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

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Odds and Ends, April 2018

The Park Spring Fling scheduled for Saturday was canceled due to the weather.

Walsh and Kelly, the street contractors, have been busy installing curbs and sidewalk ends.
I am surprised how quickly this work is being completed.
Most of the curbs along Grace Street are finished. A sidewalk is planned for the west side of the street.
 LGS Plumbing is pulling pipe along Sparling. They seem to have run into some problems because they have dug a number of pits and trenches along the route. They were using a tractor to lift the drill head in this section and I have no idea of what the problem was.

On Tuesday evening (April 10) the Jasper County Republican Women hosted a candidate forum at the Jasper County Community Services building. Candidates who will be on the Republican May primary ballot were invited. Each candidate who attended was allowed three minutes to speak. Members of the audience were invited to submit written questions but no questions or comments from the audience were otherwise permitted. The format was not a debate format and candidates were told to avoid bad-mouthing other candidates.

What follows are my impressions of the evening. Others who were there may have somewhat different impressions.

First up were candidates for U.S. Congress. Three of the four who are on the ballot attended. There was very little difference in the stances they took and the policies they advocate. All are army veterans.

Jim Baird is from the Greencastle area. He served in Vietnam and has a PhD from the University of Kentucky. He is a farmer and with his wife started a home-health care company. He stressed his advocacy for agriculture. He is missing his left hand. Diego Morales lives in Plainfield. He was a senior advisor for Mike Pence when Pence was governor and worked on economic development for the Pence administration. He has an MBA from Purdue. Jared Thomas is the youngest of the three, only 28 years old. He is a graduate of Harrison High School in Lafayette and of West Point. He served in Iraq. He had spent Tuesday going door-to-door in Rensselaer and I saw him campaigning again on Wednesday.

Judge Potter is unopposed in the primary. He mentioned the seriousness of the opioid problem that has affected everyone connected to law enforcement. Over 1% of children in Jasper County are in foster care, many because of drug abuse by parents.

There are three people running for prosecutor in the Republican primary. The incumbent is Christine Haskell Bogen. She stressed her work on family problems: child abuse, sexual assault, and child support. Jacob Taulman has served as town attorney for several Jasper and Newton County towns and has been a public defender in both Jasper and Newton County. Rick Kallenbach is a former prosecutor. He stressed his work in prosecuting drug offenses while he was in office.

There are two candidates for Sheriff. (Sheriff Risner is term-limited; he cannot run for re-election). First up was Scott Balch. He graduated from Crawsfordville High School in 1985 and was recruited by colleges to play basketball. He stressed the lessons he learned as a student athlete in helping him deal with people when he entered law enforcement. He served as a state trooper based in Lowell until he retired and has lived in Jasper County while he was a state trooper. Since 2011 Pat Williamson has been the chief deputy of the Sheriff's Department. He graduated from Rensselaer High School and initially intended to go into agriculture but was recruited for police work by a former Sheriff. In 2016 he helped start the Vivitrol program in the jail and probation departments. (Vivitrol blocks the high from opioids.)

There were not a lot of questions submitted by the audience, but someone very interested in animal control had questions for all three candidates for prosecutor and both candidates for sheriff.

There are two candidates for surveyor. Jim Mattocks runs an excavating company and he said that he is unhappy with the way some of the work has been done. Vince Urbano, the incumbent, read his remarks and defended the work that his office has done. Much of the work of the surveyor involves drainage issues.

Also speaking, some very briefly, were candidates who are unopposed on the May ballot: Fishburn for Clerk, Hoffman for Assessor, Maxwell for Commissioner, and Norwine, Fritts, Jordan, and Bontreger for Council.

The last speaker was Doug Gutwein, who is unopposed in the primary. He is seeking what he says will be his last term. He used his time to speak on what he considers to be his most important accomplishment in the legislature, pushing a bill for infant testing of a genetic disorder called SMA (spinal muscular atrophy). It affects about one in every 10,000 births and the result until recently was that the baby died before the second birthday. Recently a treatment was discovered that stops the progression of the disorder (but does not reverse damage already done). So if an infant is diagnosed, treatment can be started at birth and the child can have a normal life. Gutwein became interested in the issue when a relative had a child with the disorder. Indiana is the third state in the nation to require testing for the disorder.

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