April 2020 MEC

Page 1

April 2020


COUNTRY LINES Midwest Energy & Communications

Strengthening Schools Grants

Propane Pre-buy Election Results


Jennifer Quail


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Contents countrylines.com

April 2020 Vol. 40, No. 4



Michigan’s Electric Cooperatives

EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Casey Clark EDITOR: Christine Dorr GRAPHIC DESIGNER: Karreen Bird RECIPE EDITOR: Christin McKamey 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: Robert Kran, Great Lakes Energy, chairman; Tony Anderson, Cherryland Electric Cooperative, vice chairman; Eric Baker, Wolverine Power Cooperative, secretary-treasurer; Craig Borr, 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 CHANGE OF ADDRESS: Please

notify your electric cooperative. See page 4 for contact information.


6 CULTURED KOMBUCHA CO. Courtney Lorenz’s Cultured Kombucha Co. combines her entrepreneurial spirit with her passion for nutritious food.

14 WHO IS JENNIFER QUAIL? Jennifer Quail, a Midwest Energy member, went from faithful “Jeopardy!” viewer to an eight-time winner.

10 MI CO-OP KITCHEN A compilation of not-soordinary pizza recipes.

18 BEST OF MICHIGAN: PIZZA Members share where they go to find heaven in a slice.

The appearance of advertising does not constitute an endorsement of the products or services advertised.

It’s hard to tell if they are playing or fighting. Either way, amazing action shot by @smileschx, Julie Christiansen.

Be featured!

Use #micoopcommunity for a chance to be featured here and on our Instagram account.

MI CO-OP COMMUNITY Contests, reader-submitted content & more! Visit countrylines.com/community for guidelines and submission information.




Up Next: Farm-To-Table, Kid-Friendly Cooking Share your favorite recipes.

Up Next: Campgrounds Tell us about the Michigan campgrounds you like visiting best.

Submit your fondest memories and stories.

Win a $50 bill credit!

Win $150 for stories published!








CORPORATE HEADQUARTERS AND CASSOPOLIS SOLUTIONS CENTER 60590 Decatur Road Cassopolis, MI 49031 M–F 8 a.m.–5 p.m. PAW PAW SOLUTIONS CENTER 59825 S. LaGrave Street Paw Paw, MI 49079 M–F 8 a.m.–5 p.m. ADRIAN SOLUTIONS CENTER 1610 E. Maumee Street Adrian, MI 49221 M–F 8 a.m.–5 p.m.

CONTACT US MIDWEST ENERGY & COMMUNICATIONS 800-492-5989 teammidwest.com Email: info@teammidwest.com

BOARD OF DIRECTORS Clarence “Topper” Barth, Chairperson, Three Rivers 269-279-9233 Clarence.Barth@teammidwest.com Ben Russell, Vice Chairperson, Constantine 269-506-1590 Ben.Russell@teammidwest.com Ron Armstrong, Secretary, Lawton 269-299-0443 Ron.Armstrong@teammidwest.com John Green, Treasurer, Dowagiac 269-470-2816 John.Green@teammidwest.com Dan Bodette, Wauseon 419-337-8007 Dan.Bodette@teammidwest.com Gerry Bundle, Cassopolis 269-414-0164 Gerry.Bundle@teammidwest.com James Dickerson, Bloomingdale 269-370-6868 Jim.Dickerson@teammidwest.com Erika Escue-Cadieux, Onsted 419-346-1088 erika.escue-cadieux@teammidwest.com Fred Turk, Decatur 269-423-7762 Fred.Turk@teammidwest.com PRESIDENT/CEO Robert Hance VP, CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS/EDITOR Patty Nowlin COMMUNICATIONS SPECIALIST

Amy Pales

J oin us on Facebook: facebook.com/teammidwest

Midwest Energy & Communications is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

4 APRIL 2020

Generator Safety Benefits All Robert Hance, President/CEO

emember Y2K? People across all industries were braced for the possibility of massive computer failures as we approached the year 2000 because many programs represented four-digit years with only the final two digits—making the year 2000 indistinguishable from 1900.


