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

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

A long, meandering post

The trees are getting leaves and I have been busy trying to plant a garden. We have had some days with temperatures in the 70s, though we will get some cooler weather at the end of the week. Spring is here.
  Construction on Grace Street is going rapidly. On Monday trucks were still delivering stone.
When I stopped by on Tuesday, the curbs had been installed.
 The O'Reilly building now has its fronts windows. I do not know if the workers took Easter off--they seem to be working seven days a week.
 I had not seen the progress on the new convenience store/gas station at Vine and McKinley for a while. Late last week it had a brick front.
On Monday I stopped by the Carnegie Center to ask a question. I thought that the art gallery might be installing a Christo exhibit but it was only painters giving the ceiling and walls a new coat to cover up water damage from leaks in the skylight or roof.
I have heard that the local Meals on Wheels will be shutting down. It cannot find enough  volunteers. And speaking of volunteers, the Jasper and Newton Foundations will be sponsoring an event on June 6th for non-profit organizations on volunteers.

The coming weekend is especially crowded with events. The high school has its spring musical, Emma, on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 7:00 pm and on Sunday at 2:00 pm. Embers is hosting the musical group Remember Jones at 6:30 pm on Friday. The first flea market/swap meet will be at the fairgrounds on Sunday from 7:00 am to 1:00 pm and the JCFA Pork Chop/Chicken dinner will be served from 11:00 am until 2:00 pm. Saturday morning is Electronics Recycling Day at the Rensselaer Recycling Center.  Big Dog has its annual spring open house on Saturday from 10:00 am until 2:00 pm. Carpenter Creek Cellars has its first Music on the Lawn event at 2:00 on Saturday. Finally, this weekend is Little 500 weekend at Saint Joseph’s College. In addition to the go-cart races, there will be a number of bands. There seems to be no information about them on the Saint Joseph's College website, but there is a schedule on a Facebook page called Puma Palooza.

On Tuesday evening the Jasper County Historical Society met for their monthly meeting. They are concerned about two of their buildings at the Fairgrounds. The old Parr post office is in very bad shape and they are hoping that a grant proposal will be funded to restore it. The log cabin also has problems with rot and it may require extensive work. Some of it is scheduled during fair week. The program for the evening was about the history of Aix, but I left before that started to go to the County Council meeting. Their next meeting will be at the Rensselaer Library on May 16 at 6:00 and will feature Dr. Sheely, who wrote a biography of Charles Halleck.

The Council had a short agenda that was not very interesting, but also had some interesting non-agenda items. The agenda items were two additional appropriations, $5688 for the special school bond referendum for Tri-County Schools and $530,000 for the Highway Department to build a new road to replace a road being closed and transferred to NIPSCO. Both of these fundings will be reimbursed, the first by Tri-County Schools and the second by NIPSCO, so there will be no real cost to the County.

The Sheriff could not make the meetings so was represented by the Chief Deputy. He said that the attorney that the Department had on retainer had died unexpectedly so the Department would be represented by a new attorney. Many other Sheriff Departments use the services of the same attorney, who specializes in the sorts of issues that concern Sheriffs. This announcement was a courtesy notification and did not require County approval. He also reported that as a result of a recent safety meeting, the Department was providing personnel who come into contact with prisoners the opportunity to get three shots that protect against Hepatitis B, which some prisoners have and can spread to jail personnel. Twenty six wanted the shots and the total cost will be about $9000. The Sheriff may request an additional appropriation at a future meeting for this expense.

In response to questions, he said that there has been a lot of planning for this weekend's Little 500. They hope for the best but prepare for the worst. (A lot of organizations could benefit by this type of planning--SJC is a case in point.) Regarding the opioid problem in the County, he said that there is a search for an appropriate house for the Teen Challenge outreach and that there will be another meeting with Teen Outreach on April 25 at 6:00 pm at the Jasper Foundation. He said the department was also pursuing possibilities of involving use of Vivitrol, which blocks effects of opioids (but not the craving according to Wikipedia).

There was a short discussion of the local income tax and the plan is that any decision that the the Council will make will be at the July meeting.

A lawsuit by several faculty members against Saint Joseph's College is in the news. They are arguing that the Faculty Handbook requires that any tenured professor who is terminated due to financial exigency must be given a year's notice. I found that interesting because many years ago (15? 20?) I served on a small committee that reworked the handbook. For some reason that I no longer remember, the old handbook was deemed to be defective and not worth amending, so a consultant was hired to do a new handbook. The committee's job was to go through the document he prepared and make changes so it would fit our particular circumstances. I do not remember many details, but one thing that I came to realize is that those who do the draft have tremendous power. They set the agenda and it is very difficult to change that. The committee was able to make many changes, but it was almost impossible to change more than small bits and pieces.

I do not remember the provision stating that if a tenured position was eliminated, the professor had to be given a year's notice. My guess is that was to discourage cutting older faculty and encourage any cuts to be made to the young, untenured faculty. Of course no one ever envisioned that the school would close, so no thought was given to how that provision would play with a closing. I do remember a related decision. The committee put in a limit on what percentage of course hours could be taught by adjunct faculty and that limit was quite low. I did oppose that provision because it limited flexibility in staffing into the future when conditions might be quite different from what they were at the time, but my opinion was a minority opinion.

At the last City Council meeting one of the Council members was concerned about the possibility of the College property being overgrown with weeds and tall grass. He was told not to worry. Apparently the College has contracted with a company to do the lawn maintenance for the next year. I have also heard that the College administration is still interested in striking a deal with the Renewable Nations Institute even though there is much concern about the credibility of that entity and its head. Finally, the Puma Palooza Facebook page reveals how the entertainment at the Little 500 is being funded. The Student Association thought they could fund it from their budget of student fees, but when they sought the funds, the College told them that the money was no longer available. So the Student Association told all other student organizations to withdraw whatever they could from their budgets, and the $17,000 that the organizations were able to collect is what is paying for the bands and activities this weekend.

Update: I noticed this morning that a couple people tried to reach me with Facebook messenger, which is a horrible way to try to contact me because I rarely check these messages. One wanted publicity for a golf outing supporting the Boy Scouts. It is on May 26 at Curtis Creek. The other was interested in getting volunteers for the the Aviation Day on May 13.

(If you want to contact me, please use the e-mail address given in the sidebar.)

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