Rensselaer Adventures

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

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Many things

Is it my imagination or does the sky look different in the fall than it does in the summer? I kept wondering that yesterday as the dark clouds mixed with patches of very blue sky.
 The city leaf vac is roaming the streets searching for leaves. It has ended one of the old rituals of fall--burning leaves. (Do you miss the smell of burning leaves?)
The Animal Control Board advertised that it was meeting in the Library on Monday night and because I had never been to one of their meetings, I decided to attend. (I was told that it had been a long time since any member of the public had been at one of their meetings.) They had six members plus the director of the shelter present, which was enough for a quorum, something they did not have at their last meeting. (A quorum is necessary for any vote to be official.)

After a brief discussion of the director's report on how many animals were received and what happened to them, the Board had a lengthy discussion of finances relating to donations. The whole issue came up when the Animal Shelter had a float in a recent parade. They wanted to use some funds in their donation budget to pay for some expenses, but were told by the auditor that they could not do that because they lacked the appropriate line item in their donation account. If that does not quite make sense to you, you can understand why the Board spent about half an hour discussing it.

I do not think I have ever been to a meeting where members had as many cell phone calls. Most of the members got at least one, and at this point in the meeting the chair of the Board received one and had to leave because of an emergency involving one of his dogs. The meeting continued with a discussion of a policy for comp time. I do not understand the nuances of this, but the issue is important because animal control people often have to come in at odd hours to deal with a problem. As I understand it, they are paid time and a half for these calls, but then are expected to adjust their work schedules so their total time worked is not affected. The policy passed and a couple more people had to leave.

Then there was a discussion of personnel issues that I did not understand at all, followed by a discussion of a pit bull that is being held at the shelter pending a court decision. The dog had bitten three people and its fate will be determined at a November 10th hearing. At this point two more people had to leave, so only the director and one member of the board were left. Since I was no longer at a meeting bur rather a conversation between two people,  I left as well.

The Tuesday night Historical Society meeting had one of the largest crowds ever. The program was about Indian artifacts. All of the items shown below and much more were found by one local collector.
Our area seems to be unusually rich in these artifacts. Much of our area was once swamp so people camped on the sand hills, and those hills are often full of arrowheads, spear points, axes, and other stone items used by the Indians. However, finding them has gotten more difficult because of the advent of no-till farming--wind and water erosion are friends of the arrowhead hunter. Also, land owners are much less willing to let collectors onto their properties than they used to be.

(Normally the County Council meets on the same Tuesdays as the Historical Society, but this month they moved their meeting back a week because county officials who need to be at the meeting were out of town. The County Council meeting will be next Tuesday.)

Monday, October 20, 2014

A bleak but musical weekend

What a bleak and dreary weekend. It is nice to see blue sky today.

The Iroquois Harmonizers had their annual show on Saturday. They sang and entertained for the first half of the show.
 After the intermission Wolffgang, a women's vocal ensemble group from Hobart High School sang. (The director is named Wolff, hence the name.) They were not a-cappella, which I thought broke the theme of the evening.

Closing out the show was another woman's group, Spot On. They were wearing crowns because last year they were crowned the 2013 Harmony Queens (Champions) at the Harmony Inc. International Quartet Contest. What was strange is that they were not living close to one another but rather in Indianapolis, Chicago, Saint Louis, and Louisville.
On Friday I noticed that workers were pouring a new entranceway to the Jasper County Historical Society Museum on Clark and Van Rensselaer. The Jasper County Historical Society has its monthly meeting on Tuesday night. The program, starting about 7:00, will feature Fuzz Kohley and his collection of Indian artifacts. If you are interested in who was living in Jasper County for the ten thousand years before the first white settlers, you might find the program interesting.

I think I forgot to mention last week that the city does not want sticks mixed in with the piles of leaves in the streets. The sticks clog the leaf vacuum. Please separate the sticks and branches and everything else from the leaves.

This coming Saturday will be the last farmers market on the court house square. That strikes me as strange because it is harvest time for gardens. Though the tomatoes are long gone, I still have sweet potatoes, kohlrabi, carrots, and beets left to harvest. I suspect that the unpleasantness of sitting in the cold is a bigger factor in closing the market than a lack of things to sell.

It is not just the garden that needs attention. I  have a lot of outside work to do to get ready for winter, so if I do not post much for the next few weeks, the change of seasons will be my excuse.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Out of town

On two days this past week I traveled out of town. On one of those trips I drove up US 231 through Wolcott. I discovered that the Dairy Queen at the 193 mile-marker exit is gone, replaced less than a month ago by something called Ludy's Burgers.

I stopped in Wolcott to see what they were doing with their sidewalks, something that the Wolcott Facebook page has mentioned a lot. They have installed what appears to brick dividers between the sidewalks and the street
 Below is another view, taken on a rainy day that does not show the sidewalks at their best. Wolcott has a small downtown that has some very nice old buildings. It is nice to see the community trying to make their little downtown as attractive as possible.
At Pleasant Ridge workers were re-roofing a large conical storage bin and they looked tiny on it. Unfortunately I was not able to take a picture.

Along the various highways less than half the fields had been harvested. I saw no one out in the fields harvesting, which was not surprising considering the weather.

The maple trees seem to be especially colorful this year and this week most are at peak color. A good example of their color is shown in the picture below. If the sun were out and the sky was blue, the leaves would be even brighter.

Today Town and Country was busy paving College Avenue. They finished the whole road but did not finish some of the connections at the intersections.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A routine meeting

Few citizens attended the city council meeting on Monday October 13 but they did not miss much. The council voted to approve the budget for 2015 that will spend almost five million dollars and also a gas tracker decrease of two cents per 100 cf for October. An Urban Tree Forestry spokesman addressed the council requesting that in future budgets a line item be established to aid in their mission of planting trees. The group is in its seventh year and has planted 187 trees. It has brought in $40,000 in state grants that it has matched with contributions or in-kind with work. However, grants from the state are becoming harder to obtain and with the threat of the ash tree borer (28% of trees along streets are ash, 40% silver maple), they foresee a lot of work ahead. The council passed a resolution to provide them with $1500 from the public relations budget provided that there are enough funds in that budget.

The council passed a resolution to keep the city's contribution to employee's HSA plans at $1500, which is what it was last year. (I think HSA is health savings account.) The council ratified a telephone vote taken between meetings to accept a one-time offer to seal coat the roads in Weston Cemetery. The work is finished and cost $9500. Finally the council approved investigating the replacement of a 1995 Suburban van used by the electric department. It needs expensive repairs and they thought was it was time to replace it. The mayor appointed a committee of council members and city employees to find a vehicle for the council to approve.

The gas department reported that it has six hookups to do on the gas line extensions and that it will probably get to SJC by Thursday.
College Avenue is torn up from Clark Street to the intersection with US 231. It will be resurfaced as soon as weather permits.

The most interesting bit of information from the meeting also was about College Ave/US 231. The state has plans to redo the Mt Calvary Road/US 231 intersection in July of 2016. (When the state is involved, things move slowly.) It will add a passing lane to the road and move the intersection 12 feet to the east. That will involve a gradual shift of the roadway starting several hundred feet either side of the intersection. The project will also align the two sides of Mt Calvary Road so that they line up--presently they do not quite do that. The project should not require the closing of US 231 to traffic.

The state has another project involving Rensselaer that will close US 231. It is planning to work on the Washington Street Bridge in August of 2016. I am not sure what that project will do other than close the bridge.