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Animal Rights Group Stages Monthly Protest At Bloomington Chiptole

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On Saturday, September 27 an animal rights activist group named Direct Action Everywhere staged a protest at Bloomington’s Chipotle Grill on Kirkwood street.

Jeff Melton, the local organizer for Direct Action Everywhere, says he and another protester went to Chipotle to protest their business practices and claims.

Melton says that the group takes issue with all fast food chains for their source of factory farmed meat products, but that businesses like Chipotle and Whole Foods that brand themselves misleadingly are a high concern. The protest matches others nationwide as part of a larger month-long effort by Direct Action Everywhere against species-ism.

Species-ism is defined as the exploitation of nonhuman animals for their meat, skins, their labor, or in scientific experiments. Melton says that they did not receive the hostility that protesters elsewhere have received, and that some people approached the protesters after the demonstration to gain more information.

Chipotle advertises its offerings as “food with integrity” and offers information on their website about the benefits to “naturally” raised farm animals. They also state that “Though the process is more complex, we are trying to find suppliers who can provide us with pasture-raised poultry and pork. Eventually, we want all of our meat to come from suppliers who meet these standards. We’re definitely working on it. Stay tuned.”

Direct Action Everywhere estimates that more than 100,000 animals are killed to be eaten each  minute world wide, and points out that undercover investigations have shown factory farms to terminate animals in cruel ways while they are still conscious.

Melton says that he chooses to demonstrate support for animals because they can not advocate for themselves.

Monroe County Schools Start This Week

Local public schools opened to new and returning students Monday. Bev Smith, a spokesperson for the Monroe County Community School Corporation says that August 4 was the earliest the schools had opened for many years. This increasingly early start coincides with an early finish to the school year in year, in mid-May.

No final numbers have been tabulated as to student enrollment for the this school year. The 2013-2014 year ended with over 10,000 students. For the last few years, the district has averaged between 10 and 11 thousand children.

Smith says that the district will be working on incorporating the new state mandated and generated common core curricular standards into the school lessons. The district is also working on what it calls cultural competency, which  entails increasing diversity among faculty and classroom content, so as to improve the academic performance of minorities. These programs could help schools such as Fairview Elementary which has been given a F grade by state for the last few years.

“Looking at Fairview and really fine-tuning what’s going on there, again we have a new principal there in place which brings a great deal of experience so we look forward to what his experience will yield and mean for Fairview and its quest to improve not only a grade that it receives from the state but really showing and showcasing what children learn and know,” Smith says.

At the other end of the performance spectrum are the schools at which the district hopes to introduce international baccaleureate programs.

 

 

 

 

Hoosiers Can Celebrate LGBQT Culture Despite Indiana’s Ruling on Gay Marriage

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Despite Indiana’s stay on gay marriage, Hoosiers can still celebrate LGBQT culture this summer. PRIDE festivals are happening all over Indiana and Bloomington will host its first PRIDE this September. Correspondent Sierra Gardner talks with PRIDE Director Sarah Perfetti and Sigma Phi Beta PRIDE Chairman Ty Adams about their plans for Bloomington PRIDE for this week’s Daily Local News feature.

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IU, After Local Pressure, Alters Plan To Demolish 6 Historic Houses

Indiana University will be deciding this week on the fate of six historic Bloomington houses.

Last year, IU announced plans to build a new law school facility on land currently occupied by Phi Gamma Delta fraternity house, commonly known as FeeGee. IU agreed to build a new facility for the fraternity on the 800 block of E 8th St which is part of the University Courts historic district. The area has been placed on the state historic register since 1992 and on the national historic register since 2007.

Alarm over IU’s demolition plan of the homes prompted the City of Bloomington to place the district on its list of local historic districts this spring. This designation requires city approval for any development plan in the area, but there is dispute as to whether state owned property would be exempt from the city purview. A legal opinion solicited by Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana found credible argument for the designation to apply to the demolition of the eight street homes even though they are owned by IU.

Beyond the legal rights, IU has come under considerable pressure from the local residents, the Historic Preservation Commission of the City, members of City Council and the Mayor, to preserve the houses slated for demolition, and according to an agenda released today, IU seems to have listened.

The IU Trustees Facilities Committee will be looking at a new proposal that would move four of the houses a block to the west, while still demolishing two properties. Philip Eskew, an IU trustee and chair of Facilities Committee, explains what prompted the alteration of the plan.

“We’ve worked with the mayor, the council and the historical group in Bloomington to listen to their concerns,” Eskew says. “We are recommending to the trustees that we change what we had initially said tearing down the houses and instead move the four worthy of being saved.”

Eskew affirmed that the university believes that it has the legal right to dispose of the houses any way it sees fit.

A bill introduced into the Indiana legislature earlier this year by local state representative Matt Pierce would have required public institutions seeking to demolish, move or change the exterior of a university building within a historic preservation district to obtain a certificate of appropriateness before commencing work.

