Carroll White REMC — November 2020 Indiana Connection

Page 1

Making community broadband connections.

Carroll White REMC’s


Three times A Evan Olinger earns another ‘Best of Show’ in calendar contest

pages 19–24


from the editor

Talking turkey …

no matter what it looks like

Thanksgiving will certainly be a bit different this year. Friends and relatives may choose to attend a virtual turkey day celebration instead of an in-person dinner. And those prepping the feast may not only be shielded by aprons, but face masks as well this year. Holiday safety precautions nowadays go far beyond making sure the turkey is thoroughly cooked and the leftovers aren’t left out too long before they’re packed into the refrigerator. Social distancing now must be considered when we invite others to break bread with us. Yet Thanksgiving will also always be a time of tradition. We pull out recipes passed down through generations to recreate family favorites. Platters and bowls of the main attractions — turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce — take the spotlight and often reappear in the days to follow reimagined in everything from sandwiches to soups to casseroles. Speaking of “reimagined,” this year’s turkey feast could also come in a plastic bag. Brach’s candy, makers of the autumn classic, candy corn, has introduced candy corn just for Thanksgiving. The bite-sized candies mimic the flavors of what you’d normally pile on your holiday dinner plate. There’s the cranberry sauce and the sweet potato pie. (Yum!) There’s carrots, glazed with ginger. And, then we get to the green beans and (pause for effect) the stuffing and turkey! Fans of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” may remember Willy Wonka’s threecourse dinner flavor gum which literally turned the bratty Violet Beauregarde violet. Wonka’s gum — which morphed from tomato soup to roast beef with baked potato to blueberry pie a la mode (Violet’s eventual downfall) throughout the chewing experience — always disgusted me. So, the thought of eating meat flavored candy is not getting me in the holiday spirit. But still, if pouring some candy on a plate will lessen my time in the kitchen on Thanksgiving Day (while still giving everyone the flavors they expect) I might consider it. Making post-holiday turkey and noodles is going to be a problem though if the only dinnertime leftovers I have are tiny little corn-shaped candies.


about this candy?


See below to find out how to win a bag.


On the menu: February 2021 issue: Bananas, deadline Dec. 1. March 2021 issue: Recipes featuring coffee, deadline Dec. 1. If we publish your recipe on our food pages, we’ll send you a $10 gift card.

Giveaway: Enter to win a Spencer County prize bundle and one of two bags of Brach’s

Thanksgiving candy corn. To learn more about the Spencer County gift pack and to enter both contests, visit Entry deadline for giveaways: Nov. 23.

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 70 • NUMBER 5 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: 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; 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.











05 CO-OP NEWS Energy news and information from your electric cooperative.

Spotlighting Spencer County.

10 ENERGY Use your thermostat to save money.



16 INDIANA EATS Pick Oak and Alley for an amazing burger … and

17 FOOD Culture Club: Yogurt offers calcium and probiotics.


Indiana Connection



cover story 19 COVER STORY Three times a winner: Evan Olinger earns another “Best of Show” in calendar contest. 24 OUTDOORS ‘The Bears of Blue River’ … revisited. 25 SAFETY Deck the halls with boughs of safety.


26 BACKYARD Mugwort, wormwood: A real problem by either name. (Not in all editions) 28 H OOSIER ENERGY/ WABASH VALLEY NEWS 29 PROFILE Former pro wrestler Carmine Azzato now travels the country as an evangelist.

On the cover Evan Olinger rounded out his high school career as an artist by winning his third “Best of Show” in last spring’s Cooperative Calendar of Student Art contest. It was also his seventh consecutive grade division win. The Sellersburg native is now pursuing a degree in visual communications at Purdue University. PHOTO BY TAYLOR MARANION



co-op news “This institution is an equal opportunity provider and employer.” CARROLL WHITE REMC P.O. Box 599; Monticello, IN 47960 800-844-7161 (Toll Free) MONTICELLO OFFICE 7:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Monday – Friday DELPHI OFFICE 7:30 a.m. – 1 p.m., 2 p.m. – 4:30 p.m., Monday – Friday EMAIL CEO Randy W. Price BOARD OF DIRECTORS Kevin M. Bender, 219-863-6652 4280 W, 700 N, Delphi

Margaret E. Foutch, 219-279-2677 7535 W, 500 S, Chalmers

Gary E. Gerlach, 574-595-7820 9833 S. Base Road, Star City

Kent P. Zimpfer, 765-479-3006 4672 E. Arrow Point Court, Battle Ground

Tina L. Davis, 219-204-2195 7249 W, 600 S, Winamac

Ralph H. Zarse, 219-863-6342 1535 S, 100 E, Reynolds

MISSION STATEMENT “Creatively enhancing our community through safety and service.”

Safety, Service, and Community IMPORTANT DATES Cycle 1 October bills are due Nov. 5 and are subject to disconnect Nov. 24 if unpaid. Cycle 2 October bills are due Nov. 20 and are subject to disconnect Dec. 10 if unpaid. Meters are read using the Automated Meter Reading system. Cycle 1 meters will be read on Nov. 1. Cycle 2 meters will be read Nov. 15.

Holiday closing Our office will be closed on Nov. 26 and 27 for Thanksgiving. LIKE US ON FACEBOOK carrollwhite.remc FOLLOW US ON TWITTER

Making community broadband


Bringing high speed internet to rural communities has been compared to bringing electricity to rural America during FDR’s administration when the Rural Electrification Administration (REA) was created in the 1930s. That’s why electric co-ops around the country are rallying around the technological need for broadband service in under-served areas. The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the service association for the country’s consumer-owned electric co-ops, reported that an estimated 6.3 million households in co-op-served areas lack broadband access. This has led to $68 billion in lost economic value over the past 20 years. Currently, more than 150 co-ops are working to expand broadband

in their local communities. “Some Indiana rural cooperatives have few or no high-speed local internet providers,” said Carroll White REMC Communications and Public Relations Manager Casey Crabb. “That is not the case for CW REMC. In our service territory, we have solid local providers. Our goal is to explore ways in which CW REMC can be part of the solution in making rural broadband a key priority for all stakeholders.” Those local internet providers include TransWorld Communications, LightStream, Yeoman Telephone/ Swayzee, and Monon Telephone Company. In this issue, we’ll share some information about TransWorld Communications and LightStream. Next month, we’ll focus on Yeoman Telephone/Swayzee and Monon Telephone Company. NOVEMBER 2020


co-op news

TWN Communications partners with electric co-ops

Over 30 years ago, TransWorld Network (TWN) was founded with a simple mission: to provide communication services to underserved areas. “We work solely with

optic deployment for a neighbor-

rural electric cooperatives because

ing Indiana cooperative. TWN’s

of their reputation in the com-

plan is to work with cooperatives

munities they serve and the high

that want to deploy fiber to their

standards of member care that


cooperatives embrace,” said Ami Rodriguez, the company’s vice president of sales/marketing and business development.

