Interested in becoming a board member? See inside.
Hoosiers turn eyes to wondrous skies
from the editor
End the year on a high note Commemorate this unprecedented year with a Christmas giveaway In my Christmas column last year, I talked about the gift of warmth. This year, sharing the holiday spirit with those we love and with others less fortunate is more important than ever. To say it’s been a tough year is quite the understatement. This year has transformed our habits, accelerated our fears, altered our lexicon, shattered our lifestyles and pounded our pocketbooks. In just a few months, everything changed. And we’ve all had to adjust to the changes. That’s why during this holiday season I encourage you to pause and celebrate the special times you share with others. Make memories with loved ones. Spread joy to those who need joy at this time. The holidays may be a little different this year. Isolation has been the norm for months now. But what’s really important — faith, family and friends — has never changed. So end the year on a high note. And be thankful for your blessings. Thank you for being part of the Indiana Connection family. To help you celebrate surviving 2020, I’ve pulled together a special gift pack: an ornament decorated with key phrases from this unusual year, a box of green tea (my go-to pandemic beverage), a handstitched face mask (made by me!) and other goodies. See below to find out how to enter this drawing.
EMILY SCHILLING Editor email@example.com
On the menu: May 2021 issue: Kabobs, deadline Feb. 1.
June 2021 issue: Berries, deadline April 1. If we publish your recipe on our food pages, we’ll send you a $10 gift card.
Giveaway: Enter to win Emily’s special gift pack to commemorate this Christmas season. Visit indianaconnection.org/talk-to-us/contests. Entry deadline for giveaway: Dec. 16.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org; or send to Indiana Connection, 8888 Keystone Crossing, Suite 1600, Indianapolis, IN 46240-4606.
VOLUME 70 • 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 304,000 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 email@example.com IndianaConnection.org INDIANA ELECTRIC COOPERATIVES OFFICERS: Walter Hunter President Randy Kleaving Vice President Steve McMichael 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 Vice President of Communication 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.
03 FROM THE EDITOR
14 COUNTY OF THE MONTH
05 CO-OP NEWS Energy news and information from your electric cooperative.
Spotlighting Adams County.
10 ENERGY How wind, natural gas (and more!) power your day.
12 I NSIGHTS 13 GRASSROOTS Why politics matter to co-ops and how you can help.
16 INDIANA EATS Procopio’s serves up Italian comfort food in Southern
17 FOOD Homemade treats make the best Christmas gifts. 19 COVER STORY Star struck: Hoosiers turn eyes toward wondrous skies.
FOLLOW US ON SOCIAL MEDIA
24 DIY Storage solutions for those ‘other’ spaces. 25 SAFETY Debunking myths about electricity. 26 H OOSIER ENERGY/ WABASH VALLEY NEWS
29 TRAVEL A ride to Reindeer Ridge completes the Santa story. (Not in all editions) 30 PROFILE A splice of an outside plant technician’s life.
28 PETS Gift ideas for your furry family members. (Not in all editions)
On the cover The stars of our Milky Way galaxy tower above the Cataract Falls Covered Bridge and the flowing Mill Creek in Owen County. The bridge was built in 1876. The Milky Way — at about 13.5 billion years old — has been around a little longer. PHOTO BY ZOLT LEVAY, COURTESY OF THE INDIANA ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY
to make a positive impact www.kremc.com CONTACT US Local: 574-267-6331 Toll-Free: 800-790-REMC EMAIL firstname.lastname@example.org 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
LOWER ENERGY BILLS THIS WINTER Small actions like turning down your thermostat, replacing old bulbs with LEDs and washing clothes in cold water can help you save.
This year has been a year like no other — certainly in my lifetime. And while we’ve seen our share of challenges, I am encouraged by the ways in which we have all pulled together to make our community stronger. Kosciusko REMC recently helped organize a Thanksgiving food drive. With your help, that effort yielded complete Thanksgiving meals for many local families. This month, we are in the midst of a holiday giving drive through partnerships with The Salvation Army Angel Tree, Cardinal Services and REAL Services. This drive will bring joy at Christmastime to children and families in need. While these efforts are focused around the holidays, for KREMC, our concern for the community is a year-round endeavor. Because we are a co-op, volunteerism and giving back are a part of who we are. Many of our co-op employees coach youth sports, assist in school productions or serve on local boards. While it’s difficult to quantify the impact that volunteers have, I do know they make a tremendous difference in our community and make our corner of the world a better place. Many local organizations depend on volunteers to fulfill their mission. They fill in gaps and spread joy and compassion through their efforts. Often a big commitment or special skills are not needed, just someone who cares. I hope you’ll consider giving an organization or cause that you care about the gift of your compassion, time and talent. In addition to the organization and the community benefitting from your efforts, at the end of the day, the gift of volunteerism is a gift that will continue giving all year long. So, this holiday season, consider starting a new tradition — give the gift of time.
KURT CARVER President and CEO
— U.S. DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY
Use your Co-op Connections Card to save at local businesses Pilcher Shoes, North Webster 10% off shoe purchase LIKE US ON FACEBOOK www.facebook.com/kosciuskoremc
KREMC rates and rebates RATES
Residential and farm service Service charge ............................$24.50 per month Kilowatt-hour (kWh) charge ......@$.0922 per kWh Tracker charge ................... @-$0.002315 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.
Road trip Hitting the highway with an EV BY DALTON CALEY Earlier this year, Kosciusko REMC purchased an Tesla Model 3 electric vehicle (EV). Naturally, we wanted to learn what we could about these new vehicles to pass what we learn on to you. So I took our new ride for a spin – a 2,000-mile spin. I was headed to Amelia Island in Florida to a conference about new and emerging technologies, so what better opportunity to explore the money-saving potential of this new car than by going on a road trip? Here's what I learned in those 2,000 miles: charge time needs to be planned, weather impacts battery, and charging stations are almost everywhere. Plan for charge time: When I calculated how long it would take to drive to Florida, I considered the distance, my average speed, traffic and rest stops. I anticipated a 15-hour trip — not bad. What I did NOT expect was an additional four hours of charge time. Though the idea of paying only $10 for a full charge is appealing and offers a lot of potential for fuel savings, it takes a LOT longer to charge an EV battery than it does to fill up a gas tank. My advice: If you intend to use an EV for a long road trip, you'll want to be sure you have the flexibility to add a few hours of charge time. With each charge averaging 40 minutes, the additional wait time is not ideal.
