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

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Kid fun

The Cub Scouts had their Pinewood Derby competition this morning.
Many more kids were at the annual Lions/Rensselaer Republican egg hunt in Brookside Park.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Updates and a bit more, 03-30-12

This morning park workers were doing some landscaping work around the new sidewalk to the Talbert Bridge. The concrete was poured yesterday.
The fountain in front of Halleck is no more. Now the mess must be cleaned up.
Also no more is the Sears store in the College Mall. The sign is gone.
The interior of the store shows no evidence that a week ago this was a Sears store. I guess someone forgot to turn out the lights when they left.
The Birthright rummage sale in the basement of St. Augustine's Church was still busy an hour and a half after it opened, but the frenzy of the first hour was gone. It will run until five (or is it six) today, and then from nine until noon tomorrow. People did not complain much about the rise in price from $2.00 a bag to $3.00 a bag. Tomorrow it is $1.00 for any sized bag.
There is a new art show in the Fendig gallery that will run until April 20. It highlights work by the senior art majors and faculty at Saint Joseph's College. The artists' reception is April 13.
This Sunday the SJC bands will hold their annual spring concert.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

A fire in Mt Ayr?

Left today in the comments of a very old post:

That school burned down today. I first the flames at about 5 this morning shooting very high out of the roof. Driving past it now at noon and is still burning. All that is left of the building is the exterior bricks walls. Today is 3/29/12
 Anyone know more? I have not seen anything on Facebook.

Update: Follow the link in the comments for pictures.

Also, see 

More Pictures: See the Facebook page of Historical Newton In and of the Rensselaer Republican.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A last look at a fountain-updated

Below you see one of the last pictures taken of the the reflecting pond in front of Halleck Center.
Moments after I took the picture above, the machine below showed up.
It began the demolition of the reflecting pond.
The plan is to replace it with a brick patio type surface. I cannot say I am sorry to see it go. It was bland--it just was not an attractive or interesting fountain.

I remember one year when someone had the bright idea to put some of the golden carp from the big pond at the entrance into this little pond. Within a week the bottom was full of unsightly carp crap which the light blue bottom highlighted.

The other interesting thing I noticed this morning was work on the path or sidewalk to the bridge in Bicentennial Park.

Update: Below is the results of the first afternoon of demolition.
Also, this morning the concrete was poured for the sidewalk from West Washington to the Talbert Bridge.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

School update

Progress on the new elementary school continues. In the two months since the last post on the school, the brickwork on the south and east sides has been completed. The building would look pretty much completed if the windows were installed.
 As of the beginning of the week, most of the northern wall still was without its brick facade.
 Below is a picture taken on February 3. Most of the east and south sides are still brickless.
By February 12 work had progressed and the south exposure was under wraps.
 Work had begun on the easternmost end of the building on March 13.

Monday, March 26, 2012


The Sears store in the College Mall is now closed--forever, according to the sign on the door. Sears was for many years the dominant retailer in the United States and it had a big presence in Rensselaer when I moved here in 1974. Its local decline has paralleled its national decline. Still, it is sad to see it go, and I hope it is not forever. The closing happened because no one wanted to buy the Rensselaer store from Sears, which had taken it back from its last owner.
A smaller closing that I only recently noticed was Tub Time, a dog grooming business, though I hear that the owner still works out of her home. (The other vacant store in the picture was briefly occupied by the Texas Mercantile Exchange.)
Rensselaer has joined the places that have gas prices above $4.00 a gallon.
There is a bright side to this, sort of. Last time gas prices were really high, in 2008, the dollar was worth a bit more, so the price of gas has to be $4.23 today to be equivalent to the $4.00 in 2008. (That calculation is from the inflation calculator at the Bureau of Labor Statistics.)

(This time I cannot take any credit for raising the gas prices.)

