COUNTRY LINES Midwest Energy & Communications
Your Home Team ELECTRIC
WATERFURNACE UNITS QUALIFY FOR A 26% FEDERAL TAX CREDIT THROUGH 2022
Saving is believing.
Think you can’t afford a geothermal heat pump? After a closer look, you may be surprised at its overall affordability. Tax rebates can quickly bring down the initial costs of purchase and installation. And a geothermal heat pump is much cheaper to run than the most efficient furnaces and air conditioners. In fact, your energy bills can be cut by as much as 70%. As a result, many geothermal homeowners see a return on investment of 10-20% over the life of their system. When you crunch the numbers, you’ll see WaterFurnace is the money-saving choice. To learn more, contact your local WaterFurnace dealer today. Geothermal is the only renewable that provides reliable operation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Your Local WaterFurnace Dealers Bad Axe/Cass City Thumb Clg & Htg (855) 206-5457 thumbcooling andheating.com Berrien Springs WaterFurnace Michiana (269) 473-5667 gogreenmich geothermal.com Big Rapids Stratz Htg & Clg, Inc. (231) 796-3717 stratzgeocomfort.com
Clifford Orton Refrig & Htg (989) 761-7691 sanduskygeothermal.com Hart Adams Htg & Clg (231) 873-2665 adamsheatingcooling.com Indian River M & M Plmb & Htg (231) 238-7201 mm-plumbing.com
Mancelona Top Notch Htg, Clg, & Geothermal (231) 350-8052 topnotchheatandair.com Michigan Center Comfort 1/Aire Serv of Southern Michigan (517) 764-1500 aireserv.com/ southern-michigan Mt Pleasant Walton Htg & Clg (989) 772-4822 waltonheating.com
Muskegon Adams Htg & Clg (231) 873-2665 adamsheatingcooling.com
Traverse City D & W Mechanical (231) 941-1215 dwgeothermal.com
Portland ESI Htg & Clg (517) 647-6906 esiheating.com
Geofurnace Htg & Clg (231) 943-1000 watergeofurnace.com
Sunfield Mark Woodman Plmb & Htg (517) 886-1138 mwphonline.com
visit us at waterfurnace.com
The Reliable Renewable is a trademark of WaterFurnace International, Inc.
July/August 2021 Vol. 41, No. 7
Michigan’s Electric Cooperatives
EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Casey Clark EDITOR: Christine Dorr
GRAPHIC DESIGNER: Karreen Bird
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 email@example.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.
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)
Use #micoopcommunity for a chance to be featured here and on our Instagram account.
MI CO-OP COMMUNITY
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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
VAN BUREN KALAMAZOO
Living An Intentional Culture
Robert Hance, President/CEO
teammidwest.com /teammidwest CORPORATE HEADQUARTERS AND CASSOPOLIS SOLUTIONS CENTER 60590 Decatur Road, Cassopolis, MI 49031 M–F 8 a.m.–5 p.m.
PAW PAW SOLUTIONS CENTER 59825 S. LaGrave Street, Paw Paw, MI 49079 M–F 8 a.m.–5 p.m. ADRIAN SOLUTIONS CENTER 1610 E. Maumee Street, Adrian, MI 49221 M–F 8 a.m.–5 p.m. CONTACT US Midwest Energy & Communications 800-492-5989 teammidwest.com Email: email@example.com BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Clarence “Topper” Barth, Chairperson, Three Rivers 269-279-9233 Clarence.Barth@teammidwest.com
Ben Russell, Vice Chairperson, Constantine 269-506-1590 Ben.Russell@teammidwest.com Ron Armstrong, Secretary, Lawton 269-299-0443 Ron.Armstrong@teammidwest.com John Green, Treasurer, Dowagiac 269-470-2816 John.Green@teammidwest.com Dan Bodette, Wauseon 419-337-8007 Dan.Bodette@teammidwest.com
Gerry Bundle, Cassopolis 269-414-0164 Gerry.Bundle@teammidwest.com
James Dickerson, Bloomingdale 269-370-6868 Jim.Dickerson@teammidwest.com
Erika Escue-Cadieux, Onsted 419-346-1088 firstname.lastname@example.org Fred Turk, Decatur 269-423-7762 Fred.Turk@teammidwest.com
PRESIDENT/CEO: Robert Hance
VP, CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS/EDITOR: Patty Nowlin COMMUNICATIONS SPECIALIST: Amy Pales
Midwest Energy & Communications is an equal opportunity provider and employer.
