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

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

A couple of meetings

The Park Board and Corporation held a special meeting on Tuesday afternoon at City Hall. Attending the meeting in addition to the members of the Park Board and Corporation were Mayor Wood and Councilman Cover, two people from the Jasper Foundation, Brianne Hooker and Jack Drone, and the two trustees of the Rex Blacker Trust, Ed Dumas and Rich Baunach.

Mr Dumas urged the Board to get behind a fund-raising campaign. He said that the people who had guided the fund raising for the Jasper County Hospital expansion could do the same for the parks. They would not do the actual fund raising, but would organize and coordinate the campaign. The campaign would not be limited to those who live in the city limits because many people in central Jasper County use the parks and they might be interested in contributing.

After making his pitch and answering some questions, Mr Dumas left. The Mayor and Mr Cover thought the Board should agree to the Dumas proposal. Some Board members wanted to know if hiring a professional fundraising organization would step on the toes of the Jasper Foundation, which under its previous personnel had been willing to do fundraising. Mrs Hooker said that she could not do what the previous head of the Foundation had suggested she could do, but the Foundation would help in any way it could. After further discussion, in which some people wondered how much money could be raised, the Board approved a motion to go with the Dumas' suggestion.

A couple hours later the Jasper County Council met. The first order of business was election of officers. The Council stayed with the incumbents, Rein Bontreger president and Andy Andree vice president.

The meeting did not have much on the agenda and the next item, a report from the Wabash Valley Alliance, was the most interesting. Wabash Valley receives County funds for their work in mental health and addiction counseling. During the July-to-June year they served 507 people in Jasper County, which was down 56 from the previous year. The cases were divided almost equally between males and females. The number 607 is about 1.5% of the population and would be higher if many the residents of the northern part of the county did not got to Lake and Porter Counties for services. Wabash Valley provided over $1.5 million in services and collected from insurance and government payments less than one million. The shortfall was covered by various grants and about $200K from the County.

The spokesman mentioned that their clients included children and that schools referred some of them. Among problems the children had were hyperactivity, attention deficit disorder, and addiction. When asked about how much addiction affected their case load, he said that between 60% and 80% of their clients had some kind of addiction.

He mentioned that Lafayette hospitals are seeing an average of 1.5 overdoses a day that are treated with Narcan and said that the widespread use of Narcan may be increasing overdoses because it has reduced the risk of death from overdosing. (Economists call this the problem of moral hazard and it is a pervasive problem with anything that reduces the costs of bad decisions.) He also mentioned that Wabash Valley had sold its West Lafayette hospital and it was now called Riverbend Hospital.

In other business, the Council approved an interfund loan that is used to pay for ambulance service. I do not understand how it works but this is something the Council does every year The loan is paid back at the end of the year. The Council approved three additional appropriations. The Sheriff requested a large transfer of funds to allow his department to purchase a new computer server. In a future meeting he will request additional appropriations to replenish the accounts from which the transfers were made. The whole thing involved timing--the end effect will be that of an additional appropriation but because the request was not publicized early enough, it was done as a transfer.  The Sheriff noted that the jail had 1103 bookings in 2016 and currently has 81 inmates, several of whom are serving their sentences locally because all sentences less than one year are now served in county jails.

The Council had two vacancies to fill, one on the Alcohol Review Board and the other on the Redevelopment Commission (which rarely meets because its only responsibility is with a TIF district adjacent to Fair Oaks Farms). Both appointments were delayed until the February meeting.

Commissioner Kendall Culp reported that the Frost Law will be enforced beginning today (Wednesday). He said that the County should be getting its matching grant of $1,000,000 for roads from the state in the next week or two. Finally, he said that we can expect some higher taxes and fees from the state legislature to finance road repair. Because people are driving more miles with less gas, the revenues from the gas tax no longer are sufficient to keep the roads in good shape.

Below are some pictures. The first two are of the new hangar at Jasper County Airport. The building is almost finished and from the exterior looks almost the same as the hangar building to its south. (The old hangars to the east are the old hangars built 70 or 80 years ago and are showing their age.) The first picture is the south wall and the second is of the north wall.

Next is a park related picture. The City now owns this house on College. It is the first house south of the old Monnett building. It will probably be demolished as it cannot be sold or rented.
Finally, a crane was assembling itself on Tuesday at the construction site of the high rate treatment plant. I never did see what it was used for.

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