The reports below were prepared for NewsLink Indiana.
NewsLink Indiana is Ball State’s Emmy Award-winning nightly newscast presenting stories of interest to the university and central Indiana communities.
Ball State students and staff participate in national walkout
By: Kelsey Dickeson / March 14, 2018
Today marks one month since the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Ball State students and faculty organized a protest this morning at Ball State to take part in the national walkout.
Hundreds of Ball State students and faculty walked out of their classrooms and headed to the University Green to take a stand against gun violence and to honor the 17 victims of the Parkland school shooting.
Protestors lined McKinley Avenue from teacher’s college to the bell tower holding signs, linking arms, and wearing orange as a symbol for anti-gun violence. Seventeen chairs were set outside with pictures of the victims and balloons as a way to remember what happened on February 14.
One organizer graduated from Stoneman Douglas just last year.
Lexi Angel, a freshman theater major, knew many of the victims and their families. She said she went home for spring break to be with her family and friends.
“You know, this is never going to go away. We just have to learn how to deal with it, and the fact that this keeps on happening over, and over, and over is just disgusting,” Angel said.
This issue hits home for other protest organizers.
James Stroud, an elementary education professor at Ball State, helped organize the walkout today along with his social justice class, making posters, shirts and bracelets using the hashtag #NeverAgain.
Stroud said the issue is changing how educators have to act in emergencies.
“We’re dealing with children, and children’s lives. So, anytime we’re entering this profession, we have to think about the safety of children,” Stroud said.
There has been a lot of debate surrounding the notion of arming teachers with guns as a way to combat gun violence. Stroud said arming teachers in schools would be a big mistake.
“You would have to be an expert marksman to get that one student, so you could end up killing innocent children,” Stroud said. “I was talking to one of my friends who was a former police officer, and he was telling me how much training they had to be “expert marksmen,” and how are we going to do that? How are we going to train teachers to do that? First of all, I don’t want to do that, but how do we do that?”
One freshman elementary education major in Stroud’s class says she wouldn’t feel safe having a gun as a teacher.
“As a teacher you have keep your composure, you have to keep your cool so your students stay calm. And with a gun in my hand, I don’t think that – or in any teacher’s hand – it would cause more chaos and could put the life of an innocent child in danger,” Olivia Landes said.
Landes said both teachers and students need more training on emergency procedures to help ensure the safety of everyone in the classroom in case of an emergency situation.
“This isn’t about a political issue. This is about saving lives, and not killing kids, making sure are kids are safe,” Landes said.
Organizers from the protest said they are planning another anti-gun violence protest for April 20, but details have not yet been released.
Firm to propose new bike and pedestrian routes for Delaware County
By: Kelsey Dickeson / February 26, 2018
Residents in Delaware County will be seeing more bike and pedestrian routes built throughout the county over the next few years.
The Delaware-Muncie Metropolitan Plan Commission has hired Rundell Ernstberger Associates, a landscape and architecture firm, to propose bicycle and pedestrian routes in Muncie and Delaware County. The proposal is part of a long-range transportation plan that requires a bike and pedestrian section.
Marta Moody, Executive Director of the Delaware-Muncie Metropolitan Plan Commission, said this will be a county-wide plan. County routes will mostly be bike-related, marked with signage and pavement markings, while routes in Muncie will take on different structures, such as bike lanes, off-road routes or widening of streets. Because there is more “activity” in the city, Moody said the city plan will also include repairing or building new sidewalks for pedestrian use.
“We’ve got a lot of things going on already in the city, and this will sort of be the guiding map,” Moody said.
Part of the proposal will include suggestions from surveys and a wiki map. The survey has been taken by about 130 members of the community so far.
One Muncie resident who frequents the county trails has suggestions for routes similar to the more popular suggestions found in the survey.
“The trails are pretty good. They go for quite a ways, and you can get to many places on them, which is nice,” Jonathan Le Plain said. “We could use some more options downtown. That gets a little bit dicey, you know, when you’re in the middle of that. Being able to stop at all the shops along there is nice, so anything that gets people on their bikes and into downtown is good.
At an open forum last Tuesday, Feb. 20, at Minnetrista, 1200 N. Minnetrista Parkway, the firm presented several of the suggestions from the survey on different maps covering the Delaware County area.
Daniel Liggett, an associate with Rundell Ernstberger Associates, said he hopes the county and the city can use the firm’s proposal as a guide for future infrastructure projects.
“We’re trying to better connect the communities as a whole within the county, but also just neighborhoods within Muncie,” Liggett said.
Liggett said the firm is likely to propose 20-30 routes to the Plan Commission by the end of the summer, but does not have a set number yet.
If you would like to take the survey, visit bikewalkplan.com
Cornerstone presents renovated studio during First Thursday
By: Kelsey Dickeson / January 31, 2018
Cornerstone Center for the Arts is presenting the opening of its newly renovated J. Combs Ceramic Studio on February 1 during First Thursday, an event that celebrates the local art scene in downtown Muncie.
The George and Francis Ball Foundation gave Cornerstone a grant to expand and refine the ceramic studio. Renovations for the studio include fresh paint, new floors, more tools and equipment and expanded studio space.
Jessie Fisher, Director of Education and Communication for Cornerstone Center for the Arts, said the expansion was a necessary step.
“We have more than tripled our enrollment in those classes,” Fisher said. “This program has been such a big part of what we do at Cornerstone that giving it its own dedicated studio space for all of its students to use was just the natural thing to do.”
The Ceramic program at Cornerstone started 15 years ago, with about 15 students enrolled. In 2017, there were more than 100 students enrolled in ceramic classes.
Workers at Made in Muncie, 313 S. Walnut St., said they also noticed an increase in enrollment in their pottery classes over the past few months.
The increase in the community’s involvement in pottery classes seems to be an emerging trend in Muncie.
Fisher said more people may be interested in pottery classes, because pottery can be therapeutic.
“It’s good for your health. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health and your well-being, and having that creative outlet in your life that you can fall back on when everything else in life isn’t going well, but you have that artistic-creative side that you can express, you just generally will be a more well-rounded person,” Fisher said.
Several other local businesses will be open for First Thursday, and will have demonstrations and exhibits to show off their art.
Art is a large and growing part of the Muncie community. Carl Schafer, owner of Gordy Fine Art and Framing, said there has always been an interest in art in Muncie.
“There are so many art places in our community, because we are, I believe, a University town,and we have a lot of important people living in our city that are interested in the quality of life that the arts bring to the community,” Schafer said.
First Thursday will be from 5-8 p.m. on February 1 in downtown Muncie. For more information on what businesses will be open and what they plan on doing, visit http://www.downtownmuncie.org.