There was much concern in our industry about the potential impact on the highly-complex electric grid and how generation, transmission and distribution systems would respond. Retailers couldn’t keep generators in stock because of the fear of massive power failures. Most of the generators remained in their boxes as people ushered in the new century without as much as a blink. Fortunately, generators are a good investment as power outages always will be a reality, just more on Mother Nature’s schedule and less on the turning of the calendar. As we enter the spring storm season, it’s a good time to talk about generator safety because there are some inherent dangers that you might not even realize. Backfeed is the flow of electrical energy in the reverse direction from its normal flow, and it creates a very dangerous and potentially deadly situation for lineworkers. In a power outage situation, if an improperly installed generator is fired up, power may travel back through the utility lines and re-energize them. Our line crews take necessary precautions before they work on power outages, verifying a circuit is de-energized and ensuring that proper switches are opened and tagged to isolate the circuit from the system. They also ground the circuit to make sure the line cannot be energized while work is being done. But even after these measures, their lives remain in your hands. Of course, no one would ever purposely cause the death of a lineworker.

“ We all benefit when we work together for everyone’s safety.”

Nevertheless, a generator connected to a home’s wiring or plugged into a regular household outlet can cause backfeeding along power lines and electrocute anyone who comes in contact—even if the line seems dead. Our responsibility for your service ends at the meter, so we don’t know if you have a generator in place or if it was installed to the specifications of the National Electric Code. So what can you do to keep lineworkers safe? Find a qualified technician to install a transfer switch. This simple device ensures your household wiring, or selected circuits supplied by the generator, can’t be connected to the power grid and the generator at the same time. It also protects your generator from damage if the power is restored while it’s connected. We’re not the only ones at risk when a backup generator is used improperly. Household members may be at risk of electrocution, fire injury, property damage, or carbon monoxide poisoning if they do not follow the necessary precautions. A transfer switch is a simple way to protect your family and ours during outages and other emergencies. We all benefit when we work together for everyone’s safety.


Fred Turk, District 1



Jim Dickerson, District 2



John Green, District 5

Board Election Results O

ne of the guiding principles of cooperatives is democratic control. We are governed by a nine-member board of directors, which is responsible for establishing corporate policy and strategic direction, hiring and evaluating the CEO, monitoring and evaluating organizational performance, and representing cooperative customers. Directors serve three-year terms and are elected by and represent customers living in their districts. In 2020, Districts 1, 2 and 5 were up for election for three-year terms. Fred Turk, District 1, of Decatur retained his seat after running against challenger Ron McAdam. He represents Decatur, Hamilton, Penn, Porter (Van Buren County), Marcellus and Volina. Districts 2 and 5 were unopposed, and the current directors will remain in their seats: Jim Dickerson of Bloomingdale is the director in District 2, which includes

Arlington, Bainbridge, Bangor, Bloomingdale, Coloma, Covert, Hartford, Keeler, Lawrence, Paw Paw, Pipestone, Silver Creek, Watervliet and Waverly. The District 5 director is John Green of Dowagiac. District 5 includes Howard, LaGrange, Milton, Pokagon and Wayne. Three seats will be up for election in 2021. District 3, represented by Ron Armstrong of Lawton, includes Almena, Antwerp, Portage, Prairie Ronde, Oshtemo and Texas townships. District 4, represented by Clarence “Topper” Barth of Three Rivers, includes Brady, Fabius, Flowerfield, Leonidas, Lockport, Mendon, Newberg, Park, Schoolcraft and Wakeshma townships. District 8, represented by Erika EscueCadieux of Onsted includes Adrian, Cambridge, Franklin, Raisin, Ridgeway, Rollin, Rome, Tecumseh, and Woodstock townships, as well as northern portions of Blissfield, Deerfield, Dover, Hudson, Madison and Palmyra townships.

For more information about serving on the board of directors, please call us at 800-492-5989. We will share election information in the November/December issue of Michigan Country Lines.

ICE CLOSURES OFF Our offices will be closed for Good Friday on April 10. Make a payment or report an outage via SmartHub or call 800.492.5989. Dropbox payments made while we are closed will be processed on the next open business day.



Photo by: Courtney Kent Photography

Growing A Business Organically:

cultured kombucha co. By Emily Haines Lloyd

hen Courtney Lorenz first tried her hand at brewing W kombucha, an effervescent fermented drink of sweetened tea that is made from cultures of bacteria and yeast, she tracked her progress in a journal. Lorenz would take notes on the gut-healthy drink chock-full of probiotics, vitamins, amino acids, enzymes, antioxidants, and of course, flavor. After her first batch, she made a simple, but direct note—“FAIL.”

