Jackson County REMC - September 2023 Indiana Connection

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from the editor

Meet the team: Mandy Barth

The final member of the Indiana Connection team to highlight is Mandy Barth, the vice president of communication at Indiana Electric Cooperatives, the publisher of the magazine. Her essential leadership provides the glue that binds the whole team together. Here’s more about her:

As vice president of communication, it is my pleasure to work alongside the communication team as we work on initiatives that benefit both IEC and our member cooperatives, which include media relations, creative services, this magazine, philanthropy and more. I also love the part of my job that enables me to work with the great people at our 38 member cooperatives as we support their communication needs.

Three facts about Mandy:

• My hometown is the East Central Illinois community of Fisher, where I was a member of a Fisher Bunnie graduating class of just 36 students.

• My husband, Matt, and I have two daughters who keep us busy! Macie, a high school junior, lives and breathes horses. Mara, a fifth grader, is a soccer player.

• Beach vacations and live music are my favorite ways to spend some downtime. The U.S. Virgin Island of St. John is my happy place and I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen Kenny Chesney in concert.

Mandy is a compassionate and insightful leader with a wealth of tremendous ideas — and she’s also delightful to be around.

Win a $25 gift card to Amazon.com, Mandy’s favorite e-commerce website!

On the menu: December: Recipes using candy, deadline Oct. 1. If we publish your recipe on our food pages, we’ll send you a $10 gift card.

Giveaway: Win a $25 Amazon.com gift card! Visit indianaconnection.org/talkto-us/contests or send your contact information to the address below. The deadline to enter is Sept. 30.

Ideas wanted: Small Business Saturday is the theme of our November cover story, and we’d love to hear about your favorite small Indiana business — email us and tell us about the business at info@indianaconnection.org by Sept. 25.

Three ways to contact us: To send us recipes, photos, event listings, letters and entries for gift drawings, please use the forms on our website indianaconnection.org; email info@indianaconnection.org; or send to Indiana Connection, 8888 Keystone Crossing, Suite 1600, Indianapolis, IN 46240-4606.


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

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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


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Paid advertisements are not endorsements by any electric cooperative or this publication.


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Mandy Barth
feature story food 18 contents 4 SEPTEMBER 2023 SEPTEMBER 03 FROM THE EDITOR 05 CO-OP NEWS 2023 Annual Meeting recap 10 ENERGY Your home’s backup power could be an electric vehicle 12 COUNTY Gibson County 14 SAFETY Be safe around electricity when moving farm equipment 16 INDIANA EATS Cammack Station 18 FOOD Sink your teeth into crispy, crackly goodness 20 FEATURE STORY Links in the chain: Repurposed railroad lines to form a route of multiuse trails 28 HOOSIER ENERGY NEWS 29 PETS Insurance gives pet parents peace of mind 30 DIY HOME Tips to help lower home electricity bills 29 annual meeting pets FOLLOW US ON SOCIAL MEDIA Indiana Connection 05 On the cover Bryan Osborne directs traffic at the Jackson County REMC 85th Annual Meeting.
ENERGY Join us for a tech event Sept. 28! Jackson County REMC’s SEPTEMBER 2023 ANNUAL MEETING2023 RECAP PAGES 5-7 20




Local calls: 812-358-4458

Toll-Free: 800-288-4458

EMAIL info@jacksonremc.com

WEBSITE www.jacksonremc.com


7:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m., Monday–Friday


Online: www.jacksonremc.com

By phone: 1-888-999-8816


812-358-4458 (local)

1-800-288-4458 (toll-free) day or night


board President John Trinkle, District 3

Vice President Walter Hunter, District 2

Secretary-Treasurer Jerry Kelley, District 5

John Hackman, District 1

Paul Elliott, District 4

Mark Trisler, District 6

Curtis Wischmeier, District 7

Dave Hall, District 8

John Miller, District 9

President/CEO Mark McKinney

Jackson County REMC news


Forme, this is a special annual meeting because our team chose to use my favorite character, Willie Wiredhand, as this year’s theme. A little history about Willie Wiredhand –in December 1948, the Rural Electrification Magazine announced a contest for the best design of a mascot to symbolize rural electric cooperatives. From that contest, Willie Wiredhand was officially selected by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association to represent electric cooperatives nationwide and has been a household name ever since.

The annual meeting is a great opportunity to reflect on our achievements and acknowledge the challenges we have faced since we last met, and there have been both. Tonight, I am going to share a lot of cost-related information, which I feel is important to provide.


There is so much uncertainty in the wholesale power market today with

supply chain issues and increases in both fixed and variable production costs. In 2022, Hoosier Energy’s average wholesale power cost among its 18 member cooperatives was $79 per MWh. Beginning in 2023, it had increased to $82 per MWh. Now with the 2023 mid-year update, the average cost is $84 per MWh. This has been a common theme for electric utilities across the nation. Jackson County REMC’s wholesale power cost last month was $94.65 per MWh, and it does not look like there will be relief anytime soon.

Unfortunately, there is not a lot of good news when it comes to retail rates, either. With the increases in our wholesale power costs, our retail rates have increased as well. When compared to 2021, our average retail cost per kWh increased 7.2% in 2022. But that is not the end of the story. Already this year the retail price per kWh has increased another 6.5%.

We are always looking for opportunities to reduce our expenses. continued on page 6

E. Base Road P.O. Box K Brownstown, IN 47220-0311

continued from page 5

However, inflationary pressure has affected everything we use. In 2021, a 25 kVA pad-mount transformer was $1,450; today, the cost has increased 44% to $2,092. A 40-5 pole in 2021 cost $171; today, the cost has increased 53% to $262. And a bucket truck that cost $250,000 in 2021 has increased 56% to $390,000. These are just a few examples of the cost increases we are experiencing, but these items are essential to provide the service you expect.

