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The future of farming is in robotics “I have a goal of being able to plant everything in a few days. That won’t happen this year, but there’s no reason that it can’t happen in a couple years.” -Kyler Laird


Kyler Laird and his wife, Kimberly, along with Cassidy, 7, Frankie, 5, and Serena, 2, with Laird’s four agriculture robots.

Here is the mind of Kyler Laird’s newest tractor robot, the fourth that he has programmed. By Caitlin Sievers

When Rensselaer native Kyler Laird was a young man, he decided that farming — following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather — wasn’t for him. Now, decades later, Laird is using his computer science and engineering background to create a fleet of robot tractors to do some of the work on the family farm. The tractors can be controlled by remote as well as operate autonomously. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in computer science and a masters in Ag systems management, Laird worked for his alma mater, Purdue for 10 years and then the University of California for 15, doing systems administration. Then, when his father, Wally Laird, died in 2010, he took over the family farm south of Rensselaer while still working full-time for the university. After doing things mostly the way his father had for the first five years, around two years ago, he decided to start doing things his way on his 1,700 acre corn and soybean farm. “That means automation,” Laird said.

His first venture into creating an agriculture robot was using a John Deere 420 lawn tractor. That first tractor was by far the most difficult project. “I started just tinkering with it and ended up ripping out the entire electric system, ripped out the entire hydraulic system,” Laird said. “Had to learn how to make hydraulic lines — there’s not a Youtube video for that.” At first the process was daunting, but became increasingly easier. This tractor never went beyond remote control. His second project utilized a Massey-Ferguson 2745 from the early 1980s that was handed down from his grandfather. In this tractor, he included a GPS system. “I floundered around for months trying to find somebody to help me build a steering system for it,” he said. “How do you keep a robot on a straight line? No one seems real interested in that.” Car computer programmers generally aim to ensure that the vehicles avoid obstacles, or head for a predetermined location, not that they follow an imaginary straight line on the ground.

Kyler Laird in the robotic tractor that he used to pull a grain cart during last year’s harvest on his farm south of Rensselaer. “I tried to get other people to help me and finally just ended up doing it myself,” he said. It ended up working. So he planted some of the field across from his house last year using the tractor. Although the automated tractors do allow him freedom to get out of the cab and take care of other things, they need close supervision. “They’re big, dumb, robots,” Laird said. He described the Massey as a simple robot. “But it can drill beans, and I can jump off and dig up the beans, while it was out doing the dumb stuff,” he said. “But it would also gladly run into a hole, and I had to stop it from doing that, redirect it a couple of times.” The process has evolved and he has learned some things along the way. His first project, the lawn tractor, could only be driven electronically. In the Massey, the computer only controls the clutch and the steering,

so it can be driven even when the computer isn’t connected. For Laird’s third tractor, a Challenger MT 765 that has tracks instead of tires, the computer system must be connected or it won’t work properly. It has a completely nonmechanical steering wheel that utilizes three sensors. So he tapped into those sensors taking one wire back to a computer, with another wire coming back from the computer to all three sensor outputs, controlling the steering system. The transmission and throttle are also connected to a computer. Although everything runs through the computer, it can still be driven manually. Last year, during harvest, he used the Challenger to pull a grain cart along his combine, operating the tractor by remote control, when needed. The tractor is programed to follow alongside the combine.

“I could hit a button and it would drive a line, but it didn’t know where the combine was, it didn’t know where the corn was, it didn’t know where anyone who would happen to drive in the field would be,” Laird said. “I had to watch it all the time.” Although it still needed close supervision, this worked much better than his system the previous year, when the grain cart would be parked in the middle of the field and Laird would harvest a few rows and then have to come back to the cart to unload. The Challenger can be controlled remotely using a computer in the tractor, linked with one in the combine, and connected to a standard gaming pad with a remote. Laird can drive the tractor manually, but when he is done, he can leave the tractor in neutral gear and hit a button and that sends the See FUTURE, Pg. A5



MARCH, 2017

Cart-making a labor of love at Mobility Ministries By Cheri Shelhart

Although PET Ministries, which manufactures small carts for the disabled in poor countries, changed its name, the mission stays the same. The carts are now called “adult mobility carts” and the name of the organization is now Mobility Ministries, Inc., of which the DeMotte facility is an affiliate. The colorful carts are given to people in other countries who are unable to walk. They can use these carts, giving them a chance to be more than a beggar crawling through the streets. In DeMotte, these carts are built by volunteers only, and there are many who enjoy the work, joking about pay raises and promotions. They are a group of mostly retired men and women who work one or two days a week to build the carts, all with a specialty of their own. Kay Spurgeon has been a volunteer worker for around five years, having started when the organization rented a portion of a building for its work. As a retired teacher, Spurgeon recalled a student who came from Guatemala and was receiving medical treatment through the Shriner’s Hospital. Eventually, the mother asked that the young girl be allowed to stay in the United States because if she came back to Guatemala, she would be a beggar on the streets, crawling on the ground. “I do it for her,”


Above: Retired teacher Larry Ouwenga explains how he cleans the metal pieces and prepares them for the welding process. When the pieces are welded into the frame of the cart, they come back to Ouwenga, who primes and paints them. Right: Kay Spurgeon and Nancy Van Vlymen work together to fasten the seat cushion and cover to the wooden seat of the cart. Spurgeon has worked on the carts for four years, while Van Vlymen has been a volunteer for just two months. Spurgeon said. The carts are selfdriven and built to last. They allow the user to not only have the mobility he wouldn’t have otherwise, but allows him to use the cart to carry items, perhaps to sell or to deliver. It gives a person the

ability to do more with his life than beg for food and shelter. Spurgeon and Nancy Van Vlymen often work together to build the seats for the carts, with a cushion and heavy leather cover in varySee CARTS, Pg. A6

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MARCH, 2017


RCSC Tech Director talks digital citizenship By Nick Fiala

integrating technology into the classroom. With reporter@rensselaerrepublican. all this experience, he’s com had time to use a variety of technological tools. Mark Heinig is Programs he used while Director of Educational teaching include Linux, Technology for the a free operating system, Rensselaer Central which he and his stuSchool Corporation. He dents would use on old started at the school as a computers from the comteacher in 1992, after munity. graduating from Saint “We would then Joseph’s College. Even repurpose those computwhile at SJC, he knew he ers, put Linux on them, wanted to teach, and he and then give them out pursued an education to students who didn’t major. But he also discov- have computers at ered that he had a knack home,” Heinig said. for handling technology. Another program, Today, he assists with which students use at technology needs at both RCSC, is called Seesaw. RCSC and SJC. In the “Seesaw is a way for course of his career so the teacher to help stufar, he has seen how dents create an online technology has changed portfolio,” Heinig said. the modern education “So, just like when you system. were in school and you “I taught sixth grade had to keep a record of science for 15 years,” all the works that you Heinig said. “I graduated had done, students can from Saint Joe in the do that electronically.” Spring of ‘92 and started From his current here [at RCSC] in the Fall position, Heinig has also of ‘92. And I’ve been seen how technology is here ever since.” evolving and changing Around eight years the student experience. ago, he received a pro “In 2007, I was the motion to his current Indiana Teacher of the position from Ned Year for Indiana Speicher, RCSC Connected Educators,” he Superintendent at the said. “And, man, I was time. happy just to get a lap “I’m the technology top. And today, the kids director now and have carry around phones been ever since Mr. that can do so much Speicher pulled me out more than a laptop could of the classroom and 10 years ago. We always wanted to have an educa- have our eye out there to tion leader do the techsee what’s coming.” nology job,” he said. “So I One sign that RCSC is think that’s been a good technologically focused fit for me...I do miss becomes apparent in any working with kids, of its classrooms. though.” “Every student at Heinig still teaches a Rensselaer has an iPad,” computer technology Heinig said. “And they support class, covering take them with them to the basics of troubleevery class. So any shooting computers and course that you can general technology. After think of, they’re using the students have learned the iPad. We focus heavienough, they’re able to ly on it for English, readgive back to the school ing, math. Basically, it’s with their efforts. for every course. So it’s “They help us out really integrated into with things that we need their life. It’s really made done in the district, as an impact with them.” they develop skills, so Technology in educathat’s been really good tion is also about more for them,” Heinig said. than just getting a fancy Heinig has also new product. According taught an instructional to Heinig, it actually design course at SJC, on


Above: Mya Holbrook (left) works on her iPad project, while Tyler Kesler (center) and Chantz Lowery (right) explore the features on one of theirs. Right: Madison Burkhart (left) checks out Brianna Mullins’ project on her iPad. helps the student and teacher to better understand each other. “The ability for the students to show the teachers how they are thinking is huge,” he said. “They can use ‘Explain Everything,’ which is an app where they can record themselves as if it’s a white board, and then send the file to the teacher.” See RCSC, Pg. A7

As your Mayor and a citizen of Rensselaer, I am proud of this city.



124 S. Van Rensselaer St. Rensselaer, IN 219-866-5212

Over the years, we have grown and gained resources that add to Rensselaer’s quality of life. New businesses, expansion of industries, beautification projects for our historic downtown area and parks, and a new building for our volunteer fire department completed last year. Also the I-65 water extension is complete and the new weather treatment plant is scheduled to be completed this March, 2017. Rensselaer is unique in many ways: owning our own utilities of water, sewer, natural gas, electric and sanitation departments, Amtrak line, and many city parks just to name a few. With the unfortunate closing of St. Joseph’s College, the impact on the city is still unknown. With all of this in mind, our constant mission is to plan ways to promote growth, promote economic stability while being environmentally friendly. I am proud of the city’s dedicated and professional staff plus many volunteers that work hard towards a vision of a great city we call home. Rensselaer is a caring community and by working together as a team, we can steer the destiny of Rensselaer to continue to be a great city for generations to come.



