January 2022 TEC

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January/February 2022


COUNTRY LINES Thumb Electric Cooperative

Annual Meeting June 11– Save The Date

2021 Photo Contest Winners Fiber Update

Celebrating 30 Years Of The Country’s Oldest




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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.




“ Nothing Stays The Same.”


Dallas Braun, General Manager


THUMB ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE 2231 Main Street Ubly, MI 48475-0157 1-800-327-0166 or 989-658-8571 E-mail: tec@tecmi.coop

BOARD OF DIRECTORS HURON COUNTY Randall Dhyse, Treasurer District 1 • 989-551-6533 Craig Osentoski, Director District 2 • 989-658-8512

Beth McDonald, Secretary District 3 • 989-550-7470 SANILAC COUNTY Kim Nunn, Vice President District 1 • 810-679-4291 Mike Briolat, Director District 2 • 989-284-3405

Duane Kursinsky, Director District 3 • 810-837-3828 TUSCOLA COUNTY Louis Wenzlaff, Director District 1 • 989-683-2696

Jonathan Findlay, President District 2 • 989-551-8393 Matt Sommer, Director District 3 • 248-444-0496

Dallas Braun, General Manager

PAYMENT STATIONS Huron County Bad Axe—Northstar Bank Pigeon—Northstar Bank Tuscola County Akron—Northstar Bank Caro—Northstar Bank Mayville—Mayville State Bank Millington—Mayville State Bank Sanilac County Sandusky—Northstar Bank Thumb Electric Cooperative is an equal opportunity provider and employer.



4 JANUARY 2022



othing stays the same.” This statement couldn’t be more descriptive of the past year for Thumb Electric Cooperative (TEC) and its future path.

In 2021, 84 years after TEC began the mission of providing much-needed electric service to the sparsely populated rural areas of the Thumb, we started to lay the groundwork for a similar mission. The mission this time is to provide much-needed fiber internet service to those same sparsely populated areas by building a projected $80 million fiber network infrastructure that will be the super highway of the internet for future generations. The project will consist of 1,500 miles of overhead fiber attached to TEC’s existing electric poles to serve TEC members and others who live near our electric infrastructure. Another 600 miles of underground fiber will be installed to provide fiber internet service outside of TEC’s current footprint. The project is currently on a five-year completion schedule but could be shortened if additional funding opportunities arise. LeCom, our fiber construction contractor, started the project in the Tuscola County area in November. While our TEC Fiber plans were being designed and planned, an opportunity to enhance this plan presented itself. In March, preliminary discussions to acquire Air Advantage, an internet service provider, began. After eight months of due diligence with attorneys, tax specialists, auditors, business merger & acquisition consultants, and more, TEC entered into an agreement with Air Advantage to purchase their wireless and fiber internet business and that transaction was

SAVE THE DATE FOR THE 2022 ANNUAL MEETING SATURDAY, JUNE 11 After hosting the 2021 Annual Meeting virtually last year due to COVID-19 protocols, TEC is planning to go back to in-person meetings for this year’s Annual Meeting at the Octagon Barn near Gagetown. The meeting will be held on Saturday, June 11, 2022, with registration beginning at 9 a.m. and the business meeting at 10 a.m. You will be listening to updates on cooperative improvements, and the results of the director elections will be announced. As usual, there will be entertainment for the kids, including balloons, face painting, and bucket truck rides. When the meeting concludes, lunch will be served, and you will then be free to enjoy the Octagon Barn sites and exhibits. *In-person attendance may be subject to change depending on health guidelines.

