This blog reports events and interesting tidbits from Rensselaer, Indiana and the surrounding area.
Wednesday, June 21, 2017
County Council 6-20-2017
Tuesday night's County Council meeting began with four requests for additional appropriations. Animal Control wanted $22,000 for additional part-time workers, the Veteran's Services wanted $4800 to fund an increase in burial benefits for veterans (an increase of $200 to $350 per burial), the library wanted authorization to spend $229,000 to purchase property, and the Sheriff's Department wanted to put $782 dollars into a specific fund.
The Library request was the most interesting. The property that they want to purchase is in DeMotte, adjacent to the library. There are three houses on lots to the south of the library. The Library already owns one and now would like to purchase a second, with the purchase of the third perhaps next year. The DeMotte Library has a steep entry into its parking lot. Removing the houses would allow a more user-friendly parking lot. The Library has the money--they received much more than that last year when the State returned excess income tax revenues that it had been holding as a stabilization fund, but it needs Council approval to spend the funds.
The Council then turned to abatements, most of which are in their final years. A representative from IBEC attended and reported that the company employed 38 people. They were planning to spend about $5 million for several projects, one of which would increase production from 57 million gallons per year to 60 million. They are also purchasing 100 rail cars for about $10 million.
Advance Auto has increased employment from last year but still has openings. The number of employees from Jasper County is up to 124 and turnover has declined. There is a proposal for a new apartment building near the plant--my understanding is that it is still in the drawing stages because I have not seen anything come before the county zoning or drainage boards.
Sharon Colee from Jasper County Community Services gave a lengthy presentation on all the services her agency provides. In addition to the three senior centers the agency operates in DeMotte, Rensselaer, and Remington, it manages energy assistance grants, public transportation with their van services, rental assistance, some home services, and some legal assistance. The agency is expecting a matching grant for a new van and has raised most of the match that they need to make. She was asked about the replacement for Sodexo as the supplier of food for the senior centers and responded that the bid was won by a catering service from Schererville and that they have been very happy with the quality of food. She also noted that in the past few years more people in their early 60s have been attending meals and events at the centers.
In the comments at the end of the meeting, there was a question about the replacement of Judge Ahler of the Superior Court, who has been appointed to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court of Northern Indiana. There are at least six people who have applied for the position and a decision to fill the vacancy will probably be made in September or October. The person appointed will face election in 2018.
As the evening started, storm clouds approached from the north. I spent an hour at the Jasper County Historical Society and during that hour we got a tiny bit of rain.
As I left the County Council meeting two hours later, I saw a large and bright rainbow in the eastern sky. The picture below does not capture the colors and hues of the sky.
To the west I could see the edge of the clouds and an impressive sunset.
A few other notes. Fair Oaks Farms has announced free admission days for residents of Jasper and Newton Counties on July 3 and August 7. Proof of residency will be required. White Residential Services will be closing their facility in Wheatfield (formerly Christian Haven). The site employs about 70 people. Finally, construction is underway south of Monon on new windmills. The bases are installed on many new towers and the parts including the blades are arranged next to the bases. Just west of the county line, south of the empty building that White County built in the hopes of attracting a business, was a large deployment area where the sections of the towers had been unloaded from trains. They are then taken by trucks to wherever the windmill will be constructed. Sorry, but I did not take the opportunity to stop and take pictures.