July/Aug 2021 HomeWorks

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July/August 2021


COUNTRY LINES HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative

2020 Annual Report Inside The Corner Cup: Readers’ Choice For Best Coffee Shop

Foraging for Mushroom Houses


Saving is believing.

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Contents countrylines.com

July/August 2021 Vol. 41, No. 7



Michigan’s Electric Cooperatives

EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Casey Clark EDITOR: Christine Dorr


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

PUBLISHER: Michigan Electric Cooperative Association Michigan Country Lines, USPS-591-710, is published monthly, except August and December, with periodicals postage paid at Lansing, Mich., and additional offices. It is the official publication of the Michigan Electric Cooperative Association, 201 Townsend St., Suite 900, Lansing, MI 48933. Subscriptions are authorized for members of Alger Delta, Cherryland, Great Lakes, HomeWorks Tri-County, Midwest Energy & Communications, Ontonagon, Presque Isle, and Thumb electric cooperatives by their boards of directors. Postmaster: Send all UAA to CFS. Association Officers: Robert Kran, Great Lakes Energy, chairman; Tony Anderson, Cherryland Electric Cooperative, vice chairman; Eric Baker, Wolverine Power Cooperative, secretary-treasurer; Craig Borr, president and CEO.

CONTACT US/LETTERS TO EDITOR: Michigan Country Lines 201 Townsend St., Suite 900 Lansing, MI 48933 248-534-7358 editor@countrylines.com


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.

Cover photo by Mike Barton

6 10 TIPS FOR ENJOYING MICHIGAN’S DARK SKIES Our state has some of the best stargazing spots in the country; here’s how to make the most of them. 10 MI CO-OP KITCHEN Whole Grains: These hearty and delicious recipes will satisfy your soul and benefit your health.

14 FORAGING FOR MUSHROOM HOUSES Whether it’s architecture, history or whimsy you’re seeking, these fungi-shaped dwellings in Charlevoix offer something for everyone. 18 HOW TO PREVENT ELECTRIC SHOCK DROWNING You can avoid the hidden danger of being shocked in water if you know what to look out for.

#micoopcommunity I see you, Michigan summer. Bring on the sun, water, and sand. @frankfort_moments (Kathy Smith)

Be featured!

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


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


Win a $50 bill credit! Up Next: Around The World, due Aug. 1; Instant Pot & Slow Cooker, due Sept. 1. Submit your recipe at micoopkitchen.com, or send it via email (include your full name and co-op) to recipes@countrylines.com.


Win $150 for stories published! Submit your fondest memories and stories at countrylines.com/ community.


Win a $50 bill credit! Enter a drawing to identify the correct location of the photo. See page 18. MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES


Protecting Your Co-op Against Cyberattacks, One Phishing Email At A Time

homeworks.org /homeworks.org tricoenergy@homeworks.org Portland office/Mail payments to: 7973 E. Grand River Ave. Portland, MI 48875 Open 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday–Friday

Blanchard office: 3681 Costabella Ave. Blanchard, MI 49310 Open 8 a.m.–5 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 BOARD OF DIRECTORS

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 — Corinna Batora 7655 N. Watson Rd., Elsie, MI 48831 517-256-5233 • cbatora@homeworks.org