Consider the weather: Another factor I failed to consider is the impact the weather has on energy use. Cold weather negatively impacts the battery range. I drove to Florida in early February. The temperatures were in the single digits, and it was lightly snowing. When I pulled out of the KREMC lot, the car projected that I could drive 310 miles before needing to charge the battery again. But in the cold, that charge only carried me for 236 miles. Winter weather caused a 73-mile loss in charge. Ultimately, I had to reroute my trip to accommodate an unexpected stop. About those charging stops: Another component of owning an EV is charging convenience. EV owners have reported station availability as a problem. Since I planned my trip considering charging station locations, I didn't have a problem in that regard. In fact, every station I stopped at had at least one charger available. Most of the time, they were empty and available for my use. Finding stations is convenient and easy. Tesla has an integrated charging station app that can quickly direct you to the closest available station. Most of these locations are near shopping centers or restaurants, so there’s something to do
while waiting for the car to charge. My charging site stops took me no more than a mile off my route. I've concluded through my experience that EVs are an excellent option for short trips and in-town travel. However, if you’re planning a long road trip, EVs may not be your best bet. If you're already a proud owner of an EV and you want to help KREMC keep rates low, please charge outside the hours of 2-8 p.m. If you have any suggestions for things we can do for you, let us know! Dalton Caley is Kosciusko REMC’s key account coordinator/GIS/ engineering technician. Editor’s note: Though car companies like BMW, General Motors, Ford, and Nissan all have their own electric vehicles, this article specifically chronicles the author’s experience with a Tesla.
CALCULATE YOUR SAVINGS Chooseev.com calculates how much you could save by driving an electric vehicle vs. your current vehicle. The more miles you drive a year, the more significant your savings will be.
INTERESTED IN BECOMING A BOARD MEMBER? Your electric cooperative is run by a democratically elected board of directors. If leading your electric co-op interests you, consider running for directorship at the 2021 annual meeting to be held on March 27, 2021. Three directors will be elected.
WHO CAN APPLY? Any KREMC member over the age of 18 in good standing.
WHEN CAN I APPLY? Petitions must be returned by Jan. 23, 2021.
HOW CAN I APPLY? Submit a petition signed by at least 30 members.
WHY SHOULD I APPLY? To be a part of a dynamic organization that has a commitment to community.
A decade of service KREMC is pleased to recognize
capital credit checks, managed early
kids, Rayna and Clint. When asked if
Tim Landrigan for 10 years of
retirement of capital credits and cross-
he would do it all again with KREMC,
service. Landrigan is our manager of
trained to learn more about accounts
Landrigan said, “In a heartbeat. I’ve
accounting and finance.
payable and receivable processes.
always enjoyed numbers, analytics
He continued to complete his degree
and helping others solve their puzzles
requirements by attending night
in terms of numbers. KREMC is a
great place to work, and I’m doing
While pursuing an accounting degree from the International Business College in Fort Wayne, Landrigan was
what I love.”
encouraged by a family member to
Landrigan was promoted to the
conduct a few “practice interviews” in
accounting department four years
Tim, thanks for practicing
preparation for job hunting after his
later. He managed KREMC’s daily
your interview skills
balances and accounts payable while
with us! We’re lucky to
learning about payroll, accounts
have you! Here’s to
receivable, and monthly closing. After
10 more years.
Lucky for us, KREMC was one of those practice interviews. The hiring team who interviewed 19-year-old Landrigan was so impressed by his potential that they offered a full-time position to him working in the member
serving in that capacity for only two years, Landrigan was again promoted to the manager of accounting and finance.
service department. Landrigan started
When Landrigan is not crunching
at KREMC as the billing clerk and
numbers for your local cooperative,
capital credits specialist. There,
he’s working on his family’s farm or
he was responsible for calculating
spending quality time with his loved
and billing residential and large
ones. He is married to Samantha
power accounts. He also processed
Landrigan. Together, they have two NOVEMBER 2020
Have you started your holiday shopping yet? Why not give a H.U.G. for the holidays? 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. Holiday shopping doesn’t get much easier than a H.U.G.!
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. 8
How wind, natural gas (and more!) power your day
ew people turn on
electric distribution co-
a living room lamp
ops in Indiana.
and ponder how it can turn on. Not many consider the complex path taken by the power that propels nearly every appliance and system
The path that electricity takes to power your day is an interesting one. See the information to the
It goes through a transformer, increasing the voltage to push the energy long distances through large transmission lines.
you use during the day
It’s also interesting to
to brew your morning
note that the electricity
coffee, keep your home
you are using now was
comfy, and entertain
just recently produced —
you with those dog and
energy is consumed as it
cat social media videos
is used, in real time.
on your phone and desktop.
Electricity is made at a power plant using fossil fuels, such as coal and natural gas, and renewable energy, including sun and wind.
So now that you know
When it arrives at a substation, the voltage is decreased so the electricity can move through smaller power lines.
how energy is produced, Most electric
the next time you turn
on a lamp in your
home you, too, will feel
from a generation and
transmission (G&T) cooperative that owns and maintains the transmission equipment
Once it’s in your neighborhood, the power travels through smaller transformers — you might see these boxes on poles or the ground — to reduce the voltage again so it’s safe to use in your home.
carrying electricity to your community (your local electric co-op delivers it to homes and businesses in your town). Wabash Valley Power Alliance and Hoosier Energy are the generation and transmission cooperatives that serve
Energy Advisor Kosciusko REMC
Then, after passing through a meter that measures how much electricity your family uses, it goes into a service panel in your basement or garage, where breakers protect the wires in your home from overloads. After all of that, it finally goes into the walls so you can plug in!
It’s time editor to get
Letters to the Likes hearing about job opportunities
I like your Career Profile column. People entering the work world need to be aware of the variety of job opportunities available. Not everyone wants to gain a degree and may still be unsure about what they might want to do.
