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

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Eagles

I saw at least two bald eagles today in the area around Weston Cemetery. I was alerted to something unusual by the calls of a couple red tailed hawks that seemed not to care for the eagles. As the eagles ventured north, they attracted the attention of crows, who also did not like them around. Below is a picture of two eagles, one in flight and one in the tree, being harassed by crows, the little birds in the picture.

Below is a better shot of one of the eagles. My camera is limited and this is not a good picture of an eagle. But it is picture of an eagle that was flying around Rensselaer.
In other news, the text of the Frost Law that the Commissioners passed earlier this month is now available on the county website.

Embers has announced some changes and plans. It will have a public event with entertainment every first Friday of the month. See here for details and here for upcoming events. Every third Thursday of the month they will have an event called Nightcap with the Arts. It will be a monthly art workshop featuring instruction and will not be alcohol free. Details are here.

The old gas station next to Embers will become the Foundry, a "downtown bistro styled eatery with indoor seating with a full bar and additional outdoor seating under a pavilion and outdoor art installations." The projected opening is not before 2018. You can read more about the Foundry here.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

BZA, Planning, and the UDO

The Board of Zoning Appeals met for an unexpectedly long meeting on Monday night. There was only one item on the agenda, a request for a variance. A man living north of Wheatfield would like to become a gunsmith and has been getting the necessary paper work done with the ATF. ATF told him to be sure he had the proper county zoning, which is why he made the request for a variance. He lives north of Wheatfield in an area zoned A1 (general agriculture). The property he owns was in the past used for commercial purposes, with auctions held there and some kind of retail store, but that was apparently before zoning. He does not want to pay the costs of gunsmith classes if he cannot have a business when classes are finished.

The discussion of his request took almost an hour. One issue was whether he would do retail sales. His request for a Type 3 business does not allow retail sales, though it seems that the purpose of that prohibition is traffic control. Neighbors had sent a letter saying that they had no objections as long as he did not have ammunition on site and there was no gunfire. The applicant said he was not applying for an ammunition license and that he would test guns at the Jasper Pulaski firing range. He request was finally approved.

Following that meeting the Planning Board met to discuss changes to the County's Unified Development Ordinance. This meeting continued the discussion from the November meeting. Some changes that had been made were reducing the minimum size of a residence on A1, A2, and R1 zones from 1200 square feet to 1000 square feet. There are people who want to build small houses in the country and several have had to redo plans to make their home bigger than they wanted. The set-backs from the property line are currently 30 feet for a residence and 12 feet for an auxiliary structure. That was changed to 12 feet for both. Pond setbacks on land that is adjacent to agricultural land were increased to 200 feet to avoid contamination of the ponds from agriculture practices. There were a few other changes. In discussion with a member of the audience, two different views of the UDO were expressed. One view is that the UDO contains the rules and the rules are to be applied as in the book with minimum judgement allowed. The other is that the UDO is more a set of guidelines and that when judgement says the guidelines do not make sense or are injurious, they should be suspended.

The current draft, Draft 3, was approved, which means that the next step will be a public hearing. There should be a newspaper notice in the next few weeks. The public hearing will be held at the next Planning Board meeting, scheduled for Feb 22 at 7:00 pm in the Commissioners Room of the Court House. Copies of the draft will be available from the Planning Office, which is on the first floor of the Court House. I am hoping that the draft will also be put on line.

In other news, one of the people who is a regular at these meetings pointed me to an article from the Northwest Indiana Times about a lawsuit that had been filed against the Jasper County Sheriff. The suit stemmed from an assault on a prisoner by another prisoner in February of 2013. A settlement had been reached and the suit was therefore dismissed.

I missed the #dogslivesmatter march in Rensselaer but the Republican carried a long article about it.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

City Council Highlights, 1-25-2016

The City Council meeting on Monday evening opened with an invocation from the new minister of the First Presbyterian Church.

In the public comments, a member of the audience asked what was happening at the quarry. The response was what this blog reported a while back, that the owners were planning to demolish the house/office and mine the material under it. A regional manager from National Gypsum thanked the Council for the tax abatement they had granted at the last meeting. The Council expected an appearance from someone representing the soccer program but no one showed.


A few meetings back Councilman Watson noted a discrepancy between titles and pay for one city worker. At Monday's meeting the Council passed an ordinance to change the title to match the pay.

