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

Saturday, June 16, 2018


Rensselaer's littlest coffee shop is now open. It is located between Riley's law office and what was once a bank building and now houses Consolidated Insurance.
 The shop opened on Friday. I took several pictures, most of which did not turn out. Here you can see the seating area.
 At one time this space was a little diner and there are people who remember it from those days. If you have a picture from its diner days, the owners would like to see it.

Below is their preliminary menu. In a week or so they will be adding some food items and also have a printed menu. I am not a coffee drinker, so I cannot comment on their offerings.
 The owner is quite passionate about coffee and for some years roasted coffee. If you want to have a discussion about technical details of the coffee business, stop by.

The weather this weekend will be uncomfortably hot and there should be a lot of people at the pool.
There has not been a lot happening in Rensselaer that I have noticed.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

City Council notes June 12

At Monday's City Council meeting, Ryan Musch of Embers Venue requested that a small section of Front Street be closed on July 21 for the Whiskey & Whiskers event. The event featuring four local distilleries and live music from Remember Jones will raise money to support the Jasper County Animal Shelter. The Council approved his request.

There was not a lot on the published agenda. The Police Department requested a change in the alarm contract. I gathered from the short discussion that this was to raise the fee for people who have an alarm that sounds with the local police. The gas tracker for June had an unusually large increase of 19.5¢ per hundred cubic feet. There was a slight decrease in the electric tracker for the third quarter.

The Safe Kid Halloween event will take place on Sunday, October 28 and if I understood that motion correctly, the Halloween Tricks-and -Treating hours will be on that day from 5:00 to 7:00. The Council also approved a motion to have the mayor sign a contract with INDOT for Amtrak payments. The City will pay $351.96 per month to help subsidize the Amtrak service to Rensselaer.

The Police Department may be able to move into their newly remodeled building in six weeks. The Sparling Well project is about 55% completed and the sidewalks are about 70% finished. The Parks For People Campaign is off to a good start in meeting its $50,000-in-50-days challenge grant, have raised about $18,500 in the first 11 days.

The wet and rainy weather we have been having has limited my pictures. Here is a look from last week at the progress on the solar farm.
I have noticed a number of interesting items over in Newton County. Their Council and Commissioners are considering an innkeeper tax. They are one of only 13 Indiana Counties that does not have the tax. The revenues must be used to support tourism. There are several zoning/land-use issues that are controversial. A dairy is being proposed for a site of about 2000 acres adjacent to the Nature Conservancy property. Normally a confined feeding operation on such a big parcel would not be expected to generate much opposition, but there is concern about water table contamination. Another property use issue is the possibility of an 800-bed immigration detention center that the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) may want to build in Roselawn area. Apparently ICE wanted to build the facility in Lake County and would not get a needed variance. Finally, S&S Farms is appealing the BZA denial for a special exception to build a specialty swine CAFO. What I do not understand about this case is that after Newton County denied them, they received approval in Jasper County. If they intend to build in Jasper, why appeal a decision in Newton?

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Mostly pictures

Work continues on the sidewalk along Sparling. On Thursday concrete was being poured at the north end of the street. The long stretch from the substation to the end of the field is complete, though I suspect there will be some soil added because right now there is quite a drop from the sidewalk.
 The contractors for the water main finally found the leak in the line. It was under a driveway near Grove Street. They bored that section of the line so they would not have to rip up driveways, but in the end they still ripped up part of one.
 More trees are coming down in Weston Cemetery.
 Unfortunately most of the trees in the west end were/are ash trees and they are dead or dying.
On Thursday the City was working on a short bit of trail that will connect the sidewalk in Potawatomie Park with College Avenue.
 Netco has moved into its new office in what had been Blockbuster.
 Greene's Furniture is holding their going-out-of-business sale. It should last for a few more weeks.
 There is still quite a bit left, but there is also a lot of empty space, especially in the back rooms.
On a positive note, the second Habitat-for-Humanity in the Blacker Village is nearing completion. It has a nice porch.

On Tuesday evening the Jasper County Council reconvened a meeting continued from May 14 to approve funding for the energy-savings/capital-expenditure project with Honeywell. They approved the funding and it will come from the rainy-day fund. The contract that the Commissioners had signed on Monday did not take effect until the Council approved funding.

The Council also agree to continue using Umbaugh for financial planning but put a cap of $7500 for the services. The meeting was lightly attended.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Monday's meetings

On Monday the Commissioners met for their June meeting with a short agenda. They signed a final contract with Honeywell for a $2.2 million dollar energy-savings/capital-expenditure project that has been discussed both in Commissioner meetings and Council meetings for several months. The energy savings part of the project is smaller than the capital expenditure, which will replace heating and cooling equipment in the Court House. The goal is to get new boilers installed and operating before this coming fall. They also agree to $1.1 million dollar prepayment so that contractors can get supplies ordered.

The Sheriff reported on a Trailblazer that is being retired from his department and will be going to the Veterans' Council for transporting vets to medical appointments. He said that four new squad cars are on order and were expected in April. They may arrive at the end of this month. He also reported on current and expected vacancies. He noted that there were only two applicants for a correctional officer.

The surveyor wanted approval for a base station agreement. A base station is something that is used by surveyors and others, and more than that, I do not understand. The company offered the station for free to the surveyor, hoping to sell subscriptions to others who might use it.

The insurance costs for the county will rise by about 3% this year after several years of decrease. The cost depends heavily on past claims.