Rodriguez can’t say enough about fiber optic broadband’s capabilities. “Fiber optic broadband is the most reliable and is key for any busi-

TWN began offering competitive

ness to be successful in this age of

long-distance services in 1988. “As

cloud-based and virtual business

technology developed, we began

operations,” Rodriguez said. “If

offering dial-up internet services

fixed wireless broadband cannot

along with telephone products,”

provide speeds of 100 Megabits

Rodriguez said. “Today, we work

per second (Mbps) and above, it is

with dozens of electric coopera-

sometimes difficult to deploy in

tives to deploy and operate fiber

geographic areas that don’t have

and fixed wireless broadband net-

adequate line of sight to local

works in a manner that is econom-


ically feasible to the cooperative while providing reliable service to members.”

TWN relies on partnerships for successful broadband expansion, Rodriguez said. “We have a proven

For nearly a decade, TWN, in part-

track record of ensuring the electric

nership with Carroll White REMC,

cooperatives we work with benefit

has provided fixed wireless broad-

economically while members ben-

band service. “In this time span, we

efit from a high level of service that

expanded our network and provid-

aligns with the cooperative’s focus

ed upgrades to speeds and service

on providing the highest level of

levels,” Rodriguez said. “Currently,

care to their members.”

we are in the middle of a large fiber



Fiber is the gold standard of broadband service and should be considered if it is available. Businesses looking to locate operations in underserved or rural areas, such as the Carroll White REMC territory, expect broadband speeds of 100 Mbps and above.

AMI RODRIQUEZ, vice president of sales/marketing and business development, TWN Communications

TWN operates in six states and serves tens of thousands of cooperative members and businesses.

co-op news

LightStream founded on

cooperative principles Headquartered in Buffalo, Indiana,

construction to

Pulaski White Rural Telephone Co-

overbuild and

operative (d/b/a LightStream) has


been providing telecommunications services in the greater Buffalo, Pulaski, and Star City areas since 1954. Founded as a cooperative, the original service area has approximately 1,000 members.

This past February, LightStream announced a $19 million, four-year project to construct over 350 miles of fiber throughout Buffalo, Pulaski,

businesses and services that rely on dependable internet services: • Factories are relying on faster speeds for improved systems.

and Star City. “LightStream will

“Extending south to Monticello and

make fiber-to-the-home a reality

north to Winamac, LightStream

for approximately 2,500 residents

provides high-speed Internet and

to receive fiber optic-based ser-

voice services to approximately

vices that include gigabit (1,000

2,300 rural Indiana customers,” said

Mbps) internet and crystal-clear

Tim Gilford, LightStream marketing

voice,” Gilford said. “In addition to

and sales director. After introduc-

overbuilding, there is also contin-

ing internet service in 1996 and fi-

ued expansion in Monticello and

instruction and virtual environ-

ber optic lines in 2010, LightStream

Winamac for areas that do not have


is now focused on expanding its

fiber service today.”

fiber optic network to offer greater northern Indiana advanced communications services.

• Agriculture is becoming smarter with real-time data. • Law enforcement requires increased upload speeds for body cam footage. • Education is reliant for in-class

“Collectively, high-speed broad-

High-speed broadband is more

band is an essential element of any

important today than ever, Gilford

successful community,” Gilford

said. “Hospitals and health care are

said. “LightStream values our

“While fiber lines are our future,

providing more efficient feedback

current partnerships and would be

we still have areas with aged DSL

from tests, x-rays, and patient por-

open to new alliances in the future.

or coax cable connections,” Gilford

tals, as well as offering more virtual

The landscape of highspeed broad-

said. “Those customers are seeing

visits,” he noted. Among the other

band is an evolving model.”

“We are thrilled to be expanding our fiber optic network and ultimately delivering fiber-based broadband to our most rural residents. This is a significant network upgrade that helps us achieve our goal of 100% fiber throughout our service area. Fiber is coming to all our cooperative members. We are very excited for them and the possibilities that come with this project.” LightStream Board Chairman Mike McCormick

“Our members and customers want fast and affordable internet. Fiber-based internet is reliable and future proof but also provides increased security and value. We believe that Northern Indiana should have access to the same high-speed, fiber-optic broadband and communications solutions as those in metropolitan areas, and we are committed to delivering exactly that.” Brent Gillum, LightStream president and CEO NOVEMBER 2020


co-op news

From the boardroom The Carroll White REMC board of directors met on Sept. 24. Roll call was taken, and minutes of the previous board meeting were reviewed and approved. The board discussed plans for the 2021 Carroll White REMC annual meeting and set the date for June 23, 2021. Chief Operating Officer Cathy Raderstorf presented the financial report for board review, and new memberships were approved. Options for the refund of Carroll White REMC capital credits in 2020 were reviewed and approved. Other departmental reports were presented by the management team. Directors Gerlach, Rodgers and Bender presented their respective reports from Indiana Electric Cooperatives, Wabash Valley Power Alliance and Cooperative Finance Corporation. Voting delegates for the 2020 IEC annual meeting and a director representative to IEC for the ensuing year were appointed. The meeting was adjourned.


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, DC 20250-9410; • FAX: 202-690-7442; or • EMAIL: USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.