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: C harly Markwart, CCC


By Tom Manting, CIO


ardware, software, and wetware. Those are the three things we need to control if we’re going to protect your Cooperative from the criminals on the internet. And the internet is a dangerous place. As I often tell people, “WWW” does not stand for World Wide Web. It actually stands for Wild Wild West because there’s no law out there. Criminals know this, and they exploit it to launch ransomware attacks, CEO fraud, and all sorts of other scams against all of us. As HomeWorks’ chief information officer, the ultimate responsibility for keeping your Cooperative safe from the bad guys lies with me. This is how my team and I do it: The Hardware: The hardware needs to be protected because once a criminal obtains physical access to vital systems, the chance they’ll be able to breach security increases dramatically. Because of this, we keep all of our servers behind locked doors. Before recycling obsolete systems, we wipe their data using a method approved by the Department of Defense. The Software: Software needs to be patched regularly, be replaced when its programmers no longer support it, and have its passwords changed regularly. My team and I have a regular schedule to ensure our software systems are up to date and that passwords are changed regularly. In addition, we subscribe to several information services that inform us of the latest exploits so we can patch our systems on an emergency basis when needed. But The Wetware: The wetware is the part we can’t control. What is wetware? Why, that’s us, of course; we’re all 60% water! Criminals are opportunists. They’re basically lazy (otherwise, they wouldn’t be criminals), and they know the easiest way to “hack” a company is through its people. This is called social engineering, and experts say it makes up 70% to 90% of all malicious security breaches. This is why your Cooperative trains all of our employees on how to spot email scams (phishing) and what to do about them. We use an outside cybersecurity firm that has partnered with famed former hacker Kevin Mitnick to ensure our employees know how to identify attempted scammers trying to get past our defenses. In addition, we test our employees every month by sending them fake phishing emails. Employees who click the links or open the attachments in these emails are automatically enrolled in remedial training. Our outside cybersecurity firm sends these test emails, so neither our CEO nor yours truly have inside knowledge of when they are sent or the contents of the messages. Everyone is tested. So now that you know the basic ways that we work to protect your Co-op against cyberattacks, I’d like to leave you with an important IT tip that we emphasize to all of our employees: If you receive an email that seems to know a little too much about you, has an offer that seems too good to be true, includes poor spelling or grammar, asks for personal or financial details, and/or has a false sense of urgency, THINK BEFORE YOU CLICK.



cottage or

HomeWorks Members,

You’re not too remote for a reliable internet connection. We’re working to make high-speed fiber internet available to all of our members. Learn more at Join.HomeWorksConnect.org.




Become A Connector Today!

To pre-register, visit Join.HomeWorksConnect.org or call 800-668-8413! This service is not regulated by the Michigan Public Service Commission.

10 TIPS For Enjoying Michigan’s Dark Skies

Michigan is surrounded by the Great Lakes, which shroud the state in near-total darkness. This makes it the perfect destination for some of the best stargazing in the nation. Michigan has committed to establishing areas that are devoid of the artificial light commonly found around cities, which partially obscures the night sky. These include six dark sky preserves located in state parks; Headlands International Dark Sky Park and Dr. T.K. Lawless Park (Michigan’s only internationally designated dark sky parks); and the pristine, quiet shoreline and forests in the Upper Peninsula. Each of these spots provides for the perfect dark sky viewing experience, and they are located all across the state. With so many spectacular locations that let you truly see the extraordinary dark sky above, you are sure to be starstruck by Michigan’s dark skies. To be well prepared for your night of stargazing, follow these 10 tips:




Find the Perfect Spot

Once you’ve left the city lights behind, it is time to find the right spot to set up for the night. Any of Michigan’s dark sky preserves are perfect for stargazing in the Lower Peninsula, but if you are hoping to see the aurora borealis——or northern lights——as well, you’ll want to go somewhere you can see the horizon. The aurora borealis will likely appear low on the horizon rather than overhead because of Michigan’s distance from the north pole. This makes the Upper Peninsula’s unobstructed shoreline along Lake Superior perfect for chasing the northern lights.


Check the Weather

To really optimize your dark sky viewing experience, you want to be sure to pick the perfect day. Choose a night with a clear sky forecast——clouds and rain could really put a damper on the night. It’s not just the weather you should keep an eye on, either. Light from the moon can make it harder to see the stars, so avoid nights where the moon is full. Also, though Michigan’s Great Lakes help to darken the sky, their shores are often 10 degrees cooler at night than sites farther inland. This means warm clothes and lots of blankets are a must.


Find a Place to Stay

After confirming there will be a clear night, you’ll want to book your sleeping accommodations——such as a state park campsite——ahead of time. Luckily, Michigan’s six dark sky preserves are located in state parks, and most have camping available onsite. While Headlands International Dark Sky Park doesn’t allow you to set up camp, the park is never closed and there are many nearby accommodations for spending the night.


Find Art in Constellations

A constellation is a grouping of stars that forms a distinctive shape, usually that of an animal or mythological being. As the year goes on and the earth rotates around the sun, different constellations become visible, so research which constellations can be seen overhead from your dark sky destination at the particular time you’ll be there. This summer in Michigan, look for Virgo, Sagittarius, and the Summer Triangle. Also, Ursa Major and Minor, known as the Big and Little Dippers, are visible all year long in Michigan. Since they are simple and easy to identify, they can help direct you to other constellations as well.

