HomeWorks Jan 2021

Page 1

January 2021


COUNTRY LINES HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative

Districts 3 And 6 Director Election Info

Why HomeWorks Connect? Meet HomeWorks’ Newest Employees

THE MUSKEGON Luge Adventure Sports Park:




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Contents countrylines.com

January 2021 Vol. 41, No. 1



Michigan’s Electric Cooperatives EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Casey Clark EDITOR: Christine Dorr GRAPHIC DESIGNER: Karreen Bird RECIPE EDITOR: Christin McKamey COPY EDITOR: Yvette Pecha CONTRIBUTING EDITOR: Emily Haines Lloyd PUBLISHER: Michigan Electric Cooperative Association Michigan Country Lines, USPS-591-710, is published monthly, except August and December, with periodicals postage paid at Lansing, Mich., and additional offices. It is the official publication of the Michigan Electric Cooperative Association, 201 Townsend St., Suite 900, Lansing, MI 48933. Subscriptions are authorized for members of Alger Delta, Cherryland, Great Lakes, HomeWorks Tri-County, Midwest Energy & Communications, Ontonagon, Presque Isle, and Thumb electric cooperatives by their boards of directors. Postmaster: Send all UAA to CFS.

Association Officers: Robert Kran, Great Lakes Energy, chairman; Tony Anderson, Cherryland Electric Cooperative, vice chairman; Eric Baker, Wolverine Power Cooperative, secretary-treasurer; Craig Borr, president and CEO.

CONTACT US/LETTERS TO EDITOR: Michigan Country Lines 201 Townsend St., Suite 900 Lansing, MI 48933 248-534-7358 editor@countrylines.com CHANGE OF ADDRESS: Please

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


6 INTO THE WILD The Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park offers space for much-needed (and safe) outdoor time this winter.

14 THRILL-SEEKERS WELCOME AT THE MUSKEGON LUGE ADVENTURE SPORTS PARK If you're seeking daring, Olympics-caliber fun, look no further than Muskegon.

10 MI CO-OP KITCHEN Salad Night: Recipes to turn plain old greens into a hearty and healthy meal.

18 GUEST COLUMN Remembering glass bottles and the milkman.

Legend says a couple displayed their love for one another by jumping off the top of this rock arch together. That’s why it’s called Lover’s Leap. But don’t try it! The water there is only a few feet deep. @michiganskymedia, Tyler Leipprandt

Be featured!

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

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


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





Up Next: Tacos, Garden Fresh Share your favorite recipes.

Up Next: Winter Fun! Tell us about your favorite winter activity location (downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, biking, ice skating, etc.)

Submit your fondest memories and stories.

Enter a drawing to identify the correct location of the photo.

Win $150 for stories published!

Win a $50 bill credit!

Win a $50 bill credit!

See page 18




Big Plans For The New Year At HomeWorks

/homeworks.org tricoenergy@homeworks.org Portland office/Mail payments to: 7973 E. Grand River Ave. Portland, MI 48875 Open 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday–Friday

Blanchard office: 3681 Costabella Ave. Blanchard, MI 49310 Open 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday–Friday Night deposit box available at both locations. Electric bill/account questions: 517-647-7554 or 1-800-562-8232 Pay by phone, anytime: 1-877-999-3395

Service questions/outages: 517-647-7554 or 1-800-848-9333 (24 hours for emergency calls) Tri-County Propane: 1-877-574-2740

HomeWorks Connect 1-800-668-8413 BOARD OF DIRECTORS

District 1 — John Lord, Vice-Chairman 2276 Plains Rd., Leslie, MI 49251 517-974-2518 • jlord@homeworks.org

District 2 — Jim Stebbins 7139 Peddler Lake Rd., Clarksville, MI 48815 616-693-2449 • jstebbins@homeworks.org District 3 — Luke Pohl, Chairman 15560 W. Hanses Rd., Westphalia, MI 48894 989-292-0427 • lpohl@homeworks.org District 4 — Kimber Hansen 6535 N. Wyman Rd., Edmore, MI 48829 989-506-5849 • khansen@homeworks.org District 5 — Corinna Batora 7655 N. Watson Rd., Elsie, MI 48831 517-256-5233 • cbatora@homeworks.org

