Page 1

Let’s connect.

Harrison REMC’s

For the

BIRDS DNR and landowners work hand-in-hand to keep endangered birds in the bush

pages 17–20


from the editor

Embracing friluftsliv No, the above headline does not contain a typo. “Friluftsliv” (pronounced free-loofts-liv) is a word coined by Norwegian playwright and poet Henrik Ibsen in the 1850s which literally means “free air life.” Ibsen believed that spending time outdoors enjoying nature was key to maintaining one’s spiritual and physical well-being. Ibsen’s “communing with nature” philosophy is quite unlike another Scandinavian lifestyle concept: hygge (pronounced hue-guh). To achieve the calm, mindful state that is key to hygge, enthusiasts might hibernate indoors, wrapping themselves with soft blankets and spending time in front of a crackling fire with a cup of hot tea and a good read. Think warm and cozy, and a bit sedentary. Although January’s frigid temperatures may have you searching for that peaceful, easy hygge feeling in your home, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t balance that with some restorative outdoor activities as well. But how can you embrace friluftsliv when the weather outside is frightful? Here are a few tips: • Dress for the cold weather. Proper clothing is the key to comfort. Dress in layers to ensure you maintain hygge-level personal comfort while you’re in the elements. • Hygge + Friluftsliv = Bliss. Create a hygge oasis outdoors with patio heaters, fire pits, and plenty of blankets. Now, get comfortable and take some time to fully appreciate the incomparable sights and sounds of a beautiful winter day. Pause and reflect. • Try something new. Some activities can only be done outside in the winter. So, if you’ve never skied, snowshoed or even made a snow angel before, now’s the time to knock that off your bucket list. • Head out on a scavenger hunt, searching for treasures located in the great outdoors. Having that list of things you need to find forces you to examine and appreciate your surroundings. I encourage you to embrace friluftsliv — and, more importantly, embrace life.

EMILY SCHILLING Editor eschilling@indianaec.org

On the menu: May 2021 issue: Kabobs, deadline Feb. 1.

June 2021 issue: Berries, deadline April 1. If we publish your recipe on our food pages, we’ll send you a $10 gift card.

Giveaway: Enter to win a “Taste of Shipshewana” package, courtesy of Visit Shipshewana. Visit indianaconnection.org/talk-to-us/contests. Entry deadline for giveaway: Jan. 31.

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

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

VOLUME 70 • NUMBER 7 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 info@indianaconnection.org IndianaConnection.org INDIANA ELECTRIC COOPERATIVES OFFICERS: Walter Hunter President Randy Kleaving Vice President Steve McMichael Secretary/Treasurer John Gasstrom CEO EDITORIAL STAFF: Emily Schilling Editor Richard George Biever Senior Editor Holly Huffman Communication Support Specialist Ellie Schuler Senior Creative Services Specialist Taylor Maranion Creative Services Specialist Stacey Holton Creative Services Manager Mandy Barth Vice President of Communication ADVERTISING: American MainStreet Publications Cheryl Solomon, local ad representative; 512-441-5200; amp.coop Crosshair Media 502-216-8537; crosshairmedia.net Paid advertisements are not endorsements by any electric cooperative or this publication. UNSOLICITED MATERIAL: Indiana Connection does not use unsolicited freelance manuscripts or photographs and assumes no responsibility for the safe‑keeping or return of unsolicited material. SUBSCRIPTIONS: $12 for individuals not subscribing through participating REMCs/RECs. CHANGE OF ADDRESS: If you receive Indiana Connection through your electric co-op membership, report address changes to your local co-op. POSTAGE: Periodicals postage paid at Indianapolis, Ind., and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send change of address to: Indiana Connection, 8888 Keystone Crossing, Suite 1600, Indianapolis, IN 46240-4606. Include key number. No portion of Indiana Connection may be reproduced without permission of the editor.








03 FROM THE EDITOR 05 CO-OP NEWS Energy news and information from your electric cooperative. 10 ENERGY How weather impacts your energy bill.


12 GRASSROOTS Why involvement in your electric co-op matters. 14 COUNTY OF THE MONTH Spotlighting LaGrange County. 15 FOOD Votes for oats.



Indiana Connection



cover story 17 COVER STORY For the birds: DNR and landowners work hand-in-hand to keep endangered birds in the bush. 21 SAFETY How you can prepare for winter storms’ outages and dangers.


22 TRAVEL Antique Alley is a road trip to the past. (Not in all versions) 23 INDIANA EATS Rod and Gun Steakhouse serves steak with a side of history. (Not in all versions) 24 H  OOSIER ENERGY/ WABASH VALLEY NEWS 25 PROFILE Meet this year’s Youth Power and Hope Award winners.

On the cover Cheryl Siekman cradles a barn owl chick during a re-nesting and banding effort by Indiana DNR in November. Siekman and husband Darrel, Gibson County cattle farmers, had a clutch nesting in an empty silo. Siekman and DNR wildlife experts wore masks or kept social distance throughout the procedure. PHOTO BY RICHARD G. BIEVER



www.harrisonremc.com CONTACT US 812-738-4115 812-951-2323 Fax: 812-738-2378 EMAIL Click on “Contact Us” at www.harrisonremc.com. OFFICE HOURS 7:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Monday – Friday STREET ADDRESS 1165 Old Forest Road, Corydon, IN 47112 MAILING ADDRESS P.O. Box 517, Corydon, IN 47112 SERVICE INTERRUPTIONS To report a power outage, please call 812-738-4115 or 812-951-2323. BOARD OF DIRECTORS Pat Book (Palmyra), Chairman Brian Koetter (Borden), Vice President David Poe (Floyds Knobs), Secretary/Treasurer David Walther (Lanesville) Darin Duncan (Elizabeth) C. Todd Uhl (Corydon) Danny Wiseman (Mauckport) Roy Zimmerman (Laconia) Craig Engleman (Corydon)

Harrison REMC offers... LED security light rental; a community solar program; heating and cooling rebate program; surge protection information; home energy seminars; payment via phone, online, e-check, automatic payment plan and budget billing; REMC gift certificates; and a mobile app with notification options!

