Southeastern IN REMC - October 2023 Indiana Connection

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OCTOBER 2023 ONE GOAL TWO HATS, Co-op employees committed to community service PAGES 20-24 Southeastern IN REMC’s Let’s celebrate! It’s National Co-op Month.

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from the editor

A month of memories

October is one of my favorite months of the year. The weather can be unpredictable (why does it always have to rain on Halloween?), but there is usually at least a day or two of glorious summertime warmth that sneaks in among the crisp air and drizzle. The leaves are turning, school is in full swing and I eagerly start rummaging through my closet for cozy sweaters.

Speaking of clothing: I have always loved a good excuse to dress up, so Halloween is an ideal time to express my creativity. When I was a child, my mom painstakingly made the most intricate costumes for me — way before you could just order one online, like I am embarrassed to admit that I now do for my daughter — and I was so proud to show off her handiwork. This time of year, I also reminisce about painting windows at the Historic Irvington Halloween Festival. I was around 10 years old the first time I entered the window painting contest (check out my glorious perm!) and I still look forward to surveying all the entries.


ISSN 0745-4651 • USPS 262-340

Published monthly by Indiana Electric Cooperatives

Indiana Connection is for and about members of Indiana’s locally-owned, not-for-profit electric cooperatives. It helps consumers use electricity safely and efficiently; understand energy issues; connect with their co-op; and celebrate life in Indiana. Over 311,000 residents and businesses receive the magazine as part of their electric co-op membership. Member’s cost per issue is approximately 32 cents, plus postage.


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


Randy Kleaving President

Steve McMichael Vice President

Dr. Richard Leeper Secretary/Treasurer

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Stephanie Groves Editor

Richard George Biever Senior Editor

Holly Huffman Communication Support Specialist

Lauren Carman Communication Manager

Kiley Lipps Graphic Designer

Ashley Curry Production and Design Coordinator

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Mandy Barth Vice President of Communication


American MainStreet Publications


I am also a big fan of apple cider and pumpkin picking. If you’re searching for a fantastic place to find both this season, check out Huber’s Orchard & Winery (page 12). If paranormal activity is up your alley, be sure to read this month’s Indiana Eats article (page 16). Whatever you love most about October, I hope that you get the chance to enjoy it.

On the menu: January: Recipes using canned goods, deadline Nov. 1. February: Game day recipes, deadline Dec. 1. If we publish your recipe on our food pages, we’ll send you a $10 gift card.

Giveaway: October is National Fire Prevention Month! Win a First Alert rechargeable standard home fire extinguisher, valued at $21. 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, 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.

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.


Indiana Connection does not use unsolicited freelance manuscripts or photographs and assumes no responsibility for the safekeeping or return of unsolicited material.


$12 for individuals not subscribing through participating REMCs/RECs.


If you receive Indiana Connection through your electric co-op membership, report address changes to your local co-op.


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


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 2023 3
One of my window painting An example of my mom’s costume prowess.


On the cover

Heath Hudnut wears two white hats. One is as chief of the Jefferson Township Volunteer Fire Department in Sulphur Springs. The other is as the planning and construction coordinator, his “day job,” for Henry County REMC. Though different, the hats are cast from the same mold of community service.

cover story food 18 contents 4 OCTOBER 2023 OCTOBER 03 FROM THE EDITOR 05 CO-OP NEWS Energy news and information from your electric cooperative 10 ENERGY What is beneficial electrification? 12 COUNTY Clark County 14 SAFETY Baby-proofing done right 16 INDIANA EATS The Willard 18 FOOD Pork perfection 20 COVER STORY Two hats, one goal: Co-op employees committed to community service 26 PROFILE Kendall Hankins, Southeastern Indiana REMC 28 HOOSIER ENERGY/ WABASH VALLEY NEWS 29 TRAVEL
State Sanatorium
EDITIONS) 29 county travel FOLLOW US ON SOCIAL MEDIA Indiana Connection 12
Tips for a
garden next
OCTOBER 2023 ONE GOAL TWO HATS, Co-op employees committed to community service PAGES 20-24 20

CONTACT US 812-689-4111 800-737-4111

Fax: 812-689-6987



7:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m., Monday–Friday

STREET ADDRESS 712 South Buckeye Street Osgood, IN 47037


P.O. Box 196 Osgood, IN 47037


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


Darrell Smith (District 7), President

Brad Bentle (District 2), Vice President

Casey Menchhofer (District 9), Secretary

Jesse McClure (District 4), Treasurer

Melissa Menchhofer (District 5)

Vince Moster (District 1)

Sherry Shaw (District 8)

David Smith (District 3)

Mike Thieman (District 6)

It’s National Co-op Month!


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

You might think of Halloween, football games or falling leaves when October comes to mind, but it is also National Co-op Month. Indiana’s electric cooperatives are proud to be a part of America’s cooperative network, which also includes brands you may recognize, such as FTD, Sunkist and Land O’Lakes.

The co-op business model is unique and rooted in our local communities, and this month — and all year long — your electric cooperative is appreciative of you and all of the members it serves.

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OCTOBER 2023 5

What are co-ops all about?

The word “cooperative” is similar to “cooperation,” meaning people working together and mutually benefiting one another and the larger community. That’s the essence of the cooperative spirit, and co-ops exist for one reason: to serve their members.

Not only have cooperatives been formed to sell electricity, produce and flowers, but there are also co-ops that offer financial and banking services, provide housing and health care, and so much more.

