Kosciusko REMC — December 2021 Indiana Connection

Page 1

An update on Kosciusko Connect.

Kosciusko REMC’s


Heritage Readers delight in sharing their Christmas customs




from the editor VOLUME 71 • NUMBER 6 ISSN 0745-4651 • USPS 262-340

COOKIE CUTTER CHRISTMAS Though our December social calendars are usually too packed to include yet another event, one invite that inevitably warrants a “count me in” RSVP is a holiday cookie exchange. I like to think of it as party on steroids (or should that be sprinkles?). Sure, it’s a fun social event, a time for friends to pause during the holiday madness to enjoy a cup of coffee or cocoa, some conversation, and some cookies. But it also allows us to conserve valuable time which is so important during a busy time of year. Instead of having to eke out time to bake and decorate multiple batches of different Christmas cookies, we only need to prepare one batch to share at the cookie exchange. And when we come home, voila! We’ve amassed a variety of cookies with no additional dirty mixing bowls or baking sheets to clean up! While some cookie exchange guests admittedly sneak store-bought treats to the sharing table (No judgment here! I like a good sugar cookie no matter who bakes it!), I prefer pulling out my favorite shortbread recipe and assortment of cookie cutters, and then indulging in an activity I so rarely have time to enjoy the rest of the year. Pristinely piped and frosted cookies are not my forte, but I’ve found that stirring red and green jimmies or nonpareils into the dough before rolling it out is a great way to give your cookies a festive feel with little effort. I hope you’re able to take some time this holiday season to make cookies and share them with friends. To help you get started, enter to win my Christmas cookie baker’s prize pack featuring a baking sheet, cooling rack, spatula, cookie cutters, a printed rolling pin and kitchen towels by Dec 20 (see below for entry details). If you’d like the recipe for my favorite shortbread cookies (which I’ll be making for the holidays) send me an email at the address below and I’ll send it to you. Wishing you a sweet Christmas season of sharing!

EMILY SCHILLING Editor eschilling@indianaec.org

On the menu: April issue: Recipes using baking powder,

deadline Feb. 1. June issue: Summer salads, deadline April 1. If we publish your recipe on our food pages, we’ll send you a $10 gift card.

Giveaways: Enter to win Emily’s Christmas cookie baker’s prize pack by Dec. 20. For details and to enter, visit indianaconnection.org/talk-to-us/contests.

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.

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 info@indianaconnection.org 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 Digital and Layout Design Specialist Taylor Maranion Senior Brand and Visual Design Specialist Lauren Carman Communication Coordinator 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 05 CO-OP NEWS Energy news and information from your electric cooperative. 10 ENERGY Make sure ‘vampires’ aren’t part of your holiday décor. 12 INSIGHTS




cover story


14 COUNTY OF THE MONTH Spotlighting Dearborn County.

18 DIY When one tree is not enough.




Why politics matter to cooperatives.

One Ten Craft Meatery: Creativity in the kitchen. 16 FOOD Choco-licious: Holidayperfect sweet treats.


Indiana Connection

Holiday Heritage: Readers share a sampler of Christmas customs 23 SAFETY Heed the dangers of backup generators.


26 PROFILE Leslie Beard: Better things come to those who wait.

On the cover Barney Blilie, left, and Nick Stanger decorate Christmas cookies their wives baked as part of a long-standing “Cookie Day” tradition the two Steuben County couples share with each other. The day also includes eating the cookies with milk and watching the movie “Prancer.” Readers from all over Indiana shared their holiday traditions with us — and you. PHOTO SUBMITTED BY SANDY BLILIE



co-op news

An update on


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

The past month has marked some important milestones in our fiber-to-the-home internet project, and I want to take a moment to update you on our progress and our plans. Our network is on and functional in Zone 1, and our first connections have been successful! For now, we are maintaining tight control of the speed of installations to ensure that everything is working perfectly, but we will gradually pick up the pace and continue our quality assurance testing as we go. Pre-registration is the key to getting our service as quickly as possible. Once you have pre-registered, you can rest assured that we will contact you as soon as we are able to schedule your service drop — the part of construction where crews extend fiber from the nearest splice point (usually located on a utility pole or in a splice box near a transformer) to the home or business that is receiving service. Once this step is complete at your home, we will be able to schedule your home installation and connect you to our fiber network. Construction in Zones 2-5 is not affected by our Zone 1 installation process. Our fiber crews are moving through Zone 2, and our make-ready crews who pave the way for fiber have made appearances in nearly every zone of our buildout.

HEADING OUT OF TOWN FOR THE HOLIDAY SEASON? Remember to unplug electronics that draw a phantom energy load. Some gadgets like TVs, phone chargers, gaming consoles and toothbrush chargers use energy when plugged into an outlet — even when they’re not in use. — U.S. DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY

Use your Co-op Connections Card to save at local businesses BodyWork by Tery 10% off any service.


Thank you for your patience with us as we begin. We understand that there is a great need for our service, and we are working to get it to you as quickly as we can. Please remember to pre-register so that we can contact you as soon as service is available in your area.