MISSION STATEMENT The mission of Harrison REMC is to provide a well-informed membership with superior, competitively priced electric and related member service(s), accomplished by highly trained, committed employees. It is further the mission to improve the quality of life of the member-owners by promoting community, economic development and energy efficiency activities.

co-op news



When we say that we live in a “connected” world, most of us think about technology, like our smart phones and other devices and gadgets. But when you’re a member of an electric co-op (that’s you!), there’s so much more to being part of our connected co-op community. As member of Harrison REMC, you help to power good in our local community through our Lend A Hand program, Toys for Tots and other initiatives that help the most vulnerable in our community. We depend on you because you power our success, and when Harrison REMC does well, the community thrives because we are all connected. We would like to help you maximize the value you can get from the co-op through a variety of programs and services that we offer members. For example, we can help you save money on your energy bill through our rebates, and when you download our app, you can monitor and manage your home energy use and pay your bill online. Harrison REMC provides a service that allows members to authorize the co-op to send a text, email or phone notification to alert them to specific messages from the co-op, such as information on your bill and kWh use.

By connecting with us, you can get real-time updates from your co-op. That’s why we want to make sure we have your most current contact information on hand. If we can’t connect with you on these platforms or in person, you could miss out on potential savings or important information. Our outage text alert program provides members a quick and convenient way to stay connected and informed during a power outage. Our advanced metering system sends members text alerts when their power is out and provides status updates on these outages. Accurate information also helps our outage management system predict the location and the possible cause of an outage, making it easier for crews to correct the problem. We hope you will connect with us whenever you can — whether that means attending the annual meeting, providing feedback on a recent visit or call with our employees, or simply downloading our app. To update your contact information or to learn more about co-op products and services that can help you save, visit www.harrisonremc.com or call 812-738-4115. We look forward to connecting with you!




co-op news REMC Electric Assistance Program

LEND A HAND The Electric Assistance Program is designed to help REMC members who are 150 percent below the poverty level


pay their electric bills in time of need. You can help by sending a donation of any amount to the program. Each member

Youth program update

donation will be matched by equal funds

Every year in partnership with our statewide organization, Indiana Electric

Electric Assistance Program are tax

Cooperatives, Harrison REMC and other co-ops in the state offer youth programs such as Touchstone Energy Camp, Page Day and Youth Tour to

from Harrison REMC.* All contributions made to the REMC deductible. You will receive a receipt for your records.

Washington, D.C.

Local county community service agencies

Regrettably, together we have concluded that we cannot safely host these

Electric Assistance Program to provide

will distribute the funds from the REMC

programs in 2021. The health and safety of our students and chaperones is

direct service assistance to REMC

always our top priority. We look forward to resuming these programs in the

members. Since Harrison REMC serves


part of five southern Indiana counties, contributions will be distributed in the county from which they were received.

Scholarships available Harrison REMC continuously looks for ways to support our

To make a contribution, please complete this form and send it to: Harrison REMC — Electric Assistance Program, P.O. Box 517, Corydon, IN 47112.

community. That's why each year we assist our young members in their pursuit of higher education by awarding scholarships to our graduating seniors.

Name: Address:

The scholarship is open to high school seniors who have been

Phone #:

accepted to attend a college or university located in Clark, Floyd

REMC Account #:

or Harrison counties in Indiana or Jefferson County in Kentucky.

Choose one of these payment options:

The student must be a full-time student (12 credit hours) for the fall

One-time donation: $ __________ (Amount enclosed. Check made payable to Harrison REMC Electric Assistance Program.)

Indicate monthly amount REMC will add to your electric bill each month for 12 months: $ _________

semester. See the application for more eligibility requirements and rules. APPLY: Download an application at www.harrisonremc.com. Hover on the "my cooperative" tab and then the “youth programs” dropdown. Applications are due March 26.



Signature: *Call Harrison REMC for questions regarding matching details.

co-op news

HARRISON REMC STATEMENT OF NONDISCRIMINATION In accordance with federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity (including gender expression), sexual orientation, disability, age, marital status, family/parental status, income derived from a public assistance program, political beliefs, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity, in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA (not all bases apply to all programs). Remedies and complaint

filing deadlines vary by program or incident. Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.) should contact the responsible agency or USDA’s TARGET Center at 202-720-2600 (voice and TTY) or contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at 800-877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English. To file a program discrimination complaint, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, AD-

3027, found online at http://www.ascr. usda.gov/complaint_filing_cust.html and at any USDA office or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call 866-632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by mail (U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Ave. SW, Washington, D.C. 20250-9410), fax (202-690-7442) or email (program.intake@usda.gov). USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.




This arrow indicates the boom is not insulated from this point to the tip. There is a metal insert here to attach the basket to the boom.

Material handling jib for lifting equipment and moving wire.

The insulated upper boom protects the worker from contact with energized lines.

Basket for the worker and his/her tools. The basket has a dielectric liner to keep the worker isolated from the ground.

The dielectric lower boom insert protects the equipment and workers on the ground in case of accidental contact with energized lines. The boom extends up to 55’ feet to hoist workers to allow them to reach high places.

Boom lock. Most modern aerial devices automatically lock when cradled so the upper boom doesn’t bounce while traveling.

Lower boom cradle

Hydraulic hoses that lead from the belly of the truck to the controls in the basket. The fluid must be dielectric to prevent it from conducting electricity to the ground.

Work lights to illuminate the area while working at night. There can be several around the vehicle.

Beacon lights alert others they are approaching a work site.

Pintle hitch for connecting to a trailer.

Outriggers are extended to stabilize the truck while the aerial lift device is in use.

Wheel chock storage

Storage bins around the truck body for storing tools, equipment and line hardware out of the weather.

