Clark County REMC — February 2022 Indiana Connection

Page 1

CEO retires after decades of service.

Clark County REMC’s


pages 20-23


from the editor

Motto mix-ups Do you know what Indiana’s state motto is? •

The Journey Takes You to a Crossroads

Back Home Again in Indiana

Hoosier Heartland

The Land of Hoosiers

The Crossroads of America

If you picked the last choice, congratulations. You’re one of 80 percent of Hoosiers who can still recall at least one fun fact from their Indiana history lessons. But the thing is, another 20 percent of us have no idea what our state motto is. And, it’s not just Hoosiers who mix up mottos. According to Solitaire Bliss, a surprising two in five Americans don’t know their state’s motto. In fact, a whopping 87 percent of those from North Carolina thought their motto was “First in Flight.” Sure, that slogan appears on license plates as an homage to the first successful airplane flights by the Wright Brothers but the real motto is the more philosophical “To Be, Rather Than to Seem.” In several other states, some of those polled also opted for mottos that seem to literally represent their homeland. Nine percent of Floridians think their state motto is “Our State of Snowbirds” which is actually apropos. In New York, over half of those polled think the state motto is “Empire State of Mind.” (Nope, that’s a 2009 song by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys!) John Denver’s song “Take Me Home Country Roads” is so famously associated with West Virginia that 36 percent of polled mountaineers (those from West Virginia) think it’s their state motto. Let’s face it: Missouri’s state motto, “The Welfare of the People is the Highest Law,” doesn’t roll off the tongue. Maybe that’s why 51 percent of those polled thought the Show Me State’s motto was “Show Me Yours, I Will Show You Mine!” Perhaps the funniest faux state motto comes from our neighbors to the south who weren’t “chicken” when boasting (and roasting) about their state and its top agricultural industry. One in 10 Kentuckians think “Land of Succulent Poultry” is their state motto. Although that phrase may have wings, let’s not forget that Kentucky Fried Chicken creator Harlan Sanders was a Hoosier! Perhaps somewhere within that fact there’s a motto in the making!


On the menu: June issue: Summer salads, deadline April

1. July issue: Fresh from the garden recipes, deadline April 1. If we publish your recipe on our food pages, we’ll send you a $10 gift card.

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

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

VOLUME 71 • NUMBER 8 ISSN 0745-4651 • USPS 262-340 Published monthly by Indiana Electric Cooperatives Indiana Connection is for and about members of Indiana’s locally-owned, not-for-profit electric cooperatives. It helps consumers use electricity safely and efficiently; understand energy issues; connect with their co-op; and celebrate life in Indiana. Over 304,000 residents and businesses receive the magazine as part of their electric co-op membership. CONTACT US: 8888 Keystone Crossing, Suite 1600 Indianapolis, IN 46240-4606 317-487-2220 INDIANA ELECTRIC COOPERATIVES OFFICERS: Randy Kleaving President Steve McMichael Vice President Dr. Richard Leeper 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 Chuck Snider Director of Communication and Creative Services 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 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 Gain a clearer perspective on windows. 12 INSIGHTS



cover story

14 COUNTY OF THE MONTH Spotlighting Washington County.

20 COVER STORY Relighting a beacon in West Baden.

15 INDIANA EATS Tolon: Fort Wayne restaurant serves sublime seasonal

24 SAFETY Hit a pole? Stay in the car!

specialties. 16 FOOD Pasta-bilities: Highlighting the versatile noodle. 18 ELECTRICITY FACTS


Indiana Connection


outdoors 28 PROFILE Brittany Sams’ professional progression at LaGrange County REMC. 29 OUTDOORS Assume all ice is thin ice.

25 RECALLS 26 TRAVEL Retracing the places where Abe Lincoln grew to adulthood. (Not in all editions.)


On the cover The First Baptist (Colored) Church of West Baden Springs glows with the anticipation of a new beginning. Restoration of the church, the last remaining structure representing the Black community of West Baden and French Lick from the days of racial segregation in the early 1900s, was completed by volunteers last fall. PHOTO COURTESY OF ELIZABETH MITCHELL



General Manager David Vince says he'll miss each and every one of Clark County REMC's employees when he retires on Feb. 4. He's shown here (third from the left) with REMC department managers (left to right) Kevin Kastensmidt, Brian Omerso, Tim Hayden, Dave Barton and Jeremy Miller.

CONTACT US Office: 812-246-3316 / 800-462-6988 Outages: 866-480-REMC Fax: 812-246-3947 To pay your bill by phone or inquire about your account: 877-484-4042 EMAIL WEBSITE OFFICE HOURS 7 a.m.-4 p.m., Monday-Friday STREET ADDRESS 7810 State Road 60, Sellersburg, IN 47172 MAILING ADDRESS P.O. Box 411, Sellersburg, IN 47172 BOARD OF DIRECTORS Paul Graf, President Candy Meyer, Vice President John Biesel, Secretary/Treasurer Joe Basham Steve Dieterlen Mark Huber Jeff Myers UPCOMING BOARD MEETINGS Feb. 1 at 1:30 p.m. March 8 at 5:30 p.m. April 5 at 5:30 p.m. EMPLOYEE ANNIVERSARIES Larry Edwards - 25 years Amanda Koerber - 10 years

Like us on Facebook ClarkCountyREMC Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Instagram Follow us on LinkedIn

Looking back, looking ahead Vince retires after 23 years at co-op

What a ride! I began my utility career in 1980 as a meter reader at Intermountain REA in Colorado, and on Feb. 4, I will officially retire as the general manager of Clark County REMC. My journey took me to San Miguel Power in Nucla, Colorado, and to Caney Valley Electric in Cedar Vale, Kansas, before spending the last 23 years serving the people of Southern Indiana. I have nothing but gratitude and appreciation for each step along the way. There are many projects and events which I am proud to have supported; tough decisions and tense negotiations that were challenging at the time but rewarding in the end. Yet when I think back over my career, it’s not the milestones or the accomplishments that I remember most. It’s the people. I want to thank the board of directors for its support

and guidance, without which our co-op would not be as strong as it is today. The employees at REMC are the best around, and I will miss each of them dearly. We went through a lot together, from day-to-day work in the office, to weeks spent shoulder-to-shoulder rebuilding Henryville after the tornado, to nearly two years navigating a global pandemic. After all that and so much more, I can truly say that while I am leaving my job behind, I leave with more than memories. I leave with friends. I’m closing this chapter of my life and am ready to write the next one. I am blessed beyond measure by my family who stood by my side every step of the way. The next great adventure awaits: I’ve got places to go and grandkids to spoil! Thank you for everything.