Five years later, as the owner and operator of Cultured Kombucha Co. in Traverse City, Lorenz has stepped up both her brewing game and her own business acumen to build on that initial “FAIL” and create a business that is winning on several fronts. Lorenz originally went to culinary school at Northwestern Michigan College, eventually focusing on her passion—nutrition. In her studies, Lorenz challenged the typical food pyramid that was still being taught—heavy on the meat, dairy, and starch—and came to realize it didn’t quite line up with her own beliefs of a cleaner and healthy lifestyle. She boldly switched to a degree in entrepreneurship and hospitality at Central Michigan University.


APRIL 2020

“Kombucha is how I connect. This is taking what I believe about health and wellness and finding ways to reach people. This is how I help others make lifestyle changes--one sip at a time.” Directly out of school, Lorenz was offered a job at a Fortune 500 company that checked all the boxes— successful company, great pay, benefits—but Lorenz still felt disconnected from her first love—real, nourishing food.

in Traverse City and the more than 180 outlets that sell the kombucha in storefronts in summer months, Cultured Kombucha Co. is growing at a rate that puts even the most aggressive SCOBY to shame.

“If I was going to make it at this corporate job, I knew I was going to need some balance,” said Lorenz. “So, I worked on a farm on the weekends that paid out in produce shares. One week, there weren’t enough vegetables to pay me out. The owner noticed I was always toting around a national brand of kombucha to drink in the fields. So she gave me my first SCOBY.”

While success in her field is welcomed, it isn’t what drives Lorenz. “Kombucha is how I connect,” said Lorenz. “This is taking what I believe about health and wellness and finding ways to reach people. This is how I help others make lifestyle changes—one sip at a time.”

A SCOBY, or Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast, is the base of every kombucha. A SCOBY is the living home for the bacteria and yeast that eventually transforms sweet tea into the tangy deliciousness that is kombucha.

With a business model rooted in healthy living, sustainability, and treating others, as well as yourself, with love and respect, it’s inspiring to see how an endeavor that started with an epic “FAIL” could turn into nothing short of a success story.

It was the beginning of a love affair. What started as a fun, at-home hobby that kept Lorenz and her friends in tangy kombucha eventually became a bit of an obsession. “I couldn’t keep up with the amount I was making,” said Lorenz. “One week, back in 2015, I decided to bottle up 15 gallons of kombucha and see if maybe I could sell it at the local farmers market over the course of the day.” The anticipation of whether or not the kombucha would sell didn’t have long to build. “Within 15 minutes, we’d sold out,” remembers Lorenz. “That’s when I thought, ‘this could really be something.’” Lorenz leveraged her right- and left-brain tendencies and started working on a plan. When she went to get her first line of credit, the bank employee handed the paperwork to the gentleman seated next to her. “It was sort of shocking. I’m a young woman and I suppose I expected a certain amount of preconceived notions about my readiness to take on my own business,” recalls Lorenz. “But even now, I’m amazed that after the experiences I’ve had in business, people still openly doubt the competence of a woman.” Perhaps there was a whisper of those early journal notes—“FAIL “—but Lorenz listened only long enough to piece together her wide variety of experiences, her entrepreneurial spirit, and her passion for kombucha, and take a leap of faith. In herself. That initial leap led to a solid landing. What started as 15 gallons of kombucha brewed in a shared kitchen space in 2015 has led to Lorenz and Cultured Kombucha Co. taking over 5,000 square feet of production space with one dozen 450-gallon tanks for brewing. With the tasting room

INTERESTED IN LEARNING MORE ABOUT KOMBUCHA? Courtney and her team offer classes onsite at Cultured Kombucha Co., including a fermentation series that includes kombucha homebrewing, sourdough bread-making, and pickling. Visit drinkcultured.com to learn more, find locations and check out the events page.

Cultured Kombucha Co. Taproom 3842 Jupiter Cresent Drive, Traverse City, Michigan 49685



Find Comfort And Savings With ENERGY STAR® A

pril showers may bring flowers, but they can also bring unwanted mold, mildew and odors into your home. So, what can you do?

Purchase a new ENERGY STAR® dehumidifier. A certified dehumidifier will help control excess moisture in your home, lower your utility costs, and make your home more energy-efficient and comfortable to live in.