Outrigger controls for deploying and retracting outriggers. Wheel chocks prevent the truck from unintentionally rolling.


How weather impacts your energy bill

As Hoosiers, we can’t control the cold weather pushing down from Canada but we can control the temperature inside our homes. The difference in indoor/outdoor temperature can be more than 50 degrees. This gap is known as weather variance and it has an impact on the comfort of your home and the amount of energy used. There are things you can do to improve the efficiency of your home ranging from insulation to technology. Making sure your home is properly insulated is important. This helps keep the warm air in and the cold air out. So be sure to assess your attic insulation, your chimney dampers to ensure they’re working properly, the sealing around your window frames and your floorboards – and make improvements as necessary.



Technology can help too. I recommend starting with a HVAC tune-up if you haven’t already done so this season. When this system is operating properly, it should efficiently heat and distribute the air in your home. Technology can also help automate the heating of your home. Smart thermostats manage how and when your HVAC system runs. These units take the temperature you set, let’s say 68 degrees, and work to maintain that temperature in the most efficient way by adapting to your routine. An easy way to increase the efficiency of your home is to make sure your ceiling fans are pushing air downward in the winter months. This will help circulate the warm air rising in your home.

a frigid fact: You use more energy in cold weather. here’s why: In cold weather, your heating system works much harder to keep your home comfortable. Even if you don’t change your thermostat setting, it runs longer to heat your home. T H E R MO S TAT S E T T IN G









When the difference between outside and inside is significant, your heating system must run more to condition your home.


Even gas heating systems use electricity to power the fan and distribute the warm air.

ENERGY USE MATTERS Your monthly bill is largely determined by the amount of energy you use.



The meter on your home measures the energy you consume. This is your “use.”

There is a charge or each kilowatt-hour you use. This is your “rate.”


Colin Mahoney

Marketing and Communications Coordinator WIN Energy REMC


Ready, set, draw

(or paint!)

Now that 2021 is here – it’s time to begin thinking about 2022! The

deadline to enter the Cooperative Calendar of Student Art contest to illustrate the 2022 wall calendar is March 19. First place winners in grade divisions kindergarten through grade 12 will receive $200 each. Their winning artworks will illustrate the calendar’s cover and the 12 months of the year. One “artist of the year” will also be selected and will earn an additional $100. In addition, the judges will select honorable mention winners whose artwork will also appear in the calendar. They will receive $75 each. The contest is open to Indiana public, private or home-schooled students. They must be in grades kindergarten through 12th grade during the 2020-21 school year. A complete set of rules and required entry forms are available at indianaconnection.org/for-youth/artcontest.

ORDER YOUR 2021 CALENDAR TODAY! Please send ______ copy (copies) of the Cooperative Calendar of Student Art 2021 at $6 each to: Name: Address: City, State and ZIP: Price includes shipping and Indiana sales tax. Make check payable to “Indiana Electric Cooperatives.” Send this completed form and a check to Indiana Connection Calendar; 8888 Keystone Crossing, Suite 1600; Indianapolis, IN 46240. Some electric co-ops have free calendars available for pickup in their offices. Contact them directly for more information.

energy grassroots


electric co-op matters


merica was founded on a

Today, we serve more than 1.3

are vital to your local cooperative’s

cooperative spirit. Working

million individuals, families, farms,

success and function.

together, helping each other for the

and businesses in 89 Indiana

mutual good – this is the American

counties. With more than $2.4

way. And for good reason:

billion in system infrastructure,

cooperative organizations provide

we’re providing Hoosiers with the

their consumers economic, social

reliable electric power they need

and cultural benefits that often

— and we do it while emphasizing

wouldn’t be available otherwise.

environmentalism, sustainability

That’s the way it is with electric

and efficiency.

You are entitled to participate in your cooperative’s democratic process. You can vote in annual cooperative board elections and elect directors who are nominated from among the other consumers. Cooperatives also encourage you to voice your thoughts

power cooperatives which were

Indiana’s electric cooperatives

and ideas within the company.

formed to get power to the people,

work hard for you, our members,

Consumers maintain equal status

farms and businesses of rural

and the communities we serve.

and work together for the good of

America. One of the nation’s first —

Our members have always come

the community.

Boone REMC — was formed right

first – that’s the cooperative spirit.

here in Indiana.

And it’s a spirit that focuses on

Since then, the citizens and employers in the communities Indiana’s electric cooperatives serve have been our owners, and we’ve always put their needs first. Because if you receive your electricity from a cooperative, you

today and tomorrow. Because, as the landscape continues to evolve, we want to ensure our members – our consumers – always have access to clean, safe, abundant years to come. But we cannot do it without you.

as a member-consumer, but also

Consumer-owners have several

as an owner.

unique privileges and you; your involvement and your participation


your local electric cooperative. Have your voice heard and be an essential part of keeping electricity safe, reliable, and affordable in your community.

electric power — now and for many

belong to that cooperative not only


Get involved today and contact

Learn how you can get involved at


LaGrange County LaGrange County was settled and founded in 1832 by mostly Yankee immigrants from New England. They so admired the Marquis de Lafayette, the French aristocrat and military officer who fought alongside the Americans in the American Revolutionary War, they named their county after his French estate outside of Paris. But within a dozen years, LaGrange County started becoming home to a migrating Amish community from Pennsylvania who spoke German and “Pennsylvania Dutch.” Today, the county is most known for its Amish/Mennonite community. Over a third of the population of LaGrange County is Amish, and LaGrange, along with neighboring Elkhart County, is home to the third-largest Amish community in the United States. Reflecting the diverse culture, the town of Shipshewana, which is almost synonymous with the Amish/Mennonite culture, is named after Chief Shipshewana of the Potawatomi Tribe of Native Americans who were forcibly removed from their lands by the federal government in 1837. Shipshewana has become a tourism mecca drawing in visitors for its auctions and flea markets, quaint shops, and Amish craftsmanship and cooking. The renowned Shipshewana Trading Place has grown into a