The first successful U.S. cooperative was organized in 1752 when Benjamin Franklin formed the Philadelphia Contributionship for the Insurance of Houses from Loss

by Fire — the nation’s oldest continuing cooperative.

Electric cooperatives began because investor-owned utilities did not find it cost effective to string power lines into rural areas to provide electricity in the 1930s. There was more money to be made in populated areas, and back then, only one in 10 rural homes had electricity.

Co-ops are independent and communityfocused, not tied to the demands or purse strings of corporate investors. Co-ops help drive local economic development, fund scholarships, support local charities and work to make life better in the areas they serve — and that’s the heart of the cooperative difference.

6 OCTOBER 2023

Co-op principles 101

Cooperatives play a vital role in transforming communities. The roots of the modern co-op movement can be traced back to a store started by a group of weavers in the town of Rochdale in northern England in 1844. The group was guided by a set of principles drawn up by one of its members, Charles Howarth. When introduced in the United States in 1874, these “Rochdale Principles” helped fuel a cooperative explosion. Over the years, the original guiding principles have been altered and added to, but the seven cooperative principles are:


Cooperatives are voluntary organizations. Membership in a cooperative is open to all people who can reasonably use its services and stand willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, regardless of race, religion, gender or economic circumstances.


Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting policies and making decisions. Representatives (directors/trustees) are elected among the membership and are accountable to them. In primary cooperatives, members have equal voting rights (one member, one vote); cooperatives at other levels are organized in a democratic manner.


Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their cooperative. At least part of that capital remains the common property of the cooperative. Members allocate surpluses for any or all of the following purposes: developing the cooperative; setting up reserves; benefiting members in proportion to their transactions with the cooperative; and supporting other activities approved by the membership.


Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members. If they enter into agreements with other organizations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control as well as their unique identity.


Education and training for members, elected representatives (directors/trustees), CEOs and employees help them effectively contribute to the development of their cooperatives. Communications about the nature and benefits of cooperatives, particularly with the general public and opinion leaders, help boost cooperative understanding.


By working together through local, national, regional and international structures, cooperatives improve services, bolster local economies and deal more effectively with social and community needs.


While focusing on member needs, cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies supported by their members.

OCTOBER 2023 7

Electric co-op facts and figures

• Electric co-ops serve 42 million people and power over 21.5 million businesses, homes, schools and farms in 48 states.

• Boone REMC was a model for other rural electric groups in the country. The REMC received one of the Rural Electrification Administration’s first loans on July 22, 1935. It was energized on May 21, 1936.

• Electric co-ops returned more than $1.4 billion in capital credits to their consumer-members in 2021.

• Claude Wickard, a member of Carroll County REMC (now Carroll White REMC), served as the Rural Electrification Administration’s fourth administrator from 1945-53. He took that job after a five-year stint as U.S. secretary of agriculture.

• In 1953, Henry County REMC was the first electric cooperative in the nation to pay off its Rural Electrification Administration loan — 13 years ahead of schedule.

• White County REMC’s incorporators and first board included two women: Mrs. Lewis Miller and Mrs. Katherine Hair.

• The first co-op merger in the state was between Huntington County REMC and Allen-Wells REMC. They became United REMC on Dec. 2, 1964. In November 2014, United REMC merged with Wabash County REMC to become Heartland REMC.

• 832 distribution cooperatives are the foundation of the electric cooperative network. They were built by and serve co-op members in the community with the delivery of electricity and other services.

• 63 generation and transmission cooperatives provide wholesale power to distribution co-ops through their own electric generation facilities or by purchasing power on behalf of the distribution members.

• Indiana Electric Cooperatives, the statewide service association for electric cooperatives throughout Indiana — and the publisher of Indiana Connection — was incorporated in 1935 and was the first organization of its kind in the country.

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A quick trip through the aisles of your local hardware store will reveal a steadily increasing array of all-electric tools: chainsaws, lawnmowers, drills and more. These options are just a part of the landscape of beneficial electrification. But what does “beneficial electrification” mean?

The concept is not new, but the current emphasis on the environment and lower energy costs helps it grow in popularity with each passing day. The basic definition of beneficial electrification, according to the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, is: “The use of electricity for end-uses that would otherwise be powered by fossil fuels, where doing so reduces emissions and saves consumers money.”

In practice, beneficial electrification includes the application of electricity to end-

uses where doing so satisfies at least one of the following four conditions without adversely affecting the others:

• Saves consumers money over time.

• Benefits the environment and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

• Improves product quality or consumer quality of life.

• Fosters a more robust and resilient grid. Therefore, electrification is not beneficial if it saves money but hurts the environment, if it helps the environment but costs more money or if it saves money but weakens the reliability of the electric grid.

Several emerging technologies fall in the beneficial electrification category beyond the tools at the hardware store. Electric school buses and solar panels are

among the more common forms currently being put into practice, and studies of battery storage solutions, microgrid systems and HVAC technologies are ongoing and evolving.

Electricity can be an expansive fuel source for residential, agricultural, commercial and industrial technologies. Making sure it’s done in a beneficial way is a task that falls on all of us.

To learn more about beneficial electrification, visit

10 OCTOBER 2023

The second oldest county in Indiana, Clark County is located on the north bank of the Ohio River across from Louisville, Kentucky. It was named after General George Rogers Clark, who was the older brother of William Clark — one of the leaders of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.



In Borden, the whole family can enjoy 700 acres of activities at Huber’s Orchard & Winery. Visitors can shop for seasonal fruits and vegetables, muffin loaves and fresh apple cider at Huber’s Farm Market, and at Huber’s Family Farm Park, children are able to race pedal karts around a 1,000-foot track, dash down a mountain slide and find their way through a corn maze.


