Bradford Raths

Hoosiers struggling to make ends meet now have another affordable option for healthcare.

Yesterday morning, Governor Pence announced that the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services had approved the state’s request for the 2nd version of the Healthy Indiana Plan. The new plan is a consumer-driven healthcare coverage program aimed at insuring 350 thousand additional low income
Hoosiers between the ages of 19 and 64 with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level.

The plan would require contributions of between 3 and 25 dollars a month into POWER savings accounts. The accounts were also part of the original Healthy Indiana Plan, which was implemented by former Governor Mitch Daniels.

Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann was in town this evening to speak at the annual Dubois County Soil and Water Conservation dinner. Ellspermann says yesterday’s announcement is the culmination of nearly 2 years of work by the current administration. She also says the success of the original Healthy Indiana
Plan laid the groundwork for this new plan:

Now Pence submitted the HIP 2.0 proposal back in July of last year. Ellspermann says the 8 months between submission and yesterday’s approval was spent explaining the plan to federal officials. Ellspermann says the plan is also a model that other states can use going forward:

Ellspermann says there will be no additional costs to the taxpayer as part of this plan. Costs will be covered with revenue from Indiana’s cigarette tax, hospital fees and federal Medicaid funding.

Ellspermann says applications for the plan began rolling in today. Coverage officially begins this upcoming Sunday, February 1st.

Methamphetamine remains a big problem all across southwestern Indiana and local officials are working to keep the problems away from Dubois County.

Last year, there were more than 1,400 meth labs seized by authorities all across the state. Though that figure was down from the more than 1,800 that were seized in 2013, there are still problem spots in our area. Vanderburgh County ranked 3rd in the state with 57 meth labs seized. Knox County had 23 meth labs seized last year and Gibson County had 10.

Data from the Indiana State Police’s Jasper District shows some better news locally. There were only 2 labs seized here in Dubois County, which was the fewest in the entire district. However, Orange County had 13 meth labs busted last year and Martin County had 10. Daviess County had 7, Perry County 6, and Spencer and Crawford Counties each saw 3 meth labs seized. In all, just 44 labs were busted in the Jasper District last year, down from 68 in 2013.

Dubois County Substance Abuse Council coordinator Janet Schnell says the biggest concern locally is making sure meth making doesn’t move into Dubois County from the surrounding areas:

Schnell says though the substance abuse council will work to educate people, getting the problem turned around could take a bit more of a hands-on effort:

Now Indiana has made efforts over the last several years to combat the problem. These include coming up with ways to regulate psuedoephedrine sales (though nothing has been passed yet) and starting a new webpage through the Indiana State Police that identifies properties that could be housing clandestine meth labs.

For more information, you can go online to meth.in.gov.

More good news for Indiana’s workforce as more Hoosiers are now looking for work.

A report from the Indiana Department of Workforce Development says the state added 4 thousand private sector jobs in December and 51.500 for 2014. The DWD says more than 9 thousand Hoosiers returned to the labor force to find work in December.

The influx of job seekers did drive the state’s unemployment rate up a little bit. The December number was 5.8%. This marks the first time in the last year that Indiana’s unemployment was higher than the national average. The national average for December: 5.6%.

Now Indiana has seen more than 83,000 people return to the work force within the last year, nearly double that of any other Midwestern state. The national workforce decreased by 273 thousand workers, thus the drop in the national rate.

Indiana has added 267 thousand private sector jobs since July of 2009. The Department of Workforce Development will release county by county unemployment figues tomorrow.

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Indiana has received federal approval to expand Medicaid to cover 350,000 uninsured residents through a state-run program that supporters say increases participant responsibility.

Gov. Mike Pence announced Tuesday that the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services had approved the state’s request for the plan his administration calls HIP 2.0.

The plan builds off the Healthy Indiana Plan that began under former Gov. Mitch Daniels. The initial program currently enrolls some 60,000 low-income Indiana residents.

Consumers enrolled in HIP 2.0 will make optional contributions and have a hybrid health savings account.

Pence in July submitted his HIP 2.0 proposal to federal officials as an alternative to a traditional expansion of Medicaid.

The costs will be covered with revenue from Indiana’s cigarette tax, hospital fees and federal Medicaid funding.

The Dubois County Substance Abuse Council got a lot done in 2014 despite recent issues with funding.