4 JULY/AUGUST 2021
did a bit of a happy dance on Monday, April 19—as much as a 65-year-old man can do a happy dance.
It was the day we brought all employees back to the office after our second transition to remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic. We first closed our lobbies and implemented remote work for employees who could effectively work from home on March 18, 2020, and resumed somewhat normal operations on June 8. As the second wave hit late in the year, we again implemented remote work procedures on Nov. 23, and that continued for five long months until April 19. We proved to be a strong and nimble organization over that 13-month period, implementing new norms and procedures to continue our critical work as an organization that provides energy and telecom solutions. I’m incredibly proud of our family of employees for rising to the occasion through adverse and unknown circumstances, maintaining the same commitment to providing first-in-class innovations and solutions through uncertain times. It was important and good to be part of the pandemic solution, and we reinvented ourselves in a lot of ways to accommodate safe practices and remote work, but it just wasn’t the same. Part of what makes us so effective is the synergy that we create when working as a team, and synergy simply can’t thrive when we’re physically separated. We’ve worked hard over the years to create an amazing corporate culture— a culture where we actively strive to achieve our audacious vision of creating vibrant, relevant, and sustainable rural communities. Delivering first-in-class innovations and solutions where others won’t doesn’t happen by accident, but rather is a result of a dynamic family of employees committed to transforming the rural space and experience. I suspect most companies experience an “accidental culture” where employee behavior drives organizational norms. A strong corporate culture requires intention and strategy, and over recent years we’ve been very intentional about creating a culture in which employees are committed to our mission and vision, and embrace our core values of integrity, community, innovation, and passion. In fact, during our hiring process, we look not only for specific skillsets and experience, but also cultural fit. If you’re simply looking for a paycheck and benefits and are not interested in living out our vision and mission, then MEC is not the place for you. We’re growing, and fast. Over the period of remote work through the present, we’ve added over 20 new employees, some filling vacant roles and some new additions to accommodate our fiber growth. Once upon a time, I knew all employees by name, but today as I walk the halls, I see a lot of unfamiliar faces. Yet I rest in the knowledge that they are as committed to what we do and why as I am, because that’s the way we grow our family.
“ A strong corporate culture requires intention and strategy, and over recent years we’ve been very intentional about creating a culture in which employees are committed to our mission and vision, and embrace our core values of integrity, community, innovation, and passion.”
BE AWARE AND STAY SAFE THIS SUMMER HEAT EXHAUSTION Faint or dizzy
HEAT STROKE Throbbing headache, confusion
Cool, pale, clammy skin
Body temperature above 103° Red, hot, dry skin
Nausea or vomiting
Nausea or vomiting
Rapid, weak pulse
Rapid, strong pulse
•G et to a cooler, air-conditioned place •D rink water if fully conscious •T ake cool shower or use cold compresses
May lose consciousness
CALL 911 • Move person to cooler place • Cool using cloths or bath • Do not give anything to drink
FIREWORKS SAFETY TIPS Fireworks and summer go hand in hand, and we want you to have a safe, fun-ﬁlled season! Keep these safety tips in mind:
Make sure ﬁreworks are legal in your community before using them. Never buy professional-grade ﬁreworks. They are not designed for safe consumer use. Keep small children a safe distance from all ﬁreworks, including sparklers, which can burn at temperatures in excess of 2,000 degrees. Never reignite or handle malfunctioning ﬁreworks. Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose nearby to thoroughly soak duds before throwing them away. Keep pets indoors and away from ﬁreworks to avoid contact injuries or noise reactions.
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.
MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES
FREE And Easy Home Energy-Saving Solutions Large Appliance Evaluation and Replacement H ow often do you get free and easy opportunities to save you money on utility bills and reduce energy use? Probably not very often. You will find that the Energy Optimization program provides these kinds of opportunities to help you with energy-saving solutions for your home at no cost—and it’s easy to get started.
If your household meets the income eligibility guidelines below, you could receive FREE energy-saving products and services. Qualified households have two options to improve the energy performance of their homes. Option 1: FREE product kit of energy-saving items, delivered to your home with instructions for installation.
