Give-Back Dinner to Benefit Lubeznik Center for the Arts

Posted on: January 24th, 2020 by Ric Federighi 1 Comment

On Thursday, February 6, Bentwood Tavern in New Buffalo, Michigan will host a Give-Back Dinner to benefit Lubeznik Center for the Arts (LCA) in Michigan City, Indiana. Bentwood Tavern has generously agreed to donate 50% of all food and beverage revenue from the evening to support LCA’s mission. LCA is a non-profit agency working to eliminate barriers and provide people of all ages with access to compelling art exhibitions and programs. The organization’s core offerings include -The offering of three major art exhibitions per year. Admission is free and open to all, seven days a week. -Student Learning Tours bring a diverse population of nearly 1,800 students annually to LCA for educational tours and onsite artmaking. -Offsite arts outreach programming allows LCA’s staff to connect with students at 15 different area schools. Curriculums include Literacy through the Arts, visual arts, dance, photography and STEAM. -The organization is in its 12th year of providing visual arts classes to adults with cognitive disabilities at no cost to participants. -Teen Arts Council is a free program connecting passionate teens from regional area high schools with unique, professional arts experiences, including visits to artists’ studios and opportunities for college portfolio reviews. -Class scholarships are available for children and adults who wish to pursue their creative passions at LCA but face financial barriers. Everyone is invited to join Bentwood Tavern and LCA for a delicious meal for a good cause. The Give-Back Dinner runs from 5 to 10 PM Eastern time. To make a reservation, please visit or call (269) 469-1699.

Franciscan Health schedules additional emergency blood drive

Posted on: January 24th, 2020 by Ric Federighi No Comments

With an emergency need for blood, Franciscan Health will host an additional Versiti Blood Center of Illinois blood drive at its Michigan City hospital on Jan. 28. This drive is in addition to upcoming drives at the Franciscan Health Munster and Crown Point hospitals in February. The upcoming blood drives are as follows: * 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 28 at Franciscan Health Michigan City, 3500 Franciscan Way, in the Blessed Maria Theresia Bonzel Community Room. * Noon to 4 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 6 at Franciscan Health Munster, 701 Superior Ave., in the St. Claire Conference Room * Noon to 5 p.m., Friday, Feb. 14 at Franciscan Health Crown Point, 1201 S. Main St., in the Versiti mobile coach. Appointments are encouraged and can be scheduled by going online at or by calling 1-800-7TO-Give (1-800-786-4483) and choosing your preferred time. Walk-ins are also welcome. Identification is required. Versiti Blood Center of Illinois serves 63 hospitals in a 12-county area in Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana and collects more than 155,000 units of blood annually.

Jim Pressel: Bill taking aim at distracted driving moves forward

Posted on: January 24th, 2020 by Ric Federighi 2 Comments

Legislation co-authored by State Rep. Jim Pressel (R-Rolling Prairie) that would prohibit holding a hand-held electronic device while driving passed out of the House Roads and Transportation Committee Wednesday. Pressel, a member of the committee, said nine Americans are killed each day as a result of distracted driving. It is also one of the top killers of teenagers, responsible for more than 58 percent of teen crashes. He said while Indiana has a law that prohibits texting while driving, it is difficult to enforce and drivers continue to use their devices including scrolling through social media feeds and playing games. Pressel said 21 states have implemented “hands-free device driving laws.” If passed, drivers in Indiana could not hold their cell phone or electronic communication devices while driving. According to Pressel, there will be a comprehensive and statewide educational campaign to inform Hoosiers about this law if it is enacted. House Bill 1070 now moves to the full House for further consideration. For more information about this proposal, visit

Indiana State Department Of Health Launches Effort To Help Prevent Child Fatalities

