Short Takes: September 21, 2011

Written by Nicholas Serrano. Posted in Short Takes

Published on September 21, 2011 with No Comments

Backpacks, Boy Scout conservation merit badge, high school seniors testing


Portage Township Students Helped

Portage Township Trustee Brendan Clancy thanks all who made it possible to provide 115 backpacks filled with school supplies to Portage Township students, more than 35 additional bags filled with school supplies for students and for the remaining school supplies donated to classrooms for our children who needed help. Among those who helped: Portage VFW Post 7760; I.L.A. Local 2038; Hatch 1, LLC; Robin Wilkening, Broker; Samuelson Insurance Agency; USWA Local Union No. 6103; Bonner Senior Center; Hair Razors; Brenda Kleihege and The Chronicle; Pyro Industrial Services, Inc.; Gore Realty; Portage Heart Care, P.C.; Braces For All Ages; United Steelworkers Of Local No. 6787; Portage Animal Clinic; Porter County Sheriff David Lain; Portage Township Democratic Club; South Haven Volunteer Fire Dept.; Olga For Mayor Committee; Kiwanis Club Of Portage; Hefty Insurance; Tom Dowell; Terry Whitten; Margaret Shults; Larry and Maureen Wendrickx; Eva Brady; Gloria Nedoff; Carmella Ferguson; Curves Of Portage; Mrs. Robert O’Rourke; Mrs. McCullouch; Kelly Kalin; Edna Maturkanich. For more information on the Portage Township Trustee’s Office, 3484 Airport Road, call 219-762-1623.


Benefit Plans 170,000 Hoosier Workers.

Nyhart (www.nyhart.com), Indiana’s largest independent actuarial and employee benefits consulting firm reached 215 employers across the state. Findings include: Healthcare benefit costs increased 6.9 percent (single coverage) and 8 percent (family coverage) in 2011; the typical Hoosier is paying $105 per month for single coverage and $417 for family coverage. Indiana employers provide an average subsidy of $364 for single coverage and $915 for employees with family coverage; Nearly one in five employers increased their deductible; healthcare benefit costs are higher costs for Hoosiers than the national average; when faced with a choice of cutting back benefits or shifting costs to employees, 44 percent of employers favor reducing benefits to maintaining cost levels while 18 percent favor passing cost increases on to employees. “The survey reinforced what we’ve been observing in our practice – that employers are shifting to high deductible plans and looking for ways to put more of the healthcare costs on the shoulders of their employees as costs continue to escalate,” said healthcare actuary and lead researcher Randy Gomez, FSA. “The study of the survey confirms that in the future healthcare benefits will be treated as a commodity.”

$266,000 federal grant

To Gary/Chicago International Airport

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is awarding federal assistance in the amount of $266,000 to the Gary/Chicago International Airport to support key infrastructure improvements that will improve airport drainage, according to U.S. Rep. Peter J. Visclosky, D-Merrillville. Airport Director Steve Landry said, “On behalf of the Gary/Chicago International Airport Authority, I’d like to thank Rep. Visclosky for his continued support and tireless efforts with regard to the airport. While recent focus has been on the runway expansion program, this grant will allow the Airport to make improvements to its current configuration and sustain a high level of service to our users. Specifically, the drainage improvements will alleviate water ponding in vicinity of the runway, thereby enhancing our safety programs and preventing damage to our airfield lighting systems.” Visclosky said, “The grant award will allow the Gary/Chicago International Airport to greatly improve the safety of its operations by eliminating water ponding on its runways. By making such investments in our infrastructure, we can put our construction industry back to work and support our economic recovery. The Gary/Chicago International Airport really has the potential to be an economic engine for our region. I thank the Airport Authority and the Regional Development Authority for their tireless work to advance the airport.”

INDOT LaPorte District

Plans Job Fair In Gary

The Indiana Department of Transportation’s (INDOT) LaPorte District will conduct a Job Fair on Monday, Sept. 26 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Gary Subdistrict office, 7601 Melton Road, Gary.

INDOT is seeking CDL-licensed individuals for up to 47 full-time and seasonal positions for highway workers and snow plow drivers in all 13 counties in the LaPorte District and for the Hoosier Helpers in Lake County. The LaPorte District includes Lake, Porter, LaPorte, St. Joseph, Newton, Jasper, Starke, Marshall, Pulaski, Fulton, White, Cass and Carroll counties. The Job Fair will be conducted in an open house format. Interviews will be conducted on the spot and no appointment is required. Potential employees are asked to bring six copies of their resume. Workers needing assistance in preparing a resume can contact their local Department of Workforce Development office (WorkOne) at www.in.gov/dwd/2328.htm. For the latest news and information about INDOT, visit www.in.gov/indot. For more information, call the LaPorte District toll free at 855-GO-INDOT.