District 6 — Ed Oplinger, Secretary-Treasurer 10890 W. Weidman Rd., Weidman, MI 48893 989-644-3079 • eoplinger@homeworks.org District 7 — Shirley Sprague 15563 45th Ave., Barryton, MI 49305 989-382-7535 • ssprague@homeworks.org Editor: C harly Markwart, CCC

By Chris O’Neill, CEO


appy New Year, HomeWorks members! It sure feels good to say that after a 2020 that was challenging, to say the least. While the COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing, it’s still nice to turn the calendar over into a fresh year with a hopeful eye toward the future. As I look ahead, I am excited about the many meaningful objectives we are committed to accomplishing for you, our members, in 2021. As we kick January off with a fresh slate, I want to highlight just a few of the areas where we plan to achieve big things for you this year: • Reliability: Your power was 99.95% reliable last year, and we plan to keep it that way. Among the many ways we’re working to keeping your lights on is a substantial 2021 investment in right-of-way clearing, which is proven to be the single most important step in preventing electric outages. • Comfort: Since 1999, our subsidiary, Tri-County Propane, has been dedicated to providing rural mid-Michigan residents like you with exceptional home-heating service at a great value. In 2021, our focus is on growing this business, while continuing to provide the top-notch customer service our loyal patrons have come to expect from us. • Connection: In 1937, our Co-op was formed to fulfill a need for electricity amongst rural mid-Michigan residents left behind by the big-city utilities. Today, over 80 years later, we feel like we’re reliving that mission through our commitment to bringing much-needed broadband access to our members via HomeWorks Connect. This year, we’ll work to bring high-speed fiber internet to members in some of the northern portions of our service territory as we complete Phase 4 of our five-phase project. • Engagement: Last year, I was disappointed that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I wasn’t able to engage with our membership face-to-face as much as I would have liked in my first year as your CEO. We’re hopeful that we’ll be able to change that this year by getting back to hosting our annual district meetings in May, if it is deemed safe to gather at that time. The strength of a cooperative depends on its members’ engagement, and I can’t wait for the opportunity to meet with you again. • Community: As a cooperative, we’re committed to serving not only our members, but also our local communities. We will maintain that focus in 2021 through our People Fund, which has granted over $2.2 million to local families and organizations in need since 1993; our annual classroom grant and scholarship programs (see page 12 for more info); our safety outreach programs; and much more. As you can see, we’ve got a busy and productive 2021 planned for your Co-op, and we’re just getting started. I can’t wait to see all the great things that we will accomplish together over the year ahead.

4 JANUARY 2021

2020 HomeWorks Board Elections

Election Timeline Nominating committee submits candidate names to Co-op . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Feb. 5 Candidate credentials reviewed, names posted at Co-op. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Feb. 15

Districts 3 And 6 To Hold Director Elections This Year


Luke Pohl—District 3

omeWorks members in districts 3 and 6 will carry out one of the most important duties of a cooperative’s membership this year when they elect a director to represent them on the Co-op board. Current directors Luke Pohl of Westphalia (District 3) and Ed Oplinger of Weidman (District 6) have both announced they will seek re-election in their respective districts. Other members of districts 3 and 6 who are interested in running for the position should contact their district’s nominating committee by Feb. 5. Candidates may also be nominated via a petition signed by at least 25 members from within their district. Petitions must be turned in to the nominating committee by Feb. 20.

In District 3, Luke Pohl was first appointed to the Ed Oplinger—District 6 board in September 2014. He has served as chairman of the board since 2016. District 3 includes members in Clinton County, except those in Bingham, Duplain and Greenbush townships (which are part of District 5). In District 6, Ed Oplinger was first elected to the board in 2009. His district includes members in Clare and Isabella counties. The nominating committee in each district consists of the district’s officers (listed on this page), who are elected by members at the district meeting held in the previous May (2020 district meetings were canceled due to COVID-19, so officers elected in 2019 were asked to remain in their posts until the 2021 meetings). Each committee is required by the Co-op’s bylaws to nominate at least one candidate on or before Feb. 5. Names of nominees will be posted at the Cooperative’s offices and on HomeWorks.org by Feb. 28.