Since 1891, Schimpff’s Confectionery has served Jeffersonville’s downtown historic district as one of the oldest familyoperated candy businesses in the United States. Schimpff’s is best known for its “Cinnamon Red Hots,” as well as fish-shaped hard candies and caramel-dipped marshmallows. While enjoying drinks from Schimpff’s old-fashioned soda fountain, visitors can watch live candy-making demonstrations and tour the store’s museum, which displays thousands of pieces of confection-themed memorabilia.


The Howard Steamboat Museum is a time capsule of the Victorian era. Built in 1894, the 22-room mansion was originally the home of Edmonds Howard – who carried on the legacy of his father, James Howard –operating their family’s prestigious shipyard in Port Fulton. Through a guided tour, visitors learn about how steamboats delivered goods and entertainment across the country before railways gained popularity. The museum features much of the mansion’s original furnishings and decor, such as its staircase, brass gasoliers and stained-glass windows.


NAMED FOR: General George Rogers Clark


COUNTY SEAT: Jeffersonville


12 OCTOBER 2023
Jeffersonville Borden - Nicole Thomas Huber’s Orchard & Winery Fish-shaped candies being made at Schimpff’s Howard Steamboat Museum


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OCTOBER 2023 13 insights


Baby-proofing done right!

Whether you’re about to welcome your first baby home or already have toddlers romping about, you’ve probably thought a lot about safety. You have gates to cordon off unsafe areas; you’ve attached rubber guards to sharp corners. You have baby locks on cabinet doors and have anchored tall bookcases and furniture to the wall. But there’s another world of potential danger mostly out of sight.

“Electrical outlets and cords may not be things we think about when initially baby-proofing our homes because they are close to the floor or hidden behind furniture and curtains,” said Jon Elkins, vice president of safety, training and compliance at Indiana Electric Cooperatives. “But these are some of the first places curious crawlers and toddlers explore when left on their own for even a few seconds. Make sure you have potential hazards covered before they find them.”

Here are some things to consider when electrically baby-proofing your home:

• Take a walk around the entire house and garage to map out all electrical outlets.

Plug tight-fitting outlet covers into all unused outlets to prevent tiny fingers or a found object, such as a paper clip, from being inserted into the outlet slots.

• For wall outlets in use, get outlet boxes that enclose the entire outlet and the plugs to keep youngsters from pulling the plugs out and exposing the slots.

• All new homes and homes renovated after 2008 must have tamper-resistant receptacles (TRRs) installed. These outlets use a spring shutter system that prevents a foreign object, such as a hairpin or paper clip, from entering just one side of the outlet. For a double layer of protection, you may still want to use outlet covers on TRRs.

• Make sure all power cords dangling from an end table or desk are tightly secured to prevent little ones from tugging on them and pulling electric devices or appliances down on top of them. All charging cords for phones, laptops and other

devices should be shortened or tucked away so babies cannot tug on them, put them in their mouth or chew on them, which could cause a serious electric shock.

• Make sure night lights and appliances are completely plugged into wall outlets. Small fingers can easily find partially exposed prongs.

• Make sure these same precautions are taken wherever your baby spends time, such as at a day care, a grandparent’s home or at a babysitter’s. Always have extra plastic outlet covers in your diaper bag or luggage for protection when traveling with your baby in a new environment where outlet covers may not be in use.

For more information about TRRs and how to keep your home properly baby-proofed, reach out to Indiana Electric Cooperatives.

safety 14 OCTOBER 2023


Located in downtown Franklin, a block north of the Johnson County Courthouse, The Willard’s website states that the eatery is known for “get-togethers with friends, family, good food, outdoor dining and an all-around good time.” It’s also famed for possibly being haunted.

The original brick house that is the core of the present structure was built in 1860 by William and Cynthia King McCaslin. In 1922, the home was sold for $11,000 to Eliza Patterson Willard and her niece and nephew, Mr. and Mrs. Will Judah. Willard and the Judahs remodeled the interior of the home and added to it, and from that time on, the building was known as The Willard Hotel. The hotel welcomed travelers until the early 1970s, but after the hotel closed, the building sat idle for several years — until it was purchased and reimagined as an eatery.

Tony Priola, and his wife, Emily, are the current owners of The Willard, and the couple bought the enterprise in 2015 from Priola’s parents, who took over the restaurant from its previous owners in 1990.

Due to the building’s complex history, rumors abound about what has transpired within its walls, and whether the structure is actually haunted. “A lot of people have ideas about what went on here back in the day. Retired police officers talked about removing people who passed away years and years ago. Eliza, one of the former owners — she haunts The Willard to this day,” Priola told Andy Bell-Baltaci of the Daily Journal in 2022. “She passed away in an apartment connected to the building.”

Priola also said that he has seen lights flickering and glasses falling off the bar throughout the years. “There’s an eeriness here, turning off the lights at night and the hair on the back of your neck stands up,” Priola told Bell-Baltaci.

Whether you visit The Willard for its potential paranormal activity or not, you can enjoy a satisfying meal. The restaurant is renowned for its pizzas, served with your choice of original or thin crust. You can choose to build your own or pick one of their specialty options, such as “The Ranch,” with ranch dressing, or the delightfully spicy “Yahoo,” with jalapeños, crushed red pepper, Tabasco® sauce and cayenne pepper.