completed on December 9th. Air Advantage has been in the internet business since 2002 and provides service to over 5,500 accounts. This additional revenue will help the cash flow of the TEC Fiber project, and reduce it from the original eight-year plan to the current five-year plan. The Air Advantage acquisition brings an experienced workforce of 30 employees on board to maintain the current wireless system and assist in deploying the new TEC Fiber service. The acquisition of Air Advantage, which also includes a 600-mile fiber network, will result in an approximate $6 million reduction in the TEC Fiber infrastructure project. TEC’s current subsidiary, Thumb Energy Services Corporation (TESC), will become the holding company of Air Advantage, TEC’s new subsidiary. As we evaluated the needs of our members and others in the community, it became apparent that having fiber internet service was not only seen as a priority but a necessity for the community. It made sense that TEC resources should be prioritized toward the mission of providing this fiber internet service. With that, we began investigating the possible sale of our subsidiary propane business. TEC began offering propane services to members in 1997 by forming a partnership with Cass City Oil & Gas. The partnership lasted a few years until both parties went separate ways, continuing to offer competing services in the area. TEC’s propane business has operated as a for-profit business through the cooperative’s subsidiary, TESC. The propane business has been a good investment for the cooperative for the past 24 years, and providing another propane service option for our members and

No longer required ? to read your own meter Want to be environmentally friendly?

Would you like to save p yourself and your co-o members money?

What a great time to go paperless!

non-members alike made sense. What did not make sense, as we evaluated the current needs of our members, was to continue to spend the time and money on offering propane service in a highly competitive market where it is readily available by other providers. Rather, it seemed to make more sense to spend those resources on a fiber internet service that is NOT readily offered by others. We began reaching out to a few select propane businesses to gauge the interest in a possible sale. We wanted to make sure the potential buyer was local, would place a high value on the customer service provided, and would continue to offer the metered propane service that the majority of our propane customers have. After entertaining three other offers, we continued serious discussions with a company that met those requirements. That company was none other than Cass City Oil & Gas. After about six months of discussion, a purchase agreement was signed, and as of the time of this writing, the final closing of the transaction is expected to occur on December 29, 2021. Cass City Oil & Gas will purchase all propane-related assets. TEC will retain the TESC subsidiary. TESC propane customers can expect very little disruption as this sale is finalized and the business is transitioned over. While “nothing stays the same,” one thing that does stay the same is our service and commitment to TEC members. We will continue to keep you updated as things progress. As always, if you have any questions or concerns regarding your cooperative, please give us a call.

Go Paperless And Win A


One Winner Will Be Chosen Each Month! • All members enrolled in paperless billing are eligible. • Sign up online at tecmi.coop or via SmartHub. • Winners will be announced on TEC’s Facebook page. • Paperless members will receive an email or text letting them know their bill is available to view.

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







Christina Bailey (May/June)

Annette Decker (Jul./Aug.)

Heather O’Kronley (Sept./Oct.)

Brenda Clor (Nov./Dec.)

TEC awarded four members with a $50 bill credit for being selected in a random drawing of all contest entries that appeared in Michigan Country Lines in 2021. Thank you to the many TEC members who participated. Members are welcome to send in photos for our 2022 contest.


Fire And Ice 1. Fireside! Glowing sunrise on my way to work. Denise Rulason  2. Sunlit leaf rimmed by icy frost. Robert Daniels  3. Morning glow on snow. Aimee Lemke  4. Ice-covered sunshine. Jared Lemke  5. Heating our home! Olivia Tyrrell  6. Ice storm on the vehicle. Jim Blanchard Jr.


Enter for a chance to win a


energy bill credit!







Submit Your “Pet Showcase” Photos!

Submit Your “Pet Showcase” photos by Jan. 20 for the March/April 2022 issue! Submit your best photo and encourage your friends to vote! The photo receiving the most votes will be printed in an issue of Country Lines along with some of our other favorites.

Enter Your Photos And Win A Bill Credit!

To enter the contest, visit tecmi.coop/photo-contest. Enter your picture, cast your vote, and encourage others to vote for you as well. If your photo is printed in Country Lines during 2022, you will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win one of four $50 credits on your December 2022 bill.



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!



