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New zoning rules for Monroe County rural areas

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Monroe County appears to be almost finished approving new zoning rules for rural areas. But questions still remain. We bring you that story for today’s WFHB community report.

The November 18th meeting is at 6 p.m in the Nat U Hill Room of the County Courthouse.

MCCSC budget includes $4 million for technology upgrades

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The Monroe County Community School Corporation is on track to spend up to $4 million on technology upgrades. The Corporation’s School Board approved the spending at a meeting October 28th. Part of the funding will go toward fulfilling the Corporation’s one-to-one technology initiative, which aims to provide every high school student with an iPad or other mobile device. Board member Sue Wanzer asked about the internet bandwidth needed to accommodate more devices.  Tim Thrasher, the business operations director at MCCSC, answered questions. Thrasher said the majority of the funding will come from a general obligation bond, which the Corporation will have to pay back over time.Wanzer asked about how the $3 million in debt could affect taxes in Monroe County.  Board member Judith Butler asked about exactly how the technology money would be spent and who would make the decisions.  The School Board later voted unanimously to approve spending up to $4 million on the technology upgrades. The Board also gave final approval for next year’s budget. That budget amount is roughly $112 million, up from $108 million last year.

Low voter turnout for midterm election

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According to Monroe County’s precinct turnout reports, scarcely more than 25% of registered Monroe County voters cast ballots in yesterday’s midterm elections, making this the lowest voter turnout in a midterm election since 1990. While many factors may have contributed to the low voter turnout, one factor that may have been particularly influential was the lack of big ticket ballot issues, according to one Bloomington citizen.

The ballots that were cast yielded two particularly close races for Monroe County. The race for the school board in District 7 saw Jeannine Butler win her seat by only 2.02%, and the race for County Recorder saw Democrat Eric Schmitz win by just under 3 percent.

Three statewide races were on the ballot yesterday. Incumbent Secretary of State Connie Lawson retained her seat against democratic challenger Beth White. Republican Susanne Crouch won the Auditor seat over Democrat Mike Claytor, and Republican Kelly Mitchell won the treasurer position. Just under eight hundred thousand voters cast their ballots in the statewide races.   On the federal level Todd Young will begin his third term as the District 9 Representative in congress, securing 66 percent of the vote.

You can view a full list of local results online at wfhb.org

Business and Government Mingle at I-69 Summit

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This week the convention center downtown played host to hundreds of politicians, businesspeople and government workers interested in the new I-69, both in Indiana and beyond. WFHB Assistant News Director Joe Crawford was on hand for the I-69 Summit and he brings us this report. 

Work continues on sections 4 and 5 of I-69 in Indiana. Those portions will take the Interstate into Monroe County, through Bloomington and almost to Martinsville.

Get to know your local candidates Part 2 of 6

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On Tuesday, September 22, in the Bloomington City Council Chambers six candidates discussed their qualifications for public office in Monroe County. The session consisted of expert commentary and Audience Q&A. Candidates for clerk include Linda Robbins (D) Jacob Franklin (R) Candidates for Recorder include Eric Schmitz (D) and Jeff Ellington (R) Candidates for Judge include Valeri Haughton and Karen Wyle (R) This event was recorded by Community Access Television Services and used with permission by Standing Room Only, on WFHB.

Vote Centers A Proposed Discussion With Monroe County Budget

Monroe County will tackle the contentious issue of vote centers again in the coming weeks. County Clerk Linda Robbins says she will propose vote centers during upcoming budget talks.Robbins made the statement at an August 7 meeting of the County Election Board.

“We are also going to look at comparing costs of precinct voting to vote centers so we’re going to try and tackle that again with some comparative costs,” Robbins says.

Switching to a vote center model would shrink the number of voting locations in the County. But a resident could vote at any of the locations instead of being limited to a single precinct. In the past, county Republicans have opposed the change.

Robbins insists it could save hundreds of thousands of dollars during each election.

“There’s been pushback from certain individuals about these centers,” Robbins says. “Any cost we incur with this will be charged back to the city, not the county.”

The Board plans to begin 2015 budget discussions on August 12.

Rural Monroe County Residents May See Major Rezoning Shifts

Some Monroe County residents raised questions June 17 about proposed rules that would affect the most rural parts of the county.

The rules would apply to areas more than two miles from Bloomington. They would not affect smaller communities like Ellettsville or Stinesville.

The County Plan Commission is seeking to simplify its rural zoning rules by establishing just two zones instead of the current 20. But resident Steven Cordell said that approach might have been counterproductive.

“You’re taking something that was too complicated and making it overly simplified,” Cordell says. “I think that might be a big over-correction.”

Cordell’s complaints with the proposed rules focused largely on restrictions that would keep residents from subdividing their land into lots of relatively small parcels. Commission members have said the County can’t support the infrastructure required by those kinds of typically residential developments.

Other residents, like Steve Smith, asked why the rules restrict rural businesses from developing.

“The existing businesses have been there a long time with the zoning code changing around them,” Smith says. “This would blanket change everything, and when they become pre-existing, non-conforming, that’s like saying ‘we don’t want you.’”

Commission members said they are waiting to develop some rules for businesses. Commission member Julie Thomas said consultant is still working on rules governing the Bloomington Urbanizing Area, which is the two miles of County land surrounding the city. Thomas said those regulations would affect the rural zoning rules.

 

Interchange – Republican Candidates for Monroe County Council

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In tonight’s episode of Interchange, host Joe Crawford speaks with six Republican candidates for the Monroe County Council. During our first segment Crawford was joined by Marilyn Brinley, Brian Ellison, Jennifer Mickel and Paul E. White, Sr., who are competing for the Republican nomination for the District 2 seat on the Council. The winner will run against Democrat Ryan Cobine in the general election.

Later in the show, Barry Jayne and Greg Knott joined the discussion. Jayne and Knott are competing for District 4 on the Council. The winner will run against an incumbent Council member, Rick Dietz, who is the only Democrat running for the seat.

Water Pumping Project Finishes $250,000 Under Budget

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The construction of a new water pumping station came in at about $260,000 under budget, according to officials at a Bloomington Utilities Service Board meeting on Feb. 24.

Michael Hicks, the Utilities Department’s capital projects manager, submitted a change order on the $6.5 million project.

“The project is complete and with the approval of this change order we can close out the project with our contractor,” Hicks said.

The construction was performed by the Orleans-based company Layne Incorporated, but the engineering was done by the Kansas-based company Black and Veatch.

Adam Westerman, from Black and Veatch, said the project did not cost as much as expected, in part because the contractor didn’t spend its full budget for items like office supplies, equipment, and furniture.

Board member Jason Banach asked Westerman about the city paying for a contractor’s supplies.

“Is this something we typically pay for, their pens and pencils?” Banach asked.

“We’ve handled it different ways historically, but for the past eight years we’ve taken on the cost of that,” Westerman said, “And anything left comes back to the city.”

The board later voted unanimously to approve the change order.

Weather Delays for Feb. 11

Delays

  • Brown County School Corporation on a two-hour delay.
  • Mitchell Community Schools on a two-hour delay.
  • Monroe County Community School Corporation on a two-hour delay.
  • North Lawrence Community Schools on a two-hour delay.
  • Richland-Bean Blossom Community School Corporation schools on a two-hour delay.
  • Spencer-Owen Community Schools on a two-hour delay.
  • St. Mark’s United Methodist Church on a 1 1/2 hour delay.

Report It

If you know about a delay or closing that is not listed above, please send an email to wfhb@wfhb.org and let us know about it.

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