SCOTUS abortion ruling prompts Bloomington demonstrations

Friday morning’s Supreme Court of the United States ruling, which overturned Roe v. Wade, prompted around 100 people to demonstrate later that evening, at the southeast corner of the Monroe County courthouse square, in downtown Bloomington.

The ruling also prompted a one-man demonstration the following day at Bloomington’s farmers market.

Roe v. Wade was the 1973 SCOTUS decision that concluded abortion is a right guaranteed by the Constitution. Friday’s ruling concluded that it is not a constitutional right, which means states can enact laws that prohibit abortions.

Both demonstrations included light brushes with local law enforcement officers, but no arrests were made in either case. Continue reading “SCOTUS abortion ruling prompts Bloomington demonstrations”

Video: Race Across America leader hits Bloomington time point @ 11:23:40 on June 21, 2022

Late Tuesday evening, Nicole Reist cycled through Bloomington, Indiana as the overall leader in the 2022 Race Across America—a 3,079-mile west-to-east bicycle race across the United States.

Racers start in Oceanside, California, and finish in Annapolis, Maryland.

Reist has been leading the race since La Veta, Colorado, which was the 1,181.9-mile mark. She hit Bloomington’s time check at 11:23:40 p.m.. That was about seven hours later than her pace a couple days earlier had projected her to hit town. Her speed slowed a bit, because she took more time off the bike in Illinois than she had up to that point. Continue reading “Video: Race Across America leader hits Bloomington time point @ 11:23:40 on June 21, 2022”

Downtown Bloomington march for stronger gun laws: “It is not about rights. It’s about lives.”

On Saturday afternoon, about 150 people were gathered on the southeast lawn of the Monroe County courthouse in downtown Bloomington. They stood in silence for 21 seconds.

The silence commemorated the lives of 21 children and teachers who were shot and killed at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, two weeks earlier.

The reflective moment was part of a demonstration and march that was organized by Bloomington North High School students Ingrid Pendergast and Alexandra Shirley, under the banner of the national movement called March for Our Lives. The non-profit organization advocates for stronger gun laws.

Demonstrators on Saturday marched from the southeast corner of the courthouse square, eastward down Kirkwood Avenue to Indiana Avenue, headed one block north to 6th Street, turned west, and headed back to the courthouse along 6th Street.

After demonstrators had again gathered on the courthouse lawn, Pendergast and Shirley gave remarks and invited several people to address the crowd. Then they turned the mic over to anyone who wanted to speak.

Pendergast told the crowd, “We can no longer allow gun violence to be a partisan issue. It is killing us. It is not about Republican versus Democrat.” She added, “It is not about rights. It’s about lives.” Continue reading “Downtown Bloomington march for stronger gun laws: “It is not about rights. It’s about lives.””

Photos: Claim confirmed, bald eagle at Griffy Lake

Last Tuesday, after Bloomington’s board of park commissioners meeting, operations director Tim Street told The B Square that a pair of bald eagles live out at Griffy Lake.

There’s a old reporter’s motto: “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.”

So on Saturday, The B Square checked it out.

Street was not kidding.

In the early afternoon, from the north end of the causeway, perched in a tree about 250 yards away, across the water on the south shore of the lake, a bald eagle was barely visible.

It flew off west along the south shore, then circled back, looped around low towards the middle of the lake, snatched a fish out of the water with its talons, and flew back to its perch, where it snacked on the fish.

The set of photos below, all taken on Saturday,  is presented in chronological order. It starts with a red-tailed hawk in downtown Bloomington, a great blue heron at Griffy Lake, the bald eagle, a turtle who made friends with a Canada goose, and a great blue heron at Miller-Showers Park.

Continue reading “Photos: Claim confirmed, bald eagle at Griffy Lake”

Pandemic notebook: Monroe County cases steady, hospital numbers higher, still under CDC thresholds

In its regular Thursday news release this week, the city of Bloomington announced 11 new COVID-19 cases among city employees. That’s the highest number of weekly employee cases in four months, when 14 cases were announced on Feb. 3.

