PIE&G Jan/Feb 2021

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January/February 2021

MICHIGAN

COUNTRY LINES Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op

Apply For College Scholarships

Three PIE&G Directors Re-elected 2020 Photo Contest Winner

THE MUSKEGON Luge Adventure Sports Park:

THRILL-SEEKERS WELCOME


WATERFURNACE UNITS QUALIFY FOR A 22% FEDERAL TAX CREDIT THROUGH 2021

THERE’S A TREASURE

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Contents countrylines.com

January 2021 Vol. 41, No. 1

/michigancountrylines

/michigancountrylines

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.

#micoopcommunity

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.

MI CO-OP COMMUNITY

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

MI CO-OP KITCHEN

BEST OF MICHIGAN

GUEST COLUMN

MYSTERY PHOTO

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

MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES

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Old Acquaintances, New Beginnings

pieg.com /PIEGCooperative/ BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Charles Arbour, Treasurer 23899 M32 S, Hillman MI 49746 989-657-4358 • Term Expires: 2023

Allan Berg, Chairman 1117 E. Heythaler Hwy., Rogers City, MI 49779 989-734-0044 • Term Expires 2023 Sandy Borowicz, Secretary 5341 Carlson Rd.,Cheboygan, MI 49721 231-627-9220 • Term Expires 2021

John Brown 21 W. Devereaux Lake Rd., Indian River, MI 49749 231-625-2099 • Term Expires 2023 Sally Knopf 1849 W. 638 Hwy., Rogers City, MI 49779 989-734-4196 • Term Expires 2021 Kurt Krajniak , Vice-Chairman 7630 Wallace Rd., Alpena, MI 49707 989-884-3037 • Term Expires 2022 Brentt Lucas 15841 Carr Rd., Posen, MI 49776 989-766-3678 • Term Expires 2022 Daryl Peterson P.O. Box 54, Hillman, MI 49746 989-742-3145 • Term Expires 2021 Raymond Wozniak 6737 State St., Posen, MI 49776 989-766-2498 • Term Expires 2022 President & CEO: Thomas Sobeck tsobeck@pieg.com

Communications Director/Co-op Editor: Maire Chagnon-Hazelman Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op 19831 M-68 Hwy., P.O. Box 308 Onaway, MI 49765

Business Office & Billing: 989-733-8515 Toll-Free: 800-423-6634 Gas Emergency Toll-Free: 800-655-8565 PIE&G natural gas rates and charges are not regulated by the Michigan Public Service Commission. Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

CHEBOYGAN PRESQUE ISLE

OTSEGO

MONTMORENCY

OSCODA

4 JANUARY 2021

ALPENA

ALCONA

Tom Sobeck, President & CEO

O

ld acquaintances, new beginnings, I feel the same way every January as I look back on the past year while planning for the next 12 months. The process and my recollections are usually familiar from year to year. This January, not so much. While I’m pleased to continue working with many of our old acquaintances, 2021 will bring several new beginnings for us. First, the familiar acquaintances include our three directors who were successfully re-elected for new three-year terms, Allan Berg, John Brown, and Charlie Arbour. Congratulations! I look forward to your continued leadership. There are big things happening here at your cooperative, and your board of directors has been instrumental in leading the charge toward a more efficient, cost-effective and modern cooperative. Initiatives that began over the last few years will either be completed or continue as we enter 2021. Construction on the new Headquarters and Service Center, which began in April 2020, is nearly 70% complete. We plan to relocate operations around August of 2021. Our Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) project will begin to ramp up over the coming months. We’ve been working to identify strategic locations for communication towers. We have already installed several of them in anticipation of further meter deployment this winter. Although we’ve heard from a few members expressing concerns over health and privacy concerns, which we’ve addressed, most of the membership has responded that this technology is a positive step toward increased reliability, reduced outage times and improved service. Our rebranding study continues as we evaluate whether we should redefine our identity. Several years have passed since we changed our name from Presque Isle Electric Cooperative to Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op. We’re considering a name that more closely reflects our Mission and Vision—not only as a trusted energy partner, but as a trusted community partner as well. The rebranding discussion has been of particular interest to me and has become ripe for review as we continue to explore the feasibility of providing high-speed internet options for you. Obviously, the internet is not an “energy commodity” in the traditional sense, but it gives us, and our communities, the power to prosper in many ways. Increasingly, I receive more calls requesting information on high-speed internet and whether we are considering offering it as another service. The COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated at-home work and learning for many. However, in rural areas of northeast Michigan, access to high-speed internet service is woefully lacking. We would like to change that. Just as we brought electric and natural gas utilities to improve daily life for members, we believe that fiber-to-the-home is another essential service that will enhance the quality of modern living. Our board of directors has been reviewing the possibility of building a fiber-to-the-home network across our service territory for several years. It continues to evaluate whether the benefits outweigh the costs of this undertaking. Look for more news on this exciting prospect over the next several months.

