Rensselaer Adventures

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

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Meetings on Monday

I missed the big event of the weekend, the Rock the Arts, because I was out of town. How did it go?

When I left on Friday, I noticed that GRG Auto Repair was having its gas tanks removed. When I came back on Monday, it looked like the work was almost finished.

Last week the Teen Mission was busy around town. Among the things they did were a floor for a greenhouse at CDC Resources, weeding in the community garden, and projects at the Jasper County Youth Center.

The Pulaski County Economic Development  had an interesting article about Gutwein Popcorn. It can be seen here:

On Monday I attended a short (35 minute) city council meeting. An ordinance for an new electric lighting rate that involved LEDs but which I did not understand passed first reading. I think the council has to have a public hearing on it and pass it again before it takes effect.

The council approved gas line extensions along Eger Road (9200 feet), Wood Road (4200 feet) and Amsler Road (2200 feet). 

The mayor recommended a 3% raise for city employees for the upcoming fiscal year and his recommendation passed.

The utility office manager wanted to use an on-line service to check the utility payment records of new customers. If they had not been reliable payers for past utilities, they would be charged a high-risk deposit of $125 rather than the standard deposit of $75. This past year the utility wrote off $13000 of unpaid bills, and this would, in the opinion of the utility manager, reduce that amount in the future. The council approved the request of the utility office manager.

The future of the Hoosier State Amtrak service is in doubt because Indianapolis no longer wants to subsidize the line. It is possible that the Hoosier State will cease on October 1.

The council approved a $500 donation to the Jasper County Community Services as a result of the presentation given the council at its last meeting. The money would come from the $7500 that has been approved for donations.

Councilman Barton wanted the city to sponsor a team at the Jasper County Economic Development Organization's golf outing in August. $280 was approved from the PR fund.

Coffee with a Cop is coming up next week. Citizens are invited to meet with police officers at four restaurants to voice any concerns that they have. This event is a replacement for the National Night Out that has been held for several past years.

Progress is being made in the 69K power switchover, and it may be completed in September. 

The early completion of the council meeting meant there was plenty of time to get to the Jasper County Planning and Development Commission meeting in the Court House. There was only one item on the agenda, a rezoning of a parcel of land along US 231 north of SR 14 from A1 to A4. The request was for the Davis Veterinary Clinic, which has outgrown their present quarters about a mile to the east. Mr Davis remarked that he was getting to meet a whole lot of people that he did not know existed in the process of getting approval to build.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

More odds and ends

It is time for a quarry update. Compare to July 10, or to June 1. At one time someone told me that the quarry pumped out about a million gallons a day. There will be many millions of gallons in there when it is full.
 Stone is still being sold from the piles that were built up before the quarry shut down.

There was a kids event at the library, and I thought the combination of the kids and roofers made a good picture. The leftmost wing looks complete, and the insulation with the particle board is being installed over the entrance.
The changes to the front of Fase's are more extensive than I expected.
I rode out to SJC today and noticed a football camp. Last year a weekly e-mail to employees listed the groups and events that would be on campus. This year there is nothing, so I do not know what is going on there.

I  missed the opening bit of the County Council Meeting on Tuesday night. When I arrived, the sheriff was explaining the VAV system, and since his presentation was listed near the end of the agenda, I thought the meeting might be nearly over. However, it seems that they moved his presentation up.

Most of the next hour was spent discussing and approving the continuation of tax abatements. A tax abatement is a reduction in taxes given to a company to encourage it to invest locally. It comes with conditions, and if those conditions are not met, the abatement can be canceled. The various representatives of the companies gave a short presentation to show that they were meeting the conditions of the abatement, and the continuation was approved in all cases. The primary thing of interest was hearing what the companies were doing.

The first up was Advanced Auto which has a large distribution center on US 24 just east of I-65 near Remington. They have three shifts a day and are open six days a week, employing 450 full time and 120 part-time employees. They pay an average wage of $13.50, Most of their employees are not residents of Jasper County; some commute from Indianapolis (though it sounded as if the company was providing transportation for the commute). The council members were interested in knowing why these commuters were not relocating to Jasper County and were told that the cost of housing plus credit scores were the main obstacles. 

Iroquois Bio-Energy reported that they had 37 employees, Monsanto said that they had had a very good year. They had 56 employees at the plant and were aiming for 59. Remington Seeds has 36 employees at their Remington facility, twelve of them part time. Terborg Distributing of DeMotte has 14 full-time employees and 6 part-time. They were approved for the second year of a 3 year abatement. Wilson Industrial Sales has 39 employees. They said that they had problems hiring truck drivers because many of their routes were long-haul, from the midwest to the east coast, and these trips required several days away from home. 

