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

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

On Drexel Drive

Today I saw two fawns next to the cornfield north of Drexel Drive. They let me get pretty close before they jumped into the corn.
The corn towered over them--it is fully grown and as you can see from the brown silk, it has been pollinated.

A bit further west on Drexel Drive, the brick work on the Farm Credit building may be finished--it depends on what they plan for the corners and the end of the portico.
Our nice, gentle rain today has postponed the pet parade scheduled for the Tuesday night farmers' market.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Miscellany 7-29-2013

It was a slow weekend, at least for me. I did stop in eMbers on Sunday to see what the Birthday Party was like. The entertainer, J Jay Brook, was familiar to many of those attending because he has performed at the Jasper County Community Services functions.
 I was surprised to see live trees as part of the decoration. They were left over from the previous night's event.

Bub's BBQ across the street from eMbers has news--they now have a third location, Fair Oaks Farms. Quick growth.

A few weeks ago I noticed that a house was missing on the corner of Merritt and Milton. Today I saw guys digging for what appears to be a foundation for a new house on the lot.

Construction continues on both of the substations for the new 69K line. Shown below is work at the Melville substation from last week.
 The old Amtrak depot has departed--it was removed some time last week. Something is going up by the elevator on Vine Street to replace the building that was torn down recently.

Have you noticed that the days are getting shorter? Everyone has noticed that it has been unseasonally cool, and we have been very dry, missing rains that other parts of Indiana has gotten. The cool weather has cut attendance at the swimming pool. The water has gotten chilly, which encourages me to actually swim when I am there. The dry weather has finally dried up Lake Weston. I checked it this evening and could still see the tiny dead fish. A week or two ago there was still water there. The raccoons must have have had a feast as the fish were concentrated.
The cool weather is good for runners. The middle school cross country team runs in the evening from Brookside Park, and there are quite a few of them. This year the school is allowing sixth graders to compete in sports, a change from what was allowed for many years, when sixth graders were not allowed in sports.

I have been busy with a number of things that will not be of much interest to others, things like picking sweet corn and trying to figure out what to do with apples from a branch that broke off my apple tree. It looks like this will be a good fruit year.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Summer at SJC

It was a busy week at SJC. There were two large bands on campus holding band camps. I think I saw the final performance of the Richmond Band. They look very good.
 The other large band was from Lincoln Way East High School, which I think is in Illinois. When I passed by the flag corps was doing its thing separated from the band, which was practicing steps without music.
 Among other groups on campus was the Buffalo Grove High School football camp. I saw them arrive a few days ago, but was never on campus when they were practicing outside.

Several sidewalks were ripped up this week. New sidewalks should greet students when they arrive in a few weeks. Freshman orientation begins August 15 and classes start on August 19.
The Graduate School of Music had a concert last week, but with virtually no advanced notice. In past years they have had interesting programs, but not this year.

From a Facebook post by Little Indiana, I gather that Saint Joe has closed Lake Banet to the public, though it is still open to employees. I do not understand why they have maintained their beach for these many years. I grew up in Minnesota where, because there were many lakes, there were not many public swimming pools. There were also a lot of drownings in those lakes every summer. Swimming in a lake is far more dangerous than swimming in a public pool even when there are life guards at the lake. And this summer there are no guards at Lake Banet.

Are you hearing lots of planes flying around? Here is an old post about that.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Teen Mission 2013

This week a group of teenagers or near teens has been working on 17 or 18 projects around town and in the area helping other people. One of the more involved projects was the building of raised bed gardens behind the CDC Resources Building on the east end of Angelica Street. I missed construction on the first day, and by the second day, Tuesday, one of the frames was almost complete.
 One of the younger members of the crew got a chance to pound in a nail.
 There were also some power tools on the site--I hope that the kids got a chance to use them.

On Tuesday evening both frames were completed and one was filled with dirt.
 Teen Mission is sponsored by several area churches--Burr Oak Mennonite, Bethany Evangelical Free, Harvest Baptist, and Hope Community. About fifty or sixty people are involved, including 32 teens.

