Page 1

Give a H.U.G. for the holidays.

Kosciusko REMC’s

Toy Wonders pages 20–24

Indiana couple crafts toys that harken back to Christmases past

DECEMBER 2019


from the editor

The gift of warmth One of my favorite Christmas traditions is spreading some holiday cheer to a lucky reader. In the past, I’ve given out ornaments, Christmas CDs, one of my favorite holiday movies and a gift basket of Christmas goodies. This year, I’d like to share something meaningful as well as practical: the gift of warmth. With the emergence of winter’s chill, I can often be found snuggled in a throw blanket — not just at home, but often while I’m at my desk at work. In fact, as I write this column, there’s a throw draped over my shoulder! I hate being cold! However, there are people throughout the state facing the coldest months of the year, without blankets, coats, gloves and hats to shield them from bitter temperatures. December — and the next few months of upcoming snow and ice — are not a winter wonderland if you’re not prepared for the elements. Several REMCs, and organizations in your communities, collect hats, scarves and gloves to distribute to those in need. During this holiday season, consider donating snuggly fleece and knitted items for folks who are struggling. Not only will you give the gift of warmth to others, you’ll get a warm feeling inside, too. And, that feeling will make your Christmas extra special. Wishing you a warm and blessed Christmas! To learn how you can win this warm throw, see below.

EMILY SCHILLING Editor eschilling@indianaec.org

Giveaway: Enter to win a French Lick prize package. Details on pages

14–15. Also, enter to win a holiday blanket. (See above.) Visit indianaconnection.org/talk-to-us/contests. Entry deadline for giveaways: Dec. 31.

On the menu: April issue: Potluck recipes, deadline Feb. 3. May issue: Rhubarb

recipes, deadline Feb. 3. If we publish your recipe on our food pages, we’ll send you a $10 gift card.

Three ways to contact us: To send us recipes, photos, event listings, letters

and entries for gift drawings, please use the forms on our website indianaconnection.org; email info@indianaconnection.org; or send to Indiana Connection, 8888 Keystone Crossing, Suite 1600, Indianapolis, IN 46240-4606.

VOLUME 69 • NUMBER 6 ISSN 0745-4651 • USPS 262-340 Published monthly by Indiana Electric Cooperatives Indiana Connection is for and about members of Indiana’s locally-owned, not-for-profit electric cooperatives. It helps consumers use electricity safely and efficiently; understand energy issues; connect with their co-op; and celebrate life in Indiana. Over 280,000 residents and businesses receive the magazine as part of their electric co-op membership. CONTACT US: 8888 Keystone Crossing, Suite 1600 Indianapolis, IN 46240-4606 317-487-2220 info@indianaconnection.org IndianaConnection.org INDIANA ELECTRIC COOPERATIVES OFFICERS: Gary Gerlach President Walter Hunter Vice President Randy Kleaving Secretary/Treasurer John Gasstrom CEO EDITORIAL STAFF: Emily Schilling Editor Richard George Biever Senior Editor Holly Huffman Communication Support Specialist Ellie Schuler Senior Creative Services Specialist Taylor Maranion Creative Services Specialist Stacey Holton Creative Services Manager Mandy Barth Communication Manager ADVERTISING: American MainStreet Publications Cheryl Solomon, local ad representative; 512-441-5200; amp.coop Crosshair Media 502-216-8537; crosshairmedia.net Paid advertisements are not endorsements by any electric cooperative or this publication. UNSOLICITED MATERIAL: Indiana Connection does not use unsolicited freelance manuscripts or photographs and assumes no responsibility for the safe‑keeping or return of unsolicited material. SUBSCRIPTIONS: $12 for individuals not subscribing through participating REMCs/RECs. CHANGE OF ADDRESS: If you receive Indiana Connection through your electric co-op membership, report address changes to your local co-op. POSTAGE: Periodicals postage paid at Indianapolis, Ind., and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send change of address to: Indiana Connection, 8888 Keystone Crossing, Suite 1600, Indianapolis, IN 46240-4606. Include key number. No portion of Indiana Connection may be reproduced without permission of the editor.

DECEMBER 2019

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contents

DECEMBER

10

17

energy

03 FROM THE EDITOR 05 CO-OP NEWS Energy news and information from your electric cooperative. 10 ENERGY Newer heat pump technology can keep you comfortable for less.

20

food

12 C  OOPERATIVE CALENDAR OF STUDENT ART Enter the contest. Order a calendar. 14 COUNTY OF THE MONTH Spotlighting Orange County. 16 INDIANA EATS Santa’s sweet tooth satisfied at Santa’s Candy Castle. 17 FOOD Recipes that are “Very Vanilla.”

FOLLOW US ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Indiana Connection

cover story

30

pets

20 COVER STORY Toy wonders: Northern Indiana couple handcrafts wooden toys.

30 PETS How to tell if your kitty has heart disease. (Not in all versions)

26 EVENTS CALENDAR

32 H  OOSIER ENERGY/ WABASH VALLEY NEWS

What’s going on around the state. 29 SAFETY Protect your furry family members from electrical dangers.

33 TRAVEL Hohman for the holidays: A Christmas Story comes to life. (Not in all versions) 34 PROFILE Steuben County REMC Energy Advisor Josh Durbin. (Not in all versions)

On the cover Trains still tickle the fancy of children — like Avery Mynsberge. His toy train is one of many old-fashioned toys handcrafted by My Unique Wooden Toys of Silver Lake, Indiana. Avery, who turns 3 in January, lives in rural Oldenburg, Indiana; his home is served electrically by RushShelby Energy. COMPOSITE PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY RICHARD G. BIEVER AND GETTYIMAGES

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DECEMBER 2019


co-op news

merry & bright May your holiday season be

www.kremc.com CONTACT US Local: 574-267-6331 Toll-Free: 800-790-REMC EMAIL mail@kremc.com OFFICE HOURS 7:30 a.m. – 4 p.m., Monday-Friday ADDRESS 370 S. 250 E., Warsaw, IN 46582 SERVICE INTERRUPTIONS To report a service interruption after hours, please call 267-6331 or 800-790-REMC. BOARD OF DIRECTORS William Stump Jr., Chairman Dan Tucker, Vice Chairman John Hand, Secretary/Treasurer Kim Buhrt Terry Bouse Tony Fleming Pam Messmore Steve Miner Rick Parker

LAUNDRY EFFICIENCY Dry towels and heavier cottons separately from lighter clothing. You’ll spend less time drying the lighter-weight items. — U.S. DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY

Use your Co-op Connections Card to save at local businesses Heart of Lakes Antique Mall in North Webster 10% off any item $20 and over.

