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County trouble collecting storm water fees

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The state and federal governments aren’t paying their share for programs that address local storm water problems. Monroe County attorney Kevin Dogan said the County has had trouble collecting storm water fees for properties owned by other governmental units. Dogan says it’s not surprising that they didn’t get funding from state and federal government.

Dogan referenced a recent court decision the prohibited the County from enforcing its noise ordinance on Interstate 69 construction crews. Dogan said the County should still send bills to state and federal properties. But he said there are still questions about what to do when the bills aren’t paid.

Dogan estimated the County has been billing the federal government about $15,000 a year for storm water fees. He didn’t have an estimate for the state’s bills. Storm water fees pay for infrastructure such as drainage ditches and storm sewers throughout the County. Dogan and the Board members said the County is providing a service to the state and federal properties. But Board members Patrick Stoffers and Iris Kiesling agreed there is not much reason to pursue unpaid bills.

The Board later approved a policy that the County won’t charge late fees to the state and federal governments.

Fast-tracking new recycling facility

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Monroe County may be fast-tracking plans for a new recycling facility. The County Solid Waste Management District wants to start construction before the end of the year. The new materials recovery facility, or MRF, would process the County’s recyclables and prepare them for sale. Money for the project is set aside in the District’s budget for next year. But on October 9th, executive director Larry Barker asked the District’s Board of Directors for permission to start spending the money early.

Barker has been pushing to build a MRF for years. The County finally approved a version of the project in September. The facility will be a clean-stream MRF, meaning it will only process recyclables that have been pre-sorted. Ultimately, Barker wants to build a waste-stream MRF, which would actually separate recyclables from other garbage. A waste-stream MRF would be more expensive, and that proposal has been controversial. Bloomington Mayor Mark Kruzan, who is also a member of the District Board, said he wanted to be careful not to appear supportive of the waste-stream facility.

Barker and some members of the District’s Board believe the County can make money from selling its recyclables. Currently, the County pays the company, Republic Services, to haul off its recycling. Board President Steve Volan said it’s not clear all those recyclables are even, in fact, recycled. At the meeting, the Board voted 3 to 1 to start construction on the clean-stream MRF this year. That decision has to be approved by the County Council before it’s final.

Monroe County short on poll workers

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In the lead up to the November 4th election, Monroe County is again short on poll workers. As of the October 15th Republicans had only recruited 34 of the 90 workers they need. Democrats had recruited most of their workers, but they were still short five. The two major parties are responsible for recruiting poll workers until three weeks before the election, when they hand the job over to the County Clerk’s Office. In recent elections, there have consistently been problems with recruiting poll workers. Election Board member Lorraine Farrell, who represents the Monroe County Democrats, expressed regret that the pattern was repeating.

The County Clerk’s Office officially took over recruitment on October 14th. Clerk Linda Robbins told the Board she planned to hire someone who would work exclusively on finding poll workers. She explained the process to Farrell as well as Board member Brian Lemonds, who represents the Monroe County Republican Party.

Earlier this year, Robbins asked the Board for permission to pay recruiters from the Democrat and Republican parties. The goal, she said, would be to incentivize the parties to do a better job recruiting. At the time, Farrell and Lemonds both objected to paying political parties with taxpayer money.

Monroe County School Corporation Outlines Standardized Testing Changes to School Board

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The Monroe County Community School Corporation is preparing for a slew of changes in standardized testing. Administrators briefed the school board on the changes October 14th. The state and federal governments require all school corporations to give students certain tests. But Tammy Miller, the Corporation’s Director of Elementary Education, said one of those tests is going away next year. The test was called I-MAST. Students who would have taken the I-MAST will now the take the same test given to other students. That test is known as the I-STEP.

Board President Keith Klein asked about the reasoning behind the change. Other Board members also expressed concern about the end of the I-MAST. The change is reportedly the result of changing regulations at the federal Department of Education. Superintendent Judy DeMuth said there are major problems with giving students inappropriate tests.

The Board also heard about the most recent A through F grades given to schools throughout the state. Of the 17 elementary and middle schools in MCCSC, Miller said 13 received either As or Bs. Board member Jeanine Butler asked about grades over the years. Fairview Elementary received an F again on these tests, which were actually taken last school year. Fairview has received Fs the past three years, which has led to scrutiny and debate about how the school is run.
Reporting Live for WFHB, I’m Kelly Wherley.

Monroe County School Corporation Reports On Truancy Students; Long-Term Implications

Three months into the 2014-2015 school year, the Monroe County Community School Corporation reports six students have missed at least 10 days of school without an excuse. The school system automatically refers such truant students to juvenile probation. So far these early figures are being compared to the entire previous 2013-2014 school year when a total of 63 truant students was reported and 21 of these students had their drivers’ licenses suspended as punishment for the unexcused absences. According to an October 14 article in the Herald-Times, there is often a confluence of contributing factors involved in such student truancy, including family poverty, mental and physical illness, and domestic issues. School truancy is such an important issue, say experts, because past truancy can be an indicator of future behavior, such as not finishing high school, and then possible adult problems such as substance abuse, poverty and even criminal behavior that results in incarceration. In fact, according to Monroe County Prosecutor Chris Gaal, when examining criminal records in retrospect, one common factor in the lives of many persons already in prison is a history of school truancy.