Professional ice carvers create unimaginable pieces of art adjacent to each other at the Wolfe Building in downtown Shipshewana. This year’s Shipshewana Ice Festival Competition & Chili Cook-off is Saturday, Jan. 23. As always at this time, check for updated information before planning a trip to make sure COVID-19 restrictions haven’t affected events, hours or locations.

destination for its seasonal Tuesday/Wednesday flea market, the largest in the Midwest; weekly yearround antique, livestock and horse auctions; lodging; dining; craft and vintage shows, antique markets, and RV service. People come mostly from Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Illinois, but it also attracts visitors from all over the United States and Canada.

y t n u o C acts F FOUNDED: 1832 NAMED FOR: the French home of Revolutionary War hero the Marquis de Lafayette outside of Paris known as “the Château de la Grange-Bléneau.” POPULATION: 39,330 (2018 estimate) COUNTY SEAT: LaGrange

To give visitors a better understanding of the unique culture of the Amish in the area, the Menno-Hof Amish & Mennonite Museum in Shipshewana showcases the history and the faith and life of the Amish and Mennonites who trace their beginnings to the Anabaptists in Switzerland in 1525 at the time of the Protestant Reformation.

The Amish were part of this movement until 1693 when they formed their own group in Switzerland and the Alsatian region of present-day France. Their first leader was Jakob Ammann, and they became known as Amish. The center is generally open Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Before planning a visit, be sure to check its website for updated info concerning COVID-19 and hours of operation.


county feature


Susie Kraning, Peru, Indiana 3 lbs. sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed ½ cup sugar ½ cup milk 2 large eggs, slightly beaten ¼ cup butter 1 t. vanilla ⅛ t. cinnamon Topping: ¾ cup flour ¾ cup brown sugar ¾ cup old-fashioned oats ⅛ t. salt ⅓ cup cold butter, cubed 2 cups mini marshmallows Preheat oven to 350 F. Place sweet potatoes in a 6-quart stock pot. Add water to cover. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook uncovered for 10-12 minutes or until tender. Meanwhile, make topping by combining flour, brown sugar, oats and salt. Cut in butter until crumbly. Drain potatoes; return to pan and beat until mashed. Add sugar, milk, eggs, cinnamon, butter and vanilla; beat until combined. Transfer to a greased 13-by-9-inch broiler-safe baking dish. Sprinkle topping over potato mixture. Bake uncovered until topping is golden, around 45 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with marshmallows. If desired, broil 4-5 inches from heat until puffed and golden (about 30-45 seconds). Serves 12.

Votes for Oats Readers pick their favorite recipes featuring this healthful grain JANUARY 2021



Linda K. Thompson, Otwell, Indiana

½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened ¾ cup brown sugar (may substitute cane or coconut sugar) 3 eggs 1 cup almond milk ½ cup cream of coconut 1 t. vanilla extract 3 cups quick-cooking oats 2 t. baking powder ½ t. baking soda ½ t. salt 3 bananas, mashed ½ cup fresh pineapple or 8 oz. canned crushed pineapple, drained ½ cup flaked coconut ¼ cup chopped pecans Preheat oven to 350 F. Cream the butter and brown sugar in a large bowl. Add eggs, one at a time. Mix well. Add the cream of coconut, almond milk and vanilla. Mix well. Set aside. Combine the oats, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Add oat mixture to


Mary Jane Graybill, Delphi, Indiana 3 cups quick rolled oats 1 cup raw wheat germ 2 cups whole wheat flour ½ cup sesame seeds 1 cup water ¾ cup oil 3 T. honey 1 t. salt Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. Heat water, oil and honey until warm. Pour over oat mixture. Mix well and roll out on a floured surface to a thickness of ⅛-inch thick. Cut into squares. Put on cookie sheets. Bake at 300 F for 20-25 minutes until crisp but not too brown.


butter mixture. Fold in bananas,

Kayla Knepp, Montgomery, Indiana

pineapple, coconut and pecans.

1 cup old-fashioned oats ½ cup peanut butter ½ cup ground flaxseed ½ cup chocolate chips ⅓ cup honey 1 t. vanilla

Spread evenly in a greased 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 1520 minutes longer or until top is golden. Cook’s note: I have made this this for everything from family get-togethers to fundraisers as it can be cut into squares and individually packaged.


Stir everything together in a large mixing bowl until combined. Cover the bowl and chill in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours or until the mixture is chilled. Roll into 1-inch balls. Serve or refrigerate in a sealed container for up to one week or freeze up to three months. Makes 20-25 energy bites.

Cook’s note: I personally don’t refrigerate the mixture before rolling into balls.


Michael Hackman, Columbus, Indiana ¾ cup shortening 1 cup brown sugar, packed ½ cup granulated sugar 1 egg ¼ cup water 1 t. vanilla 1 cup all-purpose flour 1 t. salt 1 t. cinnamon ½ t. baking soda ½ t. cloves 1 cup chocolate chips 1 cup chopped nuts 3 cups quick-cooking oats Heat oven to 350 F. Mix shortening, sugars, egg, water and vanilla thoroughly. Stir in remaining ingredients. Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls one-inch apart onto greased baking sheets. Bake 12-15 minutes or until almost no imprint remains when touched with finger. Immediately remove from baking sheet. Store in tightly covered container. Makes 5 dozen cookies.














