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

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Last recess--ever

School will be out for the summer in an hour. For Monnett School, today was the last day. Here are two pictures of kids enjoying their last recess (actually lunch break) at Monnett. Next year when school restarts, these playgrounds will be quiet.
Some of the kids are wearing jackets. Weather sure changes from week to week.
While I was out of town, there was an accident at the Cullen Street railroad crossing. The debris has been cleaned up, but there was damage to the platform rail, one light post, and one of the posts that held up a sign that identified the station as Rensselaer. Fortunately it should have no effect on Amtrak operations--all the passenger boarding and deboarding happens at the other end of the platform.
A lot of progress has been made on the bridge that will connect Austin Park to the city parking lot. This is a much bigger (and undoubtedly much more expensive) project than the Talbert Bridge project. Hopefully it will also be much quicker.
I first thought that this sign on College near the bridge was for the Austin Park project, but after I saw the bottom part, which is not on the other side, I decided it was probably for work on the water treatment plant.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Where was I?

I have been away from Rensselaer for a few days and may need some time to catch up with with has been happening here.

See if you can tell from the following pictures where I was. And if you can do that, see if you can identify what each picture shows. (I will add some comments to the pictures in a day or two or three.)

Update 1: Two commenters have correctly identified the area as the Salt Lake Metro area. Now for the hard part. Each of the pictures represents something important about Salt Lake City. What is each picture trying to show?

Comments on the pictures:

1. The first pictures suggests that the city is a state capitol. SLC is the capitol of Utah. The other thing of interest in the picture is the street name, South Temple. Turning left takes one past the headquarters of the Latter Day Saints--i.e., the Mormons.

2. The mural is in an old railroad passenger station that no longer is used, at least not for train passengers. The date above the mural is 1869, and if you remember American history, you might recognize that that is the year in which the first transcontinental rail route was completed. The meeting of the line coming from the east with the line coming from the west did not happen in SLC, which was south of the line, but it was in Utah.

3. The plane is a SR 71, Blackbird. It was introduced in 1964 and still holds a number of aviation records. A spy plane, it was never shot down--the Russians did not have a fighter that could fly high enough to reach it, and when a surface-to-air missile was launched against it, it would simply speed up and outrun the missile. The plane is at the museum at the Hill Air Force Base north of SLC. The museum is large and impressive.

4. The Kennecott Copper mine to the south west of SLC claims to be the biggest man-made hole on earth. It is three-fourths of a mile deep and two and ha half miles across. The ore contains only about 1% copper, but it is mined on a massive scale, and the mine has produced over 17 million tons of copper over is long life. The valuable minerals are the result of an volcanic intrusion, so the ore continues as deep as they have drilled. As long as they can keep going deeper, there will be ore. The refining process is quite complex, and part of it takes place about twenty miles to the north of the mine, near the Great Salt Lake. There are miles of tailing along I-80, and a smelter with a chimney 1200 feet tall.

The mine seems to be on the itinerary of every tour bus that goes through SLC.

5. The Great Salt Lake as seen from Antelope Island State Park. The water here is very shallow, and one can walk out for hundred of yards. There are no fish the live in the lake but apparently some insects can breed in it. It is not a lake with a lot of recreational potential.

Monday, May 28, 2012


I continue to play with tessellations and found one that reminds me of a big event coming this July.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Old SJC pictures

Several weeks ago a friend let me see an old book he had of Saint Joseph's College pictures. The book was a supplement to the Annual Catalog and was published in 1923.
The shot below was probably taken from the water tower. You can see the science building on the upper left. The baseball field that is long gone, but was discussed here. The building in the middle was Gaspar Hall, and I once had an office there. The leftmost window on the third floor was one of my office windows. The old administration building, which burned a year or two before I arrived, is on the right. On the bottom of the picture you can see the roof of Dwenger Hall.
Dwenger Hall, built as an infirmary, still looks much like it did in 1923, though it has not been used for over a dozen years. I also had an office in this building. My office was behind the left window over the porch. When this picture was taken, both windows over the porch were in the same room. When the building was converted to faculty offices in the late 1970s or early 1980s, that room was split. The late David Osterfeld had the other half and the window on the right.
Below is another look at the baseball field that was to the east of the Science Building.
The top row of pictures shows the science building looking toward the east and some of the auxiliary buidings. I am not completely sure about the second row, but I think it shows the buildings east of the water tower. The third row seems to be the farm buildings which are about a half mile west of Sparling Avenue.
The reflecting pond still has the same shape, but the ornamentation is very different.
I think this classroom was still pretty much the same when I arrived at SJC. It looks like a classroom on the third floor of the science building.
The basketball court occupied space that is now part of the library.
The dining hall would have been in the basement of the chapel.
The gymnastics apparatus was common in colleges and high schools early in the twentieth century. I do not know where it would have been located.
The football team from almost 90 years ago.
The school then was very different from the school now.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Washing the car wash

