Jan. 2023 HomeWorks

Page 1

Election Information HomeWorks Connect Update MUSIC TO OUR EARS Big Water Creative Arts Bringing Music Education to Northern Michigan COUNTRY LINES January 2023 MICHIGAN HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative
Jon Shattuck Named HomeWorks Volunteer Of The Year

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Michigan’s Electric Cooperatives


EDITOR: Christine Dorr


RECIPE EDITOR: Christin McKamey

COPY EDITOR: Yvette Pecha


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: Tom Sobeck, Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op, chairman; Gabe Schneider, Cherryland Electric Cooperative, vice chairman; Chris O’Neill, HomeWorks TriCounty 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.

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

Instagram Contest

Recipe Contest


Guest Column

Mystery Photo


Contents January 2023 Vol. 43, No. 1 /michigancountrylines /michigancountrylines countrylines.com
#micoopcommunity Instagram contest winner Upper Peninsula of Michigan @kaushik0805 (Kaushik Sur) 6 GET IN, GET OUT, GET TO WORK
10 MI
Arts bringing music
Alpena Community College
offers a certificate program for line-clearance arborists.
CO-OP KITCHEN Healthy Living: Feel good from the inside out.
Water Creative
Northern Michigan. 18 GUEST COLUMN The reluctant Boy Scout— A co-op member reflects on how his experience turned out to be one of the best things he has ever done.
enter contests, submit reader content & more, visit
MI Co-op Community To
Win $200
See details on page 18.
details on page 10. Vegetarian due Feb. 1; Breakfast For Dinner due Mar. 1 Win a $100 bill
Use #micoopcommunity for a chance to be featured here and on our Instagram account. Win $100 for photos published!
details on page 18. Win a $100 bill credit!


homeworks.org tricoenergy@homeworks.org

Portland office/Mail payments to: 7973 E. Grand River Ave. Portland, MI 48875

Open 8 a.m.–4 p.m. Monday–Friday

Blanchard office: 3681 Costabella Ave. Blanchard, MI 49310

Open 8 a.m.–4 p.m. Monday–Friday Night deposit box available at both locations.

Electric bill/account questions: 517-647-7554 or 1-800-562-8232

Pay by phone, anytime: 1-877-999-3395

Service questions/outages: 517-647-7554 or 1-800-848-9333 (24 hours for emergency calls)

Tri-County Propane: 1-877-574-2740

HomeWorks Connect 1-800-668-8413


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

District 2 — Jim Stebbins 7139 Peddler Lake Rd., Clarksville, MI 48815 616-693-2449 • jstebbins@homeworks.org

District 3 — Luke Pohl, Chairman 15560 W. Hanses Rd., Westphalia, MI 48894 989-292-0427 • lpohl@homeworks.org

District 4 — Kimber Hansen 6535 N. Wyman Rd., Edmore, MI 48829 989-506-5849 • khansen@homeworks.org

District 5 — Vacant

District 6 — Ed Oplinger, Secretary-Treasurer 10890 W. Weidman Rd., Weidman, MI 48893 989-644-3079 • eoplinger@homeworks.org

District 7 — Shirley Sprague 15563 45th Ave., Barryton, MI 49305 989-382-7535 • ssprague@homeworks.org

Editor: Charly Markwart, CCC

Volunteer Program Highlights Co-op Employees’ Commitment To Community

s we begin a new year, I want to take a moment to reflect on what, to me, was one of HomeWorks’ proudest accomplishments of 2022: the successful launch of our Employee Community Engagement Volunteer Program.


Early last year, we formed an employee community engagement committee at your Cooperative with the objective of developing a program that would give our employees the opportunity to embrace Cooperative Principle #7: Concern for Community. After some thoughtful consideration of how best to achieve that goal, the idea for our volunteer program was born. The concept was simple: We would track the hours our employees spend volunteering, both in their capacity as a representative of HomeWorks and in their personal time. Then, we would recognize employees for their volunteer hours logged each month, and culminate the program year with the presentation of a Volunteer of the Year award.

As always with a new program such as this, we didn’t know what to expect when we launched the initiative in February 2022. We hoped for program buy-in, but to be honest, we thought it might take some time and prodding for the program to really take off. Boy, were we wrong! Right from the start, our employees blew us away with their selfless commitment to serving the people of our service area.

