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

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Late March meetings

The Rensselaer City Council had a short meeting on Monday evening. Former police chief Phillips announced that the Jasper County Drug Rehabilitation Center had officially opened on Monday. Then the Council opened a public hearing on proposed gas rate changes, at which no one spoke. The Council passed the changes, which had been introduced at the previous meeting. The Council next approved changes to the agreement with the AIM Medical Trust. Apparently this is some group to which the City belongs and the changes would affect distribution of assets if the Trust were to dissolve. The Cemetery Building Committee received permission to seek bids for a new Cemetery office and storage building. The Council gave the Mayor authority to seek bids on removing 60 trees that are mostly dying ash trees on City right-of-ways.

Mr Phillips said that a submarine called the U.S.S. Indiana would be commissioned next July and that a group was seeking to publicize the event. It wanted to form an endowment for scholarships. The Council approved a $250 contribution from the public relations fund.

Street resurfacing will begin on April 9. The biggest project will be resurfacing Grace Street from the bridge to College and the Street will be closed for that part of the project. Many other short segments of street will be resurfaced and I have tried to indicate which they are on the map below. (I do not guarantee it is 100% accurate.)

Progress continues on the water main project. The section of pipe from Iroquois Park to Milroy is finished.

I find it amazing that they can pull the pipe through the ground in the way that they do.
Work this week is on the pipe under Milroy. The directional driller is mid block, heading for the end of the street.

On Monday the crew working on the project hit a gas feed even though it had been marked and the gas department was doing repairs.

When they get to the end of Milroy, the water main must go below the big tile that drains Sparling. There are markings on Milroy that suggest that the pipe will be going from about six feet deep to more than ten feet.

The other meeting on Monday was of the Jasper County Planning Commission. It approved a recommendation of a rezone from A1 to A2 in the northern part of the county and then briefly discussed a change in the setbacks for CFOs. There will be a workshop on CFO setbacks and other CFO regulations presented by some Purdue people at the Fairgrounds on May 14 at 6:30. The Planning Commission will not take up the issue again until its May 21 meeting.

After the meeting I asked one of the County officials why the met tower item had not made the agenda though it had been mentioned at the previous meeting. She said that the promoters had not asked to have the item included. I got the impression that the wind farm people may not have signed up enough people yet for the project to proceed. Apparently there is a lot of opposition from farmers in the area and some is quite intense. Plus having a project that will be in two counties creates a lot more stopping points and regulatory burden.

Pulaski County is also discussing wind farms and had a meeting of their BZA and Plan Commission on Monday. They posted this on their Facebook Page: "Kudos to the P.C. Board of Zoning Appeals, Plan Commission, and staff, and most of all to the scores of residents who came out tonight to voice their opinions. Our community engaged over a controversial topic in a wonderfully civil, respectful manner, and the County will be considering the concerns of our residents seriously in reviewing and amending our Unified Development Ordinance."

Monday, March 26, 2018

Infamous


Charles Halleck is clearly the most famous person to have called Rensselaer home—I can think of no one else even close. There is, however, competition for the most infamous or notorious Rensselaerian. In his day Thomas McCoy, the first mayor of Rensselaer, was so intensely hated after he embezzled funds from the McCoy Bank that someone dynamited his house on Milroy Avenue. A previous post reviewed the life of Elmer Dwiggins who defrauded investors of war bonds and served time in a federal prison. He should rate higher than McCoy because his actions received national publicity. However, my candidate for Rensselaer's most infamous citizen is a different Dwiggins, Elmer's uncle Zimri.

The name Zimri Dwiggins appeared in newspapers throughout the United States in May, 1893 when the bank he headed, the Columbia National Bank of Chicago, failed. Dwiggins had emerged from obscurity in the 1890s to build a large financial system. He somehow gained control of a small bank in Chicago, renamed it, and expanded it. Below is an ad that appeared in an Indianapolis paper in 1887.
In the process of expanding the bank, he organized many small banks in Indiana and the surrounding states. He would get prominent locals to put up capital to establish the bank and then, if I understand correctly what he was doing, would gain partial ownership by giving the new bank deposits at the Columbia Bank. The Columbia National acted as the correspondent bank for the small allied banks, making financial transactions for the smaller banks that they could not do for themselves. 

