Starke County Council, Commissioners to Meet Tonight

Starke County Council members (L to R) Brad Hazelton, Dave Pearman, Freddie Baker, Bob Sims, Tom DeCola, Howard Bailey Jr, and Kay Gudeman

The Starke County Council members will discuss a notice of claim submitted by former Starke County Councilman Tom DeCola regarding his reasons to be reinstated to the council.  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.  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.

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Starke County Commissioners to Meet Tonight

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. 

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Starke County Council, Commissioners to Meet Tonight

The Starke County Council members will meet tonight where they will consider a request from Sheriff Bill Dulin about the creation of new funds based on home rule local funds.  Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler will present a request for a CEDIT appropriation and the council will also receive an update from Coroner Jack Rosa, a discussion on personnel with Clerk Bernadette Welter Manuel, and consider a transfer request from the 2018 commissioner’s budget. 

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Starke County Highway Superintendent Updates Commissioners on Winter Operations

During the first meeting of the Starke County Commissioners to open 2019, Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler reported light winter operations due to the lack of snow.  Ritzler said the picture changed drastically after that report and the information was completely opposite in his most recent update.    

“The mild weather in December – as you know we reported last month we saved about $78,000 in snow and ice removal.  If you look at the comparison in 2018 and 2019 in January, we went $68,000 more this month.  It really highlights how our budget has to be flexible and weather really dictates our spending. I couldn’t highlight that more than in the last two months.”

Ritzler noted that crews worked 26 days in a row, but found relief this past weekend with warmer temperatures. 

In an asset management chart compiled by the new Asset Manager with notes submitted by Ritzler, new drivers improved and the wet snow proved to be hard on the mailboxes.  On Wednesday, Jan. 30, the subzero temperatures caused precautions to keep trucks operating as drifts formed from winds.  The overall performance and attitude of the drivers was rated as excellent.

Crews continue to maintain equipment in between storms and monitor roads with snow melt and rainfall. 

The commissioners expressed their appreciation to the highway department and all emergency services for their efforts during the inclement weather experienced in January.