Karen Weesner, via email
Remembering the legend Enjoyed your article about James Dean (September 2020 issue) and you are correct when you speak of him as a legend. Became a lifelong fan after seeing “East of Eden” in the spring of ’55 after returning to Purdue after two years of Army. Was sitting at the stoplight at the bottom of Chauncey Hill (in West Lafayette) late night in my new ’55 Ford hardtop on Sept. 30, 1955, when I heard on the radio that he had died. He was two years older than me so he would be 89 now and I would like to think he would still be running those sports cars.
Steve Mills, Flora, Indiana
Organizing the spice cabinet Just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed your letter in the October issue of Indiana Connection. You must be quite the cook. I was very impressed by your spice line-up. Such a great article. I have been doing the same. Lots of old stuff back in the back of the cabinet. Thanks for a good laugh.
Donna Arrivo, Noblesville, Indiana
‘artsy’ Christmas break is the perfect time for students to pull out their paints, pencils, crayons, paper and canvases, and begin working on their entries for next year’s Cooperative Calendar of Student Art contest. The deadline to submit artwork to illustrate the 2022 student art calendar is March 19, 2021. First place winners in grade divisions kindergarten through grade 12 will receive $200 each. Their winning artworks will illustrate the calendar’s cover and the 12
months of the year. One “artist of the year” will also be selected and will earn an additional $100. In addition, the judges will select honorable mention winners whose artwork will also appear in the calendar. They will receive $75 each. The contest is open to Indiana public, private or home-schooled students. They must be in grades kindergarten through 12th grade during the 2020-21 school year. A complete set of rules and required entry forms are available at indianaconnection.org/ for-youth/art-contest.
ORDER YOUR 2021 CALENDAR TODAY! Please send ______ copy (copies) of the Cooperative Calendar of Student Art 2021 at $6 each to:
Name: Address: City, State and ZIP: Price includes shipping and 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. Some electric co-ops have free calendars available for pickup in their offices. Contact them directly for more information.
Why politics matter to co-ops
and how you can help For most people, their electricity
context of the electric cooperative
provider is just the company that
program, "grassroots" is a powerful
keeps the lights on. But an electric
word. In fact, the historical success
cooperative’s relationship with
of the electric cooperatives can
its consumer-owners is different.
be largely credited to that single
Since the 1930s when Indiana’s
electric cooperatives were formed, they’ve thrived because of the political engagement between their consumer-owners and local, state and federal governments.
The electric cooperative definition of “grassroots” is “electric cooperative activists — directors, managers, employees and consumer-owners — who take an
Indiana’s electric cooperatives
active role in the political process
advocate for rural Hoosiers like
to protect their cooperative from
you on the state and federal levels
harmful legislation and regulation,
so they can continue providing
as well as to promote the value of
safe, reliable and affordable energy
cooperative ownership to their
— and maintain the quality of life
in rural communities. But electric cooperative consumer-owners need to participate in the process, too. Indiana’s electric cooperatives thrive when their consumer-
Grassroots involvement means communicating with local, state and federal legislators on issues affecting electric cooperatives.
owners stay politically engaged
Grassroots — the unified efforts
and advocate for policies that
and voices of the nation’s electric
help cooperatives best serve their
co-op supporters — has proven to
be the foundation of the industry’s
How can you do this? It all starts with grassroots activism. In the
85 years of success in serving electric co-ops, their owners and their communities.
What does a grassroots advocate do? By registering as an advocate for Indiana’s electric cooperatives, you will be kept up to date on major legislative and political utility issues, at both the state and federal levels. You will receive monthly communication via email or text alert, ranging from educational pieces, surveys, story collections, and even calls to action. Grassroots advocates for Indiana’s electric cooperatives help keep rural Indiana strong and the cooperative voice heard. Advocates may also be called upon to contact their legislators and speak up for Indiana’s electric cooperatives. As a grassroots advocate, you will be on the front lines of keeping rural Hoosiers’ voices loud and strong.
To become a grassroots advocate for Indiana’s electric cooperatives, visit action.indianaec.org.
Adams County Though the first non-Native settlers in Adams County were from New England, encouraged by the new Erie Canal, it was the arrival of the first Amish/Mennonite settlers in 1840 and the German-Swiss immigrants that followed that left a lasting impact on the culture of the county, especially in its southern half. Berne was settled in 1852 by immigrants who named the community for the capital of Switzerland. The first train to arrive at the Berne railroad depot came Christmas Day 1871. The railroad brought a steady stream of Swiss and German people into the area. Simultaneously to the south of Berne, two neighboring towns merged in 1871 to create Geneva, named after another Swiss city. Perhaps the most well-known individual from Adams County was Gene Stratton-Porter. Though she was originally from Wabash County, her career as a best-selling writer of fiction, non-fiction and essays; nature photographer; naturalist; and silent movie-era producer, began with her love of the flora and fauna of a vast wetland known as the Limberlost Swamp. The swamp once straddled the Adams-Jay county line south of the Wabash River. After moving to Geneva in 1888, Stratton-Porter began spending much time exploring, observing nature, sketching, and making photographs at the nearby wetland. She also began writing nature stories and books. The swamp was the setting for two of her most popular
The Limberlost Cabin in Geneva is where Gene Stratton-Porter lived from 1895 to 1913. Stratton-Porter immortalized the areaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Limberlost swamp in her writings, photography and work as a naturalist. She was ahead of her time in championing the importance of wetlands as they were being destroyed. Today, the home is a maintained as a museum to Stratton-Porter and part of the Limberlost State Historic Site.
novels, Freckles (1904) and A Girl of the Limberlost (1909).
y t n u o C acts F
NAMED FOR: John Quincy Adams, President of the United States, 1825-1829, and a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Massachusetts, 1831 until his death in 1848, when the county was founded.
But at the very time she POPULATION: was immortalizing Lim35,777 (2019 estimate) berlost in her writings and photographs, the COUNTY SEAT: Limberlost was being lost Decatur â&#x20AC;&#x201D; drained to collect its gas deposits and create farmland. With the destruction of her beloved natural area, a group of local residents who she purchased land for a new home recognized its environmental on Sylvan Lake in Noble County and historical importance. with the profits from her successful (The restoration was previously writings, and the family moved in documented in two issues of this 1913. publication.) At approximately 1,500 The Limberlost Cabin, where she lived in Geneva from 1895 to 1913, today is the Limberlost State Historic Site. The state operates the site, which was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1974, as a house museum. Part of the original swamp was restored beginning in 1991 by
acres, the Loblolly Marsh, taking the original Native American name for the swamp, today once again offers habitat to many different types of birds and other wildlife. Nature programs throughout the summer also offer visitors a chance to enjoy guided tours of the land surrounding the site with an onstaff naturalist.
