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Author Archives: WFHB News

Cold Weather Creates Chilly Sitution For Utilities Department

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The Bloomington Utilities Department has dealt with an increase in water main breaks and customer service issues due to the cold weather in recent weeks. On January 27th Tom Axson, the department’s assistant director of transmission and distribution, told the Utilities Service Board there had been eight broken water mains reported in the previous ten days.

“We’ve also responded to a lot of customer calls about no water and broken pipes,” Axson said, “We’re going to keep doing what we do. In the meantime we’ve cleaned a lot of trucks and fixed a lot of equipment trying to stay ready.”

Utilities Department Director Patrick Murphy said the department purchased new equipment for the crews that do the repair work.

“We just made an additional equipment purchase, and by equipment I mean new Carhartt coats and boots, restocking our folks,” Murphy said, “One of the important things for the DND crews is rubber boots.”

Board member Jeff Ehman asked about the fact that the city has still not finished its annual leaf pick-up. The city planned to finish by December 19th.

Murphy said leaves can cause problems for the department, but that the situation is better than it was several months ago.

“They’ve done quite a bit and it’s not as much of an issue now,” Murphy asid.

Axson said that in the past, the city has used equipment to scrape frozen leaves off of the ground in order to haul them away.

New Bank Planned For South Liberty Drive

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On January 25 the Monroe County Commission heard a request to rezone a property on South Liberty Drive, to allow a new Owen County State Bank to be built there. The commission recommended approval of the project, but some members of that group voiced concerns about its effects on traffic. Commissioner Julie Thomas, who is also on the Plan Commission, explained why she opposes the project.

“The reason I voted no is because I believe Liberty Drive is way overdeveloped for the size of the street,” Thomas said, “I know a lot of people have been caught on Liberty Drive trying to get out or do something. It’s a street I avoid because of this. I don’t think we’re doing a service for people who live in that area by adding more congestions because of a new bank in the area.”

Thomas again voted against the project, but she was outvoted by the other two commissioners–Iris Kiesling and Patrick Stoffers. Neither Kiesling or Stoffers commented on the project or explained their votes.

Daily Local News – January 30, 2014

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The Bloomington Utilities Department has dealt with an increase in water main breaks and customer service issues due to the cold weather in recent weeks;The City of Bloomington’s Department of Housing and Neighborhood Development is hosting the Home Buyers Club, starting this weekend; On January 25th the Monroe County Commission heard a request to rezone a property on South Liberty Drive, to allow a new Owen County State Bank to be built there; The League of Women Voters will sponsor a free, public Legislative Update this Saturday in Bloomington; This weekend in local sports.

FEATURE
Westville Correctional Facility
Last week, prisoners at the Westville Correctional Facility in Westville, Indiana staged a hunger strike and mass-call, in response to the transition last Fall from hot lunches to cold sack lunches. The mass-call succeeded in alerting prison officials to the prisoners’ dissatisfaction, and the facility has now switched back to hot lunches. Now, family members of Westville prisoners are claiming that the heat has been turned off in sections of the prison housing prisoners who participated in the strike. WFHB correspondent Lauren Glapa spoke with Westville Public Information Officer John Schrader about what he knows, and with an organizer from the group Indiana Prisoner Solidarity who chose the pseudonym Jesse Smith, for today’s WFHB feature exclusive.

BLOOMINGTON BEWARE
our weekly public opinion feature Voices in the Street asks, in the midst of another bitter winter week, what kind of year-round temperatures you prefer.

CREDITS
Anchors: Jalisa Ransom, Scott Weddle
Today’s headlines were written by Jalisa Ransom,
Along with Joe Crawford for CATSweek, a partnership with Community Access Television Services. Our feature was produced by Lauren Glapa.
Voices in the Street was produced by Kelly Wherley,
Our engineer today is Sarah Hetrick.
Editor is Drew Daudelin,
Executive Producer is Alycin Bektesh.

Interchange – Saving Place: Passion, Politics and Sustainability in Historic Preservation

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This week on Interchange, Saving Place: Passion, Politics and Sustainability in Historic Preservation. Host Trish Kerle’ speaks with Bloomington city council member and small business owner, Chris Sturbaum, and Duncan Campbell, historic preservation consultant, retired associate professor of Architecture and director of the Graduate Program in Historic Preservation at Ball State University about current preservation challenges in Bloomington. Also discussed are issues of conservation and sustainability such as “greening” the built environmental (“the greenest home is the one that’s already been built”).

Daily Local News – January 28, 2014

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FEATURE
House Joint Resolution Three, Indiana’s proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage and civil unions, had its second reading on the House floor yesterday afternoon. An amendment striking the second sentence of the two-sentence bill was proposed by Representative Truitt of House District 26. The second sentence read, “Provides that a legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized.” Now we bring you the entire discussion from the House floor, for today’s WFHB feature report.

