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Shalom Center project aims to end homelessness

The Shalom Community Center will host a presentation on their newest project, “Off the Streets by 2020” tomorrow from 5 to 6:30p.m. The presentation will outline the center’s efforts and plans to end homelessness in Bloomington and surrounding areas. Executive Director Forrest Gilmore will speak to attendees about the future of fighting homelessness in the community. The Shalom Center is a daytime resource center in Monroe County which offers shelter and assistance to guests in need.

Concerns about parking garage plans

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A Monroe County Council member is raising concerns about plans for a new parking garage in downtown Bloomington. The County Commissioners have already voted on financing for the garage. But the Commissioners, which make up the executive branch of County government, effectively bypassed the County Council, which oversees County finances. Council member Marty Hawk said there are problems with leaving the Council out of decisions to build multimillion dollar structures.

The Commissioners had apparently discussed the parking garage in work sessions, but not during their regular meetings on Friday mornings. The work sessions are technically open to the public but they are not filmed and broadcast like the regular meetings are. Hawk urged the Commission to hold their work sessions in a space that could be easily recorded.

Commissioner Iris Kielsing was present at the Council meeting. She said it might not be easy to have all the Commissioners meetings filmed.

The parking garage would be used primarily by County employees. The building will also include a space that could be used in case the County Jail needs evacuated. Currently there is no structure to house inmates in case of an emergency. But besides those benefits, Kiesling told the Council the Commissioners have larger plans in mind. She said County employees who would park in the new garage are currently finding parking outside the Convention Center.

If the County sells its portion of the Convention Center to the city or to some other entity, Kiesling said that money could be used to pay for the new garage. The current plan is to pay for the structure out of the County’s cumulative capital development fund. That fund is used for a variety of capital expenses, including some road projects. Although County attorney Michael Flory said there appears to be enough money in the fund to pay for the garage, some Council members voiced concern. Cheryl Munson said the County may soon have to spend more money from that fund on roads.

Hawk said she’s not necessarily opposed to the new garage, but she wished she was consulted about it.

Unless plans change, the Council won’t actually vote on any measure related to the garage until next October, when it considers the entire County budget.

County Commissioners announce Veterans Day ceremony

The Monroe County Commissioners invite the public to a special Veterans Day ceremony to be held at the Monroe County Court House on Tuesday, November 11th at 10:00 a.m.  Their press release also extends a special invitation to World War II Veterans to attend and be recognized. The annual ceremony will honor all persons who have served honorably in our military services. The event is being sponsored by Burton Woolery American Legion Post #18—Richard E. Dunbar, Commander, a primary sponsor of a Veterans Day Event in Bloomington for over 45 years.  The support and participation of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #604—Joe Harding, Commander, and AMVETS Post 2000—John Bowman, Commander, is also noted.

Colonel Turner Nolan, United State Army, retired, will serve as Master of Ceremonies and with weather permitting, a laying of memorial wreaths around the Veteran Memorial Monument on the Courthouse lawn will be conducted, followed by free luncheons at sponsor locations.  World War II veterans are urged to contact Turner Nolan (812) 824-9478 to provide additional information to be used to honor their service.  In recognition of Veterans day, there will be no parking meter costs downtown on November 11th.

 

State records go digital

On October 23  a joint press release from the office of Governor Mike Pence and the Indiana Commission on Public Records announced a new partnership with Ancestry.com to digitalize 13 million birth, death and marriage certificates in time for the state’s 2016 bicentennial. This will be the largest online collection of Indiana state materials ever digitalized. Online historical records older than 75 years will start to become available to the public in 2015. Birth and death certificates date back to the early 1900s and the state’s marriage records span the years 1958-2005. The State Archive estimates the partnership will save Indiana more than $3.2 million considering the costs to index, scan, and make such materials accessible and will accomplish these tasks years sooner than otherwise possible. For the past two years the Indiana Commission on Public Records has worked with the Indiana State Department of Health Vital Records to achieve this partnership. The Indiana State Department of Health Vital Records will streamline Hoosiers’ access to records with its own copies. Ancestry.com will also provide access to these materials for its members when the project is completed.

