Thumb July/Aug 2020

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July/August 2020


COUNTRY LINES Thumb Electric Cooperative


Small-Town Calumet Electronics Makes A Big Impact

AMI Benefits


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July/August 2020 Vol. 40, No. 7



Michigan’s Electric Cooperatives

EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Casey Clark EDITOR: Christine Dorr GRAPHIC DESIGNER: Karreen Bird RECIPE EDITOR: Christin McKamey 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 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.


14 RECLAIMED: THE ART OF THE BARN Former Thumb resident Jim Boyle incorporates the magic of art to transform declining Port Austin barns.

Cover Photo: Tyler Leipprandt, Michigan Sky Media

6 GLOW IN THE DARK Erik Rintamaki shares the magic of Yooperlites. 10 MI CO-OP KITCHEN Celebrate the growing season with these scrumptious recipes featuring farm-fresh ingredients.


18 GUEST COLUMN Carol Higgins reminisces about the simple joys of her childhood community softball games.

A gorgeous repost from @mi.explorer: “A man practices the art of adventure when he breaks the chain of routine and renews his life through reading new books, traveling to new places, making new friends, taking up new hobbies and adopting new viewpoints.” —Wilfred Peterson, @mi.explorer (Ryan Peurach)

Be featured!

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

To enter contests, submit reader content & more, visit





Up Next: Easy Recipes; Sauces, Dips & Dressings Share your favorite recipes.

Up Next: Wineries! Which is your favorite spot amongst the vines to sip Michigan’s world-class wines?

Submit your fondest memories and stories.

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

Win $150 for stories published!

Win a $50 bill credit!

Win a $50 bill credit!



Updates At Your Cooperative /thumbelectric

Dallas Braun, General Manager

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

BOARD OF DIRECTORS HURON COUNTY Randall Dhyse, Treasurer District 1 • 989-551-6533

Don Wolschleger, Director District 2 • 989-975-2027 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, President District 1 • 989-683-2696

Jonathan Findlay, Director District 2 • 989-551-8393 Carl Cousins, Director District 3 • 989-871-4449

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.





COVID-19 On June 1, 2020, Gov. Whitmer issued Executive Order (EO) No. 2020-110, which lifted the stay-at-home order and provided that most other businesses in the state could reopen with restrictions and specific precautionary measures taken. While this EO is very much welcomed, it does not mean things will instantly return to the pre-COVID-19 pandemic normalcy. Only time will tell if and when things return to the past “normal” and how quickly they do or do not. At TEC, employees will continue working as they have during the pandemic, following the COVID-19 Department Work Procedures, as well as the COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan, which is available on our website. We will continue to operate with a limited number of employees physically present at the office working staggered schedules, while others that can work remotely from home do so, as still required by the recent EO. For the time being, the office lobby remains closed to the public, and the drive-thru also remains closed. When allowed and the time is right, we will slowly transition back to somewhat regular operation. Please follow TEC on Facebook for any future updates/notifications.

2020 Annual Meeting and Director Elections

ballot, which will be included in the November/December issue of Country Lines magazine. This year, members will also have the option to cast their vote electronically. If the Annual Meeting is not canceled, in-person voting will also be an option. Further information will be provided in future issues of Country Lines, on our website, and on Facebook.

Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) TEC recently had an outside firm conduct a survey of our members regarding providing FTTH internet service. While previous conversations with many members supported and encouraged TEC to move in this direction, the official survey results were very clear. A whopping 94% of those that participated in the survey supported TEC providing such a service. Thank you to all that took the time to participate in the survey and provide your input in this important step of the process. The TEC staff and board of directors will continue their due diligence in investigating moving into the FTTH service. It is easy to say we are going to do it, but a bit more difficult and involved in determining the financing and operations of providing such a service without negatively impacting the financial position of the cooperative or the electric rates you as a member pay.

A decision has been made to postpone the Annual Meeting until a tentative date of Dec. 5. A final decision will be made at the October board meeting regarding whether to hold a scaleddown, in-person Annual Meeting event, cancel the event for 2020, or consider other options.

