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Veteran and Housing Status Now a Protected Class In Bloomington


The Bloomington City Council has officially added Veteran Status and Housing Status” to the list of protected classes in the Bloomington Human Rights Ordinance. City Clerk, Regina Moore, provided a synopsis of the motion. The sponsor of the ordinance, Council member Dorothy Granger, is a staff member at WFHB.

“The term Veteran Status is defined as a veteran of the armed forces of the United States, a member of the Indiana National Guard, or a member of a reserved component” Moore explains. The term Housing Status is defined as the type of housing that an individual resides…Or a status of not having a fixed housing status”.

The motion was amended to add all council members as co-sponsors. The Chair of the city’s Human Rights Commission, Byron Bangert, provided a brief history of the development of the amendment.

“The creation of this amendment was long in the making” Bangert explained.”A year ago, we passed unanimously the recommendation you have before you”. Bangert explained on behalf of the amendment
The proposal had already received a positive recommendation from the council during a committee-of-the-whole meeting August 26th. A local social worker, Donyel Byrd, praised the council for the resolution.

“I just wanted to be sure to come here personally to thank you” Byrd happily said. “We have some other social workers on the room that were here three years ago who were really concerned about folks experiencing homelessness so this a really happy day for us.”

The amended motion to include veteran status and housing status to the city’s human rights ordinance passed unanimously.

Venison Exchange Program Begins Soon


With hunting season approaching, Indiana has started up its venison exchange program which allows hunters to donate their game. This is the fifth year for the program, which is called Give In Game. The program is conducted by Indiana’s Department of Natural Resources Fish and Wildlife Division. It is a program that anyone in Indiana can sign up for. Every year hunters can offer venison in whatever condition agreed upon, ranging from field-dressed to butchered and packaged. These are strictly free exchanges since the selling, bartering, and trading of deer meat is still illegal. Michelle Cain, Wildlife Information Specialist at DNR, says the program is designed to be a donation program. Cain says that the purpose of the “GiveIN” is to provide high quality protein to those who need it.

The circumstances of these donations are solely up to the hunters and citizens, as the DNR never facilitates exchanges. Cain says that the great thing about this program is that that the DNR does not handle the exchanges, but leaves it to the hunters and they have people to exchange it to.

Anyone who has participated in the program in the past will have to re-register this year to continue participating. Anyone who wants to participate can sign up through the DNR website.

Indiana University Explores The Future Of Labor In Fall Courses


Work and labor will be the focus of this Fall’s “Themester” at Indiana University. A variety of courses and themes will focus on the theme, which is “At Work: The Nature of Labor on a Changing Planet.” One of the co-chairs of the committee overseeing this year’s Themester is professor Ben Robinson. He says the idea behind Themesters is to connect classes with campus events and encourage students to think beyond the syllabus. Robinson says that the university experience can be much more than the classroom when we think about being a part of the community as a whole and the rich number of resources that this makes available.

Themester events this fall are planned to address human labor from a variety of angles, Robinson says the theme has particular significance to students today. He says that there is enormous pressure on kids from kindergarten through high school to get into college and to find a career and that they will form the labor force of tomorrow.

One of the main events this year is a discussion with the Reverend William Barber and Richard Trumka on Nov. 4. Reverend Barber is one of the founders of Moral Mondays, a protest movement that began in North Carolina and has spread to other states, including Indiana. Partners in the Themester include IU Cinema, IU Art Museum, the Kinsey Institute, Lilly Library, Mathers Museum of World Cultures, Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology and the Monroe County History Museum. Most Themester events are free and open to the public. More information about the Themester and upcoming events can be found at themester dot indiana dot edu.

Pride Festival Is The Most Popular To Date

An estimated 6,000 people attended Pride Summerfest in downtown Bloomington this past Saturday, according to organizers of the event. That’s more than three times as many attendees as last year. The group made the announcement this afternoon. This was the second annual Summerfest. The event included workshops, live performances, dance parties, food trucks, kids’ activities, and a foot parade on the B-Line Trail. Organizers attributed the increased attendance to several causes, including a reaction to the controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act that Governor Mike Pence signed into law earlier this year.

Lotus Music and Arts Festival Parade Street Closures


The parade for Bloomington’s annual Lotus Music and Arts Festival is expected to be bigger than ever this year. On Tuesday, Lotus asked the Bloomington Board of Public Works to approve additional street closures for the parade route. Miah Michaelson, from the city’s Department of Economic and Sustainable Development, presented the request.

“We’re asking for approval of a parade parade route that will temporary restrict traffic at the intersection of  W Kirkwood and S Madison Street and it will go to the intersection of  E Kirkwood and Washington St from 8:30 – 9:00 PM, on Saturday September 26″

The Executive Director of Lotus, Sunni Fass, elaborated on the Saturday evening parade.

