Rensselaer Adventures

This blog reports events and interesting tidbits from Rensselaer, Indiana and the surrounding area.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Milroy mayhem and Halleck rememberances

Installation of the water main to bring water from the new water well along Sparling to the water treatment plant has begun. Milroy Avenue was closed on Wednesday as a large trench crossed the street.
 The large metal plates are to satisfy OSHA requirements to protect workers, probably from cave-ins. The directional drilling machine shown below was in Iroquois Park and was drilling from the park to the hole above. Once it reaches this hole, the machine will drill to the west until it reaches the end of Milroy. Then it will drill south until the corn field, at which point the water main will be installed by digging up the ground with an excavator. 
The giant saw on this machine probably helped make the big hole.

A City crew has been busy for several days changing the water lines from the water main that runs under Milroy to the houses. Several of the replaced lines were lead pipes, but others had been replaced since the originals were installed. The new lines are copper.
On Tuesday evening Dr William White gave a presentation at the Jasper County Historical Society about what he found in the papers of Charles Halleck when Halleck was the prosecutor. Halleck was elected prosecuter for the years 1924-26 and for 1928-1934. He had his office above what is now Lafayette Bank and Trust and for some reason a huge box of his records was left there and recently (I am not sure when) were given to the Historical Society. Dr. White spent much of the winter reviewing them and sorting them.

Halleck had a wide variety of cases, some big but most small. A big case involved a robbery of the State Bank of Rensselaer. There were also many letters. Halleck wrote to various authorities seeking advice on cases. He also wrote many letters of reference or recommendation. Halleck was a Republican, and the election of 1932 was a Democrat wave election which he barely survived. After the election he wrote a letter congratulating the Democrat governor and asking him to consider a local man who had worked very hard helping the Democrat cause. It seemed rather strange for a Republican to make such a request, but Halleck was very good at constituent service, something that served him well when he became a congressman.

The onset of the Depression changed the sorts of cases that Halleck dealt with. There were frequent letters about desertion, most husbands deserting wives but some sons deserting fathers. Halleck tried to solve these and other cases without going to court as he did with the numerous bad check cases. Juvenile crimes also increased after 1929. Many were petty thefts of things such as chickens.

The records are sorted but there are a lot them. Someday I may take some time and see what I can find in them.

The program next month for the Historical Society will be on letters that Ralph Fendig wrote home during WWII. (Fendig met his wife while in England and both have had a lasting influence on Rensselaer.)

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

25 Regional Middle Level Art Show

The 25 Regional Middle Level Art Show is on display at the Carnegie Center. Below are some of the things that caught my eye.

The show runs from March 20 to April 8. 

By the way, today (March 20) is the vernal equinox. Now if only the temperatures would become a bit more spring-like.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Halleck murals, hypothetical 13 & 14 panels

(This is the final post in a series that began here.)

There was a lot of history in the 37 years between the completion of the Halleck murals in 1980 and the closing of the Saint Joseph's College in 2107. If we could add two more panels to include the highlights of those years, what would we paint?

After 1980 there were three major buildings completed, the Recreational Center in 1986, the Banet Core Building in 1995, and the apartments along Sparling in 2000. Minor new buildings included the new post office and a building that was first a laundromat  and later the radio station. Drexel Hall was re-roofed and the first story remodeled for use.

Gaspar Hall was demolished and for a while Dwenger Hall served as faculty offices. Sodexo took over dining services. SJC reached an agreement with St. Elizabeth's nursing program. Computers became a important part of the campus and SJC was the first small, non-research college to be connected to the Internet. Unfortunately, its early pioneering here was followed by stagnation and the College fell behind many others in the use of technology in education.

Sports played a huge role at SJC because they were the they were the reason many students decided to attend the College. There was an addition to the Field House and a new track and field complex. Some sports achieved great success, none more than the baseball team which was runner-up in the Division II national championships in 1996.
In 2010 the College received by far the largest gift in its history, the Waugh properties in White County with a number of windmills. The fact that this huge windfall did not save the College suggests that its financial problems were enormous.

These 37 years saw four more presidents: Shannon, Mills, Riegelnegg, and Pastoor.

