April 2019 HomeWorks

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April 2019


COUNTRY LINES HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative

A Slice Of Home At Farm Country Cheese House

How Do Capital Credits Work? Thanking Our Hardworking Lineworkers






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In This Issue April 2019 || Vol. 39, No. 4

Michigan’s Electric Cooperatives michigancountrylines






Your photo could be featured here.

Executive Editor: Casey Clark Editor: Christine Dorr Copy Editor: Heidi Spencer Design and Production: Karreen Bird

Follow Us On Instagram!

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 editor@countrylines.com countrylines.com


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

Guest Column:

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.













Living Our Principles



Portland office/Mail payments to: 7973 E. Grand River Avenue Portland, MI 48875 Open 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday–Friday Blanchard office: 3681 Costabella Avenue Blanchard, MI 49310 Open 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday–Friday Night deposit box available at both locations. Electric bill/account questions: 517-647-7554 or 1-800-562-8232 Pay by phone, anytime: 1-877-999-3395 Service questions/outages: 517-647-7554 or 1-800-848-9333 (24 hours for emergency calls) Tri-County Propane: 1-877-574-2740 HomeWorks Connect 1-800-668-8413 homeworks.org Email: tricoenergy@homeworks.org

Board of Directors District 1 — John Lord 2276 Plains Rd., Leslie, MI 49251 517-974-2518 jlord@homeworks.org District 2 — Jim Stebbins 7139 Peddler Lake Rd., Clarksville, MI 48815 616-693-2449 jstebbins@homeworks.org District 3 — Luke Pohl Chairman 15560 W. Hanses Rd., Westphalia, MI 48894 989-292-0427 lpohl@homeworks.org District 4 — Kimber Hansen 6535 N. Wyman Rd., Edmore, MI 48829 989-506-5849 khansen@homeworks.org District 5 — Corinna Batora Vice-Chairman 7655 N. Watson Rd., Elsie, MI 48831 517-256-5233 cbatora@homeworks.org District 6 — Ed Oplinger Secretary-Treasurer 10890 W. Weidman Road, Weidman, MI 48893 989-644-3079 eoplinger@homeworks.org District 7 — Shirley Sprague 15563 45th Ave., Barryton, MI 49305 989-382-7535 ssprague@homeworks.org Editors: C harly Markwart Jayne Graham, CCC

Join us on Facebook. facebook.com/homeworks.org 4 APRIL 2019


Mark Kappler, General Manager

hat does it mean to be a co-op in today’s world and, specifically, an electric co-op? So far in 2019, we’ve brought several of the Cooperative Principles to life.

Co-op Principle 6: Cooperation Among Cooperatives. After a late February snowstorm that hit northern Michigan harder than our own service area, we sent two, two-person line crews with two bucket trucks to help out our sister co-op Presque Isle Electric & Gas in Onaway. Co-op Principle 3: Member Economic Participation. If you purchased electricity from HomeWorks in 2018, you’ll see two capital credit messages on your April bill. First is an allocation of the revenues exceeding expenses (capital credits) for 2018. This is not cash, but a measure of your equity in the Co-op. Then, for most members, there’s a credit that represents a capital credit retirement, or refund, of allocated margins from 2001 and 2002, and also 2018, from Wolverine Power Cooperative. Read more about capital credits on the opposite page. Co-op Principle 2: Democratic Member Control. We are guided by a sevenmember board of directors, one from each district across our service area. We have contested elections in all three districts holding elections this year. If you receive service in District 1 (Eaton, Ingham and Jackson counties), District 5 (Gratiot and Saginaw counties, along with Bingham, Duplain, and Greenbush townships in Clinton County and Bloomer, Crystal, and Evergreen townships in Montcalm County), or District 7 (Mecosta and Osceola counties), your issue of this magazine came with a special wrap that includes candidate information and your own ballot to return.

Co-op Principle 5: Education, Training and Information. Besides mailing this magazine to you 10 times a year, we also travel to each district in May to hold a district membership Meeting, with a light supper, Co-op update, prizes, and more. You’ll have time to speak to your director, staff members, or me about your concerns or ideas for the Co-op. Watch your mail for your invitation/registration card! Co-op Principle 7: Concern for Community. We’re asking YOU to take part in your district meeting by bringing non-perishable goods, personal items, or a small cash donation for a local food bank in your community. It’s an easy way to help out, just like rounding up your monthly bill to donate spare change to the Tri-County Electric People Fund. As for the other two Co-op Principles—1. Voluntary and Open Membership and 4. Autonomy and Independence—well, we’ve been living those, too, right along with the five I’ve explained above. Ask me about them when you come to your district membership meeting in May! Please note that due to unforeseen circumstances, we have had to change some of our district meeting dates since we published them in your March Country Lines. Please see the back cover of this magazine for the correct dates.