DAVID A. VINCE General Manager FEBRUARY 2022


Need help understanding your new billing statement? Check out the bill explainer below for some tips on how to navigate the new design.


to your Clark County REMC Bill

How to Read Your New Bill Statement Use this guide to help you navigate the new design.


Contact Info


Ways to contact the office 2


Billing Focus Current account balance along with any due dates. Past due balances will show here in red.






Member Info

Account number, service address, and the most up-to-date contact info we have for you. 7


Account Message Special messages unique to your account will appear here. 8


Monthly Comparison

How much energy you used this month compared to last month and last year. Front of typical Clark County REMC Statement


Daily Averages

How much energy you used per day, and how much that cost. 7

Co-op Message News about your cooperative, our programs and special events.


Payment Stub This section can be detached and returned with your payment.

Learn more at




to your Clark County REMC Bill

How to Read Your New Bill Statement Use this guide to help you navigate the new design.


Meter & Service


Info on your service dates, meter readings, service location and PCA. 2



Billing Activity

Breakdown of all charges and payments since your last bill. 3

Usage Chart

Bar graph showing your daily use for each day of your billing cycle, and the average daily temperature.




Outage Info

Ways to report an outage and steps to take when an outage occurs. 5

Fine Print

Important information on payment terms and service fees. 6



Back of typical Clark County REMC Statement

Program Feature

Look here for helpful programs and fun events coming soon. 7

Payment Options All the convenient ways to manage your account and pay your bill.

Learn more at FEBRUARY 2022


Clark County REMC



Saturday, April 2


It’s that time of year again! Members are encouraged to attend the Clark County REMC Annual Meeting on Saturday, April 2.


Meeting highlights include: • • •

Director election $5 bill credit to all voting members Register at the Annual Meeting and receive a Retractable Lantern Flashlight gift

Kids attending the event will receive a bag of goodies

Mark your calendar today to attend! Look for more information in next month’s magazine.

WILLIS GRADUATES FROM APPRENTICESHIP PROGRAM Clark County REMC’s Clay Willis recently graduated from the Hoosier Energy Apprentice Training and Safety (HEATS) program. The four-year program includes a total of 576 hours of classroom and related study, as well as 8,000 hours of on-the-job training, plus an additional 169 hours of required skills training. Willis also received an Associate of Applied Science degree from Ivy Tech Community College for his work done in the HEATS program. Congratulations, Clay! Willis Graduates from HEATS Program

Dennis retires after 25 years at REMC After 25 years serving the members of Clark County REMC, Cashier Pam Dennis is retiring. Dennis began working at the REMC in 1996 doing administrative work. She then moved into the cashiering role in 2000, having worked at National City Bank in New Albany for 15 years before that. “I enjoy working with the members of REMC,” Dennis said. “I take pride in greeting each member with a friendly smile and making sure that they are well taken care of.” In retirement, Dennis looks forward to spending more time with her husband of 40 years, Mike Dennis, and traveling any place that’s warm and sunny. On behalf of the REMC board of directors and employees, we thank her for her dedication to our co-op, and wish her all the best in retirement.





Gain a clearer perspective on windows Homeowners may grumble

simply because they do pull

this time of year that

the warmed air their way.

their windows welcome

Even a triple-pane window

the wintry chill into their

doesn’t have the insulation

house. Some may think that

value to completely stop

replacements clearly are the

that movement.

answer to energy savings.

Typical windows get about

Yet it’s important to get the

IMPROVE YOUR EFFICIENCY If your home feels drafty

your home to keep you comfortable.

in the winter, you may

You can schedule an energy

benefit from the energy

audit to learn more. An

efficiency enthusiast’s

audit will include action

adage: Seal, Insulate, Equip!

items you should take

Properly air seal any gaps

to improve your home’s

an R-3 rating (the greater

full picture to make the best

or cracks in your home that

energy use. You can contact

the R-value, the greater

decision for your home.

allow treated air to escape,

your local electric co-op’s

the power to keep heat

causing your heating

energy advisor for more


where you want it). For

system to work more than

information; your co-op

comparison, an average

needed. Search low and

may even offer the audit!

insulated wall has an R-11

high: water and gas line

Get a clear idea of steps you

rating while an energy

connections going through

can take to improve your

efficient home would have

a foundation wall in a

home’s energy use and

an R-19 to R-40 rating.

crawlspace or basement


in the price of new

Of course, there may be a

are common culprits, all

windows!). Windows, even

time when your windows

the way to ductwork in

the very best, are never

need to be replaced or

the attic. Next, make sure

going to prevent as much

repaired. Here are some

that your home is properly

heat transfer as a well-built

common warning signs:

insulated to ensure that

In most circumstances, upgrading windows will not automatically rush in energy cost savings (especially when factoring


• Faulty window

The confusion arises because of how heat moves

operation • Excessive

within a house. Heat

condensation between

moves to areas of lesser


heat. The natural heat movement in a house gives you the impression that the windows are leaking

• Decay and water


desired temperature. After your home is properly sealed and insulated, you can look into new equipment. You may even find that smaller equipment

damage on window

that uses less energy will


properly heat and cool

• Severe storm damage


your home can maintain a

by Kim


Member Services Director Miami-Cass REMC




Indiana students who have a penchant for drawing, painting and


25th anniversary of the contest and calendar.


collage have until March 18 to enter the Cooperative Calendar of Student Art contest to illustrate the 2023 wall calender. This is the

First place winners in grade divisions kindergarten through grade 12 will each receive $200. Their winning artworks will illustrate the calendar’s cover and the 12 months of the year. One “artist of the year” will also be selected and will earn an additional $100. In addition, the judges will select honorable mention winners whose artwork will also appear in the calendar. They will receive $75 each. The contest is open to Indiana public, private or home-schooled students. They must be in grades kindergarten through 12th grade during the 2021-22 school year. A complete set of rules and required entry forms are available at

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.





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county feature

Washington County Named for our first president,

just delicious pancakes

Washington County shares the

and waffles but includes

nation’s most popular county name

demonstrations and

with those in 30 other states.

tours of the farm.

