Part of Monroe County’s $3.1 million bond issuance: Design for sidewalk near new library branch

A pedestrian connection between the intersection of Country Club Drive and Rogers Street, heading southward towards the new library branch, is part of the list of capital projects to be funded with a $3.1-million bond issuance from Monroe County.

The bond issuance was given approval by the Monroe County council at its Tuesday meeting. The county commissioners had signed off on the bonds six weeks earlier, on Sept. 1.

The annual issuance of bonds, to pay for a collection of capital projects, is an approach that the county government has taken for the last few years.

Besides $250,000 for the Rogers corridor sidewalk project, which will start with design work, this year’s list of bond projects includes: Phase 2 health building renovation; virtual cluster upgrade; non-law-enforcement vehicles; solar infrastructure; a vacuum truck; a mini excavator; a grader; a low boy; trail connections; and park renovations. Continue reading “Part of Monroe County’s $3.1 million bond issuance: Design for sidewalk near new library branch”

4-member advisory committee appointed to help with Monroe County redistricting

At its Wednesday meeting, the three-member Monroe County board of commissioners appointed four residents to give advice on the upcoming task of redrawing boundaries for precincts, as well as for county council and county commissioner districts.

The redistricting work on the local level has the same impetus as the state level process—the need to incorporate the results of the 2020 decennial census into voter districts for different elected offices.

The four appointees to the precinct and district boundary advisory committee (PDBAC) are: Regina Moore, Ed Robertson, Joyce Poling, and Hal Turner.

Elected to the city of Bloomington clerkship as a Democrat, Moore served in that role from 2000 to 2015.

Robertson is deputy chair of headquarters for the Monroe County Democratic Party.

Poling is assistant to the chancellor for community engagement at Ivy Tech Community College. Poling served as a Republican through 2007 on the Monroe County board of commissioners, which wrapped up a couple of decades of service in county government.

Hal Turner is currently the Republican appointee to the county election board.

The PDBAC will have to complete its work on a compressed timeline compared to previous years, because of the ripple effect of the late 2020 census. The late timing for release of 2020 census numbers led to a late start for state legislators on their work to redraw state-level boundaries. Continue reading “4-member advisory committee appointed to help with Monroe County redistricting”

Monroe County OKs animal care deal with Bloomington, shelter numbers for 2020 way down

Non-Bloomington residents will most likely be able to surrender their animals to Bloomington’s animal shelters without paying a fee again in 2022, the way they have for several years.

At their regular Wednesday morning meeting, Monroe County commissioners approved their side of an interlocal agreement that the county has maintained for several years with Bloomington and Ellettsville to cover Bloomington’s cost for animals surrendered by non-city county residents and animal control officers.

On the county’s side, the interlocal agreement still needs to be approved by the county council. It will also need to be approved by the Bloomington city council.

Under the terms of this year’s agreement, the amount paid to Bloomington by Monroe County will be $342,912. Ellettsville will pay $18,612. That’s a total of $361,524.

The total is based on 1,282 animals that were surrendered to the shelter in 2020 by Monroe County or Ellettsville, at a net cost of $282 per animal. Continue reading “Monroe County OKs animal care deal with Bloomington, shelter numbers for 2020 way down”

Monroe County commissioners deny rezone for 125 single-family houses: “No matter what we do, people are going to be angry with us.”

A rezone petition for a 44-acre piece of land south of Bloomington’s current boundaries was denied on a unanimous vote of the three Monroe County commissioners at their regular Wednesday meeting.

The rezoning, from estate residential (RE1) to medium density residential (MR), would have allowed around 125 single-family houses to be built there, about three times as many as the roughly 40 that would be possible under the current zoning.

Part of the pitch from developers Donnie Adkins and Kevin Schmidt was that the denser development would allow for the houses to be priced around $300,000 to $400,000. That’s lower than the $700,000 or more that houses built under current zoning would likely cost, they said. The site is currently largely open, the site of the former Robertson farm. Continue reading “Monroe County commissioners deny rezone for 125 single-family houses: “No matter what we do, people are going to be angry with us.””

Appeal denied: Mask violation citation of Seven Oaks Classical School upheld by county commissioners, fine waived

A citation given to Seven Oaks Classical School for a violation of the county’s Aug. 5 mask mandate was upheld on Thursday afternoon by a unanimous vote of the three Monroe County commissioners.

Although commissioners denied the school’s appeal, they waived the $250 fine.

The citation was appealed by Seven Oaks on Aug. 25.

A formal hearing on the appeal was held earlier this week, on Monday.

The Aug. 5 mask mandate says that when community spread of the COVID-19 pandemic is high in Monroe County, as determined by state metrics, everyone “must wear a face shield, face covering, or mask…over their nose and mouth when in an indoor public place and shall at all times, follow current CDC guidelines in every situation.”

Schools get a specific mention in the Aug. 5 order: “For academic and extracurricular activities, all K-12 schools in Monroe county shall follow the guidelines of the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Indiana Department of Education (IDOE), and the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH).” Continue reading “Appeal denied: Mask violation citation of Seven Oaks Classical School upheld by county commissioners, fine waived”

Decision on school’s appeal of mask mandate citation to come Thursday, Sept. 23

A time has now been set for a ruling on the appeal filed by Seven Oaks Classical School of its mask mandate citation from the Monroe County board of health: Thursday, Sept. 23 at 3 p.m.