Stargazing at McClain State Park, photo courtesy of Pure Michigan


Look For More Than Stars

The sky is home to more than just the moon and stars. Check the orbit of the International Space Station to see if it will be visible, or learn the names of the satellites that will be gliding across the dark sky overhead. These man-made structures are visible at night when the sun reflects off their surfaces. You can also find out which planets will be visible depending on the time of year, or if a meteor shower will light up your night. It’s best to research your viewing location beforehand so that you can know what to expect, and it may give you something to hunt for as you focus your gaze among the stars.


Don’t Get Lost—Bring A Map

There are billions of stars in the Milky Way—— and looking at a sky full of seemingly endless stars is awe-inspiring. This is why you need a star map. A map can give you a sense of what you are looking at and help you navigate the celestial skyscape of constellations and planets. Print a map to bring with you or download an app to your phone. Either way, having access to a map while stargazing is a great way to learn about the universe above and keeps you from getting lost in the sea of stars.


See Far Away, Up Close

A night of spectacular dark sky viewing doesn’t require a fancy telescope. Actually, without the proper practice and experience, viewing the sky with a telescope can be challenging. Rather than spending money on expensive equipment, bring a pair of binoculars! Binoculars can help you focus and get a better view of the stars——plus they are portable, which allows you to travel easily with them in hand. Kids can also create their own telescope using common household items like paper towel rolls, which makes for a fun craft before your trip.


Allow The Stars To Shine— Use A Red Light

To allow the twinkling lights of the stars to really shine, you want to avoid creating any other light that will obstruct your view. Limit the use of all your devices and flashlights, and be sure to find a spot away from other artificial light sources like street lamps if you’re not in a dark sky park. When you do need a light, use a red light. Red lights allow your eyes to stay adjusted to the darkness, while still helping you see things——such as where to walk on the trail or reading your star map. You can purchase a special red-light device, or simply tape a few layers of red cellophane over your flashlight!


Join A Celestial Celebration

Michigan’s stargazing and astronomy community——amateurs and professionals alike—— seizes every opportunity to gather and admire the stars. On the shores of Michigan near the Mackinac Bridge, Headlands International Dark Sky Park hosts many of its own events, complete with astronomer presentations, telescope demonstrations, and space-themed celebrations. In August, you can also celebrate the Perseid Meteor Shower at Michigan state parks.


Just Look Up

The first step to viewing the night sky like never before is turning your eyes to the sky. Get yourself to where they can really be seen and look up——in Michigan, beautiful dark skies are everywhere. Step away from the hustle and bustle of your daily routine and escape to the sky’s natural brilliance. Just set up your blanket, grab a thermos full of hot chocolate, and surround yourself with good company while you wait for Michigan’s dark skies to light up in a sea of stars. Reprinted with permission from Pure Michigan and michigan.org.



Notice to Members of HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative A Special Member Meeting is set for July 26, 9 a.m., at the Cooperative’s Blanchard office* The board of directors will consider the item(s) listed below at its meeting on July 26, 2021, to be held at the Cooperative office at 3681 Costabella Ave., Blanchard, Michigan.* The meeting will start 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.

An adjustment to the Cooperative’s Power Supply Cost Recovery (PSCR) factor. The PSCR factor refers to the rate to be charged to reflect power supply costs incurred but not included in the base rate. The PSCR factor to be applied to the Cooperative’s retail Member-Customers’ monthly kilowatt-hour use represents the power supply costs established by the Cooperative in conjunction with Wolverine Power Cooperative. The factor is established annually and reviewed monthly.

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. 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 by 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. *Note: At print time, the July 26 board meeting is tentatively scheduled to take place in person at the Co-op’s Blanchard office. However, dependent on public health guidelines, safety regulations, and/or executive orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic, it may be determined that the meeting needs to be held remotely instead. Any interested member is asked to contact the Co-op at 800-562-8232 at least one week prior to the meeting to confirm the meeting location.

