Rensselaer Adventures

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

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day at Morocco Homecoming

Morocco's town festival, Morocco Homecoming, took place on Sunday. As the name suggested, it seems to be focused on having the locals and those who once lived in Morocco come together and have a good time. Festivals in Jasper County seem to want to draw outsiders in, and I do not get that feel from the Morocco Homecoming. (The emphasis in Jasper County festivals for drawing outsiders in is being reenforced by the Tourism Commission and the grants that it is giving to the festivals.)
Most of the activities of the festival are held in Recher Park, which is a couple blocks south of the downtown and about block west of the grade school.
I thought it was interesting that only two for profit companies were listed as sponsors of their 5K/10K run.

Late on Sunday morning Morocco held its Memorial Day ceremony at the park. The Cub Scouts raised the flag while the National Anthem was sung and then there were speeches.
The Cub Scouts then placed flags on the crosses, each signifying an armed conflict in which the U.S. had been involved. And of course there was an honor 21 gun salute and taps at the close.
When I last visited Morocco Homecoming in 2010 there was a historical tour as part of the festival. They did not have it this year. The informational booths by some of the civic organizations were also absent this year.

The festival had mostly food booths.  I thought that the most interesting booth was for the Morocco School of Ballet, which was an informational booth by a woman who will teach dance classes this summer in downtown Morocco.
I was there this year as a volunteer for CDC Resources, which  had a booth to raise awareness of its existence and services. The Rensselaer branch of CDC Resources serves adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities in Jasper, Newton, and Benton counties. It has one consumer from the Morocco area, which means that one of CDC Resources vans makes a trip to Morocco each day that the Rensselaer center is open. We suspect that there are probably others in the area that could use the services of CDC Resources, so we were hoping that we might directly or indirectly reach them. After all, picking up a second or third person in the van would be easy since the town is already on the route.

The ladies in charge of our booth brought 234 cups that for some reason Heartland Employment Services had ordered a few years ago for promotion of their program and I commented that we would undoubtedly take most of them back to Rensselaer. I was wrong. One of the ladies from our booth decided that since not enough people were stopping by to see us, she would take the cups to them. She did a marvelous job of working the crowd, something that is not in my skill set.  Only time will tell whether our venture (or adventure) to Morocco will have results.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Some business changes

A new business is coming to the College Mall: Anytime Fitness. It is scheduled to open the first week of July.
 They have signs in two storefronts, one on each side of the Smoke Shop. The door was open on the space that used to be occupied by 24/7 Fitness and it appears that a lot of remodeling is underway.
The other space they seem to be using is the space that used to house Help at Home. Help at Home has moved further south in the mall, occupying what used to be two spaces just south of Subway.

Is Rensselaer big enough for two fitness centers? We will find out. Curves is gone and Foxy's Hair Salon will soon also be gone from the back part of the Jordan Floral building. The sign on the door says that the last day of business will be July 26 and in August the owner will be working out of Tiki Cuts in DeMotte.

One can now make out the road that is being constructed in the Drexel Park area. Soon to be located near this road will be the Chamber of Commerce, which is moving from its location near the pedestrian bridge that leads to Potawatomie Park. It will located in the building that houses The Laundry Room in the space that most recently was a pet grooming place.
 Also moving downtown is Ardent Papers Photography, which has left its location across the alley from the Pub and has moved above Unique Finds. There is a For-Rent sign in its old location.

Lyons Insurance has a new name and some changes in ownership. It is now Gutwein Risner Insurance and it has expanded its offerings of insurance from crop and farm to auto, homeowners, health, and life. The signs in the window are new, but the sign above the sidewalk still has the Lyons name on it.