We know electric reliability is important to you. In 2022, we spent over $5.7 million on electric distribution maintenance, of which $3.9 million was in right-of-way maintenance costs alone. As with all things, we have experienced significant increases in our right-ofway maintenance costs. In 2020, the right-of-way budget was $3,322 per mile. For 2023, the budget increased 36% to $4,528 per mile. While distribution line maintenance and right-of-way clearing is a significant expense, it is critical in providing safe and reliable service.

When talking about reliability, transmission line outages continue to impact our members. For 2022, 36% of the outage minutes were related to transmission outages. Even with

the large transmission line outage in May 2022, we still ended the year with a system-wide reliability percentage of 99.95%. We have made significant investments in distribution automation to reduce outage times. However, we have no control over transmission line outages. Recently, we met with representatives from Hoosier Energy and Duke Energy to express our frustration with the number of transmission line outages we continue to experience. While we felt like we were heard, only time will tell if the meeting makes a difference.


In May 2017, the board of directors made the decision to provide fiberoptic broadband service to our members to bridge the digital divide that existed throughout our service territory. Six months after that decision, we started construction. Today, 96% of our members have access to our fiber-optic network, with 2,150 miles of fiber-optic cable serving 12,000 fiber-optic broadband accounts and 350 telephone accounts.

We still have an area in Jennings County to build once the electric distribution line rebuild project is complete. But once it is complete, 100% of our members will have access to our fiber-optic network.

The fiber-optic broadband project is a testament to our commitment to meet the evolving needs of our members and our dedication to building a stronger, more connected community. Similar to when we started providing electric service 85 years ago, fiberoptic broadband service has helped change the lives of our members.

I think it is important to note, no electric revenue has been used to fund the fiber-optic project. We have an electric division and a fiber division, so retail electric rates do not reflect fiberoptic related costs.


Finally, as a way for Jackson County REMC to provide additional products and services to our members, we created a subsidiary called Jackson Solutions. Through Jackson Solutions, we will be able to offer products and services which do not fall under the core business model of Jackson County REMC. Two of the first things we plan to offer are Honeywell residential security systems and GenerLink generator transfer switches. Look for more information coming soon on our website, social media and in Indiana Connection magazine.

continued on page 7

Attendees drive in to the 2023 Jackson County REMC Annual Meeting.

continued from page 6

In closing, none of what we do would be possible without the collective efforts of our dedicated employees and our board of directors. Their commitment and hard work have been the driving force behind our accomplishments with a shared purpose to serve our members. Together, we will continue to follow our mission statement to deliver the advantages of electricity and essential services to our members reliably, economically and responsibly.


2023 Annual Meeting recap


• 1,630 early paper ballots were submitted.

• 1,042 early web ballots were submitted.

• 305 paper ballots were submitted at the annual meeting.

• A total of 3,105 members registered either in the early voting process or in person.

• 1,578 people, including guests, attended the annual meeting.

• The business meeting had an estimated 200 people in attendance.

• The Kids’ Zone featured Brownstown Elementary and Boys and Girls Club Makerspace.


• John Trinkle, Mark Trisler and John Miller were reelected to another three-year term on the board.
Jackson County

What goes into restoring an

SCENARIO #1: We have 600+ people out on one span of line. Fortunately for these members:

STEP 1: The outage cause is determined.

STEP 2: We check to make sure the lines are safe to work on. The necessary repairs are made. (This includes waiting for material, waiting for other portions of the line to be restored and even waiting on tree crews to cut down any obstructions.)

STEP 3: Repairs are made, and power is restored.

SCENARIO #2: We have 600+ people out, BUT they are located in different parts of our service territory.

STEP 1: Our crews have to determine the cause of the outage at each location.

STEP 2: We check to make sure the lines are safe to work on. The necessary repairs are made. (This includes waiting for material, waiting for other portions of the line to be restored and even waiting on tree crews to cut down any obstructions.)

STEP 3: Repairs are made, and power is restored.

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outage? Our crews work as safely and as quickly as possible to restore power to every member of Jackson County REMC. They want to safely return home to their families as much as you want your power restored. You can visit our outage map, see where our crews are assigned and view which roads are being affected at weboutage.jacksonremc.com:7576. Jackson County REMC news

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Your home’s backup power may eventually be an electric vehicle

Many homeowners may one day have a home backup power source parked in their garage — that is the same vehicle driving them around town.

As automakers release more EV models, the technology contained in them is growing more sophisticated. Electric vehicles are increasingly built with larger batteries that can travel longer distances on a single charge. While this helps drivers significantly reduce range anxiety, the benefits have expanded beyond driving.

Ford turned heads when it announced that its all-electric F-150 Lightning pickup truck would also be able to discharge, or release the electricity, from the battery back into a house. The ability of electric vehicles to power a home has its appeal — particularly since some EV batteries, including the F-150 Lightning, can potentially provide more power than many standalone battery systems or backup generators.

Some Ford Lightning models feature a 240-volt, 30-amp plug in the bed of the truck that can be used similarly to a small backup generator. To provide backup power from the Lightning’s plug, a home would need to be equipped with a manual transfer switch and sub-panel of critical circuits. This is the type of equipment similar to what would be required for a home to accept power from a backup generator.

