June 2020 HomeWorks

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June 2020


COUNTRY LINES HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative

Small-Town Calumet Electronics Has

BIG IMPACT HomeWorks Gives $20,000 To Local Food Banks

Spotlighting Our Homegrown Heroes Local Students Earn College Scholarships


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Contents countrylines.com

June 2020 Vol. 40, No. 6



Michigan’s Electric Cooperatives

EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Casey Clark EDITOR: Christine Dorr GRAPHIC DESIGNER: Karreen Bird RECIPE EDITOR: Christin McKamey PUBLISHER: Michigan Electric Cooperative Association Michigan Country Lines, USPS-591-710, is published monthly, except August and December, with periodicals postage paid at Lansing, Mich., and additional offices. It is the official publication of the Michigan Electric Cooperative Association, 201 Townsend St., Suite 900, Lansing, MI 48933. Subscriptions are authorized for members of Alger Delta, Cherryland, Great Lakes, HomeWorks Tri-County, Midwest Energy & Communications, Ontonagon, Presque Isle, and Thumb electric cooperatives by their boards of directors. Postmaster: Send all UAA to CFS.

Association Officers: Robert Kran, Great Lakes Energy, chairman; Tony Anderson, Cherryland Electric Cooperative, vice chairman; Eric Baker, Wolverine Power Cooperative, secretary-treasurer; Craig Borr, president and CEO.


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

6 THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT Electric co-ops are doing their part to stabilize the state's monarch butterfly population.


10 MI CO-OP KITCHEN These flavorful Mexican recipes go way beyond your basic taco.

notify your electric cooperative. See page 4 for contact information.

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


14 SMALL TOWN HAS BIG IMPACT U.P.-based Calumet Electronics discovers just how powerful its product and sense of community is during the COVID-19 crisis. 18 BEST OF MICHIGAN: CAMPGROUNDS From location to amenities to water access, find out why these campgrounds are our members' favorites.

Once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through and how you survived. You won’t even be sure whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain—when you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person that walked in. #wecangetthroughthis @karfar Karen Farrell

Be featured!

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

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




Up Next: Kid-Friendly Cooking, Easy Recipes Share your favorite recipes.

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

Submit your fondest memories and stories.

Win a $50 bill credit!

Win $150 for stories published! MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES


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

4 JUNE 2020

Homegrown Heroes Inspire Hope, Action In Midst Of Pandemic Chris O’Neill, CEO

istorically, in times of crisis, America has pulled through adversity by pulling together, each and every citizen doing his or her part to help the country overcome and prevail. During WWII, those who didn’t fight came through in crucial ways on the home front, from manufacturing critical wartime equipment to purchasing war bonds to contribute to the country’s defense budget. In response to the tragic events of 9/11, record numbers of Americans stood in line for hours at blood drives, desperate for a way to help their fellow man in any way they could. And today, in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, people all across the country are giving back in that same selfless way, helping the country to recover—one kind act at a time.


Right here in our service area, the Homegrown Heroes you’ll read about on pages 16-17 of this magazine are prime examples of that helping spirit. Each of these 11 individuals has stepped up in their own way to help their neighbors through the pandemic and to shine a ray of hope in their communities. From working on the front lines in health care to working tirelessly to make sure others don’t go hungry during the pandemic, these everyday heroes are making a big difference in our service area. That’s why we at HomeWorks are proud to recognize them as our Homegrown Heroes. As CEO of HomeWorks, I’m also extremely proud of the seven members who represent you on our board of directors. Recently, they saw a need at our local food banks and did their part to fulfill it. Because of a historic spike in unemployment across the state caused by the pandemic, food banks everywhere are facing food shortages brought on by high demand. To help fill that void in our local communities, your

“Thanks to a matching donation from the CoBank Sharing Success program offered by our lender, we were able to grant a total of $20,000 to God’s Helping Hands of Remus, Helping Hands of Eaton County, and the Eaton Rapids Teen Center.”

