Southeastern IN REMC - December 2023 Indiana Connection

Page 1

Unlock the magic of Sparkling Savings.

Southeastern IN REMC’s

Befores & Afters Artisans restore more than toys; they restore childhood memories PAGES 20-24



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Christmas ‘Qs&As’

from the editor

The hard-working staff members who brought you this month’s Indiana Connection issue are taking a short break from their computer keyboards to wish you a Merry Christmas — and to answer a few fun holiday prompts.

Which Christmas character is most like you and why? “Scrooge. Not only do I act like him a lot in December, but as a bookworm, I like that he and his story come from literature.” — Amber Knight, creative manager “Because of his sincerity and certainty, Linus from ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ reminds me of me when I was his age. So does Ralphie from ‘A Christmas Story’ because of his daydreaming and misadventures.” — Richard G. Biever, senior editor

What would your “elf” name be?

Indiana Connection

“ ‘Joyful’ because I like to spread joy.” — Holly

staffers love Christmas

Huffman, communication support specialist

Cookie Exchanges!

“ ‘Peppermint.’ I’m always eating something peppermint-flavored during the holiday season!” — Ashley Curry, production and design coordinator

What cookies to do they traditionally bring to share? Find out — and download their recipes — at

“ ‘Tinsel’ because I like to make the holidays sparkle for everyone!” — Emily Schilling, editor emeritus “ ‘Crafty.’ I’ve probably made more gifts than I’ve bought.” — Kiley Lipps, graphic designer

It’s not Christmas without… “…matching pajama sets. The past few years, I have worn matching PJ sets with my dogs (thank you, Target), and this year, I’m very excited to start the tradition with my baby daughter. — Lauren Carman, communication manager “…a traditional candlelight Christmas Eve church service. I love the music, the sights, the sounds, the smells.” — Mandy Barth, vice president of communication

On the menu: March: Nostalgic or outer space themed

VOLUME 73 • 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 311,000 residents and businesses receive the magazine as part of their electric co-op membership. Member’s cost per issue is approximately 32 cents, plus postage. CONTACT US: 8888 Keystone Crossing, Suite 1600 Indianapolis, IN 46240-4606 317-487-2220 INDIANA ELECTRIC COOPERATIVES OFFICERS: Randy Kleaving President Steve McMichael Vice President Dr. Richard Leeper Secretary/Treasurer John Cassady CEO EDITORIAL STAFF: Emily Schilling Editor Emeritus Richard George Biever Senior Editor Holly Huffman Communication Support Specialist Lauren Carman Communication Manager Kiley Lipps Graphic Designer Ashley Curry Production and Design Coordinator Amber Knight Creative Manager Mandy Barth Vice President of Communication ADVERTISING: American MainStreet Publications Cheryl Solomon, local ad representative; 512-441-5200; Crosshair Media 502-216-8537; 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 safekeeping 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.

recipes, deadline Jan. 1. If we publish your recipe on our food pages, we’ll send you a $10 gift card.

POSTAGE: Periodicals postage paid at Indianapolis, Indiana, and at additional mailing offices.

Giveaway: Win a copy of “L.S. Ayres Tea Room Recipes & Recollections.”

POSTMASTER: Send change of address to: Indiana Connection, 8888 Keystone Crossing, Suite 1600, Indianapolis, IN 46240-4606. Include key number.

Visit or send your contact information to the address below. The deadline to enter is Jan. 1.

Three ways to contact us: To send us recipes, photos, letters and entries for gift drawings, please use the forms on our website; email; or send to Indiana Connection, 8888 Keystone Crossing, Suite 1600, Indianapolis, IN 46240-4606.

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 expensive home improvements more palatable


12 COUNTY Delaware County 13 INSIGHTS


18 FOOD Candy land: Sweet treats lie ahead

at the L.S. Ayres Tea Room

16 SAFETY Keeping the lights on … and your kitty safe

26 PROFILE Colton Carden, Bartholomew County REMC


Indiana Connection


cover story

20 COVER STORY Hoosier artisans restore more than toys; they mend memories

14 INDIANA EATS A cup of holiday nostalgia


28 HOOSIER ENERGY/ WABASH VALLEY NEWS 29 TRAVEL Festival of Gingerbread in Fort Wayne (NOT IN ALL EDITIONS) 30 DIY HOME Tackle these projects before holiday houseguests arrive (NOT IN ALL EDITIONS)

On the cover At his Old Foundry Toy Works in rural Boone County, Jason Spangle is kind of a “Geppetto meets Steve Jobs and Elon Musk.” His boyhood interest in antique metal toy soldiers and battleships has turned into a full-service shop where he can restore or rebuild most any antique toy. PHOTO BY RICHARD G. BIEVER


co-op news CONTACT US 812-689-4111 800-737-4111 Fax: 812-689-6987 EMAIL OFFICE HOURS 7:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m., Monday–Friday STREET ADDRESS 712 South Buckeye Street Osgood, IN 47037 MAILING ADDRESS P.O. Box 196 Osgood, IN 47037

Director candidates

WANTED If you're thinking about running for a seat on the board of directors during the 2024 director election, and your primary residence is in district 2, 3 or 6, please contact B.J. Myers at 800-737-4111, ext.

SERVICE INTERRUPTIONS To report a power outage: 800-737-4111 or SmartHub

236. The nominating committees will be

BOARD OF DIRECTORS Darrell Smith (District 7), President

responsibilities of a director and check

Brad Bentle (District 2), Vice President Casey Menchhofer (District 9), Secretary Jesse McClure (District 4), Treasurer

vetting potential candidates in December and early January. Learn more about the the eligibility requirements by visiting our website at directorelection.

Melissa Menchhofer (District 5) Vince Moster (District 1) Sherry Shaw (District 8) David Smith (District 3) Mike Thieman (District 6)


APPLICATIONS We are accepting applications for Operation Round Up grants this month. If your nonprofit 501(c) group

A fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) product with speeds from 100 Mbps to 1 Gbps. Residential pricing starts at $64.95 plus tax.

or organization is looking for funding to help make a community-focused project possible, visit the Operation Round Up page on our website. The eligibility requirements and application are located


there. Applications will be accepted Dec. 1-31 and awarded in January.

To safely provide reliable electricity and diversified services to the members and communities we serve.



co-op news

5,000 CONNECTIONS STRONG SEI Fiber hits milestone

Exciting news is buzzing in the world of connectivity!

getting access to the life-changing magic of high-speed

SEI REMC, your trusted energy provider, is proud

internet. It’s not just about streaming shows; it’s about

to announce that SEI Fiber, our high-speed internet

empowering communities, bridging gaps, and making

offering, has surpassed 5,000 happy customers. This

lives better.

isn’t just a milestone; it’s a celebration of SEI REMC’s commitment to keeping you, our valued members, seamlessly connected through the power of SEI Fiber.

