January 2022 MEC

Page 1

January 2022


COUNTRY LINES Midwest Energy & Communications

Winter Energy Tips

MEC Steppin’ Out And Helpin’ Out High School Scholarships

Celebrating 30 Years Of The Country’s Oldest




IN YOUR BACKYARD You may not realize it, but your home is sitting on a free and renewable supply of energy. A WaterFurnace geothermal comfort system taps into the stored solar energy in your own backyard to provide savings of up to 70% on heating, cooling, and hot water. That’s money in the bank and a smart investment in your family’s comfort. Contact your local WaterFurnace dealer today to learn how to tap into your buried treasure.

Allendale Allendale Htg & Clg (800) 327-1937 allendaleheating.com Bad Axe/Ubly Cutting Edge Htg & Clg (989) 551-0986 Berrien Springs Waterfurnace Michiana (269) 473-5667 gogreenmichgeo thermal.com Big Rapids Stratz Htg & Clg, Inc. (231) 769-3717 stratzgeocomfort.com

YOUR LOCAL WATERFURNACE DEALERS Mancelona Clifford Top Notch Htg, Clg, Orton Refrig & Htg (989) 761-7691 & Geothermal sanduskygeothermal.com (231) 350-8052 Topnotchheatandair.com Hart Adams Htg & Clg Michigan Center (231) 873-2665 Comfort 1/Air Serv of adamsheating Southern Michigan cooling.com (517) 764-1500 airserv.com/southernIndian River michigan/ M&M Plmb & Htg (231) 238-7201 Mt Pleasant mm-plumbing.com Walton Htg & Clg (989) 772-4822 Lansing waltonheating.com Candor Mechanical (517) 920-0890 Muskegon candormechanical.com Adams Htg & Clg (231) 873-2665 adamsheatingcooling.com

visit us at waterfurnace.com

Portland ESI Htg & Clg (517) 647-6906 esiheating.com Sunfield Mark Woodman Plmb & Htg (517) 886-1138 mwphonline.com Traverse City D&W Mechanical (231) 941-1251 dwmechanical.com Geofurnace Htg & Clg (231) 943-1000 geofurnace.com

WaterFurnace is a registered trademark of WaterFurnace International, Inc.

Contents countrylines.com

January 2022 Vol. 42, No. 1



6 TAHQUAMENON FALLS: A WONDER OF THE MIDWEST The resounding grandeur of the state's largest waterfalls can be enjoyed year-round. 10 MI CO-OP KITCHEN Asian-Inspired: Recreate your takeout favorites with these meals rich in flavor and diversity.

Michigan’s Electric Cooperatives

14 CELEBRATING 30 YEARS OF THE COUNTRY’S OLDEST ICE CLIMBING FESTIVAL The Michigan Ice Fest in Munising offers climbers breathtaking terrain and the chance to make lifelong friends.

EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Casey Clark EDITOR: Christine Dorr


RECIPE EDITOR: Christin McKamey COPY EDITOR: Yvette Pecha CONTRIBUTING EDITOR: Emily Haines Lloyd

18 GUEST COLUMN Winter's Daydream: GLE member's dazzling encounter with a deer was only a dream. Or was it?

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


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.

Be featured!

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


Have you ever seen Tahquamenon Falls at night? @dougjulian (Doug Julian)

MI CO-OP COMMUNITY To enter contests, submit reader content & more, visit countrylines.com/community

RECIPE CONTEST Win a $50 bill credit!

Up Next: Spice It Up, due Feb. 1 On The Grill, due March 1 Submit your recipe at micoopkitchen.com, or send it via email (include your full name and co-op) to recipes@countrylines.com.

GUEST COLUMN Win $150 for stories published!

Submit your fondest memories and stories at countrylines.com/ community.

MYSTERY PHOTO Win a $50 bill credit!

Enter a drawing to identify the correct location of the photo. See page 18.







Risks And Rewards Of Asking What If


Robert Hance, President/CEO



CORPORATE HEADQUARTERS AND CASSOPOLIS SOLUTIONS CENTER 60590 Decatur Road, Cassopolis, MI 49031 M–F 8 a.m.–5 p.m.

