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

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

December meetings

When I arrived for the Commissioners Meeting on Monday I was surprised at a much larger than usual crowd. A class from Kankakee Valley High School spent about fifteen minutes at the meeting before they went upstairs to watch a court proceeding.

The meeting had the usual amount of routine business: requests to fill vacancies and approvals of claims, buried cable permits, appointments, etc. The Airport Authority, under pressure from the FAA, wants to clarify its property situation and would like to have the deed to the 132 acres of land it uses with a reversion clause, but the Commissioners seem to prefer a long-term lease. The matter will come up again in future meetings.

The KV students left before discussion of an issue that might have interested them, the petition by NIPSCO for the county to vacate CR 250 E between 1350N and 1450N. The road goes through NIPSCO property. (NIPSCO wants to close the road so that it can expand its landfill for fly ash. If the road it closed, the expansion will be of an existing landfill and will have a much easier time getting permits than if the road remains. Then the landfill expansion will be considered a new landfill and will require a much lengthier permitting process.) Several farmers said that they use the road to move farm equipment and the alternative route would take them onto SR 49. The KV school corporation also objected, saying that the closure would result in a dead-end road that makes turning a bus around difficult and also a route with only a single way in and out. The sheriff suggested a change that I suspect will resolve the issue. If NIPSCO builds a new road that extends 300E north a mile (it would be on the edge of NIPSCO's property) and connects it to 1450N by extending 1450N by half a mile, the access to traffic would remain and NIPSCO would achieve its objectives. Because some people who were affected by the proposal could not be at the meeting due to a funeral, the open hearing will continue at the January 6 meeting.

The Commissioners approved the Sheriff's contract (which struck me as strange because the sheriff is an elected official) and now the County Council must do the same. The Sheriff reported that the annual inspection of the county jail had gone well, with the jail passing everything with the exception of its manpower levels. A discussion of the radio tower followed. The FCC changed communication bands some time ago, taking frequencies that were used for emergency and police purposes and giving them to cell phone use. That change has required adaptation in police and fire communication, and to get good radio coverage throughout the county, the sheriff's department has been testing the use of a tower owned by Midway Electronics. The testing is finished and the Commissioners approved going ahead and with the next steps to get use of the tower. Ultimately the plan is for the tower to be used not just by the sheriff's department but also by the fire department and the county highway department.

There was an interesting discussion of development in southern Jasper County. Remington is expanding, annexing 1691 acres west, north, and east of the town. (Wikipedia says that the current size of Remington is 1.02 sq miles, or about 650 acres.)  It will increase its population by 137 from 1185 to 1322 and will add $55,156,631 of assessed valuation to its current $41,856,458 assessed valuation. This discussion was prompted by a question by one of the commissioners about what was happening in White County just east of Remington. The answer was that White County, aided by a $2.5 million grant for infrastructure, is developing the Mid American Corporate Park. It is building a 60,000 square foot building on the border with Jasper County that currently has no tenants but is being constructed with faith that "if they build it, they will come." The cranes to the south are working on a water towner. Remington itself is planning a new water treatment plant and sewage plant improvements. (It is unfortunate that I do not get down there more often--sounds like a lot of interesting stuff to write about.)

After a break, the Commissioners finished up with more routine stuff. There are two missing slates on the court house roof, but there will probably be no leakage because there are weatherproofing layers under the slate tiles. The roof is still under warranty but the county may have to pay for a lift to enable repairs. The matter will be taken care of in the spring. The commissioners approved hiring an asbestos consultant to inspect the old Rusk building, a necessary step before demolition. The commissioners then approved appointments of positions on boards and other appointed positions--I counted 31 that they mentioned. The next meeting will be on December 22 at 8:15.

In the afternoon the commissioners reassembled as the Drainage Board. After a brief discussion they approved cleaning the Nagel Ditch. (Kendall Culp left the Board and was replaced by an alternate for this vote.) They acknowledged NIPSCOs signing of a hold-harmless letter for a transmission line from Goodland to Monticello and listened to a citizen with a complaint about his ditch assessment. Then they opened a public hearing on the Lawton Ditch, which is in the north part of the county. Most of the landowners affected supported the cleaning of the ditch and the resulting property assessment, but one of the letters was opposed as was one member of the audience. Even though almost all the people affected supported the measure, she felt the board approval of the measure was terribly unfair. My guess is that she and her husband bought some acreage that is not tillable and gets no benefit from the drainage--one of the things that can happen when you live alongside farms. 

A proposed drainage plan for a parking lot for Georgia Pacific in Wheatfield was quickly approved, and then a couple citizens spoke. One apparently lives on the Jasper-Newton border and was frustrated because Jasper County could not make things happen in Newton County. The other was concerned with dams that have been build on ditches in northern Jasper County and the failure of the county to regulate them. After a bit of discussion of a Tefft ditch, the meeting adjourned. 

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