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

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Mainstreet meeting

On Thursday evening there was a meeting of the Rensselaer Mainstreet group and because the public was invited, I decided it would be fun to go. State Representative Doug Gutwein was there and sat down next to me, so I asked him what was happening with redistricting. Rensselaer will have a new congressman after 2012. The first congressional district, Pete Visclovsky's district, gains some territory to the east and loses three rural counties, Jasper, Newton, and Benton. I found a map on the Internet of proposed districts, and it may be what was enacted. And Rensselaer will have two state senators after 2012. The dividing line for the districts splits Rensselaer. I have not found that map.

I also learned that two thirds of the writing staff for the Rensselaer Republican is leaving. It will be interesting to see how those positions will be filled.

Rensselaer Mainstreet is hopeful that a grant will soon be approved that will fund improvements to Austin Park, including a bridge from the city parking lot across the river. (The plan is to move the old bowstring bridge north of Laird's Landing. However, it is not long enough to cross the span, so it will form only the central part of the new pedestrian bridge.) There was also discussion of proposed improvements to Hanley Park (which I cannot picture--I will have to wait and see what they do.) There was some annoyance on the part of a few people that the Talbert Bridge is not finished. Apparently quite a few folks are already using it despite the "No Trespassing" signs--I have been good and not done so. Also planned for Bicentennial Park are a new shelter and a sidewalk that will connect the bridge to Washington Street. And a representative from Remington's new Mainstreet group was welcomed. In their efforts to improve Remington, they have started a Friday night Farmers Market.

Then it was time for the featured attraction, a tour of the future Embers event hall. Below you can see most of the group getting ready to enter the building.
The building has been cleaned out but there is still a lot of work to do. Several things that I had not seen in previous visits caught my attention. Below is part of an old elevator that once was in the building. It was a hand operated elevator--I recall one from my days in high school in Minnesota. Features like this one will be preserved and highlighted.
Also on the second floor was an old heating stove. I might have seen it previously, but I do not remember it.
The nameplate reads, "Sanitary Hot Blast RoomFurnace Indianapolis Stove Co. Here is a bit about the company.
In the front part of the second floor, the old ceiling, which was in terrible shape, had mostly been torn down, exposing the old wiring (which looks a lot like the old wiring in my house.) After insulation is added, a new drywall ceiling will be installed.
The people of Mainstreet are making Rensselaer a more attractive place to live.

Adventures on the web

I am rather embarrassed that I did not know about this site until one of my sons told another of my sons about it, and the second son told me. It is google maps with a whole lot more information on it. The aerial photographs are a bit old. But if you want to know what the assessed value of any property is, or how much it pays in property taxes, this is the place to go.

Zillow now has limited coverage of Rensselaer. You can see some of the houses for sale, but you cannot get estimated values for houses that are not for sale (or at least I did not see how to do that.) Most of the houses for sale are priced higher than the zillow estimated price.  (One little patch in the middle of the Rensselaer area is for some reason given to Wheatfield. That is rather strange.)

(To see what other counties you can view, see http://www.wthgis.com/company/software/think-gis-web.html.)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Fish out of pond

The fish were out of the pond at SJC yesterday as the cleaning and repairing of the reflecting pond continues.
It looked like they had used some nets to concentrate them into a small space, and then they probably used hand-held nets to capture them.
Two workers were pumping water out of the pond, and there were hoses attached to the fire hydrants so they could push the debris around.

Below is a mystery photo. What is it? (I will give you my answer as to exactly what I think it is in a couple days if no one gives a better answer.)
I missed Taste of Rensselaer--I was out of town. How was it? It appeared to have more food booths than it has had in other years.

While out of town, I had some gas adventures. On Friday I thought I found a great deal on gas in Remington for $3.54 a gallon. But two days later I found gas for only $3.20 in Indianapolis. I was hoping to see similar prices here when I got back, but they did not travel north with me.