board of directors voted unanimously on April 27 to donate $10,000 from 2014 unclaimed capital credits to three area nonprofit organizations that specialize in providing food to those in need. Thanks to a matching donation from the CoBank Sharing Success program offered by our lender, we were able to grant a total of $20,000 to God’s Helping Hands of Remus, Helping Hands of Eaton County, and the Eaton Rapids Teen Center. As a nation, we still have a long fight ahead of us in the COVID-19 pandemic. There will be many opportunities for each of us to step up and do our small part to help our neighbors and our country prevail. I hope we will all take inspiration from our own Homegrown Heroes and other good Samaritans across the nation and step up to answer that call.

MAKING INTERNET AVAILABLE IN THESE UNCERTAIN TIMES: HOMEWORKS CONNECT OFFERS SELF-INSTALLATION OPTION With so many people working and schooling from home in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, reliable internet has become more important than ever. At the same time, concerns for member and employee safety have made it difficult for us to complete in-home installations of HomeWorks Connect’s highspeed fiber internet service. In an attempt to resolve that issue and safely continue bringing new internet service to our members, we have implemented a self-installation option for some members. This option applies to members who already have their contracts signed and whose homes already have our fiber-optic cable run to them. This innovative offering has allowed many of our members to gain access to a high-speed internet connection so that they and their families can more easily work, learn, or entertain themselves while they stay at home. Of course, for members who’d rather not self-install, we are still scheduling in-home installations with our technicians, as public health guidelines allow. Self-installations are simply an additional option to help us serve you better. Interested in a self-installation of HomeWorks Connect highspeed internet at your home? Check out the sidebar to learn what helps qualify your home for self-installation!

AM I ELIGIBLE TO COMPLETE A SELF-INSTALLATION? If you answer “yes” to all of these questions, you may be eligible for self-installation. Please call our office at 800-668-8413 to let us know that you’d like to try HomeWorks Connect’s self-install option.

• Is my zone open for contracts? • Did I sign my contract? • Did someone from HomeWorks

call me and schedule my drop to be installed? • Is my drop, the fiber cable that connects my house to the rest of the system, installed at my house? Unsure about your answer to any of these questions? Visit Join.HomeWorksConnect.org or call us at 800-668-8413 to learn more.






s the ground thaws and the world warms up, one of the planet’s great travelers and most recognizable insects returns to Michigan from its warm winter getaway. The monarch butterfly can migrate thousands of miles in a generation, from as far as Canada to Mexico, to spend the winter. The monarch then returns to the southeastern United States to reproduce before flying further north to paint our Michigan skies with its unmistakable orange and black fluttering. But monarch butterflies are more than just winged beauties and harbingers of warmer weather. They play an important role in the critical pollination of many wildflowers, which in turn maintains and produces clean air, water, and soil. In addition, according to the U.S. Forest Service, pollinators like the monarch butterfly are responsible for pollinating nearly 80% of the 1,400 crop plants grown around the world that produce our food and plant-based industrial products. Monarchs may be a familiar sight during Michigan summers, but their numbers are


JUNE 2020

dwindling. Overuse of pesticides, urban development, and reduction of natural habitat have driven the monarch population to the point that they are being considered for protection under the Endangered Species Act. Monarchs that overwinter in California are at historic lows, and other pollinators are also facing drastic population declines. As the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service considers a threatened or endangered designation for the monarch, Michigan’s electric cooperatives continue their commitment to environmental stewardship by collaborating with the U.S. Forest Service and other agencies to maintain, establish, and preserve additional habitat for species in decline. Co-ops are achieving this by cultivating pollinator habitat along rights-of-way through minimal mowing, removing undesirable trees and shrubs, sowing pollinator-friendly seed mixes along rights-of-way during construction restoration activities, and incorporating milkweed—the essential food and nesting source monarchs depend on for survival.

A tiny monarch butterfly egg in the center of a milkweed blossom.

Monarch chrysalis.