MARCH, 2017

Covenant AD helps to grow sports programs By Harley Tomlinson

Covenant Christian athletics have grown up under athletic director Dennis Lins’ leadership. In Lins’ eight years as AD, Covenant has gone from offering three sports to offering as many as six with the addition of spring sports baseball, softball and co-ed track. If a sport can generate enough student/athletes to field a team, Lins and the Covenant’s parent board will try to give them an outlet. That’s how Covenant began its softball program, which is beginning just its third season at the school. “We decided enough of them wanted to play, let’s give it a go,” Lins said. “Since we were already IHSAA-approved, we called them up and said, ‘Hey, we’re starting a program,’ and away we went.” Though school enrollment is just under 100 — 99 at last count — Covenant still provides many of the same sports a school three times its size might provide. In fact, 75 to 80 percent of the students who attend Covenant also play at least one sport, Lins said. “You can’t get that at the big schools,” he added. Not that Lins and his coaches aren’t wringing their hands when the spring season hits. Baseball needs nine players to put on the field with a couple on the bench, while the same goes for softball. Track and field will take as many students as it can get and still remains competitive. “Every year, we’re wondering if we’re going to have enough kids. But then enough show up and we play our schedule,” Lins said.“What’s interesting is with all of our teams, really, you’re going to get kids on these teams that have never played before. You’d think with baseball and softball, they would come through the Little League program or whatever. Maybe half of the kids have done that, but they just want to play. That’s a cool thing here. We can get everybody to play if they want.” While the school accommodates 99 students, it is built to provide for many more than that. Lins would love for his coaches to have bigger rosters, but that comes with having more students available to fill spots.

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Covenant Christian has won several trophies and plaques under athletic director Dennis Lins’ watch at the high school. Lins has been director of athletics at CCHS for eight years. “I was hoping, 150 would be nice,” he said. “With 100 kids, you need kids to play one sport, two sports, three sports. If they want to play, let’s play. We have room for all of them.” Lins is enjoying the longest tenure of the three ADs who have received paychecks from the school, which opened the doors of its current building in 2004. A teacher at the high school served as AD twice while Jeff Hamstra, who coached at Kankakee Valley for six seasons, was a teacher, coach and AD for one year at Covenant. Lins, whose full-time job is keeping financial records straight for six area

churches, fell into the Covenant AD job after the parent board provided flyers to parents of students at the school. “I love sports. When they were looking for an AD here, they put an ad out to our parent society that said, ‘Do you love Covenant? Do you love sports? Are you organized?’ That’s all it was, and I can answer all three. I said, let’s give this a go. I’ve got time,” Lins said. Lins spends the day moving from church to church before beginning a full day at the high school during sporting events.

“I’m here primarily at game time. But all of my communications, emailing, calling ADs, scheduling … all that stuff I do from home. I have an office at home. I do a lot of my work at home with the churches, too,” he said.“It’s a big juggling act.” The AD position also allows Lins to be with his kids at the high school. All five of Lins’ children played or play sports at Covenant, with senior Heidi (soccer) and freshman Ben (soccer, basketball, baseSee COVENANT, Pg. A5

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From A- 1

control to the remote. During the course of his work, Laird found that a long-range kill switch was a necessary addition to all his robots. “The Massey — I couldn’t kill it — so to shut it down I had to pull the throttle all the way back,” Laird said. The only way to stop it when not riding on it was by pulling a rope attached to the throttle — a decidedly low-tech solution. Laird’s newest robot, in a John Deere 6330, is programmed to plant corn using an eight-row planter. This tractor has a lot of modern features. “I think it will be very productive,” he said. “It will be a very simple system, from some perspectives.” The planter is an older style, with individual boxes for grain. He bought it salvaged, and refitted it with new hardware. “I think it’s going to plant a lot better than my big, expensive one,” Laird said. The newest robot has cameras, which will give him a better eye on the planter than he would have if he were in the cab. “Eventually, the computers will be able to recognize a plug instantly and shut it down,” Laird said. Although there are some niche companies that sell small robotic remotecontrolled orchard tractors, ones like Laird’s typically can’t be found for sale by retail merchants. Laird said that the automation doesn’t really save him any time, as he put so much time into creating it, but it helps him do the farm work on his own, when necessary. “That’s the big savings,” he said. “I have a goal of being able to plant everything in a few days. That won’t happen this year, but there’s no reason that it can’t happen in a couple years.” Although equipment-wise it might not seem like the best move to get everything planted so quickly, it could mean getting it done when the weather is perfect. His next step will be to take his newest robot to agBOT Challenge in Rockville in June. The challenge is one in a series of competitions set to propel innovation in technology and agriculture. He doesn’t expect to win, but it’s



Top: Laird will take his newest robotic tractor to agBOT Challenge in June. Above: The newest robot is outfitted with cameras. Right: The brains of Laird’s Challenger tractor, that pulls a grain cart autonomously. been good to get to know the other people involved, he said. Laird believes the future of farming row crops is in robotics. He looks at this similarly to GPS steering in tractors. When he first acquired this feature in

one of his tractors in 2010, many thought it was a luxury. “But, no, it’s really vastly more efficient,” Laird said. “Now everyone does it, or pretty much everyone. I think it’s

going to be the same way with robotic tractors. There are a lot of people who think they’re a farmer because they drive a tractor. I think that’s going to change.”

From A- 4

ball) currently enrolled at the school. Lins’ oldest daughter, Megan, played basketball and volleyball at Covenant, oldest son Josh played basketball and soccer and middle daughter Hannah played basketball, volleyball and soccer before graduating two years ago. All of Lins’ children excelled in the classroom and on the field or court of play. Lins credits Covenant’s coaches for helping athletes become well-rounded students. “Our coaches get the most out of our kids,” he said. “The way we treat coaching is these kids are given the talent. God gives them that talent. We hope coaches can take that talent and take them to the next step.” Covenant has also been competitive on any playing surface. The Knights’ basketball teams have won games

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over public school foes, while the soccer team has thrown scares in many of the area’s top programs. “We’re competitive and we play in a conference, which is huge,” Lins said of his school’s soccer programs. “We play in the Northwest Indiana Conference, which brings in Wheeler, Bishop Noll, Hanover every year and we’ve built a rivalry with them. We’ve done well. We haven’t won the conference, but we’ve been second, third, fourth.” Two of the school’s track athletes — Jake Bowers and Whitney Rouster — have qualified for state events. Both athletes were offered college scholarships after graduating last year. “Other schools feel you get more opportunities at big-

ger schools. Maybe you will. But if they’re a good athlete, they’re going to be seen here, they’re going to get noticed,” Lins said. Both the bookkeeping duties and the AD responsibilities — two full-time positions — can pull Lins in all kinds of directions. Game nights, in particular, keep Lins away from home for an entire day. But Lins enjoys the perks of the job as well. “What I like most about this job is the connection with the other ADs,” he said. “It’s like we’re a fraternity and I really like that. Time-wise, and every AD will tell you, it’s just incredible. For me, I’m trying to balance this with a full-time job, it’s tough. Whether I continue to do this, I don’t know. I’ll take it a year at a time.”

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From A- 2

ing colors. In separate areas, a volunteer worker cuts the metal pieces that will become the cart’s frame. Another, using a template, drills holes in the pieces in precisely the right location while another cleans and sands the pieces to a smooth finish. Those pieces go to another volunteer, who will weld them together. Next the welded frame goes to another room, where it is primed and painted. Others work in the wood department, where they cut the pieces for the carts, sand and route them and, also using a template, drill the holes so the pieces can be bolted together. Then the wooden parts are painted by a number of women who enjoy coating them in bright colors. Bonnie Sanow and Marge Fase both began their jobs on the first day and have been showing up to paint the carts ever since. A widow, Sanow said she was looking for something to take up her time. “We get along so well here. We do birthdays together and things outside (of the facility) together,” she said. John Lindbeck lives in the Lakes of Four Seasons and has been volunteering his time at Mobility Ministries for two years. He said he was at a birthday party in Crete, Illinois, when he heard about the carts. He said he asked around in Lakes of Four Seasons, but no one knew anything about the DeMotte ministry. He eventually found a brochure, came to the facility to learn more, and has been volunteering ever since. “I really enjoy it. It’s really a neat thing to do,” he said. With templates for the building of the carts, the work isn’t difficult. Some of the volunteers brought experience with them from their careers, while for others, they learned it at the facility. Larry Ouwenga taught math at Lowell High School for 37 years before retiring. Then he worked a few more years teaching math at DeMotte Christian School. Now he paints the welded frame with a primer and coat of black paint. He also cleans the individual pieces and sends them to the back for

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Above: John Lindbeck, of Lakes of Four Seasons, puts wooden pieces into a template where they will be bolted together. He also uses the template to drill holes for other connections. Right: Dan Blaney works the drill, putting holes into the metal pieces that will later be bolted to the wooden parts of the carts. the welders to put together. He’s been doing this for four years and thoroughly enjoys his time there. He spends about three hours a week on Tuesdays doing his volunteer work. Bob Gabrielse and his wife Arla first heard about the carts and the need for manufacturing them at church. They decided to open a facility in DeMotte, and the two still spearhead the work. So far, the DeMotte program has built 1,270 of the carts. Recently, 188 of the carts were sent to Malawi in Africa. Arla explained she and her husband were going to meet with people from the organization where the carts were sent to find out how many

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more they’d need. There are 64 volunteers who spend a few hours a week to build the carts, pack them and get them ready for shipment. When there are enough to fill one shipping container, they call for a truck. Then the volunteers all help to load it and send them on their way. In 2016, this shop built and shipped 300 mobility carts. Mobility Worldwide

has several facilities in the United States, and all of the work is done by volunteers. Every one of the 64 volunteers, whether helping manufacture the carts for a few months or five years, are fulfilled in knowing the work they do changes lives for so many around the world. To know more about this ministry, visit The organization accepts online dona-

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From A- 3

Above: Kaiden Roberts (right) looks over the features on Dakota Biernan’s iPad. Top right: Dikcie Hernandez (left) and Kami Davis (right) look over a project on one of their iPads Bottom right: David Rodibaugh, then president of the Rensselaer Central Schools Corporation board, congratulates Christal Tongish, Mark Heinig and Kelly Berenda on their hard work in securing a $200,000 grant for the corporation in 2012. Heinig is second from the right. This allows the teacher to see exactly how a student has done a math problem and arrived at a correct or incorrect solution. “The teacher can see ‘on step two, they didn’t reverse the sine as they were supposed to,’” Heinig said. “And they can figure it out and help them. So it just adds a lot of insight...What it is providing for us that we couldn’t do, even five years ago, is the fact that we can individualize instruction for students.” In addition to mathematics, virtually every other course is affected. If they aren’t affected by the actual programs being used, then simply the sheer amount of information available to students online is enough. “Social studies is totally different, because it’s not so much a lecture anymore,” Heinig said. “They have access to all the history of things on Youtube.

