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Daily Local News – February 5, 2013

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Emergency Management Director James Commerford announced an easement to “yellow” this afternoon; The City of Bloomington is seeking feedback from the public on a new update to its ADA Transition Plan; The Indiana office of utility consumer counselor is accepting public comment regarding a Vectren Energy request to increase utility rates for improvements in the transmission and storage of natural gas in Indiana.

FEATURE
Todd Young has thrown his hat into the ring for re-election to Indiana District 9 in the federal House of Representatives. Correspondent David Murphy spoke with Representative Young to ask him about his upcoming election campaign. He talked about potential challengers to his nomination for the Republican Party ticket in District 9 – which covers most of south-eastern Indiana including greater Bloomington – as well as his campaign platform. The issues he focused on included incentivizing job creation and work, proposals for reforming the financing, operation, and authority of the federal government, promoting non-governmental delivery of social services, and his criticism of Obamacare. We bring you that conversation now for today’s WFHB feature exclusive.

BLOOMINGTON BEWARE
Our weekly consumer watchdog segment Bloomington Beware!

CREDITS
Anchors: Cathi Norton, Kelly Wherley
Today’s headlines were written by Alycin Bektesh and Drew Daudelin,
Bloomington Beware was produced by Richard Fish,
Adam Reichle produced our feature.
Editor is Drew Daudelin,
Engineer and Executive Producer is Alycin Bektesh.

Cold Weather Creates Chilly Sitution For Utilities Department

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The Bloomington Utilities Department has dealt with an increase in water main breaks and customer service issues due to the cold weather in recent weeks. On January 27th Tom Axson, the department’s assistant director of transmission and distribution, told the Utilities Service Board there had been eight broken water mains reported in the previous ten days.

“We’ve also responded to a lot of customer calls about no water and broken pipes,” Axson said, “We’re going to keep doing what we do. In the meantime we’ve cleaned a lot of trucks and fixed a lot of equipment trying to stay ready.”

Utilities Department Director Patrick Murphy said the department purchased new equipment for the crews that do the repair work.

“We just made an additional equipment purchase, and by equipment I mean new Carhartt coats and boots, restocking our folks,” Murphy said, “One of the important things for the DND crews is rubber boots.”

Board member Jeff Ehman asked about the fact that the city has still not finished its annual leaf pick-up. The city planned to finish by December 19th.

Murphy said leaves can cause problems for the department, but that the situation is better than it was several months ago.

“They’ve done quite a bit and it’s not as much of an issue now,” Murphy asid.

Axson said that in the past, the city has used equipment to scrape frozen leaves off of the ground in order to haul them away.

Tips To Safely Deal With Winter Weather

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The Indiana Department of Environmental Management, or IDEM, has issued a press release detailing ways to deal with winter weather while staying safe and environmentally friendly.

If you use chemical salts to melt ice off your sidewalk, be sure not to over apply or allow the salts to fall on your lawn or garden, since excess salts can be damaging to flora.

If you spread sand for traction, don’t overuse it either, as that excessive material can cause problems in storm water systems.

You can winterize your vehicle by checking your air filter and fluid levels, checking tires for tread wear and proper inflation, and checking the condition of your windshield wipers.

Ensuring your vehicle is ready for weather changes will reduce damage, which prevents waste from broken parts, and will keep you safe on the road.

Make sure your heating system is operating efficiently. It is a good idea to have a contractor perform a routine check-up and any necessary maintenance on the equipment before freezing weather drives up your energy bill.

Winter is Coming in the Form of Snow

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Get ready for winter – it’s coming two weeks early this year.

The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning for Bloomington and the rest of the WFHB listening area, starting  at ten o’clock tonight and running through midnight tomorrow night.

A strong low pressure front is pushing through the area, bringing with it the potential for heavy snow.

Forecasters are predicting six to ten inches, with higher totals in isolated areas.

Drivers south of Bloomington may have to cope with ice-covered pavement when they drive in to work tomorrow morning.

The National Weather Service adds that strong winds may accompany the snow, making driving hazardous and maybe impossible.

Right now schools are expected to open on time tomorrow morning. If the traffic light on the Monroe County Community Schools Corporation website turns yellow, it means that school openings will be delayed. A red light means classes have been cancelled.

Keep listening to WFHB throughout the night and into the weekend for updates on the weather situation.

 

Weekend storm swept through the Midwest, see how it affected Bloomington

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The wind and rain storm that swept through Indiana, as well as its neighbors to the west and northeast, set records according to the National Weather Service. John Kwiatkowski, Science and Operations Officer in the Indianapolis provided information on the amount of rain that fell during the period, the sustained wind gusts, and tornado activity in south central Indiana.

“People might be surprised that Sunday, the storms were tearing along,” Kwiatkowski said, “A lot depends on where you are, but a lot of rain didn’t fall down in Bloomington area.”

Mr. Kwiatkowski said that the National Weather Service doesn’t record wind speeds as systematically as it does precipitation. However, he did say that 30-40 mph winds occurred in Monroe County, and that the highest recorded in Bloomington was about 40 mph. He also said there may have been winds up to 70 mph in Bloomington, but none were recorded.

There were no confirmed reports to tornado touchdowns in Monroe County. However, the strongest ones reported in Indiana on Sunday were fairly close by, to the southwest and southeast of us, in Daviess and Washington counties, both of which measured at two on the wind force scale. And, Bedford, to our immediate south, registered a EF-one strength tornado.

“We had 26 tornadoes Sunday, and that’s counting the entire state,” Kwiatkowski said, “That’s the second highest daily totaled that’s ever been recorded.
Ian Connor, of the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, told us today that the department is still doing damage assessments for southern Indiana. The department is requesting that individuals go online to the department website at in.gov/dhs and click on the link in the middle of the page titled ‘report damage from severe weather.’

Bloomington May Soon See Drought Conditions

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An area of near-drought conditions is creeping closer to Bloomington, according to the federal drought monitor, a joint effort of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the University of Nebraska.

A band of parched counties stretches across the center of the state with the “abnormally dry” zone just touching the northern reaches of Monroe County and extending a third of the way into Brown County.

After several years of “exceptional” or “extreme” drought conditions affecting much of Indiana, the spring and summer of 2013 brought a return to more normal groundwater conditions here.

But the last half of the summer has proven to be uncomfortably similar to the arid summers of 2011 and 2012.

The city of Indianapolis has reported a mere one point one-five (1.15)  inches of rain in August, only a third of what’s expected.

The NOAA five-day forecast indicates only a slight chance of precipitation in Bloomington Saturday night and Sunday morning.

 

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