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Natural Gas Consumers Forced to Fund New Private Gas Plant

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Today, the Indiana Supreme Court issued a ruling that could force consumers of natural gas in Indiana to pay the long-term construction and operational costs of a private sector coal gasification plant in Southern Indiana. Back in 2010, the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, or the IURC, signed a contract with Leucadia National Corporation to allow the company to pass on the full costs, plus a profit margin, of construction, production, and distribution of output from its proposed coal gasification plant in Spencer County. This unprecedented deal would force the Indiana Financial Authority, or the IFA, which is the state agency that purchases natural gas from producers for distribution across the state to consumers, to purchase Leucadia’s product even if cheaper alternatives are available. This would last from the start of the operation of the proposed Spencer plant through the following thirty years. The deal, dubbed the Leucadia Tax, was met with opposition by industrial and residential consumers, as well as many public interest organizations. A coalition of citizens groups, consumer advocates, environmental groups, faith leaders, and low-income and senior advocacy organizations banded together to challenge the contract in court. In October of 2012, the Indiana Court of Appeals threw out the contract between the IFA and the Indiana subsidiary of Leucadia. The opposition coalition also lobbied the state legislators to take action to kill the Leucadia Tax. In the Spring of 2013, the General Assembly passed Senate Bill 494, which would allow the IURC to review the Leucadia contract, with a view to renegotiating a contract that would better protect Indiana consumers if the Appeals Court decision was eventually upheld by the Indiana Supreme Court. One member of the coalition formed to stop the Leucadia Tax was the Indiana branch of the Sierra Club. Correspondent David Murphy spoke to Jodi Perras, Indiana Campaign Representative for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign, for today’s WFHB feature exclusive.

Ins and Outs of Money – New Years Resolutions

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Planning on making a New Year’s Resolution this year? If spending less or saving more are part of your 2014 goals, stay tuned!

Daily Local News – December 17, 2013

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This week on The Strike Mic, a weekend march in response to the passing of Ian Stark, and the underlying issues of social services and homelessness in Bloomington; The Bloomington Utilities Department is formally giving up on collecting almost twenty-three thousand dollars in overdue bills; Real Christmas trees are making a comeback this year, according to a specialist at Purdue University.

FEATURE
Natural Gas Consumers Forced to Fund New Private Coal Plant
Today, the Indiana Supreme Court issued a ruling that could force consumers of natural gas in Indiana to pay the long-term construction and operational costs of a private sector coal gasification plant in Southern Indiana. Back in 2010, the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, or the IURC, signed a contract with Leucadia National Corporation to allow the company to pass on the full costs, plus a profit margin, of construction, production, and distribution of output from its proposed coal gasification plant in Spencer County. This unprecedented deal would force the Indiana Financial Authority, or the IFA, which is the state agency that purchases natural gas from producers for distribution across the state to consumers, to purchase Leucadia’s product even if cheaper alternatives are available. This would last from the start of the operation of the proposed Spencer plant through the following thirty years. The deal, dubbed the Leucadia Tax, was met with opposition by industrial and residential consumers, as well as many public interest organizations. A coalition of citizens groups, consumer advocates, environmental groups, faith leaders, and low-income and senior advocacy organizations banded together to challenge the contract in court. In October of 2012, the Indiana Court of Appeals threw out the contract between the IFA and the Indiana subsidiary of Leucadia. The opposition coalition also lobbied the state legislators to take action to kill the Leucadia Tax. In the Spring of 2013, the General Assembly passed Senate Bill 494, which would allow the IURC to review the Leucadia contract, with a view to renegotiating a contract that would better protect Indiana consumers if the Appeals Court decision was eventually upheld by the Indiana Supreme Court. One member of the coalition formed to stop the Leucadia Tax was the Indiana branch of the Sierra Club. Correspondent David Murphy spoke to Jodi Perras, Indiana Campaign Representative for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign, for today’s WFHB feature exclusive.

INS AND OUTS OF MONEY
Planning on making a New Year’s Resolution this year? If spending less or saving more are part of your 2014 goals, stay tuned!

Anchors: Shayne Laughter, Nick Tumino
Today’s headlines were written by Drew Daudelin,
Along with Joe Crawford for CATSweek, a partnership with Community Access Television Services.
Our feature was written and produced by David Murphy.
The Ins and Outs of Money is produced by Dan Withered, in partnership with the Monroe County
Public Library and The United Way of Monroe County.
Our engineer is Harrison Wagner,
Our theme music is provided by the Impossible Shapes.
Editor is Drew Daudelin, Executive Producer is Alycin Bektesh.

