This blog reports events and interesting tidbits from Rensselaer, Indiana and the surrounding area.
Tuesday, May 8, 2018
Meetings on the first Monday of May
The weather has turned warmer. During the past week everything has greened up. My attention has turned away from blogging as I have been trying to catch up with tasks related to the change of seasons.
Today is primary election day. Paul Norwine's class at KV has prepared a video on the race for the sheriff. (Two of them will still be candidates after the vote today.)
The County Commissioners met on Monday. I got there early, only to find that the Drainage Board, which normally meets in the afternoon, had scheduled its meeting before the Commissioners meeting. Their agenda was short and was concerned with county tiles.
After approving a contract for bridge inspection for the next four years (the County's bridges are rated among the best in Indiana) and approving an increase in program fees for Community Corrections (I do not understand what that fee is for), the Commissioners heard from Brian Overstreet. He introduced the new Community Wellness Coordinator, who has been serving White County and now will also serve Jasper and eventually Newton Counties. She noted that Indiana rates #7 in national obesity. He also noted that Extension has a drone that is available if the County needs it. Extension is sponsoring a CAFO workshop at the Fairgrounds on Monday, May 14 at 6:30 pm (which overlaps the City Council meeting, so I probably will not attend). Finally, Extension will co-host the North American Manure Expo next year in August at Fair Oaks Farms.
Several people from Trane gave a lengthy presentation about proposed changes to make Community Corrections and the County Jail more energy efficient. The changes that they would like to make to insulate the attic of Community Corrections would require that the building be vacant for 12 hours, which may not be possible. Among the changes recommended for the jail would be a small solar park similar to what KV schools are planning. (The Rensselaer City Council just passed an ordinance that would govern how such an installation would connect to the power grid.)
The Commissioners approved several things related to a $500,000 OCRA grant for building a new Wheatfield Township fire station. The County is the contracting party for the grant because Townships could not submit proposals, but no County funds will be involved. The Commissioners also approved replacing retiring or resigning personnel for the Sheriff and Prosecutor.
The Commissioners had expected a presentation from Honeywell about its recommendations for energy savings for the Court House and annex, but Honeywell was a no show. The meeting was not adjourned but rather continues so they can get that presentation next Monday, May 14, at 9:00 am. At the remainder of the Monday session they took care of a lot of routine items. They had bid openings for asphalt and heard an update on road resurfacing. They also approved a contract with the wind farm company that is constructing the next phase of the Benton County wind farms. These turbines will be just south of the Jasper County line. The contract that was approved allows the wind farm people to haul a large transformer from the railroad in Remington to Benton County over County roads. Included was a bonding for the roads for $250,000.
I have been wondering about the tax implications of wind farms so before I left the Court House, I stopped by the Assessor's office. I found that the County Assessor does not get to assess utilities, including wind farms. That is done at the state level but the monies come back to the counties. Benton County, which currently has 560 turbines, gets about $3 million a year in tax revenue. Apparently some of the new turbines that they will be constructing will be larger than the existing turbines, which are over 300 feet tall. The new ones will be over 500 feet, about the same as those that are being contemplated for Jasper and Pulaski Counties. A rough estimate is that the turbines proposed for eastern Jasper County would generate more than one million in tax revenue but less than two. There are costs and benefits of having turbines and both need to be considered in deciding whether they would be good or bad for the county.
The Rensselaer Park Board met on Monday evening. They heard a financial report for the Park Corporation, discussed what part of the parks should bear the Rex Blacker name (his estate is by far the largest donor to the Parks for People Campaign), and discussed dog park rules.
White County has announced that it has sold the building that it constructed just to the east of Remington. The occupant will be EggLife and it will hire about 30 people to produce a sandwich/tortilla wraps line of products. EggLife seems to be associated with Rose Acre Farms. Over in Newton County, Fireworks America has purchased the Republic Services building in Morocco and will use part of it as a warehouse. It plans to employ 10-15 people. Also in Newton County, the proposed dairy farm north of Kankakee Sands is on hold.
Friday's fish/chicken dinner sponsored by the fire men drew a huge crowd and I heard about several people who did not attend because the length of the line intimidated them. I wanted to take a picture of the SJC trays that were being used but my camera battery died. There were lots of yard sales on Friday and there are huge piles on the curbs this week for bulk pick up. In contrast to last year, the weather was ideal for garage sales this year. The Saint Augustine School rummage sale, scheduled for this coming weekend, has been canceled.
I have not been taking many pictures lately, but here is one for this post. It shows that Unwind Massage Therapy has relocated to the back of the building next to the bowstring bridge. The last occupant of that space was the Rensselaer Chamber of Commerce.