With all that gloomy news, we need something to brighten the day (or night). This afternoon I saw a sight that reminded me of the geysers in Yellowstone National Park. Hot steam was shooting out over the Iroquois River, and it not only looked like a geyser, but it had a whooshing sound much like a geyser.
Do you know what it was that I saw?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Enjoying springtime

The redbuds are blooming, about a month earlier than in 2009. In the background below you can see an oak that has started to leaf out.
At SJC the baseball team was playing, and while I watched them, the team was ahead 3-0. They have not had a good start to the season, losing almost all of their games.

The track team was hosting the one home meet of the season, the Gene and Rose Edmunds Invitational. The weather was ideal, something that is a bit unusual for a meet this early. Marian and North Park sent teams to enjoy the day. Below a girl from Marian almost clears five feet two inches in the high jump.

Did you know that the James Hanley, who was born in Rensselaer, wrote or co-wrote the song, Back Home Again in Indiana, a song played each year at the Indianapolis 500? (Here is Jim Nabors singing the song at the Indianapolis 500 in 2010. Nabors does not live in Indiana, but does have a house in Whitefish, Montana, and my cousin there knows him. That is about as close a connection to a celebrity as I have--it is closer than my connection to Lady Gaga--my sister-in-law rents to one of the people who works on her tours.)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The south came north

Dandelions are blooming! The magnolia trees are beginning to shed their petals, some varieties of maples are done blooming and are developing seeds, and the decorative pears are in their floral prime.

It is amazing how fast the leaves are greening as the result of our very warm March weather. Some neighbors are mowing their yards already because the grass has grown so much. However, it you check Walmart, they have not stocked trees and shrubs yet.

 Lots of people are using Brookside Park, but they have not put out the summer array of garbage cans yet. The schedule says one thing and the weather says something quite different.

A lot of Rensselaer students went south for the spring break, which in most years is a way to get some warm weather a bit early. This year the south came north--those who stayed here had weather as nice as those who left.

 I am ready for a break from the heat.

In some other news, Schmidy Pizza has opened, and Sears is approaching their final closing.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Regional art show--middle school edition

The third and final installment of the regional art show is on display in the Core Building lobby at SJC. Earlier SJC hosted art shows for elementary students from area school, then high school students. Now it is the turn of middle school students, or those from fifth through eighth grade.

Students from the Morocco Elementary School did self portraits in which they traced their hands and feet. Seeing a bunch of them together grabbed my attention. The same school had the students playing with typography, and that will also grab my attention.
The students used the computer to display their names in a script font that was reflected. They printed out the results and decorated it to make a face. Some kids had names that were easier to decorate than others.
A couple of South Newton students had linoleum prints that looked more polished than most or maybe all of the other things on display.
A student from Rensselaer Middle School had a geometric design that made me think of mazes.
I am not sure of the dates for this show--there were no signs up announcing them and I have not seen any notices for the show. The awards ceremony may be in April.

Update: The show runs until April 6.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Early spring

This morning I noticed a peach tree in full blossom. Two years ago the peach tress were blooming on April 10.
I would not bet on a big peach crop, however. What are the odds that we will not have a hard frost sometime in April?

Another picture of spring, this one from a few days ago. The frogs were not making any noise, but if you approached the water, there were plenty of them hopping in.

I tried to work a bit in the garden, but gave up because it was too hot. I did notice that I had a lot of volunteer tomatoes coming up.

update: Today is the vernal equinox, which can be considered the first day of spring.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy St Patrick's Day (updated)

I noticed a house celebrating St. Patrick's Day with a lighted lawn decoration a couple weeks ago. (My picture did not turn out very well--sorry.)
The weathermen say it will be another record-setting day, with a high around 80. One of my fruit trees is getting ready to bloom and I do not think that is a good thing.

