet. Continue reading

Knox Street Department Still Collecting Leaves

Leaf_rake_and_leavesThe City of Knox is still picking up leaves as resources allow. Mayor Rick Chambers says they will continue to do so until it snows. Leaves should be placed in a long row along the side of the street in front of homes so they can be vacuumed up easily. Don’t place them in alleys, and do not bag them. Branches and limbs should be separated so they can also be collected. Continue reading

Historical Marker Commemorates Knox Drugstore Site

Koffel buildingA historical marker now stands on the site of one of downtown Knox’s first commercial structures. The Koffel Building at the corner of Main and Lake Streets was completed in 1891, a year before the city’s streets were paved with brick, four years before municipal electrical service was offered and 17 years before city water was available. Starke County Economic Development Foundation Executive Director Charlie Weaver says drug stores were a vital part of a booming business district.

“Always in the drugstore the fountain was a big thing. From the very beginning there were tables where it was appropriate for the ladies to come in to have coffee, tea or a soft drink or whatever from the fountain. That became quite a social center in the day.” Continue reading

Knox Official Explains Aspects of Blight Elimination Program Grant


Knox Mayor Rick Chambers is attempting to clear misinformation that residents have received concerning the homes that are part of the Blight Elimination Program Grant.

If a property owner is not interested in being a part of this program, that person can opt out of consideration. The city is not forcing anyone to sell or vacate a property, according to Mayor Chambers.

He explained that five homes were added to a list of proposed homes for demolition, but those have since been removed from the list.

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Mayor Gives Update on Monday Power Outage

IMG_3651The power issue in downtown Knox on Monday morning affected 700 homes and businesses.

Knox Mayor Rick Chambers informed the council members last night that City Hall was shut down for the day until repairs were made, and MPI had to close production for the day due to lack of power.

The driver of a garbage hauler dropped off the large recycling bins at City Hall and failed to lower the rack on the truck. That rack caught the telephone lines as he was pulling away from the parking lot and snapped the pole in half. The lines were attached to City Hall.

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Record Amount of Food Pantry Donations Collected at Local Event

Stephanie Shepard, Sarah Clemons and Jake Skorup help gather donations at the Bluegrass Jam
Stephanie Shepard, Sarah Clemons and Jake Skorup help gather donations at the Bluegrass Jam

The Starke County Community Services food pantry received a donation from a recent community event.

The holidays usually bring in a good amount of food for underprivileged families and then donations drop off. The Bluegrass Jam event helps supply the food pantry with needed funds and items to stock the shelves. The admission fee to the concert featuring local talent is a donation for the food pantry or a monetary gift so the staff at Community Services of Starke County can purchase what is needed for families.

The event at the Nancy J. Dembowski Community Center in Knox on Saturday collected 998 pounds of food and $440 was raised.

Knox Mayor Rick Chambers told the city council members this week that since the program started six years ago, this is a record high for collections in a single event. In all of those years, 6,529 pounds of food and $2,586 has been collected.

Knox Harvest Festival Committee Meets


A committee will be formed to help plan this year’s Knox Harvest Days Festival.

Knox Mayor Rick Chambers told WKVI News that 13 people attended a planning meeting Wednesday morning at Knox City Hall. They are exploring other dates to hold the festival. One of the possible dates is Sept. 19 and 20. The festival could be held in the downtown area, but no final decisions were made during this meeting.

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Knox City Council Sets Fireworks Date

 The Knox City Council approved a date for the annual fireworks celebration.

Knox Mayor Rick Chambers said he had no phone calls at his office and only seven people responded to the question on WKVI’s Facebook page. According to the informal survey on Facebook, the majority picked Friday, July 3 for the fireworks celebration.

Council member Linda Berndt commented that the residents who visit their homes at Bass Lake in the summertime may not be able to come in for the celebration. Greg Matt commented that it was that reason that caused him to think to hold the celebration on July 4, but the consensus of the council was to have the celebration on July 3.