INS AND OUTS OF MONEY
Dark winter days getting you down? Find out some creative ways to beat the blues without breaking the bank, for WFHB’s weekly financial segment The Ins and Outs of Money.

CREDITS
Anchors: Nick Tumino, Casey Kuhn
Our feature was produced by Alycin Bektesh.
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 theme music is provided by the Impossible Shapes.
Editor and engineer is Drew Daudelin,
Executive Producer is Alycin Bektesh.

City of Bloomington Open Tuesday, January 28

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The City of Bloomington Sanitation Division announced a three-hour delay for sanitation services, due to the National Weather Service’s Wind Chill Advisory. City administrators and American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Union representatives decided the best solution for the safety of workers and for sanitation services was to delay rather than to cancel. Services will begin tomorrow at 8 a.m. rather than 5 a.m. If the weather is still beyond safety guidelines at 8:00, a new decision will be made to further delay or cancel. Apart from the sanitation department delay, Communications Director for the City of Bloomington Adam Wason says that all city offices will be open and running during normal business hours.

“Bloomington will be up and running tomorrow, the sanitation department will be on a three-hour delay,” said Wason. “The first and foremost thing we always think about is the safety of our workers. If temperatures are at an unsafe level for them to perform their normal job duties, that’s when we make the call.”

Late this afternoon Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard announced that all government offices would be closed due to predictions of extreme cold, but Wason says that the local administration previewed tomorrow’s forecast and took the temperatures into consideration.

“Our understanding of the forecast is it looks like Indianapolis is going to be a bit colder than what Bloomington will be in the morning here tomorrow, so we will have all employees reporting to work tomorrow as a typical work day.”

MCCSC has not yet put out a notice regarding closings or delays for tomorrow, January 28th. Stay tuned to WFHB or go online to whfb.org for an updated list of closings and delays in our area.

Amended HJR-3 passes

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BREAKING: An amendment striking the second sentence of HJR3 is approved, and moves on to the Senate. It is dissimilar enough from HJR6 that a 2014 referendum is most likely off the table.

EARLIER:

Citizens are crowding the Indiana Statehouse today in anticipation of a second reading of House Joint Resolution Three, and a vote by the Indiana House of Representatives on the gay marriage ban. The House went into recess for the afternoon without the amendment reaching the floor, but a late session is expected this evening. If the resolution is passed as it currently stands, it will move forward in the second round of voting, required for any amendment to the Indiana Constitution. Right now the text of the resolution reads: “Marriage. Provides that only marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Indiana. Provides that a legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized.” However, several amendments have been filed that would alter the text of the resolution, particularly the second half which addresses civil unions. If an amendment is adopted that changes this text, that will reset the two-cycle requirement for amending the state constitution. In a press conference on Friday, House Minority leader Scott Pelath says that in the years since the passing of what was then titled HJR-6, sentiment in the state has shifted.

“I remember what it was like in my beautiful community of Michigan City just a few years ago, and I surveyed my constituents, and you know what, they were pretty evenly divided about whether we should be doing this constitutional amendment or not,” said Pelath. “I surveyed them again this year, and while not scientific, it is instructive of how your likely voters are thinking about an issue. And this year, it was more than two to one: Let’s focus on other things.”

Pelath gave an example of a bill proposed in support of rape victims, which has been ignored this session while the legislature has focused on ratifying the state constitution to ban gay marriage and civil unions. Other examples of bills that have been set aside during the HJR-3 debate are a proposal to increase the state’s minimum wage from seven twenty-five to eight twenty-five per hour, and a bill which would prevent people and companies seeking taxpayer-funded incentives from making political contributions to candidates for statewide office or the Legislature.

“She had a simple bill that said, why don’t we delve into this problem that everyone agrees is a calamity for Indiana women, let’s figure out the root causes and identify some solutions,” said Pelath, “and she was told, ‘Look, we don’t have enough time to deal with this this year,’ by one of the committee chairs. This is an example of how we’re just being sapped of our ability to do good things for Indiana because of the specter that’s hovering over everyone.”

The staff of the Indianapolis star polled all one hundred members of the Indiana House, asking them how they intended to vote on HJR-3. Local representatives Bob Heaton and Eric Koch replied that they would vote in favor of the bill, Matt Pierce replied that he would vote against the bill, and Matt Ubelhor and Peggy Mayfield did not respond to the poll. As of this broadcast HJR-3 has not been called to the floor, and Speaker of the House Brian Bosma has ordered pizza to the House Chamber, expecting the session to go well past dinner this evening.

Bring It On! – January 27, 2014

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Bev Smith and William Hosea welcome guest Guy Loftman, along with BIO contributor Cornelius Wright.

PART ONE
Back on November 5, 2013, the public was invited to explore alternatives to the war on drugs. The event, co-sponsored by the Monroe County Branch of the NAACP, gave a prevailing thought that there is much evidence that the War on Drugs is, at least in effect, a war on Black males, as shown in the book “The New Jim Crow”, by Michelle Alexander.

