Carroll White REMC - October 2022 Indiana Connection

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OCTOBER 2022 PAGES 18-22 Electric co-ops offer a multitude of career paths Lines of Work Carroll White REMC’s Kevin Bender’s impact felt locally and nationally.

from the editor

Heard in the Hoosier state

Beware of “Bless your heart.”

I’ve heard that Southerners will sometimes utter this seemingly sweet phrase as an insult with hidden meanings like: “Bless your heart. (It’s not your fault that you’re an idiot who screwed up again.)” Yikes! These three words — spoken with a drawl and a smile — prove that a spoonful of sugar can effectively hide a bitter pill.

The Southern lexicon features a whole slew of colorful and descriptive sayings that would doubtfully have the same effect with my Hoosier accent: gems like “grinnin’ like a possum eating a sweet tater” and “she has her nose so far in the air she could drown in a rainstorm.” For someone who loves words, these phrases are like sweet tea to my lips.

We Hoosiers, however, have our own words and phrases unique to our part of the country. For example, for most of the U.S., “puppy chow” is canine kibble. But in Indiana the term also describes a SO GOOD powdered-sugar covered snack mix made with chocolate, peanut butter and Chex cereal that unfortunately does look a lot like dry dog food.

Meanwhile, “catty corner” is not where cats hang out to beg for bowls of puppy chow. It, as you know, means diagonal. One place you might be able to snag a few handfuls of puppy chow though is a “pitch-in,” the Hoosier version of a “potluck,” or as they say in Illinois, a “scramble.” Though my go-to pitch-in dish is Buffalo Chicken Dip, perhaps you’re a fan of stuffed green peppers, or as some Hoosiers may call it, “mangoes.” Don’t confuse this mango with what the rest of the country calls a mango because a sweet tropical stone fruit tastes better in a salsa or smoothie than stuffed with ground beef and rice.

While we’re at it, don’t get me started on the whole “pop,” “soda,” and “Coke” debate. Studies — and yes, there have been soda pop studies — show that we Hoosiers are divided on what we call this fizzy drink. I lean toward “pop” but bless my highly caffeinated heart, what do I know?

VOLUME 72 • NUMBER 4 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. Member’s cost per issue is approximately 32 cents, plus postage.

CONTACT US: 8888 Keystone Crossing, Suite 1600 Indianapolis, IN 46240-4606 317-487-2220


COOPERATIVES OFFICERS: Randy Kleaving President

Steve McMichael Vice President

Dr. Richard Leeper Secretary/Treasurer

Tom VanParis Interim CEO

EDITORIAL STAFF: Emily Schilling Editor

Richard George Biever Senior Editor

Holly Huffman Communication Support Specialist

Lauren Carman Communication Manager

Kiley Lipps Graphic Designer

Amber Knight Creative Manager

Mandy Barth Vice President of Communication


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, Indiana, and at additional mailing offices.

Giveaway: There will be two gift card drawings this month, courtesy of the Warren County Local Economic Development Organization. Enter to win a $50 gift card to Williamsport’s High Falls Saloon and Grill. Also available: a $20 gift card for food or ice cream at nearby Hot Dog Station. To enter, visit or send your contact information to the address below. The deadline to enter is Oct. 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; or send to Indiana Connection, 8888 Keystone Crossing, Suite 1600, Indianapolis, IN 46240-4606.

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.

OCTOBER 2022 3
On the menu: January issue: “Copycat” recipes (inspired by your favorite restaurants), deadline Nov. 1. If we publish your recipe on our food pages, we’ll send you a $10 gift card. EMILY SCHILLING Editor




Energy news and information from your electric cooperative.


Turn ‘on’ to go off-road.


Spotlighting Warren County.


23 profilefood 14

energy travel


Beer food: Pop open a bottle or can and get cooking.


Around the world in B-Town.


Overhead line safety: When in doubt, look up.

Electric co-ops offer a multitude of career paths.


Jamie Bell raises hand to opportunities and growth.



Spotting the invasive spotted lanternfly. (Not in all editions.)


Hilly Hundred bike tour back for 54th year. (Not in all editions.)

On the cover

Tipmont REMC lineman Lucas Bouwkamp seemingly aligns with the stripes of a huge American flag backdrop as he descends a pole during an electric lineman skills competition in August. Though lineworkers may be the job most associated with electric utilities, Indiana’s co-ops offer a multitude of career opportunities.

contents 4 OCTOBER 2022
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“This institution is an equal opportunity provider and employer.”


P.O. Box 599; Monticello, IN 47960 800-844-7161 (Toll Free)


7:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Monday – Friday DELPHI OFFICE

7:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Monday – Friday EMAIL CEO Cathy Raderstorf


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

Aaron N. Anderson, 765-427-5592 6634 W, 300 S, Delphi


“Creatively enhancing our community through safety and service.”

Safety, Service, and Community


Cycle 1 September bills are due Oct. 5 and are subject to disconnect Oct. 25 if unpaid. Cycle 2 September bills are due Oct. 20 and are subject to disconnect Nov. 10 if unpaid. Meters are read using the Automated Meter Reading system. Cycle 1 meters will be read on Oct. 1. Cycle 2 meters will be read Oct. 15.


If you can see daylight around a window frame or if you can rattle a window (movement means possible leaks), the window likely needs to be sealed. Most window leaks can be sealed with caulk or weatherstripping, which come in a variety of compounds and materials.

LIKE US ON FACEBOOK carrollwhite.remc



felt locally and nationally

Former Carroll White REMC

Board President Kevin Michael Bender passed away on Aug. 10. His loss continues to be felt not only by those at the REMC, but by scores of people on the community and national level as well.

Remembered as a trusted friend, community leader, and faithful servant to the cooperative principles, Bender, 63, died at his rural Carroll County home after battling cancer for the past seven years. His wife, Denise, and his three sons, Kyle, Kris and Karson, were at his side.

