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Bloomington May Soon See Drought Conditions

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An area of near-drought conditions is creeping closer to Bloomington, according to the federal drought monitor, a joint effort of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the University of Nebraska.

A band of parched counties stretches across the center of the state with the “abnormally dry” zone just touching the northern reaches of Monroe County and extending a third of the way into Brown County.

After several years of “exceptional” or “extreme” drought conditions affecting much of Indiana, the spring and summer of 2013 brought a return to more normal groundwater conditions here.

But the last half of the summer has proven to be uncomfortably similar to the arid summers of 2011 and 2012.

The city of Indianapolis has reported a mere one point one-five (1.15)  inches of rain in August, only a third of what’s expected.

The NOAA five-day forecast indicates only a slight chance of precipitation in Bloomington Saturday night and Sunday morning.

 

Daily Local News – September 5, 2013

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This afternoon, Chief Probation Officer Linda Brady announced that the Probation Department is moving to become an “Evidence-based Organization”; The City of Bloomington Planning Department is holding a workshop to gether public input on community goals for ImagineBloomington;An area of near-drought conditions is creeping closer to Bloomington, according to the federal drought monitor; The City of  Bloomington is partnering with the  American Red Cross; Indiana Senator Dan Coats wants to know what Hoosiers think about any U.S. military intervention in Syria in the near future; The Romanian Student Organization at Indiana University is protesting tomorrow against a mining project that was supported by the Romanian government in 2007.

FEATURE
New parking meters mean new costs for downtown street festivals – WFHB news director Alycin Bektesh has the report in today’s WFHB feature exclusive.

VOICES IN THE STREETS
Our weekly public opinion feature Voices in the Street hit the 4th Street Arts Festival.

CREDITS
Anchors: Jalisa Ransom, Scott Weddle
Today’s headlines were written by Mike Glab, Jalisa Ransom, Yvonne Cheng and Anson Shupe
Our feature was produced by Alycin Bektesh
Voices in the Street was produced by Kelly Wherley
Our engineer is Sarah Hettrick
Executive Producer is Alycin Bektesh

Daily Local News – September 4, 2013

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Indiana Democrats have responded to a Ball State University study that indicates Hoosiers bring home significantly less per capita personal income compared to residents of other states; The Monroe County Community School Corporation announced last week that its Afterschool Ed-Ventures program will be the recipient of a twenty five thousand dollar grant award from Duke Energy; At a meeting September 3rd, the Bloomington Telecommunications Council heard about continuing  problems getting public, educational and governmental access channels to be carried on AT&T U-verse; A small town in Indiana is making big news about gender equality; Last week the Monroe County Council announced the proposed food and beverage tax will not be added to the agenda of the council’s September 10 meeting.

FEATURE
Bleeding Heartland Rollergirls Reach Playoffs
After 8 challenging seasons, Bloomington’s Bleeding Heartland Rollergirls have reached the playoffs of the Roller Derby World Championships. WFHB Correspondent Jennifer Whitaker has the story for today’s WFHB feature exclusive.

CREDITS
Anchors: Cathi Norton, Kelly Wherley
Today’s headlines were written by Casey Kuhn, and Nash Hott
Along with Joe Crawford for CATSweek, in partnership with Community Access Television Services
Jennifer Whitaker produced our feature
Bloomington Beware is produced by Richard Fish, and correspondent Reina Wong
Our engineer is Jim Lang
Executive Producer is Alycin Bektesh

Daily Local News – September 3, 2013

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Indiana Governor Mike Pence maintained his resistance to adopting the Affordable Care Act by announcing today that Indiana will remain using the current economic model titled the Healthy Indiana Plan to provide Medicaid health insurance to Hoosiers; A private coalition of environmental groups has forced Duke Energy Indiana to agree to close its old coal fired power plants in Terre Haute; With the inaugural issue of Network Science, a new journal published by Cambridge University Press, coordinating editor Stanley Wasserman brings together scholars from fields across the academic spectrum whose interests converge upon the quickly evolving field of network science;The fall migration will likely bring huge flocks of waterfowl and shore birds to Goose Pond,  the 8,000 acre preserve managed by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

FEATURE
Protesters Urge No Bombing of Syria
Leaders of the Democratic and Republican parties in Congress said today they support the Obama administration’s call for a military strike on Syria. The administration, especially Secretary of State John Kerry, has said the U.S. should attack in response to the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government on August 21st. But as some in Washington continue to make the case for intervention, protesters in Bloomington are calling for diplomacy instead. A crowd gathered outside the Monroe County Courthouse last night to protest military action in Syria. Correspondent Joe Crawford has that story for today’s WFHB feature exclusive.

