Rensselaer Adventures

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

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Another long meeting

On Monday evening the Park Board met. A representative from Anytime Fitness wanted to offer free exercise classes in the Staddon Field area from 10 am to 11 am on the 14th, 21st, and 28th of May. After some discussion, the Board approved his request. Earnest Watson had a proposal to begin a tennis league later this month. There was concern that he did not have a liability insurance policy, so the item was tabled.

Much of the meeting was devoted to the financial report. One item of interest was the revenue and cost of the pop machines. In 2015 the park lost money on the pop machines. The machine that was in Columbia Park has been removed because someone was urinating on it. There are still machines in Brookside and Iroquois. The machines are owned by Pepsi and it sells bottles for the machines that have a special size so that one cannot fill the machines with bottles bought from a local retailer. As a result, they can charge exorbitant prices and they do. A motion to remove the machines after the current inventory is sold was passed. Then a motion to search for an alternative source of pop machines was passed.

After more discussion of the financials that noted that park revenue is flat, a motion was made to hire a summer program coordinator. There were questions of how the position could be funded, but a decision was made to investigate the idea further.

It was noted that the soccer program has not been in communication with the park director about what their plans are.

One Board member asked the Board if they were open to having a local company run a concession stand in the Jasper Foundation Park after the stand is built. The Board wanted more details but said that they could live with the idea.

Several months ago the creative people at Fair Oaks Farms agreed to held design a logo for the parks. They recently submitted three designs. The Board did a poll of members to see which was favored and found the votes were split 3 to 2 to 2 with one abstention.

The transfer of Staddon Field has still not happened. So far six attorneys have worked on issue.

On the way to the meeting I admired some of the large trash piles that people had put out for Clean-up Week. I thought the chair below was interesting.

On the way home I noticed that it is no longer on the curb. Despite the warnings that scavenging violates a city ordinance, there are still a lot of people searching for free goodies.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

A long meeting

The Commissioners had a long meeting on Monday that dealt with routine county matters. A buried cable request from NIPSCO to run a line to a KV school was approved as was a request from the Rensselaer Urban Forestry Council to plant two trees on the Court House grounds. The county accepted the lone bid of $500 for an abandoned driveway to provide access to a house under construction, an item that has been discussed in several past meetings. A report from the County Fair Board reported storm damage to a restroom, deterioration of the log cabin and school house, new pens in the goat barn, new swine gates, and proposed paving of some roads and parking areas.

The County recorder discussed a proposed way of providing bulk documents to the public. I did not understand all of this, but it seems to be concerned with providing records to five organizations that want updates on all records. The extension office wants to rewrite a job description, and that must be reviewed as a handbook change. Community Corrections received a grant that for about $300K that will allow them to hire an assistant director and move some positions from the general fund to the grant. The sheriff discussed some legal things on the license for broadcasting from the new communication tower. He received approval to get bids for resealing the jail parking lot. The department will be retiring a 2011 vehicle that needs a $2000 engine fix and a truck that will be going to the highway department. He received permission to fill two positions that have been vacated.

There was a discussion of whether the County Unified Development Ordinance should be included in the ordinance codification that is underway. The company doing the work offers a variety of options and enhancements at an extra cost. The issue will be back on the agenda next month.

After a break, bids were opened for materials needed for road maintenance and repair. As usual, all bids were accepted. A long discussion followed about the new state program of matching grants for road repair. The county match must come from one of three sources, the returned LOIT money not already required to be used for roads, the rainy day fund, or the wheel tax. The state seems to be pushing counties to enact a wheel tax. The Commissioners hired a company to assist them in preparing a road assessment plan, which is needed to obtain the grants. It is not the same company that Rensselaer hired at the last City Council meeting.

A couple of men wanted the Commissioners to look over the drainage plan for expanding the ConAgra parking lot. The Commissioners told them that they could not meet as the drainage board because public notice was required for a Drainage Board meeting. However, if their plans followed the permissions that had originally been granted when the parking lot was constructed, they would be OK. They indicated that the original plan was for a larger parking area than had been actually constructed.