For the





DNR and landowners work hand-in-hand to keep endangered birds in the bush By Richard G. Biever


the birds out was through the

n the drizzly windy Sunday

opening at the top.

afternoon before Thanksgiving,

Kearns, assistant ornitholo-

two wildlife biologists with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources stood in mud and manure beside a cattle barn. They stared up at a silo and scratched their heads. Deep inside the 22-foot-tall cylinder were five Indiana-endangered barn owl chicks. The empty unused silo had served as the perfect nest for a pair of barn owls for years. But now, Gibson County cat-

gist with the Division of Fish & Wildlife, and Mirtl, who normally works with reptiles and amphibians but volunteered to help Kearns this day, hadn’t come prepared for such an involved operation. But rather than wait and hold up the Siekmans’ farm operation, they worked with the family to gather rope and a deer-

tle farmers Darrel and Cheryl Siekman

stand safety harness.

were needing it to store feed for their

Secured safely by a rope

animals. So began a rescue mission the two biologists, Amy Kearns and Jason Mirtl, described numerous times as “sketchy.” The silo tapered into a funnel with openings at the bottom. Though the birds nested on remnants of feed maybe just three feet above those openings, the silo hadn’t been used

wrapped around the tubular bumper of the Siekmans’ utility vehicle, Mirtl, a rock-climbing enthusiast, descended into the silo. He called out instructions to Cheryl Siekman — when to give slack and when to tighten — until he reached a teetering 16-foot extension ladder he had earlier lowered in. He then stepped down to

for seven years. The grain had turned

the birds.

as hard as rock. The only way to get

continued on next page JANUARY 2021


DNR wildlife biologists Jason Mirtl, atop the silo, and Amy Kearns work out plans to move five barn owl chicks from inside the silo. The two had just installed a nesting box, visible above Kearns’ head, high in the barn beside the silo.

“It’s a good example how private landowners and the DNR can work together to save endangered wildlife.” AMY KEARNS, ASSISTANT ORNITHOLOGIST WITH THE INDIANA DNR DIVISION OF FISH & WILDLIFE PHO TO S BY RI CHARD G . BI EVER

continued from page 17 STEPPING UP This was not a text-book rescue, but few are. Improvisation and determination most often win the day when working with wildlife in unforeseen circumstances. Kearns and Mirtl knew failure would not be an option for these rare birds.

“Leaving them be would have been

Program. The program, funded

the best strategy for that particular

through donations to the DNR

brood of owlets, but it wasn’t a good

Nongame Wildlife Fund, has placed

option for the farmer,” Kearns noted.

more than 400 nest boxes for barn

“So, we put our heads together

owls since 1984.

and came up with a plan that would benefit the owls and the farmer. It’s a good example how private landowners and the DNR can work

Once common, barn owls have

together to save endangered wildlife.”

virtually vanished from the state.

RAISED IN A BARN The barn owl,

Fewer than 20 barn owl nests were known to exist in Indiana a decade ago. In the latest survey in 2017, that number was up to only 43.

named for its preference for nesting in barns, became endangered in Indiana with the loss of grassland habitat and secure nesting sites. The

The survival of the barn owl depends

small distinctive owls have a heart-

on the success of continuing DNR

shaped face with dark eyes.

programs and efforts to protect them. Having the support of landowners, like the Siekmans, is imperative.



“Boxes are really helpful for the species because it is vulnerable to predation,” Kearns explained. “If the owls are just nesting on some old hay in the loft of the barn, a lot of times they’ll be eaten by raccoons.” Nest boxes, she said, get the chicks up off the ground and into a secure surrounding. The entrance hole cut for the owls is small, so bigger predatory birds, like great horned owls, can’t get in. “If they have great

It is one of more than 750 animal

habitat and lots of food,” Kearns

species supported by the DNR’s

added, “they can have two broods

Nongame and Endangered Wildlife

each year.”

Help raise


For more information about barn owls, including a step-by-step guide on how to build your own nest box, please visit: https://www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/3382.htm. To check out the DNR live streaming barn owl nest cam, go to: https://www. in.gov/dnr/fishwild/8183.htm.

Cheryl Siekman holds steady one of the barn owl chicks removed from an empty silo on her farm while DNR Assistant Ornithologist Amy Kearns carefully affixes a metal ID band to its leg.

That’s what the pair in the Siekmans’

need to respect His creation, as well.

rest of its life so its movements and

empty silo had done. That’s why a

We’re trying to coexist rather than just

mortality can be tracked.

clutch was there so late in the year.

say, ‘This is ours, and we are going to

Seven years ago, the owls took advantage of a ding in the top hatch of the silo. A small opening and

take it,’” she said. “So, we’re doing our best to preserve nature and still run a productive farm.”

Before beginning the rescue from the silo, Kearns and Mirtl installed a nesting box in the gable of the adjacent barn that would become the new home

the silo’s tall steel sides made it an

Besides, she said she appreciates

for the family of owls. As close to the

impenetrable tower to any predators.

what the barn owls do as top-flight

top entrance of the silo as possible,

The Siekmans let the birds use it as

mousers. “Anytime you have cattle,

Kearns cut an “X” in the barn’s metal

an ongoing incubator and aviary.

they drop feed and that brings mice.

siding and carefully folded back and

Barn owls are great predators for

crimped the edges to create a safe

those mice, and that makes me happy

5-inch square opening to the outside.

that they’re here.”

They then mounted the 16-inch x 32-

In the fall, though, they let the DNR know they needed to reclaim the gravity-fed silo. Darrel Siekman, who

inch x 16-inch box over the opening.

turns 69 this month, implied he’s no


spring chick himself anymore. The

rescue, when Mirtl reached the brood

Later, after each banding, Kearns

daily grind of shoveling cattle feed out

at the bottom of the silo, he bagged

carried each bird up an extension

the side hatch of a grain bin they had

each bird, one-at-a-time. He tied the

ladder and placed it in the nesting

been using was becoming too much.

bag to a rope, and Kearns, stationed

box. To prevent the adult owls from

atop the silo, pulled each up. She then

returning to the silo, Darrel repaired

lowered each bag with the same rope

the opening in the hatch.

Cheryl said a lot of farmers may not want to be bothered with an endangered bird on their land, let

to Cheryl Siekman on the ground.

