Molly Tuttle: “My backyard is an Indiana farm, Bloomington is alright”

On Thursday night, Grammy-award winning artist Molly Tuttle and her band Golden Highway delivered more than an hour and a half of bluegrass bliss in Bloomington’s Switchyard Park.

The temperature of 92 F degrees, combined with a relative humidity of around 66 percent, made for a heat index of 109 F.

Opening for Tuttle were the Chicago-based Henhouse Prowlers, featuring Bloomington native Chris Dollar.

After filling more than 90 sweltering minutes mostly with songs from her two most recent albums—”City of Gold” and “Crooked Tree”—Tuttle closed out her show with ”White Freightliner Blues,” which is an old Townes Van Zandt tune.

In the voice of Van Zandt, “going out on the highway, listen to them big trucks whine” sounded like a lament. Tuttle delivered it as a celebration of sorts. Continue reading “Molly Tuttle: “My backyard is an Indiana farm, Bloomington is alright””

Photos: Bald eagles on Memorial Day

On Sunday, The B Square made a visit to a bald eagle’s nest north of Bloomington, in Morgan County.

The adult eagle cut across the sky overhead, keeping watch over the two younger birds, which were sitting sheltered in their peaceful roost.

Let these photos of nature’s beauty and resilience serve as a commemoration of Memorial Day. Continue reading “Photos: Bald eagles on Memorial Day”

Bloomington mayor announces extras for fire, police like $100K housing loan with annual report: violent crime up, property crime down, fire response slower

At last Thursday’s unveiling of the city’s annual public safety report for 2022, Bloomington mayor John Hamilton took the occasion to announce a few new incentives that are meant to help recruit and retain firefighters and police officers.

Among those incentives is a $100,000 no-interest housing down payment loan that is completely forgivable at the rate of $10,000 a year for up to 10 police officers and 10 firefighters—if they buy a house inside the city limits.

The recruitment challenge can be seen in the current staffing levels.

At Thursday’s event, Bloomington police chief Mike Diekhoff announced the hire of five new officers, who will start at the end of February. That puts the department’s staffing level at 88 sworn officers, which is still 17 short of the budgeted number of 105.

Even though vacancies among Bloomington’s firefighters have in the last few years not been as many as among sworn police, on Thursday Hamilton noted that there are currently 9 vacancies among the 99 firefighter positions. Continue reading “Bloomington mayor announces extras for fire, police like $100K housing loan with annual report: violent crime up, property crime down, fire response slower”

“We’ve gotta get moving on that,” says state rep on convention center project, given threat of tax sunset

The Monroe Convention Center expansion project needs to make some progress, state representative Democrat Rep. Matt Pierce (District 61) said at a Friday luncheon hosted by the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce at The Mill.

Looming during this year’s legislative session is a threat to the project’s planned funding source, which is the county’s 1-percent food and beverage tax. The threat cited by Pierce is Senate Bill 37,  which has already been filed by Republican Sen. Mike Gaskill (District 25).

If SB 37 is passed, it would end food and beverage taxes across all counties in the state 20 years from now, on Jan. 1, 2043, or the date on which all bonds or lease agreements that are outstanding on May 7, 2023, are completely paid—whichever is later.

Pierce summed up the stalled effort of Bloomington and Monroe County government to collaborate on the convention center expansion like this: “We gotta get moving on that.”

Pierce was joined at the event by three other area state legislators: Sen. Eric Koch (District 44); Sen. Shelli Yoder (District 40); and Rep. Dave Hall (District 62).

Pierce’s comment on the convention center expansion came in response to a question from chamber CEO and president Eric Spoonmore.

The other three legislators didn’t comment on Spoonmore’s food and beverage tax question. Continue reading ““We’ve gotta get moving on that,” says state rep on convention center project, given threat of tax sunset”

Frozen Lake Monroe means a breakthrough year for 2023 Bloomington Polar Bear Plunge

Even though daytime high temperatures have reached the 50s for the last four days, on New Year’s Day, a 3-inch layer of ice crusted over much of the water at Lake Monroe’s Paynetown Recreation Area beach.

Still, around 10 o’clock Sunday morning, The B Square counted at least 40 people who managed to make their way into the frigid shallows near the shore.

Those hardy souls will be credited with participation in this year’s edition of the Bloomington Polar Bear Plunge. Continue reading “Frozen Lake Monroe means a breakthrough year for 2023 Bloomington Polar Bear Plunge”

Recount confirms Hall as winner over Githens in state house District 62

Around 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Indiana’s recount commission confirmed Republican Dave Hall as the winner of the election for District 62 state house over Democrat Penny Githens.