Later this fall, TEC will be pursuing a source of public funding that is available nationwide. This funding is meant to assist companies in providing high-speed internet to those rural areas identified that currently do not have that availability. If successful, things will most likely move very quickly, with the engineering and design starting before the end of this year, and construction starting in 2021.

Regardless of the final decision, the director elections will be held. Like last year, members will be able to cast their ballot using a mail-in paper

As always, if you have any questions or concerns about this or any other matter, please contact us at the office. Stay safe and healthy.

Sign up anytime at or via Smarthub and be eligible for the 2021 contest. Details to come in a later edition of Country Lines. All members signed up at the cutoff date next year are automatically in.

Paperless Billing Winners! Thank you to all the TEC members who signed up for paperless billing by the June 11 deadline. The following members won a $50 bill credit in a random drawing. Laurin K. Hill

Kim S. Stange

Wesleyan Church

Greg J. Lusignan

Recycle That Old Refrigerator Or Freezer And Get Cash Back!


Receive $50 for an old refrigerator or freezer and $20 for an old window AC* unit or dehumidifier.* Call 844-631-2130 to schedule your pick up today! *Small appliances will only be picked up in conjunction with a larger unit. MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES


The Magic of Yooperlites By Emily Haines Lloyd


rik Rintamaki has been walking the beaches of Lake Superior all of his life.

Rintamaki, now living in Brimley, grew up in the Upper Peninsula and spent pretty much every weekend or nice day on the beaches with his dad on the hunt for rocks. They spent most of their time searching for agate, a variety of quartz, popular with rock collectors or “rock hounds.” “I’ve always loved rock collecting,” said Rintamaki. “There’s something peaceful and soothing about it. Plus, spending time with my dad made it even more special.” But Rintamaki’s barometer for “special” was about to hit a whole new level. In 2017, while testing out a UV light he’d bought on eBay for eight bucks, Rintamaki noticed a few small stones lined with various patterns in bright fluorescent orange. He’d never seen anything like it, and at 4:30 a.m., he found himself racing home from Vermilion with the rocks to look them up online and see what they were.



However, he couldn’t find anything. And not just online. After Google failed him, Rintamaki started bringing his discoveries to rock and gems shows that he would attend to sell agate. “I took them to six or eight shows and showed them to probably 300 people I know there,” said Rintamaki. “And no one had any idea what they were.” A friend of Rintamaki’s in California asked for a couple of pounds of stones and finally determined that they were a variety of syenite sodalite. And it was the Michigan Mineralogy Project (MMP) that determined this was something that had never been discovered in Michigan before. In fact, the MMP credited Rintamaki with the discovery of the first verified sodalite deposits ever documented in Michigan in its May 2018 edition of The Mineral News. That was the beginning of Yooperlites. With the opportunity to name his discovery, Rintamaki was informed that most rocks were named after the location in

which they were found and had the suffix “ite.” While he considered some specific geographical names, Rintamaki finally hit on Yooperlite—a nod to the nickname for those from the Upper Peninsula. “I’m a Yooper,” laughed Rintamaki. “It just felt right.”

“It’s like unlocking a secret with these stones. They may look like nothing special, but under just the right conditions—magic!”

Rintamaki, who is also a lapidarist (rock artisan), started taking his Yooperlite findings and grinding them into shapes and spheres and selling them to rock collectors. But it was when he struck on the idea to take other people out on rock collecting tours that his joy of identifying Yooperlites hit another level. “It was only my second tour and as I was showing everyone how to shine the lights and look for Yooperlites that I asked if folks would let me know if they saw something, so I could record it.” It was Shirley Klemmer who shouted out first and Rintamaki ran over to take some video. He posted it online that evening when he got home. By the time he woke up the next day, the video had gone viral. Rintamaki’s rock tour Yooperlites Facebook page, which had only 26 likes prior, had since propelled to more than 14,000. “People were just so excited by the Yooperlites,” said Rintamaki. “All of a sudden I’m doing tours weekly, taking out hundreds of folks from all over the world.” Tour groups from as far away as Japan have come to take Yooperlite tours and bring home the unique rocks for their collections. Rintamaki jokes that each tour is the same, where people slowly find one rock, then another and by the end, Rintamaki has to tear them away from the beach in the search for “just one more.” What is it about these plain grey rocks that are really nothing special until you shine a UV light on them? “It’s awesome to watch people discover Yooperlites,” said Rintamaki. “It’s like unlocking a secret with these stones. They may look like nothing special, but under just the right conditions—magic!”