A couple of days later, Cheryl reported

alone make concessions. But she

After all five chicks and Mirtl were

seeing the adults flying at night, as

said she considers themselves part

safely out of the silo, Mirtl and Cheryl

well as smudges around the entrance

of a team with the DNR. “Everything

helped Kearns band each bird with a

we have God has given us, and we

small ID bracelet the bird will wear the

continued on next page JANUARY 2021


continued from page 19 of the new nest box. “The smudges


are a good way to tell that the

A smaller bird that shares much of the

Shrikes most frequently nest on

same grassland habitat with the barn owl

traditional farms with livestock pasture

adult owls have been in and out dropping off food for the nestlings,”

and is even more endangered in Indiana

and smaller fields bordered by shrubby

Kearns said. “So, it appears that

is the loggerhead shrike. Only seven

hedgerows and fence lines. Nests are

the re-nesting was a success.

nesting pairs were found in the entire

usually in a shrub or small tree. Eastern

Those big chicks are the perfect

state during the most recent count. The

red cedars and rose bushes are favorite

age for re-nesting since they are

seven were concentrated in the southern

nesting sites along the fencerows.

big enough and loud when begging

counties of Daviess, Lawrence, Orange

Through a new partnership among

for food to make it easy for their

and Spencer.

parents to find them.”

The loggerhead shrike is a songbird

Service, private landowners and the

slightly smaller than a robin. Its striking

Indiana Audubon Society, Hoosiers

appearance includes a broad black

can now “adopt a shrike.” Half the

mask through the eyes. Despite its

proceeds from these adoptions help

small stature, its habits reflect those of

fund the planting of eastern red cedars

a raptor. Its strong, hooked bill allows it

for nesting shrikes. Donors will receive

to take diverse prey that include mice,

an adoption certificate, an annual report

No one seemed happier about the success than Cheryl. Like a proud godmother holding the baby at baptism, she gushed with joy cradling the chicks during the banding. Her smile was hidden

the DNR, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife

voles, house sparrows, snakes and frogs.

on shrike banding efforts, and a “Never

behind the face mask she wore

Loggerhead shrikes hang their prey

met a shrike I didn’t like” T-shirt. Each

when working beside the duo from

from thorns or barbed wire to provide an

adoption is $50 and can be purchased at

the DNR, but the twinkle of her

anchor while they tear their prey into bite-


eyes couldn’t be missed.

sized pieces.

“Farmers often don’t get to see the

Prey hung in this way can also be

fruits of their labor,” she said. “We sell to the stockyard. We don’t get to see it go to the table. But we get to see this from the start to finish,

conveniently stored for later, like the bird’s personal meat locker. This behavior has earned it the nickname of “butcher bird.”

and we have years and years and

“There’s only one bird that is going to

years where now these boxes will

impale a snake on barbed wire, and that’s

be productive, and we can still stay productive raising beef. “This is a sanctuary,” Cheryl

a shrike,” said Amy Kearns, assistant ornithologist with the Indiana DNR. That’s one way to know if you have shrikes on your land.

continued. “It’s a very special place we have here. We feel that we live in heaven …,” and, as if on cue, a cow bellowed loudly in agreement from behind her, “… and the cows like it,” she laughed. “Now, that we need our grain bin back,” she said, “we’re going to extra lengths to preserve the owls and their habitat.” RICHARD G. BIEVER is senior editor of Indiana Connection.




For information about shrikes, please visit: www.in.gov/dnrfishwild/3370.htm. To contact the DNR about either barn owls or shrikes on your property, please contact Amy Kearns at: 812-849-4586, ext. 223, or email: akearns@dnr.IN.gov. To donate to the Indiana Nongame Wildlife Fund that supports conservation programs like these and others, go to: www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/3316.htm.


Winter storms

Prepare for prolonged outages, dangers

Indiana weather can be unpredictable, especially during the winter months. That’s why you should prepare for dangerous situations before a storm hits.

Due to these dangerous conditions,

It is especially important to develop

prepare you and your family for

a plan for prolonged power outages

a power outage, your electric

during these harsh months. Heavy

co-op recommends members

snows, freezing rain and ice storms

keep a storm preparedness kit fully

can all create electrical hazards.

stocked. The basic supplies in this

“Being safe around electricity

kit should include:

is something you should focus

• Bottled water

from doors, windows and vents that

• Non-perishable food

could allow carbon monoxide to come

• Emergency blankets


on year-round,” said John Gasstrom, CEO at Indiana Electric Cooperatives. “Indiana winters can bring a whole slew of dangerous hazards, especially where power lines are concerned. “Snow and ice often accumulate on power lines. The added weight may cause lines to snap off the poles or

many residents may be confined to their homes for days at a time. That’s why it is important to have a plan in place, especially during these prolonged outages. To better

• First aid kit/medicine • Flashlight • Battery-operated or hand-crank radio • Extra batteries • Toiletries

GENERATOR SAFETY: Prevent carbon monoxide poisoning Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning devices inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area. Keep these devices outdoors, away

Opening doors and windows or using fans will not prevent CO buildup in the home. Although CO can't be seen or smelled, it can rapidly lead to full incapacitation and death.

cause the poles to break,” Gasstrom

To protect your home’s electrical

Install CO alarms in

explained. “That can bring power

equipment during an outage, turn

central locations on

lines into contact with the ground,

off and unplug all unnecessary

every level of your

trees, homes, vehicles and other

electronics or appliances. This

home and outside

objects. If people or pets come in

will keep equipment from being

sleeping areas to

contact with a live power line, they

damaged by surges or spikes when

provide early warning

can suffer serious injury or even

the power returns.

of accumulating carbon monoxide.

death.” JANUARY 2021



the past ROA D T RIP T O

Visit Indiana’s Antique Alley

If winter’s usual hibernation — now coupled with COVID-19 isolation — gives you a double whammy of cabin fever in the coming weeks, the antidote right up your alley might be antiques … and a road trip to Indiana’s Antique Alley. “There’s never a bad time to antique,” said Beth Leisure, who, with her husband, owns and operates the National Road Antique Mall in Cambridge City, one of the stops on the Antique Alley trails. “People just want to get out and do something they enjoy,” she said. “We have a big store, so people can come in here and feel safe; they can stay away from each other.” The mall houses some 85 dealers on two floors of an old five and dime store right on U.S. 40, which doubles as Cambridge City’s Main Street. Leisure said they’ve seen some of their best business in a long time after reopening following the initial pandemic closure last May. “During COVID, a lot of people were cleaning their house, re-doing a room and are looking for that one piece of furniture — a chest or dresser or table,” said Nancy Sartain, leisure marketing manager at the Wayne County Convention and Tourism Bureau which markets Antique Alley.