A simple thermostat setting to reduce energy use In my role as energy

I say this because

If this is done with a

to a comfortable

advisor at Jackson

adjusting the

heat pump, the five-

temperature and

County REMC, I have

temperature more

degree temperature

leaving it alone can

helped members

than two degrees

change is asking your

help reduce your

like you find ways to

will force your HVAC

HVAC system to be

energy use this

reduce energy use

system to use more



during the fall and

energy as it works to

To do this, it will turn

winter months.

adjust the temperature

on what is known

as quickly as possible.

as auxiliary heat

For homes with heat

so the temperature

pump systems, I

For example, if it is

like to begin at the

50 degrees outside

thermostat. A simple

and a thermostat is

thing you can do is

set to keep the house

to set your desired

at 65 degrees during

temperature and

the day, once it starts

don’t adjust it more

to cool off in the

than two degrees at

evening, it makes

a time. The fewer

sense to bump the

Following this simple

changes you make to

temperature up to a

process of setting

the temperature, the

warmer setting — say

your thermostat


70 degrees.



can quickly rise five degrees. This is where the resistance heat coils are used and it is a less efficient way to warm the air. It is more expensive too.

Brian Reynolds by

Energy Advisor Jackson County REMC

United States Postal Service Statement of Ownership, Management and Circulation 1. Publication Title: Indiana Connection. 2. Publication Number: 0745-4651. 3. Filing Date 9/21/20. 4. Issue Frequency: Monthly. 5. Number of Issues Published Annually: 12. 6. Annual Subscription Price: $3.12. Complete Mailing Address of Known Office of Publication: Indiana Electric Cooperatives, 8888 Keystone Crossing, Suite 1600, Indianapolis, Marion County, IN 46240-4606. Contact Person: Emily Schilling. Telephone: 317-487-2220. 8. Complete Mailing Address of Headquarters or General Business Office of Publisher: Indiana Electric Cooperatives, 8888 Keystone Crossing, Suite 1600, Indianapolis, Marion County, IN 46240-4606. 9. Full Names and Complete Mailing Address of Publisher, Editor, and Managing Editor: Publisher: Indiana Electric Cooperatives, 8888 Keystone Crossing, Suite 1600, Indianapolis, Marion County, IN 46240-4606. Editor: Emily Schilling, Indiana Electric Cooperatives, 8888 Keystone Crossing, Suite 1600, Indianapolis, Marion County, IN 46240-4606. Managing Editor: None. 10. Owner: Indiana Electric Cooperatives, 8888 Keystone Crossing, Suite 1600, Indianapolis, IN 46240-4606. 11. Known Bondholders, Mortgagees, and Other Security Holders Owning or Holding 1 Percent or More of Total Amount of Bonds, Mortgages, or Other Securities: None. 12. Tax Status (For completion by nonprofit organizations authorized to mail at nonprofit rates). The purpose, function, and nonprofit status of this organization and the exempt status for federal income tax purposes has not changed during preceding 12 months. 13. Publication Title: Indiana Connection. 14. Issue Date for Circulation Data Below: Oct. 2020. 15. Extent and Nature of Circulation: Electric co-op members in Indiana. a. Total Number of Copies (Net press run): Average No. Copies Each Issue During Preceding 12 Months: 287,498. No. Copies of Single Issue Published Nearest to Filing Date: 305,474. b. Paid Circulation (By Mail and Outside the Mail). (1) Mailed Outside-County Paid Subscriptions Stated on PS Form 3541 (Include paid distribution above nominal rate, advertiser’s proof copies and exchange copies): Average No. Copies Each Issue During Preceding 12 Months: 286,171. No. Copies of Single Issue Published Nearest to Filing Date: 304,059. (2) Mailed In-County Paid Subscriptions Stated on PS Form 3541 (Include paid distribution above nominal rate, advertiser’s proof copies and exchange copies): Average No. Copies Each Issue During Preceding 12 Months: 0. No. Copies of Single Issue Published Nearest to Filing Date: 0. (3) Paid Distribution Outside the Mails including Sales Through Dealers and Carriers, Street Vendors, Counter Sales, and Other Paid Distribution Outside USPS: Average No. Copies Each Issue During Preceding 12 Months: 0. No. Copies of Single Issue Published Nearest to Filing Date: 0. (4) Paid Distribution by Other Classes of Mail Through the USPS (e.g. First-Class Mail): Average No. Copies Each Issue During Preceding 12 Months: 0. No. Copies of Single Issue Published Nearest to Filing Date: 0. c. Total Paid Distribution ((Sum of 15b (1), (2), (3), and (4)): Average No. Copies Each Issue During Preceding 12 Months: 286,171. No. Copies of Single Issue Published Nearest to Filing Date: 304,059. d. Free or Nominal Rate Distribution (By Mail and Outside the Mail). (1) Free or Nominal Rate Outside-County Copies included on PS Form 3541: Average No. Copies Each Issue During Preceding 12 Months: 237. No. Copies of Single Issue Published Nearest to Filing Date: 282. (2) Free or Nominal Rate Copies In-County Copies Included on PS Form 3541: Average No. Copies Each Issue During Preceding 12 Months: 0. No. Copies of Single Issue Published Nearest to Filing Date: 0. (3) Free or Nominal Rate Copies Mailed at Other Classes Through the USPS (e.g. First-Class Mail): Average No. Copies Each Issue During Preceding 12 Months: 0. No. Copies of Single Issue Published Nearest to Filing Date: 0. (4) Free or Nominal Rate Distribution Outside the Mail (Carriers or other means): Average No. Copies Each Issue During Preceding 12 Months: 0. No. Copies of Single Issue Published Nearest to Filing Date: 0. e. Total Free or Nominal Rate Distribution (Sum of 15d (1), (2), (3) and (4): Average No. Copies of Each Issue During Preceding 12 Months: 237. No. Copies of Single issue Published Nearest to Filing Date: 282. f. Total Distribution (Sum of 15c and 15e): Average No. Copies Each Issue During Preceding 12 Months: 286,408. No. Copies of Single Issue Published Nearest to Filing Date: 304,341. g. Copies not Distributed (See Instructions to Publishers #4 (page #3): Average No. Copies Each Issue During Preceding 12 Months: 1,090. No. Copies of Single Issue Published Nearest to Filing Date: 1,133. h. Total (Sum of 15f and g): Average No. Copies Each Issue During Preceding 12 Months: 287,498. No. Copies of Single Issue Published Nearest to Filing Date: 305,474. i. Percent Paid (15c divided by 15f times 100): Average No. Copies Each Issue During Preceding 12 Months: 99.9 %. No. Copies of Single Issue Published Nearest to Filing Date: 99.9 %. Publication of Statement of Ownership. If the publication is a general publication, publication of this statement is required. Will be printed in the November 2020 issue of this publication. 17. Signature and Title of Editor, Publisher, Business Manager or Owner (Signed): Emily Schilling, Editor. Date: 9/21/20 I certify that all information furnished on this form is true and complete. I understand that anyone who furnishes false or misleading information on this form or who omits material or information requested on the form may be subject to criminal sanctions (including fines and imprisonment) and/or civil sanctions (including civil penalties).