Update: The mystery picture is of a bird-poop moth, a moth that is camouflaged to appear as a bird dropping and thereby escape from hungry birds. It may be either Eudryas grata (Beautiful Wood Nymph) or Eudryas Unio (Pearly Wood Nymph).

Eudryas grata

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Common milkweed

Every once in a while I find a flower that I can identify without going to the guide books. Common milkweed, Ascelpias syriaca, is one of them. It has rather pale flowers that are not as attractive as the flowers of swamp milkweed, which blooms a lot later. It is a perennial and a native plant.
The bugs in the photo above are probably milkweed bugs.

Milkweed is a favorite food for the caterpillars of the Monarch butterfly. It can also be human food, though I have not had the desire, much less the courage, to try it. The plant is known for having a toxic sap, and the few insects that feed on the plant are able to incorporate that toxicity as a defense against predators. Its seed pods are often used as decorations.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Trash 80

As I was going past the downtown yesterday, I noticed this old computer sitting outside near the sidewalk. I recognized it immediately as an old Trash 80. The official name was a Radio Shack TSR 80 Model 4. One of the notes on the top indicated that it had had its floppy drives readjusted in 1989. Anyone younger than 25 probably has never seen one of these, and almost certainly has never used one.
The first successful personal computer was the Apple II, which was designed by Steve Wozniak, the less famous founder of Apple. Wozniak was the engineer, Jobs was the marketer. It was introduced in 1977. Others were simultaneously working on similar products, including people for Radio Shack, which introduced its first PC late in 1977. For a few years it, Apple, and Commodore were the big names in the industry. The model 4 was one of Radio Shack's last models, introduced in 1983. I never had a Radio Shack machine, but for a few years was amused with the Texas Instrument home computer, the TI 99/4A. I wrote programs for it and even had one of them published.

The Radio Shack, Texas Instrument, and Commodore offerings faded away after IBM made one of the most colossal blunders in business history by introducing its personal computer. The computer was very successful because it had the IBM name, and this was a time at which the saying in the computer world was that no one ever got fired for buying IBM. Why then was it a blunder? Because IBM did not take the personal computer seriously and thought it was not much more than a toy, they did not bother to write the software that ran the machine, but licensed it from a tiny company called Microsoft (which got the operating system by buying from still another party.) And they did not control the CPU but bought that chip from Intel. As a result, other companies were able to manufacture similar machines, or clones, that ran the same software that the IBM machine ran, and over time their PC sales grew until they were bigger than IBMs. I still recall that the reaction of IBM in the early days was that they were not worried--they thought that they could always reset the standard. But they were wrong--they had one chance to set the standard, and they did not do it in a way that was good for their company. They had given the keys to the future away to Microsoft and Intel, and as a result, both of those companies ended up more important in the computer industry than IBM.

I was surprised to see this antique sitting by the sidewalk. I do not know if it was being thrown away or just moved. I could not resist stopping and taking its picture.

(Of course the thing that made the personal computer ubiquitous was the Internet, and especially the world wide web. Until then it could crunch numbers or words, but it did have the communication function that is now the most important thing that computers do. That revolution did not happen until the mid 1990s. But that is another story.)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Downtown changes

The Welfare office, or more technically, the Family and Social Services Administration, Jasper County Office, Division of Family & Children, has moved offices. They were in the old Sears Building, but since June 14 have been at 331 S College, which is a building that says Jasper County Impact Office. I do not know what Impact was or is or if it is still in that building. So there is another empty spot in the old Sears Building.

An empty spot downtown may soon be filled. The old Horton Building no longer has for rent signs. It is undergoing some cleaning. I know a bit more but do not know if what was told to me was meant to travel any further.

The old J&L Antiques looks like it is almost ready to open as a flea market, but it has looked that way for several weeks and is still not open.

Away from downtown, I noticed a sign on the big building north of Sealy, part of which has been used by the Rensselaer septic tank company. I checked the website of the commercial real estate and management company with the sign, but it did not list the property.