Chicken wings are also a popular pick, and you can opt for boneless or traditional wings with a variety of tasty sauces. Sandwich options are plentiful, including pulled pork, ribeye, breaded tenderloin, tuna salad and Buffalo chicken. There are also burgers galore and several entrée-sized salads.

If you’re in the mood for a beer or cocktail, you’re in luck: The Willard features over 75 different alcoholic beverages on its beer and wine list.

After you’ve feasted on The Willard’s delicious offerings, you’re likely to leave the restaurant satisfied. Will you also be spooked? You’ll have to visit to find out.

The Willard opens every day at 11 a.m. For the latest information, visit

Indiana eats 16 OCTOBER 2023
Gin and bourbon may not be the only types of spirits here THE WILLARD 99 N. Main St. Franklin 317-738-9991
The Willard's ribeye sandwich. Photos courtesy of thewillardrestaurant

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On a recent trip to Tucson, we spoke with fourth generation turquoise traders who explained that less than five percent of turquoise mined worldwide can be set into jewelry and only about twenty mines in the Southwest supply gem-quality turquoise. Once a thriving industry, many Southwest mines have run dry and are now closed.

We found a limited supply of turquoise from Arizona and purchased it for our Sedona Turquoise Collection Inspired by the work of those ancient craftsmen and designed to showcase the exceptional blue stone, each stabilized vibrant cabochon features a unique, one-of-a-kind matrix surrounded in Bali metalwork. You could drop over $1,200 on a turquoise pendant, or you could secure 26 carats of genuine Arizona turquoise for just $99. Your satisfaction is 100% guaranteed. If you aren’t completely happy with your purchase, send it back within 30 days for a complete refund of the item price.

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Pork perfection



Liz Schmalzried, Lafayette, Indiana

¼ cup packed brown sugar

1½ teaspoons dried basil

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon chili powder

2 tablespoons canola oil, divided

4 boneless pork loin chops (½-inch thick and 4 ounces each)

In a medium bowl, mix together the first four ingredients; gradually stir in 1 tablespoon of oil (mixture will be crumbly). Rub the mixture over both sides of the pork chops. In a large skillet, heat the remaining oil over medium heat. Cook the pork chops until the internal temperature of the pork reaches 145 degrees Fahrenheit — approximately 4-6 minutes per side. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.



Patricia Zobrist, Knox, Indiana

1½ cups Bisquick™ baking mix

8 ounces uncooked bulk pork sausage

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

¼ cup milk

¼ teaspoon dried rosemary leaves

Barbecue sauce for dipping (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease a 9-by-13-inch pan. In a medium bowl, stir together all the ingredients except the barbecue sauce. Shape mixture into small (approximately 1-inch) balls and space the balls out evenly on the prepared pan. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm with barbecue sauce.


Janet L. Bedel, Greensburg, Indiana

½ cup soy sauce

¼ cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons

vegetable oil

1 teaspoon

ground ginger

½ teaspoon

dry mustard

½ teaspoon

garlic powder

4 pork cutlets

Mix all of the ingredients except the pork together in a shallow, 1½-quart baking dish. Place the cutlets in the dish and turn to coat all surfaces. Refrigerate for 12 hours or overnight, turning several times. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Drain the remaining marinade and place the cutlets in a covered baking dish. Bake until the internal temperature of the pork reaches 145 degrees.

food OCTOBER 2023 19


Co-op employees committed to community service

Sometimes when Heath Hudnut is on his riding mower cutting grass on weekends or in the evening, his wife must flag him down. An emergency call has come in, and he needs to grab his white hat and go. But Hudnut wears two white hats in his rural community.

One is the hardhat of a Henry County REMC employee. The other is the white, albeit sooty, helmet as chief of his local Jefferson Township Volunteer Fire Department. He makes sure he grabs the right one, though both are cast from an almost identical die.

“Whether it’s helping restore power to people or helping them in a time of need, it’s all basically the same,” Hudnut said. “I am helping out my community.”


October is both National Fire Prevention Month and National Co-op Month. It’s a time the National Fire Protection Association asks folks to keep fire safety first in mind. And, with Firefighter Appreciation Month just ending in September, it’s also a time to acknowledge and thank the brave men and women who risk their lives to help save the lives of neighbors.

It’s also a time when cooperatives, such as Indiana’s REMCs/RECs, actively promote the cooperative business model and the seven principles to which they adhere. One of the cooperative principles is “Concern for Community.”

Connecting the dots between these two designations are the co-op employees who answer the call when 9-1-1 sounds the alarm of a fire or medical emergency.

Based on an informal survey of the state’s 38 electric cooperatives, an estimated two dozen employees or directors serve as volunteers for their local volunteer

20 OCTOBER 2023
Heath Hudnut

fire departments. In doing both, co-op employees usually serve the very same people.

“Local fire departments are vitally important to protecting and helping the residents of our communities,” said Scott Sears, CEO at Kankakee Valley REMC, where three of 16 line crew members and a board member serve as volunteer firefighters. “Co-op employees naturally care about their community and are willing to lend a hand to assist. And co-ops proudly support their clear commitment to public safety, teamwork and courage,” Sears said.

The qualifications that make good firefighters are similar to the qualifications that make effective lineworkers, observed Jon Elkins, vice president of safety, training and compliance at Indiana Electric Cooperatives. “Both jobs require a strong desire to help others in the most challenging of weather and circumstances, bravery in working in dangerous environments, strong communication and team skills to maintain safety and physical stamina to be able to handle the weight of their gear and perform the tasks required.”

