Dropped cell phone snagged from storm drain by Bloomington utilities workers

When The B Square approached Bloomington city hall late Friday afternoon, Bloomington resident Daniel Fritz was lying prone in the gutter of Morton Street.

Standing on either side of him were two yellow-vested city of Bloomington utilities (CBU) workers—Robert Jackson and Matthew Dunn. Fritz’s face was pressed right up against the grate of a storm drain.

After a couple of quick questions, the scene was sussed out.

Fritz was looking down into the void to see where his iPhone had been a minute before. Jackson and Dunn had just extracted it from the bottom of the drain. Continue reading “Dropped cell phone snagged from storm drain by Bloomington utilities workers”

COVID-19 update: Case numbers steady but hospitalizations up, more vaxxed patients than not

Friday’s news conference of leaders in the Bloomington area is one indicator that the local spread of COVID-19 virus is up.

It was the first such news conference since March, a time when IU Health south central region president Brian Shockney described a “sense of calm” after two years of pandemic.

At the time, just two patients at IU Health south central region hospitals had diagnoses for COVID-19.

On Friday, Shockney reported a total of 31 patients who were diagnosed with the virus at IU Health’s hospitals in Bloomington, Bedford and Paoli.

Shockney said, “Over the last 90 days, we have seen a continued increase in our inpatients.” He added, “With the workforce shortages across the state, and nation along with the highly complex care that our patients require, it’s difficult to provide care for all those who need it.”

The number of cases has remained pretty steady for the last three months and would qualify as “low” community spread under the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) categories.

But the number of hospitalizations has pushed Monroe County to the CDC “medium” level of community spread. Continue reading “COVID-19 update: Case numbers steady but hospitalizations up, more vaxxed patients than not”

Striking IU grad student instructors pedal a lap through Bloomington’s downtown

Around 12:45 p.m. on Friday, about 60 bicyclists pedaled north on Walnut Street past the Monroe County courthouse with printed signs affixed to their machines that said, “ON STRIKE For Union Recognition.”

The chanted slogans like “What do we want? Union! When do we want it? Now!”

They were members of the Indiana Graduate Workers Coalition – United Electrical Workers (IGWC). The members of the IGWC teach classes to undergraduates at Indiana University.

The group voted on Tuesday to continue their strike which started last week. The vote tally to continue the strike was 967 to 27, or 97.3 percent in favor, according to organizers.

Members of the IGWC voted last week to begin the strike, also with better than 97 percent in favor.

The action by the IGWC is considered by the university’s administration to be just a “work stoppage” and not a “strike” by a union.

The university administration’s refusal to recognize the IGWC as a union is the central grievance of the graduate student instructors. Continue reading “Striking IU grad student instructors pedal a lap through Bloomington’s downtown”

IU graduate student instructors now on strike for union recognition, next vote on Tuesday

On Friday morning, at Sample Gates, on the east end of Kirkwood Avenue, around 100 Indiana University graduate student instructors set up a picket with printed signs that said, “ON STRIKE For Union Recognition.”

The action by the Indiana Graduate Workers Coalition – United Electrical Workers (IGWC) is considered by the university’s administration to be just a “work stoppage” and not a “strike” by a union.

The university administration’s refusal to recognize the IGWC as a union is the central grievance of the graduate student instructors.

The strike, which started Wednesday, was authorized by a vote of the Indiana Graduate Workers Coalition – United Electrical Workers by a tally of 1,008 to 23 (97.8 in favor), according to union organizers.

The job title of graduate student instructors within the university’s employment system is student academic appointee (SAA). The IGWC wants the university’s administration to recognize the group as the union representing all SSAs as provided under Indiana Code.

The kind of issues the IGWC wants to be able to negotiate with the administration as a collective bargaining unit include: elimination of various fees; compensation; benefits; a formal grievance procedure; and equity for international students who are SAAs. Continue reading “IU graduate student instructors now on strike for union recognition, next vote on Tuesday”

Photos: Little 500 qualifications 2022

Qualification runs for the 2022 Little 500 bicycle race were held on Saturday.

The temperature was around 38 F degrees with 16 mph winds out of the west and northwest, gusting to 28 mph. Those conditions meant the top times for the 4-lap trial were a lot slower than the all-time records.

[More photos and results below.]

Continue reading “Photos: Little 500 qualifications 2022”

Pandemic notebook: Declining case numbers give momentum for lifting restrictions

The Monday update to Indiana’s COVID-19 data dashboard confirmed the trend in declining positive case numbers and hospital census statewide.

