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Monroe County Library Suffering From Paying Parking Meters

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Last week the Monroe County Public Library’s Board of Trustees discussed the negative effect parking meters are having on library patrons.

Board member Stephen Moberly referred to the library’s circulation numbers, which have declined since the downtown meters were installed in August.

“Looking at the chart, we had a slight decrease last year of half of one percent. This year, we had a 3.3% decrease,” Moberly said, “I think it’s attributed to one thing, though it may not be politically correct to say. The parking meters, I think, have been devastating to the library. You can come and see around the block that no cars are parked there, and there always were before because they were our patrons. Some retail merchants have closed and suffered because of the meters, but the library is suffering too.”

Board President Valerie Merriam says the library should tell the City Council and Mayor Mark Kruzan about what effect the meters have had. She says circulation hasn’t dropped this much in almost two decades.

“There is a general decline to everything that is related with coming in to the library,” Merriam said.

Moberly suggested that these are people that might not have the money to feed the meters, and that they should let city hall know about these concerns.

Library Director Sara Laughlin says she would convey those concerns to city officials. But Laughlin says she doesn’t have any short term solutions to reverse the effects.

“I think we’ve done what we can do in helping people find places to park,” Laughlin said, “In fact, I know that the parking finder page on our website is still one of the top pages on the site. Longer term, it would be great to have a second branch with lots of parking, otherwise we just can’t increase our parking capacity downtown.”

The library has also considered expanding hours on Sundays, when the city does not require drivers to pay the meters.

Bloomington Transit Contracts Local Artists To Beautify New Downtown Transit Center

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Bloomington Transit announced it has awarded contracts for exterior design and art work for the new Downtown Transit Center, which is currently under construction on Third and Walnut in downtown Bloomington.

Local architect Matt Ellenwood was selected for the facility’s exterior benches and bicycle racks.

His design was selected as the winning entry from among thirteen entrants in a national competition sponsored by the Bloomington Arts Commission.

“We’re planning on having 22 bike racks scattered throughout the facility,” Lew May, general manager of Bloomington Transit, says, “Any kind of transit facility needs places for people to sit and wait for the bus, so we will have those as well.”

Ellenwood’s designs are said to reference the curves found in the Transit Center’s canopy design, as well as the wheels of buses and bicycles. The benches and bike racks will be fabricated locally by Jerico Metal Specialties.

In addition to the bike racks, there is planned to be around a half-dozen secure bicycle lockers at the new facility.

The Arts Commision also chose artist Dale Enochs to create a mural for the west wall of the center. The mural, entitled “Breakaway”, is comprised of overlapping wheel shapes. The mural will be fabricated from powder-coated, hand-painted aluminum shapes that attach directly to the wall. The majority of the aluminum shapes will stand slightly away from the Center’s wall, in order to create shadow lines around the individual pieces. The mural will be approximately 22 feet wide and six feet tall.

May says decisions have not been made on the future of the current, soon-to-be abandoned Transit Center and that it is hoped that the new transit center will open to the public by late Spring of this year.

Last Week To Throw Out Christmas Trees and Wreaths

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This is the last week to set out Christmas trees and wreaths for pickup by the City of Bloomington Sanitation Department. Residents can place the items on the curb, along with their trash and recycling, on their regularly scheduled pick-up day. Lights, ornaments, and other decorations need to be removed from the trees. The last day for tree pick-up is Monday, January 20.

Fairvew Elementary School To Reorganize Classes Due To Parents’ Protests

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The proposed restructuring of classes at Fairview School that brought angry parents to school board offices has been stopped, according to Beverly Smith, Director of School and Community Services at the Monroe County Community School Corporation.

“Our Director of Elementary Education Tammy Miller is serving as the interim principal at Fairview School through the end of this year,” Smith said, “She, in her wisdom as the director and a former principal, projected, suggested, and put in place some changes that would have taken place on Monday. Through some further input from staff and parents, Mrs. Miller made the suggestion to the superintendent that we not go forward with those changes. She is going to work with parents in the future to craft plans that will allow folks to work together and come up with what is best for Fairview.”

Smith confirmed reports that the proposed changes were to create smaller classes of students with below standard literacy skills.

This determination was based on a variety of performance evaluations of students including, in particular, those from the Northwest Literacy Evaluation reports.

Beyond the now suspended restructuring of classes, there was also concern expressed by parents that these changes might impact Fairview’s adoption and development of the Artful Learning program, and associated changes in teaching, curriculum and enrollment.

“At this point what we are most focused on is that, as of today, students will be returning to their original classroom assignments that they enjoyed during the first semester. School will go on as normal and Mrs. Miller will work with teachers and parents to return students to the classrooms and work together for the advancement of Fairview.”

The original and strongest complaint voiced by Fairview parents was the lack of consultation with parents by the school or district administration, or even of direct notice beforehand of the proposals prior to their adoption.

However, the parental protests brought about an immediate meeting with school board officials, including District Superintendent Judith Demuth, yesterday morning.

This was followed up with the announcement of the scheduling of Fairview Family Meetings Monday, January 13, and next Monday, January 21 at 6:30 p.m, at Fairview School.

Smith acknowledged that the parents’ protests, as well as comments from teaching staff, helped prompt the reversal of the class restructuring plans.

“It’s always wise to have as much input from all of your stakeholders as possible,” Smith said, “I believe that this situation just underscored that this practice is something we enjoy and continue.”

Smith says that consultation with Fairview parents and teachers will continue, to decide how best to address the immediate issue of students literacy, the evaluation of students’ performance, and the best means to address any perceived deficiencies.

