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

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Foundations and roofs (Updated)

The foundation for a duplex that has been in place for months at the the five corners of Clark, College, and Van Rensselaer has seen activity this week. Early in the week workers installed insulation over the sand, and then poured concrete over it. Soon a house should appear there.
 The crews are not as big at the Tractor Supply site as they were last week, but they are getting a lot done. On Tuesday the early work on the roof had begun.
 By Wednesday the girders were in place, and today (Thursday) something was going on top of the girders. You cannot see it directly in the picture below, but the shadows tell the story.
 On Wednesday workers had a directional drilling machine in the field behind Kirby Risk. I did not talk to them, but I did talk to people marking the field a week or two ago. Apparently they are putting in cable for Internet connection.
 Work is almost done on the Court House roof. Two of the little turrets have been completed, though they may still need some flashing. You can see one of the re-roofed turrets on the right of the picture below.
It has been a really quiet week. The weather forecast is that we will get a few unseasonally warm days. It may be a good time to get outside and get a few things done.

Update: Construction goes on six days a week at the Tractor Supply site. At noon today (Saturday, Dec 1) there several workers on the site, and the shell was covered. I could see a light on inside, so apparently it now has an electrical connection. City workers were busy with that connection last week. They ran the power supply from the lines under the highway, from one of the utility poles on the south side of the SR 114.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Return to Dairy Adventures

We had guests last weekend, so we did what many people in Rensselaer do when they have guests, we went to the Fair Oaks Dairy Adventure. It helped a lot that we had some discount coupons--I doubt if we would have gone without them.

The visitors' center has what looks like a merry-go-round with cows, but if it actually moves, it was not moving when we got there.
 The staff said that they had had a very busy morning, but we were late in the day and there were not many other people there. Of course we had to view the 3-D movie. Irma does not seem to know what to think about the very big glasses she was supposed to wear.
 After the movie, we boarded the last bus of the day, and we were not the only people on it. Here in the dry barn, where cows are waiting to give birth, you can see by the lighting that the sun is ready to set.
 I have a camera that gives a very wide-angle view of things, but even it could not capture the entire cow merry-go-round, the milking platform at this farm.
 I wonder if the cows enjoy the art-work on the wall in the above picture. (Last time I was there, there were fans where the pictures are.)

Our last stop of the day was the birthing barn. The last birth had taken place a bit before we arrived at the Dairy Adventure, so our little guests did not get to see a birth. I wonder what they would have thought of it.
We admired the cows, though one of our little guests was as fascinated by a cat behind one of the windows (they keep down the mice) as she was with the calves. Then quitting time came, and the workers locked up and we headed home for more left-over turkey.

The view from my front steps

Friday, November 23, 2012

Pancake Breakfast

A Black Friday community pancake and sausage breakfast was held this morning at the firehouse. Betty got a really big pancake and ate almost all of it.
She had lots to tell Santa.
Irma was excited to get a bag of candy.
I ventured out to Walmart last night attempting to find a couple of their sale items and was partially successful. At 10:20 most of the shoppers were in line, having picked up all the bargains they wanted and that were not sold out. There were bargains, some better than what Walmart had, in some of the other stores in Rensselaer this morning but the crowds were not nearly as large.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Foggy morning

We had dense fog this morning, enough to cancel or delay area schools. Below is a view in Brookside Park.
 The chapel at SJC.
One of the workers at SJC who lives north of town said she did not remember driving in worse fog. As you can see in the pictures, the visibility was only a few hundred feet.

I hope the weather is better for Black Friday (which seems to have been pushed back into Thursday evening.)

The flood of 1933

The Jasper County Historical Society had its monthly meeting last night, and while waiting for the meeting to start, I browsed through some of the scrapbooks that were on display. An old one, Audrey Carson's Memory Scrapbook from the 1930s, had this picture:
Above the picture she had written, "This is the Creamery Bridge and Plaining mill." Below the picture she wrote, "This is a scene from the flood April 30, 1933. We were without lights 8 days and we had to boil our water until June 1st."

The planing mill on the left has been replaced with a laundry. The house on the northwest side of the bridge is still there. The building on the right may be part of what is now Aydas and Slice of Pie restaurants. When this photo was taken, the bridge on College Ave was a bowstring arch bridge.

The Historical Society how has a Facebook page. They need more likes--they only have 38. If you like them, you can get information about a fundraiser they have planned--a cook book. They are looking for recipes, so if you have a favorite recipe from grandma, and perhaps an interesting story to go along with it, they would like to have it. They even have a submission form, which can be obtained from the Museum.