Posted on: January 24th, 2020 by Ric Federighi No Comments

The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) has launched a new pilot program aimed at reducing serious injuries to children caused by abuse or neglect with support from a new federal initiative. Through the Child Safety Forward grant, ISDH has partnered with the Indiana University School of Social Work to conduct the pilot program in Clark, Delaware and Grant counties. Working through the local Child Fatality Review teams, ISDH will also collaborate with the Indiana Department of Child Services to help identify cases for review. The U.S. Department of Justice Office for Victims of Crime is providing $750,000 over three years and assistance from experts in addressing child maltreatment injuries and fatalities. ISDH is one of five agencies nationwide that has been awarded a federal grant to reduce and prevent child abuse or neglect deaths and injuries. The initiative will: Engage the local Child Fatality Review teams to examine cases from 2014-18 to understand the risk factors and circumstances that contributed to the tragedies. Conduct a needs assessment to identify areas of opportunity for improved services and response. Recommend plans for intervention for a more coordinated response that can help strengthen services and prevent future incidents.

The push to relax the state’s marijuana laws

Posted on: January 24th, 2020 by Ric Federighi No Comments

Some Indiana lawmakers are continuing their push to relax the state’s marijuana laws. At a news conference on Thursday, Senate Democratic Chair Karen Tallian promoted Senate Bill 114, which would decriminalize possession of less than one ounce of marijuana an amount that currently carries a penalty of up to 180 days in jail and/or a fine of one-thousand dollars. Republican State Representative Jim Lucas introduced a similar decriminalization bill in this session (HB 1048). However, he believes legalization is an uphill battle given opposition from Governor Eric Holcomb and other top leaders. According to data from state prosecutors, marijuana accounted for the second-highest number of arrests in Indiana in the last two years. Senate Democrats are hoping a third bill will gain traction. S-B 86 would provide a defense for the possession of less than two ounces of marijuana, as long as the person has a valid out-of-state medical marijuana card. Lucas contends Indiana is falling behind its neighbors as Illinois, Michigan and Ohio are among the 33 states that have legalized medical marijuana. Recreational marijuana use also is legal in Illinois and Michigan. According to a 2018 Ball State poll, 80-percent of Indiana adults support the medical use of marijuana, and 40-support recreational use.

Franciscan Health Michigan City celebrates first year in new hospital

Posted on: January 22nd, 2020 by Ric Federighi 1 Comment

Franciscan Hospital leaders reflected on the events of the past year as they kicked off a week-long anniversary celebration this past  Monday, gathering in the hospital lobby to thank staff members for their efforts.
Trish Weber, vice president of operations and chief nursing officer, tallied up the increases of the past year, with more babies delivered, a growing number of emergency room visits and additional operating room cases. Weber said the volume of cases has prompted the decision to add two new or suites at the hospital.Vice President of Clinical Support Services Jill Nygren said listening to the voices of patients and caregivers and taking staff members input has led to improvements in registration processes, wait times, scheduling and patient care. Sister Petra Nielsen pointed to the installation of the Safe Haven Baby Box as part of that mission, providing a safe place for a mother in crisis to leave her infant. The hospital has also provided tens of millions of dollars in community benefits, including charity care to those in need.Expanded services at the hospital include the new bariatric services program, the first in LaPorte County, and the GERD (gastro-esophageal reflux disease) Clinic with state-of-the-art diagnostic and treatment options. The past year has also seen expanded access to physician specialists in the areas of urology, interventional cardiology, cardiac electrophysiology and neurology.The site of the former Franciscan Health Michigan City on Homer Street is still in use, serving as a Franciscan ExpressCare facility and providing extended healthcare coverage to the area.

