Benton Township trustee Michelle Bright and township board member Joe Husk.
Monroe Fire Protection District (MFPD) Dustin Dillard at the Aug. 8, 2020 public meeting on a consolidation with Benton Township’s department.
At its weekly Wednesday morning meeting, Monroe County’s board of commissioners approved the inclusion of Benton Township in the Monroe Fire Protection District (MFPD). Benton Township will become a member on Jan. 1, 2022.
Sooner than that, Benton Township will start getting backup fire protection from the district for its volunteer fire department. A $450,000 contract between the MFPD and Benton Township will bridge the year between the end of Benton’s contract with Northern Monroe Fire Territory—because the two-township NMFT is dissolving—and the start of its membership in the MFPD.
The NMFT is dissolving because one of the two NMFT members, Bloomington Township, is joining the MFPD starting Jan. 1, 2021. The other NMFT member, Washington Township, is in the queue to join MPFD starting in 2022, on the same timeline as Benton Township. Public meetings on the topic for Washington Township start Sept. 30.
At Friday morning’s meeting of Indiana’s four-member bi-partisan election commission, Democrat Anthony Long offered Republican Paul Okeson a good old fashioned political horse trade—ballot envelope opening machines in exchange for future consideration of relaxing absentee voting rules.
By the end of the meeting, that deal was dead and there was nothing left to say that was going to be persuasive to either side. As Okeson put it, “I don’t want to beat the horse after it has expired, so to speak.”
Democrats on the election commission wanted the commission to enact no-excuse absentee voting—as it did for the primary election—in light of the concerns that some voters have about getting infected with COVID-19, if they vote in person.
Republicans point to the fact that during the primary election, the state was still under a stay-at-home order from Indiana governor Eric Holcomb. Now, the state is at stage 4.5 of a 5-point plan to return to normal.
The impact of the commission’s impasse on Friday was that 91 of 92 counties in the state will need to open absentee ballot envelopes by hand.
On Friday morning, Indiana’s four-member bi-partisan election commission voted unanimously to take Al Manns off November’s general election list of certified candidates for Monroe County circuit court judge.
Manns had filed as a Green Party write-in candidate for the Division 1 seat, after losing the Democratic Party’s June 2 primary to Geoff Bradley.
It was his loss in the Democratic Primary that led the party to challenge Manns as a certified write-in candidate, because he had failed to win the party’s nomination for that same seat in June.
For its challenge, the Democratic Party was relying on a state law commonly known as the “sore loser” law. [IC-3-8-1-5.5] The statute says that if someone loses a primary election, they’re not able to be a candidate for the same office in the next general election.
A committee of the Monroe County tax council voted Tuesday morning against a recommendation to allocate $353,700 of public safety income tax money to support requests made by four rural fire departments in the county.
The potential direct allocation of funds to the fire departments would have made up about 4.5 percent of the $7.8 million that the committee was using as a conservative estimate for the total amount it could allocate for 2021.
The distribution of local income tax revenues for 2021 is based on 2019 income tax filings, which have been delayed because of relaxed deadlines due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The vote on the seven-member PS-LIT (public safety local income tax) committee was 2–5 for the direct allocation of the funds to the Monroe County Fire Protection District, and fire departments serving Richland, Bean Blossom, and Benton townships.
The tally flipped to 5–2 for the committee’s vote on its recommended allocations for 2021 public safety income tax revenue.
The dispatch center—which is a public safety answering point (PSAP)—is recommended to receive its requested budget of $2,247,490.
At IU Health’s hospital in Bloomington, the area’s recent surge in COVID-19 cases has pushed administrators to find ways to make space for new patients.
A month ago in Monroe County, the seven-day average of confirmed new positive COVID-19 cases had settled around 2. That has increased to around 17 at the end of July. Not every positive case requires hospitalization. But those increased numbers have pushed IU Health’s Bloomington facility towards its capacity.
On Friday, MaryAnn Valenta, IU Health’s regional director for strategic integration, said the hospital is responding to the recent surge by reducing the number of elective procedures and transferring patients to other hospitals inside and outside the region. Where they’re transferred is based on “the location that makes the most sense to each patient based on bed capacity.”
After the June 2 primaries, voters in Monroe County could choose up to three from five different candidates for at-large county councilor—three Democrats and two Republicans.
Now they have a choice of six, even after one of the Republican’s withdrew from the race. Zachary Weishheit, a Bloomington police officer, withdrew his candidacy on June 22.
Replacing Weisheit on the Republican ticket will be Larrin Wampler. She is described in a GOP press release as an occupational health nurse who manages the occupational health and industrial hygiene program for the Indiana National Guard and civilian personnel.
Sunday’s noon update of the State of Indiana’s COVID-19 dashboard showed no additional COVID-19 deaths in Monroe County. That’s two days shy of a month since the county’s last COVID-19 death was recorded, on June 21.
But the dashboard showed that a recent surge in positive cases continues unabated. More than two dozen cases each day were logged on Friday and Saturday.
The previous high had been 18 cases. That brings the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Monroe County to 472.
The filing of charges was based on the investigative report and evidence given to the prosecutor’s office by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which handles law enforcement for Lake Monroe public land.
Sean M. Purdy is alleged to have committed criminal confinement, battery resulting in moderate bodily injury, and intimidation—all felonies. Jerry Edward Cox II is alleged to have committed aiding, inducing or causing criminal confinement, battery resulting in moderate bodily injury, and intimidation. Those are all felonies. Cox is also alleged to have committed two misdemeanor batteries.