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

Friday, October 20, 2017

October odds and ends

The first annual Fall Family Fun Night held on Thursday at Brookside Park had a large attendance. The hay rides were very popular.
 There were pumpkins to carve.
And a large fire to enjoy. I missed the Riley Read part of the event.
 Other things happening: The north end of Elza Street is being widened by four feet. After the new strip of street and the parking lot for the apartments are paved, the apartments will be ready to rent. The City wanted the developer to widen the street and also to put in drainage along it.
 There is new sidewalk along College next to the Monnett Park property. The old sidewalk was in very bad shape. Several locust trees have also been planted along the sidewalk, the work of the Rensselaer Urban Forest Council.
The ends of the walkway through Milroy Park have also been finished, though some asphalt needs to be added to the streets to complete the work.

The SJC sale is in its final days. The last day is supposed to be next Tuesday. Currently most of the items are 50% off.

I drove US 24 though Remington on Thursday and noticed that construction of  the Pilot Travel Center at the I-65 interchange is underway.  The weather seems ideal for field work but most crops are still not harvested. The elevators are open late.

In Wednesday's Rensselaer Republican Caitlin Sievers announced that she would be leaving the paper and wrote about what she learned in her two years here. Her article is on the editorial page.

The Rensselaer Police Department announced that the group that has been working with Teen Challenge to develop some kind of facility to deal with the opioid epidemic has leased a property. The group that is doing the lease has a name, the Jasper County Recovery House Board.

Finally, the RCHS History Club is presenting a Haunted Rensselaer Ghost Tour on October 27. Tours will be at 7:00 and 10:00 pm and tickets are available at the RCHS front office, adults $9 and students $7.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Pouring concrete for the bridge and a funny e-mail

Tuesday morning the cement trucks started arriving for the Washington Street Bridge pour. By about 10:30 half the bridge was finished.
 When I arrived there were no concrete trucks, but in a few minutes three arrived. The guys in the hard hats are state employees who take samples of the concrete so they can test it back at the lab.
 The concrete goes up through the pipes and then is poured out onto the bridge. The boom was controlled by a man with a portable console who was standing along the side of the bridge. The yellow boom had a machine that you can see in the middle of the picture below that smoothed the concrete.
 By one o'clock they had finished pouring the concrete and were cleaning up. There is still some rebar showing along the edges and that will probably be for the rail and the sidewalks, so there is still some more concrete needed. And the bridge approaches are totally unfinished.
This morning I got a letter from Bernie Madoff telling me he was going to make me rich. Here is the letter:

Hello Dear

I am Bernie Madoff the founder of wall street firm Bernard L. Madoff investment securities LLC in 1960 and was the former chairman of NASDAQ. I was accused of fraud worth over $65 billion dollars and was arrested on Dec 11,2008 and on march 12,2009.I pleaded guilty to 11 federal crimes and admitted to operated the largest ponzi scheme in history, I am currently in Butner federal prison outside Durham, North Carolina, serving a 150-year sentence, I regret a lot of my mistakes and I want to make amends with the remaining days i have left, giving the people back what I stole from them.

Let me not go into many details. I have Millions of Euros in offshore financial house, This money nobody knows about it except my bank officers because the money was deposited under serial codes. I need your help right now not only to reinvest the money.50% will go to charity and 20% will be mapped out for the promotion of gospel and building of churches and mosques all over the world and 25% for you while 4% goes to the bank officials who will help you facilitate the transaction and 1% for my up keeping in the prison and I know that I will die soon because of my heart attack and kidney cancer. Ruth my wife will not come and visit or talk to me my two sons, Mark committed suicide in 2010, and Andrew died of cancer in 2014. I want to die knowing that i have touch life and make a difference please I want this business to be completed as soon as possible.

Kind respect
Bernie Madoff

It was in my spam folder and I rarely look at stuff there, but I was curious when I saw the name. It is the funniest example of the Nigerian Scam that I have ever seen. Unfortunately there probably are people stupid enough (and dishonest enough) to fall for this.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Art show, decorations, sale, and bridge (updated)

The current show at the Fendig Gallery is the annual themed exhibit, with the theme this year of "Shadows. The exhibit runs through November 3. The exhibit also features some works from early members of the Jasper County Art League, which is celebrating its 45th anniversary this year.

