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

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Back to normal

After spending Christmas away from Rensselaer, I was surprised to see all the water in the fields as I returned on Monday afternoon. I did not see ice-coated tree branches until reaching the Houston Subdivision south of town. I checked my rain gauge and found that it had almost four inches of water in it. I think I emptied it about a week ago. Maybe on Tuesday the weather will allow me to go out and take some pictures.

On the way to the city council meeting on Monday night I noticed that Weston Lake had returned and the city was pumping water on Jefferson Street north of Lincoln Street. When I got back from the meeting I checked the river flow meter and saw that the river had gone over 12 feet, which is considered flood stage.

At the city council meeting the mayor and the city council members who won election in November were sworn in. The only new face will be Rick Odle, who is replacing Russ Overton. Below you can see him being sworn in by Frieda Bretzinger, city clerk-treasurer. You can also see Russ Overton in his final meeting as a council member. (Odle will replace him at the next meeting.)

As for the meeting itself, the electric tracker for the first quarter of 2016 that is set by IMPA will be small decrease. The council approved continuing membership in the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns. The power plant recommended retaining Wilcox Engineering for assistance with forms and regulations concerning environmental compliance. The plant needs to be approved to continue operations.  The council approved a recommendation from its engineering consultants, Commonwealth, to award the construction contract for the wet weather treatment plant to Bowman Engineering contingent on getting all the details finalized for financing.

The council approved increasing coverage for non-employee theft from $100,000 to $500,000. The clerk-treasurer and the utility office manager asked for approval to obtain bids for new software to help run their offices. They think that it will be cheaper in the long run. They received approval.

In what I thought was the most interesting item of the evening, the mayor announced the search for a site for a new water well, something not need now but perhaps in the future, had taken them to St. Joseph's College. (Recently the city had been considering a site two or three miles out Bunkum Road.) Their consultants had suggested that there may be good fracturing point on the campus that would allow a well that could produce 800 to 1000 gallons a minute, the amount needed to make a well worth developing. There has been discussion with SJC, but any lease agreement needs SJC Board approval. The Council voted to approve a test well and a second motion to allow the mayor to give a signed land lease agreement to SJC for its board's approval.

In various comments, several people thanked Russ Overton for his four years of service on the council. The police department received $3200 in the trade in of their old squad car, more than the $2000 that was mentioned in the previous meeting as the minimum they would receive. It was noted that water, downed electrical lines, and lots of broken branches had resulted in a very busy day for city employees.

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