According to Indiana’s state dashboard, the one COVID-19 death recorded for the county on May 25 was the second for the month. That brings to 276 the total number of Monroe County residents who have died from the disease.

For case numbers and hospitalization numbers, Monroe County is still classified in the Centers for Disease Control scheme as having “low” community spread. Continue reading “Pandemic notebook: Monroe County cases steady, hospital numbers higher, still under CDC thresholds”

Pandemic news: Monroe County could see “medium” level of community spread on next map update

The number of daily COVID-19 cases recorded in Monroe County has grown steadily in the second week of May after leveling off in late April.

Through May 13, the rolling 7-day average of daily cases in Monroe County stands at about 42.

That is greater than 39.9—which is Monroe County’s daily average equivalent of the 200 cases-per-week per-100,000 population metric used by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as a threshold for its community spread levels.

The current CDC map still pegs the community spread of the virus In Monroe County at a “low” level—which is the lowest of its three categories (low, medium, and high).

But by Thursday (May 19), when the CDC map will be updated based on numbers through Wednesday, Monroe County’s category could change to “medium.” Continue reading “Pandemic news: Monroe County could see “medium” level of community spread on next map update”

2023 budget notebook: Historic inflation, impact on pay get first look by Monroe County councilors

The past practice used by Monroe County to make a cost of living adjustment (COLA) for employees could lead to a historic fiscal impact on the 2023 budget.

That’s because the county’s fiscal body—the seven-member county council—has typically tried to key its COLA to the percentage increase in the consumer price index (CPI) between the previous December and the December before that.

That number is already in the books: 7.5 percent. That’s the percentage increase in the US Bureau of Labor Statistics midwest urban CPI between December 2020 and December 2021.

And it’s the biggest December-to-December percentage increase in the CPI since 1979 to 1980, when inflation was at 12.2 percent.

The question of how to approach employee compensation for next year’s budget got some initial discussion at the county council’s Tuesday night meeting. Continue reading “2023 budget notebook: Historic inflation, impact on pay get first look by Monroe County councilors”

Pandemic notebook: Monroe County case numbers leveling off, hospitalizations still low

The number of daily COVID-19 cases recorded in Monroe County looks like it has leveled off after a steady, if not dramatic climb.

The guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) now peg the community spread of the virus In Monroe County at a “low” level—which is the lowest of its three categories (low, medium, and high).

Last week, the CDC reported Monroe County at a “medium” spread level, likely based on release of historical data from the state of Indiana to the CDC—which did not distribute the cases to their respective dates of testing.

That’s an issue that was addressed by Monroe County health administrator Penny Caudill at last week’s board of health meeting. “We had a jump a couple of weeks ago—the state had like a ‘data dump’. So it was old reports that got entered, and those got calculated into everything,” Caudill said.

The county’s levels were rising at the time, but they were not at the level that would have indicated a “medium” level of spread, Caudill said. “Even though our numbers were rising, they weren’t necessarily at that level.”

Caudill was still cautious, and pointed out the impact of various social gatherings related to Indiana University graduation events could still be felt.

The number of gene copies of COVID-19 measured in Bloomington’s waste water is showing high levels, Caudill said, and warrants close monitoring.

The current rolling daily average of COVID-19 cases in Monroe County looks like it has leveled off in the low 30s.

Hospitalizations in Monroe County remain low. Indiana’s Health District 8, which is made up of 7 counties including Monroe, had a census of 9 COVID-19 patients on Monday this week. That’s two more than at the end of April. But that compares to more than 170 at the peak of the pandemic.

District 8 includes Monroe, Brown, Bartholomew, Lawrence, Jackson, Orange and Washington counties. Continue reading “Pandemic notebook: Monroe County case numbers leveling off, hospitalizations still low”

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”