MEC Feb 2021

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February 2021


COUNTRY LINES Midwest Energy & Communications

Line Clearance Plans For 2021

What MEC Internet Can Do For You Winter Energy Savings Tips




Comparing is believing.

When you compare our geothermal system to a traditional gas or electric HVAC unit, the winner is clear. We’ve got the competition beat on every level. A WaterFurnace geothermal heat pump offers unmatched efficiencies, so your energy costs are much lower than with a conventional furnace or air conditioner. It doesn’t rely on fossil fuels, so it’s much better on the environment. And the consistent temperatures and low humidity allow you to dial in your ideal comfort. Try it out and you’ll see—WaterFurnace wins. To learn more, contact your local WaterFurnace dealer today. Geothermal is the only renewable that provides reliable operation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

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Michigan Center Comfort 1/Aire Serv of Southern Michigan (517) 764-1500 southern-michigan

Portland ESI Htg & Clg (517) 647-6906 Sunfield Mark Woodman Plmb & Htg (517) 886-1138

Mt Pleasant Walton Htg & Clg (989) 772-4822 Muskegon Adams Htg & Clg (231) 873-2665

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Traverse City D & W Mechanical (231) 941-1215 Geofurnace Htg & Clg (231) 943-1000

WaterFurnace is a registered trademark of WaterFurnace International, Inc. The Reliable Renewable is a trademark of WaterFurnace International, Inc.


February 2021 Vol. 41, No. 2



Michigan’s Electric Cooperatives EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Casey Clark EDITOR: Christine Dorr GRAPHIC DESIGNER: Karreen Bird RECIPE EDITOR: Christin McKamey COPY EDITOR: Yvette Pecha CONTRIBUTING EDITOR: Emily Haines Lloyd 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 CHANGE OF ADDRESS: Please

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


6 ROAD TRIPPIN’ Christal Frost goes fat biking on the TART Trails and shares places to visit while on the trail. 10 MI CO-OP KITCHEN Stir-Fries: Prepare these takeout favorites yourself, and save the extra cash and calories!

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


14 FOR THE LOVE OF BOOKS McLean & Eakin, with its rich family history and genuine love for books and the community, gives its patrons the full indie bookstore experience. 18 PORTABLE GENERATOR SAFETY They’re great when the power goes out, but generators can be dangerous if you don’t follow these safety precautions.

While things are constantly changing during the COVID-19 pandemic, two things remain the same: the quiet assurance of the #sunrise and #sunset. (Grand Mere State Park)

Be featured!

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

To enter contests, submit reader content & more, visit




Up Next: Garden Fresh and Fruity Desserts Share your favorite recipes.

Up Next: Coffee Shops Spill the beans! Tell us about your favorite place to grab a caffeinated (or decaf) beverage.

Submit your fondest memories and stories.

Win a $50 bill credit!

Win $150 for stories published! MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES







Lessons Learned Through 2020 /teammidwest 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 Email: BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Clarence “Topper” Barth, Chairperson, Three Rivers 269-279-9233

Ben Russell, Vice Chairperson, Constantine 269-506-1590 Ron Armstrong, Secretary, Lawton 269-299-0443 John Green, Treasurer, Dowagiac 269-470-2816 Dan Bodette, Wauseon 419-337-8007

Gerry Bundle, Cassopolis 269-414-0164

James Dickerson, Bloomingdale 269-370-6868

Erika Escue-Cadieux, Onsted 419-346-1088 Fred Turk, Decatur 269-423-7762



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


Robert Hance, President/CEO

’ve been in a cooperative leadership role for more than 30 years, and in all that time, I’ve never had to lead through anything like what 2020 dished up. Technically, I was eligible to retire three years ago, and honestly, there was more than one time over the course of the last year that I wondered if I should have checked that box when eligible.