To take advantage of the Ford Lightning’s automatic home discharging capabilities, Ford states on its website that a Ford Charge Station Pro and a Home Integration System are required. The Ford Charge Station Pro is included in the purchase of the Ford F-150 Lighting with extended-range battery; consumers who purchase the Lightning with the standardrange battery can purchase the charge station separately. This would provide more power than the Lightning’s 240-volt plug in the truck bed.

As more electric vehicles arrive on the market, it is likely that automakers will develop more unique ways to leverage the vehicles’ technology and equipment. That also can mean more electric vehicles and chargers will have the ability to act as a backup home power source during inclement weather or power outages.

Contact your local electric cooperative’s energy advisor to learn more about EVs, including answers to questions about this and other technology that can help your home.

energy 10 SEPTEMBER 2023

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Home to Indiana’s oldest continuously running county fair, Gibson County was named after John Gibson, an officer in the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War. He was also secretary of the Indiana Territory and served as acting governor twice.

Gibson County COUNTY FACTS

During the American Civil War, abolitionists in Gibson County helped enslaved African Americans find freedom in Canada through the Underground Railroad.


The Azalea Path Arboretum and Botanical Garden stretches 60 acres across Gibson and Pike counties. One of the largest azalea collections in the Midwest, more than 4,000 flowers bloom in these gardens each spring. The gardens’ three miles of walking trails also feature a koi pond, waterfall, two spring-fed lakes, native Indiana trees and wood carvings.


Edd Roush and Gil Hodges were two Gibson County natives who were inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962 and 2022, respectively, for their careers in Major League Baseball.

Born in Oakland City, Roush was a center fielder, and he led the Cincinnati Reds to win the 1919 World Series against the Chicago White Sox.

Hodges was a first baseman and played most of his career for the Brooklyn Dodgers, now known as the Los Angeles Dodgers. His hometown of Princeton named Gil Hodges Field, a baseball field where the Princeton Community High School team plays its home games, after him.


Barn quilts are large wooden squares painted to resemble a quilt pattern. Indiana’s largest barn-quilt trail features more than 225 hand-painted artworks throughout Gibson County. Gibson’s barn-quilt trail began in 2013 when quilter Paula Key painted nearly 100 barn quilts to celebrate the county’s bicentennial. From a minimalist corn stalk in Princeton to abstract watermelon slices in Owensville, visitors can spot these colorful works on barns, buildings, homes and churches along a selfguided driving tour.


NAMED FOR: John Gibson


COUNTY SEAT: Princeton


The Azalea Path Arboretum and Botanical Garden Oakland City Photo courtesy Facebook.com/barnquilttrail Photo courtesy Facebook.com/azalealady - Nicole Thomas


Indiana Connection and Indiana’s electric cooperatives are proud to sponsor the Youth Power and Hope Awards program.

Since 2009, the program has annually honored Indiana youth in grades 5-8 for their community service. Past winners’ community projects have included raising money for Riley Hospital for Children and donating toys for its patients, collecting coats for the less fortunate and providing police officers with stuffed animals to comfort children in crisis situations.

Up to five qualified candidates will receive $500 and be featured in an upcoming issue of Indiana Connection, among other recognition.

For more information and to complete an application, visit indianaconnection.org/ youthpowerandhope.

The deadline to apply is Monday, Oct. 2.


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SEPTEMBER 2023 13 insights
est 1922


With the arrival of harvest time, Indiana’s farmers are shifting into high gear as they move into their fields to bring in crops. All that increased activity puts farmers and farm workers at greater risk, warned Jon Elkins, vice president of safety, training and compliance at Indiana Electric Cooperatives.

“Combines and grain augers are large pieces of equipment,” Elkins said. “People assume that everything will fit under the power lines, but that isn’t always the case. The biggest cause of electrocutions on farms is equipment accidentally touching power lines.”

Here are some tips Indiana Electric Cooperatives recommends for farmers to protect themselves and their workers:

• Always look up and around before moving or raising equipment. Keep in mind

that power lines sag between poles, especially on hot days. A good rule of thumb is to stay at least 10 feet from all power lines and power poles.

• Never try to raise power lines to allow passage of tall equipment. Even nonmetallic objects such as wood poles or branches can conduct electricity.

• Watch out for power poles, too. If you strike one, it may break, dropping a live line on your metal tractor or combine.

• When considering the height of equipment, don’t forget about the radio antennas and GPS receivers that may reach another couple of feet above the roof.

• Take the time to fully lower grain augers and other portable equipment before moving them.

• Have a spotter on hand to ensure your safety when moving equipment near power lines.

• If you’re not completely sure that equipment will fit under a power line, find an alternate way to move it.

• If you’re in equipment that touches power lines, stay in the cab and call for help. Tell others to stay away. In the rare case there is a fire and you have to escape, jump clear of the equipment. Keep both feet together and shuffle or hop at least 30 feet away.

“Working the land has enough hazards in the work itself,” Elkins said. “With care and planning, moving to and from the fields shouldn’t be one of them.”


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Fill up at Cammack Station

If you’ve got a hankering for a delightful blast from the past — along with fantastic food and desserts — take a trip back through time and venture just west of Muncie to Cammack, Indiana. There you’ll find a quaint brick building that was built in 1931 and was formerly the home of multiple fueling stations and groceries. When you turn on West Jackson Street and spot an array of historic gas pumps and antique trailers, you’ll know you’ve reached Cammack Station.

Described on the restaurant’s website as “a place where friends gather, people smile and the nostalgic presence is a welcome break from today’s chain restaurants,” Cammack Station celebrates “a simpler time,” and the inside of the building is filled with eye-catching memorabilia and antiques.