“It takes a special breed to do both, or one or the other,” noted Hudnut. “My wife says I’m nuts to go out in the middle of the night and climb poles in a storm, and to go running into a burning building when everybody else is running out. It’s not for everybody.”


While not for everybody, volunteer firefighting is the backbone of America’s firefighting efforts. Three of every four firefighters in the state and across the U.S. are volunteers. From Abingdon to Zionsville — and cities, towns and rural townships in between — more than 800 volunteer fire departments protect almost all of Indiana. An estimated 16,000 to 17,000 volunteers serve these departments as firefighters and emergency medical technicians.

Still, like so many businesses and industries everywhere these days, many volunteer fire departments are struggling to meet staffing needs — especially in the small and mid-sized communities that rely almost exclusively on volunteers.

Increased time demands and more rigorous training requirements are among the reasons cited for the drop in volunteers by the National Volunteer Fire Council, a non-profit membership association representing the interests of volunteer fire, EMS and rescue services. In addition, families seem to have less free time, whether it’s because each parent is holding down one or more jobs or the children are involved in multiple year-round activities.

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The history and tools of firefighting are preserved in four public museums around the state. They are:


226 W. Washington Boulevard, Fort Wayne 260-426-0051


Featuring a large collection of fire apparatus, uniforms, fire gear and tools, this museum promotes and preserves the history of the Fort Wayne Fire Department and the fire service in general.


748 Massachusetts Ave., Indianapolis 317-262-5161 •

The Indianapolis Firefighters Museum resides in the remodeled Fire Station #2, the oldest remaining fire station building in Indianapolis. Indianapolis Professional Firefighters Union Local 416 opened the museum in 1996, and in front of the museum is the Fallen Firefighters Memorial.


706 Spring St., Jeffersonville 812-282-4705 •

This museum features equipment of various sizes, and in addition to the major exhibit area, there is a Safety Education Center, a store, a room on regional firefighting history and an area honoring fallen firefighters.


1511 Main St., Lafayette 765-429-1046

Housed in a 93-year-old building restored to its 1937 form, this museum focuses on the history of local firefighting. Inside, there are display rooms dedicated to fire toys, tools, extinguishers and nozzles, as well as an array of photos and memorabilia.

Indianapolis Firefighters Museum

“The sense of volunteerism is just not there the way it used to be 30-40 years ago,” said Jerry Liston, who’s been a volunteer firefighter since 1976 and is now president of the Indiana Volunteer Firefighters Association. “I’m not faulting anyone or anything like that,” he quickly added, citing the time constraints and the economic challenges young adults face today. “It’s just the way of life has changed.”

Hudnut has seen it. “Back in the 1990s, when all the factories were around and ran three shifts, guys were more than happy to volunteer in between shifts. Now, with all the factory jobs gone, everybody works 9 to 5.” He explained that trying to find volunteers to fill the slots during those daytime hours isn’t easy.

“It used to be that if you were a volunteer firefighter working for a company or business,” Liston said,

“you were allowed to leave if the tones were dropping in the middle of the day. The employers would work with you. With this worker shortage we’re seeing, that’s not the case anymore. Employers can’t let those individuals leave because it’s just not conducive to being productive.”

Small communities (populations under 10,000) across the U.S. are typically protected by all-volunteer departments. In some cases, however, these communities have hired a few paid firefighters to assist, the NVFC reported.

Hudnut’s department, which covers about 24 square miles of mostly rural farmland but includes Sulphur Springs, provides EMT services, for example, but the EMTs come from paid departments in larger nearby cities. The EMTs volunteer at Sulphur Springs during their time off

from their paid positions. Mid-sized communities (populations between 10,000 and 100,000) are typically served by departments that utilize a combination of volunteer and paid firefighters, the NVFC noted. Even the largest communities and urban areas, which are primarily protected by paid departments, still have volunteers. Few fire departments in the U.S. are manned solely by a paid staff.

The number of volunteer firefighters in the U.S. reached a low in 2020. Meanwhile, call volume has more than tripled in the last 35 years, the NVFC reported, due in large part to the increase in emergency medical calls. Fire departments today are also expected to provide a wider range of services, creating further challenges for departments with limited resources.

Hudnut said the number of calls handled by the 20 members of his department can vary widely. They average 15 calls a month, but three might come in one day. In the cold snap before Christmas last year, when the wind chill dropped to 40 below zero degrees Fahrenheit, he said they got eight calls in 24 hours, and most all were for medical reasons. He said about 80% of all his department’s calls are medical.

Volunteers must train the same as paid firefighters. They must meet the same qualifications and certifications. Some skill sets they use require even more training.

Hudnut’s department specializes in grain elevator rescues, he noted. The department is trained and certified in using ropes, something nearby city departments rarely need because those towns have no grain elevators. His department is called to assist other departments in the area when that expertise is needed.

But firefighting is not the livelihood for volunteers; these heroes also hold “daytime” jobs. They are not paid for putting their lives on the line to save others when needed. Yet, sadly,

22 OCTOBER 2023
Though Heath Hudnut is chief of the Jefferson Township Volunteer Fire Department in Henry County, the Henry County REMC employee still must often don the air tank and join his crew members on the end of the hose.

some develop the same long-term health problems that paid firefighters experience, such as cancer, linked to their exposure to toxic smoke.