PAW PAW SOLUTIONS CENTER 59825 S. LaGrave Street, Paw Paw, MI 49079 M–F 8 a.m.–5 p.m. ADRIAN SOLUTIONS CENTER 1610 E. Maumee Street, Adrian, MI 49221 M–F 8 a.m.–5 p.m. CONTACT US Midwest Energy & Communications 800-492-5989 teammidwest.com Email: info@teammidwest.com BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Clarence “Topper” Barth, Chairperson, Three Rivers 269-279-9233 Clarence.Barth@teammidwest.com

Ben Russell, Vice Chairperson, Constantine 269-506-1590 Ben.Russell@teammidwest.com Ron Armstrong, Secretary, Lawton 269-299-0443 Ron.Armstrong@teammidwest.com John Green, Treasurer, Dowagiac 269-470-2816 John.Green@teammidwest.com Dan Bodette, Wauseon 419-337-8007 Dan.Bodette@teammidwest.com

Gerry Bundle, Cassopolis 269-414-0164 Gerry.Bundle@teammidwest.com

James Dickerson, Bloomingdale 269-370-6868 Jim.Dickerson@teammidwest.com

Erika Escue-Cadieux, Onsted 419-346-1088 erika.escue-cadieux@teammidwest.com Fred Turk, Decatur 269-423-7762 Fred.Turk@teammidwest.com



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

4 JANUARY 2022


here is a popular song called “What If” playing on Christian radio. It resonates with me right now as I celebrate another trip around the sun this month and think more and more about the legacy I want to leave on my children, grandchildren, friends, and colleagues. Matthew West sings, “What if today’s the only day I got? I don’t wanna waste it if it’s my last shot. No regrets, in the end, I wanna know I got no what ifs.” The lyrics also prompt me to think about some of the major decisions your board of directors has made in recent years related to your service experience and the future of the cooperative. What if we hadn’t committed to electric reliability with our aggressive right-of-way clearance program? What if we didn’t commit to upgrading our electric infrastructure and delivering the ultimate telecommunications solution through fiber to our customers? What if we chased every possible new propane customer at the expense of our existing family of loyal customers? “What if” is a big question and often brings with it a lot of risks. But when asked thoughtfully and strategically, and appropriately researched and vetted, it also stands to result in a lot of rewards. In a 2019 column, I introduced the concept of the Southwest Michigan Advanced Research & Technology (SMART) Park. We were considering leveraging the property surrounding our Cassopolis headquarters and developing a state-of-theart business park. The project came with a hefty price tag to do it right, and the board deliberated over the proposition for more than a year. It would have been safe and easy to flip those 300+ acres back to ag and walk away. But we kept asking the question. What if we did something that clearly aligned with our vision of creating vibrant, relevant, and sustainable rural communities? What if we brought the right players to the table to make this vision a reality? Over the last year, we’ve been in conversation with Norway-based Hydro Aluminum regarding purchasing property for their newest North America facility. Hydro is a leading aluminum and energy company that builds businesses and partnerships for a more sustainable future. We brought together all the relevant players for the many conversations, and in July, Hydro signed a letter of intent to build on our property. In October, the United States Economic Development Administration committed a $6 million investment award to support the construction of the necessary infrastructure to establish the park, and in late November, the Hydro Aluminum Board of Directors unanimously approved the Cassopolis build. The expected investment is estimated at about $140 million. Construction is slated to begin early in 2022, with production commencing in 2023. The plant will have about 70 employees. We’re confident others will follow with our first commitment, especially once the infrastructure begins taking shape. In fact, we’ve been in regular communication with numerous other parties interested in securing space. We’ve got no “what ifs,” and this project promises to be a game changer for our region and the future of your cooperative.

MEC NEWS OF NOTE Cooperative bylaws were updated in October after customers overwhelmingly voted in favor of proposed changes.

board recommended these changes, recognizing that we’re very different today than we were even just 20 short years ago, especially as it relates to the significant investment in infrastructure and the unprecedented growth and success of our fiber deployment.

The approved changes create new levels of qualification and accountability for individuals interested in seeking a position on our board of directors. The currently-seated

Customers also voted in favor of proposed changes to the Articles of Incorporation. You can request copies by emailing boardinquiries@teammidwest.com.

Bylaw Changes

Attention High School Seniors Answer this video challenge, and you could earn $1,000 toward your college education: Pick a job from one of the descriptions listed on teammidwest.com/scholarship. Then create a video resume to tell us about yourself and why you would be the perfect candidate. Envision yourself having the experience needed to qualify, and then tell us about it along with anything else you think would make us pick you for an interview. To help you out, we’ve included tips on how to make a great resume at teammidwest.com/scholarship.

More about the scholarship High school seniors whose families receive monthly service from MEC at their primary residence can apply. Scholarship applications must be submitted by Monday, March 14, and awards will be announced in April. Selection for the scholarship is based on the video submission along with academic performance, extracurricular activities, 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 by March 14. Please note: Children of MEC employees and board members are not eligible to apply.

LET’S TALK INTERNET Interested in learning about our internet service and want to speak one-on-one with a solutions agent? Sign up for a 30-minute phone call or in-person meeting at our Cassopolis or Adrian Solutions Center on most Thursdays through March from 9 a.m.–3 p.m. (with a break during lunch). Visit teammidwest.com/events to register and see available times and dates.

idden in the Upper Peninsula happens to be the state’s largest waterfall and the second-largest east of the Mississippi River (with Niagara Falls being number one)—Tahquamenon Falls. With 50,000 gallons of water cascading over the falls, it’s no wonder it hosts over 600,000 visitors annually.


TAHQUAMENON FALLS A Wonder Of The Midwest By Emily Haines Lloyd



For those who love a tongue-twister—it’s pronounced “Taa·kwuh·meh·nuhn,” and it was made famous in the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem The Song of Hiawatha. According to Native American lore, the origin of the name is attributed to the water’s amber color, resulting from tannic acid from the cedar and hemlock swamps that feed the river. Aside from the astonishing name, the falls themselves offer mouth-dropping beauty and splendor. Nestled in Tahquamenon Falls State Park amid 50,000 acres covering more than 13 miles, the Upper and Lower Falls of Tahquamenon offer an otherworldly view. And this might be the perfect time to enjoy that view, as the park is not nearly as crowded in the winter as it is in the other seasons. Winter activities at the park include camping (the campsites are open year-round), cross-country skiing, snowshoeing,

lantern-lit trail walks hosted by the park staff, and of course, visiting the falls, which also run year-round. No matter what time of year you go, though, your visit will leave a lasting impression. “When you’re approaching the falls, you first hear the sound—the water flowing and falling,” said Theresa Neal, park interpreter at Tahquamenon Falls State Park. “Once you approach them, you’re then struck by that unique amber color. It’s so unusual and visually striking. You never forget it.” Tahquamenon Falls is divided into two sections. The Upper Falls are surrounded by a quarter-mile trail and just a 94-step climb to the viewing platform. There, you can get a look at that 50-foot drop and feel the spray on your face. Those looking for an additional challenge can snowshoe off trail for a snowy adventure. The Lower Falls are four miles east of the Upper Falls and offer great views and photo ops. The Lower Falls are a one-mile walk from the parking area that takes you through the forest and lands you on the multiple viewing platforms for more spectacular sights. You can also rent rowboats at the concession station to access the island during the summer only.

While the monumental views bring in visitors, Neal thinks there’s something else that draws folks out to the wild. “I see generations of families come out to the falls year after year,” said Neal. “The world can move so fast, but when you’re out here, there’s time to breathe and just be with one another. Making memories is the ultimate way to slow things down.”

“Obviously, the falls are the big draw,” said Neal. “But there’s so much to do and explore. Nine miles of marked snowshoe trails, a groomed cross-country ski trail, lots of photo opportunities, and even a brewery.”


When you’re looking at sharing this natural wonder with over half a million people a year, it’s good to look at the best time to visit.

DO NOT DISTURB: Put your phone in airplane mode—service can be sketchy, so save your battery for photos and videos

“I’m always reminding people we’re open sunrise to sunset,” said Neal. “So, I really recommend coming early or later in the day to avoid crowds. And not to be afraid to visit off-season. From December to April, it’s almost like having the park to yourself.”