Interested In Seeking A Board Seat? The job of a HomeWorks board member is to help set policies and make decisions that guide the direction of the Cooperative, while effectively representing the members of his or her district. Directors are expected to attend regular monthly and other special meetings of the board or committees of the board, along with relevant state and national association meetings and director training programs. They are also expected to study data and other information presented to the board in order to stay fully informed on matters affecting the Co-op. If you are a member of District 3 or District 6 and are interested in running for a HomeWorks board seat this year, Article VII, Section 2 of the Cooperative’s bylaws (available at HomeWorks.org) states that you must be an individual member of the Co-op in good standing, at least 21 years

Nominations by petition (25 signatures) due at Co-op . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Feb. 20 Final candidate list posted at Co-op . . . . . . . . . . Feb. 26 Ballots mailed in Michigan Country Lines magazine to members in election districts. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . early April Members may vote in person at district meeting. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . May (dates to be announced)

Who Makes Up District Nominating Committees? District 3: Clinton County (except Bingham, Duplain and Greenbush townships) Mary Jo Straub, Chair 3800 Essex Center Rd., St. Johns, MI 48879 989-640-1504 mjstraub@hotmail.com Clare Koenigsknecht (Fowler), Vice Chair Theresa Thelen (Westphalia), Secretary District 6: Clare and Isabella counties Richard Donley, Chair 1037 Lincoln Dr., Lake Isabella, MI 48893 989-330-0284 email: rcdonley@yahoo.com Bob Thompson (Weidman), Vice Chair Rose Nedry (Edmore), Secretary

old, residing in the district which you are to represent, and a U.S. citizen. To become or remain a director, the bylaws state, the candidate must have the capacity to enter into legally binding contracts; comply with standards of conduct as laid out in the bylaws; and meet all reasonable conflict of interest qualifications found in Article VII, Section 3. Also, a candidate shall not have been convicted of or pled guilty to a felony or misdemeanor crime involving issues of moral character within the 10 years immediately prior to becoming a director. If you meet these qualifications and would like to be nominated for the District 3 or District 6 board seat, contact your district nominating committee, listed on this page, or call HomeWorks Tri-County Electric at 517-647-1272 to request a nominating petition. MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES




By Emily Haines Lloyd Photos by Diane Rhode & Ryan Brown


ith Michiganders on the long end of a year that limited us in the everyday activities we often enjoy, the outdoors was a respite through the summer and fall. As we enter the winter months, many are wondering how to keep a degree of sanity and avoid the dreaded cabin fever. Enter Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. Affectionately called The Porkies, Michigan’s largest state park, located in Ontonagon, offers a bevy of outdoor activities. It’s also easy to maintain a healthy level of social distancing with the over 60,000 acres of wilderness to explore.



“People come to the Porkies with different mindsets,” said Katie Urban, park interpreter (maybe the best job title ever). “Some folks want to go on a crazy adventure, that physical act to burn off their energy. Some are looking for some peace and quiet. I just tell people, either way, just make sure you take a moment to look around and take it all in.” The park also has acres of woods, wild animals (don’t worry, they tend to keep their distance), and the well-known Lake of the Clouds—one of the most photographed features in the Upper Peninsula. There are also plenty of more structured activities to check out. The downhill ski slope is covered in snow made entirely by Mother Nature

and offers thrilling trails of fresh powder. It’s the perfect opportunity to try out cross-country skiing and snowshoeing on gorgeously-groomed trails for both the experienced and newbies. Or join Urban on a weekly guided hike by riding the ski lift to the top of the mountains, taking in the vista, and then hiking back to base camp.

Perhaps one of the more inspiring opportunities in winter is the Lantern Walk, a one-mile loop on which to either cross-country ski, snowshoe, or walk with lanterns lighting the way. When the moon is out and shining, it does some of the heavy lifting for the lamps, and in either case, the sky provides fantastical views of the stars for all.

The Porkies also allow for winter camping. You can chart where to pitch your tent with the help of the ranger station for dispersed camping or rent one of the cabins or yurts for your crew. The trek out to the cabins is as much fun as the camping itself and includes wood to keep the fire roaring.

“There’s nothing quite like it,” confirms Urban. “It’s the kind of quiet that brings an amazing amount of peace. It’s obviously great for us physically to be out in nature, but I’m always surprised at how beneficial it is mentally and emotionally as well. It’s a whole other level of happiness.”

“There really is just so much to do and see,” said Urban. “The best part of what I do is watching people engaging with nature, learning something new, experiencing a new sport, or starting a new passion. Everything up here is inspiring.”

For more information visit michigan.gov/porkies or call 906-885-5275.

“Everything up here is inspiring.” —Katie Urban



Moooo-ve To Bigger Savings T

he increase in the global population is placing greater demands on today’s farmers. With more mouths to feed, food production needs are on the rise. Operational efficiency and automation have become crucial for farmers to successfully meet growing demands. Unfortunately, increased production usually translates into increased energy consumption. Decreased cash flow and a lower bottom line is often the result. A modern dairy farm might use 25% of its total operation’s energy usage in just milk refrigeration! Although it can be costly upfront, investing in energyefficient farm equipment can have a positive long-term impact on energy usage and business profits. The Energy Optimization program understands that and is available to help you create an energy savings plan. You may even qualify for cash incentives!

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 lighting indoors and outdoors LED grow lights and poultry lights Long-day lighting systems

Incentives For Custom Projects Have an energy efficiency project but don’t see it on our list? The Energy Optimization program will work with you to provide incentives for other electrical energy efficiency projects designed to meet specific needs. Contact us to discuss your ideas!

Farm Energy Assessment A farm assessment is a great way to understand more about your farm’s energy usage. Give us a call and we can help you identify where and how to implement practical, energy-saving solutions at no cost to you.

A complete list of incentives is available at michigan-energy.org, or call 877-296-4319 for details.

FARMERS CAN SAVE WITH THE ENERGY OPTIMIZATION PROGRAM Michigan farmers may qualify for energy-saving incentives with the installation of energy-efficient farm products and equipment. Reap the rewards and save! FREE energy assessment Cash incentives for energy-saving lighting, fans, pumps, and more Custom rebates for large or complex projects Contact us today for program eligibility information. Online: michigan-energy.org Phone: 877.296.4319

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


Magic Of Winter 1. Janet Yim of Eaton Rapids submitted this photo of a beautiful winter morning sunrise. 2. Cindy Zavadil of Okemos (receiving service in Canadian Lakes) submitted this photo taken during a Michigan ice storm. 3. Alan Thelen of Fowler says, “This cardinal seemed to be begging to come in during a winter snow storm.” 4. Rebecca Miller of Farwell says, “Winter has so many little details that I love!”



3 Enter to win a


energy bill credit!

Upcoming Snap Shot Contest Topics and Deadlines “Wild Animals,” Deadline: Jan. 21 (March issue) “Gardens,” Deadline: Feb. 15 (April issue) “Mom And Me,” Deadline: March 15 (May issue)

Go to HomeWorks.org and select Country Lines under the Electric tab to submit your photos and see all of the 2021 Snap Shot themes. It’s fast and easy. To send by mail: include your name, address, phone number, photographer’s name, and details about your photo. Mail to Attn: Country Lines Snap Shots, 7973 E. Grand River Ave., Portland, MI 48875. Photos will not be returned. Do not send color laser prints or professional studio photos.


Submit Your Photos! Members whose photos we publish in Country Lines in 2021 will receive a $10 bill credit the month after publication.



MI CO-OP Recipes

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

SALAD NIGHT Make a meal out of your greens.


SOUTHWEST CHICKEN SALAD Judy Skowronski, Cherryland

4 cups shredded or cubed cooked chicken 2 cups canned or thawed frozen corn 1 cup chopped sweet peppers 1 cup black beans, optional 1 cup chopped onion 1 cup minced fresh cilantro • green, leafy lettuce (butter/bibb, romaine, etc.) Dressing: 3 tablespoons lime juice 5 tablespoons olive oil 4 teaspoons honey 2 teaspoons cumin 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon chili powder ½ teaspoon black pepper

Win a


energy bill credit!

10 JANUARY 2021


Tacos due February 1 • Garden Fresh 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.

In a large bowl, combine chicken, corn, peppers, beans (if using), onion, and cilantro. In a small bowl, whisk all dressing ingredients. Pour dressing over chicken mixture and toss to coat. Serve over salad greens. Watch a video of this month’s winning recipe at micoopkitchen.com/videos


Rosemarie Ouellette, Thumb Electric 1 package Good Seasons Italian Dressing mix (or any Italian dressing mix) 1 tablespoon maple syrup 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast 1 large apple, diced into small cubes ½ cup golden raisins ½ cup walnut pieces 1 bag lettuce Prepare the dressing mix according to the package directions and add 1 tablespoon maple syrup. Cook the chicken breast via desired cooking method until tender, then dice into bite-sized pieces. Toss the chicken, apple, raisins, walnuts and lettuce in a large bowl. Sprinkle the dressing over, toss again, then serve immediately.