I thought this was a cute take on the theme of the show.
 I liked this picture but could not figure out where the shadows were.
 A different sort of decoration is popping up around town--it is time for Halloween decorations.
 Zombies are threatening for this yard.
 The SJC sale is still at 40% off and there are signs hung from the rafters that everything must go.
 New since I was there last are a table of microscopes.
 Also from some science lab or store room are collections of insects.
 It appears that the rebar has been installed on the bridge.
A strange looking mechanism that somehow helps place the concrete was being assembled on Monday morning.
Update: Below is the mechanism in place, ready to start receiving concrete. The picture is from late in the afternoon on Monday.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

A bit of business news

Several new businesses have popped up in Rensselaer in the past few weeks or months. In the back part of the Horton Building, where businesses tend not to last, Another Chance is temporary by design. The lady is selling her excess collection and plans to be there only four months. (The Rensselaer Republican had an article about her business and plans a week or two ago.)
She has a lot of stuff.
There is a new business in the back end of Charlie Roberts.  The name has a z but the website uses an s. I did not get to talk to them but they do a variety of home repairs.
E-ZEA Auto Center, which details cars, is no longer in the Roberts building but is still in business. However, they do not have an official business location and they may be working from DeMotte this winter.  They are still on Facebook.

The building in which E-Zea started and which most recently was home to Paul's Auto Repair is now empty.

Terra's Creations and Moore is a new business open in the building that houses Big Dog on North McKinley Street. It has floral arrangements, antiques,  and other decorative items
Fenwick Farms Brewing has been busy remodeling the building next door.

 As for the bridge update, this past week the workers have been setting rebar on the forms. The picture below was taken mid-week. There is more green on the deck now.
Congratulations to the RCHS girls cross country team for qualifying for semi-state.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

City Council 10-9-2017

The City Council had its first October meeting on Monday evening. The first item on the agenda was the salary ordinance that establishes salaries for elected officials and City employees for 2018. It had been worked on in special sessions and passed without discussion.

The rate tracking for the electric utility is an increase that will add about 95 cents to an average customers bill. The gas tracker for October is a small decrease per hundred cubic feet.

The Council approved payment of $1200 for a gas line easement needed when US 231 is moved a bit to the east at the Mount Calvary Road intersection. This is the little bit of the highway that was not resurfaced a year or two ago--if you drive on it, you notice that it is in bad shape. The Mayor had thought this bill had been paid but it was not.

The City attorney gave a short presentation on a firm that is bringing a lawsuit seeking damages against several manufacturers and distributors of opioids. The County Commissioners had heard a presentation on this matter at their October meeting and according to Mr Riley, they had signed on. The case is a contingency case; the lawyers get paid only if they win, and they then get 40% of whatever award there is. The Council approved joining the case.

The Police Chief had gotten bids for a new squad car and recommended taking a bit of $24.297 less trade in from Thomas Dodge. It will be an all-wheel drive car. The Council approved the purchase.

The City Project Manager had several items. One was a request to pay $9846 for shut-off valves to go with the 18 hydrants that were previously approved. The Council approved $60,340.10 for a new sewer camera. The state mandates that the city photograph a certain percentage of their lines each year and this equipment is needed to meet the state requirements. The Council approved $14,000 to Grimmer for work in isolating the water line that was on the bridge that was demolished. It also approved some work by Grimmer that will extend a water main so it will not be under pavement when Calvary Road is moved a bit next year so it lines up on both sides of the highway, which it currently does not do.

The Council approved spending $250 from the Public Relations fund for Trunk or Treat, which will be held on the 31st from 5 to 7 at the Fairgrounds. The Trick or Treat hours in town will be the same as last year, 5 to 8 pm on the 31st.

