Rensselaer Adventures

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

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Commissioners meeting 12-5-2016

The Commissioners Meeting on Monday morning had a young audience--ten or twelve students from Paul Norwine's KV class were learning about county government. Although they did not stay very long, they were there for the public hearing on Kniman Road (CR 900N). In a past meeting citizens had complained about the traffic on the road and asked for a speed limit. Apparently the volume of traffic is due in part to people from the Medaryville area finding it the shortest route to I-65. After the hearing, the Commissioners approved placing a 45 mph speed limit on the stretch between SR 49 and US 231 (except in Kniman, where the speed limit will remain at 35 mph) and a stop sign at CR 400W. There have been a number of accidents at that intersection, including two with fatalities.

The Commissioners approved contracts with Lake and Porter Counties for juvenile detention. The contracts guarantee that Jasper County will have a place to jail them. The cost is $140 per night in Porter and $150 in Lake.

The Commissioners went off agenda to hear an update on the NIPSCO road replacement. I could not follow the discussion, which was about how the road would be built. They also were off agenda to hear from the County Coroner about preparing a bid contract for repairs and renovation to the northern annex building.

Bill Batley, the County's IT administrator, discussed some measures to make the county data system more secure. Apparently the biggest threat is people opening malicious attachments to e-mails, and the County will hire a company to train employee what to watch for. He mentioned that the air conditioning for the server room was approaching  the end of its life and had sought three bids for replacement. He discussed with the Commissioners different options for a back-up generator and they decided that he should go with a 48KW system. Stace Pickering presented a insurance policy for cyber coverage and the Commissioners approved it for $3126.25 per year.

The Commissioners approved hiring to fill a vacancy in Community Corrections. They heard a request to vacate an alley from a Wheatfield resident and decided that it was something that fell under the jurisdiction of Wheatfield. They discussed a rezoning decision from the BZA for a change from A1 to A2 and decided to table it for the next meeting. (The Commissioners must approve all BZA decisions.) They heard a request to put a sewer line in the County right of way from Gentleman Toms in Kersey. The restaurant currently is on a septic system and because of its location, that does not work. They want to bore a one and a half inch pressurized sewer line to connect to the DeMotte sewer system, which is about 1000 feet away. The Commissioners approved that, and approved  another aspect of the project later in the Drainage Board meeting.

The Commissioners opened bids for tires, stone and gravel, hauling, and machine rental. They accepted all bids. The hauling fees for stone and gravel can exceed the cost of the stone and gravel and it costs about $120 per hour to rent a bulldozer. They then opened five bids for the replacement of Bridge 123, which is north of Parr on the Iroquois River. Later in the meeting they accepted the low bid from JCI Bridge Group from LaPorte. All bids were higher than the engineers estimate and the low bid was $383,275.46.

The Chief Deputy presented the Sheriff's report. The Commissioners approved the Sheriff's contract, which was for the same pay as last year. They also approved filling three replacement slots and one new slot in the jail. One vacancy was from a switch within the Sheriff's Department, one had left for a position on the east coast, and one left to start business as a plumber. The new slot had been approved by the County Council for 2017. He said that the communication equipment on the tower north or Rensselaer should be operational before the end of the year. The department wants to switch gas cards from a BP card to a state issued fleet card that gives more options. On December 14 there will be a meeting at 9:00 am in Rensselaer City Hall about a program that Teen Challenge has for opioid addition counseling. A similar program will be held at First Reformed Church at 11:00 for the northern part of the county.

Havel gave an update on the work they have done at the Court House and the Jail. There is a great deal of dissatisfaction with their work at the Court House, which was to automate the heating and cooling on the third floor. Some of the problems may be timing--the temperatures are turned down at night to save energy and are not turned up early enough in the morning. Control of the system still has not been turned over to local  people. The Court House is not energy efficient.

The Christmas holiday for next year will be Monday and Tuesday rather than Friday and Monday. There was some discussion of changes that needed to be made in the Frost Law. The County has been improving roads that have heavy truck traffic so that they will not need to be covered by the Frost Law. The meeting ended with a variety of signings and mostly routine things.

The Commissioners will meet again on Dec 27 to deal with anything that has to be done before the end of the year.

A few other things: The foundations are in for the apartments being constructed on North Elza.
There was another big concrete pour at the high rate treatment plant. It seemed that they were finishing things inside the structure.

The  planters on the Court House steps have new decorations.


Monday, December 5, 2016

Christmas parade 2016 (mostly)

Do you recognize this place?

 On Saturday night Rensselaer had its annual Christmas parade. As usual, it started with a lot of light and noise.
A lot of the parade units were hard to photograph in the low light. You might be able to tell that this was the RCHS band.
 There were two horses and following them a horse trailer.
 The United Methodist Church sponsored a living nativity float with accompanying sheep.
 And they did not forget the camel.
 There was a lot of candy thrown out for the kids. Sometimes it did not get to the edge of the street and was run over and smashed by the floats that followed.

This may have been a John Deere entry. It was perhaps the oddest entry in the parade.
REMC always has lots of lights on their parade entry.
The temperature on Saturday night was chilly, but there was no precipitation.  The snow waited until Sunday.