Two Separate Arrests Made for Marijuana and Weapon Offenses On Toll Road

Posted on: January 22nd, 2020 by Ric Federighi No Comments

The LaPorte County Sheriff’s Office announces the arrests of an Ohio woman and a New York man for drug and weapon offenses. On Tuesday, during the late morning, Deputy Wade Wallace was working the Domestic Highway Enforcement (DHE) program along the Indiana Toll Road.  Deputy Wallace was monitoring eastbound traffic at the 52-mile marker. He observed a passenger vehicle traveling eastbound that gained his attention. As the vehicle passed, he observed the vehicle committing a traffic infraction. He observed another traffic infraction being committed by the same vehicle. Deputy Wallace initiated a traffic stop on the vehicle inside the service area.  The driver was identified as 34 year old Amanda J. Salmons of Cortland, Ohio. As the traffic stop progressed, a large quantity of an Marijuana was located.  She was arrested for Dealing in Marijuana. Deputy Jon Samuelson, his K-9 partner Bosco and Deputy Justin Phillips assisted at the scene of the traffic stop. Less than two hours later, Deputy Samuelson, also working DHE, was traveling westbound on the Indiana Toll Road near the 58-mile marker.  He was traveling behind a pickup truck that gained his attention. Samuelson observed the pickup truck commit two traffic infractions. A short time later, he initiated a traffic stop.  The driver was identified as 34 year old Tshaka M. Brown of Webster, New York. As the traffic stop progressed, maijuana and a firearm was located. Brown was arrested for possession of a handgun without a license and possession of marijuana.  

Preventative Safety Search at AK SMITH CAREER CENTER

Posted on: January 22nd, 2020 by Ric Federighi No Comments

On Wednesday January 22nd, 2020; the Michigan City Police Department, in cooperation with the Michigan City Area Schools conducted a Preventative Safety Search at the AK Smith Career Center. This initiative was organized by Michigan City Police Department SRO’s Steve Forker and Scott Combs, along with Justin Biggs, Assistant Principal of the AK Smith Career Center. K-9’s from the Michigan City Police Department and Indiana State Police were utilized to conduct preventative searches of lockers and other common areas of the building. During the preventive search of the building, the students were placed on a hold, where they remained in their classrooms as the search was conducted.

The Michigan City Police Department and Michigan City Area Schools takes student safety very seriously. SRO Scott Combs states, “These preventative safety searches are a valuable tool for us to be proactive in assuring the safety of each and every student in the Michigan City Area School System.” Michigan City Area Schools works with local law enforcement periodically to conduct these preventative safety searches. The Michigan City Police Department was assisted by several administrators with MCAS and the Indiana State Police

The Michigan City Police Department would like to announce the 2019 recipient of the Chris Smith Award, Officer Lendell Hood

Posted on: January 22nd, 2020 by Ric Federighi No Comments

The Michigan City Police Department would like to announce the 2019 recipient of the Chris Smith Award, Officer Lendell Hood.  The Chris Smith Award was named after Officer Chris Smith who passed away after a courageous battle with cancer.  Officer Chris Smith embodied the passion and love for law enforcement as well as a love for life.  Each year since 2008, the Michigan City Police Department selects a recipient of this award after nominations are obtained from members of the police department.

Officer Lendell Hood is an Air Force veteran who served honorably for 10 years.  He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice Administration from Park University located in Parkville, MO.  Officer Hood currently has 14 years in law enforcement. His career started as a Gaming Agent with the Indiana Gaming Commission, then he worked as a patrol officer for the Indiana Metropolitan Police Department, and the last nine years he has spent as a patrolman and field training officer for the Michigan City Police Department.

For the last six years, Officer Hood has worked for the Michigan City Area Schools assigned to the La Porte County Career and Technical Education Center (AK Smith Career Center) as the Criminal Justice & Law Instructor. Officer Hood teaches course such as is the Introduction to Criminal Justice, Criminology, Police Operations and Criminal Justice Ethics. One of his students was just hired as a Michigan City Police Officer!

Officer Hood was nominated by his Shift II Commander, Lt. Jeff Ramion.  Officer Hood is an outstanding police officer and we are very proud to have him in our Michigan City Police Department Family!