Visit to check out Rintamaki’s web store and sign up for the newsletter to get updates on tours. You can also follow Yooperlites on Facebook and Instagram.



Small-Town Calumet Electronics Has

BIG IMPACT By Emily Haines Lloyd

“Rugged” is a word that people in the most northern regions of the Upper Peninsula hear frequently. It’s a characteristic that is put to the test on a daily basis. But in the time of COVID-19, this is a characteristic that allows folks to not only survive but thrive. Calumet, Michigan, was once the center of copper mining activity in the Keweenaw Peninsula. After World War I, the demand for copper decreased, taking much of the industry, jobs, and people out of the area. When Calumet Electronics opened its doors in 1968, it had a mission to bring new business life to the area. Its purpose was to create local, familysustaining jobs. Today it is the area’s largest private-sector employer. Calumet Electronics designs, builds and delivers printed circuit boards (PCBs). These circuit boards are used in energy grids, life support systems, medical devices, avionics, aerospace and defense markets. It’s a source of pride that while Calumet’s boards are found in products all over the world, they are manufactured entirely in Michigan. 8 JULY/AUGUST 2020

“Circuit boards aren’t exactly ‘sexy,’” said Dr. Meredith LaBeau, process engineering manager. “But we believe in this area, the lifestyle it can provide, and the people who make it their home. We are proud to create jobs that allow people to build lives here.” A secret recruitment weapon in Calumet Electronics’ back pocket is a “little” technological school nestled in the woods less than 15 miles away— Michigan Technological University in Houghton. With engineers in multiple disciplines graduating every year, the efforts to both groom and recruit from the university take a lot of effort and input. “Ultimately, we’re trying to keep the talented people who have fallen in love with the area—in the area,” said LaBeau.


Audra Thurston (right), a process engineer, represents Calumet Electronics, the IPC (Association Connecting Electronics Industries), and the domestic electronics industry at the White House, advocating for workforce development while telling the Calumet Electronics story.

While Calumet Electronics was busy working to balance its small-town way of life with providing world-class technology, it was jarred along with the rest of the world by the onset of COVID-19.

Todd Brassard, vice president and chief operations officer. “What would this mean for our employees and their families? But when the first RUSH order came in for the ventilator PCB, we knew we had a part to play in the fight.”

Calumet Electronics has produced PCBs for hospital ventilators for some time. It was an area of its business that was suddenly a piece of equipment that would have life-saving implications in the fight against COVID-19.

The importance of PCB manufacturing is undervalued. However, with Calumet Electronics’ products suddenly a vital part of the COVID19 battle, employees suddenly had new purpose and a very concrete way to grasp how one little circuit board could have a huge impact.

As individuals contracted the virus, and their symptoms went from fevers and trouble breathing to needing machine-assisted breathing provided by ventilators, production gained national attention. While many businesses have found themselves closed down and unable to engage in even daily activities, Calumet Electronics found the opposite. “When the COVID-19 hit, we were uncertain like everyone else,” said

Problem-solving, which is the backbone of engineering and manufacturing, was put to task as production quickly ramped up to full capacity. Calumet Electronics was not only pushing to produce more ventilator PCBs, but to maintain schedules and production for products of other clients, whose functions are similarly essential, like the PCBs they produce for power grids.