Last night, coordinator Janet Schnell presented a yearly update to the Dubois County Council. Schnell says the group was able to provide adequate funding across 4 different areas. These were prevention and education, treatment and intervention, criminal justice services, and discretionary funding. Funding for the council comes from court fees that are collected through arrests for drug and alcohol issues.

Schnell told the council there were several key projects funded this past year by Substance Abuse Council grants. These included breathalyzers for the Ferdinand Police Department and random drug testing for all 4 Dubois County high schools.

However, as mentioned, Schnell says funding has been a problem. For 2015, the Substance Abuse Council will only have about 29 thousand 800 dollars to work with for all 4 funding areas. That amounts to 7 thousand 450 dollars for each area.

Schnell says that’s a problem as the group continues to fight substance abuse in Dubois County. She says in addition to working on the long-running issue of alcohol abuse in both teenagers and adults, there are now other drug concerns to deal with:

Schnell says there may be a solution on the horizon however…in the form of federal funding. The Substance Abuse Council is creating a new group known as the Dubois County Communities That Care Coalition. That group will be going after grant money from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Schnell says the grant would be for 125 thousand dollars each year over a 5 year period. The first year would be used to create the coalition and year 2 would be for putting together surveys and implementing programs.

Schnell says there has been a lot of support for going after the grant money:

Schnell says the group is working with Warrick County and other local agencies to apply for the funding.

A 2 vehicle accident along US 231 in front of Sternberg Automotive on Jasper’s south side last night sent 3 people to the hospital.

Just after 7:20 last night, authorities were called to the area after a head-on collision was reported. Jasper Police say 45-year-old Carlos Frias of Jasper had been going north on US 231 when he hit a patch of ice and lost control of his vehicle. Frias’ vehicle then went left of center and into the path of a vehicle driven by 59-year-old Rod Zink of Ferdinand. Zink could not react in time and the vehicles collided head-on.

Police say Frias complained of leg pain while a passenger in his vehicle (34-year-old Jaime Gonzalez of Jasper) complained of upper body pain. Both were taken to Memorial Hospital by ambulance for treatment. Zink was also taken to Memorial Hospital for treatment of hip and leg pain.

Both vehicles were totalled in this crash. US 231 was closed for more than an hour while the accident scene was cleared.

The Jasper Fire Department, Dubois County Sheriff’s deputies, Indiana State Police, Dubois County EMS, and wreckers from Uelbehor’s and Sternberg’s also assisted.

Now other accidents were reported this morning due to slick road conditions. The most dangerous area was the Haysville bridge at the Dubois and Martin county lines with a slideoff that closed lanes to traffic. Another report came in earlier this morning from the westbound lanes of Interstate 64 about 3 miles east of the Ferdinand exit. 2 injuries were initially reported in that crash.

Administrators and faculty members are applauding the efforts of students in making Jasper Middle School the sucess story it has become.

Last night middle school principal Dave Hubster, Assitant Principal Phil Tolbert, Guidence Counselor Tiffany Maxey and Cassie Williams, a special education teacher appeared before the Greater Jasper School Board. The group provided the board an overview of how the school has become so successful.

Their presentation included the role technology plays in everyday teaching and the use of technology to improve student learning and experiences. Other parts of the presentation covered different types of remediation for students and the impact of extracurricular activities.

Hubster says that so much focus is put into a classroom. However, he says if faculty and staff can get kids to buy in and see there is more to school than just book work, they will feel more connected and will try harder to do well.

Hubster says school staff coordinate many programs that makes school more fun for students…

Hubster also gave a brief rundown of JMS’ ISTEP results in both Language Arts and Math. He says student learning in both areas is getting better:

Hubster says different changes are implemented in technology, instruction and curriculum in order to reach those goals.

In other business, Greater Jasper Superintendent Dr Tracy Lorey told the board the corporation has received notices from the Department of Local Government Finance for the 2015 budget. Lorey told the board in spite of less funding for capital projects than last year due to the neutralization of the corporation’s pension bonds, the DLGF’s report was good news all around.

Lorey also noted the district’s assesed value saw an increase of just under 21-million 400-thousand dollars which aided in lowering the districts tax rate to just over $1.07 per 100 dollars of assessed value.

Lorey says all in all they feel the corporation had a very strong finish to 2014 and says the 2015 budget looks very promising.