Chesterton Tribune



Evans to lead Commissioners again; contract renewed with Porter Health

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County Commissioner John Evans, R-North, was elected by his board to be its president for a fourth straight year.

The Commissioners met Tuesday afternoon to reorganize and name appointments for 2014.

Also keeping their spots from last year, Commissioner Laura Blaney, D-South, will be the board’s vice-president and Commissioner Nancy Adams, R-Center, will be secretary.

Adams was appointed to represent the Commissioners on the Northwest Indiana Regional Planning Commission, the County Plan Commission, and the Center for Workforce Innovation and Community Corrections Advisory Board. Evans will again be on the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District board. Blaney will remain on the County Drainage Board and the Child Protection Team.

Russell Pumroy will be the Commissioners’ representative on the Kankakee River Basin Board. County Clerk Karen Martin will represent the board on the Common Wage Construction Committee.

The Commissioners appointed Valparaiso pilot Thomas Cavanaugh to the Gary-Chicago Airport Board.

In citizen appointments, many appointees retained their seats, Ralph Levi was named to the Alcoholic Beverage Commission, Elizabeth Forbes and Donna Werner to the Board of Health, Dave Burrus to the Drainage Board, Ruth Jarnecke to the Park Board, Nicholas Sommer and Joe Wszolek to the Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals (PTABOA), Riley’s Railhouse owner Richard Riley to the County Tourism Bureau, and E. Ric Frataccia and Dave Burrus to the Redevelopment Commission.

Evans said Indiana statute says the president of the Board of Commissioners must be on the Redevelopment Commission or they can choose a designee who is not an elected official. Evans named Plan Commission Executive Director Bob Thompson as his designee.

Two appointments to the Plan Commission this year will be Kenneth Williams and Luther Williams. Luther Williams had been on the Commission before and will also continue to serve on the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA).

Evans said that the Commissioners are taking applications for appointments that were not advertised at the same time as the others. Those are the two for the Jail Museum Advisory Board and another appointment to replace a resigning member on the County Plan Commission to finish the term’s remaining two years. Those interested are to apply by noon, Jan. 20, with the Commissioners and the appointments will be made at the Jan. 21 Commissioner meeting.

Porter health contract

In other business, the board voted 3-0 to renew its clinic service contract with Porter Health Care Systems CareEXPRESS for 2014, after hearing the amount of savings netted from last year’s switch from its previous provider, HealtheACCESS.

Mike Anton of Anton Insurance, which services the county’s health plan, said that without the access fees that HealtheACCESS had in its 2012 contract worth $289,464, the County made significant savings. Anton reported that Porter’s service was $105,888 in 2013, a difference of $183,576.

“Imagine that,” said Evans, who added that the reason the Commissioners chose to contract with Porter Health was to incur savings.

Before renewing the contract, Evans read into the record a completed “uniform non-conflict of interest disclosure statement” that explains his wife, Laurie Wehner-Evans, is an employee of Porter Regional Hospital.

Evans said the form was a “non-conflict of interest form” rather than a “conflict of interest form” because there is no profit derived by either him or his spouse from the agreement that Porter Health provide medical services to Porter County employees.

“There is no financial interest and this disclosure is made for the purpose of documenting my spouse’s employment with the hospital and its relationship to the contractor, Porter Health Care System and for no other purpose,” Evans said.

Evans said he took the time to fill out the form to satisfy all suspicion that might surround the agreement regarding his wife’s employment.

Documents related to last year’s contract with Porter Health were recently taken from Anton Insurance by the FBI. The FBI also seized conflict of interest forms from the County Clerk’s office.

Anton said the clinic costs for employees will remain the same according to the contract.

He also mentioned that the County health care plan in 2013 had one percent below the expected number of claims and he expects this year to improve with more employees getting involved with the offered health screenings.

Jail pod improvements

Also, the Commissioners received proposals and selected Berglund Construction of Chesterton, the lowest bidder out of four firms, to prepare the unopened B-pod at the County Jail for use later this spring. Earlier DLZ Indiana made a study of what needs to be done to safely house inmates, such as restoring plumbing and electronic security systems.

Berglund’s offer, with two alternative bids to install new appliances, came to $119,465. The Commissioners will pay the contract with money garnered from refinancing the jail building bonds.


Posted 1/8/2014




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