As your trusted energy provider, SEI REMC is all about the future. With tech evolving faster than your favorite binge-worthy series, we’re gearing up to stay ahead of

SEI Fiber’s journey to 5,000 connections has been

the game. More coverage, better services, and even

fueled by a dedication to innovation and a member-first

closer community ties – that’s what’s next.

attitude. Operating as a standout product within the SEI REMC family, SEI Fiber has been working hard to meet the rising demand for fast and reliable internet services for both homes and businesses. But let’s talk about what really matters – you, the member! SEI REMC wants your experience to be nothing short of fantastic. From getting you set up with the latest tech to having your back with ongoing support, we’re here to ensure your internet journey is smooth sailing. Beyond the tech talk, let’s acknowledge the impact. Hitting 5,000 connections means more communities are


So, if you’re not part of the 5,000 and counting, why not join the SEI Fiber party? Lightning-fast internet is just a click or a call away. As part of the SEI REMC family, SEI Fiber is ready to welcome you and keep you connected at top speed. Five thousand and counting: That’s SEI REMC’s way of saying, “We’ve got your back!” It’s not just about the numbers; it’s about you, the communities, and the promise of a faster, more connected future. So, what are you waiting for? Join the SEI Fiber family and let the high-speed adventures begin!

co-op news

co-op news

Unlock the Magic of

Sparkling Savings

this Holiday Season! Get ready to unwrap the gift of energy efficiency and holiday cheer! Southeastern Indiana REMC is spreading the joy with our “Sparkling Savings” campaign throughout the month of December. Visit our office and mention the secret phrase to receive a special gift that will brighten your holidays and save you energy. Discover the magic of “Sparkling Savings” as we celebrate the season of giving. Southeastern Indiana REMC is excited to share the gift of energy efficiency with our members. During the entire month of December, simply stop by our office, mention the secret phrase, and receive a festive surprise to enhance your holiday celebrations. Our surprise gift is designed to add a spark to your holiday festivities, all while helping you save on energy costs. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to make your holidays a little brighter and more efficient. Join us in the spirit of giving and energy conservation. Spread the word, share the joy, and let’s make this holiday season one to remember with “Sparkling Savings” from Southeastern Indiana REMC.



sparkling savings

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GETTING CREDIT Make expensive home improvements more palatable LET’S FACE IT: Tackling a home weatherization project can be like a trip to the dentist. You know you need to do it; you know the outcome will be worth it. But that doesn’t stop you from trying to put it off. While we can’t help those with dentophobia, if the cost of installing solar panels or a new heat pump, or replacing your water heater, is giving you the heebie-jeebies, keep reading. The weatherization tax credits found in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), can make the short-term cost and long-term benefits of projects like those more palatable. The IRA offers a wide range of new and expanded incentives for households to make energyefficient investments. Some of those are for the bigtime projects (like solar panels; heat pumps, including geothermal systems; and water heaters) but there are a number of ways to benefit from the incentives offered for simple weatherization efforts. From tax years 2023 to 2032, homeowners can receive a tax

10 DECEMBER 2023

credit for up to 30% of the cost, up to a certain limit, on things like insulation, windows, doors, skylights and even roofs. Insulation products are defined as those designed to reduce a home’s heat loss or gain. That includes common products such as batts, rolls, blow-in fibers, rigid boards, expanding spray and pour-in-place options. Certified products such as weather stripping, spray foam, caulk and house wrap for sealing cracks and reducing air leaks may also qualify. Roofing products covered are Energy Star®-certified metal and asphalt items with pigmented coatings or cooling granules to decrease heat gain. And when it comes to windows, doors and skylights, you don’t have to replace everything. Even if it’s just one door or window at a time, you can still qualify if the product meets Energy Star® criteria, which can be found at If you aren’t sure what upgrades would benefit your home the most, schedule a home energy audit which may itself qualify for a tax credit of up to $150.

There is a yearly limit on the annual credits you earn. The maximum each year is $1,200 for energy property costs and certain energy efficient home improvements (such as doors, windows and energy audits). However, there is no lifetime dollar limit. You can claim the maximum annual credit each year up until 2032. It’s also important to note that you can’t get back more on the credit than you owe in taxes and any excess credit cannot be applied to future tax years.

by Marty Lasure Vice President of Communications and Member Services Bartholomew County REMC





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county feature

Delaware County By Nicole Thomas

Delaware County kicked off the Indiana gas boom in 1876 when natural gas was first discovered in the state near the town of Eaton. Delaware County is also the home of Ball State University, which was renamed from the Indiana Normal College when the Ball brothers, a family of industrialists and philanthropists, bought the foreclosed school in 1917.




The Ball brothers — Lucius, William, Edmund, Frank and George Ball — moved their glass company from Buffalo, New York, to Muncie, Indiana, in 1887 because of Delaware County’s abundant natural gas. The brothers opened their factory in 1888 and became known for manufacturing home canning jars called “Ball jars.” As their corporation grew, the brothers donated to institutions throughout the county, such as the local branches of the YMCA. They also founded Ball Memorial Hospital and Minnetrista, a 44-acre campus dedicated to preserving the history of Muncie and east central Indiana.

NAMED FOR: The Lenape, a Native American tribe also called the Delaware






One of Ball State University’s most notable alumni is Jim Davis, who created the “Garfield” comic strip. Paws Inc., Davis’ comic studio and production company, was originally located in Muncie, before moving to New York City in 1989. There are 17 four-foot-tall statues of the lasagna-loving cat for visitors to photograph and pose with around Delaware County, including two at the Cornerstone Center for the Arts and one at the Muncie Children’s Museum.

Painter Bob Ross filmed his TV show “The Joy of Painting” in Muncie for 11 years. The PBS station WIPB aired Ross’ half-hour program, during which he taught viewers how to use a weton-wet oil painting technique to create landscapes inspired by his time in Alaska as an Air Force medic. At the “Bob Ross Experience,” an immersive exhibit in Minnetrista’s museum, visitors can see the restored studio where Ross painted scenic mountains and happy little trees during nearly 400 episodes.