A year’s worth of student art The 2021 Cooperative Calendar of Student Art is available at participating electric co-op offices across the state. • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Bartholomew County REMC Boone REMC Carroll White REMC Clark County REMC Decatur County REMC Dubois REC Fulton County REMC Harrison REMC Heartland REMC Henry County REMC Hendricks Power Cooperative Jasper County REMC Jay County REMC Johnson County REMC Kankakee Valley REMC Kosciusko REMC LaGrange County REMC Marshall County REMC Miami-Cass REMC


Cove r art kinde rgartby Lily Jone s, en divis ion winn er



Prod uced


by Indi ana

Con nect


ion for Indi ana’


s REM Cs


Cove r art by Lily Jone s, kinde rgart divis ion winn er en

• Newton County REMC • Noble REMC • Orange County REMC • RushShelby Energy • Southeastern Indiana REMC • Steuben County REMC • Tipmont REMC • UDWI REMC • Whitewater Valley REMC • WIN Energy REMC Copies are also available through the mail from Indiana Connection.

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.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR Interest in ICAN surges I cannot tell you how many people have contacted us by email or phone, AND the donations we are receiving via your story (about the Indiana Canine Assistance Network in the September 2020 issue). We are getting a lot of questions coming in through our website as well and due to the surge, we know it’s because we have reached so many people throughout the state. This was a blessing to ICAN to be featured in your publication. I was even at my parent’s home in Seymour and my mom and dad got it in the mail. They were so proud to see a story about ICAN that when they moved to assisted living last Saturday, my dad INSISTED on taking it with him to share it with his new friends! So, thank you again. We are truly grateful to you and the talent you have in writing such a beautiful piece about the work we are doing to bring hope to others.

Denise “Dino” Sierp Director of Development & Outreach, Indiana Canine Assistance Network

Marketplace Our Marketplace offers maximum exposure for your business or organization at a minimal cost. Don’t miss this opportunity to reach over a half million consumers at an affordable rate! Please contact Cheryl Solomon, 847-749-4875 or, for small business advertising opportunities in Indiana Connection.



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Visit Switzerland County, Indiana

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History, Shopping, International Cuisine

Two Convenient Locations:

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Endless Rural Charm

county feature

Spencer County A five mile stretch of Ind. 162 in Spencer County takes a traveler from the boyhood home of perhaps the greatest president in U.S. history to the “summer home” of one of the most beloved characters in the history of humankind. Both are closely tied to the national holidays we celebrate this month and next. Most folks are aware that Abraham Lincoln lived in Spencer County. But he did more than pass through. His 14 years in Southern Indiana were his formative years and would be a quarter of his life. There, he developed his intellect, his love of learning and law, and his melancholia after the heartbreaking deaths of his mother and sister. And there, he grew to his adult 6-foot-4 frame and into the man he was. He was 21 when he joined his father, stepmother and her family in the move to better farmland in Illinois in 1830. Today, the land that was the Lincoln family farm is the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial. The memorial offers visitors the opportunity to walk trails where Lincoln walked and see what life was like on the harsh Hoosier frontier at a living historical farm which is operated in the summer months. A visitor’s center offers a film and a small museum, two memorial halls and five large relief sculpture panels depicting phases of his life. At the site is a headstone for his mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln, who died in 1818. The Lincoln State Park, across the highway from the Boyhood Memorial, is also dedicated to his memory



Five relief sculptures depicting stages of Abraham Lincoln’s life and death adorn the exterior of the Lincoln National Boyhood Memorial in Spencer County. The site is located on the land where Lincoln grew from a lad to adulthood.

and offers plenty of outdoor recreational opportunities. Lincoln’s sister, Sarah Lincoln Grigsby, who died in 1828 giving birth to a stillborn son, is buried at the Little Pigeon Cemetery inside the state park.

y t n u o C acts F


NAMED FOR: Spier Spencer, a captain in the Indiana militia killed in the Battle of Tippecanoe POPULATION: 20,327 (2018 estimate) COUNTY SEAT: Rockport

As president during the Civil War in 1863, Lincoln made the last Thursday of November an annual national holiday. Thanksgiving, as it was in 1863, falls this year on Nov. 26.

A jog to the east of the Lincoln sites, Spencer County also celebrates a great historic figure … Santa Claus! The town there, first known as Santa Fe, fortuitously took its present name in 1856 after the U.S. Post Office rejected its attempt to establish a post office because Indiana already had a Santa Fe. Over the years, Santa Claus — the town and post office — became world famous for its association with the jolly Christmas elf. In 1946, the nation’s first “theme park” — Santa Claus Land — opened

there. In 1984, the park changed its name to Holiday World, and today, with the addition of its Splashin’ Safari, is a combination theme park and water park that annually adds to its offerings and ranks among the best in the country. It is especially respected for its wooden roller coasters and cleanliness.

CLARIFICATION: The description of Charles Carroll, after whom Carroll County was named, should have stated he was the last surviving signer of the Declaration of Independence (October’s County of the Month). Several other “founding fathers” did not sign the Declaration and survived Carroll.



Indiana eats

Pick Oak and Alley

for an amazing burger … and more

BY JENNIFER BARGER Warsaw, Indiana, is home to a lot of great things. There are some pretty sweet parks, an exceptional greenway, an evolving downtown, a LOT of lakes, and a population of dreamers who just keep making this town better. A slightly less well-known fact is that Warsaw is also home to the most amazing burger you will ever sink your chops into. Oak and Alley serves a myriad of craft burgers from a classic cheeseburger to the famous “Traveler” burger. The “Traveler” is Oak and Alley’s take on a weekly special — but it’s so much more than that. It’s really an ever-changing creative combination of tantalizing flavors and textures. Oak and Alley is for burger lovers of all kinds – even those who prefer plant-based options. Hands down, this joint has the best veggie burger you will ever eat. Coupled with these mouthwatering burgers is a selection of pub-style sides! Oh, the sides! The sides menu includes everything delicious and fried. French fries, onion rings, mushrooms, spicy cheese curds, poutine; the list goes on to include salads (#goals.) Looking for a game-changer? Try the PB&J Sweet Potato fries. For real.