INS AND OUTS OF MONEY
Unfortunately two of the biggest barriers to an exercise routine are time and money. While we can’t put more hours in your day, Ashley and Sarah can help you keep fitness affordable.

CREDITS
Anchors: Shayne Laughter, Bill Daugherty
Today’s headlines were written by Alycin Bektesh, David Murphy, Yvonne Cheng, and Anson Shupe
Today’s 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 is Harrison Wagner
Our theme music is provided by the Impossible Shapes
Executive Producer is Alycin Bektesh

IU Professor Contributes To New ‘Network Science’ Journal

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With the inaugural issue of Network Science, a new journal published by Cambridge University Press, coordinating editor Stanley Wasserman brings together scholars from fields across the academic spectrum whose interests converge upon the quickly evolving field of network science. Wasserman has a Ph.D from Harvard University nd the idea for the journal was launched about four years ago, said Stanley Wasserman, Rudy Professor in the Departments of Psychological and Brain Sciences and Statistics at IU.

“Networks, we have realized are everywhere. From Facebook to traffic, and there are unifying theories that everyone in network science uses,” Wasserman says.

According to Wasserman, in the 21st century, with the recognition globalization of the world along with the growth of the Internet and social media, network methods seem an increasingly fitting and appropriate way to examine many aspects of the social and physical world, and the individuals, organizations and cellular processes within it.

“Networks are individual units that are linked by relational ties. It is very inter-disciplinary, including physics and sociology and psychology and many others,” Wasserman says.

Topics, such as friendship network and social status, network dependencies in international trade, are covered in the first issue of Network Science.

The journal can be viewed online on the website of Cambridge Journal Online.

Duke Agrees To Close Old Terre Haute Coal Power Plants

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A private coalition of environmental groups has forced Duke Energy Indiana to agree to close its old coal-fired power plants in Terre Haute.

The settlement between Duke and the coalition, composed of the Sierra Club, Citizens Action Coalition, Valley Watch, and Save the Valley, was reached before an Indiana Department of Environment administrative law judge. The settlement requires Duke to cease burning coal at most of its Wabash River coal-fired power plant in Vigo County and to invest in new renewable energy projects.

In return, the environmental coalition will drop its appeal of the air pollution permit issued by IDEM to Duke for its Edwardsport coal-gasification and combined-cycle power plant to the south.

We spoke to Jodi Perras, of the Indiana branch of the Sierra Club, about this settlement, as well as another parallel suit concerning Duke.

She said that Duke agreed to retire their coal-fired units and that there was a commitment from Duke to invest in some clean-energy projects.

The result is that a total of 668 megawatts of coal-fired power will come offline.

Currently, Indiana gets more than 90 percent of its electricity from burning coal.

Besides emitting more green-house gases than other fossil fuels, coal-fired power plants are also the country’s biggest source of mercury, sulfur dioxide pollution, carbon pollution, and many other pollutants that can trigger heart attacks and contribute to respiratory problems.

Duke also agreed to pursue either a new feed-in tariff program to purchase at least 30 megawatts of solar power from its Hoosier customers or to purchase or install at least 15 megawatts of wind or solar generating capacity from new facilities built in Indiana.

A feed-in tariff enables customers to earn money from their own solar panels by selling excess power back to electric utilities.

“Duke said previously that they thought they would retire the units at Wabash river because of the mercury and the toxin rule that’s supposed to go into effect in 2015. Those are old plans from the 50’s or 60’s but the mercury rule is being challenged in federal court. If we were to lose that case, Duke still has to retire those units by 2018,” says Perras.

Four coal burning units are required to close by 2015 and the sixth by 2018. While they have settled this suit, the coalition is still continuing with its parallel suit against Duke before the Indiana Court of Appeals to overturn Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission decisions regarding the Edwardsport plant.

In December of 2012, the IURC approved additional rate increases tied to the Edwardsport coal gasification plant which would allow Duke to pass on rising construction costs to power consumers.

The plant is currently $1.6 billion over budget and still not operating at full capacity after eight years of design, construction, and testing.

“We have briefs that are due on Monday so we have been working on that and there’s an opportunity for the folks involved to do a reply brief. The court of appeals will probably schedule those and it’ll take several months before the court issues a decision,” Perras says.

There are several issue in question in this suit: whether the IURC violated the law by failing to consider the long-term costs to Duke Energy ratepayers of controlling the plant’s carbon pollution.

This issue was raised in testimony by citizens groups and ignored in the IURC’s decision, in violation of Indiana law; whether the IURC should have appointed a Special Administrative Law Judge to conduct a formal investigation into reports of behind-closed-doors communications, undue influence, conflicts of interest, and other misconduct involving high-level officials of Duke Energy and the IURC and whether the IURC failed to act as an impartial judge by directing Duke Energy to hire an outside consultant to monitor problems at Edwardsport and report to the IURC on its progress, and then refusing to place the reports into the public record.

