Short Takes

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Published on September 28, 2010 with No Comments

SOUTH BEND Airport Gets Busy
South Bend Regional Airport Reports First Increase in Passenger Traffic Since 2008 as travelers in the Michiana region are beginning to see that they truly can get anywhere from the South Bend Regional Airport (SBN). August 2010 reports show that total passenger traffic at SBN was up 5.32 percent over August 2009 – the first increase since April 2008. Competitive prices, nonstop flights to vacation destinations, hub connectivity, travel agency support and affordable parking all contribute to the airport’s growing popularity.

A total of 55,857 passengers chose to fly through SBN last month. Nearly every SBN carrier experienced an increase. Airport officials are cautiously optimistic that the momentum will continue; these increases can be partly attributed to increased capacity at the airport. “With new nonstop flight options such as Phoenix/Mesa and total SBN seat capacity up 5.1 percent, travelers in the Michiana region are seeing additional flight options and more reasons to travel,” Executive Director John Schalliol said. The first phase of the airport’s new 45,000-square-foot concourse expansion is on schedule for completion in November. The terminal will feature five new gates and increased passenger amenities including a full service deli, business center, gift shop, and children’s play area. “We are preparing for an exciting future,” Schalliol added. The South Bend Regional Airport’s four air carriers provide non-stop flights to 10 cities: Atlanta, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit, Las Vegas, Phoenix-Mesa, Minneapolis, Orlando/Sanford, and Tampa Bay/St. Petersburg. South Bend Airport’s multi-modal terminal serves over one million air, rail and bus passengers each year.For more information, visit HYPERLINK “http://www.sbnair.com” www.sbnair.com.

GROUPS SEEK Support for PACE Legislation
Six Indiana organizations signed and sent a letter to Ind. Sen. Richard Lugar this week, asking him to support federal Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) legislation that guarantees local governments the right to establish clean energy programs. The letter, signed by the Hoosier Environmental Council, Local Initiatives Support Corp. (LISC)-Indianapolis, American Institute of Architects-Indiana, U.S. Green Building Council-Indiana, Hoosier Chapter of the Sierra Club and Citizens Action Coalition, encourages Lugar to sponsor PACE legislation because it would help homeowners and businesses afford the upfront costs of installing energy-saving improvements to their properties. PACE works by allowing local governments to finance energy-saving improvements, such as geothermal heating and cooling systems or solar installations, and allowing property owners to repay the financing they receive on their property tax bill – the same way local governments have financed other infrastructure improvements for decades. “PACE legislation has won strong bipartisan support across the county because these programs hold great promise to save energy, cut utility bills, create jobs and reduce greenhouse gases,” said Jesse Kharbanda, executive director of the Hoosier Environmental Council. “Sen. Lugar would be the ideal sponsor for this kind of bill, as it helps achieve one of the goals in his own Practical Energy and Climate Plan – retrofitting buildings.” In the letter, the authors point out that 22 states have already passed laws enabling local governments to develop PACE programs, including Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin. For more information, call 317-925-7328.

RABIES STILL An Important Issue
World Rabies Day was September 28, and state health officials are taking advantage of the opportunity to remind the public rabies is still a disease of concern. Rabies is a virus that attacks the brain and nervous system of humans and other mammals. It is transmitted through a bite, or very rarely, saliva entering a person’s mouth, nose, eyes, or open wound. Rabies is almost 100 percent fatal. In Indiana, bats are the animal of most concern for rabies. Health officials have identified 21 bats this year that have tested positive for rabies in the state. Since 2006, two people in Indiana have died from rabies. Before 2006, Indiana had not had a human case of rabies in 50 years. “Unfortunately, these deaths are a sad a reminder rabies is still a threat,” Jennifer House, DVM, veterinary epidemiologist, said. World Rabies Day has been set aside to promote rabies prevention. It is estimated 55,000 people die worldwide from rabies each year. Vaccination of domestic animals has greatly reduced the risk of rabies in the United States. State health officials say canine strain rabies has been eliminated from the United States through vaccination and leash laws. However, other strains of rabies are still present and risk of rabies transmission to pets from wildlife is always a possibility. Animals that are most likely to spread rabies are bats, raccoons, skunks, coyotes, and foxes. “In addition to vaccinating their pets, people should also avoid contact with wildlife,” House said. “Since rabies in Indiana is primarily found in bats, I urge people to take extra precautions to avoid exposure to bats. The first step is to bat-proof your house. Second, don’t handle bats.” For more information, call 317-233-7104.

