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

Saturday, June 30, 2012


What happened to June? It seems as if it just started and now it is almost finished? Are you ready for a burst of summer-time events?

Tonight we have the Taste of Rensselaer and this morning people were busy setting up the booths.
The Fourth of July falls on a Wednesday this year, so some 4th celebrations will take place this weekend, some on Wednesday, and some next weekend. Next weekend Rensselaer will be focused on cars with two car shows and Cruise night. The week following will have the Fendig Summer Theater production and the start of the county fair. I hope the weather is cool enough to let us enjoy them all.

We had a nice rain last night--I think I got about an inch--and there were showers yesterday and the day before to our north and east, but the rain has had almost no impact on level of the river. The ground just soaked it all up. I am sure the farmers were very happy to get the moisture.

I stopped by the farmers' market this morning to see what my garden would be producing if the rabbits had not annihilated it. I should be getting beans and kohlrabi.

Last night the LaRue Pool had their first dollar night. The attendance was good, but not as large as that on Thursday night, when the heat brought out what may have been the biggest crowd the pool has seen this season. During dollar nights they have some games. Below you can see the start of the cracker relay race--each swimmer swims to the other side of the pool, eats a cracker, and when he or she can whistle, jumps back in and swims back.
Update: The Taste of Rensselaer had a good turnout on Saturday night. The weather was decent for the end of June and that certainly contributed to the large crowd. This year there were some inflatables for the kids (there were a lot of kids there) and the picnic tables were under canopies.
 Both the Carnegie Players and the Fendig Theater were handing out fliers reminding people of their upcoming performances.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Construction update June-2012

Last week we heard the hammering at the water treatment plant. The result was a hole sunk into the bedrock. Can you see where the workers broke a pipe in the lower left?
It did not take long for a cement floor to be installed.
Yesterday workers were putting up re-bar for the walls.
Meanwhile, the south approach for the new Austin Street pedestrian bridge is taking shape.
The workers are still busy on the north side.
Between these two projects is a much smaller project. Slice of Pie Pizza has completed their new river-overlook patio area.
It might be too hot to use it today.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Programs for kids

Rensselaer has a lot of summer programs for children. The Park Board sponsors tee ball and more advanced baseball as well as the summer swim team, which will soon end its season. (I have never found an opportunity to do a post on the summer swim team, which I regret because it was a big part of our summers during the 1980s and into the 1990s.) This week many kids are in various art camp activities. Also, the Jasper County Library has lots of special events. On Wednesday it featured a guy who could make all kids of interesting things from balloons. He had a large, enthusiastic audience.
I finally got to go to one of the free Wednesday movies at Fountain Stone Theaters. However, the four-year old who went with me decided that the Smurf movie was a bit too scary and opted to leave about half way through. Maybe in a couple of years we can try again. There were a lot of people there--I suspect the theater makes up for the free admission with concession sales.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Before and after

Facts of life are easier to see in rural America than in the big cities.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Air show

On Saturday I had a non-Rensselaer adventure--I attended the Indianapolis Air Show east of Indianapolis. I had attended this event previously because my son works in the aerospace industry and not only loves planes but also knows a lot about them, especially the engines.

We got there early and had time to wander around the exhibits. There were some planes that were static exhibits--they would not be flying in the airshow. The A-10 Warthog was one of those.
The Mustang from WWII, on the other hand, flew twice, once as part of the warbirds section, and then later doing aerobatic maneuvers. It was also part of an exhibit featuring the Tuskegee Airmen.
We saw three Soviet-bloc trainers that were the initial act getting ready to take off. There are a lot of Soviet bloc airplanes on the air show circuit. They were relatively cheap to obtain and many rich hobbyists have purchased them. These were built in Czechoslovakia.
The air show started with a plane pulling an American flag past the viewing area. You can see the three jet trainers at the top of the picture.
The various aerobatic exhibitions are hard to capture in pictures. Easier were the flybys. Here a giant military cargo plane flies over. It did a single pass--that was all that was allowed it.
One section of the program was the warbird section, which featured military aircraft from the World War II era. Many of them were trainers--they must have been a lot of them in the surplus market. Below you can see them flying in formation. By the way, a pilot has to be rated to fly in formation in order to do this.
You can see the halo around the sun in both this picture and the picture below. If you go to an air show, bring plenty to drink. There is little shade near airports, and the food vendors are able to charge a premium for drinks.