Procopio’s Serving up Italian comfort food in Southern Indiana
Italian food is comfort food for many of us. It warms our souls and stomachs, and tantalizes our taste buds. In Vincennes, Procopio’s Pizza and Pasta is the first choice for diners looking for Old World flavors in a comfortable setting. Established in 2006, the family-owned business, run by Procopio Palazzolo and Kristen Maeder, is located in a renovated historic building on the corner of Second and Broadway streets in Vincennes’ downtown. Procopio’s extensive menu includes all the traditional favorites — plus some exclusive selections. The Bruschetta is a fan favorite appetizer as are the Bosco Sticks, mozzarella-filled breadsticks garnished with garlic butter, parmesan and oregano. Popular entrees include the stuffed pizza and stuffed pastas. The Pasta Rosa, which blends alfredo and meat sauce with ham and mushrooms, is a Procopio’s specialty. Salads, sandwiches, desserts and a kids’ menu (creatively called Little Italy) round out the offerings.
There's more than one way to top a pizza. Procopio's Supreme Pizza (front, left) features nine tasty toppings. But the Vincennes restaurant will also prepare its pies however you like them — whether you prefer a simple cheese version or want to focus on pepperoncini and other vegetables.
Though Knox County residents are most familiar with Procopio’s, the local treasure is getting statewide recognition on two of Indiana Foodways Alliance’s “Indiana Culinary Trails”: “Za Pizza Trail” and “Cultural Cuisine Trail.” The restaurant hosts a candlelight dinner for two on the first Saturday of every month featuring two entrees, two side salads, two pieces of homemade bread, two soft drinks and a dessert (the Tira Mi Su and cannoli are favorites). Thursday is Steak Night. Procopio’s can cater your next event – or host a get-together for a crowd in its party room. A full bar is available as well.
Procopio’s Pizza and Pasta CANNOLI: Cinnamonflavored shell filled with a sweet ricotta cheese and a chocolate chip mix.
127 N. Second St., Vincennes, Indiana 812-882-0914
From your kitchen,
with love HOMEMADE TREATS MAKE THE BEST CHRISTMAS GIFTS ALMOND CHERRY FUDGE Kathy Wilson, Grovertown, Indiana
18 oz. semi- sweet chocolate chips (3 cups) 1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk 2 T. butter ¼ cup chopped almonds ¼ cup chopped red candied cherries 1 t. almond extract
Line an 8- by-8-inch square pan with foil. Grease foil. In microwave, melt chocolate chips, condensed milk, and butter for 1 minute. Stir. Microwave and stir in 15 second intervals until mixture is melted and smooth. Stir in cherries, almonds, and almond extract. Spread into pan. Chill for two hours. Lift from pan and peel away foil. Cut into squares. Store in refrigerator. Bring to room temperature to serve. Makes about 24 pieces.
Editor’s note: Need a quick gift for your book club pals or those at the office? Spread fudge into holiday-themed cookie cutters (as shown above), chill for two hours and then place into individual treat bags. Tie bags with festive ribbons. DECEMBER 2020
food TEDDY BEAR BROWN SUGAR PECAN COOKIES Simon May, Fort Wayne, Indiana 2 ½ cups flour ¼ t. baking powder ¼ t. salt ¾ cup packed light brown sugar 1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, room temperature 1 large egg, lightly beaten 1 t. vanilla Whole pecans 1 cup chocolate chips Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Beat the brown sugar and butter with an electric mixer on medium speed in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the egg, then the vanilla. Add the flour mixture and mix on medium-low speed until completely incorporated. Divide the dough in half, pat into two discs about ¼-inch thick, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about one hour and up to overnight. Position oven racks in the top and
PEANUT BUTTER-WHITE CHOCOLATE POPCORN Patricia Piekarski, Harvey, Illinois
bottom thirds of the oven and preheat to 350 F. Line
6 cups salted popcorn
two baking sheets with parchment paper. Let the
1 cup cocktail peanuts
dough sit at room temperature for a few minutes to make rolling easier. Roll out one disc of dough at a
1 cup red and green candy-coated chocolate pieces
time between two sheets of parchment paper until
½ cup peanut butter chips
it is ⅛ inch thick. Cut out teddy bears with cookie cutter and arrange about two inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Place a pecan diagonally across the chest of each bear and carefully fold the arms up to hug the nut. Bake until the cookies are golden brown on the bottom, 10-12 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets until firm enough to transfer to a wire rack. Let cool completely. Gently gather any scraps into a ball and press into a disc; wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate the disc until it is firm enough to roll, about 1 hour. Cut out as many cookies as possible, decorate with pecans as above, and bake. Decorate the cookies by melting the chocolate chips, placing them in a plastic bag, cutting the corner to make a very small tip, and dotting ears, eyes, mouth and feet with small dots of chocolate. Cook’s note: Everyone is looking for that Instagramable moment when it comes to holiday baking and this one takes the cake … I mean cookie!
¾ cup sugar ¾ cup light corn syrup ⅛ t. salt ¼ cup creamy peanut butter 4 oz. white chocolate, chopped Line baking sheet with foil; spray with cooking spray. Combine popcorn, peanuts, candy-coated chocolate pieces and peanut butter chips in a large bowl. Heat sugar, corn syrup and salt in a saucepan over medium heat while stirring until sugar dissolves and mixture comes to a boil. Remove from heat. Whisk in peanut butter. Let cool 5 minutes. Whisk in white chocolate until chocolate is melted. Pour over popcorn mixture, quickly stirring to coat. Place on baking sheet, using two forks to spread mixture over the foil. Refrigerate 30 minutes. Break into pieces. Fill cellophane bags for giftgiving. Makes 11 cups. FO O D PREPARED BY I NDI ANA CO NNECTI O N STA FF PHO TO S BY TAYLO R M ARAN I O N
Hoosiers turn eyes to wondrous skies BY RICHARD G. BIEVER On a clear night, J im Tague can see forever. Through his backyard telescope, he can look out across the eons. What he finds there among the ancient dapples of starlight and emptiness, he’s sometimes not sure of. But that’s what’s kept him stargazing since he was a boy. “What draws me to it is that mystery. It’s a big universe to wonder about,” he said. Most nights are routine. He almost takes for granted the galaxies and star clusters he’s visited so often. But sometimes, even this 76-year-old retired banker, a Kosciusko REMC member from Winona Lake, is struck by the magnitude of it all. “There are times you’ll think, ‘My word, I’m looking across 2 million light years of space.’ Sometimes it just dawns on you.”
