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

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Quick notes on a couple of meetings

The second City Council meeting of September did not have any big surprises. Some people who live outside the city limits but who get city gas were upset by the $3 a month environmental fee that is tacked onto their utility bill each month. They wanted to know what they received for that fee and if it could be waived. The city attorney said that the only body that can waive the fee is the Board of Public Works and they had rejected the request. The Council could pass a new ordinance, but there was no one on the Council so inclined. The people left unsatisfied with the answers that they had received.

There was a public hearing on the 2016 budget that had no public comments, probably because the information that is presented is not intelligible. The Council approved the signing of a contract with TV cable that covered a number things including pole rental and the installation and leasing of fiber optic cable to link city facilities.

A representative from IMPA (the organization that provides electricity to municipal electrical utilities) spoke about the need for an ordinance to deal with something that has not yet happened here. He argued that a person could set up solar panels to generate power for the home and would sell surplus power during the day and draw power during the night. Such a installation might draw as much power as it supplies, and the person who installed it would therefore not owe any money to the city other than the $5 customer charge that everyone pays for connection to the grid. He argued that the value of being connected to the grid and the cost to the grid of having him as a customer was much greater than $5 and suggested that the city consider passing a fee schedule to reflect that higher cost/value in case there are people in the future who want to generate their own electricity yet remain on the grid. The issue will come up in future meetings.

The city has accepted a paving bid of $303K from street repaving for 18 projects. The bid was awarded to E&B Paving.

The Council approved a road closure for Harrison Street by the fire station  on October 8. There will be a Fire Prevention Open House that evening.

Work on gas main extensions has been completed. Now attention will turn to service lines.

There was also a meeting of the county Board of Zoning Appeals on Monday evening. The case was interesting and instructive. A young couple purchased some landlocked property in Walker township with an easement to the county road. They wanted a variance that would approve 25 feet of frontage so they could build a house. They had purchased the property with the understanding that it was a buildable lot. After they purchased it they found that it did not meet county requirements. The Board's attorney suggested that the Board could not issue a variance because they currently had no frontage--an easement is not frontage. He suggested that they get a letter from the seller that states that the seller will grant them or sell them partial or joint ownership in the easement and that the easement be larger than 25 feet because the BZA has never approved a variance for such a small frontage. The case was continued to the next meeting, which will be held on October 26.

My picture for today is of the brain that I found in my yard. I wonder if it is good to eat.

As you probably realize, it is a mushroom or puffball--some kind of fungus that has sprouted as a result of the heavy rain a week or so ago.

Monday, September 28, 2015

OktoberFest 2015

OktoberFest 2015 had beautiful weather that brought out a big crowd.
This is the last of the festivals for the year: Cruise Night, County Fair, Rock the Arts, Fall Festival, Little Cousin Jasper, and finally OktoberFest. Did I miss any?

I saw that Visit Rensselaer was taking lots of pictures so I felt free to leave my camera in my pocket. If you want to see a lot more pictures, go here.

Earlier in the day I saw one of the food booths driving down the street. Naturally I took a picture.

In another change, Gilmore Green Acres will no longer being selling produce except for strawberries--they are retiring. Here is their statement from Facebook:

"Today is bitter sweet. Some customers hugged me and made me cry. After 32 years of raising produce we are planning on retiring. We still have the strawberry fields, so we still plan on selling strawberries next spring. But God willing, no produce. Time to enjoy life. Thank you all for many years of patronage to Us. We love and appreciate all of you."

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Some building news

Do you recognize what this is? Answer later.
 The building trades house on Scott Street south of Harrison now has roof trusses. At the beginning of the school year it was not much more than a foundation.
This past week city workers were installing a storm sewer line on Vine Street in front of the Knights of Columbus Hall.
 I was surprised at how much progress has been made at the Comfort Suites since I was out there a month ago.  There were two cranes and a lot of workers on the site.
 Below is the view from the other side. As I was taking pictures, the owner's father drove up to see what I was doing and then the owner showed up. We had a nice talk. They said that when they poured the concrete slab, they poured 16,000 square feet in one day starting at 4:30 and using loads from 23 cement trucks. The building will have one more floor. They are pushing construction to get the building enclosed and roofed before the weather turns bad.
On the way out I noticed that the route of the water main had been marked and flags for other utilities were in place. The construction of that project should start in the next week or two. I also noticed that a five acre lot next to McDonalds had a for sale sign. I was told it had been for sale for some time but I do not recall noticing before.

If you guessed that the first picture was the excavation for the retention (or detention) pond for the new fire station, you guessed correctly. The progress does not seem as fast here as at the Comfort Suites, but some of the floor is in place and other parts of the floor look ready for a concrete pour.

