Man Cited After Entering Borman Work Zone

In Hammond early this morning a Indiana State Police at Lowell say a 23-year-old Beecher, Illinois man who told troopers he was out celebrating the evening before was arrested in the overnight work zone on the east bound Borman Expressway east of Calumet Avenue. Shortly before 3:30 am, officials say a state police sergeant working traffic security for the overnight work saw a Ford Explorer drive in between the construction barrels behind her and stop to talk to a construction worker in his vehicle. The exit lane, right and right middle lanes were closed in this area for the overnight construction leaving the left two lanes open for motoring traffic. Troopers say the area was well posted, with signage, barrels, traffic control devices, construction workers and vehicles. Police say the sergeant was sitting in the right middle lane in construction with all of her emergency lights activated less than ½ mile from the workers up ahead, and as she watched the Explorer come up behind her she thought he might have been a worker until she realized his vehicle didn’t have an amber light on it. The Explorer passed her police car, officials say, and was approaching a construction semi-tanker loaded with water sitting in right lane as she took off after it. The semi was blocking the Explorer when it attempted to move to the right middle lane to get around it, police say, and the semi was able to maneuver itself to block the Explorer as the sergeant approached to stop it; as there were workers out working in front of the semi.  Police say the driver of the Explorer was cited for Failure to Obey a Traffic Control Device in a Work Zone and Operating While Intoxicated Refusal and was taken to the Lake County Jail....

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Westville Man Seriously Injured in Crash

Indiana State Police at the Lowell Post say an early morning pursuit ended with a motorcycle crash in La Porte County and the driver, a 39-year-old Westville man, receiving life threatening injuries. A preliminary investigation revealed shortly before 1:30 this morning, the LaPorte County Sheriff’s Department got information about a motorcycle crash that may have occurred at U.S. 421 and 250 South in Westville. Officers were unable to locate the crash but shortly thereafter heard a motorcycle approaching allegedly at an excessive speed.  Police say driver would not pull over, and went into a neighborhood off East Jefferson Street in Westville, then north on US 421, approaching Valentine Court in Michigan City where he hit a curb, lost control, and was ejected.  Indiana State Police say William Knies who was not wearing a helmet was transported to Saint Anthony’s Hospital in Michigan City and later transported to South Bend Memorial Hospital with life threatening injuries. Indiana State Police say preliminary indications are Knies tested positive for alcohol (.28 B.A.C %) and also metabolic of tetrahydrocannibinol (THC). [Photo/Indiana State Police] ...

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Region Invited To Camp LRCA Harvest Festival

The Lake Region Christian Assembly Camp is known for providing support and services to many in the Region. However, this weekend they are looking for the community's help in honoring a very special man Mike Mauger. To find out how you can help with the Harvest Festival Saturday, check out Annie Fox's interview with Camp General Manager Cherish Edwards at Audio On Demand here on our website....

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Gary Man Killed in Portage Crash

In Portage, police say it's unknown what caused a crash that killed a 24-year-old Gary man. Officers responded to a single-vehicle crash on Route 12 at the US Steel bridge just after 7am Wednesday. Portage Police Public Information Officer Sgt. Keith Hughes says the passenger vehicle involved was traveling east on US 12 and crashed into the west side concrete wall that supports the bridge. Police say the vehicle was occupied by one man, whose identity has not been released. Police say he was airlifted to a Chicago-area hospital where he died. Icy roads made travel difficult around the Region Wednesday morning, but Portage Police say that did not appear to be a factor in this crash. ...

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Gregg Not Running for Governor Again in 2016

Democrat John Gregg has announced he will not make a second run for Indiana governor in 2016. Gregg, a former speaker of the Indiana House, was the democratic nominee for governor in last year's election. Gregg, who's been attending Democratic party events around Indiana this year, says he had planned on running for governor again in three years, but issued a statement this week saying he is no longer actively seeking the nomination....

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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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