2020 was just plain hard, and we all lost so much. Time with family and friends, once-in-a-lifetime milestone moments, opportunities to create new and cherished memories, and any sense of normalcy. “Business as usual” at your cooperative came to a screeching halt in March and again in November as we did our part to support the solution while still supporting our customers. We faced so many unknowns with absolutely no precedent to lean into. As part of the critical infrastructure, we had to reimagine our operations to continue serving our customers while keeping those customers and our employees safe. And while it was never ideal, we made it work because that’s what we do. We entered 2021 still under a cloud of COVID but with a renewed hope for a return to normalcy. None of us knows what that looks like yet, and I strongly suspect life and business will never look the same as it did one short year ago. We are resilient people who learned how to live and work together in new ways during a long period of worry and uncertainty. I’m sure we’ll carry some of that with us as we continue to adjust our process and practice going forward. The pandemic did teach us the critical need to make broadband internet universally available as remote work and school became the norm for so many. I’m hopeful that the huge spotlight on this need will open up more national support and funding to fully deploy broadband across all areas in our country without the hoops and red tape that followed previous initiatives. Over the last six years, we’ve committed more than $70 million to build an advanced communications network and make fiber broadband services available to all of our electric customers. We ended 2020 with over 15,000 very grateful subscribers. As we finish construction in our southeast Michigan and northern Ohio electric service territories in 2021, we stand prepared to apply our successful business model and approach to expanding our service outside of our electric service territory as long as appropriate funding is secured. Looking back, I can honestly say we more than survived 2020; we thrived. I’m grateful to our leadership team for navigating through the vast unknown, to our family of employees for maintaining the same commitment to providing first-inclass solutions and service through uncertain times, and most importantly, to our customers for their patience and understanding. Here’s to a healthy and safe 2021 for all.

Line Clearance Plans For 2021 ur chief responsibility as an electric cooperative is to provide reliable and safe power, and trees are a major obstacle to our infrastructure. Therefore, we employ an aggressive, proactive line clearance program to help reduce outages caused by trees and brush.


Recorded and prescriptive easements give us the right to access and use personal property to maintain our ground-to-sky rights-of-way (i.e., a 15-foot strip of land on either side of our power lines).

We will spray in the following areas:


Line Clearance Once the line is clear, we return to trim and mow new growth. Areas where projects are planned: Archbold, Bristol, Constantine, Delta, Edwardsburg, Elkhart, Fayette, Granger, Lyons, Middlebury, Mottville, Niles, Union, Wauseon, West Unity, White Pigeon

We employ a long-term spraying strategy to manage continued regrowth. It effectively controls tallgrowing trees and bushes while promoting low-growing plants that are beneficial to wildlife.

Addison, Adrian, Archbold, Bangor, Bloomingdale, Britton, Brooklyn, Cassopolis, Clayton, Clinton, Covert, Decatur, Delta, Dowagiac, Edwardsburg, Fayette, Gobles, Hartford, Hudson, Jasper, Keeler, Lawton, Lyons, Manitou Beach, Morenci, Niles, Onsted, Paw Paw, Sand Creek, Tecumseh, Tipton, Wauseon, West Unity We notify affected customers a few weeks in advance via a mailed flyer and automated phone call. Then as the tree crew is surveying a specific area, we will attempt to leave a door tag. If you have any questions, please call 800-492-5989, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

WHY WE DO THIS RELIABILITY Overgrown brush and trees are a major contributor to power outages.

SAFETY Trees and overgrown brush in close proximity to a power line can present a dangerous situation for your family and our lineworkers working on the lines.

VISIBILITY and ACCESSIBILITY Problems can be more readily identified and repaired when lines are not obscured.



d a o R ’ n i p p i r T

With Christal Frost Fat Bikes On The TART Trails

Get Outdoors

If there’s anything we learned in 2020, it would be the power of the outdoors. As COVID-19 spread across the United States, it was our collective backyard— community trails, parks and fire pits—that salvaged our sanities. My backyard in Traverse City is full of outdoor hot spots. Still, none are as recreationally friendly and motivated to make you move as the Traverse Area Recreation and Transportation (TART) Trails. The TART Trails offer 10 versatile trail options for outdoor enthusiasts. Whether you’re jumping on the TART to ride your bike to work, or navigating the 25k Vasa Pathway on your cross-country skis, the trail system truly offers something for everyone. Learn more about the TART Trails at

Big Fat Deal

Once the snow arrived in Traverse City, the winter zealots of northern Michigan took to the trails for hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. I decided to try a relatively new winter activity that has exploded in popularity: fat tire biking. Fat bikes offer the gift of versatility. By giving the rider great traction and control in snow and sand, the fat bike allows you to explore more in all seasons of the year. Mechanically, a fat bike is like a mountain bike—only on steroids. The most distinctive difference is that the fat bike has tires that are up to five inches wide. Such bulky tires allow for incredibly low air pressures, resulting in a bike that can easily roll over snow, sand, mud, rocks, and other terrains that could be difficult on a traditional mountain bike. The five-mile Meadows Loop, a part of the TART 6


Trails’ Vasa Pathway, is a perfect option for off-road fat biking. I decided to take another trek for my maiden voyage into the world of fat biking by sticking close to town and biking along the Boardman Lake Trail.