CASH IS KING: With cell service being dicey, it’s easier for park staff to handle your cash

VISITING IN WARMER MONTHS?: Wear light colored clothing (most insects are attracted to dark colors). And always be sure to wear comfortable, sturdy footwear BUG OFF: If you’re traveling in June and July, it’s a good idea to scare off the mosquitoes, horse flies, and deer flies with bug spray. Maybe splurge and buy a mosquito head net for just a couple of dollars WATER, WATER, WATER: Bring your reusable water bottle. There are plenty of places to fill up MAP UP: Again, with sketchy cell service, make sure you have a paper map, and don’t be afraid to chat up the park rangers for advice and directions /TQFalls





SAFETY TIPS Gasoline, Fueling, and Burn Safety

Carbon Monoxide and Ventilation

• If the tank is overfilled, fuel can overflow onto a hot engine and cause fire or explosion.

• Using a generator indoors CAN KILL YOU IN MINUTES. The exhaust contains carbon monoxide, a deadly poisonous gas you cannot see or smell.

• Do not overfill the fuel tank. Always allow room for fuel expansion. • Never add fuel while the unit is running or hot. • Allow generator and engine to cool entirely before adding fuel.

• NEVER run a generator indoors or in partly enclosed areas, such as garages.

• Never store a generator with fuel in the tank where gasoline vapors might reach an open flame, spark, or pilot light.

• ONLY use outdoors and far from windows, doors, vents, and crawl spaces, and in an area where adequate ventilation is available and will not accumulate deadly exhaust gas.

• Many generator parts are hot enough to burn you during operation and while the generator is cooling after turning off. Avoid coming into contact with a hot generator.

• Using a fan or opening doors and windows will not provide sufficient ventilation. • It is recommended that you install battery-operated carbon monoxide alarms/detectors indoors according to the manufacturer’s instructions/recommendations.

Electrocution Hazard and Electrical Shock Hazards • Connecting a portable electric generator directly to your household wiring can be deadly to you and others. A generator that is directly connected to your home’s wiring can “back feed” onto the power lines connected to your home and injure neighbors or utility workers. • Do not connect your generator directly to your home’s wiring or into a regular household outlet. Always start or stop the generator only when no electrical loads are connected. • Overloading your generator can seriously damage your valuable appliances and electronics. Do not overload the generator. Do not operate more appliances and equipment than the output rating of the generator allows for. Prioritize your needs. A portable electric generator should be used only when necessary, and only to power essential equipment. • Use the proper power cords. Plug individual appliances into the generator using heavy-duty, outdoor-rated cords with a wire gauge adequate for the appliance load. Overloaded cords can cause fires or equipment damage. Do not use extension cords with exposed wires or worn shielding. • Do not operate the generator in wet conditions such as rain or snow. • The generator must be properly grounded. If the generator is not grounded, you run the risk of electrocution. Check and adhere to all applicable federal, state, and local regulations relating to grounding.

8 JANUARY 2022

Generator Placement and Operation • Allow at least five feet of clearance on all sides of the generator when operating. • Generators can be used during a wide variety of weather temperatures but should be protected from the elements when not in use to prevent shorting and rusting. • Operate the generator only on level surfaces and where it will not be exposed to excessive moisture, dirt, dust, or corrosive vapors. • Inspect the generator regularly. • Always disconnect the spark plug wire and place the wire where it cannot contact the spark plug to prevent accidental starting when setting up, transporting, adjusting, or making repairs to the generator.

Source: American Red Cross, with technical advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Fire Protection Association (publisher of the National Electric Code®), and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Winter EnergySavings Tips Winter’s cool temps driving your heating costs up? Try these tips to help save energy.

Find And Seal Leaks • Find and seal air leaks in your home. Common sources include utility cut-throughs and plumbing penetrations, gaps around chimneys and recessed lights, unfinished spaces behind cupboards and closets, window and door frames, and outlets and light switches.

Maintain Your Heating System

• When in use, lower the thermostat and open the nearest window slightly. • Install tempered glass doors and a heat-air exchange system that blows warmed air back into the room. • Check the seal on the fireplace flue damper and make it as snug as possible. Also, add caulking around the hearth.

• Replace your filter every month.

Use Ceiling Fans

• Have your furnace inspected by a professional every year. They will ensure everything is working as it should and can alert you to potential problems before they become an emergency.

• Set your fan to a low speed with the blades rotating in a clockwise direction. This will push the warm air collected at the ceiling around the room.

• If you use a pellet or wood stove, clean the flue regularly. • When it’s time to replace your system, select an energyefficient model. • Vacuum your vents and registers regularly, and ensure that vents aren’t blocked by drapery and furniture.

Maintain Your Fireplace • Keep the damper closed when not in use. Otherwise, warm air will escape up the chimney.

