COUNTRY LINES Alger Delta Cooperative Electric Association
National Lineworker Appreciation Day April 8
Meet Your Director CandidatesÂ
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In This Issue April 2019 || Vol. 39, No. 4
Michigan’s Electric Cooperatives michigancountrylines
FEATURED PHOTO FROM
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Executive Editor: Casey Clark Editor: Christine Dorr Copy Editor: Heidi Spencer Design and Production: Karreen Bird
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Publisher: Michigan Electric Cooperative Association Michigan Country Lines, USPS-591-710, is published monthly, except August and December, with periodicals postage paid at Lansing, Mich., and additional ofﬁces. It is the ofﬁcial publication of the Michigan Electric Cooperative Association, 201 Townsend St., Suite 900, Lansing, MI 48933. Subscriptions are authorized for members of Alger Delta, Cherryland, Great Lakes, HomeWorks Tri-County, Midwest Energy & Communications, Ontonagon, Presque Isle, and Thumb electric cooperatives by their boards of directors. POSTMASTER: SEND ALL UAA TO CFS. Association ofﬁcers are Robert Kran, Great Lakes Energy, chairman; Mark Kappler, HomeWorks Tri-County Electric, vice chairman; and Eric Baker, Wolverine Power Cooperative, secretarytreasurer. Craig Borr is president and CEO. CONTACT US/LETTERS TO EDITOR: Michigan Country Lines 201 Townsend St., Suite 900 Lansing, MI 48933 248-534-7358 firstname.lastname@example.org countrylines.com
CHANGE OF ADDRESS:
Please notify your electric cooperative. See page 4 for contact information.
Come share in the splendor of rural Michigan with us
michigancountrylines There’s snowplace like home! It may look like an igloo, but it’s a woodshed. The homeowner had to carve an entrance so he could feed the wood boiler that heats his home. photo by: @prohandyman.us #manthatsalotofsnow #sothisisspring #upperpeninsula
ON THE COVER Two of the U.P.’s finest bakers, Marybeth Kurtz of Midtown Bakery & Café and Joe Heck of Huron Mountain Bakery, teamed up for a current episode of “Winner Cakes All” on the Food Network. Read about their rise to local and national fame on page 14.
18 MI CO-OP COMMUNITY Michigan’s Best Hiking Trails!
As the snow melts and the trees produce their first buds, get out there and soak up spring weather on these reader-recommended hiking trails.
Photo by Daniele Carol Photography, Marquette
10 MI CO-OP KITCHEN Quick And Hassle-Free Appetizers And Snacks
Win $150 for stories published!
Christin McKamey & Our Readers
Enter Our Recipe Contest And Win A $50 Bill Credit!
Country Lines invites members to submit their fond memories and stories. For guidelines and to submit your guest column go to countrylines.com under the MI Co-op Community tab.
14 FEATURE U.P. Bakers Take The Cake
The Food Network’s show “Winner Cakes All” recently featured two of the U.P.’s most talented cake bakers, but their rise to culinary stardom began with twists and turns before they reached the top. Emily Haines Lloyd
The appearance of advertising does not constitute an endorsement of the products or services advertised.
MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES
Thank A Lineworker
Board Of Directors District 1—Big Bay
Darryl Small 906-345-9369 • email@example.com
Karen Alholm 906-249-1095 • firstname.lastname@example.org
District 3—Grand Marais
Mike Lawless 906-494-2080 • email@example.com
District 4—Cedar River/Palestine
Dave Prestin 906-424-0055 • firstname.lastname@example.org
Ivy Netzel 906-639-2979 • MyAlgerDeltaRep5@gmail.com
District 6—Nathan/White Rapids
Paul Sederquist 906-753-4484 • email@example.com
District 7—Stonington/Rapid River
Kirk Bruno 906-399-1432 • firstname.lastname@example.org
Ray Young 906-450-1881 • email@example.com
District 9—Hiawatha/Maple Ridge
Doug Bovin 906-573-2379 • firstname.lastname@example.org
Tom Harrell email@example.com
426 N. 9th St, Gladstone, MI 49837 906-428-4141 • 800-562-0950 Fax: 906-428-3840 • firstname.lastname@example.org algerdelta.com
Monday–Friday, 8 a.m.–4 p.m. (ET)
Alger Delta Cooperative is an equal opportunity provider and employer.
algerdelta.com Join us on Facebook. facebook.com/algerdeltaelectric
4 APRIL 2019
Tom Harrell, Chief Executive Officer
pril 8 is National Lineworker Appreciation Day—a day set aside to express gratitude to the nation’s 117,000 or so lineworkers who toil to keep the lights on across America.