The Indiana Volunteer Firefighters Association has worked with state lawmakers to address the manpower challenges. An effort to fund scholarships for community volunteers seeking to advance their education, however, failed to pass. In the meantime, Liston said volunteer departments will continue relying more and more on older members of the department. “They may not be making runs anymore, but they might be coming by the station and making sure the station is clean, or making sure the equipment is in good condition.” A department chief recently told Liston, “If it wasn’t for my 60- and 70-year-old members, we would struggle during the day.”

Even smaller volunteer departments have begun to add paid positions. While that may be the ultimate solution for the lack of volunteers, Liston said many of the small rural fire departments and the townships they serve won’t be able to afford paid staff without changes in funding. Otherwise, lapses in fire/medical protection in certain areas will be inevitable.

Liston’s department, White River Township Fire Department in Cicero, just recently dropped “Volunteer” from its name when it had to hire its first

paid staff members. “We were the last true ‘volunteer’ fire department in Hamilton County,” he said. “But like others, we’ve had to hire some people during the days. We’re in a small farming, rural community, and it was just getting tough to get our equipment out the doors. A lot of departments out there, especially the smaller rural departments, are really struggling with manpower issues. It’s just a tough situation.”


Hudnut is the planning and construction coordinator at Henry County REMC. He has been at the New Castle-based co-op since 1992. He started as a meter reader, then, following in the footsteps of his grandfather, advanced from an apprentice to a journeyman lineman.

But after working outdoors as a lineman and then line foreman for 25 years, Hudnut, now 56, was offered the opportunity to take an office job. “My body was starting to show the toll,” he said.

He still gets out to plan and design new power line construction. During the “all-hands-on-deck” times of storm damage, he joins the crews helping to rebuild and restore service.

Though he’s got 31 years in at the co-op, he’s been a volunteer firefighter even longer — for 33 years.

The parallels between being a lineman and a firefighter have come in handy over the years. Hudnut started giving the REMC’s live-line demonstrations to local fire and police departments. “Electrical safety crosses over. I’ve taught firemen how to stay away from a car wreck with a utility pole until the linemen get there to take care of the live power lines.”

As a lineman, Hudnut knew or could easily find out exactly where to cut power on a given stretch of line whenever there was an automobile accident with a utility pole, or how to pull a meter on a house so firefighters could safely enter the burning home.

He also has additional hands-on experience with electric vehicles and solar panels and the special electrical safety issues they present.

When Hudnut does get out along the REMC’s power lines to survey new jobs or check on construction, he occasionally becomes Johnny-onthe-spot. “I have found barns on fire. I have found tractors upside down with people hurt. And I always carry my fire radio in my work truck,” he said.

In situations like that, he changes hats and calls into the REMC office to tell them he might be delayed. “This is going to take precedence. And they’re OK with that.”

He’s also brought his firefighter training back to the REMC. Henry County was the first co-op in the state, he said, to have defibrillators installed in the office. He and an REMC board member, who was also a volunteer at the time, saw how effective they were to have on hand and how easy they were to use. Instead of losing precious time waiting for an ambulance, a person in cardiac arrest can receive immediate help with a defibrillator.

In addition, as fire department chief, Hudnut has been taking classes on how to assess risks with hostile individuals, de-escalate volatile situations and even handle an active shooter.

This is training he brings into the cooperative, too. “There’s always something to learn, which will also carry over here. I can come in here and say, ‘OK, this is what we need to do differently.’ And I can expand on the training our staff receives.”

Through the years, Hudnut acknowledges his service to the community would not have been possible without the support of his wife, Tracy. “She has put up with a lot of missed meals, missed birthdays, missed holidays — from the REMC side and the fire side.”

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OCTOBER 2023 23
Heath Hudnut has been a volunteer firefighter for 33 years.

The spouses and families of many of the volunteers play a vital role, too. “If they know we’re on a big fire, they will call each other, and two or three of them will come up to the fire station, grab a cooler full of water, make sure we’re hydrated and see what else we need.”

As he did at the co-op, Hudnut has worked his way through the ranks of his volunteer department and is now chief. Thus, he wears the designated white hat. But unlike at the co-op, moving up in rank hasn’t made firefighting any less physically demanding or dangerous.


Fire Prevention Week is Oct. 8-14. This year’s campaign from the National Fire Protection Association is “Cooking safety starts with YOU. Pay attention to fire prevention.”

Here are some safety tips from NFPA for using electrical appliances properly in the kitchen:


• Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on where and how to use appliances.

• Remember to unplug all appliances when not in use.

• Check cords regularly for damage. Do not use any appliance with a damaged cord.


A slow cooker is designed to be left on while you do other things, even things outside of the home. However, there are a few safety tips to keep in mind:

• Keep things that could catch fire away from the slow cooker.

• Make sure the slow cooker is in a place where it won’t get bumped. If the lid gets dislodged, the liquid could boil away, which could cause the appliance to overheat and create a fire.


A pressure cooker is designed to cook food faster than a stovetop or oven. Because it uses hot steam and pressure to cook food, it is important that it is used properly to prevent burns.

• Place the cooker in an open space to give enough room for the steam to ventilate.

• Never cover the steam release valve on a pressure cooker.

• Do not leave the home when using a pressure cooker.

“Yes, I’m ‘chief.’ And I have responsibilities of running the organization, keeping everybody safe, making sure bills are paid, or whatever the case may be,” Hudnut said. “But in a volunteer world, people are not always around. So, if that means I’ve got to put an air pack on and go inside to put out a fire, I still put an air pack on and go inside. Just because I wear a white hat doesn’t mean I stand back and watch.”


• Give your air fryer enough space. The air vents release heat and need airflow.