Here’s to a great new year! May it bring health, happiness and new beginnings for you and our communities.


Director Election Results P

IE&G held its 83rd Annual Membership Meeting virtually on Friday, Oct. 23. The meeting was livestreamed from the co-op in Onaway via Zoom video conference. Members gave the online event high marks in a follow-up survey. The following candidates were elected to three-year terms (2020–2023): Allan Berg (incumbent, Presque Isle District), John Brown (incumbent, Cheboygan District) and Charles Arbour (incumbent, Montmorency District). The number of votes that each candidate received is listed below. Immediately following the meeting, the board of directors held its election of officers, and the results are Chair—Allan Berg; Vice Chair—John Brown; Secretary—Sandy Borowicz; and Treasurer— Charles Arbour. Members also heard reports from the cooperative’s auditor and Chief Executive Officer, Thomas Sobeck.

Cheboygan District (One Vacancy)

John Brown . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 840 Peter Redmond. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 511 Ned Taylor. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 234

Montmorency District (One Vacancy)

Charles Arbour. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 763 Donald Edwards. . . . . . . . . . . . . 542 Chris Paffi . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 302

Presque Isle District (One Vacancy)

Allan Berg. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,018 Warren Kowalewsky . . . . . . . . . . 651

$50 Prize Winners PIE&G held a raffle drawing from all members who mailed in their ballots for the election. Twenty-five (25) names were drawn with each lucky member winning a prize of a $50 bill credit. Members were notified of the bill credit by letter.

Your Board In Action At its recent meetings, the PIE&G Board of Directors: • Approved the 2021 Work Plan (utility plant capital budget, of which $3,271,300 was for electric utility plant construction and $1,050,000 was for natural gas utility plant construction, for a projected total of $4,321,300). • Reviewed and accepted the 2021 Operating Plan as a reasonable forecast for the 2021 fiscal year and a useful business planning tool for the organization. • Reviewed annual disclosure statements per board policy on conflicts of interest. • Set the 2021 annual membership meeting for 10 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 20, 2021, at Posen High School and approved closing the office that day. • Approved board committee assignments for the 2021 calendar year. • Acknowledged by resolution the service of retiring employees Virgil Morell and Gary Prow.

NOTICE TO MEMBERS OF DATA PRIVACY POLICY The Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op 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 on pages 69–72 at https://www.michigan.gov/documents/ mpsc/presqueisle1cur_573197_7.pdf. If you would like a hard copy of the Data Privacy Policy, call our office at (800) 423-6634 or visit our website at www.pieg.com.

MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES

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E UPIN PORC TAINS MOUN SS ERNE D L I W K E PAR STAT

INTO THE

By Emily Haines Lloyd Photos by Diane Rhode & Ryan Brown

W

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.

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“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

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PHOTO CONTEST

MOST VOTES!

