Celebrating 40 Years Of
COUNTRY LINES Midwest Energy & Communications
BEATING THE ODDS Giving And Thanks
Meet Your New Director
A Prime Resolution
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In This Issue January 2020 || Vol. 40, No. 1
Michigan’s Electric Cooperatives
Follow Us On Instagram! @michigancountrylines
Executive Editor: Casey Clark Editor: Christine Dorr Design and Production: Karreen Bird Recipe Editor: Christin McKamey Publisher: Michigan Electric Cooperative Association Michigan Country Lines, USPS-591-710, is published monthly, except August and December, with periodicals postage paid at Lansing, Mich., and additional ofﬁces. It is the ofﬁcial publication of the Michigan Electric Cooperative Association, 201 Townsend St., Suite 900, Lansing, MI 48933. Subscriptions are authorized for members of Alger Delta, Cherryland, Great Lakes, HomeWorks Tri-County, Midwest Energy & Communications, Ontonagon, Presque Isle, and Thumb electric cooperatives by their boards of directors. POSTMASTER: SEND ALL UAA TO CFS. Association ofﬁcers are Robert Kran, Great Lakes Energy, chairman; Tony Anderson, Cherryland Electric Cooperative, vice chairman; and Eric Baker, Wolverine Power Cooperative, secretarytreasurer. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
FEATURED PHOTO FROM #micoopcommunity:
This winter “tunnel of trees” is giving the fall version a run for its money, by @asnow789 (Adam Snow).
Tag your photos with #micoopcommunity, and they could be featured on our Instagram account and printed as the featured photo in our magazine!
ON THE COVER
Playing piano on a frozen lake may seem odd, but given YoungMin You’s unconventional background, it didn’t faze him a bit. YoungMin’s unique journey has taken the South Korean native to northern Michigan, where he composes music and shares his prodigious playing with a substantial online following.
YoungMin You: Beating The Odds South Korean native YoungMin You turned a chance to study in the U.S. into a thriving music career in Petoskey. Emily Haines Lloyd
6 MI CO-OP COMMUNITY
18 MI CO-OP COMMUNITY
We wholeheartedly thank our readers for their engagement and contributions, and hope you’ll continue to share, win and belong.
Mike Lavens, Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op member, loves the outdoors … and loves instilling this passion for nature in others even more.
Michigan Country Lines Celebrates 40 Years!
10 MI CO-OP KITCHEN
Guest Column: Reaping What You Sow
Guess Our New Mystery Photo And Win A $50 Bill Credit!
Comfort Foods Mean Cozy HomeCooked Meals Christin McKamey & Our Readers
Go Big And Spicy, Or Go Home Featured Guest Chef: Chantelle You, wife of talented pianist YoungMin You, is always looking for meals with the bold Korean flavors her husband enjoys. Here she shares one of his favorites, Jerk Chicken With Pineapple Black Bean Salsa recipe. Enter Our Recipe Contest And Win A $50 Bill Credit!
Best of Michigan UP NEXT! Chocolatiers: Tell us about your favorite places for melt-in-your-mouth chocolates. Submit your favorites at countrylines.com under the MI Co-op Community tab by January 25, and this indulgent list will be published in the February issue.
MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES
VAN BUREN KALAMAZOO
Not Quite Done Yet
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.
Robert Hance, President/CEO
ou reach a certain age and people begin peppering you with that longawaited question.
When are you retiring?
ADRIAN SOLUTIONS CENTER 1610 E. Maumee Street Adrian, MI 49221 M–F 8 a.m.–5 p.m.
Later this month, I reach that magical age of 65. In the world of many retirement plans and Medicare, it’s the milestone that gives you permission to step away and enjoy the rest of what life has to offer outside of the nine-to-five working world.
I’m just not quite done yet.