On a clear night, Zolt Levay attaches his digital camera to a tripod planted
continued on page 20 A barn in Monroe County stands against a Milky Way backdrop. PHOTO BY ZOLT LEVAY/ZOLTLEVAY.COM COURTESY OF THE INDIANA ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY
Comet NEOWISE hangs in the heavens above Brown County. Discovered just last March, the dirty “ice ball” made its appearance just before sunrise and after sunset for a couple of weeks this summer. PHOTO BY ZOLT LEVAY/ZOLTLEVAY.COM COURTESY OF IAS
continued from page 19 firmly on terra firma and opens the shutter. During the day, the vastness of the universe is lost in the sun; everything is awash with light. But at night, that curtain is lifted. Levay captures aweinspiring images of what’s really out there beyond the veil. Levay said it’s the curiosity and mystery of the night sky that intrigues him as the heaven and the Earth come together in his images. “The sky is so different from our experience of the terrestrial environment,” he said. His photos of the spangled trail of the 13.5 billion-year-old Milky Way against earthly well-worn and weathered barns and covered bridges offer a whole new meaning of grandeur and the concept of age. “Our personal experience on the Earth is this tiny little place. Even just looking at the night sky gives you a glimpse of that,” he said. “As you begin to study the universe and learn, and you begin to understand what you’re looking at, it makes the universe larger, in a sense.
It gives this three-dimensionality to the universe that it otherwise doesn’t really have.”
On clear nights, all across rural Indiana, far from the glare of city lights, astronomers like Levay and Tague turn the lenses of their cameras and telescopes of all sizes and shapes into the swirling starry skies. Some of these starfaring voyagers are fascinated by the simple sights of the night sky, the well-traveled constellations and planets. Others like the physical challenge of tracking down obscure astronomical objects to see what relatively few others have seen. Still others are looking for things no one has ever seen. Some simply enjoy the camaraderie in the astronomical clubs or “societies” around the state that devote an evening or two a month to these heavenly pursuits. About a dozen astronomical societies are scattered across the state and on the borders. Their memberships range in size from a dozen astronomers to
240. Members vary from newcomers and casual observers to hard-core amateurs who intensely delve into research. Membership fees are generally around $25-$30 per year and may include a subscription to national monthly publications and usually a club newsletter. John Molt is president of the Indiana Astronomical Society, which includes members from central Indiana and is the state’s largest group. He said they count 40-50 regularly active members who attend meetings and events. Of course, “regularly” in this year of COVID-19 has taken different meanings. Most all the planned public gatherings Indiana’s astronomical societies usually hold throughout the year had to be canceled. Members still met privately in small groups to gaze into the night skies, especially when Comet NEOWISE showed up for a brief couple of weeks in the morning, then evening skies as it looped its way around the sun this summer. (If you missed it, the 3-mile wide ice ball isn’t expected to be back again for another 6,800 years.)
Molt, 65, is a certified arborist and said he’s interested in all things outdoors. “I just like looking at the interesting things in the sky. I don’t think too much how they got there, how long they will be there. I just enjoy the visual part of seeing them.” Levay is also a member of IAS. He moved to Bloomington with his wife, a native Hoosier, after he retired a few years ago from the Space Telescope Science Institute that operates the Hubble Space Telescope. The 68-year-old Levay, who has a degree in astronomy from Indiana University, worked on the Hubble Space Telescope for 35 years in the institute’s outreach office in Baltimore. His job was to take the data Hubble gathered to produce those incredible photographs and graphic illustrations the public saw from Hubble. Kurt Eberhardt, 63, a Kosciusko REMC member and long-time president of the Warsaw group, had intended on making astronomy his livelihood when he went to Indiana University in the mid-1970s. But the space program was beginning to wane and the few jobs available were becoming even more scarce. He was advised to go into astrophysics.
after a meeting, conversations can be probing and lively — from various astronomical topics to the origins of man and theology to Star Trek. Molt and Eberhardt both noted the groups thrive on the diverse interests that members bring. Some members, like Levay, excel at photography. Others love the public outreach and speaking to school groups. Still others just enjoy the simplicity of learning the night sky and being able to point out the constellations. “There are bunch of different ways to approach the hobby,” Eberhardt said. “You find all these other people who share a common language and interest, but they all approach it from a different way. Areas that you may not have thought of before, you watch another guy doing it, so you learn about all kinds of stuff.” Group members speak at libraries and schools and host public “star parties” throughout the year where folks can come out to learn and observe the skies through a number of telescopes. Many of these societies have built their own observatories through
continued on page 22
But Eberhardt didn’t want to be stuck inside. “I’d rather be out under the telescope,” he said, than pushing a pencil with numbers and readings.
For hearty souls willing to bear the nighttime chill, the heavens will produce some extraordinary sights this month and next if the sky is clear:
Dec. 13-14 Geminids Meteor Shower. Considered by many to be the best meteor shower, the Geminids will produce up to 120 multicolored meteors per hour during this peak time. The shower runs annually Dec. 7-17. The nearly new moon will ensure a dark sky. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Gemini, but can appear anywhere in the sky.
Dec. 21 Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn. This coming together happens every 20 years, but this will be the closest they’ve appeared since 1623. The two bright planets will appear like a bright double planet. Look to the west just after sunset.
Dec. 21-22 Ursids Meteor Shower. The Ursids is a minor meteor shower producing about 5-10 meteors per hour at its peak. The shower runs annually Dec. 17-25. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Ursa Minor, better known as the Little Dipper, in the northern sky, but can appear anywhere in the sky.
