Rensselaer Adventures

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

Thursday, September 21, 2017

September's County Council meeting

The September meeting of the County Council drew a sizable crowd and in the middle of the meeting those attending were rewarded for being there.

The first item on the agenda was reading the 2018 budget and approving it. It was several minutes of numbers that were incomprehensible but apparently reading them is required. To see what was read, go to and find Jasper County. (You can find lots of other budgets there as well. All are pretty much incomprehensible for the average citizen.)

The Council had some time to kill before they could take up the next item on the agenda. (When there is a time specified for something, it apparently cannot be done earlier.) There was a discussion of the Local Income Tax and a motion was passed to make no changes in it for the next year. Jasper County has the third highest local income tax in the state but other counties are increasing theirs, so if we hold the line, we may end up being in the mainstream in a few years.

Next the Council heard from the government agencies that have budgets that they must approve. (They hear reports at the September meeting but vote on them in the October meeting.) First up was the Rensselaer Central School Corporation, which needs Council approval because the Board is appointed, not elected. The Corporation has a slightly larger budget and expects a small dip in enrollment. The Jasper County Airport reported a budget that was the same size as last years but with money moved around in the accounts. There is a new tenant at the airport, Von’s Aircraft Service, LLC. It will provide an avionics shop that will be complementary to what Excel Air provides. The possibility of this business was presented a year ago at an Airport Authority Board meeting.

Northwest Indiana Solid Waste District relies on tipping fees from the two area landfills, in Newton and White Counties so it needs no county funds. However, because Jasper County has the largest assessed valuation, it is Jasper County that approves its budget. The spokeswoman emphasized that they recycle electronics at no cost and in many places there are fees to dispose of TVs and monitors. Her big announcement was that they would cease taking tires after Saturday's pickup at the County Garage. She gave out pens that were largely made from recycled plastic to those in attendance. (John Price loved these pens so much that when he left the Council, his fellow Councilmen gave him some of them as a parting gift.) The last group was the Iroquois Conservancy, which cleans the river (except that part that goes through Rensselaer). They had an increase in their budget.

The Council made some additional appropriations or transfers for the Circuit Court, Animal Control, and the Sheriff. The new regional manager for Prompt Ambulance introduced himself and talked a bit about their effort to have people fill out and place on the refrigerator a form with some basic medical information so that in case the EMTs arrive and the person is unconscious, the EMTs will know where to begin with treatment.

A Honeywell representative then gave a long presentation about energy usage that was similar to one he gave to the Commissioners in August. The overall price tag is high. He noted that the ducts in the jail are undersized and that is a reason for some of the problems there. Apparently the Commissions will discuss putting some of these proposals out for bid at their October 2 meeting.

Closing the meeting, the Council approved more transfers and passed resolutions dissolving two funds, the riverboat fund and the cumulative jail fund, and transferring the balances to the general fund. These measures had been discussed at the previous meeting and had been recommended by Umbaugh, the County's financial advisor.

On Wednesday the Department of Transportation announced the Community Crossing Grants, which are matching grants for road improvements. The results for Jasper County are:

Jasper County $459,750.00
City of Rensselaer $739,327.00
Town of DeMotte $613,633.05
Town of Wheatfield $549,375.00
Town of Remingtone $122,899.50

Bridge demolition continues. Here is a video from Wednesday afternoon that gives what all of Rensselaer has heard for the past few days.

On Thursday morning only a bit of one span was left. Workers were using torches to cut the rebar.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

More September meetings and more bridge demolition

Every year I attend one Rensselaer School Board meeting, the one that does not conflict with the Jasper County Council meetings. In September the Board must present its budget to the Jasper County Council, so it meets at 5:00 instead of 7:00. Tuesday's meeting was lightly attended and seemed to be fairly routine. They approved about a dozen items. Included was the calendar for 2018-19 with three built in snow days and both Good Friday and the Friday before spring break as days without school. Some districts apparently are not building in snow days but rely on e-learning but the superintendent said that they prefer that the students be in school rather than at home.