And they have access to the Smithsonian libraries. And science has access to National Wildlife Federation data, just first-hand sources of data that they can catalog and use on their own.” With easy access to so much information, the necessity for “digital citizenship,” as it’s called, is huge. “Digital citizenship is ‘How do you behave in a digital environment?’” Heinig said. “’How do you set limits on yourself so that you do get your things done?’” It also means knowing when not to use technology in the classroom, as well. “At Rensselaer, we’re not just about using technology,” Heinig said. “We want to use the best tool for the student. So if that means pencil and paper, we’re going to use pencil and paper. If that means we’re using the iPad and the

camera, we’re using the iPad and the camera...Whatever it takes, that’s what we’re about. We want to make sure the kids have the best learning experience that they can get.” Heinig believes RCSC has honed in on how to do these things well, in a unique way. “I’ve traveled, literally, across the country to different places,” he said. “And Rensselaer has good infrastructure, has excellent teachers and is on the cutting edge of what things are being taught with technology. We can

always grow, but we are, by far, lightyears ahead of where some other districts are.” Despite what one may think, Heinig claims the school’s emphasis is never on devices, per se. “We’ve had schools from all around the state come visit to see how we’re doing things and how we integrate technology into the classroom,” he said. “And we keep saying ‘It’s not about the device. It doesn’t matter what device we use. We want to provide digital instruction strategies for our teachers.’”


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Remington starts filtering “I never thought we’d see the day where we’d have a filtration plant.”


Remington’s first filtration plant that takes the iron and manganese out of the town’s water began operating on March 15. By Caitlin Sievers

For the first time since it began pumping in 1896, the town of Remington is providing its customers with filtered water. The town’s $4 million filtration plant, located near the intersection of Harrison and Maine streets, went online on March 15. Construction on the plant began in early 2016. “That’s been a major infrastructure project that we’ve been wanting to accomplish for quite some time,” said Town Manager, Jonathan Cripe. In the past, Remington’s water sometimes had an orange tint or bad smell, which led to complaints from residents. The filtration plant will hopefully eliminating these issues. “It should help with water quality,” Cripe said. According to water superintendent Mark Jones, the water flows through layers of sand and activated carbon in the filtration tanks at the plant, which take out the iron and manganese. Jones said that less than a week after operations began he’d already gotten some positive comments from residents about the water quality. Some residents noticed clearer water in their toilets, as well as when making tea. “Things are going great,” he said. The benefits to customers include no more staining of fixtures like bathtubs and sinks. “I never thought we’d see the day where we’d have a filtration plant,” Jones said. The town manager is pleased about the project’s completion. “It feels great,” Cripe said. “I know our water superintendent is really excited about it.” He hopes it relieves people’s worries about water quality. This will also put less stress on home water filtration systems. “Hopefully all the red water issues will be gone,” Jones said. Trail The town received a $55,000 grant from the Jasper Foundation for its trails in spring 2016. HWC Engineering is currently doing a trails design for the town, on the approximately $450,000 project. Construction will begin in spring 2018. This year, the town is working on the

trail route and preparing everything to send it out to bid. It will be an 8 foot wide asphalt trail that will be just over one mile long. It will run around the perimeter of the Remington Community Park. Depot The town of Remington purchased the old train depot, located downtown from the Peoria & Western Railway Corp. on Dec. 21, 2016. This purchase, for $10,000, has been a long time in the making. “Personally, it’s been five and a half years of phone calls, emails, meetings,” Cripe said. It took a lot of persuading to get the railroad to sell the building to the town, without so many restrictions that the city couldn’t do anything with it. The city is working with structural engineering consultants to determine the condition of the building. “We’re going to be going through some ideas on what we want to use it for specifically,” Cripe said. Cripe is not sure how old the building is. “No one can pinpoint it, but we’re pretty confident that it’s definitely over 100 years old,” Cripe said. Based on the calendars still hanging in the depot, Cripe believes the railroad stopped using the building around 2003. “The depot is going to be the anchor of our downtown revitalization,” he said. The town did a downtown master plan in 2012. “We have plans to redo the streetscapes, possibly some facades, new lighting downtown, sidewalks, and the first major hurdle to start that process was to acquire the depot,” Cripe said. He hopes to have ideas and a rough timeline for costs for renovating the depot within the next month. “Once we get some progress made downtown, we’re hoping that will help jump start maybe getting some more businesses downtown,” Cripe said. “Hopefully some of the property owners will see what’s happening and do some improvements to their buildings.” A few businesses have already done so. The laundromat re-did its facade. The Homestead has purchased the old diner and is currently renovating it, including the facade, to make it a usable space. “We’re hoping it’s kind of contagious and everyone gets on board with it,” he said.

Remington's Water Superintendent Mark Jones with the town's Utility Manager Kristie Taulman at the new filtration plant.

The Remington filtration plant’s computer system is housed here.



MARCH, 2017

Rensselaer completes projects, plans for more By Caitlin Sievers

After many years of planning, Rensselaer’s wet weather treatment plant will finally be ready for action sometime in April. The $7.5 million plant, located at the intersection of Lincoln and Jefferson streets will treat water from the city’s largest combined sewer overflow, number 19, during large rain events before dumping that water into the river. This tile drains water from the east side of town. “I’ll be glad to get that up and running,” said Mayor Stephen Wood. The project, which was already in the planning stages when Wood took over as mayor five years ago, was funded with a $3.5 million grant as well as a $4 million loan. The city’s system is still 80 percent CSOs, which means excess rain water and sanitary sewer are in the same system. This project to treat the water from one of the CSOs was mandated by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and the Environmental Protection Agency. “During a big rain event, millions of gallons of water went through that, into the river,” Wood said. “This will treat everything and send it back to the river. That’s what IDEM, their big thing now is making the rivers swimmable.” There are three main structures at the plant. They include a combined sewer influent with the city’s pipe running through it. During periods of heavy rain, two gates open, allowing the water in. Solids get filtered out by a bar screen. The water then flows into a huge wet well and from there is pumped


These concrete structures will contain the vortexes where the water will be separated from solids and cleaned. to a huge tank, where the treatment process starts. “It’s called a vortex,” said Wayne Boyer, of Commonwealth Engineering. “It spins it around, depositing the solids on the bottom.” The plant includes one large vortex and one small one. The water is then treated with chlorine, and then dechlorinated before being dumped in the river. Although the plant is on the edge of the flood plain, it’s been built up. The city planned to start testing the plant in late March with plans for it to be operational in early April. The plant will be tested by pulling water from the river, and

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running it through the entire system. IDEM will monitor the plant to ensure that it operates up to expectations. This might include later requirements to hook up other intercepts to it. The monitoring period will last one to two years. IDEM will monitor everything that goes through the CSOs during that period. “It will make everything cleaner and hopefully will do us some good,” Wood said.

Streets Other accomplishments for the city of Rensselaer over the past year include increased street improvements thanks to a Crossroads grant from the state. The city got $1 million from the state last year and used about half of it along with a local match. The city still have some left over for this year, to use with a local match. The mayor hopes that in all, the city could get around $1.5 million in roadwork See PLANS, Pg. B9





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MARCH, 2017


DeMotte looks at improving roads and parks By Cheri Shelhart

through its website and granted $50,000 toward the project, the ladies are well on their way to reaching their goal. With Friends of DeMotte Parks at just over half its goal to raise money to “I’m confident the money will be raised,” Tokarz said. replace old playground equipment at She said the people and the busithe town’s Spencer Park, and a new nesses of the town rally when they master plan for the park, the town of know their support is needed. DeMotte is hoping to make Spencer “It’s a phenomenal community we Park a major destination for residents live in,” she said. of the town and Jasper County as well Once this dream has been achieved, as the surrounding area. the town will take over, with a plan to Roads on the town’s list that didn’t get paved last season will be getting the move the tennis courts at Spencer Park across to the southeast side of the park, work done this spring through the INDOT Crossroads grants and tax reim- closer to the pool and new shelter. The new pavilion, which will replace the bursement given to the town last year. aging shelter that sees a lot of family There is also a plan to widen and reunions and other organizations change drainage on Division Street, under its roof, will be moved and east of Spencer Park to Orchid Street rebuilt beginning next fall. but this won’t be done until 2021. For the park, the town council has a Eventually, the tennis courts will be moved and a new community/event vision to build a community/event center. In the meantime, the plan is to center will be built as a year round location for a variety of events, both rebuild the picnic pavilion on the south side of the park and move it clos- public and private. Currently, the plan er to the new playground and the pool. is to begin construction in 2018 to be ready for 2019. The plan for the new playground “We always want to improve our equipment is to have it installed this parks, but we’re taking one step at a summer so it is ready for use before time,” Tokarz said. “The current (town) the big festival, the Touch of Dutch council is a conservative council. They Festival, which is held Aug. 12 and 13 are looking at ways to finance the comthis year. Two women, who did not munity center. They do have a master know each other or of each other, plan, so once one project is achieved, approached the town hall on separate they will move on to the next project.” occasions to ask about updating the old playground equipment at Spencer Town improvements Park. Heather Tokarz, office manager Town Manager John Dyke said the for DeMotte, encouraged the two town is expecting to have new flood women to work together on the projmapping, done by FEMA, in the next ect. Leeann Doffin and Silviya Stout two to three months. The town has joined forces and with another young replaced four culverts and the county mother, Jennifer Jonkman they has cleaned out two of the ditches that formed a non-profit organization, were causing problems for residents on Friends of DeMotte Parks, Inc. the north side of town. The Evers Ditch So far, the group has raised over $80,000, well on their way to their goal and DeHaan Ditch, both drain the town’s storm water. of $150,000 by May. The plan is to “Our goal was to reduce (the flood order the playground equipment in plain) as much as possible,” Dyke said. May to be delivered in June with the He expects there will still be some month of July to build it in time for homes and businesses still in a flood the festival. The ultimate goal is $200,000 to get all the work done. They plain, but fewer than originally mapped. won’t stop raising money until the He said he is seeing an increase in final goal is achieved. In just one year, these three women new construction in just the past three months. have done a tremendous job of raising funds, and with the help of the Jasper Foundation, which takes donations See DEMOTTE, Pg. A8 PHOTO PROVIDED

The Friends of DeMotte Parks has a new banner, that will hang on the sign for Spencer Park, giving residents an idea of where they are in reaching their fund raising goal for new playground equipment at the park.