MIDWEST ENERGY & COMMUNICATIONS 800-492-5989 teammidwest.com Email: email@example.com
BOARD OF DIRECTORS Clarence “Topper” Barth, Chairperson, Three Rivers 269-279-9233 Clarence.Barth@teammidwest.com Ben Russell, Vice Chairperson, Constantine 269-506-1590 Ben.Russell@teammidwest.com Ron Armstrong, Secretary, Lawton 269-299-0443 Ron.Armstrong@teammidwest.com John Green, Treasurer, Dowagiac 269-470-2816 John.Green@teammidwest.com Dan Bodette, Wauseon 419-337-8007 Dan.Bodette@teammidwest.com Gerry Bundle, Cassopolis 269-414-0164 Gerry.Bundle@teammidwest.com James Dickerson, Bloomingdale 269-370-6868 Jim.Dickerson@teammidwest.com Erika Escue-Cadieux, Onsted 419-346-1088 firstname.lastname@example.org Fred Turk, Decatur 269-423-7762 Fred.Turk@teammidwest.com PRESIDENT/CEO Robert Hance VP, CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS/EDITOR Patty Nowlin COMMUNICATIONS SPECIALIST
J oin us on Facebook: facebook.com/teammidwest
Midwest Energy & Communications is an equal opportunity provider and employer.
4 JANUARY 2020
I have enjoyed a long, productive, and extremely satisfying career in the electric cooperative industry. I started at the ripe old age of 19 as a mapping agent at a cooperative right here in Michigan and have since served 46 years in various roles. To say I’m an industry veteran is a bit of an understatement. I joined the MEC team in 2002, and it’s been quite a ride. It’s this team, the board leadership and employees alike that keep me going. If we were a status quo kind of organization, a cooperative that, per their mission statement, strives to provide “reliable, affordable electricity” to its customers, I might call it a day. I’m not suggesting that’s a bad mission, as it really gets to the heart of why we were established in the 1930s. I’m simply suggesting that for me, working on behalf of 35,000 rural customers in southern Michigan and northern Indiana and Ohio, it’s not enough. In my 18 years at MEC, we have set and achieved some audacious goals. Early on, the goal was the implementation of advanced metering infrastructure, which really represented the first iteration of what is known today as the smart grid. That resulted in greater efficiencies and allowed us to use data in new and exciting ways to improve your service. We also established some huge goals to improve electric reliability and service, ultimately implementing a very aggressive and strategic program to reclaim our rights-of-way. Throughout the 18-year journey, providing you with a broadband experience was always at the top of our collective to-do list. We implemented a number of different efforts before the board directed us in 2014 to deploy fiber across our distribution system. This is opening many new doors for system reliability and safety, while allowing us to leverage the technology to deliver a best-in-class high-speed internet experience for our customers. We closed out 2019 with more than 11,000 subscribers in southwest Michigan and will start lighting up customers in southeast Michigan in a few short months. Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “I’m not the smartest fellow in the world, but I can sure pick smart colleagues.” I have the privilege of leading an amazing team and working with a bold and courageous board, all deeply committed to transforming the rural experience. I could step away today and feel good about my career, but I’m just not quite done yet.
MEC NEWS OF NOTE HIGH SCHOOL SENIORS:
Apply For A $1,000 Scholarship
Answer this video challenge and you could earn $1,000 toward your college education: Create a video time capsule to be opened 10 years from now. It can be to yourself, your family, school or hometown whichever you choose. Explain what you are including and why. High school seniors whose families receive monthly service from MEC at their primary residence are invited to apply. Scholarship applications must be submitted by Monday, March 16, and awards will be announced in April. Selection for the scholarship is based on the video submission along with academic performance, extracurricular activities, community involvement and/or employment, and honors and awards. A minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0 on a four-point 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 put $1,000 toward your education!
Submit your video online at teammidwest.com/scholarship.
High School Sophomores and Juniors:
Apply for Youth Tour
We are looking for two students whose families receive MEC electric service to represent us as part of the Michigan delegation during NRECA’s Washington D.C. Youth Tour, June 20–25, 2020. The students will join roughly 1,800 youth from electric co-ops from 45 U.S. states.