Less Energy Use = Lower Utility Bills An ENERGY STAR® dehumidifier uses nearly 15% less energy than a similarly sized conventional unit. In fact, the annual energy saved by one of these models could power your ENERGY STAR® certified refrigerator for nearly two months!

Size Matters

Condition Without Dehumidification

Slightly to Moderately Damp:

Space feels damp and has musty odor that may be intermittent. 50–75% relative humidity.

Recommended Capacity Range, Pints Per Day Small– Medium Room (2,000 sq. ft.)

Large Room (Over 2,000 sq. ft.)







Very Damp: Space

consistently feels and smells damp. Damp spots appear on walls and floors. 75-90% relative humidity.

Wet: Walls or floor

sweat, or seepage is present. High-load conditions such as laundry drying may be present. 90–100% relative humidity.

A dehumidifier’s “size” or capacity is usually measured in pints per 24 hours. The capacity you need depends on two factors: the size of the space that needs to be dehumidified and the conditions of the space without dehumidification.

So, stop and smell the flowers and relax knowing your ENERGY STAR® appliance is working for you.

Use the chart to estimate the minimum capacity for your portable dehumidifier.

Visit michigan-energy.org or call 877.296.4319 for additional energy-saving information and incentives.



Fight the damaging effects of excess moisture in your home with an ENERGY STAR® dehumidifier. • 15% more energy efficient than similar sized non-certified models • Reduce excess moisture and mildew smells • $15 rebate for ENERGY STAR dehumidifiers

APPLY ONLINE michigan-energy.org P H O N E : 877.296.4319 ONLINE:

Energy Optimization programs and incentives are applicable to Michigan electric service locations only. Other restrictions may apply. For a complete list of participating utilities, visit michigan-energy.org.

Pre-Buy Your Propane And Save W

ith our popular pre-buy program, you get the added benefits of paying a lower rate and avoiding the need to make monthly payments by purchasing your gas in advance.

Over the year, we deduct the volume used from your pre-buy account as your gas is delivered. You can easily monitor your account via SmartHub, our secure online platform and mobile app available at teammidwest.com or via your app store. If you use our metered propane service, we will deactivate your meter and eliminate the monthly fee, which means even more savings for you. On or around April 30, we will send an email to all our current customers with a form to sign up for pre-buy. Please complete the email to enroll. If you don’t have an email or have questions, please call us at 800-492-5989. You can also stop by our Cass or Paw Paw Solutions Centers Monday–Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to sign up and pay. The pre-buy promotion runs from May 1–July 31 and requires a minimum purchase of 500 gallons and a maximum of 1,000.

2020-2021 Pre-Buy Rate

$1.499 per gallon 2020-2021 Regular Rate*

$1.599 per gallon How Much Money Can I Save? The average MEC residential customer uses about 650 gallons of propane each year. If you buy your propane upfront, you’d save roughly $65 before taxes.

*The 2020–2021 season runs from June 1, 2020–May 31, 2021.



Photos by Robert Bruce Photography || Recipes Submitted by MCL Readers and Tested by Recipe Editor Christin McKamey


Th eb es th om e


MI CO-OP Recipes

Win a


energy bill credit!

10 APRIL 2020


r than e t t be s— a izz p e ad m



Farm-To-Table due May 1 • Kid-Friendly Cooking 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.


SPINACH LOVER’S PIZZA Jackie Lambka, HomeWorks Tri-County

2 tablespoons olive oil 1 small red bell pepper, chopped ¼ cup onion, chopped ¾ teaspoon salt ¼ teaspoon black pepper ½ teaspoon garlic, minced 1 10-ounce bag fresh spinach, washed and coarsely chopped 1 12-inch prebaked pizza crust 1½ cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided Preheat oven to 450 F. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add red pepper, onion, salt and pepper. Cook until tender, 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; cook and stir 1 minute. Add spinach; cook and stir until wilted. Sprinkle pizza crust with 1 cup mozzarella. Distribute spinach mixture evenly over crust. Sprinkle the remaining ½ cup mozzarella over the spinach layer. Bake 10 minutes. Slice into pieces and serve.