1 cup chopped romaine lettuce ¼ cup chopped red onion ¼ cup chopped sugar snap peas ¼ cup chopped sweet red bell pepper ¼ cup chopped radish ½ cup chopped cucumber ½ cup chopped fresh broccoli ½ cup chopped fresh cauliflower ¼ cup shredded mozzarella ¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese 4 strips turkey bacon, cooked and crumbled (optional) Dressing: ½ cup low-fat Miracle Whip salad dressing (or any salad dressing) 2 tablespoons stevia 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar ½ teaspoon dill weed Combine veggies, cheese and bacon in a mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together the dressing ingredients, then stir into veggie mix. May be served immediately, but is even better when refrigerated for a few hours. You can omit or add chopped fresh veggies to suit your own tastes. This recipe serves two; you can easily double or triple ingredients for more servings.

CAULIFLOWER SALAD Vada Baatz, Cherryland

4 cups sliced raw cauliflower 1 cup coarsely chopped olives ²⁄ ³ cup chopped green bell pepper ½ cup chopped pimento ½ cup chopped onion Dressing: ½ cup salad oil (vegetable, canola, etc.) 3 tablespoons lemon juice 3 tablespoons white or wine vinegar 1 teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon sugar ¼ teaspoon black pepper Combine the cauliflower, olives, green peppers, pimentos, and onion. To prepare the dressing, beat dressing ingredients with a rotary mixer or blender. Pour the dressing over the veggies; mix and stir until well blended. Refrigerate covered for 4 hours or overnight.



Applications are still being accepted for our 2021 classroom grants and college scholarships! For Teachers:

We offer grants of up to $2,000 to help teachers in our service area provide S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) education in their classrooms.

Applications due Feb. 26

For Students:

Current high school seniors living on our electric lines could be eligible for one of our one-time $1,000 scholarships to help with 2021-22 college expenses!

Applications due March 16 For more info or to apply, visit Homeworks.org or call 517-647-1210.

Your Board In Action Meeting remotely on Oct. 26, your board of directors:

Meeting remotely on Nov. 23, your board of directors:

• Reviewed and approved the 2021 capital and operating budget for Tri-Co Services, Inc.

• Reviewed the Cooperative’s current insurance premium and coverages with a representative from Federated Insurance.

• Reviewed and approved the Cooperative’s proposed 2021 budget for right-of-way clearing. • Authorized management to immediately access $150,000 of the 2021 capital budget to order an additional fiber bucket truck to support the growth of the HomeWorks Connect business. The truck will be received in 2021. • Authorized management to transfer $500,000 from the 2020 HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative capital budget to the 2020 HomeWorks Connect capital budget to cover fiber network construction and makeready expenses.

• Reviewed and approved the write-off of accounts receivable totaling $93,912 for the year ending Dec. 31, 2019. • Discussed and accepted Policy 113 – Member Access And Use Of Information And Data. • Learned there were 145 new members in October. • Acknowledged the October safety report, listing employee training as well as minor employee and public incidents involving electric, propane, or fiber optic.

Time Set Aside for Members to Comment Before Cooperative Board Meetings

• Learned about the progress of the HomeWorks Connect fiber internet business, including the fact that the active customer list grew to over 4,000 in October.

The first 15 minutes of every board meeting are available for members who wish to address the board of directors on any subject. The next meetings are scheduled for 9 a.m. on Jan. 18 and Feb. 15 in Portland. However, at the time of this printing, some of our meetings are temporarily being conducted remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Members who wish to have items considered on the board agenda should call 517-647-7554.

• Discussed and accepted Policy 111 – Board of Directors and General Manager Relationship. • Learned there were 161 new members in September. • Acknowledged the September safety report, listing employee training as well as minor employee and public incidents involving electric, propane, or fiber optic.

People Fund Supports Local Food Pantries And Families In Need Meeting remotely Nov. 12, the Tri-County Electric People Fund board made five grants totaling $12,500, including: • $3,500 to Chippewa Lake Community Church in Evart, to purchase food pantry items; • $3,000 to God’s Helping Hands in Remus, to support the annual Christmas food box program; • $2,500 to a Mecosta County family to cover medical bills; • $2,500 to a Clare County family to help cover the cost of a well; and • $1,000 to a Mecosta County family for household expenses.