Antique Alley is a hotbed of vintage finds and is one of Indiana’s most diverse antique destinations offering some 1,200 dealers along two interlocking loop trails. The trails leisurely ramble through six historic and scenic eastern Indiana and western Ohio counties. A variety of both small and large antique shops and malls offer a plethora of affordable treasures from the past. Antique Alley Trail 1 begins in Richmond and continues west on the historic Old National Road (now U.S. 40) through six towns to Knightstown. Then, it heads north to New Castle, east to Hagerstown and concludes in New Paris, Ohio, just northeast of Richmond. Antique Alley Trail 2 starts in Richmond and continues north to Winchester, Union City, Farmland, and Redkey, before heading southeast into Ohio and running through Greenville, Arcanum,

Lewisburg, and Verona, concluding back on the Old National Road at New Paris. “Antiquing has always been a great wintertime getaway because it gets you out,” said Sartain. “It gets you going to different little communities and seeing what’s out there. You’re doing something that keeps your mind occupied, yet you’re able to keep your [social] distancing.” Sartain said the best days to plan a visit are Wednesdays through Sundays. Plan on two days if you want to really explore the shops on either trail, and two to three days if you plan to venture along both trails. For more information, downloadable PDFs of trail maps and listings of shops, go to visitrichmond.org.

Indiana eats

On the banks of the Wabash Rod and Gun Steakhouse serves steak with a side of history The Rod and Gun Steakhouse in

Though the original gun club

Rosedale offers diners something

burned down in 1970, the current

that most restaurants can’t — a

building still offers private room

tasty steak dinner plus a side of

dining options. The menu includes

scandalous history.

strip steaks, filets and ribeyes — all

Located just north of Terre Haute on the Wabash River, the restaurant — originally called the Spring Brook Rod and Gun Club — opened in 1921. A favorite hangout of Hoosier-born John Dillinger and other Chicago gangsters during Prohibition’s heyday, the restaurant’s private dining rooms were perfect hideaways to indulge in a little

USDA choice or higher — or freshly ground (from beef tenderloin) burgers. Pork chops, chicken, shrimp, catfish and tilapia are the other protein options. Entrees are

wings — and margaritas — are the

HOURS: 5–10 P.M.

weekly special on Thursday nights.

gun club’s original owner, Terre

to the 2020s, the

Haute businessman Eddie Gosnell,

Rod and Gun

was married to one of Terre Haute’s

Steakhouse has

most notorious madames of the

been a mainstay

1920s-‘40s, Edith Mae Brown, and

for the notorious,

had his own lurid reputation as a


bootlegger and gambler with

(former President

mafia ties.

Ronald Reagan

restaurant since 1948, when he was just 11 years old. When he was 18, Johnson took a job as Gosnell’s bodyguard. The walls of the steakhouse are lined with Johnson’s memorabilia from the restaurant’s bygone days when dinner could be someone’s last supper.

2525 E. Lambert Ave., Rosedale


From the 1920s

current owner, has worked at the


salad and a dinner roll. Chicken

served with a choice of potato, side

illegal gambling and drinking. The

Bob Johnson, the Rod and Gun’s

Rod and Gun’s socially distanced restaurant layout

dined there), and legions of normal folks looking for a good meal. Just head for the building with “Rod & Gun Club” emblazoned on it.

Gangster John Dillinger enjoyed going to Rod and Gun Steakhouse back in the Prohibition era. The Rosedale restaurant’s private dining rooms were perfect spots not just to eat but to also gamble and drink. Patrons nowadays enjoy Rod and Gun's mouthwatering steaks and other delicious menu items.



Hoosier Energy news

It’s All About Being Prepared “We’re pretty much prepared for winter all the time, because we’ve got to be,” says Substation Working Foreman Joe Crowe, explaining that


front lines


crews prepare their fourwheel-drive trucks for winter by putting in diesel additives and make sure all equipment batteries are sufficient. Being prepared for any weather circumstance or disaster involves having cutting-edge technology and

In his 27 years at Hoosier Energy,

Richardson explains that miles stretch

equipment that facilitate

Line Foreman Mark Richardson has

between road crossings, which means

trekked countless hours across the

lineworkers often have to hike —

and maintain grid resiliency.

hills and hollers of southern Indiana

regardless of the terrain or weather

and Illinois to find downed power lines.

conditions — to find and fix downed

Each winter storm comes with its

lines. “You just have to fight through it

own challenges complicated by cold

and keep going,” he says.

temperatures and snowfall.

At about daylight, Richardson and

Richardson recalls a rough snowstorm

a coworker found the culprit power

several years ago, when he and

line. “It’s just one of those all-nighters

another lineworker embarked on foot

that you don’t expect to happen, but

to find the cause of an outage.

usually does.”

“The snow was probably 10 inches

Hoosier Energy

to a foot deep, and we were climbing

crews give their

uphill, downhill — I think I spent more

all to maintain

time on my hands and knees than

the resiliency of

on my feet,” he says. “We walked for

the electric grid. When

probably three or four hours straight,

the power goes out, these

and the snow was blowing so hard.

are the people working

It was dark, and you’d shine the

to get power restored

flashlight up and couldn’t even see the

— even in foot deep

line half the time.”