KURT CARVER President and CEO

KREMC rates and rebates RATES


Residential and farm service Service charge ............................$24.50 per month Kilowatt-hour (kWh) charge ......@$.0922 per kWh Tracker charge .................... @$0.001487 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.



co-op news

A new way to get in touch



Monday-Friday, 7:30 a.m.-4 p.m. If

look in the bottom right of your

you have a question outside of that

screen for our new online chat

time, you are still welcome to leave

option. If you need help or have

us a voicemail, send us an email, or

a question while you are on our

message us on Facebook. Our team

website, you can send us a message

will get back with you as soon as

directly without having to pick up a

possible during the next business

phone or log on to Facebook.


Our member services team is

We look forward to chatting with

available to answer questions via


our chat during our office hours –

OUTAGE COMMUNICATION Our email, online chat and Facebook page are great options to get in touch and ask questions, but we do not monitor them 24/7. Visit kremc.com/outage-center for instructions on how to contact us in the case of an outage or emergency.




You could

Fill the pages of the 2023 calendar!

ELIGIBILITY Indiana public, private or home-schooled students in kindergarten through 12th grade during the 2021-22 school year are eligible to enter the contest.

DETAILS AND DEADLINE A complete set of rules and required entry forms are available at indianaconnection.org/for-youth/artcontest. Artwork must be received by March 18, 2022. Questions? Contact Indiana Connection, 317.487.2220 or info@indianaconnection.org.

co-op news

Kosciusko Connect hires broadband supervisor Join us in welcoming Richard Cinninger to the Kosciusko Connect team!


Cinninger boasts an impressive 33 years of experience in telecommunications, 20 of which have involved fiber. As the broadband supervisor for Kosciusko Connect, he will oversee the installation process, help ensure quality of construction, manage


inventory and more. Cinninger and his wife recently moved to the Fort Wayne area to be closer to their grandchildren.

There’s still time to buy a H.U.G. (Household Utility Gift) this holiday season!

When he moved, he was interested

A H.U.G. from KREMC is like a gift card for electricity. You can

services to residential customers.

purchase a H.U.G. for any amount that you would like. It can be redeemed easily by sending it in a monthly bill payment or

in getting back into his passion of delivering fiber-to-the-home He noticed our fiber construction crews on a trip to Winona Lake, and he called us to look for open

bringing it into our office.


If you want to give someone a H.U.G. for Christmas, make sure you

“We are so glad that Richard

visit our office by Wednesday, Dec. 22.

reached out to us,” said Curt Barkey, KREMC vice president of technology and broadband.




“With his extensive knowledge and hands-on fiber experience,


he is already proving himself to


be a major asset to the Kosciusko


Connect team.”


energy via mobile device and offer added controls, such as dusk-to-dawn functionality.

Make sure ‘vampires’ aren’t part of your holiday decor

BUY ENERGY STAR®-RATED PRODUCTS. When shopping for new decorations – or even major appliances – search for items that have the ENERGY STAR label. Items and appliances with this rating use less electricity than other products available. The reduced energy use will save you


ust as kids will ravenously rip into


gift boxes later this

decorations are rated for outside use. Not all

money over the product’s lifecycle.

holiday lights are rated

Taking just a few steps can

month, many adults start

If you use the same

for exposure to rain or

holiday lights and

lead to holiday happiness

the month rummaging

snow. Using indoor lights

decorations for years, you

while ensuring safety and

through garages, attics

outside your home could

may be wasting money!

savings all season! You

and basements to dig out

damage them, leading

Technology has improved

can put that money to

ye olde lights of holidays

to a higher risk of fire or

the efficiency of holiday

good use – on additional

yore to once more

electrical shock.

lights which are now

sides for festive meals, or

commemorate the season.


even gifts under the tree.

While decorations liven

energy advice or tips to

up the mood, it makes the

help you keep your wallet

most sense to have them

a bit greener all year long!

made with LEDs. If you Before you go searching for

have not updated your

those old lights and electric

lights in the last five years,

decorations, you should be

you may want to consider

wary that those splendid

upgrades. If you decorate

gingerbread characters,

with older illuminated

snowmen and other

lawn ornaments, consider

illuminating mascots may

switching the bulbs inside

actually be energy vampires

those ornaments with

sucking up way more


electricity than needed – driving your energy bill up! Here are a few steps to keep in mind when planning your holiday decorations to ensure safety while minimizing cost:




co-op for even more

on at times when people can enjoy them. Automatic timers can schedule your holiday decorations so that they are enjoyed when you want them – and not cost you money the rest of the time. You can even purchase an outdoor-rated

Before decorating

smart plug; these newer

outdoors, make sure

devices can be controlled

that your lights and

Contact your local electric

by Darrell


Energy Services Specialist Kankakee Valley REMC



Ready, set, draw Christmas break is coming up! It’s the perfect time for students to pull out their art supplies and begin working on their entries for next year’s Cooperative Calendar of Student Art contest. The deadline to submit artwork to illustrate the 25th annual student art calendar is March 18, 2022. 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.