9 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 first-hand what it means to be part of an electric cooperative. Then we will move to an off-site location nearby for a team-building activity. After getting to know participants during MEC day, we will select up to two students to go on Youth Tour. Please note: Children of MEC employees are not eligible to apply for either opportunity.
During the trip, the students tour the Civil War battleground in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on their motor coach drive to D.C. Once in the capital, they visit several national monuments and museums, witness the changing of the guard ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery and meet with local representatives on Capitol Hill. To round out the week’s activities, they typically attend a musical or a Washington Nationals baseball game. Interested students should fill out the application at cooperativeyouthtour.com by Feb. 28, 2020. Our top applicants will be required to participate in a hands-on educational experience with MEC employees on Friday, March 13, from MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES
MI CO-OP Community
MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES 1980
Celebrates 40 Years
Michigan Country Lines has been connecting members with their electric cooperatives for forty years. As a Michigan Country Lines reader, not only are you the heart of your co-op, you are the heart of this magazine. And luckily for us, many of our readers are also contributors. The numerous reader submissions we receive make this magazine a one-of-a-kind—a place where we can read about others’ experiences, drool over their recipes and laugh at their funny pictures, bringing us together as a community. We are so grateful that you enjoy this magazine enough to engage in its content, and we encourage you to continue doing so. Visit our MI Co-op Community page on countrylines.com and share your knowledge of our wonderful state, your stories, and, yes, your amazing recipes! In addition to publication, your work may be rewarded with cash or bill credits. We look forward to our members’ continued content and contest contributions.
6 JANUARY 2020
Monthly Recipe Contest And MI Co-op Kitchen
$50 BILL CREDIT
If you’re in need of some food inspiration, look no further than MI Co-op Kitchen——our online cooking community. MI Co-op Kitchen is an interactive space where you can share your recipes and food ideas with other like-minded members. Submit a recipe for our monthly contest and you could win a $50 bill credit and have your recipe published and a professional video created for our website. A winner is selected every month.
Where In Michigan Is This?
$50 BILL CREDIT
Our Mystery Photo Contest gives you the chance to correctly identify our mystery photo and win a $50 bill credit. A new “Where in Michigan Is This?” mystery photo is published in our January, March, May, July/August, September and November/ December Michigan Country Lines issues. Each correct guess is placed into a drawing and one lucky winner is selected.
$150 CASH AWARD
We know many of our members are talented and have great ideas——so we invite you to share that talent in Country Lines! We will pay $150 for the stories we publish. Let the ideas ﬂow! Stories could be about a signiﬁcant or memorable event, a person in your life, life lessons learned, educational topics, Michigan recreational activities, and more! Please keep stories to approximately 350 words. Photos are always welcome!
NO BARRIERS ADVENTURES FOR RURAL VETERANS— APPLY BY FEBRUARY 28
Best Of Michigan Do you have a favorite spot where you bring outof-state guests? What about a favorite Michigan ice cream shop, or a Michigan–inspired treat? Our Best of Michigan column is a way for you to submit your preferred treats, sites, restaurants, opinions and activities. We will publish many submissions for the Best Of Michigan section, so there is no monetary reward. However, your name will be published!
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.
Follow Michigan Country Lines On Instagram Follow us on our Instagram account, @michigancountrylines, where we celebrate the energy of rural Michigan. Marvel at Michigan’s majestic beauty, learn about new places to visit and experience rural Michigan life, and enjoy special inﬂuencer events. Tag your photos with #micoopcommunity, and they could be featured on our Instagram account. Your photo could even be chosen to print as the featured photo in our magazine. We can’t wait to see what you share!
Follow Michigan Country Lines On Facebook Follow us on our Facebook account at “Michigan Country Lines Magazine” for up-to-date magazine content, inﬂuencer events, contests, recipe videos and much more.