Watch a video of this month’s winning recipe at micoopkitchen.com/videos

CHICKEN, BACON & RANCH ALFREDO PIZZA Toni Monton, Great Lakes Energy 1 8-ounce can pizza dough ALFREDO SAUCE: ¼ cup butter 1½ ounces cream cheese ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese ½ pint heavy whipping cream ½ teaspoon garlic powder 1 teaspoon flour, optional ¹⁄³ cup prepared ranch dressing • salt and pepper to taste 1½ cups shredded mozzarella cheese 2 cups cooked chicken breast, chopped 8 slices cooked bacon, crumbled ¼ cup red onion, chopped

Preheat oven to 425 F, then roll out pizza dough as directed on can; set aside. Do NOT prebake. To make Alfredo sauce, melt butter in medium saucepan over low heat. Add cream cheese and parmesan cheese and stir until melted. Stir in the heavy whipping cream and garlic powder. Increase the heat and bring to a boil. Then decrease heat and simmer, stirring often. Add flour as needed if sauce does not thicken as you would like. Stir and cook until it reaches a nice gravy-like thickness. Remove from heat. Spread ranch dressing on the rolled-out dough, then spread the Alfredo sauce on it. Sprinkle ½ the mozzarella cheese on, then add shredded chicken, bacon, and chopped onion. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake for 20 minutes or until crust appears done on the bottom. Let cool a few minutes, then slice and enjoy!

PIZZA CASSEROLE Emilie Stawiarski, Presque Isle

2–3 cups macaroni or penne noodles 1 jar favorite tomato pasta sauce 1–1½ pounds lean ground beef 1 tablespoon olive oil 8 ounces mushroom slices 1 cup thinly sliced red or sweet onion, optional 1 green or red bell pepper, sliced thin 1 tablespoon oregano 1 tablespoon basil 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese ½ –¾ cup pepperoni slices Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a 13x9 inch baking dish with cooking oil. Cook pasta according to package directions and drain; return to bowl. Add pasta sauce and mix together. Cook beef until brown, about 5–7 minutes, in a deep pasta pan. Drain and add pasta and sauce. In a skillet, heat olive oil and add mushrooms, onion, bell pepper, and spices. Cook until soft, approximately 7 minutes. Stir vegetables into pasta/sauce/ beef mixture. Stir in 1 cup of mozzarella cheese. Pour into prepared baking dish. Top with pepperoni slices and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Spray a foil sheet with cooking oil and cover the baking dish, spray side down. Bake 25–30 minutes or until heated thoroughly and cheese topping is melted. Remove foil; let rest 5 minutes, then serve. This dish is excellent for reheating in the oven with the foil covering.

WILD BILL’S PIZZA Susan Schreffler, Presque Isle 1 1 1 2 ¼ 1 3 ¹⁄ ³ 2 1 1 1 ½ ½

package powdered yeast tablespoon sugar cup lukewarm water tablespoons olive oil cup vegetable oil teaspoon salt cups flour cup olive oil cups shredded mozzarella cheese medium onion, chopped sweet green bell pepper, chopped container fresh mushrooms, sliced teaspoon fennel seeds pound fried bacon, drained and chopped

Preheat oven to 350 F. Add yeast and sugar to lukewarm water. Add the oils, salt and flour; mix well and knead on countertop until smooth (approx. 10 minutes). Add to greased bowl; cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 1 hour. Punch down, let rest 15 minutes, then spread onto rectangle cookie sheet and allow to rise for 30 minutes. Bake in oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and spread olive oil over entire top. Add the mozzarella cheese. Sauté the onion, green pepper, and mushrooms, then add fennel seeds. Add the sautéed vegetables and bacon to the pizza topping. Bake an additional 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool 10 minutes before cutting into squares and serving.



Building A Better Future

Masyn Hotovy uses the new jointer. A new jointer machine for the woodshop program at Watervliet High School was made possible with partial funding from our Strengthening Schools grant program.


