Rensselaer Adventures

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

Monday, May 22, 2017

Meetings and more

The second City Council meeting of May took place on Monday evening. After some preliminaries, there was a public hearing on a proposal on an additional appropriation of $463,672 for the renovation of the old fire house into a new police station. No members of the public spoke and the motion passed with one dissenter.

The Council amended the salary ordinance to allow payment of $15 per hour for a part-time, seasonal worker who can operate light equipment. (This had been discussed at the previous meeting.) Bids were opened for the labor contract to construct the new Watt substation on Bunkum Road. There was only one bid and it was for $499,700. The bid was taken under advisement by the engineers for the City and IMPA, and near the end of the meeting they returned and suggested the contract be rebid because it was about a third higher than their pre-bid estimate. The Council agreed to have the contract rebid.

The Council approved spending about $4500 to have the two water towers inspected this summer. Also approved was the purchase of a small tractor by the utilities. The present tractor is a 1991 model but it will be kept in service. The Council appoints one member the Rensselaer School Board and had three applicants for that position. They chose Christine Phillips who has previously served on the Board. The Mayor's Holiday this year will be July 3. The Memorial Day ceremony at Weston Cemetery will be at 11:00 am.

The Monnett building has sold. The price was $96,500 and after fees and commissions, the City received about $89K. The money will go into a development fund. There was a discussion of whether the money should be earmarked for park use.
 With the completion of the Grace Street project and the micro surfacing, the 2016 road work has been completed.

There was no discussion of the high rate treatment plant but work on the landscaping is almost finished. Last week the bare ground was seeded and covered in hay. There are still some white pine trees to that have to be planted.
 Also on Monday evening the Jasper County Board of Zoning Appeals met to hear a case from Walker Township. A couple had been doing confined feeding of chickens until last year. The building they were using has 8800 square feet and is still in very good condition. They wanted to rent storage space in it but the regulations do not make that a permitted use, so they wanted either a use variance or a special exception; either would work. Their request was granted.

On Saturday Jasper County  Animal Control had an open house that was well attended. I had never been to their facility and was surprised at how small it was. One room was for cats. It was quiet.
 The area for dogs was noisy.

I never found out why an large African tortoise was at the event.
 The closing of SJC continues. Last week the lights in the highway sign were turned off. For some reason the fountain in the reflection pool is still on.
 The final sports activity had come to an end on Saturday when the baseball team fell to Kentucky Wesleyan.

Below are the bricks of the class of 2017 in the sidewalk east of the Core Building.
 On a positive note, the plaza for the Ember's Station Brewhouse is changing day by day.
 New tanks are being installed at the Marathon by the railroad.
The O'Reilly building seems to be finished but is not yet stocked. On Monday the concrete base for the store's sign was poured.

Over the weekend Rensselaer missed two severe storms, one of which went to our north and the other to our south. Both had reports of small tornados.

Thursday, May 18, 2017


The old tanks at the Marathon by the tracks were removed several days ago.
The tanks are now gone and holes have been dug for new tanks.
On Wednesday I noticed digging by GRG Auto Repairs. I suspect that soil contaminated by a leaking tank was being removed. Later in the day new dirt was being brought in.
The construction trailer for the high rate treatment plant is gone. Below is a picture showing the truck getting ready to haul it away.
The site remains busy with landscaping. A crew was planting maple and tulip trees by the lift station on Wednesday. Prairie plants being placed near Lincoln include prairie dropseed (a grass), narrow leaf blue star, and magnus conflower (a purple coneflower).
The Chicago Tribune had an article about the SJC baseball team and their invitation to the NCAA Division II tournament. The writer could not resist making a couple disparaging remarks about our location.
 I was wondering if "2017" would get added to the west side of the Hansen Recreation Center but I should have known that the baseball people would take care of that.
 As I was on my way to take the picture above, I saw a Pepsi truck loading up all the Pepsi vending machines that were on campus. There are a lot of details that have to be attended to as the campus shuts down.
The headquarters for those that remain is now Drexel Hall. It has City utilities and is completely separated from the water and heating of the main campus.