• Do not leave the home when using an air fryer.

• Make sure you clean grease and food debris off the air fryer after every use. Unplug and allow the fryer to cool completely before cleaning.


• Stay with the hot plate, griddle or electric skillet while cooking.

• Do not touch the surface of a hot plate, griddle or electric skillet, as it could burn you.

• Unplug a hot plate, griddle or electric skillet when not in use and before cleaning. Allow the appliance to cool before cleaning it.

For home fire safety tips, visit, and

24 OCTOBER 2023
Richard G. Biever is senior editor of Indiana Connection. The Jefferson Township VFD specializes in grain bin rescues and is rope certified.


Second annual lineman rodeo tests safety and skills

The power lines weren’t energized, but the competition and a 115-degree heat index made for hot times at the second annual Indiana Electric Cooperative Lineman Rodeo, Aug. 24-25.

From 24 of the state’s co-ops, 102 linemen and 28 teams tested their safety, skills and knowledge in events simulating real-life work situations. Each event required lineworkers to climb the poles with harnesses around their waists and spiked gaffs strapped to their legs as they must do when poles are inaccessible to bucket trucks.

“This event allows our linemen to refine and demonstrate the skills needed to safely perform as a lineman,” said Jon Elkins, vice president of safety, training and compliance at Indiana Electric Cooperatives. “Linemen have a lot of pride in the work they do, and it’s great they are able


• FIRST PLACE: Jackson County REMC (Jarren Brown, Travis Mull and Ethan Stidham)

• SECOND PLACE: Tipmont (Matt Bassett, Bo Bouwkamp and Dusty Manns)

to demonstrate these skills in a competitive environment.”

Like last year’s inaugural rodeo, the event was held at the Hendricks County Fairgrounds, and families and coworkers came out to watch their favorite lineworkers work to bring home the hardware. In this rodeo, the top trophies actually are hardware — creatively built using components and gear that linemen use on the job.

• THIRD PLACE: JCREMC 1 (Mike Pflum, Skylar Smith and Logan Voris)


• FIRST PLACE: Kody Kennedy, Harrison REMC


• THIRD PLACE: Collin Crabtree, Decatur County REMC


• FIRST PLACE: Jason Connell, JCREMC

• SECOND PLACE: James Applegate, Southern Indiana Power

• THIRD PLACE: Craig Smart, Jasper County REMC


• FIRST PLACE: Trevor Harlan, Noble REMC

• SECOND PLACE: Kenny Geis, RushShelby Energy

• THIRD PLACE: Tristen Hoffman, Tipmont

OCTOBER 2023 25 special events
Zac Albin (left) and Kade Kennedy of Heartland REMC compete at the event.


During Kendall Hankins’ initial job interview with Southeastern Indiana REMC, the general manager asked him one question that caught his attention. Beyond his qualifications for the job, the GM wanted to know what Hankins did for his community.

He was glad the GM asked. Not only did Hankins have impressive community experiences to share, but the GM’s question also revealed to him the culture of the organization he was hoping to join.

“I was able to tell my story about the programs I was involved in or helped start and my service as a police officer,” he said. Plus, he learned, “The co-op’s vision is community driven. It’s service driven. Co-ops think it’s important to invest in people who invest back in the community they serve.”

At the time of the 2015 interview, Hankins had been a Ripley County sheriff’s deputy for six years. He was interviewing for a customer service representative position at the co-op. In that role, he would specialize in electricity theft investigations and baddebt collection management, along with other duties shared by nine other CSRs.

He also told the GM about a nonprofit youth organization he started in 2009 that takes a group of four high school students to Yellowstone National Park

each summer break for a 10-day camping and exploring experience. The trip, for youth aged 15-18 who are referred by folks in the community, is led by Hankins and teaches participants about hiking, fishing, photography and the natural ecosystem.

Hankins got the job and received a promise: Taking the initiative to improve himself and the community was highly encouraged and would be rewarded at the co-op. Hankins wasted no time. In the first three years after being hired, he earned three degrees from Oakland City University, including a master’s in business administration. “What was emphasized to me was how important education was and your willingness to invest in yourself.”

In September 2018, he was promoted to manager of customer service. The position gave him a new set of duties and responsibilities. He also continued taking advantage of a variety of highlevel leadership programs offered by Indiana Electric Cooperatives, the REMC’s statewide service association, and Hoosier Energy, its power supplier. Hankins’ outside community service and leadership also continued to grow. In

2020, he was elected as a Ripley County commissioner. Also in 2020, he joined Ivy Tech Community College in Madison as an adjunct faculty member in the criminal justice/civil service department. A year later, Hankins was promoted to his current position, director of office services, in which he oversees 11 other employees and much of the co-op’s inside operations. Now, Hankins helps interview prospective employees at the REMC and he asks that question about community commitment.

“If you find candidates who are invested in the community in their private time, they will be invested in your business model, more than just 9 to 5. Commitment,” he said, “will translate to good employees.”


profile 26 OCTOBER 2023
Professional progression:
Indiana REMC to learn about available careers or tell us about yourself.
2015 Hired 2018 Promoted 2021 Promoted Customer Service Representative Southeastern Indiana REMC Manager of Customer Service Southeastern Indiana REMC Director of Office Services Southeastern Indiana REMC

I ‘Bearly’ Made It Out Alive


was a perfect late autumn day in the northern Rockies. Not a cloud in the sky, and just enough cool in the air to stir up nostalgic memories of my trip into the backwoods. is year, though, was di erent. I was going it solo. My two buddies, pleading work responsibilities, backed out at the last minute. So, armed with my trusty knife, I set out for adventure. Well, what I found was a whole lot of trouble. As in 8 feet and 800-pounds of trouble in the form of a grizzly bear. Mr. Grizzly saw me, stood up to his entire 8 feet of ferocity and let out a roar that made my blood turn to ice and my hair stand up. Unsnapping my leather sheath, I felt for my hefty, trusty knife and felt emboldened. I then showed the massive grizzly over 6 inches of 420 surgical grade stainless steel, raised my hands and yelled, “Whoa bear! Whoa bear!” I must have made my point, as he gave me an almost admiring grunt before turning tail and heading back into the woods.