They also approved a proposal that keeps the requirements for home-schooled students to participate in extracurriculars the same as they had been. That requirement is the student must be enrolled in four classes to participate in extra curriculars. About half of area and conference schools do not allow any home schoolers in extra curriculars, about a fourth have a requirement of three to five classes, and about a fourth have lower requirements. There was one negative vote on this proposal.

The longest discussion was about renting land around the primary school for hay production. The discussion mostly was about whether the contract should say alfalfa or hay or should simply put a height restriction on what was grown there. They decided hay.

They approved some coaching resignations, the hiring of a Kindergarten teacher, and a long list of coaches. The new Van Rensselaer chiller is up and working and is much quieter than the old one.

The second meeting of the evening was Jasper County Historical Society. A top priority for them is to work on the old Parr Post Office building that is now at the Fairgrounds. It is in bad shape. Their current exhibit is Jasper County Schools and there are pictures of the many former township schools on the walls. A person at my table had this picture, which I could not immediately place.
 Here is the same building today. Notice that one of the buildings was painted in the past few days.
 Part of what is now the fitness center appears to have been a dress shop. Where Demotte Carpet is now was a Firestone dealer, the doctor's office was Lee Cole and I do not know what that was, and the building that will soon be the WIC office was Fendig Drugs. You can see a bit of the Rexall sign on the edge of the photo,

I left the Historical Society meeting before the main speaker to get to the County Council meeting. I will write about Council meeting in a future post, but something that may be of interest to readers is that the Northwest Indiana Solid Waste District will  have a collection on Saturday from 8:00 until noon at the County Highway garage on SR 114 and this will be the last collection that will be taking tires. So if you have tires you want to get rid of, you might want to drop them off on Saturday morning.

Paul's Auto Repair has moved from near downtown on Washington to North McKinley behind Standard Auto Parts. Bazz's Eat and Sip used to be located in front of this building.
 Here is a closer look. I have never noticed this building before so I do not know what was previously in it. It has one more bay than the previous location had.
Bridge demolition continues. Below is a picture from Monday
I thought that the sign below was funny given the picture above.
The bridge is really well constructed. It is not going away quickly. Below is a picture from Tuesday.
Finally, here is what demolition looked like on Wednesday morning.
There is a lot of rebar in the concrete. The workers seem to be working 12 hour days.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Bridge demolition part 1

The demolition of the Washington Street Bridge began today. The railing on the east side was removed this morning.
The work last week was to tie off a water main under the bridge by installing new valves were installed. The main is now shut off and water crosses the river using other water mains. Once the bridge is reconstructed, this water main will be restored.

I will probably be posting on bridge work several times a week for the next two months.

Top Secret Too is not a secret anymore. It was the subject of an article on the front page of Saturday's Rensselaer Republican.  (The third and fourth comments on the previous blog post had it right.)

Friday, September 15, 2017


I meant to mention in my last post that some of the prices at the SJC sale have been reduced. Things that sit and do not sell can have the price cut. However, they are still charging the 10% buyer's fee that seems to have the sole purpose of confusing people.

It is not only cars and trucks that have detour routes established for the Washington Street bridge closing. There is also a detour route for pedestrians. It goes over the bowstring arch bridge. I guess the people in the picture below did not see the arrow.
 When the walker gets back to Washington Street, he or she is informed that the detour has ended.
 The bridge looked busy on Thursday.
The work on the actual demolition has not started. Instead the holes that have been dug are to a water main.
There are at least three pipes that hang under the bridge.
 In other construction activity, Insituform was back in town finishing the lining of a tile. They had done the stretch from the high rate treatment plant to the river earlier and were now finishing the power plant to high rate treatment plant span.

I was surprised to see a post on Facebook showing that something is happening in the old Doggers.
 The Jasper County GIS site shows that three transactions for this property took place on September 12. Party A sold to Party B, Party B sold to Party C, and Party C sold to Party D. The end result is that the building is now owned by RK Capital Investments LLC.

Before Doggers this place was Bubs BBQ, and before that the Dog House, and before that, a place that sold unfinished furniture.

Up the street, the building that was Landmark Realty sold in early August.

The City has a redesigned website.

The school busses run their routes before I am up and out in the morning. On Thursday they waited for me.
Fog delays do that.