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

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Ambulances, Animal Control, Frost Law, Manure Pipelines, and More

The reason for scheduling a second Commissioners Meeting in December is to approve claims before the end of the year. That approval took about fifteen seconds on Monday morning. However, the Commissioners had a number of other items on the agenda that took more time.

Animal Control had two items. One was a draft of a volunteer policy. Because it included a waiver of some kind, the Commissioners referred it to their attorney for review. The second item was a restructuring of duties, and the Commissioners wanted time to look at it. The restructuring was explained in an article in the Rensselaer Republican last week.

The ambulance bids were again on the agenda. A representative for Lakeshore EMS said to ignore what he had earlier said about a possible agreement with Franciscan for patient transport because the discussion had generated animosity. With the Lakeshore EMS bid no longer competitive with present services, the Commissioners awarded the bid to Prompt, the current provider. They will continue to receive $17,500 per month for providing services.

Most of the people at the meeting then left, but the Walker Township Ambulance people did not. They have been trying to get government plates for a new ambulance but the state contests their status as a government agency. The problem arises because the service is provided as the result of an agreement of three townships, Walker, Wheatfield, and Kankakee. The state demands to see an ordinance showing that they are a government entity and there is none. It was noted that the state encourages local governments to work together, but when they do, the state sometimes throws up road blocks. The Commissioners did not have an immediate solution.

A discussion of a proposed manure pipeline, an item that had been discussed at length earlier this month, drew comments from members of the audience. The pipeline will pass by six residences. There were questions of the possibilities of leakages and contamination of wells and of whether the pipeline would interfere with drainage tiles. It was noted that the pipeline will only be used occasionally to move manure to the fields; it will not be in constant use.

After a number of items of more-or-less routine business, there was a question about a proposal that will be introduced in the state legislature providing funding for county roads. Jasper County would receive a fairly large amount under this bill and the question was why. The answer was that the state puts some of the county income tax into a stabilization fund so that in bad years money can be taken from it and hikes in other taxes or borrowing can be avoided. Jasper County has almost $6 million in its fund (and Rensselaer has almost a million), but they cannot touch that money unless it is released. The bill going to the legislature will, if passed, release some of that money for roads. Counties that have large balances will get more than counties that have small balances. Jasper County has a large balance.

After some other routine business, there was a long discussion of Frost Laws, laws that restrict restrict heavy vehicles on county roads when the frost is leaving the ground. When the laws is in effect, signs need to be posted telling drivers what the restrictions are. Though there are usually only a few days in the winter and spring when heavy vehicles will damage the roads, limiting the law to just those days imposes a heavy cost of putting up signs and notifying drivers. Further, the state says that counties cannot have the law in effect for more than 90 days. The consensus of the commissioners was to have the law in effect from January 15 to April 15, but to actually enforce it only during the times when traffic would cause harm. The discussion will be put into the form of an ordinance by the county attorney and will be on the agenda in the January meeting.

With that, the meeting concluded and I said goodbye to this smiling snowman on the second floor of the Court House.
Have a Merry Christmas.

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