He then studied geology and eventually became a high school science teacher. Though retired from teaching, he still combines his interests in astronomy and geology by studying meteorites. He said members of the groups all bring different backgrounds and interests to astronomy. And when they get together at McDonald’s
SKY SHOWS COMING OUR WAY
Jan. 2-3 Quadrantids Meteor Shower. PHOTO BY RICHARD G. BIEVER
Kurt Eberhardt adjusts the Warsaw Astronomical Society’s 12-inch Meade Schmidt–Cassegrain telescope at its observatory at Camp Crosley YMCA in North Webster.
The Quadrantids is an above average shower, with up to 40 meteors per hour at its peak. The shower runs annually from Jan. 1-5. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Bootes, but can appear anywhere in the sky. DECEMBER 2020
continued from page 21 fundraisers and donations that they open to the public. Others have access to public observatories. The Indiana Astronomical Society has use of Indiana University’s historic Link Observatory. Amateur astronomer and noted Indianapolis surgeon Dr. Goethe Link built the observatory and equipped it with a 36-inch reflector telescope, the largest in Indiana at the time, for his own personal use in the 1930s. In 1948, Link donated it to IU with an endowment and stipulation that it be used to generate interest in astronomy with the general public. The telescope is still the second largest in Indiana, behind Butler University’s Holcomb Observatory. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, the observatory, situated atop a wooded ridge south of Mooresville, was the site of many asteroid discoveries. But by the early-1980s, the observatory had become obsolete for IU’s research purposes. In 1986, IU handed the key to the observatory to the amateur society. Before the pandemic, the observatory was regularly open on clear weekend nights to the public. Steve Haines, the event and outreach coordinator for IAS, said his interest in astronomy is creating interest for others by showing them the sights. “One of the things you will never forget in your life is the first time you see Saturn through a telescope,” he said. But seeing isn’t always believing, Tague and Eberhardt discovered. The Warsaw group’s observatory is on a hilltop inside Camp Crosley YMCA near North Webster. Often on clear nights during special camp sessions, group members open up the roof for the campers and their parents to gaze through their larger telescope. When groups from Chicago had come, Tague said they would show them Saturn and its rings. “I don’t know how many times this happened, but they would actually look around to see if
The moon takes on added three-dimensionality when viewed in phases other than full because the sun is lighting it from the sides, revealing its craters in deeper shadows. PHOTO BY KURT EBERHARDT, COURTESY OF THE WARSAW ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY
we didn’t have a picture of that thing hanging there. They couldn’t believe what they were seeing.”
with astronomy you have that realworld connection of being able to see the night sky.”
Eberhardt said one guy was so incredulous, he came up after everyone else had left and said, “Be honest with me, you’re showing us a picture, right?”
Haines noted young students always have interesting comments as they try to relate what they know about space, such as asking if astronomy club members are “astronauts.”
“No, we’re showing the real thing,” Eberhardt told him. To convince the man, Eberhardt turned a second telescope outside toward Saturn and let him look again. “You wouldn’t happen to have two pictures would you?” the man asked … “Am I REALLY seeing it?”
They may not be astronauts, but when you look at distant stars, you are space voyagers — and time travelers. “People always talk about telescopes as being time machines,” said Levay. “And that’s another aspect of studying the sky and studying astronomy that’s attractive to a lot of people. The farther we look, the farther we’re actually looking back in time, as well, because light takes time to travel to us. So, we’re really seeing things as they were thousands, or millions, or even billions of years ago.”
Eberhardt noted that’s one of the neat things about astronomy: Many of the most popular objects are there for all to see in real time, and one never tires of seeing them. Some are a little more challenging and take some skill to find. Astronomy is one science that is accessible to everyone in the most basic sense, noted Levay. “Everybody sees the moon, and everybody sees the same moon all over the Earth. Everybody can experience it. The average person has no real world experience with a lot of areas of science, such as nuclear physics, but
On a clear night, the rural sky reveals heavenly highways and hamlets, byways and burgs to travel upon and visit. Astronomers and stargazers leave this tiny tired and torn old world to both wander and wonder about all that’s above: whether it means looking through a large telescope or
simply gazing upward from a grassy hillside; whether it means discovering a variable star or wishing on the first star seen tonight. Some look to the clear night sky for answers to questions asked since the dawn of time: How did we get here? Where do we fit in the grand scheme of it all? Where are we going? Some astronomers find tiny specks of answers in telescopes, collected data, computations and calculations. Some find a deeper faith in God amid the mysteries and incomprehensible vastness. And if the clear night sky causes us just to stop to ponder these things for even a moment, … then maybe that’s just what a clear night is for.
Richard G. Biever is senior editor of Indiana Connection. This story is an updated account of one he wrote for this publication 25 years ago.
Star Tubin’ Instructors have long sought new ways to liven up their lecture classes. But Ivy Tech Community College associate professor Kurt Messick has boldly gone where no prof has gone before. For his summer and fall astronomy classes, made virtual by COVID-19, the Bloomington instructor has tapped a well of guest speakers that reads like “Star Trek” cast reunions and a who’s who of science fiction and pop culture phenoms. And his students are loving the cameos and their quips. Some 45 stars have contributed the mostly short, 1-3 minute, unscripted videos. Messick usually injects them during announcements, special emails, introductions to lectures, or discussion-board pieces. He said he gathered them after “carpet bombing” Hollywood with requests during quarantine downtime, initially only expecting a few stars to respond. William Shatner, Capt. James T. Kirk of the original “Star Trek” crew, told the Bloomington Ivy Tech students that their minds, like the Starship Enterprise, were on a “voyage of discovery.” “You push the boundaries of what we know very quickly,” the affable actor said. Messick plans to plug the clips in as long as classes remain virtual, and even beyond. But you don’t need to enroll to see them. Messick has posted them on YouTube. Find the links with this story at IndianaConnection.org.
DON’T GIVE THE ‘CLOSET TELESCOPE’ FOR CHRISTMAS If you’re new to astronomy and thinking of gazing upon a Christmas star through a new telescope, Indiana’s astronomical societies have some advice: wait — and first join a nearby astronomical society, or at least attend a society meeting or public event (which may be virtually until COVID concerns pass).