Unfortunately the large financial structure that Dwiggins erected had a very small foundation. Too much of it was built on debt so the storms of the Panic of 1893 quickly toppled it. Some accounts say that many of the assets of the Columbia Bank were assets that declined in value as a result of the Panic, so its problem was not illiquidity but insolvency. The Columbia Bank, however, was not the first Chicago Bank to fail in the Panic. That dishonor went to the Chemical National Bank. After it failed on May 9, people lined up to withdraw deposits from other banks, especially the Columbia Bank, which was new and had no track record. The final straw was a request from Sioux City Loan and Trust company of Iowa for its $35,000 of reserve funds so it could meet the demands of its depositors. Columbia refused, probably because it did not have the cash to comply, but giving as an excuse that the Sioux City Loan and Trust owed them an equivalent amount. The Comptroller of the Currency stepped in on May 11 and seized control of Columbia National Bank, shutting it.

Many of the small banks that had reserve funds deposited at Columbia National Bank closed because they could not access these funds. Some of these banks eventually reopened but others did not, and the people in the communities they served lost money. 

Zimri because infamous almost overnight as newspapers throughout the country reported the quick collapse of the his financial empire. A place on the Internet where one can find samples of those newspaper reports is the Library of Congress site, Chronicling America(An even richer source of newspaper articles on the Dwiggins is the Hoosier State Chronicles, but it is limited to Indiana newspapers.) Many items note his unusual name. A humorous example is this from the Mexico (Missouri) Weekly Ledger of 5/25/1893: " 'Everything happens for the best.' Had the financial dreams of Zimri Dwiggins materialized thousands of boys might have been compelled to stagger through life with that name around their neck."

Dwiggins' penchant for establishing undercapitalized banks led the Washington Post (reported the Indianapolis Journal, 5/23/1893) to quip, "The Zimri Dwiggins brand of nerve would incorporate a fog bank." The Indiana State Sentinel (5/24/1893) reported (and I suspect this was meant to be humor), "The papers generally credit President Zimri Dwiggins of the Columbia bank of Chicago to Attica, but that is a mistake. He was reared on a farm in Jasper county, Indiana, and studied law with his brother, the Hon. R. S. Dwiggins, and formed a law firm known as R.S. & Z. Dwiggins. He married one of the Rensselaer's most beautiful girls, and many of his and his wife's people live here. They are all excellent people. After practicing law here a few years he and his brother engaged in the bank business here, but afterward both went to Chicago. Zimri Dwiggins belongs to Rensselaer, not Attica."

After the failures, there were lawsuits. Zimri was indicted, but I found no mention of a conviction. A note in February 1894 says that a court ordered him to pay depositors $120,000, a sum he certainly could not obtain. It seems the failures were not due to fraud but rather to the poor judgement of taking on too much risk.  Also caught up in the aftermath of the failures were two associates, John Paris and Ira Joy Chase. Paris was also a native of Rensseler, the son of Berry and Sarah Jane Paris. His mother's maiden was Dwiggins and, yes, she was the sister of Zimri. Paris organized four banks in Indiana using the methods of his uncle and at least one failed, leaving depositors with losses. Ira Chase was the governor of Indiana from November 23, 1891 to January 9, 1893. He lost the bid for election and joined Paris and maybe Dwiggins in organizing banks. Both Paris and Chase were indicted in 1894 but I do not know if convictions resulted. The short bios of Chase that I have found on the Internet make no mention of his bank-organizing activities. 