My Health Matters – HealthNOW: Shokhi Goel

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Shokhi Goel, President of HealthNOW, discusses this new organization on the IU campus and how HealthNOW plans to promote preventative practices in the Bloomington community.

Interchange – The Wages of Labor: Bloomington’s Industrial Past

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This week on Interchange, host Trish Kerle speaks with Carrol Krause, author of Showers Brothers Furniture Co: The Shared Fortunes of a Family, a City, and a University and Joe Varga, Assistant Professor of Labor Studies at Indiana University and a labor and social justice activist.

Since the 1870s, Bloomington has been shaped by the ebb and flow of industrialization – and de-industrialization, beginning with the Showers Brothers Furniture Company, followed by the RCA radio and television factory, right up to today with what appears to be – the fading presence of General Electric. Krause and Varga talk about the history of those companies, their impact on the city, and the rise of organized labor in Bloomington.

District 78 Representative Crouch Appointed Indiana Auditor of State

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Governor Mike Pence announced today that he has appointed Indiana District 78 Representative Suzanne Crouch as Auditor of State for Indiana. Crouch fills the position vacated by Dwayne Sawyer, whom Pence appointed as Auditor in August of this year. Sawyer announced at the end of November that he would resign from the position due to family and personal concerns. Crouch served as Auditor of Vanderburgh County before being elected to the general assembly in 2005. In her time as a state representative, Crouch has served as Vice Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, and co-authored Indiana’s Major Moves Laws to fund the I-69 extension from Evansville to Indianapolis.

Firm Plans to Build Alongside Bloomington B-Line Trail

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Last week the Bloomington Plan Commission heard a request to build a four-story building alongside the downtown B-Line Trail, to include thirty-five high-end apartments and condos. The building would occupy about half of a city block, and it would also include some space for businesses on the first floor.

The owners currently run the private equity firm Elmore Companies, and they plan to include that business as well as others in the new building. City Planner Patrick Shay says the project needs eight different waivers from the city. One stems from the fact that the building would violate rules about building too close to the B-Line Trail.

“As you know, there’s a ten foot setback within our downtown commercial areas when it’s adjacent to the B-Line,” Shay said, “This is done to create outdoor spaces and to make sure we don’t get a canyon effect where the buildings don’t loom over the trail. We think that the petitioners project has done that some by their own design, such as a plaza that most buildings don’t have.”

The building would be located immediately west of the B-Line Trail, between Kirkwood Avenue and 6th Street. It would be as close as one foot away from the trail in some spots. But Shay says there won’t be what he called a canyon effect, because the other side of the trail is next to the street.

“You’re not going to have another building across from it, creating the canyon effect, because it’s parallel to the street, which is unique,” Shay said.

The building would also be taller than city code allows being about 50 feet tall, but Shay says certain parts would extend above 60 feet.

“Most of the building is below 50 feet, but they wanted some bigger

The top floor of the building includes three penthouses that will be occupied by the owners of the building. Greg McHenry, with the firm Milhaus Development, says the apartments in the building are being priced for the professional family or graduate student population.

“One bedroom would be about $1,000 to $1,500 with three bedrooms nearing $2,000 or above,” McHenry said.

Plan Commission member Chris Sturbaum praised the project, which he says required considerable work from the developers to meet the city’s expectations.

“This building has gone through considerable re-design, which the public doesn’t see,” Sturbaum said, “There was a lot of feedback from the planning department. I think that the building is starting to look really good, and the waivers are justified because so much effort has been made into a building that really fits the guidelines of the city. It’s a timeles building, something that won’t look outdated in a few years, and it will be something I think we can all look at for the rest of our lives, and that’s not a small accomplishment.”

The commission voted unanimously to approve the variances for the project.

DNR Hosts Ice Safety Talk on Facebook

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Facebook followers of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources will have the chance to talk about ice safety with Lieutenant William Browne, of DNR Law Enforcement, this Friday on the DNR Facebook page. Dawn Krause, of the DNR Division of Communications, says these talks have been going on for two years, and serve as a link between the department and the public on topics of which some people are unaware.

“It’s a way to also get information out there to people that are unaware of all the different areas the DNR covers,” Krause says, “I find a lot of people that get on with these talks are impressed because they never knew what we covered.”

Krause says the new talk on ice safety should serve as a learning experience for anyone interested in enjoying themselves this holiday season.