LIKE US ON FACEBOOK www.facebook.com/kosciuskoremc

The holidays are a time of year that many of us eagerly anticipate. The season is marked by tradition, lights and decorations, and festivities. Right here in Kosciusko County, we look forward to the annual lighting of Center Park, The Twinkle Light Parade downtown, and incredible displays of Christmas trees marking the main streets in small towns across this community.

Scan this QR code with your smart phone to take the broadband survey now.

We cherish carrying on old family traditions and enjoy creating new ones. I look forward to more time spent with family and friends. However, given the hustle and bustle of the season, the holidays can also offer an opportunity to slow down and reflect. For all of us at Kosciusko REMC, we are grateful for you, the members of the co-op. Looking ahead to 2020, we hope you will share your opinions with us. We recognize that our members have a valuable perspective, and that’s why we continually seek your input. Whether through community events, our social media channels, or the annual meeting, we want to hear from you. You lead us, and we depend on your feedback. We are currently seeking your thoughts on whether or not KREMC should bring broadband to our service territory. If you haven’t already, please take a minute and visit our website or scan the QR code on this page to take that survey. As we prepare for next year, we look forward to the opportunity to serve you and the greater community. On behalf of the KREMC family, we hope your holidays are indeed merry and bright!

BRUCE GOSLEE President and CEO

KREMC rates and rebates RATES

REBATES

Residential and farm service Service charge ............................$24.50 per month Kilowatt-hour (kWh) charge ......@$.0922 per kWh Tracker charge ..................... @-$.003330 per kWh

Electric water heaters 50 gallons or larger: • Gas to electric replacement — $125 • New construction water heater — $125 • Geothermal desuperheater — $50

Outdoor Lights* 40w LED........................................$8.75 per month 70w LED......................................$12.25 per month

HVAC: • Geothermal system installation — $250 • Air-source heat pump system — $150 • Programmable thermostat — up to $25 Visit www.kremc.com for complete guidelines and restrictions. Additional rebates can be found at powermoves.com.

DECEMBER 2019

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6

DECEMBER 2019


co-op news

Season’s Greetings from KREMC! KREMC HOLIDAY HOURS: Our office will be closed Dec. 24–25 and Jan. 1. Please use our kiosk to make a payment when the office is closed. Your account will be updated immediately.

C’mon, bring it in. Looking for a practical gift for your loved one this year? Consider a KREMC Household Utility Gift (H.U.G.)! A H.U.G. from KREMC is the perfect way to share the love this winter! It is easily redeemed by sending it along with a monthly bill payment or bringing it to our office. It doesn’t get much

Have you started your holiday shopping yet? Consider giving a H.U.G. for the holidays instead!

easier than a H.U.G.! DECEMBER 2019

7


5 1 6 7 2 8 3 9 4 10 Even the happiest of times can turn to tragedy if everyone’s not careful. This winter, practice some commonsense electrical safety. You could prevent accidents, fires and injuries — and save the season for everyone who gathers in your home for the holidays. Here are 10 electrical safety tips:

B UY L IG HT S DESIGNED F OR O U TDO O R USE. The lights you use to safely decorate your indoor tree are not safe to use outside, where it’s cold, damp, windy and exposed. Luckily, it’s easy to find lights that are designed specifically for the outdoors.

C HO O SE A FIR ER E SISTANT T R EE.

On an artificial tree, look for label that guarantees it is “fire retardant” so it will resist burning and will be easy to snuff out if it does catch on fire. If you’re a fan of live holiday trees, choose one that is fresh and water it every day.

KEEP YO UR T R EE A WAY F R OM HEAT.

Not only will the heat dry out a live tree’s needles, it can catch a real or artificial tree on fire. Keep trees and other combustible decorations at least three feet away from a heat source, like a radiator or portable electric heater.

B E PIC KY AB O UT HOOKS.

Never staple, screw, nail or tack your outdoor lights to your roof, gutter, railings or doors, as you could cut right through the wires on the light strands. Instead, buy insulated hooks. You’ll greatly reduce the risk of a fire, and they won’t damage your roof.

8 6

DECEMBER 2019

EX AMINE THE LIGHT S. Whether you just bought a new set or you’re reusing last year’s indoor or outdoor lights, inspect them to make sure they all light up and their wires aren’t damaged.

INSIST ON “CERTIFI E D. ” The UL label on Christmas lights, replacement bulbs and decorations means the products have passed tests that prove they are fire- and shock-resistant.

U SE EX TENSION COR D S SPARINGLY. Extension cords extend the reach of your light strands. But if you hide them under rug, they’ll get trampled on — and can overheat and catch that rug on fire.

F OLLOW INSTRU CTI O N S. Manufacturers of incandescent holiday lights usually recommend that you string no more than three sets together before plugging them in. More than that creates a fire hazard. If you’re using energy-efficient LEDs, however, you can safely link up to 25 strands.

U SE BATTERY-OPERA T E D CANDLES. Almost half of decoration-related fires are started by candles with real flames, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

INSTALL SMOKE ALA RMS. A beeping smoke alarm could be your first clue that you need to get everyone out of the house. Change your alarm’s batteries before your home fills with company.

s p i t 10

to prevent Christmas catastrophes GIVE GIFTS THAT SAVE ENERGY Holiday gift giving may warm hearts, but it generates

rechargeable batteries. If the gift requires standard batteries,

a million tons of waste between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve.

let the recipient know where to recycle them.

To offset some of it, why not stuff those stockings with energy-efficient small appliances like kitchen aids and grooming devices? Look for the Energy Star label on TVs, DVD players and computers. It guarantees that the appliance you’re buying is energy-efficient. If you’re buying a batterypowered present, include

Give your time instead of a department store item. Offer to baby sit, work in the yard or cook dinner. Loved ones will be touched by your consideration, and it can save you money and energy. Lastly, wrap your gifts in reusable bags and yesterday’s newspaper. Glam them up a bit with hand-drawn greetings. The paper can later be used as packing material.


energy

Newer heat pump technology can keep you comfortable for less Many people feel the heat of high energy costs when weather turns chilly. Fortunately, air source heat pumps can warm your home without wearing down your wallet. Hoosiers use a variety of heating fuels to keep them cozy in the fall and winter. Liquid propane, fuel oil, natural gas, and electricity can be found in our members’ homes. New technology can provide more energyefficient ways to keep you warm while minimizing your energy costs. Some balk at air source heat pumps (which use electricity) because of concerns about how they perform in very cold temperatures. Yet air source heat pumps have become more efficient over the last few years, and can provide energy savings compared to other options to heat and cool your home.

