Life Chain demonstration against abortion gives Bloomington annual test of its ‘digital divide’

On Sunday, the reaction to the annual Life Chain demonstration against abortion, from motorists along Bloomington’s 3rd Street, could be measured in the difference between the digits of the human hand—a thumb turned up in approval, versus the middle finger turned skyward in scorn.

That’s what one local organizer of the event, Carole Canfield, calls the annual “digital divide” that is provoked by the demonstration.

It’s part of a national Life Chain demonstration, which is an annual event that started in 1987.

Clusters of people, in some cases families, were gathered along 3rd Street heading west into town, holding signs reading “Stop Abortion Now,” “Abortion Kills Children,” “Adoption: Loving Option,” and other similar statements. Continue reading “Life Chain demonstration against abortion gives Bloomington annual test of its ‘digital divide’”

Election 2023, Holiday 2024 roundup: Solar Eclipse Day to be a county holiday, along with election days

At Wednesday morning’s meeting of Monroe County commissioners, the routine approval of county employee holidays for the following year included a bright spot.

There will be one extra day compared to last year: April 8, 2024, which is Solar Eclipse Day.

On that day, the narrow band of the full solar eclipse will pass right over Monroe County. It’s the kind of rare event that has the local tourism sector buzzing.

At the most recent meeting of the convention and visitors commission, Visit Bloomington executive director Mike McAfee said up to a quarter million visitors or more are expected in the Bloomington area to view the solar eclipse. “It’s going to be wild,” he said.

On Wednesday, commissioner Penny Githens said part of the thought behind making the day of the eclipse a county holiday is to reduce the amount of traffic out on the road. “We’re expecting a certain amount of gridlock,” Githens said.

Commissioner Julie Thomas added, “Everything will be packed full of visitors…and anything we can do to alleviate traffic is probably going to be helpful at this point.”

Another difference between the 2023 holiday schedule  and the schedule for next  year, is that both election days in 2024—primary and general—will be explicitly designated as holidays.

For 2023, there are two flexible days that county employees can use to take off and vote in the municipal elections, but they’re not tied to the date of elections. They are called “floating holidays.”

As the Nov. 7 date for municipal elections approaches, Monroe County employees are grinding through the standard preparations for the process that is fundamental to a working democracy. Continue reading “Election 2023, Holiday 2024 roundup: Solar Eclipse Day to be a county holiday, along with election days”

Column: A quick reminder for Bloomington that there’s a better way to corral meeting documents

Looking northeast at the intersection of Fourth and Washington streets in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It’s not a scooter corral (Sept. 2, 2023)

Yes, it’s been quite a summer.

Mine ended with a one-day visit up to Ann Arbor, Michigan, to see Chris Buhalis  play a show at the North Star Lounge.

When Buhalis sings the lyric, “I come from a big car town, we shine ‘em up and we drive ‘em all around,”  he’s not talking about Ann Arbor. He means Detroit, where he was born.

But Ann Arbor, just like any city in America, including Bloomington, Indiana, has its share of cars.

On this weekend’s short visit to Michigan, I noticed some efforts by Ann Arbor’s city government to keep car drivers from killing people. Continue reading “Column: A quick reminder for Bloomington that there’s a better way to corral meeting documents”

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””

June 29 windstorm: Expert calls for standard report on Monroe County management response

The severe windstorm that blew through Monroe County a week ago was the topic of a staff report, as well as expert comment from the public mic, at Wednesday’s regular meeting of Monroe County commissioners.

Last Thursday’s storm was what meteorologists call a derecho (say deh-REY-cho)—a severe windstorm featuring a long-lasting and extensive squall line that produces damaging winds over a wide area.

Sharp criticism has been logged on social media outlets about the amount of services provided to the public as well as the amount, quality, and timeliness of information that was available—even to government officials—in the immediate aftermath of the storm

In a Facebook post, Perry Township trustee Dan Combs put it like this: “Townships aren’t FEMA. Fifteen thousand people needed a hand held this morning, but the County said things were GREEN and Good to Go.”

Combs’s reference to green is to the color-coded scheme used by the county emergency management department to describe the current status.

Green means “Normal Operations (No reported issues or emergencies). No actions need to be taken.” The scale includes yellow, orange and red, with red defined as “full emergency conditions” Continue reading “June 29 windstorm: Expert calls for standard report on Monroe County management response”

Duke Energy working to restore power, bad weather on Saturday could cause delays

Based on Duke Energy’s outage map, as of 5 a.m. on Saturday morning (July 1) about 77,000 of the power company’s Indiana customers were still without power after a destructive windstorm  blasted the Hoosier state around 3:30 p.m. on Thursday.