Lower Your Thermostat • Turn down your thermostat by 10 degrees for eight hours, and you could save up to 10% on your heating costs. Consider investing in a smart thermostat that will automatically adjust temperatures for you.

Let The Sun Shine In • Open curtains or blinds on sunny days to let the sun help warm your rooms. • Close blinds and curtains at night to prevent heat from escaping.

Visit energy.gov/energysaver for more tips on improving your home’s efficiency all year long. MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES


MI CO-OP Recipes

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


Skip the takeout with recipes you can make at home.


SPICED CAULIFLOWER Margie Guyot, Great Lakes Energy

1 2–4 1 1 2 1 1 1 1 • 2 1

medium onion, chopped garlic cloves, chopped jalapeño, seeded and chopped tablespoon turmeric tablespoons coconut or sunflower oil cup water 14-ounce can coconut milk cauliflower head, cut into florets teaspoon sugar salt, to taste medium tomatoes, chopped cup cooked, cubed sweet potatoes, optional • roasted cashews, optional



energy bill credit!

10 JANUARY 2022

Spice It Up due Feb. 1 • On The Grill 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. Submit your recipe at micoopkitchen.com, or send it via email (include your full name and co-op) to recipes@countrylines.com.

Process the onion, garlic, jalapeño, and turmeric in food processor until it forms into a paste. Heat oil in large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion mixture and cook for several minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions no longer smell raw. Do not brown. Add the water, coconut milk, and cauliflower florets; stir to coat. Bring to a medium boil and simmer for about 5–6 minutes. Stir in sugar and salt to taste. Stir in the chopped tomato and simmer 2–3 minutes more, stirring. Taste to adjust seasonings and serve. Variation: Stir in cooked, cubed sweet potato and sprinkle with roasted cashews. Dish will thicken as it sits. Serves 4. Watch a video of this month’s winning recipe at micoopkitchen.com/videos

ORIENTAL SUPERFOOD SALAD Connie Turner, Great Lakes Energy

1 bunch lacinato kale, washed, ribs and stems removed, and cut into bite-size pieces 1 pound shelled edamame beans (from freezer section) 1 cup “matchstick” carrots 1 small raw beet, cut into matchsticks (can also save beet leaves to add with the kale) 1 cup shredded green cabbage (or mix of red/green) 1 cup fresh blueberries 1 cup pomegranate kernels (from one pomegranate) 1 cup dried cranberries (or Craisins) 1 cup roasted cashew pieces (or walnuts/pecans)

½ ½ 1 ½ • • 1 1

cup roasted sunflower seeds cup sliced or chopped red onions cup sliced fresh strawberries pound barely steamed or raw asparagus tangerine slices, optional apple slices, optional cup Marzetta Simply Dressed Strawberry-Poppy Seed Vinaigrette (or favorite dressing) container cherry or grape tomatoes

Mix all ingredients together (except dressing). Add the dressing and tomatoes just before serving, and toss well. This salad keeps well for several days in a tight container in the refrigerator.

JAPANESE CHICKEN Rebecca Lambright, Great Lakes Energy


Connie Hernandez, Great Lakes Energy 8 ounces ground pork (ground turkey or chicken also works) 3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce, divided ½ small onion, chopped 2 garlic cloves, minced ½ teaspoon grated ginger (or 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger) 2½ cups finely sliced cabbage 2 cups finely sliced baby bok choy ½ cup shredded carrots 2½ ounces sliced shiitake (or other) mushrooms ½ tablespoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry ½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil

• sliced scallion or green onion, for garnish, optional • fried wonton strips, for garnish, optional Place a large nonstick skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the pork and 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce and cook, breaking up the meat into small pieces as it browns, about 3 minutes. Add the onion, garlic, and ginger and cook, stirring, until vegetables are soft, 2–3 minutes. Add the cabbage, bok choy, carrots, and mushrooms. Pour in remaining 2 tablespoons soy sauce, rice wine, and sesame oil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage and bok choy are wilted but still crunchy, 3–4 minutes. Garnish with scallions/green onions and wonton strips, and serve hot.