The final recounted tally was:

Penny Githens (D): 12,963
Dave Hall (R): 13,037

That’s a plurality of 74 for Hall.

The original tally was:

Penny Githens (D): 12,950
Dave Hall (R): 12,990

That was a plurality of 40 for Hall.

This brief has been updated with more detail below. Continue reading “Recount confirms Hall as winner over Githens in state house District 62”

Manual recounting of ballots completed for District 62 state house, final results next week

By around 5:15 p.m. on Wednesday, the recounting activity in Monroe County for the District 62 state house race between Republican Dave Hall and Democrat Penny Githens was completed.

That wrapped up the recounting for all of District 62, which also includes precincts in Brown and Jackson counties.

Recounting in Monroe County took place at Election Central in the old Johnson’s Hardware building at 7th and Madison streets.

The results of the recount won’t be finalized until the state recount commission meets next week.

The final certified tally of votes, before the recount, gave Hall 12,990 votes, which was 40 more than Democrat Penny Githens received.

Recount director Philip Sicuso told The B Square that the meeting has not yet been noticed to the public, but the recount commission plans to convene at 9 a.m. next Tuesday (Dec. 20) at the statehouse in Indianapolis. That’s the deadline for completion of the recount. Continue reading “Manual recounting of ballots completed for District 62 state house, final results next week”

Bloomington brewery owner on threats against drag-themed brunch: “When you’re furious, get curious!”

On Sunday morning starting around 8:30 a.m. a cadre of Bloomington community members started gathering on the sidewalk in front of Switchyard Brewing on North Walnut Street in downtown.

They were there to support the business and to defend it against phoned-in threats that owner Kurtis Cummings had received about the “Drag Brunch” that was set for a 11 a.m. show start.

The threat was there would be a “presence” of protesters against the drag-show-themed brunch that would make Cummings want to shut down the event. One accusation Cummings heard over the phone was that drag shows sexualize and groom children for sexual abuse.

During the show, Cummings circulated from inside the bar to outside on the sidewalk among the crowd of supporters, which at one point reached at least 150 people.

Some supporters stayed until the show concluded and the drag queens had left the building.

As far as sexualized content, Cummings said what he’d seen on stage inside was less sexualized than some Super Bowl halftime shows.

Sunday’s ticketed brunch was sold out. The morning’s planned entertainment went off without any disruptions. Continue reading “Bloomington brewery owner on threats against drag-themed brunch: “When you’re furious, get curious!””

District 62 election update: Pre-recount visit done, sorting this week, followed by recounting next week

On Wednesday, a group of state officials and interested parties to Indiana’s state house District 62 recount process made the rounds to the three affected counties, to complete the pre-recount procedures.

The race in District 62, which includes areas in Monroe, Brown and Jackson counties, was won by Republican Dave Hall, who had a certified tally of 12,990 votes. That was 40 more than Democrat Penny Githens received.

Election Day was Nov. 8.

On Wednesday, recount director Philip Sicuso indicated that some additional sorting and preparation would take place through the rest of this week. The recounting activity itself is to start next week (Dec. 12).

The recounting in Monroe County is not expected to start until 8 a.m. Wednesday morning (Dec. 14), Sicuso said. Continue reading “District 62 election update: Pre-recount visit done, sorting this week, followed by recounting next week”

Recount for 40-vote margin: Monroe County Dems to ask for hand re-tally in Hall-Githens District 62 race

The Monroe County Democratic Party will petition the Indiana state election division for a recount of votes in  the state house representative District 62 race, which was won by Republican Dave Hall over Democrat Penny Githens.

Left: Penny Githens (D). Right: Dave Hall (R). In these photos, they were giving stump speeches at a candidate event hosted by the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce held on Oct. 3, 2022.

That’s according to a news release issued by the MCDP on Monday morning.

The news release cites the 40-vote margin as the reason for the recount request.

MCDP chair David Henry is quoted in the release saying, “In such extremely close races, a recount is simply about exercising our candidate’s rights under the law, and crossing every t, and dotting every i.”

The procedure for election recounts in the state of Indiana is spelled out in three places: state election law; the state recount commission’s recount procedure manual; and the procedures manual for the state board of accounts.

Under state law, the deadline for a county party to petition for a recount is 17 days after the election, which translates this year to Monday (Nov. 28), due to the Thanksgiving holiday.

Barring botched paperwork or failure to hit deadlines, state law indicates that the state recount commission has to order a recount. Continue reading “Recount for 40-vote margin: Monroe County Dems to ask for hand re-tally in Hall-Githens District 62 race”