What Is A Capital Credit And

Why Is It On My April Bill? There are many benefits of being a member of an electric cooperative, one of them being the cooperative principles that each follows. Cooperative Principle #3 —Member Economic Participation—is the reason that this April, HomeWorks Tri-County members will see a credit on their energy bills. We operate as a nonprofit, which means that our margins from the past year are allocated back to each of our members based on their energy purchases during 2018. Our margins include the Co-op’s margins of

$1,720,382, and $2,021,431, representing HomeWorks Tri-County’s share of Wolverine Power Cooperative’s 2018 margins. These margins are not cash—they are an accounting of your share of ownership in the Cooperative. Your allocations for the year, as well as the total amount of unretired capital credits you’ve acccumulated, can be found in the top right message area of your electric bill this April. Again, this number is not a cash value but instead represents an amount that will be retired at a future date by the Board of Directors.

Retiring Capital Credits Retiring capital credits is a way of ensuring each generation of members provides its own equity in the Cooperative. The philosophy of your Board of Directors is to pay most of the retirement from the oldest capital credits on account, and a smaller percentage from the most recent year. We believe this achieves the purpose of recycling the Cooperative’s capital, while also giving our newest members a chance to see one of our fundamental Cooperative Principles in action. This year’s general retirement totals $1,934,000 in power supply capital credits from 2001, 2002, and 2018. For most members, your retirement will be paid as a credit applied to your April energy bill. It will show as a line item under “Other Charges and Credits.” The board also sets aside funds for retiring capital credits to members’ estates, on a first-come, first-served basis. Estate retirements will include both HomeWorks Tri-County and Wolverine Power capital credits. For more information about estate retirements, call Member Services at 1-800-562-8232.




Need Faster Internet?

Be sure to check out our list of unclaimed capital credits at bit.ly/HWCapitalCredits to see if you or someone you know can claim some money!

Become A Connector Today!

Learn more today at Join.HomeWorksConnect.org! This service is not regulated by the Michigan Public Service Commission.




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.


02 03



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



07 08

10 11



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.



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.



Free Energy-Saving Products For Your Home


ooking for an easy way to start saving energy today? Request your FREE energy-saving kit from the Home Energy Express Program! This offer is available at no cost to you through your electric cooperative’s Energy Optimization program. What’s in the kit? The free kit contains products that will help you start saving energy immediately. The devices will help you control the amount of energy used to heat and cool your home, as well as the electricity used by lighting, appliances, and electronics. There may even be some water-saving items in your kit, which can help reduce the overall amount of water you use and the energy consumed for hot water heating. The following items could be included in your free kit: • Energy-efficient lighting (LED bulbs) • Smart power strip • Smart thermostat or programmable thermostat (depending on eligibility criteria) • Pipe wrap • Water-saving products (such as faucet aerators and low-flow showerheads)


Energy, Save


Take control of your energy use at home today The Home Energy Express Program provides FREE energy-saving products for your home, plus free delivery and installation by an Energy Optimization program contractor.

Saving money at home has never been easier.

ONLINE: michigan-energy.org PHONE: 877-296-4319

How Do I Get Free Products? Step 1: Request your free energy savings kit by calling 877-296-4319 or emailing info@michigan-energy.org. Be sure to mention the Home Energy Express Program. It takes just moments to request your kit. An Energy Optimization program representative will help schedule the complimentary delivery and installation of your energysaving products. Step 2: Your products will be personally delivered and installed by an Energy Optimization program contractor. The contractor will make sure you know how to use all the items before leaving your home.

Get Started Today Before requesting your free kit, please review the following eligibility requirements. You must: • Be a member of HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative. • Own a single-family home or, if you are a tenant, must have the owner’s permission to have work done on the home. • Be willing to sign a document to allow work to be done on the home by professional, trained contractors.