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Community News for 150 Years



MARCH, 2017

Wheatfield improves Centennial Park By Cheri Shelhart

In 2016, the Town of Wheatfield was able to replace broken pieces to its playground equipment in its Centennial Park and enlarge the park’s pavilion. The Wheatfield Town Council hopes to add some stand-alone equipment for the town’s children to enjoy when funding is available. Last summer, the town was able to pay for replacement parts for the playground with a grant from the Jasper Community Foundation, the Wheatfield Chamber of Commerce, business and individual donations. The chamber added to its donation by covering the cost of expanding the pavilion. It was enlarged; walls and a new roof were added; electrical upgrades were installed and a concrete floor poured. Picnic tables were painted as well. The chamber also repainted the restrooms it had installed previously. An enclosed message board was added to the pavilion, for news and information to be added as needed as well as times when the pavilion was rented for private parties and occasions. Along with these improvements, new mulch was spread under the playground area and a bicycle rack was added. New signs explaining park hours and rules were installed and everything was ready in time for the town’s annual Sandhill Crane Festival, held the third Saturday of September each year. Wheatfield Councilwoman Janice Moore was praised for her work in addressing the issue and procuring the money to fix the playground equipment at the town council meeting in September. At the meeting, she said, “A lot of people do great things at the park and don’t get anything for it.”


Wheatfield replaced broken parts on its playground equipment in Centennial Park with money from a grant by the Jasper Community Foundation, Wheatfield Chamber of Commerce, business and individual donations. People clean the park and maintain it without asking for anything in return. She thanked the many volunteers who gave of their time to help build the addition to the pavilion and all the work that went into the improvements to both the pavilion and the playground. Her hopes are to keep the park nice for families to enjoy. The Wheatfield Chamber of Commerce fills the park with vendors during the festival, and uses it for the awards presentations in the afternoon for the annual car show, where car enthusiasts come from all over to show off a vehicle or view the many entries

into the car show. The park’s playground keeps the younger crowd entertained as well. In December, the town holds its official tree lighting ceremony in the park, with the chamber members offering homemade chili or ham and bean soup cooked over an open fire in a large black kettle. Hot chocolate warms

the residents and guests and children can visit with Santa Claus, who also has the privilege of lighting the tree. The larger pavilion means more seating for the crowds who come to enjoy some Christmas spirit and good hot soup. This year’s Sandhill Crane Festival and Car Show will be held on Sept. 16.

DeMotte/Kankakee Valley Rotary Club District 6540 Serving the community since 1979

“Service Above Self”



OF ROTARY First: The development of acquaintancee as an opportunity for service. Second: High ethical standards in business and professions; the recognition of the worthiness of all useful occupations; and the dignifying of each Rotarian s occupation as an opportunity to serve society.

The DeMotte/KV Rotary Club is sponsoring an off shoot of the club for high school students with its first year at Kankakee Valley High School. The club has already begun its efforts to support the community and are looking for future projects to complete the year. It has 22 student members this year. Tara Kingma is the High School Sponsor, Rotarian Char Groet is liaison for the DeMotte KV Rotary Club.

Third: The application of the ideal of service in each Rotarian s personal, business, and community life.

The Wheatfield Chamber of Commerce expanded the pavilion at the town’s Centennial Park, adding new a new concrete floor, walls and roof as well as adding fresh paint to the picnic tables and refreshing the paint in the restrooms inside the park as well.

Fourth: The advancement of international understanding, good will, and peace through a world fellowship of business and professinal persons united in the ideal of service. THE FOUR AVENUES OF SERVICE 1. Club Service 2. Community Service 3. International Service 4. Vocational Service

Photo by Cheri Shelhart

Each Year DeMotte KV Rotary Club 6540 donates to Area Food Pantries.

Pictured are new Interact Club members, (back row) Isabelle Molenaar, Katie Saxon, Nickolas Raymond, Brook Pumnea, Sara Groen, Katherine Cavinder, (front) Faith Edwards, Payton Donnelly, Becca Caldwell, Faith Beehn, Megan Ward and Tara Kingma.

MEMBERS James Ahler Phil Apple Timothy Belstra John Bennett Aaron Case Dirk Eggleston Dan Fagen Jack Fagen Greg Fieldhouse Craig Fox Brenda Goeken Char Groet After replacing broken parts to the Centennial Park playground, new mulch was spread under the equipment giving it a new look.

Tresa Groet W. Craig Jackson Bob Jonkman Chris Kelleher Ronald Klauer Michael Kooistra Gloria Moolenaar Phil Moolenaar Mitchell Mullen, Peg Nick Cami Pribyl Brent Przybylski

Bruce Przybylski Daniel J. Ryan Charles L. Schoon Gilbert Schultz Schultz, Timothy Sekema, Martha Smith, Henry Sally Snow Howard Swart Jim Terborg James Tiemens Heather Tokarz

Ed Van Wijk Cyndi Urbano Rodney Urbano Gina Van Baren Duane Van Prooyen Kathleen VanDerMolen Don VanKeppel Eric VanKley Rosemary Weeks

DeMotte/Kankakee Valley Rotary Club • PO Box 453 • DeMotte, IN 46310





MARCH, 2017


Area Church Directory Town of DeMotte American Reformed Church 1021 S. Halleck, DeMotte 987-5115 Sunday Morning Worship 9:30am Sunday School 10:45 am Junior High Fellowship 4:30 Senior High Fellowship 6:00

Bethel Christian Reformed 521 S. Halleck St. DeMotte, IN 46310 (219) 987-2005 Services each Sunday at 9:30 a.m. & 6 p.m. “GEMS” & CADETS 7PM 1ST & 3RD WEDNESDAYS COFFEE BREAK - Wednesday Mornings 9:30 AM. All women are invited to join us! Nursery provided. WATCH WEBSITE FOR UPCOMING EVENTS

Calvary Assembly of God Rt. 10 & 700 W • DeMotte

(219) 987-4280

Pastor James D. Clark Sunday School 9:00 am • Sunday Worship 10:00 am Wed Family Night 7:00 pm Adult Bible Study, Missionettes, Royal Rangers and Youth Group

First Christian Reformed 1633 S. Halleck St., DeMotte, IN 46310 (219) 987-2586 5387 West S.R. 10 • Wheatfield, IN 46392 219.987.5156

Pastor Laryn Zoerhof • Pastor Kyle Sanford Morning Worship at 9:30 a.m. Sunday School at 11 a.m. Evening Worship at 6 p.m.

Worship Service at 9:00 am & 10:30 am Two Worship Services April 5- May 3 9:00 am and 10:30 am Visit website for coming events

1424 8th St. SE, DeMotte, IN 46310 (219) 987-7763

Sunday Worship Service & Children Ministries 8am | 9:30am | 11am

Wheatfield Full Gospel Tabernacle Route 49, Wheatfield, IN 46392 (219) 956-4206

Sorrowful Mother Catholic Church 165 S. Grace St., Wheatfield, IN 46392 (219) 956-3343

Pastor Kenneth Patrick Sunday School at 9:45 a.m. Worship Service at 11 a.m.

Father Paul Cochran Masses: Saturday 5 p.m., Sunday 8 a.m. & 10:30 a.m. Confessions heard Saturdays at 4:00 p.m.

Rensselaer Rensselaer Church of the Nazarene

First Christian Church

First Presbyterian Church 220 N. Cullen St. • Rensselaer • 219-866-7005 Rev. Dr. Jeff Cover, Pastor Sunday Worship 9:30 a.m. Tuesday Bible Study 6:30 p.m. Wednesday Youth Group 5:30 p.m. Sept-May Thursday Peeps Children’s Group 3:30 p.m. Sept-May

Sunday Worship Service - 10:00 am

327 N. Van Rensselaer St. • Rensselaer • 866-7871 Minister: Rev. Elizabeth Hartmann

200 S. McKinley Avenue 219-866-8243 219-863-7534 Rev. Lisa Ulrich, Pastor RensselaerNazarene Sunday School 9:30 a.m. Sunday Worship 10:30 a.m. Tuesday Bible Study 1:30 p.m. Wednesday Children’s Bible Quizzing 6:30 p.m. Wednesday Bible Study & Prayer 7:00 p.m. Narcotics Anonymous meets Tuesday at 7:00 p.m.

St. Augustine Catholic Church Father Donald Davison, CPPS Mass Saturday 5pm Sunday 7:30am, 10am 318 N. McKinley Ave. Rensselaer, IN 866-5351

St. Luke Evangelical Lutheran Church Pastor Benjamin Hertel Sunday Worship Service 8 a.m. Bible Study and Sunday School 9:15 a.m.

704 E. Grace St., Rensselaer 866-7681

These area churches invite you to worship with them




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Celebrating 100 years

100 years of dedicated service Franciscan Health Rensselaer (previously Jasper County Hospital) opened its doors for service on January 19, 1917. Over the past 100 years, the hospital has seen much change including a new location, building addition and new ownership. We’re looking forward to inspiring health in the Jasper County and surrounding communities for the next 100 years.

Be assured. Be healthy. Be inspired.


MARCH, 2017



Jasper County Commissioners Jim Walstra (left), Dick Maxwell (middle) and Kendell Culp (right) discuss county issues during one of their monthly meetings at the courthouse.