“Every year, people want to get out on the ice, and every year people are killed because the ice isn’t actually thick enough or they aren’t aware of how thick the ice should be,” Krause says, “This is a way to re-educate people every year so that they are aware of what kind of ice they should get out on to have a safe experience.”

This will be the last online DNR talk for the year, and Krause says some very popular topics came up in 2013.

“Deer-hunting was popular online,” Krause says.

The talk on ice safety is scheduled to take place from 2 to 3 pm this Friday, December 20th, on the DNR Facebook page. Anyone with a Facebook account can begin sending questions during that time.

Witmer Approved as Monroe County School Resources Officer

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At the December meeting of the Monroe County Community School Corporation’s Board of School Trustees, Jim Witmer was approved as the inaugural School Resources Officer for the district. John Carter, director of planning for MCCSC, told us more on what he will do as school resources officer.

“He’ll be providing resources to staff on mediation training and foster relationships with parents and students and teachers,” Carter says.”The benefits of this are if you have someone in your building that the kids are comfortable telling things to, that’s what you want. For example, threats of violence to other students, sometimes the students know those. We want the students to have every avenue possible to tell us. They could tell a teacher, a counselor, a principal, or even a bus driver. Now we have a school resources officer who is versed in law enforcement and can help.”

A portion of Witmer’s salary will come from a grant from the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, a program added to the Indiana code by the 2013 General Assembly. The code states that a school resource officer may make arrests, conduct search or seizure of property, and carry a firearm on school property. Carter talks about other requirements of the position.

“The state statute has said that the qualifications are important for a school resources officer,” Carter says, “The law enforcement training is the most important. You have to keep up your certifications and go to school resource officer training school. They need to know the difference from being law enforcement and law enforcement in a school setting.”

The matching homeland security grant is on a two-year cycle. Carter says he expects that the school corporation will try to renew it, but that there are no policies in place to measure the effectiveness of the position.

“We hope to keep the school resources officer,” Carter says, “We want to be able to say we feel safer with this extra resource of information to provide to students, parents and staff. That’s probably the biggest benefit.”

Jim Witmer is a 23 year veteran of the Bloomington Police Department and began a campaign for Monroe county sheriff this year.

His campaign website has the following announcement, in relation to his new position: “I am sad to say that in choosing to accept this position, I will need to withdraw from the Monroe County Sheriff’s race. Although I wasn’t able to complete that mission, I feel that nothing is more valuable than our children, and I promise that I will do everything in my power to provide a safe environment for our children to learn and grow.”

Bring It On! – December 16, 2013

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Bev Smith and Cornelius Wright joined Dr. Roderick Paige.

PART ONE
On January 21, 2001, the United States Senate confirmed Dr. Roderick Paige as the 7th U.S. Secretary of Education. For Dr. Paige, the son of a principal and a librarian in public schools, that day was the crowning achievement of a long career in education. Born in 1933 in segregated Monticello, Mississippi, Dr.  Paige’s accomplishments speak of his commitment to education. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Jackson State University in his home state. He then earned both a master’s and a doctoral degree from Indiana University.

Dr. Paige began working with students early in his career as a teacher and a coach. He then served for a decade as dean of the College of Education at Texas Southern University (TSU). In this position, Dr. Paige worked to ensure that future educators would receive the training and expertise necessary to succeed in the classroom. He also established the university’s Center for Excellence in Urban Education, a research facility that concentrates on issues related to instruction and management in urban school systems.

In 1994, Dr. Paige left TSU to become superintendent of HISD, the nation’s seventh largest school district. Inside Houston Magazine named Dr. Paige one of “Houston’s 25 most powerful people” in guiding the city’s growth and prosperity. In 2001, he was named National Superintendent of the Year by the American Association of School Administrators.

During his tenure as Secretary at the U.S. Department of Education from 2001 to 2005, Dr. Paige was a fierce and innovative champion of education reform who led the way in setting new standards of achievement for all students in our education system. He spearheaded the implementation of the historic No Child Left Behind Act, with its goal of reinvigorating America’s education system. Dr. Paige Cornelius and Bev by phone this evening to shed some light on his illustrious career.

PART TWO
Headline news and local calendar events of interest to the African-American community.

CREDITS
Hosts: Bev Smith and Cornelius Wright
Bring It On! is produced by Clarence Boone
Executive Producer Alycin Bektesh
Our News Editor is Michael Nowlin
Our Board Engineer is Chris Martin

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