Try Before You Buy

I sought help from Brick Wheels, Traverse City’s #1 bike shop for mountain bikes, fat bikes, road bikes, and electric bikes. Tim Brick, the Brick Wheels owner, recommended the Trek Farley model for its simplicity and light frame, making it the perfect bike for riders of any skill level. After a tutorial, I strapped on my helmet and headed for the trail.

Boardman Lake Trail

It was a crisp January afternoon as I crossed the intersection of Boardman Avenue and 8th Street and headed to the trail. Traveling west, we passed the Traverse Area District Library, Hull Park, Traverse Area Community Sailing, and Oryana Food Co-op before stopping for an outdoor drink at Traverse City Whiskey Company. The Traverse City Whiskey Company was created after co-owner Chris Fredrickson discovered distilling patents that his great-grandfather had patented during prohibition. The result? Small batches of intensely smooth whiskey—a family recipe of sorts that lingered for generations before being shared with the world. I enjoyed an old fashioned around an outdoor table complete with umbrella heaters before saddling up to take to the trail again. Looping back around past Right Brain Brewery, we were back on the trail, reversing our

course to the other side of the lake and riding along the shore until we came to Medalie Park.


The Filling Station



Hull Park

The Return

Although the temperatures drifted into the low teens that afternoon, I was amazed at the workout I was getting. The fat bike made it feel relatively easy, but the snowy terrain and modest hills along the trail were great reminders of the built-in resistance and cardio workout I was getting with each rotation of the tire. In fact, even though the fat bikes weren’t meant for speed, studies have shown that fat bikers can burn more than 1,000 calories an hour. For me, though, the reward came when we circled the corner, stopping one last time at the Filling Station for a mouthwatering pizza to go. The Filling Station is located at the depot in Traverse City’s railroad neighborhood. The current depot, which opened on Jan. 6, 1927, is the second iteration of railroad stations in Traverse City.



Right Brain Brewery

Traverse City Whiskey Co.

Rewarded In Pizza

After a solid ride, I realized how lucky I was to be in my backyard— surrounded by nature, beauty, and one of the best pizza spots in the state. I returned to my car, and the aroma from the cannonball pizza (topped with marinara, kalamata olives, roasted red peppers, red onions, feta, fresh rosemary, spinach, and mozzarella) overwhelmed me.


“It all evens out,” I said, thinking about the calories I just burned on my ride and the sweet reward I would receive from the pizza beckoning to me from inside its box. Coincidentally, that is my hope for 2021. Like my first ride on a fat bike, I hope that all the difficult work, uphill battles and fear of falling in 2020 might be rewarded with a year that feels like the first bite of a delicious piece of well-deserved pizza. Christal Frost is a media personality who can be heard on Today’s Country Music-WTCM, The Christal Frost Show on NewsTalk 580-WTCM AM. She is also a feature columnist for GT Pulse on 9&10 News, published every Friday at 11 a.m.



See the TART Trails in Action

Christal Frost filmed her TART Trails adventure, now available on



Love The Savings e all love saving money, but saving money and energy is the perfect partnership. One of the quickest and easiest ways to start is by replacing the light bulbs in your home with ENERGY STAR® certified LED light bulbs. ENERGY STAR LEDs last 10 to 25 times longer than conventional bulbs and use 70–90% less energy.


Choosing the right LED bulb

What’s the best shape? ENERGY STAR certified LED bulbs come in a variety of shapes and sizes to fit almost every light fixture needs from standard to decorative bulbs. You can find all these helpful lighting details, including cost and energy savings per bulb, conveniently located on LED bulb packaging.

There are a few things to consider when selecting the right bulbs for your home. • Color

• Brightness • Shape

Color and brightness can set the mood Choose a color and brightness that make the room work for you, whether it’s lighting up your home office or making for a cozy bedroom. • Bulb color is based on “color temperature” ranging from warm to cool. Warm colors are more yellow. Cool colors are more blue. • Brightness is measured in lumens. See how lumens match up with watts while using less power:






450 lumens

800 lumens

1,110 lumens


in love


Check out additional savings available to you through the Energy Optimization program and at select retailers by visiting or call 877-296-4319.