Electric cooperatives often go above and beyond federal and local environmental regulations in their commitment to being good citizens, neighbors, and stewards of natural resources and wildlife. Because of this, and the pollinator-friendly vegetation management practices, cooperatives will be well-positioned to meet new requirements should the monarch

Monarch caterpillar eating a milkweed leaf.

A monarch butterfly newly emerged from its cocoon.

butterfly be designated as a threatened or endangered species. While electric cooperatives are doing their part, so can you! Here are several ways the U.S. Forest Service recommends you can help support the pollinators in your neck of the woods.

How You Can Help The Monarchs And Other Pollinators At Home For more information on pollinators, visit the U.S. Forest Service at www.fs.fed.us.

Plant local plants! Pollinators that exist in your area are specially adapted to meet the needs of local plants in physical structure and behavior.

Grow a wide variety of plants that bloom from early spring to fall, making pollen and nectar available throughout the seasons. When selecting your plants, vary the bloom shapes and colors to attract a wider variety of pollinators.

Provide a source of water. Pollinators like bees need water and seek out shallow water sources. Incorporate a birdbath or other water feature to create their ideal habitat.

Limit using pesticides. Pesticides are absorbed by the plant tissue and become present in its nectar and pollen, which can be harmful to bees, butterflies, and other pollinators.



Notice to Members of HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative A Special Member Meeting is set for June 22, 9 a.m., at the Cooperative’s Portland office* The board of directors will consider the item(s) listed below at its meeting on June 22, 2020, to be held at the Cooperative office at 7973 E. Grand River Ave., Portland, Michigan.* The meeting will start at 9 a.m. and is open to all members of HomeWorks TriCounty 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. 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.

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 800-562-8232 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: The June 22 board meeting is currently scheduled to take place in person at the Co-op’s Portland office. However, dependent on public health guidelines 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 please contact the Co-op at 800-562-8232 at least one week prior to the meeting to confirm the meeting location.


Complete your free online home energy audit. • A personalized report of your home’s energy use

You’ll • Cost-saving opportunities and energy-saving tips receive: • A FREE energy-savings kit to help get you started

Visit michigan-energy.org to learn more.

ONLINE: michigan-energy.org PHONE: 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.



1. Karen Retter of Jerome (receiving service in Barryton) says, “I love summer sunsets in Michigan! This was another great one over Evans Lake in Mecosta County.” 2. Lindsay Uzarski of Remus took this photo of an early August moon over Beaver Island. 3. Diane Wohlscheid of Eagle submitted this photo of the “4:37 a.m. moon” shining through her windmill. 4. Darla Schoner of Weidman says, “I took this picture on Lake Isabella. The community went out on the lake to enjoy fireworks from their pontoon boats. A beautiful sight.” 5. Kathleen Ellwood of Eaton Rapids says, “After we decorated the tree, my curious horses, Breeze and Walkie Talkie, came over to check it out!”


3 Enter to win a


energy bill credit!



Upcoming Snap Shot Contest Topics And Deadlines

“Michigan’s Natural Beauty,” Deadline: July 15 (September issue) “Beautiful Birds,” Deadline: August 17 (October issue) “Pets,” Deadline: September 15 (November/December issue) Go to HomeWorks.org and select Country Lines under the Electric tab to submit your photos and see all of the 2020 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.

5 Submit Your Photos! Contributors whose photos we publish in Country Lines in 2020 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




Spice up the party with these Mexicaninspired recipes.

Joyce Tamminga, Great Lakes Energy

2 tablespoons canola oil 1 medium onion, finely chopped 1 medium sweet red bell pepper, finely chopped 1 celery rib, finely chopped 2 teaspoons chili powder ¼ teaspoon salt ¼ teaspoon black pepper 2 cups vegetable stock 1 cup frozen corn 1 cup quinoa, rinsed 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained ¹⁄ ³ cup plus 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro, divided In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, red pepper, celery and seasonings; cook and stir 5–7 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir in stock and corn; bring to a boil. Stir in quinoa. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, 12–15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Add beans and ¹⁄ ³ cup cilantro; heat through, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with remaining cilantro. Serve with lime, avocado, salsa, and tortilla chips. Watch a video of this month’s winning recipe at micoopkitchen.com/videos

10 JUNE 2020

Win a


energy bill credit!