Local governing bodies work together By Nick Fiala

The relationships between the branches of Jasper County government, as well as between the county and the city of Rensselaer, are fairly simple and straightforward. But the actual duties of those entities might be overlooked unless one makes a habit of attending the many meetings of the different boards and departments therein. Though it is the Jasper County seat, Rensselaer stays independent of the county government’s main issues. One issue they both have in common is the need to maintain local

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roads and bridges. “We do our own roads in the city limits,” said Mayor Stephen Wood. “We have cooperated on areas...We’re going to finish up Drexel Parkway, and they still have part of Melville Street there. And I think they’re going to try to repave that this year. Whenever the city and the county both are involved on some road projects, we’ve worked together on that. But that doesn’t come up very often.” City leaders rarely need to interact directly with the heads of the county government. Usually, they just need to employ the assistance of a particular department. This has been important

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Community News for 150 Years


Giving through the Jasper Foundation or Newton County Community Foundation means you’re giving back to the community. It means you are meeting the needs of your neighbors in a long-term way. The concept is as ingenious as it is simple, it means to build, over time, substantial endowment funds for a community through contributions large and small. These contributions are pooled together and invested in such a way that they grow exponentially larger and faster than any single gift. Because these endowments are never spent, they live on past the donor producing spendable income to support causes, service organizations, and community projects that make ALL our lives better. To set up your own fund or contribute to one of the 180 funds we steward please visit


epublican P.O. Box 295 | Rensselaer, IN 47978 | 219.866.5899

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From A- 3

“It’s a good healthy increase for new homes,” he said. Two subdivisions are growing, Prairie Landing on the west side of town, and Rolling Hills to the far south side. He said there is also some new construction in the Morningside subdivision with new condo units going in. “We’re going strong so far this year,” he said.“Hopefully it continues.” In the past year, architectural standards have been adopted for future commercial building within the B2 zone, which is primarily along Halleck Street (U.S. 231) that runs through the heart of town. The standards apply to construction materials compatible with town standards. Belstra Milling Co. expanded its facilities and Fieldhouse Ford underwent a remodel. Wiers Chevrolet also remodeled. Leestma Family Healthcare is undergoing a remodel and expansion of their facility as well.

Together in recent years, with heavy rains and tile damage in certain areas. “On a few other projects, we’ve went to the County Surveyor, and he’s been more than glad to help us on drainage issues,” Wood said. “In the past, we’ve had a lot of rain, a lot of drainage issues. That usually happens when you have a wet year.” Relationships between individual government groups are much more involved. The Jasper County Council and the Jasper County Commissioners are two separate boards that are each somewhat defined by the relationship between them. The council is a seven member board, four of which are elected to represent districts and three of which are elected at large. There are three County Commissioners, each representing three distinct districts. “The commissioners are the executive and the legislative branch of county government,” said Kendell Culp, president of the County Commissioners, in a written statement. “The Council is the fiscal body. The Council approves a budget for the county offices annually, then levies the appropriate amount of taxes to fund the budget they pass.”

MARCH, 2017

While Belstra Milling was expanding, the town had the entrance to its industrial park widened and built to withstand the semi traffic coming and going from State Road 10. Forsythia Street leads to Belstra’s and other companies, including Gypsum Express and Republic Services. A turn lane for traffic was built on the south side of State Road 10 so traffic isn’t disrupted as trucks and traffic turns north into the industrial park. The entryway was constructed of heavy duty concrete. In the spring, probably around Easter, paving projects will begin throughout town to the roads that need it the most. The worst roads were paved last fall when the grant and tax money became available, but there wasn’t enough time to get it all done before winter set in. “We want to get caught up and to stay ahead year by year,” Dyke said.


A drawing of the DeMotte Town Council’s master plan for Spencer Park depicts where the new community center, tennis courts and picnic pavilion would be located.

From A- 7

The council essentially controls how much money is available for a given policy that the commissioners might propose. “They handle the contracts and sets the policies,” council President Rein Bontreger said of the commissioners. “And we handle all of the funding and appropriating of funds...That’s even appropriating money that’s not necessarily tax money. It’s money collected from fees and other types of sources.” The council also approves requests made by all other government offices. “Any office or branch that functions within county government, has to run their appropriation requests through the county council,” Bontreger said. The commissioners are able to be more active in terms of influencing and changing the county itself, as long as the council provides the funding. “Commissioners are responsible to oversee the county’s assets, both physical and fiscal,” Culp wrote. “They approve the investment plan for county funds, they care for all the buildings, grounds, roads, bridges, road signs, culverts, vehicles, equipment, etc.” The council can suggest ideas and make recommendations, but it can-


Jasper County Council members are, from left to right, Brett Risner, Paul Norwine, Gary Fritts, Council President Rein Bontreger, Andy Andree, Gerrit DeVries and Steve Jordan. not make them into true policy, but it can request that the commissioners do so. “There are some things that the council has proposed and initiated in years past, but it’s limited as to what we can do,” Botregor said. “We don’t go around the commissioners to set contracts or make policies. That’s their job. And we generally back up what they’re doing or have a discussion with them to determine if that’s something we can afford to do or not.” Both groups are required to be open with each other in order to make sure any policy is proposed and that there is enough money set aside to pay for it.

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“We could exercise our ‘veto’ power, if we ever wanted to, by not choosing to fund something,” Bontreger said. “But we have a good working relationship with the commissioners...We know what our responsibilities are, and we certainly try not to overstep and do what their job is.” That said, there have been occasions when the two groups had to talk through a particular idea for a notable length of time before reaching a decision. Such a case occurred several years ago, when Jasper County Hospital (now Franciscan Health Rensselaer) wanted to expand its facility. “We worked back and forth on that,” Bontregor

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19 W Division St. • Remington, IN • 261-2552

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We embrace technology to stay relevant to our members and our communities. Jasper County REMC proudly uses proven technologies like our new SmartHub gateway to provide reliable electric and customer service to our members. And what’s next? We’re building a real-time web-based outage map so our members and our communities can see what is happening around them. If there is a storm, the public will be able to see outage areas to know if family or friends may need help. REMC members will be able to report outages through SmartHub on-line and the App.

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said. “We work back and forth a lot of times on issues that are going to benefit the county that are important.” The two groups had to discuss the minutia of the funding for the expansion, before finally coming to an agreement. “When the hospital wanted to expand by adding on and updating the facility, they came to the council for funding,” Culp said. “The council said ‘no’ but the commissioners wanted to see the project completed. The council and commissioners had to reach an agreement in order for the hospital to receive their approval to proceed.” Though both groups can have conflicts, members of both claim there is hardly, if ever, a true conflict of interest. Both recently came together when the county acquired a massive cache of funds, when tax dollars were returned to the county from the state. The commissioners wanted to make sure that all of those millions of dollars would be used for repairing the county’s roads and bridg-

es, instead of just the 75 percent guaranteed to serve that cause. “By law, they were guaranteed 75 percent of the funds that were going to be returned,” Bontreger said. “The council could have appropriated the remaining 25 percent for other needs. But we all agree that road funding is a primary need in our county...That’s an area where we would have some say so, some back and forth. But they presented a good case, and we decided it was best to apply all of that money that we got back from the state for local road funding and maintenance.” Despite the many different labels and groups even on the local level, getting things done depends on healthy and productive relationships. “There is transparency built in the local government structure, and for good reason,” Culp wrote. “Many checks and balances exist so one entity does not have an excessive amount of control without their decisions being reviewed by another entity.”


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MARCH, 2017



From B- 2

done. This was a big change from the city’s usual re-paving budget of around $200,000. There is another roads funding bill up for approval by the state legislature again this year, and Wood hopes it passes. “As you drive around Indiana, the roads are crumbling,” Wood said. “We have to do something with the roads, not just local roads, but the interstates and everything else.”

New Well The city is also in the process of acquiring a new well. The city drilled a well on Saint Joseph’s College property last spring. It produced a good amount of water so the city signed an option to purchase agreement with the college. The city is applying for a $550,000 OCRA grant to pay for the well in addition to the line that will take the water from the well into the water treatment plant in the city. The estimated cost of the well and water line is around $1.5 million. The city currently only has two good wells. “Some days we have surpassed our capacity,” Wood said. The city’s capacity is how much its tower holds in addition to what can be stored at the water plant. “We’ve known for some time now that we needed another well,” Wood said. The city continues to pump and treat water when it surpasses its capacity, so customers are not affected. It usually happens due to extenuating circumstances, like a fire for instance. “With this new well, that should see us through for several years,” Wood said. During the city’s test on the well, it produced 1,000 gallons a minute for 24 hours. “We know it’s a good well and the water’s good,” Wood said. Due to OCRA’s rules, the city cannot pre-pay for the well land before getting the grant. Because of the uncertain nature of the college’s future, SJC’s mortgage-holder asked the city to put the money for the well in escrow or


Above: These pumps will regulate the flow of chlorine into the water, in addition to the dechlorination. Right: Work was still underway at the plant in late March. get a letter of credit for it. “We’d like to get the grant, but if we don’t get the grant, we’re going to proceed with this,” Wood said. “It’s just one of those things that has to be done.”

New substation The city is in the process of working on a new substation to feed the western annex to the city. The Watt substations will be located on two acres at 850 and Bunkum Road. “That’ll give us another feed to that area, more reliability,” Wood said. This substation will also serve the area if a new business comes into the area. Wood thinks that construction on the station could be done by the end of this year. The estimated cost is around $1.6 million. Although some portions of the project have already been bid out, the labor has not.

New Police Station The city is working toward renovating the old fire station building constructed in 1975, to serve as the new police station. Although a new fire station was constructed on Clark Street partially because the floor of the old station was sinking, those at the city say this won’t be a concern for police. They attribute the sinking mostly to the heavy weight of tanker trucks that were stored full of water, ready for a

fire call. The city has opened the concrete floor and filled underneath it to stabilize it. “What we’re going to do there now is going to be mostly office space,” Wood said. The city has already hired an architect and doesn’t believe it will have to bond or raise taxes for this project. The city will do a design-build on this project, instead of going out for bids after the renovation is already designed. The board of works desig-

to change the outer structure of the building. This project is still in the early planning stages, but Wood guestimated that it might cost around $750,000. Wood is not yet sure what the city will do with the current police station, after the new one is remodeled. It might be used for storage space, Wood said, as it is next door to city hall.

nated a technical review committee made up of an engineer, an architect and Police Chief Jeff Phillips to consult for this project. The committee will put together specifications and then go out to a contractor to design it and then give a bid. “Hopefully we’ll get some local contractors,” Wood said. The city doesn’t plan



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MARCH, 2017

SP19 is one of only a few restaurants that is family oriented and a great place for Golfers and Sports Enthusiasts Best of Two Worlds 1. A Family Restaurant - Bring the kids! 2. A Sports Bar - Bring the Friends!