After 1894 Zimri's name fades away in newspapers but had revivals in 1897 when the brokerage firm of his nephews failed, in 1907 when he died in Lincoln Nebraska, and a final revival in 1917 when nephew Elmer was sent to jail.  The 1897 article notes he was living in Storm Lake, Iowa. In the 1900 Census he was in Lincoln, Nebraska selling insurance. He did not give his name as Zimri but rather as Louis. It appears that seven years after his fall there were still many people who had bad associations with the name Zimri.
Zimri (1848-1907) is buried in Weston Cemetery with his wife Estella (1855-1938) (who remarried after his death), three children: Ona (1881-1886), Elma (1885-1885), and Linda Dwiggins Thompson (1885-1961), and a granddaughter, May Thompson Trammel (1917-1976). His son Frank became a medical doctor and is buried in Texas.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Milroy mayhem and Halleck rememberances

Installation of the water main to bring water from the new water well along Sparling to the water treatment plant has begun. Milroy Avenue was closed on Wednesday as a large trench crossed the street.
 The large metal plates are to satisfy OSHA requirements to protect workers, probably from cave-ins. The directional drilling machine shown below was in Iroquois Park and was drilling from the park to the hole above. Once it reaches this hole, the machine will drill to the west until it reaches the end of Milroy. Then it will drill south until the corn field, at which point the water main will be installed by digging up the ground with an excavator. 
The giant saw on this machine probably helped make the big hole.

A City crew has been busy for several days changing the water lines from the water main that runs under Milroy to the houses. Several of the replaced lines were lead pipes, but others had been replaced since the originals were installed. The new lines are copper.
On Tuesday evening Dr William White gave a presentation at the Jasper County Historical Society about what he found in the papers of Charles Halleck when Halleck was the prosecutor. Halleck was elected prosecuter for the years 1924-26 and for 1928-1934. He had his office above what is now Lafayette Bank and Trust and for some reason a huge box of his records was left there and recently (I am not sure when) were given to the Historical Society. Dr. White spent much of the winter reviewing them and sorting them.

Halleck had a wide variety of cases, some big but most small. A big case involved a robbery of the State Bank of Rensselaer. There were also many letters. Halleck wrote to various authorities seeking advice on cases. He also wrote many letters of reference or recommendation. Halleck was a Republican, and the election of 1932 was a Democrat wave election which he barely survived. After the election he wrote a letter congratulating the Democrat governor and asking him to consider a local man who had worked very hard helping the Democrat cause. It seemed rather strange for a Republican to make such a request, but Halleck was very good at constituent service, something that served him well when he became a congressman.

The onset of the Depression changed the sorts of cases that Halleck dealt with. There were frequent letters about desertion, most husbands deserting wives but some sons deserting fathers. Halleck tried to solve these and other cases without going to court as he did with the numerous bad check cases. Juvenile crimes also increased after 1929. Many were petty thefts of things such as chickens.

The records are sorted but there are a lot them. Someday I may take some time and see what I can find in them.

The program next month for the Historical Society will be on letters that Ralph Fendig wrote home during WWII. (Fendig met his wife while in England and both have had a lasting influence on Rensselaer.)

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

25 Regional Middle Level Art Show

The 25 Regional Middle Level Art Show is on display at the Carnegie Center. Below are some of the things that caught my eye.








The show runs from March 20 to April 8. 

By the way, today (March 20) is the vernal equinox. Now if only the temperatures would become a bit more spring-like.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Halleck murals, hypothetical 13 & 14 panels

(This is the final post in a series that began here.)

There was a lot of history in the 37 years between the completion of the Halleck murals in 1980 and the closing of the Saint Joseph's College in 2107. If we could add two more panels to include the highlights of those years, what would we paint?

After 1980 there were three major buildings completed, the Recreational Center in 1986, the Banet Core Building in 1995, and the apartments along Sparling in 2000. Minor new buildings included the new post office and a building that was first a laundromat  and later the radio station. Drexel Hall was re-roofed and the first story remodeled for use.