Below you can see another fly over, this one by a plane that was put into service in 1952. It is the B-52 bomber and 75 are still in service. There are some families that have had three generations of pilots flying these planes. They are not scheduled to be taken out of service until 2040. Think about that for a while.
There is also some comedy at airshows, like this jet-propelled outhouse.
One of the most striking acts was a wing walker. Being willing to walk on the wing of an aircraft is crazy, but having your ex-husband as the pilot is even crazier.
The world's fastest school bus was a big hit with the crowd.
It reached a speed of over 300 mph at the end of its run. You can see that it has a big jet engine providing thrust.
The show ended with the Thunderbirds, an USAF demonstration team.
The team splits into two parts for most of the show, a group of four that does formation flying, and two others who do other tricks. While one group is recovering and getting ready for the next pass, the other group is doing its stuff in front of the crowd.

Among their many stunts was the mirror formation, in which two planes fly by the crowd, one right side up and the other upside down.
If you have never been to an airshow, consider going. There were over 40,000 people attending on Saturday. It takes about an hour to empty the parking areas.

Update: Some of these pictures (the Globemaster, the bus, and the Thunderbirds) were provided by my son.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Barn swallows--updated

I mentioned in an earlier post that barn swallows had taken up residence in my garage. They now have three young in the nest and are not at all happy whenever I walk into the garage. They really objected when I took this picture.
I was wrong about the raccoon. I thought I had blocked up its access to the attic of the garage, but I saw it climbing down the wall last night. I did find where it was getting in, but did not block it well enough--it might have been able to move some of the impediments I put in its way. At least it is not in the attic of the house.

We could use some more rain, but if we get any today, it looks like it will be light. The river. after weeks of being below median flow, finally was above median flow after the rain last weekend, but it will now return to lower-than-average status.

Update: The rain was measurable, probably a bit less than a quarter of an inch. (People south of us got more.) The light rain was not enough to close the pool--there were a surprising number of kids there, but it was enough to cause problems for the cell phones, which the kids left in their backpacks and under towels. When the 4:00 break came, a number of them found that their phones were wet and not working.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


I saw these geese a couple days ago near Donaldsons. The young are getting big--they have to be ready to fly by the end of summer, which by some reckonings begins today.  Today is the summer solstice, the longest day, the day on which the sun is as far north in the sky as it will get. Starting tomorrow the days will begin to get a bit shorter.
I don't remember ever eating goose. What do they taste like?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Some business news

I noticed a couple of new businesses. A new photographer has moved into the old Horton Building next to the SPAW and in the small space that was last occupied by the Sister Act beauty salon several years ago. The signs on the door refer people to a Facebook page for more information.

There is a temporary occupant in the old Sears store in the College Square Mall, a fireworks store. Inside are boxes of fireworks and a cash register. The store will be open only until the Fourth of July.

In park news, the electrical wiring to connect the new shelter in Bicentennial Park with the grid has been completed. There will also be a light at the end of the bridge.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Can you hear it?

Have you heard the rat-a-tat-tat today? Here is the source, construction at the water treatment plant next to Iroquois Park.
General Milroy had a near miss over the weekend as storms rolled through giving us much needed rain. 
The first line of storms had very heavy rains in some places but sprinkles in others. The line that came through over night seems to have been more even. I am curious to see if the bunnies have left anything in my garden that might benefit from the moisture.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Gone and soon forgotten

I was west of Rensselaer on Wednesday and noticed a bare spot in a field. I was expecting something else--this is where the old South Newton Township School once stood. A couple of years ago I had pictures of the ruins and even a little of its history. I rarely pass this spot, so it might have been leveled as long as two years ago.
 The old ruins were strange looking and I am sure many people wondered what had been there originally. Now they will no longer wonder--they will probably never notice that anything is strange about the site--much like people pass the site of the old South Marion School (it was on 700S between 450W and 400W) without realizing that there was once a large building on the small hill.