There was a short presentation by the city's financial advisor who said that the city has spent a lot of time and effort to meet the requirements of Rural Development agency that is funding the high water treatment plant planned for Lincoln Street. He said that there was the common sense way of doing things and the federal government way of doing things. I do not know exactly what changes had to be made, the city can refinance some old debt at a lower interest rate and will get a 40 year loan at a 1.8% interest rate. The signing of the financing is scheduled for today (Tuesday) and after that there will be some sort of meeting discussing construction. As the last step in the process, the city council passed a loan resolution to replace one of a year ago.

The city project manager spoke in favor of waiving the tap fee for businesses that will be served by the new water main to the I-65 intersection. The construction of the main has been finished but various sorts of testing remains. The line has to be flushed, pressure tested, and tested for bacteria count before it can start delivering water to customers.

The Council approved the city wide yard sale on April 30.

The fire station should be getting garage doors soon. The expected date of completion is still April 1. The city has been trying to get the state to fix some street lights on the east side of the I-65 overpass, apparently without much success. The city has a bicentennial committee. Councilman Barton would like to replace the iPads that the councilmen have with laptops. The iPads do not do what they want them to do. A committee was established to look into the matter. The Police Chief has sent a letter to INDOT asking them to look into the possibility of a light at the Grace-Melville intersection. The fire department has been unusually busy lately, averaging more than one call a day. The contractors should soon start a test water well on the SJC property that the city would like to lease for a third pump station.

All that in about 35 minutes.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Odds and Ends 01-23-2016

I traveled to Monon this week and along the way I noticed considerable progress on two buildings under construction. On the corner of SR 114 and US 421 a banquet hall is being built. It goes under the name Meadow Springs, A Place of Celebrations and the Facebook page is here. The Facebook page has pictures showing construction and also a floor plan. In Monon at the intersection of US 421 and SR 16 a large gas station is being constructed on the site of the old high school. I could not find info about it on the Internet.

After the Tourism Commission meeting on Friday, I asked the chair of the Commission what was new at Fair Oaks Farms where she works. She said that the Crop Adventure will be opening in May and that it would have some exciting exhibits. I wondered how exciting crops could be, but she said that some of the work inside was being done with National Geographic and it will be very interesting.

Jasper County Economic Development Organization has published its 2016 investment guide to Jasper County. It has much of the same info that the 2015 guide had, but has been totally reformatted. Below is the listing of the largest non-retail employers in Jasper County.


Another set of statistics that I find interesting is commuting patterns of workers. Jasper County exports a lot more workers than it imports.



One of my neighbors saw a bald eagle in Brookside Park today. Keep looking up.

The Community Garden group continues to plan for the 2016 garden season. The garden plots will be north of town near the County Annex building that houses the Extension offices and the County Surveyor. On February 9 there will be a workshop on how to plant seeds. It is scheduled for 7:00 pm in the surveyor's office. There should be more info soon in the newspaper and in flyers.

The Rensselaer branch of the library had a train day today (Saturday).

One of the displays was for the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum in North Judson, a place that is on my list of places that I should visit. It has a free museum open every Saturday from 9 to 4 central time. Admission is free. It also has train rides in the summer.
The weather forecast for next week has days with temps above freezing!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Tidbits from the Tourism Commission Meeting

The Tourism Commission met Friday in a meeting that had been postponed from January 9. They approved several invoices for services and memberships and considered several requests for funds. The representative from the South Shore Convention and Visitor Authority reported on the assistance they had given five community festivals and also on a brochure being prepared for distribution. The various rest areas along the interstates are the primary places people pick up these brochures.

There was some discussion of the bison-tennial. This has so far bypassed Jasper County because we do not have United Way fundraising and the project is sponsored by United Way. I saw notice of it on some Benton County Facebook pages. Here is some info on it if you are interested. During the discussion there was mention that the Nature Conservancy was interested in putting some real buffalo on their property in Newton County.

Last year the Commission gave some money to help SJC get a basketball tournament up and running over the Thanksgiving weekend. The second annual tournament is being planned for 2016 and already the men's teams are set (Salem International, Upper Iowa, Grand Valley State).  Little Cousin Jasper Festival wants to get more participation in their 5K and is planning to use professional timing and perhaps moving the race to Sunday morning. The Saturday race conflicts with a popular race in Valpo. They also want to increase activities for kids and plan to revive the Hee Haw.

A representative from the Northwest Indiana Paddlers Association was present to ask for some financial help for the their Kankakee River Float held with Wheatfield's Sandhill Crane Festival. Last year with about 250 people participating, it was the largest paddling event in the state. Someone mentioned that the Kankakee River may be designated a National Water Trail during Indiana's Bicentennial Year.

The Jasper County Fair Association had a request for funds but no one to speak for their proposal. The Commission approved money for their headline entertainment and also for fireworks planned for the 4th of July.