Many stories about George Washington have been fabricated. One of the most enduring and endearing myths has to do with a cherry tree to illustrate his honesty. When he was 6 years old, the story goes, he told his father he could not tell a lie when confessing that he had

Indian maple syrupmaking demonstration and a demonstration of pioneers boiling the sap. Festivalgoers can learn about modern sap collecting, too. In addition, visitors can

new hatchet given to him as a gift,

enjoy maple-barbecued

perhaps on his Feb. 22 birthday.

chicken, pork chops,

though, it’s not cherry trees that bring Washington and Washington County to mind: it’s maple trees.


There’s a Woodland

damaged a prized cherry tree with a

This month and next, especially,

Pure maple syrup comes in a variety of jugs and decorative glass bottles at the LM Sugarbush farm in Washington County. The family farm hosts its annual maple syrup festival beginning Feb. 26.

County Facts

pulled pork, music, over 50 craft


and food vendors as well as

NAMED FOR: U.S. President George Washington

many activities and games for young and old. The Sugarstore allows visitors to stock up on maple goodies, T-shirts, mugs,

POPULATION: 14,011 (2018 estimate)

and much more!


American and Hoosier heritage as in

Festivalgoers are encouraged


to dress in comfortable clothes


And, honest to goodness, maple trees — or more accurately, the sap that gives us pure maple syrup — are just as much a part of Native

Due east of the county seat of Salem, is the LM Sugarbush farm, a 140-acre family-owned operation that hosts an annual Maple Syrup Festival.

pure maple syrup and other

and sturdy shoes. (Waterproof boots are recommended because the parking areas can get extremely muddy.) The busiest hours for the festival are from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.,

The 2022 Festival will be held

so if you arrive then, you may

over two weekends, Feb. 26-27,

experience some waiting.

and March 5-6. Hours each day are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. This will be the 31st annual festival. Parking and admission are free.

Established as Leane and Michael’s Sugarbush in 1981, the operation shifted in 2013 and became LM Sugarbush, LLC. Maple syrup is

The festival, which draws up to

available year-round and can be

12,000 people each year, offers not

ordered online, or folks may visit the



farm to purchase maple products by appointment only. The farm hosts several open house days throughout the year as well.

FOR MORE I NFORMATI ON, CONTACT: LM Sugarbush, LLC, 321 N. Garrison Hollow Road Salem, Indiana 47167 812-967-4491 • 877-841-8851 or on Facebook

Indiana eats

Serving sublime seasonal specialties The farm-to-table concept — which celebrates and elevates fresh, local ingredients — was foreign to Fort Wayne when Tolon Restaurant debuted in the city’s historic downtown in February 2016. But, oh, what a difference six years makes! Farm-to-table is now all the rage and Tolon is renowned in northeast Indiana for serving sublime seasonal specialties in an intimate, industrial chic setting. Husband and wife Matthew and

this version’s egg yolks get a

Nicky Nolot (“Tolon” is “Nolot”

distinctive umami flavor boost

backwards) are Tolon’s hands-

from sriracha and miso paste (and

on owners. Nicky grew up on a

bacon, chives and sesame seeds).

small family farm in north central Indiana. Matthew, who once won a national pork championship, is the restaurant’s chef.

Though Tolon’s logo specifically celebrates pork, the restaurant’s menu highlights a variety of farm-to-table meats and seafood, all artfully presented. P HO TO S P R OV ID E D B Y TOL ON R E STA U R A N T

herbed salad and grilled duck fat

it’s his protein of choice. Pork is

toast. Diners can choose from a

even celebrated in Tolon’s logo:

variety of meats, seafood, burgers

the restaurant’s name, with a fork

and noodles as their main course.

used in place of the “l,” placed in the middle of a silhouette of a pig.

not-to-be-missed combination of French fries topped with a duck

first course items. It’s accented

with pork, it’s not surprising that

potatoes. The duck fat frites are a


is another standout among the by smoked almond salsa matcha,

specialties is all about duck — and

614 S. Harrison St. Fort Wayne

Matthew calls it, “God’s butter” —

Considering Matthew’s success

However, one of Tolon’s notable

TOLON Restaurant

Roasted bone marrow — or as

Be sure to check out Tolon’s selection of homemade sweets, ice cream and sorbets to end your meal. Tolon also serves cocktails featuring craft spirits made in the Midwest and a selection of wines.

egg, basil aioli and smoked sea

Tolon is open for dinner


Wednesdays-Saturdays and for

Another incredible egg dish is Tolon’s tasty take on deviled eggs. Unlike the typical picnic staple,

brunch on Sunday. Check its website or Facebook account for menu selections and restaurant updates. FEBRUARY 2022



FENNEL LEMON SPAGHETTI Patricia Piekarski, Harvey, Illinois

4 T. olive oil 1 onion, sliced thin 2 heads fennel, sliced 4 garlic cloves, grated 2 t. salt 2 t. pepper 12 oz. spaghetti 2½ oz. Parmesan cheese Zest and juice of 1 lemon




Heat oil in wide shallow pot. Add onion and fennel; cook for 5-6 minutes. Add garlic; cook for 2 minutes. Add about 5 cups cold water, salt, and pepper. Add spaghetti and bring to boil. Toss spaghetti. Boil about 10 minutes. Stir in cheese, lemon zest and lemon juice. Serve. Editor’s note: Feel free to adjust salt and pepper to taste.



Marilles Mauer, Greensburg, Indiana

2 T. butter

½ cup milk

2 garlic cloves, minced

½ t. salt

1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened and cut into chunks

½ t. pepper 1 lb. noodles, cooked

In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Add cream cheese and reduce heat to low. Stir until cream cheese is about half melted. Add milk and continue to cook and stir until smooth. Stir in salt and pepper. Remove from heat and stir in noodles.

BEEF AND NOODLES Jen Selinsky, Sellersburg, Indiana 8 cups hot water


8 beef bouillon cubes

4 eggs

1½-2 lbs. round steak

4 T. evaporated milk

1 cup steak sauce

½ t. baking powder

½ cup Worcestershire sauce

1-2 cups flour

1 oz. chopped onion 1 t. black pepper 1 t. salt Combine water and beef bouillon cubes. Let cubes dissolve. Bring to a boil. Place steak in an ungreased 9-by-13-inch baking dish. In a small bowl, mix steak sauce, Worcestershire sauce, onion, pepper, and salt. Pour over meat. Bake in a 350 F oven for 20 minutes, turning every 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Trim fat and cut into bite-sized pieces.