Most people are unaware of what it takes to provide safe and reliable electricity. During regular hours, lineworkers construct and maintain everything needed to get power from a generating plant to the outlet in your home. This includes the transmission system that forms an interconnected grid providing energy to the entire nation; substations that reduce the voltage from as high as 500,000 volts to a more manageable 24,900 to 2,400 volts; and the distribution system that lets energy flow to the light by which you may be reading this article. Lineworkers also maintain these overhead and underground systems through all hours of the day and night, often in difficult and hazardous conditions, sometimes far from their families. Lineworkers frequently put forth extraordinary effort to restore power to consumers who’ve been hit hard by tornadoes, hurricanes, ice and wind storms, and more. Lineworkers are often the first responders during storms, fires, and other catastrophic events, making sure the scene is safe for law enforcement and other public safety workers. Our lineworkers and others across the nation truly deserve this special day of recognition. “Our lineworkers work safely, smart, and efficiently, all while 40 or more feet in the air, wearing thick rubber gloves and often in the dark with the wind blowing and rain or snow falling.”
Alger Delta lineworkers work in some of the most remote territories and inclement weather in the upper Midwest. Our lineworkers work safely, smart, and efficiently, all while 40 or more feet in the air, wearing thick rubber gloves and often in the dark with the wind blowing and rain or snow falling. Each of our lineworkers has taken unique paths to their positions at Alger Delta Cooperative. Some are home-grown, and some have moved here to work at Alger Delta and experience all the richness the U.P. has to offer. Regardless of how they got into the trade, all our lineworkers are highly trained and skilled and are true professionals who enjoy their work.
Alger Delta has about 1,300 miles of line throughout its service territory. Our lineworkers are responsible for the operation and maintenance of those lines 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Their abilities enhance and meet the ever-increasing electric needs of our members. So, when you see a lineworker, thank them for all that they do for us. When April 8 rolls around, think of them and their families, and say a prayer for their safety.
April 8 Is
National Lineworker Appreciation Day
ineworker Appreciation Day celebrates those men and women who work hard to keep the power flowing through our communities. So, during the month of April, if you see a lineworker, please pause to say thank you to the power behind your power. Let them know you appreciate the hard work they do to keep the lights on, regardless of the conditions.
From L—R: Troy Tiernan-Operations Manager, Jason Ebbessen-Work Order Clerk, Cody WarrenLineworker, Tom Viitala-Lineworker, Curt Knauf-Line Design Tech, Todd Wilson-Working Foreman, Bill Carlson-Lineworker, Jon Conger-Lineworker, Steve LaBonte-Lineworker, John Dault-Meter Tech.
Thank you to Alger Delta’s Lineworkers and the whole operations staff: Troy, Jason, Cody, Tom, Curt, Todd, Bill, Jon, Steve and John for all you do to keep the Upper Peninsula’s lights on. You are all appreciated.
Save The Date
REGISTRATION IS OPEN FOR THE
June 5 Annual Meeting
Alger Delta’s 80th Annual Meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, June 5, at the Island Resort and Casino in Harris, Mich. Alger Delta is treating you to a delicious sit-down dinner, prizes and more. There is a two-person per membership limit, and reservations can be made by calling the office or online at algerdelta.com. Reservations will be accepted until May 31.
The business meeting is an important part of our Annual Meeting as we introduce you to newly elected directors, talk about the cooperative’s past performance, future expectations and more. So, mark Wednesday, June 5, on your calendar and plan to have a wonderful time!
MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES
02 EXTENDO STICK
01 HOIST For pulling guy wire and conductor to the proper tension.
Insulated ﬁberglass tool for opening and closing devices on the pole from the ground.