ccording to Michigan’s Department of Talent and Economic Development, roughly 545,000 skilled trades jobs will need to be filled by 2026. Currently, only 13% of high school students consider apprenticeships and the trades, and as a result, Michigan is facing a massive labor shortage as baby boomers retire. Kirk Shafer, the woodshop instructor at Watervliet High School, understands the problem and has dedicated himself to creating a newfound interest in trades. In 2019, he received a Strengthening Schools grant to help purchase a wood jointer to help prepare donated rough-sawn lumber for use in the school’s shop. “If you can successfully build a cabinet, you can build just about anything,” said Shafer. “I want these kids to learn life skills.” He’s also working towards getting the program certified as an official vocational program to capture overflow from the Van Buren Tech Center. His hard work is paying off. His program now has a waiting list for enrollment and the students participate in the Michigan Industrial Technology Education Society (MITES) competitions. Student Masyn Hotovy says the new machine has been a huge help. “The old one was messed up and the table was uneven so it produced uneven wood,” he said. “We lost a lot of wood as a result.” Hotovy hopes to pursue a career in the carpenters’ or electrical union, and the experience in Shafer’s class helped open his eyes to the possibility. “I like the freedom to express myself and to make things that are actually useful. Last year, I made a TV stand that I still use,” Hotovy said. 12 APRIL 2020

Plumbers, electricians, mechanics and carpenters are critical to the future of Michigan, and we are proud to support this program that so closely matches our vision of creating vibrant, relevant, and sustainable rural communities.

2020-2021 Applications Now through Monday, Oct. 19, any teacher, administrator or school official in a public elementary, middle or high school serving students in our electric service territory may apply for a grant of up to $2,500 to support classroom needs, technology, or academic projects/clubs/organizations. School districts can receive multiple grants, not to exceed a total of $5,000 for the award cycle, and funds will be awarded in January 2021. Applications are evaluated and funding decisions are made by a committee of MEC customers without knowledge of the applying school, district or educator. Funds are made possible through sponsorship dollars from our power supplier, Wolverine Power Cooperative. Apply now at teammidwest.com/grants

MEC employee Patty Clark takes a selfie with volunteers making pasties.


COMMUNITY The Great Pasty Project MEC helped sponsor the 20th Annual Habitat for Humanity Great Pasty Project held January 23–24. Each year hundreds of volunteers come together to make pasties to sell in support of Habitat for Humanity projects. Over the two days, volunteers made more than 2,900 pasties, including beef, veggie, apple, breakfast, and a newcomer: a German pasty made with sauerkraut, ham, Swiss cheese and thousand island dressing. The Great Pasty Project was started by Habitat volunteer Helen Hokenson, who secured a guarded recipe from a famous Upper Peninsula pasty maker. The project brings together seasoned pasty makers with school and community groups to make some pretty tasty pasties for a great cause.

MEC Blood Drive Versity, formerly known as Michigan Blood, was on-site in Cass on Feb. 18. This year featured an Alyx Double Red Machine, which allows the donor to safely give two units of red cells instead of one. We had 41 individuals sign up, including six community members, and successfully collected 34 units of blood.

Blissfield Career Exploration Event

Linemen Kirk Sander and Ryan Ciacelli share what it’s like to be a lineman with kids from Blissfield Elementary.

Kirk Sander and Ryan Ciacelli modeled life as linemen to third-, fourth- and fifth-graders at Blissfield Elementary’s first career event. They talked to students about education/training, demonstrated safety equipment and shared what they love best about their careers. The students were extremely eager to ask questions and learn about this vital career. Other professionals present included medical workers, local business owners and entrepreneurs, media employees, employees of other utilities, members of law enforcement and even a farmer who brought two four-day-old piglets.



W�o �s Jennifer Quail? By Emily Haines Lloyd

Quail has a penchant for the unique and unusual, as seen in the vintage amber necklace she’s wearing that became a bit of a talisman after her other necklace broke in the green room during the shooting of “Jeopardy!” The earrings are favorites from a friend and artist, Kendra, who sells on Etsy as Half-Lucid Jewelry. Quail plans to wear the earrings if she attends the Tournament of Champions.

Jennifer Quail is an old pro at winning competitions. She was pretty excited when

