Bloomington announcement on broadband fiber deal leaves some questions unanswered

It’s a planned $50 million investment to create a fiber-to-the-home network for most of Bloomington.

That’s the way an announcement from Bloomington mayor John Hamilton’s office on Friday afternoon framed some local broadband internet access news.

According to the city of Bloomington news release, the company making the $50 million investment is Meridiam, which is a global firm focused on infrastructure development. If all goes as described in Friday’s news release, construction of the network could start before the end of 2022.

According to Friday’s news release, a contract with an unnamed internet service provider (ISP) would ensure that Meridiam’s network will offer symmetric service (equal upload and download) of at least 1 gigabit per second everywhere in Meridiam’s Bloomington network.

Based on Friday’s news release, the city of Bloomington will have to bring a lot to the table as well. Continue reading “Bloomington announcement on broadband fiber deal leaves some questions unanswered”

Photos: Great blue heron catches fish, elects to eat with no review of provisional palate

Wildlife drama unfolded Saturday evening at Miller-Showers Park, which is wedged between Walnut Street and College Avenue on Bloomington’s north side.

In the early evening hours, a great blue heron flew in and landed near the east bank of the southernmost stormwater detention pond, towards the spillway to the next lower pond.

From there the bird worked its way along the bank southward, catching and eating at least one pretty big fish, which looked like a largemouth bass.

The great blue endured repeated harassment from a female redwing blackbird, which would flutter about, at times landing on the bigger bird’s back. The great blue was unperturbed.

Also counted as part of the evening’s wildlife inventory at Miller-Showers Park was a mother mallard, with at least four ducklings in tow. A muskrat carved a V-shape in the water as it swam along the surface from north to south across the pond.

Saturday’s evening at the park offered good weather for wildlife viewing—clear skies around 80 F degrees with winds out of the southeast at 7 mph. More photos below. Continue reading “Photos: Great blue heron catches fish, elects to eat with no review of provisional palate”

Bloomington BPW affirms order to AT&T: Take gear off Johnson’s Creamery smokestack by May 31

At its Tuesday evening meeting, Bloomington’s board of public works voted to affirm an order from the city’s housing and neighborhood development (HAND) department, which requires AT&T to remove its communications equipment from near the top of the Johnson’s Creamery smokestack—by midnight on May 31.

The removal of AT&T’s equipment will help set the stage for the owner’s partial demolition of the smokestack—from 140 feet down to 60 feet. The building, with its smokestack, is owned by Peerless Development.

The partial demolition was ordered by HAND because an engineering study determined the smokestack is unsafe.

If AT&T doesn’t comply with the order to vacate, it could face a daily fine of $500 from the city of Bloomington. Continue reading “Bloomington BPW affirms order to AT&T: Take gear off Johnson’s Creamery smokestack by May 31”

2022 Democratic Party primary election notebook: Breakdown of results by precinct for recorder, county commissioner

The precinct-by-precinct numbers for Tuesday’s primary elections are now available on Monroe County’s website.

Numbers are still unofficial.

For county offices, Democrats saw four contested races on the ballot. The race for the nomination for circuit court judge was a four-way contest, won by Emily Salzmann. The race for the nomination for sheriff was a five-way contest, won by Ruben Marté.

The B Square took a closer precinct-by-precinct look at the other two races, which were two-way affairs. The race for recorder was close, almost a dead heat. The county commissioner’s race was not as close—about a 3:2 margin for the winner.

What both races showed was a detectable, even if not dramatic difference between inside and outside the city limits of Bloomington. In both races there was about a four-point difference in results inside and outside Bloomington. Continue reading “2022 Democratic Party primary election notebook: Breakdown of results by precinct for recorder, county commissioner”

May 3, 2022: Polls now open in Monroe County

At 6 a.m. sharp on Tuesday, a Monroe County election worker opened the door from inside the blue building at the corner of 3rd and Walnut streets: “The polls are now open! Come on in!” [raw audio of polls opening announcement]

black and white photo of A-frame Vote Here sign in a parking lot in front of a building.
Monroe County election operations (6 a.m. Tuesday May 3, 2022).

No voters were standing in line at the time.

It’s the former NAPA building, which now serves as Monroe County’s voting operations facility.

Although during early voting, voters countywide could cast a ballot at the voting operations building, only voters from seven different precincts can vote there on Election Day: Bloomington 03, Bloomington 07, Bloomington 22, and Perry 06, Perry 08, Perry 15, and Perry  31.

Voters who are trying to sort out where to vote can start at the secretary of state’s voter portal. On that web page, the link for “Voting Location” is in the row of blue boxes.

Voting ends at 6 p.m.

The B Square will file any reports through the day from different polling sites as updates to this article. Continue reading “May 3, 2022: Polls now open in Monroe County”

Monroe County in final stages of primary election prep, poll workers get thanks

 

At Election Central on Monday evening, Monroe County’s three-member election board re-convened from its recessed meeting on Thursday, to be on hand for any last-minute board decisions that might have been needed.