IMPROVE HOME LIGHTING PERFORMANCE Replace old light bulbs with ENERGY STAR® certified LEDs.  Same brightness (lumens) 90% less energy (watts)  Lasts 10-25 times longer = big $ savings  Less frequent bulb replacements

INSTANT IN-STORE SAVINGS available at select retailers Online:

Phone: 877.296.4319

Energy Optimization programs and incentives are applicable to Michigan electric service locations only. Incentive applies to qualified items purchased and installed between January 1, 2021 and December 31, 2021. Other restrictions may apply. For complete program details, visit

Winter Energy Savings Tips Winter’s cool temps driving your heating costs up? Try these tips to help save energy.

Find and Seal Leaks

Use Ceiling Fans

Find and seal air leaks in your home. Common sources include utility cut-throughs and plumbing penetrations, gaps around chimneys and recessed lights, unfinished spaces behind cupboards and closets, window and door frames, and outlets and light switches.

• Set your fan to a low speed with the blades rotating in a clockwise direction. This will push the warm air collected at the ceiling around the room.

Maintain Your Heating System

• Turn down your thermostat by 10 degrees for eight hours, and you could save up to 10% on your heating costs. Consider investing in a smart thermostat that will automatically adjust temperatures for you.

• Replace your filter every month. • Have your furnace inspected by a professional every year. He or she will ensure everything is working as it should and alert you to potential problems before they become an emergency. • If you use a pellet or wood stove, clean the flue regularly. • When it’s time to replace your system, select an energyefficient model. Michigan customers, look for rebates on • Vacuum your vents and registers regularly, and make sure that vents aren’t blocked by drapery and furniture.

Maintain Your Fireplace • Keep the damper closed when not in use. Otherwise, warm air will escape up the chimney. • When in use, lower the thermostat and open the nearest window slightly. • Install tempered glass doors and a heat-air exchange system that blows warmed air back into the room. • Check the seal on the fireplace flue damper and make it as snug as possible. Also, add caulking around the hearth.

Lower Your Thermostat

Let the Sun Shine In • Open curtains or blinds on sunny days to let the sun help warm your rooms. • Close blinds and curtains at night to prevent heat from escaping.

Explore Michigan customers: This website is your one-stop shop for all things energy efficiency. Learn about ways to save money and apply for rebates on energyefficient appliances. You can also participate in free programs to help you assess and improve your home’s overall efficiency. Business and farm programs are available as well. Visit for more tips on improving your home’s efficiency all year long.



MI CO-OP Recipes

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


IE S Try these quick and easy meals!


SHRIMP WITH SNOW PEAS STIR-FRY Sarah Hallstedt, Cherryland

2 1 ½ 1 ½ 1 3 2 2 ¼ 4

teaspoons cornstarch tablespoon dry sherry or cooking wine teaspoon salt pound shrimp, peeled and deveined pound snow peas tablespoon minced ginger garlic cloves, crushed tablespoons peanut oil (or another vegetable oil) teaspoons soy sauce cup chicken stock (can substitute bouillon) green onions, white and light green parts, sliced diagonally 2 teaspoons dark roasted sesame oil

Win a


energy bill credit!


Garden Fresh due March 1 • Fruity Desserts due April 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 for more information.

10 FEBRUARY 2021

Mix the cornstarch, sherry (or cooking wine), and salt in a large bowl. Add the shrimp and toss to coat; let sit for 15-20 minutes while preparing the peas, ginger, and garlic. Heat a wok or large sauté pan over high heat for 1 minute. Add the peanut oil and let it get hot, about 30 seconds. Add the ginger and garlic and toss to combine; stir-fry about 30 seconds. Add the shrimp, snow peas, soy sauce and stock. Stir-fry until the shrimp turns pink, about 2 minutes. Add the onions and stir-fry for 1 more minute. Turn off heat and add the sesame oil. Toss to combine and serve with steamed rice. Watch a video of this month’s winning recipe at


Mary Lou Driesenga, Ontonagon 2 tablespoons peanut oil ¹⁄ ³ cup thinly sliced green onions with tops ½ teaspoon peeled & minced fresh ginger root ½ teaspoon minced garlic 2 eggs, lightly beaten ¼ teaspoon sugar • 1-pound package shrimp, thawed (I use medium-size) 1 small package frozen peas

3 tablespoons soy sauce (option to use more when serving) 2 cups cold cooked rice ½ teaspoon sesame oil, optional Heat oil in a wok (or large, heavy skillet) at 325 F. Add green onions, ginger, and garlic and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add eggs; stir to scramble into small pieces. Add sugar, shrimp, peas, and soy sauce; stir-fry 2 minutes. Add rice; stir-fry 30–45 seconds. Add sesame oil, stir and serve immediately. This recipe serves 4–5 adults. It’s very versatile; you can easily add/replace your favorite veggies, additional spices/seasonings, etc.

KUNG PAO SHRIMP Nancy Popa, Cherryland

2 teaspoons vegetable oil 1 large red bell pepper, seeded and chopped 2 stalks celery, chopped ¾ teaspoon crushed red pepper (or less) • pinch salt 6 cups broccoli florets (1 small head) 2 tablespoons cornstarch 2 tablespoons soy sauce 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar 1 teaspoon ground ginger ¼ teaspoon black pepper • 12-ounces medium (16–20 count) shelled, deveined shrimp 1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced 2 cloves garlic, crushed ½ cup unsalted dry-roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped In a 12-inch skillet, heat oil on medium heat. Add red pepper, celery, crushed red pepper, and salt, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, in a large microwave-safe bowl, combine broccoli and ¼ cup water. Cover with vented plastic wrap; microwave on high for 3 minutes or until broccoli is crisp-tender. Uncover and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together cornstarch, soy sauce, vinegar, ginger, ¹⁄ ³ cup water, and pepper; add to skillet along with shrimp, green onions, broccoli, and garlic. Cook 3–4 minutes or until shrimp turns opaque throughout, stirring frequently. Add peanuts. Serve over rice.


Lynne Edin, HomeWorks Tri-County 1½ 2 4 1 3 ¹⁄ ³ 1

cups chicken broth, divided tablespoons soy sauce teaspoons cornstarch teaspoon sesame oil tablespoons vegetable oil cup whole roasted almonds pound boneless, skinless chicken breast (or use preroasted chicken, white and dark meat, cut from bone), cut into ½ -inch-wide strips 2 cloves garlic, finely minced 8 ounces green beans (fresh or frozen), cut into 2-inch pieces 4 large carrots, peeled and sliced diagonally ¼-inch thick

In a cup, combine ½ cup broth, soy sauce, cornstarch, and sesame oil;

set aside. In a wok or large skillet, heat vegetable oil over high heat. Add almonds and sauté until lightly browned, 1–2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer almonds to a mediumsize bowl; set aside. Add the chicken strips to the wok; stir-fry until lightly browned (skip step if using cut-up preroasted chicken.) Using a slotted spoon, add the chicken to the almonds. Reduce heat to medium. Add the chopped garlic to the wok and stir-fry 10 seconds. Stir in the green beans, carrots, and remaining 1 cup chicken broth. Cover the pan and cook the vegetables until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Stir the cornstarch mixture and add it to the vegetables; cook until the sauce is thickened and bubbly, about 1 minute. Stir in the chicken and almonds. Cook until just heated through, and serve immediately. Serve over hot brown rice, egg noodles, or white rice with a dash of soy sauce and sesame oil.



MEC IN THE COMMUNITY We partnered with the United Way of Southwest Michigan to help 10 local families enjoy the holidays with food and gifts. For Thanksgiving, we grocery shopped and dropped off food for each household. For Christmas, we put the call out to Cassopolis employees to shop for gifts, and the response was overwhelming! From toys to much-needed cleaning supplies, each Adopt-a-Family recipient had their wish list fulfilled. Then some elves came together to wrap and deliver the gifts. We also provided grocery gift cards to help complete our Christmas mission.

Gifts galore! MEC employees helped make Christmas wishes come true for 10 households in southwest Michigan.

MEC team members in Adrian helped make Christmas a little brighter with gifts and clothes for children of the NOH Women & Children’s Ministry. Cass Hallenbeck (pictured in red), director for NOH Women & Children’s Ministry, accepts gifts from MEC linemen.

In Adrian, we purchased Christmas gifts for the resident children of the Neighbors of Hope (NOH) Women & Children’s Ministry. Adrian-based employees shopped for a particular child, and then we delivered the unwrapped gifts for each mom to wrap. The adult women also received $25 gift cards, MEC calendars, and refillable water bottles. Finally, we purchased 10 Carhartt winter-weight hoodies and delivered them to the NOH Lenawee County Men’s Ministry Life Change program.

