U.S Steel Gary Works looking Southeast from Lake Michigan photographed December 13, 2007. | File Photo~Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 3, 2014 6:12AM
Where you choose to live matters more than you may think.
We are reminded of this by the fifth annual County Health Rankings, which lists Lake County at No. 77 (out of 92) in terms of healthiest counties to live in Indiana.
A total of 29 “vital health factors” are used to comprise the rankings report, including high school graduation rates, violent crime rates, obesity figures, smoking, unemployment, access to healthy foods, the quality of air and water, income, and teen births. It’s designed to provide a revealing snapshot of how our overall health is influenced by where we live, learn, work and play.
“We believe America can become a nation where getting healthy, staying healthy, and making sure our children grow up healthy are top priorities,” states the report, conducted by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.
Too often I hear region residents complain about their city or town without doing anything about it. For instance, relocating to another city or town.
In Lake County, Gary residents complain about violent crime. Hammond folks about pollution. Hobart citizens about growth. East Chicago residents about unemployment. And on it goes throughout Northwest Indianay.
So why then do we choose — yes, choose — to live in the community we call home? Family commitments? Job location? Poverty? Convenience? Lack of options? Lack of effort?
If you’re living in a city or county that is unhealthy, unsightly or dangerous, you should do everything in your power to flee it. If not for you, then for your family and kids. It’s amazing what a new ZIP code can do for your health, your attitude and, more importantly, your children’s future.
For the record, Porter County ranks at No. 14, LaPorte County at No. 72, Newton County at No. 49, Jasper County at No. 48, and Starke County at No. 88. (Hamilton County, located just north of Marion County and Indianapolis, ranks No. 1.)
I’m not a big fan of such number-crunching studies, but this one can be used as a call to action for those of you wondering why you’re living where you do.
The report (found online at www.countyhealthrankings.org) provides useful insights, outcomes and statistics about the overall health of your county. And, in many ways, about you.
Take heed, I say.
for better health?
On a related note, I’ve been hearing complaints about the increased health inspection fees for Gary businesses by the city’s health department.
“The fee has gone from $75 a year to $250,” one downtown gas station/convenience store owner told me. “This is totally unfair. No wonder this city is losing businesses.”
“I understand that this city needs financial help, but this increase is just not right,” another business owner said.
I contacted the city’s health commissioner, Dr. Roland Walker, who told me that food inspection fees were increased to be on par with other municipalities in the state and region. Also, all fee increases were voted on by the Gary Health Department Board, Walker added.
For example, Fort Wayne’s annual fees are based on a business’s number of employees, ranging from $250 to upwards of $600. South Bend’s fees are based on gross sales, ranging from $50 for a business making up to $49,999 to $325 for a business making $1.5 million.
This dramatic fee hike should be no surprise to Gary business owners, who work in a city facing such dire financial straits. Call it the trickle-down effect. Call it getting squeezed. I call it an increase that’s a few years too late.
Respect for the
dead or living?
Is it still customary to pull your vehicle aside for an oncoming funeral procession in the opposite direction? Or is it OK to simply keep driving?
Last week while driving in Hobart, on a two-lane street, I stopped and pulled aside but only because I had to while driving behind other more respectful motorists. Otherwise I wouldn’t have.
Traffic behind me backed up and, collectively, we waited almost 10 minutes for the l-o-n-g procession of cars to pass. I understand showing respect for the dead, and for the mourning survivors of the deceased, but come on.
Oh, and for the record, feel free to speed past my funeral procession. Even honk and wave if you’d like. I’ll tell my family in advance to smile and wave back.
National PB&J Day
Today is National Peanut Butter & Jelly Day, though I doubt there is a congressional record or anything to make it official.
Still, for kicks, here are a few tasty tidbits about one of my favorite late-night snacks since childhood.
More than half of Americans eat a PB&J up to five times a month; more of us enjoy creamy peanut butter over crunchy; and there is a 50/50 split on using grape or strawberry jelly.
Go ahead, give in to your craving and have one today, if anything for your inner child’s sake.
Free ticket giveaway
I’m giving away a pair of tickets for Saturday’s “911 SlugFest” charity boxing tournament at the Hammond Civic Center. The first event of its kind in this region pits local police officers against firefighters, with proceeds going to two local families through the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
The event takes place at 7 p.m. and tickets cost $10 for adults, $5 for kids 12 and younger, with ring-side seats for $35. For more info, call the Hammond Civic Center at 853-6378, Jack Callahan at 306-1203 or visit www.911slugfest.com.
To win a free pair of tickets, be the first reader to email me today at firstname.lastname@example.org, including your name, address and phone number. Good luck.