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

Saturday, December 23, 2017

A tale of two houses

There were two meetings on Wednesday that discussed special housing, but other than that common theme, they were completely different.

In the afternoon Franciscan Alliance hosted a discussion of the future of hospice and the funds that have been donated for it. In April the funds in the Jasper County Hospital Foundation, a total of $1,677,217.96 in 16 different accounts, were transferred to the Franciscan Health Foundation of Western Indiana, which serves Rensselaer, Crawfordsville, and Lafayette. Among the 16 accounts were two that involved hospice, one for hospice and home health care with about $486 thousand and another special projects fund for hospice of about $183 thousand. Recently the local hospice organization run from the hospital was disbanded, with patients transferred to the hospice from Franciscan Crown Point. That change means that the roughly $183K in the construction fund for hospice will not be used for construction, which is what the donors intended. The Franciscan foundation faced a similar situation in Lafayette some years ago when they established a fund to build a facility for palliative care and the plans were abandoned. The solution then was to encourage donors to transfer their donations to another use in the foundation and if they did not want that, to offer them a refund. The same solution seems to be in play in this situation, though currently they have not completed a list of donors with total amounts given.

People who have had relatives go through the hospice experience are often strong advocates of the program and put their money where their heart is. There are strong feelings so Franciscan is trying to make sure donors are satisfied as best they can be satisfied. It was pointed out several times that the money that was in the Jasper County Hospital Foundation will only be used for purposes in Jasper County. There will probably be a follow-up meeting early next year.

On Wednesday night the BZA met to discuss the request for a use variance for the proposed Teen Challenge Recovery Home. (Teen Challenge has popped up in a number of past posts, with the most detailed here.)

The property is located south of Curtis Creek Country Club, close to the housing subdivision that is adjacent to the golf course. The variance is needed because the property is zoned A1 and that allows only a family residence. The residence proposed, of up to 8 students and four to six supervisors, is not a listed allowed use, though it might be if the property were zoned A2. The property itself is owned by the Benjamin Harris Trust.

This home is supported by all the local law enforcement people who deal daily with addiction problems in the county and who keep saying that there is currently no effective program to deal with the problem. It also has the support of some of the area churches. Planning Board and BZA meetings often exhibit the phenomenon known as NIMBY, and this meeting was perhaps the best example yet. I do not recall ever seeing a BZA meeting with as many  people attending--it was standing room only.

The proposed program would serve as a feeder for the main campus in Elkhart. It would take in adults with addiction problems who pass a screening and keep them 30 to 60 days before they are transferred. It is not a halfway house and the reason for partnering with Teen Challenge is that its programs have proven to be among if not the most successful programs for addition rehabilitation.

The area residents were concerned about safety of their families and about declining property values. Several farmers were concerned about the possibility of theft. One lady said that she recognized that we really need a facility like this, but please do not put it near me. Some suggested that part of the campus of SJC would be a good location and the response was that it is currently impossible to have a discussion with SJC. Speaking on the other side, one woman noted that we all are living near people with addiction problems though we often do not know who they are until the police arrive to find a dead body (her experience) or do a drug bust.

The people trying to start the program said that they need to start somewhere and it is not their intention that this location be permanent. If the program grows, they will need to find another place. That idea prompted discussion by the BZA of possibly granting a variance for a limited time, but they did not know if that was legal. They tabled the issue until the Jan 22 meeting (when sand mining may also be back on the agenda).

The tile mentioned two houses. Here are two other houses with Christmas lights.
 Every year the lights seem to be more abundant but I have not had the energy or desire to go out and find the best and brightest this year.

The big news Thursday night was a train derailment. Details here and here, among other places. Here is a link to the Rensselaer Republican's story.

Have a Merry Christmas!

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