To say it was an all-hands-on-deck situation may be an understatement. What started as an effort to increase manufacturing by 15% quickly exceeded that and hit an increase of 39%. This meant all employees in the trenches, including folks who were more likely to be in client meetings and behind monitors, were suddenly on the production floor. “Fundamentally, we’re built for this kind of ‘all in this together’ scenario. We have hard-working, family- and community-focused people,” said Brassard. “At a really uncertain time, it feels good to be able to help, in whatever way we can.” It’s amazing that in the middle of a crisis that is focused on maintaining physical distance from one another, it is a small-town business with a tight-knit mentality that is able to show that solidarity doesn’t need to be about proximity.

“Fundamentally, we’re built for this kind of ‘all in this together’ scenario. We have hardworking, familyand communityfocused people.” —Todd Brassard

MI CO-OP Recipes

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


TABLE Farm-Fresh Seasonal Recipes


TERRIFIC TOMATO SOUP Deb Finedell, Great Lakes Energy

3 4 ½ ½ 2 • ½ ½ 2 2 • ½ ¼ •

pounds fresh, ripe tomatoes cloves garlic, peeled onion, diced red bell pepper, diced tablespoons olive oil salt and pepper to taste teaspoon dried basil teaspoon dried oregano cups chicken or vegetable broth tablespoons fresh herbs (basil, parsley and/or oregano) fresh basil & parsley for serving cup heavy cream, optional cup parmesan cheese, optional for garnish croutons, optional

Preheat oven to 450 F. Wash and cut tomatoes. For smaller, apricot-sized tomatoes, cut in half. For larger tomatoes, cut into quarters or eighths. Place tomatoes, garlic, onion, bell pepper, olive oil, salt, pepper and dried herbs on a large sheet pan. Roast 25 minutes, stirring after 15 minutes. Turn oven to broil and broil 3–4 minutes or until some of the tomatoes get a little bit of char color on them. Bring broth to a boil; add tomatoes and fresh herbs. Using a hand blender or immersion blender, blend mixture until smooth and creamy. Add heavy cream if using and stir. Top with parmesan cheese, croutons, or a drizzle of heavy cream. Watch a video of this month’s winning recipe at


Win a


energy bill credit!


Easy Recipes due August 1 Sauces, Dips & Dressings due September 1 Submit your favorite recipe for a chance to win a $50 bill credit and have your recipe featured in Country Lines with a photo and a video. Go to for more information.

GARDEN GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICH Deb Finedell, Great Lakes Energy 1 1 • 2

fresh egg, any size tablespoon canola oil cracked black pepper, as desired slices artisan-style bread (or one of your choice) 2 tablespoons butter, room temperature 1–4 ounces sliced or shredded Gruyere cheese (or cheese of your choice) 1 cup fresh arugula, rinsed and dried Fry the egg in a preheated (medium heat) nonstick skillet with the oil, breaking the yolk after the whites have

begun to set, if desired. Cook to desired opaqueness. Set aside and sprinkle with pepper. In the same skillet, with the heat slightly reduced, place a slice of bread with one side buttered (butter side down). Top with two or three slices, or about an ounce and a half, of cheese. Top the cheese with the arugula and cooked egg. Add more cheese if desired. Top with the remaining slice of bread; one side buttered and facing up. When the bottom slice of bread is browned to your liking, gently press down on the sandwich. Gently flip the sandwich, careful not to allow the fillings to spill out.

CARAMEL APPLE CHEESECAKE Erica England-Hoffman, Great Lakes Energy Crust: 2 cups flour ½ cup packed brown sugar 1 cup butter, softened Filling: 3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened ¾ cup sugar 3 large eggs 1½ teaspoon vanilla Apples: 3 apples, peeled, cored & finely chopped ½ teaspoon cinnamon

Topping: 1 cup packed brown sugar 1 cup flour ½ cup oats ½ cup butter, softened • jar caramel sauce Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 9x13 pan with aluminum foil, then spray with cooking spray. In large bowl, combine all crust ingredients and press into pan. Bake for 15 minutes. Combine filling ingredients and pour over warm crust. Combine apple ingredients and pour on top of cheesecake filling. Combine topping ingredients, except caramel sauce, and sprinkle over apples. Bake for 40–45 minutes, until filling is set. Drizzle with caramel sauce and let cool.

