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Indiana: Wal-Mart to build milk processing plant in Allen County

Wal-Mart announced plans Friday to build a milk processing plant in Allen County that will employ more than 200 people. The Indiana Economic Development Corporation said in a news release, the 200 jobs will happen by end of 2017.

Wal-Mart is the nation's largest grocer. The company will build the 250,000-square-foot plant in Fort Wayne, in southern Allen County. It's expected to be one of the largest milk processing facilities in the country and mill produce Great Value and Member's Mark brand white and chocolate milk for more than 600 Wal-Mart and Sam's Club stores in Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and Kentucky.

Production is expected to start in the summer of 2017.

94.1 WGFA

  • Parent Category: News

Flu bug prompts visitor restrictions at hospitals

Hospitals have started restricting visitors as flu picks up in the area. You might want to call ahead before making the trip to any hospital to visit.

There's been a big jump in reported flu cases this month. In Danville, at Presence United Samaritans Medical Center, more than 100 patients have been treated since February. That's either through coming to the emergency room or being admitted to the hospital.

Carle Foundation Hospital has had 64 emergency room visits in the last week due to influenza-like illness, and the hospital admitted three people.

The Illinois Department of Public Health issued an alert Thursday about flu being on the rise in several counties, and advised hospitals to begin visitor restrictions.

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  • Parent Category: News

Presence Health announces hundreds of job cuts

Presence Health, the medical system that operates 11 Illinois hospitals, including Presence St. Mary's Hospital in Kankakee, is announcing its cutting up to 700 jobs. A press release states 250 jobs will be cut this year and 450 positions won't be filled thru attrition.

Presence does not say which hospitals or long-term care and senior living facilities will be specifically impacted. But the job loss would be concentrated among corporate staff, rather than what was described as front-line health care workers, such as doctors and nurses.

Iroquois Memorial Hospital in Watseka is not likely to be affected. IMH is an 'independent' partner of Presence Health.

The Presence network CEO, Michael Englehart, blamed poor billing collection as a key component as the system lost $186 million in 2015. It's about 15 times what it lost the previous year. In 2014, the organization lost $12.7 million.

The loss of 700 jobs is 3.5 percent of Presence's 20,000-member workforce.

The Presence news release states "We recognize that the changes we will have to make will not be easy for any of us at Presence Health." Englehart further states, "Consistent with our mission and values, we are committed to treating all associates in a compassionate manner and will provide transition assistance to those who are impacted."

Locally, Presence has 850 Kankakee County employees.  The layoffs were announced Wednesday during a call with Presence bondholders.

94.1 WGFA

  • Parent Category: News

Ford County Health Department faces possible temporary closure

Payroll issues could force closure of the Ford County Health Department in Paxton. The lack of available cash flow could lead to the facility closing by the end of May.

Public Health Administrator Lana Sample informed her Ford County Board this week that a lack of revenue from the state has the agency in a difficult financial position. Coming in to March, Sample said, the department had but $76,191 in cash. That won't be enough to keep the agency operating.

There's been no hiring to fill vacancies and there's been efforts to save costs, but unless state payments are on their way, services could be stopped.

Sample said the health department isn't due to get any property tax revenues until July. Unless more revenue is coming in, closing the office may be the only option.

The health board has talked about employee furloughs and borrowing from a bank or the county itself.

94.1 WGFA

  • Parent Category: News

Gibson Area Chamber of Commerce awards

Annual awards were presented (Thursday) by the Gibson Area Chamber of Commerce.

Lifetime Achievement Award...

Ron and Melanie Warfield of Gibson City were named recipients of the 9th Lifetime Achievement Award. Recipients are recognized for community involvement over several years. The Warfields, it was pointed out, serve as volunteers at Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley schools and Gibson Area Hospital. They're also active in the chamber and local Rotary Club.

Ron Warfield is also a former president of the Illinois Farm Bureau.

Citizen of the Year Award...

"Citizen of the Year" recognizes the volunteers efforts of Miranda Leonard, activity and social services director at the Gibson Area Hospital Annex. Her nomination pointed out Leonard's involvement as a volunteer with the Meals on Wheels program and as a Sunday School teacher. She's also served the GCMS school board, the PTA, the Gibson Area Hospital Auxiliary and as a volunteer with the Little league Board and Lions Club.

More than 200 people attended the annual event at the Kruse Center in Gibson City.

Junior Citizen of the Year...

Six GCMS High School seniors were nominated for the Junior award. The honor went to James Fairfield.
Fairfield's honor recognized his leadership at home and school. He's a student athlete with aspirations for college. His plan is to attend Illinois State University and then pursue law school.

Among others getting certificates for their nomination were Emily Allen, Key-Shawn Girkin, Abby Bowen, Zach Johnson and Andrea Worthington.

94.1 WGFA