10

DECEMBER 2019

Air source heat pumps contain a condenser, which circulates refrigerant, and an air handler that moves the conditioned air throughout your home. Air source heat pumps essentially pull heat from the air — in the summer the system pulls the warm air from your home and pumps it outside; in the winter, it pulls the heat from the air outside and pumps that heat into your home. Typical heat pumps can lose their efficiency when the temperature drops near 20 degree F. But newer Variable Speed Compressors are capable of efficiently heating a home well below 0 degrees F. As the air grows colder, the heat pump must work harder to pull heat from the outdoors. This is why air source heat pumps need a backup heat source. In an all-electric home, this may be electric resistance

How an air source heat pump works: SUMMER Heat from the air is absorbed by refrigerant in indoor coil

compressor Refrigerant in outside coil releases heat to the air

WINTER Heat from the air is absorbed by refrigerant in outdoor coil

compressor

heat or auxiliary heat, which are coils that warm the air passing through the air handler. For those who have a hybrid heating system, liquid propane (or even natural gas) would be that backup heat source. If your home uses liquid propane as a heat source, you may benefit from adding an air source heat pump. Energy efficient air source heat pumps, which have a minimum Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) of 16 and a Heating Season Performance Factor (HSPF) of 9, can provide long-term energy savings compared to solely using

Refrigerant in indoor coil releases heat into house

liquid propane or fuel oil as a heat source. If your system is almost 15 years old, it may be time to plan for a replacement. Contact the energy advisor at your local electric cooperative if you have questions; your co-op may even have rebates available for energy efficient upgrades. Don’t be left out in the cold when your system gives out!

by

Joe Spear

Energy Advisor Carroll White REMC


win $200

You could

ENTER YOUR BEST ARTWORK Fill the pages of the 2021 calendar!

ELIGIBILITY

DETAILS AND DEADLINE

PRIZES

Indiana public, private or home-schooled students in kindergarten through 12th grade during the 2019-20 school year are eligible to enter the contest.

A complete set of rules and required entry forms are available at indianaconnection.org/foryouth/2021-contest. Artwork must be received by March 20, 2020.

A first-place artist will be selected for each grade, K-12, and will receive $200. The artwork of each grade level winner will also illustrate either the cover or a month of the calendar. Up to nine additional artists will earn honorable mention awards and will receive $75. Their artwork will appear in a special section of the calendar. An “artist of the year” will be selected from among the first place winners and will receive an additional $100. Judges will also select merit award winners who will receive certificates.

ORDER YOUR 2020 CALENDAR TODAY! Please send ______ copy (copies) of the Cooperative Calendar of Student Art 2020 at $6 each to: Name:

Price includes shipping and

Address: City, State and ZIP:

Indiana sales tax. Make check payable to “Indiana Electric Cooperatives.” Send this completed form and a check to Indiana Connection Calendar; 8888 Keystone Crossing, Suite 1600; Indianapolis, IN 46240.

12

DECEMBER 2019


county feature

Orange County BY RICHARD G. BIEVER

Within three years of his French

Franklin D. Roosevelt probably didn’t dub his successful 1932 presidential campaign — “New Deal” — after unsuccessfully playing cards in a French Lick gambling house. But he

Countycts Fa FOUNDED: Feb. 1, 1816

NAMED FOR: Orange County, North Carolina, from where many of its earliest settlers — families of Quakers and free blacks fleeing slavery — came in 1811.

event

would be the Hoosier National Forest.

hilly terrain of south central Indiana

table at the 1931 National Governors’

had been cut by the early 1900s, and

Conference at the renowned French

its abuse and erosion made for poor

Lick Springs Hotel.

farmland. By the 1930s, the state asked

Along with the location itself, one of the cards in the hand FDR played in his June 2, 1931, address to the conference has heavily shaded the colorful history of Orange County to this day.

the federal government to help it do something with the lands residents were abandoning in large numbers. The Hoosier National Forest was created in 1934, and through New Deal programs like the Civilian Conservation Corps,

In the depths of the Great Depression, Roosevelt called for a new role for government to assure relief and fairness. When the Democratic New York governor addressed the conference, he also laid out an reforest nonproductive farmland. The speech had all the makings of became his platform, and Roosevelt

reforestation began. Other parts of the Forest surround Patoka Lake in Orange County’s southwest corner. Most of the lake, the state’s second largest, lies within Orange County. Created in the 1970s primarily for flood control and water supply, Patoka Lake is a major destination for outdoor recreation. A century before Patoka Lake, mineral

won an unprecedented four terms.

Through Dec. 23 1-800-74-TRAIN

DECEMBER 2019

southern half of Orange County. That

Much of the forest land across the

French Lick Scenic Railway’s “The Polar Express Train Ride”

14

legacy that includes almost the

deal for the American people” on the

a presidential platform. Of course, it COUNTY SEAT: Paoli

administration created an enduring

first laid what became his bold “new

innovative agricultural program to POPULATION: 19,500 (2018 estimate)

Lick speech, President Roosevelt’s

This magical experience includes entertainment, hot chocolate, a cookie, and a keepsake sleigh bell to take home. Families are encouraged to wear their pajamas for the ride! Dates and times are available by visiting https://frenchlickthepolarexpressride.com. (Please note: tickets for Polar Express do sell out. As of press time, some Saturday and Sunday excursions were sold out, but many were still available.)


county feature

PHO TO BY RI CHARD G . BI EV E R

The West Baden Springs Hotel — with its enormous atrium under dome — is always amazing to see, but it’s even more magical to visit at Christmastime as a giant tree takes center stage.

water was the draw to Orange

200-foot dome above an atrium —

restored them to their original

County. Mineral springs at French

began.

grandeur.

The heady days were not to last.

With the world-class resorts and

The Great Depression brought the

casino, natural resources providing

closure of the West Baden hotel

recreation and relaxation, and

in 1932; the French Lick hotel

small town and rural charm in its

survived but passed through a

midst, Orange County still provides

number of owners and decline.

what FDR said he and the other

Both historic resort hotels

attendees at that 1931 Governors’

experienced a renaissance at the

Conference received: “true Indiana

turn of the 21st century under the

hospitality of the finest kind.”

Lick and West Baden lured guests from across the country for relaxation and the alleged curative powers of the bottled mineral water and spas as the two neighboring resorts became fierce competitors. Almost simultaneously at the turn of the century, the building of the grand French Lick Springs Hotel, with its distinct buff-colored brick, and the circular West Baden Springs Hotel — with its amazing

sole ownership of Bloomingtonbased Cook Group which

Courtesy of Visit French Lick West Baden and French Lick Resort Enter at: https://www. indianaconnection.org/talk-to-us/ contests/ Contest will run from Dec. 1 to Dec. 31.

