Starke County Economic Development Foundation Presents Robert E. Hamilton and Industry of the Year Awards

The Starke County Economic Development Foundation (SCEDF) honored one of its biggest cheerleaders with the annual Robert E. Hamilton Award during today's Prospectus & Achievement Luncheon. Honoree Diane Thalmann retired from NIPSCO in 2020 after serving as manager of economic development for 22 years. She worked tirelessly on attraction, expansion and retention projects throughout northern Indiana and served on the SCEDF Board of Directors from 2005-2020.

Thalmann joined the SCEDF board not long after starting at NIPSCO and soon learned that Starke County was anything but the typical rural county.

"It was easy to see that (former SCEDF Executive Director) Charlie (Weaver) and the SCEDF team were doing A LOT of good things," Thalmann said. "SCILL, Knox Industrial Park, the lead track in the Knox Industrial Park, North Judson Industrial Park, counseling the county on infrastructure development, creative deal-making to grow and attract business to a rural county, and many other activities that made the Foundation stand out as a rural economic development leader during that time. It was an organization I felt I would like to get to know better and could certainly learn from. As my time grew with the Foundation, I met and had the pleasure of working with so many knowledgeable, dedicated, wonderful people from Starke County who I've grown to respect and call friends."

Thalmann followed her boss, Don Babcock's, advice to dive in, get to a leadership position, and work to make a difference when you become involved in an organization. She joined the SCEDF Board of Directors in 2005, served two terms as vice-president and one as president.

The Robert E. Hamilton Award is presented to a person who has contributed greatly to economic development in Starke County. Thalmann's work with NIPSCO and SCEDF have left an indelible legacy in Northwest Indiana and Starke County. She is truly deserving of the award named after one of SCEDF's founding members.

The Starke County Economic Development Foundation is also pleased to honor a homegrown company with the inaugural Industry of the Year Award. The Triska family founded Traffic Control Specialists in 2007 in the garage and spare bedroom of their Knox home. Initially the company did traffic control for small projects and rented a corner of a warehouse to store equipment. They soon outgrew that 2,000 square foot facility and moved into part of a rented building in the Knox Industrial Park to double their space.

In 2009 TCS took over the entire building and moved their office into the 8,000 square foot space on Hamilton Drive, which they purchased in 2010. Before too long that location was also bursting at the seams due to the addition of flagging services in 2014, which are more employee-based.

The Triska family bought 16 acres of land on the west side of the Knox Industrial Park and broke ground on a new, state-of-the-art facility in 2015. TCS moved into its new, 45,000 square foot headquarters in July of 2016.

Tracey Triska said the choice of Knox as a site for their headquarters was a simple one. "This is where we lived at the time we started the company, as did our oldest son and, at the time, four grandkids."

TCS has continued to grow and expand since moving into its new building. The company added pavement marking to its service offerings in 2016 and can perform small and largescale striping, painting, and removal operations. A 10,000 square foot paint building was added behind the main structure in 2018.

Today TCS has 223 employees between its Knox headquarters and Fort Wayne and Crawfordsville branches. The company does major traffic control projects, ranging from bridge repairs and interstate construction to back country roads and provides flagging services for maintenance of traffic, roadways under construction and utilities.

TCS remains committed to Starke County and sponsors events like the City of Knox Movies in the Park, the Yellowstone Trail Festival, the Starke County 4-H Fair and local golf outings. TCS also supports the Knox, North Judson-San Pierre and Oregon-Davis athletic departments, veterans' events, the Starke County Sheriff's Office, the Mint Music Fund and provides message boards and signs for local events like fire department fish fries and pancake breakfasts.

"The Industry of the Year Award recognizes a local company who contributes to both the economy and local quality of life," SCEDF Executive Director Lisa Dan said. "Given everything Traffic Control Specialists has done for Starke County since 2007, they were the obvious choice for the inaugural award."

Date Published: 2021-10-07 14:53:00

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