Community News Archives for 2024-02

U.S. 31 lane closures start next week near LaPaz

Daytime lane closures are planned for U.S. 31 in Marshall County.

Mechanically Stabilized Earth (MSE) retaining wall repair work will be conducted on U.S. 31 at 1st Rd (north of U.S. 6) and 3A Rd (south of U.S. 6) on / after Wednesday, March 6 through mid-April.

Lane closures will be in place during daytime work hours.

Be alert for crews, and follow traffic directions carefully.

Free prom dress, accessories available Saturday

Area high school students who would appreciate an opportunity to find a free dress and accessories for their prom can visit the Miami County Community Center Saturday.


Traffic delays on U.S. 31 to set beams for the new bridge over Elkhart Western Railroad, south of Plymouth.

Indiana Department of Transportation contractor Phend & Brown Inc. will have traffic delays on U.S. 31 next week to set beams for the new bridge over Elkhart Western Railroad between 13th Road and 14th Road., south of Plymouth.

Delays will begin on Monday, March 4. Cranes will be moved in and set up in the work zone. This will require six semi-loads, which will cause delays of up to 10 to 15 minutes at a time.

On Wednesday, March 6, traffic will be stopped for up to 30 minutes at a time while six beams are set. This work will begin after 8 a.m. 

Motorists are encouraged to seek alternate routes or expect traffic delays. INDOT encourages motorists to slow down, exercise caution, and drive distraction-free through all work zones.

Feb. 19 – 24 is Emergency Management Agency Appreciation Week

Hoosier heroes step up to the plate to serve, protect and take care of Indiana every day. February 19 -24 honors a group of heroes who work year-round to ensure your county is ready to respond to a crisis.

Counties throughout Indiana have emergency management offices that take steps to reduce their communities' vulnerability to hazards and to help cope with disasters. These Emergency Management Agencies (EMAs) work with other public safety partners and organizations to prepare for, mitigate, respond to and recover from emergencies.

The Indiana Department of Homeland Security joins Gov. Eric J. Holcomb in recognizing the efforts and accomplishments of all its dedicated emergency managers statewide and invites Hoosiers to join in honoring them during EMA Appreciation Week.

Recently, EMAs have been ramping up preparedness planning for the Total Solar Eclipse on April 8, 2024. They have been working with state agencies and their local partners to ensure their counties are ready to handle the influx of crowds. Their behind-the-scenes work will shine bright during a rare spectacle for Indiana.

“Emergency Management Agencies have the foresight to see how events big and small will affect their communities. We have been working with them hand-in-hand to understand potential problems that may occur and how state partners can work with EMAs to mitigate any issues. We cannot keep Indiana safe without these partners,” said IDHS Executive Director Joel Thacker.

IDHS will celebrate EMAs on FacebookX (formerly known as Twitter) and Instagram. Follow along to learn about the people putting in countless hours to keep you safe. 

Indiana students to get free FAFSA filing help at College Goal Sunday Feb. 25

Ivy Tech Community College’s Logansport site is one of 40 locations where financial aid professionals will be volunteering from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 25, to help collegebound students and their families open the door to financial aid.

The 2024 free College Goal Sunday program, which has been offered annually for more than 30 years, is of particular interest this year because of changes in the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA).

“The event on Feb. 25 takes on additional importance with only one College Goal Sunday opportunity this academic year,” said Bill Wozniak, co-chair of College Goal Sunday.  “The delay in the new FAFSA from an Oct. 1 launch to a late December soft launch has made many families anxious about getting the form filed. We hope all Hoosiers take advantage of College Goal Sunday, file the FAFSA, and get one step closer to fulfilling their educational goals.”

Wozniak continued, “Students who don’t complete their financial aid paperwork properly and on time are often very disappointed when they find out how much financial aid they lost. This is why the Indiana Student Financial Aid Association continues to provide College Goal Sunday. If our assistance gives students a better chance at education beyond high school and less debt, we’re fulfilling our mission.”

The free College Goal Sunday program assists Indiana students in filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA form is required for students to be considered for federal and state grants, scholarships, and federal student loans at most colleges, universities, and vocational/technical schools nationwide. The FAFSA MUST be filed by the State of Indiana priority deadline of April 15 to guarantee state aid for those that qualify.

One of many reasons College Goal Sunday is so important is because many families perceive the form to be too complicated and time consuming to complete.  In less than one afternoon during College Goal Sunday, students and their families can get free help and file the form.