Update: There is now a sign in the window of the old Horton Building that says that it is the future home of a pet grooming business.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Historical dinner

The Jasper County Historical Society had its annual dinner on Tuesday night with a very good attendance. The dinner was a carry-in dinner, and there were many interesting and delicious things from which to choose. (I forgot to take a picture of the dessert table--it had lots of chocolate items.) My table companions talked about many things, including a lot of local genealogy.
Genealogy was also at the heart of the presentation after the dinner. The topic was Simon Kenton, a renowned frontiersman who was born in Virginia and migrated to Pennsylvania and then to Kentucky as a young man. In Kentucky he was a friend of Daniel Boone and other notable frontiersmen, and he actually had more wilderness and other adventures than Daniel Boone. He ended up in Ohio, where he died in 1836. He never set foot in Jasper County. So why the interest in him? After he died, his widow and her children, as well as a couple of his children from his first marriage, moved to our area, and many people in Jasper and adjoining counties are descend from them. But they were not as interesting as their father.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The brush pile is impressive

With all the downed trees from the storms this spring, the city has built an impressive pile just north of the railroad tracks on Mattheson. I do not think it is quite as big as the pile that they built after the ice storm in 2008, but it is still impressive.
The Rensselaer Republican reported that the city crews had picked up 217 tons of branches and trees since June 1, and during May had picked up 310 tons. I wonder how they measure that--they do not weigh the trucks. There are still many branches to be picked up, so the June totals will be somewhat higher even if we avoid another storm.

Today was the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. Now the days start getting shorter, which means that we are heading to winter. Think of that when we get the hots days of summer.

Monday, June 20, 2011

More wet and wild

Our wet and wild weather continued this morning with today's 7:00 a.m. storm. We got a lot of rain and strong winds. Tree damage was especially high around Columbia Park and also near Vine and Mattheson. However, the tree fall that inconvenienced the most people was near Front and Kellner Streets near the the city parking lot. It knocked down power lines that supply power to the downtown. By the time I took the picture below, the tree had been removed from the street and the power lines restored. (Notice the new cross ties on the power pole.) What appears to have been the telephone cable was still down.

Wild garlic and other smelly food

One of the native plants that is fairly common along the roads is a wild onion, Allium canadense, which is commonly called wild garlic or wild onion. It has small flowers that are not conspicuous, and mixed in with the flowers are little bulblets. The leaves are not at all onion-like--they look like grass.
All the wild onions are edible. I took a bite of one of the little bulblets and found it was full of flavor--a bit too much. Mild is not the word that I would use to describe it. The one native wild onion that is widely used for food is the wild leek, allium tricoccum, which in the Appalachian region is called the ramp. When I lived in West Virginia many years ago, one of the celebrations of spring were ramp dinners. The leaves of the wild leeks were gathered and prepared as the vegetable for a dinner with ham and cornbread. Newcomers were warned that if they went to a ramp dinner, everyone would know where they had been for several days after--the smell of the ramps would stay with you.

I do not know if ramps or wild leeks grow in our area. If they do, I would love to find some. They seem to be a plant of the woods, not of the prairie.

Onions can be frozen as a way to preserve them. We tried it. What we did not know is that even if you double-bag the frozen onions, the smell of onion will escape and every time you open the freezer, you will get the onion smell. Maybe if you use glass containers you can contain the smell.

I will forgo experimenting with wild garlic because I have a patch of Egyptian walking onions. also known as tree onions. They are a hybrid between the common onion and another species. They come up every year, and if you leave them alone they spread rapidly in two ways. First, the bulbs from the previous year will split and become two onions in the spring. And second, the little bulblets that form instead of flowers will drop off in the fall and become new plants in the spring. So a tiny patch can become a rather big patch in just a few years.