To prepare noodles, mix eggs, milk and baking powder in a bowl. Add flour until mixture is stiff. Roll dough on floured wax paper to 1/16-inch thickness. Cut into ½-inch strips and drop into boiling broth. Stir continually for 15 minutes or until noodles are tender. Pour the beef cubes, noodles, and broth into a slow cooker. Cook on low heat for one hour.

Editor’s Note: We used a little over 2 cups of flour in the noodles. Instead of wax paper, we rolled out the noodle dough on heavily floured parchment paper.





Electricity turns dark into light, makes hot foods cold and cold foods hot, washes the dishes and searches the internet. It is essential to our everyday lives, so much so that we rarely think about it. But behind the scenes, interesting things are happening. Here are three interesting facts about electricity that cause even some experts to scratch and shake their heads.



A rechargeable battery stores electricity — more on that later. But the kind of electricity you use in your home needs to be used after it’s generated. It’s true. Electricity produced from power plants, solar panels, wind turbines and hydro dams in the U.S. needs to be perfectly timed for when you decide to cook dinner, wash clothes or watch TV. The national grid of power generators, wires and

Electricity produced from power plants, solar panels, wind turbines and hydro dams in the U.S. needs to be perfectly timed for when you decide to cook dinner, wash clothes or watch TV.

substations are an incredibly complex network that makes electricity flow smoothly. A vast and intricate system of devices controls that power flow in a precisely balanced way. It’s one reason utility operators must be strategic when adding renewable energy to the nation’s fuel mix — a coal or natural gas plant can ramp generation up or down fairly quickly to meet changing energy demand. But solar energy and wind power depend more on the whims of Mother Nature, which adds an extra degree of difficulty to power



management. However, technology advances could be a gamechanger. Large-scale battery storage technology is rapidly improving, allowing big batteries to offer another way for electric utilities to better balance the flow and timing of electricity. Wider use of large utility-scale batteries could also make it much easier to add more



While severe weather causes most outages, if it’s nice out and your electricity goes off, it could be caused by a squirrel.

solar and wind energy to our grid — by

We all know to play it

storing energy when it’s breezy and

safe around electricity,

sunny, then using it at night and during

but squirrels don’t.

calm weather.

They scamper Many power outages are caused by squirrels and other critters.

and chew around transformers, substations and utility poles where they can disrupt high-voltage


equipment, shutting down power for you and me.


occupancy-vehicle lanes for rush-hour traffic in large cities, there could be stretches of vehicle-charging lanes. Futurists expect electric trucks would be the most likely users of wireless

But it’s not just squirrels. Snakes,

If researchers have their way, electric

charging lanes. Most electric cars,

birds and other critters can find their

vehicles wouldn’t need to plug in—

after all, can charge overnight in a

way into dangerous places. There’s

they could charge while they’re being

residential garage. Wireless dynamic

no official recordkeeping of wildlife-


truck charging could keep the

caused power outages, but estimates run as high as 20%.

“Wireless dynamic charging” projects are underway around the world. The

deliveries rolling rather than having drivers sitting and drinking coffee for the several hours it could take a

Electric utilities are constantly devising

idea is similar to wireless chargers you

new ways to keep wildlife away from

can buy for your home electronics, the

dangerous electrical equipment

kind you can set near a charger rather

— the resulting power disruptions

than actually plugging in the smart

Electricity is such a basic part of our

are inconvenient for us energy

phone or other device.

everyday life, so it’s easy to forget

consumers, and always fatal for the squirrel.

Charging cars while they’re driving along the freeway is of course a lot more ambitious. But some developers

Wireless dynamic charging projects are underway around the world. Some developers predict that within five years, in addition to today’s special high-occupancy-vehicle lanes for rush-hour traffic in large cities, there could be stretches of electric vehicle charging lanes.

predict that within five years, in addition to today’s special high-

conventional plug-in to get trucks back to full power.

about it. But every now and then it’s good to think about all its benefits and mysteries. That awareness can help make sure we pay attention to safety precautions, but also, sometimes it’s good just to be amazed.





The salvation and revival of the West Baden Springs Hotel 15 years ago was nothing short of a miracle … as much a miracle as raising the architectural marvel in the first place.

Just as much a miracle has been another revival that is quietly nearing

Called the “Eighth Wonder of the World” when it originally opened in 1903 for its towering dome above a grand atrium, the posh hotel catered to the nation’s rich and famous in the heady days before the 1929 stock market crash. The Great Depression brought its closure as a hotel, and a half century later the Eighth Wonder was crumbling from neglect.

Mitchell, a historian and member of the Bloomington Second Baptist



completion. Though not as grandiose in design or scale but as equally “too important to lose” for many was a little single-story white clapboard church just down the street and around the corner from the famed hotel. That structure was the home of the First Baptist (Colored) Church of West Baden Springs. “It's a miracle to me that it was even there for us to restore,” said Elizabeth Church whose members volunteered to restore the landmark structure. Built in 1920, the church is the last remnant of a once vital, thriving community of African Americans in West Baden and French Lick. People of color were the bellhops, nannies, maids, porters, and waiters recruited to Springs Valley to tend to the daily needs of the wealthy guests at the two large luxurious hotels and mineral spas. Because of racial segregation, the African American community couldn’t be served in the existing white establishments in the towns. They had to have their own hotel, restaurants, barbershops, beauty salons, school, social clubs, and even churches.

And, while the church bore the

to its congregation in such a dark and

designation of “Colored” in its name,

shameful time in our nation’s past

it was open to all. “We didn’t name

awaits the hiring of a new pastor and

it that. The dominant culture put

re-dedication — by this spring, it’s

that name on it,” Mitchell added.


“That church has a legacy of helping anybody in need, regardless of the color of their skin.” With the Depression, the West Baden hotel closed and French Lick’s declined. With the loss of jobs, the Black community moved away. Membership at the church dwindled until the church was eventually shuttered. A white Baptist congregation used the building for a while in the 1980s. Then, like the grand hotel, the

“It was a beacon of light back then,” said Mitchell, “and will be a beacon of light again.”