A final scene in the mural could be the selling of  much of the equipment of the College in the fall of 2017.

What did I miss? What other happenings deserve to be in the final part of the SJC mural?

(If the whole series of murals were redone, I think the first fifty years would be more condensed because some of the early panels do not have much on them. Some things on the panels 11 & 12 would probably be omitted because they were of more interest at the time than they are in retrospect.)

(Much of SJC history is now preserved on-line in the Saint Joseph's College Archives.)

Thursday, March 15, 2018

A ribbon cutting and a follow up on meetings

On Thursday Another Chance Vintage Emporium had its ribbon cutting. The shop has been open for a couple months.
 The shop is in the back of the Horton Building.

In the previous post I only mentioned a bit of what happened at meetings on Monday and Tuesday. Here is more.

The Rensselaer Board of Public Works met Monday and approved pay requests for work on the water main currently under construction and also for the renovation of the old fire station/new police station. In the old fire station the framing is finished, the conduit is in place, and most of the duct work and insulation are finished. The final invoice that the BPW approved was for the high rate treatment plant. The Board refused a request from someone to have the environmental fee waived.

The City Council approved something that it approves every year, that the moneys intended for checks that have not been cashed after two years be returned to the fund on which the checks were written. The Council approved an ordinance that established interconnection standards, that is, regulates how people generating their own power (with, for example, solar cells) can connect that power to the City power system. The Clerk/Treasurer asked if this ordinance needs to be advertised and perhaps have a public hearing since it has fines and penalties. The City Attorney will investigate. The Council voted on it as a first reading.

The Council voted to allow the Mayor to sign an agreement with NITCO for telephone. The City currently uses Centurylink. NITCO offers better prices. The gas tracker for March is a ten cent increase per hundred cubic feet and the electric tracker for the second quarter is a decrease of $7.11 per 100 kilowatt hours.

The Council approved a number of street closings requested by the Little Cousin Jasper Festival. This year they will have a car show.  The Police Department has narrowed the candidates for a their open position to seven. Blacktopping of City streets will begin in the second week of April. If your street is all marked up, it is probably on the list of streets to be paved. Grace Street will be closed south of the bridge for several weeks this spring. The City is now replacing water feeds on Milroy Street so it is a mess. When all the work tearing up the street is finished, it will be repaved.

The last Steering Committee for the Downtown Revitalization grant took place on Tuesday morning.  The work that this grant is funding was reviewed by the public in January and those plans were submitted to OCRA (Office of Community and Rural Affairs) for review. OCRA wanted to see more detail on costs and the planners have been working on that. The biggest change since the January meeting is that the proposed pocket park/water feature on the site of the old Johnny Rusk building has been removed because the County, which owns the land, did not want it developed in that way. The entire project has been divided into about nine different parts or phases. There will be another public meeting about the plan on March 31 and the final plan has to be submitted for OCRA approval by May 31 in order to have OCRA release the last payment of the grant. The plan will at some point be endorsed by the City Council and then will be used to seek funds for the actual construction.

The County Council meeting on Tuesday evening had a short agenda, with the main item mentioned in the previous post. In addition, the new director of the Jasper County Economic Development Organization introduced himself to the Council and gave a brief report on what he was doing. He said that he was stressing more business expansion and development and workforce development and less on recruiting outside businesses. He also said that he was trying to work in cooperation with neighboring counties. He noted that lots of people are willing to drive 60 miles for jobs and that there are in excess of a million people within 60 miles of Jasper County.

A discussion of the local income tax was brief, with no interest in changing it. A couple of other items from discussion: Umbaugh will be giving a report at the Commissioners meeting on April 2; the drug recovery house has been staffed and will soon be opening; Wabash Valley has new leadership that understands that it has had a problem in the past satisfying the County with its services.

In other news, I stopped by to check the progress on the second Elza Street apartment building. It has a roof, windows and doors, is wrapped, and work is beginning on the brick exterior.
Finally, I found this fascinating map on a post from the Pulaski County Government site. It purports to show locations of the proposed RES wind farm planned for eastern Jasper and western Pulaski Counties.