Rensselaer Adventures

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

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Budgets

On Tuesday the Jasper County Council met to approve its annual budget. After reading the budget, which can be found here, the Council approved it.

It then reviewed budgets for the Rensselaer Central School Corporation, the Jasper County Airport, and the Northwest Solid Waste District. Thankfully no one read lists of numbers as the president of the Council had done for the County Budget. The RCSC expects a small drop in student population of ten to 15 students from last year. The high school has a very large freshman class, but there are grades that are fairly small. It has been a tough year for the school to hire personnel, whether they be teachers, bus drivers, or custodians. The labor market is very tight.

The airport is budgeting for starting a flight school. (Discussed here.) It is also thinking of capital improvements in the form of a new hangar to replace the 80-year-old structure that is next to the taxi-way.  It will probably be a no-frills structure because the people currently renting space in the old hangar are price conscious. It has been a great year for fuel sales, perhaps the best ever.

The Northwest Solid Waste District had a smaller budget because of combining two positions into one. A concern for them is the increasing costs of recycling electronics. There was one other non-binding review that the Council was supposed to make, for the Iroquois River Conservancy, but it was postponed until the 23rd at 6:00 pm.

The Council approved some additional appropriations and noted that the elevator for the former PNC building has been delivered. Installing it will take several days.

The Jasper County Historical Society also met on Tuesday evening. Its meeting can be viewed here(You need to go to the 7:40 mark for the meeting to begin.)

The Walk with a Doc series continues on Mondays at noon at Brookside Park. Last Monday those attending heard about high blood pressure from Dr O'Malley. (who went to school in Poland.) After the short presentation, those attending walk the road through Weston Cemetery, which is about a mile.

Work has begun to install the basketball backboards in Staddon/Monnett Park. The concrete footings are scheduled to be poured on Monday.
 Mattheson was closed on Thursday. Although the whole street looks like it needs work, only a few especially bad parts are being redone.
 In the picture above, the field that is turning yellow is a field of soybeans.

Also along Mattheson are fields of sorghum that are maturing.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Meetings, etc.

On Monday evening both the Jasper County BZA and the Jasper County Planning Commission met. I was hoping that they would have another CAFO item and a rezone for the scrubbing station of the proposed methane pipeline on the agenda, but apparently the notices for those items were published too late to include in the agenda. There will probably be a special meeting on September 30 at 7:00 to consider those items.

However, there was one CAFO item on the agenda, something left over from last month's meeting. At that meeting it was observed that a couple of houses seemed to fall in the buffer zone, which is within 1320 feet of a foundation for a building on the CAFO. So the project's organizers were back seeking a variance for that regulation. One house owner had no problems with it, but a second, who were just within the buffer zone, being more than 1200 feet but less than 1320 feet from one of the foundations, objected, arguing that rebuilding the CAFO would seriously reduce the value of their property. They had purchased it after hogs had been removed from the site and had assumed that it would remain abandoned. Despite this objection, the BZA passed the variance.

The rest of their meeting and that of the Planning Commission were occupied with changes in policies and procedures. These will be presented in a clean form and voted on in a future meeting. Among the changes were a change in the normal meeting date to the third Monday of the month and a limitation on length of public comments. The argument here was that sometimes comments get disorderly or ramble, and the limit may help keep meetings orderly and that it can be waived whenever the Board or Commission (both meetings discussed policies and procedures) felt that public discussion and comments were helpful. There were several other changes that each of the meetings approved.

On Friday the Tourism Commission met. It received a report on the Touch of Dutch festival, which attracted an estimated 7000-8000 people. It ended up in the black and the proceeds will be used to fund other Chamber of Commerce events. One thing they found useful this year were two-way radios, which were loaned to them by another festival. The Touch-of-Dutch spokeswoman suggested that this might be something that Tourism Commission might purchase for use by County festivals.

The Commission also heard reports from the International Woman's Day event held in March and the JC Cruisers Car Show and Cruise. The Director of Tourism is planning a Jasper County bike ride for October 2020. The Remington Ride is no more and there seems to be considerable interest in this kind of event. It may have an agri-tourism focus.

The Memories Alive Weston Cemetery Walk had its dress rehearsal over the weekend. Some people think this is a event that is supposed to be scary or creepy. It is not. It tries to honor various people who have contributed to making the community, state, or nation a better place, or who have an interesting and informative story to tell. It takes the form of theater to make history entertaining.