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Winter Magic 1. Happy to be alive.––Debbie Alexander 2. Christmas in Wolverine.––Cynthia Bay 3. Freedom.––Gloria Zalewski 4. Waiting for spring.––Melissa Brown 5. The Mighty Mac with ornaments of Christmas.––Eugene Cambre 6. Nature’s glitter.––Heather Preston 7. Winter waves.––Jody Baldwin 8. Mush! Let’s go, Blue!––Leo Navarre 9. Winter fun with best friend.––Sandy Rohlman 10. Sunset in the snow.––Amie Coloff

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11. Santa Bigfoot in Posen.––Lynn Shultz 12. The snowman at Ocqueoc Falls!––Stacy Hannert 13. Fresh snow of Trout River.––John Leow

Enter to win a $200 energy bill credit! Submit Your “Wild Animals” Photos! Submit your best photo and encourage others to vote! The photo receiving the most votes in our photo contest will be printed in an issue of Country Lines along with some of our other favorites.

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Our Jan./Feb. theme is Magic of Wild Animals. Photos can be submitted through January 27 to be featured in our March/April issue. To enter the contest, visit pieg.com/ photocontest. Enter your picture, cast your vote, and encourage others to vote for you as well. If your photo is printed in Country Lines during 2021, you will be entered to win a credit of up to $200 on your December 2021 bill.

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2020

PHOTO CONTEST WINNER Megan Price is the 2020 winner of PIE&G’s Photo Contest. The winning photo was selected in a drawing of all entries that appeared in Michigan Country Lines in 2020. The photo “Fishing” was submitted by Megan Price and was published in the March issue. Thank you to the many PIE&G members who participated. Members are welcome to participate by sending in photos for our new 2021 contest. MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES

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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.

WINNING RECIPE!

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

$50

energy bill credit!

10 JANUARY 2021

RECIPE CONTEST

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


SUPPER SALAD

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.

CHOPPED VEGGIE SALAD Sue Evans, Alger Delta

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.

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Quick Tips To Avoid High Winter Bills Looking to lower your bills this winter? Use the 10 tips below to conserve energy.

Seal air leaks and insulate well to prevent heat from escaping and cold air from entering your home. Reduce waste heat by installing a programmable thermostat. Turn off lights when not in use. Lower your water heater temperature. The Department of Energy recommends using the warm setting (120 degrees) during fall and winter months. Unplug electronics like kitchen appliances and TVs when you’re away. Open blinds and curtains during the day to allow sunlight in to warm your home. Close blinds and curtains at night to keep cold, drafty air out.

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Use power strips for multiple appliances, and turn off the main switch when you’re away from home.

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Wash clothes in cold water, and use cold-water detergent whenever possible.

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Replace incandescent light bulbs with LEDs, which use at least 75% less energy.


Scholarships For Graduating Seniors

Two of PIE&G’s 2020 Communities First Fund Scholarship winners, Jonathan Clayton and Shaylee Michael.

Applications due March 1 The PIE&G Communities First Fund has been awarding scholarships to graduating high school seniors since 1999. The scholarship program includes all accredited colleges or universities located in Michigan. The award is $1,000 and payable upon successful completion of the first semester. The A. Barkley Travis Memorial Scholarship ($500) is also available. Eligibility requirements and applications are available online at pieg.com or by contacting PIE&G at (800) 423-6634, extension 1011. Completed applications with all supporting documentation must be received at PIE&G by close of business on Monday, March 1, 2021. Scholarships will be awarded by June 1.

Ways To Stay Cozy This Winter

When you’re feeling chilly at home, here are five budget-friendly ways you can keep comfortable without turning up the thermostat. 1. Whether you’re experiencing extremely cold winter temps or you “run cold,” an electric blanket can deliver quick warmth like a regular blanket cannot. Electric blankets can include a variety of features, like timers and dual temperature settings. 2. One of the easiest ways to stay cozy at home is to keep your feet warm. Our feet play a critical role in regulating body temperature, so when your feet are warm, your body automatically feels warmer. Try a pair of comfortable wool socks or house slippers to stay toasty. 3. On winter days when the sun is shining, take advantage and harness natural warmth from sunlight. Open all curtains, drapes and blinds in your home to let the sunshine in—you’ll be able to feel the difference. 4. Make your home cozier with a humidifier. Cold air doesn’t hold water vapor like warm air, so by adding humidity inside your home, you can feel a little warmer. A favorable humidity level inside your home can also help clear sinuses, soften skin and improve sleep. 5. Beyond adding visual appeal to your home, area rugs can also provide extra insulation and a warm surface for your feet on cold winter days. Use large area rugs in rooms where you spend the most time. You’ll enjoy the new colors and textures of the rug, and the additional warmth will help keep your home comfortable. These are just a few ways you can stay cozy this winter without turning up the thermostat. Don’t forget the hot chocolate!


