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EcoReport – December 11, 2014

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In today’s EcoReport feature, Bob Kissell interviews team leaders for the upcoming local Christmas bird counts, which are part of an annual nation wide Audobon society event.

EcoReport is a weekly program providing independent media coverage of environmental and ecological issues with a focus on local, state and regional people, issues, and events in order to foster open discussion of human relationships with nature and the Earth and to encourage you to take personal responsibility for the world in which we live. Each program features timely eco-related headline news, a feature interview or event recording, and a calendar of events of interest to the environmentally conscious.

Today’s Anchors: Kelly Miller and Dan Young
This week’s news stories were written by Joe Crawford, Linda Greene and Norm Holy. Our feature and broadcast engineer is Dan Withered. This week’s calendar was compiled by Dan Young.
EcoReport is produced by Dan Young. Executive producer is Alycin Bektesh.

Monroe County Public Library to Open New Branch

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The Monroe County Public Library has plans for opening a third branch. Library Director Sara Laughlin explained the long-term project to the Monroe County Council at a Council meeting December 9th. She said it would be at least several years before the new branch would open. The Library currently has two branches, one in downtown Bloomington and the other in Ellettsville.

Laughlin said she believes the Library is not adequately serving all County residents. She showed the Council a map indicating the percentage of residents with Library cards throughout the County.

Laughlin went on to say the next branch would probably be located in the southwestern part of Monroe County. She said that is the fastest growing area and she thinks the development of Interstate 69 will only further that trend.

Laughlin made the statements during a presentation about a $2 million loan the Library plans take out. The loan would include money that could be spent on land for a new branch as well as funds for an addition to the Ellettsville library, new equipment at Community Access Television Services and other expenses. Several members of the Council, including Cheryl Munson and Lee Jones, said they were excited about a third branch.

The Council later voted unanimously in favor of the $2 million Library bond. Later in the meeting the Council heard a request to expand the staff at the County’s Youth Services Bureau. The Bureau runs the Binkley House Emergency Youth Shelter among other responsibilities. For months Bureau Director Kim Meyer has said her staff is overworked. She asked for two more full-time staff members and extra hours for a third position. Council President Geoff McKim said the County could run into trouble with the fund it uses to pay for many of the Bureau’s activities.

The County just raised the rate for the Juvenile County Option Income Tax earlier this year to provide more funding to youth services. The Council later voted to approve the new positions.

Duke Energy Offers Financial Assistance Program

Hoosiers who need help paying their energy bills this winter may be able to take advantage of a program sponsored by Duke Energy. The company is contributing seven hundred thousand dollars and Duke Energy customers have contributed an additional eighty-seven thousand dollars.
Duke Energy partners with South Central Community Action Program to qualify eligible customers. Eligibility is based solely on income. Customers can get more information online at or by calling South Central Community Action Program at 812-339-3447. Last year the program helped more than six thousand Hoosiers.

Governor Announces Federal Grant Payments for Previous Winter’s Storm

The office of Governor Mike Pence announced in a press release today, December 9th, that a little more than $4.6 million in total federal grants has been paid so far to help local communities and the state of Indiana recover from the 2014 January fifth (5)-through-ninth (9) winter storm. These include thirty (30) Indiana counties, though as yet Monroe County has received no reimbursements. These grants are in the forms of public assistance and/or specifically snow assistance. Public assistance will pay 75 percent of eligible expenses for damage to roads, bridges, utilities, debris removal, damages to buildings’ contents and equipment, and water-control facilities, among other things. Snow assistance covers all eligible costs for either the 48-hour or 72-hour period of the storm associated with the higher costs. Applications from communities are still being processed by the Indiana Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (or FEMA). Said Governor Pence: QUOTE “While that [2014] storm is for many a distant memory, we at the state continue to work through the demanding process to make the most of the disaster funding opportunities available to communities in those 30 counties.”

State Awards $30 Million to High-Performance Teachers

In its first-ever distribution of teacher performance grants, or bonuses, the State of Indiana has awarded $30 million in grants to high-performance teachers in more than 1,300 schools . Governor Mike Pence recommended the concept of school/teacher performance awards in his 2013 budget. Criteria for the teacher grants were included in a complex formula of average student ISTEP-plus test performances, graduation rates compared to the previous year, and end-of-the courses assessments with students’ passing rates of 72.5 percent or better. To be eligible, teachers had to be rated effective or highly effective under the Indiana Teacher Evaluation System for the 2013-14 calendar year.

