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iCan Bicycle Camp Rides into Bloomington


A bicycle camp for disabled children and young adults is coming to Bloomington this August. The deadline to sign up for the iCan Bike Camp is June 15th with ten spots left. Organizing Committee Member Deborah Meyerson explains the basics of the program.

“It’s designed to help kids with disabilities to ride a two wheeled bike”, Meyerson explains.

Professionals of the national non-profit “iCan Shine” program will host the program with the help of local volunteers. Volunteers must be able to commit to ninety minutes each of the five days and able to walk and jog alongside participants during the three-mile course. This is the first iCan Shine program to take place in Bloomington.

“It’s a real source of independence for kids” Meyerson explains. “Its a wonderful oppurtunity for kids to participate in the community.”

The camp will begin on August 17th at the Frank Southern Ice Arena.

Purdue and IU freeze tuition


Last week, Purdue University announced it would freeze tuition for a fourth year in a row. And today, IU indicated it would follow suit. IU president Michael McRobbie recommended in a statement today that IU not increase tuition for in-state students for the next two years. The IU Board of Trustees will make a final decision on that request June third. McRobbie’s recommendation comes on the heels of Purdue Trustees approving a fourth year of a tuition freeze at that school. Purdue has frozen the rate of tuition since the 2012-2013 school year and plans on offering the same rate through the 2015-2016 academic year.

A tuition freeze would be something of a change to IU’s past approach. IU Spokesman Mark Land said yesterday that while IU has not offered an across-the-board tuition freeze recently, it has set a fixed rate for some students. There isn’t a huge difference between the two universities’ tuition for in-state students. Full-time Purdue students can expect a rate of $10,002 per year, while IU students can expect to pay $10,388 a year. At Purdue out-of-state students pay $28,804, while IU is more costly at $33,240 a year. Land says in the past IU has offered other strategies to help its students with affordability.

At Purdue, the recent tuition freeze also came with a proposed 3.5 percent merit pay increase for employees at its West Lafayette campus. Purdue Trustees also approved an increase in entry-level wages to $10 per hour for all full-time clerical and service staff. The minimum wage at IU is lower, at just $8.25 per hour. Purdue, however, pays its part-time employees, many of them students, as little as $7.25 an hour. Land says there has been talk of future wage increases at IU.

IU trustees will take public comment on tuition recommendations at their meeting Wednesday, June 3rd. Public comments begins at 3:30 p.m. in Room 450A of the IUPUI Campus Center in Indianapolis.

IU Sociology Professor releases study contradicting previous claims


An Indiana University Sociology professor has just released a study contradicting previous claims that lesbians and gay men make bad parents. Professor Brian Powell partnered with the sociology department at the University of Connecticut to reanalyze the claims that children of same-sex parents have negative social, emotional and relational outcomes. The original study is known as the Regnerous Papers. It was conducted at the University of Texas in 2012. And, according to Powell, that study misrepresented its subjects and skewed results to favor heterosexual parents.

Professor Mark Regnerous of Texas University performed the original study. Powell says Regnerous has since used his findings to influence the legal system. While the original study has been used to try to hinder same-sex couples from becoming parents, Professor Powell says the study’s negative findings against same-sex parents has no footing. Powell says that the original study relied on responses from subjects that were inconsistent and illogical.

One respondent was a man who claimed his father’s gay lover was seven feet 8 inches tall, weighed 88 pounds, was married eight times and had eight children. Another claimed to have been arrested as an infant. Other respondents said they never lived with their same-sex parents or only lived with them for a very short time. Powell says responses like those should have never been included in study.

Local Residents Set to be Surveyed about Monroe County Community Schools


The Monroe County Community School Corporation is planning to survey local residents about their views on education issues. Superintendent Judy DeMuth told the school board about the survey at a work session May 12th.

“We have added a couple of questions, one that really targets preschool and of course a question about technology”,  Demuth explains about the new survey.

DeMuth says this phone survey will also include questions on the referendum the Board is considering putting before voters. The referendum would request a temporary increase in property tax rates to help the Corporation cover budget shortfalls. DeMuth says her office is still working on the wording of the referendum and when to put it up for a vote. The Board will have the final decision on the referendum.

County Employee Salaries Under Review


Monroe County is comparing itself to other government bodies to find out how much County employees should be paid. The County Council has approved a letter of engagement with a company that will perform the salary review. The firm, Waggoner, Irwin, Scheele and Associates, will study of salaries and benefits paid to staff by comparable government bodies. During discussion on the resolution, Council member Geoff McKim said the study has been needed for some time.

“We have a lot to do on our salary structure” Mckim explains. “One of the first steps in moving forward is that we need to get an external calibration system on the salaries”.

Council member Lee Jones suggested the County is underpaying at least some of its employees. But she warned it might be difficult to correct the issue.

“I agree that just because we may discover we are severely underpaying people it doesn’t necessarily mean that we will that we will be able to pay them what they deserve” Lee Jones’s responds.

The salary study will take 4 to 5 months, according to the letter approved by the Council. The County will pay the researchers between forty-five and a hundred twenty-five dollars per hour for their work.

Assistant Director For Student Conduct In The Office Of Student Ethics Arrested For Possession Of Child Pornography

Bloomington police announced this afternoon they had arrested an Indiana University administrator for possession of child pornography. Police arrested 32-year-old Jon T. Riveire yesterday. Riveire is an Assistant Director for Student Conduct in the Office of Student Ethics at Indiana University.  According to a press release from the Bloomington Police Department, he was targeted for investigation as the result of a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Policy say they found 30 images of child pornography on a university-owned laptop that Riveire used.