she submitted a recipe to Michigan Country Lines’ online contest and won a $50 credit on her Midwest Energy bill. Her Southwest Mac N Cheese was a hit, but she had no idea then that her winning streak was about to go to a whole new level. Quail grew up on the east side of Michigan near Detroit but found herself in Dowagiac, Michigan, after taking a museum educator position at Southwest Michigan College. Quail’s interest in facts and details certainly directed her in pursuing her museum studies degree. Those same interests were just as instrumental in her transition into a wine-tasting consultant for Domaine Berrien Cellars (Berrien Springs, Michigan), where she currently educates visitors on the nuances of the wine varietals offered. Quail, a lover of details and trivia, can put her knowledge to the test on the daily, but she always had her eyes on the ultimate trivia test. “I always loved ‘Jeopardy!’ when I was younger,” remembers Quail. “If we got our homework done as kids, we would eat dinner and then get to watch ‘Wheel of Fortune’ and ‘Jeopardy!’ It was the ultimate treat.” For 35 years, Quail watched contestants compete to ring in and dazzle host Alex Trebek with correct answers. Quail decided to take on the try-out process for the show—which consists of an online test, a face-to-face audition, and finally, an invitation to be a contestant. She made it as far as the in-person audition three times but didn’t advance to appearing on the show. Her fourth try proved to be the lucky one, and she was selected to compete on “Jeopardy!” Quail flew out to Los Angeles, where the show is filmed, and sat next to the other contestants, as they patiently awaited their turn to pick up a buzzer and show their smarts. “It was the only time I was really nervous,” said Quail. “You’re sitting there waiting for your name to be called. Otherwise, I felt pretty calm. Once you’ve worked a room of third graders on a museum field trip, you’re pretty much ready for anything.”

When Quail’s name finally was called, the nerves seemed to fade into the background. Once she won her first match, her confidence built, and Quail was off. Quail ended up with an impressive eight-game winning streak, going out on her ninth round. Her final earnings were $228,800, but Quail was equally proud that she correctly answered every Daily Double that she rang in on and nailed each “Final Jeopardy!” question except for one. Quail’s impressive run qualifies her for the Tournament of Champions, which she’s quick to admit she’d love to participate in. While the prize money and local notoriety were certainly a nice outcome, Quail has a sincere love of the game and is glad she didn’t give up on auditioning for the show. “It’s a dream come true. To go from being that little kid watching ‘Jeopardy!’ to actually being on the show, it’s amazing,” said Quail. “I’d encourage anyone who is thinking of auditioning for the show to do it. Just take the first step—because you never know where it can lead.”

“It’s a dream come true. To go from being that little kid watching ‘Jeopardy!’ to actually being on the show, it’s amazing.” MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES


Save Yourself From



id you know that many of your household electronics continue to use electricity even when they aren’t on? Additionally, device chargers that are left plugged in after the device has been removed from the charger also continue to utilize electricity. This means that your household is still using electricity even if you aren’t. According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, this wasted energy adds up to roughly $200/year in electricity costs. Here are some tips to reduce the drain: • Unplug devices and chargers when they aren’t in use. • Put your computer into sleep mode when unplugging it isn’t practical. • For devices that aren’t easy to unplug, consider using an advanced power strip that can automatically shut off the power for you. Here are some of the types available: Timer power strips shut off the power at a set time º every day.

Activity monitor strips use motion sensors to look º

for signs of activity in the room. If no activity is detected, it shuts off the power. While convenient, this type isn’t always reliable—especially if Fido roams around the room.

16 APRIL 2020

Master-controlled strips turn off the power for º

the entire strip when the item designated as the “master” gets turned off. These power strips also often have an “always on” outlet in case you want to plug something in, such as a wireless router, that should always have power even if other devices plugged into the strip are turned off.

Masterless power strips cut the power when all the º devices connected to it are turned off.

Remote switch strips allow you to turn off the º power via a remote. However, you have to remember to shut it off.

• When replacing or adding new electronics to your home, select ones that have are energy efficient to reduce the amount of power consumed while in standby mode.

Michigan Residents Purchase an advanced power strip at one of our solutions centers for as little as $10 and save money and energy. We also have LED nightlights and lightbulbs to help you save even more.

Is Your Contact Information Up To Date? Sometimes we need to contact you with important account information, such as informing you of a planned outage or billing issue. Please make sure we can reach you by verifying that we have your current contact information. You can update your contact info through SmartHub or by calling us at 800-492-5989.

Notice to Electric Customers of Midwest Energy & Communications Special Board Meeting: April 21, 2020 The Midwest Energy & Communications (MEC) Board of Directors will consider changes to the cooperative’s rates and tariffs in accordance with P.A. 167 of 2008, at its meeting on April 21, 2020, beginning at 10 a.m. Given concerns about COVID-19 and preventative measures, we will open the meeting to interested electric customers through a videoconference. Please contact Paige Deak at 269-445-1049 by Friday, April 17 for login information, or email team.midwest@teammidwest.com. Comments may also be submitted in advance to that email address. The following items will be considered: • Increase Distribution Charge across all rate classifications • Changes to Net Metering Program Notice of changes or additions to the cooperative’s electric rates or service rules shall be sent to all customers as required by P.A. 167, by publication in Michigan Country Lines at least 30 days prior to their effective date.