OAK AND ALLEY 2308 E. Center St., Warsaw

574-387-6114 Monday-Thursday: 11 a.m.-2 p.m., 5-9 p.m. Friday-Saturday: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday: Closed



THE BELGIAN Brussels sprouts, red onion, bacon, thyme, creme fraiche and aged parmesan

So what makes an Oak and Alley burger better than everyone else’s? It’s the toppings! And the pretzel buns — always the fresh pretzel buns. Who puts umami, sriracha, pickled veggies, and peanut butter on a burger? Oak and Alley does! And it’s phenomenal. In Oak and Alley’s humble beginning, it was the proverbial “hole in the wall” found only by locals who knew the right Alley to explore. Fast forward a few years, and Oak and Alley can be found front and center as you enter town on Center Street, lit up with outdoor seating. You can’t miss it. Oak and Alley boasts some of the best seasonal drinks around: try their “Lemon Shakeup” or their “Boozy Thin Mint Shake.” If specialty drinks aren’t your vibe, take your pick from a wide selection of craft beers and cocktails. With upbeat music, refreshing drinks, and a welcoming atmosphere, you’ll find

THE veggie Black bean patty with cheddar, cilantro, avocado, tomato, red onion and chipotle aioli

yourself in chill-mode as soon as you sit down. Are you looking for an excellent location for a business lunch? Pick Oak and Alley. Or maybe you’re looking for a quick grab and go? Pick Oak and Alley. Is it time for a much needed night out with good food, belly laughs, and great friends? Pick Oak and Alley. Are you watching your calorie intake in preparation for the holidays? Pick another place. Self-control has no place at Oak and Alley. Jennifer Barger is manager of marketing and communications at Kosciusko REMC in Warsaw, Indiana.

food CHICKEN IN WINE SAUCE Kathleen Tooley, Berne, Indiana 6-8 chicken breasts ½ cup water 1 t. salt 1 (10 ¾ oz.) can cream of mushroom soup 1 ½ cups plain yogurt ¼ t. pepper ½ cup milk or cream ¾ cup cooking sherry 1 large (6 oz.) jar sliced mushrooms Cook chicken in water and ½ t. salt on high heat until steam appears. Simmer for 15 minutes. Blend soup, yogurt, ½ t. salt, pepper and sherry. Add milk or cream and mushrooms. Put chicken in greased baking dish. Pour sauce over all and bake uncovered at 350 F for 1 hour.





POUND CAKE Patricia Piekarski, Harvey, Illinois ½ cup butter 3 eggs ½ cup plain fat-free yogurt 1 ½ cups flour ¼ t. baking powder 1/8 t. baking soda 1 cup sugar ½ t. vanilla Let butter, eggs and yogurt stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Grease one loaf pan. Stir together flour, baking powder and baking soda. In bowl, beat butter with mixer for 30 seconds. Gradually add sugar. Beat in vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Alternately, add flour mixture and yogurt to butter mixture, beating on low speed after each addition. Pour batter into pan. Bake at 325 F for 60-75 minutes. Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes.

CHOCOLATE CHIP YOGURT COOKIES Marilles Mauer, Greensburg, Indiana ½ cup granulated sugar ½ cup packed brown sugar ½ cup butter, softened ½ cup plain yogurt 1 ½ t. vanilla 1 ¾ cups flour ½ t. baking soda ¼ t. salt

YOGURT FRUIT SMOOTHIE Jan Hackman, Columbus, Indiana 1 banana, cut up 1 ½ cups frozen fruit or berries 1 cup plain Greek yogurt ½ cup chocolate chips ¼ cup chocolate syrup ¾ cup milk Mix ingredients in a blender for approximately two minutes. Makes two servings.


¾-1 cup chocolate chips Preheat oven to 375 F. In a large bowl, cream together the sugars and butter until light and fluffy. Add yogurt and vanilla. Beat well. Stir in flour, baking soda and salt. Mix well. Mix in chocolate chips. If you think the batter is a bit sticky, chill for about 30 minutes. Use a tablespoon to scoop out the dough and drop two inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove the cookie sheets from the oven and place on cooling racks. Leave the cookies undisturbed for 5 minutes, then remove the cookies from the cookie sheet and let cool completely on a wire rack.



times a winner By Richard G. Biever Good things came in threes for Evan Olinger … make that … threes and sevens. For an unprecedented third time, Evan has won the “Best of Show” in the latest Cooperative Calendar of Student Art contest. Winning the 12th grade division also made Evan a seven-time consecutive grade winner — another unprecedented accomplishment in the calendar contest’s 23 years. The winning works from the contest, which was judged in June after the pandemic caused the judging’s delay, will be used to illustrate the upcoming 2021 art calendar. It will be available from participating electric cooperatives around the state and through Indiana Connection (Please see page 12). The contest was created and is coordinated annually by Indiana Connection staff.

continued on page 20 NOVEMBER 2020


continued from page 19 Evan, who graduated in May from Silver Creek High

Over the years, his winning subject matter varied from

School in Sellersburg, rounded out his high school

whimsical children to a dog to a kitten to a scarecrow

career in the contest with two color pencil entries; either

to his latest, a “Winter Wonderland,” of Christmas

one would have placed first. Judges ended up selecting

decorations on a fireplace mantel. But each year, as

a highly textured sentimental Christmas still life over

Evan’s ability and self-taught technique improved with

his other entry that featured two orange-furred foxes

his age, each work was rendered skillfully in layers

against a cold snowy blue landscape.

of colored pencil, creating textures and realism rarely

“My main goal with the REMC calendar contest, and my approach to creating in general, is just to keep things

seen in a student artist, especially in grades when Evan began winning.

fresh and unique,” Evan said. “I don’t like to create the

“With the REMC contest, it was all about having fun

same piece of art twice.”

with what I was creating, while still trying to top my

Sixth grade — June 2015

eighth grade — AUGUST 2017

Evan’s first appearance in the calendar is still one of his favorites, he said. “That was an exploratory year for me because I was moving from cartoons to realism.” After winning an “Award of Merit” a couple of times before, he was thrilled to have finally won his grade division. “That was a good boost in how I felt about my art.”