Owner Dick Howe purchased the structure and converted it into a restaurant in 2007. A second renovation occurred in 2009, along with an expansion to accommodate additional seating, kitchen space and storage. In 2015, Howe brought in Shane Shafer as general manager, and Howe said that “due to Shafer’s strong work ethic and dedication to the restaurant, it needed another addition in 2021.” Cammack Station now seats 165 people inside, and there are also plans for future additions.

When it comes time to order, classic comfort food such as a breaded tenderloin or burger will hit the spot, and side dishes including tater tots, loaded cheese fries and breaded mushrooms are the perfect complement. All of the restaurant’s food is made to order, using local beef, pork and vegetables — and zero frozen meats.

As for dessert, a scoop of ice cream is always a good idea; hand-dipped and made by Sundae’s Homemade Ice Cream in small batches, you’ll find a rotating selection of flavors that might include “Graham Cammack Station,” “Hoosier Buckeye” or “Bing Cherry Chip.” The eatery’s most popular dessert is strawberry shortcake, made with thick, homemade cake and freshly cut strawberries, topped with soft-serve ice cream and whipped cream. You can enjoy your meal inside while grooving to some oldies, or if the weather is nice, there is a brick patio outdoors.

“We hope once you visit, you’ll never forget your experience and you’ll be sure to ‘Cammack and see us,’” Howe said.

Cammack Station is currently operating under summer hours until Oct. 31 and is open Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. For the latest information, visit cammackstation.com

16 SEPTEMBER 2023 CAMMACK STATION 9200 W. Jackson St. Muncie 765-759-3871 Cammackstation.com
Indiana eats
Photos courtesy of Cammack Station

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— Tina R., Atlanta

crunch Packs a


Donna Dettmer , Columbus, Indiana

1 bag RITZ Toasted Chips (original flavor)

2 cups shelled pecans

1 stick butter

½ cup sugar

½ cup light corn syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

⅛ teaspoon almond extract

½ teaspoon baking powder

Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Cover an 11-by-14-inch cookie sheet (with sides) with aluminum foil and spray foil with cooking oil spray. Pour the bag of chips on the foil and spread chips evenly. Sprinkle pecans on top. Over medium heat in a medium saucepan, add butter, sugar and corn syrup. Bring mixture to a boil and boil for 4½ minutes while stirring constantly with a metal spoon. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla extract, almond extract and baking powder. Gently pour the liquid over the chips and pecans, stirring with a silicone spatula (sprayed with cooking spray) to coat all sides of the crackers and nuts. Bake 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes with the silicone spatula. Remove chip mixture from pan and cool on a new piece of oiled aluminum foil.



Doris Ann Kahlert , Berne, Indiana

1 (10-ounce) package

frozen peas, thawed

1 cup diced celery

1 cup cauliflower florets

¼ cup diced green onions

1 cup chopped cashews (optional)

½ cup sour cream

½ cup ranch-style salad dressing (can add more to taste)

½ cup crisply cooked and crumbled bacon

Combine peas, celery, cauliflower, green onions, cashews, sour cream and dressing in a salad bowl; mix well. Chill until ready to serve. Top each serving with crumbled bacon.


Glenda Ferguson , Paoli, Indiana

1 (15-ounce) can of pumpkin puree

1 (12-ounce) can of evaporated milk

1⅓ cups sugar

4 eggs, slightly whisked

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

½ teaspoon salt

1 box white cake mix

¾ cup shelled, chopped pistachios

½ cup roasted and salted pumpkin seeds

1 cup toasted coconut (shredded or flaked)

2 sticks (1 cup) butter, cut into 30 slices

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine pumpkin, milk, sugar, eggs, cardamom and salt. Transfer to a greased, 9-by-13-inch pan. Sprinkle the cake mix over the top. Sprinkle on the pistachios, pumpkin seeds and coconut, and then distribute the butter slices evenly over the top of the mixture. Bake for 40-45 minutes. Let cool before serving.

food SEPTEMBER 2023 19


Repurposed railroad lines to form a transcontinental route of multiuse trails

DuffPatterson straddled his electric bicycle and examined the trail map at the head of the Cardinal Greenway in Richmond. He was deciding if he should go right onto the rail-trail or left to a path that followed the East Fork of the Whitewater River.

Until April, he’d been a lifelong resident of San Diego. Having picked Richmond as the place to retire, he was still greasing his bearings.

The move was to escape the dystopia he described back in California — its high cost of living, bureaucracies, taxes and overcrowding. The trails he rode in quiet solitude this summer morning would have been packed with pedestrians and bicyclists in San Diego, he said.

Patterson said he’d been an avid cyclist in his younger years. But now, at 67, he noted the pedal assistance of his e-bike allowed him to keep riding. Though new to Indiana, he quickly made himself at home. He had already traveled the Cardinal Greenway on its seamless run from Richmond to Muncie. He stayed the night at a hotel, then rode back the next day.

On this day, he plugged the stubbiest rump of a cigar back between his lips, hopped aboard his bike and took off down a hill and south along the river.


The Cardinal Greenway is Indiana’s longest rail-to-trail. The continuous stretch from Richmond through Muncie to Gaston is 50.5 miles. A second section, from Gas City through Marion to Sweetser, adds another 10. The Cardinal is also Indiana’s oldest — celebrating its 30th anniversary this year — and most acclaimed trail.

“We see our trail system as an oasis for our thousands of users each year,” said Angie Pool, CEO of Cardinal Greenway, Inc. The private nonprofit owns and maintains the trail. “The trail provides an ideal space where you can go to recharge, and we know, from conversations with many, the trail can help stress melt away for a bit while you are out enjoying the peaceful, serene setting.”