This scandal involving conflict of interest between state regulators and Duke has resulted in several firings and transfers but no reversal of the resulting tainted regulatory rulings.

Daily Local News – Septempter 2, 2013

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Labor Day is upon us! Our WFHB correspondents address labor movements in today’s economy and more on today’s Daily Local News Labor Day Special.

Daily Local News – August 30th, 2013

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On August 27th, the Monroe County Community School Corporation’s Board of Trustees was joined by a crowd of community members angry about a lack of diversity in the Corporation’s faculty and staff; In their  meeting August 28th , the Bloomington City Council discussed proposed new rules the city police chief said would help recover stolen property; At its August 26 meeting, the Ellettsville Town Council delayed a vote on a contract that would change the way utility bills are sent to town residents.

FEATURE
GARLIC FEST
The Sycamore Landtrust’s Hillbilly Haiku jump starts a Bloomington Labor Day weekend full of festivals. The annual 4th Street Festival of the arts runs Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 6pm along 4th and grant streets, featuring area artists and local non profits. Also this weekend in Third Street Park: the second annual Bloomington Garlic Festival will be offering food, live music and art, on Saturday and Sunday beginning at 10am. All foods will feature garlic and there will also be a Healthful Garlic Cooking Contest with cash prizes awarded on Saturday sponsored by The Runcible Spoon, and featured speakers  on the topic of buying and preparing healthy foods. Event Organizers Dave Cox & Tim Haas stopped into the studio earlier this week, and speak with WFHB Board President about the weekend happenings, here in today’s WFHB feature exclusive.

VOLUNTEER CONNECTION
Volunteer Connection, linking YOU to current volunteer opportunities in our community.

CREDITS
Today’s headlines were written by Joe Crawford and Jack Renner
for CATSweek, in partnership with Community Access Television Services
Volunteer Connection was produced by Sarah Hettrick, in partnership with the city of Bloomington Volunteer Network.
Our Engineer is Harrison Wagner
Executive producer is Alycin Bektesh

IU Kicks Off The Football Season Against Indiana State

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The Indiana Hoosiers take to the field Thursday in Memorial Stadium for the opening game of their 2013 football season. The home opener is cause for an annual celebration, but the convergence of some 40,000 people on the stadium can lead to headaches for neighbors and local residents.

We spoke with Indiana University Police Lieutenant Craig Munroe this afternoon just before he left to help coordinate street coverage for the game. He says officers will be positioned at every intersection in the vicinity of the stadium to help manage traffic flow.

“They need to be concerned about traffic on the northside, 17th street and pregame traffic starts around 5 o’ clock. We think we’ll be done around 11pm,” Munroe says.

Technically, IU is a “dry campus” although alcoholic drinks are commonly served at various functions and events.

The parking lots surrounding Memorial Stadium typically teem with tailgaiters in the hours prior to a football game, and it’s an open secret that beer, wine, and spirits flow freely.

Football fans may be particularly thirsty tonight after temperatures soared to near 90 today.

The IUPD will be keeping a close eye on the festivities.

“If the tailgaiting is low key, we don’t pester anybody. If they’re having a huge party, we might have to deal with that,” Munroe said.
Students shouldn’t interpret  this relaxed attitude to mean they can wander the streets with beers in their hands.

Munroe says if IUPD officers see anyone drinking on a public way  “they can definitely be approached for that.”

The Hoosiers take on the Indiana State Sycamores tonight and come right back to Memorial Stadium for their next game, Saturday, September 7th, against Navy.

 

The Council for Community Accessibility Accepts Nominees For Awards

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The City of Bloomington’s Council for Community Accessibility (CCA) is seeking nominees for the annual awards ceremony that will take place on October 29th.

This year the event will take place at Bell Trace, off of 10th Street,  and starts at 6:30, Special Projects Coordinator, Craig Brenner says. There will be a keynote speaker who served in Iraq and tragically lost both his legs.

“He’s a motivational speaker from the Indianapolis Colts and we are really looking forward to having him. After, we’ll have an awards ceremony,” Brenner says

The awards acknowledge organizations, individuals and businesses that help make Bloomington more accessible for individuals with disabilities

“The Council for Community Accessibility researches any nominations and vote,” Brenner says.

The CCA is a volunteer group that advocates for those who are disabled. It’s been around for over 20 years and meet at City Hall once a month, Brenner says.

They make sure the buildings in the city are accessible to people with disabilities, he says.

“They also address issues in the business community and serve as an educational group to make sure people know what to do to make their programs and buildings accessible,” Brenner says.

Nominations can be submitted at www.bloomington.in.gov/cca. The submission deadline is Oct 11 2013.

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