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

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Meetings this week

The Commissioners met on Monday for a resumption of the meeting that they continued earlier this month. They met in closed session to discuss insurance, and then met briefly for a few items. The first order of business in the open meeting was a vote to accept the renewal of health insurance.

Community Corrections had an opening that had been filled internally, creating another opening. The head of Community Corrections got permission to fill internally the sequence of openings that will be created as people move up the ladder. I think he will have to come back to get permission to fill the opening when all the internal movement is finished.

The Commissioners approved the hiring of Mark Sinclair as head of Animal Control. A member of the audience asked why the probationary director had been dismissed. The response was that the Commissioners were acting on the unanimous recommendation of the Animal Control Board.

The Health Department has been unable to provide birth and death certificates since the recent death of the County Health Officer, Dr. Michael Louck. The Commissioners approved the recommendation of the Health Board to appoint Dr. Mary Ann Nelson as the new County Health Officer. She has been a member of the Health Board, and her new position as County Health Officer opened a position on the Health Board. The Commissioners appointed Dr. Christopher Louck to that position.

After some routine signing of documents and other business, Rein Bontrager, President of the County Council, asked what progress has been made with a Frost Law ordinance. He was told that a final draft is nearing completion.

On Tuesday evening the County Council met. The first item was a request from Judge Ahler for additional money for translators. He said that since the time of his request, the trial, if there is a trial, had been moved to 2016. It involves a person who either does not speak English or speaks it poorly so needs a translator. The rules require that the translator in the actual trial be certified, and two translators will be needed, one for the defense and one for the Court. The cost is about $150 per hour plus transportation. The trial would normally be expected to run about five days, but judges elsewhere who hear these cases say that when translation is involved, the time of the trial is about three times as long. The Council approved adding $3000 to his translation budget for this year to cover anticipated costs of a medical or psychiatric evaluation, with additional appropriations held off until later.

The Council approved releasing money from the Animal Shelter Donation Fund to pay for training and approved transferring money from vehicle expenses to the furniture fund. Then the new head of Animal Control, Mark Sinclair, was introduced to the Council with a request that his position be given the same raise that other positions had received. It was noted that he took a pay cut to take the position. The Council declined to take up the issue at this meeting.

The Council approved some transfers of funds in the Sheriff's Department and approved his contract. He noted that the state had inspected the jail and it had passed inspection, with a deficiency noted on the level of staffing. The Council approved a two-year Memorandum of Understanding with the Soil and Water Conservation District. It has the county paying the base salary for the watershed specialist and the SWCD kicks in some extra. It was noted that the watershed specialist, Dan Perkins, has brought in a lot of grant money to the county.

The Council approved the meeting schedule for 2016. The meetings will be on the third Tuesday of each month except for February (4th Tuesday) and July (2nd Tuesday).

Commissioner James Walstra was at the meeting and was asked about the Frost Law. He said that an ordinance should be ready by the end of the year. Some counties prohibit heavy vehicles from January through May, but damage only occurs when the frost is thawing, usually 10 days to 15 days in the spring. There was thought that perhaps the times of restriction could be communicated using the Sheriff's call system. Walstra also noted that on Monday the Commissioners had signed a new health insurance policy that had an 8% raise, much less than what they had feared.  Finally, he noted that the spec building on the White-Jasper County line had been finished and White County was looking for tenants. White County officials have been pleased with the cooperation they have received from Jasper County. Someone noted that I-65 was a conduit for both good things (commerce and jobs) and bad things (crime).

The Historical Society also met on Tuesday night. The County Historian's booklet on Jasper County history, which highlights the prehistory of the Potawatomi, had been adopted by fourth grades in four county schools. It was distributed to 270 students at KV, 116 at Van Rensselaer, 55 at Tri-County, and 12 at St. Augustine's.

In other news (which give me a reason to put up some pictures), gas prices have dropped below $2.00 a gallon in Rensselaer.

 (It is another dark and dreary day, but it is warm. The cold front that is bringing these clouds and will drop our temperatures this weekend is still to our West.)

It appears that the parking spaces next to CTS Tire are almost ready. The retaining wall is finished and the lot has been filled.

No comments: