Feb. 2023 MEC

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Iceman The Cometh America’s Coolest Race Is In Northern Michigan COUNTRY LINES February 2023 MICHIGAN Midwest Energy & Communications Is Arlo Right For You? Strengthening Schools Winners Announced What’s On Your Electric Bill?

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

teammidwest.com

/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

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

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

DIRECTOR, CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS & MARKETING: Amy Pales

COMMUNICATIONS SPECIALIST:

Grant Zamora

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

Electric Infrastructure Maintenance for 2023

Maintaining over 4,000 miles of line and roughly 100,000 poles is no walk in the park, but it’s an important part of what we do. Every day, our team works hard to make sure our infrastructure is built for the future. Here are our plans for 2023.

Let’s start with our tree and brush removal program. We remove obstructions from around our lines because trees and power lines do not mix. This ongoing project is critical for reliability, safety, and outage prevention. Overgrown brush around our infrastructure means more dangerous and difficult repairs and ultimately leads to longer outages. By aggressively clearing around our lines, we can reduce the time it takes to restore power.

Additionally, we continue our smart grid implementation through distribution automation (DA). DA automatically identifies and isolates outages and then reroutes electricity where possible to reduce impact. In nonoutage situations, it helps us monitor equipment and identify problems.

In our southwest territory, we’ll add an additional 30 DA devices throughout the system by the end of this year. On the southeast side, we added smart reclosers to over 80% of our substation circuits and will continue to add more DA devices once we complete work on our southwest side.

Additionally, we have been actively replacing some of our copper wire with aluminum conductor steel-reinforced wire. This ensures the system can handle additional electric load. Plus, in certain circumstances, it enables us to improve our tie lines between substations, which means we can more readily reroute electricity when there is an outage. Finally, when we replace the old wire, we also ensure that the poles are an ideal distance of 200–250 feet apart.

Speaking of poles, as part of our normal maintenance, we test select poles each year. Any that fail the test get replaced the following year, and all poles get tested every five years. This ensures our poles are stable and in good condition.

We’ve also got substation upgrades on the horizon. Our power supplier, Wolverine Power Cooperative, will begin work on our Schoolcraft substation in 2023. Plus, we have plans for additional upgrades in the coming years.

These investments are critical to ensuring reliability, and they modernize our grid to help bring you the best service experience possible.

VAN BUREN KALAMAZOO CASS ST JOSEPH LENAWEE MONROE
4 FEBRUARY 2023
Robert Hance, President/CEO

Applications Open for Youth Tour

Online applications are open for NRECA Youth Tour!

Up to two students will be selected for this all-expensepaid trip to Washington, D.C., in June 2023. Youth Tour is an opportunity to explore our nation’s capital, meet with members of Congress, and build leadership skills.

Our top applicants will participate in a hands-on educational experience with MEC employees on Friday, March 17, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The day will start at our headquarters in Cassopolis, where attendees will learn about MEC, hear about careers in the industry, and see firsthand what it

Attention High School Seniors

Answer this video challenge, and you could earn $1,000 toward your college education!

Pick a job from one of the descriptions listed at teammidwest.com/scholarship. Then envision a future version of yourself with the experience needed to qualify. What have you accomplished that would make you the perfect candidate?

Create a video resume to tell us about yourself and why we should choose you for the job, along with anything else you think would make us pick you.

To help you out, we’ve included tips on how to make a great resume at teammidwest.com/scholarship.

More About the Scholarship

High school seniors whose families receive monthly service from MEC at their primary residence can apply. Children of MEC employees and board members are not eligible to apply.

Scholarship applications must be submitted by Monday, March 13, 2023, and awards will be announced in April. Selection for the scholarship is based on the video submission along with academic performance,

means to be part of an electric cooperative. After getting to know participants during MEC Day, we will select up to two students to go on Youth Tour.

Students must be high school sophomores or juniors, and their families must receive electric service from MEC. Please note that children of MEC employees and board members are not eligible to apply.

The deadline to apply is Feb. 28, 2023. To learn more and fill out an application, visit cooperativeyouthtour.com

extracurricular activities, involvement and/or employment, and honors and awards.

A minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0 on a fourpoint scale is required, and an official transcript must be submitted for final approval.

Get creative and have fun. Your unique, funny, or even quirky video might just be worth $1,000 toward your education!

Submit your video online at teammidwest.com/scholarship by Monday, March 13.

Please note: Children of MEC employees and board members are not eligible to apply.

We Have a YouTube Channel!

What are the pros and cons of kids having a cell phone? Where’s the best place to put your router? How do you get out of a car trapped by fallen power lines?

Safety Ace Evan and Techie Chuck, our in-house experts, help you answer questions like these each month on our YouTube channel. Find us at youtube.com/@Team_Midwest to find Safety Smarts, Tech Talks, and more fun and informative videos!

MEC NEWS OF NOTE
5 MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES

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

BILL ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS

INTERNET/PHONE ASSISTANCE

Affordable Connectivity Program

Up to $30/mo. off internet service.

Lifeline Program

Up to $9.25 off the cost of phone, internet, or bundled services.

MEC PROGRAMS AVAILABLE TO ALL CUSTOMERS

OWN IT Prepaid Metering

Avoid deposits, late charges, and collection/reconnection fees by paying your electric bill in advance.

Budget Billing

Get roughly the same electric bill each month by having us calculate your payment based on your previous 12-month average.

Payment Arrangements

If you’ve fallen behind on your bills, we’re happy to set up a payment arrangement.

STATE OF MICHIGAN ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS

*Note: For Indiana and Ohio service addresses, please call 2-1-1 for the most accurate and up-to-date information about programs in your area.

Winter Protection Plan

Protects senior citizens and low-income individuals from shutoff during winter months. All senior citizens are automatically enrolled, but low-income individuals need to apply through the state. Be aware that while you are protected from shutoff, this plan does not eliminate your bill. Please call 2-1-1 for details.

Shutoff Protection for Military Active Duty

Protection from shutoff if you or your spouse has been called into active military duty.

State Emergency Relief Program

Cash grants for residents facing past-due bills and/or shutoff notices.

Medical Emergency Protection

Protection from shutoff if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Michigan Veterans Trust Fund

Assistance to veterans and their families facing a financial emergency or hardship.

Michigan Homeowner Assistance Fund Funds for homeowners to prevent loss of utilities or energy services.

Michigan Energy Assistance Program

Assistance with paying bills, budgeting, and more.

Home Heating Credit

Assistance with heating bills.

AD D IT IO NAL A S SI S TAN C E PROG RAMS

United Way

Free 24/7 phone service to provide information about services in your area that help with utility bills and other needs. Call 2-1-1

Salvation Army Energy assistance for those who qualify.

Federal Assistance Programs

The United States government offers a number of assistance programs for qualifying residents.

QUESTIONS? CONTACT US

800.492.5989

ELECTRIC PROPANE INTERNET PHONE

WE’VE MOVED!

Our Tecumseh office has officially opened its doors to the public. The larger facility has a drive-thru for your added convenience and security. While our Adrian facility has closed, we can’t wait to meet you at our new building that’s better equipped than ever before to serve your needs. Check out some pics of the new place!

NEW ADDRESS: 5050 South Occidental Hwy. Tecumseh, MI 49286

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

MEC IN THE COMMUNITY

Thanksgiving Dinner at the Council on Aging

Several employees volunteered at the Cass COA for their Thanksgiving dinner. Some helped prep food for the dinner and for their Meals on Wheels service, which provided food to those who couldn’t drive to the COA. Others helped serve guests on the day of the event.

Toys for Tots

Thanks to generous donations from employees, MEC donated hundreds of dollars worth of toys to Toys for Tots this year!

In addition to individual donations, our annual Secret Santa gift exchange doubled as a Toys for Tots drive. Team members who wanted to participate were told to get a gift their Secret Santa would have liked when they were 2-18 years old. It was a fun way to reminisce while donating to a good cause.

Toys for Tots donations on display at Cass HQ.

Thanksgiving and Christmas Families

We also adopted seven families with the help of the Michigan Department of Human Services of Cass and St. Joseph counties for the 2022 Holiday Project.

MEC and its family of employees donated to provide a full Thanksgiving meal and Christmas presents for seven families with 23 people to cover both holidays. Families included senior citizens and kids ranging from 4 to 16 years old.

Top and middle: MEC employees wrap Christmas presents for families in need.

Bottom: A group of Christmas presents for adopted families.

MEC employees serve seniors at the Council on Aging.
12 FEBRUARY 2023

Strengthening Schools Grants Recipients

In January, we awarded local teachers, administrators, and school officials with Strengthening Schools Grants to help them bring new and exciting learning opportunities to students throughout our service territory. The program is funded by partnership dollars through our power supplier, Wolverine Power Cooperative. We’re proud to offer these grants each year to those who share our vision of creating vibrant, relevant, and sustainable rural communities. A team of MEC customers evaluates all applications without knowledge of the applicants, districts, or communities. Take a look at this year’s winners and their projects:

Bloomingdale Middle/High School

Woodshop equipment

Cassopolis Middle School Science kits for all sixth-grade classrooms

Clinton High School Video recording equipment for professional presentation practice