Posted on: January 22nd, 2020 by Ric Federighi No Comments

The La Porte County Symphony Orchestra is looking for contestants for the 15th annual Hoosier Star competition. Hoosier Star is open to amateur singers of all musical styles and age groups. Competitors in both the youth and adult categories can compete individually or as a duet. Auditions will be held at the La Porte Little Theatre , 218 A Street , on Saturday, March 21 from 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM (CDT) and Sunday, March 22 from Noon to 5:00 PM (CDT) . The ten Hoosier Star finalists will perform along with the La Porte County Symphony Orchestra on Saturday, September 12 at the La Porte Civic Auditorium . Audience members, as well as a panel of judges, will choose the final two winners in each age division based on that night’s performances. First and second place in the Youth Division will received $1,000 and $500 respectively. First and second place winners in the Adult Division will win $1,000 and $500 respectively. Registration forms can be found at . Contestants are encouraged to pre-register for a guaranteed time slot. The registration fee for the audition is $20 per person or duet. If a competitor would like to audition as a soloist and a duet, they must submit two separate audition forms, including separate fees. Audition applications must be in by March 16 in order to receive a guaranteed time slot. Walk-ins are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis during the audition dates. Hoosier Star is open to amateur soloists and duets only; no group performances may enter, and both competitors in a duet must be from the same age division. For auditions, applicants may provide their own accompanist, use a CD with no lead vocals, supply a digital mp3-capable device, or sing a capella. A contestant of any age must be an amateur vocalist and must be a resident of the state of Indiana or Southwest Michigan. For more information and to download an audition or rule form please visit , contact [email protected] or call 219-362-9020. Applicants will be notified of their assigned audition date and time within a week prior to the auditions.

Various Michigan City Boards Accepting Applications

Posted on: January 22nd, 2020 by Ric Federighi No Comments

There are numerous boards and commissions in Michigan City to which the Mayor appoints members. These boards and commissions play a vital role providing advice and counsel to city government on a wide-range of issues, including public safety, education, housing, economic development, architecture and planning and other matters affecting the quality of life in our community. Membership consists of individuals from a variety of backgrounds, all who share a commitment to public service. Board functions and the appointment process vary from board to board. The size of the board, criteria for membership, and member terms are set forth in most cases by an enabling state statute, city ordinance, or Executive Order. The City of Michigan City welcomes applications from members of the public who may wish to volunteer their time and expertise on behalf of the important work of these boards. Applicants may submit their written applications for consideration directly to the Office of the Mayor at City Hall.

Pressel Invites Community To Attend Public Meetings Saturday

Posted on: January 22nd, 2020 by Ric Federighi No Comments

State Rep. Jim Pressel will host two public meetings this Saturday, to hear from members of the community and discuss important issues being considered during the current legislative session. The first meeting will take place 9-10 a.m. at the La Porte County Public Library. The second meeting will be from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the La Crosse Public Library. Pressel will discuss legislation he has introduced as well as top issues being discussed this session. LaPorte and Starke county residents can contact Pressel with questions by emailing [email protected] or calling 317-232-9600. Lawmakers are currently in session and must conclude their business no later than March 14.

New Director of Barker Mansion and five new Commissioners

Posted on: January 22nd, 2020 by Ric Federighi No Comments

Mayor Duane Parry and the Barker Civic Center Commission is proud to announce the appointment of Sarah Berndt as the new Director of Barker Mansion and the appointment of five new Commissioners to the Board. The historic Barker Mansion lives as a monument of industry, charity, and turn-of-the-century life in Michigan City, highlighting the legacy of the Barker family through tours, special programs, and community event rentals, located at 631 Washington St. Sarah Berndt comes to the Barker Mansion with a background in museum leadership and decorative arts. She brings experience managing historic collections and expanding outreach as well as interpretive programming. Mayor Parry is pleased to announce the new five Board Members -Ed Beutner, aka “Captain Ed”, -John Leinweber, President of the Friendship Botanical Gardens -Ed Merrion, President of Citizens Concerned for the Homeless -Sarane H. Ross, Executive Director of The Barker Welfare Foundation and daughter of -Catherine Barker -Maggi Spartz, President of the Unity Foundation of LaPorte County These new commission members join current commissioners: -Thomas P. McCormick, President of Duneland Fine Homes and Treasurer of The Barker -Welfare Foundation -Alexander B. Ross, President of The Barker Welfare Foundation and grandson of Catherine Barker.

A business incubator at the University of Notre Dame doubled in 2019

Posted on: January 22nd, 2020 by Ric Federighi No Comments

A business incubator at the University of Notre Dame doubled in 2019 the number of startup businesses it helped launch in the previous two years combined. The IDEA Center says 32 young companies were put in motion last year, bringing the total number of startups to 64 since the IDEA Center began in 2017. Notre Dame says the 64 active startups have created 99 full-time jobs, with an average salary of $72,000. The companies have collectively raised $6.6 million in investment. The IDEA Center says last year’s startups represent several industries, including advertising, consumer products, fashion, food additives, health care and information technology. The university says of the 64 startups launched since the formation of the IDEA Center, 36 are student creations.