Notice to Electric Customers of Midwest Energy & Communications 2020 Annual Meeting The Annual Meeting of the Midwest Energy & Communications (MEC) electric customers is April 21, 2020 immediately following the Special Board Meeting, which begins at 10 a.m. The Annual Meeting is called by the Secretary of the Cooperative pursuant to Article II of the MEC Bylaws. The purpose of the annual meeting is to announce the results of the ballots cast and the election of the MEC Board of Directors in Districts 1, 2 and 5, and to act on any other business properly brought before the board. The meeting is open to any interested electric customer through a videoconference.


MI CO-OP Community



Best Of Michigan


We’ve rounded up the best places to grab a slice with this member-recommended list.

1 8 2 6 3

10 4



5 9

They have a big selection of delicious pizzas and toppings. This family-friendly restaurant gives up-close views of trains coming through and of Lake Michigan, where you can take your pizza to the beach. Katie Schneider, Midwest Energy & Communications silverbeachpizza.com


CAMPGROUNDS! Tell us about the Michigan campgrounds you like visiting best. Go to countrylines.com/ micoopcommunity for more information.

18 APRIL 2020

J&B’s Bar + Grill, Johannesburg

Without a doubt...this is the best pizza. Vernon Fry, Great Lakes Energy jandbsbarandgrill.com


Silver Beach Pizza, Saint Joseph

Big John’s Pizza, Whitehall

This is the best pizza with a great amount of toppings. Dianne Waruszewski, Midwest Energy & Communications bigjohnsmi.com


Enza’s Pizza, Dorr

Sarah Stanton, Great Lakes Energy enzaspizza.weebly.com


Pete’s Patio, Niles

They offer the perfect crust on perfect pizza. Gray Shelton, Midwest Energy & Communications



Don’s American Pizza, Lake City


Onondaga Pizza Company, Onondaga

This is simply the BEST mom and pop pizza ever! The pizza is superb and so are the other menu items. Perry and Jane Piccard, Great Lakes Energy donsamericanpizza.com

This place gets top-notch ratings and is inside Clones Country Store. Bob Noble, HomeWorks Tri-Country


The Saloon, Gladstone

Pizza is the only food item they sell, and I don’t know what it is about it, but it’s the BEST! Maryann Severyn, Alger Delta


Sherry Lee’s Bar and Grill, Vandalia

The best pizza outside of Chicago. Michael Maloney, Midwest Energy & Communications


Main Street Pizza, Lakeview and Edmore

They have absolutely the best pizza and the best cheesy bread too. Patty Esch, HomeWorks Tri-County eatmainstreetpizza.com

Hybrid Geothermal There’s a Well-Connect in your Neighborhood.




— Charles S, PIE&G



“My home is so much more comfortable. No more drafts or cold rooms in my house. I no longer need space heaters and only burn wood when I want.”

“Iʼm saving over $130 per month versus propane and I financed my Well-Connect for under $80 per month.” --- Randy B, Great Lakes Energy

“My propane deliveryman said, ʻWhatever it is youʼre doing to reduce your propane use, itʼs definitely working!ʼ” -- Glynnis P, Cherryland

“Turns out, my results are even better than advertised. The monthly cost to operate my Well-Connect unit is ridiculously inexpensive.” -- Jack F, Great Lakes Energy

CALL FOR A FREE HOME VISIT 989-356-2113 989-356-2113




Start the Show with Fiber Get an Amazon Echo Show when you sign up for Advanced, Ultra, or Gig internet.

Enjoy the speed and reliability of fiber, plus unlimited data, symmetrical download/upload speeds up to 1,000 Mbps, and 24/7 tech support.

Sign up by June 30, 2020. Enter Promo code: SHOW.


TEAMMIDWEST.COM/SHOW | 800.492.5989 Twelve-month contract required. Offer valid until 6.30.20 to new customers only. Free installation available to Midwest Energy & Communications electric customers only. Internet services are not regulated by the Michigan Public Service Commission.