Page 1

January 2019


COUNTRY LINES Midwest Energy & Communications JAKE INGLE:

Building Dreams OUT OF SNOW

Now Accepting Youth Tour Applications

Thanking Our Veterans

Time Capsules And High School ScholarshipsÂ

Harness the power of the sun... using the Earth.

Geothermal gives you the freedom to focus on life WaterFurnace geothermal systems provide reliable operation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year—rain or shine, day or night, windy or not. They use the stored solar energy in the ground to provide your family luxurious comfort and incredible savings. In fact, it’s the only HVAC system that’ll pay you back—and with the renewed 30% federal tax credit1, there’s never been a better time to switch to the Reliable Renewable. Contact your local WaterFurnace dealer today.

visit us at

Bad Axe B & D Htg (989) 269-5280

Caro AllTemp Comfort, Inc. (866) 844-HEAT (4328)

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

Berrien Springs WaterFurnace Michiana (269) 473-5667 gogreenmich

Clifford Orton Refrig & Htg (989) 761-7691

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

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

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

1. 30% through 2019, 26% through 2020 and 22% through 2021

Muskegon Adams Htg & Clg (231) 873-2665 adamsheating

Sunfield Mark Woodman Plmb & Htg (517) 886-1138

Kiessel Geothermal Htg & Clg (231) 747-7509

Traverse City D & W Mechanical (231) 941-1215

Portland ESI Htg & Clg (517) 647-6906

Geofurnace Htg & Clg (231) 943-1000

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

In This Issue January 2019 || Vol. 39, No. 1

Michigan’s Electric Cooperatives michigancountrylines

Executive Editor: Casey Clark Editor: Christine Dorr Copy Editor: Heidi Spencer Design and Production: Karreen Bird Publisher: Michigan Electric Cooperative Association Michigan Country Lines, USPS-591710, is published monthly, except August and December, with periodicals postage paid at Lansing, Mich., and additional offices. It is the official publication of the Michigan Electric Cooperative Association, 201 Townsend St., Suite 900, Lansing, MI 48933. Subscriptions are authorized for members of Alger Delta, Cherryland, Great Lakes, HomeWorks Tri-County, Midwest Energy & Communications, Ontonagon, Presque Isle, and Thumb electric cooperatives by their boards of directors. POSTMASTER: SEND ALL UAA TO CFS. Association officers are Robert Kran, Great Lakes Energy, chairman; Mark Kappler, HomeWorks Tri-County Electric, vice chairman; and Eric Baker, Wolverine Power Cooperative, secretary-treasurer. Craig Borr is president and CEO. CONTACT US/LETTERS TO EDITOR: Michigan Country Lines 201 Townsend St., Suite 900 Lansing, MI 48933 248-534-7358

CHANGE OF ADDRESS: Please notify your electric cooperative. See page 4 for contact information.



A Multitude Of Experiences

Rick Fowler, Great Lakes Energy member

7 SAFETY Portable Generator Safety Tips 10 MI CO-OP KITCHEN Tasty And Filling Pasta Recipes Christin McKamey & Our Readers

Enjoy our featured Jubilee Bean Turkey Chili, compliments of Bill Van Gilder, an FIS technical halfpipe delegate and an owner of Van Gilder’s Jubilee Restaurant in the Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania. Enter Our Recipe Contest And Win A $50 Bill Credit!

14 FEATURE Jake Ingle: Building Dreams Out Of Snow Emily Haines Lloyd


Oliver And My Father Karen Reilly, Midwest Energy & Communications member

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

Guess Our New Mystery Photo And Win A $50 Bill Credit!

ON THE COVER Petoskey resident Jake Ingle is the brain and brawn behind many of the famous snowboarding half-pipes and super-pipes across the world, including this one (pictured above and on the cover) at Colorado’s Copper Mountain and the highly-praised half-pipe at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Learn more on page 14.

Win $150 for stories published!

Guest Column Country Lines invites members to submit their fond memories and stories. Guidelines 1. Approximately 350 words 2. Digital photos must be at least 600 KB 3. Submit your guest column at under the MI Co-op Community tab








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 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.


BOARD OF DIRECTORS Clarence “Topper” Barth, Chairperson, Three Rivers 269-279-9233 Ben Russell, Vice Chairperson, Constantine 269-435-8564 Ron Armstrong, Secretary, Lawton 269-299-0239 John Green, Treasurer, Dowagiac 269-470-2816 Gerry Bundle, Cassopolis 269-414-0164 Arell Chapman, Onsted 517-292-3040 James Dickerson, Bloomingdale 269-370-6868 Fred Turk, Decatur 269-423-7762 PRESIDENT/CEO Robert Hance VP, CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS/EDITOR Patty Nowlin COMMUNICATIONS SPECIALIST

Amy Pales

Join us on Facebook: Midwest Energy & Communications is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

4 JANUARY 2019

We’re Losing Ourselves For You Robert Hance, President/CEO

“The more you lose yourself in something bigger than yourself, the more energy you will have.”  ––Dr. Norman Vincent Peale I recently shared this quote with our employee family. In its simplicity, it aptly defines our culture and what we do each and every day to transform the rural space and experience on behalf of our 40,000-plus electric, propane and fiber internet consumers. We accomplished an audacious list of goals and objectives in 2017, and it would have been easy to view 2018 as a period of rest and recovery. However, that’s just not the MEC way. We rolled up our collective sleeves and got down to business out of the gate, creating yet another year of energetic productivity and phenomenal results. On the electric side, we leveraged the investment of the new fiber communications infrastructure on our grid and began implementing a major application that will allow us to isolate outages and minimize consumer impact. We have a long way to go, but this technology will create tremendous efficiencies in restoration and reduce overall outage hours. Late in the year, in partnership with our power supplier, we commissioned SpartanSolar-MEC. This is a meaningful way for our electric consumers to participate in renewable energy without the huge out-of-pocket investment and ongoing maintenance. It’s another victory for Michigan’s cooperatives, who lead the state in renewable generation. We welcomed a steady stream of new propane customers through the year, and our entire family of consumers is enjoying a winter of price stability in a very unstable market because of our guaranteed capped rate. It’s been another volatile heating season, and we’re only halfway through. We’ll have another great story to tell come spring, and will gladly welcome folks ready for a partner they can trust. Finally, we’ve entered our fifth and final year of our southwest Michigan fiber deployment, and we’re now developing construction plans for our 2020 southeast Michigan launch. The business turned cash positive in 2018, in just four short years, and we ended the year with 8,800 subscribers. We also celebrated a huge win with a $5.1 million award through the federal CAF-II auction. This is meaningful in that it allows us to grow the business, and it also represents the culmination of years of education and advocacy about the need to change policy and funding for rural broadband. 2019 promises to bring all of the above, and then some. We’re evaluating a couple of program offerings to add value to your service experience, and preparing to launch our new SmartHub, which will provide a single account login for all lines of business. Ultimately, we’re going to continue losing ourselves in something bigger than ourselves as we deliver first-in-class innovations and solutions where others won’t.

MEC NEWS OF NOTE Calling All Sophomores And Juniors: Now Accepting Youth Tour Applications

Michigan’s 2018 Youth Tour students meet Congressmen Jack Bergman and Bill Huizenga on the steps of the Capitol building.

In June, more than 1,500 high school students representing rural America will converge upon Washington, D.C., for a tour of our nation’s capital, and we’re looking for up to two students to represent Midwest Energy & Communications (MEC). The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association Youth Tour is June 15–20. We invite high school sophomore and junior MEC electric consumers to apply for this once-in-a-lifetime, all-expensespaid opportunity. If selected, you will meet for orientation in Portland, then board a motor coach bound for Washington, D.C., stopping en route to tour the Civil War battlegrounds in Gettysburg, Pa., and participate in a flag ceremony at Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Md.—birthplace of the “The Star-Spangled Banner.” You will then tour various monuments and memorials, witness the time-honored changing of the guard ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, and visit with Michigan Senators and Congressmen on Capitol Hill.

Interested? Fill out the online application at by Feb. 28. We will select our top applicants to participate in a full-day, hands-on educational experience at our Cassopolis headquarters on Friday, March 15. You’ll learn about MEC, meet with different team members to hear about careers in the industry and see first-hand what it means to be part of an electric cooperative. After getting to know you, we’ll select our candidates to represent us on the summer Youth Tour.

Attention High School Seniors: Scholarship Applications Available

on a four-point scale is required and an official transcript must be submitted for final approval.

Film yourself building a time capsule to open 10 years from now. What would you put in it and why? The capsule could be for you or your family, school, or community. Your unique, funny or even quirky video might just put $1,000 towards your education!

Get creative and have fun. Apply now at

Seniors whose families receive electric, fiber or propane service from MEC at their primary residence are invited to apply. Videos and applications must be submitted by Monday, March 18, and awards will be announced in April. Selection for the scholarship is based on the video along with academic performance, extra-curricular activities, community involvement and/or employment, and honors/ awards. A minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0




MI CO-OP Community

A Multitude Of Experiences Can Be Fulfilled Within 20 Minutes By Rick Fowler, Great Lakes Energy member

Russian-born comedian Yakov Smirnoff’s shtick includes his catchphrase, “America, what a country!” As a life-long resident of Michigan if I ever find my way onto the outdoor speaking venue my shtick would be along the lines, “Northwest Michigan, what a beautiful piece of America!” Why wouldn’t I want to brag about this little area of our country? Within 20 minutes of stepping out my door, I can fish for lake trout, brook trout, brown trout, walleye, pike and panfish. Within 20 minutes I can ply the woods for deer, bear and grouse. Plus, I am only a few minutes away from paddling on exceptional kayak and canoe waters or hopping on a boat and going through a lock. Essentially, I have the ability to travel anywhere in the world on the waters which touch the shores of nearby lakes and rivers. A few miles down the road from where I live, I can get lost on a two-track road. It’s not a panicky lost, but an exhilarating lost. Knowing that the little-used road will eventually lead me somewhere makes me want to keep advancing and not turn around just from the fear of being lost. I go slowly because if I go faster the sound is not the

same. With additional speed, this venture would be more like a ride. I don’t just want a ride, I want an adventure. This is magical! THAT’S WHAT WE ALL CAN DO within minutes of our homes—seek the magic that waits in northern Michigan. Within 20 minutes of my home, I can awaken all of my senses. It might just be the smell of wild grape hidden amongst the tag alder and aspen, decaying moss, leaves and grass or the essence of wildflowers wafting in the air. It might be the crash of some creature ambling through the woods, the sight of flocks of birds, rolling hills and the Windex blue of any of the lakes only minutes away. Beautiful scenery, bountiful opportunities and a slate that can be filled every day without too much effort. How could anyone who lives in this two peninsula state ever utter the word boring?

Rick taught high school English in Boyne City for 34 years. For the past 25 years, he has been an outdoor freelance writer.

NO BARRIERS ADVENTURES FOR RURAL VETERANS—APPLY BY FEB. 28 Michigan electric cooperatives believe there should be “No Barriers” for veterans with disabilities. That’s the name and idea behind CoBank’s No Barriers initiative. Michigan cooperatives are looking for qualified veterans* from our local community to participate. No Barriers is a five-day, all-expenses-paid, expedition in Colorado, designed to help veterans with disabilities transform their lives through curriculum-based experience in challenging environments (climbing, rafting and hiking). If you are a disabled veteran, or you know of a disabled veteran in our community who would like to participate in the No Barriers program, please complete the form on our website: *Must have VA disability rating to be eligible.

Portable Generator

SAFETY TIPS Carbon Monoxide And Ventilation

• Using a generator indoors can kill you in minutes. Exhaust contains carbon monoxide, a deadly, poisonous gas you cannot see or smell. • NEVER run a generator indoors or in partly-enclosed areas, such as garages. • ONLY use outdoors and far from windows, doors, vents, and crawl spaces, and in an area where adequate ventilation is available and deadly exhaust gas cannot accumulate. • 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 manufacturer’s instructions/recommendations.

Gasoline, Fueling And Burn Safety

Always read the owner’s manual and instructions for your generator. Do NOT cut corners when it comes to safety. These tips are merely supplemental and are not intended as a substitute for reading the owner’s manual.

• Do not overfill the fuel tank. Always allow room for fuel expansion. • If the tank is over-filled, fuel can overflow onto a hot engine and cause fire or explosion. • Never add fuel while the unit is running or hot. Allow the generator and engine to cool entirely before adding fuel. • Never store a generator with fuel in the tank where gasoline vapors might reach an open flame, spark or pilot light. • 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.

• 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 related to grounding.

Electrocution Hazard And Electrical Shock Hazards

• 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.

• Do not connect your generator directly to your home’s wiring or into a regular household outlet. • 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. • Only start or stop the generator when no electrical loads are connected. • Overloading your generator can seriously damage your valuable appliances and electronics. Do not overload the generator. Prioritize your needs; do not operate more appliances and equipment than the output rating of the generator. A portable electric generator should be used only when necessary and only to power essential equipment.

Generator Placement And Operation

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.




Prioritize Energy Efficiency In 2019

Tired of high energy bills? Now is the time to take action! Getting started is easy with the Energy Optimization program. Cash incentives are available to help offset the upfront cost of energy-efficient equipment—which can help you save energy and money for years to come. A few of the energy-saving opportunities currently available include:

FREE Farm Energy Assessment:

To begin understanding more about your farm’s energy usage, take advantage of our free assessment. The complimentary assessment will help identify where and how to implement practical, energy-saving alternatives to outdated, inefficient equipment.

Incentives For Energy-Efficient Products And Equipment: Receive cash back when you purchase and install energyefficient measures such as: • • • • • • • •

Low-energy livestock waterers Fans and controls Milk-handling equipment Variable speed pumps and controllers Dairy refrigeration tune-ups Irrigation system upgrades LED grow lights and poultry lights Long-day lighting systems

Incentives For Custom Projects:

Have an energy efficiency project in mind, but don’t see it on our list? The Energy Optimization program will work with you to provide incentives for innovative and unique energy efficiency projects designed to meet specific needs. Contact us to discuss your ideas!

Learn More Read about how your neighbors have utilized Energy Optimization program incentives to improve the energy efficiency of their agribusinesses at Relevant articles include: • “Coulter Farms Harvest Big Savings” • “Coveyou Scenic Farm Market Flourishes with Energy Savings” • “Award-winning Labor Housing Reaps Great Savings for Friske Orchards” • “Sklarczyk Seed Farm Shines Bright with LED Grow Lights” Get started today. View all farm services incentives at or call 877.296.4319 for details.

ENERGY SAVINGS ARE ON THE HORIZON The Energy Optimization program provides Michigan farmers with energy-saving incentives and solutions that can improve your bottom line: • FREE energy assessment • Cash incentives for energy-saving lighting, fans, pumps, and more • Custom rebates for large or complex projects P H O N E : 877.296.4319 ONLINE:

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

THE McKenna isn’t just an employee; she’s a consumer too. She grew up on MEC’s lines and now she receives our electric, propane, and internet.

MEET MCKENNA Meet McKenna, administrative coordinator. She keeps our managers and supervisors on track and first represented MEC as a delegate for the 2010 Washington D.C. Youth Tour sponsored by the National Rural Electric Co-op Association (NRECA). The trip, which brings together students representing electric co-ops from across the nation, changed her life. She was then elected to serve on NRECA’s Youth Leadership Council through which she interacted with industry leaders, learned about the impact of electric co-ops and mentored other youth on subsequent trips to D.C. and Orlando. The experience inspired her to pursue a career in the electric industry because in her words, “Power makes the world go around.” So, in 2012, when she saw the opportunity to become a co-op student at MEC, she immediately jumped at the chance. During this part-time internship, she served as a “Jane-of-all-trades,” helping her fellow coworkers with whatever they needed while learning valuable business skills. Just over two years later, she joined our team full time and now works with her colleagues on projects ranging from public policy advocacy to employee safety.

From our operations crew in the field to our support staff in our offices, our employees help create vibrant, relevant, sustainable communities every day, and many of them also call these communities home. In 2019, we will take you behind the lines and introduce you to a few of these individuals who are MEC consumers just like you.

I love the four seasons and continue to be amazed by our state’s landscape. I recently hiked 20 miles through the Upper Peninsula and was blown away by the serenity and beauty. I feel so lucky to call this place home,” she said. When she isn’t throwing a disc or casting a line, you can find her creating custom-designed shirts, glassware, artwork and more for her business, The Custom Niche. “I love crafting, and a few years ago I started making fun things for my friends and family. The next thing I knew, I had a steady stream of requests from many different people, so I decided to make it official,” she noted. “It’s been a great experience making so many unique items, and I like knowing that what I create has special meaning for my customers.” You can find her store, The Custom Niche, on Facebook.

Creative and business savvy, McKenna sells merchandise from her online boutique at a local craft fair. You can find her store on Facebook at The Custom Niche.

A native of Union, she grew up on a farm where she learned the value of hard work and developed a love of the outdoors. Fishing, hunting, disc golfing and kayaking top her list of favorite hobbies, but you can also find her enjoying the simple act of sitting around a fire with her family and two pups. “I can’t imagine living anywhere other than Michigan.



Pasta Perfect Quick, tasty and filling pasta recipes. Photos—Robert Bruce Photography

Winning Recipe!

Gigi’s Famous Farfalle And Sausage Pasta Gigi Bozzano, Midwest Energy & Communications

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 1 pound Italian sausages (sweet or spicy), casings removed before cooking ¼ to ¾ teaspoon dried crushed red pepper (optional according to taste) ½ small onion (red or white), finely chopped 2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced (optional) 1 can (28-ounces) crushed tomatoes (with puree) ¾ cup heavy whipping cream 1 pound farfalle (DeCecco brand works well) • salt for pasta water: 1 tablespoon table salt or 1.5 tablespoons kosher salt ½ cup packed fresh basil, chiffonade right before serving • grated pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano Heat olive oil on medium heat in a large (12-inch) heavy skillet. When simmering, add Italian sausage and crushed red pepper. Sauté sausage until no longer pink, breaking it up with a wooden spoon while it cooks for about 5–6 minutes. Add chopped onion and garlic; reduce heat. Cook until soft but don’t let brown, 3–4 minutes. Add tomatoes and cream and reduce heat to a simmer (so the cream doesn’t curdle). After about 5 minutes, taste. If the sauce is a little acidic, add ½ teaspoon sugar. Meanwhile, fill a large pot with water. Add salt and bring to a boil. When boiling vigorously, add pasta and cook until it still has a 10 JANUARY 2019

“bite;” undercook it by about 3 minutes, as it will finish cooking in the sauce in the skillet. When the pasta is ready, reserve and set aside 1 cup pasta water. Drain pasta or remove with a large slotted spoon and add to sauce/sausage. Toss pasta and sauce over medium-low heat and toss until all the sauce coats the pasta. Add pasta water by ¼ cups to ensure the sauce stays creamy and coats everything. The dish usually requires at least ½ cup of pasta water. After 2–3 minutes, taste pasta for doneness, and if it’s “al dente,” remove from burner. Taste for seasoning. If you think it needs salt, remember that cheese adds salt. Transfer to a large serving dish and chiffonade* and add fresh basil. Toss pasta with basil. Serve the grated cheese on the side. Gigi’s Tip: Basil chiffonade Pile basil leaves on top of one another and gently roll into a cigar shape. With a sharp knife, cut basil into thin strips. I’ve been making this for 30 years and it’s my most requested dish. Buon appetito a tutti! (Enjoy your meal!)

Watch a video of this month’s winning recipe at

Pasta Salad With Lemon Vinaigrette


Laura Burke, Great Lakes Energy 8 1 2 1 ¼ 3 1

ounces uncooked small shell pasta pint grape tomatoes, halved cups coarsely chopped fresh spinach yellow bell pepper, chopped cup red onion, chopped tablespoons chopped fresh dill package (4 ounces) crumbled feta cheese

Lemon Vinaigrette ¼ cup fresh lemon juice 1 teaspoon dijon mustard 1 large clove garlic, minced ¼ teaspoon salt ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper ½ cup vegetable oil

Cook pasta according to directions; drain. Toss pasta with remaining ingredients. For dressing, whisk together first five ingredients. Gradually add oil in a steady stream, whisking until blended. Toss pasta salad with dressing. Serve immediately or cover and chill up to 8 hours. Enjoy.

Jake Ingle knows it takes a team to create a successful snowboard half-pipe and it helps when a member of that team knows how to warm everyone up with something hot and delicious at the end of a day. Bill Van Gilder is an FIS technical delegate at half-pipe Grand Prix events. His family owns a restaurant in the Pocono Mountains——Van Gilder’s Jubilee Restaurant. So, when Bill is cooking up something——everyone knows it’s a meal that is not to be missed.

Mostaccioli Bake Susan Miner, Cherryland 8 1½ ½ 1 1 1 1 ½ 1 1 1 ¹⁄8 1 2 ½

ounces uncooked mostaccioli pounds hamburger cup chopped onion clove garlic can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes can (8 ounces) tomato sauce can (6 ounces) tomato paste cup water teaspoon salt teaspoon sugar teaspoon basil teaspoon pepper bay leaf cups shredded mozzarella cheese cup fresh grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 F. Cook mostaccioli. In a saucepan, cook beef and onion until done.

Jubilee Bean Turkey Chili

Add garlic; cook 1 minute and drain. Stir in tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, water, salt, sugar, basil and pepper. Add bay leaf and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered for 30 minutes. Remove bay leaf; stir in mostaccioli. Spoon half of the meat mixture into a 9x13 pan and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese; layer with remaining meat mixture. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Cover and bake 30–35 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes.

Appetizers and Snacks: due February 1 Breakfast and Brunch: due March 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 and to register.

Enter to win a


energy bill credit!

1 1 3 ½ ½ 28 28 14 14 14 14 14 2 1 1 • • •

lb. ground turkey medium onion cloves of garlic yellow pepper orange pepper ounces crushed tomatoes, undrained ounces diced tomatoes, undrained ounces black beans, drained ounces kidney beans, drained ounces pink beans, drained ounces Northern beans, drained ounces black-eyed peas, drained tablespoons chili powder tablespoon coriander tablespoon cumin dash of cayenne pepper salt and pepper to taste olive oil

Heat oil in pan on stove top. Sauté the garlic, chopped onions, and peppers until they begin to sweat. Add ground turkey until cooked through and mix. Move mixture to large pot. Rinse and drain all beans and add all ingredients to the pot, including the beans. Mix thoroughly. Simmer on low heat for 1.5 hours, mixing lightly as needed. Salt and pepper to taste. Chili can be frozen as well. It’s always better the next day! Read the full story about Jake Ingle and his half-pipe expertise on page 14 and visit to find this recipe and others. MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES



Honoring Our Veterans In honor and recognition of the men and women who fought for our freedoms, MEC employees participated in two Veterans Day programs. On Nov. 9, MEC sponsored an hour-long broadcast on WLEN radio as part of their annual Thank-A-Vet program benefitting the Dire Needs Fund for Lenawee County Veterans. Throughout the day, volunteers accepted donations, which Housing Help of Lenawee will use to assist veterans in need, particularly those who fall through the cracks of traditional funding sources. The program raised $28,000 and also included singing performances by local elementary students and a 21-gun salute and flag ceremony. In addition to the broadcast sponsorship, MEC donated $350 to this fund. On Nov. 14, MEC partnered with the Ladies of Auxiliary #10704 of the Cassopolis VFW to cook and serve Thanksgiving fare to local veterans and their families. Roughly 149 individuals enjoyed turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, stuffing, green bean casserole, cranberries, dinner rolls and a variety of desserts. MEC also donated socks, gloves and toiletries to the VFW to help local veterans in need this winter season.





1. Veterans Ted Aranda and Jim Mooney and WLEN employee Kathy Williams during the Thank-A-Vet fundraiser in Adrian. 2. The Cassopolis VFW serving crew (left to right): Matt Thompson, Rob Schmidt, Tim Anderson, Nick Eltzroth, and board member and Vietnam Vet, Fred Turk. 3. Frying turkeys for the VFW. 4. M EC employee Erin Velthouse prepares sweet potatoes. 5. MEC employee and veteran Denise Smith visits with attendees at the VFW Thanksgiving Lunch.

12 JANUARY 2019



A Plug Into The Sun

Innovation is at the heart of what we do at MEC and we recognize that emerging and renewable energy sources will continue to shape, even dramatically alter, the way we power our homes. While renewables prove promising, they remain a cost-intensive venture in residential applications. So we partnered with SpartanSolar to build a community solar array to give you the chance to participate in solar power without taking on the expense and maintenance of doing it yourself. In December of 2018, the 2,484-panel array went live and officially began soaking up the sun’s rays. You can participate by purchasing a panel subscription today. Here are some FAQs:

What are the methods of subscription payment?

$600/panel up-front or $10/month/panel for 5 years. Subscriptions last 15 years.

How many panel subscriptions would I need to power my entire house? That depends on many factors but most households would need about 24 panel subscriptions (based on an average of 800 kWh per month). The clean energy produced by the solar array will be pushed onto the electric grid, not routed to your home. Please give us a call if you want a more specific calculation based on your monthly electricity use.

What is the estimated ROI?

When you purchase a panel subscription, you will receive a bill credit for the solar power generated from that

subscription. However, this subscription will not yield significant savings on your electric bill. That’s not the intent. In fact, we predict that each panel will generate about $40 in account credits each year. The ultimate goal of the array is to show our commitment to the future of energy by adding additional renewable generation to our portfolio while giving consumers who are passionate about clean energy an opportunity to participate.

What are the tax implications of my solar panel subscription credit?

Bill credits resulting from solar generation are not taxed. Your panel subscription payments are not tax-deductible, nor do they qualify for the 30 percent Investment Tax Credit.

How many watts per panel and how many panels are there? Each panel is 350 watts, and there are 2,484 panels.

What happens after the subscription expires?

You stop receiving your monthly credit and the panel(s) become available for a new lease.

How Do I Sign Up? Sign up at or give us a call at 800-492-5989 and one of our Solutions Agents will contact you.



Building Dreams OUT OF SNOW

By Emily Haines Lloyd Photos courtesy of Tripp Fay

The Zaugg pipe monster is the machine used to rough carve the super-pipe at Colorado's Copper Mountain.


ike all sculptures, creating a masterpiece begins with an artist’s vision. Then the artist expertly makes use of the tools he or she has learned to use, and cuts, chips, and scrapes away at the material until beauty is revealed. For artists like Petoskey resident Jake Ingle, his material of choice is snow, his tools are anything from a giant snowcat dozer to a handheld shovel, and the result is an enviable living work of art called the half-pipe.

Jake Ingle uses the Red Number 9 to help build a legendary half-pipe for Olympic athletes. This machine was “the best snowcat” in South Korea, Jake attests.

“You live for these moments. To give these folks an amazing ride. For me, it was the perfect experience.” — JAKE INGLE

Skiing and snowboarding half-pipes, like the ones Ingle creates, are expertly-crafted, snow-made ramps with a U-shaped cross-section. This shape allows winter-loving athletes to perform remarkable aerial jumps and maneuvers that defy the general public’s imaginations. The journey to creating and building these massive canvases started in a much smaller way for Ingle. It began with a love of outdoor and winter sports that Ingle shared with his whole family, as well as a mentality to “thrive, not just survive” the cold Appleton, Wis., winters. It eventually meant heading off to college at Gogebic Community College in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to study ski area management. That led to an internship at Copper Mountain in Colorado, which led to building some of the most enviable half-pipes in the country and, as they say, things snowballed from there. “I just loved to snowboard and thought I’d go be a ski bum after high school,” said Ingle. “It would have been impossible then to imagine what I’d be doing now.” His half-pipe-building work got national attention when the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association approached him, Ingle said. From there, Ingle

14 JANUARY 2019

Top left: A view from the finish-line area of Jake and his team's super-pipe and boarder-cross venues at the 2018 Olympics in South Korea. Top Right: A spectator views the Mammoth Mountain Grand Prix Olympic Qualifier super-pipe all lit up and in its glory. Left: Jake Ingle and his wife, Clare, prepare to watch one of the fruits of Jake’s labor——the Grand Prix super-pipe event in Snowmass, Co.

started working on U.S. Grand Prix and FIS World Cup events—building massive half-pipes, as well as a reputation for himself. Working on these large competitive events eventually led to a recommendation from Roberto Moresi, the World Cup race director, to build the half pipe for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Along with Ingle’s partner Mark Pevny and Austria-based colleague Alli Zehetner, the trio set out to create a work of art for the largest sporting stage in the world. “There were definitely some nerves. The half-pipes at both the Vancouver and Sochi Olympics had gotten a lot of negative feedback,” said Ingle. “The weather was brutal and made building and maintaining the pipe so hard. You really feel for those guys who worked on those pipes when there’s so much out of your control. ”Ingle and his team began their plans well in advance with site visits, measurements, drawings and a picture in mind they hoped would live up to the reality. The building of the pipe itself is half construction site, half science experience. The team of 70 used huge construction dozers, taking days to build the first wall alone, followed by half-pipe cutter machines, and huge snow blowers. Following these massive tools, Ingle and crew pulled out the shovels and more than a few specialty tools that he has developed as a result of his experience.

We use “centimeter-accurate equipment,” Ingle said. Ingle and his partners completed their work of art in a little over two weeks and with more than a little pride. In the end, the half-pipe at the Phoenix Snow Park in Pyeongchang was 650 feet long with 24-feet-tall walls and 82.5 degrees of verticality. It surpassed even their own wildest dreams. Feedback from the Pyeongchang games was remarkably different than the previous two Olympics. Rave reviews of Ingle’s half-pipe came in from snowboarding gold medalist Shaun White’s coach and 2012 bronze medalist, JJ Thomas, as well as Mike Jankowski, head coach of the U.S. Freeskiing and U.S. Snowboarding teams. “You live for these moments,” said Ingle. “To give these folks an amazing ride. For me, it was the perfect experience.”

Watch a video of Jake Ingle building the half-pipe for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea at


STAY CONNECTED with the Lifeline Rate Program The Lifeline Program, a government-assistance program subsidized through the Universal Service Fund, provides discounted telephone or internet service for low-income consumers.


To be eligible for Lifeline, you must meet incomebased requirements or participate in one of the programs listed below. Residents of federally-recognized tribal lands may receive an additional reduction. Your eligibility to participate will be verified by MEC or an authorized state agency.




Lifeline Senior



Lifeline Tribal



Medicaid Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) formerly Food Stamps Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) Federal Public Housing Assistance (Section 8) Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program (TANF) National School Free Lunch Program (NSL)


Lifeline is non-transferable and is limited to one discount per household (i.e. phone OR internet). Only eligible consumers may enroll and a household cannot receive Lifeline benefits from multiple providers. Enrollees will receive a monthly credit on their MEC bill.


