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League of Women Voters Offer Chance to Speak with State Legislators

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The League of Women Voters will sponsor a free, public legislative update this Saturday in Bloomington.

“What we do is invite legislators to come and introduce what’s happening in state legislature right now,” President of the League, Doris Wittenberg, says, “They talk about the bills being brought forth and the interest of those particular legislators. They tell us what they think about what they’re sponsoring or what they think about what’s going on in state legislature. There will also be a question and answer session”

Wittenberg said that there is no topic, but that this event is an update on what’s been going on tin the legislature this month.

“It’s an opportunity for people to hear what the legislators have to say and what they’ve been working on,” Wittenberg says, “It gives the community an opportunity to ask questions about whatever issues the legislators should be addressing.”

The Legislative Update will take place Saturday, Feb. 1, from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. in the Bloomington City Council Chambers Showers Building. The next update is scheduled to take place on March 1.

CATSweek: Same-Sex Marriage Resolution, Rules For Secondhand Shops, Proposed Recycling Facility

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In this episode of CATSweek, produced through a partnership between WFHB and Community Access Television Services:

The Bloomington City Council passed a resolution in support of same-sex marriage December 4th; The Board president of the Monroe County Solid Waste Management District announced plans November 21st to renew discussion about a controversial recycling facility; On November 25th, the Ellettsville Town Council held another debate about new regulations on secondhand shops…And more.

Watch the full show on the CATS website.

As Recycling Prices Go Up, City Votes To Fund Materials Recovery Facility

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The Board president of the Monroe County Solid Waste Management District announced plans Nov. 21 to renew discussion about a controversial recycling facility.

At a meeting of the District’s Citizens Advisory Committee, Board President Steve Volan said he would reintroduce a measure that was voted down earlier this year. The measure would allocate $60,000 to study the feasibility of building a materials recovery facility, also known as a MRF, which would process recyclables.

“The study for a clean MRF has been done,” Volan said, “We’re talking about being able to do a dirty MRF which takes the waste stream itself and recycle items out of it. As a public asset it would reduce such a dramatic amount of waste that much less would need to be trucked to another landfill.”

The District’s Executive Director, Larry Barker, said much of the waste the district currently pays to have hauled to a landfill could be used for other purposes.

The district collects trash in the county, and it pays the company Republic Services to haul it to a landfill in Terre Haute.

“The ultimate goal is to get as possible to zero waste,” Barker said, “And that means nothing going to a landfill. Food and yard waste are currently going to the landfills and those can be pulled out to be put into a machine to actually create energy.”

Many of the arguments for building a MRF concern the increasing costs of waste management in the city and the county. Volan said Republic Services is increasing the prices it charges to the city next year.

“Part of the reason I’m supportive of this investment is that the city’s cost of disposal of trash and recyclables will be going up to 46 dollars a ton and the recycling that they’ve been taking for free for the past three years will go up to 46 dollars a ton too,” Volan said, “This results in a six-figure cost to the city that we didn’t anticipate.”

The feasibility study was initially part of the District’s budget for 2014, but the funding was removed in August because of dissent from two District Board members. Those members, Iris Kiesling and Patrick Stoffers, are also County commissioners, and they represent the County on the District Board.

Although those two were the only votes against the MRF on the seven-member board, they were still able to strip the funding, partly because of poor attendance by other members. The board is expected to vote again on the funding at its meeting Dec. 12 at 4 p.m. at the Monroe County Courthouse.

Local Government Information Seminar ‘Citizens Academy’ Taking Applications

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The Monroe County Citizens Academy is taking applications for this year’s fall seminars.

The seminars, which are open to everyone, inform attendees about the local county government.

Interim County Extension Director Amy Thompson tells us that the Academy is an opportunity for residents to learn more about how county government operates, where their local tax dollars go and the services the county offices provide.

The free classes will be held on Wednesday evenings, from October 2 until November 20.

Subjects include local government financing, the county court system, correctional policy, policing and the county jail, health and youth services, and county governance.

Thirty minutes of informal discussion are planned before each presentation. County officials, administrators, judges, and senior police officers will be present.

“We’ve done this several times and we get a lot of positive feedback,” Thompson says, “I think the average citizen doesn’t know about the scope of activities that county government is involved in. It’s interesting, you get a behind the scenes tour of the jail and you get a one-on-one interaction with government officials.”

The courses are provided through Purdue University’s Extension program, in partnership with Monroe County Commissioners and Council.

Call 349-2575 to register for the program by September 27.

ImagineBloomington Holds Workshop To Hear Back From The Community

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The City of Bloomington Planning Department is holding a workshop on September 12th.

This workshop will help with gathering public input on community goals for ImagineBloomington to help update the Growth Policies Plan.

Senior Long Range Planner, Nate Nickel gave us some background on the Growth Policies Plan.

“Growth Policies Plan is the city’s comprehensive plan and was adopted in 2002. Since it’s been over 10 years, we are undertaking the process to update our GPP. This is an opportunity for the public to tell us what they want to see in the future and help guide us in the future,” Nickel said.

The three topics that will be discussed at the workshop include Economic and Sustainable Development, Government Services and Transportation. During the workshop participants will be able to offer their input and vote on one of their goals for ImagineBloomington.

“What we’ll do after is work closely with our ImagineBloomington committee and start editing our draft goals and moving ahead with the planning process. We think this will go up until 2015 and there will definitely be more opportunities to provide input,” Nickel said.
The workshop will take place on September 12th from 6 to 7 p.m. It will be held at the Monroe County Public Library in room 1C.

New “Bitter Pill” Government Website Aims To Educate Hoosiers On Prescription Drug Abuse

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Indiana now has a one-stop site for information on prescription drug abuse.

The misuse of prescribed medications has reached epidemic proportions, according to the state Department of Health.

With more Hoosiers looking for information about signs and symptoms of prescription drug abuse or hoping to find out where they or their loved ones can go for help, Attorney General Greg Zoeller this week announced the kickoff of the state’s new Bitter Pill website.

The National Institutes of Health says more people in the United States misuse prescription drugs than indulge in cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, and inhalants combined.

Joan Duwve, chief medical officer of the Indiana Department of Health says at least one in five Hoosier teens have abused prescription medications.

Many teens feel using prescription meds recreationally is safer than buying drugs off the street. Duwve says this simply isn’t true. Some 718 people died from prescription drug abuse and misuse in Indiana in 2011, the last year for which statistics are available.

“What is perceived as a ‘safe’ high too often turns out to be deadly,” Duwve says.

The Bitter Pill website offers information on five key features of prescription drug abuse: knowing the dangers, recognizing the signs and symptoms, proper prescription disposal, treatment resources, and reporting illegal use of the drugs

The Indiana Attorney General since January, 2012, has prosecuted at least 15 doctors who’ve prescribed addictive painkillers outside of medically appropriate usage.

The web address for the new website online at www.bitterpill.in.gov.

 

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