Plow Trucks Make Their First Appearance

The Indiana Department of Transportation is reporting plow trucks out for the first time this season in the Michigan City-La Porte area, where snow has been falling this morning. The National Weather Service say slushy lake effect snow showers continue over La Porte County... and up to an inch of slushy wet accumulation is possible where these snow bands persist.   Forecasters say some major roads that will be impacted include the Indiana Toll Road, Interstate 94, and US Routes 12, 20 and 31....

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Franciscan Alliance Announces 275 Job Cuts

Franciscan Alliance Wednesday announced it is cutting 275 jobs at its eleven Indiana hospitals and health care facilities. The Mishawaka-based company operates five hospitals in the Region -- Franciscan St. Margaret Health in Hammond and Dyer, Franciscan St. Anthony Health in Crown Point and Michigan City, and Franciscan Healthcare in Munster. The cuts made included administrative, management, supervisory, clinical and nonclinical. A Franciscan news release cited substantive changes in the field, including health care reform laws and shifts from inpatient to outpatient care. [Photo/Franciscan Alliance, Franciscan St. Margaret Health Dyer]
News Release:
MISHAWAKA, Ind. – Franciscan Alliance announced today that the health system is responding to the transformative shift in hospital economics with system-wide staff reductions.

The reductions will affect its 11 hospitals and health facilities in Indiana. 275 employees or 1.4% of the workforce will be laid off as a result of the reduction.  Franciscan Alliance has approximately 20,000 employees.
The healthcare industry is changing rapidly and economic pressures are forcing substantive changes in the field, including reduced reimbursements, new payer models, healthcare reform laws and shifts from inpatient to outpatient care. 
“Franciscan Alliance has not been immune to such pressures and has found it necessary to align staffing levels to reflect lower patient volumes and reduced industry wide reimbursements brought on by reforms associated with the Affordable Care Act,” said Kevin Leahy, Franciscan Alliance president and chief executive officer.
Like other health systems, Franciscan Alliance must cut its costs of care delivery over the next 3 years by 15-20% ($375,000,000-$500,000,000) to remain viable. Last month, our South Suburban Chicago Region eliminated 125 positions. Today, our other operating divisions will notify 275 co-workers that they will be laid-off from their positions. In addition, another 650 full-time equivalent positions will be eliminated by cutting back on assigned hours, closing open positions, retirements and through attrition. The remaining 19,000 employees will see cutbacks in benefits in 2014. These cutbacks include the elimination of the 1.5% employer match to the 403b retirement savings program, elimination of the PTO buy-back program, higher employee contributions for healthcare insurance, no salary increases for management, and a new defined benefit/defined contribution pension for all co-workers not vested by 1/1/2014 in the defined benefit pension plan. The cost savings from these, and other recent pay practice changes, will help preserve hundreds of other jobs which otherwise would have to be eliminated.
“Recent trends and the new law are challenging healthcare providers to manage the continuum of care for patients more efficiently and effectively to ensure the same quality outcomes at reduced reimbursement levels,” Leahy said.  “Our challenge is to staff our campuses in line with the reduced inpatient volumes that are a byproduct of recent healthcare trends and the new law,” he added.
The staff reductions are among several initiatives Franciscan Alliance has undertaken, such as streamlining patient flow processes and coordinating care across the system to deliver quality outcomes and improve patient satisfaction. Ongoing non-labor cost efficiencies continue to be researched, identified, implemented and monitored throughout the system as well.
Regarding the impact on employees affected by the reduction in workforce, Leahy emphasized, “We are profoundly aware of the impact our decisions have on the lives of our co-workers and their families. Consistent with our Franciscan Values, we will make every effort to support all Franciscan team members through these difficult changes. Those whose jobs will be affected by the workforce reduction will be provided with severance, extended health insurance where eligible, and outplacement assistance,” he said.
He added that for more than 138 years, the mission of Franciscan Alliance has remained steadfast and constant. “Whatever measures we take will not compromise our goal to provide patients the high-quality, compassionate care they expect and deserve.” ...

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Court Upholds Former County Clerk Conviction

The US Court of Appeals has upheld the public corruption conviction of former Lake County Clerk and former Lake County Coroner Thomas Philpot. The 56-year-old Philpot from Highland was found guilty of federal charges related to paying himself more than 24-thousand dollars in bonuses from federal child support incentive funds while he was county clerk. Philpot is serving an 18-month prison sentence in Michigan and is scheduled for release in July. ...