“We will have public participation, people are invited to bring and decorate their bikes, and to march in the parade and wave flags. It’ll be a really good time.”

The Lotus parade will on Saturday evening, September 26th

Monroe County Needle-Exchange Program


The Monroe County Council has passed a resolution in support of establishing a needle-exchange program in the county. County Health Department Administrator, Penny Caudill, explained that this program is needed to respond to a Hepatitis C epidemic in the county.

” It’s proved very successful in getting people in, getting them into treatment, they found that they needed a whole host of services that they were able to make connections and linkages to.”

“In May the Legislation Senate Enrollment Act 461 was passed that enables local health departments to request needle exchange programs.”

Caudill says that her department has found a significant increase in Hepatitis C cases in the county. She noted that most of the infections are due to sharing of needles by drug users. In response to a question from Council member Shelli Yoder, Caudill explained how she expects to fund the needle exchange program.

“..So primarily it’s about looking for foundation money, local money, and donations that people are willing to do.”

Caudill estimated the program could cost $50,000. The council unanimously approved the resolution in support of the program. There will be a public comment session on the proposal at the September 4th meeting of the County Commissioners. If the Commissioners approve, the County Health Department would then seek approval from the state Health Commissioner.

CVS Property Tax Cut


A state tax court has ruled in favor of a Bloomington CVS store that was seeking to cut its property taxes. The Indiana Board of Tax Review says the store’s assessed value should be reduced by $1.3 million, which will significantly reduce the amount it pays to the Monroe County government each year. The County will also have to pay back some of the taxes it has collected since 2009 if the decision stands. County Auditor Steve Saulter told the Herald-Times that it’s not yet clear exactly how much that might cost the County. The store’s appeal was based on a new legal claim known as the dark box theory, where stores claim their values should be assessed as if they were vacant and non-operational. County Assessor Judy Sharp has said she expects other big box stores in the area to file similar appeals. Ultimately the decisions could cost the County government millions of dollars.

Park Workers Receive Raises in 2016 Budget


Seasonal workers at local parks can expect a four percent increase in their hourly wages next year, while permanent staff can expect a two percent raise. These proposals were part of the 2016 budget request presented by the Director of the Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department, Mick Renneisen. Renneisen spoke to the Bloomington Board of Park Commissioners yesterday.  He first reviewed highlights from the department’s activities this past year.

Renneisen says there were almost a million public participations in parks and recreation programs in 2014. He then went over the Department’s priorities for next year.  The Board approved the Department’s request for a little over eight million dollars in general funding for next year, an increase of 2.3 percent over 2015. That request now goes to the City Council. Renneisen then reviewed the non-reverting fund budget request for his Department. These are on-going funds needed for expenses, such as personnel, which roll over yearly.

The Board has the final say over the approval of the non-reverting fund budget. It unanimously approved the Department’s proposal.

Heroin Use on the Rise in Monroe County

Monroe County Coroner Nicole Meyer says there has been a startling increase in heroin and opiate related deaths in Monroe County. Meyer was quoted in an article in the Herald-Times. Overdose deaths have surpassed even that of car accidents. Between the years of 2012 and 2014 the number of heroin overdoses that made it to the IU hospital increased from nine to forty-eight. In just the first six months of this year they have treated thirty-seven overdose patients.

Mark DeLong, the director at local addiction recovery organization Amethyst House, says the organization has seen a definite increase in users of both heroin and opiates in the past couple years. He says the trend they’ve seen is people starting their addictions with prescription medication, then eventually moving on to heroin which has become inexpensive. There have been reports of public overdoses as recently as July, according to the Herald-Times. A forty-six year old man was found twice in the same day, first by Old National Bank then later at People’s Park. Both times the man was revived with the drug Narcan, which negates the effects of heroin. Another 21-year-old man was found overdosed in a McDonald’s parking lot in July.

MCCSC Board Fields Complaints About Start Times


A student and a parent raised complaints last night about the start time for middle and high school students at local public schools. The Monroe County Community School Corporation Board of Trustees heard first from the Senior Class President at Bloomington High School North, Adrian Thompson.  The school day at Middle and High Schools in the district begins at 7:40 a.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday; and 8:25 on Wednesday.  It ends at 2:55 each day.

Elementary school starts and ends 55 minutes later. The ostensible rationale for the early and split starts is school bus co-ordination. A member of the Calendar Committee of MCCSC, Jenny Stevens, also spoke to the start time issue, during her presentation on the length of the school day. She noted that she had been a member of the Length of Day Study Committee.  Both presentations occurred during the public comment section of the Board meeting. No Board members commented on either presentation.

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