June 2019 HomeWorks

Page 1

June 2019


COUNTRY LINES HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative

St. Julian Wine Co.



2019 District Meeting Fun

All In The Family Tree At Maple Rapids Lumber $15,000 Granted To Local Charities

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In This Issue June 2019 || Vol. 39, No. 6

Michigan’s Electric Cooperatives





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Your photo could be featured here.

Executive Editor: Casey Clark Editor: Christine Dorr Copy Editor: Heidi Spencer

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Design and Production: Karreen Bird 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 are Robert Kran, Great Lakes Energy, chairman; Mark Kappler, HomeWorks Tri-County Electric, vice chairman; and Eric Baker, Wolverine Power Cooperative, secretarytreasurer. Craig Borr is 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 countrylines.com


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.

Come share in the splendor of rural Michigan with us

michigancountrylines Life is simple when you just add water. Photo by: @j.mcveigh.52 #fawnlakemi

ON THE COVER St. Julian Wine Co. in Paw Paw, Mich. has been owned and operated by the same family for four generations. Their passion for local farms, real Michigan fruit, and the production of quality wine and juice has been upheld for nearly 100 years. St. Julian Wine Co. is the most-awarded winery in Michigan. Read the full story on page 14.



14 FEATURE St. Julian Wine Co.— Legacy Along The Lake Emily Haines Lloyd

18 MI CO-OP COMMUNITY Best Of Michigan Ice Cream

Here’s the scoop on the best places for ice cream in Michigan from co-op members!

Shades Of Lavender—A Dream Come True Janene Rawlinson, Midwest Energy & Communications member The Rawlinsons share their journey of owning Shades of Lavender Farm in Mattawan, Michigan. Learn all about what this unique farm has to offer on page 6.

Win $150 for stories published!

10 MI CO-OP KITCHEN Garden-Fresh Recipes To Enjoy All Summer

Guest Column:

Christin McKamey & Our Readers

Enjoy this refreshing Melon & Proscuitto Skewers recipe from St. Julian Wine Co. to go along with their 2018 Chambourcin Rosé. Enter Our Recipe Contest And Win A $50 Bill Credit!

Country Lines invites members to submit their fond memories and stories. For guidelines and to submit your guest column go to countrylines.com under the MI Co-op Community tab.













A Legacy To Be Thankful For


Mark Kappler, General Manager


Portland office/Mail payments to: 7973 E. Grand River Avenue Portland, MI 48875 Open 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday–Friday Blanchard office: 3681 Costabella Avenue 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 homeworks.org Email: tricoenergy@homeworks.org

Board of Directors District 1 — John Lord 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 Vice-Chairman 7655 N. Watson Rd., Elsie, MI 48831 517-256-5233 cbatora@homeworks.org District 6 — Ed Oplinger Secretary-Treasurer 10890 W. Weidman Road, 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 Editors: C harly Markwart Jayne Graham, CCC

Join us on Facebook. facebook.com/homeworks.org 4 JUNE 2019


ur friend, Richard Palermo, passed away on April 18. Rich was a good man, one of the nicest people I could hope to have in my personal or professional life. You may not have known Rich personally, but if your life was ever touched in any way by a family or organization grant from the Tri-County Electric People Fund, you benefited from his compassion and care for others. Rich served as chairman of the People Fund board of directors since its inception in 1993 until he retired last August due to his health issues. For 25 years, Rich had a steady hand in leading the board, and he embodied a real passion for serving his community in so many ways. Rich was a retired welfare fraud manager for the State of Michigan; member of St. Michael Catholic Church in Grand Ledge; 3rd and 4th Degree and past Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus. He was Oneida Township Treasurer for 12 years; president of the Tri-County Electric People Fund for 25 years; and also volunteered as a board member for the Grand Ledge Emergency Assistance Program (GLEAP) and a committee member for the Grand Ledge Opera House Authority. He was also devoted to his family; he is survived by his wife of 20 years, Desiree (Pontz), sons Chad Hines (Trista Lake), Ryan (Elodie) Hines, daughters Jullie (Andy) Bishop, Karen (Alan) Hughes; seven grandchildren: Pheonix, Tristan, Elliot, Kaila, Gabrielle, John, and Valerie; great-granddaughter Lyla, and sister Carolyn (Bill) McGuire. When we visited him several weeks ago, he mentioned so many times how much it meant to him to have been part of the People Fund. We can say the same, Rich: the People Fund would not have been the same without you.