The first installment of our volunteer program culminated in September 2022 at our annual Employee Connections event. There, we recognized the fact that in just eight months, our employees had served over 1,700 hours making a difference in our service area! Notably, over 60% of our team participated in the program in its first year, volunteering their time to such meaningful causes as coaching youth sports, serving at church, working at local nonprofits, and representing HomeWorks at career fairs, local parades, and other community events. Ten of our employees achieved the milestone of volunteering 50 hours or more in 2022, and our 2022 Volunteer of the Year, Warehouse Coordinator Jon Shattuck (whom you can read more about on page 5), served an incredible 258 hours!

Now, a few months into our second program year, we’re finding that our employees’ volunteerism is snowballing, as good deeds tend to do. More and more team members are participating in the program, and they’re asking us for more and more volunteer opportunities. That has prompted us to host more blood drives and giving events at our Co-op offices, and continuously seek out new volunteer opportunities to give our employees even more chances to make an impact. Plus, other co-ops across the state are considering following in our footsteps and launching similar programs of their own.

In retrospect, we shouldn’t have been so surprised by how well our volunteer program took off. As a member-owned, not-for-profit Cooperative, our employees live and work right here in the communities we serve, and they truly care about improving the lives of the members of our service area. That’s the “Cooperative Difference” in action, and I’m so proud to be a part of it.

If your organization has a need for volunteers in our service area, let us know by calling Human Resources Assistant Peyton Thompson at 517-647-1293.

4 JANUARY 2023

Heart Of Gold

Warehouse Coordinator Jon Shattuck wins HomeWorks’ inaugural Volunteer of the Year award.

Warehouse Coordinator Jon Shattuck used to be known around the HomeWorks offices as the lucky man who always seemed to win every employee prize drawing, no matter the occasion. But now, thanks to his unwavering commitment to serving his community, Jon is best known for winning a different type of prize: HomeWorks’ 2022 Volunteer of the Year award.

“It always feels good when you can help people out,” says Jon. “There’s a lot of need; any nonprofit organization is always looking for help. It seems like there are never enough people to help, so I like to lend a hand whenever I can.”

And lend a hand, he does. HomeWorks’ inaugural Employee Community Engagement Volunteer Program launched in February 2022 and culminated in September, at the Co-op’s annual Employee Connections event. In those short seven months, Jon served an incredible 258 hours making a difference in the Portland community, working with organizations like the Grand River Conservation Club, the Portland VFW, Knights of Columbus, Portland Public Schools, and Portland St. Patrick Church and School, just to name a few. Combined with a full-time job and a family, that might seem like an overflowing plate to many. But to Jon, spending his free time volunteering to serve others has simply been part of the fabric of life for the past three decades or more.

“I’ll do pretty much anything that is needed by these local community organizations, really,” he says. “There are a lot of great organizations out there doing good things, and if it weren’t for volunteers, they wouldn’t exist. They’re always very grateful for any help you can give, whether it be an hour or a day or more.”

Jon may have volunteered the most hours of any HomeWorks employee in 2022, but he certainly wasn’t the only Co-op staffer answering the need for community servants within our service area last year. In total, 65 of our employees participated in our 2022 volunteer program, combining to log over 1,700 volunteer hours in their local communities.

“Concern for Community is one of the seven Cooperative Principles, and our employees here at HomeWorks really do embrace that,” says Executive Assistant Michelle Huhn, a member of the Co-op’s Employee Community Engagement Committee. “The same lineman you see restoring power to your home after a storm Friday evening might very well show up coaching your child’s teeball game Saturday morning. We’re all truly a part of the communities we serve, and that’s one of my favorite things about working for a co-op.”

To learn more about HomeWorks’ community engagement programs and outreach, visit HomeWorks.org/community.


Get In, Get Out, Get to Work

Tornados in Michigan are unexpected and rare—but they can, and will, happen. Proof is the EF-3 class tornado that tore through Gaylord, Michigan, in May of 2022, leaving a swath of destruction and claiming two lives.

After the tornado, area residents were left without power. That is when the utility lineworkers and line-clearance arborists rolled in to begin the massive restoration process.

What is the difference between lineworkers and line-clearance arborists? While the lineworker focuses on the equipment related to the electrical conductor, line-clearance arborists focus on the vegetation surrounding energized systems. Neither can function properly without the other.

Utility companies and line-clearance contractors both constantly scrutinize weather forecasts and right-of-way maintenance in anticipation of events. When an outage occurs, the power company is dispatched to assess the damage while line-clearance arborists are alerted to clear the trees and vegetation from the damaged power lines after the utility company de-energizes them. It is a true team effort.

The second significant difference between the two job titles is training. Traditionally, if someone wanted to become a line-clearance arborist, they would apply at a tree service company, go through their orientation, and then complete close to one year’s worth of on-the-job training. Conversely, lineworkers often undergo substantial classroom and field training, over an extended period.

