On October 23 a joint press release from the office of Governor Mike Pence and the Indiana Commission on Public Records announced a new partnership with Ancestry.com to digitalize 13 million birth, death and marriage certificates in time for the state’s 2016 bicentennial. This will be the largest online collection of Indiana state materials ever digitalized. Online historical records older than 75 years will start to become available to the public in 2015. Birth and death certificates date back to the early 1900s and the state’s marriage records span the years 1958-2005. The State Archive estimates the partnership will save Indiana more than $3.2 million considering the costs to index, scan, and make such materials accessible and will accomplish these tasks years sooner than otherwise possible. For the past two years the Indiana Commission on Public Records has worked with the Indiana State Department of Health Vital Records to achieve this partnership. The Indiana State Department of Health Vital Records will streamline Hoosiers’ access to records with its own copies. Ancestry.com will also provide access to these materials for its members when the project is completed.
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The Indiana University Office of Sustainability will be holding its Third Annual Food Summit on Friday, November 7th. The event will be held at the Neal Marshall Black Culture Center Grand Hall from 10 am to 1 pm. Previous summits touched on topics such as defining sustainable food and accessing data. This Summit will focus on student demand and will provide students an opportunity to network with faculty and IU staff about food available on campus and sustainability. Workshops will include unpacking student perceptions, understanding the campus food landscape, and demonstrating new demand for sustainable options. Registration for the event ends on Monday, November 3.
For the fifth year in a row, the City of Bloomington is offering residents a chance to win a free home energy assessment, worth several hundred dollars. For this year’s “Beat the Meter Blitz” program, fifty assessments will be awarded. In the past, only owner-occupied homes were eligible. This year, renters can also benefit from the program as long as they have the landlord’s permission. These free home energy audits will be awarded by lottery. Applications can be made by emailing name, address, phone number and whether or not the property is a rental to email@example.com or by calling 812-349-3837. The deadline for applying is Monday, November 10th.
The Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research (CNetS) on the IU campus is at the cutting edge of researching how information spreads on social media such as Twitter. Researchers want to understand how social media influences behavior in areas such as politics, advertising, social revolutions, and how it can be manipulated and abused. The project goes by the name of Truthy.
Ironically, Truthy itself is now the target of media attempts to spread disinformation. In September an article in the Columbia Journalism Review detailed the spread of attacks against Truthy on conservative media. Several television hosts and commentators on the Fox News Channel compared the project to the McCarthy era and Orwell’s 1984. On Monday the Indianapolis Star reported that the Lamar Smith GOP chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee is investigating how IU’s project, which has funding from the National Science Foundation, was able to secure federal funds. Last week an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal by Ajit Pai implied that the purpose of Truthy was to suppress and limit free speech. It seems that Truthy-bashing has gone viral. But a blog posted by Henry Farrell of the Washington Post on October 22, presented a more balanced view of the project and included an interview with Filippo Menczer and Alessandro Flammini, principle investigators. When asked about why or how the attacks began, Menczer and Flammini preferred not to speculate about the motives, but did add that since the project started several years ago, there has been widespread positive coverage in the national and international press.
A blog titled ‘The Truth About Truthy’ on the CNetS website says “an important goal of the Truthy project is to better understand how social media can be abused.”
IU announced today that Dr. Sue Carter will become director of the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University beginning November 1st. A distinguished scientist, Carter is known internationally for her research in the field of behavioral neuroendocrinology (neuro-end-oh-crih-nology). Her work advanced understanding of the biological mechanisms underlying love and emotion in human relationships. Currently Carter researches the effects of drugs taken by mothers during childbirth on the infant’s development. According to the today’s press release, Carter plans to continue that research at the Kinsey Institute. Carter will also focus on development of the Kinsey Institute Resource Center. The center will offer access to information on the biology of human relationships to the greater Bloomington community. Carter will be the 7th director of the Kinsey Institute since its founding in 1947.
The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles will have extended hours on Monday and Tuesday for voters needing photo ids. According to a press release from the DMV, all branches will be open Monday, November 3rd, from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Tuesday, November 4th, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Indiana BMV provides free, state-issued ID cards for voting purposes to any unlicensed Hoosier who has the proper documentation and is old enough to vote. A list of what documentation is required is posted on the website mybmv.com. Normal hours will resume on Wednesday, November 5th.
The public is invited to attend an informational open house regardin I-69 Section from from Bloomington to Martinsville. The event is next week, Wednesday October 29th from from 5:30 pm – 7:30pm at the Holiday Inn, located at 1710 Kinser Pike.
The I-69 Section 5 project involves rehabilitating and upgrading 21 miles of the existing, four-lane State Road 37 to interstate standards. The first phase of the I-69 reconstruction is tied to completion of traffic improvements in Bloomington such as a new interchange at Tapp Road, a third lane in each direction, a new overpass at Rockport Road and changes to That Rd.
There will be no formal presentation regarding the development, but a press release says that the public can comment on the proposed aesthetic treatment concepts .
On October 20th, The Richland Bean Blossom School Board sent their respects to the family of recent graduate Josiah Winks who died in a single-car collision on October 18th. Superintendent Mike Wilcox opened with comments about Winks who received his diploma earlier this month.
Larry DeMoss, speaking on behalf of the RBB Educators Association also expressed his condolences to Winks’ family, but said that “at the other end of the emotional spectrum” reports of a class trip to Michigan was an “upper” for the school district. Isabel, a student of Edgewood High School teacher Jeff Carmichael, has participated in three of Carmichael’s class trips, and thanked the school board for the educational opportunity.
The school board also talked about the upcoming bidding proposal for the school bus routes of the 2015-2019 school year. Superintendent Wilcox outlined the key dates for the bidding process.
The school district is also in the beginning phases of developing a long-range plan, beginning with the formation of a long range planning committee.
The city of Bloomington utilities department has awarded a three year contract to Gripp Incorporated to monitor city wastewater. City of Bloomington Utilities engineer Phil Peden addressed the Utility services board on October 20th and lined out the contract parameters.
Board member Jeff Ehman inquired about the previous company contracted to monitor Bloomington’s wastewater.
Peden said that several bids came in for the wastewater flow monitoring, and that Gripp had the lowest bid. The contract has been review by the city of Bloomington legal department and was unanimously approved by the utility services board.
A group studying proposals for a new recycling facility in Monroe County raised questions at a meeting October 16th. Stephen Hale is a member of the citizens advisory committee to the Monroe County Solid Waste Management District. Hale and other committee members formed a working group last year to look into the feasibility of building a new materials recovery facility, or MRF. That facility would process local recyclables and get them ready for sale. But Hale said he doesn’t have enough information yet to convince him the project is viable.
The District got final approval earlier this month to move forward with building a clean-stream MRF, meaning it will only process pre-sorted recyclables. But District employees are also pushing to build a waste-stream MRF that would pull recyclables from unsorted garbage. Hale said the issue needs to be studied further.
The MRF proposal has been a subject of dispute on the District’s Board of Directors. Bloomington Mayor Mark Kruzan has opposed the project, as have County Commissioners Iris Kiesling and Patrick Stoffers. Those three have been outvoted by four other members of the Board, led by Board President and City Council member Steve Volan.