A Rise In Ticks Brings A Greater Risk Of Infection


In the past it was rare to find lone star or blacklegged ticks in southern Indiana. However over the last 15 years those insects have become mainstays in the region. And in the next 10 years their presence in the region is expected to increase. This is all according to a new study done by IU biology professor Keith Clay. Lab testing showed that one to three percent of ticks in the area carry harmful pathogens. And while those in southern Indiana haven’t been found to carry the pathogen for Lyme disease, some in northern areas have. Clay sees possible problems in the future if these population trends hold true.  He says that as the density of the ticks increase it is more likely that people will get bit and that they will then be bit by a tick that is carrying a pathogen.

Evelyn Rynkiewicz  is a former doctoral student in Clay’s lab at IU. She says these ticks must stay attached to humans for a couple of days to transmit a pathogen. To avoid giving ticks a chance to attach, Rynkiewicz advises people stay vigilant and take proper precautions, as her team did while conducting field research.  She says that they make a point of wearing long pants and tucking them into their socks so that the ticks do not have a point of entry.

Clay says the current weather in southern Indiana is favorable for ticks. There are many theories on why the tick population in southern Indiana is growing. The three biggest in Clay’s mind are climate change, human alteration of the landscape and an increased deer population that is likely to support more ticks.

The County Employee Parking Garage Proposal Moves Forward


Bloomington residents debated the merits of the proposed parking garage downtown at a city Plan Commission meeting on Monday. The Monroe County government wants to build the facility at the south-east corner of Morton and Eighth Streets. County employees would park there. This is the third time in three months the proposal has come before the Bloomington Plan Commission. The original proposal was for a nine story, ninety-four-foot tall facility. The height was well over the 50 foot height allowed by City Code. Since then, the County has downsized the proposed building to seventy feet tall. Bloomington Planning and Transportation Department Director Tom Micuda says changes have been made to make the building more compatible with its neighbors.  He compares the garage height to other downtown buildings and says that it is now in relation to all of the others in terms of the facade.

Micuda pointed out that many of the features of the proposal are still in violation of city code. Mayor Mark Kruzan then spoke in favor of the proposal. Despite the size of the building, Kruzan said the garage will help keep County government facilities downtown.  Kruzan said that Monroe County Government has made a choice loyal to staying downtown and that the parking garage  would benefit this initiative in maintaining a downtown presence.

The County Commissioners are looking into opening the facility to public parking in the evening, on the weekends, and during holidays. During the public comment period, there was both support and opposition to the proposal. Generally, supporters lauded the benefits of keeping county employees and their vehicles downtown. Opponents criticized the garage as expensive and inappropriate for downtown. They said the current shuttle service, which takes County employees to work from the convention center parking lot, is a cheaper option. Ultimately, the Commission voted 7 to 1 to approve the project. Commission member Jane St. John cast the only no vote. The recommendation will now go to Bloomington City Council for a final decision.

Construction Begins in B-Line Woods Neighborhood


Habitat for Humanity began building homes last week as part of its new subdivision along the north end of the B-Line Trail. This first round of construction was part of what Habitat calls the Women Build Blitz, where all-women volunteer teams construct houses. The entrance to the new neighborhood is located off Diamond Street. The project faced some resistance when it was proposed last year, mostly from residents who opposed clearing part of the B-Line Woods to make way for the homes. A petition from those residents asked the city government to let Habitat build the subdivision on anearby piece of city-owned property, but that deal never came tofruition. The City Council ultimately approved zoning variances to allow Habitat to clear the woods. Last Friday teams of volunteersbegan building the first two homes in the neighborhood, which theorganization calls the Trail View neighborhood. In total there will be 35 homes there. Habitat for Humanity says homeowners will pay interest-free mortgages for their new homes.

City Deals with Pricey Sludge


The City of Bloomington has hired a company to truck away sludge from its waste water treatment plant. The Utilities Services Board awarded the contract to Young Trucking. The Board recently heard that costs for removal and disposal of sludge has been escalating rapidly over the last few years, approaching three-hundred-thousand dollars for 2015. Utilities Department Assistant Director Efrat Feferman reported on the process leading up to the recommendation to hire Young Trucking.

“The Young Trucking contract is offering a, per ton, flat charge of $32.52″ Efrat explains.

The company would remove the sludge and arrange for disposal of it at a land-fill. The proposed ten-year contract would allow either party to cancel it with one year’s notice. Utilities Department Deputy Director John Langley says the city will continue to use the City’s Dillman Landfill for the occasional disposal of sludge. The Board voted unanimously to accept the contract with Young Trucking. Also at the meeting, Utilities Director Patrick Murphy told Board members of a special service that his department will be providing for IU-Bloomington during its Spring graduation ceremonies.

“We’ve been specifically requested  by the office of the president of Indiana University to provide water stations” says Utilities director Patrick Murphy.

Later in the meeting, Utilities Engineer Mike Bengston reported on the department’s work with Isolux, the principal contractor building section five of I-69. The city is working with the company on necessary adjustments to utility infrastructure near the new highway.

“We have been working with Isolux for 6 months now trying to establish acceptable relocation plans for each one of the intersections” says Mike Bengston.

Costs for this work will be assumed by Isolux.

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