03 GROUND Placed between wires to ensure a line is de-energized before working on it.
04 CLIMBING BELT Worn around the waist by lineworkers to help with positioning and safety when working on a pole that cannot be reached by a bucket truck.
6 APRIL 2019
05 SHOTGUN STICK Insulated ﬁberglass tool for moving or adjusting live electrical equipment from a bucket truck.
06 CLIMBING HOOKS The sharp hooks, called gaﬀs, dig into the pole allowing the worker to climb.
07 PPE An acronym for “Personal Protective Equipment” which is mandatory on all job sites. The hard hat protects the head from blows and falling objects; gloves protect from high voltage, cuts or abrasions; while safety glasses protect the eyes.
e v a h a tt o g
Tools To Get Their Job Done And Keep Our Lights On
08 HOLD TAG
Hung on a device or line to let other crews know that the line is being worked on. This prevents devices from being operated and injuring those working down the line.
Used to pull material, tools, and other items to aerial workers.
HOT LINE TESTER
Used to indicate if voltage is present before grounding and work begins on a line.
Used to cover lines when doing work on lines that are still energized.
MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES
Optimize Your Home With A
Free Energy Audit
s your home properly sealed, insulated, and ventilated? If you’ve noticed any issues such as mold, mildew, ice dams, drafts, or overall discomfort, your home may require improvements to resolve energy inefficiencies. To better understand and manage your home’s energy use and costs, take advantage of the Energy Optimization program’s free energy audit! The Home Energy Optimizer is a brief online survey that analyzes your home’s energy use. You will be required to enter some specific information, such as the year your home was built, the type of heating and cooling systems in place, and when various other systems and appliances were purchased and installed. Once you’ve completed the survey, you will receive a personalized, comprehensive report, as well as cost-saving tips and recommendations to help reduce energy waste throughout your household. Additionally, all participants will receive a free energy-saving kit, which includes light bulbs and other devices to help save energy and water!
How to complete your home energy audit: • Visit the Energy Optimization website at michigan-energy.org. • Select your electric utility from the drop-down menu at the top of the page. • In the left menu bar, select “Online Home Audit.” • Click “Get Started Now!” and complete the questionnaire. • Upon completion of the Home Energy Optimizer survey, your free energy-saving kit will be mailed to the address you indicate. Have questions about the free home energy audit or energy-saving kit? Call us at 877-296-4319.
Energy Savings At Your Fingertips Team up with the Energy Optimization program to improve the comfort, durability and energy efficiency of your home! Complete our Online Home Audit to assess your home’s energy performance and receive a comprehensive report featuring cost-saving tips and opportunities.
ENERGY TIP: Receive a FREE energy-saving kit when you complete your Online Home Audit!
ONLINE: michigan-energy.org PHONE: 877.296.4319
Energy Optimization programs and incentives are applicable to Michigan service locations only. Other restrictions may apply. For a complete list of participating utilities, visit michigan-energy.org.
Beautiful Birds 1. Beautiful eagles. By Linda McLain, Trenary 2. What? You donâ€™t think Iâ€™m pretty? Well, my ladies do! By Kathy Brady, Arnold 3. A beauty in Key West, Florida. By Sandy Smiley, Wetmore 4. This pileated woodpecker visits our suet feeders from time to time, but on this day he found a dead tree to get a meal from. By Kathy Glish, Wetmore
Share Your Photos!
Alger Delta invites members to share their amazing photos. Selected photos will be published in Michigan Country Lines.
Upcoming Photo Topics And Deadlines:
Playing In The Water, deadline April 20 (June issue) Four-Legged Friends, deadline May 20 (July/August issue)
5. A Baltimore oriole enjoys an orange snack. By Kathy Brady, Arnold
To submit photos go to http://bit.ly/countrylines
6. The red of this cardinal is a beauty against the white snow. By Jeni Steinhauser, Grand Marais
We look forward to seeing your best photos!
MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES
Appetizers & Snacks Quick and hassle-free recipes Photos—Robert Bruce Photography
Pineapple Papaya Salsa
Bethany Cumper, Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op 3 1 1 5 • 2 3 1 2
tomatoes, ﬁnely diced fresh pineapple (about 2 pounds), ﬁnely diced fresh papaya or mango (about 1 pound), ﬁnely diced green onions, sliced small bunch fresh cilantro, chopped jalapeños, seeded and minced tablespoons lemon juice teaspoon garlic, minced teaspoons salt, or to taste
Mince or chop all ingredients according to recipe. Add all ingredients to a glass bowl and stir to combine. Serve immediately or chill and serve. Flavors will meld with longer chilling; 4 hours chill time is recommended. Use this as a traditional salsa or try it as a garnish on grilled chicken!
Watch a video of this month’s winning recipe at micoopkitchen.com/videos
10 APRIL 2019
Bacon Crackers Judy Skowronski, Cherryland
½ cup mayonnaise 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce ¼ teaspoon salad seasoning or seasoned salt ¹/8 teaspoon paprika 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (or other cheese of choice) 4 slices crisp-cooked bacon 2 tablespoons minced onion 32 to 36 round crackers Mix mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, salad seasoning (or seasoned salt), and paprika. Stir in cheese, bacon, and onion. Spread about ½ tablespoon mixture over each cracker. Arrange crackers (8 or 9 at a time) in a single layer on microwave-safe plate. Microwave on high until hot and puffed (15 to 30 seconds). Serve warm.
FEATURED GUEST CHEF
Prepare to taste the cake that took Huron Mountain Bakery’s Joe Heck and Marybeth Kurtz from Midtown Bakery & Café all the way to the ﬁnals of “Winner Cakes All” on Food Network. This cake recipe combines these top bakers’ skills and delivers award-winning ﬂavor straight to your kitchen.
Smoked Salmon & Mango Salsa Connie Pietila, Ontonagon REA
¼ pound piece smoked salmon, diced into ¼-inch pieces 2 ripe Hass avocados, halved, pitted, peeled, and diced into ¼-in pieces ¼ cup diced vine-ripened tomato 2 tablespoons ﬁnely diced purple onion (rinsed, if you like a milder ﬂavor) 1 large, ripe mango, diced 1 jalapeño chili pepper, minced ½ bunch fresh cilantro, chopped • juice of 1 lime, or 2 tablespoons bottled juice 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper • tortilla chips In a bowl, combine salmon, avocado, tomato, onion, mango, jalapeño, cilantro, and lime juice. Gently fold together. Add olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper, and gently fold again. Spoon about 1 tablespoon onto each tortilla chip (Tostitos Scoops work well for this). Arrange on a platter. Or keep in bowl and serve with chips, if you prefer. Serve immediately.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Trufﬂe Marybeth’s Mom’s Chocolate Cake 2 cups sugar 1 3 cups ﬂour 2 6 tablespoons unsweetened 2 cocoa powder 12 2 teaspoons baking soda 2
teaspoon salt cups cold water teaspoons vanilla tablespoons oil tablespoons vinegar
Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix on low speed the sugar, ﬂour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Then add the wet ingredients in order on low; water, vanilla, oil, and vinegar. Mix till smooth and pour into greased and papered round cake pans, wrap pans with cake strips. Yields two-8-inch round layers. Bake 50—60 minutes rotating at half of the time. Let cakes cool completely. Joe’s Peanut Butter Buttercream Frosting 1 pound softened salted butter 2 pounds powdered sugar ¹⁄8 cup heavy whipping cream 2 cups smooth peanut butter Whip softened butter until light and ﬂuffy. On low speed, add powdered sugar slowly until incorporated. Add heavy cream and whip until medium consistency. Microwave peanut butter until just liquid, then on a low setting, add peanut butter and whip until desired consistency.
Festive Desserts: due May 1 Tailgating Favorites: due July 1 Submit your favorite recipe for a chance to win a $50 bill credit and have your recipe featured in Country Lines with a photo and a video. Go to micoopkitchen.com for more information and to register.
Enter to win a
energy bill credit!