The Energy Optimization program provides qualified households with no-cost tools like energysaving devices, expert advice, and tips to help you:  improve energy performance  better manage electric use  reduce electric bills


Energy Optimization programs and incentives are applicable to Michigan electric service locations only. Incentive applies to qualified items purchased and installed between Jan. 1, 2021, and Dec. 31, 2021. Other restrictions may apply. For complete program details, visit michigan-energy.org.

SNAP SHOT Show Your American Pride 1. Morgan Begeman of Weidman says, “This is my son, Jonathan, rocking his American eagle headband at Coldwater Lake Campground!”


4 Enter to win a


energy bill credit!

2. Tamra Henning of Mt. Pleasant submitted this photo of Georgia and June Henning. “These girls were proud to show off a newly purchased American flag as an added prop during an afternoon fashion show at home,” she says. 3. Casie Bayless of Portland says, “This photo features my daughter and her high school soccer teammates while they attended the 2018 Soccer Tournament of Nations in Chicago and cheered on the U.S. Women’s National Team.” 4. Fran Maloziec of Canadian Lakes captured this photo of the American flag in front of a beautiful red maple tree at her home. 5. Susan Wabeke of Zeeland (receiving service in Coral) submitted this photo showing her American pride on display at her home. 6. Dawn Wager of Riverdale calls this photo “By Dawn’s Early Light.” “It shows our flag pole at sunrise,” she says. 7. Erin Duda of Commerce Township (receiving service in Barryton) took this photo at Gwin Girls Winery and Tasting Room in Remus. “This barn scene just reminds me of hometown America,” she says.






Upcoming Snap Shot Contest Topics and Deadlines

“Water,” Deadline: July 15 (September issue) “Pet Costumes,” Deadline: Aug. 16 (October issue) “Scared Of Santa,” Deadline: Sept. 15 (November/December issue) Go to HomeWorks.org, select the Energy tab, then choose Member Services>Country Lines to submit your photos and see all of the 2021 Snap Shot themes. It’s fast and easy. To send by mail: include your name, address, phone number, photographer’s name, and details about your photo. Mail to Attn: Country Lines Snap Shots, 7973 E. Grand River Ave., Portland, MI 48875. Photos will not be returned. Do not send color laser prints or professional studio photos.

Submit Your Photos! Members whose photos we publish in Country Lines in 2021 will receive a $10 bill credit the month after publication.



MI CO-OP Recipes

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

WHOLE GRAINS Nutty, tasty and filling recipes.


FARRO SALAD WITH MINT DRESSING Amy Schultz, Great Lakes Energy

Pickled Onions: ½ cup vinegar 1 tablespoon sugar 1½ teaspoons kosher salt, divided 1 red onion, thinly sliced Farro: 1 cup dried (uncooked) farro 3 cups water ½ teaspoon salt Salad: 4 cups arugula 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved 1 large cucumber, seeded and diced 1 carrot, thinly sliced Spiced Chickpeas: 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans) ½ teaspoon smoked paprika ¼ teaspoon garlic powder ¹⁄ 8 teaspoon cayenne pepper • freshly ground black pepper & salt, to taste 1 tablespoon olive oil



energy bill credit!

Around The World due Aug. 1 Instant Pot & Slow Cooker Favorites due Sept. 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.


Dressing: ¹⁄ ³ cup fresh lemon juice 1 tablespoon dijon mustard 1 teaspoon sugar 1 garlic clove, minced ¹⁄ 8 teaspoon salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste ¹⁄ ³ cup extra-virgin olive oil ¹⁄ ³ cup chopped, fresh mint Mix together the vinegar, sugar, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and red onion. Let sit at room temperature for an hour. Meanwhile, make the farro; simmer 1 cup dry farro in 3 cups water with ½ teaspoon salt until tender, about 25 minutes (will make 2 cups cooked). Drain. In a large bowl, toss cooked farro, arugula, tomatoes, cucumber, and carrot together and set aside. Drain chickpeas and blot with paper towels; toss with spices (do not add oil yet). Heat a large 12-inch sauté pan over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon oil. Once oil is hot, fry for 15 minutes or until golden brown and crunchy, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, make dressing. Add chickpeas to salad. Toss with dressing. Top with pickled onions. Watch a video of this month’s winning recipe at micoopkitchen.com/videos


