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

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Three meetings

On April 7th the county commissioners had their monthly meeting. If you attend a few of these meetings, you realize that most of the dozens of things that they discuss are of little public interest. Below are some items from Monday's meeting that I thought worth noting.

Prompt Ambulance gave a report on their activities. They rattled off some statistics and my impression was that they average about three 911 calls per day which are divided into two categories, ALS and BLS calls, one more serious than the other. I think the reason for the distinction is insurance--the amount insurance pays depends on the classification of the run. Prompt also described the improvements it was making to its Jasper County operations. Some of those were to the building, which it now owns, and some were in technology used in the ambulances.

The sheriff had two concerns. The first was with the traffic of the upcoming air show. During the air show people on the interstate may be distracted by the low flying planes and have accidents and traffic backups before and after the show may also cause accidents. The sheriff is trying to design some alternate routes so not everyone would use the interstate exits at SR 14. People coming from the north could exit at SR 10 and come down county line road, while people coming from the south could exit at SR 114 and go up SR 55. Local officials seem to be getting more information from the organizers so that they can get ready for the big event.

(I attended two or three air shows in Indianapolis and exiting when the show was over was a test of patience. Traffic control is definitely something to worry about. Hopefully some people will use US 41 rather than I65 to get to our area.)

Jasper County Airport will support the air show by providing a place to refuel some of the older planes and perhaps a Harrier Jet. The Thunderbirds, one of the feature attractions of the air show, will be in the area for five days and probably will do a dry run on Thursday. If the air show did not overlap the county fair, the fair board could make a lot of money by renting out the RV spaces that the fairgrounds has.

The tower was again a topic. The company that owns the tower that the sheriff was interested in have been non-responsive, so the sheriff is investigating another tower at CR 250 north that is 180 feet tall now but that can have another 100 feet of height added.

The county engineer said that a partial list of additional expenses caused by winter weather came to $226,000. That included overtime, extra fuel, and a few other things, but not the extra costs of road repair or truck maintenance that will occur this summer.

At this point I left the meeting because I had seen a notice for another meeting, one for a common wage committee, posted outside the door and that meeting was supposed to be in the jury room of one of the courtrooms. I looked around and after asking a few people, I found it. The committee consisted of five people and there were another dozen in attendance. The meeting was to approve wage rates for two construction projects at Rensselaer schools, a remodel of the third grade wing of Van Rensselaer and a mechanical upgrade for the gymnasium of the high school. A contractor submitted wages, and another person handed out something and said that higher wages do not mean higher costs because the higher-paid workers may be more productive. (That sounded good, but it seemed pretty obvious that the point of the law that made this meeting necessary was to protect construction unions.) The meeting lasted only ten minutes, quickly approving the rates that were presented to it.

The committee is in response to a state law dating back to the 1930s. You can read about it here.

I returned to the commissioners meeting in time to hear a discussion of an environmental report on a building that the commissioners are interesting in buying, the old Johnny Rusk building. They had a 400 page report from a consultant that said that at one time a gas station had operated to the east. No one knew if the tanks were still in the ground or if there was any contamination form those tanks. The post office also had an underground tank at one time, but it was removed about twenty years ago. Though no contamination was thought to have been caused when the building was used for auto repair, the consultant wanted soil samples taken and underground radar used to see if the tanks were still in the adjacent property.

The last item of business was citizen's concerns. One gentleman had three--he wanted to know who picked up the dead deer along the roads, he thought the county needed a full-time veteran's official, and he was concerned with people vandalizing farm land and machinery, often stealing the latter to sell as scrap metal.

The commissioner's will meet again in two weeks, on April 21.

In the evening the Park Board met at the old RCSC administration building. I went to it primarily because I wanted to take pictures of the inside.

In the entrance way was a picture of Cordelia Monnett, who died in 1910. She gave a gift to the Methodist Church that funded the start of the school. More on the history of the school is here.
The building has three levels. The basement level is for utilities and perhaps storage. It features a large coal boiler that has been converted to gas. The building is heated by hot water.
 The boiler was made by Weil-McLain Company of Michigan City, Indiana, a company that is still in existence and still selling boilers.
 The basement also has what looks like a more modern furnace, though I do not understand what its function is.
The main floor is larger than the upper floor. Both have a hallway with rooms to both sides. The building is divided into a lot of small rooms.
 Many of the rooms are long and narrow.
The room shown below may be the largest room in the building. It is on the east end of the second floor.
 The old administration building is the only building of the Monnett Girls School that survives. A frame building on the site was torn down to make way for the Monnett Elementary School and a picture of it was also in the entry way.

There were three guests at the meeting who had items on the agenda. One wanted to use the park for a 5K race/walk this summer for Lung(?) Cancer Awareness, another wanted to use the soccer fields for a soccer league, and the third wanted the Park Board to cooperate with Curtis Creek in promoting golf.

There was a brief discussion about the building, which is owned by the city. The city council has established three committees to investigate uses for the building. If you have any suggestions, pass them on to the city council.

There was more discussion about future plans. The board would like to convert Staddon field to a soccer field and add more soccer fields at the old Monnett site, and convert the soccer field at Brookside Park to tee-ball fields. They would like to start construction this fall, though they realize that may not be realistic.

No comments: