Feb. 2023 HomeWorks

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Iceman The Cometh America’s Coolest Race Is In Northern Michigan 2022 Member Survey Results Apply For Youth Tour! Co-op Welcomes New Employees COUNTRY LINES February 2023 MICHIGAN HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative

THERE’S A TREASURE IN YOUR BACKYARD

You may not realize it, but your home is sitting on a free and renewable supply of energy. A WaterFurnace geothermal comfort system taps into the stored solar energy in your own backyard to provide savings of up to 70% on heating, cooling and hot water. That’s money in the bank and a smart investment in your family’s comfort—and with a 30% federal tax credit1 available, now is a great time to contact your local WaterFurnace dealer today to learn how to tap into your buried treasure.

YOUR LOCAL WATERFURNACE DEALERS

Allendale Allendale Htg & Clg (800) 327-1937

allendaleheating.com

Bad Axe/Ubly Cutting Edge Htg & Clg (989) 551-0986

Berrien Springs

Waterfurnace Michiana (269) 473-5667

gogreenmichgeo thermal.com

Big Rapids Stratz Htg & Clg, Inc. (231) 796-3717

stratzgeocomfort.com

Clifford Orton Refrig & Htg (989) 761-7691

sanduskygeothermal.com

Hart Adams Htg & Clg (231) 873-2665

adamsheating cooling.com

Indian River M&M Plmb & Htg (231) 238-7201

mm-plumbing.com

Lansing Candor Mechanical (517) 920-0890

candormechanical.com

Lowell Arctic Inc. Htg. & Clg. (616) 897-4213

heatingcoolingonline.com

Mancelona Top Notch Htg, Clg, & Geothermal (231) 350-8052

Topnotchheatandair.com

Michigan Center Comfort 1/Air Serv of Southern Michigan (517) 764-1500

airserv.com/southernmichigan/

Mt Pleasant Walton Htg & Clg (989) 772-4822

waltonheating.com

Muskegon Adams Htg & Clg (231) 873-2665

adamsheatingcooling.co

Portland ESI Htg & Clg (517) 647-6906

esiheating.com

Sunfield

Mark Woodman Plmb & Htg (517) 886-1138

mwphonline.com

Traverse City D&W Mechanical (231) 941-1251

dwmechanical.com

Geofurnace Htg & Clg (231) 943-1000

geofurnace.com

visit us at waterfurnace.com WaterFurnace is a registered trademark of WaterFurnace International, Inc. 1. 30% through 2032, 26% through 2033 and 22% through 2034

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: Tom Sobeck, Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op, chairman; Gabe Schneider, Cherryland Electric Cooperative, vice chairman; Chris O’Neill, HomeWorks TriCounty 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.

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

6 SNOWMAN CAM

Ken Borton’s computer camera helped him share the great outdoors with his family ... and then changed his life.

10 MI CO-OP KITCHEN

Cherries: Sweet-tart flavor.

14 THE ICEMAN COMETH

America’s coolest race is in Northern Michigan.

18 SHOULD I CHANGE MY CHARGING HABITS? Four things to know about extending rechargeable battery life.

MI Co-op Community

#micoopcommunity

Instagram contest winner

Even the snow can’t cool down the pup’s excitement to explore the great outdoors! @906explorer (Ryan Peurach)

To enter contests, submit reader content & more, visit countrylines.com/community

Instagram Contest

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

Win $100 for photos published!

Recipe Contest

See details on page 10. Breakfast for Dinner due March 1; Polish Favorites due April 1

Win a $100 bill credit!

Guest Column

Share your fondest memories and stories. Win $200 for stories published. Visit countrylines.com/community to submit.

Win $200 for stories published!

Contents February 2023 Vol. 43, No. 2 /michigancountrylines /michigancountrylines countrylines.com
3 MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES

homeworks.org

/homeworks.org

tricoenergy@homeworks.org

Portland office/Mail payments to:

7973 E. Grand River Ave.

Portland, MI 48875

Open 8 a.m.–4 p.m. Monday–Friday

Blanchard office:

3681 Costabella Ave. Blanchard, MI 49310

Open 8 a.m.–4 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

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

District 1 — John Lord, Vice-Chairman

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 — Vacant

District 6 — Ed Oplinger, Secretary-Treasurer

10890 W. Weidman Rd., 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

Editor: Charly Markwart, CCC

Member Survey Results Help Us To Serve You Better

One of the hallmarks of the member-owned cooperative business model is that since we don’t have investors to answer to, we are able to focus solely on making the right decisions for you. To ensure that we’re always doing just that, we regularly enlist an independent company to survey our members.

Last fall, hundreds of HomeWorks electric members were surveyed about how well we’re meeting their expectations. Some of the most important data collected is that which tells us about our “satisfaction drivers,” such as quality customer service and reliable electricity. You rated us at above 90% in these categories, indicating that our employees are meeting and exceeding your expectations of providing quality service that you can count on.

Our survey results also showed that we scored very well on the national crossindustry American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), with an overall score of 85. That ranks us 12 points higher than the average electric co-op and also above many highly reputable national companies, including Apple, Lowe’s, and McDonald’s.

With this survey, we also were given a Cooperative Attitude and Performance Score (CAPS). This rating measures our ranking among other cooperatives in categories such as trustworthiness, management skills, and care for our members. We scored an 89, which exceeds the nationwide average for cooperatives of similar size.

It’s nice to learn what you think we’re doing right, but even more valuable to us is learning about the areas in which you’d like to see us improve. Our 2022 survey results showed us some areas to take a closer look at, including renewable energy and providing programs to help our members control their bills.

First, your responses indicated that we need to continue to do a better job of informing our members about our commitment to renewable energy. There has been improvement since our last survey in 2019, but still, a significant percentage of those surveyed in 2022 weren’t aware that through our power supplier, Wolverine Power Cooperative, we lead Michigan utilities with the highest percentage of new renewable energy, and provide over 20% of your power from wind, solar, and hydro energy assets. Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that the energy we provide is currently over 60% carbon-free, thanks to Wolverine!

Next, our survey results showed that nearly a quarter of respondents think we could do a better job when it comes to providing programs to help members control their bills. We do offer an energy optimization program and billing options like pay as you go and budget billing, but your responses have shown us that we need to do more to make you aware of these offerings, and also that we need to continue to seek out additional member resources in this area.

You can see more highlights of our 2022 electric member survey on the following page, and over the next two months, we’ll also publish highlights of similar 2022 customer surveys we conducted for our fiber internet and propane businesses. We take your responses very seriously and strive to become a better cooperative because of them. As always, we’ll keep working hard to continue to improve and to put you, our members, first.

4 FEBRUARY 2023

2022 HOMEWORKS TRI-COUNTY ELECTRIC MEMBER SURVEY RESULTS

As a member-owned electric cooperative, our priority is to effectively meet the needs of our members. Every few years, we send out a customer satisfaction survey to a randomly selected group of members to gauge how well we are meeting your expectations. We analyze the results and use them to help guide our future operations in order to better serve you. Our most recent survey was conducted in October 2022. Here are some of the highlights:

89% of members report being “SATISFIED” or “VERY SATISFIED” with our overall performance as an electric cooperative.

94% rating for providing reliable electric service

93% rating for friendly and courteous employees

92% rating for restoring power quickly after an outage

89% rating for communicating effectively with members

WE ALSO RECEIVED AN ACSI SCORE OF

American Customer Satisfaction Index Score 85

The ASCI is the only national cross-industry measure of customer satisfaction in the United States. Our score puts us 10+ points above the national averages for co-ops, investor-owned utilities, and municipals. It also ranks us significantly higher than:

Apple McDonald’s Lowe’s Wal-Mart Facebook DISH Network and many more!

Thank you to each and every member who took the time to fill out our 2022 survey. We appreciate the insight you provided, and will work to become a better co-op because of it!

Conducted & compiled by Inside Information® Inc.

Snowman Cam

When Ken Borton moved to Gaylord, Michigan, from the metro Detroit area in 2000 to set up a home office, he couldn’t have dreamed that the tiny eyeball camera that came with his new computer would change his life. Forever.

For years, Borton had visited his uncle who lived in Gaylord to enjoy the snowmobiling and skiing the area offered. He finally came back one summer to discover golf courses and amazing outdoor activities that had nothing to do with snow, and he was hooked.

“I knew it was where I wanted to live one day,” said Borton.

Borton and his wife Brenda, who are Great Lake Energy Co-op members, first bought their place in 1995 and finally moved in full-time in 2000. He was able to work remotely and got to setting up a home office. His new computer came with an eyeball camera. One day he was looking out his office window, enjoying the view, when he thought his family and friends back in the big city might enjoy the peaceful landscape he saw from his office chair.

“The camera couldn’t track, didn’t zoom in. It was nothing special,” said Borton. “It literally just looked out to our back property and the bird feeder nearby.”

As Borton dazzled his family with the natural wonders of northern Michigan, he upped his game in 2006 when he built and installed a wooden snowman that became the featured character in the video feed. The snowman joined the passing deer, turkeys, foxes, coyotes, black bears, flying squirrels, porcupines, and other wildlife that casually hung out and often partook of the fallen birdseed from the feeder.

Eventually, Borton was contacted by EarthCam, a streaming service, that offered to post his video feed for more individuals to enjoy. With temperamental internet and a desire to share the slice of heaven that is northern Michigan, Borton uploaded his Snowman Cam. He was shocked to see the feed gain a worldwide audience— including mentions on The Weather Channel and dozens of television stations—and, ultimately, millions of views year after year. It seems like an idyllic end to a heartwarming story, but that wasn’t the end.

“One day, I get a knock on the door,” said Borton. “It was a conservation officer from the Department of Natural Resources Michigan who had been called in to investigate a report of deer baiting.”

While many deer had partaken in the errant bird feed just eight feet from Borton’s back door, it hardly qualified as

6 FEBRUARY 2023

“baiting.” The officer took one look, apologized, and went on his way.

Borton went back to work and life, but then the offi cer returned and said he needed to give Borton a ticket for the deer baiting. While the two of them were equally baffl ed, the ticket was issued. But that wasn’t the end of the story either.

Borton disputed the ticket and ultimately went to court, where the judge threw out the charges. State officials asked that Borton just take down the Snowman Cam so that they wouldn’t get calls about baiting any more. Borton refused.

“It just seemed wrong,” said Borton. “No one could come up with a good reason to take down the camera and it felt like most of the system agreed. That, in fact, it was the law that should change.”

For someone who had moved to get away from folks, Borton suddenly found himself in an election for county commissioner, which would put him in the middle of people and their daily struggles.

“I had never, not ever, considered running for a political office,” said Borton. “But what I found as I got into community politics is that it wasn’t about the negativity you see on TV, it was about helping people.”

In 2020, Borton’s state representative could not seek re-election because of term limits. He seized the opportunity and made a successful bid to be elected to the 105th District seat in the Michigan House of Representatives. He was re-elected to a second term in 2022.

“If it hadn’t been for the Snowman Cam, I would have never found myself in this position,” said Borton. “And this position allows me to help people every single day. It’s a privilege I never dreamed of.”

Borton has received messages from people around the globe saying how much the Snowman Cam has meant to them. From a cubicle worker in Houston enjoying Michigan snow, to an autistic child who was able to calm down by watching the cam, to Richard Guccini. Guccini and the Bortons became friends via the cam and built a relationship over the years. Guccini helped raise money to offset the cost of the cam, became the voice of Santa Claus on the channel, and built the snowman that you see in the feed today. In 2018, Guccini passed away, and the Borton and Guccini families created a plaque and bench dedicated to him that states simply reads— He waits for the bears.

7 MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES

Fall In Love With Home Energy Savings

Treat yourself and your loved ones this Valentine’s Day to new, more efficient ENERGY STAR® appliances!

With HomeWorks’ Energy Optimization program, you can earn cash rebates on qualifying products now and save on utility costs for years to come. Just look for the blue ENERGY STAR label when shopping for new appliances. You’ll love saving money and energy while staying cozy and comfortable at home!

What is ENERGY STAR?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) introduced ENERGY STAR in 1992 to help consumers identify energyefficient products. The ENERGY STAR label can now be found on major appliances, lighting, and electronics. Even new homes and commercial buildings may receive ENERGY STAR certification.

Did you know? ENERGY STAR products may use up to 75% less energy than standard models!

To earn the ENERGY STAR label, a third-party certification process ensures that all products:

• Contribute significant energy savings.

Fall in love with home energy savings!

• Deliver the features and performance consumers demand, plus greater energy efficiency.

• Back up energy savings claims with comprehensive testing.

For complete program details and more ways to save, call 877-296-4319 or visit homeworks.org/eo.

You’ll love saving money and energy when you upgrade and earn cash rebates on qualifying products.

HomeWorks Energy Optimization programs and incentives are applicable to HomeWorks Tri-County Electrical Cooperative service locations only. Incentive applies to qualified items purchased and installed between Jan. 1, 2023, and Dec. 31, 2023. Other restrictions may apply. For complete program details, visit homeworks.org. Treat yourself and your loved ones this Valentine’s Day to new, more efficient ENERGY STAR® appliances!
u Induction Range/Stove: $500
u Chest or Upright Freezer: $40
u Refrigerator: $50
: $40
Clothes
Portable Room Dehumidifier: $30
Room Air Conditioner: $30
Room Air Purifier: $50 VISIT homeworks.org/eo • CALL 877-296-4319
u Clothes Washer
u
Dryer: $40-$200 u
u
u
ENERGY STAR Appliance Rebates Induction Range/Stove $500 Chest or Upright Freezer $40 Refrigerator $50 Clothes Washer $40 Clothes Dryer $40–$200 Portable Room Dehumidifier $30 Room Air Conditioner $30 Room Air Purifier $50

Family Time

Submit Your “Furry Friends” Photos By Feb. 20!

We have implemented a new photo contest format for 2023! Each month, members will be able to submit photos on our website for our photo contest. The photo receiving the most votes is published here, along with some other selections from that month. Our February theme is Furry Friends. Photos can be submitted through Feb. 20 to be featured in our April 2023 issue. Note: The broken link issue on our website has been resolved, so you can simply follow the instructions below to submit your photo(s)!

To enter the contest, visit HomeWorks.org/photocontest. Enter your picture, cast your vote, and encourage others to vote for you, too. The photo receiving the most votes will be printed in an issue of Country Lines, along with some other favorites. If your photo is published in Country Lines during 2023, you will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win one of four $100 credits on your December 2023 HomeWorks bill!

SNAP SHOT
1. April Brookens of Blanchard says, “Our girls love taking ‘selfies,’ and this one is us at our favorite ‘zoo,’ Anderson & Girls Orchards in Stanton.” 2. Casie Bayless of Portland says, “This is the Wilcox family having fun celebrating my dad Steve’s 70th birthday together.” 3. Missy Foster of Remus snapped this fun picture of her husband, Calvin, enjoying a beach day with their two boys. 4. Jamie Trommater of Mulliken submitted this vacation photo of her family in front of the Mackinac Bridge. 5. DeLynn Rice of Stanwood submitted this photo showing her enjoying some family time while golfing with her daughter, Kayla, at a Torch Lake golf course.
4 5 3 1 2 9 MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES

CHERRIES

Sweet-tart flavor

Recipe Contest

Win a $100 energy bill credit!

Breakfast for Dinner due March 1; Polish Favorites due April 1

Submit your favorite recipe for a chance to win a $100 bill credit and have your recipe featured in Country Lines with a photo and a video. Submit your recipe at micoopkitchen.com , or send it via email (include your full name and co-op) to recipes@countrylines.com

WINNING RECIPE!

CHERRY OAT COOKIES

Marie Mercier, Great Lakes Energy

¾ cup all-purpose flour

¾ cup whole wheat flour

¼ cup flaxseed meal

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

2 cups old fashioned (preferred) or quick oats

¾ cup butter, softened

1 cup brown sugar

½ cup sugar

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

1½ cups dried tart cherries

¾ cup semisweet mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix together all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, flaxseed meal, baking powder, salt, and oats. Set aside. Mix butter, brown sugar, and sugar with an electric mixer until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla; mix well. Add flour mixture to butter mixture; mix well. Stir in dried cherries and chocolate chips. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 9–11 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand one minute, then transfer to a wire cooling rack.

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

MI CO-OP Recipes
Photos by Robert Bruce Photography || Recipes submitted by MCL readers and tested by recipe editor Christin McKamey
10 FEBRUARY 2023

4 cups sugar

CHERRY FREEZER JAM

Deanne Quain, Great Lakes Energy

2 cups finely chopped tart cherries

1 package SURE-JELL Premium

Fruit Pectin

¾ cup water

• small glass or plastic containers with lids

Mix sugar and fruit together. Let stand 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. In a small saucepan, stir SURE-JELL and

water. Bring to a boil on high heat for one minute, stirring constantly. Add pectin mixture to fruit mixture and stir for three minutes or until sugar is completely dissolved. Fill containers, leaving ½ -inch space at top for expansion during freezing. Cover with lids. Let stand at room temperature for 24 hours. Refrigerate up to three weeks or freeze up to one year. Makes about fi ve cups. This jam is also delicious when used as a topping over ice cream.

CHERRY OATMEAL MUFFINS

Crystal Riley, Cherryland Electric Cooperative

1 cup uncooked quick or old fashioned oats

1 cup flour

½ cup brown sugar

1½ teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

¾ cup buttermilk

1 egg

¼ cup oil

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 cup frozen tart cherries, coarsely chopped (do not need to thaw)

Preheat oven to 400 F. Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Combine liquid ingredients in a small bowl. Pour liquid mixture into dry mixture and stir just to moisten. Stir in cherries. Spray muffin pan or use liners. Fill cups about ²⁄ ³ full. Bake for 15–20 minutes.

THE MICHIGAN COOKIE

Valerie Aspenleiter, Alger Delta Electric

1 stick butter, softened

¾ cup packed brown sugar

1 egg

¼ cup pure maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup quick-cooking oats

1½ cups flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup dried cherries

²⁄³ cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease cookie sheets. Cream butter and brown sugar in large bowl. Stir in egg, maple syrup, and vanilla. Combine oats, flour, baking soda, and salt and stir into butter mixture. Stir in cherries and walnuts. Drop by spoonfuls onto cookie sheets. Bake 10–12 minutes, until edges of cookies are golden brown. Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

1 cup water

CHERRY SALAD

Cathy Lautner, Cherryland Electric Cooperative

1 (3-ounce) package cherry gelatin

1 can cherry pie filling (not “less sugar” version)

• whipped cream (optional)

Bring water to a boil and dissolve cherry gelatin. Put in dish, stir in cherry pie filling and chill. Top with whipped cream if desired.

11 MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES

Why Should My Student Apply For Youth Tour?

After a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic, Electric Cooperative Youth Tour is back! Youth Tour is a once-in-a-lifetime, all-expenses-paid opportunity for young leaders from rural America to travel to Washington, D.C. High school students can apply through Feb. 28 at CooperativeYouthTour.com. Here is what some of our former participants had to say about the trip:

“Youth Tour for me was an unforgettable experience. It was really powerful to learn that kids our age can ask our members of Congress questions and they actually care about our opinion. It was an amazing opportunity and a week that I’ll never forget.”

“Youth Tour is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I met friends on the trip that I’ll have for the rest of my life, and I learned so much. It put insight into my mind of where I want to head with my life. It was such an amazing experience that I will never forget.”