Indiana sales tax. Make

The contest is open to Indiana public, private or home-schooled

Electric Cooperatives.” Send

students. They must be in grades kindergarten through 12th grade

a note and check to Indiana

during the 2021-22 school year. A complete set of rules and required

Connection Calendar; 8888

check payable to “Indiana

entry forms are available at indianaconnection.org/for-youth/artcontest.

Keystone Crossing, Suite 1600; Indianapolis, IN 46240.

MARKETPLACE Our Marketplace offers maximum exposure for your business or organization at a minimal cost. Please contact Cheryl Solomon, 847-749-4875 or cheryl@amp. coop, for other small business advertising opportunities in Indiana Connection.





Local Loan Originators We Lend in 48 States Loan Program Variety Low and No Down Payment Competitive Rates

Perfect for corporate gatherings, weddings, shuttle services, private tours, and more! Let the Trolley be your guide. Get a free quote today!

JWeingart@ WaterstoneMortgage.com


(260) 563-7171

county feature

Dearborn County Like most all Indiana counties that border the Ohio River, Dearborn County’s earliest history and economy has been based along that major waterway. The county’s two largest towns, Lawrenceburg, the county seat, and Aurora are the first Hoosier towns travelers heading down river from nearby Cincinnati come to. Aurora is home to Hillforest Victorian House Museum, a stately 1855 Italian Renaissance mansion just blocks from the river and downtown historic district. The mansion was built by Thomas Gaff, an Aurora industrialist and financier. His family would call it home from 1855 to 1926. The mansion is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1992. Gaff and his brother, James, also established a distillery and brewing company, and were involved in a number of other businesses, including farming, Nevada silver mines, a Cincinnati jewelry store, foundry and machine works, turnpike and canal construction, and two Louisiana plantations. Their mill in Columbus, Indiana, produced “Cerealine,” which was touted as the first ready-made cereal in the world. With their heavy reliance on the Ohio River for shipping, the Gaff brothers also owned a fleet of steamboats that they used to transport their distillery and brewery products. Besides their many business ventures, the Gaff brothers were heavily involved in civic affairs.



Gaff also helped to organize Aurora’s school system, and made numerous religious and charitable contributions. Gaff died in 1884, but his family continued living in the mansion until 1926. It was sold to a local furniture manufacturer and then became the clubhouse for the local Veterans of Foreign Wars from the late 1940s to the mid 1950s. In late 1955, a group of local residents, fearing the home would fall into disrepair and be torn down, banded together to purchase the mansion. They formed the Hillforest Historical Foundation as a nonprofit organization dedicated to the home’s restoration and preservation. Hillforest has been open to the public as a historic property museum since 1956. Taking off on a “hill-forest” theme of another kind, Dearborn County also offers another attraction … up in those hills and forests away from the river. That’s the Perfect North Slopes, an alpine skiing resort, that is a popular destination for skiers from the tri-states of Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky this time of year. Perfect North was formed by the Perfect Family and others in 1980. Today, it offers 23 trails of varying difficulty with all the conveniences of ski resorts found in areas more synonymous with the sport. Perfect North was where notable Olympic freestyle skier Nick Goepper got his start. Growing up about 15 minutes from the slopes, Goepper used to spend up to 12


hours a day training at Perfect North before beginning his track to stardom. The two-time Olympic medalist is now readying himself for the Winter Olympics in China this coming February.

County Facts FOUNDED: 1803 NAMED FOR: Henry Dearborn, an American military officer during the Revolutionary War and War of 1812 and served as Secretary of War under President Thomas Jefferson. POPULATION: 49,568 (2018 estimate) COUNTY SEAT: Lafayette INDIANA COUNTY NUMBER: 15 For more information: HillForest.org PerfectNorth.com


Indiana eats delights like a duck egg crème brulee featuring lemon custard, lavender shortbread and candied lemon zest. Among One Ten’s fans is Rep. Craig Snow, a Warsaw resident who loves the restaurant’s atmosphere and food. “Jason has been very creative over the years and especially during the pandemic.” That creativity extends to One Ten’s extensive and innovative cocktail menu which is thoughtfully divided into categories like signature, bright, bubbly, sour and spiritous. Visit this Kosciusko County gem for dinner Wednesdays through Saturdays

SHORT RIBS: One of One Ten Meatery’s specialties is its slow braised short ribs. They are served atop smoked mashed potatoes and covered with mushroom demi glace. Swiss chard casserole is a perfect accompaniment.

from 5:30-8:30 p.m. You can also order food items online for pickup or have One Ten cater an event for you either at a location of your choice or at The Vic,

Serving great food and ensuring

fresh and in season. The menu is

One Ten’s event venue.

