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

Saturday, October 31, 2009

State Cross Country

The Tri-County girls cross country team finished 20th of 24 teams in Terre Haute today. Results are here. The Rensselaer Republican had a nice article about the team on Friday.

Also in cross country news, Naza Sanchez, a Rensselaer high school graduate who is running for St. Joes, finished 6th in the conference meet and won All-Conference honors, the first male cross country runner from SJC to do so.

Update: According to the Rensselaer Republican article, Tri County was the first girls cross country team from a 1A to make it to the state finals since 1981, the first year that a state finals for girls cross country was held. Those who want to have a class system for cross country, separating the big schools from the small schools, have seen their cause set back by twenty years.

Here is a website with information about past state contenders.

Another update: A blog at the Journal and Courier notes the enrollments of the schools with teams in the girls cross country finals. Tri-County has 268 students. The next smallest, West Noble, has 664. Three other schools have less than 1000 enrollment: Heritage Hills, Culver Academies, and Evansville Memorial. Ten have over 2000 students.

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween has alliteration, but does the expression make sense? Is Halloween supposed to be happy?

Halloween seems to inspire people to decorate their lawns and steps. Only Christmas inspires people to decorate their houses more. Rensselaer has many inflatable decorations, but few as big and gaudy as the one below.
The decorations below are in the running for biggest. The witch moves up and down in the cauldron.--is she supposed to be cooking herself?
No pumpkin can grow as big as the inflatable kind.
Ghosts and black cats are icons of the holiday, as are bones. There were quite a few of the bones sticking out of the ground that you can see between the ghost and cat.
Here are more cats, pumpkins, and ghost, joined by witches. This yard had even more, but it would not all fit in one photo. And the cat moved its head.
More inflatables. The slumping figure in the back may have been a Frankenstein with bad posture.
Almost all the inflatables are lit at night, but they are a lot easier to photograph during the day.
Just as there are Christmas lights, there are Halloween lights. These are happy ghost lights in a tree with some kind of inflatable spider lurking beneath them.
Pirate-skull lights--close enough for Halloween.
I hope this groteque decoration does not scare away customers from the nail salon. (How many hair, nail, etc. salons does Rensselaer have?)
The ghosts circle may be a home-made rather than a store-bought decoration.
There are still a lot of people who set out the traditional jack-o-lantern. The two below probably were carved quite a while ago because they seem to be warping.
Why settle for two when you have a bunch of stairs to decorate?
However, when you have two trees decorated with autumn orange, you do not need to do much at all to look spectacular. One little pumpkin is all you need.
For Dessert Survivor, the best thing about a candy holiday like Halloween are the candy sales that follow.

A few years ago a daughter-in-law who worked for the state DNR had the job of judging the Halloween decorations and costumes at the campgrounds at Prophetstown State Park near Lafayette. We went down to visit and see what she was doing, and were introduced to a whole different way of celebrating Halloween. The campground there and in the other state parks was full of campers who make this a yearly outing. A couple of the campers had displays that dwarf anything that I have seen around Rensselaer. Afterward we enjoyed a roaring campfire and smores. I took only a few pictures, and none of the displays. Perhaps some slow day I will find them an do a post on Halloween in the state park campground. It is a reminder of how many little social worlds are exist in our country.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Finishing the runway

A week ago, on October 22, I passed by the airport to see what they were doing. There were two guys out on the north end of the runway who seemed to be injecting something into the seams of the concrete. (The other one was with a different truck and is not in this picture.)
At the south end a machine was doing something to the runway that was raising a big cloud of dust. If you look closely, you can see a vehicle in the middle of the dust.
A another visit yesterday (Oc 29), a week later, showed that the end of construction was very near. Two workers were picking up one of the porta-potties and putting it next to the road. They were in the parking lot at the corner of the SR 114 and Airport Road, which had been covered in crushed stone. The crushed stone had been removed, and it looks like this parking lot was a temporary lot only meant for use with the construction.
I talked to one of the workers, and he said that workers would be around for a few days to do some finishing work, but that the runway should be open this morning (Friday). The last big job on the runway was painting. Further down the runway a paint truck was taking on supplies. As long as it does not rain today, they should get the job done.
In the past week the landing lights have been installed.

The worker I talked to thought that they would remove the big Xs at the ends of the runway after dusk Thursday. The runway would then be open Friday morning. He thought there might be a lot of traffic early as people fly in to try out the new runway. We will see.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Shopping at Dreamers Solution

A couple weeks ago I stopped in Dreamers Solution Music store on the Court House square. I had never been in there before, so I did not know what to expect.
Dreamers Solution Music has been in this location for five years. (For sixteen months before moving to its current location, the store was two blocks southeast past the old jail, in an old house that is now vacant.) In the past, Graf's Shoes was in this building for many years. More recently the building was home to a video store and a pool hall. What else has been in there?

