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

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

First meeting of 2016

The Commissioners met Monday for their first meeting of 2016. After electing officers for the new year (Culp Chair, Walstra Vice-Chair) and approving a couple buried cable requests, they heard a request from William Wakeland for a new position for Community Corrections. The new position would be an assistant director with some additional responsibilities and would allow for a smooth transition when the current director retires sometime in the future. The position would be funded by a grant if the grant is approved, and if not approved the County Council will be asked to put money in the 2017 budget for the position. The main concern that the Commissioners had was with health benefits, which the grant would not cover. The cost of those benefits was initially stated as $15,000, but someone, perhaps the auditor, later said that the correct number was closer to $19,000. Another observation from the discussion was that when a position is funded by a grant that is subsequently renewed, the initial amount stays--the county picks up any pay raises or increases in the cost of benefits. After discussion, the Commissioners encouraged Mr Wakeland to submit the grant including the costs of health care. They also approved filling a part-time position that will soon be vacant.
The Probation Department said that an agreement that they had with a Muskegon agency for housing juvenile offenders had been canceled and that they had transferred offenders to Porter County. The Commissioners approved a revision to the Porter County agreement that would increase the number of bed days.
The volunteer policy proposed by Animal Control was approved without the waiver. The argument was that volunteers are now covered by workman's compensation just as employees are and that it is very difficult to sue counties if the injured party has even a tiny bit of responsibility for the event causing injury.
The Commissioners were less receptive to the proposal for reorganization of Animal Control, which would have someone as shelter manager. They were reluctant to have another full-time person on the payroll and wondered if the number of animals being brought to the shelter (a bit over 600 per year) justified the position. They did note that only 1.3% of the animals were euthanized in 2015. About twenty percent were brought in by animal control officers and the other 80% were from owners, strangers, and police and sheriff officers. In the end they agreed to the hiring of another part-time animal control officer because the money was in the budget.
Representatives from EMCOR announced that work on upgrading the cooling/heating systems for the third floor of the Court House would begin next week. Much of the early work would involve pulling wire. The project was expected to take about eight weeks.
The Sheriff reported on a number of items, including a question of who was responsible for the access road to the tower that will soon be used for communication.
A draft of a Frost Law was discussed and passed. It will have to be published for two consecutive weeks in the newspapers before it takes effect. There was further discussion of how signs announcing the Frost Law could be most effectively posted. The Frost Law will be in effect from January 15 until April 14 but will not be enforced except unless conditions are such that running heavy vehicles on roads will cause damage. Those days will be announced.
The meeting then concluded with a bunch of minutia. Contracts were signed for four ambulance services: Prompt, Wheatfield Township, Keener Township, and Southern. A long list of appointments to various boards, commissions, and positions was approved. This year there were no appointments to the Hospital Board or the Hospital Building Association. If there is need of a second meeting, it will be held January 19. With that the meeting ended.

In other items, the Jasper County Airport now has its website (  up and running. You can find the agenda for tomorrow's Airport Authority Board there as well as minutes from the last three years.

I noted to one of the members of the County Council that their minutes were not being posted on the county's website. They are there now, but there are problems with county documents mysteriously disappearing.

Yesteryears announced that they will be serving their last meals at Curtis Creek on January 9.

Does anyone understand why Watseka had serious flooding? The river flow was high, but it has been considerably higher in the past. Were there obstructions in the river causing unusually high water?

Finally, here are a couple pictures of the quarry showing water levels as we enter 2016.
It is hard to judge how much the water is rising because there are few markers. Maybe the next obvious marker is the stone barricade on the road that you can see below.

1 comment:

Butch Claussen said...

Really beautiful pictures of the quarry...and again, thank you for taking the time to attend all the meetings!