Kid-Friendly Cooking due July 1 • Easy Recipes 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.

CHEESY FIESTA CORN BAKE Michele Smith, Ontonagon 1 1–2 ½ 1 2 1 1 ½ 1 3 1½ ¾ 3 •

pound ground beef tablespoons taco seasoning mix cup chopped green onion (4.5-ounce) can chopped green chiles eggs (14¾-ounce) can cream-style corn cup milk cup canola oil cup cornmeal tablespoons all-purpose flour teaspoons baking powder teaspoon salt cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided Toppings: shredded lettuce, sour cream, diced tomatoes, etc.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Brown beef in large skillet; remove from heat. Drain; stir in seasoning mix, green onion and chiles. In a medium bowl, beat eggs, corn, milk and oil. Stir in cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt. Mix well and pour half of the batter into a greased 9x13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with 1½ cups cheese. Top with beef mixture. Sprinkle with remaining 1½ cups cheese. Top with remaining batter. Bake, uncovered, for 50–60 minutes. Cut into squares, serve warm with desired toppings. Yield: 12 servings.


C. Hodges, Ontonagon 4 cups canned white or yellow hominy (One 28-ounce can or two 14-ounce cans) 8 cups water 2 pounds pork tenderloin, cut into 1-inch chunks 2 teaspoons dried oregano 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, cut into pieces 2 tablespoons ground cumin 2 large onions, peeled and chopped 2 tablespoons minced garlic • Juice from 2 limes 1 tablespoon salt • Ground black pepper, to taste 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained 4 tablespoons chopped cilantro • Toppings (any/all of the following): additional chopped cilantro, avocado chunks, grated sharp cheddar cheese, sliced radishes, shredded lettuce or cabbage, chili peppers Drain hominy and add to crockpot. Add water, pork, oregano, chipotle peppers, cumin, onion, garlic, lime, salt and pepper. Turn heat to low. Cook 8–10 hours covered until pork is falling apart. About 15 minutes before serving, add tomatoes and heat through. Stir in chopped cilantro just before serving. Ladle into bowls and let diners customize their bowls with assorted toppings.

EASY OVEN CHICKEN FAJITAS Madalyn Crawford, Great Lakes Energy

FAJITA SEASONING: 1 tablespoon chili powder ½ tablespoon smoked paprika ½ teaspoon onion powder ¼ teaspoon garlic powder ¼ teaspoon cumin ¹⁄ 8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (¼ teaspoon for spicier version!) 1 teaspoon sugar ½ teaspoon salt FAJITAS: 1 large onion 1 yellow bell pepper 1 red bell pepper 1 green bell pepper 1 pound chicken breast 2 tablespoons vegetable oil • Tortillas of choice, OR serve over lettuce

Preheat oven to 400 F. Mix all fajita seasoning spices together in small bowl and set aside. Chop onion and bell peppers into ½-inch squares or ¼-inchwide strips. Place in 9x13-inch baking dish. Rinse chicken breast and cut into thin strips. Add to dish with vegetables. Add vegetable oil to vegetables and chicken; toss. Sprinkle fajita seasoning over mixture and toss again. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes. Stir together after the first 20 minutes and continue cooking for another 20 minutes. Serve hot on your choice of prepared tortillas or eat over a bed of lettuce. Top with sour cream, cheese, hot sauce, and even a sprinkle of lime if you wish!