12 FEBRUARY 2021

Strengthening Schools Grants Recipients In January, we rewarded local educators with Strengthening Schools Grants to help them bring new and exciting learning opportunities to students throughout our service territory. We are proud to offer these grants, funded with partnership dollars from Wolverine Power Cooperative, each year to those who share our vision of creating vibrant, relevant and sustainable rural communities. Co-op members Carol Anderson, Joyce Daglow, and Val Locke evaluated and scored all applications and determined final awards without knowledge of the school, district or community. • Bert Goens Learning Center, updated technical equipment • Brookside Learning Center, calming sensory kits • Cassopolis Middle School, certify a teacher to train other teachers district-wide in crisis prevention & intervention to help de-escalate students when they are in crisis • Cassopolis Middle School, water bottle filling station • Clinton Community Schools, rebranding band equipment with the new mascot • Clinton High School, solar charging station to complete connecting three solar panels that would charge batteries used by students for projects • Coloma Elementary School, establish a health room with furniture, posters and frames • Eau Claire Middle/High School, graphing calculators • Fayette Elementary, manipulative items such as flashcards and building sticks for math & STEM classes • Lawrence Elementary, commercial sewing equipment and outdoor painted stencils for games such as hopscotch and four square • Lawton High School, green club gardening equipment and tools

• Lawton High School, new microphone and headsets for the drama program • Madison Elementary, Chromebook cases and headphones • Madison Schools, school health clinic software program • Marcellus Elementary, two incubators for chicken eggs • Mattawan Middle School, beekeeping club supplies • Mendon Middle School, 60 copies of the novel “Flush” • Mendon Middle/High School, premium teacher version of Legends of Learning for math students • Morenci Elementary, science magnet kits to teach students about force and motion • Schoolcraft Elementary, water bottle filling station • Schoolcraft Middle School, water bottle filling station • Springbrook Middle School, earbuds to accompany Chromebooks • Springbrook Middle School, life skills, anger management, and gang prevention curricula • Van Buren ISD Behavioral Education Center, materials for Second Step Program for at-risk students • Van Buren Tech, laminator • Volinia Outcomes, washer & dryer





cLean & Eakin is the epitome of what it means to be an independent bookstore, with its bespoke selections, heartfelt customer service, and lovinglycurated reading recommendations. However, owners Matt and Jessilynn Norcross will be the fi rst to tell you that being “independent” isn’t about going it alone. The store began in the care of Matt’s mother, Julie Norcross, who started the bookstore in 1992 and named it after her two grandmothers’ maiden names. The store had been a dream for Julie since she was young. Her father owned and operated a men’s fashion store in Florida and eventually followed customers north and opened another store just a few doors down from where McLean & Eakin stands today. “Mom would take us on walks around town,” recalls Matt. “We’d peek into windows of abandoned storefronts, and you could see her waiting for just the right space to open up so she could open her bookstore.” Matt worked at the family bookshop through high school and eventually returned to Petoskey in 2003 while in between jobs and started back at the family store. He found a place to reflect, as well, stumbling across his future wife, Jessilynn, who also was working in the shop. In 2009, Matt and Jessilynn married and joined their futures to McLean & Eakin, as they took over the store’s ownership.

“We both love reading,” said Jessilynn. “But when you begin running a business, you realize there’s so much more to bookselling than the magic inside of the pages.” The Norcrosses quickly immersed themselves in the responsibilities that come with owning a quaint bookshop. “There are a million decisions we’ve made. Some good, some bad,” admits Matt. “But what we have always nailed is having a team of booksellers working here who are amazing, brilliant, and committed. This is what has kept us successful, for sure.” Even with COVID-19 and the competition of big-box bookstores and online outlets offering steep discounts, McLean & Eakin has managed to not only stay in business, but thrive. It has expanded to offer digital audiobooks and e-books and established an online store to accommodate those who are unable to get out to the store or some of their committed patrons who may not be in the area year-round. “We’re involved in our community,” said Jessilynn. “Amazon is never going to be at the school board meeting next to us. You can’t replicate the conversations we have with people in the community or on the shop floor.” Books truly are magic, and never more so than when one person hands another a book after talking with them and saying, “I really think you’ll love this.” Ultimately, that’s the beauty of bookstores like McLean & Eakin—they may be independent, but still, they know that the heart of their business is a deep connection to their beautiful community. You can currently get bookseller assistance via McLean & Eakin’s front door vestibule or by phone from 11 a.m.–5 p.m., Monday–Saturday, at 231-347-1180. You may also email them at, or contact them via social media on Facebook or Instagram.

“You can’t replicate the conversations we have with people in the community or on the shop floor.”