No Barriers is a ﬁve-day, all-expensespaid expedition in Colorado, designed to help veterans with disabilities transform their lives through curriculum-based experiences 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:
countrylines.com/nobarriers *Must have VA disability rating to be eligible.
Prioritize Energy Efficiency In 2020
tack up the savings with energy improvement projects that can help drive more money to your bottom line. Getting started is easy with the help of 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 opportunities to improve your agribusiness 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 the Energy Optimization program incentives to improve the energy efficiency of their agribusinesses at michigan-energy.org/testimonials. 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” A complete list of incentives is available at michigan-energy.org or call 877-296-4319 for details.
Stack Up the
Reduce your energy use and SAVE! FREE agribusiness energy assessments available. Rebates available for custom and prescriptive energy savings projects.
Call now for best availability.
michigan-energy.org | 877-296-4319 Energy Optimization programs and incentives are applicable to Michigan electric service locations only. Other restrictions may apply. For a complete list of participating utilities, visit michigan-energy.org.
“Your past does not have to dictate your future, and I use experiences from my own life to help others overcome their challenges. We each have a contribution to make, each one of us. Once someone understands that, he or she can achieve anything.” —Erika Escue-Cadieux
Meet Your Newest Board Director
rika Escue-Cadieux now represents District 8, which covers Adrian, Cambridge, Clinton (MI) Franklin, Raisin, Ridgeway, Rollin, Rome, Tecumseh, Woodstock, and northern portions of Blissfield, Deerfield, Dover, Hudson, Madison and Palmyra. As the owner of Hooligan’s Grill, she has been a staple of the Adrian community since 2013 and currently lives in Onsted with her new husband, Kent, an engineer with Ford. Her roots are in interior design, and it’s her love of design along with a creative vision that propelled her into the hospitality industry. In 1996, she began SQ Design to help restaurants and bars throughout the U.S. create unique and stylish environments for their customers. She noted that while she loved working with owners to build their visions, she longed for the chance to be part of the customer experience. So she decided to open a place of her own. “My favorite part of being a restaurant owner is that I get to help people celebrate life’s milestones: birthdays, engagements, anniversaries, promotions, etc. We love to go out in this country, and I enjoy getting to be a part of people’s special moments,” she said. She’s also the inventor of GoDotz, a wearable technology that aids in the use of touchscreen devices for those who struggle with typing and other activities on smaller screens. Escue-Cadieux is currently working with some
tech companies in California to integrate a sensor chip into the GoDotz that will use a person’s fingerprint to keep personal information secure. In addition to the restaurant and design firm, she also owns AEM Holdings, a real estate development company, and she’s even an artist. In fact, she painted all the artwork in Hooligan’s. While her professional life tells an impressive story by itself, it’s her personal experiences that have really shaped who she has become. Once a single mother on welfare, she dedicated herself to improving her life for both her and her children. Then, in 2013, she fought Stage 2 colon cancer, which flipped her world upside down. Yet she persevered and is truly a model success story. “Your past does not have to dictate your future, and I use experiences from my own life to help others overcome their challenges. We each have a contribution to make, each one of us. Once someone understands that, he or she can achieve anything,” said Escue-Cadieux. Now she wants to use the breadth of her experience to help our customers and MEC: “I want to pay it forward and be a positive force for those I serve,” she noted. Join us in welcoming Erika as she begins her work of helping MEC build vibrant, relevant, and sustainable rural communities.
MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES
Comfort Foods Warm up with these cozy home-cooked meals. Photos by Robert Bruce Photography Recipes Submitted By MCL Readers And Tested By Recipe Editor Christin McKamey
Sausage and Mushroom Pappardelle Annie Barnes, Great Lakes Energy 8 1 1 1 6 3 4
ounces pappardelle pasta tablespoon olive oil red bell pepper, sliced onion, thinly sliced large mushrooms, sliced cloves garlic, minced links smoked turkey sausage, sliced (or crumbled Italian sausage), cooked
• pinch of red pepper ﬂakes 1 cup cream ½ cup cherry tomatoes 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped • kosher salt • parmesan cheese, for garnish
Bring a large stockpot of water to a boil, then generously add kosher salt. Add pappardelle pasta and cook until al dente, then drain, reserving ½ cup pasta water. While pasta is cooking, begin cooking the sauce. In a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat, heat olive oil. Then add red bell pepper slices and onion, and cook for 4–5 minutes or until onion softens, stirring occasionally. Season with kosher salt, add mushrooms and cook for another 3 minutes. Add garlic, sausage and red pepper ﬂakes, and cook until sausage is warmed through, about 3 minutes. Add cream, tomatoes and rosemary to skillet, and cook 3 minutes or until sauce thickens and tomatoes soften. Gently fold in pasta to skillet until coated. If you’d like more sauce, add reserved pasta water 1 tablespoon at a time (or additional cream if you want a heavier sauce). Garnish with parmesan, kosher salt and more rosemary if desired. Serve immediately. Watch a video of this month’s winning recipe at micoopkitchen.com/videos 10 JANUARY 2020
Creamed Swiss Chard Luise Bolleber, Cherryland
4 tablespoons butter 2 garlic cloves, chopped ¼ cup yellow onion, chopped ¼ cup all-purpose ﬂour
1 cup whole milk • sea salt and white pepper 2 bunches Swiss chard, leaves chopped, stems chopped separately
Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add garlic, onion, and chard stems and cook until onion and stems are softened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt. Stir in ﬂour and cook for 1 minute. Raise heat to medium. Whisk in milk and cook, stirring constantly, until liquid is thickened and reduced by about half. Add the chard leaves. You may have to do this in batches as the chard cooks down. Add salt and white pepper, and cook about 5 minutes. Serve immediately.
featured GUEST CHEF A well-known pianist in Michigan, YoungMin You, enjoys Korean recipes. His wife, Chantelle, has realized that Korean food and ﬂavors are sometimes hard to come by in northern Michigan, so she’s always keeping an eye out for meals with big and spicy ﬂavors. This is one of YoungMin You’s favorites.
Jerk Chicken with Pineapple Black Bean Salsa
Dad’s Corn Fritters Deb Finedell, Great Lakes Energy /4 1 1 2 ½
cup all-purpose ﬂour tablespoon sugar teaspoon baking powder eggs cup milk (more to thin, if necessary) 1 teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 generous cups corn kernels, fresh, frozen or canned (if frozen or canned, drain all moisture) 3 teaspoons chopped chives • oil, for frying • powdered sugar, optional
Mix ﬂour, sugar and baking powder. Add eggs, milk, salt and cayenne pepper. Stir together to make a batter. Add corn and chives. Fold together to combine. Heat oil in a skillet to 365 F. Drop batter by spoonfuls into heated oil. Flip to brown on all sides. Drain on paper towel-lined plate. If desired, sprinkle with powdered sugar. Enjoy!!
4 cups cooked rice PINEAPPLE BLACK BEAN SALSA 2 cups pineapple tidbits, ﬁnely diced 1 15-ounce can black beans, well rinsed and drained ¹⁄ ³ cup red onion, ﬁnely diced ½ cup cilantro, chopped 1 lime • pinch red pepper ﬂakes (optional) ¼ teaspoon salt, or to taste JERK CHICKEN 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about ²⁄³ pound each) 1 tablespoon jerk seasoning 1 tablespoon cooking oil Begin cooking your rice ﬁrst. While the rice is cooking, prepare the pineapple black bean salsa. Combine pineapple, black beans, red onion, cilantro, one tablespoon of lime juice, red pepper ﬂakes and salt. Add more salt or lime juice if needed.
Pizza Party: due February 1 Best Of Vegetarian: 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 micoopkitchen.com for more information and to register.
Enter to win a
energy bill credit!