If an interim meeting is needed, it will be held on May 16. Otherwise the next meeting will be June 6.

In Rensselaer news, excavation continues on the high water treatment plant on Lincoln Avenue. Below is what the site looked like over the weekend.

Both at the Gas Department open house and in the last IMPA newsletter I learned that one could check on the operation of Rensselaer's solar park. Go here and click on IMPA Rensselaer. (A surprising number of people do not yet know that there is a solar panel farm on the east edge of Rensselaer.)

Monday, May 2, 2016

Over the weekend

On Friday the City of Rensselaer and the Gas Department held its annual  Pipeline Safety/Municipality Day Open House at the Gas Department. Among the exhibits were several that encouraged people to call 811 to locate lines before they dig. There were examples of what happens if one does not call.

And also some "Don'ts".
Steffen's Jewelry celebrated its 60th anniversary. I asked if they were the old business in downtown and they said that they thought Campbell Printing was older. Sixty years is remarkable. Checking the Internet, I found that only 44% of small businesses last four years.

Saturday was the Townwide Yard Sale day. The weather was miserable with light rain the whole day. I did not spend much time checking out sales but did see that in some places people had given up, putting their sign and items that they wanted to sell on the curb. I did see a few interesting items. I wondered how old this toilet was, but the seller said that he had bought it at auction and did not know. He was one of the sellers who started on Friday.
 My mother used a washing machine like this one when I was a kid. That was a long time ago.
Saturday was the opening of the farmers market for this year. All the sellers had canopies, a wise choice. Other than some greens from the SJC Hoop House, the only harvested product that I saw was rhubarb.
The trees are getting their leaves, even the oaks. Its time to get the gardens planted and there are still a few plots not yet claimed at the community garden.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Planting a tree and a sneak preview, but mostly a sneak preview

On Friday the Rensselaer Urban Forestry Council (RUFC) dedicated a tulip tree at the new fire station in celebration of Arbor Day. The tree is behind the station on the bank of the retention pond that you can see in the corner of the picture below.
The RUFC has planted about 350 trees in Rensselaer and this year will focus on Angelica Street.

After the brief ceremony the fire chief invited those at the ceremony to tour the almost completed fire station. We entered from the back and one of the first things we saw was the pair of lamps shown below.
 The back of the building has a large kitchen area.
 We then went through a room with tables that will serve as a training room.
 A hallway runs north-south on the eastern part of the building. To the left is the kitchen and the doors on the right will lead to the fire trucks. You can see one of the public restrooms on the left. There are two and both are unisex. One person at a time will use them. Down the hall to the south are offices and stairs to the second floor. To the north and not shown in the picture is more hallway that leads to another stairs and locker rooms.
 Below is one of three offices in the building. The current building has one office shared by five people. From this office one can see the highway in front of the building.
 The southeast corner of the building will have a small museum that will house the two antique fire trucks that the department has.
 Then it was time to go upstairs. There is no elevator. I asked if that would not cause a problem with the ADA legislation. It will not because the upstairs will be a secure location that is not open to the public. One of the highlights was the fire pole. It is the original fire pole from Rensselaer's first fire station. It has been in storage for about forty years but is now back in operation. Although it can be used, I think it is mostly decoration.
 The second floor has a large room that will be used as a conference room. If the day comes when Rensselaer will have full-time fire fighters, this room can be converted into sleeping quarters.
 Below is a picture of the truck bay area from the fitness center on the second floor. There are six doors on each side and the area can hold twelve vehicles. The fitness equipment for the fitness center is being donated by Saint Joseph's College.
 There are several utility rooms on the second floor. This one had the heating equipment.
 There are two heating systems. One pipes hot water through the concrete floor and that is how the truck bay area is heated. Shown below is part of that system.
 Below is the view of the bay area from the west end. The other picture of this area was taken through one of the windows in the wall. The picture above is a close up of part of the reddish strip at the far end. It will be covered by panels.
There is a basement under the office portion of the building but we did not see it. It will only be used for storage.

You can see all of this and much more when the fire station has its open house on June 25. Mark you calendars; the building is quite impressive and you will not want to miss the public opening.