Gaspar Hall was demolished and for a while Dwenger Hall served as faculty offices. Sodexo took over dining services. SJC reached an agreement with St. Elizabeth's nursing program. Computers became a important part of the campus and SJC was the first small, non-research college to be connected to the Internet. Unfortunately, its early pioneering here was followed by stagnation and the College fell behind many others in the use of technology in education.

Sports played a huge role at SJC because they were the they were the reason many students decided to attend the College. There was an addition to the Field House and a new track and field complex. Some sports achieved great success, none more than the baseball team which was runner-up in the Division II national championships in 1996.
In 2010 the College received by far the largest gift in its history, the Waugh properties in White County with a number of windmills. The fact that this huge windfall did not save the College suggests that its financial problems were enormous.

These 37 years saw four more presidents: Shannon, Mills, Riegelnegg, and Pastoor.

A final scene in the mural could be the selling of  much of the equipment of the College in the fall of 2017.

What did I miss? What other happenings deserve to be in the final part of the SJC mural?

(If the whole series of murals were redone, I think the first fifty years would be more condensed because some of the early panels do not have much on them. Some things on the panels 11 & 12 would probably be omitted because they were of more interest at the time than they are in retrospect.)

(Much of SJC history is now preserved on-line in the Saint Joseph's College Archives.)

Thursday, March 15, 2018

A ribbon cutting and a follow up on meetings

On Thursday Another Chance Vintage Emporium had its ribbon cutting. The shop has been open for a couple months.
 The shop is in the back of the Horton Building.

In the previous post I only mentioned a bit of what happened at meetings on Monday and Tuesday. Here is more.

The Rensselaer Board of Public Works met Monday and approved pay requests for work on the water main currently under construction and also for the renovation of the old fire station/new police station. In the old fire station the framing is finished, the conduit is in place, and most of the duct work and insulation are finished. The final invoice that the BPW approved was for the high rate treatment plant. The Board refused a request from someone to have the environmental fee waived.

The City Council approved something that it approves every year, that the moneys intended for checks that have not been cashed after two years be returned to the fund on which the checks were written. The Council approved an ordinance that established interconnection standards, that is, regulates how people generating their own power (with, for example, solar cells) can connect that power to the City power system. The Clerk/Treasurer asked if this ordinance needs to be advertised and perhaps have a public hearing since it has fines and penalties. The City Attorney will investigate. The Council voted on it as a first reading.

The Council voted to allow the Mayor to sign an agreement with NITCO for telephone. The City currently uses Centurylink. NITCO offers better prices. The gas tracker for March is a ten cent increase per hundred cubic feet and the electric tracker for the second quarter is a decrease of $7.11 per 100 kilowatt hours.

The Council approved a number of street closings requested by the Little Cousin Jasper Festival. This year they will have a car show.  The Police Department has narrowed the candidates for a their open position to seven. Blacktopping of City streets will begin in the second week of April. If your street is all marked up, it is probably on the list of streets to be paved. Grace Street will be closed south of the bridge for several weeks this spring. The City is now replacing water feeds on Milroy Street so it is a mess. When all the work tearing up the street is finished, it will be repaved.

The last Steering Committee for the Downtown Revitalization grant took place on Tuesday morning.  The work that this grant is funding was reviewed by the public in January and those plans were submitted to OCRA (Office of Community and Rural Affairs) for review. OCRA wanted to see more detail on costs and the planners have been working on that. The biggest change since the January meeting is that the proposed pocket park/water feature on the site of the old Johnny Rusk building has been removed because the County, which owns the land, did not want it developed in that way. The entire project has been divided into about nine different parts or phases. There will be another public meeting about the plan on March 31 and the final plan has to be submitted for OCRA approval by May 31 in order to have OCRA release the last payment of the grant. The plan will at some point be endorsed by the City Council and then will be used to seek funds for the actual construction.

The County Council meeting on Tuesday evening had a short agenda, with the main item mentioned in the previous post. In addition, the new director of the Jasper County Economic Development Organization introduced himself to the Council and gave a brief report on what he was doing. He said that he was stressing more business expansion and development and workforce development and less on recruiting outside businesses. He also said that he was trying to work in cooperation with neighboring counties. He noted that lots of people are willing to drive 60 miles for jobs and that there are in excess of a million people within 60 miles of Jasper County.