Next, prepare the jerk chicken. Pat the chicken breasts dry with a paper towel. Place a piece of plastic wrap over the chicken to eliminate splatter, then gently pound the chicken breasts into an even thickness using either a rolling pin or a mallet. Sprinkle the jerk seasoning over both sides of the chicken and use your hands to rub it into the surface, making sure the chicken is completely coated. Add the cooking oil to a large skillet, or preheat your grill. Once hot, add the chicken and cook until well browned on both sides and completely cooked through (about 7 minutes each side). It should no longer be pink in the center and the juices should run clear. Transfer the cooked chicken to a clean cutting board and let it rest for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, slice the chicken into ½ inch-wide strips. To serve, place about a cup of cooked rice on a plate and top with about a cup of the pineapple black bean salsa and a few strips of the jerk chicken. Slice the remaining lime into wedges and squeeze fresh juice over the chicken just before eating. Read the full story about YoungMin You on page 14, and ﬁnd this recipe and others at micoopkitchen.com.
VETERANS STAND DOWN
In October, over 50 local organizations, including MEC, gathered at the Decatur VFW to help over 100 veterans get assistance with housing, benefits, health and more. MEC employees Jeremy Rogers, Joe Pagels and Sara Hartsell at the Veterans Stand Down event.
KIM’S COAT DRIVE FOR KIDS
We donated 34 new and gently used coats for the drive organized by Sen. Kim LaSata. The majority of the coats were purchased with funds from the Midwest Employees Give Back (MEGB) program, a charitable fund operated, governed and funded by MEC employees. MEC employee Lori Ruff, pictured with Stephanie Knepple, youth services coordinator, brings donated coats to the donation box at the Cass District Library – Main Branch.
WLEN THANK-A-VET FUNDRAISER
MEC’s sponsored hour of this annual radio broadcast raised over $3,100. The event’s total funding reached over $31,300, and TLC Community Credit Union matched any donation above $100 by an additional $50, up to $8,000. MEC employee Patty Clark (fourth from left) with WLEN representatives and local vets.
12 JANUARY 2020
Team MEC was very busy this past fall, helping our neighbors throughout SW and SE Michigan.
BLUE STAR MOTHERS, SW MI #179 CARE PACKAGES FOR DEPLOYED SOLDIERS
We, along with other participating organizations, donated items for 134 care packages that were sent in mid-November. Most of the MEC items came from our MEGB fund. MEC employees Amber Mark, Rob Schmidt, Bobbi Lowe, and Nick Eltzroth with some of MEC’s donations for soldiers.
UNITED WAY OF SW MICHIGAN RAKE A DIFFERENCE
The UWSM recruited local organizations to clean up leaves for area senior citizens. Team MEC raked and gathered up fall debris for six residences in Vandalia. Evan Bressler, McKenna Wolf, Ryne Nickel, Lori Ruff, Sara Hartsell, Nicole Barfell, Tammy Closson and Tyler Grathen have a little fun in one of the leaf piles they created during the Rake a Difference event.
THANKSGIVING DINNER FOR VETERANS
We put our cooking skills to the test for this annual tradition at the Cassopolis VFW. Team MEC fried turkeys, baked hams and cooked all the traditional Thanksgiving sides to serve over 160 veterans and their loved ones. It’s our special way of thanking those who have given up so much for our freedom and recognizing the Cassopolis VFW's Auxiliary #10704 for their efforts to help local vets. MEC employees Cindy Rohdy, Sara Hartsell, Jeromy Bogue, Kristin Kretchman, and Kathryn Lee, VFW Auxiliary President Nancy Triestram, and MEC employees Denise Smith and Matt Thompson greet hungry veterans.
MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES 13
Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) YoungMin You:
YoungMin You Piano Arrangement
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Words and Music by Hillsong United
YoungMin had the opportunity to study abroad in the United States, as his sister had before him. He found himself about to embark on a journey that would change his life in ways he couldn’t imagine.
