Foreword & Acknowledgement
Before the White Man/Coming of the
DeMotte Grows into a Town
Early Transportation & Farming
The First Schools
Dredging of the Grand Kankakee Marsh
Leonard Swart (Interview)
Casper Belstra (Interview)
Northern Indiana Land Company
The Halleck Telephone Company
DeMotte Mercantile Company
DeMotte Library Grows
Eighty Years of Community Banking
Fairchild & Tanner History
Earl Schwanke Article
Keener Township Fire Department
(Art) Lageveen Looks Back
Fire Almost Destroys DeMotte in 1936
Kankakee Valley Post-News
Asparagus & Truck Farming
Lageveen Remembers Incorporation
Belstra Remembers When...
Kankakee Valley Schools
DeMotte Elementary School
(DeMotte) Christian School
Mark L. DeMotte
Walter Roorda, State Representative
Van Keppel Construction Company
Fire Destroys Main Building at Kaper's
The Hamstra Group
DeMotte Historical Society
Tysen's Family Food Center
The Fire of 1992
United Methodist Church
DeMotte Christian Church
Community Bible Church
Calvary Assembly of God
Bethel Christian Reformed Church
First Christian Reformed Church
St. Cecilia Catholic Church
First Reformed Church
American Reformed Church
DeMotte Town Court
Incorporation of DeMotte
August 10 Incorporation Hearing
September 1965 Incorporation
First Town Board Election
The First Town Board
DeMotte Town Council 1969-1997
DeMotte Town Hall
DeMotte Park Board
Wastewater Treatment Begins
DeMotte Chamber of Commerce
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DeMotte Town Council
Even though DeMotte's incorporation was
declared valid by the Indiana State Legislature in 1967, it wasn't until
1970 that the matter was brought to a close.
The complainants in the original lawsuit against the Jasper County
Commissioners in 1965 were refusing to sign off on the dismissal of
complaints against the original formation of the town. Those complaints
(or errors) were declared corrected by the Indiana Legislature in March,
On May 25, 1970, the town board passed a resolution to set aside the
November, 1965 judgment of the legal action taken against the county
commissioners that nullified the incorporation of DeMotte. In June,
Attorney Jack Nesbitt proceeded with the necessary court action to
absolutely clear the incorporation problems for the Town of DeMotte.
In 1971, DeMotte Town Board members were: Art Lageveen - president; John
Marsh, William Hoffman, Don Fieldhouse, Charles Abbring and Harry Stockman
On May 13, 1971 DeMotte held a 'Town and Farm' day festival. Congressman
Charles Halleck was honored by being presented with the first street sign
declaring that Lilly street be renamed Charles Halleck Street.
Since the town was growing, parking
space was at a premium. In July, 1971 the town board voted to purchase the
Caleb Cheever property on the east side of Halleck Street in the downtown
area for a parking lot.
In 1971 it was also voted on to rescind the four precincts that had
originally been established when the first town election was set-up. The
board decided two precincts with five wards would be a better solution for
the town elections.
January 1, 1972 a few new faces were seen on the board. Elected were: John
Marsh - president; Jasper (Jack) Stellingwerf, Dr. Roy Kingma, Robert
Schultz, Don Fieldhouse and Doris Zeck - clerk treasurer. This board
remained the same until 1976 when a few faces changed again. Serving in
1976 were: Dr. Roy Kingma - president; John Marsh, Jack Stellingwerf, John
Fase, Melvin Toppen and Jeanette Roorda - clerk-treasurer. In February,
1976 Carl Koch was appointed town marshal. Evelyn Roorda was appointed
DeMotte Historian and remained in this post until her husband, Don, died
As DeMotte grew, so did the traffic problems. The problems were discussed
as early as 1974 and have been talked about yearly since that time.
Numerous studies have been done by the Indiana Department of Transporation
(INDOT) over the years. In 1997-1998 the problems will finally be acted
on. A stop light was installed in May, 1997 at the intersection of 9th and
Halleck Streets. A left turn lane running from 8th Avenue to 5th Street is
also in the works. The third lane will hopefully relieve the traffic
congestion along the stretch of road by the DeMotte Plaza and Hillside
Shopping Center. Funding for the project will be 90 percent federal and 10
percent state money.
A tornado hit the north end of town on March 11, 1976.