The county’s mask mandate is a health order that is intended to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic virus.

It’s the three-member board of county commissioners that heard the appeal on Monday, and that will now render the decision on Thursday.

The scheduling announcement came around noon Wednesday at the end of the county commissioners work session, which followed their regular Wednesday morning meeting. From a procedural point of view, the board is continuing its work session until Thursday.

Board president Julie Thomas said at the work session, “We’d like some more time to continue our individual reading and research, because we did have a lot of materials provided to us, which we appreciate.” Continue reading “Decision on school’s appeal of mask mandate citation to come Thursday, Sept. 23”

Monroe County moves ahead on purchase of quarry land for tourism destination

Purchase agreements for land with several quarry holes, at the northwest corner of the interchange of SR-46 and I-69, were approved by county commissioners at their regular Wednesday meeting.

The purpose of the land acquisition is to establish the location as a kind of outdoor limestone museum that celebrates Monroe County’s heritage of high quality limestone, and the role the limestone industry has played in local history.

About the purchase agreements, with two different landowners, president of the board of commissioners Julie Thomas said, “This is really something that should be in the hands of Monroe County government. And I really look forward to seeing where we go with this next, and what we can make out of this.”

For the 14.89-acre property owned by Kathy Francis, the purchase agreement is for $175,000. For the 14.57-acre property owned by the Yates Trust, the agreement is for $195,000. The money is coming from a 2019 general obligation (GO) bond.

The seven-member county council, the county’s fiscal body, still needs to approve the purchase agreements, even though the money is already approved. That’s because the expenditure involves land acquisition.

A third property, just to the south, and owned by Ledge Wall Quarry, LLC, is still in the mix as a possible acquisition by Monroe County, Thomas told The B Square on Thursday. Continue reading “Monroe County moves ahead on purchase of quarry land for tourism destination”

$135K in Sophia Travis community service grants OK’d by Monroe County

Community service grants to 38 organizations totaling $135,400 were approved by Monroe County commissioners at their Wednesday morning meeting.

A complete table of all 38 awardees is included at the end of this article.

The community service grants are named after a former county councilor, the late Sophia Travis.

At Wednesday’s meeting, president of the board of commissioners, Julie Thomas, called it an “aptly named program.”

She said that Travis “really served this community so well.” Thomas added: “Her life was too short.”

This year’s awards had already received approval from the county council at a July work session.

By dollar amount, the top 10 grants this year were awarded to: Beacon Inc. ($7,060); Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard ($5,580); Indiana Recovery Alliance ($5,420); New Hope for Families ($5,280); Boys and Girls Clubs of Bloomington ($5,180); Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Central Indiana ($5,080); Community Kitchen of Monroe County, Inc. ($4,880); Area 10 Agency on Aging ($4,630); Sojourn House Inc. ($4,280); Monroe County Humane Association ($4,120).

Sophia Travis grants are drawn from the county’s general fund. Since 2008, when $95,000 in grants were awarded, the total has tended to increase a few thousand dollars every year. Last year’s total amount was $130,000. Continue reading “$135K in Sophia Travis community service grants OK’d by Monroe County”

Monroe County election board member on voting logistics: “We don’t want to be forced to make lemonade out of lemons.”

Monroe County commissioners want the election board to consider an approach to early voting that would use more than one location for voters to cast their ballots ahead of election day.

County commissioners would also like the election board to pursue the option of establishing “vote centers” for voting on election day. Such an approach would allow voters to cast a ballot at any county vote center, not at one assigned polling site.

Those two elements made up part of the message delivered on Thursday to the election board by president of the county commissioners, Julie Thomas.

All three commissioners attended Thursday’s meeting of the election board, to continue an ongoing debate over the space allocation for the election division.

The other key part of the message from Thomas on Thursday was a determination that the second floor of the Election Central building would remain allocated to the county’s community corrections department (probation), and not be assigned to the elections division. Continue reading “Monroe County election board member on voting logistics: “We don’t want to be forced to make lemonade out of lemons.””

Cost for flyer against annexation reimbursed, Monroe County commissioners announce official opposition to Bloomington’s plan

Claims record showing payment and reimbursement of printing cost.

Monroe County’s three county commissioners have made a joint statement opposing Bloomington’s annexation plan for all eight proposed areas.

The announcement came near the start of the board’s regular Wednesday meeting, after several weeks of remarks in public settings that indicated their individual opposition to Bloomington’s annexation proposal.

With Wednesday’s joint statement, the county commissioners as a group are opposed to annexation.

A few weeks ago, the formally and publicly established position of the board—that the body was opposed to annexation—was a missing element.

That’s when county attorney Jeff Cockerill concluded it had been inappropriate for county commissioners to have spent $300 of county money, to print a flyer that included a viewpoint opposing annexation.

It was in late June when commissioners paid for the informational flyer out of county funds. The $300 was reimbursed a week later, by Julie Thomas, president of county board.

Last month, the question of the county board’s formal position on Bloomington’s proposed annexation led to some brief discussion on rental property inspection programs, at a meeting of the county’s affordable housing advisory commission.

Continue reading “Cost for flyer against annexation reimbursed, Monroe County commissioners announce official opposition to Bloomington’s plan”