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Author Archives: WFHB News

Bloomington Utilities Department Give Up Trying To Collect Nearly $23,000 Bills

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The Bloomington Utilities Department is formally giving up on collecting almost $23,000 in overdue bills. Each year the department declares certain bills to be, as it calls them, uncollectable.

Yesterday the department’s assistant financial director, Michael Horstman, told the Utilities Service Board that 673  wastewater bills and 691 water bills fit the criteria for the department to officially stop attempting to collect them.

Sam Frank, chair of the board’s finance sub-committee, said that doesn’t mean the city might not collect some of the money.

“The finance sub-committee met before this meeting and went over these and we have recommended that these be approved to be written off,” Horstman says, “These can be collected any time later on, and this is more of just an accounting transaction.”

All of the affected accounts were inactive and more than ninety days overdue. Horstman said no more than forty dollars was owed on a given account. The board voted unanimously to write off the uncollectible bills.

Real Christmas Trees Growing in Popularity in American Homes

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Real Christmas trees are making a comeback this year, according to a specialist at Purdue University. Daniel Cassens, professor at the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, says more than one billion dollars will be spent in the United States this year bringing real Christmas trees into the house. He says the environmental impact of real trees versus that of fake trees has become something of a debate in recent years. A Christmas tree farmer himself, Cassens says there are benefits to avoiding the more convenient, artificial trees.

“It’s a difficult thing to measure because there are so many variables involved,” Cassens says, “If you look at a real tree, you see it takes in carbon dioxide and keeps it in the ground. Depending on how the tree is disposed of, the rest of the carbon is released in the atmosphere and can be

Cassens says artificial Christmas trees are petroleum-based products, which release carbon stored in the ground, becoming directly harmful to the environment. Shipping artificial trees to the United States creates another source of impact.

“About all the artificial trees are manufactured overseas,” Cassens says, “Real trees grown here create local jobs and contribute to the local economy. Fake trees, as they’re shipped, also takes energy and pollutes the environment.”

Proponents of the artificial Christmas tree industry point out that its product can be reused, saving real trees from being cut down, and that artificial trees of course do not need fertilizers or pesticides. If you’ve decided you want a real tree in your house this year, Cassens says there are a few things to keep in mind.

“If you’re a first time real-tree-buyer, you want to be careful not to get too big a tree, “Cassen says, “Stay within the five to six feet category, at the most nine feet. They are more manageable and the bigger the tree, the more difficult to handle. Also, make sure to have a high-quality

When the holidays are over, Cassens says, there are also options to consider when getting rid of a real tree.

“One option, that is the most simple, is to take the tree and put it in your backyard until spring,” Cassen says, “Most towns also have recycling centers that turn real Christmas trees into mulch.”

For more information on real Christmas trees, or how to find a choose-and-cut tree farm in your area, you can visit the National Christmas Tree Growers Association online at RealChristmastrees.org.

 

 

EcoReport – December 19, 2013

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In today’s EcoReport feature, WFHB News Director Alycin Bektesh speaks with Myke Luurtsema of the Hoosier Forest Watch, and Indiana Forester John Seifert, about the logging currently happening in Indiana’s protected back county areas.

EcoReport is a weekly program providing independent media coverage of environmental and ecological issues with a focus on local, state and regional people, issues, and events in order to foster open discussion of human relationships with nature and the Earth and to encourage you to take personal responsibility for the world in which we live. Each program features timely eco-related headline news, a feature interview or event recording, and a calendar of events of interest to the environmentally conscious.

Anchors: Trish Kerle and Kelly Miller
This week’s news stories were written by Alycin Bektesh, Drew Daudelin, Linda Greene, Norm Holy, and Stephanie Stewart. This week’s feature was engineered by Alycin Bektesh. This week’s calendar was compiled by Kristina Wiltsee. Our broadcast engineer is Dan Withered. Producers for EcoReport are Kelly Miller and Dan Young. Executive producer is Alycin Bektesh.

Part 2 of Health and Education with Glenda Ritz and Rob Stone

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On Saturday November 23rd The Brown County Democratic Party invited the public to join a brown bag lunch session with Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz and the Director and Founder of Hoosiers for a Commonsense Health Plan Rob Stone, M.D. The event was free to the public, and included a question and answer period. Part 1 focused on Education and Part 2 explores Health issues here in the Hoosier State. This event was recorded on location at The Seasons Lodge Conference Center in Brown County by Community Access Television services for Standing Room Only, on WFHB.

