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Controversial Rideshare Program Uber launches in Bloomington

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Despite not conforming to the regulations of Bloomington’s Taxi Ordinance, popular rideshare Uber announced it’s expansion to Bloomington this morning.
WFHB News Director Alycin Bektesh has the report.

5:09pm UPDATE
In response to an interview request regarding the cease and desist notice from the City of Bloomington, WFHB News received the following e mail
“Uber has been providing residents of Indiana with safe, affordable and reliable transportation options for over a year. We’ve already received overwhelming demand and support from residents and visitors of Bloomington eager for access to expanded transportation choices. We look forward to continuing to work with officials in Bloomington to find a permanent home for ridesharing in the city.”

Media School Releases Franklin Hall Renovation Plans

The IU Media School tweeted a drawing of the plans for Franklin Hall renovation following last week’s Board of Trustees meeting. On August 8th, Associate Dean Lesa Hatley Major met with IU trustees to propose interior plans for the merged media school. Major told trustees that the school will have space for student media including the IDS, WIUX, IUSTV, the Arbutus, and American Student Radio. The school will be open 24 hours a day to keep the media programs running. Level one of the school will have a broadcast studio as well as Ernie Pyle archives and the largest TV on campus. Classrooms will be on level two, along with study areas overlooking the first level.

Vote Centers A Proposed Discussion With Monroe County Budget

Monroe County will tackle the contentious issue of vote centers again in the coming weeks. County Clerk Linda Robbins says she will propose vote centers during upcoming budget talks.Robbins made the statement at an August 7 meeting of the County Election Board.

“We are also going to look at comparing costs of precinct voting to vote centers so we’re going to try and tackle that again with some comparative costs,” Robbins says.

Switching to a vote center model would shrink the number of voting locations in the County. But a resident could vote at any of the locations instead of being limited to a single precinct. In the past, county Republicans have opposed the change.

Robbins insists it could save hundreds of thousands of dollars during each election.

“There’s been pushback from certain individuals about these centers,” Robbins says. “Any cost we incur with this will be charged back to the city, not the county.”

The Board plans to begin 2015 budget discussions on August 12.

Local News, Quick Reads – August 12, 2014

  • Indiana University has a new women’s basketball coach.  Teri Moren was announced as the Hoosiers’ new coach Saturday night. She replaces Curt Miller, who resigned on July 25.   Moren played for the Purdue Boilermakers  from 1987-1991 and has spent the past four seasons as the coach  at Indiana State University.
  • The Hoosier Hills Food Bank distributed more pounds of food in July than ever before in the organizations history. 413,835 pounds of food were distributed last month. HHFB distributes to nearly 100 non-profit agencies in Brown, Lawrence, Orange, Owen, Martin and Monroe counties with limited distribution in Crawford and Greene counties.
  • The Indianapolis Business Journal is reporting that local for-profit hospital Monroe Hospital filed for bankruptcy federal court in Indianapolis on Friday. Court documents show the hospital to be $125 million in debt. The hospital currently employees 315 people, and is in works with Prime Healthcare for a buyout.
  • MaryEllen Bishop stepped down as Chair of the Indiana University board of trustees during the trustee meeting in Bloomington on Friday. Randall Tobias,  the Retired Chair and CEO of Eli Lilly and Company and  a 2013 gubernatorial appointment to the IU board of trustees, was unanimously voted in a chairman of the board on Friday.

Almost 700,000 marked inactive on voter registry

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Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson announced an update today regarding the election division’s Voter List Refresh project. WFHB News Director Alycin Bektesh has the report.

IU Maurer School of Law professors weigh in on smartphone patent case

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Two Indiana University law professors stepped into a legal battle this week between the world’s leading smartphone manufacturers. WFHB Assistant News Director Joe Crawford brings the full report.

Comission on the Status of Women to advocate for minimum wage raise

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Only one third of Bloomington’s statutory commission members are women, 39 percent of domestic battery arrests result in no charges being filed, and a working woman in Indiana earns 66 cents for every dollar a man earns.

These statistics all come from reports from the Commission on the Status of Women, which announced this week that applications are being accepted for a new member. WFHB News Director Alycin Bektesh catches up with City Deputy Clerk Sue Wanzer and Commission Chair Cathi Crabtree about current commission projects.

Monroe County Schools Start This Week

Local public schools opened to new and returning students Monday. Bev Smith, a spokesperson for the Monroe County Community School Corporation says that August 4 was the earliest the schools had opened for many years. This increasingly early start coincides with an early finish to the school year in year, in mid-May.