Richard Palermo didn’t just vote on grant applications or help deliver the checks. Here, he rolled up his sleeve for a bone marrow drive that took place at our Portland office thanks to the People Fund.

What went into the making of another great District Meeting season? Fam ily F un e Updat p o o C

Good C ompan y


ou With Y p i h s w Fello

y ocrac Dem

Prizes! Our annual District Membership Meetings took place May 13-22 this year. As always, we enjoyed seeing so many of you and having the opportunity to inform you of what your Co-op has been up to over the past year. Thank you to those who attended. We hope you had fun!


MI CO-OP Community


By Janene Rawlinson, Midwest Energy & Communications member Photos: Jamie Rose Photography


magine rows of purple flowers and the scent of lavender in the air. In addition to its beauty, lavender is sought after for its medicinal properties, fragrance, and use in food and beverages. You can enjoy all things lavender at our inviting Shades of Lavender Farm in Mattawan, Michigan. My husband, Scott, and I own the lavender farm. It’s a story that started out very unromantic and somewhere along the way turned into a blessing that we never expected. It all began with Scott’s statement, “We need to make this land work for us.” I began to research what types of plants grow well in our soil conditions. And when lavender popped up, I became intrigued. I was a full-time dental hygienist at the time, and also going to school for my bachelor’s degree in business. I figured that I would kill two birds with one stone and do my business plan on lavender farming. I quickly became enamored with the history, versatility and benefits of lavender. I was hooked. Fast-forward four years, and our entire world has changed into something most people only get to dream about. We opened to the public in June 2018, and the response from customers has been nothing short of phenomenal. We offer u-pick lavender during the high season of June and July. We also have a farm market full of handcrafted bath and body products.

6 JUNE 2019

Visitors can watch us make the products at the shop with lavender harvested on our farm.


Want to try a lavender treat? Our certified kitchen allows us to make amazing lavender recipes. The shop is open for most of the year, closing in January and portions of the winter. The blissful aromas in our shop are worth the trip anytime of the year! We have over 1,200 lavender plants in the ground, featuring 12 different varieties. The flowing fields are absolutely beautiful when in full bloom, with colors ranging from white to deep purple. There is a constant calming hum from the thousands of happy honeybees that flutter from one plant to the next. Our beekeeper, Stacy, tends to our bees, and they, in turn, help us make sweet lavender honey. Our mission for the farm is to provide a warm, inviting, tranquil destination for our community to enjoy where the atmosphere creates peace and calm. Our farm is a place that friends and family gather together making memories that last a lifetime. We strive to unlock the beautiful wonders of nature through teaching, listening, resting and play. We would love to welcome you to Shades of Lavender Farm. Visit shadesoflavenderfarm.com to plan a visit. 47222 24th Street, Mattawan, Mich. 269-668-5267 : @shadesoflavenderfarm

Lavender Honey Cookies 1½ sticks (¾ cup) butter 1 cup white sugar—— plus more for the top of cookies 1 tablespoon culinary lavender buds

¼ 1 1 2 2 ½

Enjoy this sweet cookie recipe from our kitchen to yours.