Tree service workers in general face many hazards in the course of their work. Those hazards increase further

for line-clearance arborists whose work involves electrical lines. That’s why proper training is so important. Alpena Community College (ACC) has taken its mastery of training lineworkers and expanded it to offer a safety-centric certificate program for line-clearance arborists. This new, noncredit, one-semester Utility Arborist Line Clearance Program is designed for those interested in working in this industry, allowing students to complete the required training and have the potential for job offers in just four months. Work in the program is coordinated with the established Utility Technology Certificate Program and allows the Utility Line Clearance students to build skills around de-energized primary wires, which is not offered by similar programs at other institutions.

Making a living as a line-clearance arborist has many of the same draws as a utility lineworker: excellent compensation, opportunities to grow, the freedom to work outside, a team environment, the ability to help people—and the thrill of climbing. The ACC program is built for those who like to work outside, are adventure seekers, are up for a challenge, are able to work in a team, and do not want to sit in an office.

For more information on how to become a line-clearance arborist or to register for the training program, contact Program Director Walter Wiltse at 989-358-7284 or wiltsew@alpenacc.edu, or visit https://discover.alpenacc.edu/ programs/degrees_and_programs/ utility_arborist.php.


• Anyone 18+ who likes to work outside

• Thrill/adventure seekers

• Up for a challenge

• Physically fi t

• Able to work in a team

• Doesn’t want to sit in an offi ce

• All training required to be a utility arborist

• Chainsaw safety

• OSHA 10

• First Aid/CPR certifi cate

• Knowledge to pass pesticide application test

• Preparation for CDL training

• Electrical Hazard Awareness Program training

• Aerial rescue training

• Highly qualifi ed instructors

• Alpena Community College, Alpena, Michigan

• After program completion, job opportunities anywhere in Michigan

• Many career options such as management, equipment operator, right-away operator, and leadership opportunities

• First cohort of program— all students were offered a job with at least $40k annual salary plus benefi ts


We’re here to make saving simple in the new year. Our Energy Optimization program rewards members for energy-saving efforts at home, at your business, or on the farm. Take advantage of immediate savings by earning cash incentives for energy efficient upgrades now, and then save on energy costs for years to come.

Unlike other resolutions, you don’t have to sacrifice comfort, quality, or convenience with the Energy Optimization program. There are a variety of energy efficiency rebates offered in 2023 that make it easy to save, including:

• Efficient home heating and cooling equipment

• Agricultural and farm incentives

To learn more, call 877-296-4319 or visit homeworks.org.

HomeWorks Energy Optimization programs and incentives are applicable to HomeWorks Tri-County Electrical Cooperative service locations only. Incentive applies to qualified items purchased and installed between Jan 1, 2023 and Dec 31, 2023 Other restrictions may apply. For complete program details, visit homeworks.org Resolve to save energy and money in the new year with the Energy Optimization program! Take advantage of a variety of 2023 energy efficiency rebates to save big without sacrificing comfort, quality, or convenience. u Efficient home appliances u Efficient home heating and cooling equipment u Electric vehicles and home charging u Commercial and industrial incentives u Agricultural and farm incentives u Energy efficiency consultation for business or farm VI S IT homeworks.org • CALL 877-296-4319 New year. New resolutions. New year. New resolutions. ooking
save energy
money with
for a new year’s resolution that is easy to keep but pays off big? Resolve to
HomeWorks’ Energy Optimization program!
• Efficient home appliances
vehicles and home charging
• Commercial and industrial incentives

Submit Your “Pets” Photos By Jan. 20!

We have implemented a new photo contest format for 2023! Each month, members will be able to submit photos on our website for our photo contest. The photo receiving the most votes is published here, along with some other selections from that month. Our January theme is Pets. Photos can be submitted through Jan. 20 to be featured in our March 2023 issue. Note: The broken link issue on our website has been resolved, so you can simply follow the instructions below to submit your photo(s).

To enter the contest, visit HomeWorks.org/photocontest. Enter your picture, cast your vote, and encourage others to vote for you, too. The photo receiving the most votes will be printed in an issue of Country Lines, along with some other favorites. If your photo is published in Country Lines during 2023, you will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win one of four $100 credits on your December 2023 HomeWorks bill!


2. Laura Moore of Stanwood submitted this snap shot of her Canadian Lakes kayaking adventure.

3. Heather Prout of Farwell says, “This picture was taken in Vanderbilt at the Pigeon River State Forest. Me and two of my girlfriends took our three teenage daughters (and pup) on their first weekend backpacking trip! Six women in the forest, with what we could carry on our backs.”

4. Gene Comero of Lake Odessa captured this rare shot of a mother fox and her babies.

4 3 1 2
Marla Haun of St. Johns captured this silhouette photo of deer on a country road in Clinton County.



Kerri Hanson, Great Lakes Energy

2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick-cooking oats)

2 cups almond milk or milk of choice

1 cup plain Greek or nondairy yogurt ¼ cup chia seeds

¼ cup pure maple syrup or honey

Topping Options:

• Blueberry: blueberries (fresh, frozen, or dried) and chopped walnuts

• Pina Colada: pineapple tidbits, 1 tablespoon coconut, ½ teaspoon vanilla

• PB&J: jam on bottom, peanut butter on top

• Pear: diced pear, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, and chopped pecans

• Caramel Apple: diced apple, caramel sauce, and chopped peanuts

• Chocolate Raspberry: raspberries (fresh or frozen), 1–2 teaspoons cocoa powder, mini chocolate chips

To make the base, in a medium bowl, mix together the oats, milk, yogurt, chia seeds, and maple syrup/honey. Stir until combined. Portion 1-cup servings into 4 wide-mouth, 16-ounce canning jars (or another airtight container) and top with any additional toppings as desired.

These toppings can be stirred into the base recipe, or customize each jar by putting them separately in the bottom of the jar before filling. The possibilities are endless. Place lids on and refrigerate overnight. When refrigerated, these overnight oats can last for up to 5 days.

Watch a video of this month’s winning recipe at micoopkitchen.com/videos

Photos by Robert Bruce Photography || Recipes submitted by MCL readers and tested by recipe editor Christin McKamey
CO-OP Recipes
Recipe Contest Win a $100 energy bill credit! Vegetarian due Feb. 1, Breakfast For Dinner due Mar. 1 Submit your favorite recipe for a chance to win a $100 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 HEALTHY LIVING Feel good from the inside out. 10 JANUARY 2023



1 cup quinoa

2 cups low-sodium chicken broth or water

1 can drained medium ripe olives, or 1 cup pitted kalamata olives

1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

½ cup green bell pepper, diced

½ cup diced celery

1 cup feta cheese, cubed or crumbled

½ cup walnuts, halved


½ cup olive oil

½ cup red wine vinegar

1 shallot, diced

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon dried oregano

Cook quinoa in broth according to package directions. Combine dressing ingredients and add to the cooked quinoa while still warm. Add the rest of the salad ingredients and stir until combined. Enjoy!

6–8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

• olive oil or butter

• salt and pepper, to season

1 onion, thinly sliced

2–4 garlic cloves, minced

2 cans chopped Italian-style tomatoes

½ teaspoon oregano

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

¼ –½ cup feta cheese

1 can black olives

2 cans quartered artichokes

Preheat oven to 350 F. Brown chicken breasts in oil or butter in frying pan. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to baking dish. Add more oil or butter to pan; sauté the sliced onions and garlic. Add the canned tomatoes and blend the spices in with the onions and garlic. Bring the tomato mixture to a simmer, then pour over chicken breasts in baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove baking dish from oven and sprinkle feta cheese, olives, and artichokes over the top. Put back in oven and bake for another 15 minutes. Serve with orzo, couscous, or rice.



2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium white onion, chopped

3 stalks celery, chopped

4 large carrots, peeled and chopped

3 medium Yukon gold potatoes, cut into ¼ -inch cubes

3 cloves garlic, minced

6 cups chicken or vegetable broth

1 cup tomato juice

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained

1 head green cabbage, cored and chopped

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

½ teaspoon sugar

½ teaspoon dried thyme


teaspoon celery salt

1 bay leaf

Heat the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Once simmering, add onion, celery, carrots, and potatoes. Sauté until the vegetables start to soften, about 5–7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute, until fragrant. Pour in broth and tomato juice and stir. Add the diced tomatoes, cabbage, salt, black pepper, sugar, thyme, celery salt, and bay leaf. Bring contents to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer for 30–40 minutes, until the cabbage is wilted and the vegetables are soft. Remove bay leaf. Enjoy!


