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

Monday, June 1, 2015

Monday meetings part one

The monthly meeting of the commissioners for June 1 had a short agenda, but the meeting still lasted several hours. After the usual preliminaries, they approved five buried cable permits. Two were from CenturyLink and three were from the City of Rensselaer for buried gas lines, all three of which will connect existing lines. There was a bit of discussion because the lines will cross drainage tiles. Usually the city bores the line beneath the tiles. The city also wanted the normal fee waived, and it was.

There was a request from the surveyor's office for approval of a data sharing agreement with a compamy that produces platt books. It seemed that the county had approached the company.

Kristin Bahleda, the head of the Animal Control Shelter, had several items. She wanted to raise the daily boarding fee from $6 to $10 and that was approved, but will not go into effect until July because there must be public notice of the change. It will then cost more to retrieve your pet it if is picked up as a stray. She also wanted approval for a contract with Great Lakes Biological for dead cats. Great Lakes Biological supplies cat cadavers to educational institutions and will pay the animal shelter $3 per euthenaized cat and will pick them up. At present the animal shelter pays a company to take the carcasses, so not only will the contract bring in a bit of money, but will cut expenses. Dead dogs still have no value. She talked a bit about some grants that the shelter had obtained for repairs to the holding pens. And finally, she submitted her letter of resignation. Her last day will be June 15.

A citizen requested that the county sign his petition for work on a tile west of town that currently is clogged. The matter will make its way to the drainage board, but he brought the item to the commissioners because the county owns six properties in the affected area. There are about 80 landowners in the drainage area.

Alice Smith announced the leadership training that was the subject of an article in Saturday's Rensselaer Republican. It will begin in September, will be a Purdue program, is targeting people in the 30-to-50 age range, and will have a cap of 20 enrollees.

The Sheriff reported that the new I65 interchange on SR 14 and traffic from the dairies has increased the number of trucks going through the intersection of SR 14 and US 231. There are also a number of new houses near that intersection and people are concerned with trucks that are using compression braking to stop, which is an annoyance early in the morning. He had contacted the state highway department, which told him it was a county problem. He wanted an ordinance and signs prohibiting engine braking. There was brief discussion about a couple of cars that his department wanted to sell, and later in the meeting the commissioners decided that one of the cars would be a good addition as a county pool car, a car used by various county officials for county business.

The primary item that the sheriff had to discuss was the radio tower negotiations. There is a building by the tower that the sheriff wants to rent but it may not meet state standards for the $200,000 worth of equipment that the state will be providing. The sheriff thought that a new building might be a better option than trying to improve the existing building. He wants a 20 year contract because of the initial expense, but does not want to go longer than 20 years because technology may have very different solutions in 2035. There are lots of negotiations with various parties going on, and the sheriff would like one of the commissioners to attend these meetings.

At this point I left because I had another meeting I wanted to attend. That meeting had been canceled while I was in the Commissioners meeting, so I returned, having missed about 20 minutes of discussions and arrived back as the meeting reconvened after a break.

The second part of commissioner meetings has a different character than the earlier part. There is more routine business of approving minutia, such as requests by various county officials to attend meetings and training sessions. There is a lot of informal discussion among the commissioners that prepares the way for items for future meetings. As they were looking at the progress of the court house restoration work, they mentioned that the blocks that had arrived for repairing the retaining wall were not cut properly and did not match the existing blocks. After the meeting I took a closer look. Below is an old block from the retaining wall with the size of the sloped section shown using a business card.
 The slope on the new blocks is a bit bigger as the same business card shows.
The new blocks cannot be used and it is not clear what will be done with them.
While they were discussing this, they mentioned that the current state of this lot was not satisfactory. The old floor is several inches higher than the sidewalk and that drop is a safety hazard. They thought that maybe the slab should be removed and the lot planted in grass as the county has plenty of parking on the other side of the block.

There was some discussion of a generator that the county highway department owns but has not used in five years. There was some discussion of whether they could sell it on eBay as equipment of this type has a limited number of buyers and there may be few or none locally. During the meeting Commissioner Culp received a call and found that there was a potential buyer in the Reynolds area, someone who had a malfunctioning generator of the same type and was willing to pay in the neighborhood of $10,000. (Various area electricians had been asked about the generator to discover its value and it was one of these electricians who alerted the commissioners to this potential buyer.) However, a discussion with the lawyer for the Commissioners suggested that a quick sale was not possible--property of this value must be sold either at a public auction or with sealed bids after public notices are posted.

Other items discussed were the state of county roads and the possibility of using ground asphalt from road resurfacings on them, the NIPSCO road, landscaping services for the Fase Center near DeMotte, whether the county should start working on the HVAC systems for the third floor of the Court House, and discussion of hiring a part-time custodian for the court house.

The meeting was recessed. I left for lunch and to get ready for more meetings later in the day, the subject of a future post.

(The Commissioners reconvened in the evening when they, the County Council, and the Board of Jasper County Hospital all approved the transfer to Jasper County Hospital to the Franciscan Alliance after a public hearing. More on that later.)

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