Rensselaer Adventures

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

Friday, April 24, 2015

Business after hours

The Rensselaer Chamber of Commerce held one of their periodic Business After Hours events on Thursday afternoon, this time at Big Dog Rentals. It was lightly attended.  Big Dog has three lines of business, a construction company (Steve's Specialized Services), a rental company (Big Dog), and a new auction division (Crossroads Auction and Appraisal Services). The rental company rents construction equipment and also chairs and tents for parties (as well as a floor sander). It is also the part of the business that sells lawnmowers.

I received a tour of the remodeled facilities. Below you can see the room that previously housed the Jazzercise business but  is now the center of the auction business. In the back you can see an old gasoline pump and a John Deere Corn Shucker.
 The strangest antique in the room was this large kettle which was once used by a business in Brook to produce witch hazel.  I had never heard of the business before.
There were three businesses that had displays the the event. From JT Shrimp LLC I learned that shrimp are very sensitive to water conditions and that getting the water right is the key to successfully raising them. I also learned that even though wells may be closed together, they can produce water with very different mineral concentrations.

Yesteryear's, a meat shop in DeMotte, has taken over the food service at Curtis Creek and starting May 1 will be offering a full menu. The restaurant at Curtis Creek shuts down in the winter but is now open and one does not need to be a member of the country club to dine there.

A relatively new business that I had not previously encountered, InsideOut D├ęcor by Pam, was there in the form of Pam. Pam arrived from Canada less than two years ago; her husband is part of the team that manages the egg carton business located near the landfill in Newton County. She relies mostly on word-of-mouth advertising and had this business for quite a while in Canada. She had some interesting tales of the layers of bureaucracy that she and her husband encountered in moving from Canada--I had no idea that it was as complicated as it is.

The Business After Hours are networking events and there are always interesting conversations to be had.

After leaving I swung by the downtown because one of my sources of downtown info had asked me what kind of business was moving into the back of the Horton Building, where Home Sweet Home was until recently. I saw two ladies entering the shop and stopped to briefly talk. They said they wanted to be open in a week and would sell a variety of odds and ends. I said that it seemed that it would be a store selling decorative items and they agreed that was a fair description.

My downtown source also told me that Ardent Photography had moved will be moving from its Van Rensselaer Street location to above Unique Finds.

Big Dog is having an open house today Saturday from 10:00 until 2:00 and is offering special deals on things they sell or rent.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

County Council April 2015

As the agenda suggested, the County Council meeting on April 21 was fairly short and uneventful. Before the meeting the members of the council were discussing whether it would be possible to know the criteria by which the state adjusts county budgets. From their standpoint, the process seems to be arbitrary.

There was an additional appropriation for the Superior Court for a line that is often unused for the year, but this year has had three cases that use it. These are cases that involve dysfunctional families in which an outside observer needs to do fact finding and that cannot be handled by CASA (sometimes because CASA does not have the staff).

By the way, I asked a court secretary a few weeks ago about the difference between the Circuit Court and the Superior Court. She said that every county has a Circuit Court. If there are enough cases to require a second court, that court will be called a Superior Court. They handle the same cases.

Because of repairs being done in the Court House, the Superior Court had met on Monday and Tuesday in the Commissioners' Room. The judge was happy at the prospect of returning to his normal chambers on Wednesday.

There was a discussion of the possibility of adopting a heritage barn designation for old barns that are not used for business or agriculture. I did not grasp the nuances, but it seemed that such a designation might reduce assessed values. The topic may be picked up in a future meeting. There was a question about whether such a designation would be used.

The Council then looked over many pages of financial data that they would be able to peruse at length at home. This year the main business of the Council will be meetings on August 18, 19, and 20 when they will spend the days with budget hearings, and on September 1 and 2 when they will be making budget cuts. The budget for the next fiscal year will be adopted on September 13.

In public comments, the airport manager reported on a conference he had attended in Indianapolis that had speeches and panels discussing the future of aviation in Indiana. Kevin Kelley introduced the new director of tourism, Sheila White. In response to a question, he mentioned that constraints for large manufacturers locating in the county were population and limits on water and sewer.

