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

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Early November meetings, 2018

The November Commissioners meeting was moved from Monday morning to Wednesday morning. I arrived a couple minutes after the start and the commissioners were getting information about health insurance from a potential new provider. I did not have enough background information to make much sense of what I was hearing.

Next up was the County Health Department, which wanted to replace a full-time person, one of the food inspectors, who had left. Kendell Culp seemed to surprise them by asking how they will adjust to a reduction in revenue when NIPSCO closes its generating plant in 2023. He said that all other County departments will be asked the same question and be asked to figure out ways to reduce their costs. The Commissioners do not want to wait until 2023 to figure out how to adjust. They want County administrators to start working on the problem now. The permission to fill the position was delayed.

Community Corrections received permission to replace a person who left for a job with the Tippecanoe Sheriff's Department. The person was paid mostly or entirely from state funding. Planning and Development had a proposal for the pay to a part-time building inspector and the Commissioners sent it on to the Council with a favorable recommendation. Southern, Keener and Wheatfield ambulance services had a contract approved that had a 3% increase. In the past their rates have been tied to the contract with the ambulance service serving Rensselaer, which is bid, but a year ago that bid was unusually low, resulting in county aid to the other ambulance services that financially stressed them.

At this point the Commissioners went into an executive session that lasted an hour and a half to discussion health insurance. When they came back into public session, they heard from a trucker living near Wheatfield who was concerned about the frost laws. He parks his rig at his home, but that is not permitted when the frost laws are in effect. He said that leaving his truck at a truck stop was not a good option because there are people who steal parts from parked trucks. The best the Commissioners could offer was to tell him that he could unhook his trailer and leave it somewhere and then drive the cab home. If they made an exception for him, it would open the floodgates of others who would want exceptions. After he left a couple from the Deer Park subdivision had a complaint about a neighbor who starts his truck at 4:00 in the morning and lets it run half an hour before he leaves. There were several options that may be available for them to pursue.

For me the most interesting item of the morning was a mention of the County's efforts to purchase what was the PNC Bank building that is across the street from the Court House. The Commissioners approved the purchase but it needs County Council approval as well. After the meeting I asked what the plan was. If the County does purchase the building, it would like to move the offices that are presently in the annex (the old REMC building on the corner of Cullen and Kellner) and then sell the annex. We will see how that develops in the next few months.

The Commissioners got an update from Trane on progress being made at Community Corrections and the Jail. Most of the work—replacing insulation, new water lines, new HVAC units, window and door sealing, and a few other things—is finished and the total project should be done at the end of the month. At the jail the company continues to gather data and information. They do not want to start work until they fully understand the problems. Before they develop the proposal for installing solar panels on the property, they need to meet with IMPA to see what IMPA requires. (IMPA would buy the any excess power.)

The rest of the meeting was devoted to a variety of smaller items. They did hear from the County Clerk that the poll pads that were recently purchased worked very well in the last election. (County results are here, by the way.) She said that there was a 47% turnout. The meeting was recessed and will come back into session on Friday at 8:30 to look at a few more items.

The Drainage Board met Monday and I missed the meeting.

The Rensselaer Park Board met Tuesday evening and heard progress reports on park improvements and activities. There will be two basketball courts at the Staddon/Monnett Park. 2400 tons of dirt were moved for new soccer fields and volunteered trucking services were worth six or seven thousand dollars.

The Scarecrow Walk in Milroy generated a lot of interest. The idea was borrowed from an event at Prophetstown State Park. Because it was as successful as it was, there is planning for a Christmas Tree Walk in Potawatomi Park at the end of the month. That park has plenty of electrical outlets, which Milroy does not have.

The Dog Park should be finished later this year or early next year. The Board thought it would be a good idea to waive membership the first year as a thank you to the community for their support. People would still have to sign up for membership to allow their dogs to use the park and if they want to continue using the park in 2020, there will be a membership fee.

There will be no December meeting of the Park Board. The next meeting will be on January 7.

Main Street Rensselaer would like to have a mural painted on this wall. Plans are still preliminary.
The exterior of the second of the Elza Street Apartments was almost finished on Tuesday.
 Peak color came and went very quickly this year. At the leaves turned, we got rain and wind that stripped many of the trees.

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