Bender, who served as president and CEO of Bank of Wolcott, joined

the REMC board of directors in 2008. He played a key role in the consolidation between Carroll County REMC and White County REMC. In 2017, he was elected to serve as CW REMC’s board president, a position he held until this year.

Current Board President Kent Zimpfer praised Bender for his servant’s heart. “He had a saying in our boardroom that I will never forget: ‘We are servant leaders for our community,’ ” Zimpfer said. “He helped lead CW REMC in a new direction that we will follow for years to come.

For 25 years, Kevin Bender and his wife, Denise, owned and operated Ready Set Go Children’s Center.
OCTOBER 2022 5
continued on page 6

co-op news

continued from page 5

“Kevin was a man of incredible integrity and showed humility in both his roles for CW REMC and the Bank of Wolcott,” Zimpfer continued. “His leadership was respected by all who knew him.”

CW REMC CEO Cathy Raderstorf noted Bender cultivated trust and collaboration with all who worked with him. “Kevin’s financial background and servant leadership style made him a great asset to the CW REMC board,” Raderstorf said. “His poise, logical thinking and respect for others were traits that made him special.”

Bender’s impact extended past the Carroll County community. For the past two years, he served on the Cooperative Finance Corporation board of directors. CFC is a finance cooperative that services electric cooperatives nationwide. Bender represented District 4 which includes Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and West Virginia.

“Kevin’s strong financial and rural utility background made him an insightful contributor to the CFC board of directors,” CFC Chief Executive Officer Andrew Don said. “His keen intellect, coupled with his calm and warm demeanor, will be

greatly missed by both the board of directors and the CFC staff.”

Bender was named president and CEO of Bank of Wolcott in 2010 after previously working as a lender there. He had begun his banking career at Camden State Bank in 1992. During his tenure at Bank of Wolcott, the bank more than doubled in size and was considered one of the most financially sound and efficiently managed banks in Indiana, while remaining deeply rooted in the community.

Beginning in March 2021, Bender served as chairman of the bank’s board and advisor which provided

more time for him to mentor young bankers. He was also able to pursue other interests, most notably a joint agriculture venture with his son, Kris.

“Kevin’s leadership and sound approach to business was instrumental to the bank’s growth over the last 10 years,” Bank of Wolcott President and CEO Jeremy Siegle said. “More importantly, Kevin’s authenticity, humility and servant heart left a lasting impression on our employees and their families.”

Bender was a board member and long-time classroom volunteer

6 OCTOBER 2022 Bender, who received an agricultural degree at Purdue University, enjoyed working on the farm he and son Kris operated.

for Junior Achievement of White County. He was a member of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Delphi, where he served as the finance council chairman, lector and CCD religious instructor for the junior and senior classes.

For 25 years, he and wife Denise owned and operated Ready Set Go Children’s Center.

A 1977 DeKalb High School graduate, Bender earned an agricultural degree from Purdue University as well as a degree from the University of Wisconsin Graduate School of Banking. At Purdue University, he was elected

to Mortar Board and served as president of the FarmHouse Fraternity. He was a longtime treasurer of the Purdue FarmHouse Foundation, engaging with fellow alumni to support the educational pursuits of young men.

Born on Feb. 4, 1959, in Angola, Indiana, to Lavon and Rosemary (Miller) Bender, Bender married Denise M. Hummel on July 5, 1986. Survivors include Denise; sons Kyle (Kathleen), Kris (Alanna) and Karson (Brittney Burnett); grandsons Kace Michael and Kolt Monroe; and granddaughter Khyler Mae.


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

KEVIN BENDER 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:

(1) mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights 1400 Independence Ave., SW Washington, D.C. 20250-9410; (2) fax: 202-690-7442; or

(3) email:

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.

co-op news OCTOBER 2022 7



Are the upfront costs of installing a geothermal heat pump keeping you from switching your home or business to this energy-efficient heating and cooling system? Carroll White REMC’s new Looped In program is here to help you!

Carroll White REMC will pay to have a member’s loop system installed. The REMC will own the loop portion and will add a small rider to your monthly bill for your use of the loop.

The process:

• Call our energy advisor, Joe Spear, at 800-844-7161 to set up a home visit.

• After consulting with Spear, you will select a licensed contractor to install the geothermal system and sign the necessary agreements and paperwork so work on the project can begin.

• Carroll White REMC will select a contractor for the loop installation.

• Post construction, Carroll White REMC will ensure all the work was done as expected and will finalize all rebates. A copy of the geothermal installation invoice from the member’s approved contractor will be required.

• Our billing department will then add the monthly lease fee to your electric bill.


Are those money-saving energy efficiency projects on your to-do list too daunting? Carroll White REMC can help!

Partnership for Efficiency provides low interest loans to rural families and small businesses to help them with their energy efficiency projects.


• Lighting improvements

• Building envelope improvements

• HVAC systems

• Heat pump water heaters

• Motors

• Appliance upgrades

• Compressed air systems

• Boilers, dryers, heaters, and process related equipment

• Other activities and investments directly related to efficiency


1. Member must contact our energy advisor, Joe Spear, to schedule a free energy audit.

2. Member should fill out the application.

3. A credit check is done to determine the loan amount.

4. Upon approval, the member chooses a licensed contractor to perform the work.

5. After the work is completed, the member contacts our energy advisor to perform another energy audit to validate the energy efficiency was achieved.

6. Carroll White REMC pays the contractor.

7. Carroll White REMC adds the monthly loan charge to the member’s electric bill.

co-op news 8 OCTOBER 2022

Turn ‘on’ to go off-road

More varieties of electric vehicles give people options to enjoy all-terrain travel

While many people enjoy driving around town in electric vehicles, more options are becoming available for enthusiasts who want to travel off the beaten path (or no path at all).

The electric vehicle market has grown in the U.S., with more consumers buying EVs in recent years. Fortunately, the kinds of electric vehicles hitting the market also are expanding. For people who enjoy going off-road, that can mean all sorts of fun! Some new options to consider include utility terrain vehicles, trucks, and even bikes and motorcycles.