Restaurant Manager, Eric Van Kley, is proud of the diversity of SP19 and of Chef Brian Volk “I am proud that it is a Family Oriented Restaurant that happens to also include Golfers and Sports enthusiasts. You can watch the game and still enjoy spending time with the family. “Our restaurant is very fortunate to have a Chef of Brian Volk’s experience and integrity. Each meal is prepared with our customers in mind and it is the freshest and best quality ingredients available. Our Chef offers a unique menu with the latest gourmet trends and delicious, made to order meals. From the appetizers to the kids menu, there is something for everyone. Our bar is top grade. We offer 3 Floyds, Indiana Crafted Beers and the usual favorites. Our Martini of the Week is a hit with the customers as well as other signature drinks. I invite you to come and bring your family to SP-19. You will love it.”

Meet Chef Brian Volk • He is a Wheatfield Native • He has been with SP19 for over 7 years • Continues his education to make the best meals possible • He keeps in mind the local families of the area • He changes menus often to accommodate needs of families, golfers and sports enthusiasts • He talks to restaurant guests to get their feedback and opinion on new ideas • Chef insists that all meals are made to order • He makes sure that anything gluten free is carefully prepared so it is truly gluten free

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Attention Managers, CEO’s & Business Owners, You can book the Bridal House at the Pavilion at Sandy Pines for corporate meetings and seminars, staff meetings, and workshops. Our facility lets you treat your employees and guests to a tranquil, serene setting with all of the amenities available for an on site learning/brainstorming experience. Beautiful and spacious meeting rooms and outside venue available.

Accepting Bookings for Monday through Thursday for • Corporate Events • Breakfast & Brunch Meetings • Seminars • Lunch Meetings Services offered • Facilities offer Seating from 20 to 200 • Catering Available • Box Lunches Available • Simple Breakfast Bar or Snack Bar Available • On Site Director • Plenty of Parking

“At The Pavilion, when you book your Special Event with us, we make sure your day is perfect. We go beyond what you expect. You have my promise that I will give you that personal touch.” - JULEE KISTLER, SPECIAL EVENTS COORDINATOR FOR THE PAVILION

10527 Bunker Dr. • DeMotte, IN For Weddings, Bridal Showers or Event Bookings call Julee Kistler, Events Director 219-670-3766

Industry Hospital’s sleep lab gets accreditation

“We try to look more like their bedroom. They have their own little closet. They can put their clothes in there. There’s a nightstand if they want to read.” Glenda Mattocks PHOTO BY NICK FIALA

Sleep rooms are designed to appear more like a hotel room than a hospital facility, with space for patients to store their clothes. The beds, however, are as adjustable as most hospital beds, to meet patient sleeping preferences. Reclining chairs are also sometimes available. By Nick Fiala

available and even a large kitchen area, complete with a refrigerator and a coffee machine. This way, after a sleep test, the patient can The hospital now known as simply go through the usual mornFranciscan Health Rensselaer undering routine and be ready to get to went an expansion project in 2011, and one of the additions was a much their own job on time. “We have patients that will come larger and more accommodating here and be like ‘You know what, I sleep lab. The lab, officially labeled have to leave for work in the mornas the Sleep and EEG Department, ing,’” Mattocks said. “So they like the has been able to offer a much more thought that they can take a shower. comfortable and accommodating They can get dressed. They are ready space for patients who must stay to go and don’t have to miss work.” overnight for a preliminary test. Some come in just for a sleep It is one of several departments test. And then, they can come back that fall under the category of carand try out a technique based on diopulmonary services, and it is what condition is diagnosed for directed by Glenda Mattocks. She them. During the actual test in a was able to offer input on the lab’s sleep room, the patient is fitted with expansion from its earliest developsmall electrodes on their head, face, ment. chest and legs. “They asked me ‘What do you want?’” she said. “So I was able to tell Those on the head and face monitor eye movement and muscle tone, them what I wanted.” The lab was originally established so a staff member knows what stage of sleep a patient is in. A thermostat at what was then Jasper County placed on the nose and above the Hospital in 1997. At that time, it was mouth monitors breathing and a small area shared with cardio records movements. Other electrodes rehab, with just one twin-sized bed monitor the heart rate, and a probe for virtually all the testing. EEGs, on the fingertip monitors oxygen in procedures used to find the cause of Some tests take place in this more ordinary testing room, though most long-term sleeping the patient’s blood. seizures in patients, had to be done tests are done in the actual sleep rooms. either in that same small space or in “You have people with sleep apnea that stop breathing,” Mattocks the outpatient department. said. “You have people who are very Today, there are two main rooms loud snorers, and that usually goes for sleep testing. These are used so along with the sleep apnea. Their that doctors can find out exactly neck collapses, and that’s what what’s hindering a patient’s ability causes them to stop breathing. So we to rest. Each one comes with a bathalso have equipment that will help room and shower that is handicapfix that.” accessible. And none of it looks This can be helped by a much like a typical hospital room. Patients are encouraged to bring sup- Continuous Positive Airway Pressure plies from home. It’s hopefully much machine, simply called a CPAP. It involves the patient wearing someeasier to fall into natural sleeping thing that looks like an oxygen mask patterns this way, whether a young patient needs a special blanket or an at night, which is designed specifically to keep the airways open. This elderly one needs to wind down for allows them to go into rapid eye the night. movement sleep, during which many “We try to look more like their vital organs are able to start resting bedroom,” Mattocks said. “They have for the night, which they can’t do their own little closet. They can put very well otherwise. During sleep their clothes in there. There’s a tests, a nasal CPAP may be added if nightstand if they want to read. We the patient’s sleep apnea is severe. tell them ‘Whatever makes you com “That’s why people wake up and fortable to be able to do this test’ — if they have a favorite pillow, a favor- they’re like ‘Oh my gosh, I slept for eight hours, but I’m exhausted,’” ite blanket...especially pediatrics, if Mattocks said. “Actually, they didn’t they have a favorite blanket for the really sleep for eight hours.” kids.” Outside the sleep rooms, there’s a A similar thing happens with patients suffering from periodic leg cleaning station for old supplies, an The sleep lab at Franciscan Health Rensselaer is a comfortable enclosed space, where those office where doctors or staff are being tested for sleeping disorders can have privacy and solitude. See SLEEP, Pg. C9


MARCH, 2017

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MARCH, 2017


Belstra Milling expands its horizons By Nicole Cox

involved with the Pig Improvement Co. The Pig Improvement Co. began the swath of Belstra Milling Co. large breeding farms. has been a staple in As the 1990s came, DeMotte for officially dairy cows became a 63 years. Belstra was part of the business, founded in 1954, when largely in part to the Albert Belstra purFair Oaks Dairy Farm. chased the business Belstra Milling Co. from Neil Kaper. is expanding by build “He went to war, ing a new premix plant came back, and marthat specializes in feed ried a girl from exclusively for dairy California,” said Tim cows that has a nutriBelstra, now chairman tional balance of feed of the board. and minerals. The Belstra went on to building broke ground explain how almost everyone then cared for in September 2015 and began production in their own livestock, so November 2016. having a local place of Belstra believes his grains and feeds was a company is making good step in the right direction. The business progress. is still striving to match “Progress is change the new feeding trends, that benefits humanity,” he said. “It’s no difwith specialized feed, and providing for large ferent than our ancestors who saw a lot of commercial farms. Tim Belstra now car- change. For example, ries on the legacy as he they went from plowing has officially been part with a horse to tractors. The way we feed aniof the business for 44 mals now is so differyears. Belstra remement. Specialized nutribers how he went to high school and college, tion is everything and worked at Belstra, went there are more mouths to feed. We must figure off to gain sales experience with another com- out how to feed everyone. America is so pany for a year and a half, and then returned. blessed with farmland In 1987, Tim and his and we need to be part brother Max, purchased of the progress of how the company and led it to feed people.” Belstra is so proud of through many jumpthe people he works starting deals. with on a daily basis to After WWII, farmers help the progress come started specializing their feeds and the feed about. “There is lots business starting growing. A lot of the success involved in feeding came from specializing livestock and becoming part of the food chain in chicken feed. Then to produce meat, milk, in the 1980s, the swine and eggs,” he said. “The business starting growing and Belstra became people here are like Correspondent

family. Some have been here 20-plus years. We have been blessed with good people and growth. God has given us a great opportunity.” Belstra Milling has been involved in progress in the last few years, as well, with the launch of the “Pig Adventure” at Fair Oaks Farms. Belstra describes that as a “leap of faith.” With the rising need for people to want to know where their food comes from, Fair Oaks Chairman of the Board and General Partner/ Manager Mike McCloskey, wanted people to see how pork was produced. “Mike said he didn’t want a little toy farm,” Belstra said. “He wanted a full functioning farm. Today peoples are concerned about how their food is raised so now we show you.” For the future, Belstra Milling Co. is going to focus on the new plant as more animals are eating Belstra feed and Fair Oaks keeps growing. “Belstra Milling has always been a part of DeMotte. We have a great connection with the churches and the community growth is unbelievable,” said Belstra. In 2000, brother Max died, but Tim feels blessed for the many wonderful years with him. “Max had a major impact on this company, and before that our dad set the foundation PHOTO BY NICOLE COX with a good Christian grounding,” said Tim Belstra, Chairman of the Board, has helped create progress at Belstras Milling Co. for Belstra.

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MARCH, 2017


Rose Acre Farms is partnering with Summit-Livestock to house egg-laying hens in humane cage-free facilities in the area.

