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

Monday, January 12, 2015

First City Council Meeting 2015

There was a larger than normal audience at the Rensselaer City Council meeting on Monday evening. (If you are not familiar with the seating arrangements, the council and the mayor are seated in the front of the room. The various city superintendents are along the wall on the right and in the back row with the table. The audience has the seats without the tables.)
 There were three items that I thought especially interesting. The RCSC superintendent introduced the new assistant superintendent and then announced that beginning on February 1 the Rensseleaer School Corporation would be part of a pilot e-learning program. (WLFI has been running reports on this program.) Any school closings after February 1 will be converted to e-learning sessions and will not have to be made up. About 30 schools districts currently are in this program, including Delphi and Twin Lakes. So far this year there have been three delays and three cancelations. As a result of the cancelations, there will be school on Martin Luther King Day, Presidents' Day, and one other day.

The manager for the large apartment complex west of the College Mall wanted some utility bill relief. The complex had a water leak that lasted for several months. It was obvious from the meter that there was a leak, but searching through the apartments could not find it. Finally a company from Indianapolis that specializes in finding underground leaks was called in. The found the leak in a pipe under the concrete slab of one of the apartments. The episode cost the apartments over $25,000 and they were asking the Council for some help. Because the amounts of water and the cost were not available at the meeting, the mayor appointed two council members to a committee to consider the matter and make a recommendation to the council. It was clear from the comments that there will be no relief from the water charges, but there may be some from the sewer bill since some of the leakage may have been absorbed by the ground and not entered the sewer.

At the end of the meeting Butch Claussen addressed the council about the need for a sidewalk from town to the fairground. He pointed out that a sidewalk could get the present foot traffic off the road and also provide recreation with a walking/biking route to the fairgrounds. There was discussion of whether the walk would be better on the north or south side of the highway and also whether the Indiana DOT should be contacted. (The Department of Transportation is not currently interested in SR 114. Their two priorities for Rensselaer are the Mt Calvary Road/US 231 intersection and the Washington Street Bridge.) The city, however, is also worried about SR 114 because the development along it is changing its nature. More turn and passing lanes will be needed as the development continues. My impression is that if a plan can be put together with a route and negotiated easements, the city would have a project that might attract some grant money. There are a lot of people who would like to see this sidewalk built.

Other things: The Bomber Football Championship signs are at the press. An employee of the City Utility Office was given a plaque for ten-years service--the Rensselaer Republican should have a picture this week. The gas tracker will raise gas prices by six cents per hundred cubic feet for the four billing cycles of January. The Council ratified a poll of council members approving paying college tuition for a city employee. The Council approved a request by the manager of the utility office to seek bids for remodeling the office to meet ADA and OSHA requirements. Finally, in the strangest item of the night, there was a request to vacate an alley that goes through the middle of a house that was built in 1873. The owner wants to sell and a title search revealed that it was built on a city right-of-way. The agent for the owner did not have the complete legal description of the property, so the city's attorney told the council that they should table the matter until the next meeting.

Before the Council meeting the Board of Public Works opened bids for completion of the road that runs to Fountain Stone Theater, but there was no mention of the results at this Council meeting.

We had several inches of new snow Monday morning and if you could ignore the difficulties this causes for getting around, you could appreciate how beautiful everything was. Tree branches had an inch or two of snow on them and the result was a classic winter scene.
On Sunday before the new snow, I took a look at the river from the Bowstring Bridge, shown above. The river was completely frozen over and I could see footprints and bike tracks on the snow that covered the ice. As someone long removed from childhood, I could only marvel at the stupidity of playing on river ice, but I also recognized that when I was young, I might have done the same thing if I had been near a river like the Iroquois.

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