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As he found himself in Adrian, Michigan, his passion for music, and piano speciﬁcally, had kicked into high gear. While he was immersed in American culture and cultivating a strong grasp of a second language, YoungMin was equally interested in learning to really play piano.
“I was just so in love with the piano, so I started teaching myself through YouTube,” said YoungMin. “I would practice ﬁve to six hours a day. I was obsessed.”
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With high school graduation fast approaching, YoungMin made the brave decision to apply to only one college—Wheaton College-
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“I feel like music is my way of putting a positive message into the world.” Conservatory of Music near Chicago. He decided that if he didn’t get in, he would go back to South Korea. YoungMin did get accepted at the conservatory and was quick to realize that his lack of formal training was something he would have to overcome. What were the odds that he could overcome his lack of formal education and catch up to his classmates? “I was so lucky to have professors who cared,” said YoungMin. “Cared, but were worried. My technique was not where it should have been, but I worked hard and got better.” YoungMin put his heart and a positive attitude into his craft. Through his efforts, he got so much better that he ended up being top in his class that semester. Passion and positivity may well have led YoungMin to love as well. During his ﬁrst year of college, he met Chantelle, a vocal performance major, who would eventually become his wife. After the two were married in 2016, the couple had to decide where they would go next. Cities like Chicago and New York came up in conversation, as both YoungMin and Chantelle were artists, and the cities offered a lot of opportunities in their ﬁelds. But after much discussion, another town came up—Petoskey, Michigan. Chantelle had fallen in love with
the picturesque lake community. YoungMin’s experience with high school in Michigan and Chantelle’s Midwest roots were both strong pulls. “Ultimately, we talked about where we wanted to make a life for ourselves, where we wanted to raise a family,” said YoungMin. “Beyond that, Petoskey has such a rich arts community. The fairs and festivals have a wonderful musical focus— it became an easy decision on whether to go big city or small town.” While YoungMin and Chantelle have settled on their own family home, YoungMin is still very much connected to his parents and sister in South Korea. He video chats with them regularly using Great Lakes Energy’s Truestream ﬁber internet. Upon settling in Petoskey, YoungMin had jobs as a music director,
accompanist, and playing for both weddings and funerals, but he eventually changed directions and decided to concentrate on his original faith-based music and arrangements. Now, you will ﬁnd him creating music on virtual platforms like Spotify and Apple Music, and posting inspiring videos on YouTube, where he ﬁrst learned to play the piano. “I love making music so much, and I wanted to ﬁnd a way to reach as many people as possible. These platforms make that possible,” said YoungMin. “I feel like music is my way of putting a positive message into the world.” Maybe the odds are stacked against an artist with a message of hope and positivity. But if there is anyone who is up for beating those odds, it’s a young man with talent, purpose and passion like YoungMin You.
Northern Michigan weather is hard to predict. The day of the video shoot, during which YoungMin played a piano rendition of “Hillsong’s Oceans” on Walloon Lake, there was a fresh two to three feet of snow on the frozen water. With the help of about 20 friends who volunteered and some friendly ﬁshermen who assisted in making a pathway, the 800-pound piano arrived at its destination on a sled dragged by a snowmobile. The task was mighty, but once again, passion won the day. Watch the full video here and be inspired:
youtube.com/watch?v=5n-e6lOhVq0 MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES 15
A PRIME RESOLUTION Usher in the new year with the fastest, most reliable internet available. Enjoy unlimited data, 24/7 tech support, symmetrical speeds up to 1,000 Mbps, and free installation for MEC electric customers. Plus, if you sign up by March 31, 2020, we will give you a one-year subscription to Amazon Prime or a $119 Amazon credit.