Joe’s Chocolate Ganache 675 grams Belgian chocolate 1 quart heavy whipping cream Melt chocolate over a double boiler; remove from heat. Bring cream to a rolling boil. Stir half of the cream into chocolate until incorporated. Add second half of cream until combined and let it cool. Assembly Of The Cake Take one cooled 8-inch cake round and place on cake plate. Spread a thick layer of ganache over cake. On top of ganache, add one layer of buttercream frosting. Place second 8-inch cake round on top and use remaining buttercream to frost the entire cake (sides and top). Read the full story about Joe Heck and Marybeth Kurtz on page 14, and ﬁnd this recipe and others at micoopkitchen.com. MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES
DIRECTOR CANDIDATES DISTRICT 1 — BIG BAY Occupation: • Part-time employment with the Huron Mountain Club • Former business owner, Presbyterian Lay Pastor Affiliations/Community Activities/Volunteer Service: Commissioned Ruling Elder with First Presbyterian Church, Big Bay, 550 Snowmobile Club, community volunteer in Big Bay and Marquette, Alger Delta Board Member, 2003— 2013 and 2016—present.
Candidate Comments: My name is Darryl Small, and I have served on the Alger Delta Board from 2003 to 2013 and again from 2016 to the present. During my first terms, Alger Delta had multiple problems and was close to bankruptcy. With the guidance of the board and a new CEO, Alger
Delta achieved a much better financial position within six years. This was partly due to the knowledge and dedication of the board members who laid the foundation for future success. Education and training on how the utility industry works enriched our service and enabled the board to work together as a team. I believe that to effectively serve the members of our cooperative and make sound business decisions, Directors must keep informed of the changes in the utility industry and seek the education needed to function on this board. That is why I have pursued training and have become a Credentialed Cooperative Director and gotten my Board Leadership and Gold Director certificates. A vote for me is a vote for knowledge, leadership, and integrity. Thank you for your support.
DISTRICT 9 — HIAWATHA Occupation: • Retired Vocational Accounting Instructor • Former Munising City Manager • Former 108th District Representative——Michigan House • Former Operation Action U.P.——Executive Director • Nine years as City Commissioner for Gladstone • Five years as Mayor of Gladstone • 22 years on the Delta County Board of Commissioners, with 16 years as chairman
Affiliations/Community Activities/Volunteer Service: President of Michigan and National Association of Counties, member of National and International Board of Directors, volunteer for Jaycees, Lions, Kiwanis, Church Council, K of C-3rd Degree, member of LSSU Board of Trustees, MSU Extension and AgBio Research Council. Candidate Comments: You deserve safe, reliable and cost-efficient energy with continued improvements for all three areas. You also deserve a board of directors that will strive for these improvements and attend to your present needs while
addressing innovative ideas for future strength. That has been the goal of your present board of directors, and I am happy to have been a contributing member for the last three years. Several of your Directors have Certified Cooperative Director training through the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. We invested significant time and energy to create a better understanding of a very complex electric industry and investigated ideas for improvement of Alger Delta. There are many possibilities, and we are now collectively better trained as Directors to develop appropriate strategies for you in the coming years. You have a strong electric cooperative that continues to improve without any rate increase for several years. You also have many very dedicated and talented employees to keep the system on solid ground. I also believe that you have a good board of directors, and I am asking you to allow me to continue to serve. Thank you.
BALLOTS MUST BE RECEIVED BY APRIL 22 12 APRIL 2019
Dream Of Safer Digging?
Call MISS DIG 811 Imagine this: You wake up on a beautiful summer day. The sun is shining. The birds are chirping. You look out across your yard and think, “Today is a great day to put in a new mailbox.” With youthful enthusiasm, you sprint outside, grab your shovel, and scurry to the end of your driveway. You stand over the future home of your mailbox, filled with unbridled excitement. You lift your shovel and, with all your might, drive it into the dirt. Sounds heavenly, right? Well, not quite. Did you call MISS DIG 811 first? MISS DIG 811 provides underground facility location services to homeowners, excavators, municipalities and utility companies. Their mission is to safeguard the public, environment, property, and utility infrastructures and promote utility damage prevention. Think back to your dream of a new mailbox. What if you hit an underground line while driving that shovel? Not so heavenly now, is it? So be smart, be safe, and know what’s below. Contact MISS DIG before you dig by calling 811 or visiting missdig.org.
Digging without knowing what facilities are below can be very expensive and dangerous.
MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES 13
U.P. BAKERS TAKE THE
Joe Heck & Marybeth Kurtz By Emily Haines Llyod Photos by Daniele Carol Photography
oe Heck of Huron Mountain Bakery (Marquette and Ishpeming) and Marybeth Kurtz of Midtown Bakery & Café (Negaunee) are still fresh off the airing of their episode of “Winner Cakes All” on the Food Network, a show where pairs of bakers team up for a chance to win $10,000. The Upper Peninsula duo’s episode was fairy talethemed and led to baking a cake for host, Giada De Laurentiis, a panel of judges, and the actresses from Broadway Princess Party. It wasn’t all glitz and glam that led up to this point in the lives of either of the U.P. bakers. Both admit they needed their own fairy godmothers along the way to help kick start their culinary journeys.
Be sure to check out micoopkitchen.com for Joe and Marybeth’s chocolate peanut butter cake recipe from “Winner Cakes All” on the Food Network!
Joe Heck grew up in Wisconsin and eventually moved to New York City after high school. His ﬁrst job was as a night shift baker, a gig that allowed him to practice decorating cakes. “Eventually, the baker who did our high-end cakes saw my work,” said Joe. “She made me a deal. She would pay for me to go to culinary school if I’d work for her for ﬁve years.” Joe took the deal, attended the Culinary Institute of America, and then worked for his fairy godmother for 13 years. But, like in all good fairy tales, twists and turns happen. A year later, Joe hit some very hard times. When he needed it, a “genie in a bottle” presented itself. Joe’s best friend invited him to visit Marquette, giving Joe his ﬁrst glimpse of the U.P.—a place he ended up calling home. Meanwhile, Marybeth Kurtz was hustling in Detroit and, while traveling to open a new restaurant in Florida, she met a pastry chef. As if nudged by a magic wand, Marybeth ended up training with her and became a pastry chef herself.
14 APRIL 2019
Something was missing for Marybeth too, as she and her husband began dreaming of owning a business somewhere with a little less hustle and bustle. As if on cue— bippity boppity boo—Negaunee, that is. “Everyone is very supportive and collaborative in the U.P. and small towns in general,” said Marybeth. “Everyone helps each other out.” That might sound like a well-crafted sound bite—except Marybeth was out shoveling her neighbor’s snow-packed driveway minutes before this interview. When a Food Network producer saw Joe on the local news and approached him about a possible show, Marybeth’s well-known spirit of generosity might have been exactly why Joe thought of her as a potential teammate. “I didn’t know what or when the opportunity would be,” said Joe. “Finally I got the call for ‘Winner Cakes All,’ and I called Marybeth.” Joe and Marybeth met years earlier through various charity events and have been working together ever since. “Actually, we really became friends when I stole a hexagon cake pan from her,” said Joe jokingly. The two chuckle, as you’d expect with old friends. Even though Food Network producers resisted the idea of two competing bakers on the same team, it only took one Skype call with the pair to put the producers’ worries at bay. “We’re hard to resist,” chimes in Marybeth and the two laugh again. Joe and Marybeth ﬂew to California to ﬁlm their episode with the ﬁnal challenge to create a cake for the cast party of the Broadway Princess Party. While the judges loved the team’s chocolate cake with peanut buttercream and chocolate ganache, another team edged them out for the ﬁnal win in the end. As the two get back to daily life, they have taken away great memories. “It was the experience of a lifetime. I’m so grateful we got to represent the U.P. well,” said Marybeth. Joe pauses from the jokes for a moment and offers up some advice. “Don’t be afraid to do something out of the box,” he reﬂected. “Don’t let fear stop you.” Marybeth quickly adds, “Yeah, that too!” And once again the two are in a ﬁt of laughter. Their infectious joy, friendship and love of cake baking is a simple reminder that magic, and even fairy tales, are everywhere.