Richard G. Biever is senior editor of Indiana Connection.

Prize Includes: Two Night Stay at French Lick Springs Hotel, Two KidsPlus passes, Carriage Ride for four at French Lick Resort, Foot Golf for four at French Lick Resort, French Lick West Baden Museum for four, Giraffe Encounter at Wilstem Wildlife Park for four, French Lick Scenic Railway for four (excluding special excursions)

DECEMBER 2019

15


Indiana eats

Santa’s got a sweet tooth!

P H O TO B Y MARTY JONES

Candy Castle offers goodies for good boys and girls No need to leave a plate of cookies

Harris’ unexpected death in 1950 and

choosing to drink their cocoa cold can

for Santa later this month. He already

a series of new owners up until the

opt for the castle’s self-proclaimed

has his pick of delectable sweets at

1970s. But those new owners could

“legendary” frozen hot chocolate

Santa’s Candy Castle in the Spencer

never recapture the magic of the

which is available in a 16-ounce size

County town named after him.

business’ heyday.

or the half-gallon “Avalanche” version.

Since the jolly old soul is also

That changed when Kevin Klosowski

hospitable, he invites you to visit and

bought the castle in 2005, restored

indulge in an overwhelming variety

it, and reopened it to the public in

of candy and chocolatey goodies any

2006. Today, the real-life candy

time of the year, too.

land purveys handmade gourmet

Santa’s Candy Castle is an actual brick castle built in 1935 by businessman Milton Harris. Harris hoped the castle would be the first attraction in “Santa Claus Town,” a kids’ wonderland that would sell toys and treats. In 1936, Santa’s Workshop and a Toy Village opened

The “Avalanche” is the world’s largest cocoa beverage. Those who finish it receive a bumper sticker and have their photo placed on the Candy Castle’s “Wall of Fame.”

confections, flavored popcorn,

Celebrate an early Christmas, and

flavored candy canes, different

Santa’s Candy Castle’s 84th

varieties of salt water taffy, and retro

anniversary, on Dec. 22

candy favorites like wax lips, candy

from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

buttons, candy cigarettes, Pop Rocks,

Enjoy giveaways, raffles

Clark bars and Fruit Stripe bum.

and 84 cent specials.

There’s an entire room dedicated to PEZ and PEZ dispensers, and Belly varieties.

Santa’s Candy Castle

onset of World War II ended Harris’

When visiting the Candy Castle,

15499 State Road 245

dreams of further expansion. Santa

you’ll want to indulge in its signature

Santa Claus, Indiana 47579

Claus Town and its iconic candy

hot chocolate. There are 33 flavors

800-356-1935

store remained in business through

of this tummy-warming treat. Those

their doors, but soon after, a lawsuit with a rival businessman and the

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DECEMBER 2019

another room fully stocked with Jelly

santascandycastle.com


very vanilla

food

Sweeten the holidays with this classic flavor

Old Fashioned Vanilla Cream Pie Connie Loehmer, Monterey, Indiana 1 baked 9-inch pie shell â…” cup sugar Âź cup cornstarch 1/2 t. salt 3 cups milk 4 egg yolks, slightly beaten 2 T. soft butter 1 T. plus 1 t. vanilla

Stir together sugar, cornstarch and salt in a saucepan. Blend milk and

Meringue

thickens and boils. Boil 1 minute.

4 egg whites (leftover from making the pie) Âź t. cream of tartar 6 T. sugar 1 t. vanilla extract

Remove from heat; blend in butter

Beat egg whites until foamy. Beat

and vanilla. Immediately pour into

in cream of tartar and sugar (one

baked pie shell; press plastic wrap

tablespoon at a time). Beat until stiff

onto filling. Chill pie thoroughly,

and glossy. Beat in vanilla. Top pie

at least 2 hours. May serve with

and brown in a 400 F oven until lightly

sweetened whipped cream.

browned.

egg yolks; gradually stir into sugar mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture

Pie can also be topped with meringue.


food Vanilla No Bake Cookies Marilles Mauer, Greensburg, Indiana ¾ cup unsalted butter ⅔ cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk 2 cups sugar 2 t. vanilla extract Pinch of salt 3 ½ cups quick oats 1 (3.4 oz.) box instant vanilla pudding ¼ cup white chocolate chips Lay a long strip of foil on your counter or table to place cookies on when done. In a medium-sized pot over medium heat, add butter, almond milk and sugar. Stir mixture occasionally and bring it to a boil. Boil for 1 minute, then remove

Spanish Flan

from heat. Stir in vanilla extract, salt,

Spanish Flan

and half the oats. Slowly stir in dry

Denise J. Hershman, Ligonier, Indiana

pudding mix. Once all the pudding is mixed in, stir in chips and the rest of

1 cup sugar

the oats. Stir until completely combined.

3 eggs

Use desired size cookie scoop to drop cookies on the foil. Let set and cool. Vanilla No Bake Cookies

1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk 1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk 1 T. vanilla extract Melt the sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Pour into a 9-inch round baking pan, coating the sides. Beat the eggs. Add the sweetened condensed and evaporated milk, and the vanilla. Pour this mixture into the baking dish. Cover with foil. Bake at 350 F in preheated oven for 1 hour. Carefully invert the flan on a serving plate when cool. Makes 8 servings.

Homemade Vanilla Extract Charlotte Rymph, Monterey, Indiana 6 vanilla beans, split lengthwise 2 cups vodka Place vanilla beans in a tall jar; cover with vodka. Seal jar tightly. Let stand in a cool dark place at least 6 weeks, gently shaking the jar once a week. Cook’s note: Rum or bourbon can be used instead of vodka, but the flavor will not be as clean. Depends on your taste and the recipe in which it will be used.

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DECEMBER 2019

FO O D PREPARED BY I NDI ANA CONNE CTI O N S TA FF PHO TO S BY TAY L O R MA RA NI O N


Toy Wonders Northern Indiana couple’s handcrafted wooden toys harken back to Christmases past By Richard G. Biever When Christmas dawns and children

such, the rural Kosciusko County

scamper with wide-eyed anticipation

couple has a share in Christmas

to the tree, often the most anxious

mornings across all of kiddom —

to gather are the parents and

from New York to California and

grandparents bringing up the rear.

everywhere in between.