Reminders for Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Posted on: January 17th, 2020 by Ric Federighi No Comments

The South Shore Line will operate a regular weekday train schedule on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Monday, Jan. 20, 2020. All ticket offices will observe regular hours. In respect of Martin Luther King Jr Day, Monday, January 20th, the Michigan City Urban Enterprise Association has cancelled their January meeting. The monthly board meeting will resume in February. The Michigan City Refuse Department will be closed Monday, January 20, 2020 to observe the Martin Luther King Jr Holiday. Trash pickup will resume on Tuesday, January 21st, and delayed a day for the remainder of the week.

Public meetings in La Porte And East Chicago with DNR on Lake Michigan stocking changes

Posted on: January 17th, 2020 by Ric Federighi No Comments

Anglers and other interested parties can participate in two DNR public meetings, Jan. 30 and Feb. 1, to discuss the interim Lake Michigan fish stocking plan and provide input on future stocking plans. Announced in October 2019, changes to the current plan included stocking more yearling coho salmon, fewer fall fingerling coho salmon, reductions in Skamania steelhead stocked in the Little Calumet River, and increases in Chinook salmon stocked. The first meeting will start at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 30, at Red Mill County Park, 0185 South Holmesville Road in LaPorte. The second meeting will start at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 1, at the Indiana Harbor Yacht Club, in East Chicago. (Learn about Lake Michigan fishing at

The Indiana Department of Revenue (DOR) will start accepting tax filings

Posted on: January 17th, 2020 by Ric Federighi No Comments

The Indiana Department of Revenue (DOR) will start accepting tax filings for the 2020 individual income tax season on Monday, Jan. 27th. Customers will have until April 15, to file their tax returns and pay any taxes owed. Customers can file their individual taxes online through a certified vendor, with a tax professional or by mailing in paper forms and documentation. If individuals have questions, they are encouraged to call DOR Customer Service at 317-232-2240, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., EST or visit a district office location. DOR encourages customers not to file their individual taxes prior to the Jan. 27 start date or before all necessary documentation has been obtained. Attempting to file without all documents can result in a lengthy delay in processing, ultimately postponing any refund a customer may receive. All employers are required to mail wage statements by Jan. 31 for the previous calendar year. Using end-of-the-year pay stubs is not recommended to complete individual tax returns, as it is not often an accurate reflection of all income received. By using inaccurate information to file, individuals will need to submit an amended return later, costing them both time and money. Customers must remember that any return sent without all the proper documentation will result in the return being put on hold for future processing and/or investigation. (For more information on what documents are needed to file an individual tax return, visit DOR’s website at

10,000 Hoosiers Have Completed High-Demand Workforce Certificates

Posted on: January 17th, 2020 by Ric Federighi No Comments

Gov. Holcomb announced updated workforce figures during his annual Indiana State of the State address earlier this week. More than 10,000 Hoosiers have completed a high-demand certificate program through Indiana’s Next Level Jobs Workforce Ready Grant, which provides tuition-free certificates in five of the state’s most sought-after sectors, including health and life sciences; IT and business services; building and construction, transportation and logistics; and advanced manufacturing. Additionally, more than 900 employers have taken advantage of the state’s Employer Training Grant to train more than 9,000 employees.

Free Legal Day Monday January 20th

Posted on: January 17th, 2020 by Ric Federighi No Comments

Hoosiers needing answers to legal questions are invited to a free legal consultation during the Indiana State Bar Association’s annual “Talk to a Lawyer Today” on Jan. 20, 2020. Consultations are provided in-person at numerous statewide locations or via the statewide hotline from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST at 800.266.2581. See a list of residential phone numbers and walk-in locations for each Indiana county at