The motorcycle and biking industries are getting electric makeovers. Zero Motorcycles, which created its initial prototypes in 2006, offers a variety of electric motorcycles; newer companies, such as Rambo Bikes, sell battery-powered bicycles. This Iowabased company highlights its bikes for enthusiasts who enjoy hunting, camping and other outdoor activities. Some models listed on the Rambo Bikes website can start with financed monthly payments less than $100.


Designed for work or leisure, several companies, including Polaris and Volcon, have developed all-electric UTV models. Electrek reported this summer that Volcon will start delivering its first new Stag allelectric UTV next summer. Polaris, which makes multiple kinds of off-road vehicles, partnered with Zero Motorcycles as part of its plan to offer electric options for most of its “core product categories” by 2025, according to a Zero Motors announcement of the partnership.


Multiple car and truck manufacturers have announced plans for electric truck and SUV models to enter the market over the next few years. Ford has even started delivering the Ford F-150 Lightning all-electric truck, while EV start-up Rivian has already delivered orders of its all-electric pickup. Rivian also has more EV models coming in the next few months.

Many companies that sell gaspowered vehicles are exploring — or already selling — electric options, with more expected over the next few years. These new options offer new possibilities for people to explore the world in ways they might not have previously considered. You can contact your local electric co-op’s energy advisor for advice on electric vehicles, including best ways and times to charge them at home. Your energy advisor also can give you more information on new electric vehicles that can take you off the beaten path — literally!

10 OCTOBER 2022
OCTOBER 2022 11

county feature

Warren County

As one of Indiana’s most rural counties, Warren has fewer than 23 people per square mile. Much of its 366 square miles is devoted to agriculture, especially in the county’s northern and western parts where Indiana ends and the open prairies of Illinois begin.

The county’s farmland is among the most productive in the state. And, while Warren is a quiet farming county, even advertising its seat of Williamsport as a kind of “Mayberry,” the county is not without geographical and historical landmarks.

The Wabash River, flowing west by southwest out of neighboring Tippecanoe County, defines most of the southeastern side of Warren’s inverted wedge shape. Toward the county’s southwest tip is where the Wabash makes its sharp lefthand turn southward.

Eleven years after its founding, Warren County became part of the tragic Potawatomi “Trail of Death.” In the fall of 1838, about 860 members of the Potawatomi people were rounded up near Plymouth, Indiana. They were then forced to march at gunpoint from Marshall through Fulton, Cass, Carroll, Tippecanoe and Warren counties, and then across the states of Illinois and Missouri to eastern Kansas.

Along the way, more than 40 people, mostly children, died

and were buried. The group camped in Warren County, Sept. 14, 1838, near Williamsport, and Sept. 15, near State Line City, on its way to Illinois. Two Potawatomi children were buried near the Sept. 15 campsite. Geographically significant, Warren County has the highest free-falling waterfall in the state. Williamsport Falls, located in downtown Williamsport, drops 90 feet over a sandstone ledge. Unlike most natural features you have to find, this one is less than 1,000 feet from the county courthouse. A trail allows visitors to venture into the gorge where they can walk beneath the overhanging rock formation and behind the mist of the falls. The caprock over which the creek falls is nearly 40 feet thick.

The best time to view the falls is after a rainy spell or snow melt, or in the winter when it freezes over and is encased in varying muted colors of ice. In dry weather, Fall Creek, which feeds the falls, is often barely a trickle. In fact, the falls are sometimes called “Dry Falls.”

State Line City, on the southwestern edge of the county, shares its western border with the Illinois state line. President-elect Abraham Lincoln was welcomed there on his train ride east to his inauguration in 1861. The Wabash Railroad he was riding left Springfield, Illinois, on the

County Facts


NAMED FOR: Joseph Warren, a major-general in the Massachusetts militia, who was killed in 1775 at Bunker Hill.




morning of Feb. 11, the day before Lincoln’s 52nd birthday. It crossed into Indiana at State Line City later that day.

A marker there records Lincoln’s brief whistle-stop remarks to well-wishers which read in part: “I am happy to meet you on this occasion, and enter again the state of my early life, and almost of my maturity. I am under many obligations to you for your kind reception and to Indiana for the aid she rendered our cause which I think a just one ….”

At 90 feet, the Williamsport Falls is the largest free-falling waterfall in Indiana. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia
12 OCTOBER 2022
Enter to win one of two gift cards LEARN MORE ON PAGE 3


1 (15.25 oz.) box chocolate cake mix

1 cup beer (Editor's note: When we tested the recipe, we used a stout beer.)

3 eggs

¼ cup oil

¼ t. baking soda

Beat together the cake mix, eggs and beer. Add oil and baking soda; beat until blended. Pour into a greased 9-by13-inch pan. Bake at 350 F for 23-26 minutes. (If using a Bundt pan, bake for 30-33 minutes.) Cool for 15 minutes. Remove from pan. Frost with any canned frosting or glaze.

food 14 OCTOBER 2022
Beer food
1 cup vanilla ice cream 2 cups Guinness or other stout beer 2 T. chocolate syrup Divide ice cream between two glasses. Slowly top with beer. Drizzle with chocolate syrup. Serve immediately. GUINNESS FLOAT

WELSH BEER BREAKFAST RAREBIT Patricia Piekarski , Harvey, Illinois

2 English muffins, split and toasted

4 slices Canadian-style bacon, warmed

slices tomato

4 eggs, any way you like them

Cheese Sauce

1½ cups shredded cheese (any style)

¾ cup beer

1 beaten egg

Place English muffins (4 halves) on a plate. Top each with a bacon slice, tomato slice and 1 egg. Set aside and make cheese sauce. In a saucepan, combine cheese and beer. Cook and stir over low heat until the cheese melts. Slowly stir half of hot cheese sauce into beaten egg. Return all to saucepan. Cook and stir over low heat until sauce thickens. Serve sauce immediately over English muffins.