Hoosier Energy provides lineworkers with all-terrain vehicles and track machines — digger and bucket trucks on tracks that resemble a tank — to make it easier to travel across hazardous properties to find line breaks.


never too young Award-winning middle schoolers making an impact in their communities With the pandemic and social unrest, finding glimmers of hope in 2020 was not easy. But five young Hoosiers are doing their part to make this world a better place. Each year since 2009, five community service-minded middle school students have been honored with Youth Power and Hope Awards from Indiana Electric Cooperatives and its magazine, Indiana Connection. Proving you’re never too young to make an impact, this year’s busy volunteers play key roles in uplifting and serving their communities.


Grade 6, Danville Danville might seem a long way away from Disneyland to most folks, but don’t tell Chloe Schut. Chloe’s demonstrated a love of her community and its furry and feathered members that makes you sing “It’s a small world, after all.” She has been active with Hendricks County Humane Society’s animal shelter. She began her work there through her Girl Scout troop but continued volunteering on her own. Once a week, she visits the shelter to clean the rooms, wash dishes, feed the cats, monitor the sick and give medicine when needed, and socialize with the kittens. During COVID-19, she’s fostered kittens in her home. “Chloe has been a long-time volunteer, contributing many hours,

her artistic talents and love of cats to help the animals of Hendricks County,” noted Tricia Pierce, operations manager at the shelter, in her YPH letter of recommendation for Chloe. Through Girl Scouts, Choe has visited different nursing homes to sing Christmas carols and hand out cards. Her troop also built owl boxes for the decreasing barn owl population — coincidentally the cover story of this month’s Indiana Connection. “We believe in being ‘girl-led’ with our Girl Scout troops,” noted Carolyn M. Harris, Chloe’s Troop 1433 co-leader. “In doing that, our girls vote each year on what type of volunteer work and projects they want to see to better serve their community. Chloe has always shown leadership skills and actively participated in making these projects successful.” “Community service to me is my everything,” said Chloe. “Whenever I'm able to help, I get the same feeling you get after you find out you're going to Disneyland!”

ADDISON SCHNEIDER Grade 7, Ferdinand

Before COVID, Addison Schneider routinely visited nursing homes and homes of the elderly with her grandmother to spread cheer and talk to the residents. That is much of Addison’s community involvement: Thinking of and baking treats for seniors in nursing homes and the staff who care for them and for veterans. “I am grateful to all of the veterans,” she said. “My dad taught me at an early age that anytime I see a veteran, to go up and thank them for their service. Each time I do, I see a smile come across their face, and they respond with a humble ‘thank you.’ It reminds me how much a small act can make a big difference.”

continued on page 26 JANUARY 2021


profile continued from page 25 During e-learning brought on by the pandemic, Addison emailed her sixth grade English and social studies teacher to ask if they could write letters to the Honor Flight heroes of World War II and the Korean War. “As a result, we collected many letters that were sent in for the veterans when flights are able to commence,” noted Hannah Sitzman, the teacher, in her letter of recommendation. “I also took them flowers to brighten their day,” Addison added. “In light of the COVID onset, I spent more time drawing pictures and writing out cards that we sent to the nursing homes letting the residents know that they are being thought of, especially since they couldn't receive visitors. I routinely called individuals who lived alone just to keep in touch as I knew they were lonely. They said my call made their day each time I called them. I also made meals and delivered it to them (wearing my mask of course) to keep their spirits up during the pandemic.”


Grade 7, McCordsville How many junior high kids do you know who not only volunteer at a soup kitchen, but genuinely enjoy the work and enjoy meeting and talking with the patrons? Meet Kyle Kinker. “What I liked about the Soup Kitchen the most was meeting the volunteers and the patrons,” said Kyle. “It is awful to be cold or hungry. I am glad that I am able to help my neighbors go to sleep at night with a full stomach.”



And while COVID-19 precautions have prevented Kyle from volunteering recently as he had been, Chris Wade, the volunteer coordinator for the Kenneth Butler Memorial Soup Kitchen, noted Kyle is special. “I have interviewed and worked with many of our young volunteers over the years. While I cannot remember each one, Kyle Kinker is a different story,” she wrote in her Youth Power & Hope letter of recommendation for Kyle.

recommendation, “His leadership and dedication earned him the role of our interdisciplinary team captain as a seventh grader. This role is rarely ever given to a seventh grader, which is a testament to his hard work and the way he carries himself around others. He is a natural leader who others look up to.”

“The reason I remember him is he genuinely wanted to be here. I really appreciate when our youth are hard workers, energetic and finish a task with no hesitation.

Grade 8, New Harmony

“The beauty of this young man,” added Wade, “is he has repeatedly asked his family when he can come back. This is the beginning of a genuine servant’s heart for years to come.”


Grade 8, New Harmony “Let me make it work” is how Kelly Lashley, academic team coach at North Posey Junior High School, sums up the attitude of Brantly Oakley. The North Posey Junior High School student helps teachers and volunteers at athletics at his school, and participates in 4-H, his church and other community activities. “To me, community service means being active in your community and doing everything you can to make your community a better place,” said Brantly. Brantly’s academic coach, Kelly Lashley, noted in her letter of


For Kaitlyn, the twin sister of Brantly, “Community service is going out of your way to help others and enjoying the opportunity to serve others. To me community service means the opportunity to make a difference for your community and the people around you and a way to be an active member of your community.” Kaitlyn has been active in Girl Scouts, collecting supplies for gift bags donated to Chemo Buddies, making blankets and collecting over 100 books for the Ronald McDonald house in Evansville. She is an active fellowship time server at her church and does nursing home outreach on certain Sundays, and participates in Relay for Life with her church and school. “Kaitlyn can be described as an intelligent, respectful, hard-working, dedicated, conscientious, caring and responsible young lady,” noted her sixth grade teacher, Traci Newcomer, in her recommendation letter. “One thing that really stood out to me about Kaitlyn was her ability to make everyone feel accepted. She made it her mission to make sure that nobody was left out or felt excluded.”



Profile for IndianaConnection

Harrison REMC — January 2021 Indiana Connection  

Harrison REMC — January 2021 Indiana Connection