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

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

A cold start to a new year

Rensselaer is in the midst of a cold snap. On Tuesday morning the City weather station recorded a temperature of negative 16.9 degrees. Many people had problems starting vehicles. The County Highway Department reported that eight trucks would not start.
The Commissioners met in an uneventful meeting Tuesday. First order of business was electing officers, with Kendall Culp again chair and James Walstra vice chair. William Wakeland from Community Corrections sought approval for submitting a grant proposal that would fund two additional full time positions. The current budget allows 6 full time and 4 part time. If the grant is approved, he would like that to go to 8 full time and 3 part time. The Commissioners were somewhat concerned about what would happen if the grant were approved for one year and then not reapproved, but they gave their approval to the submitting of the proposal.

A couple of buried cable requests were approved. The Council questioned whether one of the newspapers designated as place for county legal announcements needs to be daily as the Rensselaer Republican starts the year as a twice-weekly paper. A bit later the County attorney said that the paper did not have to be a daily and the Commissioners designated the three County papers for legal notices.

Veteran's Affairs had a request to approve the purchase of a surplus Sheriff's vehicle by the Veterans Council, a not-for-profit organization. The vehicle would be used to transport veterans to area VA clinics and hospitals. The hangup on this discussion was whether the County was able to dispose of surplus property to a not-for-profit rather than auction it. The County attorney found that there were provisions in State law that allowed such a transfer. The vehicle is a 2007 Trail Blazer with over 100,000 miles.

The Commissioners approved some conferences and appointments to Boards as they waited for 9:00 when a bid opening was scheduled. The bids were for four roads funded by CCMG grants. There were four bidders and later in the meeting, after the highway engineer had examined them, the Commissioners approved the low bids, all from Town and Country. At 9:15 a series of other bids, for tires, stone, sand, hauling, and machine rental were opened. As is their custom, the Commissioners accepted all bids, which I think allows them to choose the best supplier for any particular project during the year.

Because of deadlines for submitting paper work for road funding, the Commissioners spent a lot of time signing a host of documents, all in the required blue ink. For some reason black ink is not acceptable.

The final bit of business before the Commissioners went into executive session to "conduct interviews and negotiations with industrial or commercial prospects relating to a proposed energy savings contract for maintenance and repairs of Jasper County Courthouse" was approving a contract to have County roads re-assessed. This is necessary in order to get Community Crossroads grants approved, and those grants are important in maintaining County roads.

The County Code is now on the County Website. You can find a link to it on the home page at

If you have a paper subscription to the Rensselaer Republican, you can now access their electronic edition. Go to their web page at Click on the picture of the paper or the button that says subscribe, and you should get a form. Fill it out and follow the directions.

A couple of new things to start the year: a new judge and soon a new state senator. Russell Bailey was appointed to the Superior Court replacing James Ahler, who left to become a bankruptcy judge in Hammond, and soon a new state senator will replace Brant Hershman who resigned to join a law firm in Washington D.C. The State legislature starts its short session soon so for at least a while part of Jasper County will be without representation in the State Senate.

2018 should see a new business across the street from the Court House. I have heard it will be coffee related.

A couple weeks ago a new front was put on the new WIC office.

2018 will see a revised federal income tax. One of the changes is a limit on the amount of state and local taxes that can be deducted for those who itemize. The limit is $10,000. There have been reports that some people were prepaying property taxes so they could take the deduction for 2017. Before the Commissioners meeting I stopped by the County Treasurer's office to ask if Jasper County residents were prepaying and was told that a handful had. Some were farmers and others were following advice of their tax accountants. I wonder if the change will encourage those farmers who have not incorporated or formed a LLC to do so. One has to earn a lot more money than I get to be affected by that change.

Let's end on a happy note--the days are getting longer. It is not really noticeable yet, but in a few weeks we might notice that sunset is a little bit later.


Jim Earnest said...

Blue ink is used to prove it is an original copy. Back before color printers and copiers it was used a lot. Not sure in this day of color printer/copiers what the benefit would be.

37-year refugee said...


Here in Minnesota we call that Wednesday.

I once lived on the Canadian border. And the coldest morning I experienced was -40F. No wind chill, just straight up -40. 16.9F, that's a picnic.

I remember plenty of cold winter days from my youth in Indiana. Perhaps they weren't as cold as I remember... I just didn't know anything different

Dessert Survivor said...

It was not 16.9 degrees. It was NEGATIVE 16.9 or MINUS 16.9 or -16.9. Having lived in Minnesota for the first part of my life, I know that is cold even in Minnesota (though maybe not so much in International Falls).

Grey Friar said...

When did the Rensselaer Republican announce that it was changing from 6 days a week publication to twice a week? I had not seen an announcement about it in their online edition during the last 2 weeks.

Will they be updating their online edition daily or will we be left having to depend upon what little Rensselaer news might show up in the daily Lafayette Journal & Courier?

Grey Friar said...

I remember when the empty store next to old State Bank was a lunch room during the 1960s. One could get breakfast and lunch there. My cousin Ruth Wiles worked there behind the counter. Unfortunately I don't remember its name, the owner or years of business, but it probably existed from the 1950s through the 1970s.

Anonymous said...

Was the lunchroom called Leta's?

Grey Friar said...

Anonymous, It may have been Leta's but I don't remember.

38-year refugee said...

Yes, we consider -16F to be cold here, too. Some people freak out at -5F. I wouldn't stand around outside all day at -5, but it's tolerable.

-16F in Rensselaer? Impressive. I bet that's a very rare day... we don't see that in Minneapolis very often in the winter. My eyes must be going bad given I missed that it was a negative temperature reading.