Starke County Council to Review Officer Pay

Starke County Sheriff Bill Dulin asked the county council members to review the pay scale for the sheriff’s department.

Sheriff Dulin said he’s losing officers to other departments and the salary offered is not competitive with other departments. In fact, he told the council that he’s lost four officers. He said it’s hard to attract applicants with what he’s able to offer. Dulin mentioned that his department is the lowest paid department in the county and the eighth lowest in terms of competitive salaries in the state.

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Starke County Commissioners Discuss Document Pertaining to Contaminated Property


Starke County Attorney Marty Lucas presented the Starke County Commissioners this week with a document that clarifies disclosure of properties sold in a tax sale.

Lucas said there’s a fine line of tax sale properties being sold at a “buyer beware” condition, but there should be disclosure of known issues. He’s working with Frank Lynch in the health department on this subject as the commissioners recently refunded money in a tax sale as the property was deemed contaminated. The refund was given as a case the commissioners felt warranted the action. Refunds are not common in tax sales.

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Updates on Economic Projects Given to Starke County Government


A report given by the Starke County Economic Development Foundation updated the Starke County Council members and Starke County Commissioners on a few projects.

The sale of the Stelrema building on U.S. 35 north of Knox that would become a manufacturing home to the Gary Poppins Gourmet Popcorn company is not yet finalized. According to SCEDF officials, the contract is still on the table, but both sides have not agreed to sign to the terms.

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ADA/Title VI Implementation Plan Presented to Starke County Commissioners


Starke County Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler presented a plan to the Starke County Commissioners this week on updating some ADA requirements in terms of communication.

Ritzler commented that the American Disabilities Act forms on the website are outdated and he’s been in touch with the IT Director to work on getting those forms changed and add some required elements to the website.

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Starke County Council, Commissioners to Meet Tonight


Newly installed Starke County EMS Director Travis Clary will be before the Starke County Council tonight to discuss a transfer request and an amendment to the 2017 salary ordinance. Starke County Coroner Dannie Hoffer will present an update on autopsy fees, the annual Starke County Economic Development Foundation monthly report will be given as well as an appropriation for SCILL and the council members will set a date for the county budget workshop.

The Starke County Council will meet at 5:30 p.m. CT.

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Starke County Commissioners Provide Support for Starke County Park Board Project


Starke County Park Board representative Carolla Heilstedt appeared before the Starke County Commissioners last week requesting support for the proposed Yellow River Access Site project.

The project involves the construction of an access site including a gravel lane and parking area, an EZ dock kayak launch and dock. The site would be constructed on North Range Road, northwest of Knox. According to Heilstedt, the parcel is owned by Starke County and deeded exclusively for river access.

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Starke County EMA Director Position to be Part-Time

The Starke County Commissioners made a decision concerning the employment status of the Starke County Emergency Management Agency Director.

During their Wednesday night meeting, Commissioner Kathy Norem noted that when former EMA Director Ted Bombagetti was at full-time status, half of his salary and benefits were reimbursed by the state while 25 percent of Mary Lynn Ritchie’s salary and benefits was reimbursed as the director’s secretary. With a part-time position, only 50 percent of the director’s salary would be reimbursed. It would be a cost savings to the county, but Norem was unsure how much, if any, would be reimbursed when it comes to Ritchie’s salary.

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Starke County Commissioners to Meet Tonight

The Starke County Commissioners will meet tonight where contracts will be signed for the elevator at the courthouse. Paperwork from K-IRPC and DLZ will be approved in that process.

The search for a Starke County EMA Director is on tonight’s agenda. The commissioners will be discussing making it a full-time or part-time position. Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler will have a report from the highway department, Maintenance Director Jim Coad will present a fire contract for the second annex building, and EMS Clerk Mary Lynn Ritchie and Assistant Director Travis Clary will provide a department report.

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Starke County Coroner Eyes Cost Savings

Starke County Coroner Dannie Hoffer is looking for ways to save the county money and make his office more efficient. He told the county commissioners Monday his colleague in LaPorte County has an agreement with the hospital there to do a quick blood analysis on suspected overdose victims. He says if drugs are found in the bloodstream, a full autopsy is not needed to determine the cause of death. Continue reading