Sanctuary and survival At the turn of the 20th century, Springs Valley was the Las Vegas of the day. Some 14 trains daily carried socialites from around the country to and from West Baden and neighboring French Lick for the advertised “medicinal”

church, too, sat empty for decades.

waters of Springs Valley spas, the

When the church was added to

and the gambling and the cavorting.

the Indiana Landmarks’ 10 Most

Pastor Dr. Bruce Rose and Elizabeth Mitchell celebrate at a special service at the First Baptist (Colored) Church of West Baden Springs as the restoration neared completion.

pamper and the pander of the resorts,

mean they left racial segregation. “During Jim Crow, there was a community within a community. Blacks

While Blacks who migrated to the

formed their own businesses because

northern states from the South at the

we had to go get our hair cut. You had

time mostly settled in industrial cities,

to have another Black person open

remote French Lick and West Baden

a shop to do that. So, you had Black

there except for this church,” Mitchell

were exceptions.

dressmakers, tailors … all those had

said. “Everything else is gone. That’s

With their business booming, the

their own businesses.”

why it was so important to save it.”

hotels actively sought out Black

A school was established for the

To celebrate the restoration and thank

workers for the service positions. “All

children of the Black employees

the service jobs were Black people,”

in French Lick. The Hotel Waddy

said Mitchell, who was instrumental

was built and billed as “The World’s

in raising funds for the church’s

Greatest and Complete Negro Health

restoration and chronicled the project

Resort” where Black visitors stayed.

Endangered List in 2014, the Second Baptist congregation took up the yoke to save it. “Nothing is standing that indicates there were Black people

the volunteers, the donors, and the West Baden/French Lick community, two special services were held inside the church last fall. Now, the historic church that gave hope and inspiration

for a documentary. “Somebody had to get the luggage. Some served meals, cleaned the slop jars or changed beds, did the cleaning, did the spas.


of their employment, the Black workers were intimidated by local racists, warned to leave the Valley, and threatened with their lives if they

“They came to this area

didn’t. And while the French Lick and

because the hotel jobs were

West Baden white communities and

good jobs, with good pay — at

their hotels were fierce competitors at

least for African Americans at

that time, Mitchell noted, the Blacks

the time,” she noted.

from both towns and both hotels

But just because they left the

formed a tight community for their own

South and were holding good Joe Louis, World Heavyweight Champion boxer, left, trained at West Baden, but because of racial segregation he could stay only at the Hotel Waddy.

Beyond the security of the palaces

jobs necessary for the success of the towns, she said, didn’t

preservation, their shared values and support for one another.

continued on page 22 FEBRUARY 2022


continued from page 21

for religion and culture. The church

placed on top. But the structure in

served as both spiritual and social

between was in dire straits.

While an African Methodist Episcopal

sanctuary amid a rising tide of new

Church was established in French

racial tension. At the same time, the

Lick, a Baptist congregation was

Ku Klux Klan re-emerged and became

begun in 1903 by Eliza Cornish, a

a force in Indiana riling up hatred

The old walls were bowing outward,

respected Black woman in the West

toward Blacks, Catholics, and Jews.

and siding was missing. “The animals,

Baden community. She called French Lick/West Baden, with the gambling, drinking, and prostitution, “The Devil’s Hell Hole.” “Thus, a church was sorely needed to combat the devilish activities,” Mitchell noted. The members first met informally at

After the church became vacant in the 1990s, the West Baden Historical Society and then the Town of West Baden took ownership. In the meantime, because of its ethnic heritage, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

the West Baden opera house and

They estimated restoration would take a quarter of a million dollars.

the dust, you could see the rafters where they had a fire,” Rose said. “We didn't know where we’d get the money. We didn't have the money in the Southeast District treasury to do the project.” A couple of years passed before the project got rolling because of

Restoration and revival

the daunting task ahead. But finally,

hotel, sold his workers the land for a

When the church landed on the

congregation. “We had people with

church building for $1. “Lee Sinclair

endangered landmark list, the

skills and talents. I had a carpenter

knew how important faith was to the

Southeastern District Association of

by trade in the congregation. We

Black community,” Mitchell noted. “He

the Indiana Missionary Baptist State

also had guys with masonry skills. I

wanted to make sure his workers had

Convention took note. The association

really felt like the Lord was saying we

a place to worship.”

purchased the building for $1 with the

needed to take the lead on it,” he said.

promise to restore it.

“And we just went at it.”

of the hotels and the towns, Sinclair

After surveying the church’s condition,

The Second Baptist Church in

also didn’t like his employees crossing

however, there was hesitancy — even

Bedford also came aboard providing

the tracks to attend the AME Church

among a group of faithful. Dr. Bruce

volunteers including a skilled plumber.

in French Lick. Mitchell pointed

Rose, pastor at the Second Baptist

out, though, that many in the Black

in Bloomington, noted the historical

community attended both churches.

society did what it could to stabilize

then in homes. In February 1909, Lee E. Sinclair, owner of the West Baden

In keeping with the competitiveness

Once completed in 1920, their Baptist Church became a thriving center

the building: basement walls had been reinforced; a metal roof had been

Rose said he looked at his own

On the first demolition day, Rose said 25 to 30 volunteers showed up at West Baden from the two churches. They tore out all the old drywall and took the building down to the studs. Over the course of the reconstruction, the core group of volunteers ended up being six to seven guys, all between the ages of 70 and 80, who faithfully took the hour drive down to West Baden on Wednesdays and Fridays. Through times when donations were plentiful and when they were not, through a worldwide pandemic and

A core group of six to seven volunteers from the Second Baptist Church in Bloomington worked two days a week, on and off, for over six years to complete the restoration of the West Baden church.



their own personal health issues and

then on, little bit by little, as money

age, through faith and perseverance,

came in, we did the work.”

the volunteers brought light and life back into the building.

Mitchell said the folks of West Baden and French Lick also got involved.

“We just had a really great, great

“It wasn't just outsiders that saw the

camaraderie and fellowship,” Rose

need. The community saw the need,

noted. “And then Liz (Mitchell) came

and they welcomed us. People just

aboard helping with the fundraising. It

helped out on every hand.”

was just a walk of faith.”

On hot days, local folks would bring

After they stripped the building down,

lemonade and water. Workers would

they straightened the bowed walls,

find $10 bills or notes offering to help

and rebuilt floors, doors and windows.

stuck in the church door.