Indiana Infant Mortality Rate Shows Biggest Decrease In 6 Years

Posted on: January 16th, 2020 by Ric Federighi 1 Comment

Indiana’s infant mortality rate fell at the highest rate in six years, with the black infant mortality rate declining nearly 16 percent and the rate for Hispanic infants declining nearly 20 percent in 2018. Data from the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) show 559 Indiana babies died before the age of 1 in 2018, down from 602 in 2017. The overall infant mortality rate stood at 6.8 per 1,000 babies in 2018, down from 7.3 in 2017. The 2018 infant mortality rates for non-Hispanic white infants met the Healthy People 2020 goal of 6.0 per 1,000, while the rate for Hispanic infants fell to 6.1. The non-Hispanic black infant mortality rate fell from 15.4 to 13.0. To learn about Indiana’s efforts to reduce infant mortality, visit

Franciscan Health Michigan City launches new bariatric services

Posted on: January 16th, 2020 by Ric Federighi No Comments

Patients who once had to drive two counties away for bariatric surgery and services can now find weight loss assistance closer to home in LaPorte County. Franciscan Health Michigan City has opened a bariatric services office at Woodland Health Center, 8865 West 400 N. Suite 125 in Michigan City. The office will provide treatment and support for patients before and after their weight loss surgery, which can be done at Franciscan Health Michigan City. The staff includes bariatric surgeons Dr. Thomas Shin, MD, FACS, who is bariatric program medical director, and Dr. Sandra Wischmeyer, DO. Both are independent physicians who choose to practice at Franciscan Health. A full complement of registered dietitians and registered nurses are also available to assist patients on their journey to better health. Dr. Wischmeyer says they recommend patients to initially go to a bariatric seminar to learn why the surgical program is the best way to lose weight. Then the patient can make an appointment with one of the surgeons in the clinic for a consultation. The next bariatric services seminar is at 1PM, Sunday, Jan. 19 at Franciscan Health Michigan City in the Blessed Maria Theresia Bonzel Community Room. Dr. Shin encourages people struggling with weight loss to come to the seminar to ask questions and learn more about bariatric surgery. For more information about Franciscan Health Michigan City bariatric services, call (219) 214-4401, or go online at and search for bariatric services.

January is National Mentoring Month – LaPorte County Mentoring Collaboration Offers Ways to Connect

Posted on: January 16th, 2020 by Ric Federighi No Comments

Last year, January was proclaimed as National Mentoring Month in La Porte and Michigan City by each of the respective acting Mayors, inviting our community to celebrate the benefits of mentoring and the impact it has on young people. The Collaborative is hosting a special luncheon “Celebrating Our Youth” on January 30th at the Silver Palace from 11:30 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. Tickets are available from any of the agencies involved in Mentoring Collaborative or RSVP to [email protected] by 1/22/2020. Community members are invited to enjoy luncheon event to learn about how local organizations are changing lives and impacting our community through the power of mentoring. Organizations include:
Youth serving agencies involved in this collaborative
Youth Service Bureau’s School Buddies Program
The Boys & Girls Club’s Al Whitlow Experience
Family Advocate’s CYA Program
MCAS Safe Harbor’s H40 Mentoring Progra

Indiana State Board of Education Approves Teacher Preparation Programs, Ends K12 Interventions

Posted on: January 16th, 2020 by Ric Federighi No Comments

The Indiana State Board of Education (Board) met yesterday for its January business meeting and considered approval of two teacher preparation programs. The Board also ended interventions in two school districts.The Board unanimously approved teacher preparation programs at Manchester University and Vincennes University.Board members voted 10-0 to return Theodore Roosevelt College and Career Academy to Gary Community School Corporation, ending the Board’s intervention.Following a presentation from Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS), the Board voted 6-2 to return control of Emma Donnan, Emmerich Manual, and Thomas Carr Howe to IPS, ending the Board’s intervention. The Board will next meet on February 5, 2020 in Indianapolis.

REFUSE Department closure on Monday

Posted on: January 15th, 2020 by Ric Federighi 1 Comment


The Refuse Department will be closed Monday, January 20, 2020 to observe the Martin Luther King Jr Holiday. Trash pickup will resume on Tuesday, January 21st, and delayed a day for the remainder of the week. 