customers have a positive dining

varied and unique — with offerings like

One Ten patrons should be aware that

experience are hallmarks of a top-notch

street corn and poutine. Of course, with

tipping wait staff is not allowed. The

restaurant. But One Ten Craft Meatery

“meatery” in its name, expect savory

restaurant builds the tip into the price of

in downtown Warsaw goes above and

selections like wild boar tenderloin,

the food to ensure those waiting on you

beyond through its mission of creating

braised short ribs and steak cuts like

are paid competitive wages and receive

a strong community by investing in

ribeye, Denver, flat iron and filet. One

a guaranteed income.

people. Owner Jason Brown notes, “If

Ten also serves the most sought-after

you develop people, your community is

steak — Wagyu beef. Bacon lovers

a better place.” As well, he and his staff

(and who isn’t a bacon fan?) must try

donate to nonprofits, provide leftover

the Flight of Bacon appetizer with a

food to a local homeless shelter and

choice of three types of bacon served

recycle as much as possible to reduce

with creamed honey, duck-fat fried

their carbon footprint.

buttermilk biscuits, pork rinds and

Ingredients used at One Ten are locally sourced from in and around Indiana,

blackberry goat cheese.



The dessert menu features delectable

ABOUT STATE REP. CRAIG SNOW: Rep. Craig Snow was elected to represent District 18 (which includes Wabash County and portions of Grant, Kosciusko and Miami counties) in 2020. He serves on the Agriculture and Rural Development; Elections and Apportionment; and Family, Children and Human Affairs committees. Snow is the board chair of Silveus Insurance Group and serves as CEO of Cedar Holdings Inc.

FIVE STATES: Indiana and the four states surrounding it not only serve as One Ten Meatery wall decor: The restaurant supports farmers and artisans in each of those states through its farmto-table philosophy.






There was an error in the Dairy Free “Pumpkin” Pie recipe in the November issue. The first ingredient in the ingredient listing — 4 eggs — was mistakenly left out. We apologize for the error. Check out the corrected recipe at www.indianaconnection.org.

Nancy Moore, Kendallville, Indiana

Heat oven to 350 F. Prepare

To make ganache, place heavy

bundt pan with cooking spray.

cream in large microwave

1 (18.3 oz.) box fudge brownie mix

Combine first 5 ingredients

safe bowl and heat for about

4 large eggs

in large bowl and whisk for 2

2 minutes. You want cream to

minutes or until large lumps are

just come to boil. Carefully pour

mostly gone.

chocolate morsels into cream.

1 (15.25 oz.) box chocolate cake mix

1¼ cups water 1 cup vegetable oil Ganache: 1 cup heavy cream 1 (12 oz) bag semi -sweet chocolate chips



Pour batter into bundt pan. Bake 50 to 55 minutes. Cool 5 minutes, turn out cake and cool 30 minutes.

It may rise and bubble and this is OK. Let sit for 5 minutes. Whisk the chocolate and cream until shiny and smooth, about 1 minute. Pour over cake

food HOT CHOCOLATE LASAGNA Marilles Mauer, Greensburg, Indiana Crust:

Pudding Marshmallow Layer:

36 chocolate sandwich cookies, ground

2 (3.8 oz.) boxes instant chocolate pudding mix

½ cup butter, melted Cocoa Cheesecake Layer: ½ cup butter, softened 8 oz. cream cheese, softened 1 t. vanilla 1 cup powdered sugar 5 (0.73 oz.) envelopes instant milk chocolateflavored hot cocoa mix 1½ cups heavy whipping cream

2¾ cups milk 1 cup mini marshmallows Whipped Cream Layer: 1¼ cups heavy whipping cream or 2½ cups whipped cream 2 T. powdered sugar Topping: 2 cups mini marshmallows Chocolate topping or sweetened hazelnut cocoa spread

To make the crust, place whole

the cheesecake mixture, then fold

beating 1¼ cups heavy whipping

cookies (with the filling) in a food

in the other half, incorporating

cream and powdered sugar until

processor and grind to fine crumbs.

everything well. Remove the crust

stiff peaks form. (Alternately, you

Stir in melted butter and press the

from the refrigerator and spread the

can skip this step and just use 2½

mixture into the bottom of a 13-by-

cheesecake mixture over the crust.

cups prepared whipped cream.)

9-inch pan. Place in the refrigerator.

Set in refrigerator until firm.

Spread over pudding marshmallow

To make cocoa cheesecake layer,

To make the pudding marshmallow

beat softened butter and cream

layer, whisk pudding mix and milk

cheese with vanilla and powdered

until it starts thickening. Stir in 1

Before serving, scatter 2 cups mini

sugar until creamy and smooth.

cup mini marshmallows and spread

marshmallows over whipped cream

In another bowl, beat heavy

over cocoa cheesecake layer. Place

layer. Serve drizzled with melted

whipping cream and hot cocoa

in refrigerator to set.

chocolate or sweetened hazelnut

mix until stiff peaks form. Fold half of the hot cocoa cream into

When pudding marshmallow layer

layer and place in refrigerator a few hours or overnight.

cocoa spread.

is set, make whipped cream by






Indiana Connection editor Emily Schilling spreads her collections of “themed” Christmas ornaments around her home, each collection having its own tree: a “Santa Tree” (home for a red, white and blue Santa); a “Shoe Tree” (for a leopard-skinned high-top sneaker); and a cherry pie, below, for her “Dessert Tree.” Meanwhile, senior editor Richard Biever eagerly brings his collection of beavers together for the holidays as part of a giant Christmas village display.