Update: The magnolia trees are blooming on the SJC campus. I wonder how often they do that for St. Patrick's Day.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Something from Newton County

The Newton County Park Board is considering buying an 18-acre property in the Roselawn area for a community park. The bit that caught my attention was this:
The funding for this project is possible through resources from the State of Indiana that comes from the Riverboat Funds which are available to Indiana counties that do not have a riverboat. These funds can only be used for recreational projects and cannot be injected into the county general fund.
And my question should be obvious--does Jasper County or communities in Jasper County tap into these funds in any way?

(And while looking at area parks, a long clip on youtube looks at the Delphi Canal Restoration project.)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Blooming trees

We set a new record high temperature yesterday for March 14 and may break the record highs for today and tomorrow. According to Chad on WFLI we will have the longest string of days in March with temperatures at or above 70 degrees since 1910. Though it feels like May, it does not look like May. However, some of the trees are beginning to flower. I think the tree below is a maple.
I think this is another maple, but a different species.
Below is some kind of willow.
Some kind of rose (multiflora?) is sprouting leaves.
My neighbor's magnolia tree is getting ready to bloom. In 2009 they were blooming in mid April.

A trip out of town

(Oops--this was a post that I did not use but left unfinished in the queue with a future date, not quite sure what to do with it. I forgot to change the date, so suddenly it appeared, quite unexpected by me. This is three years old.)

In early March I spent a week in Portland, Oregon. It has a lot of things that Rensselaer does not have, such as large shopping centers with a wide variety of specialty shops, an Apple Mac store a block from out hotel, and downtown they have an enormous bookstore (Powell's). On the other hand, Rensselaer has the Internet, and the Internet is the world's biggest shopping center. The shopping disadvantage of living in a small town is not nearly as big as it was twenty years ago.

Portland has an extensive mass transit system with both street cars and commuter trains. (The street car is below.)
The downtown area is a fare-free zone, so we could travel short distances free. Lots of other people did as well. In contrast, Rensselaer does not even have a taxi. (At least I have not seen the taxi lately--I assume it is out of business.) But then we are too small to really need much.
A strange thing about the transit system was that they rarely checked to see if people actually had purchased the tickets. The economist in me says that a system that allows people to exploit it will be exploited.

I liked some of the civic sculpture. Of the pieces I saw, the elephant near China Town (which probably had very few Chinese left in it) was the most impressive and blows away anything Rensselaer has. On the other hand, on a per capita basis, we probably have as much as they do.
There was a very nice jogging/biking trail along both sides of the river. One morning I went out and ran the three or four mile loop. Rensselaer does not have trails nearly as nice, and I was impressed with the number of people who were commuting via bicycle. On the other hand, Portland does not have an extensive network of country roads within minutes of even the center of town. I think jogging in Rensselaer is better, but would give the biking edge to Portland.
You not only can see the river from the biking/hiking trail, but you can see things like giant ocean ships tied up and being loaded. This 70,000 ton freighter spent a week taking on a load of grain. We have no equivalent to the Willamette River or the ocean commerce is supports.

Nor do we have anything comparable to the spectacular mountains that are in the distance. On the other hand, we could only see Mount Hood for about two hours during the entire time we were there.

Portland had a nice zoo, where the mascot for what was once the Great Northern Railroad could be seen.

Something Portland had a lot of that Rensselaer does not is street people and panhandlers.

They were everywhere. It was odd seeing young, very fit men and women begging.
Some were sleeping under a bridge--the Occupy Movement two and a half years early.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Historical preservation news

The Independence Church is in the news of the historical preservation people. The building and property are now owned by Independence Property Management, Inc.

(I have never actually seen the building--maybe one of these days I will get out there.)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Signs of spring

I noticed a new sign in the part a couple days ago.
Today was the second day the Busy Bee was open. They were doing a brisk business as people were enjoying the warm day we had today. No jackets were needed.
I heard the aircraft with the glider wing (what is the proper name for this aircraft?) today. It is not a vehicle that would be much fun in the winter.
Is it too early to start planting things in the garden?