Judy Bergeski, Presque Isle

1 tablespoon brown sugar

2 tablespoons seasoned salt (Lawry’s) or homemade seasoning mix (below)

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 head of cauliflower, leaves removed, cut into 1-inch thick slices *cut from top down, so the slices look like cauliflower “trees”

• fresh parsley, for garnish

Homemade Seasoning Mix:

½ teaspoon onion powder

½ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon paprika

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

½ teaspoon dried dill

Mix together the brown sugar and seasoned salt (or homemade seasoning mix). Preheat grill to medium-high heat (can also use a panini maker) and lightly oil/spray the grill. Brush olive oil on one side of each cauliflower slice. Then sprinkle the sugar/seasoning mix over top. Repeat on other side. Save leftover spices for the next time. Place on grill or in panini maker and close lid. Cook 2–3 minutes per side. Check for doneness; should be forktender, but not mushy. Transfer to plate and sprinkle with fresh parsley (optional). Serve with ranch dressing for dipping, or balsamic glaze. Goes well with diced tomatoes and some crusty bread.

Joan Bissonette, Great Lakes Energy Virginia Czarnecki, HomeWorks Tri-County Finedell, Great Lakes Energy

2023 HomeWorks Board Elections

Districts 2, 4, and 5 to Hold Director Elections This Year

HomeWorks members in districts 2, 4, and 5 will carry out one of the most important duties of a cooperative’s membership this year when they elect a director to represent them on the Co-op board. Current directors Jim Stebbins of Clarksville (District 2) and Kimber Hansen of Edmore (District 4) have announced they will seek re-election in their respective districts.

In District 5, a special election is being held this year to replace former District 5 Director Corinna Batora, who stepped down in September 2022 when she moved away from the area. The District 5 director seat is currently vacant, but the board of directors plans to appoint an interim director this month to represent the district until the membership can vote to elect a replacement director later this year.

Members in districts 2, 4, and 5 who are interested in running for their district’s director position should contact their district’s nominating committee by Feb. 3. Candidates may also be nominated via a petition signed by at least 25 members within their district. Petitions must be turned in to the nominating committee by Feb. 20.

In District 2, which includes members in Barry and Ionia counties, incumbent Director Jim Stebbins was first elected to the board in 2017. In District 4, which includes members in Montcalm County, except Bloomer, Crystal, and Evergreen townships, Kimber Hansen has served on the board since 2014. District 5 is comprised of members in Gratiot and Saginaw counties, plus members in Bingham, Duplain, and Greenbush townships in Clinton County and members in Bloomer, Crystal, and Evergreen townships in Montcalm County.

The nominating committee in each district consists of the district’s officers (listed on this page), elected by members at the district meeting held in the previous May. Each committee is required by the Co-op’s bylaws to nominate at least one candidate on or before Feb. 3. Names of nominees will be posted at the Cooperative’s offices and at HomeWorks.org by Feb. 28.

Interested In Seeking A Board Seat?

The job of a HomeWorks board member is to help set policies and make decisions that guide the direction of the Cooperative, while effectively representing the members of his or her district. Directors are expected to attend regular monthly and other special meetings of the board or committees of the board, along with relevant state and national association meetings and director training programs. They are also expected to study data and other information presented to the board in order to stay fully informed on matters affecting the Co-op.

Election Timeline

Feb. 3 Nominating Committee submits candidate names to Co-op

Feb. 15 Candidate credentials reviewed, names posted at Co-op Feb. 20 Nominations by petition (25 signatures) due at Co-op

Feb. 28 Final candidate list posted at Co-op

Early April Paper ballots mailed in Michigan Country Lines magazine to members in election districts

Early April Directions and link for electronic voting option emailed to members in election districts

Who Makes Up District Nominating Committees?

District 2: Barry and Ionia counties

Bill Nichols, Chair 12543 Turner Rd., Portland, MI 48875

Cell: 517-526-2392 • Email: wildbill1945@gmx.com

Wilma Bailey (Lake Odessa), Vice Chair

Kristine Ceasar (Portland), Secretary

District 4: Montcalm County (except Bloomer, Crystal, and Evergreen townships)

Lisa Johnson, Chair 12423 Cutler Rd., Lakeview, MI 48850

Cell: 231-598-8083 • Email: lisainamble@gmail.com

Glenn Kebler (Six Lakes), Vice Chair

Elaine Rossman (Lakeview), Secretary

District 5: Gratiot and Saginaw counties, plus townships in Clinton and Montcalm counties

Becca Wetzel, Chair 5765 E. Ridge Rd., Elsie, MI 48831

Cell: 586-944-1531 • Email: blundellrebecca@gmail.com

Bob Puralewski (St. Johns), Vice Chair Dan Herald (St. Johns), Secretary

If you are a member of district 2, 4, or 5 and you are interested in running for a HomeWorks board seat this year, Article VII, Section 2 of the Cooperative’s bylaws (available at HomeWorks. org) states that you must be an individual member of the Co-op in good standing, at least 21 years old, residing in the district which you are to represent, and a U.S. citizen.