LOCATIONS Huron Mountain Bakery • 1301 S. Front St., Marquette | 906-225-1301 • U.S. 41 W., Ishpeming | 906-485-6848 Babycakes (part of the Huron Mountain family) • 223 W. Washington St., Marquette 906-226-7744 Midtown Bakery & Café • 317 Iron St., Negaunee | 906-475-0064
On Lake Superior By Yvonne Whitman
Alex Rowland has always enjoyed new adventures. Whether it’s climbing mountains or trekking through national parks, his energy and natural enthusiasm propel him to turn his dreams into reality. These days, Rowland is serving up glasses of his handcrafted kombucha and a variety of other beverages, at his Superior Culture Taproom in Marquette. Born and raised in metro Detroit, Rowland graduated from Michigan State University in 2014 with a degree in biosystems engineering. After graduation, he ping-ponged between Marquette and a series of outdoor adventures— hiking the Pacific Crest Trail and Yosemite National Park and exploring the Southwest. He worked a variety of jobs to support his travel, including the local ski hill and a wood-fired pizza truck. However, it was a job at The Marq, a local hotspot, where he cut his teeth on what it takes to succeed in the food and beverage business.
16 APRIL 2019
Photo credit: Emil Gorman
“What I learned there in one year was amazing,” Rowland remarked. “I learned that if you wanted a clean and efficiently run operation, you needed to understand what it takes to make that happen from the bottom to the top. If you don’t know how to clean things or where things go, everything is just in shambles. And I took those skills from there.” This knowledge would become integral when, in the summer of 2016, he started brewing kombucha in his kitchen. Kombucha, a beverage the ancient Chinese call the “Immortal Health Elixir” has been around for hundreds of years and has a rich anecdotal history of health benefits, such as preventing and fighting cancer, arthritis, and other degenerative diseases. Made from sweetened tea that has been fermented by a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast, kombucha only recently gained prominence in the United States. The probiotic drink is rich in vitamins B and C, polyphenols and beneficial acids, which helps improve digestion. Aside from the purported medicinal values, most people simply enjoy kombucha for its natural effervescence and slightly tangy flavor.
“Years ago, we were drawn to the clean air, open spaces and sparkling waters of this Great Lake. Mother Superior keeps us fresh and alive, just like the kombucha you’re about to enjoy. Something magical lies in the culture born on her shores, and we are excited to share a piece of it with you inside every bottle. Dive in and see for yourself!”
Photo credit: Yvonne Whitman
—Alex Rowland Alex serves up a glass of kombucha in his Marquette taproom. The bar is made from wood repurposed from an 1850 farmhouse. The top of the bar is inlaid with Lake Superior agates and beach glass.
Photo credit: Alex Rowland
Rowland started home-brewing his kombucha in five-gallon batches. He bought a bottle capper and started filling old beer bottles, and soon, his fridge was overflowing. “I didn’t know what to do with it all,” Rowland said. “I’m drinking it. I’m giving a lot of it away. Then I had this thought. Okay, what would it take for me to actually sell this?” He took a bottle to a friend who owned the Flying Moose, a modern general store in Marquette. “My friend said, ‘Hey, if you can make this legitimate, I’ll sell it my store.’ He was an avid kombucha drinker and he took a sip of it and said it was the best kombucha he had ever tried. So that was my goal.”
and vegetable juices, organic tea, sugar, local grains and honey. Rowland prefers his ingredients organic and wild, and he sources them as locally as possible.
In fall 2016, Rowland started looking for a commercial kitchen. While still working two other jobs, he started buying the items he would need for his commercial brewing operation: stainless-steel equipment, refrigerators, glass bottles, labels and he created a logo. In May 2017, he moved into his current shop on Third Street. Soon after, his kombucha appeared in local retail stores. “I had three clients to start with,” Rowland said. “That was it for the first several months, and I could barely keep up with the demand.”
Looking ahead, Rowland plans to continue selling at the Marquette Farmers Market, the Hiawatha Music Festival, and the Copper Harbor Trails Fest. This summer, he hopes to host music and food trucks in the taproom’s parking lot.
“I have ideas in my head and I get inspired by other combinations. I think of strawberry lemonade and then I think, okay, how can I translate that into kombucha?” Rowland drinks a growler of kombucha a day. And his favorite flavor? Cucumber melon mint. “In the summertime, a splash of it in a gin and tonic makes for the perfect cocktail.”
To find where you can purchase Superior Culture’s products, visit superiorculturemqt.com.
