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

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Fire, Ice, Water, and Air

A week ago, while we were still in the polar vortex, a house on the corner of Elm and Milton burned. The Rensselaer Republican reported that the occupant had had frozen pipes and had been using a portable space heater to unfreeze them. The man said that he had unplugged the space heater before going to bed, but the fire chief speculated that the heater may have caused the fire by getting something underneath the house too hot. The house is a total loss but the occupant was unharmed.
 The rain and the snow melt have increased the flow of the Iroquois river, though the river gauge does not show it. Perhaps it is being impaired by ice, like the ice that was piling up under the Talbert Bridge on Tuesday.
 The Rensselaer Library is not the only place that has had flooding problems. The basement of Halleck Center has had water problems for months as a result of drains not working. As a result, the student bar, Core XI has been closed and the college band has been evicted from its practice rooms. (Perhaps this is why there was no Christmas band concert last year.) If you go down the front stairs of Halleck to the lowest level, you will find it blocked off with a plastic barrier.
 The college has hired several contractors who have identified a number of blockages to the drain lines, including collapsed tiles. One can access the lower level via the back stairs, and from the doorway one can see what looks like drywall that has been removed from walls. Right now it is not clear if the problem has been solved or not and what the future of the Halleck basement will be.
The return of the South Shore Air Show (it did not happen last year) has caused some ill will in Lake and Porter Counties who dislike the relocation of the show to Newton County. The Highland Town Council condemned the move, and a former managing editor of the Post Tribune had a long, strange rant about it. Since the Air Show will overlap the county fair, if you know of anyone who will want to stay in a motel during the first weekend of the fair, tell them to book as soon as possible. (If people attending the air show are going to stay in motels, most of them will be staying in motels in Lake and Porter counties because there are not many motels rooms in Jasper and Newton counties, so I am not sure why the people up north are so upset. Plus the planes will be flying out of Gary, so any pilots and crews will be staying up north.)

I heard a few days ago that the MacAllister Machinery project next to the airport had another regulatory hurdle to overcome. The FAA decides how tall structures near airports can be and the proposed building east of Airport Road was taller than the ten feet allowed for the site in the original plan. Apparently a move nearer the highway will allow it to be constructed. One wonders it there are any buildings at the airport itself that are within the legal limits.

Fair Oaks Farms released a video on Youtube with information about the restaurant that is under construction. It is worth of look if you are interested in what is going on out there.

On Tuesday afternoon there was a Community Service Organization Gathering held at the Carnegie Center. The discussion was much different than I expected. It ended up with people saying that the quality of life in Rensselaer was not what it should be and, as a result, it was difficult to recruit professional people to come to the community. Of particular concern seemed to be the park system, which apparently does not compare well with those of other cities with which we compete. A proposal for a master plan done by professionals gathered support. I kept quiet because I do not know enough of how Rensselaer compares to other communities. What do you think? What could Rensselaer do to make itself more attractive to people who might be considering relocating here?

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