Beyond Indiana, the Cardinal Greenway has been recognized by the national Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. In 2018, the Cardinal

Greenway was chosen by popular vote as a RTC Hall of Fame Trail. A year later, RTC identified the Cardinal Greenway, which crosses parts of five eastern counties, as Indiana’s first link in the Great American Rail-Trail.

The Great American is RTC’s ambitious 3,700-mile planned linkage of rails-to-trails that will connect Washington, D.C., to Washington state. Not only that, but RTC designated a “gateway trail” in each of the 12 states the Great American crosses that epitomizes what the concept of the trail should be like. For Indiana, that was the Cardinal.

“It still gives me goosebumps because we are as passionate as can be about Cardinal Greenway,” Pool said, “and we want the world to be the same. We thought, ‘we’re hitting the big time.’”

Eric Oberg, RTC’s regional director for the Midwest, noted in Outdoor Indiana magazine that the Cardinal has everything that makes a great trail: Its 60 miles are relatively flat and

Duff Patterson familiarizes himself with the Cardinal Greenway in Richmond before heading out on the trails.

accessible to most anyone to go out and enjoy. The small towns it passes through are well-spaced and provide places to rest and eat, with cultural amenities to visit.

A few decades ago, rail-to-trail conversions were controversial. Proposals were met with vocal resistance, mostly by landowners whose property the railroad corridors crossed, Pool noted. Now, she said, the Cardinal Greenway and others show what great assets they are.

“The Cardinal Greenway is listed time and time again as one of the best assets of each of our communities,” Pool said. “Businesses promote themselves by saying they’re ‘located beside the beautiful Cardinal Greenway.’ Realtors brag homes are ‘just 1 mile from the Cardinal Greenway.’ The Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development staffs use it to bring new businesses to town and to keep employees here.”

She continued, “We promote what the trail can do for all of our communities; form partnerships and collaborations to boost local pride and increase tourism and economic value to each.”

Pool, now in her 16th year as the Greenway’s CEO, also serves on the Indiana DNR trail advisory board and the Greenway Foundation of Indiana board. She’s also a Henry County REMC consumer — as is the Greenway itself.


After World War II, the railroads that had helped build the United States into a world industrial and economic power began a steady decline. As passenger trains gave way to automobiles and jet planes and railroads consolidated, railroads began abandoning unprofitable and redundant rights-of-way and corridors in large numbers. In the early 1980s, Congress passed legislation that encouraged the preservation of the rights-of-way by preserving the basic

infrastructure of abandoned corridors for possible future reuse as rail lines — and by creating rail trails. In 1986, the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy was founded in Washington, D.C., to preserve the rail corridors as public trails by a group of walking and biking enthusiasts, railroad history buffs, conservation and parks groups, and transportation activists. At that time, just a handful of rail-trails dotted the landscape. Today, there are nearly 25,000 miles of railtrails crisscrossing the countryside and another 8,000 miles of rail-trails ready to be built.

Today, RTC is the nation’s largest trails organization — with more than 1 million grassroots supporters.

What makes abandoned railroad corridors so attractive as trails is that their cut across the land has been there, in some cases, for more than a century and a half. Infrastructure like bridges and culverts are in place. And they’ve been graded to be relatively flat. Inclines are hardly noticeable, even around hilly areas like Bloomington, observed Ross Tepe, trails manager with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of State Parks.

“Rail-trails serve as great bike routes because they often follow a route that’s away from the road right-ofway, so they’re quiet,” Tepe said. “They’re also consistently followed by a tree canopy because those trees grew around the railroad right-of-way as it was abandoned. Several model routes are entirely shaded — which can be really helpful on a hot day.”

Work on what became the Cardinal Greenway began not long after CSX railroad abandoned the line through Muncie in 1986. Business and civic leaders looked to turn it into a public trail not just for Muncie but across all five counties the line served. “I keep thinking back to the vision of our original founders: ‘Let’s create this path for people to enjoy,’” Pool said.

“So, now we feel we are vital to each


Electric bicycles are becoming increasingly popular on trails.

Electric bikes, or e-bikes, are regular bicycles with an electric motor that can be engaged as needed. E-bikes are becoming especially popular with people who face challenging terrain or perhaps find regular cycling too physically challenging. Studies also show that e-biking can bring many of the same physical benefits as non-assisted pedaling. One downside is they are heavier than regular bicycles.

Features vary among the brands and models, but the industry has developed three standard classes of e-bikes:

CLASS 1 has a motor that provides assistance only when its rider is pedaling and is limited to motor-assisted speeds of 20 miles per hour. These e-bikes are capable of going faster than 20 mph, but only on human power beyond that point. (This is the most common e-bike available for rent or bike-sharing);

CLASS 2 also reaches motorassisted speeds up to 20 mph but includes a throttle-powered mode that does not require pedaling;

CLASS 3 offers pedal assistance up to a maximum of 28 miles per hour. Additionally, Class 3 e-bikes are required to be equipped with a speedometer. These can still be pedaled faster than their motor-assisted speeds, but only with human power. (Class 3 e-bikes can ALSO be categorized as Class 2 e-bikes if they feature a throttle that is limited to 20 miles per hour.)

Most trails welcome the use of Class 1 and Class 2.


community that we span. We are a free resource for people to go out and improve their quality of life, whether it be by walking, riding their bikes or running. We love that we’re a trail where one could also push a baby stroller.”