A discussion of the local income tax was brief, with no interest in changing it. A couple of other items from discussion: Umbaugh will be giving a report at the Commissioners meeting on April 2; the drug recovery house has been staffed and will soon be opening; Wabash Valley has new leadership that understands that it has had a problem in the past satisfying the County with its services.

In other news, I stopped by to check the progress on the second Elza Street apartment building. It has a roof, windows and doors, is wrapped, and work is beginning on the brick exterior.
Finally, I found this fascinating map on a post from the Pulaski County Government site. It purports to show locations of the proposed RES wind farm planned for eastern Jasper and western Pulaski Counties.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Council meetings

This week had an unusual meeting schedule: both the Rensselaer City Council and the Jasper County Council met. And both had public hearings. However, the item that will probably affect most Rensselaer residents was not one of the public hearings but a report from John Julien for Umbaugh Associates on a revised gas rate.

Mr Julien spoke as the Rensselaer City Council members followed him with a 25 page handout. He noted that it has been 14 years since Rensselaer last adjusted the rates for natural gas. During that time costs have changed, and the percentage of cost due to buying gas has decreased while the percentage due to delivering the gas, the cost of hiring people to work for the gas utility, has risen. In three of the last four years costs have exceeded revenues, so cash reserves of the utility have dropped a bit. They are now about $1.4 million, which is still healthy; he said that it would be dangerous for them to dip below $800,000. So a rate adjustment is not an emergency measure, but one that should be taken before the situation gets serious.

Rensselaer's rates are now very low compared to what other people are paying. The increases he is suggesting will bring us up to about the same level as NIPSCO customers are paying, and NIPSCO's rates are among the lowest of the big gas utilities. His proposal will increase rates in two steps and will be designed to solve two problems. There will be a 16% rise in stage one and and 8% rise in stage two. He said that would result in about an $11 increase in the average monthly bill. Most of the increase will be to cover the increase in costs of the gas utility but some will be to cover the costs of adding a second tap into the gas pipeline, something that has been discussed in previous City Council meetings.

The Council approved the first reading of the ordinance that will accomplish this increase. However, this is one of those issues that requires multiple votes. There will be a public hearing on the issue at which citizens can comment and there needs to be at least one more vote on the ordinance before it can take effect.

The public hearing that did take place at the City Council meeting was about the establishment of an economic revitalization area for the IMPA solar park north of Rensselaer. The Council had voted on this in the previous meeting, but again, this is one of those issues that requires a second, confirmatory vote. The only comments at the public hearing were for clarification of exactly what the process was and whether the vote included tax abatement. With no further comments, the Council voted to approve the district and to approve the Statement of Benefits that establishes the tax abatement. IMPA will invest about $6 million. For the first year, they will not be taxed on any of that $6 million. Then each year the abatement decreases by 10% so that at the end of ten years it disappears.

The public hearing at the Jasper County Council meeting had no comments. I was the only member of the public attending (I guess you could consider the new head of Jasper County Economic Development Organization as a member of the public, though he was there as part of his job), and I did not understand the ordinance that was being discussed. It involved property tax credits that got changed for those in the KV school district because of some unintended consequence of a 2015 law. The state legislature may vote to undo those consequences today (Wednesday) and if they do the County Council will meet again on Thursday to pass the ordinance that was under discussion. Sorry for not having a clear explanation but this is the best I can do.

I will try to follow up later this week with other a post on other things that happened at meetings on Monday and Tuesday.

