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Body found on Hillside Drive

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The Bloomington Police Department reports that a dead female’s body was  found on Hillside Drive, at High Street. Captain Joe Qualters says they found the body after 1:45 p.m. and that preliminary reports show no foul play. The identity of the body has not been determined.

Captain Qualters says the department has not received reports of anyone with this description missing, and commented on whether or not she is believed to be a local resident.

The Police Department expects to release more information on the body in the coming hours with an autopsy scheduled tomorrow.

Historic conservation districts adjust to new ordinance

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The Bloomington City Council debated last week on a new ordinance that will affect the city’s historic conservation districts.

These districts are established to regulate construction and demolition, in order to prevent radical change in the affected neighborhoods. They are often supported by homeowners who oppose large new student housing complexes, or other developments that locals believe would negatively affect the neighborhood.

But the new city ordinance would force conservation districts to become even more restrictive after three years, by elevating them to full-fledged historic districts.

City Attorney Patty Mulvehill said the new rule would bring the city into compliance with the state law.

The potential change means that the city’s two conservation districts, in the McDoel Gardens and Prospect Hill neighborhoods, will automatically become full historic districts.

In those districts, all changes to the exterior of structures would have to be approved by the city’s Historic Preservation Commission.

Council member Chris Sturbaum, who represents the district that includes Prospect Hill, said the change is unfortunate but necessary.

“This isn’t something that people who selected the conservation district wanted. They wanted the district in a way of protecting their neighborhood with the lightest kind of restriction on what they can do to their property,” Sturbaum said, “This is changing, and this is not something anyone wanted to happen, it just happened when we understood that we were outside the strict regulation.”

The Matlock Heights neighborhood on the north side of the city is currently working to become a conservation district.

Council member Susan Sandberg, who lives in the neighborhood, said her neighbors are prepared to deal with the new law.

“Matlock Heights knows what they have to do to maintain their conservation statues, and they’re fairly confident that they will have the votes and the community interest to maintain the level they were comfortable with.”

A majority of property owners would have to vote in favor of keeping the conservation district to prevent its elevation to a full historic district. Sturbaum said he supports the idea of conservation districts, and worries that new restrictions could make neighborhoods hesitant to seek the designation.

“Our regret was the harm that would be done to the tool that would preserve these neighborhoods that would allow change,” Sturbaum said, “We’re going to talk to the state and see if we can’t, over time, do some work on the legislation for the future.”

The council voted unanimously to approve the new city ordinance. Sturbaum asked the city to be patient with the neighborhoods that have been elevated to historic districts against their wishes.

Bloomington first in Indiana to win walk-friendly award

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The City of Bloomington is now a Bronze Walk Friendly Community, an award given by The Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center for its walkability initiatives and programs.

A walk-friendly community, according to the program, represents a town or city improving pedestrian safety and walkability through programming, planning, and policies.

Vince Caristo, Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator, says Bloomington was awarded for its great urban trail system and walk-friendly zoning ordinance.

“While not all of our intersections are accessible, our percentage is quite high compared to around the country,”Cariso says.

Bloomington is one of eight communities recognized in the latest round of the program, and the first community to receive the designation in Indiana.

“I think we’ve found that communities in Indiana and across the country have a healthy competition with each other when it comes to these types of awards,” Cariso says, “Bloomington was also the first to have a Complete Streets policy, and that paved the way for other communities to do the same. We can be a resource for other communities who want to do this and also raise awareness that things like this exist.”

The Walk Friendly Community program aims to encourage towns and cities around the country to prioritize a safer walking environment.

 

The Strike Mic – November 12, 2013

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This week on The Strike Mic, a discussion about Indiana University’s luxury dorms, and how they influence higher tuition rates and city-wide gentrification.

Tune in every Tuesday for a new edition of  The Strike Mic, a weekly update from your friends and neighbors working to strengthen the voice of IU students and staff.

Daily Local News – November 12, 2013

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This week on The Strike Mic, a discussion about Indiana University’s luxury dorms, and how they influence higher tuition rates and city-wide gentrification; The Bloomington Police Department reports that a dead female’s body has been found on Hillside Drive, at High Street; the Bloomington City Council debated last week on a new ordinance that will affect the city’s historic conservation districts; the City of Bloomington is now a Bronze Walk Friendly Community, an award given by The Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center for its walkability initiatives and programs.