Coming back, I saw something that is rather unusual for this area--an irrigation pivot in use. It has been very dry and there no rain forecast for the immediate future.
I have been told that the reason there are pivots in our area is for seed corn production--it is a form of insurance that is too expensive for ordinary crops, but not for seed corn.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Miscellaneous construction

There is a variety of construction going on in and near Rensselaer. The approaches for the new pedestrian bridge are nearing completion. The bridge itself is in Hobart being restored.
 Construction activity was evident at the water treatment plant. There was a collection of very large pipe fittings near one of the old pump houses.
Two machines were digging next to the building itself.
Along Bunkum Road several workers were spreading black dirt over the route of the new sewer line.
 I expected to find that all of the sewer line was in place, but on the corner of SR 114 and CR 850W there was digging that might be sewer related. You can see the directional drilling machine on the right of the picture. I have not been by this intersection very often, but it seems every time I am there, there is some kind of digging on this corner.
 A different crew was putting up utility poles along SR 114. There were also new utility poles, still without lines, along CR 850W.
 Back to Rensselaer. I had not noticed  that there was a change in ownership of the Panda Apartments on Bel Mar Drive. They are now Serenity Terrace Apartments. The sign in front says that there are newly constructed apartment homes, and the building below looks new--compare its color to the older and large building that is only partially visible on the left. However, I do not have enough familiarity with these apartments--they are set far back from Melville--to be sure of anything. Anyone know more?

New building--Wilson Industrial Sales

A new building is going up about a mile west of theI-65/SR114 intersection. It will the the new offices of Wilson Industrial Sales, which presently is located in Brook.
The exterior of the building is almost finished, but little seems finished on the interior.
The information on their website suggests that they do not manufacture much if any of the chemical products that they sell. Rather it seems that they get them from various manufacturers and then resell and ship. There is a huge parking lot area behind their new building, and I suspect that it is for parking trucks.

The building is on the southeast corner of the intersection of CR 1000 W and SR 114, kitty corner from the Sherwood Forest subdivision.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Chicago trash

A reader of this blog gave me an article from the Chicago Tribune that reported the controversy about expanding a landfill in Dolton, IL. The article was less interesting than the graphic that came with it showing what happened to Chicago's 942,512 tons of trash in 2011. All of it ended in five landfills.
45.2% went to the Newton County Landfill.
38.5% was dumped at the Liberty Landfill near Monticello.
14.7% was buried in a landfill near Pontiac, IL.
Less than two percent went to two small landfills, one near Rockford, IL and the other at Dolton.

So over 80% of Chicago's trash either travels through our town or ends up a few miles to our west.

(The article was in the May 24, 2012 issue on page 14 of section 1. Here is the text.)

Monday, June 11, 2012

Pool time

The LaRue Pool finally opened today. There were not many of swimmers in the late afternoon when I stopped by.
The water was not as cold as I expected it to be.

The inside of the bathhouse has been repainted and rewired. The staff was happy that they now had electrical outlets to spare.
In about two months the pool will be closing as school starts up again. Summer passes very quickly.

Hospital open house

Yesterday, Sunday, the Jasper County Hospital had its open house to show off the renovated and newly constructed areas. People were not allowed to wander around and look for themselves. Everything was done with guided tours.

The first stop on the tour was the new outpatient area, which is in the old part of the hospital where the surgery units were previously. It has its own waiting area, which you can see through the doorway on the right.
The little cubicles look pretty much like the old ones. The old outpatient area is presently unassigned space. No decision has been made yet about what it will become.
Then we entered the newly constructed section. The main part of the upper level of the new addition is the surgery unit. It has four operating rooms. The whole area was closed to the tour--stray people might bring in unwanted microbes. Instead there was a video that showed what was inside. (The picture below was taken through the window in the door.) In addition to the operating rooms, there was a lot of space devoted to storage of supplies and equipment. I had a hard time following where they were in the video, but probably would also have had a hard time making sense of it if we had gone in. There are so many little rooms that the whole hospital is like a giant maze.
The MRI truck will no longer be parked out in front of the hospital. The new addition has a new MRI unit. The tour did not go into the room with the machine, but we could see it from the control room.
Then it was time to go to the lower level. This very comfortable-looking bedroom, one of two, is part of the sleep-study area. The hospital does a lot of sleep testing for truckers.
While the subjects are sleeping, there are monitored from this room.
Another unit in the lower level, one with windows, is the oncology unit. There were a number of the big chairs around a central nurses station.
The final stop before the cookies and punch in a conference room was hospital records. We did not get to go in there either, and there was not even a good view through the window.

The renovated and new units looked very nice. I hope I will not need to use them any time soon.