I have found two ways to use them. First, in the spring you can dig them up and use them as green onions. The ones I have have a mild flavor, but apparently that is not true of all of them. As summer approaches, the bulbs become woody and are not appealing, but by then the bulblets on the top are forming. They can be collected and cooked with peas or beans and are quite tasty, though you may have to peel off the outer layer to get to the soft insides.

This year, perhaps because of the heat, there were some flowers on these onions. You can see a few of them on the left side of the picture below.
If you would like to start your own patch of walking onions, contact me. I am willing to share.

Friday, June 17, 2011

It has been an uneventful week

There has not been a lot happening in my world this week, at least not a lot that merits posting on this blog. Some weeks are like this.

The construction of the new elementary school on Melville seems to be going very slowly. Perhaps all the water has slowed them down. They are still in the dirt-moving stage.
There is a new house under construction on the corner of Elm and Franklin. It too has been going very slowly. The hole was dug several weeks ago and they are just completing the crawl space.
The high water in the river has delayed the river float until July 16, the same day as the opening of the fair and a music festival at Fair Oaks Farms. The float in Newton County took place on June 11 and over 20 people participated. Did you know that the Iroquois is considered navigable waters, so has different rules than the ditches of the county, which are not categorized as navigable? A farmer may own both banks and the bottom of the river, but he does not own the river. Hence, you can canoe or boat through his property, but if you stop and get out of your boat to portage around fallen trees, you are trespassing. (One of the groups promoting the river float is Friends of the Iroquois River.)

I noticed that the quickie-lube place behind McDonald's has "opening soon" signs up. What is the story? New management?

A couple weekends ago I crossed I-65 on SR 10 and noticed that what seemed to be a very large gas station was under construction. That should increase the appeal of that exit. I recall when Rensselaer's exit was one of the major exits between Chicago and Indianapolis. It has stagnated while others have developed. Is that because it was first, and now the structures are showing their age? (The abandoned Grandma's Restaurant looks horrible.) Or is it because the sewer and water hook-ups limit what can be done there? Or is there truth to rumors that at least one of the businesses located out there has blocked development that might be competitive?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Fleabane

These little daisies are blooming along Drexel Drive this week. They look a lot like asters, but they are from a closely related group of plants called fleabanes. This one is probably annual fleabane, Erigeron annuus, or daisy fleabane, Erigeron strigosus. Daisy fleabane has narrower leaves than annual fleabane, and the leaves of annual fleabane wrap around the stem, which is hairier. However, I did not know this when I took the picture, so did not do a close inspection of the lower leaves.
Other than being pretty little daisies, they seem to have not particular use. At one time people thought that the dried plants repelled fleas, which is why they have the name, but if any of the fleabanes did, daisy and annual fleabane do not. As the photo shows, the flowers attract lots of little insects.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Cheering the weekend

It was a rather quiet weekend for me, but not for everyone. The Rensselaer High School reunion was a big event for some. I heard one person complain that more recent classes do not take it as seriously as the older classes. Do you think that could be because younger people are connected via social networks that substitute for reunions?

Remington had its first annual Water Tower Days Festival, and judging by the pictures on Facebook, it was well attended.

The pool at Brookside Park opened just in time to catch the cold snap that we are having.

The third annual Mustang Roundup was held on Sunday afternoon. Among the highlights was the attendance by a couple of cheerleaders from the Indiana Pacers. Is that a full-time job? The cheerleaders for the sports teams do a lot of public relations work for their franchises. Below you can see them helping with the auction that raised money for the Good Samaritan Food Pantry.
A few days ago the Morocco Times posted about 100 pictures of Morocco on Facebook.

What have I missed?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Internet rules

On Friday I saw that a new name had been painted on the SJC water tower: saintjoe.edu.
I cannot imagine that happening under the last president. He kept asking why the school spent so much money on the Internet, and was it really necessary for education. Things have changed out there since I left.

The plan is for a Puma paw to be painted on the other side of the tank.