Ruth Benjamin, HomeWorks Tri-County 5 cups water 1–1½ cups mixture of fresh and dried fruit, cut into small pieces (fresh apple, pear, or peach combined w/ raisins, dried cranberries/ cherries/apricots, etc.) ¼ cup multigrain cereal (e.g., Bob’s Red Mill) 2 cups old fashioned oats ½ teaspoon vanilla or almond extract ½ teaspoon cinnamon • favorite nuts (walnuts, pecans, or slivered almonds) • favorite yogurt

Combine water and fruit in a 4-quart saucepan with lid. Bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for several minutes, until fresh fruit is soft and dried fruit is plump. Add multigrain cereal and oats. Simmer on medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and cinnamon. Cover and let sit for a minute. Spoon into serving bowls (makes 4–5 large servings). Sprinkle with nuts and top with 4–8 ounces of yogurt. Garnish with fresh berries if desired. Also can be served with milk or half-and-half. Refrigerate leftovers for easy warming later in the week.

OLD-FASHIONED BUCKWHEAT PANCAKES Morgan Wernette, HomeWorks Tri-County

HEARTY RAINBOW MASON JAR SALAD Deb Finedell, Great Lakes Energy ½ 1 1 ¼ 1 1 4 1

cup dry red quinoa lemon, juiced tablespoon olive oil cup crumbled feta cheese cup mini grape tomatoes, sliced orange bell pepper, diced radishes, diced cup chickpeas

1 1 4 4

cup shelled edamame cup diced celery cups fresh spinach leaves mason jars

Cook the dry quinoa per package instructions and let it cool. Toss the quinoa with the juice of one lemon, olive oil, and feta cheese. Set aside. Place equal parts of each ingredient in a mason jar, starting with the quinoa mixture. It can be refrigerated for up to 4 days in a sealed container. Enjoy!

1 1½ 1 ¼ ¼ 1¼ 1 ¼ 1 •

cup buckwheat flour teaspoons white sugar teaspoon baking powder teaspoon baking soda teaspoon salt cup buttermilk large egg teaspoon vanilla tablespoon shortening maple syrup or honey, for serving

Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Slowly mix in buttermilk, egg, vanilla, and shortening until smooth. Grease skillet. Drop batter by large spoonfuls. Cook 3–4 minutes until bubbles form and edges are crisp. Flip and cook another 2–3 minutes until brown. Repeat with remaining batter. Serve with maple syrup or honey.



Co-op Supports Riverfront Park Project, Other Local Causes Part of being a Cooperative is supporting the local communities that we serve. HomeWorks has had several opportunities to do just that recently, starting with a $1,500 donation to help fund an ambitious riverfront revitalization project at William Toan Park in our headquarter city of Portland. “At HomeWorks, we love any chance we get to support a worthy local cause that benefits a significant segment of our membership,” says CEO Chris O’Neill. “The Toan Park project is a great example of that. We’re proud to support these exciting park upgrades that are going to bring a lot of joy to our members and other residents of Portland.” In March, the Portland Downtown Development Authority (DDA) began fundraising toward a community funds goal of $100,000 for planned improvements to William Toan Park, which sits on the Grand River in the heart of town. On May 27, the DDA, which matched $1.50 for every dollar raised, plus contributed a separate $300,000 toward the $550,000 project, announced it had met that $100,000 fundraising goal. Highlights of the project plans include a splash pad play area for children, a pavilion and other shaded gathering areas, a river overlook platform, and a firepit feature, which will be able to be utilized year-round. HomeWorks’ donation was made possible by a $1,250 grant from the Co-op’s annual Touchstone Energy community outreach budget and a $250 gift from the Co-op’s Employee Giving Fund. To learn about your Co-op’s other recent community outreach efforts, see the sidebar to the right.