WHEN ONE TREE IS NOT ENOUGH Every ‘tree’ tells a story for two long-time editors at Indiana Connection I read somewhere that once you have

Like Emily, my wife and I have multiple

three of the same kind of item, you have

collections of things that get incorporated

a collection. That philosophy — plus my

into Christmas decor. While we don’t

love of after-Christmas bargain-hunting

set up “theme trees” per se, our main

(including deeply discounted artificial

Christmas tree gets partitioned into little

trees) — lead me to collect Christmas

“neighborhoods” with groupings of family

trees. Each year, my husband and I put

ornaments and things our kids made when

up AT LEAST seven trees (sometimes

they were little, ornaments from vacations,

more if I’m feeling particularly festive).

ornaments from my hometown, etc.

The trees are of various sizes, ranging

My wife has a collection of Santa Claus

from 6 feet tall to a diminutive 12 inches.

ornaments and figurines she displays

One is a pink flocked tree, another a

near our tree. I collect all sorts of beavers

retro-looking metallic one. And not only

— ornaments, figurines, stuffed toys,

are they diverse in their appearance

cartoons. Because I couldn’t escape the

— each is decorated following its own

pronunciation of my last name (and the


grief it sometimes brought), I embraced it.

The theme trees were born when I started

The beavers are especially welcomed

accumulating more and more ornaments

among the holiday decorations. They

that fell in their own unique categories:

inhabit a large chunk of the ceramic

auto racing, cats, shoes, travel, angels,

Christmas village display on a shelf

Santas, even desserts. Before I knew it,

above the fireplace in our family room.

there were enough ornaments in these categories to fill their own trees.

The first beaver to adorn my Christmas tree wasn’t an ornament at all, though. It

Through the years, new theme trees have

was small stuffed toy named “Butterscotch

emerged, and others are retired. They’ve

Beaver,” a mid-1980s Dairy Queen

reflected particular interests at particular

collectible. Having few ornaments for my

times and showcase memories that are

first full-sized tree once I moved out on

unearthed only when these keepsake

my own after college, I looked around my

ornaments are unpacked from their boxes

apartment for stuff to add: a Mets baseball

once a year. When I lovingly hook an

cap; a bendable Domino’s Noid toy that

ornament on a tree branch, I’m creating

had come with a pizza delivery; the beaver

a representation of who I am, what I like, and what I want to see in my home during


toy. I nestled Butterscotch deep among the tree’s branches. He was a natural fit! And thus was the start of a holiday tradition I’ve

the holidays.

carried on now for 35 years.




senior editor


THEME TREE tips • Since theme trees reflect what you love, consider them works in progress. Additional ornaments are most probably going to be added to your trees so be prepared to switch tree sizes to fit your collection. • Consider coordinating your tree topper with the theme of your tree. An easy way to do that is by fashioning a “showy” bow with a ribbon decorated with a pattern that reflects your theme. (Example: a black and white checked ribbon for a race car theme tree.) • Not enough themed ornaments to properly fill out your tree? Add some clear plastic ornaments to the branches. • Make your tree extra-WOWworthy by matching the vibe of the presents under the tree to the tree’s theme. Choose wrapping paper and ribbon that coordinate with the ornaments’ colors or theme. For instance, if your tree highlights oldfashioned Santas, find retrolooking wrapping paper featuring St. Nick.

"Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire." — Gustav Mahler, Bohemian composer

PHOTO SUBMITTED by Patricia Boscher




Readers delight in sharing their Christmas customs

When my husband Tom and I met, my kids were 14 and 12; his were 4 and 2. Not too much in common there. So, when Christmas came, I had to figure out something for both sets of kids despite the age difference. Everyone loves a birthday party! What better way to include everyone? After all, it is Jesus’ birthday! So, I made a cake. Since it was Christmas, I put on a sprig of holly. No birthday cake is complete without a candle – a big red one. Then, we sing "Happy Birthday" to Jesus. Then the

The December holiday season is

mailed and emailed submissions

all about celebrating traditions.

from around the state. Many were

From the holy religious and cultural celebrations and commemorations to the folklore

youngest gets to blow out the candle.

accompanied with photos. All

The best part is the “kids”

were touching or funny, colorful

are now 59, 57, 49 and 47,

or sweet, or a combination.

and we are still doing it! Now, the youngest is our great

to the commercial “cornucopia

Those whose stories appear here

… of unbridled avarice,” this time

received $50. One randomly

of year is special for most of us in

selected submission was also

Last year, I passed the candle,

many different ways.

selected for a $50 prize. That

holder, holly, and recipe to

reader was Susan Brown

our older daughter, but I’ll still

of French Lick, who shared

make the cake while I am able.