1 t. paprika

dry mustard

sea salt

brown sugar

garlic powder

onion powder

chicken (4-5 lbs.)

Basting Spray

1 (12 oz.) can beer

2 cups apple cider

1 T. olive oil

2 T. balsamic vinegar

Mix dry ingredients together and rub chicken inside and out. Open can of beer. Pour half into a spray bottle and add apple cider, olive oil and vinegar. Insert can of beer into cavity of chicken. With chicken resting on the can, cook for about 2 hours over medium hot grill (around 350 F) with grill cover on. Spritz chicken with the basting spray periodically while cooking. When chicken is done, carefully lift it off the grill and, with an oven mitt on, remove the can. Carve chicken and serve.

Cook’s note: Chicken can also be baked in the oven at 350 F for about 2 hours. Adjust oven racks as necessary to ensure chicken fits in the oven.

food OCTOBER 2022 15
1 t.
1 T.
1 t.
¼ t. pepper 1 t.
1 t.

Indiana eats

Around the world


Experience Bloomington’s ethnic cui sine

Whether you have a hankering for a kimchi pancake or a kebab — or if you just want to expand your culinary horizons — Bloomington, Indiana, is the place to go. Home to Indiana University, Bloomington has attracted people from all over the world who come to live and learn. You can experience different cultures, one bite at time, at the plethora of ethnic restaurants (more than 75!) that dot this southern Indiana town. Here are just a few:


Little Tibet Restaurant


415 E. 4th St. 812-331-0122

Try: Momo Tibetan dumplings, curries, mango lassi (yogurt-based drink)

Burma Garden

BURMESE CUISINE 413 E. 4th St. 812-339-7334

Try: Fried rice, pho, tea leaf salad

Café Bali


210 S. Grant St.


Try: Boba and milk teas, beef rendang (Indonesian curry), ramen

Do Asian Fusion Cuisine and Lounge

ASIAN FUSION CUISINE 404 E. 4th St. 812-333-7470

Try: Korean fried chicken, ramen

The Irish Lion

IRISH CUISINE 212 W. Kirkwood Ave. 812-336-9076

Blarney Puff Balls


Try: Bibimbap, kimbabs (a Korean version of norimaki sushi), kimchi pancake

Le Petit Café

FRENCH CUISINE 308 W. 6th St. 812-334-9747

Try: Crepes, steak dinner

Samira Restaurant AFGHAN CUISINE 100 W. 6th St. 812-331-3761

Try: Vegetarian items, kebabs, aushak (steamed dumplings)

Siam House

THAI CUISINE 430 E. 4th St. 812-331-1233

Try: Pineapple fried rice, pad thai

Taste of India

INDIAN CUISINE 316 E. 4th St. 812-333-1399

Try: Butter chicken, chicken pasanda

Anyetsang’s Little Tibet Beef Rendang
16 OCTOBER 2022



Whether you’re on the job or working on an outdoor project around your home, you should always be aware of overhead electrical lines. Many workplace fatalities are caused by overhead power lines. Imagine how easy it is for us at home, who are not trained to avoid these obstacles, to run into danger!

“In a majority of cases, fatalities occurred in occupations with little to no electrical safety training,” said Jon Elkins, vice president of safety, training and compliance at Indiana Electric Cooperatives. “That’s why we put so much emphasis on safety training and compliance education, not only for our cooperative employees, but our consumers as well.”

When working on an outdoor project, stay at least 10 feet away from overhead lines. If your ladder or piece of equipment touches an overhead line, both you and the equipment can become a path for the electricity. Look up and out in front of you before using a ladder, large machinery, or a pool cleaning net. Even non-metallic ladders and equipment can conduct electricity. If power lines are present, always carry ladders and long poles horizontally.

Using large tools or machinery can make it harder to avoid overhead power lines. Always consider where power lines are before you begin a project. Scanning the area should be part of your plan from the start.

If you’ve struck a power line and must get off a piece of equipment, jump as far away from the equipment as you can and land with both feet together. No part of your body should touch the equipment and the ground at the same time. Hop or shuffle away from the equipment with your feet together to reduce the risk of electric shock.

If you come across someone who’s hit an overhead power line, stay away and warn others who may be here to not touch him or her, or you could all get shocked, too. Immediately call 911 and then contact your electric cooperative to turn off the electricity at your location.

If you know you’re going to be working near power lines, contact your electric cooperative so the experts there can properly inform you on safety precautions you should be taking in your area. Electrical safety is one of our core values.

Before raising a ladder and when using outdoor equipment of any kind, especially when trees are nearby. Branches can hide power lines from view. Even non-metallic tools can conduct electricity.

When using cranes or other lifting devices that approach working distance within 20 feet of power lines.

When putting up scaffolding, framing a building, painting, pruning trees or picking fruit.

Before moving a ladder, long-handled brushes, and the like. Always carry these items horizontally when power lines are near.

When working on top of buildings.

Follow these guidelines to prevent the most common mistakes made near overhead power lines.
OCTOBER 2022 17

Lines of Work

Electric co-ops

offer a multitude of career paths

Jaime Walker came out of college 14 years ago wanting to be a crusader for good. “I know that sounds a little cheesy,” she admits, “but I feel as if I was put on this earth to help people.”

While she wore no superhero cape, she ducked inside her local REMC where she transformed her degree as a mildmannered journalist, communications, and culture graduate into a dynamic career that’s stayed true to her altruistic goals. “It’s not what we do at the REMC, it’s how we do it and why we do it.

We have passion behind the purpose — and that is to improve the lives of our membership.”

Now the vice president of member services at Northeastern REMC in Columbia City, she adds, “We can leave a legacy here. It’s not just a job. It’s more of a calling.”

Tim Landrigan figures joining an electric cooperative when he did a couple years out of high school gave him a 20-year head start on his career. At just 30 years old, Landrigan is settling

Ann Mears’ career for Indiana Electric Cooperatives introduces Indiana’s electric cooperatives to college and high school students at career fairs as those students start narrowing down their future goals.
18 OCTOBER 2022

in as the chief financial officer at Warsaw-based Kosciusko REMC, a position he was promoted to in 2021.