I visited Sparling Avenue Monday to see what the workers were doing. The machines were next to Sparling and were still breaking up rock. I asked a man in a truck if they were laying pipe yet and he said that they needed to clear away the rock first. He seemed to be unhappy at the amount of bedrock just below the surface. I think as they go north the bedrock will fall way.
 Another sign of spring: Walmart is setting up their garden center in the parking lot.
 Winter is not quite finished with us. On Tuesday we got enough snow for it to cover the ground, though all of it that hit the streets seemed to melt. It seems to be telling the daffodils that they are still a bit early.
Fortunately we are not getting the heavy snows that the north east is getting or that Kentucky got a few days ago.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Halleck murals, panels 11 & 12

The final two panels cover the short period from 1973 to 1980, and reflect what was happening at the time the murals were painted. The newly added bookstore in front of panel 11 makes getting a wide view of this panel almost impossible, so here it is in four parts.



Below is the text explaining the panel.
The final panel is the fourth that has doors to the ballroom in it.
The left side of the panel features food service, which was managed by James Novak, the artist's husband.
Over the door are pictures of faculty members who had given many years to the College.

Finally, here is the explanation of what the panel shows.

Murals 9 & 10 are here.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

More from Monday's Meetings (part 2)

The Drainage Board met for its monthly meeting on March 5 with a long agenda. Several items were of local interest. The proposed solar park on the north side of town had a few changes in its plans for relocating a tile that runs through the site and these plans were approved. It also had a consultant who told them that the change in ground cover would result in less runoff. The runoff will end up in the School House Ditch, which is not a County ditch but rather one controlled by the Rensselaer School Corporation. There was the suggestion that perhaps there was a need to get an agreement with the School Corporation, but representatives from the City said that the City has an agreement with them.

Weston Cemetery would like to tear down its present office building and rebuild on approximately the same site. The old building infringes on the easement of the Maxwell Ditch and the new one would as well, though perhaps not quite as much. It was noted that there is easy access to the ditch from the east side and that the City maintains it. The plans were approved.

There were a couple of items from the northern part of the County. Helena Chemical, which sells farm chemicals and has an office near DeMotte, wants to build a new office and truck scale. It was noted that their drainage plans were better than what they have now and were approved. U-Locks storage near Wheatfield had a consultant present a drainage plan that was approved. I am not sure if this is the same proposed storage area that was subject to several contentious meetings of the Planning Commission or BZA.

On Monday evening the Park Board met. They had a long discussion about the proposed dog park on Bunkum Road. They discussed rules and fees, examining what other area dog parks are doing. Nothing was resolved and the members were asked to look what other dog parks have and decide which parts of the various rules they think would work for Rensselaer.

The Board did vote to use the logo that is currently being used for the Parks For People campaign as the Park logo.

Although it is down the list a bit in terms of priorities, enough money may be raised by the Parks For People campaign to finance a splash pad. The Board discussed whether the best location for a splash pad would be inside the fence of LaRue Pool or outside, and the consensus was that it would be better to locate it outside the fence, making it available when the pool was not open. There was also a discussion of whether a shelter could be enclosed so it would be available during inclement weather and the Park Superintendent mentioned that the Gifford Shelter had been constructed so it could be enclosed and so it could have a fireplace.

The next Park Board meeting will be April 2.

I was not sure what pictures I could use for this post until I ventured out Sparling, a route I rarely take now that one cannot cut through SJC to get to the shopping mall. I was happy to see piles of pipes that indicated that construction of the water main that will take water from the City's new well to the water treatment plant. You can see a directional boring machine in this picture.
 The contractor for the project is LGS Plumbing from Crown Point.
 There were machines in the field working.
 The one that was doing the most work was the one in the middle, which had a jackhammer and was breaking up the limestone bedrock that is close to the surface in this area. (It is why houses on Charles Street do not have basements.)
 Old Pump House #2 in Iroquois Park was recently demolished. The water main will come here and use the existing connection to get to the water treatment plant, show in the background.
 I will be visiting Sparling more often in the next few months to watch the progress.

The storage shed being constructed north of the tracks lacks doors and a floor. The existing building on the site can be seen on the right and it has six units compared to the eight in the new one.
Daylight savings time begins Sunday. Set clocks forward, which will give us more dark in the morning and more light in the evening.

