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

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Meetings, early June

The County Commissioners met Monday morning in open session after a 45-minute closed session that discussed personnel. The meeting was a continuation of the meeting of June 2.

The first item was a presentation by two gentlemen who wanted  the county to cooperate with a study being conducted by a Purdue professor and her graduate student that would involve no cost to the county. The program was aimed at those who had diabetes but would be open to any county employee or family member of a county employee who wanted to participate. It would involve discussion of weight loss and diet and would last six months. Because of the many legal requirements involved in human subject studies, the presenters thought that the study could begin in August.

Next was a vote to remove a person from county employment for misuse of county property. The Rensselaer Republican had more details.

There were a few minor items that were discussed briefly and the meeting adjourned. The next commissioners meeting will be July 7.

The Rensselaer City Council met on Monday evening. There was a Board of Public Works meeting before the Council Meeting (that I did not attend), and it may have had more of interest than the council meeting, which was quite short.

A citizen wanted to make sure there would be no problems with a cancer awareness run/walk on June 29th at 9:30. It will start in Brookside Park, go through the cemetery and across the bridge to Bicentennial Park, then out Sparling Ave and back.

United Consulting briefed the council on a proposal that the Board of Public Works had passed shortly before the Council meeting. The road in Drexel Industrial Park that goes toward Fountain Stone Theater and then dead ends after turning east will be finished for a cost of about $750,000. It will continue east a bit, and then hook back to Drexel Drive. If the road were continued beyond Drexel Drive, it would continue between the Laundry Room and the vacant building to its west. The city has an obligation that it agreed to many years ago to finish the road.

The Council then agreed to move money from the gas department to the sewer department in the form of a loan to allow the start of planning for the storm water treatment plant that will be build east of Weston Cemetery. The city will get USDA money in the form of a grant and loan for the project, but that money will not be made available until bids are let and contracts signed. Until then, the city has to pay for design costs--it is a cash flow problem: money must be spent before the time in which funds from the federal government will be made available. This type of motion is supposed to have a second and third reading, but the council voted to suspend the rules so the project can get started.

There were three meetings about what should be done with the old RCHS Administrative Building (the old Monnett School) held over the past few months. Rather than spend a lot of council time discussing the possibilities, the mayor appointed a committee of two council members and three city employees to condense the discussion.

The rate tracking factor for gas will be decreased by ten cents per 100 cubic feet.

Then there were a number of minor items mentioned, such as Main Street Rensselaer desires to put a welcome-to-Rensselaer sign west of the city by the Interstate (which is where the western boundary is) and make some cosmetic improvements to Potawatomie Park. The fireman's boot drive is this coming weekend and the department has completed purchase of the third piece of fire-fighting equipment it ever owned, a 1940 fire truck. (Just to be clear, they are purchasing it as a display piece, not to use in fighting fires.)

After the meeting I talked to several people and heard that SJC will soon have an interim president who will be coming from the outside. Apparently there are people who do nothing but serve as interim presidents. He or she may be on the job for up to a year. I heard from another person who I met on the way home that there will be another significant departure from SJC in the next month or so.

On Tuesday the Jasper and Newton Foundations hosted a nonprofit workshop on endowment building. The first part of the meeting was a continuation of previous community conversations. There were many issues discussed, many of them related to the quality of life in Jasper County. One item that especially attracted my attention was a discussion of the Newton County Community Calendar. The need for a community calendar has been a subject of discussion at previous meetings, and Newton County has apparently met the need with a bit of up-front work and two to five hours of work per week. The need for volunteers, changing demographics, budget cuts, changes in how medicine is practiced were all touched on in this part of the meeting.

The second part of the meeting was a presentation by Helen Monroe, a consultant for the Lilly Endowment, on how to build an endowment. She began by suggesting that the format of the previous discussion was unlikely to be productive. It might be better, she suggested, to begin by figuring out what the community has rather than what it lacks and that more money is often not the solution to problems. Then she had a very interesting discussion on how a nonprofit could build an endowment, noting that the people aged 60 and up have large amounts of wealth that they will be leaving in the next few decades. The younger generations, she asserted, will not accumulate so much wealth because they are spenders and rely on credit rather than savings to get through rough patches. (If she is correct, it does not bode well for the future.) She had some dos and don'ts for how to get your organization to build endowment (which is what the Jasper and Newton Foundations are all about.)

After the meeting, a representative from the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority said that the upcoming air show needed volunteers to help with parking and ticket selling. In return, the air show would be willing to make a contribution to the non-profit and also allow the non-profit to put its literature in the information tent. They want volunteers who are a least 16 years old and they expect to be parking 9,000 to 10,000 cars. (If your are part of a group that is interested in this, send an e-mail to me at renssealaeradventures at and I will give you the contact info. And if you would like to help park cars and do not have an organization that wants to be involved, I think I have an organization that you could volunteer to help.)

The meeting ran late and when it was over I rushed over to GRG Auto Repair to see if I could catch the ribbon cutting. When I got there people were standing around, but they were not waiting for the ribbon cutting. They had not yet dispersed from the ribbon cutting.
  Even though I was too late to get a picture of the ribbon cutting (you will have to see the Rensselaer Republican for that) I did enjoy a cookie and some cheese, not to mention some interesting conversations.

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