Like various cultures, every family seems to have its own way of celebrating this time of year, year after year, as well. We asked readers to share stories of their own holiday traditions, past or present. We received 59

memories of cooking with her grandmother.


PATRICIA BOSCHER Mitchell, Indiana

Here’s a holiday sampler, beginning at right and continuing through page 22. We hope you enjoy them as much as we did.





Cookie Day is a favored

for the day is Christmas

And then, they always turn

tradition for several years

cutouts … double batches

out great looking cookies!

with treasured friends.

… times two. We bake

Not only is the day

them, and our husbands

enjoyable (and tiring), so

decorate them. The guys’

is the anticipation and

tradition is to complain

preparation for the day.

about how many cookies

The signature cookie

we make and devise ways to convince us to cut back.

We finish the day with milk and cookies while watching "Prancer." SANDY BLILIE Angola, Indiana

PHOTO SUBMITTED by Randy and Shari Rennhack PHOTO SUBMITTED by Christopher N. Lash

A SEASON OF LIGHT AND MEMORIES When I was growing up in Northwest Indiana with my two sisters, Mom and Dad always made this truly the most wonderful time of the year! Now that I am an adult, this love for Christmas that my family created for me still burns like a wild fire in my heart. But unfortunately, I was never able to have a family of my own. So, each year at my home, I decorate the entire interior and exterior for this amazing Christmas holiday. It is not the average setup, and I have often been called “Clark” (as in “Griswold” from the movie “Christmas Vacation”) because of my “hobby” — now full-blown obsession. My display consists of approximately 40,000 Christmas lights all synchronized to numerous Christmas carols along with numerous other handmade Christmas decorations and props. I now see about 5,000 guests each Christmas season as I nightly hand out candy canes and other Christmas treats to all. I see the glow of the lights in the eyes and on the faces of the children and even the “big kids” knowing that they are feeling like I do inside and that I am creating similar traditions for those families that my parents did for my sisters and me. CHRISTOPHER N. LASH Lafayette, Indiana



HOLIDAY ON ICE Christmas is a wonderful time of the year for our family. We are blessed with four children and nine grandchildren. They love to ice skate. So, Papa and Mamoo make a 30-by-70foot ice skating rink in the back yard. We have a warm fire and watch the older kids skate, and they help teach the younger ones. We have so many memories of Christmas. It warms your heart to see them have so much fun with each other. RANDY AND SHARI RENNHACK LaGrange, Indiana

LINKS IN THE CHAIN Our Christmas tradition started in 1960 when my dad first made five pounds of sausage. We stuffed it using hog casings and an angel food cake pan. Our family always looked forward to the homemade sausage on Christmas morning. Mom always boiled the sausage a little too long, and I often wonder if it had anything to do with the eggnog! PHOTO SUBMITTED by Lisa Cramer

Dad loved auctions and bought an antique cast iron lard press/sausage stuffer in about 1968 which we still


use today. The sausage making has evolved into the Annual Kreighbaum Sausage Party with family and

Our grandchildren enjoy working a Christmas puzzle

friends each Dec. 23. Everyone takes some sausage

together as each family arrives at our house to celebrate.

home. When we tipped the scale at about 90 pounds.

The first grandkids to arrive begin work immediately on the puzzle with anticipation of the “Cousin Christmas Fun”

(and ran out of counter space), we decided to set the

about to begin.

limit to 50 pounds. Last year because of COVID, our

This allows their parents to unload the car and settle in,

2021, to continue the

and the necessary secrets and behind-the-scene activities


tradition was canceled. We can't wait until Dec. 23,

to progress.

And now, our son

One year, the picture puzzle was themselves — the

has started this

grandchildren in front of our Christmas tree! The family

tradition in St.

photo Christmas puzzle remains a big hit with the kids!

Petersburg, Florida!

The memories shared as the puzzle is completed is a


treasured tradition to make our Christmas special.

KREIGHBAUM Plymouth, Indiana

LISA CRAMER Greensburg, Indiana


says “STOP” — with a ribbon

fun tradition every year and

magical moment. We began

leading them across the room

say it’s the most exciting part

a new tradition when our girls

to our Nativity set missing the

of Christmas. My husband

were young to highlight the

most important piece.

and I also look forward to

meaning behind Christmas. We decided to hide the baby Jesus from our Nativity set on Christmas Eve night.


In place of the missing Jesus is a clue leading them around the house to other clues until they have finally found the

Our girls wake up to the

most significant part of the

scene of gifts under the

Nativity set.

tree. But directly in front of the gifts is a small sign that

Our girls look forward to this

finding new and creative places to hide the baby each year. The mystery of the lost Christ-Child has become such a fun, anticipated part of our Christmas morning. DARCY NEWNUM Sullivan, Indiana DECEMBER 2021


SHADOW BOXES OF MEMORIES One Christmas, when my brother and I were adults, my mom gave us a handmade patchwork quilt. Right after the holiday, she hinted about her next creative idea, and all year long worked on making the gift. PHOTO SUBMITTED by Glenda Ferguson

That handmade tradition lasted for over 15 years. Some

of the items she made were a rug braided from strips of blue jeans, wooden birdhouses, and hand-wired lamps. Each one, she created with love. Unfortunately, the gifts didn’t last. The stitches would unravel, the wood splintered, and the lamps leaned to one side or the other. I never told Mom because I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. However, one gift is still very precious to me. Several years ago, Mom made three shadow boxes. Inside my brother’s and mine were our baby clothes and shoes, as well as

MEALS ON WHEELS WITH DAD After my father retired, he delivered meals for Meals on Wheels for many years. At Christmastime, one of my favorite traditions was to accompany him on his route. I'd wear my Santa hat, and we'd deliver the meals along with a special Christmas card for each recipient.