Do not blindly buy a telescope. Steve Haines, the outreach coordinator for the central Indiana-based Indiana Astronomical Society Folks that do, Haines noted, especially those who purchase inexpensive telescopes on a tripod
from department stores, will often be dissatisfied because the instrument won’t perform as advertised or as the recipient might expect. And soon, the common fate is the instrument is relegated to a closet. Many members of astronomical societies love sharing their interest with newcomers and will help you pick the right instrument based on your interests — what you hope to see in the night sky and learn, how mobile you want the scope to be, and how much you can afford. In addition, members of astronomical clubs are always upgrading their equipment, too, which means well-maintained, used scopes are often on sale to fellow club members for a fair price.
Finally, a good pair of binoculars often will satisfy a newcomer — plus binoculars have the added practicality of mobility and can be used in watching sports or observing wildlife. When Comet NEOWISE appeared low in the evening sky this past summer, binoculars were sufficient in seeing the fuzzy-tailed snowball against the haze on the horizon. A list of the active astronomical societies around Indiana can be found with this story on our website at IndianaConnection.org. DECEMBER 2020
Storage Solutions for Those ‘Other’ Spaces This year, many people had extra time at home to devote to storage and organization in their living spaces. But sometimes the non-livable spaces became haphazard catch-alls for household items and outdoor tools. If so, devote some time, tools, and a new mindset to those spaces, and start the new year with a clean(ed) slate.
The Garage: If this is where you store all the stuff you can’t bear to part with, you may have kicked out its intended occupant — your car. After your home, your car is your next largest investment, so bring it back inside or just add a little more room to maneuver. Keep long-handled tools and yard implements safely off the floor with a handy storage rack that hangs everything where you can see it. There are lots of options for garage shelving, and four- or five-tier steel units with corrosion-resistant finishes fare best in damp or humid conditions. Look for free-standing units with a high weight capacity for bulky items like fertilizer bags or gas cans. For smaller items, wall-mounted shelving units are great. Just make sure to secure them safely to the wall studs with an anchor. Don’t forget your garage’s vertical space. Overhead storage racks are a
popular choice for storing totes and hanging items like bicycles, sporting, and camping equipment.
The Attic and Basement: Even a small attic is a great place to keep items safely out of the way. But before tossing items into an unfinished attic or basement, consider their fragility. Noninsulated attics are like ovens in the summertime and ice boxes in winter. The hot and cold cycles of the seasons can wreak havoc on them. To avoid fading or decay, don’t store paperbased keepsakes like baseball cards, scrapbooks, and photographs there. Items that can stand the heat but not dampness should be placed in strong plastic bins with snug-fitting lids. A small container of Damp-rid would come in handy here as well. Large vinyl storage bags with handles are
great options for airtight and watertight sealed storage. Large or bulky attic-worthy items like artificial Christmas trees do well with just a tarp covering to keep dust or dampness off its limbs. Your home’s ceiling often makes up your attic floor, but open drywall won’t hold you or your stuff. Consider laying down some thick plywood with strong screws across the floor beams. There are many storage solutions for all those other spaces around your home. With a little creativity and desire to pull it all together, you’ll have all your spaces tidy and manageable in no time. Visit your local Do it Best store or doitbest.com for thousands of the best home improvement products, including storage solutions for all areas of your home.
Don and Sally Merriman
Don and Sally Merriman are the owners of Doc’s Hardware in Albion. They are member-owners of Do it Best Corp., a Fort Wayne-based cooperative of thousands of hardware stores, home centers and lumberyards throughout the US and around the world. (This article is for informational purposes only. Indiana Connection and Do it Best Corp. assume no liability for the accuracy or completeness of the information contained herein, or for injuries, property damage, or the outcome of any project.)
Debunking myths about
electricity When it comes to electricity, what you don’t know can kill you.
Among other electricity myths:
Unfortunately, sometimes we think we’ve got the facts when what we really know are popular myths perpetuated by social media, movie exaggerations and unreliable sources.
TRUTH: That’s true only if they are 100 percent pure rubber with no holes or tears (the kind that electric lineworkers wear and are regularly inspected). The gloves a lineman wears are laboratory tested to withstand 20,000 volts. Typical cleaning gloves and shoes, which are made with rubber mixed with cheaper materials, aren’t going to protect you in an electrical encounter.
“That old saying ‘knowledge is power’ is very true, especially when electric power is involved,” said John Gasstrom, CEO at Indiana Electric Cooperatives. “That’s why we take every opportunity we can to educate our consumers, young people and other folks in the community about electric safety.” One myth that could be particularly dangerous this time of year is the one suggesting that when a power line falls on the ground, it automatically becomes dead. “You should always stay away, 30 feet or so, even if you don’t see sparks,” Gasstrom said. “Assume a downed line is a live line.” Call your electric cooperative or 911 immediately when you see a downed line so trained personnel can take care of the problem. Along that same line: If you’re in a car that strikes a utility pole, stay in the car, call 911 and wait until the utility workers tell you it’s safe. Dropped power lines are hard to see, especially at dusk or at night. Stepping from your car may create a path to ground for electricity or you may walk into a fallen line and be electrocuted.
MYTH: Rubber gloves and rubber shoes protect you from electricity.
Power lines are insulated. NOT TRUE: At least 90% of them are NOT insulated. Ones that might have been insulated could have lost insulation as a result of years of being exposed to the sun and weather.
If a power line is not high voltage, it’s safe. NOT TRUE:
MYTH: All power lines are insulated. TRUTH: As a rule, power lines aren’t insulated. So, how come birds don’t get electrocuted when they perch on a power line? They don’t provide a path to the ground for electricity flow. If a bird were to touch two wires at once, or a wire and the ground, it would be electrocuted.
Despite what you may hear, voltage won’t kill you, amperage will. Just 1 amp will cause fatal heart irregularities. Between 100 and 200 amps run through an average house.
A live wire will always spark when it fails. NOT TRUE:
MYTH: Power lines outside carry the same 120-volt electricity we use in our homes. TRUTH: Here in Indiana, most power lines carry 7,200 volts. Some carry up to 19,000 volts. You can’t tell the voltage by just looking at it.
Sometimes, but not always. When the line makes firm contact, it will spark. If it doesn’t make firm contact, it won’t … but it could still be carrying its electrical charge and kill you.