To become or remain a director, the bylaws state the candidate must have the capacity to enter into legally binding contracts; comply with standards

of conduct as laid out in the bylaws; and meet all reasonable conflict of interest qualifications found in Article VII, Section 3. Also, a candidate shall not have been convicted of or pled guilty to a felony or misdemeanor crime involving issues of moral character within the 10 years immediately prior to becoming a director.

If you meet these qualifications and would like to be nominated for the district 2, 4, or 5 board seat, contact your district nominating committee, listed on this page, or call HomeWorks Tri-County Electric at 517-647-1272 to request a nominating petition.

Kimber Hansen—District 4 Jim Stebbins—District 2
12 JANUARY 2023

Your Board In Action


in Portland on Oct. 24, your board of directors:

• Reviewed the procedure for appointing an interim District 5 director to replace former Director Corinna Batora, who stepped down effective Sept. 30, and determined that at the conclusion of the Search and Selection Committee’s process of seeking and interviewing interested candidates, an interim director will be appointed in January 2023 to serve until the district’s membership can elect and then officially seat a new director in August 2023.

• Reviewed and approved the proposed 2023 budget for the Cooperative’s subsidiary, Tri-Co Services, Inc.

• Received an update on the Co-op’s 2022 forecasted capital spending compared to the 2022 annual capital budget.

• Reviewed quarterly updates on the Co-op’s energy optimization and People Fund programs.

• Authorized staff to immediately place an order for the purchase of a bulk propane delivery truck scheduled to replace a truck scheduled for replacement in 2024, due to current two-year lead times for the trucks.

• Discussed and accepted Policy 105 – Political Activities of Directors, as revised.

• Received a monthly progress update on the HomeWorks Connect fiber internet business.

• Learned there were 120 new members in September.

• Acknowledged the September safety report, listing employee training as well as minor employee and public incidents involving electric, propane, or fiber optic.

Time Set Aside for Members to Comment Before Cooperative Board Meetings

The first 15 minutes of every board meeting are available for members who wish to address the board of directors on any subject. The next meetings are scheduled for 9 a.m. on Jan. 23 and Feb. 27 at Portland. Members who wish to have items considered on the board agenda should call 517-647-7554 at least a week in advance of the meeting.

People Fund Grants Over $10,000 To Support Local Families And Organizations

Meeting remotely on Oct. 26, our People Fund board made four grants totaling $7,555, including:

• $2,500 to a Montcalm County family, to remove a tree that was infringing upon their home;

• $2,000 to the Ionia Ministerial Association, to help cover housing assistance for families in need;

• $2,000 to the Isabella County Soup Kitchen, to purchase food for clients in need; and

• $1,055 to a Mecosta County family, to help cover taxes and utility costs.

Meeting remotely on Dec. 7, our People Fund board made one grant totaling $2,500:

• $2,500 to a Montcalm County family, to help cover property taxes and utility costs.

How to Apply for a Tri-County Electric People Fund Grant

The Tri-County Electric People Fund provides grants to individuals and organizations in the Co-op’s service area for food, shelter, clothing, health, and other humane needs, or for programs or services that benefit a significant segment of a community.

Write to 7973 E. Grand River Ave., Portland, MI 48875, for an application form and grant guidelines, or visit the People Fund page at HomeWorks.org.

Note: Applications must be received by Feb. 21 for the March meeting or by March 28 for the April meeting.


Big Water Creative Arts Bringing Music Education

To Northern Michigan

So many of us have fond memories of art and music classes in our school days. So often, it was a chance to decompress from math, science, English, or history, but the arts in learning have always been about a bit more. Studies have shown improvements in math, reading, and critical thinking can all be linked to engagement in artistic or creative endeavors.* So, it is not just a sense of melancholy that makes it upsetting that so many school systems have had to decrease funding for art programs and sometimes eliminate them altogether.

It’s this reality that spurred Michelle Chenard and Pete Kehoe of Big Water Creative Arts to turn their passion for music into a bigger purpose.

“Music has always given Michelle and me so much,” said Kehoe, director of the board at Big Water Creative Arts. “It felt like time for us to return the favor.”