Snap Shot 1






Beautiful Birds 1. Karen Hengesbach from Portland reports, “For a couple of winters in a row, this albino blue jay would hang out at our feeder. Unfortunately, we’ve yet to see him this year.” 2. Lisa Smith of Stanwood captured this Snap Shot, saying “There’s a new lifeguard in town!” 3. Nancy Eaves of DeWitt snapped Skittles, her green-winged macaw. “I raised him from a baby, and he is now 19 years old. He talks fairly well, especially when I aggravate him, telling me to ‘stop it’ when clipping his toenails.” 4. Rebecca Miller of Farwell shared a photo of a bird leaving her feeder. “I love birds. And with the winter we’ve been having they are very busy at the feeder and I can spend a lot of time watching and photographing them, so it’s hard to choose just one photo! I caught this one last month just as he took off.” 5. Joseph Kaman from Big Rapids caught a Snap Shot of a blue heron, resting in the morning haze, at Ludington State Park. 6. Holly Thompson of Stockbridge says this photo was taken “in our back yard last spring in the apple tree. We had several cedar waxwings feeding on the apple blossoms, and this pair fed each other for quite some time. I took so many photos of the pair before they flew away.” 7. Diane Schwartz from Canadian Lakes says, “This was the first time I saw a purple finch in winter. I was so happy to capture it in a photo.”


Upcoming Snap Shot Contest Topics And Deadlines “Playing in the Water,” Deadline: April 15 (June issue)

Enter to win a


energy bill credit!

“Four-Legged Friends,” Deadline May 15 (July–August issue) Go to homeworks.org and select Country Lines under the Electric tab to submit your photos and see additional themes. It’s fast and easy. To send by mail: include your name, address, phone number, photographer’s name, and details about your photo. Mail to Attn: Country Lines Snap Shots, 7973 E. Grand River, Portland, MI 48875. Photos will not be returned. Do not send color laser prints or professional studio photos.

Submit Your Photos! Contributors whose photos we publish in 2019 will be entered into a drawing. Country Lines will choose two winners for a bill credit of $100 each on their December electric bill, due in January 2020! MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES


Appetizers & Snacks Quick and hassle-free recipes Photos—Robert Bruce Photography

Winning Recipe!

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.


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


We know a when we see one.

Through the heat and the cold, the wind, rain and snow, our linemen worked to provide you with power that was 99.94% reliable in 2018. April 8 is National Lineworker Appreciation Day. Then and always, we salute these hardworking HomeWorks linemen for their steadfast commitment to keeping the lights on for our members: Kyle Balderson Jody Birch Jeff Campbell Justin Chambers Allen Delo Dan Dexter

Adam Doughty Calvin Foster Dan Fredricks Mark Goodman Aaron Gottleber Jon Karcher

Jeremy McVeigh Brad Parkhouse Jeremey Smith Ryan Smith Cody Teegardin Chris Vallier

Rick Warchuck Derrick Weber Jeremy Zbytowski Electric Operations Support: Jeannie Fairfield Jon Shattuck

Leadership: Bob Verhaar, Blanchard Supervisor Rob Brennan, Portland Supervisor Chris Reed, Manager of Electric Operations

Your Board In Action Meeting at Portland on February 18, your Board of Directors: • Authorized allocation of 2018 margins to members based on their patronage, including $1,720,381 for HomeWorks Tri-County Electric and $2,021,431 for Wolverine Power Cooperative. • Approved a general capital credit retirement in 2019 of $1,934,000 from Wolverine Power Cooperative for 2001, 2002, and 2018, to appear as a bill credit for active members in April. • Reviewed the 2019 district meetings and election process, noting that Districts 1, 5 and 7 each will have contested elections this year. • Authorized a capital and operating budget adjustment for the fiber optic internet division to purchase splicing equipment and to hire technicians to use it. • Reviewed the 2018 year-end MPSC Distribution Standards in which the Cooperative exceeded the minimum requirements in every reported category.

• Read and amended Board Policy 209 – Business Ethics, Conduct, and Conflicts of Interest, and accepted policies 401 – Assignment of Capital Credits; 403 – Long Range Financial Management Plan; and 404 – Retirement of Capital Credits as presented. • Learned there were 69 new members in January. • Acknowledged the February safety report, listing employee training as well as minor employee and public incidents involving electric, fiber optic, or propane.

Time Set Aside For Members To Comment Before Cooperative Board Meetings The first 15 minutes of every board meeting are available for members who wish to address the board of directors on any subject. The next meetings are scheduled for 9 a.m. on April 22 at Blanchard and May 20 at Portland. Members who need directions to the meeting, or wish to have items considered on the board agenda, should call 517-647-7554.


Alvin and Judy Garnett of Morley celebrated the 150th anniversary of their family farm in 2018. The farm, in Deerfield Township of Mecosta County, started as 40 acres originally purchased by James and Mary Buchner in 1868. Today, it’s 320 acres producing beans, corn, and alfalfa.