Evan won his grade division with a “self-portrait” of a younger Evan as a tot at the State Fair.

ninth grade — SEPTEMBER 2018 seventh grade — July 2016 The next year, Evan won for a Fourth of July illustration of a girl that was his first “Best of Show.”



The family pet “Snickerdoodle” became one of his first animal illustrations and gave him confidence in tackling animals. The work brought him many commissions, he added, doing illustrations of pets for family, friends and strangers who saw his art in that year’s calendar.

tenth grade — October 2019

eleventh grade — november 2020

Evan’s second “Artist of the Year” designation for Best of Show is still probably his favorite, he said recently. It featured a kitten popping out of a jack-o’-lantern. “I’ve always loved cats, but I’m allergic, so I can’t have them.”

Evan turned to a scarecrow against an autumnal sky and landscape, again, not subjects he said he would normally have done for fun.

artwork from previous years,” Evan said. “One of the things I’ve always loved about the contest is that it gave me a chance to explore new subject matter I wouldn’t necessarily explore. Taking a break from my usual subject matters to draw a couple of light-hearted and colorful pieces was always a breath of fresh air, and was why I always was so excited to enter the contest.” Evan began taking his art to a new level this fall: pursuing a degree in visual communications design at Purdue University. Through the degree, he will also minor in art history. “It’s a big step into a field of art which isn’t as familiar to me, but I couldn’t be more excited,” he said. “I’ll be taking my technical skills that I’ve built up throughout the years and filtering them into making creative, refined, and meaningful concepts.” His first two classes at Purdue are fundamentals: drawing and design. Despite COVID-19, his art classes are still meeting in person. He’s hoping to land some internships during his undergraduate career that will help point to his career in art and design that could take him

twelfth grade — december 2021 The still life of his mom’s Christmas mantel decorations is a sentimental piece he did for his mom. “She has fun putting up her decorations. And she’s always been very supportive of my art. I thought I could go out on a bang with a tribute to my mom.” He photographed last year’s display and added a background. “I really love how the combination of all the colors together make the decorations pop, so I wanted to capture that in my drawing,” he said.

to magazines or any number of directions. And he expressed interest in staying a part of the contest. “If I could do one more year, I would,” he said. “I’m not the type to get too emotional, but I will miss having that time of the year. It was always a very routine thing … I would come up with a composition, and I would work on it about the same month every year. But I’ll still be very interested in seeing everyone else’s entries

Indiana Connection would love to have him help judge the contest. The next one — to illustrate the 2022 calendar — is now underway! And no student artist has been as accomplished as he.

Richard G. Biever is senior editor of Indiana Connection.

in the following years and seeing the art they create. Maybe I’ll be able to be a judge one day.” NOVEMBER 2020


Changes to the art contest yet some things stay the same


ike most everything else in 2020, the annual Cooperative Calendar of Student Art contest was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Normally held in late March or early April, the art contest judging was delayed to June because of the school closures and the closure of Indiana Connection’s office at Indiana Electric Cooperatives. IEC staff has coordinated and conducted the contest for its 23 years. Winning works from the contest are used to illustrate the following year’s cooperative calendar that is distributed to electric cooperative consumers around the state by participating electric cooperatives. Complimentary calendars will soon be available at participating co-ops or for $6 each through the mail from Indiana Connection. (See the list and order form on page 12.) Because schools had been closed for in-person classes and turned to remote e-learning for the ending of the 2019-2020 school year, recognition for the art contest was altered. As usual, 13 first place winners were awarded in grades K-12. Those works will illustrate the cover and the corresponding months inside. Kindergartners were assigned the cover, and first graders were assigned January, second graders had February, and so on through 12th grade illustrating December. But this year, judges awarded 13 honorable mentions, as well, one for each grade. In past years, there were only nine at-large honorable



mentions awarded. Honorable mention works will appear in a special six-page section at the back of the calendar After first place was selected for each grade, judges gathered grade division finalists to make the honorable mention selections.

Cover: Kindergarten, Lily Jones

Each first-place winner received a prize of $200. The “Artist of the Year,” 12th grade division-winner Evan Olinger, won an extra $100 for having the “Best of Show.” Each honorable mention winner received $75. The Best of Show was Evan’s third since he began winning his grade division as a sixth grader in 2015’s calendar. He won his grade division every year since. Another artist of note is Danielle Sommerman, last year’s Best of Show winner. The Crawford County High School student won the 11th grade division for the 2021 calendar which was her fifth consecutive win. She’s won her grade division six times and also won an honorable mention as a third grader in 2013’s calendar and as a sixth grader in 2016’s calendar. Grade division winners shown on these pages represented the grade the respective winners were in during the 2019-2020 school year. Continuing a partnership begun in 2010 between Indiana’s electric

cooperatives and the Hoosier Art Salon, Indiana’s prestigious arts organization, the stuJanuary: First dent artists Grade, Violet Kesler featured in the calendar had their works exhibited at the Indiana State Museum in downtown Indianapolis. This was in conjunction with the Salon’s annual juried exhibition. For details on the art contest to illustrate the 2022 calendar, please go to Its deadline will be March 20, 2021. To view the 13 honorable mention winning works for the 2021 calendar and all the past calendar art, 1999-2020, please visit our “Gallery of Art,” also on our website.

February: Second Grade, Olivia DeSchamp

May: Fifth Grade, Logan Huff

March: Third Grade, Evie Huff

June: Sixth Grade, Harley Koons

July: Seventh Grade, Bryan Michael Yoder

April: Fourth Grade, SaRai Fontanez

winning art continued on page 24 NOVEMBER 2020


winning art continued from page 23

August: Eighth Grade, Hannah Stewart


‘The Bears of Blue River’ … REVISITED?

September: Ninth Grade, Mary Batz For more than a century, the tales of frontier teenager Balser Brent and his adventures with bears, guns and Native American treasure along Indiana’s Blue River in the 1800s left generations of young Hoosiers spellbound. But the sad reality for those hoping to track and trap a bear: Black bears had vanished from Indiana long before Hoosier author Charles Major ever wrote about them in the early 1900s. But now, a black bear has been confirmed by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife north of Prospect, Kentucky. That’s right across from Clark County, Indiana. Because bears are strong swimmers, the bear may cross the Ohio River into the Hoosier state. According to Brad Westrich, nongame mammologist with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, the sighting is not a cause for alarm but a time to prepare. “This sighting provides an opportunity for Hoosiers in the area to secure outdoor grills, trash cans, or pet and bird food,” said Westrich. “Black bears prefer to avoid humans and removing potential food sources goes a long way to prevent negative interactions.”