Chenard and Kehoe are longtime friends and sometimes creative partners who have enjoyed their own lives as musicians. Chenard, originally from the Upper Peninsula, took her talent on the road working the music circuit in the southern United States and finally back to Michigan. Kehoe, from Gladwin, has been in Petoskey since 1999. While they’ve worked on songs together and played in Michigan for decades, it was a songwriting workshop they were holding on Mackinac Island that was the first step in creating Big Water Creative Arts.

14 JANUARY 2023

“We had been doing this threeday songwriting workshop for a few years, but never quite got in the black,” said Kehoe. “Then we started talking and realizing we wanted to also do something that had a more far-reaching impact.”

The two were keenly aware that school music programs had been losing funding year after year, with many rural communities in their own backyard with no programming at all.

It started with a songwriting workshop for Mancelona Public Schools. Music programming spread to Petoskey, Pellston, Gaylord, Cheboygan, and so on. Today, Big Water Creative Arts offers multiple programs for arts education for elementary and middle school students, as well as senior and adult special education programs.

While BWCA offers these music classes free to all students, they depend on grants, donations, and fundraising from their

annual event in September. As interest grows amongst students and school administrators, the strain on the nonprofit’s budget increases.

“We are always looking for community partners who want to help bring music education to Northern Michigan,” said Kehoe. “We want to take the cost barrier out of the equation so it can be available to all.”

This is what the folks at Big Water Creative Arts do. They see a need, look at their resources, and make musical magic happen in their community.

“It’s our dream that every kid who wants to play, sing, or express themselves musically can do that without worrying about economics or funding,” said Kehoe. “Music is a right for everyone. It makes for more engaged, confident, and happy people. And that just makes the world better.”

If you’d like to help support Big Water Creative Arts, here’s how:

To donate: bigwatercreativearts.org smile.amazon.com (BWCA) bigwatercreativearts@gmail.com Big Water Creative Arts, Inc. P.O. Box 124, Petoskey, MI 49770

For more information: /bigwatercreativearts /bigwatercreativeartsinc


*Source: President’s Committee on Arts and the Humanities, 2011

“Music is a right for everyone. It makes for more engaged, confident, and happy people. And that just makes the world better.”
Photos by: Jessica Wynder Photography (top of page 14), Johnny Ulibarri (left), and Alex Childress (cover and top right)

Season Of Giving


Notice to Members of HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative

Special Member Meeting

is set for Jan. 23, 9 a.m., at the Cooperative’s Portland office.

The board of directors will consider the item(s) listed below at its meeting on Jan. 23, 2023, to be held at the Cooperative office at 7973 E. Grand River Ave., Portland, Michigan. The meeting will begin at 9 a.m. and is open to all HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative members.

The session will begin with an opportunity for members to provide direct input to the board of directors without filing a formal request under the Cooperative policy. Interested members are asked to come to the lobby by 9 a.m. and request to speak to the board; staff will direct members to the meeting room. Time constraints on each member’s comments will be at the discretion of the board president, but members are asked to keep comments to less than five minutes.

The following item(s) will be discussed and considered:

1. Electric service fees

Notice of changes or additions to the Cooperative’s rates or service rules shall be sent to all members, as required by P.A. 167, by publication in Michigan Country Lines at least 30 days prior to their effective date.

Participation: Any interested member may attend and participate in the meeting. The location of the board meeting site is accessible, including accessible parking. Persons needing any accommodation to participate should contact HomeWorks Tri-County Electric at 800-562-8232 at least a week in advance of the meeting to request mobility, visual, hearing, or other assistance. Comments may also be made prior to the meeting date by calling CEO Chris O’Neill at 517-647-1284 or contacting him via email at coneill@homeworks.org.

Notice of the board meeting shall be sent to all members, as required by P.A. 167, by publication in Michigan Country Lines.

Notice to Members of HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative—Data Privacy Policy

The HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative Board of Directors has adopted a policy governing the collection, use, and disclosure of member account information and usage data.

A full copy of the Data Privacy Policy can be found at HomeWorks.org.

If you would like a hard copy of the Data Privacy Policy, please call our office at 800-562-8232.

As usual, HomeWorks employees generously embraced the Christmas spirit of giving this season. Staffers in our Portland office collected gifts for Toys for Tots and for the Portland Community Fund's Christmas giving program (shown here), and employees in our Blanchard office came together to purchase gifts and Christmas goodies for a Chippewa Hills family that they adopted.
16 JANUARY 2023


We’ve been working since May 2018 to successfully build out our reliable high-speed fiber internet network to our entire service area, and now the end is finally in sight! Along the way, we’ve overcome delays due to the 2020 pandemic, 2021 supply chain issues, and 2022 labor shortages to be on track to meet our original goal of completing the mainline network build-out in five years. Our plan is to have our mainline construction completed by May of this year and to spend the rest of the year connecting any remaining homes and businesses that have signed up at Join.HomeWorksConnect.org.