2 pounds uncooked chicken, sliced • flour for coating • garlic salt • seasoned salt • paprika 1 cup sugar ½ cup vinegar 4 tablespoons soy sauce ½ cup water ½ teaspoon salt Preheat oven to 350 F. Dip chicken in flour and fry. While chicken is frying, sprinkle with garlic salt, seasoned salt, and paprika. In a saucepan, mix together the sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, water, and salt. Heat until sugar is dissolved. Place fried chicken in baking dish and pour warm sauce over it. Bake 1½ to 2 hours. Serve over rice or noodles. After chicken is done, pour sauce into cooked rice. Tasty!



MEC IN THE COMMUNITY MEC employees KIRK SANDER and MATT ADAMS build new anchor bases.

MEC board member DAN BODETTE helps clean up the grass on the field.

Changing the Landscape Day of Action We changed the landscape at the Blissfield Little League fields on Oct. 8. MEC partnered with other community volunteers and businesses to make much-needed updates to the O.W. Farver Memorial Field and Bachmeyer Memorial Park. Employees from southeast and southwest Michigan joined forces with other volunteers and completed many projects to update the fields for the 2022 season, including installing new dugout stairs, installing new speakers, edging the infield and warning track, building new bullpen mounds, painting ball poles and distance markers, installing new plumbing for an irrigation system, and cleaning up around the facilities.

Then on Oct. 22, we “Rocked the Block,” partnering with Habitat for Humanity of St. Joseph County to help make repairs and clean up property for some of our neighbors in need in the Three Rivers area. Twelve MEC and two Habitat volunteers visited 13 sites (12 homes and one community center) in our Southwest Michigan Day of Action. Some of the work included replacing/repairing front steps, mowing, raking, yard cleanup, cutting/ trimming trees, removing brush, and painting a fence. Each residential site also received a mum and pumpkin for some fall décor. At the George Washington Carver Community Center, we donated a refurbished desktop computer, stove, window air conditioner, digital color printer, case of paper, and extra print cartridges.

MEC lineman DERYK STEINMAN trims a tree.

12 JANUARY 2022

MEC employee STAN LEBRUN paints a fence.

Computer Donation We also donated refurbished computers and a projector to Bair Lake Bible Camp, one of our Building Vibrant Communities grant recipients. They serve roughly 3,000 guests/ campers each year, and the new equipment will help the administrative staff, who previously struggled with computers that were approximately 10 years old and quite obsolete.

MEC employee CONNOR EICHORST presents DREW GARDNER, Bair Lake Bible Camp executive director, with updated computer equipment.

United Way of SW Michigan (UWSM) Rake a Difference On Nov. 11, MEC employees grabbed leaf blowers and headed to Vandalia for the United Way of Southwest Michigan’s (UWSM) Rake a Difference event. Every year, the UWSM recruits local organizations and individuals to team up and perform fall cleanup at local senior citizens’ homes. Many of these residents are physically unable to do such manual labor, so this event provides an incredible service.

Care Packages For Deployed Soldiers MEC EMPLOYEES help clean up residents’ yards in Vandalia.

We also came together to gather supplies for the Blue Star Mothers of Southwest Michigan #179 to send care packages to deployed soldiers overseas. From granola bars to popcorn, socks to Chapstick, jerky to pens, we acquired enough stuff to fill the back of a pickup truck. With our contribution and the generous support of other community members, the Mothers packed and shipped 340 boxes.

Thank-A-Vet In Adrian, we helped with WLEN Radio’s annual Thank-A-Vet event to raise money for the Veterans Dire Need Fund distributed through Housing Help of Lenawee. This year, the event generated nearly $35,000! We sponsored an hour of the radio show and invited Vietnam veteran Ted Aranda and VFW Commander Jim Flarity to speak during two of our live breaks. They discussed veteran services and the unmet needs that this fund addresses.



Celebrating 30 Years Of The Country’s Oldest




any people travel to gorgeous Munising, Michigan, in the state’s Upper Peninsula to experience the beauty of the infamous sandstone cliffs of Pictured Rocks off the shore of Lake Superior. Whether by boat or kayak, people bring their cameras and smartphones to snap a shot of the remarkable natural wonder.