“It’s very surprising,” he says of his meteoric rise that included earning his accounting degrees at night while working for the co-op by day. “I thought I’d be in this spot 30 years from when I started. I didn’t think I’d be doing it when I was 30.”

You won’t find “Fuzzy” listed as such on the résumé of RushShelby Energy’s Chris Chastain. But for three summers, his first experiences with an electric co-op were as a college intern — with the epithetical dubbing courtesy of the grizzled older outdoor crews. “I suppose that probably derived from the peach fuzz still on our faces,” Chastain guesses.

Nickname aside, what the Rose-Hulman electrical engineering student saw at his hometown electric co-op back in the summers of 1994, ’95 and ’96 impressed him so much that he knew that was what he wanted for his career. Chastain not only built a career with electric co-ops, as of last October, he’s now RushShelby

Energy’s president and CEO. “Cooperatives are a special, special place. Sometimes, people take their jobs for granted. But once you can get inside a cooperative, you sense the well-defined purpose. That’s to serve our membership and to serve each other.”

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says the average worker today will hold 10 different jobs before the age of 40. Chad Hinesley was pretty much right in the average. He held 10 different jobs by age 44. But how many “average workers” hold 10 different jobs — without ever changing employers?

Not long after high school, in 1996, he hired on with Henry County REMC’s tree-trimming crew. And then, he started climbing every rung of the “cooperative ladder” … up through meter reader and groundman, apprentice lineman to journeyman/ lineman and then to a line foreman. Now Hinesley, 46, is the line superintendent. “It’s been nice to be able to start at the bottom and have the opportunity to work your way up.”

These four co-op leaders had widely varying futures in mind coming out of high school. But they found a common storyline at their local consumerowned electric utility. And their stories are told time and again by others throughout Indiana’s 38 electric cooperatives (REMCs/RECs) and allied cooperative organizations.

“Indiana’s electric cooperatives offer a multitude of jobs that can lead to fulfilling careers for young people wanting to stay in their local community,” said Ann Mears, youth and partnership development manager at Indiana Electric Cooperatives. “Reaching out to young career-seekers and letting them know about these opportunities is crucial. It’s crucial for coops looking to fill vacancies created by retirements as other employees move up and to fill new jobs created by expanding services. And, it’s crucial for the communities co-ops serve to retain their young people and attract others.”

Partly for their isolation in rural areas where goodpaying, stable jobs aren’t as easy to come by and for their reputation as great places to “get on if you can,” electric cooperatives have always been noted for employee longevity and dedication. But as

Baby Boomers retire and are replaced by younger generations who may not be as prone to stay for the long haul as predecessors, co-ops have been working harder to not only attract new employees but also retain, train or retrain and develop them.

October is National Cooperative Month. It’s when cooperative businesses, including not-for-profit electric coops, like to point out the “cooperative difference.”

That difference is exemplified in their adherence to the “Seven Cooperative Principles.” One of those is “education, training and information” for staff, directors and members. This principle manifests itself in the way co-ops work to develop their employees in their positions — and as people. It’s key to keeping the best employees and helping them grow into new positions. And it’s key to better serving the consumers.

Brett Abplanalp, CEO at Greensburg-based Decatur County REMC, said “employee development” is critical to all a co-op does. “If we don’t have a high performing workforce, then we’re not providing for our members.”

Abplanalp said employees are the co-op’s most important asset. Investing

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Continued from page 19 of the wide variety of jobs available, the competitive wages and benefits, and the peace of mind cooperatives provide.

in their training and growth, and helping them “design” their career, inspires them and brings improved performance and increased engagement.

He said it also helps the coop attract high performers who ask about training and growth when they apply. “I have a program that says, ‘Hey, we’re not going to just hire you and expect you to go to your job, we’re going to continuously invest in you.’”

“Every employee wants to be valued, respected and heard,” Abplanalp said. “If they know we care to invest in them, it helps them know they are.”

Cooperative careers 101: An introduction

Indiana’s electric cooperatives say 20% of their employees will either be eligible for retirement in the next five years or are eligible now. And, according to recent studies by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, it’s even higher for executives (general managers, CEOs and COOs) — 45.7%.

With the technology used for power delivery rapidly evolving, cooperatives will have to fill those positions with the best and brightest applicants. It is in the best interest of all electric cooperatives to work together to make sure the incoming workforce is aware

To that end, IEC’s Ann Mears helps open doors and windows — and young eyes — to electric cooperatives.

Indianapolis-based Indiana Electric Cooperatives is the association that publishes Indiana Connection and provides safety training; regulatory compliance; educational and leadership training; government relations; communications, and finance and accounting support; and coordinates youth programs for the state’s electric cooperatives.

IEC is a smorgasbord of career opportunities in itself.

Mears attends about 10 career fairs throughout Indiana each semester, some at colleges and universities or regional career events. She also assists local distribution cooperatives (REMCs/ RECs) with career fairs in their home areas.

Ryan Stuthers is a prime example of co-ops working together to inspire and hire young talent.

Stuthers pursued an electrical engineering degree when he went to Anderson University, though he wasn’t sure what type of electrical engineer he wanted to be. “There are a lot of avenues you can take in that career field,” he said.

“Anderson does a really good job of exposing you to all of them.”

Even so, one electric career avenue he had never even heard about was electric cooperatives. “I had no idea what an electric coop was,” the Terre Haute native admitted. But passing through a career fair on campus his junior year, he ran into Mears at IEC’s careers booth.

That day, Mears introduced Stuthers to Indiana’s electric co-ops. “I thought it was fascinating,” he said. “It was a neat concept, and I couldn’t believe I didn’t know anything about it.”

The brief conversation Mears had with Stuthers led to follow-up emails and phone calls. Those led to a job shadowing opportunity at WIN Energy REMC in Vincennes.