The council heard a presentation from Wabash Valley. Wabash Valley gets funds from the county, so the council wanted to know what services it was providing to the county. Their local office has 35 employees and served 672 outpatients treated in the last fiscal year for which they had numbers. About two thirds of their patients are from Jasper County and about one third are from Newton County. They make special efforts to serve young people, especially students. One of the council members asked how many of the people they see were suffering from mental illness and how many were drug abuse cases. The answer was that up to 80% of those with mental illness are also drug abusers, so there was no breakdown given.

The council approved an ordinance to purchase the old Johnny Rusk building. I think heard a price of $42,500. 

The council's appointment to the Board of Zoning Appeals asked to be replaced. No one on the council had a candidate to propose, so the item was tabled to the next meeting. (If you want to serve on the BZA, now is the time to contact the county council members and make your case.)

The only public comments were from the airport manager who thanked the council for their support during the planning for the air show. Even though the air show did not happen this year, the planning for the event has been very beneficial for the airport. They now have procedures to deal with a variety of events, such was what to do when they get more than the twelve cars that their parking lot can hold. The Jasper County Airport attracts many planes because the price of their aviation fuel is lower than in many other regional airports, especially those in Illinois, which has more taxes. As a result, there may be some interesting planes landing and refueling this weekend and next as they travel to a big air show in Oskosh, Wisconsin. 

Update: A picture from Precision Glass of Rensselaer.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

News from downtown

The Embers building has new windows on the second floor. The trim was being painted this morning.
Notice the Rock the Arts sign on the side, this weekend's big event.

The front of Unique Things is also getting new paint. After this picture was taken, a coat of white was applied, but that is a primer, not the final colors.

Larry Meiser , owner of Larry's Shoesdied ten days ago. He celebrated fifty years in business in April.  The shoe shop will remain open, but it will no longer do shoe repairs.

The City Office and Pub has changed ownership. Rumor says that it will also be changing menus.

The Stuff the Bus campaign to collect school supplies for students in need will take place until August 2. This year there is also a group that wants to bring the backpack food program to Rensselaer. They are having an organizational meeting on the 28th.

I finally figured out what is happening with the library re-roofing--it is more than just a new roof. After laying a layer of tar paper, about three inches of stiff foam insulation is added, then a layer of particle board, and finally new shingles.
Below workers are putting up a frame to raise the elevation of the roof, preparing it for the insulation sheets. The purpose is obvious--prevent another episode of burst pipes.
Rensselaer has had a lot of problems with the new public buildings it has built recently.

In early August the weekend event will be the Moveable Feast. Below is one of the houses that will be on the driving tour. Do you recognize which one it is?
Tonight is Kids Night at the Tuesday Night Farmers Market.

A couple of other things of no real importance--workers are tuck pointing St Augustine Church and new parking lot stripes have been applied to the parking lot of Brookside Park.

I just noticed that even though there is a county council meeting tonight, there is no mention of it on the county website. It seems that when they update the site, it wipes out what is happening on the current day.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

End of the fair

One of the best parts of the fair is the free stage. The people performing there are very good and draw respectable crowds. If the seating were better, they probably would draw more. On Thursday the Free Stage featured the Jhonny and Sally show. They did country and western music in their first performance, and their second show was music from the 60s.
 Jhonny and Sally are not their real names--Sally is actually Catherine and she has a show that plays on CNBC Prime. (Check their website to hear samples of their music.)

The rides on the Midway change a bit from year to year. I think this one has been in some past shows, but the kamikaze ride that impressed me in some past years has disappeared.
 The rides disappear quickly after the fair is over.
Not all the goldfish went home with kids.
Judging from the amount of trash left in the bleachers, the demolition derby was well attended. This year there was not a combine demolition derby.
 The retired iron tractors were getting ready to leave. The old road grader was one of the odd vehicles in the retired iron display.
 This tractor will not be in the retired iron display for quite a few years. I could not resist and had to ask what it cost. It was over $300K and that was without a bunch of extra stuff, such as computers and software. I suspect most people in big cities have not idea of where the technology of farming is and how complicated the business of farming is. The combine behind it cost about the same.
 The commercial building was cleaned out and empty on Saturday morning.
The next big event for the fairgrounds will be the Fall Festival in five or six weeks.

Update: The tractor made of aluminum cans that was pictured in a couple of posts this week is going to Fair Oaks Farms. They must have been as impressed with it as I was.