A while back I noticed strange activity at the car wash south of Walgreens.
There were workers who were washing the car wash.
It had never occurred to me that a car wash would need to be cleaned, but it does make sense, and apparently there are companies who provide that service to those who own car washes.

Friday, May 18, 2012


The Prairie Arts Council has an exhibit of painting, sculptures, and other art objects by John Mullin that runs until June 15, 2012. The title of the exhibit is Static-Kinetic and most of the objects have a swoosh-like appearance.
Mr. Mullin is a graphic artist from northwestern Indiana where he owns a graphic design and sign company and has been president of the Chesterton Art Center for 20 years.
The bit of art that impressed me most is not currently showing, but was on display at the reception for the artist earlier this month. He had several books that he had designed and printed through SnapFish. One was a book of letters, where the letters made up an object that started with the letter. So it had an airplane made of "A"s and a train made of "T"s. I was mildly impressed until I learned that he had done all the lettering with a pen. (He then digitized it and colored the digitized copy.) Then I was very impressed. I talked to Mr. Mullin, and he said he was trying to get his letter book published--it would make a great kids book. I suggested that if he could not find a existing publisher to produce the book, he consider self publishing through CreateSpace, Amazon's print-on-demand publisher.

I hope he finds a way to make the book available to the public.

The exhibit is open the the public Mondays, Tuesday, Thursdays, and Fridays from 10 until 2.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Back Home decoration

Mainstreet Rensselaer is sponsoring a Back Home decorating campaign as part of the Indianapolis 500 outreach program. Most of the stores in downtown Rensselaer have checkered racing flags decorating their windows, but the best Back Home decoration I have come across is that one that Saint Augustine's School put up on the Susan Lot. It is visible to cars driving on US 231 (McKinley Street).
Have you seen a better one?

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Final eight-updated

The Saint Joseph's College softball team made it to the final eight in the NCAA Division II tournament by defeating Northern Kentucky today. They are the only GLVC team left in the field, and have the fewest wins (34) of the teams in the field. Until this year, I do not believe that SJC ever made the NCAA tournament, so they have had an outstanding season. Their next opponent is Southern Connecticut State on Wednesday.

In other sports news, Rensselaer discuss thrower extraordinaire Chelsie Meeks broke the Hoosier Conference discus record at West Lafayette last night and she did it emphatically. Her throw of 137 feet nine inches crushed the old mark of 130 feet five inches set in 1997 by a Benton Central girl. You can download the results of the meet here.

Update: Saint Joe's softball team lost its first game to Southern Connecticut 2-3, beat and eliminated Flagler University 5-3, than lost to and was eliminated by UC-San Diego 1-2 in 11 innings.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Miscellany for May, 2012 (Updated)

It has been a quiet week for me, and I have not found much to write about. Plus other projects are keeping me busy. Today I heard banging on the water tower and looked up to see three guys doing something up there. The one who was hanging over the side was welding, and I think he was the one hammering on the tank. One seemed to notice that I was looking up at them and seemed to be waving at me.
The Rensselaer Republican noted that the pedestrian bridge linking the city parking lot (which used to be Glazebrook Park) to Austin Park is back on the go list. The surveyors left behind markings that are mysterious to me but mean something to surveyors. The plan is to move the old bowstring arch bridge north of Laird's Landing. It has been a while since I was out that way, but one my early posts was about that bridge.
A week or so ago I traveled north to Shady Pines Golf Course. We had unexpected visitors and wanted to go out to eat, but it was the day of the water main break and some of the local restaurants had closed, plus we had a voucher for the Shady Pines. Their menu was limited, but the food was good and reasonably priced. (We discovered our waitress had a son who had appeared in the college play and were able to tell her how much we enjoyed his performance--it is a small world.)