How to Apply for a Tri-County Electric People Fund Grant The Tri-County Electric People Fund provides grants to individuals and organizations in the Co-op’s service area for food, shelter, clothing, health, and other humane needs, or for programs or services that benefit a significant segment of a community. Write to 7973 E. Grand River Ave., Portland, MI 48875, for an application form and grant guidelines, or visit the People Fund page at HomeWorks.org. Note: Applications must be received by Jan. 26 for the February meeting or by March 9 for the March meeting.

Notice to Members of HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative — Data Privacy Policy The HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative Board of Directors has adopted a policy governing the collection, use and disclosure of member account information and usage data. A full copy of the Data Privacy Policy can be found at HomeWorks.org. If you would like a hard copy of the Data Privacy Policy, please call our office at 800-562-8232.


THE MUSKEGON Luge Adventure Sports Park:


hile the next Winter Olympics aren’t scheduled until 2022, the spirit of winter athletes is very much alive and active—especially at the Muskegon Luge Adventure Sports Park that calls Muskegon State Park its home. On the Olympics, you see luge sliders (sliders, not lugers or sledders) going down icy tracks at up to 90 miles per hour, with nothing but a small sled just a few inches off the ground between them and the supersonic slope. There are just a few luge tracks in the United States, the most notable in Salt Lake City, Utah, and Lake Placid, New York, where most serious lugers train. There is a natural luge track in Negaunee, Michigan, that hosts the U.P. Luge Club. But nestled on the side of the sand dunes of Lake Michigan is a luge track that allows average folks the opportunity to fly. “We’re so lucky to have this amazing location to call home,” said Bill Bailey, lodge manager of Muskegon Luge Adventure Sports Park. “None of this would even be possible without our community and volunteers who have supported and helped maintain the track and the program over the years. This is a labor of love for all of us.” 14 JANUARY 2021

When the luge track was first being built in 1984, two young men were afraid their little local sledding hill would no longer be available. Builders on-site invited the two boys to help with some of the work, getting hands-on experience in what it takes to make a luge track. Both of those young men went on to become involved in competitive luge. Nearly 40 years later, one, Jim Rudicil, is now Muskegon Luge Adventure Sports Park’s executive director. The second, Mark Grimmette, went on to compete in five Winter Olympics games, winning silver and bronze medals. Grimmette now runs the competitive luge program at the Sports Park. “So many great sliders have gotten their start here at the Park,” said Bailey. “Luge is the kind of sport that becomes a part of you. Jim and Mark have been a part of the sport in one way or another since they first saw the track being built.” While luge definitely attracts its share of thrill-seekers, it’s accessible to anyone who wants to experience the rush of flying down a hill at speeds of up to 30 mph. Bailey and the team have made sure that those with the desire

By Emily Haines Lloyd || Photos courtesy of Muskegon Luge Adventure Sports Park


can experience luge—developing sleds to accommodate different physical impediments and rigging a snowmobile to get those who can’t access the stairs to the top of the hill. The Muskegon Luge Adventure Sports Park also offers an opportunity for every sixth-grader in the Muskegon school system to try out luge. “Luge might seem like a real niche sport, but exposing kids like those in our area to it is always awesome to see,” said Bailey. “Some kids really take to it and stick with it by joining our competitive programs.” While luge is a huge draw for the Park, those who enjoy a slightly different pace can find ski runs and a two-acre rink for hockey, figure skating, or just family fun, as well as skating trails. The Muskegon Luge Adventure Sports Park recently installed a 1,400-foot zip line, which got a soft launch this past fall. It also has wheel luge, archery, and paddle sports in warmer months. These are just a few ways that the Park is looking to make this gorgeous outdoor venue a draw year-round.

“We’re outdoors lovers,” said Bailey. “We want to share that with as many people as we can. Enjoying these resources and taking care of them is part of the stewardship our staff and our visitors want to be a part of to ensure they can be experienced by future generations.”