The original pews were saved and refinished, and the original bell in the bell tower was restored. They were able to incorporate part of a stained-glass window which had been salvaged from a historic church torn down near Terre Haute. One of the older volunteers, Ron Williams, who had been a carpenter by profession, told Rose he had prayed the Lord would give him one more opportunity to do a major project before he died. “He also happened to be raised in French Lick. So, it was like a homecoming for him,” Rose said.

The Indiana University African American Choral Ensemble, directed by Raymond Wise, performed at the church’s reopening service in October of last year.

The West Baden Springs Hotel provided warehouse space, carpenters who helped sand down and reinforce the pews, and on occasion accommodations so the volunteers could work overnight at key times when they needed to be there, Mitchell said. “They've been really good.” Mitchell said there were trying times for sure. She recalled one afternoon when the project’s fund ran out of money. “It was down to nothing, nothing!” she said. In tears, she turned to Rose who assured her that God hadn’t taken them that far to leave

HOW YOU CAN HELP While the church is mostly

Williams became the on-site project

them short. That afternoon, he prayed

manager. But sadly, he died in the

about it at the altar. And the next day,

spring of 2019 before the completion.

someone donated $10,000.

The Second Baptist in Bloomington

“A theme that comes to me over the

would like to make a 501(c)(3)

held different fundraisers suggested

course of all these years is ‘the Lord

tax deductible contribution

by the congregation … such as “Re-

will provide,’” said Rose. “Every time

to the renewal project, please

Ring the Bell for a Dime a Day” project

we were down to the end, the Lord

make a check payable to

because most folks could afford

stepped in right on time. The Lord will

“S.E.D.” and include in the

$36.50 for the year. A “GoFundMe”

provide! And that's a fact.”

memo that it’s for the “West

“And anytime we set a date to get

Baden Renewal Project.”

page was started. Grants were acquired.

things done, it didn't happen. So,

A couple who frequently visited

it wasn't our call to make,” added

Springs Valley noticed the whole

Mitchell. “We have so many miracle

community had been refurbished —

stories like that.”

except that church. “And that was upsetting to them. That couple,” who wanted to remain anonymous Mitchell said, “gave us a jump start. And from

“It's been a labor of love,” Rose said. “I can't wait to turn the keys over and say, ‘Look what we were able to accomplish. Praise the Lord!’”

complete, some needs to be met include a baptistery pool and a sound system. If you

Mail it to: Second Baptist Church, P.O. Box 2205, Bloomington, IN 47402.

Richard G. Biever is senior editor of Indiana Connection. Additional sources for this story include WTHR, Channel 13, Indianapolis; Indiana Landmarks. FEBRUARY 2022



MAKING A SAFE ESCAPE FROM DOWNED POWER LINES If your car comes in contact with a utility pole, power lines may have fallen. If that happens, stay in the car and call for help. A fallen power line could still be energized

Hit a pole?


n a late wintry Saturday afternoon, Nick and Blake decided to take Nick’s car to a movie — despite falling snow and parental advice to stay home. Moments later, where the county road zigged and zagged a mile past their neighborhood, Nick’s car did neither. It slid straight off and bumped into an electric cooperative utility pole. The car’s air bags exploded, but both teens were unhurt. Then, they did something that could have turned this property damage accident into a multiple fatality: they stepped out of the car. “Stay in the car, stay in the car, stay in the car!” is the mantra Indiana Electric Cooperatives wants drivers to remember. “When a power line is involved, even a minor accident can become tragic,” said John Gasstrom, CEO of Indiana Electric Cooperatives. “It cannot be stressed enough that staying inside the vehicle, and warning passersby to stay away, too, is the safest route. Only after a first responder arrives on scene and says it’s OK, should you get out.” However, staying inside the vehicle may go against a driver’s first inclination. You want to get out and check the car. But stepping out of the car immediately after striking a utility pole may KILL YOU. Here’s why: •

Power lines can fall. When a pole is struck, power lines can fall, and



hardware can break loose from its insulated perches atop the pole. •

and could be energizing your car. If you step from the car, you could become electricity’s path to ground and be electrocuted. Only if the accident has caused a fire or there is another immediate threat to your safety should you

Fallen power lines can still be energized. Even touching the ground, power lines can still be carrying 7,200 volts or more. They may not spark or buzz. Fallen power lines are hard to see. Silhouetted against the sky or glistening in sunlight atop poles, power lines may seem easy to see. But when knocked down and twisted with tall grass or trees as a background, especially at night, power lines are almost impossible to see. Electricity seeks the quickest path to ground. If you get out of the car and touch a live power line and the ground, you become that path. That amount of electricity passing through you can kill you instantly. If you are alive, you are safe. It’s not easy to know if power lines have broken loose and are on your car. But if you are alive, you are not that deadly “path to ground.” If you were in that path, you’d already be dead. Call 9-1-1. After hitting a pole, call 9-1-1. Tell them you hit a pole. And wait patiently. Tell passersby to stay back. Wait till you know it’s safe before exiting.

exit the car. To be safe, here is how to you must exit:

1 2

Open the door without touching the metal of the door frame. With both feet together, hop out and away from the vehicle so no part of your body touches the vehicle and the ground at the same time. Maintain your balance.


Keeping your feet together, slowly shuffle away so that the toe of one foot moves forward along the length of the other foot. Keep both feet in constant contact and always touching the ground.


Keep shuffling 30 or more feet until you are away from the car and power line.


Be watchful for low hanging power lines or lines on the ground.

see more at

product recalls Older portable air conditioners recalled after fire death

Electric fillet knives recalled for laceration hazard

Seven models of Royal Sovereign portable air conditioners, sold between 2008 and 2014, are being recalled. A faulty drain motor in the air conditioners can ignite the plastic enclosure of the unit, posing fire and burn hazards to consumers and risk of serious injury or death. Royal Sovereign is aware of 11 reports of the portable air conditioners catching fire or smoking during use resulting in over $1 million in property damage, two injuries and one death due to smoke inhalation. On Aug. 24, 2016, a woman died from smokerelated injuries and her two children were injured after their Royal Sovereign air conditioner caught fire.

The trigger mechanism on certain units of the American Angler Electric Fillet Knife, model number 32300, can become stuck in the “on” position, posing a laceration hazard. The firm has received 23 reports of the EFK’s trigger becoming stuck in the “on” position. No injuries have been reported. The knives were sold in orange and gray and are used as a fishing tool for filleting fish. They were sold at Walmart, Bass Pro Shops and other retailers nationwide and online from January 2019 through October 2021 for between $110 and $150.