Gov. Holcomb’s 4th State of the State features teacher pay, adoption support

Posted on: January 14th, 2020 by Ric Federighi No Comments

INDIANAPOLIS – Governor Eric J. Holcomb on Tuesday delivered his 2020 State of the State address to a joint convention of the Indiana General Assembly. The governor focused on his commitment to bold ideas that will improve the health, safety and well-being of Hoosiers.

Full text of Governor Eric J. Holcomb’s 2020 State of the State address is attached.

“Thanks to the energy, ingenuity and hard work of Hoosiers across our state – and the work we’re doing with them – the state of our state has never been stronger,” Gov. Holcomb said.

As a part of the Governor’s ongoing effort to improve teacher compensation, he recommended the General Assembly use $250 million from the surplus in the next budget to prepay the state’s obligations to the teachers’ retirement fund, which will allow $50 million a year to be redirected to teacher pay. This complements the action Gov. Holcomb took following last year’s State of the State address, when he announced the use of $150 million to pay off a pension liability that schools funded which is resulting in higher teacher salaries in districts across the state. The Next Level Teacher Compensation Commission will make additional recommendations in the spring.

“For all we’re doing to make Indiana stronger, the most important investment we can make is in our most important asset – our people,” Gov. Holcomb said. “Everything we do is aimed at ensuring every Hoosier can take the greatest advantage of their talents, drive and aspirations.”

During the speech, Gov. Holcomb announced the creation of the state’s first Adoption Unit within the Department of Child Services. The unit will bring additional staff into each region whose sole focus will be assisting family case managers with finding permanent homes for children when parental rights have been terminated. 

Gov. Holcomb also celebrated accomplishments and focused on next steps for each of the five pillars outlined in his Next Level Agenda.

Cultivate a strong and diverse economy: Operate within the state’s balanced budget, protect our Triple-A credit rating, and triple federal defense investment in the state.

Maintain and build the state’s infrastructure: Make US 31 free flow from Indianapolis to South Bend. Enact a hands-free device law to decrease distracted driving and increase safety. Connect unserved Hoosiers and businesses to high speed internet. Clean our highways with nearly 16 million pounds of litter picked up last year.

Develop a 21st century skilled and ready workforce: Invest in all Hoosiers to ensure access to meaningful work and careers. Eliminate unfunded mandates and unnecessary paperwork in K-12. Financially support educators who are working on the requirements to teach dual credit courses. Redesign the Department of Correction education system so more returning citizens can find jobs before release.

Strengthen public health and attack the drug epidemic: Expand OB navigator program to 20 counties. Increase penalties for retailers who sell tobacco and vaping products to underage buyers. Work to tackle health care costs by launching an “All-Payer Claims Database,” making it easier for Hoosiers to access information about hospital pricing and insurance reimbursement.

Deliver great government service: Open the first facility in the country to bring together everything our veterans need under one roof – Veterans Affairs, the DAV, Indiana Veterans Initiative, VFW, and the American Legion. Plant one million trees throughout the state.

Each year, Indiana’s governor addresses both houses of the state legislature, the state’s Supreme Court Justices, and other state leaders at the beginning of the legislative session in the State of the State Address. It provides an opportunity for the governor to report on the status quo of the state’s affairs, highlight key accomplishments of the past year, and outline key priorities for the year ahead.


Purdue Northwest Nursing online programs nationally ranked

Posted on: January 14th, 2020 by Ric Federighi No Comments

Bachelor’s and master’s degree programs recognized in U.S. News & World Report Best Online Programs rankings

HAMMOND and WESTVILLE, Ind. —Purdue University Northwest (PNW) College of Nursing programs have been recognized among the best in the country in the U.S. News & World Report Best Online Programs rankings, released today.

PNW ranks 39th nationally among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs. Purdue Northwest’s online RN-to-BSN program, now in its 11th year, is one of the undergraduate degree programs offered by the PNW College of Nursing, a National League for Nursing Center of Excellence.

PNW also is ranked 77th nationally of Best Online Master’s in Nursing Programs. A master’s degree in nursing can pave the way for more advanced roles in administration and leadership. PNW’s program has gained national recognition in only its second year.