In Monroe County, the number without power at 5 a.m. on Saturday stood at around 9,000.

Both of those figures are a little lower than the stats provided by a Duke Energy spokesperson around 9:30 p.m. on Friday—82,000 across the state and 12,000 in Monroe County.

Those without power are now a day and a half into their ordeal. Many of them will have to wait another day or more to have their electricity service restored. Most of the outage maps for the Bloomington area show an estimated time for restoration of July 2 (Sunday) around midnight.

According to a Duke Energy spokesperson, those estimated times are the “latest date and time we expect to have all service back on in the area—but please note that most customers will be on sooner.”

What could impact the restoration of power is more bad weather on Saturday. For the Monroe County area, the National Weather Service gives a Saturday forecast that says  showers and thunderstorms are likely mainly before 2 p.m. The forecast notes: “Some of the storms could be severe.” Continue reading “Duke Energy working to restore power, bad weather on Saturday could cause delays”

Monroe County Cooling Stations: Friday, Saturday

Monroe County’s emergency management agency has announced the locations of eight cooling stations, set up in area fire stations, with hours on Friday (June 30) and  Saturday  (July 1) from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The map in this image includes the following locations for cooling stations:Bloomington Fire Station 1 (Headquarters) 226 South College Avenue, Bloomington, Indiana Bloomington Fire Station 2 209 S Fairfield Drive, Bloomington, Indiana Ellettsville Fire Department Headquarters 5080 West State Road 46, Ellettsville, Indiana Monroe Fire Protection District: Bloomington 5081 North Old State Road 37, Bloomington, Indiana Monroe Fire Protection District: Clear Creek 9094 South Strain Ridge Road, Bloomington, Indiana Monroe Fire Protection District:Indiana Creek 8019 South Rockport Road, Bloomington, Indiana Monroe Fire Protection District: Perry 3953 South Kennedy Drive, Bloomington, Indiana Monroe Fire Protection District: Van Buren 2130 South Kirby Road, Bloomington, Indiana
Cooling stations for Monroe County will be open at least on June 30 and July 1, 2023 from 10 a.m to 6 p.m. The image links to a dynamic map. A text list of cooling stations is included below

The move comes after a storm packing high winds moved through the area around 4 p.m. on Thursday (June 29) and knocked out power to around 25,000 Duke Energy customers in Monroe County.

By around noon on Friday, the number is down to around 13,000 Monroe County customers who are without power, according to a Duke Energy news release.

Not available at the cooling stations are food, showers, or areas for sleep.

According to Monroe County emergency management, the weather and power outages will be monitored to determine if the dates for the cooling centers need to be extended. Continue reading “Monroe County Cooling Stations: Friday, Saturday”

Miller-Showers showdown: great blue heron versus redwing blackbird

Miller-Showers Park, on Bloomington’s north side, is wedged between College Ave and Walnut Street.

The public park is home to lots of redwing blackbirds—which will defend their nesting territory in a pretty aggressive way. The B Square got a heads up from a reader that they’ve been pretty aggressive in the last few days. They’ll flap their wings against your head if you get too close.

Redwing blackbirds will defend their nests against any threat they perceive—humans and birds alike.

On Sunday (June 4, 2023), it was a great blue heron that faced the wrath of a redwing blackbird, which let the bigger bird know it was not welcome to fish in peace.

There are more photos below. To see a larger version of any photo, click on it, then navigate through the rest at maximum resolution by arrowing or swiping left and right. Continue reading “Miller-Showers showdown: great blue heron versus redwing blackbird”

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”

Jennifer McCormick kicks off gubernatorial campaign in Bloomington

A little after 7 p.m., Jennifer McCormick arrived at Switchyard Brewing Company on North Walnut Street in downtown Bloomington with her 2024 gubernatorial campaign team.

McCormick is vying for the Democratic Party’s nomination as the governor of the Hoosier state.

The campaign launched with a late-Wednesday filing, then hit the road Thursday, starting in New Castle, where she grew up. From there, it was on to Terre Haute, then Evansville, and finally Bloomington.

McCormick’s name will be recognizable as Indiana’s superintendent of public instruction, elected in November 2016, running as a Republican.

The office of superintendent was abolished in 2021—replaced by the secretary of education, who is appointed by the governor. Also in 2021, McCormick announced she was changing her political affiliation to the Democratic Party.

Around 40 local Bloomington Democrats were on hand to greet McCormick, who gave brief remarks when she hit the door, then a few more words from the lectern that had been set up in front of a stack of kegs and pallet of cans. Continue reading “Jennifer McCormick kicks off gubernatorial campaign in Bloomington”