Then there are those who travel to Munising, Michigan, to capture an experience in an entirely unexpected way. From Feb. 9–13, Michigan Ice Fest will be celebrating its belated 30th anniversary (due to COVID-19) with its weeklong ice climbing event that brings famed ice climbers as well as curious newcomers from all over the country and the world. Ice climbing may seem like something reserved for rugged mountaineers among arctic landscapes in faraway lands, but the Munising ice festival mixes awe-inspiring terrain with a tight-knit community feel that is nothing short of Pure Michigan. “For over 30 years, people have been coming to the festival,” said Bill Thompson, one of the organizers of Michigan Ice Fest. “And every year, there are people who walked away shocked that we have some of the best ice climbing in the lower 48. They come in wary and walk away family.”

By Emily Haines Lloyd Photos courtesy of Michigan Ice Fest

Michigan Ice Fest, which claims to be the oldest ice festival in the country, started with Mark Riesch, an ice climber out of Kalamazoo who returned from a festival in Canada and wanted to recreate something like it in Munising. Riesch passed out a homemade flier inviting folks to join in and managed to wrangle up

8 8 8 Michigan Ice Fest is Feb. 9–13, 2022, Munising, Michigan 8 8 8

a whopping 20 or so people the first year. Among them was Bill Thompson. As a new guard took over the event, it gained interest and grew. In 2019, the event drew over 1,600 climbers from seven different countries, and anyone who has attended Michigan Ice Fest will tell you there is something particularly magical about the Munising event. “Michigan might not seem like the obvious spot for ice climbing,” said Thompson. “But there’s nowhere else where you can climb 160 feet with open waves thundering below you that are biting at your feet. Exciting is an understatement.” This unique atmosphere has led to considerable interest from the climbing community. The event itself has grown over the years, now offering presentations and clinics led by world-class, professional climbers, book signings, and coffee talks in the mornings, as well as lots and lots of climbing. While the pros and hardcore climbers enjoy some of the finest ice climbing in the country,

the festival still puts a lot of focus on the novice climber, offering free gear and instruction as part of the price of admission. Not to mention an opportunity to watch and learn from some of the best ice climbers in the world. “It’s like if you went to a basketball clinic and Michael Jordan was there giving you tips,” said Thompson. “And then later, you see him around town and get to have a beer with him. That’s how casual and inclusive this event is.” The coziness of Munising seems in complete contrast to the adrenalineheavy activity that brings everyone to town, but the city offers that perfect setting for what Anderson describes as an annual family reunion.

climbers feel like they’re a part of the group from day one. It’s hard to explain, but it’s like going home.” While a mammoth ledge of ice might not seem like an obvious homecoming spot, Thompson assures those with even the slightest interest that the event aims to bring people in slowly. “It’s a chance to do something that not many people get to experience,” said Thompson. “As an ice climber, you’re definitely in a minority of folks in the world. But when you hear the axe bite in, and you kick into the ice with the sound of water running behind it—all I can say is you just can’t know how special it is until you try it.”

“It’s a tight community. When you come to the event, it’s like being with family,” said Thompson. “Our pro athletes have climbed all over the world, but feel something different and refreshing at our event. Our new

Visit michiganicefest.com for information on registration fees, event times, clinics, and more, as well as a list of available scholarships, grants, and contests. /MichiganIceFest




INTERNET MADE SIMPLE Midwest Energy & Communications (MEC) delivers high-speed fiber internet that you can depend on for all your work, school, and personal needs. Enjoy the most reliable and stable internet available in the area without data caps or router rental fees. Plus, we don’t slow down your speeds during times of heavy traffic.

OUR INTERNET PACKAGES INCLUDE: Unlimited data | Symmetrical speeds | 24/7 tech support | Reliable Wi-Fi with industry-leading router

The Command IQ app with Protect IQ and Experience IQ comes with every internet package—giving you full device control and protection. Command IQ app

• Test your network speed • Monitor bandwidth usage • Set up guest networks

ADVANCED 100 100 MBPS $65 00 MO

Experience IQ

Protect IQ

• Automatically protects all connected devices from malware and viruses • Updates automatically multiple times each week to ensure you have the latest protections

• Limit or block access to content and specifc apps • Enable “safe search” and YouTube restrictions • Prioritize which devices or online activities get bandwidth first

GIG 1 1 GBPS $100 00 MO

teammidwest.com | 800.492.5989

Data Privacy Tariff The Member-Customer Data Privacy Tariff details how and why we collect and use your personal information and account data, as well as your rights and responsibilities related to that information. The tariff addresses circumstances under which we can disclose your data to cooperative agents and contractors and their responsibility to provide the same level of confidentiality, privacy, and security practices and procedures that we employ; your right to access, share, and amend your personal information and account data; and notification requirements. You can view the MemberCustomer Data Privacy Tariff in full at teammidwest.com. If you have questions or would like a printed copy, please contact us by telephone at 800.492.5989 or email at info@teammidwest.com.