New Purdue Calumet

Enrollment Figures Released

Twenty-one fewer students are attending Purdue University Calumet this fall. But the university is gaining ground attracting better-prepared and degree-persistent students, including those opting for on-line degree programs. Overall enrollment at Purdue Calumet’s Hammond campus and Academic Learning Center in south Lake County is 9,786, slightly down from last fall’s total of 9,807. However, the freshman-to- sophomore year retention rate of students accepted and persisting in degree granting tracks of study increased this fall to 71.3 percent from 70.7 percent a year ago.m “We continue to transition and develop strategies for increasing the quality of students who choose to attend Purdue University Calumet,” said Purdue Calumet Chancellor Thomas Keon. “While much of our current enrollment data is not indicative of where we want to be, we believe we are heading in the right direction.” In Purdue Calumet’s ongoing quest to attract students who are prepared and committed to earning a Purdue baccalaureate degree, the university referred 800 applicants to the Ivy Tech Community College system, an increase of 43 from last year. Contributing to this fall’s increase in admission denials were: implementation of Core 40 curriculum regulations that recent high school graduates must satisfy to gain admission to Indiana public universities, more restrictive Purdue Calumet transfer regulations and continuation of more rigorous university admission standards employed during recent years.

More Indiana HIGH SCHOOL Seniors

Participate In Pre-College Tests

Indiana once again posted significant gains in the number of students taking Advanced Placement (AP), SAT and PSAT exams, according to a report released today by The College Board. Each year, The College Board releases data evaluating the college readiness of students in Indiana and across the United States. “Our continued gains in the number of students taking AP, SAT and PSAT exams are commendable, and highlight our concerted efforts to focus intensely on college-readiness.” Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett said. “However, it’s clear we have more work to do to raise achievement with these important exams. Our goal is to have 25 percent of all students take and pass at least one AP or International Baccalaureate exam—or receive college credit in high school.”Student performance on the SAT and PSAT shows areas for improvement. SAT scores in Math decreased two points and Writing decreased one point, while Critical Reading remained flat. Tenth graders’ PSAT scores dipped slightly in Writing. The number of students earning scores of 3, 4 or 5 on AP exams (the score needed to gain college credit at a state college or university) increased by 16.8 percent, which is significantly higher than the national average of 7.6 percent. The number of students who took an AP exam increased by 9.7 percent. The diversity of Indiana AP exam takers also continues to grow. The percentage of black students participating is up 13.5 percent and the number of Hispanic test-takers is up 20.9 percent. “We should provide all students access to excellent educational opportunities,” Bennett said. “All students deserve great teachers and school leaders, and I believe our continued focus on high quality classroom instruction and leadership will close the gap between participation and performance. We are committed to ensuring every student is ready for postsecondary work without remediation.”

Two local Schools

Receive National Honors

Two Northwest Indiana schools have been named as recipients of the 2011 National Blue Ribbon awards: the Dwight D. Eisenhower Elementary School of Crown Point and the Benjamin Banneker Achievement Center of Gary. The national announcement was made by Secretary Arne Duncan of the U.S. Department of Education, who stated that over 300 public and private schools across the country have earned this esteemed award. The Blue Ribbon award is only given to public and private elementary, middle, and high schools with stellar academic performances or those that have demonstrated considerable progress in closing the achievement gap, particularly among disadvantaged or minority students. U.S. Rep. Peter J. Viskosky, D-Merrillville, who commented locally, said “I commend the Dwight D. Eisenhower Elementary School and the Benjamin Banneker Achievement Center for acting as models for both our region and the country.” Principal Sarah Givens of Benjamin Banneker Achievement Center remarked, “Receiving this award and recognition is a dream come true. Truly, there is much excitement in our school community. We owe a great deal of thanks to the Gary Community School Board, our devoted parents, our hardworking students, our dedicated staff and the prayers of Pastors Cedric and Joyce Oliver. Our school is proud to serve as a model for other schools throughout the nation. We are truly humbled and grateful for this unprecedented honor and recognition.” Principal Mary Ann Chapko of the Eisenhower Elementary School said, “Receiving Blue Ribbon School status is the culmination of a long journey for our school community. As principal of Dwight D. Eisenhower Elementary School for the past fifteen years, my team and I have consistently worked together to meet the individual needs of each student. Our data shows steady growth over the years, to the point of reaching a 98 percent passing rate on ISTEP+ testing school wide in 2011. Our dream of receiving this national award was made possible by the unique partnership of teachers, staff, parents, students, and administration all working in seamless unison to ensure success at all levels.” The school principals, along with one teacher from each school, will be invited to attend the award ceremony in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 14 and 15.

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