Visit to download and complete the Lifeline Application or call our Solutions Center at 800-492-5989.


Pajamas, check. Snacks, check.

FREE internet, CHECK.

Get your first three months of internet for FREE when you sign up for our Advanced, Ultra or Gig package. All of our packages include: • • • •


FREE for 3 months

Unlimited Data 24/7 Tech Support Symmetrical Speeds Free Installation

Claim your three free months of service by March 31, 2019. Enter promo code: THREE FOR FREE at sign up.

SIGN UP TODAY | 800.492.5989 Twelve-month contract required. Offer valid until 3.31.19. Free installation available to Midwest Energy & Communications electric consumers only. Internet services are not regulated by the Michigan Public Service Commission.

LET’S TALK INTERNET Join us at our Paw Paw Solutions Center for an open house and discover MEC internet. We will host these events from 4 to 7 p.m. on January 17, February 21 and March 21. • • •

DISCOVER streaming services and learn how you can cut the cord from traditional cable and satellite providers. We’ll have cutting the cord sessions available throughout the event. LEARN how FIBER internet is different from other platforms and how we’re different from other providers. TEST drive our service with your own device or one of ours.

Paw Paw Solutions Center 59825 S. LaGrave • Paw Paw, MI 49079 RSVP at

Guess this photo and enter to win a

MI CO-OP Community


energy bill credit!


Oliver And My Father Where In Michigan Is This? Identify the correct location of the photo above by January 20 and be entered into a drawing to win a $50 electric bill credit. Enter your guess at or send by mail to: Country Lines Mystery Photo, 201 Townsend St., Suite 900, Lansing, MI 48933. Include the name on your account, address, phone number and the name of your co-op. Our Mystery Photo Contest winner from the November/December 2018 issue is Paul Bosker, a Great Lakes Cooperative member, who correctly identified the photo as the underside of the Mackinac Bridge. Winners are announced in the following issues of Country Lines: January, March, May, July/August, September and November/December.

November/December 2018

By Karen Reilly, Midwest Energy & Communications member

My father, my hero, was a jovial man who loved to share stories of the past. I especially enjoyed hearing about life on the family farm in Dowagiac. This is a story I captured from him nearly 20 years ago from his point of view. “Back in the 1940s, life around the family farm in Dowagiac really began to change. The outhouse hole was filled in and, for the first time, we had running water in the house. This made everyday chores, such as dishwashing and bathing, much easier. However, the biggest innovation of the decade for us was the gasoline-powered tractor. My first tractor was a shiny green one built by Oliver. At the front base of its long body were two small tires. In the rear were two large tires with thick treads. Compared to the small wheels on the family Buick, these were some of the biggest tires I ever saw! The tractor had the strength of 10 horses. The plow, planter, disk, brush chopper and trailer that attached to the back of the tractor revolutionized life on the farm. Work could be done in a fraction of the time, and with the bright headlamp on the front of the tractor, we could work past daylight, if needed. We planted larger plots of land and harvested greater quantities of crops. I had to save for that new Oliver—$800 was a lot of money back then. But, she was worth every penny. I sold the tractor in the late ’40s for $1,000; I wanted to buy a Chevy convertible. In the late 1980s, I heard my old tractor was once again looking for a home. By then I had newer, more powerful machines, but for old times’ sake, I decided to take my Oliver tractor back to the farm and fi x her up. She doesn’t do much farm work anymore. Like me, she’s retired. She sure looks good, though, in that shiny, new coat of green with the little wheels in the front, and the great big ones in back. I think I will hang onto her for a while.” The original family farm in Dowagiac still stands and will turn 100 years old in the next few years. My dad built his farm just down the road from it and it remains our home today. And the Oliver tractor is also still in our family.

Photo courtesy of Thomas Mann

18 JANUARY 2019

Karen is a co-op member who is a nature-lover at heart and enjoys bird-watching, exploring woodlands, gardening and long walks. She is a dean at a community college and lives at and runs her father's farm with her husband.


You can add a Well-Connect to your home for about the same price (after incentives) as a conventional HVAC system. A typical installation is completed in 1 day.

Call for a FREE Site Visit

Hybrid Geothermal 989-356-2113

Applications Due Feb. 28 Tour Dates: June 15–20, 2019


From the battleeelds of Gettysburg to the halls of Congress in Washington, D.C.,

Youth Tour will explore the leadership

lessons of our nation’s history and immerse you in the cooperative spirit. Learn more about this FREE leadership travel opportunity, sponsored by the electric cooperatives of Michigan, at