As the wrapping paper and ribbons

“Every Christmas morning we always

start flying, there are so many things

say, ‘Well, I wonder if all the kids

for the adults to ponder among the

are happy with what they got,” said

wonder. Will each child burst with

Teresa.

glee at the first glimpse of that special something longed for all year? Did Santa bring what each child whispered

When the emails start ringing in, they know …

in his ear? Will the clothes fit? Does

• “The train bank looks like a piece

the shape of those two big remaining

of art. My grandchildren … will

presents for Addie from her grandmas

cherish them forever! Thank you

look an awful lot alike?

so much for putting all your love

Teresa Martin-Gay and husband Darren Gay know that ponderation. They have 12 grandkids, ages 10 years to 2 months. But come Christmas morning, their anxiousness and wonder isn’t twelvefold; it’s more like twelve-hundred.

into the things you build.” • “My baby loves [the wooden infant rattler toys].” • “Beautiful wooden train set and very well made. Looks like a piece of art but rolls around like a busy little choo-choo! No rough edges

The two are makers of handcrafted

anywhere. I can tell this will be

wooden toys sold mostly online. As

used a lot.”

20

DECEMBER 2019

Avery Mynsberge, who turns 3 next month, sure loves trains. Decked out in his hickory-striped railroad cap and overalls, he is the engineer and conductor as he plays with one of My Unique Wooden Toys’ creations. The beautiful walnut wood and handcrafted quality keep the simple toy an on-time arrival under any tree at Christmas. Avery’s family lives in rural Oldenburg, Indiana, where their home is served electrically by RushShelby Energy.

Teresa and Darren’s Etsy store, www.etsy.com/shop/myhandmadetoy, has nearly 800 five-star reviews.

Choo-choos and fishing rods My Unique Wooden Toys, the company Teresa and Darren started 13 years ago, specializes in, as its name says, unique wooden toys. From scratch, the two handcraft


CO M PO SI TE PHO TO I LLUSTRATI O N BY RI CHARD G . BI EVER AND G ETTYI M AG ES

planes; trains; automobiles; fishing

site posts the reviews that buyers

finding on our website or Etsy shop or

rods; farm sets with fences; tractors;

leave on each seller’s page. A

store, you’re not going to be able to go

stick horses; gun cutouts; and more.

brief survey clicking through 155

out and find at a big box store.”

They also make prop rifles used by

pages of the reviews for Teresa and

color guards and dance recitals like

Darren’s account, which goes by

performances of the Nutcracker Ballet.

“MyHandMadeToy” on Etsy, reveals

Nine out of the 10 toys they sell are through Etsy, the online shopping

a satisfied clientele giving Teresa and Darren five stars on most all sales.

In this age of mass-produced, “flyingoff-the-shelf” over-hyped toys and throwaway electronic gadgets that are cheaply made overseas, there’s something to be said for the charm

mall of handcrafted and vintage

“We are making something that is

of individually made, sanded and

merchandise. Customer satisfaction

unique. That’s USA made. That’s

finished timeless old-fashioned toys.

is right up front. The Etsy shopping

quality,” said Teresa. “The stuff you’re

continued on page 22 DECEMBER 2019

21


“There is a clientele that looks for that

“What inspires us were the toys that

In 2004, Teresa, who is now 58, and

type of thing,” Teresa said. “They don’t

my kids actually made when they were

Darren, now 53, met online. Darren

want China. China’s done the lead

growing up,” Teresa said. “My kids

was a bachelor from Georgia. The two

paints and everything else. They’re

grew up on a farm. They played with

began a relationship. He moved to

done with China. And they want to

stick horses and guns. So, where we

Indiana, and they married. But milking

help small family businesses; that’s a

came from was: ‘Let’s go back. We’re

400 cows three times a day began

big thing.”

going to just do the toys that my kids

taking a toll on the new couple and

loved to play with.’ Those were the

her children. By 2006, Teresa said her

first things we made.”

children were tired of it. “That was a

Parents or grandparents shopping My Unique Wooden Toys will learn they are all made right here in Indiana by Teresa and Darren. They use only child-safe paints and finishes, some

From milking parlor to woodshop

lot of demands for kids.” The family sold the dairy cows and went into other farming ventures.

of which Darren and Teresa mix

In the early 2000s, Teresa and her first

Though Teresa still keeps the books

using mineral oil and beeswax in their

husband, Randy Martin, were running

for the farm now run by Landon,

workshop. They also source most of

a dairy farm on Kosciusko REMC

neither she nor Darren would continue

their lumber — walnut, maple, cherry

lines southeast of Silver Lake after

as farmers. She said she and Darren

— locally and mill it out themselves.

relocating from Elkhart County. They

asked themselves, “Well, now what

had four children: Landon, Tosha,

are we going to do?”

Teresa said they often get emails or messages from customers that say

Trent, and Kyle.

Darren had been a woodworker in

things like: “This takes me back to

Days before Christmas 2003, Randy

Georgia. He worked for a company

my childhood”; “This is something

died in traffic accident. At the time,

whose main client was Georgia-based

like I had”; “My grandkids are playing

their oldest child, Landon, was 20 and

fast-food chain Chick-fil-A. The firm

with stick horses like we did in our

their youngest, Kyle, was 13. Teresa

designed and built the serving count-

childhood.”

carried on running the dairy farm with

ers and cabinetry for all the Chick-fil-A

help of her kids and farmhands.

restaurants across the country.

And that’s by design.

Teresa Martin-Gay uses a drill press working on one of the toys she and her husband, Darren Gay, created in their rural Kosciusko County workshop. Having multiple drill presses allow them to work more quickly on toys requiring 2019 holes of variousDECEMBER sizes.

22

PH O TO BY RI CH A R D G. B IE VE R


After some online research, Darren

“We picked

and Teresa thought they found their

up where he

new career — making wooden toys

left off,” said

they could sell on the internet.

Darren.

As an aside: It’s odd that the Chick-

One of the

fil-A mascot imploring folks to “eat

toymaker’s big

mor chikin” (instead of beef) is a

clients was

black and white Holstein cow, a

Lifetouch, a

breed mostly used for dairy. But how

nationwide

apropos that Darren, who perfected

chain of

his woodworking skills working for the

photography studios,

Chick-fil-A contractor, set up a wood

which uses the toys as

shop in the farm’s former milking

props in photos of children.

parlor.