Based on their in-home consultation, some customers may be qualified for assistance to upgrade larger, inefficient appliances, such as refrigerators. If they are considered highly inefficient, you could receive a new replacement at no cost.
Eligibility Requirements To qualify for the Energy Optimization program, your household must meet the following income guidelines. Gross annual income is the combined total income of all household members before taxes.
Gross Annual Income
Option 2: FREE in-home consultation and product kit, with direct installation of energy-saving products by a qualified energy professional.
Product kits may include energy-saving items like: • • • •
LED bulbs LED night-lights Smart power strip Water-saving fixtures (only in select kits)
A trained professional can help identify areas where additional energy savings are possible. During the consultation, the representative will bring and install the energy-efficient products in the free product kit and will offer tips for saving energy.
Note: For families/households with more than 8 persons, add $9,080 for each additional person.
To find out if you qualify for Energy Optimization programs or to learn more, call 877-296-4319 or visit michigan-energy.org.
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
CONTACT US TODAY FOR PROGRAM ELIGIBILITY INFORMATION. michigan-energy.org • 877.296.4319
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.
Strengthening Schools Grant
Bringing Education To Life Emmalynn Wright caring for a baby chick.
Burton Crabtree holding a baby chick born in the classroom.
Ann Smith’s class at Marcellus Elementary created some fun memories while learning about animals this past school year. In the fall, the students studied the life cycles of a wild cat, frog, and chicken. Then, in the spring, the lessons came to life.
became responsible for feeding and providing water for the chicks in his classroom. The other students participated by periodically holding the chicks who lived in a brood box at the front of the room until they became big enough to go home.
With funds from a Strengthening Schools Grant, Smith purchased two egg incubators, heat lamps, bedding, and food so that her students could experience firsthand how life begins for chickens. They started with 43 eggs and waited patiently until about 21 days later, when Elvis Presley, Cheeto, Larry the Cable Chick, and several other chickens pecked their way into the world.
“This has been an incredible project, and the kids have been so excited throughout the whole experience. Incubation is a very delicate process. Humidity and temperature must be exactly right at all times, and it was very valuable for the students to experience that.” said Smith. In fact, the project was so popular that the preschool borrowed one of the incubators to make a brood of their own, and even some high schoolers got in on the action when a couple of chicks visited their classroom for a day. “They enjoyed it as much as the younger kids. All this education and enjoyment is thanks to MEC,” stated Smith.
“I really like watching them develop and hatch,” said third-grader Burton Crabtree. A chicken-hatching “pro,” Burton’s family has 30 chickens of their own, and he’s worked with hatchlings for four years. As a result, Burton
2021–2022 Applications: Through Monday, Oct. 18, any teacher, administrator, or school official in a public elementary, middle, or high school serving students in our electric service territory may apply for a grant of up to $2,500 to support classroom needs, technology, or academic projects/clubs/organizations. School districts can receive multiple grants not to exceed $5,000 for the award cycle, and funds will be awarded in January 2022. Funds are made possible through sponsorship dollars from our power supplier, Wolverine Power Cooperative, and winning grants are determined by a panel of MEC customers without the knowledge of the applying school or educator. Noah Gonder (left) and Austin Vickery take a peek at incubation in action.
Apply now at teammidwest.com/grants
MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES
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
RECIPE CONTEST Win a
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 email@example.com.
10 JULY/AUGUST 2021
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’S BED & BREAKFAST OATMEAL
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.
MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES
MEET OUR 2021
SCHOL ARSHIP WINNERS We recently recognized four local students’ academic achievements, leadership, and community involvement with our annual college scholarship program. “Investing in our youth is one great way to achieve our vision of vibrant, relevant, and sustainable rural communities. Our scholarship program recognizes today’s student and tomorrow’s community leaders,” said Patty Nowlin, vice president of corporate communications. $1,000 scholarships were recently awarded to the following students whose families are MEC customers:
daughter of Rob and Jennifer Adams and senior at Three Rivers High School, where she’s been active with marching and symphony bands, choir, and theater. She served as drum major of the marching band and was awarded the Robert L. Smith and Brian K. Shetterly Awards for outstanding musicianship, leadership, and service. Madelyn plans to study wildlife biology/zoology at Kalamazoo Valley Community College.
daughter of Alyse Copley and senior at Three Rivers High School, where she’s been active with soccer, cross country, track and field, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, marching and symphony bands, the Kindness Club, the Legacy Ambassador program, and the National Honor Society. Mikayla volunteers with numerous community service projects and programs, and she plans to study biology/pre-med at the University of Notre Dame.
