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Recent editorials published in Indiana newspapers

December 25, 2018

The Munster Times. December 20, 2018

Region Democrats must show bipartisanship to be effective.

Seven Region lawmakers have been designated as the top Democrats on Indiana House committees heading into the 2019 legislative session.

On face value, that sounds great for the Region. We have key folks in positions that help strengthen Northwest Indiana’s relevance in the state’s power center of Indianapolis.

But it won’t get any of us far if those seven Democrats don’t bring bipartisanship to bear in their newly elevated roles.

The Republican Party remains Indiana’s legislative supermajority, and a Republican controls the governor’s office.

Add to those realities that longtime incumbent Indiana House Rep. Hal Slager, a Schererville Republican, recently was unseated by Democratic newcomer Chris Chyung, and the need for bipartisan bridge-building becomes even more important.

Slager had earned the respect of the GOP majority downstate and had used it to bring beneficial commuter rail legislation and hundreds of thousands of dollars in state investment into the Region.

Bipartisan cooperation will be needed to help fill the vacancy. Chyung will sit on the Committee on Local Government and has big shoes to fill.

New Democratic Rep. Lisa Beck, of Hebron, showed us promise during our editorial board endorsements earlier this year.

Beck won our endorsement and defeated Republican incumbent Julie Olthoff, of Crown Point.

We look forward to any bipartisan effectiveness Beck can bring in her new role as a representative and member of the House Committee on Employment, Labor and Pensions.

Indiana House Rep. Carolyn Jackson, D-Hammond, also is a newcomer to the Indiana Statehouse and will sit on the Committee on Government Reduction.

Jackson will be replacing longtime incumbent Rep. Linda Lawson, D-Hammond.

And Democrat Ragen Hatcher, of Gary, replaces longtime Rep. Charlie Brown, D-Gary, who chose not to run again for the Legislature, instead making a successful bid for Lake County Council.

Brown had strong respect downstate, and Hatcher surely knows she must do much to obtain similar respect.

Some of the Region’s leading Democratic legislators have been around a while.

Rep. Chuck Moseley, D-Portage, Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon, D-Munster, and Rep. Vernon Smith, D-Gary, are veteran lawmakers who must lead the Region legislative newcomers by bipartisan example if any of their polices are to see the light of day. They also hold key committee appointments.

In the end, none of their ideas, or what they try to achieve for Northwest Indiana, will matter without bipartisan buy-in from a Republican supermajority.

A special onus is on all Democrats elected to the Indiana Legislature to make this so. They owe it to their constituents, who in turn should expect the legislators to be effective regardless of party label.

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The (Fort Wayne) Journal Gazette. December 21, 2018

The picture of health

Lutheran contributes to downtown momentum with announcement of St. Joe’s replacement

There were many questions when Lutheran Health Network, in October 2017, announced its intention to build a facility to replace St. Joseph Hospital. The most compelling ones were when the new hospital would be built, and where.

Construction was originally expected to begin last spring. Rumors about the site never ceased. Lutheran offered and later withdrew a bid on the North River property being purchased by the city from Omnisource. Mike Poore, the network’s CEO, said the locations being considered were all within a mile of St. Joseph.

Wednesday, Lutheran ended the speculation with an announcement that seems to make eminent good sense.

After considering a dozen properties throughout Allen County, Poore said, Lutheran decided to build the new facility at the intersection of Main and Van Buren streets, where a parking lot the hospital company owns is located.

Building literally across the street from St. Joe has strong symbolic value. Fort Wayne’s first hospital, St. Joe has been on the same site since 1869. The planned hospital’s historic resonance is a plus, as is Lutheran’s decision to add to downtown’s momentum with yet another state-of-the-art new building. Perhaps most important, Lutheran Downtown Hospital, as the new facility will be called, could meet the needs of central-city patients more conveniently than its Dupont and West Jefferson hospitals and Parkview’s north side and Randallia facilities.

Lutheran’s plan to include its celebrated burn unit in plans for the new acute-care facility is also good news for all of northeast Indiana and northwest Ohio.

Wednesday’s announcement does not end wariness about the long-term stability of Lutheran Health Network’s parent company, Community Health Systems. And it’s to be hoped that the company’s focus on building a new hospital will not cause it to cut back on commitments to its other properties around the region.

Venerable as it is, the St. Joe building is both too big and too old to compete with newer facilities and accommodate modern medical technology. Fort Wayne has benefited from and continues to need a strong and diverse health care system. As St. Joe’s 150th anniversary approaches next year, we can all be glad Lutheran has decided to replace, rather than abandon, it.

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Kokomo Tribune. December 21, 2018

House fires are deadly

Nov. 27 was a terrible day for the Logansport community. Four children — 3-year-old Swayze Hite; 1-year-old Rhylie Hite; 3-month-old Marshall Hite; their mother, Brandi Hite; 10-year-old KaDee Huddleston, and her father, Joseph, were killed in a house fire.

According to The Associated Press, more than 85 people have died in fires in Indiana in 2018, an increase of 13 over the previous year. And Monday, the State Fire Marshal’s office announced it was doing something about it.

The state announced it will use $521,000 it received in federal funding to install 10,000 smoke detectors in Hoosier homes.

Working with the Red Cross, firefighters installed more than 5,700 smoke detectors since October 2014, according to state fire officials. With the federal funding, the State Fire Marshal’s office will launch a statewide smoke detector education and distribution campaign called “Get Alarmed Indiana.”

Home fires are the biggest disaster threat Americans face, the Red Cross says. Improper use of alternate heaters increases that threat as people turn to other ways to heat their homes when the temperatures drop.

Many people use alternate sources of heat to cut down on heating bills. If your family is among that group, the Red Cross offers these tips:

. Keep all potential sources of fuel like paper, clothing, bedding, curtains or rugs at least 3 feet away from space heaters, stoves or fireplaces.

. Portable heaters and fireplaces should never be left unattended. Turn off space heaters and make sure any embers in the fireplace are extinguished before going to bed or leaving home.

. Keep children and pets away from space heaters.

State Fire Marshal Jim Greeson said there were no smoke alarms in the home of the fatal Logansport fire. Foul play has been ruled out as a cause.

But this much is clear: Fires can be deadly.

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