Darren and Teresa made 485

Teresa said their e-business plans brought a negative reaction from an unexpected source: her kids. “How is anybody going to find you?” they pooh-poohed. “My four kids laughed at us,” Teresa added. “But they’re not laughing now.”

wooden planes, four-piece train sets, race cars, and “cookie cutter” pieces meant to look like cookies. They are currently making 546 trains for Lifetouch due in April. The biggest boon to their business, though, came from

Going online

Etsy. “I was told not to create

The couple that first found each other

overtake your business,” said Teresa.

online quickly found a niche for their new enterprise online. Starting in November 2006, they began their own dot-com toy store and created an account on Etsy. To help establish their presence, they asked a maker of similar toys in Pennsylvania if they could sell his goods on their website, as well, a practice known as “drop shipping.” He agreed. Two years later, the toymaker

an Etsy account because it will “And it does.” But that was a good thing. “We’ve never been where we’re looking for work,” she added. “We never would have known it would be this big,” said Darren. Based in Brooklyn, New York, Etsy was launched in 2005. The dot-com says it has some 2.3 million active

The Vermont Teddy Bear’s “Gone Fishin’ Bear” sports a wooden handmade fishing rod and reel that Darren and Teresa created in their Hoosier workshop. The designer bear sells for $79.99 online at www.vermontteddybear.com/15-gone-fishin-bear. PHO TO PRO VI DED BY VERM O NT TEDDY BEARS

fishing hat and vest, sells for $79.99 online. “They wanted a very, very small fishing pole set for their bears,” Teresa said. “That was not a product we had online. But they specifically were looking for somebody to make what they were originally getting from

sellers and 42.7 million buyers. Etsy

China, and we created that.”

accounts racked up $3.9 billion in

That order was for 600 wooden rod

had a question for them: He was

gross sales in 2018.

retiring and wanted to know if they

Through their Etsy account, Teresa

fish attached.

would buy his business. They did.

and Darren were contacted by

As they were hitting their stride online,

They traveled to Pennsylvania to pick

Vermont Teddy Bears, makers of high-

up his toy patterns, and they picked up his customers. “His clientele was valuable,” noted Teresa, “because it had a lot of wholesale. That was what really got us in the wholesale business. We were able to grandfather in.”

end handcrafted soft furry designer teddy bears. The Vermont-based company was fishing for an American supplier to tackle the tackle accessory for its “Gone Fishin’ Bear.” The 15inch bear, which also comes with a

and reels with string and a wooden

disaster hit on the homefront. On Nov. 17, 2013, a tornado leveled nine of the 11 buildings on the farm, including the milking parlor-turned-woodshop. An area resident generously offered Teresa and Darren a woodshop he

continued on page 24 DECEMBER 2019

23


rarely used until they got back on their feet, and they barely skipped a beat fulfilling Christmas toy orders that year. As they rebuilt the farm, Darren and Teresa took a corner parcel for a new house for themselves. The new house included a walkout basement they turned into their new workshop. A portion of the basement was set aside as a small showroom and store for their work. At the store and online, they also sell the work of an Amish associate who makes barns and toy farm implements. Perhaps the most frequent shoppers at the store are the grandkids who all live nearby. “They come with their dollar bill,” said Teresa. “We let them pay because I think it’s good that they know they have to pay for something. They just can’t come to Me-me’s house and ‘I want this … I want this … I want this,’ and Me-me gives it to them.” But she noted with a laugh, “They

Teresa Martin-Gay and Darren Gay met online in 2004 and married. Not long after, they traded dairy cows for wooden toys to create a successful online handmade wooden toy company. They also have a small store adjacent to their workshop just east of Silver Lake in southern Kosciusko County. P H OTO B Y RI CHARD G . BI EVER

don’t pay full price … they do get the ‘friends and family discount.’” In addition, she said her grandkids are their “testers” in product development. “We have this new toy. Try it out,” they’ll tell them. “We’ll let them experiment on that. There were some things we had to redo because they didn’t work so good,” she said. “We’ll take it back to the drawing board.” Teresa noted though the store is off the beaten path, people seemed pleased when they find it. And Teresa and Darren, by living upstairs, are able to accommodate evening hours by appointment for folks unable to shop during the day. Another bonus, she

24

DECEMBER 2019

said: “It’s not going to be like your big crowded stores.”

Christmas afterglow In the glowing aftermath of the crazed Christmas morning rush, most parents and grandparents sit back, take a deep breath and rest on the laurels of another successful holiday. But Teresa and Darren, who kiddingly call themselves “The Elves,” soldier on. For as soon as one holiday passes, another looms. “We have a busy season,” said Teresa, “and a busier season.”

Richard G. Biever is senior editor of Indiana Connection.

TERESA MARTIN-GAY AND DARREN GAY’S TOY SHOP ADDRESS: 11152 S. 100 W., Silver Lake, Indiana PHONE: 260-578-0725 EMAIL: dgtm@localnet.com WEB: MyUniqueWoodenToys.com ETSY: etsy.com/shop/ MyHandmadeToy


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DECEMBER 2019

25


calendar NORTHWEST

21, 28 Jan.

1

GLOWING LIGHTS NIGHT, Michigan City (LaPorte), The Barker Mansion. Selfguided tour of the historic home, which has been decorated for the holiday season. 4-6 p.m. Cost: $5-$8. 219-873-1520. akalin@emichigancity.com. www.barkermansion.com 3-DUNES CHALLENGE FIRST DAY HIKE, Chesterton (Porter), Indiana Dunes State Park. Meet at the Nature Center and hike through the high dunes. 10 a.m.- Noon CST. This program is free after paying the gate admission for the park. 219926-1930. www.facebook.com/ events/3173349292737785/ ?active_tab=about

Jan.

4

RUMELY ALLIS-CHALMERS HERITAGE CENTER OPEN DATE, LaPorte (LaPorte), Rumely AllisChalmers Heritage Center. The center promotes the agricultural and industrial heritage of the Rumely and Allis-Chalmers companies. Free (donations accepted). 9 a.m.-1 p.m. (219) 369-1690. www.rumelyallis.com

CENTRAL

21

SARA EVANS, Nashville (Brown), Brown County Music Center. 8 p.m. Tickets: $59. 802-255-1826. emilycarterhere@gmail.com. Order tickets: www. soundchronicle.com/tickets/Sara_Evans_Nashville_IN_2019-12-21_20-00

31

NEW YEAR’S EVE CELEBRATION, Kokomo (Howard), Downtown Courthouse Square. Annual lighted ball drop, live music, activities and fireworks show. 10:30 p.m.Midnight. Free. 765-457-5301. visitkokomo.org/events

Jan.

