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

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

February's County Council Meeting

I missed the Monday City Council meeting--I was out of town. From the report in the Rensselaer Republican, it seemed to be an interesting one.

I did get to the County Council Meeting on Tuesday night. It was pretty routine. The Council made some additional small appropriations. Some of them were correcting mistakes that people had made when submitting their budgets, such as the one that involved IT equipment for the extension office. The Animal Control director wanted permission to use donated funds for microchipping animals that the shelter adopted out, saying that other counties were doing this and that it would keep their population lower because they would be able to quickly identify who owned the animal if it ended back in the shelter. The Circuit Court recorder is retiring and the judge wanted to hire the replacement before the actual retirement so that the replacement would get trained by the retiring recorder. Pretty exciting stuff.

The Council approved an inter-fund loan that I did not understand. Apparently it is something done every year. There were some amendments to the Jasper County Salary Ordinance that corrected three salaries of county personnel. The Sheriff gave the Council his annual report, the same report that he had given the Commissioners earlier this month. A member of the Council asked about the upgrade to the 911 system. It will likely be installed in late April or early May and will require that the system be down for a while. While it is down, 911 calls will be routed through a neighboring county, which is what happens if there are any technical difficulties. State regulations say a county can only have two PSAPS (pronounced Pee Saps, an acronym for Public Safety Access Points). Jasper County has one and two satellite sites, the Rensselaer and DeMotte police departments. There is vagueness in the state regulations and there is the possibility that at some time the state will decide that one PSAP with two satellites should count as three PSAPs. County officials are kept on a short leash by state officials.

Kevin Kelley gave a report on the Tourism Commission. Included in was a list of county motels. Rensselaer has three, Economy Inn with 31 rooms, Holiday Inn Express with 69, and Knights Inn with 30 rooms. Remington has two, Sunset Inn with 50 rooms and Super 8 with 47. There are also camp grounds, the hotel at Fountain Park, the White House Inn, and Saint Joseph's College, all of which are part of the Jasper County Lodging Industry.

For 2014 the Innkeeper's Tax (a 5% levy on lodging) raised $137, 457.26. The Tourism Commission had total expenses of $66,228.53, so the Tourism Fund increased during the year. The Commission gave funds (from $2400 to $8400) to the five big festivals, Water Tower Days, Touch of Dutch, Sandhill Crane Festival, Fall Festival, and Little Cousin Jasper Festival. It also gave money to nine other events or groups, things like the Remington Ride, Rock the Arts, and Rensselaer Oktoberfest.

A person from the South Shore Convention and Visitor's Authority gave the Council a handout that highlighted what they had done to promote tourism in the County. They host a website for Jasper County tourism at www.discoverjaspercounty.com and designed a logo for the Tourism Commission, which can be seen at the link.

In March the Tourism Commission will be reviewing applications for funding for 2015. This year they will want more information than last year, including a look at the financials of the various events and festivals.

The County Surveyor addressed the Council saying that he needs a bit more money to do what he thinks is necessary. The head of the Council warned him that funds are tight and the state had trimmed the budget that they had submitted. (The state approves county budgets.) He was advised to get on the agenda if he wants any changes.

County Commissioner Kendall Culp was at the meeting and gave a brief rundown of several things that the Commissioners are doing. They had just given the Airport manager their proposal for the transfer of property to the Airport and there were still a few areas that might have to be smoothed out. They were also working with NIPSCO on relocating the county road that cuts through their property in Kankakee Township.

The Airport manager gave a report on highlights of the past year. He said that the Airport is a gateway to the county. He also mentioned that Excel Air, the maintenance company at the Airport, employs six people.

In the public comment section, Thomas Mathis from Wheatfield addressed the Council about the need for setbacks for manure lagoons. He was interrupted by one of the Council members who said that this was not a matter for the Council, which is limited to budgetary items.

The meeting then adjourned. As I left I noticed that the tree in the hallway had been redecorated to make it a Saint Patrick's Day Tree.



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