“CURRY UP” 2 ALARM PORK ROAST Mike Lavens, Presque Isle

3–3.5 pound boneless pork sirloin tip roast/boneless pork loin roast 2 tablespoons garlic powder, divided 4 tablespoons curry hot spices (Kashat)* 2 tablespoons poultry seasoning 1 teaspoon cayenne red pepper* • salt and white pepper 2–3 tablespoons olive oil ½ large sweet white onion, diced 12+ baby carrots, cut in half 1 jalapeño pepper, cut to liking (slice in half, then cut up)* 2 stalks celery, cut into small chunks • jar of beef gravy Preheat oven to 230 F. Sprinkle pork with 1 tablespoon garlic powder. Combine the curry, poultry seasoning, and cayenne in a small bowl and mix. Sprinkle mixture onto all sides of the pork. Season with salt and white pepper. Pat meat to gently rub everything in. Wash hands. Heat oil in a 9- to 10-inch cast iron (or ovenproof)

skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Brown roast on all sides, then remove to a plate and set aside. Add onion, carrots, jalapeño, and celery to pan and sauté, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to brown. Add remaining 1 tablespoon garlic powder and beef gravy. Deglaze pan by adding splash of water to empty beef gravy jar and pour into pan. Cook 2 more minutes. Place roast on top of vegetable/gravy mixture. Insert an oven-safe, instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the meat and place in center of oven (or check temperature after 2 hours). Cook until instant-read thermometer’s internal temperature reaches 145 F (about 2.5 hours). Bump up oven temperature to 260 F if meat is not at 145 F after 2 hours for 10 minutes and recheck temperature. Remove roast from oven when temp reaches 145 F and tent with foil. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving with vegetables and gravy over top. Serve immediately with carrots and gravy. *Adjust spices/heat to individual preference. MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES


Benefits Emerge From AMI Rollout Last year TEC began the transition to automated metering infrastructure (AMI) because of the many benefits it offers. Today we have converted nearly 10% of our system over and we are beginning to see the benefits firsthand. Take a look at how the system is already delivering on its expected benefits.

Expected Benefit _ _ _ _ _ 01

With data from the AMI system coming directly to our office, TEC will be able to read your meter remotely.

Our Experience

We have around 1,000 members who no longer need to read their meters. We have a consistent 30-day reading, keeping bills steady. There are also no meter reading charges for those who may forget, and there’s no need to go on members’ property for those readings.

Expected Benefit _ _ _ _ _ 02

With more detailed information about what is happening in the field, we will be able to respond faster to outages.

Our Experience

We have had occasions where we have found an outage before members were aware they even had an outage. In addition, in some cases, we were are able to send a one-man crew to determine the cause and possibly fix the issue without sending a full crew.

Expected Benefit _ _ _ _ _ 03

With automatic meter tampering alerts, we will be able to reduce the possibility of energy theft, saving the cooperative and its members money.

Our Experience

Tamper alerts so far have only discovered legitimate electrical repairs, but irregular usage issues have discovered some potential issues, saving members from costly monetary loss.


Expected Benefit _ _ _ _ _ 04

With more data, we will be able to improve power quality and safety by being proactive and correcting problems such as high/low voltage, part power, blinks, and overheating meter bases that could become a fire hazard, to name a few.

Our Experience

We have found voltage issues that members were not aware of and over temperature issues that could cause fire issues. This allowed us to correct those issues before they became a larger problem such as loss of appliances, loss of power due to service damage, and potential loss of property due to fire.

Expected Benefit _ _ _ _ _ 05

With the new system, we will be able to offer more information about the amount of electricity you are using. We can help you diagnose problems leading to high energy bills.

Our Experience

Accurate 30-day readings with daily information have allowed us to help diagnose usage issues such as faulty equipment, equipment that members weren’t aware was running, and seasonal usage patterns that members may not have realized were occurring.