In 1993, the Cardinal Greenway incorporated as a 501(c)(3) reliant on volunteers. The new organization took its name from “The Cardinal,” the last passenger train that regularly traveled the line from Chicago to Cincinnati to D.C. Through grants, federal and state funding and fundraising efforts, the nonprofit purchased the right-ofway from Marion to Richmond from CSX. An 11-mile gap was created between Gaston and Gas City, however, because CSX sold that section to local landowners first. The first section of the trail was paved in 1998. The last segment between Richmond and Losantville was completed in 2012. The Wysor Street Depot in Muncie, which was included in the original purchase of the corridor and has been restored, now serves as Cardinal Greenways’ headquarters. The depot also provides a rest center, a small gift shop and a gathering point. At the end of July, the depot hosted 180

cyclists participating in a century ride (100 miles) along the north and south sections of the Greenway.

Now, Pool said the Cardinal Greenway is focusing on maintaining the aging asphalt of the paved trails and closing that 11-mile gap between Gaston and Gas City with a dedicated trail or with side paths along county roads.


“Imagine pedaling across the entire country on a safe, seamless and scenic pathway — or walking a local trail that connects you to historic routes from coast to coast. … Consider the intimacy of taking in all the country has to offer from the most personal vantage point: the trail.”

That’s how the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy promotes the promise of its Great American Rail-Trail. In a nation that prizes private property so highly, that the potential for a public transcontinental trail of this magnitude could even be imagined is amazing, if not sublime and even transcendent. But remarkably, the route is already more than halfway complete.

The preferred route of the Great American has been mapped out by RTC and its partners. It’s more than 3,700 miles utilizing some 150 existing rail-trails, greenways and other multi-use paths through the 12 states, offering a route across the nation that is completely separated from vehicle traffic. Upon its completion at an unknown date, the Great American will serve more than 50 million people within 50 miles of its route, as well as the millions from across the country and the world who will explore America’s diverse places via the trail.

The trail starts near the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., at RTC’s headquarters, and then runs through Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and Washington, ending on the Pacific coastline.

Though the route still has gaps totaling some 1,700 miles to be developed, RTC said in its May 2023 Route Assessment Report that the route stands at 54% complete. Indiana has 55% of its 215 miles complete, while Ohio has 70% of 335 miles and Illinois has 87% of 193 miles.

Through Indiana, a dozen trails will host the Great American Rail-Trail on a diagonal trajectory from Richmond to the south side of the Chicago metropolitan area. They include: Cardinal Greenway; Sweetser Switch; Converse Junction; Nickel Plate; Monterey Erie; North Judson Erie; Veterans Memorial; Erie Lackawanna Trail; and ending with the Pennsy Greenway’s connection to Illinois.


Closing the 96 miles of gaps in Indiana’s portion of the Great American has been a focus of Gov. Eric Holcomb’s administration and the DNR’s Next Level Trails program.

“Our relationship with the Great American Rail-Trail and Rails-to-

The Sweetser Switch Trail is a 4-mile railtrail that links the Cardinal Greenway to the Converse Junction Trail. Town residents created a park board and chipped in with donations and volunteer labor to complete the first mile.

Trails really comes out with our grant programs, and how we award projects,” said Tepe with the DNR, which administers the grants.

Since 2018, Indiana has dedicated $180 million to the Next Level Trails program. The program is part of Holcomb’s Next Level infrastructure plan that was funded by the $1 billion renegotiated toll road lease.

“We have awarded smaller grants from pre-exisitng grant programs,” noted Tepe, “but NLT is the largest by far.”

Next Level Trails allocated $90 million in its first three years, the largest infusion of trail funding in Indiana history. “A big part of that grant program is connectivity, both local connectivity and regional connectivity,” explained Tepe. “While we fund trails all across the state, we do have a scoring metric that shows preference toward projects along the [Great American] route.”

Last year, an additional $60 million in Next Level Trails grants came from President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan from 2021’s COVID-19 stimulus bill. The latest round of NLT grants, an additional $30 million, came from the budget passed by the Indiana General Assembly in May.

For his leadership in accelerating trail development across the state, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy named Holcomb the Doppelt Family Rail-Trail Champion in 2021. Holcomb, the 40th

honoree, was the first acting governor to be recognized as a Rail-Trail Champion.

“Trails, especially the Great American Rail-Trail, can help bring in tourism and economic development,” said Tepe. “But it’s also beneficial to communities along the trail.”

He noted benefits include simply being able to ride a bike to work more easily or to connect to nature. “Making connections, both between communities, from one city to the next, and within those cities, connecting residential areas to local amenities such as parks, stores, job locations and schools, means a lot of quality-of-life improvements.”

In addition to support for trails in the governor’s office, the bipartisan Indiana Trails Caucus was formed in 2020. The caucus includes 33 state legislators comprised of Republicans and Democrats from the House and Senate. Members are committed to creating a statewide trails network that provides significant health, economic and other quality-of-life benefits for all Hoosiers.


“Good morning, America, how are ya?” begins the chorus of the classic train song about riding “magic carpets made of steel,” made famous by Arlo Guthrie a half-century ago. “Said don’t you know me? I’m your native son …”

For almost anyone living today, morning in America is no longer about riding the rails. If you’re out on a rail corridor, you’re probably traversing the trails: the rails-to-trails. The longabandoned magic carpets of steel have been replaced by smooth, gently rolling, narrow ribbons of asphalt.