HOOSIER ASKED TO Think About Redistricting
Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita continues his push urging effective redistricting reform by launching a new Facebook petition labeled, “I Support Rethinking Redistricting.” Hoosiers are encouraged to sign the petition by clicking the “Like” button at the top of the “I Support Rethinking Redistricting” Facebook page. “With just over one month left before Election Day, the time is now to let the candidates for the Indiana General Assembly know you support redistricting reform,” Rokita said. “We’re making it easier than ever to encourage a more fair and effective process with just the click of a button.” Rokita recently wrote to each candidate running for the Indiana General Assembly to encourage them to make positive changes in the process of how the state redraws its legislative boundaries. Every 10 years, the process of redrawing precinct boundaries – known as redistricting – uses data from the U.S. Census Report. However, Indiana’s existing process allows politicians, who redraw the boundaries, to use political data in creating the new political lines. “Allowing politicians to view your voting history in order to create legislative boundaries means our elected leaders are picking their voters,” Rokita said. “Developing a new process that puts people before politics will create more competitive districts requiring elected officials to pay more attention to the needs of their constituents rather than needs of their political parties.” Rokita’s new Facebook petition becomes the next phase of a grassroots campaign he launched in September of 2009 which has garnered hundreds of followers on Facebook and Twitter. Hoosiers can also visit, www.RethinkingRedistricting.com, to learn more about the secretary’s ideas on how Indiana can effectively reform redistricting.

FUNDS FOR Educational Program
Forty-six Indiana schools from 11 school corporations will partner with the Indiana Department of Education to implement a nationally-recognized program, called TAP: The System for Teacher and Student Advancement. The U.S. Department of Education today announced Indiana is one of 27 states to be awarded Teacher Incentive Fund money. Of the $442 million awarded, Indiana will receive $48,580,398 – every penny requested in the grant application IDOE submitted in July. The TAP system uses rigorous evaluations, training, and strong incentives including performance-based pay to keep successful teachers in classrooms and recognize effective school leadership. “I fundamentally believe great teachers and schoo
l leaders are the most important factors impacting student success,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett said. “The TAP system has demonstrated its value in schools across the country, and its founding principles mirror our own goals for identifying, supporting, recognizing and keeping our best educators. I’m excited for our partnering schools and eager to see the results this program will have for their students.” The TAP program clearly met the grant criteria outlined by the U.S. Department of Education. TAP is based on four foundational components: multiple career paths for teachers, ongoing professional growth, instructionally focused accountability, and performance-based compensation. Many of the schools participating in TIF have teacher shortages in one or more subjects, high educator turnover and high numbers of students qualifying for free and reduced lunch. Under TAP, teachers can grow professionally, taking on more responsibility as Mentor or Master teachers with corresponding increases in pay. Ongoing job-embedded professional development and rigorous evaluations are standard for teachers and administrators under the program. “I hope these schools become statewide leaders in effective policies for evaluation and professional growth,” Bennett said. “Ideally, we’d like to see all schools use similar tools and strategies to recognize and retain great educators while boosting academic growth for all students.” For more information on TAP, visit HYPERLINK “http://www.tapsystem.org” www.tapsystem.org.

STATE IS Better Prepared
A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates Indiana has made significant progress toward building and strengthening its and the nation’s public health emergency preparedness and response capabilities.The report, Public Health Preparedness: Strengthening the Nation’s Emergency Response State by State, presents data on a broad range of preparedness and response activities taking place at state and local health departments across the nation. Being prepared to prevent, respond to, and recover from all types of public health threats such as disease outbreaks, chemical releases, or natural disasters – requires that public health departments improve their capabilities in surveillance and epidemiology, laboratories, and response readiness. “Indiana has always strived to be one of the leaders in public health preparedness and response, and the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic was a lesson we won’t soon forget,” said State Health Commissioner Gregory N. Larkin, M.D. “The CDC’s report is validation of the progress we’ve made, and I’m confident we will continue to work even harder to ensure we are even better prepared in the future than we are today.” Public health threats are always present, whether caused by natural, accidental, or intentional means. Incidents such as the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic and other disease outbreaks and natural disasters that have occurred recently underscore the importance of communities being prepared for all types of hazards. For more information, visit www.emergency.cdc.gov.

MORE CASES OF West Nile in Region
The Indiana State Department of Health says two additional human cases of West Nile virus have been reported in the state, both in Porter County. To date, mosquito groups in 47 counties have tested positive for the virus. Close by, the Illinois Department of Public Health recently reported the first West Nile virus-related death in Illinois for 2010.“This is the time of the year when we normally see the most cases of West Nile virus,” Jennifer House, DVM, veterinary epidemiologist at the Indiana State Department of Health said. “Mosquitoes will remain infected and capable of transmitting West Nile virus until they die. Mosquitoes will not die until we have a good hard freeze. In the meantime, they are capable of biting, so repellents should be used.” House said the West Nile virus usually causes West Nile fever, a milder form of the illness, which can include fever, headache, body aches, swollen lymph glands, or a rash. However, a small number of individuals will develop a more severe form of the disease with encephalitis, meningitis, or other neurological syndromes. Although anyone can get West Nile virus, people over 50 are at greater risk for becoming seriously ill or even dying. “There is no cure for West Nile virus and no human vaccine, but it is preventable,” House said. For more information or updates on this and other public health issues, visit www.twitter.com/inpublichealth, or www.statehealth.in.gov.


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