McLean & Eakin has curated a great collection of regional and Michigan authors who not only pay their respects to the region and its people but offer a unique insight into the beauty of the area. In fact, if you look closely, you may even see an homage to a favorite indie bookstore in the pages (hint: Check out “Station 11” by Emily St. John Mandel). Here are a few recommendations for regional titles. For a more robust list, visit


Tallulah, Mermaid of the Great Lakes by Denise Brennan-Nelson

AGES 8 AND UP The Wild Path by Sarah Baughman

ADULT FICTION Northernmost by Peter Geye


The King of Confidence: A Tale of Utopian Dreamers, Frontier Schemers, True Believers, False Prophets, and the Murder of an American Monarch by Miles Harvey



Your Home Team ELECTRIC




SPEED • RELIABILITY • PARENTAL CONTROLS • SECURITY What does ideal internet service mean to you? Is it everyone in your house being able to work, learn, and play on multiple devices all at the same time? Is it the ability to protect your kids from inappropriate content online or to prevent them from using social media when they should be studying? How about keeping your entire network safe from cybercriminals and hackers?


Enjoy connections that literally move at the speed of light, and don’t run into obstructions like topography and clouds. • Hop online whenever you want without asking the rest of your household to go offline. • Download media in minutes, not hours. • Work, learn, bank, stream, and game. Do it all easily.

Unbeatable Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi gets weaker as it travels through floors and walls, and not every router can deliver strong signals to every corner of your home. When you add managed Wi-Fi to your internet subscription, you won’t have to worry about that because you’ll have some of the best equipment in the industry. • Watch your favorite shows from your bedroom, basement, and everywhere in between. • Get 24/7 support. If you run into issues, our team can look at your equipment and devices to resolve problems—no acting as your own IT support! • Connect smart home devices without worrying about them interfering with your other connected devices.

Network Management

When you subscribe to managed Wi-Fi, you get access to CommandIQ, our network management mobile app. • Easily change your internet network name and password. • Manually enable/disable internet access for specific devices. • Set up a guest network to give visitors easy access while protecting your main network. • See how fast your network is running with a simple tap.

Parental Controls and Enhanced Security

With CommandIQ, you can get even greater control and protection for your family. • Schedule times your children can be online. • Decide what apps and websites your kids can use and when. • Block inappropriate content. • See how long your family spent on specific apps and websites. • Block malicious websites and software from accessing your network.

Visit to learn more.

Janet gets hooked up with MEC internet.

One Happy Camper J

anet (Jan) Longworth works hard to stay active and mentally stimulated in her senior years. Among other activities, she serves as co-chair of the Curriculum Committee of the Adult Learners Institute (ALI) of Chelsea, Michigan. The organization offers a wide variety of learning and camaraderie opportunities to senior residents in Washtenaw County. Typically, it holds in-person courses, but when the pandemic hit, ALI turned to Zoom. Unfortunately for Jan, her internet connection prevented her from participating. She’d often get a “broadband too low” error message or simply couldn’t connect. “I tried using Zoom over the phone, and that simply didn’t work,” she noted. However, now she has MEC internet. “The speed is great. I can do everything I need to from home,” she said. Before MEC, she used to travel to the local library or senior center to use a computer. With both places closed due to COVID-19, Jan was facing a “long and lonely winter.” Not anymore. In fact, she has started filling her winter docket with online ALI activities like watching a lecture about Sergei Diaghilev, founder of the Ballets Russes; learning about wills, estates and trusts; and hearing about the COVID-19 vaccine from a former Pfizer research scientist. Streaming TV is also in her future, perhaps cheering on the Big Ten or watching a movie on Netflix. She no longer will feel “green with envy” when she hears her neighbors talk about the shows and games they watch. From banking to remote continuing education to telehealth and connecting with loved ones, the options are endless for Jan. “High-speed, reliable internet is critical to my well-being. Life is simply worse without it. I really struggled with my previous service. Now, I am one happy camper,“ she commented.

Get Started with Streaming TV Want to be like Jan and add streaming to your 2021 agenda? Here are some simple steps to get started: • Research your favorite shows and channels to find out which streaming services, such as YouTube TV, offer what you want. Simply head online and search “how do I watch (name of show or channel)” to get started. • Pick your streaming device. Since not all streaming devices support all channels and shows, make sure you select a device that offers what you want. • Hook up your device and test-drive streaming. Many services offer a free trial period. Put a reminder in your calendar to cancel the ones you don’t want before the trial ends. • Make your final selection. Compare the prices of the streaming services you like the most to your current cable/satellite services. Then pick the ones that work the best for you. Visit for more details and to watch a helpful video.