Next month's meeting may be February 7 or if there is not enough for an agenda, may be pushed back later in the month.

The East is being hit with a major snow storm, one that totally missed us. 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

23 ARESAS

It is time for the 23rd Annual Regional Elementary School Art Show and as with past shows, it is being shown in the lobby of the Core Building at SJC. (Here is a report on last year's show, which was called an exhibition on the poster, not a show as on this year's poster.) The exhibit is sponsored by SJC and the Prairie Arts Council.

There are a lot of pictures on display. This school was exploring Japanese styles.
Notice the Google picture in the upper left. There was another on the other side of the peg board. I thought it was interesting that the decorative google pages were a topic for the kids to explore.
The show runs through February 7.


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

First County Council meeting of 2016

The County Council met for the first time in 2016 and began by re-electing the president and vice president of the Council, Rein Bontreger and Andy Andree, respectively.

After approving the minutes of the last meeting (the minutes of past meetings are now available here), the first items on the agenda were additional appropriations. The first was a request from Judge Ahler for additional funds for a trial that will require translators. This was the same request that had come before the Council in November (see here for details) but  had not been acted on then because the trial had been postponed at the request of the defense council. It the matter goes to trial, the trial is expect to last about three weeks. The Council approved the request.

There were three other additional appropriations approved, a $1000 for the Assessor's budget, $10,000 for the Treasurer's budget. and $155,000 for Technology Budget.  The Treasurer wanted a part-time position during tax season re-instated. Last year the office had three full-time and two part-time positions and this year the budget had only the three full-time positions. The Technology budget item was for the communication tower for the sheriff's department and that has been a topic in many county meetings. It was funded by the CEDIT fund. (The county income tax is divided into a number of pieces and I do not understand how it all works. The CEDIT is the County Economic Development Income Tax.)

Rensselaer Police Chief Jeffrey Phillips representing Drug Free Jasper County requested release of funds for Drug Free Jasper County. The money, $28,200 will be split between eduction, prevention, and enforcement and the budget had already been approved by the state.

The Council approved a request by the Sheriff for a $1000 reduction in his salary to bring it in line with the salaries of his staff but declined to make any decision on a request for changing the salary of the head of Animal Control.

The Council made some Board and Commissioner appointments, in all cases approving currently serving members. The Council does not make nearly as many appointments as the Commissioners make.

One of the councilmen congratulated Steve Jordan for being inducted into the Indiana Association of Fairs Hall of Fame. The Rensselaer Republican had the detail of that award in the January 11 or 12 issue. Gerrit DeVries read a statement urging the council to discuss taxation at upcoming meetings rather than wait until the end of the year for that discussion. He noted that farm land was taxed based on a state formula that the county could not change. It was noted by someone that any deduction for one set of taxpayers means higher taxes for another set.

In public comments Commissioner Kendall Culp noted that the county now has a Frost Law. It is in effect from mid January to mid April but will only be enforced when the weather conditions put roads at risk. There is or will be a telephone number to call to check on the current condition of the ordinance and this year the sheriff's county-wide calling will inform people when the law will be enforced. (If you have not followed this issue, when the ground thaws in the spring or winter, heavy loads on roads can result in serious damage to the roads. Frost Laws attempt to keep heavy loads off the roads during those days.)

In answering a question about staffing, Mr. Culp mentioned that state law does not allow the Commissioners to control hiring in the offices of elected officials if the Council has approved funding for the positions. It was noted that this makes it difficult to trim staff if it is not needed. When new hires require Commissioner approval, any time a person leaves a position, a case must be made as to why that position is needed. That will no longer be true in the offices of elected officials.

Overnight we got an inch or two of light, fluffy snow.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Ice

The temperatures dropped below zero last night and there is now ice on the river, the first ice I have noticed this year. From the Talbert Bridge one could not see water flowing. Yesterday there was no ice on this stretch of the river.
There was water flowing a few hundred yards upstream at the eastern end of the cemetery.
There are several inches of ice on the what is left of Weston Lake. It looks like it would be ideal for skating. In a few days it will, if the forecast is correct, have several inches of snow on it and no longer work well as a skating rink.
The annual MLK day march from the court house to the SJC campus has been canceled. Instead there will be a symbolic march in the Core Building at 12:30. I was looking forward to seeing how many students would brave the bitter cold.

Have you noticed that daylight is lasting a little longer now in the afternoon?

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Monday's meetings

We got an inch of two of snow overnight. It was enough for the city to plow the streets early this morning. The forecast is for weather that should melt it in a few days.