Several streets are being treated with something called microsurfacing. It smooths the surface, fills small cracks, and protects the pavement. Below is a section of Abigail Street that had the treatment Wednesday afternoon. The untreated strip is pavement over a water main that was installed a few years ago.
On Thursday morning the crew was back coating the untreated strip. They were having some technical difficulties and had to back up and redo part of it.
The dry weather has lots of tractors in the fields. The high winds blow clouds dirt stirred up by the planting.

Track sectionals are taking place this week. The girls results are here. For quite a few years Valparaiso was in this sectional and won it every year. However, if you look at the sectional records, only two are held by Valparaiso athletes. Six are held by Rensselaer girls, five by KV girls, and one each by girls from West Central, Hebron, and Morgan Township. Boys sectionals are tonight.

Several groups of students that could not visit the Jasper County Airport on the recent Career Day are making visits this week. They can get the same information about maintenance that the Career Day visitors received and are getting info on airport markings and how the pilots know where to go.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Tuesday's meetings

The Jasper County Historical Society held its monthly meeting at the Rensselaer Library on Tuesday evening. The focus of the meeting was Charles Halleck and his legacy and the topic was chosen because the Library recently received several boxes of documents and tapes from Henry Scheele, who wrote a biography of Halleck. Indiana University, where Halleck was a student, has his papers, but the collection of material from Mr Scheele has information that is available nowhere else. The Library plans to digitize the written material and to transfer the audio tapes (much of it is old reel-to-reel) to a digital format. The plan is to put most of it on the Internet.
The meeting had a big attendance because Paul Norwine's students from KV attended. Mr Norwine was the individual who gave Mr Scheele the suggestion that the Rensselaer Library would be a good home for the material. (A video of the presentation is here.)

The County Council also met on Tuesday evening, though an hour later than the Halleck meeting. It also had a big attendance as the KV students got to see what happens at a Council meeting. First up was Sheriff Risner who requested an additional appropriation for Hepatitis B inoculations for his department. This issue had been discussed at the previous Council meeting. He also reported that "gray death", a mixture of drugs including carfentanil, an opioid used to tranquilize large animals. There are currently about 75 inmates at the jail, seven of whom are serving sentences under the new Indiana law that keeps minor offenders in county jails rather in state prisons.

Community Corrections had asked the Commissioners to approve hiring one full time person rather than four part-time, but since that meeting there has been a part-time applicant and if the applicant is hired, Corrections will not seek to hire full-time.

The Coroner wanted funds transferred to allow purchase of two very expensive radios. A council member asked why the radios were so expensive and was told that they had a great many features that were useful to law enforcement and emergency responders that are not on regular cell phones or radios. Plus, the government buys them so that makes them more expensive.

Next the Council reviewed tax abatements. The only company with a representative present was Wilson. They currently are seeking truck drivers and that is a difficult market. Wilson needs long-haul truckers who carry hazardous cargo and who sometimes must be away from home over the weekend. Because there are many opportunities for truck drivers, the market is very competitive. The Council will decide abatements at their next meeting.

At the close of the meeting a lady from Candlewood Subdivision near DeMotte wanted to know what could be done about the noise of traffic coming off I-65. She was given guidance on how to bring the matter before the Commissioners.

Monday, May 15, 2017


Strack and Van Til is in bankruptcy. Jewel has an offer to buy the stores. For more info, see here.

Jacobs Professional Services of Monon is removing the gas tanks at the Marathon by the tracks.
 There is still an ember of the old Saint Joseph's College alive. The baseball team made it to the final four of the GLVC tournament last week, but their season is not quite over. They were invited to the NCAA Division II tournament. They are seeded seventh in the regional field and will play on Thursday. More here.

It is time to landscape at the high rate treatment plant. A bunch of trees were delivered on Monday morning.
 There are also lots of potted plants ready to go into the ground.