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Starke County Seeking Convention and Visitors Bureau Board Members

starke-county-courthouseThe Starke County Commissioners are struggling to fill out the county’s Convention and Visitors Commission Board of Directors. The nine-member panel was established according to state guidelines, which outline the political balance and other qualifications to serve.

Knox Mayor Rick Chambers is the city’s lone representative. The other eight members are appointed by the Starke County Commissioners. State law requires a simple majority, in this case 5 members, be engaged in convention, visitor or tourism business or be involved in promoting conventions, visitors or tourism. If available and willing to serve, at least two members must be engaged in the business of renting or furnishing rooms, lodging or accommodations as described in state law. Additionally, not more than one member may be affiliated with the same business entity, and no more than a simple majority of members may be affiliated with the same political party. Also, each board member must live in Starke County. Continue reading

Knox Residents to Help Decide Fireworks Date

 Knox Mayor Rick Chambers and the Knox City Council members want the citizens of Knox decide when to hold the fireworks celebration in July.

The council members held discussion last week on a date to hold the fireworks. The Fourth of July is on a Saturday this year which would be the ideal date to hold the celebration, but the council doesn’t want to interfere with family plans residents may have for the day. However, it is the official holiday and the council members thought it would be appropriate to hold the display on the Fourth of July.

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Past Due Utility Bills Results in Liens

Knox City Council
Knox City Council

Knox Clerk-Treasurer Jeff Houston informed the city council members last week that he sent 11 lien notices to the Starke County Treasurer’s office. He stated that those residents were behind in paying utility bills. Those liens will be collected when property taxes are collected in May.

Mayor Rick Chambers noted that he’s talked with John Julian with Umbaugh and Associates about doing an audit of the water department accounts. There are some properties that are not being billed properly. Mayor Chambers said he would talk more about the issues and bring a contract to the council for approval for Julian’s services. There was discussion about lowering the minimum amount of gallons billed and senior citizen discounts.

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Knox Officials Discuss Heaton Street Railroad Crossing


The Knox City Council discussed the rather rough railroad crossing on Heaton Street during their meeting last week.

Councilman Jeff Berg said that he was in contact with a representative of INDOT’s Railroad Safety Coordinator to discuss the crossing. He said INDOT will be making an effort to come to a solution for that crossing. Norfolk Southern representatives have also been notified of the issues that drivers are having when they advance through the crossing.

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Knox Council Passes on Parkview Lot Purchase

Knox City Council
Knox City Council

The Knox City Council is passing for now on the purchase of a property in Parkview Heights. The owner of 406 W. Giles Court, Lot 41 offered the lot and trailer and shed that sit on it to the city for $3,500. That’s $1,000 less than her last offer.

Mayor Rick Chambers says funds from the Blight Elimination Grant the city received to buy and tear down dilapidated structures cannot be used to buy or demolish mobile homes. He also notes the city only paid $1,500 for eight vacant lots in Parkview. Continue reading

Knox Council Agrees to Finance Street Department Truck

Knox City Council
Knox City Council

The City of Knox will pay for a new International 4300 dump truck for the street department over a three-year period rather than completing the purchase in a single budget year. Mayor Rick Chambers says the chassis carries a price tag of nearly $64,000 plus $55,000 for the box. He told the council they can use the $30,000 remaining in the current year’s budget as a down payment on the vehicle and finance it for three years at a rate of 3.11 percent. Continue reading

Knox Mayor Announces Reelection Bid

Knox Mayor Rick Chambers
Knox Mayor Rick Chambers

Knox Mayor Rick Chambers is running for reelection. He notes much progress has been made in the city during his seven years in office and adds a process is under way to develop a long-range plan with citizen input to continue growth and prosperity.

Chambers also cites his experience running the city on a reduced budget due to state funding cuts. During his tenure as mayor, Knox has been awarded nearly $2 million in grants. Continue reading