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Region Native Elected Chief Judge Ind Ct of Appeals

A native of northwest Indiana has been elected chief judge of the 15-member Indiana Court of Appeals. Judge Nancy Vaidik, a former Porter Superior Court judge, was appointed in 2000 to the Court of Appeals by then Governor Frank O'Bannon, then retained by election in 2002 and 2012. Judge Vaidik, originally from Portage, will begin her three-year term as chief judge January first.  Vaidik is a sixth-generation Hoosier. She graduated with high distinction from Valparaiso University in 1977, with a double major in political science and psychology, and then studied at Valparaiso University Law School, where she earned her Juris Doctor in 1980....

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Board Member Seeks Dismissal of Lawsuit

A northwest Indiana member of the State Board of Education says his attorney is asking the court to dismiss a lawsuit filed against the board by Indiana State School Superintendent Glenda Ritz. Tony Walker of Gary is one of ten members on the board. Ritz is alleging they held an illegal meeting by drafting and sending a letter circulated by email requesting a legislative agency calculate school grades instead of her department, claiming that violated the state's Open Door Law. Meanwhile, a spokesman for Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller says Zoeller is hoping his office can serve a role in resolving the conflict outside of court.  A spokesperson for Governor Mike Pence says the “governor is confident all relevant Indiana laws were followed”....

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Teacher Accused of Taking Students to Strip Club Fired

In Cedar Lake, Hanover Community school officials have fired a 31-year-old Hanover Central High School chemistry teacher who is charged with three misdemeanor counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor after being accused of  taking students to a strip club and allegedly providing alcoholic beverages at his home. Published reports says Travis Lechien of Crown Point has taught in the Hanover Community School district for a decade and had been suspended with pay since September 10th. An attorney for the teacher was quoted as saying their intention is to enter a plea of not guilty. An initial court hearing in Lake County is scheduled for November 19th....

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219: Coast To Coast Bully Walk

"Bully" a term not only used to describe human behavior, but to categorize dogs. Breeds like Bulldogs, Rottweilers, Dobermans, and especially Pitbulls are often stigmatized as dangerous or agressive and put in the "Bully" category. The Annual Coast to Coast Bully Walk is an all-breed national walk held to fight for the rights of families and their dogs who are sterotyped as bullies. 

Listen to today's 219 or Audio On Demand here on our website for information on The Porter County Animal Shelter's local Bully Walk.  You can take part this weekend and help end the negative sterotypes associated with these loveable pets....

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INDOT Looking to Hire Seasonal Help at Thursday Job Fair

Indot Logo color
The Indiana Department of Transportation is looking to hire Seasonal Winter Program Workers at a job fair to be held today in Rensselaer. According to INDOT, successful hires will work as seasonal INDOT maintenance crew staff, and as plow drivers during snow events this winter. 

Officials are looking to ad positions based out of Rensselaer, Winamac and Monticello.  Applicants must possess a vallid CDL, High School Diploma or equivalent and the ability to pass a drug test successfully.  The job fair is from 10am to 2p.m. CDT at INDOT's Rensselaer Subdistrict located at 1130 E. Maple in Rensselaer.  According to INDOT, priority at the job fair will be given to those who apply online in advance.
For more information like INDOT Northwest at and follow INDOT on Twitter at:
Or contact the La Porte dISTRICT TOLL FREE AT 1-855-GO-INDOT....

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Region Town Seeks Board and Commission Applicants

Cedar Lake
The Town of Cedar Lake is actively seeking residents to apply for vacancies on several Boards and Commissions. In a press release, applicants are being sought to fill five vacancies on the Redevelopment Commission, one vacancy on the Plan Commission, two positions open on the Board of Zoning Appeals, one Republican and one Democrat vacancy on the Police Commission and one Democratic slot to fill on the Storm Water Board.
  Applications can be picked up at the Cedar Lake Town Hall, located at 7408 Constitution Avenue from  8a.m.-5p.m. Monday-Friday or they can apply online at:
Applications must be submitted in person at the Town Hall. Proof of residency is required and political affiliation, where applicable. Deadline to apply is December 1st, 2013.

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Morning Fire Causes Backup on Busy Valpo Roadway

Traffic heading westbound in Valparaiso had to find an alternate route for about an hour an-a-half Wednesday morning, due to a structure fire that closed the westbound lanes of US-30 at Linwood Avenue.   Reportedly, westbound traffic was also being diverted at Sturdy Road and not allowed to continue on. Sgt. Michael Grennes of the Valparaiso Police Department says fire crews first responded to the call around 11a.m. just west of Axe Avenue.  According to Sgt. Grennes, people working at a  vacant house were burning materials near an outbuilding when burning debris caught the building on fire which is attached to the house.  A minor injury was treated at the scene.  But no firefighters were injured, according to Grennes....

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Laura-WLJE Scott-WLJE Brent-WLJE
Region News Team
Region News Team
Region News Team
Region News Team
Region News Team
Region News Team


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