Other Recent Co-op Giving: $3,000 to support the Ionia County Sheriff’s Office’s Critical Incident Team (Golf Outing Sponsorship) $1,500 to support Blanchard Little League’s baseball and softball programs $1,200 to support Austin’s House in Westphalia, providing residential services to individuals with developmental disabilities (Golf Outing Sponsorship) $1,000 to support Special Olympics of Mt. Pleasant (Golf Outing Sponsorship) $500 to support the Portland Jr. Raiders and Portland High School football programs (Golf Outing Sponsorship) $500 to support EightCAP, assisting families in Gratiot, Ionia, Isabella, and Montcalm counties with emergency needs (Golf Outing Sponsorship)

Information For All Customers Of HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Your Cooperative offers a Tri-County Electric People Fund program, which is funded through the voluntary rounding up of your monthly utility bill to the next whole dollar amount. An all-volunteer board of directors appointed by the member-elected board of HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative is charged with distributing the funds throughout the Cooperative’s service area. Grants support charitable efforts in and around the communities we serve. Funds from the People Fund have been distributed to educational programs, fire departments, medical emergency groups, recreational organizations, senior organizations, numerous local charities, and many local families and individuals. A copy of the People Fund’s annual report detailing contributions is available and was highlighted in our March issue of Country Lines magazine. All grants made are also listed on our website at HomeWorks.org. Your participation in the Tri-County Electric People Fund is VOLUNTARY. If you are participating and decide at any time that you wish to discontinue participation in the People Fund, please let us know, and we will be happy to remove your account. If you are participating, your monthly bill is rounded up to the next whole dollar amount. If your bill is $78.42, it would be rounded up to $79. The 58 cents would then be contributed by HomeWorks on your behalf to the People Fund, to be used as explained above. A customer’s average annual contribution is approximately $6. Your annual contribution to the People Fund is taxdeductible and is reported on your monthly statement in January of the following year. For additional information regarding the Tri-County Electric People Fund, you can contact the Cooperative office by mail or call 877-466-3957, extension 1272.


Your Board In Action Meeting remotely on May 24, your board of directors: • Reviewed HomeWorks’ 2020 Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) Standards Report, showing that the Cooperative met and exceeded the standard for every applicable electric distribution performance measure. • Reviewed the 2020 capital spending results for HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative and the HomeWorks Connect fiber internet business, along with a 2021 capital spending update and forecast. • Reviewed the Co-op’s 2021 virtual district meetings, noting that the meetings were well attended, with quorum achieved in each district and a total of 650 member households logging on. • Authorized management to sign and submit a letter of credit agreement to receive funding from the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) to support the continued expansion of the reach of HomeWorks Connect. • Authorized management to enter into a professional services agreement with KDA Broadband for broadband design services related to the completion of the construction of the HomeWorks Connect fiber internet network. • Nominated and selected the seven members of the HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative Board of

Directors for re-election to the board of the Co-op’s subsidiary, Tri-Co Services, Inc. • Held the Annual Meeting of Tri-Co Services, Inc., at which Director Luke Pohl was re-elected as chairman of the Tri-Co board, Director John Lord was re-elected as vice chair, and Director Ed Oplinger was re-elected as secretary. • Discussed and accepted Policy 117 – Privacy And Confidentiality, with minor amendments. • Learned there were 105 new members in April. • Acknowledged the April safety report, listing employee training as well as minor 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 July 26 at Blanchard and 9 a.m. on Aug. 23 at Portland. However, at the time of this printing, some of our meetings are temporarily being conducted remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Members who wish to have items considered on the board agenda should call 517-647-7554.

People Fund Grants Over $17,500 To Families And Organizations In Need Meeting remotely on June 9, our People Fund board made eight grants totaling $17,690, including: • $5,000 to Feeding America in Comstock Park, for mobile food pantry products; • $5,000 to Helping Hands of Eaton County, to purchase personal care items; • $3,000 to the Portland Backpacks for Bellies program, to purchase food for weekend lunches for kids; • $2,925 to the Chippewa-Martiny Fire Department, for fire gear, boots, and gloves; • $1,000 to a Mecosta County family, to help cover the cost of a back-up generator; • $381 to a Montcalm County family, to help pay for a wellness test and prescriptions;

• $275 to the YMCA in Ionia, for third-grade swim safety class supplies; and • $109 to an Isabella County family, to help cover rent 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 Aug. 24 for the September meeting or by Oct. 5 for the October meeting.