PHOTO SUBMITTED by Amy Ratcliffe

One year, my mother and I even put together small "goodie bags" of Christmas treats (we checked first to find out if anyone was on a special diet) and small gifts to give to the folks on his regular route. My father passed away in 2018, but one of my fondest memories will always be of delivering meals with a smile and a side of Christmas cheer to his Meals on Wheels clients. It was a special bonding time for us and put a little extra sparkle in the holidays for those who we delivered to.

photos of us wearing those very same outfits. She saved


all those items to pass on to us inside this special gift.

Lafayette, Indiana

Mom made one for herself, with her own baby clothes and a photo, that her own mother preserved. In 2018, right before Christmas, Mom passed away at the age of 86. I inherited her shadow box. As I was writing this story, I closely examined her baby clothing inside — a small white cotton dress and booties. Those were sewn by hand with small neat stitches and knitted carefully, probably by her mother or her grandmother. I always assumed Mom started the handmade Christmas tradition herself, but I now realize she came from a loving family that created unique gifts that have lasted many

LOVE REMAINS On Christmas 1987, my mom asked if I would play Santa for she was starting to have grandchildren. I was Santa for 30 years. I enjoyed


having the children sitting on my lap and listening to their Christmas wish list.


Sadly, mom passed away in 2019, and everything as it

Photo above: Glenda Ferguson holds the shadow boxes

and visited Mom's gravesite. That made others who

assembled by her mom, Geneva White. The one she holds contains the blue coat she wore at 15 months old. The other has a handmade white dress and knitted booties worn by her mom as a child in 1932. GLENDA FERGUSON Paoli, Indiana

was changed. At Christmas of 2020, I dressed as Santa were visiting the graves of their loved ones smile. They said they never thought they'd see Santa there. I know Mom smiled as she looked down from heaven that day. She always told me, “No matter what happens, love always remembers.” DAN ENGLAND Warsaw, Indiana.





backup generators If your white Christmas goes dark from an electrical blackout, an electric generator can be a great resource for homeowners, especially if the storm and damage is severe and the outage is prolonged. But small portable generators pose risks homeowners need to guard against: carbon monoxide poisoning, electrocution or electric shock, and fire.

Risk #1: Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Small generators use a combustion engine that usually burns gasoline or other liquid fuels. Like any gaspowered machine, these small engines produce carbon monoxide. To prevent carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, keep generators outdoors, away from doors, windows and vents. Position your generator's exhaust away from your home and locate the generator downwind, if possible.

Risk #2: Electrocution or Electric Shock To avoid the risk of electrocution, do not use a generator in rainy or wet conditions. It's also important to not handle the generator with wet hands to avoid electric shock. Before plugging appliances or electronics into your generator, make sure your generator is sized appropriately for the total electric

load you want it to run. Make sure the cords all fit appropriately and are undamaged. To keep utility workers, neighbors and those in your household from electrocution dangers, never plug your generator directly into your home's wiring. "Backfeeding" sends power from the generator throughout your house in reverse and can even feed onto your electric utility's power lines. Workers attempting to restore power might unexpectedly encounter this high voltage, which could cause fatal shock. To prevent a "backfeed," have a professional install a transfer switch if you want your generator to run your home's electrical system during an outage.

Risk #3: Burns and Fire When using a generator, store extra fuel in an American National Standards Institute-approved container in a cool, well-ventilated place away from fuel-burning appliances.

GENERATOR DOS AND DON’TS DO operate a generator outdoors in an area with plenty of ventilation. DO install CO alarms inside the home to provide an early warning of carbon monoxide. DON’T plug a generator into the wall without installing a transfer switch to prevent backfeed. DO turn the generator on before plugging in appliances. DON’T touch the generator with wet hands to avoid electrocution. DO turn off the generator before refueling with gasoline to allow it to cool down. DON’T overload the generator.

Before refueling your generator, turn it off and let it cool. Gasoline spilled on hot engine parts could ignite.

DO use a heavy-duty, outdoor-rated extension cord rated at least equal to the sum of the connected appliances.

Keeping these three risks in mind when installing or using your home's generator will aid in your safety, your home and others.