The cold nights and the dustings of snow we are getting remind us that spring still has not sprung. However, I did see some crocuses a few days ago.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

More from Monday's Meetings (part 1)

The previous post discussed a couple of items from Monday's Commissioners meeting. As is usually the case, there were many others.

A representative from Lafayette Bank and Trust wanted permission to inform county employees of a special checking account that they currently offer to first responders and  will make available to county employees. The Commissioners noted that whatever they do for Lafayette Bank they will do for any other bank if asked.

Animal Control received permission to replace a part-time employee who resigned. It would also like to build an addition to its main building and thinks it can fund that through donations. The Commissioners were agreeable if there are no bills coming to county as a result. The County Highway Department noted that with the overtime due to flooding and snow, employees had accumulated a great deal of comp time. The Commissioners want them to decide to use it or cash it in to get back to the limit that employees are supposed to have.

The representative from Honeywell said that the proposal for a committee to prioritize projects had been well received and two members of the Council had been appointed to the Committee. Serving on the Committee will be Council members Andree and Fritts, Commissioner Culp, and two maintenance employees. The next Council meeting will be a week early, on the 13th.

The rezone for Heartland Sustainable Farms was quickly approved. Also approved were mowing bids that the Sheriff had received. The Sheriff then requested permission to replace two uninterruptible power supplies with a single unit. The old ones need maintenance that will cost about as much as replacing them. They ensure that power will be on in the interval between a grid failure and the start-up of the back-up generators. The Sheriff noted that about 30,000 sand bags had been filled in the recent flooding.

The Economic Development director said that there is now movement on the proposed travel center at the DeMotte interstate exit. Construction may start this summer. The Airport Director reported that the president of the Airport Commission had resigned and that the Commissioners needs to fill the vacancy. He also reported that the traffic report conducted every three years at 70 Indiana airports showed a significant increase in takeoffs and landings at the Jasper County Airport. In 2014 Jasper County was 49th busiest with 6000 takeoff and landings and in 2017 it was 37th with 9542.

This post is long enough. Part 2 will look at what else happened on Monday.

I need a picture or two. Here are some pictures from Weston Cemetery. The flood waters deposited this large tree in Weston.
Near it are the remains of a much smaller tree that apparently was cut down by beavers.
Here is another tree that the beavers attacked. The Rensselaer Urban Forest people planted these and are not too happy that the beavers seem to be enjoying them.
I have noticed a big reduction in views I get on Facebook when I publish links to the posts here. Facebook changed the way the prioritize what they put in people's feeds so that sites like this one get fewer views. They probably are hoping that their new algorithm will encourage sites like this one to pay them for promotion--they are constantly pushing for that. However, I do not make enough money from ads to make that worthwhile. So be aware if you are relying on Facebook to point you to these posts that Facebook is hiding the links.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Controversial farms

The Carnegie Players presented a well-acted version of Neil Simon's comedy Barefoot in the Park over the weekend. This is their 25th season. The quality of performances in the past few years is much better than those in their early years--they have grown. Their next production will be the musical Annie Get Your Gun, scheduled for July 27, August 2, 3, & 4.  The Carnegie Players did that musical as their second-ever production. I am sure the 2018 production will be much better than their first one.

I tried to take some pictures but they did not turn out well. Go here for a good picture of the cast and director on Facebook.

The river continues to recede and this will be my last river-level picture until something interesting happens to the level.
At the various meetings I attended on Monday I heard that there is still serious flooding along the Kankakee. Below is a video that the Sheriff's Department put on Facebook.

Alhough flooding along the Kankakee was serious, the town of DeMotte was mostly dry. The cleaning of ditches and the addition of retention ponds has had an effect. Of course the water had to go somewhere, so what was good for DeMotte may have been bad for those along the river.