On Wednesday the group was back on the job, filling the second frame with dirt. The plan was to finish on Wednesday, but they did not meet that deadline.
 To finish the project they installed pavers around both frames. The frame on the right will have benches, two of which are already installed. The concept is that those in wheel chairs will have access to the left box, while those who are not in wheel chairs can sit on the benches while they tend the flowers and vegetables that will be planted.
 In the background you can see playground equipment that is used by the day care at Treasure Keepers. Treasure Keepers may be leaving the CDC building and moving to the Jasper County Youth Center on Sparling Drive. They can get essentially free rent and a bigger space, so they will benefit. CDC, however, will be hurt by the move--they will lose the rent that Treasure Keepers currently pays. I wonder if the people who control the Youth Center building took into account the harm they were doing to CDC when they encouraged this move.

While I was at CDC, I took a peek at their new exercise room. The equipment was partially funded by grants from the Jasper Foundation, the Newton Foundation, and the REMC. You can see pictures of installation on the CDC Facebook page. (See here, here, and here.) The page has been around a while, but post frequency has only recently increased. If you are interested in what they are doing, Like them on Facebook.
 Among the other projects Teen Mission had was trimming hedges, painting a house in Morocco, and weeding garden plots at the Community Garden that are producing vegetables for the Food Pantry.
It was not all work for the teens. They had a pool party on Wednesday evening, and there are other fun events built into their schedules. And maybe a few even consider weeding fun.

Update: More pictures here. (Click the right arrow to scroll through them.)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A busy Tuesday

Tuesday was busy. After doing some chores early in the morning, I noticed a post on Facebook that reminded me that I needed to check out the Teen Mission project at CDC. I did, and that will be the subject of a future post. Then I went over to the high school, where several people were painting the modular building that had been at Monnett.
 I was able to peek in the gym to see how the new floor was progressing. The new floor is in the gym, but in the form of stacks of wood.
 Leaving, I noticed that the marching band was practicing. I hope that there are a few more members than were at this practice. The markings in the parking lot had just been repainted and the lot was closed to vehicles.
 I was headed to Laird's Landing because I got an e-mail a few days ago telling me that the Eagle Scouts had redone the canoe ramp. There was a guy fishing and I talked to him a while. He was impressed with the ramp. I mentioned that there were plans for a new access point where the river approaches Calvary Road. He thought that a canoe trip from Lairds Landing to the proposed ramp would be a scenic trip, more scenic that canoeing the river in Newton County, even though the river there is wider and deeper, and hence easier to canoe.
Coming back to Rensselaer, I stopped by the new store, Home Sweet Home, which was the subject to one of yesterday's posts.

After an early supper, I checked out the Tuesday Night Farmer's Market, which had a special event, Kid's Night, organized by the Chamber of Commerce. There was free popcorn, free hot dogs, free watermelon, free paper hats, free face painting, and a lot more. Some of the cast from upcoming Carnegie Players production of The King and I sang a few selections from the play. There was a lot going on.
 There was even a giant duck to scare the kids if they were bad. (Or to promote the duck derby that the Little Cousin Jasper Committee will hold in September.) (Update: More pictures here.)
 I was excited to discover a business that has been in Rensselaer for 19 years and that I have passed by many times without realizing that they existed. Computer Solutions had a table with a little game. They sell, service, upgrade, and repair computes, remove viruses, and provide web and domain administration. They do not do much retail, but rather mostly serve businesses. They are located in the turret house on south College Avenue that has been under construction for several years, the one just south of Jenkin's Realty.

I would have liked to go to the county council meeting, but I had a prior commitment. As I was on my way home from that commitment, I stopped by the train depot because I heard a train approaching, and noticed that the depot was finally unlocked. Below is what it looks like inside.
Today is, thankfully, a bit less busy. I may even be able to take my afternoon nap.

Update: I drove by the Amtrak station today (Saturday, July 27) and the old depot had been removed. I was too busy to go back and investigate.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

New store: Home Sweet Home

Last week a new store opened in the Horton Building. It is called Home Sweet Home and features a wide variety of products, some old and some new.
The item that caught my attention immediately was this old Hoosier cabinet. These were popular in the early years of the twentieth century. This one still had the old flour sifter.
Restored furniture is only one of the product lines that the store features. I asked for a description of what the store sold, and the owner really could not narrow it down.
It was all very tastefully displayed. The store space is quite small, but it is larger than the booth that the owner previously had at Jasper Junction, or even two booths.
The store is on Cullen across from the CVS drug store.
In addition to the types of things shown in the above pictures, the store also sells three product lines. Tastefully Simple is a line of food products. I had not heard of it before, but here is its website. I had heard of Watkins, but I do not remember exactly what they sell. And the last, Origami Owl, is a line of jewelry.