1011

NTPA WINTER NATIONALS, Cloverdale (Putnam), C Bar C Expo Center. Indoor pull event at the world’s largest indoor track. 320’ Smoke Tube, trade show and open pits. Event and ticket information at www. ntpawinternationals.com

SOUTHWEST

20

2ND ANNUAL WINTER AT RICKENBAUGH HOUSE, Bristow (Perry). Tour of the Rickenbaugh House presented by the Hoosier National Forest along with other winter activities. 10 am- 2 pm. Free. 812-547-9231. alexander.johnson@ usda.gov. www.fs.usda.gov/hoosier

28

SOUNDS OF SUMMER: A BEACH BOYS TRIBUTE, Mitchell (Lawrence), Mitchell Opera House. 7 p.m. Cost: $22 for adults and $10 for children. 812-547-7933. aprince@hoosieruplands.org. perrycountycvb@psci.net. www.mitchelloperahouse.com

31

SILVERSTERNACHT, Tell City (Perry), Tell City Jr-Sr High School. Be sure to also enjoy fireworks and the annual Apple Drop at the city hall. 8 pm–Midnight. Free. 812-849-4447. perrycountycvb@psci.net. www.pickperry.com

26

DECEMBER 2019


DEC.

JAN.

To ensure our readers have sufficient time to plan ahead to attend these events, we have revamped the timeline of our calendar. Our events listing runs from the 15th of the current month to the 15th of the next month. We hope you find this revised schedule helpful.

NORTHEAST

2728

SHIPSHEWANA ICE FESTIVAL, Shipshewana (LaGrange), downtown. Ice carvers compete and create sculptures representing local merchants. $5 admission for chili cook-off. Pins for sale at participating merchants and chili cook-off. Pin ensures January discounts. Festival is free. 866-631-9675. shipshewana.com

2728

RUMBLE IN FORT WAYNE, Fort Wayne (Allen), Allen County War Memorial Coliseum. Midget car racing. Event and ticket information at www.rumbleinfortwayne.com

Jan.

DUO DOLCE: BOUNDLESS MUSIC SERIES, Portland (Jay), Hall-Moser Theatre. Featuring cellist Kristen Yeon-Ji Yun and pianist Phoenix Park-Kim. 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $9-$15. 260-726-4809. artsland.org/hall-moser-performances

11

SOUTHEAST

21

BIG OAKS NWR ANNUAL CHRISTMAS BIRD COUNT, Madison (Jefferson), Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge. Volunteers may sign up to count birds for a half day (until noon, or noon to sunset) or all day. Lunch provided. Begins at 8 a.m. To participate, contact the refuge at 812-273-0783. Free. www.fws.gov/refuge/Big_Oaks

through ELF THE MUSICAL, Clarksville

31

(Clark), Derby Dinner Playhouse. Musical based on the holiday film. 6 p.m. Tickets: $39-$49. Ticket price includes dinner, show, tax and parking. 812-2888281. derbydinner.com/show/ elf-the-musical

Jan.

4

MARIO THE MAKER, New Albany (Floyd), TheatreWorks of Southern Indiana. 11 a.m.Noon. Tickets: $12-18. 812-7257601. info@theatreworksofsoin. com. www.eventbrite.com/e/ mario-the-maker-magiciantickets-69887159375.

This calendar is published as a service to readers and the communities electric cooperatives serve. Indiana Connection publishes events free of charge as space allows, giving preference to free community festival and events in and around areas served by subscribing REMCs/RECs. While Indiana Connection strives for accuracy, please note that events, dates and time may change without notice. Indiana Connection advises using contact phone numbers or internet sites to check times and dates of events before making plans. To add events to Calendar, please use the “Submit and Event” form under the “Talk to Us” or “Calendar” buttons at indianaconnection.org; or mail your info to: Calendar, Indiana Connection, 8888 Keystone Crossing, Suite 1600, Indianapolis, IN 46240. Please submit info two months before the date of the event.

DECEMBER 2019

27


safety

PROTECT ALL YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS FROM ELECTRICAL DANGERS...

even the ones with paws! Spending a little time “pet-proofing” your home will help you avoid a pet-related accident. If you have a pet, check out these tips to protect your furry friend from electrical hazards: • Small mammals and birds

Picture this all too familiar scene: You walk into the living room after a long day at work and find your dog chewing on something (again). You ask him what he has in his mouth (like he’s going to answer you!). On most days, he’s chewing on your

tangled up and injured. • Just like kids, pets hate certain foods because of

If you have any other questions about pet electrical

spray from a pet shop and

safety, reach out to your

coat your electrical cords

electric co-op for more

to discourage chewing.

advice and information.

on things, which might

deter them is to give your

include exposed electrical

pets toys to play with.

cords. Try to block access

Some dog and cat breeds

to these cords by strate-

have more energy, so

gically placing your furni-

make sure you under-

ture so pets can’t reach

stand your pet’s needs.

should consider wrapping or encasing them.

• Invest time in training. You can train a dog to stop chewing the couch, you can train a cat to keep

• Most hardware stores sell

off the counters, and you

this time, he has an electrical

flexible safety cables and

can train your pet to stay

cord in his mouth. Being

PVC. Aesthetically speak-

away from wires.

cute and cuddly won’t help

ing, they’re not the best

him now. He may have put

solution, but safety comes

himself in danger of injury

first. Electrical shock is

or death and created a shock

not the only issue with

or fire hazard in your home.

wires. If you have multi-

favorite pair of shoes. But

ple cables close to each other, your pet might get

your pet.

purchase a pet deterrent

Another great way to

to hide every wire, so you

detect just by looking at

how they taste. You can

have a habit of gnawing

them. Sometimes it’s hard

symptoms aren’t easy to

• If the worst happens, visit a veterinarian immediately. Remember that electrical shocks are life-threatening and should be treated as emergencies. Some

What to do if your pet is shocked If you think your dog has suffered from an electric shock, approach him with caution and care. He is already going to feel stressed and you don’t want to startle your pet. Also, if the wire is still live you don’t want to be exposed to the source. Take your pet to your veterinarian or pet emergency center as soon as possible to see if treatment is needed. If your pet becomes tangled in cords, again, try to keep him calm. You may need help from another person to gently remove the cords and keep your pet still. DECEMBER 2019

?


pets

HOW TO TELL IF YOUR KITTY HAS HEART DISEASE The Purdue University Small Animal Hospital provides 24/7 assistance and a referral practice for questions and concerns about your pet. 765-494-1107, or visit: https://www.purdue.edu/ vet/vth/small-animal/.