The program for the evening was about women and World War I. Why this for a local historical society? Because the local society has the cards that were filled out for the Council of National Defense, and it seems that virtually all of these cards were destroyed after the war when the Council and several other war organizations were disbanded. The speaker, Sue Caldwell, has been researching the records and what the government was doing to involve women in the war effort. These cards were a remarkably intrusive "inventory of women" that was undertaken. By the end of the war, women were urged to join food clubs and sign how the government tried to mobilize the women to conserve food. Herbert Hoover served as head of the Food Administration in the Wilson Administration, and as part of the effort, had people signing were called Hoover Pledge Cards. (It is odd that in the popular imagination Herbert Hoover is seen as a proponent of laissez faire. He was no Calvin Coolidge.) Some of the propaganda posters from the Food Administration can be seen here, and a bit of information on the program is here. (This summary does not do justice to the presentation. Hopefully Ms Caldwell will eventually write up her findings and publish them in some way.)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

It's been a while

It has been almost a week since I last posted--where does time go? Not a lot has been happening--things seem to slow down for the holiday.

The concrete block walls for the Tractor Supply building are finished.
On Saturday they were not yet finished, but there were plenty of workers laying the blocks.
 Also on Saturday I finally caught the asphalt paving machine in action. It was finishing the shoulders or turn lanes for the new Tractor Supply store.
 They recently finished the parking lot for the medical building under construction on Drexel Drive. The exterior of this building is almost finished, but there is plenty left to do inside. It is scheduled for opening in March.
 Last week there was a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new coffee shop (Better Vibes) and resale shop (Re-Shop) in the College Square Mall.
A new business is going into the small space between the guitar store and The SPAW on Washington Street. I was told it would be a Mexican clothing store.
 Here is the obligatory photo showing progress on the Court House roof.
On Monday the city put up the Christmas decorations in the downtown.

The Newton County Historical Society seems to be a very active group. Here is their website, and here is a Facebook page.

What else is new?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Easy come, easy go-updated

Workers were disassembling one of the Monnett modules this morning. One half of the building was already gone and it looked like the second half would be leaving soon.
I asked if all three of the buildings were all going, and one of the workers said that the two in the back were.

They were put in place in the summer of 2009 when I had several posts about the project.

Update: I visited the Tractor Supply construction site this afternoon to see how much progress was being made. Shortly after I got there, I saw one of the Monnett modules leaving town.
 Later I returned to Monnett to see which part had left. It was the second half of the first building, the part shown in the original photo above. While I taking pictures, the superintendent was leaving the building, so I asked where the module was headed. It is going to West Lebanon, which may mean it will be used by the Seeger school district. It and the second building were purchased at the Monnett auction. The third building, the one closest to College Avenue, will be moved in time to the high school where it will be re-purposed.

And how is construction progressing on Tractor Supply? I was shocked to see how much the site had changed in just a week. The walls were rising and there was a horde of workers laying cement block. You can see more wall on the left side of the picture. It appears to have re-bar extending from it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Inside Monnett

The auction of equipment from Monnett sold more than just furniture. Just about anything that people were willing to buy was for sale. As people removed the bulletin boards, doors, lighting fixtures, and plumbing fixtures, they left a mess behind. If anyone doubts that this building will be demolished, a quick look inside will dispel those doubts. Below is the southern hallway.
 Below is one of the classrooms. I am surprised that they did not find a way to get the metal girders.
 It is ready to be knocked down.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Throwback weekend 11-12-2012

Yesterday was Veterans Day, a holiday that replaced Armistice Day. World War I, the war to end all wars, ended with an armistice called for the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918 and that is why we celebrate Veterans Day when we do. There was a short ceremony at Weston Cemetery on Saturday to commemorate the day, and Mayor Wood talked about the history of the day.
The last surviving veteran of WWI died earlier this year. She was 110 years old.

Another bit of the past was featured at the SJC Jazz Band Concert on Sunday. Most of the selections were Big Band tunes and there was a good turnout of Rensselaer residents. The turnout from the SJC community was notable by its sparseness.
 The music people at SJC have done an excellent job recruiting musical talent, and the music programs are very good for a small college. Upcoming musical performances can be found here. Unless they are part of some other event (such as a ball game), these events are free and open to the public.