On the topic of Internet, SJC lauched a new athletics page on June 1, and the athletics department began a new new Facebook page (which still does not have may likes) in May. For the past year the college has systematically been using youtube--before that it was erratic. And I do not know if it is just my computer or it is a more general problem, but I have problems getting the SJC website if I type in saintjoe.edu. I need to type in the www to get it, www.saintjoe.edu.

Update: I have tried to avoid the news of the Casey Anthony trial, but cannot do that completely because it is omnipresent on the news. However, this trial is connected to Saint Joseph's College. How? Think bugs.

Update 2: The back side of the water tower is now painted as of Saturday afternoon.


Speaking of signage, the Fellows of the college have as their project the new signs. Many or most of the new signs have been installed, but the project also plans for some kiosks. In my early SJC years, I was able to convince the powers that be that a kiosk would be good for the college, and as a result, one was built between Dwenger Hall and the old Post Office in the little triangle that intersecting sidewalks create. It stood for about five years and was used heavily. In those days all the classrooms were in Science Hall, and before the Internet a daily trip to the post office was a necessity for college students. Then one day a truck bumped into it and damaged it. Rather than repair it. it was removed and my one contribution to the physical plant at SJC disappeared forever. In its place is a flower bed.

I will be interested to see what the new kiosks look like, what their purpose will be, and where they will be located. I doubt if they will have the function of the old kiosk, which was an outdoor bulletin board. The need for that has diminished as students get information on-line.

And on a completely different topic, today was the first day that the pool in Brookside Park was open. There were a lot of people in the park for graduation parties, class reunions, and family reunions, but the pool was almost empty. It was a bit chilly getting in, but once you got over the initial shock, it felt fine.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Things missing

There is something missing from this tree. No, I do not mean the branch.
Last night lightning struck the tree and blew off all the bark on the lower part of the tree. The tree is in Weston Cemetery along the creek.

This morning I also noticed something missing in Brookside Park, though it may have been missing for a few weeks. Do you notice what is not there in the little playground next to the basketball court? I do not know what the story is, but if you do know, tell us in the comments. Betty will miss it next time she visits.
There is a plaque by this playground that I do not think I have ever included in my collection of plaques. You cannot see the top well, but the whole plaque reads:
Project P.L.A.Y.
People laboring to aid youth donated by the Gallagher Charitable Society Saint Joseph's College and Jasper Foundation Inc April 3, 1997.


Update: A source that should know told me that the reason that the Emma House was removed from the park was that it was constantly being vandalized. It now has a new home where it will not be vandalized, but it also will not have more than a handful of kids playing in it.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Painting the SJC water tower

Earlier this week four men were painting the water tower at SJC. As I watched them, I kept thinking that this would be a great job for Mike Rowe and his show, Dirty Jobs. I especially would like to see him doing the work that the guy on the ladder is doing. Just the thought of being on a ladder that is hanging in the air gives me the willies. As for the guys on ropes, I have a relative who likes dangling from ropes, so I have gotten used to that idea.
The way this crew is painting the water tower is different from the way another crew painted the Rensselaer water tower a year or two ago. That crew used a bucket lift to get them where they wanted to be. Maybe that worked better for the newer design of the city water tower.

They were even painting the metal supports that crisscross underneath the tank.
Maybe if I got poles as long as these guys use, I could paint my entire house without leaving the ground.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

It's 8:52 and ...

This morning at 8:52 the temperature was 84 degrees. Yesterday we had a high of 97° and may match that today.
The LaRue pool may open Saturday. The park is having problems with pumps and fittings.