October: Tenth Grade, Elizabeth Miller

Since 2015, Indiana DNR has confirmed three black bears in the Hoosier state. Populations of black bears in neighboring states continue to increase, so it is not unusual for bears to disperse into Indiana. The deciduous forests and rough terrain in southern Indiana provide great habitat for black bears. DNR urges citizens to be BearWise (bearwise. org) to minimize the possibility of conflict with black bears. Individuals are encouraged to report any bear sightings using the DNR’s large mammal online report form at, or by calling DNR Law Enforcement at 812-837-9536. Observations with evidence such as photos, video, tracks, or scat may require a follow-up visit by a DNR biologist for confirmation. More information on black bears is at

November: Eleventh Grade, Danielle Sommerman



JACK SPAULDING is a syndicated state outdoors writer and a member of RushShelby Energy. Readers can email him directly at


Deck the halls with boughs of


When Ralphie Parker’s dad attempts to plug his glorious but tragically fra-gee-lee “Italian” leg lamp into an overloaded wall outlet in the holiday movie classic “A Christmas Story,” there first came a “snap of a few sparks” and the “whiff of ozone” before the lamp blazed forth in the front window. While that’s a funny movie scene, those at your electric cooperative want to remind you overloaded circuits and sparks are never funny, especially this time of year. According to the National Fire Protection Association, one of every three home Christmas tree fires is caused by electrical problems. And though not common, Christmas tree fires are more serious than typical home fires. One of every 31 reported Christmas tree fires results in a death. “This is such a beautiful and special time of year,” said John Gasstrom, CEO at Indiana Electric Cooperatives. “It’s always tragic to hear of home fires and loss of life, especially when it’s caused by something like a Christmas tree or holiday decorations meant to bring joy and celebration.” Here are some things to keep in mind when decorating your home for the holidays:

• If you decorate with a real tree, make sure it’s fresh. Needles should not drop or come off easily. • When you get your tree home, cut a few inches off the bottom of the trunk and immediately place the tree in water, even if you do not yet intend to decorate it. • Make sure the tree is watered daily throughout the holiday. • Decorate the tree with LED lights that do not get hot and use 75% to 90% less electricity for the same amount of light. • With any light set, carefully inspect each light and the cord. Cracked and loose bulbs and frayed or bare wires can shock or start a fire. • Follow the manufacturer instructions on how many strands can be connected together. It differs based on the type of light. Obviously, Ralphie made it to adulthood to look back warmly on that Christmas he got a BB gun in “A Christmas Story.” And even though he almost shot his eye out and the neighbor’s hounds ate their turkey, at least the Parkers were not displaced, or something worse, by the old man’s overloaded outlets.

HOLIDAY SAFETY TIPS FOR KIDS Keep an eye out for younger family members when putting up the holiday lights. • Those popular lights shaped like candles perched on “bubbling” colored liquid should be kept away from youngsters who may be tempted to break the glass and drink the colorful, hazardous liquid. • Handmade paper ornaments can cause fires if they come in contact with electrical connections. • Most strings of Christmas tree lights are coated with plastic containing lead. Since the amount of lead varies greatly, it’s difficult to determine how dangerous the lights might be. To be safe, don’t allow young children to handle the lights. • Playful youngsters can easily get tangled in light strings. Watch children closely and warn them of the dangers.




Ask Rosie Mugwort, wormwood: A real problem by either name BY B. ROSIE LERNER



B. Rosie Lerner is the Purdue Extension consumer horticulturist and is a consumer of Tipmont REMC. Questions about gardening issues may be sent to “Ask Rosie,� Indiana Connection, 8888 Keystone Crossing, Suite 1600, Indianapolis, IN 46240-4606, or use the form at

This looks like it could be

needed. Cutting and pulling can

Artemisia vulgaris, more

actually stimulate additional growth

commonly known as mugwort

from the rhizomes.

or wormwood. It is considered

Even herbicides usually require

an invasive species in several

I am curious if you have

states and is included in the 2019

an idea about a weed that

Indiana Terrestrial Plant Rule, which

grows in our yard every year. It

prohibits all sales and distribution of

spreads very rapidly, seems invasive

the plant. The weed is a perennial

and grows to a pretty high level as

that spreads by both seed and

summer goes along. We have asked

rhizomes (underground horizontal

many people, and they are quite

stems), so it can spread quickly

stumped. My wife does not like it,

once established. The height of the

and we pull it and spray it, but it

plant can reach up to 5 feet if left

just keeps coming back, spreading


and invading. Also, it seems to

several applications to control this plant. And any herbicide that would be effective against this weed would damage your garden plants, so spraying is not practical in established gardens. Targeting application by wicking or hand painting with broadleaf weed herbicides might provide some control if it can be done carefully to avoid any contact of the chemical

Control of this plant in established

with your desirable plants.

gardens is a challenge! Hand

Be sure to read and follow all label

digging the plant will help, but any

directions before applying any

-John Anderson, Monticello,

piece of the plant left in the soil can



re-sprout. Repeated digging will be

transplant to other parts of the yard when we transplant hosta.

Invasive mugwort spreads by rhizomes (horizontal underground stems) PHO TO BY JO HN ANDE RS O N



Wabash Valley Power news

MINI SPLITS: THE COOL WAY TO HEAT (AND YES, COOL) YOUR FAMILY! People updating their homes and replacing outdated HVAC systems are more frequently considering mini split heat pumps. This newer technology provides more flexibility and energy efficiency compared to many other options. Our Power Moves team has received four times as many mini and multi split system rebates this year compared to this time in 2019. MEET MINI AND MULTI SPLIT


systems can heat and cool



specific rooms, it is really

A mini split has an incredibly

Mini and multi split systems are

efficient outdoor compressor to ramp

a great solution to heat and cool

up and down to meet the heating

challenging spaces. Yet there may

or cooling needs of the space. They

be some factors for homeowners to

also have several ways to get the

consider about these new options:

conditioned air throughout your home. The most common method is with a single indoor “head” without any ductwork. You can also have multiple “heads” connected to the same outdoor compressor, turning your mini split into a multi split system. The indoor heads can be mounted on the wall, ceiling, along the floor, or can be installed with ductwork to condition several rooms.