The picture at the beginning of the post is the lot that Superior Sales and Service once had on Vine Street. As of Sunday morning the main building and one of the two back building were gone and much of the concrete pad for the main building had been ripped out. I have heard rumors that the gas station next to it will be expanding, but I have not heard anything from anyone who can confirm or deny those rumors.

Friday, December 2, 2016

A Centennial event in the library

On Thursday the Rensselaer branch of the Jasper County Public Library hosted an event called "Snapping, Mapping, and Rapping in Jasper County: A Bicentennial Event". The event was the conclusion to joint program of the Jasper County Library and CDC Resources to give the clients of CDC Resources an opportunity to learn about photography and performance. The results of the photography part was shown by an exhibit of photos on the wall next to the library entrance. They showed what the people in the program liked about Jasper County.

However, my favorite photo was not taken in Jasper Country but rather at the Columbian Park Zoo in Lafayette. It is not a real panda, but made of discarded plastic.
The Library provided a cake appropriate for an official bicentennial event.
The main event, other than eating the cake, was a performance of the Jasper Jive. Below are the words. The ideas came from brainstorming with the clients of CDC Resources and they were then arranged by Lisa Terry and Patty Stringfellow in the form of April Pulley Sayre' Indiana Chant. (Barb Lucas and Marcia Smith Wood were the other key players in this project.) At the end of the post is a video showing the performance. You might want to follow along with the words.
The Library has its annual display of trees with people voting for their favorite with food donations for the food pantry. CDC Resources has a tree this year.

CDC will not have a float in the Christmas parade this year because they could not find a trailer to decorate. Last year they had a very elaborate float that won one of the awards.

The SJC librarian was at the event demonstrating for anyone interested some of the equipment that they have been using as part of a grant that involves the Jasper County Public Library and several schools. SJC will partner with several other libraries in an attempt to get another grant to take this project into the community.

Below is a video of the performance of the Jasper Jive.

Rensselaer Adventures has almost 1500 likes on Facebook--1492 as I write this. Sometime in December it should, if trends continue, top 1500. Speaking of Facebook, the big local news from Facebook this week was an announcement by eMbers that they would be opening a micro brewery as part of their bistro and the whole thing will be called the eMbers Station Brew House. Read the whole announcement here. There is a picture with the words Renssel Beer; I do not know if that is what they will call their beer, but it is a very catchy name. They will also host an Amy Winehouse tribute band on Saturday night. Info here.

And just to connect this update on eMbers with the first part of the post, did you know that Ryan used to work for CDC Resources? He was part of their Heartland Employment Services.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

City Council meeting 11-28-2016

The City Council had a short agenda and a short meeting on Monday evening. First up were engineering reports on two potential sewer projects, one for Owen Street and the other for West Washington. The consultant from United Engineering said that there were three options he examined to serve 19 existing residences but potentially 60 residences if the vacant lots were built. A gravity system would cost an estimated $1.7 million, a low pressure system in which residences had individual grinder pumps was estimated at $.9 million, and combination of the two at $1.2 million. There were a number of questions about technical details. Apparently the estimates included the City providing and installing the grinder pumps, but their maintenance and electrical costs would be borne by the residence. The prices mentioned were a magnitude higher than the prices I see on-line for grinder sewer pumps. The discussion of the West Washington was brief, and in this one there is no option for a gravity system. These projects are several years off if they happen at all, but this was advanced planning.

The next item was a decision on which engineering company to hire for the Watts substation that will be several miles out on Bunkum Road and will provide a second line to the Interstate area. The Council accepted ISC, which had a low bid of $126,000. The entire project is estimated at $1,680,000.

Supply bids, which had been read at the previous Council meeting, were awarded: unleaded gas and diesel to Ceres Solution and tire repairs to CTS. The date for the December meeting was changed from Monday, Dec 26 to Tuesday, Dec 27. (The 26th is a City Holiday.) The Redevelopment Commission met on November 21 and awarded paving of Gaspar Drive and part of Melville to Town and Country Paving. The work will be done next spring.

There was a brief discussion about the sorry state of the Weston Cemetery building. The sentiment seemed to be that it would be better to replace it than try to fix it but that project is also not imminent. The Christmas parade will take place this Saturday. The roof on the Power Plant has been finished. Work continues on the high rate treatment plant. (This morning--Tuesday--trucks were delivering more 66-inch culverts.) With no further business or announcements, the meeting adjourned.

Last week I spent a few days in Illinois and I do not have any really appropriate pictures, but I did take the one below over the weekend. The doors are now on the new C&C Warehousing building on Melville.

While I was in Illinois I took part in the largest 5K race I have ever been in--there were, I guess, well over a thousand people running. It was free and untimed, though there was a clock at the finish line so that people could time themselves. I wondered if the huge turnout--they ran out of bibs before I registered and by the time I finished they had run out of goodie bags--was because it was a free race. I wonder how many people would run in a free race here. Or is the thought that you are helping some cause part of the draw for our 5ks?

The other odd thing from Illinois was the price of eggs. I thought they were ridiculously cheap when Strack and Van Til recently had them for 69 cents a dozen. However, Aldi had them for 28 cents a dozen.