If you know the Cemetery well, you might be able to figure out one of the persons honored from the picture below.
Saint Augustine's had its Fall Frolic on Saturday night. There where a lot of little kids there. They seemed to really enjoy trying to dunk people in the dunk tank.
The big earth moving machines are busy working on the new ball fields. John's Brothers is installing drainage tile and other equipment is smoothing the surface.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Moving dirt

Work has begun on the three proposed ball fields at Brookside Park. Step one is to remove the top layer of dirt. I guess this is to allow the fields to be smoothed.
 Below is the machine scraping the dirt. It takes it to a pile at the north end of the park.
 Also on Wednesday, Express Employment Services had its new sign installed and the old Shelter Insurance signs were removed from their former office space.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Chipping

The City Council meeting on Monday evening began with a public hearing on the budget. There were no public comments. The Council then moved to place the insurance proceeds from a wrecked police car in the police department account and approved a series of fund transfers. The transfers were to pay for the chipping of the brush pile, some chip and seal work, a new plow blade, and road salt.

The chipping of brush pile happened a few days ago. While I watched, the machine was chipping tree trunks.
The gas tracker for September will be a 4¢ decrease per hundred cubic feet.

The Council voted to vacate an easement in the Drexel Park area that seems to lie on the lots on which Autumn Trace built. The City had agreed to vacate this easement earlier but had neglected to formally do so. The Autumn Trace lenders wanted assurance that it had indeed been vacated. (I heard later that Autumn Trace has only ten vacant units left. It will not be long and the will have a waiting list. No Autumn Trace facility has filled as fast as their Rensselaer unit.)

The Council approved selling easements to two small parcels (40 square feet and 25 square feet) to the Indiana Department of Transportation. Next year INDOT will be resurfacing parts of US 231 and SR 114 and they will soon start constructing pedestrian ramps along those highways. The City will be paid $2000 for these easements at Angelica and McKinley and Front and Washington. (Maybe too many "ands"?)

The Utility Office was granted $500 from the public relations fund for their Customer Service Week. They will provide a lunch for the public on October 11 in the lobby of City Hall. (That week is also Public Power Week.)

The Council approved the low bid of $23,025 to seal coat City parking lots. Colonial Life  Insurance gave a presentation of what the company could offer and a Committee of Cover, Barton, and Bretzinger was appointed to consider their proposal.  One Councilman noted he had gotten questions of what the City was doing along Owen Street. The answer was that the area is being surveyed as a first step in putting in a sewer line. Fifteen people have applied for the opening in the Police Department. The Council approved waiving the building permit fees for a proposed shelter in the Staddon/Monnett park.

On Tuesday evening the Rensselaer Advisory Plan Commission met to consider merging the Drexel Park and Fairgrounds TIF districts. This recommendation had previously been passed by the Rensselaer Redevelopment Commission.

The reason for combining them is that combined they would allow a larger bond issue. The Drexel Park TIF was established in 1993 and expanded in 2008 to reach the downtown. The Fairgrounds TIF was established in 2010 and now reaches from Rick's Pizza to the Interstate. The tax revenues from business improvements flow to the TIF district and can be used to fund utility and other improvements. Currently the Rensselaer TIF districts generate a bit over a million dollars a year but about half of that is used for bond payments for the new fire station and the Melville Street project. The Commission unanimously passed the merger, which now goes to the City Council.

Below are pictures of the new adult playground equipment along the walking paths in the Monnett/Staddon park. In the background of the first picture you can see that the two basketball courts have been lined.
 Notice how well the grass is growing on what will be soccer fields next year.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Pictures from Little Cousin Jasper

The Little Cousin Jasper Festival had beautiful weather on Saturday and then light rain on Sunday that caused most of the vendors to pack up early.

Sometimes the best pictures of the parade can be taken where the parade lines up. Below are the County Fair queen's court and the truck for the magician that performed several times during the festival.
 As the parade lined up, a crowd of people waited downtown.
 The Rensselaer High School band was the only band in the parade this year.
 Retired Iron had several tractors in the parade, but I especially liked the lawn tractors that were part of the contingent.
 A new attraction this year were these balls. People were zippered into them and they could then try to maneuver on the water. While I was there, the kids mostly fell down.
 This year there was again a car show and there were about 70 cars entered. I liked the color of these modified cars.
It seemed to be well attended. It was good to have some nice weather this year. Last year the remnants of Hurricane Gordon rained out most of last year's festival.

The Fall series of Walk with A Doc sponsored by Franciscan Health begins today (Sept 9). The event begins with a short presentation by a medical professional and then a mile-long walk through Weston Cemetery. It meets every Monday until October 21 at the Hall Shelter in Brookside Park at noon and lasts until 1:00. It is free and open to everyone.