MARCH 19, 2022

Vandalia, Mich. 49095 OPEN TO 1ST 1,000 REGISTRANTS



Space heaters are energy hogs, and older models can be extremely dangerous. This winter, ditch the space heater and try these alternative solutions to stay cozy. • Use an electric blanket to keep warm during the night.

• Caulk and weather-strip around all windows and doors to prevent heat loss. • Consider adding insulation to your attic and around duct work.

Guest Column

Winter's Daydream By Dody Bedford, Great Lakes Energy Cooperative member


t was a sunny cold day in January when I put on my cross-country skis to go for a jaunt. The temperature was a perfect 25 degrees, and the sun shone brightly. I glided along effortlessly, crisscrossing paths with the many deer that inhabit our fields. As many times as I have skied and as many deer tracks as I have seen, I have never seen a deer. I stopped to rest under the biggest white pine I’d ever seen. I had a weird sense that I was being watched. I turned back, looking across the clearing, and saw a wonderful surprise; 100 feet away stood the most beautiful doe. Her huge brown eyes and long black lashes entranced me. She stomped her feet and took five steps toward me. I was enthralled. I stood quietly, and she made her way toward me. She was not afraid and appeared as curious about me as I was about her. I stretched my hand out, and she took a sniff. As she became more comfortable, I moved to her side and stroked her neck. As she became more comfortable, she would playfully butt me with her head. After some time, she reached up and snatched my hat right off my head, then turned and ran a little way. She turned to face me, and I could swear she was teasing me to chase her. I set out toward her, and each time I came close, she would throw my hat in the air, let it drop, pick it up, and away she went. As I took a rest, she approached me now with no fear. I tipped my head low, and she placed the hat on my head, then I poured water in my hand, and she drank greedily. She finally headed into the woods at dusk. It was time for me to head home. It must have been only a daydream. I could only smile as I followed a perfect set of deer tracks all the way home.

Win a


energy bill credit!

Dody Bedford is a Great Lakes Energy Cooperative member who enjoys the outdoors, gardening, and fishing. She is a self-taught artist, who paints in oil, sketches, and plays piano and guitar. She likes to spend a portion of every day helping others and volunteering at Rising Hope Equestrian Center.

WIN $150!

Share your fondest memories and stories. Win $150 for stories published. Visit countrylines.com/community to submit.

Where In Michigan Is This? Identify the correct location of the photo to the left by Jan. 20 and be entered into a drawing to win a $50 electric bill credit. Enter your guess at countrylines.com/community. Nov./Dec. 2021 Winner! Our Mystery Photo winner is Angela Boysen, a Midwest Energy & Communications Cooperative member, who correctly identified the photo as Port Huron Blue Water Bridge. Photo courtesy of Kaushik Sur. Winners are announced in the following issues of Country Lines: January, March, May, July/August, September, and November/December.


Add a Well-Connect to your existing furnace in one day and heat for half for decades.

Add a Well-Connect for $0 down and as little as $80/month. Typical heating cost savings over $100/month. Well-Connect pays for itself.





Connects to your existing furnace, giving you maximum comfort and maximum savings.

Minimal water flow required, making almost any well capable of heating & cooling your home.

Can be installed in one day, any time of the year. DIY or professionally installed.

Geothermal Made Affordable







Act now and get a FREE Real-Time System Performance Monitor.





SHARING A COFFEE WITH NEIGHBORS IS NICE. Sharing bandwidth with neighbors, not so nice.

MEC's fiber-fast internet is not shared with even the friendliest of neighbors. We provide fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) directly to you. Just you. And not sharing means: • not competing with your neighbors for bandwidth • connecting multiple devices simultaneously without slowdowns • less buffering and lags when streaming • online gaming is faster and more fun

All internet packages include unlimited data and whole-home Wi-Fi coverage with parental controls and network security. And no sharing.

teammidwest.com/internet | 800.492.5989 Internet services are not regulated by the Michigan Public Service Commission.