Rensselaer Adventures

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

Friday, June 24, 2016

A farewell party

On Thursday afternoon the airport held a farewell party for Brad Cozza, who has been airport manager for the last three years. In those years he has had a significant impact on the community.
I arrived too late to get a picture of the uncut cake but it is pretty clear what it said.

One of his accomplishments during his stay as airport manager is highly visible, the new fuel farm.
At the County Council meeting on Tuesday, he was asked about the capacity of the new tanks compared to the old ones. The old tanks held 3500 gallons of aviation gas and 2000 of jet fuel. The new tanks hold 12,000 gallons of each.

The Airport Authority Board has interviewed candidates for the position but at this time do not have a new manager. Their next meeting is July 6, but there may be a special meeting before that.

In other news, the strong storm that raced through Wednesday night knocked down some branches and trees but apparently did not do any serious damage. We had the power go off and then a few seconds later go back on, always annoying but just annoying. In Weston Cemetery workers were cleaning up after part of a large maple tree fell.
Even though we got about an inch and a half of rain on Wednesday, the Iroquois river is lower than it normally is at this time of the year.

The agendas for the BZA and the Jasper County Planning Board were posted outside of the Commissioners Room on Tuesday night. The Rose Acre variance is back on the agenda for the BZA and also request for a special exception for the construction of a meteorological tower in Gillam township. It is a tower that measures wind speeds and is a first step when a wind farm is built. So there remains interest in placing a wind farm in Jasper County. The two boards meet on Monday night at 7:00 pm in the Court House.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

County Council, 06-21-2016

The County Council meeting on Tuesday rearranged its agenda so that Brad Cozza could present an appropriation request for the airport and then leave to get to the Rensselaer Central School Board meeting. The airport wants to build a new T-hangar building and has the funds to do it, but needed the Council to authorize the spending, which it did. (Mr Cozza is leaving the airport at the end of the month and the Airport Authority Board is hosting a going-away party this afternoon (Thursday) from 4:00 to 7:00.)

In other appropriations, the Council approved some bookkeeping that will allow the prosecutor's office to use forfeiture funds for trial expenses and an extra $5000 for extradition expenses for the superior court. There are companies that return people who have skipped bail and they send a bus around the country collecting and delivering those being extradited. The Council also approved an extra $2000 for warning siren repairs and a pay raise of about $700 for the head of Animal Control. There was a dissenting vote on the last item because of concerns that it might set an undesirable precedent.

Minutes from the last meeting were then approved with the note that the next Council meeting would be July 12.

Then the more interesting part of the meeting began, the review and re-approval of tax abatements. These were all granted in the past, with the companies agreeing to certain conditions in return for the tax break, and they then come before the Council each year to explain how they are doing with what they promised would happen. First up was Advance Auto. They currently employ 369 people plus another 158 temps who come to them through agencies. Those temps can become full-time employees if they work out. The average pay for employees is $16.05 plus benefits. The starting pay is $13.75 and every six months there is a $.50 bump with a final bump of $1.00. After three years the employee will earn $17.00 and any future increase depends on performance.

When Advance Auto first started, they were making 500 shipments per week and are now doing 1320. Their turnover has been reduced by 58% from last year. They said that increases in wage and also little things to make the work-place more friendly have helped. They would like to see more housing in the Remington-Wolcott area; the housing market is tight and some of their employees who might otherwise move there are living in Lafayette because they cannot find suitable housing. They are on year eight of ten of the abatement.

IBEC said it was running at 100% capacity and was producing 150,000 gallons of ethanol each day. They have 38 employees. Most of their abatement is expired but they still have some on a recent addition.

Wilson Industrial Sales said its head count was flat. Total employees including the Ulyat Trucking Company is 56. The two businesses are mostly autonomous because Wilson uses tanker trucks and Ulyat dump trucks. Wilson Fertilizer is a separate company owned by the family and remains in the Brook area.

DeKalb-Monsanto is back to full capacity after a down year caused by overproduction in previous years. They have added five people in the past year. They are doing some expansion. Finally, there was no representative from Remington Seeds but based on the written report, continuation of their abatement was approved.

The Council had two names to consider for the Jasper County Library Board and approved Kevin Kaluf. They finished the meeting with a discussion of a meeting about changes in the LOIT that several members had attended. The conclusion was that the whole area remains confused.

No pictures today--I used them all in yesterday's post.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

More odds and ends, 05-22-2016

The summer solstice has come and gone, so now days are getting shorter and winter is on the way.

US 231 is partially paved through town. The center two lanes have asphalt, but the shoulders are still unfinished. On Tuesday afternoon the paving crew had passed the main SJC entrance and was working southward.
Traffic was reduced to one lane.
The SJC football team is on campus and practicing. Boy Scouts have a day camp at Lake Banet.
Maintenance work continues year round at SJC. The steam pipes need lots of attention. The link between Halleck and Bennett Hall is being replaced.

The old pipe was thick steel but the heat and humidity were too much for it.

Family Dollar has closed. In its last days it had 90% off but virtually nothing left to sell. The contractors have arrived to remodel it to a Dollar Tree.
Speaking of trees, the large elm across from the post office is getting its own bump-out to protect it from traffic and snow plows.

Mount Hood Pizza is applying for a alcohol beverage permit. The notice is on their door. The Alcohol Beverage Board usually meets on the second Tuesday of the month at 10:00 in the Rensselaer City County room. Rarely does anyone from the public show up.

BJ's World of Products and Crafts will be closing in mid July. It contains about ten vendors selling products as booth sellers.
The LaRue pool opened today despite the rain. It had two early swimmers and then was empty.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Camer1's bird

On Monday afternoon eMbers hosted a mural completion celebration. As the event was about to begin, a storm with heavy rain hit Rensselaer, and because I waited for it to stop before I left home, I arrived when the speeches were in progress. Cameron Moberg, the artist, thanked the community for its hospitality and said that as a kid he wanted to be a bird when he grew up. Birds for him represent freedom.

The rain stopped and everyone went outside for the ribbon cutting. I noticed that more feathers had been added to the back of the mural.
The event attracted several people from out of town, including a representative from the Indiana Arts Commission, the Tippecanoe Arts Federation, and the Lafayette Journal and Courier.  Then the line up for the ribbon cutting was organized. You can see the storm clouds on the right of the picture.
If you look closely at the feathers, you can see one decorated with corn and one very short one above it decorated with wind turbines (with four blades, not three). Some of the other motifs had meaning to Cameron. I asked our local bird expert what kind of bird it was and she said it most closely resembles an osprey but it could be whatever you wanted it to be. I said I wanted it to be a hummingbird but she said it could not be that.

Cameron signed the work with his url.
I was amazed at how sharp his lines were and I asked him how he did that. He said it was all in the technique. A graffiti artist must learn to control angle, distance, and pressure and it takes practice to do that consistently. It may also help to use spray paint especially manufactured for artists.

On the way home I rode past the construction site of the high water treatment plant and saw that the heavy rain had filled one of the pits. It seems that some storm sewer line already empties there.
The storm dumped almost an inch of water on us.