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

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Construction pictures and meeting notes

I drove north on Thursday and stopped by Fair Oaks Farms to snap a few pictures. Below is what the new hotel scheduled to open in 2019 looked like in the morning. By the afternoon a lot more the the roof trusses were in place.
 The same building from a different angle. It will connect to the Farmhouse Restaurant.
 Also going up on the campus is a water tower. I believe this is being built by Newton County as part of deal it made with Fair Oaks Farms. It will be the most visible FOF structure for traffic on I-65.
 A bit further north there is work on the I-65 bridge over the Kankakee River. I think it is being expanded to handle three lanes of traffic each way. There is work on I-65 between the Lowell exit and the Merrillville exit expanding the road to three lanes in each direction.

I promised more about various meetings in Tuesday's post and here it is below.

At the beginning of each Commissioners meeting, the Commissioners have a veteran lead the room in the Pledge of Allegiance. On Monday the veteran was former Rensselaer Police Chief Jeff Philips. After he was finished, the Commissioners appointed him to lead County in supporting the USS Indiana Commissioning Committee.

The Commissioners approved a rezone from A1 to A2 that had been recommended by the Jasper County Plan Commission. Sheriff Riser sought and received permission to fill a possible vacancy. (Two employees are strong candidates for an opening elsewhere.) He discussed an effort to attack the opioid problem with new program of drug counseling led by Chad Pulver and the Commissioners approved the program. During the discussion it was suggested that about 85% of the inmates have some kind of a connection to drugs.

The Commissioners approved a request by the Little Cousin Jasper Festival to use Court House grounds for the Festival. There was a bid opening for cyclical assessment, a program that the assessors office uses. There was one bid by the current company that is performing the service. The Commissioners conditionally approved the bid subject to review by the assessor and the County's attorney. The State Board of Accounts had recommended that the County approve a whistleblower policy and the Commissioners complied. They also approved polling locations, which are unchanged from the previous election.

The prosecutor's office requested approval of a contract with Dorsett Consulting to handle paperwork involved to get federal funding for child support cases. Apparently the regulation and paperwork burden have been increasing. The Commissioners approved the contract. They then approved renewal of a similar contract with a consulting company for the County Clerk's Office. Mr Culp suggested there was a need to review all the similar consulting contracts to see if consolidating some of the consulting could lead to savings.

The Commissioners approved use of roads for the Chloƫ 5K this summer. It will start from the Fairgrounds, go to Brookside Park, and back. They then signed acceptance of the Comprehensive Financial Plan that Umbaugh has provided. The Council will also need to sign this. A request for GIS data was approved with a fee of $750 with the provision that the requester might have the fee removed if the data are not being used for commercial purposes.

After a short break, the Commissioners filled a vacancy on the Airport Board but did not have a willing candidate for PTABOA (Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals). CASA may have to move from the Youth Center because of some regulation. The excessive comp time by County Highway employees is being addressed. The head of JCEDO said that he is working with Newton County to have a job fair in late May and is also working on a small business workshop for June.  The tourism position in his office is open and he will be posting for it soon.

In the afternoon the Drainage Board met. It opened bids for the Amsler tile rebuild and awarded the contract to Johns and Sons if the financing is available. It seems that some of the money being collected has not been posted to the correct accounts. NIPSCO wanted approval for the drainage plan for phase 7 of their fly-ash landfill. It will be placed adjacent to two existing fly-ash landfills and does not involve any property that was at issue when they received permission to close a county road several years ago. The project has IDEM approval. The Board approved with Mr Culp abstaining.

In the evening the Rensselaer Park Board met. They heard an update on pickle ball. If you are interested, there is a Rensselaer Pickleball page on Facebook. They then turned their attention to the dog park and reviewed possible rules.

(I see on Facebook that the Wheatfield Fire Department has received a grant for $500,000 for a new fire station. This grant was submitted by the County because a township was not eligible to submit the proposal.)

On Friday a milling machine was parked near Save-A-Lot. I suspect it will be in action next week. Also, you might have noticed that curbs have been cut on many sidewalk approaches to the streets. This is the first step in replacing them.

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