“We needed to get him connected somewhere,” Mears said.

So, she reached out to WIN Energy, Stuthers’ most local “home” cooperative that serves territory around Terre Haute and south all the way to New Harmony.

Once Stuthers visited WIN Energy and shadowed its director of engineering, the “ah-ha” moment came for him.

“He gave me an overview of not just co-op specific things but all of the concepts that fall within the realm of

distribution engineering, all of the technologies and their history, and how it’s advancing,” he said. “What piqued my interest the most was making connections from theory — the vast array of electrical engineering concepts from a bunch of different college classes — to real-world application.”

And, Stuthers noted, it was his chance to see jobs existed in which he could apply the many different concepts he had studied. He didn’t have to just focus on one aspect of engineering. “I think that’s what really sold me.”

“It was a good experience,” said Leslie Beard, WIN Energy’s chief operating officer. “Ryan learned a lot about the industry.”

She added that bringing in young people for job shadowing and internships is a win for the co-op, too. “There’s a lot of value for the cooperative because the students bring different ideas and new thoughts. There’s value in showing them there are professional jobs — whether it’s engineering or marketing or accounting, or whatever — right in their community.”

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20 OCTOBER 2022

Right: A welcoming banner greeted participants, their families and observers to the first Indiana Electric Cooperative Lineman Rodeo in August. Hendricks Power Cooperative linemen Taylor Long, right, and Dan Love, change out equipment in one of the team events.

Below: Along with lineworkers from around the state getting to watch each other work and share tips and build camaraderie, the rodeo also allows office coworkers and families to watch the linemen display their skills in a safe environment and cheer them on. JC REMC lineman Logan Voris and his daughter Raelee watch others on a pole.

First Rodeo

For 55 Indiana electric cooperative linemen from 14 REMCs around the state, this wasn‘t their first rodeo. Even the apprentices had experience climbing poles and performing tasks that keep the power on for Indiana’s electric cooperative consumers. But it was the first Indiana Electric Cooperative “Lineman Rodeo.” Held Aug. 25-26 at the Hendricks County Fairgrounds, the event tested the skills of the workers who ranged from first-year apprentices to journeymen and foremen.

The events were scored on excellence in safety, skill, and knowledge in three separate individual and team competitions. The events simulated real-life working situations such as rescuing an injured lineman from atop a pole, replacing line, and changing out hardware. Each event required the lineworkers to climb the poles with harnesses around their waists and spiked gaffs strapped to their legs as they still must do when poles are inaccessible to bucket trucks.

“The rodeo emphasized and rewarded teamwork and communication skills, not speed,” said Jon Elkins, vice president of safety, training, and compliance at Indiana Electric Cooperatives. “Those who make the fewest mistakes are the most efficient, produce the highest quality work, and are the safest workers.”

LEFT: At the end of the competition, trophies are awarded. Clark County REMC coworkers congratulate Dakota Evans for bringing home the big hardware for overall individual apprentice.

Photos by Richard Biever and Kiley Lipps
OCTOBER 2022 21

Continued from page 21

Though WIN Energy had no openings at the time, Stuthers stayed connected to Indiana’s electric co-op network. A month after graduation in May 2020, he was hired as an engineer for Tipmont REMC’s electric distribution system in and around Lafayette.

The position allows him to pursue his interests in the broad array of electrical engineering concepts.

The position also gives him responsibility over engineering and advancing technology, which is unique among his Anderson classmates who took other paths, he noted.

One thing is for sure, he said: “If Indiana Electric Cooperatives hadn’t been at that career fair, there’s no way I would have ended up here at Tipmont.”

Offer it, and they’ll come

In the past few years, Kankakee Valley REMC hosted its first two summer interns and was working on a third until the pandemic hit.

“We’ve always felt people don’t know what careers are actually available at a co-op,” said Amanda Steeb, Kankakee Valley’s director of marketing and communications. “You think of electricity, and you immediately just think of linemen. You don’t really think about all the other

professions that make up the co-op. This was a great way to introduce ourselves to our youth.”

Steeb noted Kankakee Valley typically doesn’t have a hard time filling job openings. “That being said, we also know we’re facing a lot of retirements. Getting these interns in, having them get excited about the co-op, having them see the benefits of coming back to this community and working for a co-op,” she said, “may bring some of these interns back. That is the end goal, and I think we’re on the right path to do that.”

Kankakee Valley also reaches out to the young adults with its Operation Round Up scholarships.

For a student to get the full scholarship, she noted the student must participate in several activities with the cooperative. Activities could include job shadowing or attending an annual meeting or a community event like the 4-H fair where they’d greet fair-goers alongside cooperative employees at the REMC booth.

“The youth out there are hungry for this type of knowledge and understanding of what goes on in a business environment,” Steeb said. “We just have to create those opportunities, and they’ll come.”

Changing times

A picture Chadd Jenkins carries paints not just words but spins yarns of years — 350 years all told. It tells the tale of the huge changes and challenges coming to an electric cooperative near you. And it highlights the roles and careers talented young people entering the workforce can eventually fill in their hometowns.

At first glance, the photo appears to be a nondescript “group shot.” Twelve people are gathered in the warehouse at Parke County REMC. But on closer look — the laugh lines on the smiling faces, the more-salt-thanpepper hair and beards, the receding hairlines and rounding waistlines — all indicate the posed but relaxed nine men and two women appear to be Baby Boomers.

Those 12 REMC employees have all retired within the past half dozen years. And with them, says Jenkins, the REMC’s

CEO, a whopping 350 years of co-op experience and knowledge left the building. He notes Parke County today has 35 employees — with the cumulative experience of 380 years. To put it in Boomer vernacular, “The times, they are a-changin’.”

“That picture says it all — why employee development is critical,” Jenkins says.

“Retirements are going to happen. We can either do nothing and just let them happen. Or we can focus on the areas we know we are going to be needing to fill, and work on them ahead of time.”

