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Bloomington to host National Softball Tournament

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This weekend Bloomington is scheduled to host the National Softball Tournament. The event will be for the sixteen and under girls division for the Midwest region 10. It is scheduled to run from Thursday through Sunday. Bloomington Parks and Recreation Sports Division Director, John Turnbull, described the event last week to the Bloomington Board of Park Commissioners.

“We’re going to have about thirty-three or thirty-four teams, we’re still rather negotiating with a couple of the teams to get their paperwork in and their money in. And they’re generally a Midwest scheme of things because this is what’s called a “Northern Territory Tournament”. Minnesota is represented… Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, we’ve got a couple from Michigan.”

The games will be played at Winslow Sports Complex, at 2800 South Highland Avenue, and Twin Lakes Sports Park, at 2350 West Bloomfield Road. Turnbull says the tournament will have a major impact on the local business community.

“If I had to guess economically, we’re in the $800,000 to a million with hotel nights, and food, and gas, and so-on and so-forth.”

Bloomington has hosted this tournament for several years in a row. Turnbull says that for next year’s tournament, Bloomington can expect to host over one hundred teams.

Considerations for a Needle Exchange Program in Monroe County

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Monroe County health officials are exploring whether to begin operating a needle exchange program. The news follows the implementation of needle exchange programs in Scott and Madison counties earlier this year. Indiana State Department of Health data shows the number of reported Hepatitis C cases in Monroe County increased by 55% from 2009 to 2014. Health officials are also concerned by an increase in heroin overdoses. Indiana began allowing needle exchanges for the first time this year in response to the HIV outbreak in Scott County. Monroe County Health Department Administrator Penny Caudill explains what  Monroe County must do before they can implement a needle exchange program.

“What happened with, of course, Southern Indiana, there was Governor’s Quarter, and then there was state legislation that was changed that allows local health departments to request a syringe access or needle exchange program. And the law outlines what has to happen. So you’ve got to show that you have- they refer to it as an epidemic- but you have to have an increase, a significant rise in cases that are related to injection drug use. And then, that declaration has to be made by your health officer, the county commissioners have to have a public hearing and vote to approve that and move it forward. Then, if that happens, it goes to the state health commissioner with additional information. So you’ve got to say, this is essentially how we think we could address this issue. And then the state health commissioner can approve it, they can deny it, or they can ask for additional information. And then, if they approve it, then it comes back to the county and they can move forward with initiating those plans and building that out more.”

Studies have shown needle exchange programs help reduce the spread of HIV and Hepatitis C. If Monroe County’s program is approved, there will still be obstacles. Current laws bar the use of  state or federal money to fund needle exchange programs.

“You know, in terms of thinking about what other counties are doing and what kind of best practices are out there, certainly there may be foundation money, so private monies that might be available to help. There may be in-kind services that could be provided, but that is certainly a big piece of the puzzle that each county will have to figure out. Can we put some local dollars to this? And where might those come from? What about partnerships? So we all have to work together to come up with solutions and look at the possibilities.”

Caudill says health officials are still compiling data to determine whether the pursue a needle exchange program.

 

 

RBB Schools Explore Testing Alternatives

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The Richland-Bean Blossom School Corporation will use funds provided by the state to explore alternatives to the Acuity formative test it currently gives to students in grades three through ten. The test attempts to identify students who need remediation in math and English. This is the first time the Indiana Department of Education will allow school corporations across the state to choose the assessment tests they give students.

The Department appropriated a total of twelve million dollars for each of the next two academic years for school systems to use on formative tests. The Richland-Bean Blossom School Corporation received $17.45 per student in funding for the tests.

Assistant Superintendent Jason Bletzinger says the School Corporation hopes to find tests aligned with the curriculum and standards they use, as well as State standards.

“The bottom line is we want to have assessments that really just gel with our instruction,” Bletzinger said. “It’s going to be part of our instruction. We can assess students, find out where they’re at and then identify where a student’s at, which students need remediation, which students need the enrichments.”

The school corporation plans to release more information on its plans in August.

Monroe County Energy Mobile Promotes Conservation

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The Monroe County Energy Mobile spent this past weekend in the Sycamore Knolls neighborhood. Bloomington Commission on Sustainability member Molly O’Donnell made the announcement last week just prior to the visit.

“We’ve designed signs that can go from one area to another…just saying ‘Energy Mobile Coming to You Soon,’” O’Donnell said at a Commission meeting. “If we go to houses…and nobody’s home, we have another flyer and on the back there are tips on how to save energy.”

The Energy Mobile is a Toyota Prius that the local consortium of governments and private organizations uses to promote energy conservation in the community. The effort is part of the Georgetown University Energy Prize contest.

Communities participating in the contest are evaluated on efforts to decrease community energy usage. The Prius is used by the City’s Utilities Department as a visual component of the effort. The visits are used to demonstrate ways for residents to conserve energy through various strategies. The prize is five-million dollars, which is to be used to invest in local energy conservation projects. Finalists and winners of the contest are to be announced during the first half of 2017.