THE MUSKEGON Luge Adventure Sports Park:

THRILL-SEEKERS

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

WELCOME

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/

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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

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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.


Fireplaces

For Extra Value, Add Extra Safety By Derrill Holly

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fire in the hearth is a warm and welcoming part of winter for many of us, but open flames inside the home should always be tended to safely. Before you light your fireplace, consider safety first. Patty Davis, deputy director of communications for the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), offers the safety planning tips below. The agency cites home fireplaces, chimneys and chimney connectors as the leading causes of residential fires attributed to heating equipment. According to the CPSC, an open and properly maintained flue ensures that fireplace gases can be vented to the outside through the chimney and closed to help keep heat inside the home when the fireplace is not in use. Be sure to have a protective barrier in front of your fireplace to prevent a child or grandchild from coming into direct contact with the glass front of the fire screen. The surface temperature of the glass front can heat up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, which can cause very serious burns to a child. “If you use your fireplace for supplemental heating, you should include a full inspection with your system checkups,” said Davis. “You should also make sure you have at least one carbon monoxide (CO) detector on each floor of your home to reduce the risks of CO exposure.”

Odorless and colorless, carbon monoxide can quickly build up in the closed interior spaces of a home, leaving all occupants incapacitated and hindering escape. “When a CO alarm is activated, people can get out and then contact firefighters to deal with the carbon monoxide buildup that prompted the alarm,” said Davis. Fireplaces should be considered fuel-burning appliances, subject to the same safety precautions, inspections and maintenance standards recommended for other items in that category. “Get a regular inspection, just as you would for a furnace or heating system,” said Davis. The inspection should be done by a qualified chimney company professional. That inspection not only helps to ensure the system is tuned up for efficient operation, but it also gives the homeowner warning of wear or damage that could potentially cause fires or other problems once the season is underway.

FIREPLACE SAFETY TIPS Every year, nearly 20,000 residential fires are linked to fireplaces. The Consumer Product Safety Commission offers these tips to help you keep your family safe:

1. Consider scheduling a fireplace inspection and cleaning by a certified professional. 2. Install a carbon monoxide detector on every floor of your home. These devices offer low-cost protection and provide early warnings of potential problems. 3. Keep flues, dampers, firestops, flashing and chimney caps in good condition. 4. If you have small children and/or pets, consider a secondary screen. A glass screen can reach temperatures of 500 degrees Fahrenheit, so an extra barrier can protect them from serious burns.

CO


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.

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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.

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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?”

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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.

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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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2021 Energy Efficiency Calendar There are so many ways you can save energy! Saving energy helps reduce your family’s monthly bills—and it helps our environment. Change your energy use habits by following the monthly tips below. Keep this calendar on your refrigerator to remind family members to be energy efficient throughout the year. JANUARY FEBRUARY MARCH APRIL Turn off ceiling fans when you leave a room.

MAY Decorate your backyard or porch with solarpowered lights.

SEPTEMBER Turn off running water while brushing your teeth.

Instead of turning up the heat, put on an extra layer of clothing or stay cozy under a blanket.

JUNE

Turn off lights when you leave a room.

JULY

Plant a tree away from power lines to help shade your home in the summer.

AUGUST

Take short showers instead of baths.

Dry heavy linens outside on a clothesline instead of using the dryer.

Schedule a reminder to change the A/C filter every 60–90 days.

OCTOBER

NOVEMBER

DECEMBER

Remind family members to use cold water when washing clothes.

Decorate your home with energysaving LED holiday lights.

Unplug energy vampires, like chargers, gaming consoles and cable/ satellite boxes.


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