12 DECEMBER 2023

- Nicole Thomas is a freelance writer from Indianapolis.




create! Christmas break is just around the corner. It’s the perfect time for students to break out their crayons, colored pencils and paints and start working on their entries for the next Cooperative Calendar of Student Art contest. Students have until March 29, 2024, to submit artwork to illustrate the 2025 student art calendar. First place winners will each receive $200. Their artworks will illustrate the calendar’s cover and the 12 months of the year. One “Artist of the Year” will be chosen and will

earn an additional $100. Judges will also select honorable mention winners whose artwork will also appear in the calendar. Those artists will receive $75 each. The contest is open to Indiana public and private school students as well as home-schooled students. They must be in grades kindergarten through 12th grade during the 2023-24 school year. A complete set of rules and required entry forms are available at art-contest.

GET READY FOR THE NEW YEAR Order the 2024 student art calendar Please send me ____ copies of the 2024 Cooperative Calendar of Student Art. I have


Cover art

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on winne




enclosed a check for $_______. (Calendars are $7 each.) NAME:_____________________________ ADDRESS:__________________________________ CITY, STATE, ZIP CODE:_________________________________ Price includes shipping and Indiana sales tax. Make check payable to “Indiana Electric Cooperatives.” Mail this form and check to Indiana Connection Calendar, 8888 Keystone Crossing, Suite 1600, Indianapolis, IN 46240.

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Indiana eats

The rich and creamy Chicken Velvet Soup is one of the signature favorites of the L.S. Ayres Tea Room.

A cup of

holiday nostalgia Immerse yourself in Indianapolis’ culinary history while

showcased the fashions of the day (by popular designers

shopping in the capital city this holiday season by lunching

like Bill Blass) that epitomized “That Ayres Look.”

at one of the city’s most iconic restaurants: the L.S. Ayres Tea Room.

But all that ended Dec. 31, 1990, when the tea room closed. Ayres had been sold to a department store holding

But L.S. Ayres in downtown Indy is long gone, you say?

company in 1986, and, in 1992, the downtown Ayres

The retail store is, but the restaurant and the memories live

store closed.

on at the Indiana State Museum.

Fans of the tea room’s signature dishes — like the

For those too young to remember: L.S. Ayres was a higher-

legendary Chicken Velvet Soup and Chicken Salad —

end department store with multiple locations in Indiana.

thankfully were able to satisfy their cravings for their faves

Its flagship store, sort of the “Marshall Fields of Indiana,”

when the Indiana State Museum reopened the Ayres Tea

was at the corner of Washington and Meridian streets in

Room during holiday-only lunches at its former location in

the heart of downtown Indianapolis. The tea room at ISM

the old Indianapolis City Hall building in 1991. It was so

is a re-creation of a popular ladies-who-lunch spot that had

popular that the tea room was added to the building plans

been around since 1905.

of the museum’s new location at White River State Park

For decades, the Ayres Tea Room was much more than

The new tea room, which, along with the museum, opened

just a place to pause and grab a bite while on a shopping

in 2002, was architecturally inspired by the original,

expedition. Parents specifically brought their children there

featuring reproductions of its stately columns, luxe window

when they wanted them to practice proper dining etiquette.

treatments, wallpaper, carpet and chandeliers. If the tables

Families celebrated special events like birthdays there.

and chairs look familiar it’s because they are actually from

The tea room even hosted style shows, where models

the original restaurant.

14 DECEMBER 2023

Indiana eats Though the tea room is now run by Kahn’s Catering, the

For several years, the reimagined restaurant was open for

menu and recipes are authentic to the L.S. Ayres Tea

lunch all year round but, nowadays, it is only open to the

Room of the past with favorites like the aforementioned

public during the holiday season. This year, the tea room

soup and salad, Chicken Pot Pie, and Club Sandwich,

will be open Nov. 24-Dec. 31 with four daily seating times:

made with classic Pullman bread. Youngsters today can

11 and 11:15 a.m. and 12:30 and 12:45 p.m. It will be

enjoy treats like the Clown Cone (made with vanilla bean

closed on Christmas day. Lunch is served as a buffet which

ice cream, chocolate candies, whipped cream and sugar

includes dessert and beverages. Cost for adults (age 13

cone) and Snow Princess (featuring vanilla bean ice cream,

and up) is $31.50 per person and $16.75 for children (ages

meringue and whipped cream) just as their grandparents

3-12). (Buffet pricing includes tax and gratuity.) Children

and parents once did. Plus, the iconic Treasure Chest,

younger than age 3 eat for free. Reservations are strongly

which rewarded well-mannered tots with a post-lunch gift in

recommended. Call 317-232-1637.

years gone by, is again well-stocked with treasures.

L.S. AYRES TEA ROOM Indiana State Museum 650 W. Washington St. Indianapolis, Indiana


L.S. Ayres Tea Room Chicken Velvet Soup

If you want to recreate your favorite tea room dishes at home — or need a gift for that special someone — pick up a copy of the “L.S. Ayres Tea Room Recipes & Recollections” cookbook for $21.95 at the Indiana State Museum gift shop or at See page 3 for details on how to win a copy! You’ll find recipes for Ayres classics like this one:



¾ cup butter ¾ cup all-purpose flour 1 cup warm milk 2 cups hot chicken stock 1 cup warm cream 4 cups chicken stock 1½ cups chopped, cooked chicken ¼ T. salt Dash of pepper

Melt butter in a saucepan and blend in flour. Add warm milk, 2 cups chicken stock and warm cream, stirring constantly, and bring to a boil. Turn down to let simmer. Add remaining chicken stock and cooked chicken. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil again and then serve.




KEEPING THE LIGHTS ON … AND YOUR KITTY SAFE How to pet-proof your home during the holidays “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” is one of the most beloved holiday comedies. But if you love cats, there’s one scene

shop to coat electric cords to

WIRES AND CORDS Christmas trees and sparkling

discourage chewing or play. • For tabletop displays,

lights are festive additions to our

consider battery-powered

homes during the holidays. And

LED lights. No power cord to

In the iconic scene, Aunt

your pets may want to check them

an outlet is needed, and the

Bethany’s visiting cat drags a

all out, too.

lights stay much cooler in case

that’s something of a nightmare.

loose string of Christmas tree lights under an armchair. This pulls the plug from the outlet. Chevy Chase, as Clark Griswold, sees the lights on his tree are out and plugs the strand back in. A loud electrical buzz, flames, smoke and a brief cat screech come from beneath the chair. “Please spend a little time ‘petproofing’ your home this holiday season,” said Jon Elkins, vice president of safety, training and compliance at Indiana Electric Cooperatives. “It can avoid a real-life pet-related accident that can also endanger your whole family.”