Wabash Valley Power news
PLAN FOR THE WASTES OF ENERGY PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE AND SAVE ON ENERGY COSTS This holiday season, while preparing for the fun that comes from the enjoyable winter holidays, you also can prepare for the higher bills caused by the Wastes of Energy Past, Present, and Future. By overcoming these energy phantoms, you can make amends for past wasted energy and prevent them from taking more from your wallet in the future. Energy Past: This one frequently raises its head around this time of year. The holiday decorations and lights hibernating in attics and garages 10 months a year typically emerge each winter to smile at neighbors and passersby. Yet these decorations often show their age on your energy bill; if your decorations are five years old or more, they may be gulping significantly more electricity compared to their newer, more
energy efficient counterparts. You also can add timers for your decorations to ensure that they are turned on when it makes the most sense. Energy Present: With families spending more time at home during the holidays (and more time than ever in 2020 because of the pandemic), you can expect energy bills to reflect the increased energy use. Yet there are options you can consider (or even gift!) that can help lower that energy use. Options range from advanced power strips that turn off idling equipment to minimize energy waste all the way to ENERGY STAR-certified appliances that can replace older, more inefficient devices that may be toward the end of their lifecycle. Energy Future: It’s never too early to plan for the future! You
can contact your local electric cooperative’s energy advisor for insights on your home’s energy use and ways you can improve. Your energy advisor may even recommend that your home receive an energy audit, which includes an in-depth review and will provide you with action items to reduce your home’s energy use. You can ensure yourself and your guests are comfortable while minimizing your energy use, regardless of how frightful the weather is outside. With a little planning, you can take steps to lower your energy use this holiday season and beyond. And much like the Jelly of the Month Club, smart energy use is the gift that keeps giving all year long! Learn more tips about saving energy year-round at www.PowerMoves.com.
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The Indiana Connection staff wishes you and yours a safe and happy holiday season. We’re looking forward to a new year, and to continuing to bring you stories about the people, places, food and travel experiences that define the Hoosier state.
for your furry family members
n Christmas morning, will
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IF YOU GO: Reindeer Ridge 7621 N. Dearborn Road, Guilford, IN, 47022 513-379-4510 https://reindeerridgerentals. com You can contact Reindeer Ridge also via Facebook messenger or at reindeerridgerentals@gmail. com. Dates: Weekends — Nov. 21-22, 28-29; Dec. 5-6, 12-13, 19-20; and MondayWednesday — Dec. 21-23. Hours: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Admission: $12 per person (age 2 and under free). Tour duration: 45 minutes Reservations: Required. Reindeer Ridge will be operating tours at half capacity because of COVID-19. Reservation openings are expected to sell out (as they have done in past years at full capacity). Make reservations as soon as possible if you want to tour the farm this season. The farm is open for educational tours at other times of the year; please use the contact information to make advanced arrangements. Masks are required. For the safety of the animals at the farm, outside pets are not allowed to visit Reindeer Ridge.
CLICK, CLICK, CLICK
& Old St. Nick Santa Claus or his stand-ins are everywhere this time of year … on street corners, in parades and in malls. As beloved as he is, seeing Santa has become almost humdrum — as ubiquitous as he is. But seeing his tiny reindeer? That’s a whole other matter! Inquisitive kiddies always ask about the reindeer after initial hugs, or, in this COVID-19-aware sociallydistanced Christmas season, elbow bumps, with Santa and the Missus. And adults are left fumbling for explanations of why they can’t see them. That doesn’t happen at Reindeer Ridge. Deep in the beautiful rolling hills of Southeastern Indiana, just off Indiana 1 and several miles north of Perfect North Slopes Ski Resort, is this tiny slice of the North Pole. Visitors can see and even feed five reindeer and have their visit with Santa, too.
“These are not white tail,” said Cheryl Reis, 59, who runs the farm with husband Ron. “They are real reindeer that originated from Scandanavia.” Cheryl, who teaches Headstart in Cincinnati, and Ron, also 59, a plumber out of Cincinnati, purchased the 13-acre farm in 2015 with a festive dream: to keep the Christmas holidays alive year-round. Reindeer Ridge began with the 2017 Christmas season after the arrival of its first reindeer. The first two, females named Comet and Cupid, came from Alaska. A year later, they added Sven, a male. Since then, Sven and the ladies have added two baby boys, Rudolph and Dasher, to the team. “Do they fly?” is the first thing youngsters ask when they see them, Cheryl said. “Only on Christmas Eve,” she tells them.”
A ride to Reindeer Ridge completes the Santa story While on the tour, participants learn some reindeer basic facts. As an educator, Cheryl said she loves sharing what she knows about them with young and old and the tiein to her favorite holiday. A fence keeps visitors separated from the reindeer. Cheryl said they are lovable animals, “very personable,” and love Graham crackers. But they aren’t so “tiny.” The young ones are already 220 pounds, and Sven is 450. The 45-minute tour includes a visit and photo op with Santa and a special treat from St. Nick. Visitors stop at Santa’s workshop, where children and adults can make crafts, and the Holiday Barn, which sells festive handmade treasures by area craftspeople. There’s also a photo op with a lifesized sleigh in front of a Christmas tree. Boys and girls can also drop their letters to Santa into his mailbox. DECEMBER 2020
Splice of life Top 3
responsibilities in a day: •
Splice internet fiber in the air or on the ground.
Happy customers: Make sure they’re pleased before I leave the job site.
Be available for any service interruptions or other problems that might arise during the day.
What part of your job do you find to be most fulfilling? No matter how much experience you have in this field, there could be something new to learn every day. It’s also gratifying to turn on new services to our customers or restore services in the event something takes down our network. What’s the most challenging part of your job? Probably troubleshooting; there is always something a little different about each problem. You aren’t going to be able to take the same steps each time, so you can never really master the craft of troubleshooting.
Dustin Mayhugh Outside Plant Technician NineStar Connect
Have you had to master new skills in this role? “Mastering” something in this line of work is pretty hard because you can always get better and quicker at what you’re doing, and the technology is constantly changing. It’s more about being consistent day in and day out. How would you describe working for a co-op? I work with some great people!
They’re easy to work with. You come in every day, and people are happy about being here. It’s just an all-around good company.
INTERESTED IN AN ELECTRIC CO-OP CAREER? Visit WePowerIndiana.org to learn about available careers or tell us about yourself.