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

e m o H f O e c i l AS asa ny Kielb By Britta

Owner Andrew Arens in the shop.

“It’s an art—the consistency, flavor, and overall outcome of the final product is heavily influenced by the cheesemaker’s ability to read the cheese.”


arm Country Cheese House is appropriately named for the striking farm country it is surrounded by in Lakeview, Mich. The cheese company is bordered by the beautiful Amish countryside that produces the milk for its cheeses. First beginning production in 1984, Farm Country Cheese House has been crafting artisanal cheeses from local Amish dairy farmers for nearly 35 years. Now producing as many as 30 varieties of cheese, the Michigan-based cheese company distributes its farm fresh products locally and across the country. Last year, long-time husband and wife dairy farmers Andrew and Nicki Arens purchased Farm Country Cheese House, continuing the company’s legacy as a family-owned business. Andrew Arens is an alumnus of the Michigan State University Dairy Science Program, has a background in animal nutrition, and owns a 500-cow dairy farm, also on HomeWorks lines, in addition to Farm Country Cheese House. His lifelong interest in the industry and entrepreneurial spirit led to his purchase of Farm Country Cheese House, which has become a newfound passion for Arens. Milk for the cheese is purchased locally from nearly 100 Amish farmers. Often going from milk to cheese in the same day, Farm Country Cheese House yields between 4,000 and 8,000 pounds of cheese daily, depending on the season. “From a process standpoint, we work to keep our cheese production as simple as possible,” said Arens. “By minimizing the amount of exchanges and machines involved, the bacteria essential to cheesemaking

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is more intact and results in a more natural overall process and a purer product.” While the process may be kept simple, the care put into each batch of cheese is anything but. Farm Country Cheese House’s cheesemaking process is unique, starting directly where the product comes from—the milk. “We work with the farms, sharing techniques for managing the cows’ nutrition, best milking processes, and the trucking of the milk,” said Arens. “Once the milk gets to our production facility, we take care in every step of the process.” A large part of that care can be attributed to the cheesemakers themselves. Artisanal cheese is named for the art of the cheesemaking process. “Our cheesemakers are vital to the quality of our product,” said Arens. “It’s an art—the consistency, flavor, and overall outcome of the final product is heavily influenced by the cheesemaker’s ability to read the cheese.” Throughout the cheesemaking process, Farm Country Cheese House works to waste as little as possible, whether that be in the energy they use or the byproducts resulting from their process, which are recycled for use as a fertilizer on the farms providing them milk. “Part of our whole

process is being conscientious of all the products we handle,” said Arens. “The environment is very important to us. That’s where it all starts—the feed and the cows.” As a member of HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative, Arens and Farm Country Cheese House benefit from the Co-op’s commitment to preserving Michigan’s natural resources. HomeWorks Tri-County Electric and power supplier Wolverine Power Cooperative provide members with energy that is more than 60 percent carbon-free. “The co-ops’ environmental stewardship fits right in with our philosophy and goes even further towards our own efforts,” said Arens. “I appreciate that as a co-op member.” With great care every step of the way, Farm Country Cheese House has seen tremendous growth in the past year and looks forward to expanding their variety of cheeses. Their nearly 30 cheese varieties, including flavors like Farm Country Cheese House’s trademarked Michigan Jack, sun-dried tomato basil, bacon, truffle, and more, can be found at grocery stores across the state—all “homegrown” in Lakeview.

To learn more about Farm Country Cheese House, visit farmcountrycheese.com, and to learn about other HomeWorks members using their “homegrown” power for homegrown products in their communities, visit bit.ly/HWHomegrown.


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

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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

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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.






Hybrid Geothermal

HomeWorks.org homeworks.org facebook.com/homeworks.org facebook.com/homeworks.org Report Outages: 1-800-848-9333

Mark Your Calendar for Your 2019 District Meeting Board District:

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Tuesday, May 21 Wednesday, May 15 Wednesday, May 22 Monday, May 20 Monday, May 13 Tuesday, May 14 Thursday, May 16


St. Mary Family Life Center, Charlotte St. Edward’s Parish Hall, Lake Odessa Eagle Park Hall, Eagle Montabella Jr/Sr High Cafeteria, Blanchard Fulton Middle School Gym, Fulton Beal City Jr/Sr School Gym, Beal City St. Michael Parish Center, Remus *Director election year

Watch your mailbox for a formal invitation with more details to follow. We look forward to seeing you there!

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