16 DECEMBER 2023

• Make sure the electric wires for the tree lights are secured to the branches and not loosely looped. If your kitty is a curious climber, it could become entangled in the loose cords that could burn or strangle the cat.

there’s just no stopping your curious pet.

ELECTRIC SHOCK If you suspect your pet has chewed on a power cord and been shocked, visit your veterinarian immediately. Electric shocks are life threatening

• Protect the cord running from

and are emergencies. A pet that

the tree to the outlet if your

has chewed on an electrical cord

pet likes to chew or could

may have a white or seared area

become entangled in it. Most

on its tongue or lips.

hardware stores sell flexible electrical safety cables, covers and PVC conduit. Run the cord through or under one of these items to keep it safe. Purchase a pet deterrent spray from a pet

As “Christmas Vacation” revealed, electrical accidents in even comedic movies don’t give our beloved felines nine chances.

If your tired, achy legs and feet are preventing you from moving easily...


Now, a prickly herb has been discovered to….

BOOST BLOOD FLOW TO YOUR LEGS, FEET, AND HANDS WITH A 95% SUCCESS RATE VERIFIED BY CLINICAL STUDY A re-discovery from the 1600s is causing a frenzy within the medical system. A weird herb has been shown in six clinical studies (and by thousands of users) to be very effective for leg and feet pain, burning and numbness – with no side effects – at low cost – and with no doctor visit or prescription needed. This weird herb comes from a 12-foot tall tree that grows in Greece and other countries in Europe. In the old days, people noticed that when their horses who had leg and feet problems ate this herb – it was almost like magic how quickly their problems got much better. They called it the “horse herb”. Then somehow with Europe’s ongoing wars, this herbal secret got lost in time. “It works for people who’ve tried many other treatments before with little or no success. Other doctors and I are shocked at how effective it is. It has created a lot of excitement” says Dr. Ryan Shelton, M.D. Its active ingredient has been put into pill form and improved. It is being offered in the United States under the brand name Neuro�lo.


Researchers have found an herb originally from Greece that has been shown in six placebo-controlled medical studies (543 participants) to be effective and safe. This natural compound strengthens blood vessel walls and reduces swelling to stop the pain and suffering.

95% Reduction in LEG SWELLING, Veri�ied in Clinical Study Says Dove Medical Press & Development and Therapy

... meaning, discomfort, water retention, leg swelling, tiredness and circulation improved in 95% of test subjects

Swollen legs are a warning sign. They mean blood and fluid is forced out of the blood vessels into the surrounding tissue. This causes non-stop pain. This is where Neuroflo’s active ingredient is such a big help.

Poor blood �low in the legs and feet is one of the common problems that develops as we age. Millions of Americans suffer from neuropathy and chronic venous insuf�iciency (CVI), edema, and other leg/ feet problems – millions have these but are undiagnosed. Today’s treatments don’t work for a high percentage of people – and they have side effects that make them hard to tolerate or that people do not want to risk. This includes prescription drugs, over the counter pain pills, surgery and compression.


Here’s why you have pain now: Your arteries have weakened. Your arteries can’t carry enough blood, nutrients and oxygen down to your legs and feet. This damages your nerves and causes your burning, tingling and numbness. The herbs in the pill Neuro�lo strengthen your arteries that carry blood, nutrients and oxygen to your feet and legs. It improves your circulation so oxygenated blood goes to the nerves and repairs them. This makes your nerves grow stronger so your pain fades away and your legs and feet feel much younger again. Katerina King from Murrieta, California says, “I had hands and feet tingling and snapping and burning feeling. It made my life very uncomfortable. I had a hard time walking, my legs felt like they each weighed 50 pounds. Once I got in my car and my feet felt so heavy I couldn’t even drive the car. With Neuro�lo I have no more tingling, cold or burning painful legs and feet. It went away.”


“Now I �inally have a natural solution I can recommend to my patients who suffer from leg and feet problems and pain. I’m delighted because previous treatments were not effective, but Neuro�lo has worked for every one of my patients with no side effects” says Dr. Eric Wood, N.D. Dr. Ryan Shelton, M.D. says “This is new and different. It works for people who’ve tried many other things before. It is natural with no side effects. Don’t give up hope for your leg and feet pain, burning, tingling and numbing. This pill is working for countless people after other treatments have failed them. I highly recommend it.” “Neuro�lo is a terri�ic choice for people with leg and feet issues. The clinical trials in support of this herb show it is very effective

WORKS IN AMAZING WAY: A prickly plant was used in Europe in the 1600s to revitalize ailing legs. Lost over the centuries, it is now making a comeback as US doctors rediscover its impressive results – sending relief to thousands of users with: • Burning, Tingling, • Painful Legs Numbness & Feet • Swollen, Achy Feet • Varicose Veins for safe and fast relief,” said Dr. Wood, a Harvard trained doctor who has appeared on award winning TV shows. Now you can get a good night’s sleep - peaceful, restful sleep – with no pain, tingling, zinging, itching or zapping. Improve your balance and coordination. No side effects – safe to take with other medications. Enjoy your favorite activities and hobbies again. Be more active, have more fun, enjoy life more. Don’t risk irreversible damage to your feet and hands. Don’t get worse and wind up in the hospital or a nursing home. Neuro�lo is GUARANTEED to work for you – or you will get full refund with a 90-day unconditional money-back guarantee. It is NOT sold in stores or online. No prescription or doctor visit is required.


This is the of�icial release of NeuroFlo for readers of Indiana Connection. Therefore, everyone who calls within the next 10 days will receive 50% OFF their �irst order. A toll-free hotline number has been set up for local readers to call for this 50% OFF savings. The number will be open starting at 7:00 am today and only for the next 10 days. All you have to do is CALL TOLL FREE 1-888-250-8519 and provide the operator with the special 50% OFF discount approval code: NEF158. Important: Due to Neuro�lo’s popularity and recent media exposure on ABC, CBS and FOX NEWS, phone lines are often busy. If you call and do not get through immediately, please be patient and call back. Those who miss the 10 day deadline for 50% OFF will have to pay more for Neuro�lo.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Results based upon averages. Models are used in all photos to protect privacy.

Candy Land



PEANUT BUTTER CARAMEL BARS Nanci VanVlymen, Wheatfield, Indiana

1 (16.5 oz.) box yellow cake mix ½ cup butter/margarine, softened 1 egg 20 mini peanut butter cups, chopped 2 T. cornstarch 1 (12 oz.) jar caramel ice cream topping ¼ cup peanut butter ½ cup salted peanuts

Combine dry cake mix, butter and egg; beat until no longer crumbly (about 3 minutes). Stir in peanut butter cups. Press into a 9-by-13-inch greased pan. Bake at 350 F for 18-22 minutes or until lightly browned. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, combine cornstarch, caramel topping and peanut butter until smooth. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a boil (about 25 minutes). Cook and stir 1-2 minutes longer. Remove from heat and stir in chopped peanuts. Spread evenly over warm crust. Bake 6-7 minutes longer or until almost set. Cool completely then frost with topping.


