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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.

 

Quick Reads – August 4th, 2014

  • Work begins today on a new greenspace surrounding the Ivy Tech John Waldron Art Center. The area on 4th street will be completed first and then the front of the building facing Walnut street will follow. Artistic Director Paul Daily says the project should take three weeks to complete and be ready on August 22nd, in time for the launch of the fall semester.
  • A group of Indiana firefighters, police officers and emergency medical providers announced today that they have signed a legal brief in support of marriage equality in Indiana. The amicus or “friend of the court” brief is to be filed tomorrow with the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago. The case, which has been combined with a similar challenge out of Wisconsin, will be heard on August 26th.
  • Bloomington Police continue to investigate two armed robberies occurring on the B-Line last week. The incidents were conducted in a similar manner, one occurred on the B Line trail behind the Showers Building and one occurred just east of Adams street.

 

Highway Noise

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Last week the Monroe County Council amended its local noise ordinance to deal with some recent complaints, including loud, night-time and weekend construction work on section 4 of the new I-69 interstate that has been underway in the southeast corner of the county for the last few months. Correspondent David Murphy reports.

Bloomington Transit to Implement New Code Of Conduct

Users of local buses will be expected to adhere to a recently adopted behavioral code. Bloomington Transit will post its new Code of Conduct on its website, on buses and at the soon-to-be-opened new central transit depot on 3rd Street.

Lew May, General Manager of Bloomington Transit, says that in the past there simply was no formal code of conduct.

“In the past years the problems weren’t as significant in the past 10 years,” May says. “With rider growth, it’s become apparent we need to set a basic code of conduct to set expectations for our riders.”

Bloomington Transit posted this draft code on its website and then held two public meetings, on June 3 and June 17, where they presented the code.

The draft code included prohibitions on what would generally be considered anti-social and destructive behavior, anything that might soil the buses, be offensive to or impose on the privacy of other passengers, or be unsafe.

However, some attendees suggested that many of the rules, such as prohibitions on sleeping on the bus or at the depot and against emitting strong odors, seemed to be targeting the homeless. May said the Bloomington Transit has responded to these concerns by removing them from the code of conduct.

The new Bloomington Transit downtown depot on 3rd Street is expected to be open next month.

Monroe County Public Library To Change And Expand Hours

The Monroe County Public Library will be change hours starting on Labor Day.

The Library’s Board of Trustees voted June 18 to add two extra hours on Sundays, meaning the Library will soon be open from noon until 6 p.m. instead of 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Library Director Sara Laughlin said the administration has been wanted to expand Sunday hours for years.

“In 2012 when we did a community survey, what would you choose to change our services,” Laughlin says. “Number one, of course, was fix parking. But number three was expand weekend hours.”

Laughlin said the city’s parking meters also motivated the change. Parking is free on Sundays. To help offset the cost of the change, the Library cut an hour from its Friday schedule. It will open at 10 a.m. instead of 9 a.m. on Fridays.

The Board also voted to push back its schedule on Saturdays. The building will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays instead of 9  to 5.

The changes take effect September 1.

Rural Monroe County Residents May See Major Rezoning Shifts

Some Monroe County residents raised questions June 17 about proposed rules that would affect the most rural parts of the county.

The rules would apply to areas more than two miles from Bloomington. They would not affect smaller communities like Ellettsville or Stinesville.

The County Plan Commission is seeking to simplify its rural zoning rules by establishing just two zones instead of the current 20. But resident Steven Cordell said that approach might have been counterproductive.

“You’re taking something that was too complicated and making it overly simplified,” Cordell says. “I think that might be a big over-correction.”

Cordell’s complaints with the proposed rules focused largely on restrictions that would keep residents from subdividing their land into lots of relatively small parcels. Commission members have said the County can’t support the infrastructure required by those kinds of typically residential developments.

Other residents, like Steve Smith, asked why the rules restrict rural businesses from developing.

“The existing businesses have been there a long time with the zoning code changing around them,” Smith says. “This would blanket change everything, and when they become pre-existing, non-conforming, that’s like saying ‘we don’t want you.’”

Commission members said they are waiting to develop some rules for businesses. Commission member Julie Thomas said consultant is still working on rules governing the Bloomington Urbanizing Area, which is the two miles of County land surrounding the city. Thomas said those regulations would affect the rural zoning rules.

 

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