Best of 2013 #10 – School Assembly: Indiana University on Strike

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The Occupy Movement and a string of student sit ins and protests during the 2012 election year led to a standing assembly of students staff and faculty working together to include their voice in conversations typically reserved for IU administrators and trustees. This year the group organized a two day strike coinciding with the trustees’ Bloomington meeting and continued to support each other as IU failed to meet diversity goals and cut custodial jobs on campus.

CREDITS
The best of 2013 is a production of the WFHB news department
Today’s episode was produced by Alycin Bektesh
Correspondents Wes Martin, Stephen Brown, David Murphy and Joe Crawford contributed to today’s reports
Our theme music is provided by Legs
Executive producer is Alycin Bektesh

Daily Local News – December 17, 2013

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This week on The Strike Mic, a weekend march in response to the passing of Ian Stark, and the underlying issues of social services and homelessness in Bloomington; The Bloomington Utilities Department is formally giving up on collecting almost twenty-three thousand dollars in overdue bills; Real Christmas trees are making a comeback this year, according to a specialist at Purdue University.

FEATURE
Natural Gas Consumers Forced to Fund New Private Coal Plant
Today, the Indiana Supreme Court issued a ruling that could force consumers of natural gas in Indiana to pay the long-term construction and operational costs of a private sector coal gasification plant in Southern Indiana. Back in 2010, the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, or the IURC, signed a contract with Leucadia National Corporation to allow the company to pass on the full costs, plus a profit margin, of construction, production, and distribution of output from its proposed coal gasification plant in Spencer County. This unprecedented deal would force the Indiana Financial Authority, or the IFA, which is the state agency that purchases natural gas from producers for distribution across the state to consumers, to purchase Leucadia’s product even if cheaper alternatives are available. This would last from the start of the operation of the proposed Spencer plant through the following thirty years. The deal, dubbed the Leucadia Tax, was met with opposition by industrial and residential consumers, as well as many public interest organizations. A coalition of citizens groups, consumer advocates, environmental groups, faith leaders, and low-income and senior advocacy organizations banded together to challenge the contract in court. In October of 2012, the Indiana Court of Appeals threw out the contract between the IFA and the Indiana subsidiary of Leucadia. The opposition coalition also lobbied the state legislators to take action to kill the Leucadia Tax. In the Spring of 2013, the General Assembly passed Senate Bill 494, which would allow the IURC to review the Leucadia contract, with a view to renegotiating a contract that would better protect Indiana consumers if the Appeals Court decision was eventually upheld by the Indiana Supreme Court. One member of the coalition formed to stop the Leucadia Tax was the Indiana branch of the Sierra Club. Correspondent David Murphy spoke to Jodi Perras, Indiana Campaign Representative for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign, for today’s WFHB feature exclusive.

INS AND OUTS OF MONEY
Planning on making a New Year’s Resolution this year? If spending less or saving more are part of your 2014 goals, stay tuned!

Anchors: Shayne Laughter, Nick Tumino
Today’s headlines were written by Drew Daudelin,
Along with Joe Crawford for CATSweek, a partnership with Community Access Television Services.
Our feature was written and produced by David Murphy.
The Ins and Outs of Money is produced by Dan Withered, in partnership with the Monroe County
Public Library and The United Way of Monroe County.
Our engineer is Harrison Wagner,
Our theme music is provided by the Impossible Shapes.
Editor is Drew Daudelin, Executive Producer is Alycin Bektesh.

Interchange – The Wages of Labor: Bloomington’s Industrial Past

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This week on Interchange, host Trish Kerle speaks with Carrol Krause, author of Showers Brothers Furniture Co: The Shared Fortunes of a Family, a City, and a University and Joe Varga, Assistant Professor of Labor Studies at Indiana University and a labor and social justice activist.

Since the 1870s, Bloomington has been shaped by the ebb and flow of industrialization – and de-industrialization, beginning with the Showers Brothers Furniture Company, followed by the RCA radio and television factory, right up to today with what appears to be – the fading presence of General Electric. Krause and Varga talk about the history of those companies, their impact on the city, and the rise of organized labor in Bloomington.

