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

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

City Council meeting 1-14-2019

The first 2019 meeting of the Rensselaer City Council started late because the Board of Public Works meeting, which meets half an hour before the Council meeting once a month, went long. I had looked at the agenda and did not see anything that looked interesting, so skipped it. What I did not realize was that the Change Order item was about the new well on Sparling Avenue. The pump that had been installed was not quite right for the well and the suspicion was that it would fail prematurely. It will be replaced at no cost to the City with a submersible pump. Until the work is completed satisfactorily a payment of about $250,000 will be withheld.

First on the agenda of the City Council were two items from the Utility Office. The first changed the disconnect policy. The details were not explained but it will give certain customers more time to pay before they are disconnected for non-payment. It passed. The second was a proposal to establish a three-tiered meter deposit, with no deposit for those with good credit, the current deposit for those with mediocre credit, and a higher rate for those with bad credit. The City has been working with a company that generates or provides the credit information. As part of the ordinance, after twelve months in which there are no problems with payments, the deposit would be applied to the utility bill. Councilman Watson did not like the higher rates for those with a sketchy credit history because he said that it makes life harder for people who are already having a hard time with finances but he did like the part that gave back the deposit by applying it to the customer's bill. After some discussion, a committee of Councilmen Watson and Odle was formed to examine the ordinance and make a recommendation to a future Council meeting.

The gas tracker for January will be a fifteen cent increase per hundred cubic feet. The gas department was given permission to seek quotes for a new service truck to replace a 2003 truck used for welding that is starting to have problems. The Council also approved the purchase of nine radios for about $27,000 for the Fire Department.

Next there was a discussion of an inquiry from Good Oil Company, owner of the gas station on the west side of the SR 114/I-65 interchange. They wanted to know if the City would be open to allowing the businesses to connect to the City sewer on the east side of the interchange. They do not want to spend money developing plans if the City will not allow a connection. The Council voted that they are open to the idea. The discussion suggested that any connection will need to be paid for and constructed by the businesses on the west. The City would be willing to help obtain needed permits. George Cover said that it is in the interest of the City to help the businesses there because they provide jobs for City residents. The Council also approved granting the Mayor authority to hire an engineering firm to review any plans that Good Oil develops.

The Mayor and Council made appointments to various boards and commissions. Most were re-appointments. One opening that remains is a seat on the Rensselaer Board of Zoning Appeals where a current member has moved outside of City limits and thus is no longer eligible to serve on the Board. There will also be an opening in June for the Rensselaer Central School Board.

INDOT, which owns a square block of land in northeast Rensselaer where it once had its operations, has offered the land to the City for $1.00. However, they are not willing to accept any future liability for environmental contamination problems from any chemicals that might be on the site. The Council decided to decline the offer because of the potential liability and the lack of any real need for the property.

(I noted back in October another lot for sale that had environmental issues. It sold and the title was transferred in November. Like the INDOT property, it cannot be used for residential purposes and it has other restrictions on use due to its past use.)

The Mayor noted that the Governor has no Amtrak subsidy in his budget proposal and without the subsidy the Hoosier State will not run on the four days of a week that it currently runs. There was a brief discussion of a past proposal by a company to provide recording services for Council meetings. The Council thought the price ($17,000 for the basic service) was too high but agreed a committee (Barton & Cover) should consider options.

A recent hire by the Police Department will graduate from the police academy this week and join the force on Sunday. There is another opening at the Department that will have the hiring process starting soon.

The meeting adjourned a bit after 7:00.

Rensselaer woke up on Monday morning to heavy fog and very cold temperatures. The fog froze on tree branches. Because there was virtually no wind, it created a thick layer of ice crystals, mostly on only one side of the branch or twig.
Even small stems of flowers were thickly coated.
 It was not just the vegetation that was iced, but also fences and signs.
 Below is a close-up of the ice crystals on a sign that shows the feathery texture of the frost.
A few hours after sunrise it was all gone.

Checking the Internet, I learned that there is a difference between rime frost and hoar frost, but I cannot tell which this frost was.

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