Deployment Timeline TODAY



Ubly substation circuits are 90% complete

Full system in all three counties

Project completion


American Gothic and Walden

Hygienic Dress League | Steve and Dorota Coy Unlike the other installations in the project, the Ziel Barn is still a working structure. Owners Hank and Jeannette Ziel donated their barn for Hygienic Dress League (HDL) to paint. In nostalgic barn advertising style, including a take on Grant Wood’s famous ”American Gothic,” HDL created two sides of ads for an imaginary corporation that produces nothing. It is a commentary piece that sparked plenty of conversations, like any provocative art. Left: American Gothic. Photo by Tyler Leipprandt. Right: Walden. Photo by Justin Schnettler

An art scene is emerging in the small, waterfront town of Port Austin in Lower Michigan’s Thumb area. And it’s emerging in a way that is totally unexpected and larger than life. While driving the meandering roads of the Thumb, you can’t help but notice the many barns peppering the landscape. Most of them look like relics from a bygone era, which in some ways they are. Jim Boyle, a former Port Austin resident, now works for a foundation in the Detroit area and has been deeply involved in the city’s art scene. His parents still live in the Thumb, and while visiting them years ago, he noticed the turn-of-the-century barns starting to lose in the undeclared war with nature. As the traditional family farm saw a decline, the story of struggle and hanging on by a thread, or rather a beam, was all too metaphoric in the barns. Once majestic, utilitarian structures, these barns were beginning to look all too often like abandoned dreams or livelihoods. “You can’t help but make the connection to these beautiful barns and how just over a hundred miles away, Detroit has 14 JULY/AUGUST 2020

seen similar structural loss,” said Boyle. As a member of the arts community, Boyle had intimate knowledge of how art has the ability to transform what might otherwise be forgotten. After 10 years with the Detroit Institute of Art and as the co-founder of a gallery— Public Pool—Boyle understood how art could help build up a community. It started with a lofty goal—artistically modify 10 barns in the Port Austin area in 10 years. Boyle reached out to the art community in Detroit, and the farm and local community in Port Austin. He made the connections and hoped to watch the magic happen. “Like any large installation project, it is a million moving pieces and gets away from you fast,” said Boyle. The project, which started seven years ago, has artfully transformed three barns in Port Austin. While the number of projects shrunk, the scope and scale of these installations have had a big impact both in the community and on the visual landscape. Boyle urges those both local in Port Austin and beyond to take the drive and prepare to marvel.

Celestial Ship of the North Scott Hocking

The second barn, donated by Bill and Lorraine Goretski, was likely one big storm from coming down. Ultimately, it was the artist/storm of Scott Hocking who came in, dismantled the 1890s barn and re-raised it in a totally new form. The ship-like “ark” stands over 55 feet tall in the fields of M-53 and begs viewers to stare and ponder if anything is ever just one thing. Photo by Justin Schnettler

Secret Sky Catie Newell

Catie Newell is an architect by day and artist by night. She revamped her barn, donated by Michael Schoenhals, using her architectural knowledge. By creating a unique “cut-out” through the barn’s center and shoring it up with beams and tension rods, Newell essentially saved the structure, while creating an artistic peek into the soul of these architectural giants. Wonderfully complicated by day and lit majestically by night, Newell’s barn blends the practical with the magical. Photo by Tyler Leipprandt

Ultimately, Boyle notes that there is no shortage in interest from Detroit artists. With three projects to reference, Boyle hopes that the community organizers can now point to these installations to encourage additional involvement, fundraising, and more barn projects. It’s a lofty mission with big dreams for future growth. However—for a project of this scope—“lofty” seems just about the perfect size.

For information visit or MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES


Renewable Geothermal Heat Geothermal is a simple technology that uses the earth’s renewable energy to provide high-efficiency heating and cooling. In winter, the system draws heat from the ground and transfers it to your home. In summer, it extracts heat from your home and transfers it to the ground. Contact the energy experts at Thumb Electric Cooperative at 800-327-0166 for honest answers on your energy choices, or call any of the trained and certified installers listed here.