Constantine Public Schools K-8 social and emotional learning curriculum

Dowagiac Middle School Robotics equipment for STEM programs

Edwardsburg Intermediate Codable robots for computer science education

Edwardsburg Primary Ecosystem project equipment

Gobles Elementary Books to fill book vending machine

Hartford High School Chromebooks for students who need assistive technology

Kincheloe Elementary Subscription to science education website

Lawton Elementary Wireless microphone for teaching music

Madison High School Robotics equipment for AP computer science classes

Marcellus-Volinia Outcomes Books for at-risk students; home economics equipment

Mattawan Middle School iPads for app creation classes

Mendon Jr./Sr. High School Online mathematics program

Niles High School CPR and AED training equipment

Paw Paw Middle School Hydroponic tower for plant growth studies

Pullman Elementary Phonics books for struggling readers

Riverside Elementary Hands-on mathematics equipment

Tecumseh Acres Early Learning Center Phonics materials for kindergarteners

Vicksburg High School Recording devices for band programs

Watervliet Public Schools New library books

13 MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES

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

Choosing the Best Arlo Package for You

Arlo security cameras are your ticket to total home visibility, and they’re available to purchase for all MEC fiber internet customers. With three packages available, how can you tell which one is right for you? Let’s take a tour.

This package is exactly what it says on the tin: a constant surveillance system for your doorway. It comes with an Arlo Essential Wireless Video Doorbell and chime, plus a subscription to Arlo Secure that comes with motion notifications, activity zones, animated previews, and more.

This package is ideal for those who:

• Have a smaller yard or fenced-in property

• Get lots of traffic at the door (for example, package deliveries or guests)

Because of the low cost and access to à la carte options, the 24/7 Doorman is also our most easily customizable package.

If you want a doorbell and one or two indoor cameras, but not the full second-tier package, this one is for you.

The Outdoor Observer gets the doorbell and chime from the 24/7 Doorman package, plus two outdoor security cameras with two solar chargers.

This is our most popular package. We recommend it if you:

• Have an easily accessible property

• Have kids who play outside

• Travel frequently or for long periods of time (like going south for the winter)

The Outdoor Observer also gives you access to Arlo Secure Plus. In addition to the features of Arlo Secure, Arlo Secure Plus subscribers get emergency access to first responders and can prefill information for their homes and households (for example, gate access codes or medical history).

Fortress subscribers receive everything included in the 24/7 Doorman and Outdoor Observer packages, plus an extra outdoor camera and solar panel charger, and two indoor cameras. Just like the Outdoor Observer, the Fortress comes with Arlo Secure Plus.

The Fortress is best if you:

• Are looking after a family member

• Have pets who spend time indoors

• Want total visibility inside and outside your home

Exclusive Benefits for MEC Customers

When you sign up for the 24/7 Doorman, Outdoor Observer, or Fortress, you also get the exclusive benefits that come with being an MEC fiber internet customer:

• No up-front camera cost

• Camera install and network configuration performed by local MEC technicians

• Your cameras are optimized to work with MEC fiber internet

• If something breaks, we replace it*

• Need help with your camera system? Enjoy MEC tech support as part of your service

• 30 days of video history and object detection

• Includes ProtectIQ automatic hacker blocking through the free CommandIQ app

*Subject to terms and conditions.

$12/mo. $50 installation $42/mo. $150 installation $62/mo.

$300 installation

Visit us at teammidwest.com/securitycameras to learn more and sign up.
24/7 DOORMAN OUTDOOR OBSERVER FORTRESS
16 FEBRUARY 2023

Anatomy of Your Electric Bill

Wondering what all the lines on your electric bill mean?

We’ve put together a simple breakdown to explain.

established rates. We do not generate electricity. Instead, we purchase it from Wolverine Power Cooperative, our power supply partner. The energy comes into our substations over transmission lines, and we distribute the power to your home. We collect the money as part of your monthly bill and pay that back to our power supply partner.

Power Cost Adjustment

Monthly Service Charge

This is a fixed monthly fee representing everything that must be in place 24/7 for you to access service, regardless of how much or how little actual energy you use. It includes things like substations, poles and wires, labor, vehicles, offices, and annual capital investments to improve reliability and service.

Distribution Charge

This charge reflects your kilowatt usage and includes any additional operational costs not captured by the service charge.

Energy Charge

This represents the cost of generating and transmitting the power you used during that billing cycle based on

Energy-Temperature Comparison

To the left of your breakdown of charges is a graph comparing your monthly energy usage to average outdoor temperatures over the last 13 months. This is a useful tool for predicting when you’ll use the most energy in a given year.

Energy Usage Comparison

Underneath your breakdown of charges are a few fast facts about your energy usage this billing cycle. Blue bubbles on the left compare your total energy usage this month, last month, and this month last year, while green bubbles on the right contain your daily averages from this month.

This variable charge represents the difference between what we budget for power supply and what we actually pay.

Optional Programs or Services

If you participate in our community solar, any load management program, or net metering, or have a security light, your charges or credits appear above the state tax line.

MI Low-Income Energy Fund

This was established by the Michigan legislature in 2013 as a long-term solution to assist eligible residents with their utility bills. Energy providers collect the funds, then turn them over to be managed by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. This fixed monthly fee is capped at $1.

17 MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES

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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Can be installed in one day, any time of the year. No digging or excavation required.

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TeamMidwest.com
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