The Jasper County Animal Control Board met Monday night at the library. They reserved 15 minutes near the beginning of the meeting for citizen's comments, but there was no assurance that any questions would be answered. That seemed to frustrate some of the people who had questions that they wanted answered. I did learn that the Board's minutes are not online and if you want to see them, you have to go to the Animal Control office to see them. I think minutes of all county (and city) boards should be available online.

I left before anything interesting happened to go to the City Council meeting. The bad news there was that natural gas will be more expensive in January. The gas tracker this month was an increase of eleven cents per hundred cubic feet. The city passed the tax abatement for National Gypsum (reported last week here).  The abatement will last ten years and over those ten years will gradually decrease in value. In addition to a new warehouse, the plant will add a secondary line to produce joint compound, increasing capacity by 50%. I had always thought that the plant produced drywall, but it does not. It produces the joint compound and other things that are needed to install drywall.

Various superintendents and city employees were sworn in by Clerk Treasurer Frieda Bretzinger. All the people with assigned seating around the room were called up and took the oath of office. If you have never been to a city council meeting, the council members, the mayor, and clerk treasurer sit around a semi-circular table in front. There are small tables on the right side of the room and along the back. Along the right side sit the chief of police and the city attorney, the utility office manager and the manager of electric operations, the cemetery superintendent and the park superintendent. In the back row from right to left are the building inspector/fire chief, electric lead linesman foreman, electric plant superintendent, gas superintendent, assistant superintendent for streets, sanitation and sewer, and the city's project coordinator.

The council then elected the president of the council. (The Council President conducts the meeting in the absence of the mayor. I do not know what else the position entails.) There were two people nominated, George Cover and Scott Barton. A paper ballot gave three votes to Cover and two to Barton. It is not often that the council has a close vote.

There were a couple of announcements. This year city cleanup week will be from May 7  May 2 to May 6 and the annual open house at the gas department will be on April 29.

There was a long discussion of software for the clerk-treasurer and the utility office. Currently they run on separate software and there are some problems with that software. The offices have identified software that they think will better satisfy their needs and wanted to do a site visit to another city that is using it to make sure it does what they want it to do. The cost of the software is a bit shy of $100K, so there was a question of whether they had looked at enough vendors. Their reply was that they needed software produced by a company that tracked changes in Indiana law so unless the software was being used by a number of other municipalities, it would not serve their needs. Also, Rensselaer is unusual in the number of utilities the city provides. Many cities provide water, sewer, and garbage pick up, but few also provide electricity and natural gas. Approval was given to the site visit and a committee of four (including Barton and Odle) was established to make recommendations.

Mr Haun asked for a committee to plan the dedication events for the new firehouse. It was noted that the building site now has city electricity and also a gas meter, but so far no gas.

The final item discussed was the old school administration building that was once part of the Monnett School for Girls. The council would like to sell the building and gave the city attorney the task of finding a realtor to peddle it. There was support for the idea of tearing down the building if a use for it cannot be found.

The Rensselaer Republican had an article on Monday saying that Heritage Office Supply will be closing at the end of the month. The owners are retiring and could not find anyone who wanted to purchase the business.

Monday, January 11, 2016

What is happening at the quarry?

On Sunday I heard that there had been activity at the quarry. Neighbors had received a letter informing them that the owners of the quarry had requested a permit to renew pumping water and that equipment had been moved from the south side of Emmett Avenue to the north side. There was speculation that the old office/house on the south side would be torn down and the stone under it mined. The scales that were next to the house and south of Emmett are now north and next to a small white building that is new on the site.

There is fencing around the entire quarry and the fencing extends to enclose part of a farm field to the west of the quarry. I wonder how much longer this old house will be there.
Part of the north lot that has been used for stone storage was once dug out and used for making ice. The water from the Iroquois would flow in and without current would freeze and then be harvested. That area was filled when the quarry was established, probably with the soil removed to get to the limestone.

You should notice the lack of snow in the two pictures above. Rensselaer escaped almost all the snow that was forecast for Saturday night and Sunday morning. Shortly after the rain turned to snow, the precipitation stopped. The temperatures plunged and the winds howled, but the wind also dried up the roads so they were not icy Sunday morning. We will have some very cold weather in the next week with lows approaching zero. I will be happy if we avoid the snow.

On the bright side, days are getting longer--about a minute a day, mostly in the evening. Every day the sun is a little bit higher in the sky, though it is too small a difference to notice.

On a completely different note, a former SJC student who I knew fairly well, though not as well as her husband who took a number of my classes, has published a novel, The Aletheian Journeys. She has a Facebook page and a blog to promote her book, which is in the style of some of the C. S. Lewis fantasies. She has published through CreateSpace. From personal experience I know that it is cheap and easy to publish via CreateSpace, but it is not easy to get people to buy your books because you have to do all the marketing. Right now the Kindle version appears to be free, so if you are even a little bit interested, get it.