AirTech Heating LLC 3661 Day Rd., Kinde, MI 48445 989-551-6555

Michigan Energy Services 8445 Main St., Whitmore Lake, MI 48189 888-339-7700

Shetler Plumbing & Heating 7184 Nitz St., Pigeon, MI 48755 800-547-3651

All-Temperature Geothermal Systems 1103 E. Caro Rd., Caro, MI 48723 989-673-5557

Michigan Heating, Cooling and Plumbing 3461 N. Lapeer Rd., Lapeer, MI 48446 810-664-8576

Superior, Inc. 3442 Cemetery Rd., Cass City, MI 48726 989-872-3305

Ameriheat, Justin Faber 2891 E. Forester Rd., Deckerville, MI 48427 810-376-4534

NRG Control 3690 Washburn Rd., Vassar, MI 48768 989-670-2543

Burkhard Plumbing & Heating 638 E. Huron Ave., Bad Axe, MI 48413 989-269-7532

Newton-Johnson Plumbing & Heating 114 Enterprise Dr., Vassar, MI 48768 989-823-2341

Thumb Cooling & Heating 8430 N. Van Dyke Rd., Cass City, MI 48726 855-206-5457 And: 837 S. State St., Caro, MI 48723 989-672-4948

Certified Temperature Innovations 3107 Custer Rd., Carsonville, MI 48419 810-300-7748

Orton Refrigeration 31 W. Sanilac Rd., Sandusky, MI 48471 810-648-2252

Roots Heating and Cooling 4074 Huron St., North Branch, MI 48461 810-688-4813

Preferred Heating 7736 Arendt Rd., Melvin, MI 48454 810-378-5454

Geomasters, Inc., Plumbing & Heating 57 Ward St., Croswell, MI 48422 810-679-2251

Annual Operating Costs

Holland Heating and Cooling 9160 Lapeer Rd., Davison, MI 48423 810-653-4328 Ingell Refrigeration 1115 4th St., Port Huron, MI 48060 810-982-4226 J & B Plumbing & Heating 7641 Pigeon Rd., Pigeon, MI 48755 989-453-3931

For An Average 1,800-Sq.-Ft. Home (45,000 BTU heating load, 20,000 BTU cooling load) $3,500 $3,000

Jack McCain Plumbing & Heating 9651 Weale Rd., Bay Port, MI 48720 989-453-2277


Kowaleski Heating & Cooling, LLC 3977 Ruppel Rd., Port Hope, MI 48468 989-550-0739


Kulek Heating & Air Conditioning 14421 Jeddo Rd., Yale, MI 48097 810-387-4452 Kundinger & Kroll 31 E. Main St., Sebewaing, MI 48759 989-883-2770 Lakeshore Improvements Plumbing & Heating 7825 Big Gulley Rd., Palms, MI 48465 989-864-3833








Natural Gas





Electric Baseboard

Fuel Oil

$500 0

A/A Heat Pump w/ Electric Furnace

A/A with LP Gas


Factors Used: Electric Baseboard, Air-Source Heat Pump (A/A) and Geothermal—based on TEC’s 7.790¢/kWh dual-fuel rate. Liquid Propane (LP) gas—based on $2.00/gal. and 90% efficient furnace. Fuel Oil—based on $2.20/gal. and 80% efficient furnace. Natural Gas—based on $1.08/therm., 90% efficient furnace including $9/mo. service charge. (Electric baseboard costs do not include air conditioning.) *All electric system comparable to natural gas!


Well Connect-Terra Caloric P.O. Box 307, Alpena, MI 49707 989-356-2113


Festivals & Fairs


1. Sometimes you just have to give a thumbs-up!—Kimberly Beebe  2. Huron County Fair—Yvette Scharf  3. The lights at night—Shelli Gordon  4. Carousel rides—Bren Timko  5. Favorite floral exhibit—Julia Hudson  6. Cheers from the Pierogi Fest—Annette Decker  7. Addison and Snowflake having a little talk—Justin Bruce  8. It is all about teamwork when trying to saddle and ride a steer during the Wild Steer Race at the Huron Community Fair.—Ona Warchuck


Most votes on Facebook!


energy bill credit!







6 Enter to win a chance for a


Submit Your “Michigan’s Natural Beauty” Photos!