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16 JANUARY 2020
NRTC Endows Technology Scholarship In Honor Of MEC
RTC, a member-owned technology cooperative based in Herndon, Virginia, recently endowed a technology scholarship at Southwestern Michigan College (SMC) in honor of Midwest Energy & Communications (MEC). NRTC is a key partner behind MEC’s fiber internet project, providing critical support with engineering, construction and materials management, systems development, and business planning. They announced the scholarship in celebration of the successful completion of MEC’s initial five-year southwest Michigan fiber deployment, which resulted in the connection of more than 10,000 rural homes and businesses. “MEC has emerged as a national leader and pioneer in rural broadband, successfully living out its mission of delivering first-in-class solutions where others won’t,” said Greg Santoro, NRTC chief marketing and strategy officer. “We’re honored for the trust they placed in NRTC to be part of this important endeavor, and thrilled to recognize their efforts with this scholarship.” The Midwest Energy & Communications Technology Scholarship will be presented annually beginning in the fall of 2021 to an MEC customer studying telecommunications,
(L to R) Chris Martin, NRTC Vice President of Member and Industry Relations; Bob Hance, MEC President/CEO; Greg Santoro, NRTC Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer; and Eric Freesmeier, Broadband Development Solutions President/CEO.
engineering, computer science or another technologyrelated field at SMC. SMC is a community college based in Dowagiac, and is served by MEC for both electricity and fiber internet. “We are very thankful to our community partner, Midwest Energy & Communications, for their generous support of our technology students at Southwestern Michigan College. Midwest has been a great partner for SMC, hiring many of our students when they complete their degrees. Supporting students at the beginning of their programs is just another wonderful contribution to our students’ lives and future careers. Many of our students could not attend college without financial support, therefore this is an incredibly generous gift, literally helping generations of students in the future,” said Stacy Horner Young, dean of the School of Business and School of Advanced Technology.
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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 countrylines.com 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 issue is Karen Malburg, a Midwest Energy & Communications member, who correctly identified the photo as the “Believe” wall mural, which is part of the “Power of Words Community Mural Project.” It was painted by artist Mia Tavonatti on the exterior wall of the Blackstone Pizza Company located in downtown Iron Mountain. Winners are announced in the following issues of Country Lines: January, March, May, July/August, September and November/December.
Reaping What You Sow By Mike Lavens, Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op
s we get older, it seems we start to cherish friends and family more and materialistic things less. At least, in my case, that’s what has occurred. A recent request by a distant nephew to come camp at our place north of Hillman came on short notice but was answered with a quick “yes.” You see, Roy was one of the sons of my wife’s cousins who many, many years ago, I took out deer hunting in southern Michigan when he was 10 years old. Roy told us years later that visiting us that summer is when he caught the outdoor bug. I have watched and enjoyed Roy’s adventures while growing up over the years —his ﬁshing, hunting, camping and kayaking, all the while, as he lived downstate. Our place is on a private lake and sits just off Long Lake, where we share a lot with some neighbors. It is the best of both worlds, with water recreation on the “big lake” and quiet, no- gas motor ﬁshing on the other lake. Roy, with his very ﬁrst ﬁsh, broke his personal best with a 27-inch pike. He was in heaven for the next four days, ﬁshing, kayaking, and enjoying the peace and quiet away from the city. He called us his outdoor parents during that stay, and it was a joy to see him take on the outdoors like a pro. Lucky for him, his “camping” visit turned into a more extended stay in our spare bedroom. It was nice to share yet again the outdoors with family and nurture such an important part of our human existence, even if it was just for a short time. We will cherish the memories made and the questions asked. The excitement in Roy’s voice as he explained about the loon coming up to the boat, the ﬁsh he caught, and how far down in the water he could see while kayaking. Share what you can, while you can, with whomever you can; you may never know the enthusiasm you may instill in someone or the memories you will make while doing so. Living where we do gives us a unique opportunity to do just that, treasure it and enjoy.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
November/December 2019 Josh Herman, Thumb Aerial Photography
18 JANUARY 2020
Mike is an FCA (Chrysler) engineer. He was the ﬁrst person to sign up for the Dodge Demon race in Arizona. Mike has been married for 33 years and loves America.
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