Whether he was at the local farmers market or courting new clients, Rowland kept selling out. “I bought an old oak wine barrel and started making the kombucha in that,” Alex remembers. “It was 12 times the size of what I had been using. It was trial and error, but I finally got it to where it tasted good. So, I bought more oak wine barrels and more stainless-steel fermenters.” Superior Culture kombucha is now sold in approximately 30 stores from Escanaba to Calumet. Although Rowland started with kombucha, Superior Culture also offers a rotating variety of nano-brewed beers, hand-pressed ciders, infused sake, fire cider, kimchi, and jun. All are brewed and flavored with freshly pressed fruit
Photo credit: Alex Rowland Photo credit: Ashley Aquino
MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES 17
MI CO-OP Community
+ TIP Trying to ﬁnd the best Michigan trails? Visit AllTrails.com, an excellent resource for great hiking trails, running trails, mountain biking trails and more.
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Best Hiking Trails Bucket List From Fellow Members— Go Out And Explore Michigan!
White Pine Trail The White Pine Trail runs 92-miles from its southern point in Comstock Park to Cadillac. The “vibe” in each section of the trail is unique. You can ride bikes and visit quaint shops in Rockford, see Amish buggies, wildﬂower ﬁelds and enjoy amazing views of the Muskegon River in Big Rapids. Hikers can also experience the quietness of the trail while spotting wildlife and enjoying the nearby lakes in Cadillac. The trail offers many experiences for hikers young and old. Larisa Draves, Great Lakes Energy
Chapel Trail Mosquito Falls Loop, near Shingleton in the Upper Peninsula Various hikes are available depending on the trail and how long you wish to walk. The views are gorgeous with waterfalls into Lake Superior and lots of look-outs. Richard Liebermann, Great Lakes Energy
The North Country Trail The largest hiking trail in the USA! It stretches over 4,600 miles! It is a year-round trail system with many connector trails to get you to the most beautiful destinations! My hiking group SHE_Mitten_Hikers (Self Healthy Exploring) has snowshoed and hiked our favorite stretch in northern Newaygo County around Nicolas Lake. Kelly Wawsczy, Great Lakes Energy
Michigan Trails And Greenways Alliance Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance is working with communities all over Michigan to build a series of ﬁve “Great Lake to Lake Trails” that will link existing trails into a series of destination trails that will allow people to move from one Great Lake to another. These trails, three in the lower peninsula and two in the Upper Peninsula, will link Lake Michigan with Lake Huron and Lake Michigan with Lake Superior and bring communities together in a pathway to provide a recreation experience and transportation opportunities and the chance to learn about our state’s natural resources and historical legacies. Bob Wilson, Great Lakes Energy
Country Lines Editor’s Pick (pictured)
The Empire Bluﬀ Trail in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore The trail leads to a high bluff overlooking Lake Michigan with panoramic views. The trail is about 1.5 miles round-trip. It’s also pet-friendly, not strenuous or technically tricky—— an absolute favorite!
Bundy Hill Preserve, Remus You can hike to the highest point in the county at 1,270 feet. Morgan Wernette, HomeWorks Tri-County
Manistee River Loop The Manistee River Loop is excellent. The suspension bridge is beautiful, and I’ve had a bear sighting on this trail. Troy Bischoff, Great Lakes Energy
Jordan River Pathway The Jordan River Pathway is such a gem. There is a ﬁsh hatchery just off the trail, beautiful scenery and some of the highest elevations in our lower Michigan. Misty Bischoff, Great Lakes Energy
18 APRIL 2019
Best of Michigan Up Next: Best Ice Cream Shops: Help us create a “Best Ice Cream Shops” list to visit this summer. We will publish this list on the best “scoops” in our June issue. Submit your favorites at countrylines.com under the MI Co-op Community tab by April 20.
LIGHTEN YOUR LOAD Well-Connect captures energy from your well water to heat (and cool) your home and eliminates the need to burn wood.
HOURS OF LABOR TONS OF HARMFUL EMISSIONS LOW INDOOR AIR QUALITY UNEVEN HEAT DISTRIBUTION HEAT FOR $13/MBTU NO AIR CONDITIONING
ZERO LABOR ZERO EMISSIONS HIGH INDOOR AIR QUALITY EVEN HEAT DISTRIBUTION HEAT FOR $6/MBTU AFFORDABLE AIR CONDITIONING
Committed to the job. Committed to safety. Committed to you, our members. Lineworker Appreciation Day April 8, 2019