SAFETY TIPS Gasoline, Fueling and Burn Safety

Carbon Monoxide and Ventilation

• If the tank is overfilled, fuel can overflow onto a hot engine and cause fire or explosion.

• Using a generator indoors CAN KILL YOU IN MINUTES. The exhaust contains carbon monoxide, a deadly poisonous gas you cannot see or smell.

• Do not overfill the fuel tank. Always allow room for fuel expansion. • Never add fuel while the unit is running or hot. • Allow generator and engine to cool entirely before adding fuel.

• NEVER run a generator indoors or in partly enclosed areas, such as garages.

• Never store a generator with fuel in the tank where gasoline vapors might reach an open flame, spark or pilot light.

• ONLY use outdoors and far from windows, doors, vents, crawl spaces and in an area where adequate ventilation is available and will not accumulate deadly exhaust gas.

• Many generator parts are hot enough to burn you during operation and while the generator is cooling after turning off. Avoid coming into contact with a hot generator.

• Using a fan or opening doors and windows will not provide sufficient ventilation. • It is recommended that you install battery-operated carbon monoxide alarms/detectors indoors according to the manufacturer’s instructions/recommendations.


Electrocution Hazard and Electrical Shock Hazards

• Connecting a portable electric generator directly to your household wiring can be deadly to you and others. A generator that is directly connected to your home’s wiring can “back feed” onto the power lines connected to your home and injure neighbors or utility workers.

• Do not connect your generator directly to your home’s wiring or into a regular household outlet. Always start or stop the generator only when no electrical loads are connected. • Overloading your generator can seriously damage your valuable appliances and electronics. Do not overload the generator. Do not operate more appliances and equipment than the output rating of the generator allows for. Prioritize your needs. A portable electric generator should be used only when necessary, and only to power essential equipment. • Use the proper power cords. Plug individual appliances into the generator using heavy-duty, outdoor-rated cords with a wire gauge adequate for the appliance load. Overloaded cords can cause fires or equipment damage. Do not use extension cords with exposed wires or worn shielding. • Do not operate the generator in wet conditions such as rain or snow. • The generator must be properly grounded. If the generator is not grounded, you run the risk of electrocution. Check and adhere to all applicable federal, state and local regulations relating to grounding.

18 FEBRUARY 2021

Generator Placement and Operation

• Allow at least five feet of clearance on all sides of the generator when operating. • Generators can be used during a wide variety of weather temperatures but should be protected from the elements when not in use to prevent shorting and rusting. • Operate the generator only on level surfaces and where it will not be exposed to excessive moisture, dirt, dust, or corrosive vapors. • Inspect the generator regularly. • Always disconnect the spark plug wire and place the wire where it cannot contact the spark plug to prevent accidental starting when setting up, transporting, adjusting, or making repairs to the generator.

Source: American Red Cross with technical advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Fire Protection Association (publisher of the National Electric Code®), and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Michigan-Made Hybrid Geothermal System Provides Savings and Comfort

Hybrid Geothermal Well-Connect is a hybrid water-source heat pump uniquely designed to operate with your existing furnace. Similar to how a hybrid vehicle greatly reduces the need for gas, doubling the fuel efficiency, a Well-Connect significantly reduces the amount of propane, fuel oil or wood needed to heat a home. This approach reduces the installation cost of the system to about one-third the cost of conventional geothermal systems and saves a homeowner 50% to 70% on heating costs. It also provides efficient air conditioning all summer. “Propane is so expensive to heat with. Why wouldn’t someone do this?”

One-Day Installation

Lynne W., South Boardman, MI Member, Great Lakes Energy

Lynne loves her home in the woods but found it challenging to keep her vaulted-ceiling home warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Keeping it cool in the summer was especially important for Lynne because of her four-legged, furry friend, Tara. Lynne was familiar with geothermal energy because her father was an executive at Detroit Edison and she knew that it is clean, green, makes a home more comfortable and is a big money saver.

Call for a FREE home visit. (989) 356-2113

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Eligible for co-op rebates ranging from $1,050 to $1,850 and a 22% federal tax credit.



Schedule your children’s screen time, block content and websites, limit the use of apps, and more. $5/mo.

Guard your network from cybercriminals. $5/mo.

Enhanced Parental Controls

Advanced Network Security

With MEC- managed Wi-Fi, you can take control of the devices connected to your network with the CommandIQ app.

SIGN UP TODAY TEAMMIDWEST.COM/COMMANDIQ | 800.492.5989 Internet services are not regulated by the Michigan Public Service Commission.