DON’T use a generator as a permanent solution. DO consult the owner’s manual for your generator for specific safety instructions. DECEMBER 2021


Wabash Valley Power news

COMMUNITY CHANCE The holiday season offers an opportunity to benefit local organizations You’ve likely heard the phrase,

let volunteers leverage their

may offer a family sponsor

“‘Tis better to give than to

strengths on a variety of projects

program for gifts or clothes. Local

receive.” And this time of year is a

from nonprofits across the nation.

nonprofits such as the Salvation

wonderful opportunity to benefit

Army may offer these or similar

your community (and Concern


programs; they frequently accept

for Community is one of our


monetary donations as well.

guiding Cooperative Principles!).

frequently have demand that

Given that the weather is getting

Here are a few ways you can

exceeds their capacity to serve.

colder this time of year, some

have a meaningful impact this

Even for organizations that accept

programs may accept winter


items such as clothing or food,

weather clothing items such

monetary donations can help

as coats, hats and gloves. Even


nonprofits buy the items most

gently used items donated to

Everyone has a unique skill or

needed. Sometimes nonprofits

a thrift store can be incredibly

talent. Why not share it with a

can partner with local businesses

useful to their next owner!

nonprofit organization? Local

to purchase goods or services at a

organizations such as hospitals,

discount, further leveraging their

As we head into the holiday

churches and shelters often

funds. Your local electric co-op

season, it is a great time to

need volunteers to accomplish

may even offer a program such

consider ways to impact your

critical tasks to help those in

as Operation Round Up, which

community. Contact local

need. And organizations such

provides a unique way to support

organizations and think about

as Habitat for Humanity offer

nonprofits in your community.

ways that you can use your skills,

unique opportunities to make a

strengths or time to benefit an

difference in people’s lives. Also,


organization – and neighbors –

websites such as Catchafire can

the holiday season, organizations

where you are!






or most people, their

electric cooperatives thrive

well as to promote the value of

electricity provider is just

when their consumer-owners

cooperative ownership to their

the company that keeps

stay politically engaged and


the lights on. But an electric

advocate for policies that help

cooperative’s relationship

cooperatives best serve their

with its consumer-owners is


different. 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. Indiana’s electric cooperatives advocate for rural Hoosiers like you on the state and federal levels so they can continue providing safe, reliable and affordable energy — and maintain the quality of life in rural communities. But electric cooperatives need your help in the process, too. Indiana’s

Grassroots involvement means communicating with your local, state and federal legislators

How can you do this? It

on issues affecting electric

all starts with grassroots


activism. In the context of the electric cooperative program, "grassroots" is a powerful word. In fact, the historical success of the electric cooperatives can be credited to grassroots activism.

Grassroots — the unified efforts and voices of the nation’s electric co-op supporters — has proven to be the foundation of the industry’s 85 years of success in serving electric

The electric cooperative

co-ops, their owners and their

definition of “grassroots” is


“electric cooperative activists — directors, managers, employees and consumer-owners — who take an active role in the political process to protect their cooperative from harmful

To become a grassroots advocate for Indiana’s electric cooperatives, visit


legislation and regulation, as DECEMBER 2021


cooperative career Professional progression:

BETTER THINGS COME TO THOSE WHO WAIT The old saying about good things coming to those who wait is only partially true for Leslie Beard. She already had a good thing, she said; that was being hired not long after college as a customer service representative at WIN Energy REMC in 2000. But she was a marketing graduate, and that’s what she really wanted to pursue. She then patiently waited, learning all about the cooperative business and WIN Energy REMC’s consumers, moving next into the billing department. Finally, after 10 years, a marketing position was created at the southwestern Indiana electric cooperative. Beard applied and was offered the new position. Fast forward 10 more years to December 2020: After supplementing her past education and experiences with a master’s degree in business administration and many other leadership and personal growth opportunities the REMC offered, Beard was promoted to the chief operating officer. “Once I got into the cooperative,” she recalled, “I realized this is a really


great place to work. I believed in the business model, and the values, and what we do. And even though I wanted to be in that marketing position, the time that I spent in customer service and the billing department made me better suited for the marketing position. I learned a lot and was able to apply what I learned.” Working in customer service and billing through the 2000s, Beard was able to apply what she learned at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business. But the most important thing those experiences provided, she noted, was the opportunity to learn all the moving parts of the electric utility. “If I would have gone right into a marketing position, I would not have had the knowledge and background to be as successful as I was with having that previous experience,” she said. “Timing is everything in our industry. We don’t have a lot of turnover, and so sometimes waiting pays off.”

2000 hired


Customer Service Representative

Billing Representative


Leslie Beard

Chief Operating Officer


Once she started in marketing in 2010 as a one-person department, she was able to use her deeper understanding of the business to better connect with consumers. Five years later, her role grew dramatically when she was promoted to director of marketing and member services. In that position, she directed and supervised 13 employees in the billing, member services, marketing, purchasing, and warehousing departments. Rounding out her first year in the COO position, Beard looks back fondly on her previous roles and how they helped her get to where she is now. “You have to work toward where you want to be, and it takes time. But it’s definitely been good for me.”

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



Manager of Marketing and Communications

Director of Marketing and Member Services

2020 promoted Chief Operating Officer

Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.