Parking Meter Vandals Continue, Police Say

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Local police are receiving ongoing reports of parking meter vandalism in Bloomington.

Susie Johnson, director of the city’s Public Works department, says she doesn’t want to go into detail on the vandalism, but that it has been minimal so far.

“I really would rather not go into it, and not draw attention to it because I think it fans the flames,” Johnson said, “The more we talk about it, the more people want to do it.”

Johnson says parking meter vandalism has been declining, and that she doesn’t know if the incidents have been organized or random, but that Bloomington police are investigating.

The Strike Mic – January 14, 2014

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This week on The Strike Mic, members of the Indiana University assembly are holding a day of action tomorrow, in support of the prisoners at Westville Correctional Facility in Westfield, Indiana.

Closings for Tuesday, January 7

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The following organizations will be closed Tuesday, January 7 unless otherwise noted:

-Monroe County Community School Corporation
-Richland Bean Blossom School Corporation
-Brown County Schools
-Clear Creek Christian School
-Pinnacle School
-Harmony School
-Lighthouse Christian Academy
-Bloomfield School District
-Spencer-Owen Community School Corporation
-North Lawrence Community Schools

-City of Bloomington non-emergency services
-Bloomington parking regulations suspended until 8:00 am Wednesday
-Area 10 services closed; Area 10 nutrition program – no meal delivery, all meal sites closed
-Rural Transit of Monroe and Owen Counties – no routes
-Hoosier Hills Food Bank
-Girls Inc of Monroe County after-school programs
-Children’s Village
-Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard

-City of Bloomington sanitation services suspended, will resume Wednesday if weather conditions permit – residents who normally have pickup on Mondays will have pickup on Wednesday, residents who have pickup on Tuesdays will have pickup on Thursday, residents who have pickup on Wednesdays will have pickup on Friday, residents who have pickup on Thursdays will have pickup on Saturday

Some Downtown Bloomington Businesses Open Despite Cold Weather

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Non-emergency county and city offices were closed today, as well as Indiana University, many IU Health Bloomington Hospital programs and all area schools. However, several local businesses had their “open” signs turned on despite the slick conditions and dangerously low temperatures.

Downtown outfitter JL Waters’ “open” sign shined through the frosty windows. Employees Emily Hodapp and Kimberly Webber and their canine pal Ranger were in the store and explained why they were open for business today.

“Out of all the stores, the adventure store should be open… No such thing as bad weather, just bad gear,” they said.

Hodapp, the assistant manager at JL Waters, says to choose fleece and down and synthetic insulation in winter gear, and for days like today, to take into account the temperature difference that occurs due to high winds

“We’ve got a lot of things that are wind-stopping, not just wind-blocking, but wind-stopping,” said Hodapp.

Webber also recommend base layers with synthetic or wool materials. Though inside the store things were lively as the employees took advantage of the slow customer flow to rearrange parts of the store, the downtown square was almost entirely vacant.

“Completely dead, pretty much. No one’s braving it. The roads aren’t that bad if you’ve got 4-wheel drive. I’m not saying ‘get out there and risk your life’ or anything, but go play! It’s so sunny! It’s not that bad.”

For those who were in need of a hot meal, the Scholars Inn Bakehouse and Darn Good Soup were both open and serving customers, though like JL Waters, the slow business meant they would close early today before normal quitting hours. Nels Brunner, the owner of Darn Good Soup, said:

“It’s been pretty slow, really. I thought it would be busier. It’s been busy enough to be worth being open, but nothing to write home about.”

Parking meters in downtown Bloomington will not be enforced until 8am on Wednesday.

Winter Warming Shelter Available

The American Red Cross has set up shelter at Bloomington High School North, 3901 N Kinser Pike. It will be open as long as the need exists. Residents should bring their own towels, blankets and pillows.

Bloomington Transit Line 1N goes to BHSN and is running as scheduled today.

Residents who need assistance traveling to the shelter can call local city or county law enforcement: 812 349 2780.

The Shalom Center, 620 S Walnut St, is available to all residents and is open for extend hours today, until 9pm. Donations of gloves hats socks and coats are needed.

This evenings Daily Local News will have full coverage of the severe winter weather. Also look to @wfhbnews on twitter and Spot Newshound on Facebook for updates.

Dangerous temperatures expected in South Central Indiana

A winter weather Bulletin from South Central Indiana REMC advises our listening area of dangerous conditions due to low temperatures possible over the weekend:

A significant winter storm could result in more than a foot of snow in parts of Indiana on Sunday, before frigid temperatures settle in. A winter storm watch has been issued for much of Indiana. The low temperature Tuesday morning is forecast at -15 degrees with dangerous wind chills in the -30 to -40 range.

South Central Indiana REMC employees have prepared for worst-case scenarios, should members experience power outages during this time. Please be aware that because of the dangerously cold temperatures, any power outages that occur during this time will most likely be prolonged.

In the event that you experience a power outage, please keep your windows and doors shut, and make sure any generators are properly installed.

The Department of Homeland Security Offers the following checklist for an emergency preparedness checklist:

- Look up electric utility’s outage reporting phone number and add it to their cell phone contact list
- Food and water for three days (includes three gallons of water per person, per day)
- Battery operated or hand crank all hazards radio
- Flashlight
- Extra batteries for radio and flashlight
- Extra clothing, warm blankets, sleeping bags for staying warm in your home if you lose power
- Special items (baby formula, insulin, medications)
- Families should also take the time to check with neighbors and see if there’s anything they can do for each other before, during or after the storm
- pet owners need to be especially sensitive to their animals’ limits when outside, most pets cannot tolerate more than 20 minutes outside when the temperature drops below zero.

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