Emily Adrina, daughter of Eric and Melissa Adrina and senior at Edwardsburg High School, where she’s been active with choir and theater, concert band, SADD, National Honor Society, and student council. She is the senior class vice president and 2021 valedictorian, and she has won numerous awards in the VFW Voice of Democracy contest. Emily plans to study speech pathology at Saint Mary’s College.
daughter of Jason and Lara Taylor and senior at Three Rivers High School, where she’s been active with volleyball, golf, basketball, soccer, track, marching and symphony bands, choir and theater, National Honor Society, and Student Council, serving as president and vice president. Illyanna also volunteers with numerous community service projects and programs, and she plans to study biomedical science and business management at Grand Valley State University.
High school seniors whose families receive monthly service from Midwest Energy & Communications (MEC) at their primary residence are eligible to apply for our scholarship program. The application period is January through mid-March every year. Selection for the scholarship is based on the video submission along with academic performance, extracurricular activities, community involvement, employment, and/ or honors and awards. A minimum cumulative grade-point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale is required, and an official transcript must be submitted for final approval.
Check teammidwest.com/scholarship in January for more information.
SAVE THE DATE Our Customer Appreciation Event Is Back! Join us for a night at the drive-in.
5 MILE DRIVE-IN THEATER Dowagiac, Mich.
CAPRI DRIVE-IN THEATER Coldwater, Mich.
Sep. 18, 2021 Doors open at 6 p.m. Movies start at 8 p.m. Two movies shown at both locations Stay tuned for more details and RSVP info in August. teammidwest.com/customer-appreciation
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
MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES
FIBER INTERNET OPEN HOUSE WHEN
July 15, Aug. 19, Sept. 16 4–7 p.m.
Cassopolis Solutions Center 60590 Decatur Rd. Cassopolis, MI 49031
MEC staff will be available from 4–7 p.m. to answer your questions and help you sign up for service. • LEARN how FIBER internet is different from other platforms and how we’re different from other providers. • TEST-DRIVE our service with your own device or one of ours.
Save Energy In Your Laundry Room • Wash with cold water: Switching from warm water to cold water can cut one load’s energy use by more than half. • Wash full loads: Your washing machine uses the same amount of energy no matter the size of the clothes load, so fill it up. • Use the highest spin speed: Doing so removes more moisture from your clothes, reducing drying time. • Dry heavier cotton separately: Loads dry faster and more evenly.
Explore Michigan.org Michigan customers: This website is your one-stop shop for all things energy efficiency. Learn about ways to save money and apply for rebates on energyefficient appliances. You can also participate in free programs to help you assess and improve your home’s overall efficiency. Business and farm programs are available as well.
• Use the cool-down feature on your dryer: Clothes finish drying with the remaining heat in the dryer. • Dry on lower heat settings: Even if you dry for a longer amount of time, lower heat means less energy consumption. • Use dryer balls instead of dryer sheets: Dryer balls help keep clothes separated for faster drying. • Clean the lint filter after every load: Doing so helps reduce a potential fire hazard and improves air circulation. • Inspect your dryer vent periodically: This helps the machine run more efficiently and reduces fire hazards. Also, use rigid venting materials, not plastic. • Purchase ENERGY STAR® -rated washers and dryers. New washers and dryers that receive the ENERGY STAR® rating use about 20% less energy than conventional models.
Get smart about lighting. Smart light bulbs offer convenient control through voice commands or a smart phone app, and you can save additional energy (and money!) with LED options. Photo Credit: Philips
MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES 17
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.
HOW TO PREVENT ELECTRIC SHOCK DROWNING
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.
ELECTRICAL SAFETY TIPS FOR: Swimmers
• 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.
IF YOU SEE ELECTRIC SHOCK DROWNING TAKING PLACE:
TURN POWER OFF
THROW A LIFE RING
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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