Water Heater Discontinuation Notice Clint Seidl, Member Services Engineering Manager


ince the 1980s, Thumb Electric Cooperative has been selling electric-resistive water heaters to its members. Unfortunately, it has been decided that we will no longer be handling water heaters once the current inventory has been sold. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, on Jan. 1, 2022, the Department of Energy can seek civil penalties for any new electric-resistive water heaters installed in residential settings that are larger than 55 gallons. Compliance with this requirement would decrease our sales significantly. Secondly, there is a great amount of time and cost involved in operating our current water heater program. Elimination of this program will allow TEC the ability to dedicate more time to other priority areas. These decisions will have an impact on all members that have purchased water heaters from TEC in the past. The changes are as follows: • TEC is going to continue to warranty parts until the current inventory has been used up. The current inventory of parts is estimated to last through most of 2022. • TEC will no longer be making service calls for repairs. Any warranty parts will need to be picked up at the Ubly office.

12 JANUARY 2022

• To obtain warranty parts from TEC, members must provide the old parts. Spare parts will not be given out. • Members who currently have a TEC water heater with a control will continue to get the water heater credit, but this too will likely change in the future. • Any warranty replacements for tank leaks will need to be handled by members directly through Vaughn. They can be contacted at 978-462-6683. For those who may need large-capacity water heaters, such as 80- or 100-gallon capacities, they will still be available to purchase from other sources such as plumbers, hardware stores, or large box stores. For a residential setting, most water heaters going forward will be heat pump water heaters. TEC will be offering an energy efficiency credit of $500 on your electric account if you install a heat pump water heater at your residence.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at 989-658-8571.

Beware Of Third-Part

If yo onl be s del Thu thro tecm

If you pay your bill through a thirdparty online payment site (e.g., doxo.com), you may be subject to hidden fees and processing delays. Avoid these risks by paying your Thumb Electric Cooperative bill online through our SmartHub app or our website, tecmi.coop. It’s fast, easy, and free!

Beware Of Other Online Payment Sites aying your Thumb Electric Cooperative bill online is fast, easy, and free when you use our website— tecmi.coop. Beware of hidden fees from other payment websites.


Pay your TEC bill online at any time. If you accidentally select another payment website to make your bill payment, you risk possible extra charges and payment processing delays. Make sure our website, with the address as written above, appears before making a payment. Some websites allow visitors to pay their local utility bills with the utility’s name and company logo appearing on the site. Thumb Electric Cooperative is not affiliated with any third-party website that offers utility payment service. If you pay your Thumb Electric bill on a third-party website, you risk: • Extra charges levied by the third party for each transaction on its website. • Delays up to two weeks or more before the payment is posted to your TEC account. For some members, the delay could result in the account being disconnected for nonpayment if payment is not received in time to avoid shutoff. Even if late payment does not result in a shutoff, late payment fees could be charged to the account. Members can avoid these risks by taking advantage of payment options offered directly from their cooperative.

Thumb Electric offers several free and convenient payment methods. Choose whatever option works best for you: • AutoPay: Your payment is automatically deducted each month from either your checking or savings account, credit card, or debit card. • SmartHub: Pay with the app or online at tecmi.coop. Make a one-time payment from your checking or savings account, or with a credit card or debit card. • Mail: Send in payment to our Ubly office at 2231 Main St., Ubly, MI 48475. • MoneyGram: Cash option at MoneyGram locations. • Any location of Northstar Bank or Mayville State Bank • PhonePay: Pay at any time by using our automated pay-by-phone service. We accept payment by credit card, or checking or savings account over the phone. Simply dial 800-327-0166 or 989-658-8571, then choose option 1 to make a payment. • In person: Ubly office counter, drive-through or night deposit dropbox.