Also in Monroe County the downward trend continued, as the rolling daily average of positive cases dropped to 37. That’s still about twice the rolling average at this same time last year. But it’s just one-eighth the rolling average posted by Monroe County a month ago, on Jan. 21.

Hospitalizations statewide are down, too. The statewide hospital census of COVID-19 patients now stands at 1,093. That’s less than a third of the peak number on Jan. 13, which was 3,519.

It’s a similar picture for Hospital District 8, which includes Monroe County. The District 8 COVID-19 census is now 64 patients compared to 171 a month ago. Besides Monroe County, District 8 includes Brown, Bartholomew, Lawrence, Jackson, Orange, and Washington counties.

The improving trends after the surge, caused by the Omicron variant of the virus, has helped add momentum to sentiment in favor of lifting of various restrictions.

It’s not certain, but among B Square sources, Indiana governor Eric Holcomb is not expected to extend his current emergency order, which currently is set to expire on March 4. Continue reading “Pandemic notebook: Declining case numbers give momentum for lifting restrictions”

Celebrated: Renaming of Bloomington street as Eagleson Avenue

The first day of February was the official date for the name change of a north-south street that cuts through the Indiana University campus.

To mark the occasion, early on Tuesday afternoon, a gathering about two and a half dozen strong gathered at the southern end of the Bloomington street now known as Eagleson Avenue.

On hand was a mix of city officials and members of the extended Eagleson family, in whose honor the street has been renamed.

The family includes mathematicians, physicists, ministers, and one of the original Tuskegee Airmen.

Speaking for the Eaglesons was Betty Bridgwaters, who led off by noting the afternoon’s sunshine and warmth. The temperature hit 60 F degrees, even as the forecast called for a winter storm to move through the area the following day.

Bridgwaters is the great-granddaughter of Halson Vashon Eagleson, Sr., who was born into slavery, and arrived in Bloomington in the 1880s. Continue reading “Celebrated: Renaming of Bloomington street as Eagleson Avenue”

Photos: Trumpets of the Marching Hundred

Starting at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday in front of the Sample Gates on the east end of Kirkwood Avenue, Garrett Rogers led the trumpet section of Indiana University’s Marching Hundred through some football game standards, like “Indiana, Our Indiana” and “The William Tell Overture,” among others. [audio of “Indiana, Our Indiana”]

IU’s football game against the University of Minnesota Gophers is set to kick off at 3:30 p.m.

More photos after the jump.
Continue reading “Photos: Trumpets of the Marching Hundred”

Pandemic notebook: Mandate for face coverings remains for Monroe County, as board of health wants IU fans to play better mask-it-ball

At its meeting on Thursday, Monroe County’s board of health didn’t make any changes to the health regulations that are meant to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

That means the end of the county’s mask mandate is still tied to hitting a target of 50 positive cases per week per 100,000 people in the county. That target for Monroe County translates into an average of about 10 cases a day.

The county is currently sitting at a daily case average of nearly 4 times the target.

The mask mandate requires people to wear a mask in indoor public places, unless they are actively eating and drinking, among other exceptions.

In light of the current increasing trend for positive cases, board of health members saw no reason to relax the mask requirement. That increasing trend has seen the rolling 7-day daily average just about double in about the last four weeks.

On Oct. 23 the rolling daily average was around 19 cases. By Thursday, that figure had increased to about 37 cases per day.

Thursday’s board of health meeting included some criticism of the lack of mask wearing by fans of Indiana University basketball games, held at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. Continue reading “Pandemic notebook: Mandate for face coverings remains for Monroe County, as board of health wants IU fans to play better mask-it-ball”

Photos: Little 500 Fall Series Street Sprints, change of venue from Kirkwood to IU campus

The sunny weather, mostly calm winds, and temperatures in the mid-50s meant good weather conditions for last Saturday’s (Nov. 6)  Little 500 Street Sprints.

This year, the course started in front of the Indiana Memorial Union on 7th Street and headed farther into the university campus, east towards the Showalter Fountain.

The 200-meter straight-line sprints are part of a fall series of events connected to the  Little 500 race, which is held in the spring at the Bill Armstrong Stadium track. Rounding out the fall series are individual item trials at the stadium track, and cyclocross races at the tailgate field.

Continue reading “Photos: Little 500 Fall Series Street Sprints, change of venue from Kirkwood to IU campus”