The Jasper County Youth Center will be closing June 15. I had heard this rumor but did not find confirmation until this meeting. The County owns the building and hopes that it will be able to reopen under new management. Apparently the cause of closing is financial.

After a number of other minor items, the meeting was recessed, waiting for a consultant for a discussion of roads. I left.

On Monday afternoon the Drainage Board met with a very long agenda. The only item I found interesting was a drainage proposal for a new motel at the Remington/Wolcott exit of I-65. It will have the same owner as the Holiday Inn Express Comfort Suites at the Rensselaer exit and be about the same size. It will have 68 units and 15 suites.

The Rensselaer Park Board met in the evening. It heard from Tracy Cochran, the Community Wellness Coordinator with the Extension Office. Her goal is to help make active living possible and her focus is on nutrition and exercise. The Board also discussed the problems of Pop Warner, which is currently looking for a place to play games. It had been at SJC and has not found a school willing to host them. The Park Board did not know how football would fit with soccer, which wants to use the same field.

The pool at Brookside Park will open this Friday.

I left the Park Board meeting before it concluded to go across the street and see what was happening at a special meeting of the Jasper County Plan Commission. They had a standing-room-only audience. The item on the agenda was a rezone from A1 to A3, needed for the proposed confined swine feeding operation from Interstate Family Farms, LLC. Attorney Don Shelman outlined the proposed project. It will have 4100 sows and 900 giving birth or about to give birth. There would also be an average of 3000 piglets at the facility, but they are counted as part of the mother for state regulation purposes. The facility will cost about $10 million and will employ about 20 people. The site is in Jordan township, north west of CR 1200 S and 880 W. It will be on 40 acres that are set back from the roads, and the project will or has purchased 20 acres that will give access to the site from 880W. The soil on the site is sandy and before this project, was being put into conservation acres. The project will consist of five buildings, three large buildings that will hold hogs at various stages of the breeding cycle, a small office building, and a mortality building where any dead animals and tissue such as placenta will be composted with cow manure. This composting is the way IDEM wants dead animals handled.

Manure from the operation will be piped to adjacent fields and will be knifed or injected into the soil. Putting the manure under the top of the soil both preserves nutrients and greatly reduces odor. Water will come from a well capable of producing 50 gallons per minute and the farm will use about 24 gallons per minute. The nearest residence is 3900 feet to the south. A report from a Purdue expert on farm odor estimated that the odor cone would not affect any of the residences.

There was considerable comment. Major concerns were about wells, odor, and traffic. The zone of non-sulfur water is apparently quite thin, and people within a couple miles voiced concerns. However, there are state regulations that provide some protection. The owners of Carpenter Creek Winery were concerned that odor could reduce visitors, two thirds of whom come from outside Jasper County. They were also concerned that residue containing sulfur might attach to their grapes and alter the flavor of their wine.

After an hour and forty five minutes, the Commission voted to recommend to the Commissioners to rezone the property from A1 to A3. There was one vote against. The project will need to get Drainage Board clearance and may also need a variance for setback from the BZA.

A small fact of hog production: the breeding life of a sow is about two and a half to three years. After that, she goes to market.

Now for some pictures. SJC is making hay.
Workers are pouring concrete for the sidewalk along Sparling.

However, there are still some holes where you can see the water main, so it seems that not all the problems with it have been resolved.

The Brewery had music entertainment Saturday and a large crowd.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Trailhead ribbon cutting

On Saturday morning there was a ribbon cutting for a new trailhead in Potawatomie Park.

 The ribbon cutting was the local participation in National Trails Day. Below is a better picture of the trailhead marker. It is not finished. There are similar markers planned for Brookside Park and near Staddon Field. As part of this trailhead, there will be a new sidewalk that will connect the sidewalks in Potawatomie Park to the sidewalks along College Avenue.
 The Parks for People Campaign has just announced that they have received a $50,000 matching grant. However, they will not receive the $50,000 unless they match it with donations of $50,000 in the next 50 days. If you have been considering donating and have not done so yet, now is a good time to make the donation.

Following the ribbon cutting, there was a Park Hop Walk/Run that took people across the bowstring bridge, along the river on the alley, north on Washington to Lincoln, along Lincoln till Abigail, then via Jackson to Brookside Park. The walkers (there was only one runner registered) followed the Creek to Clark, along Clark to the north entrance, then into the Park onto the Redbud Trail to the track. From the track the route took them through Weston Cemetery to the Talbert Bridge, then onto Washington to Milroy Park and the new trail there, and finally back to Potawatomie Park.

The morning was pleasantly cool, a welcome change after some very hot days. Also welcome was the rain we got a couple days ago. It will keep the grass growing.

Progress in the construction of the solar farm changes the appearance there almost every day. Many boxes have been delivered.
The view above is from the north entrance. Below is a view from the south end. It is very hard to see what is happening because there are no good view points.
 I noticed that Midway Electronics has a new tower. I saw that they had submitted the application for this tower months ago and was hoping to get some pictures of its construction, but I missed it.
I keep checking to see what is happening along Sparling with the water main. There is still an open hole (its been there for over a week) so I suspect that the company is still testing the pipe for leaks.
NETNITCO has moved to new offices in what was the Blockbuster building.

Update: Congratulations to the RCHS girls track team, which finished 29th in the state track meet, one point and ten inches ahead of North White.