The store specializes in guitar and and guitar accessories. It had a large inventory.
Guitars were hanging along both walls. Naturally, there was a large selection of amplifiers as well.
The owner said that this was the only guitar store between Lafayette and Valparaiso, so it serves has a bigger customer base than just Rensselaer. I asked it he sold over the Internet, and we had a lengthy discussion of eBay, which has done things in the last few years to antagonize sellers. He had had some bad experiences with eBay so was not currently using them. (A few years ago I hung out quite a bit on eBay, but have not visited for many months, so I have largely lost track of what is happening there.)
The store does have some things other than guitars. He showed me a dulcimer and suggested that even someone as limited musically as I am would be able to play it.
The music business has not been booming--the recession has taken its toll. Dreamers Solution is currently open only three days a week.

As I was leaving, the guitar below caught my attention. Wasn't a hole necessary to get the proper sound from the guitar?
The marvels of science--instead of the hole, the guitar has the apparatus shown below inside, and it does what the hole in the box does for a normal guitar.
If you need anything guitar related or stringed instrument related or amplifier related, stop by Dreamers Solution.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

In memory of Morning Song

Rensselaer lost one of its small manufacturing plants recently, Morning Song Wild Bird Food. I never knew much about it, but I did mention it a couple times in past posts.
It is rather strange that they left the flag on the flag pole.

Below are a couple pictures from happier times. Occasionally a tanker truck would pull up to the building to deliver some liquid ingredient used in their products.
These two pictures were taken on April 20.

Add another building to the list of empty Rensselaer buildings.
A neighbor of the building said that the operations of the plant had been relocated to Reynolds, Indiana, where the headquarters are located. The ten or twelve workers had been offered jobs there if they wanted to commute. Production ceased here four to six weeks ago. Anyone know more? If you do, tell us in the comments.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Installing a drain box

Last week while I was checking progress on the Melville Street project, a loader stopped to pick up one of the drain boxes that was awaiting installation. The driver chained it up and lifted it as if it were light as a feather.
It would take a lot of strong guys to lift this thing and move it, and it is not the largest of the concrete structures that they are working with.
The loader dropped it by the excavator. The concrete pipes being used say that they are made by Lowell Concrete Products, and I assume the rest of the pre-formed concrete items have the same source.
Other workers chained it to the hook on the excavator's arm.
The excavator make lifting it look even easier than the loader did. While I was watching, one of the workers passed by, and I remarked how impressive the machinery was. He said that even though he had worked with it for years, he still was awed by the ease at which the machines accomplished their tasks, and wondered how workers in the past managed to do all the things that they did without the modern machines.
The worker in the hole was trying to get some exact measurements so the box could be placed precisely. That was taking a bit too long, so I left and did not get a final picture of the placement.

While I was watching this activity, a UPS truck was making deliveries to the businesses east of Melville. How did it get to where it needed to go? It made its own road--there was no option.
Further north on Melville, the gutters have been installed and a excavator was placing to make a transition from the lawns to the curb. Here the lawns seem to be below where the street level will be.
North of Merritt the curbs end, and here the new street level appears to be below where the old one was.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Mystery construction

If you check behind the building that houses Jackson Hewitt and Payroll Advance on College Avenue, you will find construction.

Concrete block walls were going up today. I had asked a couple people last week what was going on and they did not know. Today I asked one of the workers and he claimed not to know the purpose of this addition to the building.
Do you know?

Update Oct 28: Someone told me that it would be a pawn shop or something similar to a pawn shop.

The fading farmers' market

On Saturday there were only two vendors at the farmers' market when I passed by, and one of them said he would not have been there if he could have been working in the fields.
There was a good assortment of fruits and vegetables, but few customers. Will there be anyone there next week?


I have seen a lot of people working on roofs in the past couple of weeks. Shingles were delivered to the Building Trades site last week. The truck had an adjustable conveyor belt extension that quickly sent them up to roof.
On Cullen workers were installing a metal roof on a rather oddly-shaped roof. I think it qualifies as a mansard roof.

Another odd roof, one on South College, was being shingled.
The house shown below has recently had a new metal roof installed, and is now getting new gutters.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Remington's churches: United Methodist

(I thought it would be interesting to use Sundays to focus on Rensselaer's churches and to see how many Sundays I can go before I run out of material. Indiana is richly endowed with religious denominations, with influences from North and South, East and West. This is part of that series of posts.)

The Remington United Methodist Church is located at 121 S Ohio St Remington, IN 47977. It is not listed in the "Church Services Directory" in the Rensselaer Republican. and not much information about it is given in the site. It has Sunday Worship at 10:30 AM.