In superintendent comments, the Police Chief noted that the Board of Public Works approved the start of phase 2 on converting the old fire station to a new police station. The power outage on Friday night that hit the northern part of town was cased by a mechanical problem at the Eger substation on Melville, near the new Primary School. The southern part of Rensselaer was not affected because it gets its electricity from the Banet substation on Sparling.

Extension of storm sewers on Elm Street has been completed and the old water wells on Bunkum Road have been sealed off. This is Fire Prevention Week and there will be some kind of program at the fire station on Saturday but I have not found an announcement to link to.

On Monday the bridge construction crew was putting a new water main section into the bridge. By the end of the day it was totally in place.
Also on Monday, the Historical Society and the DAR had a small ceremony celebrating the placing of a marker on the grave of Eleanor Stackhouse Atkinson in Weston Cemetery. She was author writing in the late 19th and early 20th century whose most famous book, GreyFriars Bobby, has been in print for over a century. Her ashes were placed in the family plot in 1943 and until a week or two ago, her grave was unmarked. The Rensselaer Republican had an article about the celebration in its Tuesday edition.

On Tuesday night and Wednesday morning we got about two and a half inches of rain according to my rain gauge.

Monday, October 9, 2017


On Thursday as I was recuperating from the last Walk with A Doc event, I saw a strange vehicle that said Apple Maps go through the park. On Saturday I saw the vehicle getting gas at the station by the river and asked the driver what it was about. She would not give me any information. Checking the Internet, it appears apple maps is used for the i-phone.
 The other thing I noticed in the park was the new mini-excavator that the Cemetery recently purchased. It was being used to dig out a path from the road to the running track that will be made into a sidewalk. This is in preparation for the visit of the traveling Vietnam War memorial that will be here next May.

On Friday I noticed a film crew in the park shooting scenes for the video that the upcoming Parks for People fundraiser will use. They filmed a few seconds of me but I suspect that that little bit of film will end up on the cutting room floor. There was not much happening in Brookside Park, but they were planning to be filming at the soccer fields by the Monnett Park (that is what it should be called) on Saturday. There was plenty happening there.
 On Saturday RCHS hosted cross country sectionals. Two Rensselaer girls were in the lead at about 800 meters and if you click the picture to enlarge it, you can probably guess which of the girls won.  If you want to check your answers, you can here.
 Friday night much of Rensselaer had a power outage that lasted about 45 minutes. Among events that had to improvise were the Knights of Columbus Fish Fry and the CDC Resources Prom at the Fairgrounds.

Pretty much every post needs a bridge update picture. This was taken over the weekend.
 The sale at SJC continues and among the things for sale are lots of old pictures. Many are of sports but the one below is from a theatrical performance.

Among the pictures for sale are the pictures from the Sports Hall of Fame. That outraged some alumni and I noticed that although the pictures are still for sale, there is a note that says they are for sale only to relatives.

I wondered about the old wooden desks several weeks ago. Apparently some hid and avoided destruction. Now they have been found and are for sale.
 There are still lots of computer keyboards and small computer monitors. I did not see any remaining computers. Everything is now 40% off, so they must have reached fair value.

I am still waiting for fall colors, but perhaps the warm weather is delaying them. The City has had both its street sweeper and its green machine vacuum out in the last week or two.

Happy Columbus Day.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

First October meetings

After the opening preliminaries, the first item on the agenda of the Commissioners meeting was a presentation from a couple of Indianapolis lawyers who would like the county to join an upcoming lawsuit aimed at opioid manufacturers and distributors. Their contention will be that the opioid manufacturers and distributors created the opioid problems that Indiana is experiencing by promoting opioids as safe and downplaying their addictive properties. They said that the proper place for opioids is for end-of-life treatment. They will only be representing Indiana entities and the suit will be on a contingency basis, meaning that they will get paid from the winnings of the lawsuit, if any. The Commissioners wondered how much it would cost the County to comply with requests for information needed for the suit and then said that the matter needed to be discussed with the Council. The lawyers suggested that they may file the suit by the end of the month.

