At the last City Council meeting, Kenny Haun mentioned that a business expansion was being planned. Perhaps the expansion he was referring to was by Genova. A press release from the Jasper County Economic Development Organization said that Genova will spend $2.3 million to build a 22,000 square foot expansion to its current facility. When completed, the company will hire about 12 new employees.
The annual Easter Egg Hunt will not be a hunt this year but a drive-thru event. The children 2-10 must remain in the car to receive candy. The date is April 3 from 11:00 until the candy is gone or 1:00, whichever comes first.
A new month brings a new round of monthly meetings. The Commissioners met Monday in a hybrid meeting. There was an in-person meeting at the Sparling Annex with a Zoom option that used the new equipment that the conference room has. Only one of the Commissioners was in the room; two attended remotely, one from Florida. There were at one time 20 people on the Zoom link, more than were in the meeting room. I opted to attend the in-person meeting but sat in front of one of the monitors (there are two) so I could see what the meeting looked like on Zoom.
This was not the first meeting to use the new equipment. BZA and Plan Commission meetings had used it for meetings that I did not know about so I missed. I try to find the announcements in the Rensselaer Republican, but the paper has recently changed its format, publishing all the legals from the various papers that Kankakee Publishing owns, so there are now several pages of fine print to scan.
There were three buried cable requests. The major one was for the methane pipeline that will connect two dairies to the natural gas trunk line. It will be over 7 miles long and will have two pipes in the same trench for most of that distance. The Commissioners requested that the pipeline not use the County right-of-way when it can be located on the properties of the dairies. With that provision, the request to use the County right-of-way for the project was approved.
The Commissioners approved a rezone from A1 to A2 that had been recommended by the Plan Commission and also a new fee of $200 for filing an appeal. They also approved the NIPSCO agreement that had previously been approved by PTABOA. The agreement settles the tax issues from 2016 to 2019 and sets out how valuation will be computed as NIPSCO shuts down its coal generation.
The Commissioners approved Sheriff Williamson's request to replace two more positions in the jail that are vacant because people left for other jobs. They also approved filling a third position that will result after a retirement and some shifting of people among jobs. He asked the Commissioners to consider replacing three part-time positions in Court House security with one full-time position. He said that currently there were 59 inmates at the jail but the census has been as high as 70 recently.
The County Health Department had given 3670 COVID vaccines as of Thursday. It will give another 740 this week. It has been told by the State to give vaccines only to Indiana residents so people now have to show proof of residency. The Department is preparing to start giving home-based vaccines and has requested the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine for this use because it is a one-dose shot. The County should soon be given blue status because the number of cases has dropped. The truck that the Department ordered has arrived but does not have plates so has not been released to the Health Department.
REMC is planning to provide high-speed internet connections throughout the County. In the northern third of the County where population density is greater, they will provide it with fiber optic cable. In the southern two thirds they are planning to provide it wirelessly. To do that, they will erect 120-foot-tall poles that will provide coverage for a five-mile radius. They asked the Commissioners for permission to place them in County right-of-ways. They will place 8 towers in the first round of construction and 16 more next year. The presenter noted that some neighboring counties are ahead of Jasper in providing high-speed internet and that this service is important for economic development. The Commissioners decided that their previous approval for this project covered the poles.
The Commissioners moved on the smaller matters. DeMotte and Norwej want to use the County tax statements to collect a hydrant fee. The County Treasurer does not want to add the fee and she has final say, not the Commissioners. The Commissioners opened bids for lawn-care service for the jail, the Sparling Annex, and the Surveyor's office and accepted the low bids. They approved a motion to sign a listing agreement with Jenkins for the now-vacant annex that recently housed the prosecutor. The State legislature is considering a bill that would allow the State to override county restrictions on solar and wind farms. At least 50 counties have passed resolutions opposing the legislation and the Commissioners added Jasper County to that list.
The farmers market will be open from May until October and it was given permission to set use a bit of the Court-House lot. A County auction was tentatively scheduled for the second Saturday in April. Departments that have items to sell need to provide a listing. The bonds for the jail will be paid off in 2022 and there was a brief discussion of the possibility of using the money saved for EMS. The County Coroner said that human remains had been found by two coyote hunters. The meeting was continued until March 15, if necessary.
The frost law is in effect, limiting use of County roads by heavy vehicles.
The Drainage Board met in a Zoom-only meeting in the afternoon. It received three bids to clean five miles of the Stover Ditch and accepted the low bid. However, Newton County will also have to agree to accept this bid.
There were two items continued from the last meeting, the REMC Fiber Optic Build and the methane pipeline. Both were quickly handled. REMC had agreed to the changes requested at the last meeting so their plans were approved and the methane pipeline had been discussed at the Commissioners meeting and it was approved with the recommendations made there.
In the evening there was a scheduled Park Board meeting that was in-person with no Zoom option. Only three members showed up, which was not enough for a quorum so no votes could be taken. However, the new concession stand for the Blacker Fields needs to be equipped, and the Park Board needs to approve the spending. It will be done with an e-mail poll. There will be 14 tournaments this summer and groups are scheduled to work the concession stand for all 14. The majority are school groups. Someone in the County plans to dig out a small pond and has offered the dirt to the Parks. It may be used to build a hill in Brookside that could be used as a sledding hill in the winter.
Recently I visited Monticello and noticed a statue in the plaza of the White County Court House.
It was erected as part of the 2016 Indiana Bicentennial. Below is a picture from a different angle.Charles Halleck, Eleanor Stackhouse Atkinson and her Greyfriars Bobby, and my favorites, Earle Reynolds and Nellie Donegan Reynolds.