I was invited to join a new social media group called nextdoor.com. I am not sure if it will take off or die. Have you heard of it? It divides Rensselaer into several different neighborhoods and I do not know how easily it is to see those in other neighborhoods. Here is the Wikipedia article on it.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Tree plaque (Updated)

In the early days of this blog I did posts on all the plaques around town that I could find. I noticed a new one a while back and because we are in the time of the year when not a lot is happening, I stopped by to take a picture.
It recognizes the largest elm tree in Rensselaer. The tree got official recognition at a City Council meeting last July. Below is the tree without leaves.
Fog in the winter is often the sign of a change in the weather. We will go from warm and wet to cold in the next few days. The forecasters say we may get a few inches of snow.
We have had a mild winter up to this point. The West has gotten much cold weather.

Update: We have a winter storm watch for Saturday night and Sunday morning. We may get several inches of snow, with more to our north and less to our south. SJC originally planned to open its dorms on Sunday but now is allowing students back on Saturday if they want to try to avoid the bad weather forecast for Sunday.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

More meetings

The Drainage Board met on Monday. There were two public hearings and five bid openings. The first public hearing was about Randle Lateral to the Ryan. It was a ditch that had replaced a clogged tile, done by the landowners. The landowners had said something about the county maintaining it, which to the county meant that a maintenance fund would be placed on it, resulting in a tax on the landowners. The letter to the landowners, and there were only a handful because the ditch is very short, where shocked by the numbers in the letters. It was explained that the form letter is confusing and that what they were interpreting as an annual fee was a fee for four years. (The Board attorney said that he will draft a new form.) After four years the maintenance fund should be built enough so the tax can come off. The matter was deferred until the landowners in attendance could discuss what they wanted to do. They eventually decided they would take care of the ditch themselves so the Board did not establish a maintenance fund for it.

The other public hearing drew no interest so the Board approved cleaning the ditch involved.

One project received not bids, three one bid, and one three bids.

Listening to the discussion of these and several other areas of concern, it struck me that if people were not constantly working to defeat Mother Nature, much of this area would in just a few decades return to the swamp land that was here before settlement.

In the evening the Rensselaer Park Board met. They approved a request for using Brookside Park for a Bark for Life event on April 30. Bark for Life is sponsored by American Cancer Society, which also sponsors Relay for Life events.

People involved with the soccer program discussed their experiences this past fall with soccer in the city park. They liked the parking and overall were pleased. They had seven fields and also used one at SJC. They would like eight fields. They said that they could not use some space because of a manhole cover and stones and cinders. To have sponsorship of the program moved from SJC to the Park Department requires some additional discussion with the people involved at SJC. The Board passed a motion to allow the traveling soccer team to use the field at Brookside Park.

Appointments to the Park Board were announced. The only change was that Ernest Watson will be the City Council's representative on the Board, replacing Scott Barton. Since Mr Watson played a key role in getting the soccer program onto the old Monnett and Staddon Field properties, I expect him to be an advocate for soccer.

The legal transfer of the Staddon Field area from the RCSC to the Jasper Foundation still has not happened. The needed title work has not been completed.

The Board then began to discuss fund raising needed to put their plans into operation. I left before they finished their discussion.

On Wednesday there was a meeting of the Rensselaer tax abatement compliance committee. Because I had no idea of what this group did, I decided to go and find out. The committee consisted of the mayor, the building inspector, the clerk treasurer, and two councilmen, Hollerman and Odle. (This may have been Mr Odle's first official duty as a councilman.) The matter at hand was tax abatement for National Gypsum.  They are planning to build a 50,000 square foot warehouse that will add about ten people to their workforce--they currently employ 42. Their goal is for construction to start in the first quarter of this year and to be completed in the first quarter of 2017. The committee approved both the real estate exemption for $3,200,000 and the personal property exemption for $9,000,000. These approvals must be approved by the full City Council and the items will be on the Council's agenda for the January 11 meeting.

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 (jaspercountyairport.com)  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.


Saturday, January 2, 2016

Happy New Year

I have nothing to write about, other than noting that the river is now below flood stage and the pools of water in fields have frozen over. I saw some kids playing on ice, but I think it was ice that had no water under it.

I took a picture of the Comfort Suites to show how far along construction has come. There is still a bit of brick work left to be finished on the exterior, but otherwise the exterior is mostly complete.

Happy New Year.