cup honey egg teaspoon vanilla extract cups flour teaspoons baking soda teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 F. Place the white sugar and culinary lavender into a blender and pulse until the lavender is ground into tiny bits. Pour this mixture into a large mixing bowl. Put the butter into a microwavable bowl, cover and microwave for 10-second intervals until melted. Do not overheat. Add the melted butter and the honey into the mixing bowl along with the lavender sugar. Beat until fully mixed. Add one egg at a time, beating well between each and then add the vanilla. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking soda and salt. Stir until combined. Slowly incorporate the flour mixture into the wet ingredients. Place a cover over this and refrigerate for approximately 30 minutes. Scoop the dough onto a parchment lined baking tray using a small cookie dough scoop. Take a drinking glass and wet the bottom of the glass (you will only need to do this once). Put some sugar into a bowl. Dip the bottom of the glass into sugar. Gently press each cookie with the bottom of the glass so that it slightly flattens it. You will need to dip the glass into the sugar after each cookie. Bake cookies for 8–10 minutes. Cool and enjoy! @michigancountrylines

Learn How To Make

Lavender Lemonade The Rawlinsons often serve lavender lemonade to guests at their farm. To learn how to make this unique refreshment, check out @michigancountrylines on Instagram. Janene provides a step-by-step instructional demonstration in our “DIY” story highlight album.



Save Energy And Money On Home Water Heating


econd only to space heating and cooling, water heating is the next largest source of energy consumption in U.S. homes. We use hot water every day for showering, doing dishes, washing clothes, and a multitude of other tasks— and the cost to heat that water adds up, especially if you have a standard electric or propane water heater. While standard electric resistance water heaters are relatively inexpensive to purchase, they are costly to operate. On the other hand, heat pump water heaters cost more upfront, but provide significant savings over time. Advanced heat pump technology helps to slash electricity consumption by up to 70 percent. Why switch to a heat pump water heater? Heat pump water heaters are up to 3.7 times more efficient than a standard electric water heater. While they do use electricity, they use a fraction of the energy consumed by a standard electric water heater.

Additionally, heat pump water heaters provide: • Quick payback compared to standard electric (recoup the upfront cost within 2–3 years) • Electricity cost savings of 50 percent or more (compared to standard electric models) • Reliable hot water • Dehumidification of surrounding air • Flexible modes of operation to manage energy use and hot water output • Quiet operation Whether you’re building a new home or replacing an existing water heater, a heat pump water heater is a smart investment. Purchasing a new heat pump water heater is even more affordable now with a $500 cash incentive from the Energy Optimization program! Visit michigan-energy.org for more information, or call 877-296-4319 with any questions.

Soak in the

SAVINGS! With a new heat pump water heater. Efficiency – reduce energy consumption by 50% or more compared to standard electric water heaters Cost savings – a four-person household can save up to $330 a year in energy savings Quick payback – compared to standard electric. Recoup upfront costs in 2 - 3 years.

$500 REBATE available on qualified products

michigan-energy.org | 877-296-4319

Energy Optimization programs and incentives are applicable to Michigan electric service locations only. Other restrictions may apply. For a complete list of participating utilities, visit michigan-energy.org.

Snap Shot 1






Playing In The Water 1. Lindsay Uzarski from Remus shared this shot of Vienna fetching her toy at Beaver Island. 2. M onica Ketchum of Big Rapids reports son Zeke Ketchum loves playing in the sprinklers with daddy Jon Ketchum. 3. Jean Simon from Fowler sent in this photo of Novi Simon playing in the water (and mud!) after a summer rain. 4. Richard E. Perry of Troy (receives service at Lake Isabella) snapped this shot of grandson Tyler, 6, “sailing down the headwaters of the mighty Mississippi” in Rochester Hills. 5. Dawn Klee from Eaton Rapids says “This is how the middle-aged play in the water.” 6. Dana Hatfield of Weidman took this photo of the Hatfield children—— Quinn, Lexi, and Cuyler——enjoying some vacation time on the beaches of Lake Huron in Oscoda.

Upcoming Snap Shot Contest Topics And Deadlines

Enter to win a

“Sunrise/Sunset,” Deadline: July 15 (September issue)


energy bill credit!

“Favorite Costumes,” Deadline: Aug. 15 (October issue) Go to homeworks.org and select Country Lines under the Electric tab to submit your photos and see additional 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, Portland, MI 48875. Photos will not be returned. Do not send color laser prints or professional studio photos.