Dale;s Steak and Chop Shop announced on Facebook that it is closing.  Their statement: "We would like to say THANK YOU and have GREAT APPRECIATION for our faithful supporters we have had the past 2 years!! Due to the dramatic decline of support--we have to close our doors. We will be open until we sell all our products. Once again Thanks to those who have supported us--we appreciate you!!"

Retail is hard. It is very difficult for small retail stores to compete in a world of large corporate chains or franchises. Sorry to see another small business close.

Speaking of closing, I heard early this week that Bartlett Chevrolet in Brookston has closed but I cannot find anything to confirm that on the Internet.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Late summer or early fall?

The trees may not yet be telling us that summer is over or nearly over, but other plants are. The corn is ready for harvest.
 Now is the time to enjoy mums.
 Wild sunflowers attract bees and other insects. Goldfinches love their seeds.
 The asters are blooming. Seeing them bloom causes mixed feelings. They are pretty but they also signal that summer is over.
Saturday's Oktoberfest is another sign that summer is over. It started as a celebration of a wedding, but has continued because people like harvest festivals with lots of beer. Another festival marking the end of summer is The Feast of the Hunters Moon festival. Everyone should go to at least once. It takes place Oct 3-4.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Art exhibit: Primary Colors

The Fendig Gallery has a new exhibit, Primary Colors. It contains work by the members of the Jasper County Art League and the pictures emphasize the primary colors of red, blue, and yellow. Below is one of the few sculptures (it may be the only one) in the exhibit. It has the primary colors in the collar.
 The painting of sunflowers captures the spirit of the show--bright and bold.
 The picture below is not a painting. It is done in fabric.
 The title of this red and blue painting is "First Wheels".
 On the beach in primary colors.
 Primary colors of red and yellow are highlighted here against a dark blue background in this painting of a girl drawing.
Mrs Lucas, known for her bird and nature pictures, was at the gallery when I visited. I had not seen any of her photographs so I asked why there were none there. She pointed me to the future of art exhibiting, a digital display that changes the picture every few seconds. She had about 50 photographs in the display--a whole art show in one square foot of wall space.
The exhibit runs until October 30. The opening reception will be on Saturday from 7:00 until 8:30 (which overlaps OktoberFest.)

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

At the library

There is a display of Indian artifacts at the Rensselaer library in the display case by the genealogy area. It contains items from a local collector.
 I am not sure what dates the Paleolithic refers to. Paleolithic is stone age, and before the arrival of Europeans, the Americas were still in the stone age with tools made not from metal but from stones (and sticks and bone and fired clay).
 The items are labeled so that there is some information about each. Experts could tell more, but even they do not know the full story behind many of the items (such as what banner stones were used for, a topic on which the local collector has written a paper published in an archaeological journal.)
 We think of the Indians as using bows and arrows, but for most of the thousands of years in which the Americas were inhabited, the primary hunting weapon was the atlatl.

The artifacts should remind us most of the human history of this area is only sketchily known.

The demolition of the building on Front Street east of Washington is complete. This was the view on Sunday. The lot will be used for parking for CTS Tire. That will require some fill and a retaining wall because the land slopes down to the river. The additional parking will mean that customers of CTS Tire will not have to use the city lot across the street.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

End of a busy week

There has been so much going on this week that I am struggling to post about all of it. (In February I will be trying to find things to write about.)

On Friday the Gutwein-Risner Insurance Agency had an open house. They are the new owners of what was Lyons Insurance. Lyons insured crops; the new owners had added most other kinds of insurance. The radio station was broadcasting from in front of the building.
 The event was also a retirement party.
 The building stretches all the way to the alley and in the back room was this sign. It looks old.
 They were serving hamburgers and hot dogs to visitors and had closed the alley for the mobile grilling station.
 (Do you remember the Art in the Alley events that used the interesting surfaces in this alley as a backdrop for the display of art?)

I was curious about how crop insurance worked and found that a representative from the crop insurance company was at the event. The company has an appropriate name, Rain and Hail. It is the largest crop insurer serving the whole U.S. The division offices serving Indiana is in Peoria, IL.

The insurance is based on the average yield over the past ten years. A farmer can buy insurance on various percentages of that yield. So if he averages 150 bushels per acre and buys insurance at 50%, he will get paid for the difference between his yield and 75 bushels if his yield is below 75. The higher the yield that he protects, the more the insurance will cost him. Rain and Hail was anticipating paying out a lot this year to Jasper County farmers.