“The historic landmarks in Washington, D.C., are not something you can just see and understand in a picture; you have to go there to truly experience it. Visiting the capital with Youth Tour is something I will cherish for a very long time.”

Learn About Your Co-op Engage With Your Co-op Win Big Prizes!
PLANS TO ATTEND YOUR 2023 VIRTUAL DISTRICT MEETING! HomeWorks’ virtual district meetings will take place May 8-17 this year. As the meeting dates near, we’ll provide more details on
district’s
meeting
to attend.
MAKE
your
specific
date and how
We hope to “see” you there!
MAELYNN HUHN 2018 Participant ZAC CARLSON 2019 Participant CADE VALLIER 2019 Participant

Your Board In Action

Meeting in Blanchard on Nov. 28, your board of directors:

• Reviewed and approved the 2023 capital and operating budgets for both HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative and the HomeWorks Connect fiber internet business.

• Approved the write-off of accounts receivable totaling $70,719 for the year ending Dec. 31, 2021.

• Authorized staff to immediately place an order for the purchase of an electric bucket truck and a digger truck to replace fleet vehicles scheduled for retirement over the next five years, in order to maintain the Co-op’s vehicle replacement schedule in light of current two-year lead times for new trucks.

• Discussed and accepted Policy 113 – Member Access & Use of Information and Data, as revised.

• Received a monthly progress update on the HomeWorks Connect fiber internet business.

• Learned there were 114 new members in October.

• Acknowledged the October safety report, listing employee training as well as minor employee and public incidents involving electric, propane, or fiber optic.

• Acknowledged the October physical & cybersecurity report, noting that there were no security breaches or incidents to report for the month.

Meeting in Portland on Dec. 19, your board of directors:

• Reviewed a presentation from Federated Insurance and approved the renewal of the general liability and cyber liability insurance coverage for HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative for 2023.

• Reviewed a presentation from General Agency and approved the renewal of the general liability insurance policy for Tri-Co Services for 2023.

• Reviewed the key accomplishments achieved by individual departments of the Co-op in 2022, along with an overview of the Co-op’s key objectives for 2023.

• Received an update on the Co-op’s Employee Community Engagement Volunteer Program, learning that HomeWorks employees served over 1,700 volunteer hours in their local communities in 2022, the inaugural year of the program.

• Discussed and accepted Cooperative Bylaw Sections 1-2.2, as revised.

• Received a monthly progress update on the HomeWorks Connect fiber internet business.

• Learned there were 96 new members in November.

• Acknowledged the November safety report, listing employee training as well as minor employee and public incidents involving electric, propane, or fiber optic.

• Acknowledged the November physical & cybersecurity report, noting that there were no security breaches or incidents to report for the month.

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 Feb. 27 and March 27 at Portland. Members who wish to have items considered on the board agenda should call 517-647-7554 at least a week in advance of the meeting.

Co-op Principle #2: Democratic Member Control

a vote.

Districts 2, 4, and 5 have director seats up for election this year. If you are a member of one of those districts, watch your April Country Lines for your mail-in ballot and information about your director candidates!

member
and
Be sure to tell them about our $1,000 scholarships for students who live on HomeWorks electric lines! Know A High School Senior Who Could Use A Hand With College Costs? Apply by March 13 Apply at HomeWorks.org/Scholarships 13 MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES
Every
has a voice

Iceman The Cometh

America’s Coolest Race Is In Northern Michigan

Every year on the first weekend in November, around 5,000 mountain bicyclists take off down the runway at Kalkaska Airport and barrel through the woods across dirt paths, abandoned railroad beds, and rugged ski trails until they end up—muddied and ecstatic some 30 miles later—at Timber Ridge RV & Recreation Resort in Traverse City. The Bell’s Iceman Cometh Challenge is the largest point-to-point mountain bike race in the country and happens right here in northern Michigan.

“How would I explain it to someone who’s never been?” asked Kat Paye, executive director of the Iceman Cometh Challenge. “It’s an absolute riot.”