Joining Bev and William are Local Bloomington Attorney Guy Loftman, is a member of the Legal Redress Committee of the Monroe County Branch of the NAACP,  and Bring It On! contributor Cornelius Wright to share in a discussion on how damaging illegal drug usage is on black males.

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

CREDITS
Hosts: Bev Smith and William Hosea
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 – January 24th, 2014

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During the sub-zero temperatures this winter, the City of Bloomington is reminding residents to insulate pipes and to let water flow through faucets, to help prevent water lines from freezing; The Bloomington City Council heard from residents on Wednesday who are frustrated with Governor Mike Pence’s refusal to expand Medicaid in Indiana; With the proposition for a higher minimum wage in Indiana, a lot of questions have been raised regarding who will be affected by it, who will benefit, and how businesses will be affected by the wage hike.

FEATURE
“Your Love is True”
Last night, the second annual Celebration of Love – a marriage ceremony officiated by Bloomington Mayor Mark Kruzan celebrating same sex couples – was held at the closing of the first day of the PRIDE Film Festival at the Buskirk Chumley Theater.

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

 

 

HJR-3 Advances Through The Indiana House

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This morning the Indiana House of Representatives adopted the committee report from yesterday’s Elections and Apportionment Committee meeting, during which House Joint Resolution 3 passed, 9 to 3.

The proposed amendment to the Indiana constitution, which explicitly states that same sex couples do not have the right to get married, may now continue through the legislative process, and is expected to have a second reading before the House on Monday.

District 61 Representative Matt Pierce spoke on the floor today during the adoption, warning that the unprecedented process in which the bill came to the house floor would set a precedent for future speakers of the house to rearrange the legislative process to get the outcome they are looking for, just as House Speaker Brian Bosma reassigned HJR-3 once it fell short in the Judiciary committee.

“I made the argument that what the speaker had done was unprecedented,” Pierce said, “It was like a golfer taking a mulligan when they get their resolution stuck in the sand trap. It created a system where you can just have a do-over until you get the result you want. What the speaker did that was so unique is that he actually had a bill in a judiciary committee, the public testimony was taken, the committee had been educated on the issue, they were at the point where a vote could be taken and they obviously delayed it because they knew it wasn’t going to come out the way they wanted it to. For the speaker to then take the bill away from the judiciary committee and put it into elections, where clearly he had counted his votes to know he’d get a good reaction, is what is unprecedented. I ask for the members in the house to reject the committee report to essentially say we don’t want to set the precedent of having these mulligans going on every time we have a controversial bill. It did not work.”

House Representative and Elections and Apportionment committee member Woody Burton, District 58 is quoted in the Indianapolis Star acknowledging that there is a divide between the younger and older Republican members of the house and their views towards marriage equality, but a sister bill introduced this month may be a way of modifying the original bill to retain the vote of the more tolerant Republicans.

House Bill 1153 explains away a sentence regarding civil unions in the original resolution without actually making changes that would force the process back to square one, because the amendment can only be sent to a referendum if it is passed twice with the exact same language by two different assemblies.

Pierce says the companion bill brought additional challenges, rather than solutions.

“That bill actually catalogued all the potential unintentional consequences of that amendment,” Pierce said, “I think they thought that by listing them, that would be kind of like a lifeboat that a lot of republicans could put themselves in and feel safe enough to go ahead and vote for the amendment as is. What I think what happened instead is that after they heard from some legal experts explaining how it was unprecedented, that backfired and caused some members of the judiciary committee to decide they wouldn’t vote for it.”

Similar bills in nearby states have been ruled unconstitutional–most recently a federal judge in Ohio ruled their gay marriage ban as such.

Pierce says that when issues of discrimination and legality come up, proponents of HJR-3 claim that the decision is not theirs to make.

“Oftentimes issues come up asking is this bill constitutional?” Pierce said, “The truth of the matter is that since it’s a joint resolution amending the constitution, it automatically becomes constitutional once it becomes part of the constitution. The real issue is whether or not it’s unconstitutional under the federal constitution. The attitude of most members when that comes up is that they can come up with their own ideas of what’s constitutional or not, and that I will decide what’s the best policy and it’s the job of the court to decide whether the ruling is unconstitutional.”

When HJR-3 is brought to the House Floor, most likely on Monday, any Representative can offer amendments to the bill.  Amendments must have a majority of favorable votes to become adopted but with Republicans holding a super majority it is unlikely that any amendment offered by a democratic representative would pass.

Additionally, if HJR-3 is made too dissimilar to 2011’s HJR-6, it would not qualify for referendum this year. Pierce says the democrats are working on their strategy over the weekend, and have until two hours prior to the House Chamber meeting to offer amendments to be read on the house floor on Monday.

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