Thursday, May 21, 2015

A quick stop at Fair Oaks Farms

I was at an event near Fair Oaks Farms on Tuesday, so I decided to make a quick stop at FOF to take a few pictures of their newest buildings. The last time I was there no one seemed to know what the new construction project was. It will be the Crop Adventure.
 Fair Oaks Farms has been remarkably secretive about how they will make learning about farm crops fun and entertaining. I can find no details on-line and my requests to them for information have not gotten results. I asked the ladies at the admittance desk for information and they said they had none to give. WinField is a subsidiary of Land O' Lakes, which is a large farmer cooperative headquartered in Minnesota.

I have a hard time resisting pictures of workers at heights.
The northern side of the building is mostly glass.
 Here is what Land O' Lakes says about the Crop Adventure in their 2014 Land O' Lakes Foundation and Community Report:
Helping [people] learn more about and experience their food differently is at the heart of the WinField Crop Adventure, a new exhibit at Fair Oaks Farms in Fair Oaks, Indiana, where visitors can explore family farms and reconnect with nature, animals and our planet. Visitors will get a deeper look into the science, agronomic practices, technological breakthroughs and stewardship programs that have shaped modern agriculture. The exhibit is set to open in Fall 2015
Both the Pork Adventure and the Crop Adventure buildings are on the west side of the campus. There is room for a couple more big buildings to their north and east. The Green Gate Garden that is in front of the future Crop Adventure building had not been planted and when I asked about it, I was told that it might not be planted this year. The only thing growing was a healthy stand of horse radish.

I do not recall the cafe being the Cowfé. The signage was put up a few days ago. The oak leaf has become the symbol or icon of FOF.
The Pork Education Center is now open for visitors. Since I did not pay the admission fee, I did not go inside. The official grand opening will be June 28 and it sounds like it will be a big event.
 The same building viewed from the north.
 This is one of two old trucks parked by the building and part of the exhibit.
 On the west side is this funny structure that reminds me of the story of the Three Little Pigs.

For more pictures and updates, check the FOF webpage and their Facebook page.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Some pictures

On Monday the softball season began at Brookside Park.
 A couple hundred yards to the south work began early in the week on paving the area around the veterans' memorial in the newest part of Weston Cemetery.
 This morning asphalt was being put down.
 There are new windows in what will soon be Ayda's Mexican Restaurant.
 Construction seems to be complete on the western entrance to the court house. There are new exterior doors--the original doors are now interior. This entrance is not for the public but only for court house personnel. I think it works with a card swipe so that a record can be kept of who enters here.
 The County Council met on Tuesday night for a very short meeting--less than30 minutes. The main item on the agenda was a request by the coroner to share an employee hired by the sheriff's department at the north annex. The north annex now houses both sheriff employees and the county morgue. The coroner pointed out that there have been 39 coroner cases so far this year. However, because the item did not get on the agenda in time to be advertised, it will be back on the agenda next month for a vote.

John Price noted that property taxes on farm land had increased a lot this year--23% for some of the people who contacted him. He wanted it noted that the county does not set these rates--they are a result of a formula that the state uses that needs to be changed but so far has not been. If you are unhappy, do not contact your county government representative but rather your state government representative.

There was a brief discussion about the need for the council to fill a slot on the Alcohol Beverage Board. Apparently the board does not meet often as it only seems to review new applications for liquor licenses.

Kevin Kelly, who earlier Tuesday evening had been the guest speaker at the meeting of the Jasper Society Historical Society, had a tax abatement document that he wanted the council to bless--it will be taken up at month's meeting. Did you know that Mr Kelly served a term as mayor of Elgin, IL?

The tree outside the auditor's office now has patriotic 4th-of-July decorations.
 The Tourism Commission has given several thousand dollars to support the Rock the Arts event that will be held in July. The sign advertising the event on the side of eMbers has been updated for 2015.
The Tourism Commission has also given funds to help the Jasper County Fair attract a more expensive music event. The Fair Board announced this week that it was bringing Craig Morgan on July 18.

This coming Sunday Morocco will have its annual Homecoming festival. (I have not been very good lately at getting things listed on my Bulletin Board sidebar--sorry.)