Co-op Awards Eight Students With 2020 Touchstone Energy Scholarships Eight local high school seniors were selected to receive a $1,000 college scholarship this year through the Touchstone Energy scholarship program offered annually by HomeWorks Tri-County Electric. Congratulations to each of these outstanding students:

Mikenna Bayless Portland H.S. Planning to Attend: Lansing C.C. Planning to Study: General Education Parents: Michael & Casie Bayless

Kora Behrens Homeschooled Planning to Attend: Hesston College Planning to Study: Graphic Design Parents: Kevin & Lorie Behrens

Owen Kowatch Pewamo-Westphalia H.S. Planning to Attend: Saginaw Valley State Planning to Study: Mechanical Engineering Parents: Brian & Jill Kowatch

Riley McKenna Lakeview H.S. Planning to Attend: University of Michigan Planning to Study: Politics, Econ. & Ethics Parents: Patrick & Michelle McKenna

Zac Carlson Charlotte H.S. Planning to Attend: Albion College Planning to Study: History & Anthropology Parents: Randall & Tracy Carlson

Drew Neyer Sacred Heart Academy Planning to Attend: Michigan State Planning to Study: Dairy & Agribusiness Parents: Jerry & Joyce Neyer

Avery Claybaugh Chippewa Hills H.S. Planning to Attend: Saginaw Valley State Planning to Study: Business Parents: Joseph & Krista Claybaugh

Jenna Wilkerson Farwell H.S. Planning to Attend: Ferris State University Planning to Study: Pre-pharmacy Parents: Wade & Michelle Wilkerson

Congratulations also to Hunter Hohman of Portland, recipient of our $1,000 2020 Utility Technician Training Scholarship! Hunter plans to attend Northwest Lineman College in the fall, at its Edgewater, Florida, campus. He is enrolled in the college’s electrical lineworker program. Hunter is a 2019 graduate of Portland High School. 12 JUNE 2020

Stebbins, Hansen Re-elected

Jim Stebbins

Kimber Hansen


n May, two members of the HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative Board of Directors were re-elected to serve members for another three-year term. Balloting was completed entirely by mail since 2020 district membership meetings, where in-person director voting typically takes place, were indefinitely postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In District 2, which includes Barry and Ionia counties, Jim Stebbins (incumbent) of Clarksville retained his seat in an uncontested election. Stebbins was appointed to the board in early 2017 to fill the District 2 seat left open by the passing of longtime director Wayne Swiler. He was elected to his first full term later that year.

In District 4, which includes Montcalm County, except Bloomer, Crystal, and Evergreen townships (which are part of District 5), Kimber Hansen (incumbent) of Edmore won re-election over Andrew “Mark” Alexander of Vestaburg and Brandi Caverly of Lakeview. Hansen has represented District 4 on the board since 2014. Ballots, along with candidate profiles, were mailed to all members in districts 2 and 4 with their April issue of Country Lines magazine. Mail-in balloting has supplemented HomeWorks’ in-person voting process since 2018, when it was implemented as an alternative option for members who were not able to attend and vote at district membership meetings. This year, automated calls went out to all members in districts 2 and 4 in early April, advising that because of the indefinite postponement of district meetings, mail-in ballot would be the only voting option this year. In 2021, elections will be held for the districts 3 and 6 board seats, currently held by Luke Pohl of Westphalia and Ed Oplinger of Weidman. Watch Country

Lines magazine, homeworks.org and the HomeWorks Facebook page for information on the nomination process, which begins in January.

Offices Will Be Closed July 3 Please note that our offices will be closed Friday, July 3, in honor of Independence Day. While we are closed, you will still be able to reach us at 800-848-9333 to report an outage, or at 877-999-3395 to pay your bill via phone.

Your Board In Action

Meeting remotely on April 27, your board of directors: • Accepted the Cooperative’s annual audit report from a representative of Eide Bailly, a third-party CPA firm.

• Reviewed alternate plans for the indefinitely postponed 2020 district meetings and approved an adapted process to address 2020 district officer elections and the assignment of annual meeting delegates. • Approved April 2, 2020, as this year’s record date for determining the members entitled to receive notice of a 2020 member district meeting.