“The PNW College of Nursing is proud to be recognized among our peers in higher education for the quality of our programs, the outstanding credentials of our faculty and the support and flexibility we offer to our students,” said Lisa Hopp, dean of the PNW College of Nursing. “Our programs are designed to meet the challenges of today’s health care environment as well as the needs of working nurses.

“Our top-50 ranking for our popular online RN-to-BSN program, and the recognition of our fast-growing online MSN program, show we are responding to those needs.”

Best Online Bachelor’s Programs

U.S. News ranks undergraduate online programs based on factors that weigh how the programs are being delivered and their effectiveness at awarding affordable degrees in a reasonable amount of time. The rankings are based on data each program reports to U.S. News and a peer reputation survey. The RN-to-BSN is the only 100 percent online degree offered by Purdue Northwest. PNW’s online degree ranked No. 39 in the country and received a score of 82 on a 100-point scale, sharing the position with eight other programs.

The following table shows PNW listed alongside some other comparably-rated online bachelor’s degree programs. (Please note these are not the complete listings. For the full listings please see

The South Shore Holiday update

Posted on: January 14th, 2020 by Ric Federighi No Comments

The South Shore Line will operate a regular weekday train schedule on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Monday, Jan. 20, 2020. All ticket offices will observe regular hours.

South Shore construction complete

Posted on: January 14th, 2020 by Ric Federighi No Comments

South Shore Line officials announced that construction has been completed on a second tunnel entrance/exit to the East Chicago Station platform. The new portion of the station is set to open to commuters on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020. The project was designed to improve ingress and egress from the station, and includes a covered walkway on the east side of the station accessing a new head house, stairwell and tunnel leading to the eastern portion of the parking lot.

State Police Investigate Fatal Crash in Newton County

Posted on: January 14th, 2020 by Ric Federighi No Comments

On Sunday, January 12, at approximately 9:00 p.m., Trooper Brian Runyon responded to a single vehicle crash in Newton County.  Preliminary investigation by Trooper Runyon revealed that a black, 2012 Chevrolet Silverado, driven by Andrew Kepchar, 29, from Crown Point, IN, was traveling north on County Road 400 West near Morocco, IN.  The Silverado left the roadway and struck a utility pole.  The vehicle then rolled onto its passenger side and caught fire.  As a result of the initial impact, the power lines were knocked down at the scene which hindered first responders being able to access the vehicle.  A passenger in the vehicle was pronounced dead at the scene by the Newton County Coroner’s Office.  Mr. Kepchar was taken to Franciscan Hospital of Rensselaer where he consented to a certified test (blood draw) for alcohol consumption.  The results of that blood draw are pending testing by the Indiana Department of Toxicology.  Mr. Kepchar was arrested and transported to the Newton County Jail.  He is tentatively charged with Operating While Intoxicated Causing Death- Level 5 Felony.  The crash remains under investigation by the Indiana State Police Crash Reconstruction Team. 

The Indiana State Police were assisted at the scene by the Newton County Sheriff’s Department, Newton County Coroner’s Office, Morocco Fire Department, Newton County EMS, Morocco Police Department, Village Motors, and Newton County REMC. 

The deceased has been identified as Thomas Richardson, 30 years of age, from Morocco, IN.  Notification of family has been made.

*All persons named in this release are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.  All charges mentioned are merely accusations, actual charges will be determined by the Newton County Prosecutor’s Office.

The Michigan City and La Porte communities will be the location of two wellness screenings

Posted on: January 13th, 2020 by Ric Federighi No Comments

The Michigan City and La Porte communities will be the location of two wellness screenings provided by the Wellness Outreach department of La Porte Hospital. Screenings offered include a blood glucose screening and a depression screening. Information about cervical cancer will also be available. These events are free and registration is not required. Stop by between 8:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. for screenings and to chat with a wellness coach. Wednesday, January 15: Wellness Screening in the lobby of the Physician Offices at 3777 N. Frontage Road, Michigan City, 8:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. Tuesday, January 21: Wellness Screening in the Lobby at La Porte Hospital, 1007 Lincolnway, La Porte, 8:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.