Bloomington Beware! – Holiday Scams Part 2

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There are more rotten rumors and crafty con-games going around this time of year than are dream’t of in your imagination, Horatio, and here’s the lowdown on more of them…even if your name isn’t Horatio.

IUPUI Approves New 700 Student Residential Hall

A new residence hall at IUPUI has been approved by the IU Board of Trustees. The 172,000 square foot building will have two residential wings, which will house 700 students. Made mostly of brick and glass, the building’s design includes a dining hall, a multipurpose media room, a semi-enclosed courtyard, two classrooms, space for activities and fitness, a computer lab and game and laundry rooms.
The building will accommodate IUPUI’s growing student population. According to a press release, campus housing is at capacity. At the beginning of this school year, more than 800 students were on a waitlist to live on campus.
Construction is expected to cost $45.2 million and will be paid for with funds from IUPUI. The project will be complete in summer 2016.

Statewide probation terms to be addressed in upcoming hearing

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A case that had been scheduled for a hearing in front of the Indiana Supreme court this week could have large implications for offenders on probation state wide – WFHB news director Alycin Bektesh has the report.

The Monroe County Probation Department received 1620 new offenders in 2013.

Ball State Economist Predicts A Strong Economic Performance

Last week Ball State University economist Michael Hicks released an economic forecast for 2015. The report shows separate predictions for the United States, Indiana and East Central Indiana.
The forecast suggests that conditions will improve in the coming year, with gross domestic product and job growth higher than it was in 2014. He predicts that job growth will increase overall next year, and wrote that the unemployment rate will decline to 5.7 percent by the end of 2015.
The forecast anticipates that Indiana’s GDP will outstrip the nation by more than half a percent in 2015. Personal income growth is also expected to increase in Indiana, while the income gap between Indiana and the entire U.S. is expected to shrink.
Job creation should accelerate by the end of 2015, according to the report. Projections say that between 90,000 and 120,000 jobs will be created per month. At the same time, though, the number of unemployed is expected to rise. Nearly a third of these new jobs are seasonal or low-paying, and do not provide many benefits to workers.
Hicks writes that wage growth is “uneven,” which can “brake growth of household consumption and investment over the coming year.”
Hicks’ data comes from his own calculations, which are based on sources such as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Hicks writes that while 2015 will be “the best year of economic performance since 2007,” growth will be gradual. The United States may be in the slowest period of growth it has seen in generations

Daily Local News – December 10, 2014

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Last week, The Monroe County Election Board discussed problems with political yard signs in the lead up to the midterm election; Last week Ball State University economist Michael Hicks released an economic forecast for 2015; A new residence hall at IUPUI has been approved by the IU Board of Trustees; In its first-ever distribution of teacher performance grants, or bonuses, the State of Indiana has awarded $30 million in grants to high-performance teachers in more than 1,300 schools; The office of Governor Mike Pence announced in a press release today, December 9th, that a little more than $4.6 million in total federal grants has been paid so far to help local communities and the state of Indiana recover from the 2014 January fifth (5)-through-ninth (9) winter storm; Hoosiers who need help paying their energy bills this winter may be able to take advantage of a program sponsored by Duke Energy; The Monroe County Public Library has plans for opening a third branch

FEATURE
A case that had been scheduled for a hearing in front of the Indiana Supreme court this week could have large implications for offenders on probation state wide – WFHB news director Alycin Bektesh has the report.

BLOOMINGTON BEWARE!
There are more rotten rumors and crafty con-games going around this time of year than are dream’t of in your imagination, Horatio, and here’s the lowdown on more of them…even if your name isn’t Horatio.

CREDITS
Anchors: Kelly Wherley, Taylor Talford
Today’s headlines were written by Susan Northleaf, Emily Beck, and Anson Shupe
Along with Joe Crawford for CATSweek, in partnership with Community Access Television services
Bloomington Beware was produced by Richard Fish
Our feature was produced by Alycin Bektesh
Our engineers today are Jim Lang, Adam Reichle and Matthew Gwaltney
Our theme music is provided by the Impossible Shapes
Managing Producer is Joe Crawford
Executive Producer is Alycin Bektesh

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