• Authorized management to donate a total of $10,000 of unclaimed capital credits from 2014 to three food banks in the Co-op’s service area. The CoBank Sharing Success program will match these donations.

• Approved the declaration of a dividend of $500,000 from Tri-Co Services, Inc. to Tri-County Electric Cooperative, half to be used for the HomeWorks Connect fiber internet business and the other half to be used for the electric business to cover required restricted funds with Portland Federal Credit Union.

• Learned there were 90 new members in March.

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

Time Set Aside for Members to Comment Before Cooperative Board Meetings The first 15 minutes of every board meeting are available for members who wish to address the board of directors on any subject. The next meetings are scheduled for 9 a.m. on June 22 at Portland and 9 a.m. on July 27 at Blanchard. However, at the time of this printing, 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.


Small-Town Calumet Electronics Has

BIG IMPACT By Emily Haines Lloyd

“Rugged” is a word that people in the most northern regions of the Upper Peninsula hear frequently. It’s a characteristic that is put to the test on a daily basis. But in the time of COVID-19, this is a characteristic that allows folks to not only survive but thrive. Calumet, Michigan, was once the center of copper mining activity in the Keweenaw Peninsula. After World War I, the demand for copper decreased, taking much of the industry, jobs, and people out of the area. When Calumet Electronics opened its doors in 1968, it had a mission to bring new business life to the area. Its purpose was to create local, familysustaining jobs. Today it is the area’s largest private-sector employer. Calumet Electronics designs, builds and delivers printed circuit boards (PCBs). These circuit boards are used in energy grids, life support systems, medical devices, avionics, aerospace and defense markets. It’s a source of pride that while Calumet’s boards are found in products all over the world, they are manufactured entirely in Michigan. 14 JUNE 2020

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HOMEGROWN Recognizing local everyday heroes for providing a ray of hope in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic


There’s no question the COVID-19 pandemic has brought out the true heroes in the HomeWorks service area. All throughout rural mid-Michigan, everyday leaders are stepping up and going above and beyond the call of duty to help pull their communities through this uncertain time.

crucial work in their communities. As a small token of our appreciation for everything they are doing to serve residents in our service area, we awarded each of these 11 winners with a $50 HomeWorks bill credit or a $50 gift card to a local restaurant in their area.

We at HomeWorks wanted to recognize some of the generous local residents who are epitomizing the “Cooperative Spirit,” so in April, we asked our members to submit nominations for our Homegrown Heroes awards. Several incredible nominations came in, and we selected the 11 selfless individuals you’ll read about on the next page as our winners.

We want to thank all members who submitted nominations for our Homegrown Heroes award. We also want to thank all of our nominees, and especially the 11 award winners you’re about to read about, for giving of themselves to help others in their time of need. We were inspired by their stories, and we hope you will be, too. We are proud to present our Homegrown Heroes!

From risking their health to continue providing essential services to volunteering their time to ensure their neighbors’ basic needs are met during the pandemic, these Homegrown Heroes are doing extraordinary and

Please note, award winners are listed in numerical order matching the numbers on their photos at the top of the next page. Otherwise, they are not presented in any particular order.

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9 1 LAURA DELONG, Eaton Rapids

Laura oversees a charitable food pantry in Eaton Rapids. Her nominator says the pantry is Laura’s passion, and she works tirelessly to make sure it stays properly supplied for the people of her community during times of need.


Andrew is a HomeWorks member who is employed at Walmart, where he stocks meat and frozen food. His nominator says he has worked very hard as an essential worker throughout the pandemic, keeping the shelves full and ready for customers.

3 BUZZ FATE, Remus

Buzz owns Fate’s Market in Remus. His nominator says he and his family have worked hard to keep their store stocked for the community during the pandemic, and even provided hand sanitizer to customers at cost.