District 78 Representative Crouch Appointed Indiana Auditor of State

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Governor Mike Pence announced today that he has appointed Indiana District 78 Representative Suzanne Crouch as Auditor of State for Indiana. Crouch fills the position vacated by Dwayne Sawyer, whom Pence appointed as Auditor in August of this year. Sawyer announced at the end of November that he would resign from the position due to family and personal concerns. Crouch served as Auditor of Vanderburgh County before being elected to the general assembly in 2005. In her time as a state representative, Crouch has served as Vice Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, and co-authored Indiana’s Major Moves Laws to fund the I-69 extension from Evansville to Indianapolis.

Firm Plans to Build Alongside Bloomington B-Line Trail

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Last week the Bloomington Plan Commission heard a request to build a four-story building alongside the downtown B-Line Trail, to include thirty-five high-end apartments and condos. The building would occupy about half of a city block, and it would also include some space for businesses on the first floor.

The owners currently run the private equity firm Elmore Companies, and they plan to include that business as well as others in the new building. City Planner Patrick Shay says the project needs eight different waivers from the city. One stems from the fact that the building would violate rules about building too close to the B-Line Trail.

“As you know, there’s a ten foot setback within our downtown commercial areas when it’s adjacent to the B-Line,” Shay said, “This is done to create outdoor spaces and to make sure we don’t get a canyon effect where the buildings don’t loom over the trail. We think that the petitioners project has done that some by their own design, such as a plaza that most buildings don’t have.”

The building would be located immediately west of the B-Line Trail, between Kirkwood Avenue and 6th Street. It would be as close as one foot away from the trail in some spots. But Shay says there won’t be what he called a canyon effect, because the other side of the trail is next to the street.

“You’re not going to have another building across from it, creating the canyon effect, because it’s parallel to the street, which is unique,” Shay said.

The building would also be taller than city code allows being about 50 feet tall, but Shay says certain parts would extend above 60 feet.

“Most of the building is below 50 feet, but they wanted some bigger

The top floor of the building includes three penthouses that will be occupied by the owners of the building. Greg McHenry, with the firm Milhaus Development, says the apartments in the building are being priced for the professional family or graduate student population.

“One bedroom would be about $1,000 to $1,500 with three bedrooms nearing $2,000 or above,” McHenry said.

Plan Commission member Chris Sturbaum praised the project, which he says required considerable work from the developers to meet the city’s expectations.

“This building has gone through considerable re-design, which the public doesn’t see,” Sturbaum said, “There was a lot of feedback from the planning department. I think that the building is starting to look really good, and the waivers are justified because so much effort has been made into a building that really fits the guidelines of the city. It’s a timeles building, something that won’t look outdated in a few years, and it will be something I think we can all look at for the rest of our lives, and that’s not a small accomplishment.”

The commission voted unanimously to approve the variances for the project.

DNR Hosts Ice Safety Talk on Facebook

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Facebook followers of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources will have the chance to talk about ice safety with Lieutenant William Browne, of DNR Law Enforcement, this Friday on the DNR Facebook page. Dawn Krause, of the DNR Division of Communications, says these talks have been going on for two years, and serve as a link between the department and the public on topics of which some people are unaware.

“It’s a way to also get information out there to people that are unaware of all the different areas the DNR covers,” Krause says, “I find a lot of people that get on with these talks are impressed because they never knew what we covered.”

Krause says the new talk on ice safety should serve as a learning experience for anyone interested in enjoying themselves this holiday season.

“Every year, people want to get out on the ice, and every year people are killed because the ice isn’t actually thick enough or they aren’t aware of how thick the ice should be,” Krause says, “This is a way to re-educate people every year so that they are aware of what kind of ice they should get out on to have a safe experience.”

This will be the last online DNR talk for the year, and Krause says some very popular topics came up in 2013.

“Deer-hunting was popular online,” Krause says.

The talk on ice safety is scheduled to take place from 2 to 3 pm this Friday, December 20th, on the DNR Facebook page. Anyone with a Facebook account can begin sending questions during that time.

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