In Bloomington, it would be the City’s Historic Preservation Commission that would control the certification process. However, the bill failed to make it to the floor of the House in time for passage during this year’s session.

Nevertheless, the local pressure seems to have had some impact on IU.

“There were several groups, even neighbors, that spoke about the tearing down of the houses,” Eskew says. “I think this is a reaction to that and we’re trying to be good neighbors with the community, as we always have been.”

The meeting of the trustees that will be addressing this item will be on the South Bend Campus of IU.

Eskew says the committee will make a recommendation and act on the action items.

The Facilities Committee of the Trustees meeting on Thursday will be from 3:15 to 5 p.m. The full Trustees meeting on Friday will be from 12:45 to 2 p.m. Both will be in combined rooms 221, 223 and 225 of the Student Activity Center of IU South Bend. Both meetings are open to the public.

Hoosier Hills Food Bank Provides Monthly Food Boxes To Low-Income Seniors

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Starting in June, Hoosier Hills Food Bank (HHFB) will begin providing monthly boxes of food for up to 100 low-income senior citizens in Monroe County. The Commodity Supplemental Food Program is already operational in Brown, Crawford, Orange, and Martin counties.

Potentially eligible seniors must complete a program application and will be scheduled for an interview to document their eligibility. Casey Steury, the Director of Programs for HHFB, says to be eligible, they must be 60 and over, live in Monroe County and be 130% of the poverty level or less.

Funding for the program is  provided by the US Department of Agriculture and Indiana State Department of Health, but Steury says that volunteer power is really what runs the program, and that without volunteers getting the word out about the program, many eligible seniors who don’t have access to internet or newspapers wouldn’t know that help was available.

The HHFB provides food for soup kitchens and shelters but the monthly food delivery program is the one time they get to interact directly with the people who benefit from their work.

“This senior program is the one program where we actually get to hand boxes directly to these seniors,” Steury says. “Because they get this food they don’t have to decide between buying food or medicine this month.”

The seniors then provide feedback on how this program has helped to improved their lives.

About 7% of Monroe County’s senior population are living below the poverty level.

Some Downtown Bloomington Businesses Open Despite Cold Weather

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Non-emergency county and city offices were closed today, as well as Indiana University, many IU Health Bloomington Hospital programs and all area schools. However, several local businesses had their “open” signs turned on despite the slick conditions and dangerously low temperatures.

Downtown outfitter JL Waters’ “open” sign shined through the frosty windows. Employees Emily Hodapp and Kimberly Webber and their canine pal Ranger were in the store and explained why they were open for business today.

“Out of all the stores, the adventure store should be open… No such thing as bad weather, just bad gear,” they said.

Hodapp, the assistant manager at JL Waters, says to choose fleece and down and synthetic insulation in winter gear, and for days like today, to take into account the temperature difference that occurs due to high winds

“We’ve got a lot of things that are wind-stopping, not just wind-blocking, but wind-stopping,” said Hodapp.

Webber also recommend base layers with synthetic or wool materials. Though inside the store things were lively as the employees took advantage of the slow customer flow to rearrange parts of the store, the downtown square was almost entirely vacant.

“Completely dead, pretty much. No one’s braving it. The roads aren’t that bad if you’ve got 4-wheel drive. I’m not saying ‘get out there and risk your life’ or anything, but go play! It’s so sunny! It’s not that bad.”

For those who were in need of a hot meal, the Scholars Inn Bakehouse and Darn Good Soup were both open and serving customers, though like JL Waters, the slow business meant they would close early today before normal quitting hours. Nels Brunner, the owner of Darn Good Soup, said:

“It’s been pretty slow, really. I thought it would be busier. It’s been busy enough to be worth being open, but nothing to write home about.”

Parking meters in downtown Bloomington will not be enforced until 8am on Wednesday.

Best of 2013 #9 – Muddying the Waters: New Interstate Brings New Contamination

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After decades of debate and protest, 2013 saw the first segments of Interstate 69 begin construction in Monroe and Greene counties. In 2012, a 67-mile stretch of the new road was finished in Southern Indiana, connecting Evansville to the area near the Crane Naval base. Then, by early this spring, landowners in the WFHB listening area began reporting trees were cleared on or near their properties to make way for section 4 of the interstate. It was just a few months after that, that problems began to surface. In July, residents who own property along the future path of I-69 began reporting their local waterways were being contaminated. Landowners produced photos of creeks filled with sediment as well as sinkholes filling with brown water.The erosion problems have continued since August, and in the past couple months some contractors have been forced to halt construction while they deal with the issue. Still, landowners say the contamination persists each time the area sees heavy rain.

CREDITS
The best of 2013 is a production of the WFHB News Department.
Today’s episode was produced by Joe Crawford.
Our theme music is provided by Legs
Executive producer is Alycin Bektesh

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