The Commissioners had intended to decide who would be awarded a maintenance contract for the jail's air handling and other controls but after some discussion, deferred the decision to November. They are not happy with the performance of the current contractor, a second did not show for the meeting, and the third was considerably higher in cost. Until then, the current contractor, Havel, will continue to do the work. The basic complaint is about availability of an IT guy--everything is computer controlled, so pretty much everything needs help from IT.

There were four bids for ambulance service for the center of the County. The winner will be decided at the November meeting.

Honeywell discussed the problems at Community Corrections--during hot weather, condensation is forming on ducts in the attic and then coming through the ceiling. A decision was made on what steps were needed next. Something called the guaranteed savings legislation allows projects to be approached in a way that they otherwise could not be.

The Sheriff wanted payments for employees made by direct deposit. When the issue was raised sometime in the past, most County employees did not want it, but apparently with time the sentiment has changed. The County Assessor wanted approval for aerial photography. It is done twice every six years and is used extensively in the Assessor's Office. The request was approved.

The Highway Department was given approval for repairs on the asphalt plant. There will be a public hearing on a speed limit change on a road in the DeMotte area in November or December. It was noted that this year most of the Community Crossings money went to cities and town, not counties. The County will continue recycling tires using it own manpower. The problem with stopping the program is that the tires then end up along side roads.

There will be a County auction on November 18. The meeting was continued until November 16 at 8:30 if needed.

On Monday evening the Rensselaer Park Board and Park Corporation met. Before they reviewed some plans for the upcoming Parks for People fundraiser and discussed some ongoing projects, they had to decide which one of three applicants for the vacant seat on the Park Corporation to accept. They thought any one of the three would be a valuable member but after looking at their individual strengths, made a decision. They hoped that they could find a way the other two could contribute to the park.

Harvest is underway.
Progress on the bridge reconstruction is evident day by day.
 The picture above resembles the picture below, which is from a 2006 or 2007 issue of Vintage Views, a publication of the Jasper County Historical Society.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

SJC Homecoming and Oktoberfest

Over the weekend the Saint Joseph's College Alumni Association held the first SJC homecoming since the College closed. It did not have a football game but it did have alumni, brats, and beer.

The event was held in Brookside Park. As I approached I was impressed that the cars were backed up onto Jackson Street. When I got there I saw that there was an unrelated soccer game on the field and a motor cycle group in another shelter, so without those events there would not have been nearly as many cars.
 Reinforcements Design was selling T-shirts.
 There was a bouncy house for the kids.
 I met a couple of my former students. It seemed that the people were having a good time.

The Alumni association is planning for its next big event, a Little 500 that will be held at the Jasper County Fairgrounds. Alumni will be able to bring a camper and spent the night in the Alumni Village. The association also provided a link the a new SJC on-line archive that Sheila Maxwell has spent many hours preparing. See here.

The other big event for the weekend was Oktoberfest. The ideal weather and the presence of the SJC alumni helped give this year's Fest the largest attendance ever.
 As in the past, there were two bands, a German band to open the event and another band for the night crowd.
Cleanup from both events was rapid. By the next morning most of the garbage was gone. The tables were off the street Sunday morning and gone early Monday.
 I notice that one of the shelters at Brookside Park was getting a border. This shelter will be the main shelter for the Vietnam Wall exhibit coming in May.
Oktoberfest celebrates the harvest, and when I drove north on Thursday, I noticed a few fields that had been harvested and two or three that had combines working them. I expected the trees to have more color as October begins. There are leaves falling, but they are not turning yellow, gold, and red before they fall.

This is a good week to go into City Hall and pay your utility bill. They utility office is celebrating Public Power Week with cookies and candy.
 The lot that once held the Fendig Drug store before the building burned was paved last week. This picture, taken Sunday, is already out of date. The lot has been painted with lines and every parking space has the word "Reserved" on it. It is not a public lot.
I noticed some other paving. The back of the College Mall was recently paved and the front had a seal coat applied. Jasper Junction was getting new asphalt last week.

WIC is in its new offices between the Lafayette Bank and DeMotte Carpet. Workers were making holes in the highways at the SR 114 and US 231 intersection, installing sensors. The point, I guess, is to reduce the time a car has to sit at a light when the road is empty.