What started as a small “race” of 35 bikers over 30 years ago, with a course staked out by the event’s race founder, Steve Brown, has grown into an annual event that brings out professional cyclists and novice mountain bikers alike.

“It started as almost a dare,” said Paye. “See if you can make it on this crazy trail, and I’ll give you a burger and a beer at the end.”

The scope of the race has expanded since then, with not only 5,000 athletes descending on Traverse City every year, but nearly 10,000 volunteers, spectators, and wellwishers at the Celebration Zone. The event has also seen the addition of shorter and more kid-friendly races like the Slush Cup and the Meijer Sno Cone. Luckily, there is still

14 FEBRUARY 2023

beer at the end, as Bell’s Brewery has been a key sponsor for the past 13 years.

“You can’t help but get caught up in the energy,” said Paye, who has volunteered along the course for the past 10 years herself. “Everyone cheers for everyone else, amateurs, pros. It doesn’t matter your level; you’re a part of the Iceman family.”

The family has been headed by Brown since the beginning, who recruited friends and family to help as the event grew, knowing the more significant the event got, the more impact it could have. Iceman has always had a nonprofit angle, with proceeds helping to promote health and wellness, land stewardship, and the biking community at large.

“Steve is a really giving human,” said Paye. “He loves this industry and saw a way to have a homegrown, feelgood event that feels like a homecoming no matter how big it gets.”

From the beginning, the community in northern Michigan has been as much a part of the race as the course and the riders themselves. Folks staking courses, transporting riders and their bikes, running first-aid and food stations, and cheering wildly all along the way.

Since its inception, Iceman has given nearly $500,000 to youth cycling programs, trail-building organizations, biking associations, and many local nonprofit efforts. It’s amazing what this “little bike race” has done to impact the community and its members since 1990.

Paye encourages anyone who thinks they might be up for the challenge to try Iceman once in their life. Registration begins in March and fills up quickly, with over $70,000 in cash prizes for pro and amateur categories. If you feel like biking crazy terrains through all kinds of weather while you smile bigger the muddier you get isn’t for you, the team is always looking for volunteers and supporters to cheer on the maniacs on bikes.

When asked if there’s something about Iceman that still surprises her after her decade with the organization, whether it’s the course with its ever-changing finish line, the support from the community, the lion-hearted athletes, or even the volunteers and fans who make it all happen, Paye pauses for a moment, almost wistfully, and says...

“All of it.”

If you’re considering signing up for Iceman, keep an eye out on the event website, iceman.com, for registration details. Or, if you’re interested in volunteering, send a note to icemaninfo@iceman.com /icemancomethtcmi

/IcemanTCMI
iceman.com

Co-op Welcomes New Employees

Due to continued growth at your Co-op, we’ve had the chance to welcome several new faces to the HomeWorks staff over the past year. Here are the new employees who joined our team in 2022:

Co-op Student Portland Office Charlie Vallier Fiber Installer Blanchard Office Jesse Wiles Customer Service Rep Portland Office Kaylee Shattuck Financial Analyst Portland Office Anna May Fiber Installer Portland Office Ryan Rembowski Co-op Student Portland Office Nicholas Rooks Customer Service Rep Portland Office Emily Mason Customer Service Rep Portland Office Todd Fullet Fiber Mapping Tech Portland Office Casey Heintzelman Meter Reader Blanchard Office Jasmine Leiferman Meter Reader Portland Office
16 FEBRUARY
Paul Edgecomb
2023

Safety always comes first at HomeWorks. That’s why HomeWorks Connect is offering a 911-only landline phone option for our internet subscribers: Talk-911. Talk-911’s location feature ensures that your phone line comes preprogrammed with your address so that any calls made to 911 will be automatically traced to your location. Because it’s a landline phone option, you also won’t have to worry about spotty connections or dropped calls.

Talk-911 provides a line that allows you to make calls only to 911. This is a perfect option for homes that need a reliable way to contact help in the case of an emergency. The location feature gives you peace of mind in knowing that your young children or aging family members will be able to be located during an emergency that they’ve called in, even if they can’t give an address over the phone.

