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June 2020

MICHIGAN

COUNTRY LINES Midwest Energy & Communications

Small-Town Calumet Electronics Has

BIG IMPACT Work Zone Safety

Community COVID Efforts Hance Joins New FCC Work Group


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*26% through 2020 and 22% through 2021 • ©2020 WaterFurnace is a registered trademark of WaterFurnace International, Inc.


Contents countrylines.com

June 2020 Vol. 40, No. 6

/michigancountrylines

/michigancountrylines

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.

#micoopcommunity

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.

CHANGE OF ADDRESS: Please

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.

MI CO-OP COMMUNITY

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

MI CO-OP KITCHEN

BEST OF MICHIGAN

GUEST COLUMN

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

3


VAN BUREN KALAMAZOO

CASS

LENAWEE

MONROE

We’re Still Here And Always Will Be

ST JOSEPH

teammidwest.com

Robert Hance, President/CEO

/teammidwest CORPORATE HEADQUARTERS AND CASSOPOLIS SOLUTIONS CENTER 60590 Decatur Road, Cassopolis, MI 49031 M–F 8 a.m.–5 p.m.

usiness as usual” came to a screeching halt in March as the realities of the global coronavirus pandemic set in. By the time you’re reading this, I hope we’ve figured out our new normal, but at the time I’m writing it, we’re still operating within the parameters of a statewide executive order.

ADRIAN SOLUTIONS CENTER 1610 E. Maumee Street, Adrian, MI 49221 M–F 8 a.m.–5 p.m.

In the early days of the pandemic, we had many long, tough conversations about how best to serve our 40,000 electric, propane and telecom customers, while doing our part to “flatten the curve.” As part of the critical infrastructure, we had to reinvent our standard operating procedures to implement safe and effective ways to serve and support our customers while keeping those customers and our employees safe.

PAW PAW SOLUTIONS CENTER 59825 S. LaGrave Street, Paw Paw, MI 49079 M–F 8 a.m.–5 p.m.

CONTACT US Midwest Energy & Communications 800-492-5989 teammidwest.com Email: info@teammidwest.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 erika.escue-cadieux@teammidwest.com 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.

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“B

If there’s one thing we’re really good at, it’s reinvention. From a customer service perspective, we haven’t missed a beat. We closed our lobbies in mid-March, and late in the month, after testing systems and equipment, we moved most of our solutions agents to a work-fromhome status. We kept a small presence in each office to manage drivethrough and drop box payments, dispatch crews, and process daily mail. The rest of our team responded to your calls, emails, and online chats from the safety of their homes. Call volume was higher than normal, given the circumstances, and because we had more agents on the phones, we were efficient and responsive. We made some significant changes to our operations protocol. Our normal safety culture reached new heights as personal protective equipment and social distancing procedures became part of our daily norm. We had considerably less customer-requested construction work on the electric side during this time, allowing us to mobilize our crews for some much-needed maintenance work on particularly problematic lines. So, while we weren’t actively building, we were working to improve your service experience. Because of the face-to-face contact required with fiber installations and new propane service, we had to curtail those activities until mid-May. However, we reimagined our fiber process, and nearly 200 customers conducted a self-installation using our video resource with an installation technician on-site to answer questions and support from a safe distance. We also kept propane tanks full and responded to gas leaks and other emergencies. We also tried to support the community in meaningful ways during this extraordinarily challenging time, providing care packages to numerous health care facilities in late March to show appreciation for our front-line workers, and offering support to agencies helping with food insecurity. We also set up some free public Wi-Fi access points, leveraging our fiber infrastructure to help students, teachers, and others with business needs navigate this challenging time. Was this ideal? Absolutely not. Nothing about the pandemic response was ideal. But we showed up every day, ready to provide a level of service and support to make your life and experience as comfortable and convenient as possible. We’re still here and always will be.


MEC NEWS OF NOTE Notice to Electric Customers of Midwest Energy & Communications: Tariff Changes The Midwest Energy & Communications Board of Directors adopted the following changes to the cooperative’s tariffs at a special board meeting on April 21, 2020, in accordance with Public Act 167 (P.A. 167). • An increase of $.003615/kWh in the variable distribution charge across all rate classifications, effective with bills rendered in or after July 2020. • A reduction in the credit for excess energy that customers who install renewable generators and sell back to MEC get on their bills. The Net Metering Program, which provides full retail rate for excess generation, will stop taking new applicants and a new Distributed Renewable Energy Program will be implemented to provide 5.6 cents per kWh for excess generation. This is effective for any customers signing up for net metering on or after July 1, 2020. These unapproved minutes are published in accordance with P.A. 167 of 2008.

