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

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Meetings, hot and cold

Monday evening saw four public meetings. At 5:30 the Animal Control Board met in the story-time room at the Rensselaer Library while the Board of Public Works met in the City Council Chambers. At 6:00 the City Council met at City Hall while the Jasper County Library Board met in the main conference room at the Rensselaer Library. I hate it when so many meetings are going on at once.

I opted to begin the evening at the Animal Control Board. I was very surprised to see the room full of people--I counted 18 guests, including myself and the editor of the Rensselaer Republican. As the meeting started, the chairperson told the guests when they would be allowed to talk about various issues.

The Director's Report mentioned that Animal Control had received permission to hire a part time Animal Control Officer and a search was underway. The Director also noted that he and an employee had attended training in Indianapolis on how to properly use chemicals to subdue animals.

A member of the audience wanted to discuss why the interim director had been let go. He was told that the Board could not discuss personnel issues.

A volunteer policy was approved and sent to  the County Commissioners for enactment. There was a discussion of live trapping in which Animal Control would provide live traps to the public for use in trapping nuisance animals. Some other counties do this. There are some DNR policies that would have to be followed. One member of the audience with experience with feral cats commented that if the use was restricted to daylight, virtually no feral cats would be caught. The Board members wondered if the Commissioners would allow them to collect a deposit refundable upon return of the trap. The issue was tabled.

The next issue was a discussion of a fee for people who drop off animals at the shelter. It was noted that most of the animals in the shelter are dropped off rather than captured and brought in by an animal control officer. Many people prefer to take old pets to the shelter rather than taking them to the vet to be put down. Some people in the audience noted that a fee might have unintended consequences as people might avoid the fee by dumping their animals far from their homes and then the Animal Control officers would have more strays to pick up.

It was a few minutes before 7:00 so I left and headed over to the City Council meeting, arriving as roll was being taken. The first item was a presentation by Karen Wilson, who is head of Bicentennial planning for the county. She was at the meeting to drum up support for the Bicentennial, trying to get as many levels of government and organizations involved as possible. She noted that there have already been 20 nominations for the torch run to be held next October and that the route through the county has been set. It will arrive from the north, go through DeMotte to the KV schools, then through Rensselaer and around the pond at SJC, then back to SR 114 and out to I-65 where it will be handed over to Newton County. It will then go north on I-65 and exit at SR 14 so it can go by the Fair Oaks Farms.

Several ordinances and resolutions were approved. One was a new ordinance for bonding employees that handle money. It was needed because of changes in regulations. The utility office wanted to change policy on bad checks. Currently two bad checks in six months resulted in a person being banned for life from paying utility bills by check. With the new policy the refusal to take checks for payments will only last a year. The gas tracker for December will be a six cents reduction per hundred cubic feet. Kevin Kelly, head of JCEDO, requested that the city support his organization. The city said it could contribute only $3250, $500 less than its pledge. Kelly said that he was willing to discuss current prospects with them in private meetings and that JCEDO was currently pushing for more state funding for county roads, something that may pass. He also invited Council members and city employees to JCEDO's Christmas open house on Wednesday night. The police department received permission to purchase some computer equipment to enhance video surveillance of various buildings and locations. The current computer and recording equipment no longer handles the newer cameras that have higher resolution. The request for $2500 for upgrades was approved.

The mayor noted that before the Council Meeting on December 28th, newly elected officials would be sworn in. The Gas Department would like people to fill our the questionnaires that they are receiving in the mail. It will help them with state and federal regulators. Finally the City Project Manager reported that the water main project, which is being built from west to east, has reached Four County Supply. The contractors will be taking two weeks off over Christmas and New Years but hope to finish by the end of January.

The meeting adjourned and I returned to the Library to find the Animal Control Board meeting still in progress. It was in the audience participation stage and having missed almost an hour of the meeting, I had a hard time figuring out what was going on. Many of the people in the audience worked for area animal rescue operations (one gave a link to this organization), and they were upset about recent personnel changes at Jasper County Animal Control. There was a lot of emotion. The editor of the Rensselaer Republican attended the whole meeting, passing up the City Council meeting. (I think she made the right choice.) I look forward to seeing how she interprets this unusual meeting.

And now for a picture. I saw a rainbow this morning as a break in the clouds allowed the sun to shine through rain to our north, but I did not get a picture of that. However, I did photograph a colorful sunset from a few days ago, though my camera never does justice to the colors.


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