Submit Your Photos!

Contributors whose photos we publish in 2019 will be entered into a drawing. Country Lines will choose two winners for a bill credit of $100 each on their December electric bill, due in January 2020! MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES



Get more vegetables in your diet with these garden-fresh recipes. Photos by Robert Bruce Photography

Winning Recipe!

Cashew Sweet Potatoes And Peaches

Katherine Howell, Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op 6 1 ½ ¼ ½ ½ 3

medium sweet potatoes pound can sliced peaches, drained cup cashews teaspoon ground ginger teaspoon salt cup brown sugar tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 350 F. Peel and cook the sweet potatoes in boiling water until barely done. Cool and slice. Arrange the sweet potatoes, peaches and cashews in a buttered 9x13 baking dish. In a separate bowl mix the ginger, salt and brown sugar; crumble evenly over the sweet potatoes and peaches. Dot with butter. Bake covered for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake about 10 minutes longer. Serve immediately.

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

10 JUNE 2019

Swiss Vegetable Medley Becky Elliott, Cherryland

1 pound bag (frozen) broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots, cooked and drained 1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup 1 cup shredded Swiss cheese ½ cup sour cream ¼ teaspoon black pepper 1 jar chopped pimentos, drained 2.8 ounce can french fried onions Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine cooked vegetables, soup, half cup of cheese, sour cream, pepper, pimentos, and half can of onions. Pour into a 1-quart casserole dish and bake uncovered 30 minutes. Top with remaining cheese and onions. Bake 5 minutes longer. Enjoy!

Summer Breeze

Katie Swank, Great Lakes Energy 2 cups quinoa, rinsed and drained, cooked according to package (*can use chicken broth or vegetable broth as the liquid to cook the quinoa) 16 ounces black beans, drained 1 onion, finely chopped 1 bulb garlic, minced 1 tablespoon fresh chives, finely chopped (can substitute with dried chives, but use less) 1 orange bell pepper, diced • salt and pepper to taste 2–3 tomatoes, chopped or use grape or cherry tomatoes 1 large English cucumber, diced 1–2 avocados, pitted, peeled and slivered or diced • shredded white cheese, optional • feta cheese, optional • grilled chicken, or sausages, optional

Easy Cheesy Rotini Salad

Katie Schneider, Midwest Energy & Communications 1 2 1 1 ¼ 1 ½ 2

(16-ounce) package rotini pasta cups cherry or grape tomatoes colored bell pepper, chopped large cucumber, diced cup red onion, chopped (16-ounce) bottle Italian-style salad dressing cup grated Parmesan cheese tablespoons salad seasoning, store-bought or homemade (see below)


GUEST CHEF Rinse, drain and cook quinoa according to directions on package. In a small saucepan, heat black beans. Sauté onion, garlic, chives and pepper in a skillet until tender, with salt and pepper to taste. Mix into cooked quinoa and keep warm. Chop tomatoes, cucumber, and avocados, placing each in separate serving bowls. To serve, top quinoa mixture with black beans, chopped tomatoes, cucumbers and avocado with salt and pepper to taste. Optional, sprinkle with shredded cheese and feta and serve with grilled chicken or sausage of your choice (recommended: chicken spinach-feta sausage). Salad Seasoning: 1 tablespoon sesame seed 1 teaspoon paprika 1 teaspoon poppy seed 1 teaspoon celery seed 1½ teaspoons salt ½ teaspoon garlic powder ½ teaspoon ground black pepper Stir all salad seasoning ingredients together in bowl and store in an air-tight container. Bring 4 quarts of water to a rapid boil. Add rotini pasta. Return water to a rapid boil and cook uncovered, stirring frequently, for about 10 to 12 minutes. Drain pasta; rinse in cold water. Combine cooked pasta with tomatoes, bell pepper, cucumber, red onion, salad seasoning, Parmesan cheese and half of the Italian salad dressing. Add more dressing if desired. Cover and chill. Toss salad before serving. Can be made the night before and stored in the refrigerator.

