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

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Commissioners meeting for September 2016

As I write this, it is 92 degrees with a dew point of 80 degrees. I hope this is the last of our hot, humid weather for the year. I saw this white bird east of Weston Cemetery and it seemed to be OK with the weather.

Because of the Labor Day holiday,  the County Commissioners met for their monthly meeting on Tuesday instead of Monday. There were a lot of items on the agenda, mostly of routine matters.

Judge Ahler requested permission to hire a fourth person for his court. He had been working with three, but his experienced court reporter quit to take another position. He has made an offer to hire for the position, but with a new person in the position, he feels that the office will need a fourth person to keep up with the work load. His request was approved.

There was an item about a culvert replacement on the Jasper/Benton county line and something about life insurance for county employees that would be paid by the employees. Main Street Rensselaer was given permission to use the Court House lawn for Oktoberfest on September 24. Three buried cable requests were approved after a discussion suggesting that the requests should come with information about exactly where in the county right-of-way the cables or pipes would be located. There was approval of paying something related to Obamacare, a transitional reinsurance fee.

A person who owns an excavating company in the northern part of the county had concerns with the frost law. He is located in what is supposed to be an industrial park but to get to the highway he has to travel on a county road that is posted for frost law. He was open to helping upgrade the road so it would be able to handle truck traffic during frost law times.

The County Highway department wanted to extend when comp time was taken by a month. Employees have accumulated time off but because this is the time of the year that they are most busy, the department does not want them taking the time off now. There was also a request to hire to more people and the Commissioners approved the hiring of one.

An update on the repair of the tile that was damaged when an fiber optic cable was installed along SR 114 reported that work was progressing on fixing the tile. The company doing the work was using a camera to find the places that tile was damaged and fixing them as they worked their way east.

The head of IT reported that in an effort to stop the damage from lightning strikes (the Court House is the tallest structure in town), he had reached an agreement with Century Link to replace the copper wiring that connects County facilities with fiber optic cables. The new system will be cheaper and because it will use the Internet for telephone, it will eliminate long-distance charges. It will require a five year lease but the cost of that lease is less than the cost of the current system.

The Sheriff had a number of positions to fill because of people taking other jobs. They were approved. Some kind of equipment still has not been installed in the radio tower so it will not be operational until the end of the year.

After the break and a couple quick items, the Commissioners spent about an hour reviewing a vote that the Planning Commission had taken at their last meeting that denied a request to rezone a parcel of land to A1, general agricultural. This time the person requesting the change brought a lawyer and a consultant. The lawyer argued that the land had a history of being used for agriculture and that agricultural use was consistent with the county plan. After a long discussion, the consultant pointed out that in the rezone in the 1970s, the north 300 feet of the property that was rezoned was not included in the rezone. That 300 feet later separated from the property and was the land under discussion. The previous zoning was S1, zoning for a subdivision. At that point the Commissioners decided that they needed to do some research and turned the matter over to their attorney. The item will be back on the agenda for the October 3 meeting. 

Two guys from USGS wanted permission to attached a river flow sensor to a county bridge over Carpenter Creek. One of the Commissioners wanted to know if this had anything to do with an agreement with White County to limit their flow of water from retention ponds near the rail line that goes through the southern part of the county. After some discussion it was decided that these were two separate items and permission was granted. 

Speaking of river flow and the USGS, this picture taken from the USGS river flow station just east of Rensselaer shows how the rains affected the river in August.

Among the items at the end of the meeting was approval of switching a polling place in Remington and a short discussion of refinancing some bonds, which seemed to be something that the County Council should decide.

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