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

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Commissioners meeting 11-2-1015

We are already in November--2015 is quickly slipping away. The ending of daylight savings time means it is getting dark at 5:00. A new month means a new round of meetings.

Before the public session, the Commissioners held an executive session to discuss or hear about alleged malfeasance on the part of some county employee. No details were provided.

The Commissioners have been opening their meetings with some military veteran leading them in the Pledge of Allegiance.  The first order of business was approval of a contract with Lake County Detention Center. If I recall correctly, it is for juvenile offenders and it was a renewal of the existing agreement. Next the Commissioners approved a memorandum of understanding with the Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) that has the county paying the base salary of the watershed specialist and the SWCD adding to that.

The Animal Control Board was represented by one of the deputy sheriffs. The Board recommended the dismissal of the probationary director from county employment and the hiring of Mark Sinclair as the new director. Both recommendations were approved. There was a public hearing on the proposal to reduce the speed limit on CR600W between 1100N and 1200N. No one spoke. The Commissioners approved the change.

A spokesman for SRI reported on the recent tax sale. 148 properties qualified but some of the owners paid their taxes. 79 properties were offered and 23 sold, with the total collection from sold properties and those who paid to avoid sale of $110,000. Most of the unsold properties, 49 of them, are lots in the Lake Holiday Campground near DeMotte. After some discussion, the Commissioners decided to do another sale. The owner of Lake Holiday has expressed interest in buying all of the delinquent lots in his campground.

The local dairies are interested in using supertankers for milk transport. (I think the picture here is what they want to buy. Click the close box on the English or French pop-up to get to the page.) The dairies in Michigan are using them and they hold about twice as much as a conventional milk tanker. The dairies have been going through the regulatory process with INDOT to make sure all the bridges can handle the load and are now checking counties. If they are allowed, they will be permitted only on a specific route, which will be from the dairies to the Kroger bottling plant on the east side of Indianapolis. The wear on the road is apparently less than with regular tankers because the weight per axle is less, and it is the weight per axle that determines road damage. The commissioners had questions about what the damage would be on turns. The commissioners approved the proposal with the provision that if the trucks did damage to turns, the dairies would fix the damage. Even if all the permits are granted, the supertankers will not be on the road before the end of 2016. The dairies will have to make substantial changes to their facilities to accommodate the bigger trucks.

Four bids were received for ambulance service and they were opened. The amount bid was the amount of subsidy that the company would need to provide the service. Prompt and Lake Shore EMS were very close, with bids of $210,000 and $204,000 respectively. Superior did not have a fixed number but proposed sharing costs and revenues. Franciscan Alliance had the high bid of $350,000 for the first year and $260,000 for the second. The bids were taken under advisement so they could be compared in services offered.

EMCOR representatives reported that work on upgrading the heating infrastructure on the third floor of the Court House would begin in January. The Sheriff requested permission to fill a vacancy caused by a resignation. There was further discussion of bids for Medicaid and jail inmates. The Commissioners approved the Sheriff's request for contract with salary, which now goes to the County Council. There is some progress being made on the communication tower.

That was the end of the agenda items. There followed mostly routine business. The meeting schedule for 2016 was approved. Meetings are normally on the first Monday of the month, but the February meeting will be on the second. There is a second meeting in December so claims can be paid before the end of the year. Next year it will be on Dec 27. A county calendar with 15 holidays was approved. There was mention of a second truck stop on the SR10/I65 interchange that has been in the works for some time and mention that a drainage plan had been submitted to the Drainage Board, but when the Drainage Board met in the afternoon they were told that the plan had been withdrawn and might be back on the agenda in December. Someone mentioned that the gas tanks and pumps were being removed from what was once Grandma's Restaurant at the SR114/I65 intersection. Jasper County was rated third best in the state for the condition of its bridges.

The meeting was continued until November 16 when there will be an executive session at 9:00 and an open session at 10:00.

The Drainage Board meeting in the afternoon had a lot on the agenda but not much that I thought interesting. The Board approved plans for an ambulance station near Demotte. Then there was discussion about a number of ditches. The most interesting bit was a complaint about a farmer who had his cows in the ditch, which was causing the ditch to accumulate sediment. It is illegal for cattle to be in the ditch, but cattle are often not law abiding.

I need a picture. Here is one of the steel going up for the new fire station.

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