Because we can’t begin connecting all of the remaining Phase 5 zones at once, you’ll want to watch your mailbox for postcards alerting you to our activity in your area! You can also learn more by visiting www.homeworks.org/constructionupdates to view the construction update we publish at the end of each month.

If you haven’t already, be sure to preregister at Join. HomeWorksConnect.org so you can have a service agreement emailed to you as soon as they’re made available in your area.

We don’t want you to miss out on this great opportunity, so when it’s time to connect your home, you’ll be notified that contracts are available in your neighborhood via mail, social media, and email. Be sure to sign up now and be ready to take advantage of our free installation offer during our initial build-out!

If you haven’t yet, preregister today at Join.HomeWorksConnect.org to see which zone your home is in!

Become A Connector Today! To preregister, visit Join.HomeWorksConnect.org or call 800-668-8413! This service is not regulated by the Michigan Public Service Commission.

Where In Michigan Is This?

The Reluctant Boy Scout

Inever considered Scouting until my father told me I was going to become one. My younger brother decided he wanted to be a Cub Scout and my dad figured I could be very useful keeping tabs on him. I really didn’t think it was for me, but I dutifully joined Troop 57 at the local school. This turned out to be one of the best things I have ever done.

I was a year older than most of the “Tenderfoot” Scouts, but I quickly qualified for 2nd and then 1st class scout and eventually became den chief for my brother’s pack. Our family was already into camping, and the Scouts camped several times a year at Rota-Kiwan in Texas Corners. There were canoe trips, jamborees, the Klondike Derby, and plenty of other events that I loved.

My best friend, Rod, was my assistant when I became the leader of Hawk Patrol. Eventually, my brother joined us, along with several other boys. Our Scoutmaster, Mr. Brown, was an outstanding leader, and several other parents were great mentors and teachers for all of us. In less than three years, I was a Life Scout working on Eagle when I was chosen to join The Order of the Arrow.

Scouting opened so many doors for my brother and me. Our record score and time in the 1964 Klondike Derby still stands! I was big for my age, and soon the other boys began to call me “Hoss” after the Bonanza character played by Dan Blocker. To this day, some of them still greet me that way when I see them. The camping, boating, swimming, crafting, first aid, and other skills I learned during those years still serve me well. I am so grateful that my parents decided to help me on my way to an experience I will never forget.

About The Author: James is retired from a career in the audio/video business. He was also a DJ for more than 40 years. He and his wife enjoy gardening, reading, listening to music, and spending time with their children and grandchildren.

They have performed recorded music at nearly 500 wedding receptions and parties, beginning in 1973. Nov./Dec.
2022 Winner! Our Mystery Photo winner is Leslie Miller, a Thumb Electric Cooperative member, who correctly identified the photo as Hartwick Pines Chapel in Grayling.
are announced in the following issues of Country Lines: January, March, May, July/ August, September, and November/December.
MI CO-OP Guest Column Guest Column Win $200 for stories published! Share your fondest memories and stories. Win $200 for stories published. Visit countrylines.com/community to submit. Mystery Photo Win a $100 energy bill credit!
Identify the correct
to win a $100 electric bill credit. Enter
18 JANUARY 2023
location of
photo above by Jan. 20
be entered into a drawing
your guess at countrylines.com/community
989-356-2113 wellconnectsaves.com 1-833-GEOWELL wellconnectgeo.com Geother mal Made Af for da ble HEATING WITH WELL-CONNECT IS LIKE PAYING 70¢ Per Gallon of Propane Well-Connect works in combination with your home’s current heating system. Well-Connect can be installed in 1-day, anytime of the year. No excavation or drilling is required. ENJOY YEAR-ROUND COMFORT IN YOUR HOME REDUCE DEPENDENCY ON FUEL OIL OR PROPANE GO GREEN WITH RENEWABLE ENERGY Financing, rebates & tax credits available. VISIT OUR WEBSITE FOR DETAILS. MICHIGAN MADE IN

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Travel to Washington, D.C., to explore monuments and museums, meet with a member o f Congress, and make lifelong friends with other students from across the country. You'll discover leadership lessons from our nation's history and be immersed in the cooperative spirit that built our nation, with all expenses paid by your local electric cooperative. Yeah, that's pretty amazing. Are you up for it?

Tour Dates: June 14-18, 2023

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