On the way there I snapped a quick picture of construction just north of Jasper Junction. It is a trucking facility for a trucking company owned by Ron Kasparian. He started his company while he was in college and for a while was renting space in the old Schumacher Building, where American Melt Blown and Filtration is now.
Speaking of Jasper Junction, you may have noticed that they are trying to sell their property. They are not going out of business. Rather they would like to relocate in Rensselaer. CDC, which provides services for intellectually and developmentally disabled adults, also has a thrift store in Monticello. Their original location, just south of Indiana Beach, had a fire, and they relocated near the downtown. The results for their revenue were dramatic. They believe a better location for the Rensselaer facility would do the same here. However, they face two problems: selling the old property and finding a new one.

What else? The river float rescheduled for tomorrow has been canceled. Not enough people signed up to make it worthwhile for the canoe rental company. I have signed up for all of the canceled floats and missed the one that actually went--I had something else that weekend. However, many years ago I did float a bit of the river in a rubber raft--back when my kids still were at home.

My oldest child is planning to attend the 20th year class reunion for her high school class this summer. That makes me feel old. I graduated in the mid 1960s, and my fiftieth year class reunion will soon be here. When I graduated, the people who had been out for twenty years had graduated during WWII, which for me was ancient history. The people celebrating their fiftieth had graduated before the U.S. entered WWI, which was so far in the past I could not relate to it. So I suspect that the kids graduating this year cannot really imagine what life was like in the ancient past when I was in high school. (We did not have computers or the Internet or cable TV or cell phones--how could people live like that?)

Update: On Monday (May 14, 2012) the workers were pressure washing the water tower. The work they were doing last week was to install a ladder from the walkway around the base of the tank to the top of the tank.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Ripping up streets to fix them

The Melville storm sewer project from last fall seems to be in its final stages. All the storm sewer lines seem to be in place, and the curbs and sidewalks look finished. Yesterday Workers were ripping out little sections of street so that a clean repaving can be done.
Several species of trees are still recovering from the frost and freezes this spring. The mulberries look terrible and many of the sycamores still have sparse foliage.

Men's softball games have begun at Brookside Park.

I am still struggling to get my garden in. If you garden, I hope you are in better shape than I am.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Primary elections are Tuesday (Updated)

Update: The Jasper County results can be downloaded from the Jasper County Clerk's site.

We have a primary election on Tuesday. Four years ago the Democratic primary looked more interesting than the Republican primary because there was still a race between Clinton and Obama. This year the Republican primary looks more interesting because there is a race between Lugar and Mourdock, and because there are more state and county offices that are being contested.

The Lugar-Mourdock contest will be the one attracting national attention. I have seen reports that Lugar is ahead as well as reports that Mourdock is ahead. Lugar has served six terms in office and is 80 years old. I think it is unfortunate that he did not bow out, but politicians of both parties seem unable to let go of office no matter how old they are.

There is a contest for U.S congressman on the Democratic side between Tara Nelson and Lester Moore to face Todd Rokita. Jasper County no longer is in the congressional district with Lake and Porter counties.

State Representative Douglas Gutwein is being challenged by Diana Boersma. It it hard to figure out why she is running from her campaign ads and her statement in the Primary Profiles that the Rensselaer Republican ran, but the underlying issue seems to be the right-to-work law, a law that bans companies from requiring employees to join a union as a condition for work. She apparently opposes this law, which Gutwein supported. It is ironic that she quotes Ronald Reagan in her ads because she is running to the left of Gutwein.

On the Democratic side, Richard Ludington and John "the man" Malan are candidates. ((The second name is from the official list of candidates.)

The most interesting races on the ticket may be the county elections. The county has three commissioners who form the executive branch, and seven members of the county council who form the legislative branch. Four of the council members represent geographical area and there is no mention of any of them on the list of candidates. Six people are running for the three at large positions on the Republican side. I have commented previously on the county tax issue, so I was interested in seeing what they had to say about it. (See the post here, which has links to some previous posts.)