Whether a “Golden Spike” — used to connect the last span of transcontinental railroad track in 1869 — is somehow employed if and when the last segment of the Great American Rail-Trail is opened down the line, one thing is sure: these are golden, heady days for trails. “People see the impact they can bring to the communities and even to themselves,” said Pool. “They get out there and walk, ride their bikes, or just stroll on trail systems that are close to them. People have realized what a great resource trails are.”

During the pandemic, trail use picked up by 300 to 400%, and it’s remained consistent, she said. “With all that great momentum for trails and positive thoughts about trails, and people wanting them and wanting connections,” she added, tossing in one last nod to the railroad lexicon that infuses our language, “I just think people are going to really jump on board.”


How to Be Cut Off From Civilization


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With our limited edition River Canyon Bowie Knife you’re getting the best in 21st-century construction with a classic look inspired by legendary American pioneers. What you won’t get is the trumped up price tag. We know a thing or two about the hunt–– like how to seek out and capture an outstanding, collector’s-quality knife that won’t cut into your bank account. This quintessential knife can be yours to use out in the field or to display as the art piece it truly is. But don’t wait. A knife of this caliber typically cost hundreds. Priced at an amazing $49, we can’t guarantee this knife will stick around for long. So call today! Your satisfaction is 100% guaranteed. Feel the knife in your hands, wear it on your hip, inspect the craftsmanship. If you don’t feel like we cut you a fair deal, send it back within 30 days for a complete refund of the sale price. But we believe that once you wrap your fingers around the River Canyon’s handle, you’ll be ready to carve your own niche into the wild frontier.

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A LINEMAN at heart

Jim Binkley honors the trade even after retirement

Clark County REMC’s Wyatt Binkley first climbed at a lineman rodeo when he was 12 years old. Last year, he was on the team that finished first place overall at the inaugural Indiana Electric Cooperative Lineman Rodeo. He received a unique, handcrafted trophy for his efforts — one made by his father.

Jim Binkley, who worked in the industry for more than 40 years and has two sons now working as linemen, has contributed to linework in many different capacities. He has been inducted into the International Lineman Hall of Fame, and beyond his professional duties, has created trophies for lineman rodeos, retirement gifts and more.

He traces his passion for these types of projects back decades.

In 2003, the superintendent of Scottsburg Municipal Electric, Jim Satterly, was retiring. Binkley was asked to fill the position.

“I immediately had a problem,” Binkley said. “What should I give Mr. Satterly for his retirement? I was splitting wood when the solution appeared before me.”

Satterly had a tree contractor remove an old oak tree that was endangering a primary electrical line. Binkley took some of the wood home and was splitting it when he discovered a pair of “house knob insulators” embedded within the wood.

“I counted 40 tree rings back from the bark to the base of the insulator, and I knew then I had something to build from,” he said. “I counted the rest of the rings to establish the

age of the tree and used it to create a story highlighting Mr. Satterly's career at Scottsburg.”

Five years after crafting the wooden sculpture for Satterly, Binkley undertook a new project: building insulator keepsakes for the eighth annual American Public Power Association (APPA) Lineman Rodeo. He created 75.

“When I built the keepsake, I wanted to represent the year using pieces of wire the size of each number of the year and bend them in arches,” he said. Binkley received a standing ovation for his efforts at the evening’s banquet, and he said that he “considered it at the time the pinnacle of my lineman career, being honored by my peers.”

Binkley has tried to be intentional with his work — both as a lineman and a creator.

When the Indiana Municipal Electric Association later decided to create a state rodeo modeled after the APPA event, Binkley was asked to create trophies. He accepted, also coming up with the idea to have a traveling award to emphasize what he believes to be the most important event: the hurt man rescue.

Last year, Binkley was asked if he was interested in making the trophies for the first Indiana Electric Cooperative Lineman Rodeo. He agreed, and the awards he created were built “around a saddleback insulator pin and used a weathered piece of cross-arm. It seemed like a natural fit for a rodeo trophy,” he explained.

Binkley made the awards for the Indiana Electric Cooperative Lineman Rodeo again this year. Regardless of who wins, there is no doubt that Binkley’s handiwork is treasured by the linemen who are awarded his trophies — and Binkley is pleased to be able to pay tribute to their efforts. “I especially like honoring those stand-out linemen that are dedicated to our trade.”

profile 26 SEPTEMBER 2023
Jim Binkley 2022 Indiana Electric Cooperatives Lineman Rodeo trophy

How a Safe Step Walk-In Tub can change your life

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Hoosier Energy news

Engaging with our future leaders SUMMER UPDATE:

Hoosier Energy spent summer vacation sponsoring youth events.

Whether it was on the steps of our nation’s capital or on a zip line tower, Hoosier Energy helped local youth take advantage of the opportunity to spend a portion of the summer engaging in fun and educational activities.

At Camp Kilowatt in Brookston, Indiana, Hoosier Energy sponsored the “circuit boards and bikes station,” one of several rotating activities for the 101 participating campers — 38 of which came from Hoosier Energy member cooperatives — to enjoy each evening. The bikes were provided by Nine13sports, a nonprofit that travels to schools and other studentcentric locales such as Camp Kilowatt to provide what the organization describes as “an interactive indoor bicycling simulator.”

Eight bikes are set up on stationary training stands, and the bikes interface with a computer software program that simulates cycling outdoors, including going up and down hills. Each rider can see information such as speed and distance displayed on a largescreen TV monitor. That display also includes how much energy the rider created.

There were plenty of other activities on the agenda for the rising seventh graders at Camp Kilowatt, including bucket truck rides, rock climbing, archery, riflery, swimming, alternative energy education, a live line safety demonstration, horseback riding,

canoeing and a zip line. This was all done under the direction of Crystal Greathouse of Decatur County REMC, a Hoosier Energy member.