I do not have a picture to fit the post, but here is something related because it touches on county government. The Historical Society Museum has the door to Charlie Halleck's office when he was the county prosecuting attorney, the office he held before he was elected to Congress in the mid 1930s. His office was above what is now Lafayette Bank and Trust.


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Field trip

The Jasper County Historical Society held their April meeting at Hershman's Cabin near Wheatfield.
The Hershman Log Cabin was pictured on a brochure from a few years ago titled "Guide to Historic Structures and Points of Interest in Jasper County." Here is the description from that brochure: "The Hersman Log Cabin, originally located on County Road 800 North in Walker Township, was built ca. 1870. Called "Pulaski Place" by the family, it is a single pen, rectangular constructed cabin that served as a residence until the 1950s. Visible log homes are a fading form of structure in the county. It is listed as notable in the Inventory and is included on the 2007 Most Endangered List. The cabin has recently been dismantled by the family for relocation and reconstruction at another site on family property." The picture in the brochure shows a structure without a roof.

The exact date of construction is not known but was about 1860, when the Hershman ancestors moved to the area. The Hershmans may have built it, or it may have been built by an earlier settler--any records that might tell the origins were probably lost in a court house fire in the 19th century. Though originally a log cabin, in its later years it had the logs covered both inside and out, so it would not have appeared as a log cabin.

Entering the cabin, we saw a fireplace with a welcoming fire--it was cold and windy on Tuesday. This fireplace was not original--the cabin did not have a fireplace. Rather it had a cook stove in one of the corners. The door that is next to the fireplace was originally a window and there were two doors where the fireplace is now. Why there were two doors is not known. The only parts of the structure that are original are the log walls. Over the fireplace is a picture of the Hershmans who lived in this cabin in the 1870s.
Since the cabin was inhabited until the 1950s, there are people, such as the current owner, who remember it before it was a ruin. It had an attic/second story, but only part of that has been restored as a loft. The planking for the roof is old wood from barns. None of the original windows or doors survived, but the owners have found old wavy glass for some of the panes.

The current owners have furnished the cabin with old items that they have found in yard sales, flea markets, on-line auctions, and antique stores. The members of the Historical Society who know this area where impressed with how well they had managed to furnish it in period pieces.


The cabin now has some electrical wiring but still lacks plumbing. Members of our group discussed whether they could live in this cabin and most said they probably could not without the plumbing. I suspect that on a cold winter night not even the long johns hanging on the wall and the layers of quilts on the bed would keep them warm.

Below is another corner of the inside.
The group that made the trip greatly enjoyed it and I suspect they will be looking for other possible field trips for future meetings.

Upcoming on the Society's calendar is their third(?) annual tea party on May 17 (reservations are required), a May 19th meeting with Kevin Kelley as speaker, their annual carry-in dinner on June 16 with Brian Capouch as speaker, and showing the Pioneer Village at the Fairgrounds on July 19, 21, and 23.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Slow start

My week is off to a slow start. It is chilly and windy, which makes working outside uncomfortable.

I saw a tree frog in my back yard over the weekend. It was not blending in very well.
 On the south side of town, there is a big dumpster by what used to be Ricos. The for sale sign is down, but their website still lists the property and the county GIS map still has the previous owners.

On Monday there was no work being done on the street extention in Drexel Park, but the big holes on either side of Drexel Drive had been filled in.

The water in the quarry has covered the turn.
 There is still a lot of equipment in the quarry, though at the slow rate that the water is rising, there is plenty of time to remove it.
 Workers are working on the steps on the southwest entrance to the Court House, one of the exits that is no longer used since all traffic was required to go through the northeast entrance.
 Columns are rising in by the city parking lot on Front Street.
The agenda for the County Council meeting tonight looks uninteresting. I received an e-mail telling me that the School Board meeting may see a retirement announcement from a long-time teacher.

That is all I have--it has been a slow start to the week.