Area 10 Agency on Aging to Hold Forum on Preventing Elder Abuse

Area 10 Agency on Aging will host a panel, “Elder Justice, A Community Conversation,” on Tuesday, October 21, 2014 in Lamkin Hall at IVY Tech in Bloomington. From 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. panelists from law enforcement, social services, and governmental agencies will discuss how to prevent or protect elder citizens from abuse, what community resources are available and what gaps in services exist.

Each year one in ten older Americans are victims of elder abuse, neglect, exploitation or scamming and experts believe for every report of abuse 23.5 cases go unreported. The program is free to the public, but registration is appreciated.

Heartland Film Festival Begins Featuring IU Students and Alumni

The Heartland Film Festival begins tomorrow and two of the featured films were made by IU students and alumni, according to a press release by IU.
The film “We’ll be alright” is an 11-minute documentary by seniors Barton Girdwood and Carissa Barrett . The students produced the film last Spring as part of a class at IU in the Department of Communication and Culture. It is the story of Frankie Presslaff, his unique family, and his extraordinary mother, Mimsie. Frankie and his longtime partner Kelly Compton are dads to eight adopted children. And Frankie’s mother Mimsie assisted her son and touched the lives of many other Bloomington residents.

The film “Three Months” was produced by alumni filmmakers Matt Spear and Selena Hubbard from the IU School of Informatics and Computing at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. The 20- minute film tells the story of a man who puts off his dream. Now, after a cancer diagnosis, it may be too late. This film follows the themes of pursuing dreams and not pushing them off for another day.
The Heartland Film Festival runs October 16th to 25th at venues throughout Indianapolis. The films “Three Months” and “We’ll Be All Right” will screen as part of the “Indiana Spotlight” program on October 20th and 24th.

The City of Bloomington Commission on the Status of Women is Celebrating 40 Years

The City of Bloomington Commission on the Status of Women is holding a reception tonight to celebrate 40 years since its inception. The idea for the commission was introduced in 1973 by Charlotte Zietlow, who was President of City Council at the time. Today the Commission has taken on many roles including the identification of needs and gaps in resources for women, monitoring state and local policies and offering scholarships to women in programs designed to enhance leadership skills.

The reception will be held in the atrium of City Hall starting at 6:30 p.m. tonight. A presentation summarizing the accomplishments of the Commission will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Council Chambers.

Bollywood Film Based In Bloomington To Begin Filming Soon

A Bollywood film crew is set to begin production on a new movie based in Bloomington. The producers of the film, tentatively titled “7 Hindustani,” got permission October 7 to reserve some parking spaces downtown. Alana Rossein, the line producer of the film, explained to the Bloomington Board of Public Works the crew needs the spaces for equipment and location.

Rossein went on to say scenes will be filmed at Kilroy’s on Kirkwood and on South Washington Street among other locations.

“We want to show Bloomington to people who have never seen this place before,” Rossein says.

The chief producer, Anil Kapoor, also took questions from the Board.

Kapoor is one of the most well-known Bollywood actors, having appeared in dozens of films over the past 35 years. Kapoor has also appeared in movies such as Slumdog Millionaire and the TV series, “24.” Kapoor commented on Bloomington’s city government.

“I’ve never seen something like this in local government,” Kapoor says. “It’s something I want to take back to where I live. You are all so civil and professional, even about the most minute details like noise and trash.”

The Board later approved the request to reserve parking spaces. Shooting is expected to begin later this month and continue through mid-November.

IU To Dedicate New Media School And Ernie Pyle Sculpture

On Friday, October 17 Indiana University will inaugurate its newest school on the Bloomington campus, the Media School, with the dedication of a new sculpture of IU alumnus and Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Ernie Pyle.

The sculptor is Harold Langland, professor emeritus, who taught at IU South Bend from 1971-2001.

According to IU officials, Langland will present the sculpture to IU President Michael McRobbie at a public ceremony beginning at 2 p.m. in Franklin Hall, the future home of the Media School.

Previously Langland created a sculpture of IU’s legendary President and Chancellor Herman B. Wells. That sculpture, seated on a bench near the student union, has become a popular spot for photographers as well as students and visitors.

The Media School is now envisioned as IU’s pre-eminent site for teaching, research and service about the understanding and production of media by combining over 70 faculty members specializing in journalism, cinema, communications and culture, and electronic telecommunication programs.

“The fluid technology environment of the 21st century offers our students and faculty and opportunity to boldly imagine the shape of media in the coming decades,” Larry D. Songell, executive Dean of Arts and Sciences says.

Meanwhile, this new academic unit within the College of Arts and Sciences is now in search of its first dean at the same time that renovation of Franklin Hall itself will soon begin.

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