The Commissioners meeting on Monday morning was unusually long.  The first item on the agenda, a rezone for a pig farm, took about an hour and 45 minutes. This was the subject of a Planning Commission meeting in January where the Commission on a divided vote recommended to the Commissioners that the zoning be changed from A1 (general agriculture) to A3 (intensive agriculture). The matter had not been taken up at the February meeting because that meeting was rescheduled. The presentation was a shortened version of the presentation at the Planning Commission with a few minor changes. One change was that the people proposing the pig farm say they will now filter both the air coming in (for biosecurity) and the air going out (to reduce odor). There were many public comments covering a variety of topics including odor, justice, and filing requirements. The concerns that the Commissioners were most receptive to were those about water.

Water wells in Jasper County often have problems with oil (see Asphaltum) and sulphur. The pools of good water can be limited and too much pumping can change the quality of water in a well. Those promoting the farm argue that they will not be using nearly as much water as a typical CFO but they had not had a detailed water report done for them. The Commissioners wanted such a report and passed the rezone subject to having a hydrology report done by the April 2 meeting.

The people wanting to build this hog farm had originally intended to build it in Newton County. However, when they applied for a special exception at the Newton County BZA meeting on August 22, 2017, they were turned down by a vote of 4 to 1. As in Jasper County, the people living close to the proposed site objected and there were enough people who attended the meeting that it was moved from the Government Center to North Newton High School. I wanted to link to the minutes of the meeting but the Newton County website has virtually no minutes of their county meetings. In ten years or so it should be clear which county made a mistake, Newton by rejecting it or Jasper by accepting it.

Newton County is headed for another fight over a CFO. A company has purchased about 2000 acres on the northern boarder of the Nature Conservancy property and wants to build a dairy. Opponents are arguing that it might pollute ground water. See here for more.

The next big controversy in Jasper County may be about wind farms. A company is seriously interested in building a wind farm in east-central Jasper and western Pulaski Counties and is approaching landowners about leasing land. If they cannot find enough land, the project will stop. If they do find enough land, then the permitting process will begin. I noticed the sign below at the intersection of Grace and College.


There was a wind farm item on the agenda for the Commissioners meeting. EDP Renewables will be building the Meadow Lake 6 wind farm in Benton County and would like to use a stretch of Jasper County Road to install one of the turbines. They had brought this item to the Commissioners in November and I think they expected to have an agreement reached. They promised to fix any damage done to the road. But in examining the details of the contract, the Commissioners had questions and eventually said that what they wanted was for the company not just to repair the road, but to pave it when they were finished. I suspect the fact that all of the benefits of the wind farm will go to Benton county--increased property tax revenues in addition to increasing the income of the land owners--may have made the Commissioners take a harder line than they would have if the County were getting benefits from the project.

There were several members in the audience who seemed to be quite opposed to wind farms. What I find interesting about the controversy about wind farms is that it seems to pit environmentalist against environmentalist. A major push for wind farms has been from those who want to reduce use of fossil fuels over concerns of global warming. However, much of the opposition also seems to be motivated by environmental concerns. The website mentioned on the sign is an example.

I will try to report on other aspects of the various meetings later this week.

Finally, another sign that spring is near: the turkey vultures are back.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Halleck Murals, Panels 9 & 10

Panel 9 gets into the 1960s and the presidency of Fr. Charles Banet. Because of construction of the new bookstore, completed months before the announcement that the College would soon close, the space in front of this panel is very limited and I could not get a decent picture of the whole thing in one photo. The biggest change in this era was that the College went co-ed.

 Below is the text for the panel. Click any picture to open it in a new window and a larger size.
 Panel 10 also has very limited space in front of it and is difficult to photograph.  It subject is the destruction of the old Administration Building. On its left is a picture of the building, the earliest College building and next to it is the fire that destroyed it in 1973.
 The fire destroyed a great deal of classroom and office space. The next year the faculty were in Gaspar Hall, and it was there I had an office when I arrived in the fall of 1974.
 Here is the text for the panel.

Panels 7 and 8 are here. Panels 11 and 12 are here.