Tailgating Favorites: due July 1 Venison: due August 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 micoopkitchen.com for more information and to register.

Enter to win a


energy bill credit!

Wine and food pairings are a match made in culinary heaven. This summer, enjoy this offering from St. Julian Wine Co. as an appetizer or light dinner with a side salad along with their 2018 Chambourcin Rosé—— a fruity dry rosé is a perfect complement to this sweet and salty appetizer.

Melon & Proscuitto Skewers 1 medium cantaloupe, cut into 1-inch cubes ¼ pound thinly sliced prosciutto 20 small mozzarella balls • Fresh basil for garnish • Balsamic reduction for drizzle garnish • Wooden appetizer skewers

Balsamic Reduction 1 cup balsamic vinegar 1 tablespoon Honey Combine balsamic vinegar and honey over low heat until it starts to simmer. Gently cook until it reduces by half, about 15 minutes. Then thread onto small wooden cocktail skewers prosciutto, mozzarella, and melon cubes. Place on a serving platter and sprinkle with chopped basil and drizzle with balsamic reduction. Read the full story about St. Julian Wine Co. on page 14, and find this recipe and others at micoopkitchen.com.



Your Board In Action Meeting at Blanchard on April 22, your board of directors: • Authorized an addition to the 2019 budget, to allow for hiring an additional apprentice lineworker due to the heavy workload. • Approved a discount rate of 6.30 percent for 2019 estate retirement requests. • Discussed and accepted Board Policies 504 – Economic & Community Development; 505 – Cooperative Purchasing, with one wording change; and 506 – Dispute Resolution.

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

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 Monday, June 24, at Portland, and Monday, July 22, at Blanchard. Members who need directions to the meeting, or wish to have items considered on the board agenda, should call 517-647-7554.

• Learned there were 87 new members in March.

Your Spare Change Helps Area Families On April 17, the Tri-County Electric People Fund made seven grants totaling $9,372, including: • $275 to the Adult Handicap Program, Charlotte, for their handicap bowling program; • $1,500 to Helping Hands of Eaton County, Charlotte, to supply personal care items for clients; • $500 to Fremont Township Fire Department, Winn, to purchase rapid search bag kits; • $1,257 to a Mecosta County family, to pay property taxes and housing expenses; • $340 to a Montcalm County family, to help with housing expenses; • $500 to another Montcalm County family, to assist with housing expenses; and

• $5,000 to the Portland Area Service Group, for flood damage repairs. These grants are possible because HomeWorks members voluntarily round up their monthly energy bills to the next dollar, and the spare change is donated to the People Fund for purposes like these.

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 Avenue, Portland, MI. 48875, for an application form and grant guidelines, or visit the People Fund tab at homeworks.org. Note: Applications must be received by July 2 for the July board meeting, and by Aug. 20 for the August board meeting.

Notice to Members of HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative A Special Member Meeting is set for June 24, 9 a.m., at the Cooperative’s Portland office The board of directors will consider several changes to the Cooperative’s rates and tariffs at its meeting on June 24, 2019, to be held at the Cooperative office at 7973 Grand River Avenue, Portland, Mich. The meeting will start at 9 a.m. and is open to all members of HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative. 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. Members are asked to come to the lobby by 9 a.m. and request to speak to the board; staff will direct interested 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 items will be considered: 1. Discuss participation in the State of Michigan’s Low Income Energy Assistance program at the cost of a surcharge, to be determined by the state, on each residential customer’s monthly energy bill. 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 handicapped parking. Persons needing any accommodation to participate should contact HomeWorks Tri-County Electric at 800-5628232 a week in advance to request mobility, visual, hearing or other assistance. Comments may also be made before the meeting date by calling General Manager Mark Kappler at 517-647-1281, or by email at mkappler@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.