Submit your best photo and encourage your friends to vote! The photo receiving the most votes in our Facebook contest will be printed in an issue of Country Lines along with some of our other favorites. Our July/August theme is Michigan’s Natural Beauty. Photos can be submitted through July 20 to be featured in our September issue.

Enter Your Photos And Win A Bill Credit!

To enter the contest, visit and click “Photo Contest” from the menu tabs. If you’re not on Facebook, that’s okay. You can also enter the contest at Enter your picture, cast your vote, and encourage others to vote for you as well. If your photo is printed in Country Lines during 2020, you will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win one of four $50 credits on your December 2020 bill.


MI CO-OP Community

Guest Column

The Old Ball Games

By Carol Higgins, Midwest Energy & Communications member


was born in 1954, the oldest of eight. We didn’t go many places together, but my parents taught us the value of hard work. Our farm family lived over five miles from the nearest town, but only a quarter of a mile from our community church. It was the center of my social life. I took advantage of the fact that I could usually get out of chores if there was something going on at church. On Sunday evenings in the summer, we’d go to the “drive-in” church where the slogan was, “Come as you are and worship in your car.” But my favorite summer activity was Monday night softball at the drive-in church field which was complete with a backstop and bases.

score, but that wasn’t the main focus. We all left feeling like winners.

The tomboy in me couldn’t wait to finish supper on Mondays, grab my ball glove, and ride my bike to the church field. Up to two dozen neighbors might gather to play, plus a few spectators. We’d quickly form teams and play until dusk. Our Monday night games were multigenerational and coed. Everyone from five to over 50 played. Everyone got to bat. No one under 10 was allowed to strike out! What a boost to my confidence and self-esteem.

Those games and some softball at recess were all I had since schools didn’t offer the sport for girls until after I graduated from high school. Now, over five decades later, I’ve watched grandchildren move from tee-ball to little league, and on to middle and high school teams competing for top place in their league. I cheer them on from the sidelines. It’s all very structured and competitive. But I’m not convinced it’s as much fun as the informal, Monday night games in the farming community where I grew up.

Neighbor Bill would often pitch and had the patience of a saint. Some young batters would swing and miss multiple times. When those of us under 10 swung and finally made contact with the ball, everyone cheered. “Safe!” cried the spectators who served collectively as the unofficial umpire. Getting to first base was a major feeling of success even if it was sometimes “rigged” by slow fielding, wild throws, or dropped balls. We usually kept

Win a


energy bill credit!

Carol is a retired teacher, coach, and B&B operator. She still substitutes and serves on several boards. She enjoys gardening, biking, kayaking, walking, reading, singing, environmental activism, volunteering, and working on becoming a wiser naturalist. A fun fact about Carol is that she and her husband, Larry, once sang “Ode to Joy” with an international choir in Carnegie Hall, New York.

Where In Michigan Is This? Identify the correct location of the photo on the left by July 30 and be entered into a drawing to win a $50 electric bill credit. Enter your guess at May 2020 Winner! Our Mystery Photo contest winner from the May issue is Carol Knight, a Thumb Electric Cooperative member, who correctly identified the photo as the Fayette Historic Townsite near Garden, Michigan, in the Upper Peninsula. It’s a great place to see and learn the history of the iron-smelting days. Photo courtesy of Kelli Marshall. Winners are announced in the following issues of Country Lines: January, March, May, July/August, September and November/December.

Thumb Electric Cooperative



Don’t be fooled into a short-term “new customers only” program, only to get sticker shock when the program ends. Compare apples to apples and ask what current long-term members are paying.

Our goal is to secure the best pricing for those members who are loyal to us. Thank you for your continued support. • • • • •

No gimmicks or new customer “gotcha” pricing. Budget-friendly metered and scheduled fill programs. Pre-buy available at guaranteed price. Available to members and nonmembers of Thumb Electric Cooperative. Competitive pricing that grows TEC member equity.

Call for details and current pricing. 989-658-8571 or 1-800-327-0166 (Not regulated by the Michigan Public Service Commission)