FEATURE
Grants Denied for Early Voting Center
The Indiana Secretary of State’s Office is playing politics with grants that are intended to improve accessibility in the state’s polling places. That’s according to Monroe County Clerk Linda Robbins, who says the office denied the county grant funding for a project that would improve its early voting center. Robbins says the office is not funding any early voting projects this year, apparently because expanding early voting tends to benefit Democrats. Secretary of State Connie Lawson, who is a Republican, denies the decision had anything to do with politics. Assistant News Director Joe Crawford has the story for today’s WFHB feature exclusive.

INS AND OUTS OF MONEY
Ashley and Sarah discuss a recent article about the top 10 reasons why people aren’t rich. Part I of this show reviews the first five reasons and explores strategies to adjust your own behavior.

CREDITS
Anchors: Shayne Laughter, Nick Tumino
Today’s headlines were written by David Murphy and Yin Yuan,
Along with Joe Crawford for CATSweek, a partnership with Community Access Television Services.
Our feature was produced by Joe Crawford.
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 was Harrison Wagner,
Editor is Drew Daudelin,
Executive Producer is Alycin Bektesh.

Bring It On! – November 11, 2013

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Clarence Boone and Cornelius Wright welcome Morgan Newman, her mother Sharlene and Bethel AME Church Pastor Dennis Laffoon

PART ONE
When Morgan Newman saw a preview of the CNN Freedom Project, a series of documentaries on modern-day slavery, one part of the story stood out. The documentary featured Free the Girls, a non-profit organization that provides job opportunities for survivors of sex trafficking, collecting gently used bras and donating them to the women as starting inventory for their own business. The documentary and the charity stuck with Newman.

What also struck Newman was the simplicity of the project, and though a busy extracurricular schedule forced her to put it off for a while, this summer she decided to finally move forward, bringing the project to Bloomington. She and a few friends came together and set a goal: they would try to collect 300 bras to give to Free the Girls for resale. The girls collected five times their goal, totaling about 1,500 bras by the time they were ready to ship to Free the Girls.

Joining Clarence and Cornelius in the studio to talk about her community-wide effort to empower women is Morgan Newman, her mother Sharlene and Bethel AME Church Pastor, Dennis Laffoon, who successfully nominated her for a Bloomington Everyday Hero Award.

PART TWO
Headline news and local calendar events of interest to the African-American community.

CREDITS
Hosts: Clarence Boone and Cornelius Wright
Bring It On! is produced by Clarence Boone
Executive Producer Alycin Bektesh
Our News Editor is Michael Nowlin
Our Board Engineer is Chris Martin

Daily Local News – November 8, 2013

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WFHB’s Board of Directors announced today that Kevin Culbertson has been selected as the next General Manager for the station; The Bloomington Telecommunications Council has hit a roadblock in its attempts to bring a nationally recognized telecommunications scholar to town; The Bloomington Board of Public Works gave city staff permission on Tuesday to cut vegetation at a Spicewood Neighborhood home; landscaping companies are adopting the city’s roundabounts.

FEATURE
Mirror Mysteries
In a new exhibit at the Wonderlab Museum of Science Health and Technology, scheduled to be present until next April, visitors will be able to explore the surprising tricks mirrors play on the human mind. News Director Alycin Bektesh spoke with Wonderlab Executive Director Catherine Olmer about the exhibit called Mirror Mysteries for today’s WFHB feature report.

VOLUNTEER CONNECTION
Local organizations scout the listening area for service help on Volunteer Connection, linking YOU to current volunteer opportunities in our community.

CREDITS
Anchors: Helen Harrell; Roscoe Medlock
Today’s headlines were written by Joe Crawford for CATSweek, a partnership with Community Access Television Services.
Our feature was produced by Alycin Bektesh.
Volunteer Connection is produced by Wanda Krieger, in partnership with the city of Bloomington Volunteer Network.
Our engineer was Nick Tumino, our theme music is provided by the Impossible Shapes.
Editor is Drew Daudelin
Executive producer is Alycin Bektesh.

Free driving tour of Lake Monroe offered for geology buffs

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Anyone interested in geology will have the opportunity for a free driving tour of Monroe Lake on December 1st. Beginning at the Paynetown State Recreation Area on South State Road 446, there will be stops highlighting the Mt. Carmel Fault, Leesville Anticline, Edwardsville Formation, Harrodsburg Limestone, and Salem Limestone. Jill Vance, Interpretive Naturalist at Monroe Lake, is the tour guide. She will explain geological features, the area’s history, and the many influences on its present landscape. You can register by calling the Paynetown Activity Center at 812-837-9967 by November 25th.