Today I noticed a faded sign on the old Horton Building. Perhaps I have noticed this before, but I do not remember it. I cannot make it all out. There seems to be a top word that I can not read. then what appears to be JWHORTON Dentist. The next line seems to start with CROWN but I cannot make out the rest.
Can you make out more of the sign?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Church parking

The parking lot behind the Methodist Church looks almost complete except for the asphalt. There were even cars parked there this morning.
Maybe next Sunday I will be able to get a picture of the completed project.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Holiday Art Show & Sale

Tomorrow will be the last day you can see the Prairie Art Council's Holiday Art Show & Sale. I was surprised at how much they had and how many people were there when I went tonight (Friday). There were pots, these by Doris Myers.
 Diane Higgins from Demotte had a large display of baskets for sale.
 April Neace from North Judson was selling custom glass etchings and carvings.
 William Roeschlein was selling various sorts of eggs, some decorated for Christmas and others, Ukrainian eggs, decorated for Easter. They are impressive.
There was much, much more--jewelry, bread, photographs, prints, decorated glass, etc. But if you really want to know what else is there, visit the Carnegie Center tomorrow between 8:30 AM until 3:00 PM. It is a two-day-only exhibit and sale.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Construction update 11-08-2012

Several construction projects are busy trying to get as much work done before winter arrives. This week masons were finishing stone work on the new medical building near Rico's and the parking lot already had a layer of asphalt.
 A crane was lifting trusses for a new house next to Camp Kanne. It is surprising how quickly the trusses go up.
The building trades students were putting shingles on their house on Vine Street.

The roofing crew on the court house has moved to the last side of the building the side that faces northwest.
 Work on the pavers on the walkway leading to the bridge may be finished this week.
 There was a lot of activity at the construction site for Tractor Supply. In the few minutes I was there, four trucks arrived. Two had loads of sand, one had a load of concrete block, and one was a concrete truck, shown below.
 From the excavation, it appeared that there were layers of clay not too far beneath the surface at this site.

Similar activity is occurring behind the Methodist Church, which is putting in a parking lot.

Some of the activity that at first glance seems construction related is not. A crew was installing Christmas lights on one of the spruce trees on the court house square. Winter is on the way.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Are you ready for winter?

Crossing the Talbert bridge on Monday, I noticed that almost all the leaves were gone from the cemetery trees.
Are you ready for winter?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Last night someone drove around town and shot out windows of cars along the streets. This was in front on one neighbor's house.
From Facebook, it seems that at least 28 people reported incidents to the police.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Much ado

Tonight is the last chance to see the SJC production of Much Ado About Nothing. It is certainly a different look at a Shakespeare play--the text of the play says it is set in Italy but the costuming and set say it is Western U.S.
It took me a while to get the flow of the language--the English of today is different from the English of Shakespeare's day. (It is not just language that has changed--the play shows that social attitudes have changed even more than language.)

Update: The next SJC play will be Tennessee Williams The Glass Menagerie on Jan 31 and Feb 1-2. The spring musical will be on April 11, 12, 13. For a list of all the music programs, see here. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Money news in the College Square Mall

I noticed another move by another tax preparation service today, this one by Jackson Hewlett, which is moving from next to the pawn shop to a vacant spot next to Subway, which I think is the space vacated by H&R Block. Workers were installing the sign.
The Kentland Bank was celebrating its 80th anniversary today. It was chartered in 1932 as a private bank, the last private bank charted in Indiana. (I do not know how a private bank differed from a state bank.) In 1931 the Newton County State Bank had gone bust, leaving Kentland without a financial institution. In 1964 the Kentland Bank was able to open a branch in Lake Village, though it faced regulatory hurdles, and in 1971 it opened a branch at Roselawn. It did not arrive in Rensselaer until November, 1994, when it purchased the Rensselaer Branch of the NBD Bank, which was located in the front part of the bowling alley. In late November or early December it moved to its present location.

(Much of this information came from the very nice display that they had, including a program brochure from their 50th anniversary and several scrapbooks showing key events. The bank also has a Lafayette branch.)

In totally unrelated news, bits and pieces of city streets are getting a new layer of asphalt. I have not gotten a good picture yet. The streets nearest me are finished, so maybe I will miss this one.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Centipedes and ribbons and sugar and....

Halloween and October are gone. Some of my non-Rensselaer relatives served a very creative Halloween supper that included big centipedes. How scary!
 This morning there was a ribbon cutting for Jazzman's, the coffee shop at Saint Joseph's College. The fact that they had a ribbon cutting says that they would welcome customers who are not students. The little cafe and bakery is on the south side of Halleck Center, on the floor with the ballroom.
They had some delicious treats for those who attended the the ribbon cutting. I got more than my daily dose of sugar. I cannot vouch for the coffee--I never developed a taste for it.
Back in downtown Rensselaer I noticed that the photographer who had been next to the SPAW on West Washington had vacated the premises. I stopped in the SPAW to learn what had happened and learned that the business, Samantha Bachorski Photography, had moved around the corner. It was still next to the SPAW, but on the Cullen street side, where The Journey recently stopped.
The store that has no name still has no name.

The SJC play, Much Ado about Nothing, opens tonight. Tomorrow Kentland Bank has an 8oth anniversary celebration at the Rensselaer branch. This weekend daylight savings time ends--time will fall back. Finally, the Jasper County Economic Development Corporation has a new website (or maybe it is just a new look):