The recalled portable air conditioners were sold online at Amazon. com and in Sears, COSTCO, Home Depot, BJ’s Wholesale Club, and Best Buy stores nationwide from March 2008 through August 2014 for about $290. Contact Royal Sovereign at 833-947-3699, or online at www.; or and click on “Recall Information” at the top of the page for more information on model numbers in the recall.

Contact Scott Fetzer Consumer Brands at 833-656-1147 or online at or and click on “EFK Recall Replacement” under “Relevant Links” for more information. As a service to our readers and to promote electrical safety, here are recent recall notices provided by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Visit for full details of this recall and for notices of many more.



youth programs APPLY FOR


A fun, unique and electrifying camp experience designed for students entering seventh grade in 2022. Horseback riding, canoeing, zip lining, archery, swimming, learning about electrical safety and bucket truck rides. APPLY: Go to to apply. Applications must be completed online by Feb. 18.


Clark County REMC wants to send you on a weeklong, all-inclusive trip of a lifetime to Washington, D.C. Visit monuments, museums, legislators, make new friends, and learn about our nation's history. APPLY: Go to to apply. Applications must be completed online by Feb. 18.


Since 1998, Indiana Connection and participating Indiana electric cooperatives have held an annual art contest for Indiana students in grades kindergarten through 12. The winning works from each grade are then used to illustrate the Cooperative Calendar of Student Art that participating REMCs/RECs have distributed. ENTER: Visit art-contest/. Enter your artwork by March 18.



CLARK COUNTY REMC SCHOLARSHIPS Clark County REMC assists our members pursuing higher education by awarding scholarships to graduating seniors. $1,000 scholarship for IUS, Ivy Tech Community College, and Purdue Polytechnic: • Clark County REMC is committed to helping collegebound students in our region. Each year, REMC offers 20 $1,000 scholarships to Indiana University Southeast, Ivy Tech Community College of Sellersburg and Purdue Polytechnic New Albany. Make sure to take advantage of this opportunity for your student! The Cindy Hockensmith Memorial Scholarship: • In 2019, Clark County REMC created The Cindy Hockensmith Memorial Scholarship in the amount of $2,500 that will be awarded to one high school senior annually. The recipient of this scholarship must attend as a full-time student to any Indiana college or university. APPLY: Download an application at scholarships. Applications are due by March 4.


The Lincoln Pioneer Village, near downtown Rockport, lets visitors step back into a settlement of 14 log structures representing the time Abraham Lincoln lived in Indiana.

Lincoln’s Trail: Retrace the places where Lincoln grew to adulthood


very grade schooler knows that President Abraham Lincoln was born in Kentucky — on Feb. 12, 1809. And, he lived in Illinois as a lawyer and a lawmaker before being elected president in 1860. But he did more than just pass through Indiana on his way to belonging “to the ages.” Lincoln was only 7 years old when his family moved north across the Ohio River within days of Indiana’s statehood in December 1816. He spent his formative years in Indiana, growing from a boy to a man of 21. This year, plan a trip along the Lincoln Trail in southern Indiana to walk in the footprints of a great president — who grew up a Hoosier. LINCOLN BOYHOOD NATIONAL MEMORIAL Lincoln City, Indiana The most well-known of Indiana’s Lincoln sites, the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial and Living Historical Farm, sits on 200 acres of land where the Lincolns settled in what became Spencer County. The facade of the visitors center includes five large relief sculptures depicting the four places President Lincoln called home during his lifetime: Kentucky, 1809-1816; Indiana, 1816-1830; Illinois, 18301861; and Washington, D.C., 18611865. The fifth relief marks his place for the ages. The visitors center also includes a small museum, theater, gift


shop, meeting hall and chapel.

youth are within the park boundary.

Beyond the center is the Living Historical Farm that operates from April through September. While no original structures from Lincoln’s time remain, the farm replicates a typical 1820s frontier farmstead and includes a log cabin and outbuildings. The farm is staffed with park rangers in period clothing who demonstrate the activities that were a common part of the Lincoln family’s daily life.


Located on the farm is the Lincoln Cabin Site Memorial. It consists of a bronze casting of cabin sill logs and fireplace of an excavated cabin the Lincolns had started in 1829 but left unfinished before moving onto Illinois. Also on site is the Pioneer Cemetery where Lincoln’s mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln, who died at age 34 in 1818, is buried. LINCOLN STATE PARK Lincoln City, Indiana Across the highway from the national memorial is a 1,747-acre park established in 1932 as a memorial to Lincoln’s mother. The Little Pigeon Creek Baptist Church and Cemetery, located within the park, is where Lincoln’s sister is buried. Sarah Lincoln Grigsby died in 1828 during childbirth. She was buried with her child in her arms. Many other Little Pigeon Creek community sites important in Lincoln’s

The Lincoln Pioneer Village and Museum consists of 14 log cabins and structures replicating those significant to Lincoln’s time in Indiana. Lincoln’s home place, the church the family attended, the law office he walked to, and the Jones store where he worked are among the buildings. The museum on the grounds houses hundreds of artifacts from the area’s historic past, including a hutch made by Abraham Lincoln and his father. Built in 1935, the Village was among the many efforts that began in earnest in the 1920s and 1930s to commemorate and mark Lincoln’s years as a Hoosier. “We believe most of the cabins were dismantled and brought here,” notes Nancy Kaiser, the Village director. “However, one of the cabins original to Rockport is where the first court of law was performed since Rockport is the county seat. All cabins are furnished showing how life was back in the day with no electric, minimal furnishings, and the bare necessities they had.” The Village, used as a set for the 1954 movie “The Kentuckian,” is open May 1-Oct. 31. For more information, visit



cooperative career

Professional progression:

THE CO-OP FAMILY When Brittany Sams was hired as an accountant at LaGrange County REMC, her college degrees and experience prepared her for accounting and business, of course. But no education or previous experience prepared her for the not-for-profit business model and the many accounting differences that come with a consumer-owned utility. The plan was for her to be transitioned in and mentored by the REMC’s retiring finance manager. However, the finance manager’s retirement came the week before Sams started. That’s when Sams fortunately experienced another cooperative concept for which she was unprepared: the cooperative principle of “cooperation among cooperatives.” The steep and bumpy learning curve she faced alone was smoothed by accountants from other Indiana REMCs, near and far, who offered her advice and mentored her. “It was very unusual,” she recalled. “I couldn’t believe another company was willing to help. People were so helpful and open: ‘This is how we do it.’; ‘This