 

Bloomington Utilities Service Board deals with complications working with private contractors

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The Bloomington Utilities Service Board dealt with some complications of working with private contractors at its meeting on Monday.

The City Utilities Department frequently hires companies to perform engineering or construction work.

Capital Projects Manager Mike Hicks explained a recent issue with two of those companies. The contractors are working on projects to improve water mains and to expand the Monroe Water Treatment Plant.

“In the execution of the work, damage was caused to Monroe County Highway roads,” Hicks said, “It’s caused by two factors, one being hauling and the other excavation from work on a water main. Our position is that there are two contractors responsible for the repairs, F.A. Wilhelm and Howl contractors. “

Hicks said the contractors have refused to deal with the issue, despite the city’s attempts to contact them. So, he said the city needs to find a different contractor to repair the roads.

“Monroe County Highway Department wants this work done this season before the asphalt plants close so it’s come to the City of Bloomington Utilities taking action to find a paving contractor to make the repairs,” Hicks said.

The board approved spending $64,000 to pay Milestone Contractors to do the repairs. Hicks said the city would attempt to recoup that amount from the contractors that caused the damage. Later in the meeting, the board discussed how the Utilities Department chooses its contractors. The issue came up when Utilities Engineer Jane Fleig told the board that a large engineering contract would be awarded to the company Donohue and Associates.

Board member Jason Banach asked Flieg about the agreement and Fleig said they have asked for a proposal from an engineer at Donohue, but no bids.

The contract is for the design of a culvert project that extends from 2nd St. to Kirkwood Ave. in downtown Bloomington.

Banach asked why the Department didn’t solicit bids from other companies to do the work, and Department Director Pat Murphy responded.

“We have a long standing relationship with Donahue and we’ve worked with them extensively. They did the initial project, they did the Jordan River culvert and 2nd and Walnut,” Murphy said, “We feel it’s more of a continuation of the project because they know the history of the project and we wouldn’t be starting anew and we think they price they are proposing is fair and reasonable.”

The contract would be for about $400,000. Banach said he has problems awarding such large contracts without getting competitive bids.

“Cheaper isn’t better,” Murphy said.

Board member Pedro Roman said approving an agreement without seeking bids would not be unusual for the board, especially when for engineering contracts.

“We’re talking about engineering, the design, not the actual construction,” Roman said, “We never bid these things.”

Flieg said that, unlike construction contracts, the city is not legally required to solicit multiple bids for professional services such as engineering.

The board will consider whether to approve the contract with Donohue and Associates at its next meeting, which is scheduled for November 18.

Daily Local News – November 7, 2013

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The Bloomington Utilities Service Board dealt with some complications of working with private contractors at its meeting on Monday; Anyone interested in geology will have the opportunity for a free driving tour of Monroe Lake on December 1st; On October 24th, the Monroe County Commission approved spending state grant money to improve twelve railroad crossings; This weekend in sports at Indiana University.

FEATURE
30 Years of Hoosier Environmental Council
The Hoosier Environmental Council is celebrating its 30th year. Correspondent Stephanie Stewart spoke with the council’s Jesse Kharbanda about the history of the organization, and its involvement in state environmental issues, for today’s WFHB feature exclusive courtesy of Eco Report.

VOICES IN THE STREET
Depending on whom you ask, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is either a hero or a traitor.  And a recent film called the Fifth Estate dramatizes the international non-profit as an organization that is run by a man who increasingly cares about his own ego rather than the anonymity of the whistle blowers.  Its posting of classified U.S. diplomatic cables led the U.S. Army, the FBI, and the Justice Department to call for criminal prosecution.  So what do YOU think about WikiLeaks?  We hit the streets to find out.

Anchors: Scott Weddle, Carolyn VandeWiele
Today’s headlines were written by Yin Yuan and Jalisa Ransom,
Along with Joe Crawford for CATSweek, a partnership with Community Access Television Services.
Our feature was produced by Stephanie Stewart.
Voices in the Street was produced by Kelly Wherley,
Our engineer was Sarah Hettrick.
Editor is Drew Daudelin,
Executive Producer is Alycin Bektesh.

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