That’s a wrap: Innovative design cuts costs at cage-free facilities By Nick Fiala

An environmental movement for cage-free egglaying facilities has been gaining steam. And Summit Livestock, a Remington-based farm animal housing facility, has found an innovative method for building them. With help from Rose Acre Farms in Rensselaer, the facility has been building various chicken houses with this method, including one in nearby Francesville. Kathleen Erickson, a representative for Summit Livestock from the Erickson Communications and Consulting firm, cited recent statements about the cage-free trend from Chad Gregory, CEO of United Egg Producers. Gregory indicated that 160 major companies have already announced that they will be switching to cage-free egg production by 2025. “A whole host of companies have joined that effort, that movement,” Erikson said. “And it’s purely on their consumer demand.” This demand for more humane treatment of hens has now come to directly influence the way the facilities that house them are being built by Summit Livestock. “People like to help drive what they are able to consume,” Erikson said. “And so a lot of states are changing these practices and shifting away to cage-free.” Summit Livestock has come to see that addressing those needs may prove more pressing than building a purely functional facility. And this is what led to its Wrap-the-Equipment approach. “The whole process that Summit Livestock is taking on is not just building egg-laying houses,” Erickson said. “it’s a very thoughtful, thorough, innovative design process. And the whole process is putting together amazing facilities very proficiently.” Summit Livestock’s initial problem was the

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Summit Livestock’s “Wrap-the-Equipment” design method emphasizes many layers and spacing capabilities to comfortably house egg-laying hens in a humane way. typical expense of cage-free facilities. The company found that the only way to decrease costs was to significantly, but humanely, raise the numbers of birds per facility. This led to the creation of the patent-pending ‘Wrap-the-Equipment’ approach. “Summit Livestock’s facility design eliminates the need for a full building to house your equipment and birds,” said company President Miles

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FOR ALL YOUR FINE JEWELRY NEEDS FOR ALL YOUR GIFT NEEDS FOR ALL YOUR JEWELRY SERVICE NEEDS All work done on premises Celebrating 61 Years Ray Steffen, a 1948 graduate of Watchmaker’s College in Elgin, Illinois and his wife, Lucille established Steffen’s jewelry at 124 W. Washington Street on April 26, 1956. In November of 1961 they moved to a new location at 110 N. Van Rensselaer Street (currently Janet’s Kitchen). And then in June, 1982 Steffen’s Jewelry moved to their current location of 217 W. Washington Street. Roger Steffen joined the family business in 1970 after graduating from Gem City School of Horology in Quincy, Illinois. Roger is a registered watchmaker, jeweler and diamond setter, making it possible to do most work in house. January, 1986 brought a change of ownership when Ray and Lucille retired and Roger and his wife, Vicki, purchased the business. Roger and Vicki are looking forward to serving the community for many more years and are thankful for their success. They thank their customers, suppliers and friends for their support. Above all we want to give God the credit and thanks for the past 61 years.

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MARCH, 2017


Kelly: ‘There are good things happening for Jasper County’ By Harley Tomlinson

In time, we shall overcome. That’s the feeling Jasper County Economic Development Organization President Kevin Kelly has when assessing Saint Joseph’s College’s need to shut down its operations this spring. But he agrees there will be an impact in the short term. “It’s heartbreaking,” he recently said from his office in Rensselaer. “People are obviously very disappointed. It’s going to have an economic impact. You have Saint Joe people purchasing goods and services and the students, with their purchases on top of that, it’s going to make a difference.” Saint Joseph’s College has long been a financial contributor to the JCEDO, Kelly said, but that likely will be put on hold until the school knows more about its future. “Saint Joseph’s College has a whole series of challenges they’re dealing with, the root of which is the financial problems,” Kelly said. “It remains to be seen how they will reengineer for the future. “We’ve expressed our willingness to support them when they’re prepared to start the re-engineering.” College officials continue to look at a number of avenues to at least utilize the campus in some way until it gains solid footing. JCEDO will be ready at a minute’s notice whenever it is needed, Kelly said. “We need direction from the college in how best to support them, whether it’s re-engineering their existing programs, whether it’s helping people find a portion of their physical plant for repurposed need, that remains to be seen,” he said. “The community and county will overcome whatever happens over time.” Kelly has been serving Jasper County as an economic developer for the past seven years, longer than any other stop he has made since he found a position in the business in

the state of Missouri in 1982. He has been able to endure because the county continues to show promise even as the national economy tries to rebound. Kelly said his business began to show signs of picking up after the General Election. “Inquiries are always different. There is no pattern to it,” he said. “There is kind of a seasonal pattern, but in terms of the type of companies that inquire, there’s not pattern to it. That’s why we’re still out there because I found that most of your projects have a way of finding you. If you can find one before they find you, that’s just gravy, but there are sophisticated reasons why you make large investments. We provide that information where hopefully they decide to come to our area.” What has kept Kelly busy as he trumpets the county’s positive resources are the number of projects that crop up at existing companies. The seed companies in Remington have expanded, as well as the Fair Oaks Dairy Farm to the north. Belstra Milling in DeMotte has been involved in a number of expansion projects and National Gypsum in Rensselaer added 50,000 square feet to its existing building. ConAgra, one of the county’s best known companies, closed a few plants in other states and brought equipment and employees to the Rensselaer facility. Rensselaer has also seen a boon in commercial businesses over the past three years, with Tractor Supply, Dollar General, Taco Bell and a new hotel opening their doors along the State Road 114 corridor. “We’re optimistic for the future,” Kelly said. “We anticipate over time that Jasper County will continue to experience expansion of existing quality companies, both large and small. We’re also actively trying to attract significant-sized new businesses, which is more difficult. We will continue that and are confident we will be home to another new, sizable industrial-oriented business.”


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Kevin Kelly, Jasper County Economic Development Organization President, has high hopes for Jasper County’s future. The last sizable company to make Jasper County its home was the Advance Auto Parts plant in Remington. That was put in motion in 2007. “That’s been 10 years, so hopefully we’re due,” Kelly said with a laugh. Kelly said he wasn’t involved in the initial planning stages of the Advanced Auto plant, but he was on hand to see the finished product. The project was completed in 2011. “I’ve been exciting to see Advance Auto Parts basically go from an empty building to employing in excess of 500 employees. That’s been a big success for the county,” he said. Kelly said he is waiting for that next big project to come. “Overall, Jasper County has been very successful,” he said. “Its geographical location is agribusiness

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based; small businesses and institutional organizations that have made our economy strong, year-in and year-out. Time will tell.” To help with that process, Kelly has utilized the Internet to funnel county information to prospective businesses. He mass emails a long list of potential clients and has created a newsletter to keep current business owners and interested parties up to date on what is happening in the county. “We have a fairly baseline of things we do every month in terms of marketing Jasper County to outside businesses,” he said. “We do significant e-blasting at the middle of each month. We send out approximately 3,000 promotional fliers electronically to the industrial, commerSee KELLY, Pg. C10

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MARCH, 2017

Homestead to expand, open online store By Harley Tomlinson harley@rensselaerrepublican. com

Word-of-mouth sales, increased customer traffic and the potential for internet sales have necessitated the need to expand The Homestead in Remington. The business, owned by Mike and Jodi Bahler of Remington, is currently undergoing a project that will add more kitchen space to the 36 S. Ohio St., Remington location. The dining space will stay as it is, though a project to add space to that portion of the building may be needed in the future, Jodi Bahler said. “We’re really tight on space as far as production space,” she said. “We’ll have a bigger office and we’ll be putting in a big freezer in the expanded area. The kitchen area we have will remain, but we felt we needed the addition of a second larger kitchen for increased production.” A larger kitchen will allow the Bahlers to provide more fundraising opportunities as well as online sales. The Homestead currently does not have an online store, but will provide one once the new space is completed. “We’ll be setting up an online store to provide corporate gifts while expanding fundraising,” she said. “We’ll offer pies, cookie dough, rolls for local fundraising efforts.” Corporate gifts include snack packs, Farmhouse pie and bread gift boxes that can be distributed to employees or clients.


Above: The Homestead in Remington serves a crowd of customers one day this spring. Right: The Homestead is expanding its production operation into this building, across the ally from the store location. The Homestead also sells take-and-bake casseroles and take-andheat soups that have become popular items since the store opened seven years ago. Since the store opened, the Bahlers have branched out to a second location at the village of West Clay in See EXPAND, Pg. C11

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MARCH, 2017


First Church: Growing beyond expectation By Cheri Shelhart

The First Church once occupied what locals call “Dutch Corners.” A reformed church, the congregation and church leaders stepped out in faith and began the process of building a new church. In a short time, money was raised and construction begun on a multi-million dollar building with large classrooms, a large kitchen, state of the art video and audio equipment and a worship center built to hold over 700 people. In May 2016, the new church opened its doors at the corner of State Road 10 and U.S. 231, east of that intersection, in what is considered Wheatfield. Pastor John Hill said the church started in the new building with two services because it was new and he said, he figured it would drop off after a few weeks and the church would go back to one service on Sunday morning. That didn’t happen, and this year, less than one year later, the church is adding a Sunday evening service beginning Easter Sunday. Within months, the church realized it would need to add an additional parking area, and in September 2016, work began to expand to another 60 spaces and two services continued to be offered, one at 9 a.m and the second at The First Church’s worship area. 10:30 a.m. Soon, it became apparent that one to change or close. entrance and exit was not enough, and “Each generation has it own identity. plans began to add an additional ingress We were generations behind in reaching and egress from the west side of the the next generation,” Hill said. “We property at on U.S. 231.The original needed to make some adjustments to entrance/exit comes south off of State spread the Word of Jesus. He is more Road 10. At first, the leaders thought important than hymnals and organs. about building a “farmer’s culvert” We had to communicate in ways each across the large pond built from back generation understands.” fill, a less costly solution for the church. The idea for the new building, he Hill said a church member, which said, was “birthed” out of that simple they call “owners,” said he wanted that concept. On Sunday, March 19, the exit/entrance to be nicer to reflect the church had nearly 880 people attending. character of the church building, then “Many of the people coming are he donated the money it would take to unchurched” he said, meaning they turn a culvert into a grand bridge across hadn’t been attending any church. the enlarged pond, which features two Average attendance from September fountains and is enjoyed by water fowl 2015 to August 2016, was 504, up 49 perthroughout the year. cent from the previous year. Several years ago, Hill said, the con “We just wanted to build something gregation was asked, “Do we want to live the community could be proud of,” he (as a church) or do we want to die.” said. Attendance had dropped off, and those With the generosity of the church who remained realized they would have


members and Hamstra Builders, it became a reality. “This is the most generous church family,” Hill said. He attributes the growth as the “product of the message of Jesus. People of this church are the ministers. We’re not perfect, but Jesus works on our weak areas, even for lifelong church-goers.” The new Sunday evening service will be identical to the morning services, something he said other churches don’t offer. With all the construction going on over the last year, Hill hopes to focus on the services although he knows as the church continues to grow, additional parking may be needed in the future, but he’s hoping not this year. “I’d rather add services than parking,” he said, but adding parking spaces means growth. He said looking into the future, as the church family grows, there is the vision

to build a second church in the area. Next year, Hill said, he hopes the church will have a coordinated Christmas light display for people to drive through and listen to music on an FM radio station. He’s also hoping the bridge will be open on Easter Sunday, expecting an even larger crowd for the special Christian holiday. The Saturday before Easter, a helicopter egg drop and Easter Egg Hunt is scheduled for children 1-10 years old beginning at 10 a.m. The church address is 5387 W. State Rd. 10,Wheatfield, 219987-5156. The church doesn’t only have a large physical presence, but is also working on updating its website, as well as followers on Facebook and Youtube, where services can be seen along with testimonial videos and more, and even an app available at Google Play and the App Store.