12 JUNE 2019

$15,000 Donated to Local Charities

HomeWorks was able to present three local charities with $5,000 donations in May, thanks to $2,500 matching grants from one of our lenders, CoBank. The donations went to RAVE (Relief After Violent Encounter) of Ionia/Montcalm counties (top right), the St. Vincent de Paul (SVDP) ministry of St. Michael Parish in Grand Ledge (bottom left), and the Portland Backpacks for Bellies program (bottom right). The SVDP donation was in honor of the late Rich Palermo, our longtime People Fund director and member of St. Michael Parish, who passed away in April.

Tri-County Propane • Comfort & reliability for your home • Same great HomeWorks service • Capped winter rates with no hidden fees • Metered service option • Auto-fill service available • Convenient payment options

This service is not regulated by the Michigan Public Service Commission.


CALL 877-574-2740 TO LEARN MORE

St. Julian Wine Co.


LAKE By Emily Haines Lloyd Photos courtesy of St. Julian Wine Co.


hen Mariano Meconi moved The Meconi Wine Company, founded in 1921 in Canada, to Detroit after the repeal of Prohibition in 1923, he couldn’t have imagined the nearly 100-year legacy he would have begun, and the impact he and generations to come would make on the Michigan wine landscape.

St. Julian is committed to using only Michigan fruit in all of our products. That’s been a principle since the beginning of the company. It’s this amazing fruit that brought St. Julian to the area, and we intend to honor that.

—Justin Weeks, St. Julian Marketing Director

14 JUNE 2019

In 1936, Meconi relocated his winemaking operations to Paw Paw after purchasing the former Paw Paw Canning Company facility, strategically located alongside the railroad and near the premier grape-growing area of the Lake Michigan Shore Appellation. He also renamed the company St. Julian Wine Co., paying respect to San Giuliano, the Patron Saint of Faleria, Italy, where Meconi was born. “St. Julian is now 3rd and 4th-generation owned and operated,” said Justin Weeks, St. Julian Marketing Director. “Many family members are involved and passionate about the wine and spirits business.” Family is a common theme in the St. Julian story, with generations of Meconis working alongside Mariano himself until his retirement in the late 60s, including his grandson, David Braganini, who took over operations in the late 70s. At the time St. Julian was producing 300,000 gallons of wine and had 35 employees. He continued

stewardship of the company until 2016. While Meconi’s heritage was entirely Italian, the deep roots and family ties made in Michigan have survived the winemaker. “St. Julian is committed to using only Michigan fruit in all of our products,” said Weeks. “That’s been a principle since the beginning of the company. It’s this amazing fruit that brought St. Julian to the area, and we intend to honor that.” St. Julian builds its family around those ties to the community where it has grown its business. They now have six tasting rooms, including the home base in Paw Paw (Frankenmuth, Union Pier, Dundee, Rockford, and Metro Detroit), most along that same Appellation line, with the exception of the Detroit tasting room, a nod to Meconi’s original relocation to Michigan. Through its name changes and expansion, St. Julian wine has become the most award-winning

winery in Michigan and boasts over 100 products. Additionally, our winemaker Nancie Oxley continues to innovate with new grape variety planting, recruiting new growers, and creating new and exciting products. “We really do want to make sure there is something for everyone,” said Weeks. “Sweet and dry wines, brandy, spirits, cider, even juice for the kids— all made from Michigan fruit.” St. Julian’s staff talks about the winery’s accolades with humility: “When you’re in business almost 100 years, you’re gonna win some awards.” And they have an open-door policy toward novice drinkers and wine snobs alike: “Just drink what you like.” The staff embraces the notion that we’re all a part of the Meconi family, and everyone is welcome, just as they are. St. Julian, now under the stewardship of John Braganini, his wife, and two sons, has the capacity to store over a million gallons of wine/cider/spirits and has well over 100 employees. But the sense of tight-knit kinship is still felt in each tasting room. It’s a feeling that stopping to explore the flavor and honor the earth are perhaps some of

the best ways to build community and family wherever you go. Time is a great teacher. Maybe it takes a hundred years to learn the most valuable lessons, but if we look closely at the stories of St. Julian, it’s easy to remember that family—in all the varied and surprising ways it shows up in life—really is what makes life sweet.

