Chesterton Tribune



Porter County Commissioners change meeting time to 10 a.m. and renew wellness plan

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The Porter County Commissioners on Tuesday approved a new meeting schedule for 2017, switching from 1 p.m. in the afternoons to 10 a.m.

The Commissioners also agreed to break away from their traditional schedule of meeting every first and third Tuesday of the month. They will now only meet once a month with the exception of January, April and October. The 2017 meeting dates are Jan. 10, Jan. 31, Feb. 21, March 14, April 4, April 18, May 16, June 13, July 18, Aug. 15, Sept. 19, Oct. 3, Oct. 31, Nov. 14 and Dec. 12.

The board will retain its Republican majority next year with current County Council member Jim Biggs joining the board as the North District Commissioner and Commissioner Jeff Good, R-Center, in his third year of office.

Commissioner Laura Shurr Blaney, D-South, will start her second term after Jan 1.

Outgoing County Commissioner President John Evans, R-North, announced that the Commissioners are taking applications for appointments on several boards and commissions: Alcoholic Beverage Commission, Board of Health, Drainage Board, Porter County Convention, Recreation and Visitor Commission, Plan Commission, Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals, Storm Water Advisory Board, West Porter Twp. Fire District and Wildlife Management Advisory Board.

Applications, which can be found on or inside the Commissioners’ office, are due Jan. 2. Evans said some of the appointments require a specific political party affiliation.

“If anyone is interested, we could always use good people,” said Evans.

Wellness program costs lower

The Commissioners decided unanimously to continue its contract with Porter Health for wellness services. Porter Regional Hospital has merged with LaPorte Hospital to create Workforce Health, said insurance servicing agent Mike Anton of Anton Insurance.

Workforce Health Regional Director Mark Savage said the merger, which took place Oct. 1, covers the two hospitals’ occupational health programs and will provide wellness screening services for government employees.

Next year the plan costs are “considerably cheaper,” Savage said. The screening costs will be $65 per employee instead of $140 for men and $155 for women.

“It’s less than half of what it was. It’s a heck of a deal for the County,” Anton said.

The Commissioners also approved Porter Regional Health’s CareExpress services at the same rate as it’s been for five years. Any eligible employee or dependent can use urgent care or CareExpress services for a $10 fee.

The County will also accept an agreement with Porter-Starke Services which allows employees on the health plan up to three visits per year. They are willing to provide specific assistance to management upon request to deal with issues such as deteriorating job performance by individual employees, said Leigh Westergren, employee benefits specialist with Anton Insurance.

Porter County pays $1 a year to Porter-Starke for the County’s health plan. It gets that deal since the County Council pays out over $1 million in support per year, Anton said.

Unsafe building fund

In other business, the Commissioners voted in favor of all three new ordinances for the Department of Development and Stormwater Management on second reading, including the ordinance establishing the unsafe building fund.

One of the ordinances revises the fees for the Plan Commission and Building Department effective in January. A portion of the fees paid will be reverted into the new unsafe building fund.

A first reading was given on an amendment of the ordinance to create a non-reverting fund for the receipt of court ordered detention service fees for the Porter County Juvenile Services Center. Chris Buyer, chief probation officer with County Juvenile Probation, said the amendment would allow the collection of fees to support a teen court program which acts as an alternative to detention.

Other actions:

-- The Commissioners approved an agreement for the County Animal Shelter and Animal Control to provide services to the Town of Pine.

-- Fourth installment of the payment of the new Animal Shelter for Larson-Danielson.

-- Curt Ellis will continue to be a consultant for the Animal Shelter, the Porter County Expo Center and the Memorial Opera House.

-- The Commissioners also passed a resolution stating approval for the Historic Preservation Plan for Collier Lodge on the Kankakee River. Grant administrator Tina Rongers said the Commissioners’ approval is required under the guidelines of the Office of Community and Rural Affairs grant and for the plan to move forward to the State Historic Preservation Plan. There are three possible uses of the site, which include an education center, a retreat center or an overnight lodge. The building plan favored by the Historical Society is to reconstruct the inn in its current position, she said.

-- County Highway Superintendent Andy McKay recommended Triple J Mar as the low bidder for fuel. The Commissioners approved unanimously. Good also shared with McKay that the Sheriff’s Department agrees that the Highway Dept. did an “outstanding job” with plowing the snow over the weekend.

-- The Commissioners approved the contract to allow Jasper County to use services at the Porter County Juvenile Services for 2017, raising the per diem to $140 with a maximum of 250 bed days.

-- Leverage Painting and Decorating will do some painting and repair at the Memorial Opera House after having its bid of $14,600 approved by the Commissioners.



Posted 12/22/2016




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