⁄3 cup milk

¼ cup margarine 1 t. vanilla extract 1 cup chocolate chips 2 ¼ cups powdered sugar Heat milk and margarine. Add chocolate chips and stir until melted. Add vanilla and powdered sugar. Spread over peanut/ caramel layer; refrigerate. Cut into bars. Best served cold.

Editor’s note: We drizzled caramel topping on the bars before serving.

18 DECEMBER 2023

food PEPPERMINT POPCORN Janita Wenger, Claypool, Indiana

12 cups popped popcorn, lightly salted 2 oz. chocolate 2 oz. white chocolate or almond bark 1

⁄3 cup crushed peppermint candy/candy canes

Spread the popcorn evenly on a cookie sheet. Melt the chocolate and drizzle over the popcorn. Melt white chocolate and drizzle over the popcorn. Sprinkle with peppermint candy before the chocolate sets up so the candy sticks to the chocolate. Allow chocolate to set up before serving. Cook’s note: You may add 2 T. butter to the chocolate while melting to make it easier to drizzle.

BUTTERFINGER DESSERT Yvonne Bertke, St. Meinrad, Indiana 10 oz. crushed Butterfinger candy bars (about 5 full-sized bars or 1 bag fun-sized bars) 2 cups roughly crushed graham crackers 1 cup roughly crushed saltine crackers

1 stick melted butter 2 cups milk 2 cups softened vanilla ice cream 2 small (3.4 oz.) boxes instant vanilla pudding 1 (8 oz.) container non-dairy whipped topping

Mix crushed Butterfinger bars, graham crackers, saltines and melted butter in a large mixing bowl. Press ¾ of this mixture in a 9-by-13-inch glass or plastic pan. Save reserved crumbs. Chill the crust in the refrigerator as you make the pudding layer. In a large mixing bowl, mix the milk, softened ice cream and dry pudding mix until well blended. Spread over the chilled crust. Spread the whipped topping over the pudding layer. Sprinkle top with reserved crumbs. Chill until ready to serve. Makes 12-15 servings. Cook’s note: It is easier to crush the candy bars if they are frozen. Do not crush candy or the cracker crumbs superfine. You want the lumps to have the appropriate “feel” in your mouth! Editor’s note: When we tested the recipe, we found it was easier to spread the whipped topping over the pudding layer if we chilled the dessert for about 30 minutes first. FOOD PREPARED BY INDIANA CONNECTION STAFF. PHOTOS BY KILEY LIPPS.



Befores &Afters Artisans restore more than toys; they restore childhood memories BY RICHARD G. BIEVER


he lovely lady from Lafayette brought Lavonne McCarty an old doll with sunken eyes and cracked facial features and limbs. The doll had belonged to and was loved on by her mother-in-law as a little girl. Her mother-in-law had just been moved into a nursing home. The doll came with a dress, now tattered and stained, that her mother-in-law had made for it some 75 years earlier. The woman asked McCarty, a doll maker and mender, to restore it as best she could, despite the cost of her labor. “She wanted to get this doll restored for her mother-inlaw for Christmas,” said McCarty. “Thinking this was something that somebody played with as a girl is stunning. It wasn’t expensive. It wasn’t good quality. But for girls who played with dolls, it brings back memories that you can’t recreate.”


he elderly caller from California was looking for someone who could repair an old plastic Tiki necklace charm from a box of Cracker Jack. The loop on its tiny head for the string was broken, the caller said. Jason Spangle, whose Old Foundry Toy Works specializes in restoring rare, antique mechanical and metal collectors’ toys, told her that she could probably find the same exact charm on eBay for $8. “No, I want this one,” she insisted. She sent it to him, and Spangle worked his magic in his rural Boone County shop that’s filled with specialty high precision, machinist, and metal-working tools. He experimented with some plastics and blended it with the tiny toy to fashion a new loop. He had to charge her $30 or $40 for his effort, he noted. “But she was overjoyed. It looked like it was never broken,” he added. “Early on, I realized the value of sentimental things,” he said. “Sentimental work is just as important, if not more than my regular repair work I do for institutions, other companies, and other antique toy stores. But no matter if it’s that $8 Cracker Jack charm or a $100,000 Marklin antique battleship, I treat them all exactly the same.”

Before and after photos provided by Lavonne McCarty (doll) and Jason Spangle (antique fire truck)

20 DECEMBER 2023

she attended the prestigious John Herron Art Institute in Indianapolis (now a school within Indiana University). After college, she worked as a commercial artist. But she and her first husband divorced, and she had a young son to raise. “I’ve been a fashion illustrator. I’ve been a book illustrator. But you don’t make any money,” she explained. “It was OK if you’re married and you’re a second income. But a woman with a child could not survive on that income.” Lavonne McCarty restores antique dolls in her basement workshop. Photos by Richard G. Biever


hristmas memories are eternal. Toys from Santa’s workshop? Not so much. Having elf-made antiques repaired and restored has gotten a lot easier these days thanks to a little cottage industry of Hoosiers. Artisans like McCarty, whose home and workshop is in Beech Grove, and Spangle, on Boone REMC power lines north of Lebanon, take the shattered shells of old porcelain dolls or rusted dingedup metal fire trucks and make them look and perform as they did long ago — when they first lit up tiny freckled faces and made memories beneath a tinsel-covered Christmas tree. “There’s a part of me that always wanted to be a doctor to help people,” McCarty said. “Now, I bring back people’s memories.” “The greatest feeling in the world is when I hear from somebody, and they’re just overjoyed when they receive something I’ve restored,” Spangle noted. “They get their whole family around it, and they get it going if it’s mechanical. It’s super special to them. And to think I was a part of that. I think this is what I was supposed to do in life.”

Though McCarty, 81, and Spangle, 48, operate on different types of antique toys, both admit to getting teary-eyed themselves when they see or hear how much joy their labors of love bring to their clients. “It’s fun to watch a person sit down and have a memory put in their lap,” McCarty mused.