2013 hired Staff Accountant

Brittany Sams discovered that the co-op culture was all about helping others through events like the REMC's Community Day and other volunteer opportunities in the community.



is who we use.’ It’s just something you don’t see every day. Most keep that kind of information a secrect; you don’t share it with other companies.” “It was eye-opening. It’s an amazing culture. Cooperatives all over the state are willing to help each other. You don’t even realize this network exists until you’re a part of it.” Sams quickly moved from staff accountant into a more strategic role as manager of finance and administration and also handled human resources. Today, just over eight years down the road from when she started at the REMC, she is the REMC’s manager of marketing and strategy. The new role, which she’s been in for just over a year, includes working with the long-term strategic development with both the original electrical portion of the cooperative and its new broadband division.

Brittany Sams

Manager, Marketing and Strategy LaGrange County REMC

From her own experiences when she was the new kid on the cooperative block, she now works closely, too, with succession planning within the REMC. And, she strives to help other employees develop their leadership skills and grow from within the local REMC and through that broad statewide network that came to her aid. “People say the cooperative culture is all one big family,” she noted, and she agrees with that. “That’s because the cooperative truly tries to do the right thing. We want to do the right thing for our community and consumers, make good decisions on their behalf, and run the cooperative in a positive way.”

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



Manager, Finance and Administration

Manager, Marketing and Strategy


ASSUME ALL ICE IS THIN ICE Indiana ice fishermen watched the last days of 2021 go by with springlike temperatures and not a sign of fishable ice. January edged in at first with similar warmth but finally dropped into ice-forming temperatures. Ice fishermen have become impatient waiting for “first ice” and the chance for ice fishing. Day-to-day up and down temperatures have brought frustration for anglers waiting for some safe, fishable “hard water.” Fishermen are not the only ones waiting for safe ice. There will be others out; and it’s important to keep a watchful eye for other people who may venture out on neighborhood retention ponds, lakes and other waterways and find themselves in trouble. Every winter, thousands of Hoosiers safely enjoy fishing, skating, hiking, or just sliding around on frozen ponds and lakes. However, every year people drown after falling through ice. Don’t let this happen to you or yours. When thinking about getting on the ice, put safety first. Believe all ice is thin ice unless proven otherwise. Here are a few tips to remember when considering standing on or walking on a frozen body of water: • No ice without testing and confirmation is safe ice. • Do not go alone. • Test the thickness of the ice

with an ice auger. At least 4 inches of ice is recommended for ice fishing; and 5 inches is recommended for snowmobiling. • If you don’t know the thickness of the ice don’t go out on it. • Wear a life jacket or flotation coat. • Carry ice hooks and rope gear. • Before going on the ice, leave a note of your whereabouts with a friend or family member. • Never attempt to test the thickness of the ice while alone. Wearing a life jacket is especially important when on ice. If you fall through, a life jacket will keep your head above the water until help arrives. Remember a new coating of snow, while perhaps beautiful, can make for treacherous ice conditions. Snow can serve as insulation, causing water to freeze at a slower rate. When snow and rain freeze into ice, it is not as strong as solid, clear ice. Another potentially dangerous situation is when you encounter a pet or other animal in distress on the ice. If this should occur, do not go after the animal. Instead, contact local emergency response personnel such as the fire department, who are equipped to make a rescue.

A few more tips: • Some bodies of water can appear to be frozen solid but have thin ice in several potentially unexpected areas. • Flowing water, such as rivers and streams, should be avoided when covered by a layer of ice. • Similarly, water surrounded by sand may freeze with inconsistencies in the thickness of the ice. • Underground springs, wind, waterfowl, and other animals can also keep areas of ice thin. Dress for the cold, and enjoy the winter weather, but make safety a priority. till next time,


JACK SPAULDING is a syndicated state outdoors writer and a member of RushShelby Energy. Readers can contact the author by writing to this publication, or by email to jackspaulding@hughes. net. Spaulding’s books, “The Best Of Spaulding Outdoors” and “The Coon Hunter And The Kid,” are available from as paperbacks or Kindle downloads.



Hoosier Energy news

PILOT PROGRAMS LEAD TO ENERGY SAVINGS As technology continues to improve and change the landscape of energy demand, Hoosier Energy and its 18 not-for-profit electric distribution cooperative member-consumers throughout central and southern Indiana and southeastern Illinois, are changing with it. Maximizing the opportunities for technological advancement, Hoosier Energy works with its members to develop, implement and evaluate various pilot programs that seek to increase efficiency to the benefit of the member-consumers. Those member-consumers include more than 760,000 homes, farms and businesses. Recently, Jackson County REMC completed an 18-month pilot program for smart thermostats in collaboration with Hoosier Energy and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) involving 200 of its members. The pilot program identified several opportunities to reduce energy consumption and lower costs, particularly during peak demand periods. The thermostats are connected to a larger load control system, allowing distribution co-ops like Jackson County REMC to



adjust settings during a weather event. However, member-consumers still have complete override capability and can take over their settings at any time. Similarly, Southeastern Indiana REMC (SEI) offers a Generac Load Control Generator Program. SEI sells and installs the Generac generators for load control services. The generators provided have an automatic transfer switch, which is located next to the electrical main. This switch monitors incoming voltage 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. When a break in electrical service occurs, the switch immediately signals the generator to power up. It safely closes off the utility line and simultaneously opens up a new power line from the generator. Participants receive a discount on the installed product and bill credits.

At JCREMC in Johnson County, memberconsumers can get rebates on things such as a smart thermostat or electric vehicle charging station. Both programs also offer the opportunity to save money with the Single-Phase Time-of-Use Rate, which is designed for those who are able to shift more of their electricity use to lower demand or off-peak periods. This rate more accurately passes along the real-time cost of electricity, which is more expensive during periods of high demand and less expensive when demand is low. “We’re seeing a shift from traditional ways of controlling energy demand,” said Blake Kleaving, manager of energy management solutions at Hoosier Energy. “From the basic on/off switch on an air conditioner or a water heater, to the smart thermostat, smart, connected devices give memberconsumers more options to monitor and control electricity consumption.”