No final numbers have been tabulated as to student enrollment for the this school year. The 2013-2014 year ended with over 10,000 students. For the last few years, the district has averaged between 10 and 11 thousand children.

Smith says that the district will be working on incorporating the new state mandated and generated common core curricular standards into the school lessons. The district is also working on what it calls cultural competency, which  entails increasing diversity among faculty and classroom content, so as to improve the academic performance of minorities. These programs could help schools such as Fairview Elementary which has been given a F grade by state for the last few years.

“Looking at Fairview and really fine-tuning what’s going on there, again we have a new principal there in place which brings a great deal of experience so we look forward to what his experience will yield and mean for Fairview and its quest to improve not only a grade that it receives from the state but really showing and showcasing what children learn and know,” Smith says.

At the other end of the performance spectrum are the schools at which the district hopes to introduce international baccaleureate programs.

 

 

 

 

Monroe County Library Sees Increase In Library Card Applications And Online Program Use

The Monroe County Public Library saw an increase of library card applications during the summer. Library Director Sarah Laughlin attributed the sign ups to a summer collaboration with the Monroe County Community School Corporation.

Laughlin told the Board of Trustees on July 16 that the summer reading program was a success.

“We opened it up May 28, so as of June 30 we had 211 people register for Treehouse and 6100 video views that are part of the classes,” Laughlin says. “The first month’s traffic is really all library traffic.”

Laughlin highlighted an aspect of the website offerings called Treehouse, an online learning platform with a focus on the design and development of websites and mobile apps.

Laughlin said that an increased presence on the internet has paid off with increased library traffic as well as library card sign ups.

Local News, Quick Reads – August 5, 2014

Bloomington May Amend Chain Business Rules 

By Joe Crawford

Some companies may soon be exempt from Bloomington’s new regulations on chain businesses downtown. Last night the city Plan Commission passed an amendment that would exclude upper story corporate offices from the ordinance. The City Council must also approve that amendment for it to take effect. The new regulations officially took effect on Friday, August 2. The ordinance allows the city to regulate the design of new chain restaurants and stores downtown. The city’s Planning staff said upper-story offices should not have to follow the rules, stating they do not possess any potential to create the same aesthetic concerns presented by first floor standardized retail and office uses.

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Conservative Opposition to Pence Health Plan

By Joe Crawford

A study released today by a conservative think tank claims Governor Mike Pence’s Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0 will damage the state’s economy. The group, Federalism in Action, says Pence’s plan could kill over 100,000 jobs by expanding Medicaid and “crowding out the private sector.” The think tank, which has financial ties to the billionaire Koch brothers, states HIP 2.0 could also reduce family incomes in Indiana by requiring new taxes. Pence proposed HIP 2.0 in May, describing it as a consumer-driven and market-based program. Pence opposes the Affordable Care Act and has refused to go along with the Obama administration’s requests to expand Medicaid in Indiana to cover low-income residents. Pence’s proposal is currently under review by the federal government.

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Women Underrepresented on University Boards

By Joe Crawford

A majority of students at Indiana’s public universities are women, but most of those who govern the schools are men. That’s according to a new analysis by the Indianapolis Star. The newspaper found women make up only about a fifth of the positions on public university governing boards across the state and that most trustees are white men. Across the country, just 28 percent of trustees are women, according to a survey conducted in 2010. In Indiana, the governor appoints a majority of the public university trustees. At IU, two of the nine trustees are women. At Ivy Tech, three of the thirteen trustees are women.

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 IU Misses Top 100 Forbes Ranking

By Alycin Bektesh

The annual Forbes list of College rankings was released last week, with Indiana University Bloomington nearly missing the top one hundred. Three Indiana schools made the top one hundred, Notre Dame was Indiana’s highest honored school, ranked 17th in the country. Depaw and Earlham are 91st and 92nd respectively.  IU Bloomington was ranked 107th overall, and 18th in both the Public Colleges and Midwest Schools categories. Purdue also landed on the top 25 Best Public Schools list coming in at number 25. Of the 650 schools analyzed for the report, Indiana State University was ranked 647th.

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Crowdfunding Effort Made For Homeless Shelter

By David Murphy

Bloomington’s Interfaith Winter Shelter has started a crowdfunding campaign through Indie Go-Go. The shelter runs every night from November 1 to March 31, with four local churches to provide emergency shelter to individuals without homes.They provide a meal, and sleeping place with clean blankets and pillows. The shelter also provides laundry services for the bedding, bus tickets, and one on-duty professional safety staff member from 9:00 PM until midnight. The interfaith winter shelter provides between 6000 and 7500 beds each winter.

 

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