Office of Sustainability holds Food Summit

The Indiana University Office of Sustainability will be holding its Third Annual Food Summit on Friday, November 7th. The event will be held at the Neal Marshall Black Culture Center Grand Hall from 10 am to 1 pm. Previous summits touched on topics such as defining sustainable food and accessing data. This Summit will focus on student demand and will provide students an opportunity to network with faculty and IU staff about food available on campus and sustainability. Workshops will include unpacking student perceptions, understanding the campus food landscape, and demonstrating new demand for sustainable options. Registration for the event ends on Monday, November 3.

“Beat the Meter Blitz” offers free home energy assessment

For the fifth year in a row, the City of Bloomington is offering residents a chance to win a free home energy assessment, worth several hundred dollars.  For this year’s “Beat the Meter Blitz” program, fifty assessments will be awarded.  In the past, only owner-occupied homes were eligible.  This year, renters can also benefit from the program as long as they have the landlord’s permission.  These free home energy audits will be awarded by lottery.  Applications can be made by emailing name, address, phone number and whether or not the property is a rental to energy@bloomington.in.gov or by calling 812-349-3837.  The deadline for applying is Monday, November 10th.

Truthy project explores influence of social media

The Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research (CNetS) on the IU campus is at the cutting edge of researching how information spreads on social media such as Twitter.  Researchers want to understand how social media influences behavior in areas such as politics, advertising, social revolutions, and how it can be manipulated and abused.  The project goes by the name of Truthy.

Ironically, Truthy itself is now the target of media attempts to spread disinformation.  In September an article in the Columbia Journalism Review detailed the spread of attacks against Truthy on conservative media.  Several television hosts and commentators on the Fox News Channel compared the project to the McCarthy era and Orwell’s 1984.  On Monday the Indianapolis Star reported that the Lamar Smith GOP chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee is investigating how IU’s project, which has funding from the National Science Foundation, was able to secure federal funds.  Last week an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal by Ajit Pai implied that the purpose of Truthy was to suppress and limit free speech.  It seems that Truthy-bashing has gone viral. But a blog posted by Henry Farrell of the Washington Post on October 22, presented a more balanced view of the project and included an interview with Filippo Menczer and Alessandro Flammini, principle investigators. When asked about why or how the attacks began, Menczer and Flammini preferred not to speculate about the motives, but did add that since the project started several years ago, there has been widespread positive coverage in the national and international press.

A blog titled ‘The Truth About Truthy’ on the CNetS website says “an important goal of the Truthy project is to better understand how social media can be abused.”

New Director at the Kinsey Institute

IU announced today that Dr. Sue Carter will become director of the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University beginning November 1st. A distinguished scientist, Carter is known internationally for her research in the field of behavioral neuroendocrinology (neuro-end-oh-crih-nology). Her work advanced understanding of the biological mechanisms underlying love and emotion in human relationships. Currently Carter researches the effects of drugs taken by mothers during childbirth on the infant’s development.  According to the today’s press release, Carter plans to continue that research at the Kinsey Institute. Carter will also focus on development of the Kinsey Institute Resource Center. The center will offer access to information on the biology of human relationships to the greater Bloomington community. Carter will be the 7th director of the Kinsey Institute since its founding in 1947.

Extended BMV hours for voter IDs

The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles will have extended hours on Monday and Tuesday for voters needing photo ids.   According to a press release from the DMV, all branches will be open Monday, November 3rd, from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Tuesday, November 4th, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.   The Indiana BMV provides free, state-issued ID cards for voting purposes to any unlicensed Hoosier who has the proper documentation and is old enough to vote.  A list of what documentation is required is posted on the website mybmv.com.  Normal hours will resume on Wednesday, November 5th.

I-69 Section 5 Open House Oct. 29

The public is invited to attend an informational open house regardin I-69 Section from from Bloomington to Martinsville. The event is next week, Wednesday October 29th from from 5:30 pm – 7:30pm at the Holiday Inn, located at 1710 Kinser Pike.

The I-69 Section 5 project involves rehabilitating and upgrading 21 miles of the existing, four-lane State Road 37 to interstate standards. The first phase of the I-69 reconstruction is tied to completion of traffic improvements in Bloomington such as a new interchange at Tapp Road, a third lane in each direction, a new overpass at Rockport Road and changes to That Rd.

There will be no formal presentation regarding the development, but a press release says that the public can comment on the proposed aesthetic treatment concepts .

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