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Hoosier Energy news

2023 Strategic Issues Forum recap

Thekey to resiliency is to keep moving forward, be it in life or business — that was the message that retired Navy SEAL Clint Emerson delivered in his speech during the final session of Hoosier Energy’s 2023 Strategic Issues Forum.

Held in French Lick, the theme of the mid-August event was “Powering Resilience: Inspire, Immerse, Interact.” Emerson’s presentation capped off two eventful days featuring varying perspectives and aspects of the theme.

The introductory address came from Katie Jereza, corporate vice president of corporate affairs at Electric Power Research Institute. Jereza spoke about “Strategic Insights and Industry Perspectives,” including past industry accomplishments, present trends and future challenges.

Jereza was followed by Ivy Tech President Sue Ellspermann. The former

state representative and lieutenant governor’s theme of discussion was “Civility in Engagement” — an aspect of showing resiliency under pressure.

Ellspermann’s speech made for a fitting transition into the “Federal Policy Perspectives” presentation by Sen. Todd Young during the lunch break. Young answered questions about housing policy, farm aid, clean energy and more in a candid conversation that featured several questions from an engaged audience.

The first day wrapped up with an “Indiana Energy Policy Perspectives Panel” moderated by John Cassady, CEO of Indiana Electric Cooperatives. Participating panelists included Rep. Dave Hall, Executive Director of the Indiana Office of Energy Development Ryan Hadley and Chairman of the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission Jim Huston.

The second day of the forum kicked off with a panel on “Technology Innovation and System Planning for Resilience,” moderated by Hoosier Energy Director of Strategic Business Management Jennifer Richardson. Richardson was joined onstage by MCR Performance Solutions Vice President of Transmission Jim Pardikes, GridLiance Director of Development Elizabeth Solano and MISO Director of Resource Utilization Andy Witmeier.

The event finale followed, which consisted of the presentation from Clint Emerson — who was formerly a member of SEAL Team Three and SEAL Team Six, as well as an individual operative for the NSA. Emerson offered a lesson on “Resilience and Agility in the Face of Adversity,” subtitled, “A Navy SEAL Operator’s Guide to Recovering Quickly, Adjusting to the Unknown and Moving Forward.” All in all, it was a successful, enlightening and energizing forum.

28 OCTOBER 2023
Hoosier Energy President and CEO Donna Walker welcomes attendees to the 2023 Strategic Issue Forum.
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10 tips for a productive garden next year

Gardeners are nothing if not hopeful. How many of us say “I’ll try that next year,” or “Next year will be better for fill in the blank.” Whether you want to add some new vegetables to your garden or plant a few spring-flowering bulbs, here are 10 things you can do now to make next year’s garden even better:

Assess the past growing season. What were the successes and failures? Were there vegetables or annuals you’d like to grow again? Are there some that go in the never-again category?

Do your fall cleanup. Clean up the vegetable gardens. Remove tomato, pepper and other food plants. Gardeners often avoid composting tomato plants because of their high susceptibility to disease.

Many gardeners are used to cleaning up their perennial gardens in the fall. It’s always been considered good practice, especially when insects or diseases affected plants. It also reduces self-sowing. However, some gardeners are now choosing to leave certain plants upright, such as coneflowers, to provide food for finches and other birds that winter over. Hollowstemmed perennials double as condos where native, solitary, leaf-cutter bees raise their young. Providing shelter and food for insects, birds and other wildlife supports a garden rich with pollinators and more flowers and food.

Replenish the soil. Vegetables: Layer in compost, chopped leaves or rotted manure on top of the bed. Or plant a cover crop, also called green manure.

Perennials: Add a 1-inch layer of compost, chopped leaves or rotted manure around the base of perennials.

Mow and chop leaves. Leaves smother the lawn, so mow or rake them. You can mulch them to leave

on the lawn as an organic fertilizer or collect and chop them to use as mulch in vegetable and flower beds.

Start a compost pile. Chopped leaves and plant clippings can go right into a pile. As the plant debris breaks down, the resulting compost will be an excellent mulch or soil additive next spring.

Divide perennials. This is the best way to get free plants for your garden — divide and transplant the perennials you like.

Plant spring bulbs. What better way to welcome a new season of gardening than to plant spring-flowering bulbs? There’s always a spot or two to stick in a few daffodils, the most reliable spring bulbs to plant.

Add a tree. If not now, when? It’s always a good time to plant a tree … for shade, for fruit or for flowers. Plants growing in nursery pots at the garden center can be planted any time the ground can be worked.

Keep watering. Plants, especially trees, shrubs and evergreens, need to go into winter well-watered to prevent winter damage. Be sure to water newly planted trees and shrubs.

Weed. Getting rid of weeds in the fall reduces how many unwanted plants will show up in spring and summer.

A popular speaker, Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp gardens in Indianapolis and blogs at

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