Foraging for Mushroom Houses By Emily Haines Lloyd || Photography by Mike Barton


hen you turn the corner to the charming cul-de-sac and first spy the houses perched one after the other at an almost fairy-tale level—words like charming and quaint are almost impossible not to use. It harkens to Middle Earth or Narnia, and one expects hobbits, dwarves, or fauns to wander out and offer you a cup of tea and biscuits after your long journey. However, these homes designed by architect Earl Young, often referred to as the Mushroom Houses, aren’t found in storybooks or magical forests, but rather right in the heart of Charlevoix, Michigan. And one doesn’t need a magic wardrobe or ruby slippers to reach them—they are available to visit in small electric GEM vehicles, complete with a tour guide. Edith Pair owned an art gallery for years in Young’s Weathervane building and was flooded with curious 14 JULY/AUGUST 2021

out-of-towners trying to find “the mushroom houses” (dubbed for the curvy, overhanging rooftops)— something they’d been told not to miss while in town. “It was a lightbulb moment. I just thought, I could take people to see them,” said Pair. “We started with walking tours in 2006, then got into horse and carriage setup, and now we have our GEM cars. It’s so great to be able to take people around and tell them about this really interesting

notoriously low ceilings, presumably because he himself was fairly short. Pair would love to include more interiors in future tours, but for now, people still get to enjoy the one-ofa-kind spectacle of the Mushroom Houses. “It’s a privilege to share the stories,” said Pair. “I’ve seen some people hop on the tour prepared to be bored, but once they hear the stories, see the stones that were almost magically moved and maneuvered—everyone becomes mesmerized. Even me, still, after all this time.” The houses offer whimsical views and rich stories, and are a testament to “Stones have their own personalities. Young’s own inner voice People say I’m crazy when I say so, but that encouraged his desire to build something unique they really do.” –Earl Young and lasting. Each home has its own character, easy to spot. His buildings feature and the man who built them believed wide, flowing eaves, exposed beams their natural elements were the magic and rafters, and a horizontal design behind the masonry. that harkens a bit to Frank Lloyd Wright. “Stones have their own personalities,” Young told a reporter for the Detroit Free Press in 1973. “People say I’m “My dad knew Earl Young,” said Pair. crazy when I say so, but they really do.” “There are so many great stories about his work. He used boulders up to several tons, which he’d haul out of the lake with workhorses and chains. I mean, can you imagine?”

piece of artful architecture and history we have in Charlevoix, and then give them tips on some other things they should see or do while in town.” Pair’s tours give a wide range of information on Young’s unique journey to his vocation, as well as a look at all of the houses in town. Earl Young grew up in Charlevoix, a self-taught architect and builder who constructed 26 residential homes and four commercial properties. He notoriously scavenged Northern Michigan for large boulders, limestone, and fieldstone, and constructed his unique structures to blend in with their natural surroundings. Given that his career lasted over 50 years and he built well into the 1970s, Young’s homes are

Pair isn’t alone in her wonder and amazement at what Young managed to accomplish with the tools and machinery available to him. Mike Seitz, a South African architect, came from his home in Texas to visit his wife’s parents in Charlevoix. Once he caught sight of the Mushroom Houses, he couldn’t leave until he bought one. His reimagining of four houses, including one designed by Young’s daughter, Virginia Olsen, garnered some attention, particularly as he imported thatched roof specialists from Europe to install natural, yet durable, rooftops. The four Young properties sit dispersed, each different while sharing the imaginative design of the bold architect. Each one is bespoke, with exposed rock and beams, and available to rent for private stays. Guests should be prepared to duck occasionally, as Young’s Mushroom Houses have

Photographer Mike Barton has colorfully captured the Mushroom Houses of Charlevoix in this hardcover book that features more than 190 photographs. To purchase a copy of the book, visit: http://www.amzn.com/0989926877

For more information or to schedule a tour, visit: MushroomHouseTours.com /MushroomHouseTours @MushroomHouseTours



Brewing Up Positivity At

The Corner Cup

By Emily Haines Lloyd

Many people start their day with a cup of joe to kick things off. But what Julia Raglin and the folks at The Corner Cup in Remus, Michigan, are serving up is more than a jolt of caffeine—it’s sincere smiles and good vibes disguised cleverly in a coffee mug.