• Consider a heating and cooling contractor to install the new equipment. The system needs to be properly sized, which requires calculations that a contractor can help you with (more on that below). It can be easy to miscalculate if it is the first time you are doing these calculations yourself. Many contractors

important to know how much energy is needed. Your heating and cooling contractor should be able to provide the calculations, which will help determine proper system sizing. • Your local electric co-op’s energy advisor can help! Co-op energy advisors frequently know local contractors and what types of equipment they install. They work closely with contractors to ensure the new equipment qualifies for Power Moves rebates.

provide additional warranties

Mini and multi split systems are an

These mini split systems can be

for their work, which is another

incredibly efficient, flexible way

installed in almost any room due to

valuable consideration.

to heat and cool your home. By

the lack of ductwork needed. Each indoor unit can be independently controlled, making them ideal for apartments and offices.



• A heat loss/heat gain calculation will help determine home and system needs. Because mini and multi split

following this advice, you’re more likely to have a properly sized, efficient means of keeping your home comfortable on the hottest and coldest days of the year.


Out of the ring

... onto the pavement

Former pro wrestler now travels the country as an evangelist


s an imposing 6-foot-6,

But by the early 2000s, it all came

to church and youth groups min-

340-pound burly bad guy

crashing down like a slam into the

istering to people of all walks. Their

professional wrestler, Carmine

turnbuckle that left him flat on the

“Hitting the Pavement” ministry

Azzato wasn’t the type of guy you’d

mat. And that’s when he said he

just launched a new website last

want to bump into on a dark street

was restored and transformed by

month as they embark on a new


Jesus Christ.

phase of their ministry from their

Azzato wore demonic face makeup,

Now 51, instead of scaring the

akin to Gene Simmons of the heavy

bejeebers out of people, Azzato’s

“We’re not a new ministry,” Az-

metal rock band KISS, and wrestled

sharing Christ’s redemptive love as

zato said, emphasizing both he

under stage names like “Demolition

an evangelist.

and Jules are evangelical veterans

Blast,” “Gravedigger” and “Molokai the Grim Reaper” as he rose to fame and fortune in the 1990s.

He and his wife of three years, Jules, travel the country speaking

New Richmond home.

who’ve been tried and tested by life’s hard knocks. “We’re a ‘willing ministry’ — willing to change and try new things,” he explained.

For 23 years, Carmine Azzato pounded opponents in the wrestling ring as a world-champion professional wrestler, most notably as “Blast,” part of the tag team known as Demolition. Today, based out of his New Richmond home, he pounds the pavement across the country as an itinerant evangelist with his wife to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ.

That means taking their itinerant evangelism, which is a 501(c)3 organization, wherever it needs to go. “You can’t meet people where they are unless you’re willing to hit the pavement.” He admits he was not a willing conscript or convert when Christ first tagged him. A knee injury brought an end to the heyday of his pro career in 2000 when he was just 31. Wrestling professionally since just before his 18th birthday, he had traveled the world and cracked elbows with the most famous wrestlers. He experienced its success … and its excess. After the injury and semi-retirement, he fell on hard times. “And then, as it happens, you don’t want to show people that you’re hurting


continued on page 30 NOVEMBER 2020


profile continued from page 29 and you’re struggling for money. I

they loved him and told him about

chose to do something that wasn’t

the unconditional love of Christ.


Like Azzato, both had once been

Azzato allowed himself to be used

down before being restored.

in an auto insurance scam by

“I didn’t want any part of it,” Azzato

someone he thought was a friend.

recalled. The wrestling career and

That friend was being investigated

the fame made him leery of people

by the FBI, and Azzato was arrested

and their motives. As a defense, he

with about 60 others. Unlike the

pushed people away. “When I start-

others, Azzato immediately plead

ed to see these guys were for real

guilty to the fraud, and the judge

and just completely in love with the

showed mercy. He was sentenced

Lord, I started to ease up a little bit.

only to probation, but the experi-

They really wanted to know me.

ence left him even more broken.

Somebody saw the value in me when I couldn’t see it in myself. — CARMINE AZZATO one in the WWF entourage saw the big kid with the massive cast on his leg and how he carried himself. He

“All of a sudden, my heart started

could tell Azzato was charismatic

That’s when a childhood acquain-

getting chiseled a little bit. That

in the way he interacted with his

tance gave him a job as a con-

rough exterior started getting

classmates and how they respond-

struction foreman. Azzato’s dad

knocked down.” Azzato said he did

ed. He persuaded Azzato to consid-

had been a contractor, so Azzato,

a “180 conversion” and accepted

er pro wrestling as a career, and a

who grew up in New York City, was

Christ in November 2002. “Since

lightbulb came on, Azzato said.

familiar with the industry. Soon,

that day, I just never went back to

two Christian coworkers could tell

the old me.”

Azzato needed some reconstruc-

His post-wrestling construction career eventually brought him

Azzato speaks to Christian denom-

to Indianapolis a decade ago. In

inations of all kinds. “I’m preaching

2013, he decided to turn to evan-

relationship. Jesus wasn’t religious.

gelical ministry and motivational

Carmine Azzato

He was relational. For me to love

speaking full time. In 2016, he met

and draw close to Him, I had to

Jules — living just up the road in

CAREER: Professional wrestler

understand that He was about

Montgomery County — via a health

(retired); evangelist; motivational


products convention in Orlando.


His two coworkers weren’t the first

While his life’s path has had as


to see something in Azzato worth

many twists and turns and ups and

pursuing. In high school, his only

downs as a well-scripted wrestling

dream was to play in the NFL. But

match, he’s now “wrestling for

a compound fracture to his leg in

souls,” he said.

tion of his own. Daily, they told him

• Two-time World Heavyweight Champion • One-time Intercontinental Champion • One-time Television Champion • Five-time World Tag Team Champion For more information and to see where Carmine and Jules will be preaching, visit:



practice his junior year ended his football dreams. Scholarship offers disappeared. He fell into depression and turned to drugs and suicidal thoughts, he said.

“We have to see the gold in everyone,” he said. “We have to see the value … because somebody saw the value in me when I couldn’t see it in myself.”

About that time, the World Wrestling Federation staged a fundraising event for his Staten Island high school’s football program. Some-

Story by Indiana Connection using some material provided by Tipmont REMC