Indiana’s Child Well-Being Rank Drops

Indiana’s ranking for child well-being has dropped over the past year, according to this year’s Kids Count databook released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. But Indiana’s new rank is not necessarily the result of worsening conditions in Indiana. According to the report, other states like Missouri and New York have improved over the past year, leaving Indiana behind. Hoosier students have actually improved in math and reading, two elements the organization uses to make the ranking. Also, the performance gap between Caucasian and Hispanic students has shrunk noticeably.

But while Indiana’s child education has improved, the report notes further improvement is still needed. More than half of Hoosier eighth graders scored below proficient in math and more than half of Hoosier fourth graders scored below proficient in reading. Although the report seems largely bleak there are signs that should give hope for future improvement. The percentage of babies born with low birth weight is now below the national average. Fewer children lack health insurance and fewer minors are abusing drugs and alcohol, according to the report.

IU Receives Grant to Study Possible Autism Link

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IU has received a $900,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to study a possible link between autism and body temperature. The study will be conducted by Jeffrey Alberts and Chris Harshaw of the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences.

The researchers will examine the effect of body temperature on mice with genetic disorders that mimic the symptoms of autism. Anecdotally, parents of children with autism have reported that fevers tend to lessen their behavioral symptoms. A 2007 study published in the Journal of Pediatrics confirmed some of those observations, but the nature of that association is still unclear.  Alberts and Harshaw are hoping to take a detailed look at that connection under laboratory conditions.

Single-Use Bag Ordinance

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Last week the Citizens Advisory Committee of the Monroe County Waste Management District voted, tentatively, to support Bloomington’s yet-to-be proposed single use bag ordinance. Clark Sorensen is the chair of the Committee.

“We’re going to vote on whether or not to support the single-use bag ordinance that’s being proposed. We’re going to send out the actual ordinance to members and have a second vote electronically to see whether we want to actually endorse the ordinance and forward it to the Center for Sustainable Living.”

At a Committee meeting in May, Jean Leimkuhler [lime-cooler], of Bring Your Own Bag Bloomington described a draft ordinance that would restricting plastic bag use. Her organization hopes the Bloomington City Council will adopt the ordinance. It would eventually limit retail vendors’ free provision of plastic carry- out bags to customers. The bags would only be allowed  for wrapping of meats and other perishables. Eventually, customers would be charged for each bag provided at the check-out. Leimkuhler has said she anticipates the ordinance to be brought before the city council in September. Bring Your Own Bag Bloomington is also asking the County to adopt a similar law. The tentative resolution in support of the draft ordinance was passed unanimously by the Committee. A final vote will be tallied by e-mail after members are sent the actual ordinance.

Google Contributes $150,000 to I.U. for STEM Research

Google has contributing $150,000 to a study by two Indiana University researchers who want to understand the connection between early childhood experiences and interest in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics or STEM. Adam Maltese and Kylie Peppler, associate professors at IU’s school of education, will study how putting things together and taking them apart can promote a scientific mindset in a young child.

Previous research shows that engineers and scientists had childhood experiences that involved making things with their hands. Maltese and Peppler want to know what triggers the correlation between these activities and the interest in STEM fields. According to the U.S. department of Education, America’s position as a global leader is threatened because too few students pursue degrees in STEM fields. Maltese and Peppler will collect their data through surveys administered to Google Science Fair participants, adults working in STEM professions, and a general representative sample of U.S. adults.

Lotus Foundation Buys Old Fire Station For $1.00

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Last night the Bloomington Board of Public Works approved selling the old Rogers Street fire station to the Lotus Education and Arts Foundation for one dollar. Over the years, staff have consulted with other arts groups and artists interested in the building. The former fire station is at 105 South Rogers Street. Economic and Sustainable Development Director, Miah Michaelson noted Lotus will grow from being the sponsor of an annual weekend music festival to a year-round sponsor and venue for the arts in the community. The Board approved selling the station to the Lotus Foundation.

Commission on Hispanic and Latino Affairs Seeks Nominees

The Commission on Hispanic and Latino Affairs Awards is looking for nominees for their 5th annual awards ceremony. Viable candidates must be advocates in the Latino Community and exemplify leadership, initiative, advocacy, and dedication in Monroe county.There will be four categories of awards: The Latino Leader Award, Outstanding Latino High School Senior Award, Community Organization/Agency Award and The Latino Community Supporter Award.

Awards will be presented on September 15th at the Mathers Museum to kick off National Hispanic Heritage Month. Nominations must include name, address, telephone number, e-mail and the reason why the candidate merits the award. Nomination forms can be completed online at www.bloomington.in.gov/chla, or may be dropped off at Bloomington’s Community and Family Resources Department at City Hall. All submissions are due August 14th.

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