Gerritt DeVries is presently on the council and his main issue is the tax. "In talks with many, the biggest issue is total disgust with the state's second highest county income tax....The income tax structure implemented in 2008 will automatically increase each year to 3.75 percent unless the county council deliberately votes to change this. John Price and I have pledged to do so." And in response to why voters should support him, he replies, "So that I continue in this fight for income tax justice. Giant corporations should not get property tax subsidy from income taxes taken from your paychecks, nor should those property tax credits give more actual dollars to those in higher assessed homes than yours, as percentage based credits automatically do. Property owners not living and working in Jasper County should not be sharing in our property tax credits. That's what happening and it stinks."

He could not be any clearer that for him the tax issues is the issue we should be paying attention to.

John Price is another incumbent who dislikes the current tax structure. He says the biggest issue facing Jasper County is "[t[he very high county income tax hurting job and tax base growth, which eventually will lead to higher taxes for everyone."

The third incumbent, Charles Hamstra, talks in generalities: "The issues facing the county are taxes as well as economic growth and the development role of the county and government."  "My intention is to stay focused on the issues that are important to the citizens of Jasper County." What does that mean?

Larry Kosanovich has a clear position on taxes, and it is that the present structure is good: "I am committed to a fair and equitable tax system for all Jasper County tax payers. What does this mean? It means leaving the tax structure the same."

Andrew Andree hints that he agrees more with DeVries and Price than with Kosanovich: "Probably the biggest issue in our county is the income tax issue. I am hoping to explore some ways that the board can lower our county income taxes and promote business as an economic engine.

Finally, Linda Comingore says that she is "well aware of the role and effect of both income taxes and property taxes on individuals and businesses." I am not sure what that means in terms of whether she is comfortable with the present structure of taxes or not.

It should be an interesting election. But most of them are.

A new event?

The GLVC track and field meet started today at SJC. Below you can see athletes getting ready for a new event, women's jousting.
Not visible, but also going on was the women's javelin throw.

(Sorry, but I could not resist the jousting comment. If you do not know what event these girls are preparing for, this post may help.)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Friends of the Lake--updated

Saint Joseph's College has a new program for those who want to use Lake Banet this summer that is open to the public. For $25 you can be a Friend of the Lake at the St. Francis level and that gives you a personal swimming pass.  For $50 you can be a Friend of the Lake at the St. Anne level and that gives you a family swimming pass. Finally, for $100 you can be Friend of the Lake at the St. Andrew and Peter level and, as the name implies, you will get a fishing pass in addition to a family swimming pass.

The cost of the swimming passes is similar to the cost of the passes for the LaRue Pool in Brookside Park. The lake has sand (which you may consider a feature or a bug), which the pool does not.

The Lake Banet Grand Opening will be Saturday, May 26 from 1:00 until 6:00.

For more information, call 219.866.6386 or email kcq7495 at, naturally,

The Lake Banet Park was established for use of students and employees of Saint Joseph's College. During the summer there are few students around, and a surprising number of employees do not live in or near Rensselaer.
When it was first opened, there were quite a few people using it, but in the past few years attendance has been low. I think opening it up in this way is a good idea. (However, Brookside Park is far more convenient for me, so I doubt if you will see me out at the lake this summer.)

A few other notes from SJC:

The patio in front of Halleck Center is complete. It replaces a fountain that was removed in March. (See here and here.) The new brickwork makes the space far more useable. Notice the corners--they are made of old brick from sidewalks in the grotto or north of the science building that were torn up.
The fiftieth anniversary of the Eisenhower visit to Rensselaer to lay the cornerstone for Halleck Center will occur this year.

 A couple weeks ago I noticed construction of something behind the baseball field.
 Most of the construction is complete, but I still was not sure what it was, so I asked. It will be the new area for the hammer throw and discus. Netting to be installed will prevent any errant throws from doing damage.
 A few years ago some throw, I think it was a hammer throw, hit the power line that crosses just to the north of the old launching area (seen next to Sparling Avenue in the picture above) and took out the power to the campus.

Update: The hammer cage will be completed just in time for the GLVC Track and Field Championships, starting Friday. For more information, see here.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

New neighbors gone already

A few days ago I posted a picture of a nest of cardinals that was in the bushes next to our house. A few days ago one of the chicks left the nest, leaving its sibling alone.
 Yesterday that chick left, and the nest was empty.
 This afternoon I found one of them was still hanging around in our shrubbery. It does not look much like a cardinal, but even though it is small, it can fly a bit, from twig to twig.
These baby birds sure grow up fast.

I had never seen a nest of cardinals before.