On the way to the event, I noticed that the building on Front Street nest to CTS Tires had been reduced to a pile of rubble.
 It appeared that the brick walls were load bearing and not just decorative. Today (Saturday) a little backhoe was moving the rubble around and getting it into the dumpsters. The land is owned by the people who own CTS Tires.
 I was frustrated this week as I am almost every month because on Tuesday of the third week of the month there are three meetings all scheduled at the same time. This month and next month the Rensselaer School Board moves its meetings back two hours so that a representative can attend the County Council meeting, but otherwise the two groups meet at the same time. The Jasper County Historical Society also meets on the same Tuesday, though a bit earlier. This month Mayor Wood was the featured speaker. I attended the start of the meeting but left before he began speaking to attend the "Best Meeting Ever."

This weekend also had two homecoming football games. The high school game on Friday was called because of the heavy rain and resumed today. The SJC game was scheduled for this afternoon. So we had two homecoming games, high school and college, going on at the same time. I suspect that there were some people who wanted to attend both. (RCHS won its homecoming game with a lopsided score.)

I briefly stopped by the SJC game when the game was in the fourth quarter. SJC held a small lead, but shortly after I arrived, they scored a touchdown.  A group of fans celebrated by lifting one of their buddies 19 or 20 times, whatever the SJC score was after the touchdown.

Last weekend I was passing by the Marathon station by the railroad tracks and noticed an unusual vehicle by the gas pump. I knew one of the people in the carriage, so maybe I will find out what it was doing there.

The Pulaski County Community Development Commission has had a couple of interesting posts on its Facebook page. Meadow Springs, which apparently will be a bread and breakfast, had a ground breaking south of Francesville. And there is a place near Winamac called Rugged Adventures that has built a large tower. It looks interesting but I think I am too old to enjoy whatever they are doing there. (Here is a newspaper article about it.)

Friday, September 18, 2015

RCHS Homecoming parade

The annual RCHS Homecoming parade took place on Thursday evening. There were lots of kids along the route--the point of parades is for them to collect candy. Some of them had big hopes.
 The grand marshal for the parade was Margo Roberts. Behind her you can see the RCHS flag corps and band.

Each class has a float. The one that seemed to me to most on the mark was the freshman float. Who knew that freshmen knew what the Dephi Oracle was? (This picture was taken at the line up of the parade.)
 The junior float had the prediction idea but with a Las Vegas theme, not a Greek theme. The candy grabbing kids only cared about how much candy was coming their way.
 The FFA had a float with a cute crepe paper fire.
 The sophomore class wanted to round up the oracles. On the bikes behind them were the cross county teams.
 Candy! Each homecoming queen candidate was in a convertible.
The senior class float featured a bunch of senior girls in pajamas. I never did figure out what the theme was. Behind them came the fire trucks with the football team.
 One of several trucks with football players or cheerleaders.
The boys with the high hopes and the garbage bag ready for candy seemed to have had a good night, though they did not fill the bag.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Festival Parade

With tonight's RCHS Homecoming parade, Rensselaer has had two parades in less than a week. Because there were other things that I thought were more timely, I postponed a post about the Little Cousin Jasper Parade that took place last Saturday.

Before the parade began two ladies from Lafayette Bank and Trust handed out balloons to kids. The balloons had the bank logo but not the name. I wonder how many people thought they were from Purdue.
 Every few minutes another balloon would float up but I did not hear any kids screaming as their balloons escaped.

It was a long parade with a little bit of everything. There were a number of mascots, including one for the fire department.
 This year there were at least two entries with horses.
 The old milk truck was in front of a long line of tractors. I remember milk delivery when I was a child, but by the time I was a teenager it was gone.
 The Rensselaer High School band marched. SJC has marched in past parades but was absent this year. It might have been too much to ask the band members to stay on campus for the weekend.
 There were a lot of kids marching including Cub Scouts, Pop Warner players, Pop Warner cheerleaders, and a large group of soccer players.
 Among the floats was one for the animal shelter.
The pig was part of the Fair Oaks float. Behind him you can see the purple muscle man who was giving out trial memberships for Anytime Fitness.
 West Central had its band in the parade, marching behind a fire truck from the Francesville Fire Department.
 The parade had three grand marshals. I wonder how many people knew who they were.
 Of course as readers of this blog you undoubtedly recognized them as the county commissioners, Kendell Culp, James Walstra, and Richard Maxwell.

Bringing up the end of the parade was a large group of motorcycles that were about to begin a ride for charity.

Want more pictures of the parade? Visit Rensselaer has 170 pictures of the parade  and the festival on Facebook. I think they have every unit that was in the parade and their pictures are better than mine.