Check out DUNEiversity——team bonding experiences facilitated by the Park. There are half- or full-day sessions for corporations, sports teams, churches or scouting troops. For more information, visit msports.org/team-building/. 877-879-5843 462 N. Scenic Drive Muskegon, MI 49445 msports.org/winter-sports/muskegon-winter-luge-track/




You may be wondering what the deal is with this “fiber internet” we’re building in our service territory. To help you understand what makes fiber better than traditional cable “high-speed” internet, here are eight ways that we think HomeWorks Connect beats out the competition. SPEED The difference in speeds between cable and fiber is quite noticeable. Due to the low latency of fiber, files that could take 22 minutes using traditional cable internet can be downloaded in as little as eight seconds with HomeWorks Connect! SECURITY In an era of increased worry about cyber security, it’s great to know that with HomeWorks Connect, there is a much lower risk of someone hacking the network. This is because, unlike cable, tapping into fiber takes very special skills, and when a fiber has been compromised, it is able to be identified much more quickly than with traditional cable internet. UPGRADES When speed requirements increase, cable internet requires a larger wire to be strung. However, with HomeWorks Connect, it’s easy to update by installing new hardware at each end of the wire. STRENGTH You’d think that cables made from glass would be more delicate than copper wires, but the opposite is actually true! Fiber internet cables are able to withstand five to 10 times more pressure than traditional copper wires.

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BANDWIDTH Copper wires were created to transfer voice calls, not data, so cable networks are limited. Fiber was created with data transfer in mind, so the amount of data that can travel at any given time on our network is much greater. This means with HomeWorks Connect, you’ll spend less time waiting for your files to load. DISTANCE Since fiber networks were designed to transmit data over long distances, there are no concerns about losing a signal just because you’re in a remote location. This makes HomeWorks Connect the perfect rural internet solution. RELIABILITY In comparison to copper cable, fiber is more resistant to temperature fluctuations and moisture, and doesn’t present a fire hazard when old or worn. With fiber, there is also less concern about interference from electronic or radio signals. COST Although our initial investment in fiber is greater, over the long term a fiber network is the more cost-effective option for us to build. Because it is more easily maintained than cable and requires less hardware, we’ll be able to keep costs low for our Connectors too!

Become A Connector Today! NEW!

Visit HomeWorksConnect.org or call 800-668-8413 to get your name on the list! This service is not regulated by the Michigan Public Service Commission.

16 JANUARY 2021

Co-op Welcomes New Employees Due to continued growth and retirements, we’ve had the chance to welcome several new faces to the HomeWorks staff over the past year. Here are the employees who joined our team in 2020:

Katie Ball

David Brinks

Samantha Campbell

Customer Service Rep Blanchard Office

Network Engineer Both Offices

Accountant Portland Office

Kevin Hanses

Kenny McNett

Sara McLaughlin

Meter Reader Blanchard Office

Fiber Installer Both Offices

Customer Service Rep Portland Office

Adam Meyers

Brian Moore

Holly Trierweiler

Jeremy Zuke

Fiber Installer Both Offices

Lineman Blanchard Office

Customer Service Rep Portland Office

Lineman Blanchard Office MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES 17

MI CO-OP Community Guest Column

Remembering The Glass Bottles & The Milkman By Kenny Kamerer

ow many in Michigan remember greeting the milkman? Ours had orange juice, butter and even chocolate milk. I remember one winter morning in the late 1960s, my mom told me to go get the glass bottles of milk from the front porch.


The cream in the milk used to settle to the top, and my older brothers and sisters used to fight over it. It sometimes would even pop the lid off in the winter months. The reason for the cream settling at the top is because the milk wasn’t homogenized decades ago. Because milk was so perishable, delivering it daily was the safest and most cost-effective way to get milk to customers. The glass bottles, which were sealed with a waxed foil cap, were then picked up by the milkman, cleaned and reused. Eventually, it became easier and less expensive to buy milk at the stores, and the processes developed extended the milk’s shelf life, and the milkman faded into the past. I would love to taste this milk from the old days with the pure cream at the top. I’d add it to my favorite bowl of cereal, and I’m sure it would make for some very creamy mash potatoes, too. Oh, the good ole days!

wellconnectsaves.com989-356-2113 This photo is of one of many milkmen in the state of Michigan on his daily route. Photo by Midland Daily News, 1950s.

Win a


energy bill credit!

Kenny is a local truck driver who loves nature and history. He has his own Facebook nature group called Michiana Nature Lovers to share wildlife and all kinds of nature photos.

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/community.

Nov./Dec. 2020 Winner! Our Mystery Photo winner is Jeff Narregan, a Midwest Energy & Communications Cooperative member, who correctly identified the photo as the Basilica of Saint Adalbert, Grand Rapids. Photo by Chad Cihak. Winners are announced in the following issues of Country Lines: January, March, May, July/August, September, and November/December.

Michigan-Made Hybrid Geothermal System Provides Savings and Comfort

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

One-Day Installation

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

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

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

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

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