Election Central is housed in the old Johnson’s Hardware building at 7th and Madison streets.

Deputy county clerk Tressia Martin was fielding calls from polling locations to confirm that the polls were set up for Tuesday morning’s 6 a.m. start. While the B Square was there, no board decisions needed to be made.

As of around 6 p.m. on Monday evening, 11 of the 28 polling locations had reported in as ready to go. Continue reading “Monroe County in final stages of primary election prep, poll workers get thanks”

Photos: Great blue heron catches, eats fish, declines to entertain motion to postpone

A Sunday afternoon visit to Miller-Showers Park on the north side of Bloomington, wedged between College Avenue and Walnut Street, confirmed that great blue herons are carnivores. Winds were out of the west at 16 mph with a temperature around 67 F degrees.

More photos below. They’re displayed in chronological order. Just after The B Square arrived at Miller-Showers, the heron flew from the southernmost pool down to the lower (northernmost) pool.

Continue reading “Photos: Great blue heron catches, eats fish, declines to entertain motion to postpone”

Analysis: Does a local law need to change so a Bloomington public bus can run outside the city?

Map showing bus routes going outside of Bloomington city limits
Excerpt of map showing configuration of routes recommended by Bloomington Transit consultant in 2019.

If Bloomington Transit wanted to run buses outside of Bloomington’s city limits, what, if any, legal requirements would have to be met?

Specifically, what legal requirements would have to be met, in order for Bloomington Transit to serve educational and employment centers like Ivy Tech or Cook Medical—which are outside the city limits on the western edge of town?

In the last few years, the standard answer has been: An amendment to a local law  would have to be enacted by the city council.

But a closer look at the local law, and a state statute, suggests that a change to the local law might not be needed.

Instead, the city council would just have to approve any proposed bus service outside the city’s boundaries.

A request from BT to run buses to specific locations outside city limits could presumably be placed on the city council’s agenda by BT—just like approval of its annual budget and tax rate is placed on the city council’s agenda. BT could not force the city council to grant approval.

But that stands in contrast to an ordinance that would change city code. BT does not have the right to place a proposed change to city code on the city council’s agenda, much less force the council to enact it.

Why is this legal issue about the geography of BT’s service area somewhat pressing? Continue reading “Analysis: Does a local law need to change so a Bloomington public bus can run outside the city?”

Electronic meetings statute stops vote on $5.8M bond issuance by Bloomington parks board

The final approval of $5.8-million in general obligation bonds appeared on Tuesday’s agenda for Bloomington’s board of park commissioners.

view of city council chambers with two park commissioners seated at dais with numeral "1" and "2" labeling them and a third park commission appearing on screen.
Tues. April 26, 2022 meeting of Bloomington’s board of park commissioners. Two were present in-person. One was present on the Zoom platform.

It did not get a vote, because only two of the four park commissioners were attending the meeting in person.

A special meeting will be scheduled so that a vote can be taken.

A third commissioner attended Tuesday’s meeting by using the Zoom video-conferencing platform—which allowed the board to achieve its quorum of three members to transact other items on its agenda.

Under Indiana’s Open Door Law (ODL), an attendee who participates by electronic communication counts towards satisfying a quorum.

And under ordinary circumstances a remote attendee’s votes count towards whatever majority is needed for a particular item to be approved.

But under the ODL, there are some circumstances that preclude a member’s participation in a meeting using electronic communication. Among them are meetings when the governing body is taking final action to “establish, raise, or renew a tax.”

Issuing general obligation bonds has the impact of raising property taxes. Continue reading “Electronic meetings statute stops vote on $5.8M bond issuance by Bloomington parks board”

[Updated] Two shootings overnight, potential connection still unknown: Bloomington police seeking information

Bloomington police are investigating two early-Saturday shootings within two blocks of each other in downtown Bloomington.

[Updated at 5:44 p.m. on May 2, 2022: Bloomington police announced on May 2 that an arrest was made that day in connection with the Kalao shooting.]

[Updated at 5:23 p.m. on April 23, 2022: Bloomington police have issued an updated news release on the shootings. It is still not known if the two shootings are related. No arrests have been made in either investigation, according to the late Saturday afternoon news release.

Based on video surveillance from inside the Kalao Nightclub, the suspect and the 41-year-old victim were in an altercation just before the shooting. The suspect can then be seen producing a handgun and firing multiple times in the crowded bar area. Two of the victims in the nightclub shooting are still hospitalized. The third has been treated and released, according to the updated BPD news release.

According to the updated news release on Saturday afternoon, on not much has been learned about the shooting near the intersection of 6th and Lincoln streets. Investigators continue to search for witnesses and are attempting to review surveillance footage from nearby cameras, according to the release. The 26-year-old victim from that shooting is currently hospitalized and is in critical condition, according to the late afternoon news release.]

Continue reading “[Updated] Two shootings overnight, potential connection still unknown: Bloomington police seeking information”