After admiring the ceiling at eMbers, I could not help but notice the nice tin ceiling in Home Sweet Home.
The store has only been open a week. Right now it is open six days a week for rather lengthy hours. When the owner figures out which hours are worth keeping, business hours will probably shrink.

Check them out. A blog post does not capture what the store has to offer.

A city council meeting

I went to my first city council meeting Monday evening. Below is what I observed.

They started promptly at 6:00 with a roll call, which I thought was a bit strange since it was evident that all the members of the council were present and in their assigned seats. However, it also included department superintendents, so it may have been more for the benefit of members of the public who were at the meeting than anything else.

The minutes from the last meeting were approved without comments. There was then a chance for any member of the public to address the council on any matter; none did. There was a motion to approve something credit card related. The motion was not read and from the very brief discussion I could not make out exactly what the issue was. That was followed by the approval of a transfer of funds among departments. This motion was not read or discussed, so again it was unclear to me what it was about.

Next there was a longer discussion of fireworks. Citizens had complained about loudness and lateness. The city has no fireworks ordinance, and if it adopts one, state law says that the city cannot forbid fireworks from June 29 until July 9 and from December 31 until January 1. After some discussion, a committee of three plus the city attorney was selected with instructions to come to the next meeting with a recommendation.

A waiver of the building permit fee for the next Building Trades house was approved without discussion. There was discussion about the sanitation (garbage and recycling) budget. Every year it is in the red. Last year it had a deficit of $181,000. Another committee was appointed to look into the matter. I sensed that higher garbage fees are in the offing.

The mayor read something about an American POW in Afghanistan and gave a copy of the item to the Rensselaer Republican. There was mention of a working session on Tuesday and also something about an amendment to an agreement with the regional sewage commission. A motion to approve claims was passed with no discussion. Then the superintendents had a chance to speak.

The chief of police announced that National Night Out will be on August 6 in Brookside Park. Also, he wants to form a school safety commission. There was some back and forth about the railroad crossing on US 231--repeated appeals to state and federal legislators have not yet produced results.

Amtrak will make a decision about the future of the Hoosier State line in October. The ribbon cutting for the new station will probably be August 21. Work is not yet completed. (I saw workers doing something there today.)

Something will be done to the bridge over the Maxwell ditch in the cemetery, and maybe also to the culvert on SR 114. About 150 people attended the free movie in the park. The electric department replaced five transformers at the fairgrounds last week--they were overloaded by the many campers there. One department, perhaps the gas department, took delivery of a new trencher that they have not yet tested. The street department is preparing a list of streets that will be repaved this year.

And a mere fifty minutes after it started, the meeting adjourned. It was fun watching local government in action.

I did not take any pictures of the council meeting, but here is one from downtown. The Cutting Room is collecting art supplies for students for the upcoming school year.

Speaking of schools, trenching was being done Monday morning to provide water to the module moved from Monnett to the athletic field at the high school, and the new floor for the gymnasium has not yet been installed.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Movie in the park

On Saturday the Little Cousin Jasper Committee hosted a free movie in Potawatomie Park. The committee had their food stand set up very early--an hour and a half before sun set.
The support for the screen was made from PVC pipes. The Committee hopes they can use this screen at the festival to show the stage acts that take place in front of the court house to the booths and people who are set up behind the court house.

As the sun set, people began to arrive. Many brought their own chairs. While the sky grew dark, a loop of ads telling people that they needed to buy things at the concession stand ran, much like what you see in many movie theaters. At first it was rather hard to see from the back of the crowd, but as the sky darkened, it grew easier and easier to read the writing. There was also a short period in which the sky was very pretty, with pink clouds to the southwest.
People kept arriving. I am not sure how many were there when the movie started.

It was a fun experience and I am sure that many kids will remember the movie in the park much longer than they remember movies in the theater. I hope that the Cousin Jasper Committee did well enough with their concession sales that they will consider a repeat in the future.