“For young adults searching for a line of work to build a meaningful career in rural and suburban Indiana,” Mears says, “now is the time to consider your local cooperative.”

Richard G. Biever is senior editor of Indiana Connection.

Former coworkers gather at a retirement party for Richard Stout (in the orange shirt) at Parke County REMC. The other 11 had previously retired. Together, the 12 have 350 years of co-op service.
22 OCTOBER 2022

cooperative career

Professional progression:

Jamie Bell has scaled the loftiest heights any electric cooperative worker can go. In 2017, he stood, atop a pole with just metal climbing gaffs strapped on his calves and a leather harness around the pole and his waist, on a mountaintop and he looked down on clouds, valleys and distant mountains of Guatemala and Mexico. It was a long way from home for a guy who grew up in Greenfield wanting nothing more than to work for his local electric cooperative.

Since joining NineStar Connect (then Central Indiana Power) in 1993 as a groundman to assist the lineworkers, opportunities have always been knocking, and Bell has always answered the call.

“Always, my goal has been to move up — not really for me professionally — but to do whatever I could do to better the cooperative, to help the cooperative, and to make the cooperative stronger. And obviously, that would benefit the members. If we didn’t have the members, we wouldn’t exist.”

Knowing people who worked at the cooperative and its reputation, Bell wanted to work for the electric cooperative after high school. With no jobs open at the time, he took a job with a local homebuilder. “I was basically waiting for an opening because, at that time, it was really tough to get onto a cooperative.”

He waited six years for the opportunity to become a lineman. However, those years proved invaluable throughout his nearly 30year career at NineStar Connect. He has

a wide-ranging knowledge of electrical wiring on both sides of a meter as well as construction engineering and design. After joining the cooperative, Bell became a journeyman lineman. He was also offered other opportunities that allowed him to put the full scope of his knowledge and skills to use. He was promoted to positions that allowed him to oversee larger projects.

After Central Indiana Power consolidated with the area telecommunications cooperative in 2011 to create the one-ofa-kind NineStar Connect, Bell was soon overseeing both electric power line projects and high-speed fiber as new technology entered both fields. Today, Bell oversees NineStar Connect’s building projects that also include water and sanitation.

Whether tackling a learning curve of new technology, or climbing a pole in Guatemalan mountains, Bell said, “I’m always up for a challenge to learn new things.”

Looking back to Guatemala, Bell volunteered for the Project Indiana trip as a lineworker. Project Indiana is the not-forprofit Indiana electric cooperative initiative to bring electricity to rural Guatemala. “It was a challenge just to get up to the pole. I knew going in that view would be there. So, I raised my hand and said, ‘Hey, I want to climb that pole.’”

Instead of taking in the view too much, Bell said he just focused on the task at hand to complete the project. “It was just one more task in front of me to tackle. There wasn’t much time to reflect or anything like that,” he said … at least at that moment in the air.

And on the next trip to Guatemala in 2019, Bell volunteered to help plan, coordinate and supervise the construction trip to village in eastern Guatemala. On that trip, he oversaw the inside wiring of the village huts, churches, school and other buildings. “It was just gratifying to see all the stages of planning, then the satisfaction of its completion.”

And whether it’s the consumers in his hometown in Central Indiana or villagers in Central America, that job satisfaction comes in knowing he’s helping people with essential services they use to lead fuller, healthier and happier lives.


Visit to learn about available careers or tell us about yourself.

Jamie Bell
profile OCTOBER 2022 23
RAISING HIS HAND TO OPPORTUNITIES AND GROWTH 1993 hired Groundman Central Indiana Power 1998 Grew Journeyman Lineman Central Indiana Power 2006 Promoted Project Coordinator Central Indiana Power 2011 PROMOTED 2018 PROMOTED Director of Operations NineStar Connect Construction Engineer NineStar Connect

Wabash Valley Power news

Get energy treats (and avoid getting tricked!) this October

This October, you should be treated by ghoulish figures visiting on Halloween — not tricked by unexpectedly high energy costs.

Every fall, people enjoy the milder temperatures while preparing for the coming Midwestern winter. Make sure you’re treating yourself to energy savings by making the right upgrades.

Even small home improvements can lead to long-term energy savings. Contact your local electric co-op’s energy advisor for tips on how you can improve your home’s energy use, or visit


Electric resistance space heaters have been a go-to solution for cold, uncomfortable rooms. That easy solution to a cold room comes with a high price once the monthly electricity bill comes due. Instead, consider a mini-split heat pump, which can add a little extra heat much more affordably than an electric resistance space heater. Mini-split heat pumps come in a range of heating capacities, so you can find one to heat rooms big and small. Don’t forget that there are also Power Moves rebates to make mini-splits even more affordable.


While you may be aware of air source heat pumps, cold climate heat pumps have improved compressors that enable them to be at least 75% more efficient than an electric furnace when it is 5 degrees outside. Add in Power Moves® rebates for installing cold climate heat pumps and you can experience big-time money savings in long-term energy costs!


Energy Star recommends ceiling fans installed in rooms 144 to 400 square feet should have a total blade span (from one fan blade edge to the edge of the opposite fan blade) between 44 and 54 inches. Consider a smaller blade span for smaller rooms and, conversely, a longer blade span for larger rooms. Ceiling fans sized too small will waste energy by spinning without the person in the room feeling enough air movement.


Living in a home with dry, staticky winter air is not fun. Most people think they need a humidifier. Yet excessively dry winter air is typically a symptom of a poorly air-sealed home. A better idea is to have an energy audit and blower door test conducted. This can find holes, gaps and cracks in the home that let hot air escape. Proper air sealing reduces how much conditioned air escapes, keeping your energy bills low and humidity levels comfortable.

24 OCTOBER 2022

Spotting the invasive spotted lanternfly

The invasive spotted lanternfly has landed in northern Indiana. The pest was seen in Huntington County in July, just one year after its initial Hoosier sighting in Switzerland County.