BLUEPRINTS McCarty’s late career venture into doll making and mending followed a circuitous route. But it had its roots in her childhood. “As a kid, I wanted to be a surgeon. I don’t know why,” she said. “And so I operated on the dolls I had.” When she was little in the 1940s, most of her dolls had cloth bodies. She’d take her mom’s manicure scissors and … “I did my surgery, and then I’d stitch them up. Needless to say, my mother didn’t keep any of my dolls,” she laughed, noting the condition she left them in. While she had the grades for medical school, her family didn’t have the funds. She directed her attention toward art. After high school in 1960,

So, she took a job at a large commercial printing plant in Indianapolis. McCarty worked in the negative stripping and plate making area, the last steps before printing. After 17 years there, in 1987, she was caught up in a downsizing. That’s when she began taking classes on doll making which rekindled her artistic spirit. While still in college at Herron, she also had studied sculpture. An instructor pulled her aside one day and taught her how to pour and fire liquid porcelain. “Lavonne,” the instructor told her, “you’re going to want to know how to do this. You’re going to need to know how to do this.” At the time, McCarty said it meant little to her. But 30-some years later, that knowledge paid off as she began firing molded porcelain for the dolls she created. She began creating and selling highend collector dolls. Not only would she mold and fire the porcelain dolls’ faces and physical features, but she painted the works and designed and sewed their clothing and styled their hair. In 1996, she took a giant leap and purchased Porcelain by Marilyn, a doll store near Greenfield, from the eponymous owner who was retiring. continued on page 22 DECEMBER 2023


In 1999, while still in college, he opened a small toy and restoration shop in the garage next to his mom’s house. His brother, Lance, also has built model race cars and aircraft since childhood and has appeared in several magazines in his own right. “I’ve always wanted to have a traditional toy shop,” Spangle said. “That probably started when we were doing RC car racing when I was in middle school and early high school.” He said his first real commissioned miniature work came from Australia. Someone saw his toy soldier restorations and asked if he could make a working model of a LeeEnfield bolt-action rifle used by Australian soldiers during World War I.

Lavonne McCarty sands off excess repair material on the arm of a damaged antique doll. She’ll then rebuild its hand and fingers before refinishing and painting.

continued from page 21 Unlike McCarty, Spangle’s career in toy restoration began in college. But it’s not what he was studying. Spangle grew up in Rensselaer. And while colorful molded plastic G.I. Joe and superhero action figures were all the rage in the 1980s, his boyhood interests in toys focused on soldiers and warships from another era.

1900s. Most had become collectors’ items, but they captured his fancy. The book included metal soldiers and the aforementioned World War I Marklin toy battleships. “That’s when I really started taking notice of that stuff.”

He recalled on hot summer days, his mom would walk him and his little brother to the library a couple blocks away where they’d check out whatever books they wanted. Then they’d hunker down in the living room that had their home’s only window air conditioner. “And then we would just look at books,” he said.

In high school, his attention turned to computers, and after graduating, he attended Purdue University before transferring to his hometown Saint Joseph’s College, where his mother worked. He then experienced disc problems in his back and had surgery. During his immobile recuperation, he found a whole new world at his fingertips. “While laying down, I started collecting antique toy soldiers on eBay because they were mentioned in that book. And then I started fixing them up.”

One of those books was “The Golden Age of Toys,” a large manual detailing metal and intricate mechanical toys of the late 1800s and early half of the

He began posting pictures of his restored solders online. The next thing he knew, people were sending him their toys to repair and restore.

22 DECEMBER 2023

Spangle researched the actual mechanical illustrations of the rifle, and, from scratch, fabricated the gun in 1/6th scale. “I made them a little miniature bolt-action rifle,” Spangle said. “I made patterns, cast them in metal, and then machined them and then sculpted the gunstock, which was actually made out of the same type of wood that the Australian LeeEnfield would have been made from.” The only compromise for the work, he admitted, was he couldn’t import the wood — Queensland maple — from Australia and had to settle on getting it from Hawaíi. Spangle noted he created a simple website that touted the toys and work he could do. “That’s how I started — repairing lead toy soldiers. And then, as the machine shop grew, I started taking on more and more comprehensive work. At this point, there’s pretty much nothing we can’t preserve, repair or restore now.” While his skills and stature in the unique line of work in which he tinkered and toiled grew — developing clientele from across the U.S. and the world — Spangle felt the

original workshop next to his mom’s house lacked a certain gravitas. Like McCarty, he opened a main street store front for his work. In 2005, at age 30, he took his tools to Lafayette where he opened Old Foundry Toy Works, an antique toy store and restoration shop, in a historic building downtown. “I wanted to feel validity. When it was a home shop, I don’t think it was taken seriously enough.”

BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARDS McCarty owned the doll store for only five years, 1996-2001. That’s when the public’s interest in doll collecting seemed to nose dive. Despite taking another part-time job at another printing plant, she couldn’t keep the store open. While owning the store, however, she continued teaching people how to make dolls. People would also come in and asked if she could fix broken dolls. Though it had not been her bailiwick before, “If you learn how to make them,” she said, “you know how to repair them.” Repairing dolls for people became a new passion, but she soon realized it wasn’t going to keep the shop open, either. She would charge $125 for a thorough restoration, which some folks might quibble about. But if she had 12 to 15 hours in a restoration, something not at all out of line, she’s looking at paying herself $10 an hour. “You make more at McDonald’s,” she said. “But I love doing this. If you love what you do, you never work a day in your life.” Once she closed the shop, she paid off her debts and bought a small home in Beech Grove, a block from her son and his family. She recently retired from teaching dollmaking, something she’d done

When not restoring antique toys or fulfilling other commissions, Jason Spangle continues the restoration of an old schoolhouse that is his workshop and home.

for 28 years. But she stays busy repairing dolls. Most of her work is from return clients or through word of mouth. Most of the antique dolls she works on were from the 1950s or older. She also will repair collector’s dolls with porcelain heads and parts. Atop her workbench in her basement are jars stuffed with paint brushes of all sizes, and compounds she uses to fill cracks and holes. She uses small sanders to smooth out the glues or compounds before repainting or glazing. Plastic bins, labeled for parts and wigs for various sized dolls, are stacked in corners beside porcelain faces she creates. In another part of the basement, she has three kilns to fire the custom-made porcelain parts.