On the bright side, the weather has made my garden grow--the change is noticeable from day to day.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

It's four o'clock

I noticed these pretty flowers along the railroad tracks on Monday morning and did not know what they were. A check of my Peterson's Field Guide to Wildflowers told me it was Mirabilis Nyctaginea, commonly called Wild Four O'Clock. It is a native plant that likes disturbed areas and is often found along railroads.
It does not seem to be useful for anything and is sometimes considered a weed. It may also be poisonous, so should not be eaten. One of the sites I found on the Internet said that the flowers are only open for a few hours, so I guess I was lucky to catch them looking the way they do in these pictures. And that probably explains why it is not grown as a garden flower.
The way the leaves are paired is quite distinctive.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Wonderful water

The LaRue Pool has been filled. The Rensselaer Republican reported that the pool may open Wednesday or Thursday. People with their own pools have been enjoying them for a couple of weeks, and I hear cries of joy emanating from several nearby. Water is wonderful when the weather is as hot and humid as it will be this week.

Speaking of water, Lake Banet is overflowing. There is a low spot on the southwest side of the Lake where it can flow out into a swampy area when it gets too high, and it was flowing out this morning.

It looks like it will be a quiet week. However, I thought the same thing last week--I did not expect to post much because I had nothing planned, but things turned up.

Update: Strawberry season is here. Gilmore's truck is selling them in Jordan Floral's parking lot. She said they were about a week late this year.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Track update

Rensselaer Central High School finished tied for 43rd and West Central High School tied for 64th place in the girls track and field state finals on Saturday. The five points that Rensselaer received were scored by Chelsie Meeks, who threw the discus 135 feet and five inches on her fifth toss. The girl from Portage who had beaten Meeks in the regionals and had entered the meet as number one seed did not place in the top nine, but do not feel to bad for her. She won the shot put and set a new state record. West Central's Marissa Hamilton jumped five feet and five inches to finish ninth in the high jump and score one point. That is enough to give her All-State honors.

There were a number of records set in both boys and girls meets and several of them were "wow" performances. Austin Mudd of Center Grove set new records in both the 1600 meter run and the 800 meter run. In the 1600 meter run he broke a 1976 Rudy Chapa record--Chapa is considered to be the best high school distance runner ever in Indiana. In the 800 meter run he became the first Indiana high school runner to break the 1:50 mark in the state meet. In the girls meet, Waverly Neer of Culver Academies broke the old records in both the 1600 meter run and the 3200 meter run. She set the 1600 record by over six seconds and beat her nearest competitor by almost 12 seconds. In the 3200 she only clipped a bit more than three seconds off the record, but was over 30 seconds ahead of second place. Wow, just wow for both of these runners. To set state records in two distance events in one meet is simply unreal.

All results from the ihsaa.org website. (See here for the preview.)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Another storm

The storms just keep coming. We had the power flicker off and on three times as the storm approached, and there were a number of trees and large branches down. The one that impressed me the most was the one in my front yard. As the storm passed, a neighbor got his chain saw out and cut it up so it would not block the street. With other neighbors we dragged it to the curb. I saw on Facebook that the Fair Oaks Farms Fondue Festival, which was scheduled for today and tomorrow, will not be held tomorrow because of the storm. They had a picture of a collapsed tent. I also saw a report that there may have been another small tornado with the storm, north of Rensselaer. Damage from the storm is widespread in the area, and some towns seem to have been hit worse than Rensselaer.

As I was looking around the area to see how much damage the storm had done, I discovered that work has begun on the Talbert Bridge railing. The rail for the main span looks mostly done, but the rail for the approaches still needs to be put up. Maybe, just maybe, the bridge will open next week.

Update: The National Weather service details the damage from the storm. It was especially damaging in Lake into northern Jasper County.

Update 2: The town of Brookston was without power for three days as a result of the storm. Some residents in northern Jasper County also had power outages measured in days rather than hours.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Quilts at the Jasper County Historical Society museum

The summer show at the Jasper County Historical Society museum is a quilt exhibit.
 It is a small show of older quilts. One that was interesting though not visually impressive is the Class of 1936 signature quilt. The students of the class were given fabric squares to take home and embroider with their names, and those squares were then made into a quilt that is now in the collection of the museum. The papers on the quilt give the list of members of the class as well as a list of those who still live in Rensselaer. One of them is my neighbor, and all of them are in their nineties.
 More interesting visually was an unusual biscuit or puff quilt. These were quite fashionable at the end of the 19th century.
 The exhibit is not as big but very different from the last quilt exhibit in Rensselaer, one two summers ago at the Carnegie Center. But as the summer goes on, it will probably add more quilts--usually the locally assembled exhibits there grow over their run.