Update: Oops. I did not give credit to the Rensselaer Rotary, which actually sponsored the event and paid for the movie. See the comment to this post.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The county fair ends for 2013

The last day of the county fair was Friday. I visited early, when the grandstand area was being transformed from a rodeo arena to something more appropriate for demolition derby.
The Ferris Wheel towered over the grandstand. 
The reason I went early was I wanted to attend the health fair that the Jasper County Hospital was sponsoring. The lines were short when I was there. The next public health fair from the Jasper County Hospital will be in November at SJC.
Things are cool and quiet in the morning at the fair.
The picture below is for a commenter on an earlier post this week who wondered where the animal pictures were.
It is always amazing how quickly the fair closes up. This morning most of the carnival rides were gone, and the few that remained were packed and ready to go.
Most tents were down and the picnic tables were being cleared away.
But not all the tents were gone and almost all the campers were still in the two camper lots. 
The sky was blue and there were only a few small puddles from the little bit rain that came through this morning around 5:00.

In another year we can do it all again.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Thursday at the fair 2013

It was too hot this afternoon to go to the fair, so I waited until evening. After talking to several people, I discovered a huge audience in the Community Building. It was not just the air conditioning that brought the people in. It was the event, the presenting of various and numerous 4H awards.
 I wanted to see the free stage entertainment for the evening, which was a singer named Karli Edging. I talked to her father, who was also her sound man. She is from Delphi, IN and will be a freshman at Purdue this fall.
 If you missed her at the fair, you can see her at the Fall Festival on August 24 at 6:00 pm CST. Her website is
 As I was leaving for the evening, I noticed that there was a threshing demonstration behind the Retired Iron building. This operation is no longer done on farms because it has been rendered obsolete by the modern combine, which combines the picking and the threshing of wheat. But in the old days, the wheat was cut and then brought to the threshing machine.
 Guys use pitch forks to toss the wheat into the machine.
 The machine needs an external power source. I do not know if modern tractors have the power wheel that almost all old tractors have and, before there were tractors, that farm steam engines had. (Here is a picture of a steam engine my late uncle probably restored and owned.)

Notice all the belts on this machine that transfer the power to where it is needed. Very similar belt technology ran the factories of the 19th century.
When the threshing machine is in operation, the grain spits out one pipe and the straw spits out another.
The grandstand show was a rodeo. Tomorrow's grandstand show will be a demolition derby. There does not seem to be a combine demolition derby on the schedule this year.

Update: fixed the link.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

At the fair July 2013

The county fair is in full swing with lots of things to see and many events every day. The Retired Iron pavilion is full of tractors and some other old farm machines, like these corn shellers. Insert an ear of corn, turn the crank, and a set of nasty-looking spikes rips the kernels from the cob.  
The tractors go out on parade many days. On Tuesday some took a trip to the farmers' market at the court house square. I saw them go by but did not have a camera. Later I saw the parade that went around the fairgrounds and was surprised to see a very strange looking "tractor" in the lineup.
A lot of the tractors date from the 1950s and 1960s. That does not seem old to me. I do not think something is old if it does not predate me

On Tuesday goats were being judged in the show arena. On Monday the crowds were bigger for swine judging. And on Monday while I was peeking in on the swine judging, a flight of five military attack helicopters flew by--a bit strange.
The commercial tent seems to have fewer exhibitors this year than it did in the past. I found a new Rensselaer business that I had not known existed--Notable Images. It is run by a woman who went to school with some of my kids. She works from her house and her website is

Every evening there is an act on the free stage. On Monday Austin Lee performed early at 6:00 because he was competing with a singing act, Levi Riggs, at the grandstand.
The Jimmy Bussell's performance on Tuesday night involved more people and more equipment. He even had a sound man (not shown in this picture) behind much of the audience.
The Newton County Fair seems to have some of the same performers and acts as the Jasper County Fair. This year the two fairs overlap.

On Monday and Tuesday nights there was a Lego display in the Community Building.
On Tuesday night I wandered down to the Historical Village area to chat with my friends there. New this year is an outhouse, which is not for use. (They keep saying that.)
As I left on Tuesday I stopped by the horse arena to see the start of the Battle of the Barns. They were slow in getting started and I wanted to cool off by catching the last of the evening swim at the La Rue pool, so I did not get a picture of this year's fun. You can see a picture of last year's battle here.

Addendum: I forgot to mention that on Monday evening I talked to one of our county councilmen, Gerrit Devries. He said that at the next county council meeting, July 23 at 7:00, people would be able to comment on the way the county taxes. I have ranted several times on this issue, but a prior commitment may keep me away from this meeting.