Shelby is a HomeWorks member who works as a pediatric nurse practitioner in Mt. Pleasant. Her nominator says she has put her own health on the line to continue to serve the families of central Michigan and care for their children throughout the pandemic.


Jason is a HomeWorks member and a cancer survivor. His nominator says that he works as an essential worker in a factory all day and then works hard to grow food for his family as a farmer at night.



6 PATSY ALVERA, Lakeview

Patsy is a HomeWorks member. Her nominator says that throughout the pandemic, she has been making masks for her neighbors and others who need them for free.

7 ZEDA BISH, Sumner

Zeda is the volunteer food pantry director for M46 Tabernacle Family Ministries. Her nominator says she works hard to make sure needy families in her community don’t go hungry, especially during times of crisis.

8 JAMIE HICKEY & TEAM, Lake Odessa

Jamie is a social worker for Lakewood Public Schools. Her nominator says that since the pandemic began, she has led a team of dedicated school employees (two of whom are pictured) who volunteer to pack and deliver over 1,000 bags of food per week to Lakewood students.


Bill is a HomeWorks member who owns a bread truck and distributes to local grocery stores. His nominator says he has worked tirelessly during the pandemic to make sure his stores don’t experience a bread shortage.


Mary Ann is a HomeWorks member and owner of Hometown Health Foods in Remus. Her nominator says she has risked her own health to keep her store open and continue providing food services to her customers.

11 CORY DUBRY, Carson City

Cory is a HomeWorks member and nursing home employee. His nominator says he has worked hard to keep the residents he cares for safe during the pandemic.


MI CO-OP Community

Best Of Michigan



Sleep under the stars at these favorite member campgrounds.



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Which is your favorite spot amongst the vines to sip Michigan’s world-class wines? Submit your favorites at countrylines.com/ community by June 25, and look for it in our September issue.

18 JUNE 2020

Scottville Riverside Park, Scottville

This park is really nice and is located right off the Pere Marquette River. It has clean bathrooms and showers, and an outside heated pool. It has big campsites with electric, water and even cable. It's an excellent value for your money. Karen Winters, Great Lakes Energy scottvilleriversidepark.com/


Munising City Tourist Park Campground, Munising

This place is a favorite campground located on a bay of Lake Superior. We have wonderful memories of summer vacation trips spent camping there. It is reasonably priced, clean, friendly and has a beautiful view of the beach. Lianne Briggs, Great Lakes Energy munisingtouristpark.com


Indigo Bluffs RV Park & Resort, Empire

This is one of the easiest campgrounds to get into and out of that we’ve ever visited. It has nice, wide sites and even some wildflower fields on the resort side. It's a great location to get to anywhere in the Leelanau Peninsula and the Lake Michigan coast going south. There are many hikes in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, not just the dunes. Don Peterson, Great Lakes Energy indigobluffs.com


Barnes Park Campground, Antrim County


Hill & Hollow Campground & RV Park, Pentwater


Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park, Silver Lake


Burt Lake State Park, Indian River

This is a well-kept campground situated off of Lake Michigan and a stone’s throw from Torch Lake. There are lots of trails and bike paths, too. Shelia Davis, Great Lakes Energy antrimcounty.org/barnespark.asp

Family owned and operated for more than 36 years, this place is simply the best. Campsites are spacious and private with tons of amenities and all are very clean at all times of the day. The staff is friendly and attentive. Amy Bird, Midwest Energy & Communications hillandhollowcampground.com

This is a great family atmosphere! There are tons of activities and the grounds are very clean. The location is in the middle of everything to do in the Silver Lake area. Casey Haines, HomeWorks Tri-Country campjellystone.com/park/33-silver-lakemears-sand-dunes

This is an excellent place to camp on Burt Lake with a nice beach! The lake connects to other rivers and lakes, too. It offers spacious campsites and clean facilities. Lauren Cook, Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op

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? d a o r e h t t i Ready to h When you start to get out this summer as public health guidelines allow, please help us keep our crews safe by slowing down when you see this out your windshield.


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