You can see them this Saturday. The museum is open the first and third Saturdays of each month, from 10:00 till 1:00.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Snow in June?

I was going past Ayda's and Slice of Pie Pizza (now open) and saw white stuff on the sidewalk. Did we have a freak snowfall? Did one of the restaurants throw out ice shavings? Was it lint from the laundry across the street? What do you think it was?

Newton County news

I was driving through Newton County today and noticed a new sign along US 41 about a mile north of the Nature Conservancy headquarters.
There is a gravel pullout by the sign, and a much bigger gravel pullout on the northbound lanes of US 41. But if you are in a hurry, you can read the sign here.
Bogus Island would be an interesting place to see if it had not been destroyed.
I do not really believe that hundreds of fowl could be taken with one shot from a hunter's gun. That sounds like a tall tale that hunters tell. And the sign was not erected in 2010. It was put up this morning. The folks at the Nature Conservancy told me that when I visited.

They are getting ready to move into their new building. I had seen pictures of it from their Facebook page, so I wanted to stop by and see how progress was going. (They were working on parking areas while I was there.)
They were not yet in the new building, but were still in the old house that they had transformed into an office. They said that they would be moving in mid June, which is really close, and that they did not know what they would use the old building for. The new quarters should be more visitor friendly--I felt a bit like an intruder in their current "office."
I wanted to walk one of their three trails, but the Unit K Trail, which starts next to the office building, was very wet and had not been mowed, so it would have been hard to complete. They recommended I try the Conrad Station trail or the Unit B Trail, which is on CR 600N. The Unit B trail was out of my way, but one of these days I will make it in my way.
NICHES has a lot less acreage, but as much hiking trail and they are closer.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Summer projects at SJC--Updated

When school lets out, SJC begins a variety of summer improvements and maintenance projects. A high visibility project this year will be work on the water tower. (If you drive through the campus area, you may find that you may have to detour because the road by the water tower may be closed.) The work has begun, but high winds on Tuesday kept workers off the tank. The ladder hanging down from the tank was blowing in the wind and was an odd sight.

This tank is a replacement tank that was installed nine years ago, in 2002. For some pictures of its installation, see here.
Another water project at SJC is work on the reflecting pond. It has been partially drained and workers were dredging sludge from the bottom on Tuesday. The central fountain needs extensive repair, partly due to age but partly due to the ice that has in the past been allowed to build up in the winter. Recently the college has turned the fountain off in the winter to prevent that sort of damage, but the ice can be quite impressive if they do not. Here are some pictures of the ice from the winter of 2002-2003.
If they would remove the carp, which is what goldfish are, from the pond, they would have less sludge to clean up every few years.

Another big project is tuck pointing McHale Hall. I think I saw some scaffolding there last week, but did not get close enough to take a picture. This week it was gone.

The small trees that last week's tornado blew down have been removed, leaving stumps. There are about the same number of stumps here as by the tennis courts, where several old trees were removed during the school year. I hope SJC has been planting as many trees as they have been removing lately.
The big, downed tree south of McHale is still there, but fenced off.

I am hoping that there will be some other, non-SJC construction news later today, work that was supposed to be done last week.

Update: I went out to SJC this morning and got the kind of pictures I wanted yesterday--men at heights. First, the tuckpointing on McHale:

But at much greater heights were three guys pressure washing the water tank.
On this picture the guy washing the tank is using the permanent ladder, but he later switched to the other ladder, the one that was dangling in the wind yesterday.
It is moments like these when I wish I had a better camera.