“College Goal Sunday is a great opportunity to find the help you need to fill out your FAFSA,” said Darnell Ross, director of Financial Aid for Ivy Tech’s Kokomo Service Area. “Assistance also is available Mondays through Fridays in the Express Enrollment Centers at both our Kokomo and Logansport facilities. Students can call 1-888-489-5463 to make an appointment or just walk in and meet with our financial aid professionals.” Ivy Tech’s Kokomo Service Area covers Cass, Fulton, Howard, Miami, Pulaski and Tipton counties.


What students should bring

Students should attend College Goal Sunday with their parent(s) or guardian(s), and parent(s) should bring completed 2022 IRS 1040 tax returns, W-2 Forms and other 2022 income and benefits information.  Students who worked should also bring their income information. Students 24 years of age or older may attend alone and bring their completed 2022 IRS 1040 tax return, W-2 Form or other 2022 income and benefits information. Students and parent(s) are encouraged to apply for their U.S. Department of Education FSA IDs at before coming to the event.

Volunteers will walk through the online form line-by-line and answer families’ individual questions as needed.  All sites offer FAFSA online capabilities, and many, including Ivy Tech Logansport campus, have Spanish interpreters.  A complete list of sites, which include Indiana University Kokomo, is available at

Students who attend may also win one of five $1,000 scholarships. Students who attend College Goal Sunday and submit a completed evaluation form will automatically be entered in a drawing for a $1,000 scholarship. The winners will be notified in spring and scholarships will be sent directly to the higher education institution selected by the winning students.

21st Century Scholars will also benefit from participating. These are income-eligible students who sign a contract in the seventh or eighth grade promising they will graduate from high school, meet grade point requirements, fulfill a pledge of good citizenship, and apply for college financial aid. Upon high school completion, Scholars who have fulfilled the commitment and demonstrate financial need receive state funds to help cover their college tuition and fees for up to eight semesters at eligible Indiana public colleges or an equal dollar amount at eligible Indiana private colleges. To fulfill their pledge, scholars must submit a completed FAFSA form on time, College Goal Sunday can help.

College Goal Sunday originated right here in Indiana and is now a national model. Following Indiana’s example, College Goal Sunday events organized by more than 34 states have opened doors to higher education for hundreds of thousands of students all over the country. Now in its 35th year, College Goal Sunday has helped more than 98,000 Indiana students and families complete the FAFSA properly and on time. College Goal Sunday is a charitable program of the Indiana Student Financial Aid Association (ISFAA).

“Indiana is first in the Midwest and fifth in the nation in providing need-based financial aid to Hoosier students. Each year, Hoosiers have access to over $400 million in state financial aid and billions of dollars in federal aid,” said Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education Chris Lowery.

“Increasing the number of FAFSA filings will lead to many Hoosiers realizing their higher education possibilities are more tangible than otherwise thought,” Lowery continued. “Not only is the FAFSA a huge step in unlocking potential career options and better outcomes for individuals, but it is also a key to strengthening our communities as a whole.”


New tax information for Indiana's military service members

New for this year’s Indiana Individual income tax return is a deduction for military pay earned by Hoosiers who are active or reserve members of the Armed Forces of the United States or the National Guard.

Retired military service members, or their surviving spouse, may also be eligible for this deduction.

This deduction is equal to the actual amount of military income received (i.e., military pay, retirement pay, and/or survivor's benefits) or $5,000, whichever is less. If both a service member and their spouse received military income, they may each claim the deduction for a maximum of $10,000.

Prior to 2023, the exemption was only for the period that military service members who were mobilized or deployed. Find more information in Information Bulletin #27.

Additional guidance for military service members including due dates and extensions of time to file for those serving in a combat zone, choosing the right form, and paying Indiana county taxes is available.

Golf cart permits now available in Starke County

The Starke County Sheriff's Department says golf cart permits are available now for county residents.

The ordinance has changed this year to make it easier for everyone. Instead of line up inspections, permits will be available with a completed application and $25 fee. The ordinance and application can be found on the sheriff's department's website, . Applications are available for pick up at the Sheriff’s Department as well.

Starke County Justice Center is available Monday – Friday from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m., or you can mail a completed application and fee to 5435 E. State Road 8, Knox, IN, 46534

Indiana accepting nominations for Governor's Century, Half Century business awards

The state of Indiana is now accepting nominations for the Governor's Century and Half Century Business Awards, which honor Hoosier businesses that have remained in operation for at least 100 or 50 years, respectively, and have demonstrated a commitment to serving the community. 

