Make your home page

RENSSELAER, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) A filter manufacturing company in Jasper County that launched a startup in response to the COVID-19 pandemic has received a federal designation to manufacture and distribute medical-grade N95 masks.

The company, Indiana Face Mask, says it has earned a certificate of approval from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, an agency of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Parent American Melt Blown & Filtration produces material for heavy-duty uses, such as oil manufacturing, municipal water systems, the food and beverage sectors, and desalinization.

The NIOSH authorization means the Rensselaer-based manufacturer’s medical products meet strict government standards.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Vice President Clayton Geyer explained why the company launched the new product line.

“When COVID started, we got 20 to 50 phone calls a day, trying to get the material from us,” said Geyer. “But we thought, this is kind of silly. We already have the hardest part done. We already have the correct materials.”

The company announced the initiative in May. Since then, it acquired a 25,000-square-foot building in Rensselaer to convert it into a federally approved, personal protective equipment production facility.

Geyer says more than a thousand companies applied for the licensing, but only five received the NIOSH designation.

“They are very thorough in terms of you everything from receiving inspections, how you transfer the material, how the material is marked, what your quality control specs needs to be along the way. They are very thorough on everything,” said Geyer. “That’s the reason why a lot of applicants failed is because they didn’t take the whole control procedure as strictly as what they should have.”

Indiana Face Mask currently has 20 people producing masks. When the company announced the startup, it expected to hire 14 additional people. But since then, the number has grown to 30, which they hope to hire by the end of the year.

Geyer says right now, they are working around the clock, five days a week. But due to demand for PPE, he expects they will move to a seven-day schedule.

At full capacity, the company expects to manufacture 17 million N95 masks annually. Geyer says the masks will initially stay in Indiana for hospitals, first responders, long-term care facilities and health care providers treating COVID-19 patients along with small businesses and nonprofits through the Indiana Small Business PPE Marketplace.

Vice President Clayton Geyer explained why the company launched the new product line.

RENSSELAER, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — The owner of a Rensselaer-based filtration manufacturer is launching a startup focused on producing personal protective equipment in response to COVID-19. Fred Geyer, who owns American Melt Blown & Filtration, has founded Indiana Face Mask along with his wife, Stephanie, and son, Clayton. The company plans to manufacture N95 respirator masks and other medical-grade supplies and create up to 14 jobs in Jasper County.

The Indiana Economic Development Corp. says the Geyers will make a “significant investment” to transform a vacant building in Rensselaer into a federally-approved PPE production facility, though specific financial details were not disclosed.

The more than 25,000-square-foot facility is expected to be fully operational this fall.

“We’re happy to be able to bring tested, certified and proven PPE supplies to our frontline workers here in Indiana and across the nation,” said Fred Geyer. “As a company, we’ve always been focused on delivering quality, American-made products, and we’re excited to uphold these same values as we work together with the state and city to launch this new venture in our community.” 

The IEDC says, when fully operational, the facility is expected to be able to produce 17 million N95, Class 1 and Class 3 surgical masks per year.

The company plans to begin hiring for production jobs immediately. Individuals interested in applying are being encouraged to email their resumes to Vice President Clayton Geyer, which can be done by clicking here.

The IEDC has offered Indiana Face Mask up to $130,000 in conditional tax credits, which the company will not be eligible to claim until Hoosier workers are hired for the new jobs. The city of Rensselaer has also approved a $32,000 personal property tax abatement for the project.

RENSSELAER, Ind. (WLFI) — Marian University and Saint Joseph’s College hosted a news conference Wednesday afternoon to announce the name of Marian’s new two-year college: Saint Joseph’s College of Marian University-Indianapolis.

According to a news release, the new two-year college is slated to open in July adjacent to the Marian University campus in Indianapolis.

“This is a collaboration between two Catholic institutions with a shared mission and history,” Elsener said. “Saint Joe’s has a rich tradition of educating thousands upon thousands of leaders with a strong liberal arts foundation. The outlook for success for our innovative two-year college is greatly enhanced by this collaboration.”

“This is a positive step forward for the future of Saint Joseph’s College,” Fr. Barry Fischer said. “Saint Joseph’s College continues to live, in both name and mission, and we are excited about the possibilities that will be presented through this collaboration.”

According to Marian University’s President Elsener, a study will be conducted to determine the feasibility of expanding the two-year college to other areas of the state. One of the locations that will be considered, he said, is the Saint Joseph’s campus in Rensselaer.

The next steps include creating an advisory board to guide the two-year college. The board will be under the direction of Marian University’s board of trustees and at least 40 percent of the members will be selected from a list of recommendations provided by the Saint Joseph’s board of trustees.

Additionally, former faculty and staff of Saint Joseph’s College and members of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood will be strongly considered for open positions for the new two-year college.

Saint Joseph’s College has pledged $1.5 million to be paid over 10 years to help fund scholarships for students who attend the two-year college. 

Applications are being accepted now for fall 2019 enrollment.