For Spangle, the shop in Lafayette allowed him to expand his workshop. He began accumulating a wide variety of tools and equipment from near and far. He discovered Purdue University’s salvage shop of old lab equipment and tools as a local source for unique precision tools. These shop pieces allowed him to vastly expand the materials he could work on and the detail he could bring in creating

replicas of old collector’s toys and restoring the toys of others. He also added a staple of industrial clients — outside the realm of toys and collectibles — for which he did work. His work has included antique automatons which are mechanical doll-like figures that run with clockwork engineering. Automatons originated in France in the 1800s. He even came to possess original 1920s volumes of books detailing, in French, the mechanisms and diagrams used to create the little marvels. But the trouble with the storefront was the storefront. “I wasn’t getting anything done,” he laughed. “Kind and curious people came in and were simply amazed at the place. And we would talk for hours.” He owned the store for just three years, 2005-08. In 2012, he purchased what is his current location, an old schoolhouse in Elizaville, just northeast of Lebanon. It is undergoing a slow restoration, as well. The school, built in 1909 and expanded in 1958, was shuttered in 1968. continued on page 24 DECEMBER 2023


Indiana toy and doll repair providers Santa may not have “authorized” repair shops for elf-made toys. But if he did, we’re sure you’d find these Hoosier cottage industries among them for restorations of collector and antiques items like dolls and metal and mechanized toys and games. We always recommend you call or contact the shop or visit them online first. BIG BOYS TOYS RESTORATIONS 4681 S. 200 E. Lebanon, IN 46052 317-730-0018 HOOSIERBOY RESTORATIONS 5858 Churchman Ave. Indianapolis, IN 46203 317-734-3903 INDIANA DOLL HOSPITAL 679 W. 375 N. Greenfield, IN 46140 317-326-2229 LAVONNE MCCARTY 441 N. 19th Ave. Beech Grove, IN 46107 317-363-2129 MARQUIS’ DOLLS & RESTORATIONS 214 N. Fifth St. Lafayette, IN 47901 765-429-6365 On Facebook OLD FOUNDRY TOY WORKS 6325 N. 500 E Lebanon, IN 46052 765-742-1020 RANDY’S TOY SHOP 165 N. Ninth St. Noblesville, IN 46060 317-776-2220

24 DECEMBER 2023

continued from page 23 He said soon the building will include his complete workshop that will provide dedicated areas for his various specialties; a library for his more than 9,000 toy and machinist books and catalogs; a traditional 1900s toy shop that will be open to the public; and his family’s living quarters. Today, the full-service machine shop includes dozens of highquality American and European machines and custom-made diagnostic equipment. He uses Swiss watchmaking and clockmaking equipment to work on antique mechanical toys or the Victorian automatons. The shop also includes laser cutters, presses, metal forming

tools, welders, pattern-making tools, forges and furnaces and casting equipment. He also has 3D printers, mainly used for tooling, that work together with plastic injection molders. He even has what he believes is the world’s largest collection of antique lightbulbs specifically made for toys. “Proper restorations are some of the most complicated stuff you’ll ever encounter. You’ve got to be a chemist. You’ve got to be an engineer. You’ve got to be an artist. You’ve got to be a painter,” Spangle said. “I’m to the point where I feel I have one of the most technically capable shops in the world, and I’m satisfied with that. It’s my job.”


he little Army doll came to McCarty in pieces. It was a gift her uncle sent to her aunt from overseas during World War II.          At some point, the doll was stowed          away in an attic or closet. McCarty said the doll’s body was composed of glue and sawdust. “Mice like glue,” she said. “He ate the insides of it out. The face was left with no nose. And that’s what it looked like,” she noted, pointing to a “before” photo on her phone of a little shattered sharpshooter who’d been left war-torn and tattered. “That took a while to build his head and everything,” she said. And then she showed the “after:” A sharp handsome young soldier once again standing at attention. “I do this because the end product is so fun. It makes people so happy,” she added. “Don’t you have childhood memories that you’d like somebody to revive for you? As adults, we have life that we have to deal with. As children, everything was play. You could love a doll; you could bury a Tonka toy.… To bring back somebody’s memories just by restoring their toys? That’s priceless.” Richard G. Biever is senior editor of Indiana Connection.

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AMBITIONS NOT DEFERRED BY CO-OP DEPLOYMENT After high school, Colton Carden’s career ambition was to join the military to work on robotics — smart weapons, autonomous vehicles, and the like. While he never joined the military, his interest in cutting-edge technology is now being deployed on the home front, for consumers of Bartholomew County REMC. As director of engineering and technology for the Columbus-based electric cooperative, Carden has been working with smart meters and autonomous system technology to develop innovative “self-healing” power lines. “They use devices that talk to each other out in the field,” he said of the pilot project. “They sectionalize and isolate faults and reconfigure the system automatically.” Technology like this promises to eliminate or reduce outage times for larger numbers of consumers when a problem occurs. Carden has been fascinated with the technology used in power delivery since his first college internship with an electric cooperative in his native Kentucky. As an engineering student at the University of Louisville, he had to spend a semester getting realworld experience. But during the economic recession at the time, finding internships wasn’t easy. He had a buddy who was an apprentice lineman

at Shelby Energy, an electric co-op in Shelbyville, Kentucky, who put in a good word for him.

Colton Carden

Director of Engineering and Technology

Bartholomew County REMC

As a cooperative intern, Carden was tutored by the co-op’s contract engineer. He said he did a little bit of everything: installing automated meters, testing meters, even doing line inspections from a helicopter — “That was a lot of fun,” he noted. “I got thrown feet-first into all that stuff. We were doing outage prediction and working with the outage management system.” The variety of work Carden was allowed to do made him fall in love with the industry. He shifted his field of study to electrical engineering, transferred to the University of Kentucky, and continued working for Shelby Energy to help pay his way. While the technology and variety of experiences drew him to the co-op, it was the co-op’s family atmosphere that kept him at the co-op. Electric cooperative employees speak often about the “family” atmosphere where they work. After graduation, Shelby had no openings, so he interviewed at another co-op in Kentucky and at Bartholomew County REMC. He accepted the job in Columbus

because it felt so familiar to him. Like co-ops across the country, it used many of the same types of data, mapping and metering systems as at Shelby Energy. He also knew the area. “My stepfather owned property up here.” Since then, Carden has moved through different job titles and multiple responsibilities at the co-op. He now oversees several departments and employees. He also likes the potential for growth in the area. “The industrial growth in the area and all the manufacturing that’s here in Columbus, attracted me to this area. There’s just a lot of opportunities and diversity of things that you can do. I’m just very happy to be part of a family co-op, an innovative co-op, and excited for all the future technologies we’ll be implementing, and projects we’ll be working on.” INTERESTED IN AN ELECTRIC CO-OP CAREER? Visit to learn about available careers or tell us about yourself.