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




Notice To Members Of Data Privacy Policy The Thumb 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 in Part V of Thumb Electric’s Tariff Book, Sheet C-24.00, https://static1.squarespace.com/static/53d1298ee4b05883d212ae70/t/5c93e084e79c70e6a 7d67127/1553195141567/Thumb+Electric+Cooperative+Rate+Book.pdf. If you would like a hard copy of the Data Privacy Policy, call our office at 1-800-327-0166 or contact us at tecmi.coop/tec-contact-form.


Energy Waste Reduction Rebate Program 2022 Heating/ Air Conditioning Rebates Central Air Conditioning System (14 SEER+): $200 Air Source Heat Pump w/ Electric Furnace: $1,500 Air Source Heat Pump w/ Fossil Fuel: $1,000 Mini-Split Heat Pump: $1,000 Ground Source Heat Pump (EER 17+): $2,000 Heat Pump Water Heater: $500

2022 Battery-Powered Equipment Rebates Battery-Powered Lawn Mowers: $100–$500 Battery-Powered Lawn Care Equipment: $25-$100

Visit TEC’s website for more information at www.tecmi.coop/rebates.

Battery-Powered Power Washer: Up to $300 Battery-Powered Snow Blower: Up to $300


The TEC Advantage By Brad Essenmacher, TEC Broadband Manager

s I write this, it is the beginning of December, and the snow is starting to fly. The good news is that contractors are currently on TEC property installing fiber optic cable and the equipment that goes with it. If you’ve noticed trucks with LeCom written on the side of them, they belong to our mainline fiber construction contractor. Through LeCom, the underground portion of the project is being done by Yukon. They will be performing the portion of the project outside of TEC’s footprint where the FCC’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) requirement needs to be met in DTE-served areas. The pilot area we began earlier this year is nearly finished, and we are days away from “lighting” it up and providing members service from it. We are able to do this because of our recent acquisition of Air Advantage (AA).


By now, many of you have heard the announcement, but may not know why the acquisition was made. There are many reasons that the acquisition of AA made sense, but three stand out as immediate benefits: 1. Along with 140 wireless tower sites, AA also owns/ operates over 600 miles of an existing fiber optic cable network. That existing network does a few things for TEC. It immediately lowers our infrastructure construction costs. In the short term, we do not have the need to build “Head End” electronics of our own from scratch. AA already owns and operates this equipment. Because AA already has fiber in place here, TEC will avoid building many miles of duplicate fiber cable paths, reducing construction costs. This acquisition also gives us a reliable path out of the Thumb area. AA already has those paths to connect with the outside world in main hubs such as Chicago and Southfield, Michigan. 2. The most important reason for this acquisition is the employees AA brings with them to the table. There is

a huge wealth of knowledge internally that takes years to develop as an internet service provider (ISP), which TEC did not yet have. From technical network skills, office staff, sales, home install, and outside build, AA brings that knowledge immediately, which is a major plus as we embark on the future of being an ISP. 3. AA currently has over 5,500 internet customers on both the fiber and wireless spectrums. This gives TEC an immediate stream of revenue as we build out our fiber network. That improves our financial position enough that it allows us to accelerate our build timeline in a responsible manner, which makes it possible to get to you more quickly. Some have speculated that it takes our project from fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) to a wireless system, but that is not true. Our commitment to our members and the requirement to RDOF is to build a FTTH network, which is what we will do. There is, however, still a place for wireless technology, as not all areas were included in RDOF or were won by having less than fiber technology (such as DSL, cable, or wireless) in RDOF. This will allow us to serve those households as well. As we get closer to onboarding internet customers, which I hope is happening as you read this, keep a close eye on our Facebook page, Instagram, and our website for further details. We will be introducing a product called CrowdFiber, which will allow members and non-members to check for service availability, pre-register, and check on build status in your area. As we enter 2022, we are confident we will be providing the best internet service in the Thumb and surrounding areas. With TEC Fiber and Air Advantage, we strive to show you the “TEC Advantage.”


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.

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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.

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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.


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TIPS TO DITCH THE SPACE HEATER 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.

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