Interested in this service? If you’re already an internet subscriber, give our office a call at 800-668-8413 and we’ll be happy to add this to your package selection. If you don’t have our internet yet, preregister today at Join.HomeWorksConnect.org by inputting your address. That way, you can find out which zone you’re in and what stage of construction your neighborhood is in. You’ll also be able to select the Talk-911 package and any of our other internet or phone packages.

Have questions? Give us a call at 800-668-8413.

MAKE YOUR HOME OFFICE THE BEST IT CAN BE Make sure your internet speeds and phone lines are able to handle whatever life throws your way. KEEP YOUR FAMILY SAFE WITH A 911-ONLY PHONE LINE! INTERNET PACKAGES START AT ONLY $54.95 Talk-911 $ 14.95 /mo. with autopay savings* ONLY AVAILABLE FOR 911 Calling Only Preprogrammed address for 911 call centers One-time $10/line activation charge not included in price INTERNET SUBSCRIBERS *Non-autopay fee is $5/mo. per account

Should I Change My Charging Habits?

Four things to know about extending rechargeable battery life

Many of us are so connected to our phones, tablets, and laptops that we panic when their battery nears the dreaded 0% mark. We want our device batteries to perform well for as long as possible. If you ever fret over your device’s power levels, here are tips on striking the right balance between battery health and how you work and play.

Keep your battery about 40% to 80% charged.

There’s a lot of reasonable advice around the internet to keep your phone charged between 20% and 80%, or between 40% and 80%. To understand those recommendations—and why you might want to either follow them or ignore them—it helps to understand how rechargeable batteries work.

Up until about 20 years ago, batteries benefitted from occasional “deep discharges”—running the battery down until the device shuts off. But because of the different materials used in batteries today, that’s not true anymore.

Rechargeable batteries contain two different materials that produce electricity when particles flow from one to the other. They flow in the other direction when being recharged. That process will degrade any battery over time. Keeping both sides of the battery in balance, with the device charged at about 50%, will put the least amount of stress on the battery and make it last longer.

But that’s unrealistic—no one’s going to keep their phone half-charged all the time. So, the experts try to make it easier by recommending 40% to 80% or 20% to 80%. Apple devices offer even more flexibility, pointing out that modern rechargeable batteries are designed to last for years in the various ways you use them. They recommend that rather than worrying about the battery, you just focus on using and enjoying your device.

Overnight charging can add stress to some batteries.

Charging your device up to 100% or letting it drain to 0% until it shuts down does put extra stress on the battery and can shorten its life. That’s why it can make sense to charge your devices occasionally throughout the day rather than keeping them plugged in while you sleep. Newer electronics will actually stop charging at 100%. But then, each time the charge drops to 99%, charging will resume.

Keep it cool, but not cold.

One absolute in battery care is don’t let your device get warmer than 95 degrees. Keep it out of the sun, and never leave it in a hot vehicle. If the device does get hot, don’t go to the other extreme and put it in the freezer. Just place it in the shade or take the cover off for a while.

Use less power.

It sounds simple, but one of the easiest ways to put less stress on the battery is to use less power. You can close energy-draining apps and functions when you’re not using them, and you can activate energy-saving settings like putting the device to sleep sooner. Another easy way to reduce battery use is to activate the “airplane mode” button every now and then.

If you’re the kind of person who likes to turn in their electronics every couple of years for the latest versions, these recommendations likely won’t apply. But if you’re someone who wants your devices to last longer, these suggestions can help prolong battery life.

18 FEBRUARY 2023

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Report Outages: 1-800-848-9333

Tour Dates: June 14-18, 2023

Travel to Washington, D.C., to explore monuments and museums, meet with a member o f Congress, and make lifelong friends with other students from across the country. You'll discover leadership lessons from our nation's history and be immersed in the cooperative spirit that built our nation, with all expenses paid by your local electric cooperative. Yeah, that's pretty amazing. Are you up for it?

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