St. Julian’s continues to build family in each community it touches, there are plenty of events to attend to become a part of their extended clan. FIND UPCOMING SUMMER EVENTS AT:


r o F t s e r Fo e h T g n Seei ree T y l i m The Fa is s A. Curt By Jame

(Left to right): Richard Grubaugh, Ken Grubaugh, Catherine Childers, and Ryan Grubaugh.

“When woodlots are properly managed, they’ll produce forever. We’ve revisited many of these woodlots six or seven times over the past 45 years. In fact, there are more logs today than when we first started.” —Richard Grubaugh


rom comforts and cures to sustenance and shelter, the earth is truly a marvel in the resources it provides. For the Grubaugh family in St. Johns, Michigan, it provides them with a livelihood and a means to help its customers enrich their homes, businesses, and communities. Maple Rapids Lumber Mill is a family-owned and operated business with a reputation for providing high-quality lumber products and services for more than 40 years. After working in the industry for nearly a decade, president Richard Grubaugh, along with his brother, Ken, started the company in 1973. “We borrowed a portable sawmill to get started and just kept sawing,” said Richard. “Since then, we haven’t quit sawing, and we’ve never run out of logs.” Today, two generations of the Grubaugh family now work at the mill—Ken as vice president, Ken and Richard’s sister, Catherine Childers (office manager), nephew, Ryan (mill operations and sales), nephew, Greg Armbrustmacher (finance management), and several other nieces and nephews. In addition, three of Richard, Ken, and Catherine’s brothers have retired from the mill after more than 30 years of service. The mill specializes in producing furniture-grade lumber, flooring, trim, veneer, and more, primarily serving customers in Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, and Canada. A member of the National Hardwood Lumber Association, Lake States Lumber Association, Indiana Hardwood Association, and the Michigan Association of Timbermen, Maple Rapids Lumber Mill also owns a drying facility in Coleman, Michigan, producing kiln-dried lumber, flooring, and trim which ships to customers as far away as China. “We take great pride in our work and do the utmost to get the most out of every log,” said Richard. “We only buy the best grade timber and always deliver on time.”

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Since their business relies on the land, the Grubaughs take their environmental stewardship seriously—evidenced by their certification in Sustainable Forestry Education and focus on minimizing waste. Every part of the logs are used in their milling process. The bark is ground for landscape mulch. Chips are sent to a paper mill for paper and cardboard products, as well as used for playground material. Sawdust is also sent to farmers for use as cow bedding. “We try to do all of our jobs with the utmost care and be good stewards of the land,” said Ken.

Maple Rapids Lumber Mill employs more than 40 employees at their two locations, processing more than eight million feet of lumber, and drying 1.5 million feet of lumber per year. Among their workforce are sawyers who utilize computers to get the most out of every log, National Hardwood Lumber Association-certified graders, and experts that maintain all of the mill’s machinery and saw blades in-house—saw blades that can last for years and are changed twice per day. The mill receives an average of four truckloads—or 400 logs—every day. Specialists in select cutting of timber for sustainable woodlot management, the Grubaughs take pride in identifying and buying the best grade standing timber from private and public landowners in close proximity to their mill. “We source most of our logs from within 60 miles but have purchased timber from as far away as the Mackinac Bridge to get the best grade,” said Ken Grubaugh. “We’re always glad to come out and give a price on timber for no charge, and we’re proud that many of our timber growers supply exclusively to us.”

The mill has also made significant investments over the past decade into energy efficiency efforts, installing new compressors, motors, and drives to improve the process and reduce energy consumption—efforts the Grubaughs are glad to have partnered with HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative to implement. “Tri-County through the years has given us good service, good power, and helped us on projects for efficiency,” said Ken. “We’re in a highly competitive business. Any time we can save a little is very important and HomeWorks has helped.” The Grubaughs also appreciate HomeWorks Tri-County Electric and power supplier Wolverine Power Cooperative’s commitment to environmental stewardship. The cooperatives now power all members with electricity that is more than 60 percent carbon-free. “I think Tri-County doing their part is great,” said Ken.