No injuries were reported but damage and cleanup was extensive.
Until 1978, DeMotte had been under the jurisdiction of the Jasper County
Plan Commission. The town board decided control of the growth in the area
would be better if they set up their own planning and zoning boards. On
March 27, 1978 the first Plan Commission Ordinance was accepted and a
board was set up. The first members of the Planning Commission were: John
Fase, Jack Stellingwerf, Dr. Roy Kingma, Rev. Edward G. Cooke, Rita Ryska,
Robert Swanson and Mike Bracich. Members on the first Board of Zoning were
Robert Swanson, Rita Ryska, Ivan Van Essen, Verlin Christopher and Rev.
James McCoy. The DeMotte Planning Commission also has jurisdiction over a
two mile buffer zone which surrounds the town.
With the area growing so fast and the work of the town
board becoming more complicated, it was decided in 1978 to have staggered
terms for town board members.
In 1980, Robert Walstra replaced Joe F Roorda as building inspector. In
1996, Jeff DeYoung was hired as assistant building inspector to Walstra.
There were changes in the membership of the town board in 1980. Members
were: John Fase - president; Jack Stellingwerf, Rev. James McCoy, Andy
Stonecipher, Jeanette Roorda and Lois Eakin - clerk-treasurer.
The only change in the board membership in 1981 was that Jack Stellingwerf
became president of the board. In 1983, the board consisted of: Jeanette
Roorda - president; Andy Stonecipher, Steve Bauman, Ron Hanners, Mark
Roorda and Lois Eakin - clerk-treasurer. In 1984, Andy Stonecipher and
Mark Roorda went off the board and Ross Stanton and Mark Boer came on.
In 1984, funding was approved for the sidewalks that are along the east
side of Halleck Street. An ordinance was passed requiring all houses to be
numbered for emergency reasons. Another new face appeared on the board in
1985. Max Scott replaced Ron Hanners.
In November, 1986 an ordinance was passed creating the position of Town
Manager. Jeanette Roorda was hired to fill that position in December and
remained there until she retired in June 1993 to work part-time on special
projects. Ken Pearman replaced Roorda on the board.
In January, 1987, Jack Stellingwerf was presented with the 'keys to the
-city' in recognition of the many years of service he had donated to the
In January 1989 the following board members took office: Steve Bauman -
president; Mark Boer, Max Scott, John Dyke, Ken Pearman and Lois Eakin -
clerk-treasurer. In June, Steve Bauman resigned and Mark Boer became
president and is still president of the board in 1997. Rich Groen replaced
In July, 1989 a state law was passed stating the name 'town board' is to
be changed to read "town council'.
Marshal Truman Overby died in August, 1990. Police Chief William Arnold
was hired in December, 1990 and remains in that position in 1997.
In January, 1992, Walt Holley donated land across the street from Holley's
Restaurant and Lounge for a Veteran's Memorial to be built. The DeMotte
Hotel once sat on that spot. Several organizations were involved in
planning the memorial, including DeMotte American Legion Post #440. The
memorial was completed and a dedication was held March 16, 1992. The town
pays for the electricity used at the memorial.
Alana Bauman was appointed to the council to replace Rich Groen in
January, 1992. Groen was elected in November, 1991 by a write-in vote.
Since he was elected as neither a Democrat or Republican, the town council
made the appointment to the board.
There were two resignations from the board in 1994. John Dyke was replaced
by James Staton and Dr. Gerrit DeVries filled the vacancy created by Max
In July, 1993, Amy Trimble was appointed Administrative Assistant and in
May, 1995 she was named DeMotte Town Manager.
On June 4, 1996 the Olympic Torch was carried through DeMotte. The Olympic
Torch memorabilia is displayed at the town hall.
Current council members are: Mark Boer - president; Alana Bauman, Ken
Pearman, Gerrit DeVries, Jim Staton and Lois Eakin - clerk-treasurer. Ed
Pilipow was hired to act as town engineer in January, 1996.
On July 15, 1996, DeMotte Town Attorney Earl Walton presented the council
with Ordinance 7-15-96-1. This is an ordinance which annexes properties on
15th Street S.E. The pieces of property are owned by Walstra Trucking and
Calvary Assembly of God Church and are the first properties to be annexed
to the Town of DeMotte since its incorporation in 1967.