M

any a cartoon shared among cat lovers on Facebook depicts skeletal remains of cat owners who died rather than upset snoozing kitties, still on their laps. While “cat naps” are part of a cat’s nature, if your cat becomes lethargic, he can be suffering from or heading to the same health issues inactive humans develop or have: heart disease. Cats tend to mask signs of illnesses better than dogs, and, therefore, they go longer without detection. Since early detection is key to treatment, here are some signs of heart issues to look out for in cats: VOMITING. While coughing is a major symptom of heart disease in dogs, it does not often occur in cats. Cats, however, do vomit as a result of heart disease. LABORED BREATHING. Your cat may experience shortness of breath or begin to breathe more rapidly than usual. BLOOD CLOTS. Often blood clots are the first noticeable sign of feline heart disease. Most frequently, it is “saddle thrombus,” by which a blood clot lodges

30

DECEMBER 2019

at the end of the aorta and cuts off proper blood supply to the hind legs. Symptoms are pain and the inability to walk normally on the hind legs. DEPRESSION/WITHDRAWAL. Your cat may begin acting depressed or isolating itself. POOR APPETITE. A cat will not suddenly lose its appetite for no good reason. There will almost always be a larger cause behind a poor appetite. PHYSICAL CHANGES. While weight loss is definitely a symptom of heart disease, weight gain can be, too. More likely than weight gain is a bloated or distended abdomen. LETHARGY. Cats nap a lot under normal conditions, but yours may appear less playful or tire more easily. While most feline heart issues have origins that are either genetic or unknown, some are caused by such things as hyperthyroidism, high blood pressure, gum disease, or heartworms.

Many pet owners don’t realize that protection from heartworms is as important for cats, even indoor cats, as it is for dogs. While heartworm disease in dogs presents itself as heart failure, cats are typically only infected with one or two heartworms. Heartworm larval migration to a cat’s heart can cause changes in the pulmonary arteries that can trigger a debilitating or even fatal asthma-like condition. Heartworms can also cause a fatal artery blockage. All of this adds up to making sure your kitty visits the vet for its annual examination. If the vet hears a rapid heartbeat or murmur, or notices something else suspicious, he or she might suggest an X-ray or other tests to make sure your cat isn’t concealing a health problem that can be addressed immediately and, therefore, be more effectively treated. SOURCE: PURDUE UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF VETERINARY MEDICINE AND PETMD.COM


travel

Hohman

for the Holidays C H R I S T M A S C O M E DY C L A S S I C C O M E S T O L I F E I N H A M M O N D

BY RICHARD G. BIEVER If words and phrases like: • • • •

“You’ll shoot your eye out” “Triple-dog dare” “Fragil-ee” and “Oh, fuuuuuudge!!”

immediately bring smiles to your face and visions of BBs ricocheting in your head, have we found a home for you this holiday season! Hammond’s “‘A Christmas Story’ Comes Home” is a holiday exhibit and festival fashioned around events and characters from the classic comedy “A Christmas Story.” The oft-shown 1983 flick is about young Ralphie Parker’s Christmas quest for a Red Ryder BB gun. Set in the early 1940s in the fictional town of Hohman, Indiana, the movie is based on the semi-fictional collection of short stories by the late humorist Jean Shepherd. Hohman was a disguise for Shepherd’s real hometown: Hammond. Hohman is one of Hammond’s busiest downtown streets. Now in its 12th season, the exhibition and events, which run through Dec. 31, take place at Hammond’s Indiana Welcome Center, 7770 Corinne Drive. The center is easily accessible on the southwest side of the Interstate

94/80 interchange with Kennedy Avenue and sits between the Wendy’s and the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store. Highlights include: • THE EXHIBIT — Six animated displays depicting scenes from the movie that were first showcased in the windows of the Macy’s in New York City. • SANTA’S MOUNTAIN — A great photo op with Santa atop a mountain — just like the one in the movie — where youngsters can share their Christmas wishes and then ride the red slide down into a pillow of snow. • HOLIDAY MARKET — More than a dozen artisans from around the Region will be selling handmade items. Dec. 7-8, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. • ALL IS CALM — Santa welcomes children with autism or other special needs in a sensory friendly and accessible visit. Dec. 13, 10 a.m-1 p.m. and 4-7 p.m. • OH FUUUDGE! RELAY RACE — Two different age groups of kids, 4-7 and 8-12, along with a parent will partially (it’s hoped) recreate the flat tire scene from the movie, racing against time to remove lug nuts, run an

‘A Christmas Story’ Comes Home When: (Nov. 9) Through Dec. 31 Where: Indiana Welcome Center, 7770 Corinne Drive, Hammond, Indiana Tickets: Free Information: 800-255-5253 www.AChristmasStoryComesHome.com

obstacle course with the lug nuts in a hubcap, and re-install the lug nuts. Dec. 14, 10 a.m. • MOMMY’S “LITTLE PIGGY” EATING CONTEST — Another movie scene is recreated to see who can eat the most mashed potatoes. Four age groups will compete for major awards: 4-7, 8-12, 13-17 and 18-and-over. Pre-register online. Dec. 21, 10 a.m. For a full list of activities, events, dates and times, please visit www. achristmasstorycomeshome.com. And if you go, just be sure to: • consult trusty Blue’s compass in the stock, • avoid tripledog dares, • beware of bullies with yellow eyes and toadies, • D-R-I-N-K Y-O-U-R O-V-A-L-T-I-N-E, • but mostly — deck your holiday with Christmas cheer and song … “fara-ra-ra-raaaa, ra-ra-raraaaaaaaa …”

DECEMBER 2019

33


career profile

Finding solutions for a changing industry

Top 3

responsibilities in a day: •

Data Analysis. Finding solutions to issues our consumers are facing and answering residential and commercial bill questions.

•

Energy Evaluation. Determining usage and trying to help consumers understand their bill and how they can be more efficient.

•

Commercial Accounts. Energy analysis inside businesses to look for opportunities for rebates.

What part of your job do you find to be most fulfilling? I really enjoy being a problem solver. I am a research and data junkie. I love to dive deep into trying to figure out a problem. I like helping a consumer find solutions to a high bill or comfort issue within a home. I also feel fortunate helping commercial consumers understand their energy footprint.

Why did you choose to accept a job at a co-op? While in college I was able to intern at an electric cooperative. This gave me a glimpse of what

34

DECEMBER 2019

Josh Durbin Energy Advisor Steuben County REMC the cooperative world was like and the type of company they are. Upon graduation, I actually turned down an offer with the cooperative thinking there were bigger fish in the sea. Shortly after, I realized how great the local electric cooperatives were. As I started to look for different job opportunities, I heard of this position and did not hesitate to put my name in the hat.

Do you see opportunity for growth in this position? Absolutely. In the short time I have been in the industry I have seen

vast changes in technology. When we look at things like renewable energy, electric vehicles and smart appliances, we see consumers are better able to control their energy use than ever before. There are so many more things on the horizon; it will be exciting to see what the future holds.

INTERESTED IN AN ELECTRIC CO-OP CAREER? Visit WePowerIndiana.org to learn about available careers or tell us about yourself.


Profile for IndianaConnection

Kosciusko REMC — December 2019 Indiana Connection  

Kosciusko REMC — December 2019 Indiana Connection