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From C- 1

movements, causing them to violently jerk and kick their legs suddenly, in the middle of the night. Many younger patients’ parents are seeking proof that their child’s tonsils are swollen and causing problems on a consistent basis. A sleep study of this could help prove to medical insurance companies that there is a legitimate reason to have them surgically removed. Each sleep room is also monitored by a camera, where staff can see if a patient has accidentally knocked their equipment loose or is in need of help for any reason. There are also two other rooms, set up more like regular hospital testing rooms, where EEGs are performed to analyze people who may have a condition giving them seizures. Some who need longer sleeping tests or tests to detect seizures may be able to take some of the basic equipment home with them for one or more days and turn it on when they sleep at home. The devices are able to collect data from their breathing patterns or electrodes, which the doctor can later look at and diagnose. The Accreditation Commission for Health Care certified Franciscan Health Rensselaer for home sleep testing, as well as sleep lab and center services, from Jan. 31 of this year to Jan. 30, 2020. According to the department, all sleep studies are read by a board certified sleep physician who specializes in sleep medicine. For more information


Above: The sleep lab’s offices use monitors to oversee patients undergoing a sleep test. Right: This kitchen are can help patients start their day fairly normally, so that their morning routine and work schedule stay intact after tests. about sleep disorders, seizure activity or any of the services provided by Franciscan Health’s Sleep and EEG Department, call 219-866-5141.

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From C- 5

cial office, real estate community from Indianapolis up to Chicago. We e-blast industrial-oriented companies with the geographic area. We make existing business calls every month to our local business, large and small. The purpose of that is to let people know we’re available to assist. We put out a monthly newsletter. We also provide a vast support for the tourism initiative for Jasper County.” His office also produces a visitor’s guide, updates the JCEDO website and will soon build a new tourism website as part of that recent initiative. Kelly also works through his “tickler” file at the first and middle of each month to gauge interest in the area by prospective companies. “Our strengths are also our weaknesses in that our geographic location, halfway between Indianapolis and Chicago, halfway between Lafayette and Northwest Indiana, is great for the right company. But we’re somewhat isolated when you compare us to Lafayette or Northwest Indiana, so that’s our disadvan-



In Rensselaer National Gypsum added 50,000 square feet to its warehouse. tage,” Kelly said. “The same with labor. We can draw from a very large labor pool from a number of large loca-

tions. However, we don’t have the same large labor pool like the larger areas. “We can tout the fact

we’ve been the largest agricultural county for many years and that should continue. The commercial develop-

ment is a positive thing. The north end of the county is growing and that will continue from a residential

standout, from a commercial standpoint. There are good things happening for Jasper County.”

From C- 4

He indicated that these facilities will change the game for meeting the future demands of the egg-laying industry. According to Ridgeway, the design reinforces cage-free roosts and uses them as a super-structure for the chicken houses. The supporting equipment is wrapped with insulated metal panels. And the construction process, comprised of virtually building a layered hen house from the inside out, greatly shortens the construction schedule. Ridgeway said this leads to a greater profit potential as well as saves cost in labor and materials. With the design’s emphasis on multiple layers instead of just one, the birds ideally have ample room to fly, walk and change their position, while still being housed in one building. This way, a humane alternative is created, where chickens can still be housed to lay many, many eggs. And that’s where Rose Acre Farms comes in. “We’re very excited to partner with our customer in responsible cage-free egg production,” said Summit Livestock’s Chief Executive Officer Ed Bahler, in a written statement. “As a protein production construction company, the Wrap-the-

Equipment customized design approach stands to help the industry effectively address this major shift.” The end result will be a multi-building facility that will provide a cage-free home to nearly two million laying hens, producing around 650 million cage-free eggs each year. The facility will also include hi-tech control systems designed to over-

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see temperature, humidity and CO2 levels. There will also be cooling cells. And this will all be in a more humane environment, which is designed to decrease chicken stress levels, increase the rate of feed consumption and improve survival rates. To learn more about Summit Livestock’s facility’s developments, go to


MARCH, 2017



From C- 6


The Homestead sells take and bake casseroles as well as take and bake pies. Carmel, Indiana. That site, which is housed in an 800-foot building and serves walk-in traffic only, opened on July 30, 2016. Food is made at the Remington store and delivered to the Carmel site twice a week, Jodi said. “Our goal with the expansion is to increase efficiency as well as provide us with more space,” she said. “Right now, we’re working on top of each other. This allows us to stream-line things a little bit better.” The Homestead employs nearly 30 people at its two stores, including the Bahlers’ five daughters. The

store should be able to continue production with the current employee base, Jodi said. “We might hire one or two more people, but we’ll see,” she said. “It’s a lot of moving parts when you own a business, especially in two locations, but we’ve been able to handle it so far. We’re looking forward to see what interest we get with the online store. Right now, we’re taking it one step at a time.” The Bahlers have also branched out in other ways. They offer casserole, pie and soup clubs and began selling their soups at the Whistle Stop restaurant

In addition to its other offerings, the Homestead sells a variety of candies. in Monon after the first of the year. “To have more opportunities to do

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We can measure and measure and Hereare aresome someofofthe theways wayswe wedemonstrate demonstratethose thosekey key Here determine the air quality in your home Here some ways demonstrate those Here areare some of of thethe ways wewe demonstrate those keykey determine thethe airair quality determine quality in your home in your home values every day: andcome comeup upwith withsolutions solutionssuch suchasas values every day: values every day: values every day: and and come up with solutions such as air cleaners, air purification systems, Improving heating and AC system efficiency air cleaners, air purification systems, air cleaners, air purification systems, Improving heating and AC system efficiency Improving heating and AC system efficiency Improving heating and AC system efficiency variable speed fans and whole-house variable speed fans and variable speed fans and whole-house whole-house Vice president and general manager Kevin Frump Vice president and general manager Kevin Frump is Vice president and general manager Kevin Frump Vice president and general manager Kevin Frump isisis duct cleaning make your indoor duct cleaning tototo make duct cleaning make your indoor your indoor always happy to share with customers tips and tricks always happy to with customers tips and tricks always happy to share with customers and tricksenvironment healthier and more comfortable.” always happy to share share with customers tipstips and tricks environment healthier andand more comfortable.” environment healthier more comfortable.” environment healthier for getting more value out of their homes during winters for more value out of homes during winters for getting more value of their homes during winters forgetting getting more value outout oftheir their homes during winters Focusing on integrity, honesty and quality and summers. 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things like that would be awesome,” Jodi said. The hope is the expansion will be completed sometime in June. Prior to that, The Homestead will hold an

open house on April 28-29 to celebrate the Remington store’s seven-year anniversary. The store opened May 7, 2010. “We always have a

big cheese sale around then,” Jodi said. “We’ll have lots of samples, door prizes, things like that. It’s a way for us to show appreciation to our customers.”


MARCH, 2017

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Property Management

Quality and Integrity You Can Build On for more than 59 years! Medical Facilities Veteran Medical facility Monterey, California Monterey, California is just one of many Veteran Medical facilities that are trusting The Hamstra Group to build a modern, state of the art facility to take care of their active duty service members, Veterans, and their families. This is just the latest in a series of medical facilities the company has constructed for the U.S. Veterans Administration. Other projects have included out patient clinic and medical offices in Arizona, California, Florida, Nevada and Wisconsin and closer to home, Crown Point, Indiana. Project Manager Eric Carlson says, “This is the tenth medical facility we have undertaken for the Veterans Administration.” Carlson explains, “One of the strengths we bring to the table is the ability to assemble a strong team and accomplish the goals of the VA.

Religious Facilities First Church DeMotte, IN Since 1958 The Hamstra Group has established itself a a leader in the communities of Northwest Indiana and surrounding areas. Whether it be the development of Retail Shopping Centers, Commercial Offices, Agricultural Centers, Municipal Facilities, Religious Centers or a number of other property types, Hamstra Builders has the answers to meet the needs of our Customers and Communities. As a leader and groundbreaker in their field, the reputation of The Hamstra Group has made them the top choice from businesses and organizations all over the United States. Hamstra Group recently completed this new 10,000 sq. ft. design/build project with sanctuary, meeting rooms, offices and community space for First Church at the intersection of Route 10 and US 231 in Wheatfield, Indiana.

Commercial Properties Dairy Queen DeMotte, IN Valparaiso Mall Valparaiso, IN Whether you need a general contractor, construction manager or design/build specialist, THE HAMSTRA GROUP is the single source for all your construction needs. With over 57 YEARS experience Hamstra professionals keep projects moving efficiently from conception to completion. Completing jobs on time and on budget, with a level of quality that is second to none. Itís a heavy responsibility, but, it s also the reason why successful companies throughout the United States return to THE HAMSTRA GROUP for construction services.

Greg Hamstra President & CEO

Mitch Van Kley Executive Vice President & CFO

Bruce Przybylski Vice President of Administrative Operations

Eric Van Kley Vice President Controller SP19 General Manager

12028 North CR 200 West | Wheatfield, IN 46392 | Tel: (219) 956-3111

Progress 2017  
Progress 2017