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

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Christmas tree walk

The tree lighting for the Christmas tree walk is scheduled for Saturday at 5:30 in Potawatomie Park. There are 14 or 15 trees up as of Friday morning and there may be one or two more ready before the lighting.

The Alzheimer's Association has a tree and a bike. The bike is is there for the Ride to End ALZ event.
 This one is only identified with a HOPE sign.
 Valley Oaks Health is the new name of Wabash Valley Alliance. Their office is on Drexel Drive.
 The light was not right to get a good picture of the dog in the doghouse beneath the tree of the Jasper Count Animal Shelter.
 I assume BAE is Bombers for Academic Excellence.
 I thought this might be a John Deere display until the Brown Garden & Floral Shoppe sign was added.
 A tree from Ci Insurance.
 A corny display that is not labeled. Perhaps IBEC?
 Hope Community Church has a lighted cross.
 The white tree is from the Police Department and the one with the fire truck is from Fire Department. The Police Department tree is my favorite and I suspect will be the favorite of most little boys. I hope they can keep their hands off the ornaments.
 There was no identification for this tree but it may be the favorite of the birds. It has strings of cheerios and other food bits as ornam
 I also could not identify who put up this tree.

The Rensselaer Library also has a variety of trees from various organizations. Maybe I will show them in a future post.

On Friday morning the Tourism Commission met for its monthly meeting.  JCEDO with the aid of South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority had applied to host an economic development conference next September and their bid or proposal was accepted from the ten submissions. It will be held at Fair Oaks.

Most of the meeting discussed the application forms for getting Jasper County Tourism Commission funding. They would like to tighten up the requirements for festival funding. The application says that the event that gets funding is supposed to report back to the Commission but apparently few do. (I was there to give a final report on the Weston Cemetery Walk. The Tourism Commission would like to see growth or an upward trend in the festivals it funds.

They are also developing a capital improvements application. The thought of the members is that if there can be improvements that make the County more attractive to visitors, those improvements should receive help. However, they do not want to be funding maintenance. The grant that they gave to the Parks for People campaign is a major reason that they are trying to iron out the rules for this kind of funding.

A representative of the South Shore was at the meeting and mentioned that they were looking for someone to contribute to their blog about tourism and entertainment activities in Jasper and Newton Counties. If you are doing outdoor activities or other things that might be of interest from a tourism perspective and you would like to write about them, contact South Shore. Their blog is Along the South Shore and they have pieces on Jasper and Newton Counties (especially Newton because of Kankakee Sands.) Who knows what doors something like this could open. (I am not interested because I am too old to do fun things.)  It should be easy to do at least one post a month about Jasper County events and activities.

Leaving the meeting, I noticed that the Country Bumpkin shop has moved in with Thee Dragonfly. Both had the same owner and consolidating space is sensible. Thee Dragonfly now occupies the entire space that was once Long's Gift and From the Needle's Point. It has a variety of vendors selling there. Some were once at Greene's Antique Mall.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Animal shelter, wind farms, and more

Late last week Saint Joseph's College announced that it had reached a settlement in the Sodexo lawsuit. 

On Saturday the annual Christmas parade was canceled because of the forecast of thunderstorms at the time of the parade. The actual thunder came later and there was only some light rain during the scheduled parade time. The parade was canceled, not postponed, because it requires a permit from the state highway department to close US 231.

On Monday the Commissioners met for the first of two December meetings. (There is always a second December meeting to take care of items that need to be resolved before the end of the year. This year's second meeting will be on December 26.) The first item of interest was the opening of bids for a new Wheatfield Township fire station. This was the second round of bidding. The first round produced bids that the Township thought exceeded its budget for the station. There were three bids, with the base bids ranging from $1,479,500 to $1,585,800. However, there were eight alternatives, some adding features and others deleting features, so the final bid price could be different from the base bid. The bids were turned over to the Township.

Next the Friends of the Animal Shelter gave a long presentation in which they said that their plans to add on to the current shelter had changed and they now wanted to build a new shelter. They wanted and received approval to move forward so they could hire a consultant to tell them how big a new building should be. There was some concern that building to the south of the current shelter might run into problems with the foundation of the old County Home (Poor Farm). The Commissioners warned them that they should expect no funding from the County and that the County did not want a new facility that would increase expenses. The representatives of the Friends of the Animal Shelter expressed confidence that they could raise the funding needed to build.

The representative from Financial Arts, who is coordinating the County's switch of health insurance, discussed some changes and details in the new health insurance that needed Commissioner approval. A person who wants to expand a pond was next. He has not yet gone before Planning or the BZA but wanted to know what he needed if he had the material excavated hauled over County Roads. He was told to come back when and if he actually hauls material.

The Sheriff and a representative from Franciscan Health gave a presentation on employee mental health. Nationally first responders have more depression and mental health issues than the rest of the population because in their jobs  they witness traumatic situations. The Sheriff said that he would be working with Franciscan but wondered if there were any other County employees who might also benefit from the arrangements he was making. Mr Culp said that he would have the item on a meeting of Department heads next week. The Commissioners approved a contract with Lake and Porter Counties to house juvenile defendants. This is an annual contract and in 2018 Jasper County exceeded the number of days in this year's contract.

The Health Department asked for and was granted permission to hire a part-time food inspector. The Commissioners approved with little discussion the CAFO and floodplain ordinances that had come to them from the Plan Commission.

The last item on the agenda was a third ordinance from the Plan Commission, a wind farm ordinance. Because of widespread public interest in this item, the meeting moved upstairs to one of the court rooms which have much more seating than the Commissioners room. (Pictures from the Rensselaer Republican here.)
Mr Culp announced that there would be no vote on this item at this meeting and that the session would end at 11:45, which was more than an hour later. First Vince Urbano, a member of the Plan Commission, went over the various changes that the Plan Commission had made and answered questions from the Commissioners. Then members of the public had a chance to voice their concerns and opinions. It was all very orderly.

In the afternoon the Drainage Board met. It revised the boundaries of the watershed of the Amsler ditch. When it was being reconstructed, a tile was discovered draining into it from land that was not considered to be in the watershed. The change will reduce the amount that people who had been in the watershed will pay but may be an unpleasant surprise to those who discover that they are in the watershed.

The Board reviewed plans for the KV High School athletic improvements. These plans have been scaled back from what was originally desired because of the prospect of lost property tax revenue in a few years. It also looked at the drainage plans for the Casey's General Store in Wheatfield. The building has already been built and it did not get Drainage Board approval earlier because the builders did not realize that they needed it.

Here is a final picture, the current state of the Autumn Trace Apartments. I think the weather has slowed progress.
Speaking of slowed progress, the weather has also delayed the opening of US 231 north of Rensselaer. Work on the bridge over the Iroquois is not yet finished.