RENSSELAER, Ind. (WLFI) — Saint Joseph’s College announced the inaugural Purple Tie Dinner honoring former Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka will take place in June. The dinner will be held Saturday, June 9 at the Fair Oaks Farmhouse off of I-65, north of Rensselaer.

”I enjoyed the people that I met as a Bear during the preseason workout camps in Rensselaer. They were good to me, and I look forward to seeing them again,” said Coach Ditka.

The proceeds from the dinner will support the renovation of Schwietermann Hall, which will be the first residence hall to be used with the re-opening of the Rensselaer campus.

Schwietermann Hall is named after Fr. Richard Schwietermann, C.PP.S., who lost his life while serving the Sacraments to a parishioner. In the homily the week before, Fr. Schwietermann noted that “a pastor lays down his life for his sheep.” The building was named in his honor in 1963 and served primarily as housing for the C.PP.S. Priests, brothers, and seminarians.

The Catholic school closed last year under $27 million in debt.

RENSSELAER, Ind. (WISH) — A statewide Silver Alert for a missing 77-year-old woman has been canceled.

The Jasper County Sheriff’s Department had issued an Indiana Silver Alert for Wanda Butler Wednesday afternoon.

The canceled request came from the Jasper County Sheriff’s Department just before 1:15 a.m. Thursday.

RENSSELAER, Ind. (AP) – Alumni want to help reopen a Catholic liberal arts school in northwest Indiana that’s suspending operations at the end of the month.

The (Northwest Indiana) Times reports that the Rev. Barry Fischer, the new Saint Joseph College rector, has written a letter to alumni saying a team of volunteers has assembled to find a way to save the college in Rensselaer.

Dubbed the Saint Joseph’s Phoenix Project, the group hopes to find a way to reconstitute the college to be in a stronger financial position. They hope to reopen as early as fall 2018.

The school’s board of trustees decided to suspend operations after the college racked up $27 million in debt with an additional $35 million in deferred building maintenance.

The college has about 1,100 students.

Never miss another Facebook post from WISH-TV

RENSSELAER, Ind. (AP) – The St. Joseph’s College alumni group says it has raised nearly $2.5 million toward keeping the northwestern Indiana school open, but that is far short of their goal.

The Alumni Association Board of Directors launched the fundraising campaign shortly after the college’s trustees voted in February to suspend operations because of financial troubles. The alumni group had hoped to raise the $20 million college leaders said they needed to stay open.

St. Joseph’s graduate Elysse Hillyer tells the (Lafayette) Journal & Courier she believes raising so much money in a short time proves support among alumni for the school in Rensselaer.

The alumni association says it is awaiting an updated total on donations and could decide next week on its next steps.

Never miss another Facebook post from WISH-TV

RENSSELAER, Ind. (AP) – St. Joseph’s College alumni are trying to figure out how they can keep their alma mater open despite plans to temporarily suspend operations due to financial trouble.

Alumni say they knew little about the college’s financial straits before the board of trustees decided Feb. 3 to close for at least the 2017-18 school year.

Trustees chairman Benedict Sponseller said the school has operated on a $4 million to $5 million deficit annually for several years.

Alumna Elysse Hillyer says she and others are trying to contact board members to see if there’s any way to reverse the decision. A Facebook page she started for the college community posted a message from the Alumni Association Board of Directors saying it’s investigating whether the suspension can be prevented and if alumni can raise funds to do so.

Never miss another Facebook post from WISH-TV

JASPER COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) – A judge has granted a motion to dismiss the case against a Jasper County woman who was initially charged with murdering her stepmother.

Judy Moore, 70, was accused of killing 77-year-old Trula Alliss in 2015.

The motion to dismiss without prejudice was granted on Jan. 25.

“The state is not in position to proceed to trial at this time and believes that additional investigation is required so that the ends of justice may be met,” court documents state.

Alliss was found dead in her apartment on Feb. 5. An autopsy determined the cause of death was blunt force trauma.

Police said both women lived in the same apartment complex in Rensselaer, but were several buildings apart.

Moore was arrested and charged with murder in March 2015. At the time, police said they felt Moore “would leave the state” had they waited to take her into custody.

As was previously reported, police said Moore was linked to the crime by DNA, voicemail and new clothing, along with some odd behavior.

Never miss another Facebook post from WISH-TV

RENSSELAER, Ind. (AP) – A St. Joseph’s College official says the decision to temporarily suspend operations came after a long-running pool of debt, the risk of losing accreditation and increased pressure from auditors that could’ve affected student loans.

School officials announced Friday that the college would suspend all activities on campus for at least the 2017-18 academic year.

Saint Joseph’s board of trustees chairman Benedict Sponseller provided a group of faculty and staff Monday with a breakdown of why the board voted to suspend operations at the 125-year-old Catholic school.

Sponseller said the college has been operating on an annual deficit of $4 million to $5 million year after year and has exhausted all of its credit.

Public documents show the Higher Learning Commission placed the college on probation in November until 2018, citing multiple concerns about finances and learning support.

Never miss another Facebook post from WISH-TV