2010 Hired

2013 Hired

2013 Duties Added

2015 Role Shift

2017 Promoted

College Intern Shelby Energy (Shelbyville, Kentucky)

Engineering Technician Bartholomew County REMC

Engineering Technician Bartholomew County REMC

Engineering Technician Bartholomew County REMC

Engineering Manager Bartholomew County REMC

26 DECEMBER 2023

2020 Promoted Director of Engineering and Technology Bartholomew County REMC

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Hoosier Energy news

SKY HIGH Aerial tree trimming key to reliable power

Keeping transmission lines clear of overgrowth along 150-200-mile-long stretches each year is not an easy task. That’s why Hoosier Energy uses an aerial saw to get the job done. The saw features nine 25-inch carbide tip saw blades attached to multiple 20-foot aluminum poles. A 50-horsepower snowmobile motor that can be turned on and off remotely powers the saw. All of this is attached to the bottom of a helicopter. Hoosier Energy has been aerial saw trimming since 2018, initially on a trial basis. Since then, the aerial saw has been used annually, most recently in August. Because previously trimmed areas need to be regularly maintained, the aerial crews have begun revisiting stretches of line they worked on four years ago. Providing affordable and reliable power to its members — and their member-owners — is important to Hoosier Energy. The aerial saw is one of the most cost-efficient and time saving ways to achieve that goal.

The helicopter and aerial saw pause for refueling from the ground crew.

The helicopter with aerial saw attached makes another pass to clear transmission lines of overgrowth.

28 DECEMBER 2023


Festival of


Craftmanship takes center stage in elaborate gingerbread creations.

Tour these creative homes during the holidays By Natalie Derrickson

When the weather turns cold, one need only visit the Fort Wayne History Center’s Festival of Gingerbread to be enveloped in the warmth of the season and the tantalizing aroma of gingerbread. During the festival’s run from Nov. 24 through Dec. 17, visitors can expect to see professional-level gingerbread creations, including depictions of noteworthy historic architecture, holiday scenes and pop culture standouts, alongside entries submitted by students, adults and families. No matter which gingerbread creation catches your attention, you’re sure to be impressed by this incredible local holiday tradition, now in its 38th year. In 2022, the number of festival attendees topped 13,700. Even more are expected this year since festival-goers can also explore the recently renovated Fort Wayne History Center. “What’s been rewarding is that we’ve experienced record

submissions in all categories,” said Fort Wayne History Center Executive Director Todd Pelfry. “That really shows that people are ready to return to in-person events, especially for the holidays.” Plan to dedicate 60-90 minutes to peruse the festival during peak hours, and up to two hours to enjoy the History Center’s other exhibits. Festival aisleways are ample and accessible, so there’s plenty of space for all visitors to enjoy the gingerbread creations, even on the busiest days. The Festival of Gingerbread kicks off during Fort Wayne’s annual Night of Lights Nov. 22 in downtown Fort Wayne. Visit for hours and up-to-date information, and to purchase virtual tours of some past festivals.

Last year, over 13,700 people came to the Festival of Gingerbread.

This festival submission gives a nautical twist to the traditional gingerbread house.

Natalie Derrickson is a freelance writer from Indianapolis. Photos courtesy of Fort Wayne History Center. DECEMBER 2023



BECAUSE FIRST IMPRESSIONS MATTER … Tackle these projects before holiday houseguests arrive

Are you expecting houseguests during the holidays? Make a good first impression before they even enter your home with these outdoor decorating and home maintenance tips.

’TIS THE SEASON Retrieving holiday decorations from the garage or attic may remind you that these areas could use some cleaning and organizing. Replace old musty cardboard boxes with sturdy plastic storage totes with lids. They keep items dry and breakables intact, plus they’re stackable to maximize vertical space. Grab a stiff push broom or a wet/ dry vac to sweep up debris or (yuck!) animal droppings before storing your new containers. Then, inspect low-traffic crawl spaces and apply expanding foam to seal any small openings and keep cold air and pests out.

SAFELY LIGHT THE NIGHT Take advantage of a mild day to hang outdoor holiday lights on gutters, eaves, and landscaping. Make sure they’re in good shape — frayed cords, even ones for outdoor use, aren’t worth the worry. Plus, the array of multi-holiday, seasonally-themed decorative lighting available now is eye-popping! Next, try a nifty ladderless light hanging tool with included clips to easily string lights from the ground.

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‘LEAVE OUT’ THE GUTTERS If you must use a ladder for holiday lighting, take note of leaves in your gutters. Skip the hose attachments and try a universal gutter cleaning kit for handheld leaf blowers on onestory homes. Or grab some protective leather or suede work gloves for the tried-and-true manual method. Either way, don’t let autumn’s leftovers dampen your gutters’ draining potential in a major snow melt. Also, invest in a snow roof rake to prevent heavy snowpacks from forming ice dams.

BRING THE HEAT Once indoors, attend to areas we often take for granted. Clean out your clothes dryer’s lint trap and check for other hidden clogs. A dryer vent brush kit works wonders to enhance dry time, increase efficiency, and reduce the risk of fire. Clean out the ducting and vent cap on the other end where it vents outside. A damaged vent cap is an open


invitation for small critters seeking warmth, so replace yours right away. Keep up with your furnace filter and replace it monthly. Pick a multi-pack for added savings. Upgrade to filters with higher Merv ratings if allergies are a common nuisance at home.

CLEAN SWEEP Vacuum the grates at the bottom of your refrigerator, both front and back. It might be a hassle, but it’s well worth the effort to help increase your fridge’s efficiency. Next, tackle wall air return vents and floor registers, or consider updating them to a modern finish. And try magnetic vent deflectors to better direct warm air where you need it. Lastly, don’t forget the baseboards, which are champs at collecting dust and pet hair. It’s a great time to clean your carpets — winter’s dry air helps freshly shampooed carpet dry faster. Pick up a portable rug cleaner and other carpet cleaning solutions for an easy DIY that will leave you feeling refreshed.

Mark Schaufelberger

Mark Schaufelberger is the owner of Markle Hardware in Markle. He’s a member-owner of Do it Best, a Fort Wayne-based cooperative of thousands of hardware stores, home centers and lumberyards throughout the U.S. and around the world. (This article is for informational purposes only. Indiana Connection and Do it Best assume no liability for the accuracy or completeness of the information contained herein, or for injuries, property damage, or the outcome of any project.)

KEEP THE HOLIDAYS HAPPY. 811 before you stake.

It’s not traditional digging, but staking requires 811 first. Vital utilities, including your natural gas, could be inches below. Before you drive that stake into the ground, have your underground lines located for free by visiting or call 811.

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Indiana 811

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