To learn more about Maple Rapids Lumber Mill, visit maplerapidslumber.com, and to learn about other HomeWorks members using their “homegrown” power for homegrown products in their communities, visit bit.ly/HWHomegrown.

Over the four decades of milling, the Grubaughs have seen the demand of certain hardwoods ebb and flow. These days, the mill’s customers request ash, cherry, hard maple, hickory, red oak, soft maple, walnut, white oak, and basswood. While red oak was high in demand for several years, hard maple, white oak, and hickory have risen in popularity recently—a change the Grubaughs are happy to see. “Trees are a renewable resource and anytime that demand switches is definitely good for the trees,” said Ken. “It gives the other trees a chance to grow.” “When woodlots are properly managed, they’ll produce forever,” Richard added. “We’ve revisited many of these woodlots six or seven times over the past 45 years. In fact, there are more logs today than when we first started.” MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES 17








Best Ice Cream Here’s the scoop on the best places for ice cream in Michigan. Try these member recommended shops this summer to satisfy ice cream cravings!


House of Flavors, Ludington House of Flavors scoops up some of the finest made ice cream in the Midwest and is a 3rd generation ice cream shop and manufacturer. Laurie Konrad, Great Lakes Energy


Moomers Homemade Ice Cream, Traverse City They have been voted “best ice cream“ place in the U.S. twice and have been in business for 20 years now and have created over 120+ flavors of mouth-watering ice cream, with Cherries Moobilee being their original award-winning flavor to bring them national prominence. The entire staff are friendly and happy to make new friends. Thomas Waclawski, Cherryland


Captain Sundae, Holland Sandy Hansen, Great Lakes Energy

Moose, Portland 4 Chocolate The variety of homemade ice cream flavors is amazing. Quaint little

store, lots of pride in what they do, generous portions, friendly smiles behind the counter, cute moose artwork and delicious treats! Dennis Strahle, HomeWorks Tri-County



1 12 11 7 10 14 4 13 3 8


Plainwell Ice Cream, Plainwell Homemade smooth and creamy ice cream with lots of flavors and great service. Sally Westover, Great Lakes Energy

Cow’s Ice Cream Shop, Chatham 9 Mama Cute, quaint and serves the best ice cream. Denae Nadeau, Alger Delta


The Soft Spot, Zeeland Hands down the friendliest small town ice cream shop around. On certain days the “Cow” sign is tipped for a special of the day!


Country Dairy, New Era A great place to have lunch, take a guided farm tour and enjoy some of the best ice cream around. It is also home of the bottomless cup of milk! Sandy Whitaker, Great Lakes Energy


Jones Homemade Ice Cream, Baldwin I have been a loyal customer for about 50 years. Always a delight! Tom Alliston, Great Lakes Energy

Ice Cream and Café, Dimondale 13 Village Yvonne Esman, Midwest Energy & Communications Moon Ice Cream Shop, Ovid 14 Blue Voted best in Clinton county for several years! Jill Sloat, Alger Delta

House Ice Cream, Lewiston 5 Country Fantastic homemade ice cream. Friendly service and the single scoop is more like a double! Patricia Garrett, Presque Isle Electric & Gas


Fudgees, Central Lake A great place to stop and have delicious ice cream and fudge. Stacey Hamilton, Great Lakes Energy

Trading Post, Mecosta 7 Kings Hand dipped ice cream. Really big scoops dare you to try the triple-

decker. Sharon Varney, Great Lakes Energy

18 JUNE 2019

Best of Michigan UP NEXT: Best Michigan Craft Beer: Give us your personal craft beer favorite. We will publish this member–recommended list in our September issue. Submit your favorites at countrylines.com under the MI Co-op Community tab by July 20.

Beat the heat It’s TOO HOT to sleep. I can’t sleep either. We can’t do this all summer. I’m calling Well-Connect!




www.wellconnectgeo.com (989) 356-2113 HEAT $500 FOR AS LOW AS





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