The spotted lanternfly, easily identified by a splash of red on its wings and almost polka dot spots, is native to China and was first detected in the U.S. in 2014.

“The spotted lanternfly has the potential to be a major forest pest and economic threat, but we know very little about it,” said John Couture, associate professor of entomology and forestry and natural resources in Purdue University’s College of Agriculture. “While tree of heaven is the dominant preferred host for lanternfly, other economically valuable hosts are also preferred. Walnut, grape, and a variety of fruit trees are some of its favorite alternative hosts.”

Couture is heading up a program aimed at predicting the lanternfly’s movements so protections can be put in place to mitigate damage.

The insect uses a piercing mouthpart to feed on phloem, the tissue that transports nutrients throughout a tree. The pest doesn’t fly long distances, but it hitches rides in cargo and has spread following major transportation routes. Its local spread and how it moves once it has arrived in an area is less understood, Couture said.

Cliff Sadof, professor of entomology and Purdue Extension fellow, said this migration poses a significant agricultural risk to wine grape growers and honeybee and walnut tree producers. While the spotted lanternfly feeds on over 100 different types of plants, Sadof said, the insect can reproduce only when feeding on walnut trees, grape vines or tree of heaven.

“One thing in our favor is that the lanternfly feeds on the outside of the tree, so it is different from other stem boring pests, such as emerald ash borer,” said Couture, who also is a member of Purdue’s Center for Plant Biology and Hardwood Tree Improvement and Regeneration Center. “This means a broader range of mitigation strategies can be used, like different cultural practices and pesticide applications.”

Elizabeth Long, Purdue University assistant professor of horticulture crop entomology, said one of the best defenses that wine grape growers can take against the spotted lanternfly is learning to identify the life stages of the insect and remaining vigilant inspecting for them.

“Several of the insecticides grape growers currently use for other insect pests will also knock down the spotted lanternfly, so there is no need to make additional sprays as a preventative at this time,” Long said. “Looking to next season, the same strategy is needed. Keeping an eye out for spotted lanternfly hitchhikers and avoiding moving items that are likely to accidentally move insects along are key. Spotted lanternfly populations feeding on wine grape vines can severely reduce winter hardiness or kill the crop all together.

Brock Harpur, Purdue assistant professor of entomology, said beekeeping equipment can also provide the perfect spot for spotted lanternflies to lay eggs, allowing the insect to travel around the state.

“It is imperative for beekeepers to keep a careful eye out for signs of the spotted lanternfly in their area and on their equipment,” Harpur said. “Should the spotted lanternfly become established in all parts of Indiana, it is expected

that honeydew, the secretion that spotted lanternfly leave behind, will become part of our latesummer honey harvest.”

Bees make good use of any honeydew they collect, Harpur said, but that isn’t desirable. If a colony does collect honeydew, a beekeeper may notice the honey has a smokey taste and smell and is less sweet than a typical honey. The honeydew tainted product has a darker brown color and a notable aftertaste.

Though the full-grown adults have beautiful coloring and patterns, spotted lanternfly eggs resemble a splash of mud, making them easy to overlook on large vehicles traveling from state to state. Homeowners should also remain vigilant in keeping populations in check, Sadof said, as the honeydew secretions from the insect are frequently spread across homes and structures and are extremely difficult to remove when dried.

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources asks all residents to search for and report spotted lanternfly sightings. Anyone spotting the insect should photograph it and send the image and location to DEPP@dnr., or call 1-866-No-Exotic.

backyard OCTOBER 2022 25


Hilly Hundred bike tour back for 54th year

The hills of Monroe and Owen counties will be alive with the sound of music — not to mention the whirring of wheels, grinding of gears, huffing and puffing, and oohs and aahs of Indiana autumn splendor. The Hilly Hundred Weekend returns Oct. 21-23 for its 54th annual go-round … and up and down.

The Hilly Hundred is a nationally known tour, not a race, and listed as one of the “Best Rides in America.” It is the premiere Indiana autumn bicycling experience known for its scenery, challenging hills, music, food, drink, and entertainment.

Several thousand cyclists will tour the scenic backroads around Ellettsville and Bloomington on the Saturday/ Sunday rides. Each day offers multiple fully SAG (Support and Gear)supported routes of 30-plus or 50-plus miles. Mechanics will be at rest stops for unexpected repairs.

Designed for the touring bicyclist, the Hilly Hundred attracts riders from over 40 states and several countries. The ride offers different route options each day for the cyclist’s ability. Over 5,600 feet of elevation is climbed over the course of the 100 miles.

The ride began with just 60 participants in June 1968 and continues as one of Indiana’s longestrunning cycling events. Riders come for the challenge. They come for the camaraderie of family and friends. They come for the joy of immersing themselves in nature and rural

scenery of the hills of southern Indiana during the peak of fall colors.

The routes start and end at Edgewood High School, 601 Edgewood Drive, Ellettsville. Riders generally begin leaving the Edgewood schools area between 8 and 10 a.m. each day. At the end of each day’s ride, participants can enjoy ice cream, visit a Welcome Center for pictures from the day’s ride and a Vendor Market Place. Meals will also be available at Edgewood High School. Sleeping accommodations at the junior high are also available, although many cyclists book camping sites at nearby McCormick’s Creek State Park.

Online registration closes at midnight, Oct. 19. Day-of registrations are not available. Registration begins at $85 for the full participation and $65 for riding one day. Registration fee for shorter routes vary.

Riders with electric bicycles please note: For the safety of all riders, only those with Class 1 or Class 3 e-bikes, both of which have motors that provide pedal assist, are welcomed to register and participate in the Hilly; those with Class 2 electric bikes — which have a throttle-powered mode that can engage the motor without pedaling — should not participate.

For full updated ride and registration information, visit

The Hilly Hundred is sponsored and organized by the Central Indiana Bicycling Association (

Photo by Michael Luce, courtesy of the Hilly Hundred Weekend
travel 26 OCTOBER 2022
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