Meanwhile, a slightly older crowd of rising high school seniors went on the Indiana Youth Tour. Hoosier Energy was among the sponsors of the 75 students representing 29 electric cooperatives in the state of Indiana. The tour included stops at the Flight 93 National Memorial and Gettysburg before the students arrived in Washington, D.C., where they visited the Library of Congress, George Washington’s Mount Vernon home, the National Museum of the Marine Corps, the Pentagon Memorial, the Smithsonian Institution and the White House, as well as taking in a Major League Baseball game between the Washington Nationals and the Miami Marlins.

Camp Kilowatt Camp Kilowatt Indiana Youth Tour Indiana Youth Tour


Shockingly steep vet bills can be a thing of the past

September is National Pet Insurance Month and although pet insurance may seem like a luxury, with the right policy and coverage, it may come to the rescue in the event of serious illness, disease or accident.

Over 69% of Hoosier households share their home with a pet, with twice-yearly vet trips running over $400 for dogs and almost $200 for cats each time, according to the American Veterinary Medicine Association. When visits go from routine to emergency, final bills can skyrocket into the thousands, but thankfully, pet insurance can help reduce out-of-pocket costs.

Pet insurance functions similarly to traditional medical insurance, requiring a premium for coverage. Premiums typically run around $15 for cats and $23 for dogs each month, according to MarketWatch. It’s a good idea to research a few different plans to determine what type of coverage you need. Pay special attention to when coverage

kicks in, as there can be a waiting period. All plans should outline the coverage limits, deductible and reimbursement amount, and many offer multi-pet discounts and unique perks. Here are some options:

American Kennel Club (AKC)

Your dog doesn’t have to qualify for membership in the AKC to get coverage, and cats are also welcome. AKC insurance is notable because it is one of the only options that covers preexisting conditions after 365 days of ongoing coverage.


Chewy’s CarePlus insurance partners with well-known insurers Truepanion and Lemonade. CarePlus keeps it simple by paying your veterinarian directly and covers 100% (minus deductibles) of many pet prescriptions, diet food and supplements. There’s no payout limit, meaning even the most accident-prone pet can enjoy lifetime coverage.

Pet insurance provider Figo offers a range of options with the flexibility to opt for wellness or expanded incident coverage. You can submit claims via Figo’s app for reimbursement in less than three days, on average. Bonus: Costco members may be eligible to receive a 15% discount on new policies.

Your regular insurance provider

Nationally recognized insurers such as Nationwide, Allstate, Progressive and State Farm have also entered the pet insurance business.

Request a free quote from a pet insurance provider to determine the plan that fits you and your pet’s needs best. When you do, you can rest assured that your pet insurance will be there to share the cost of keeping your furry friend healthy for years to come.


Energysaving tips that will lower electricity costs

Everyone likes efficiency, especially in the home. Try these easy and budgetfriendly DIY updates to help lower your home’s energy output — and reduce your electric bills.

It’s in the air

If replacing old leaky windows is outside of your budget, try a window insulating kit, or seal up small leaks with expanding insulating foam. Adding storm windows is a nice alternative to full window replacements. Nearly half of U.S. homes don’t have enough insulation, so consider replacing old insulation or adding more to what you have.

A digital programmable thermostat can save up to 10% on your heating and cooling bills, so it quickly pays for itself. A Wi-Fi-enabled version gives remote access to seven-day programming and filter alerts. And keep up with furnace filter replacements — most brands suggest it every one to three months, as dirty filters can diminish your furnace’s efficiency.

The EPA estimates roughly 20% of the air in your ductwork escapes through leaks. Try duct sealant to repair leaks in exposed ducts. Seal air leaks around floors, walls, ceilings, windows, doors and fireplaces.

Switch bulbs

Efficient, longer-use LED bulbs stay cool and offer more options when paired with smart technology. Use a smart app or 7-day timer to make sure lights go out when not in use — or install motion sensor light switches

that do it for you. Switch low-voltage outdoor lighting to solar versions. You can also try strategically placing mirrors nearby to reflect light where you need it most.

Swap flooring

Cork flooring (or cork backing) is popular for its eco-friendly, sustainable sourcing and its heat-retaining properties. Engineered wood with a foam base is another energy-efficient option. Thick, strong natural stone actually forms a barrier that helps you stay comfy through any season.

Soak up savings

Switch out gallon-guzzling older toilets for ones with a lower GPF (gallons per flush) rating. Scrub or soak your showerhead to remove mineral deposits and buildup, because improved flow could shorten rinse time. In addition, adding aerators to kitchen and bath faucets saves an average family about 700 gallons of water per year.

Water heating is a major home energy expense, so get your water heater up to snuff. You can drain it yearly to extend its life span, or consider opting for a high-efficiency model or an ondemand tankless version. If the water heater is situated in a cold basement or garage, lower its thermostat and add a form-fitting insulating jacket.

The recently enacted Inflation Reduction Act offers homeowners energy-efficient home improvement tax credits for going green. For example, installing an electric or natural gas heat pump water heater could result in a $2,000 credit. The high-efficiency electric home rebate program offers sizable credits for heat pumps, stoves, electrical wiring and insulation.

Visit your local Do it Best store or doitbest.com for thousands of the best home improvement products.

do-it-yourself 30 SEPTEMBER 2023
This article is for informational purposes only. Indiana Connection and Do it Best assume no liability for the accuracy or completeness of the information contained herein, or for injuries, property damage or the outcome of any project.

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