More information about his church can be found on the webpages of the North Indiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. The church had a website here but it seems to have been abandoned. Information and links for the United Methodists were given in the post for Trinity United Methodist Church in Rensselaer.
This seems to be the largest church building in Remington, though the new Apostolic Christian Church rivals it. The Jasper County Interim Report classifies it as notable and lists it as late Gothic Revival, built in 1916.

The pages of the North Indiana Conference of the United Methodist Church lists six United Methodist congregations in Jasper County. Given the impressive size of the buildings both in Rensselaer and Remington in addition to these numbers, and it is clear that the Methodists were probably had more members in Jasper County than any other denomination in the late 19th and early 20th century. I doubt if that is still true.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Cross country semi-state

The Rensselaer boys finished a disappointing 16th at the New Prairie Semi State meet this morning. Their times were much slower than they ran last weekend on the same course.

However, congratulations are in order for the girls from Tri-County. They finished sixth and qualify for the state meet along with Crown Point, Lake Central, Portage, Valparaiso, and Culver Academies.. The even managed to place ahead of the two teams that beat them at the regionals, Harrison and West Lafayette. And it was not close--they scored 186 points, while the seventh team, Munster, had 215.

If you have watched a bit of cross country, you should realize just how impressive Tri-County's sixth place finish is. In the past small schools sometimes may have made it to the state meet from the southern semi-state, which is the weakest in the state. But they did not from the New Prairie semistate. West Lafayette and Kankakee Valley are considered small schools in the sport of cross-country, but they are giants compared to Tri-County.

It would be interesting to know how many public schools as small as Tri-County have ever managed to qualify a team for the state meet.

Results can be found from here. had predicted 8th place finishes for both teams.

Update: Tri-County caught a break. The number one runner for Chesterton did not wear her timing bracelet, so she was disqualified. If she had not been disqualified, Chesterton would have been sixth and Tri-County seventh.

Update 2: The Rensselaer Republican reported in its Monday edition that Tri-County missed a trip to state by finishing sixth. Their report is wrong. A few years ago only the top five teams went. But now the top six from each semi-state go. Last year the Kankakee Valley girls team made it to state by finishing sixth in the New Prairie semi-state and ended up 23 of 24 at the state meet. It will be interesting to see if Tri-County will do better. By the way, the lane assignments and rosters were up Monday. (They have to get the information in early to print the programs.) Tri-County has lane six. Check the IHSAA tournament site, linked above.

Update 3: From the Post Tribune:

If the Crown Point girls and Chesterton boys, who won by more than 80 points, were the dominant squad of the semistate, Tri-County could have been the feel good squad.

Approximately 125 girls from Remington, Wolcott and parts of Benton County make up the female enrollment of Tri-County High School. Six of them run cross country for the Cavaliers. After Saturday they will be representing their school at the state championship in Terre Haute on Saturday after finishing sixth at New Prairie.

"We knew we had an outside shot of making it," Tri-County coach Tony Salvadore said. "Everybody came to run today. These girls know how to run with the big dogs. And if you ask any one of the six, they'll all tell you they don't want cross country to ever go to a class system."

Tony Salvadore used to run for Tri-County, and I think he also ran for SJC.

Fall guys (updated)

There are a lot of Autumn, Harvest, and Halloween decorations appearing around town. I thought this fall guy was one of the more aesthetically pleasing. It even has a bit old old iron fence, a topic on which I will someday write.
Another fall guy was hanging out in front of Sears with two similar friends. Last time I went by, they were gone. (Today Sears has a Grand Reopening, celebrating new owners.)
In the eastern part of Rensselaer I saw this funny guy sitting by a house He is more of a Halloween guy than a fall guy.
There was once a brash young man sitting in this chair in the western part of Rensselaer. He insulted an old lady who walked by and she turned him into a pumpkin. He actually looks better this way than what he used to look like.
People seem to enjoy decorating for fall and Halloween almost as much as they enjoy decorating for Christmas.

(About two weeks ago the leaves started turning color. Peak color seems to have occurred this past week when it was cloudy and rainy.)

Update: I stopped by Sears to see for their grand re-opening. The new owners live several blocks down the street from me and have owned it for about two months. There was a period in which Sears was managing the store before they were able to assume command. One interesting bit from the conversation: Sears sets all prices. The store own has no control over price. Is the the norm in franchising?

An now for something completely different. I noticed that the Morningsong Birdseed building had been unusually quiet for the past week or two. Today's Rensselaer Republican mentioned that the company is gone and that the Rensselaer City Gas utility would like to buy the building. Does anyone know what happened? Was it a result of the bad economy? Bird seed is one of those things that people might stop buying when money is tight.