n some ways, Raglin’s dream of owning a coffee shop started when she left her hometown of Remus, headed to college, and discovered the joy of meeting friends or studying at local coffee shops. “There weren’t coffee shops in Remus,” said Raglin, a Tri-County Electric Cooperative member. “So the fireplaces, cool music, quiet chatter of a coffee house—it became one of my favorite places to go while I was in school and even after as I moved around a bit.” When Raglin graduated from college, got married, and eventually moved back to her hometown, she felt lucky to stay home and raise her kids. “It was such a blessing that I was able to be home with the kids while they were little,” said Raglin. “But lots of stay-at-home parents, and me included, wow—you just need a sanity break for even just 20 minutes when your partner comes home.” This was, in some ways, the beginning of The Corner Cup—a welcoming place for those who needed a small, soul-nourishing break in their day. Once her kids headed off to school, Raglin knew she wanted to get back into the workforce, and suddenly the dream of the coffee shop settled in a bit deeper with the availability of a building on the corner of M-66 and Arthur Road, near Chippewa Hills High School. Chippewa Hills is one of the largest school districts in the state, with the smaller towns of Barryton, Mecosta, and Weidman converging with Remus for classes, rehearsals, and sporting practices and events. M-66 and Arthur is a buzzing intersection by any standards. If we believe the old adage—“location, location, location,”—then The Corner Cup is situated

“ Our community has been the best part of this journey. They have showed up for us in such a massive way.” wonderfully for morning drop-off coffees or a beverage break and boutique perusal while waiting for kids to finish up after-school activities. While Raglin feels like the perfectly situated locale has certainly helped her business succeed, particularly as it faced COVID-19 just three months after its opening in January 2020, Raglin has a sneaking suspicion there is a greater force behind her success. “Our community has been the best part of this journey,” said Raglin. “They have showed up for us in such a massive way. Supporting small businesses, swinging by the drive-thru, and tipping our wonderful staff during tough times— it’s just such a great sense of support.” While Raglin and her team know or quickly recognize the majority of the folks who wander in to either grab-n-go or browse the boutique, strangers are treated as friends. This sense of welcome and genuine joy in seeing who will walk through the door next is probably why so many Michigan Country Lines readers submitted the coffee house’s name for Best Coffee Shop in our recent poll. If you’re looking for some percolating positivity, The Corner Cup and Julia Raglin are proof of the power of community, the power of connection, and perhaps, the power of coffee to bring it all together.

The Corner Cup’s boutique offers a platform for local artisans and craftspeople to showcase their handiwork on consignment. If you’re interested in submitting your unique and creative creations for consideration, reach out to thecornercup1@gmail.com with a bit of information about yourself and some photos of your offerings.

2963 Arthur Rd., Remus, Mich. 49340 989-272-2297 /thecornercup @thecornercupcoffeehouse


Win a


Where In Michigan Is This?

energy bill credit!

Identify the correct location of the photo to the left by July 20 and be entered into a drawing to win a $50 electric bill credit. Enter your guess at countrylines.com/community. May 2021 Winner! Our Mystery Photo winner is Tim Budnik, a Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op member, who correctly identified the photo as Fort Gratiot Lighthouse in Port Huron. Photo by Michael Herbon. Winners are announced in the following issues of Country Lines: January, March, May, July/August, September, and November/December.


Each year, 3,800 people in the U.S. die from drowning. Electric shock drowning occurs when an electric current escapes boats, docks, and lights near marinas, shocking nearby swimmers. There are no visible signs of current seeping into water, which makes this a hidden danger. The electric shock paralyzes swimmers, making them unable to swim to safety.


Boat Owners

• Never swim near a boat or launching ramp. Residual current could flow into the water from the boat or the marina’s wiring, potentially putting anyone in the water at risk of electric shock.

• Ensure your boat is properly maintained and consider having it inspected annually. GFCIs and ELCIs should be tested monthly. Conduct leakage testing to determine if electrical current is escaping the vessel.

• If you feel any tingling sensations while in the water, tell someone and swim back in the direction from which you came. Immediately report it to the dock or marina owner.

• Use portable GFCIs or shore power cords (including “Y” adapters) that are “UL-Marine Listed” when using electricity near water. • Regularly have your boat’s electrical system inspected by a certified marine electrician. Ensure it meets your local and state NEC, NFPA, and ABYC safety codes.




CALL 911

DO NOT enter the water. You could become a victim, too. Sources: Electrical Safety Foundation International, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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