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

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.

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