Qualifying criteria are as follows: 

  • The business must have had continuous operations in Indiana for 100 or 50 years by Dec. 31, 2023.
  • The business must have participated in the same line of work for the duration of its operations. If different, an explanation of the evolution into the current business must be provided on the nomination form. 
  • The business must have had its base in Indiana since it was founded.
  • The business must recognize, acknowledge and agree that it is in full compliance with the Indiana Secretary of State.
  • The business must not have previously received a Century or Half Century award from the state of Indiana. Previous Half Century award recipients may qualify for a Century award.

February 11 proclaimed 211 Day in Indiana

Indiana 211’s mission is to improve quality of life for Hoosiers by promoting equity and connecting people to health and human service resources through highly skilled navigators, continuous community collaboration and a robust community database and technological innovations. National 211 Day celebrates and helps to spread awareness in the United States about assistance, resources and services offered by 211.

As a result, Governor Eric Holcomb has proclaimed Feb. 11, 2024, as 211 Day in Indiana.

Indiana 211 became a part of the Family and Social Services Administration in July of 2020, and since then, has assisted hundreds of thousands of Hoosiers connect with help and answers from thousands of health and human service agencies and resources in their local communities—quickly, easily and confidentially. Indiana 211’s team is comprised of experienced, responsive and compassionate community navigators who are skilled at actively listening and identifying needs and providing referrals that best meet those needs

In 2023, Indiana 211 answered approximately 180,905 calls and community navigators helped make over 637,930 referrals to community organizations and programs.

Indiana 211 uses statistical data from calls, texts, and web visits to help shed light on the nature of social needs in Indiana for community decision-makers and government across the state. Communities are encouraged to search the Indiana 211 dashboard, county-by county, by multiple counties or statewide, to identify top need categories by their chosen metric, including the percentage of unmet needs within each need category.

To access Indiana 211, simply call 2-1-1 or 1-866-211-9966 from anywhere in Indiana, text your ZIP code to 898-211 or visit our website at

ProPEL US 31 staffers in Fulton County on Thursday

Staffers gathering information and feedback for the ProPEL US 31 study will be in Rochester Thursday.

The team will be at Harvest Moon Foods from noon - 2 p.m. Then, two more available hours are scheduled at the Rochester branch of the Fulton County Public Library fropm 3 - 5 p.m.

Details are available at

USDA reopens signup for Continuous Conservation Reserve program

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is now accepting applications for the Continuous Conservation Reserve Program (Continuous CRP) signup.

USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) encourages agricultural producers and landowners in Indiana who are interested in conservation opportunities for their land in exchange for yearly rental payments to consider the enrollment options available through Continuous CRP, which also includes the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) offered by FSA partners. Additionally, producers participating in CRP can now apply to re-enroll, if their contracts will expire this year.  

To submit an offer, producers should contact the FSA at their local USDA Service Center by July 31, 2024, in order to have an offer effective by Oct. 1, 2024. To ensure enrollment acreages do not exceed the statutory cap, FSA will accept offers from producers on a first-come, first-served basis and will return offers for approval in batches throughout the year. 

Additionally, producers with acres enrolled in Continuous CRP set to expire Sept. 30, 2024, can now offer acres for re-enrollment. A producer can both enroll new acres into Continuous CRP and re-enroll any acres expiring Sept. 30.

Rochester Fire Department performing ice rescue training tonight

The Rochester Fire Department wants to announce to the public that they are going to Prairie Edge Nature Preserve tonight off Third Street for ice rescue training.

The department wanted the public to be aware of the training sessioon set for this evening.

Candidates approaching filing deadline

There is one week left for candidate filing for the Indiana 2024 Primary Election in May.

Candidates wishing to be on the Democrat or Republican primary ballot must file declaration of candidacy paperwork by Friday, February 9 at noon, Eastern Standard Time.  Minor Party, Independent, School Board, and Write-In candidates will file declarations of candidacy for the November General Election later in the year, after the May Primary Election is held.

“It’s been great welcoming candidates into the Secretary of State’s Office as they officially file their candidacy.  In the final week of filing, it’s important to make candidates aware of the approaching deadline.  The 2024 Election season is starting off strong as we are anticipating a massive turnout,” said Indiana Secretary of State Diego Morales. 

Filing started on January 10. Candidates for federal, statewide, state legislative, and judicial offices including county prosecuting attorneys, file declaration of candidacy with the Indiana Secretary of State or the Indiana Election Division. The Secretary of State’s Office and the Indiana Election Division will be accepting filings 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. weekdays through Friday, February 9 at noon.

As a reminder, candidates for non-judicial county offices, township offices, town offices, school board offices, precinct committeeman or state convention delegate, file their declaration of candidacy at the office of the County Clerk in which they reside.

Under Indiana law, election officials are prohibited from accepting filings after the deadline of Friday, February 9, at noon.