Building Vibrant Communities Podcast Join MEC and WLEN-FM every other Monday to learn about what we’re up to and what local organizations in Lenawee County are doing to help the community. The podcast airs at 6:15 p.m. and all episodes are available at wlen.com/midwest-energy.

Bodette Earns CCD Dan Bodette, director for District 9, recently earned the Credentialed Cooperative Director (CCD) distinction from the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA). The CCD program is the first part of NRECA’s threepart Director Education Program and consists of five courses that focus on basic governance knowledge and the essential skills required of cooperative directors. The CCD prepares directors to fulfill their fiduciary duty as elected officials serving on behalf of their customers. Once the CCD is completed, participants can then pursue the Board Leadership Certificate. Dan has served on the MEC Board since May 2019.

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY Our offices will be closed on Friday, July 3, in observance of Independence Day. Make a payment or report an outage via SmartHub or call 800.492.5989. Drop box payments made while we are closed will be processed on the next open business day. Have a safe and happy 4th of July!

MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES

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THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT By James A. Curtis

A

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

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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.

MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES

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Find Savings With A Home Energy Audit ith so many changes happening in the world, many of us are spending more time at home looking for creative ways to stay active and productive. You may also be thinking about new ways to cut energy costs and save money.

W

When is the last time you took a good look around your home? Have you noticed such issues as mold, mildew, ice dams, drafts, or overall discomfort around your home? Is your home properly sealed, insulated, and ventilated? These things can have a big impact on your home’s energy efficiency and utility costs. To better understand and manage your home’s energy use and costs, take advantage of the Energy Optimization program’s free online home audit!

How To Complete Your Home Energy Audit:

The Home Energy Optimizer is a brief online survey that analyzes your home’s energy use. You will be required to enter some specific information, such as the year your home was built, the type of heating and cooling systems in place, and when various other systems and appliances were purchased and installed. Once you’ve completed the survey, you will receive a personalized, comprehensive report, as well as costsaving tips and recommendations to help reduce energy waste throughout your household. Additionally, all participants will receive a free energy-saving kit, which includes light bulbs and other devices to help save energy and water!

• Visit the Energy Optimization website (michigan-energy.org). • Select your electric utility from the drop-down menu at the top of the page. • In the left-hand menu bar, select “Online Home Audit.” • Click “Get Started Now!” and complete the questionnaire. Upon completion of the Home Energy Optimizer survey, your free energy-saving kit will be mailed to the address you indicate. Have questions about the free home energy audit or energy-saving kit? Call us at 877-296-4319.

SAVINGS AT YOUR FINGERTIPS

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.


Practice Work Zone Safety W

hen your power is out, our line crews are hard at work on restoration. Help keep our crews, and you, safe by following these tips around utility work zones:

1. SLOW DOWN AND MOVE OVER. According to AAA’s Foundation for Traffic Safety, a person has a 50% chance of suffering severe injuries when struck by a vehicle going just 31 mph. Please slow your speed when passing our work zones and move over when possible. 2. DO NOT DISTURB. If you see our linemen working, please leave them alone to do their jobs. Stopping them to ask questions delays restoration for everyone and could put everyone in danger. For updates on the status of an outage, please call us at 800-492-5989 3. RESPECT ROAD CLOSURES. Sometimes safe restoration work requires that we close a portion of a road. When you see road closure signs, please find an alternate route. Bypassing these signs is extremely dangerous. Additionally, always avoid downed lines. Assume any line you see is energized and stay 50 feet away. Don’t drive over any lines, and please call us at 800-492-5989 to report the location.

UTILITY POLES ARE NOT BULLETIN BOARDS Think before you post that sign! Staples, nails and tacks used to hang signs and fliers create dangerous obstacles for electric lineworkers. Their jobs are dangerous enough – help us keep them safe!

MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES

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MI CO-OP Recipes

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

M

A C I N X E E I F S TA WINNING RECIPE!

BLACK BEAN AND CORN QUINOA

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

$50

energy bill credit!

RECIPE CONTEST

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.

POSOLE

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!

MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES

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MEC IN THE COMMUNITY

“The FCC must play a constructive role in promoting these efforts and supporting investment in high-speed internet in ways that specifically help precision agriculture.” —Ajit Pai, FCC Chairman

Hance Tapped For FCC Work Group The Federal Communications Commission recently announced four working groups to serve on the Precision Agriculture Connectivity Task Force, and Midwest Energy & Communications (MEC) President/CEO Bob Hance was appointed to the Encouraging Adoption of Precision Agriculture and Availability of High-Quality Jobs on Connected Farms group. The announcement was made on March 13 by Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai in consultation with Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.

“The FCC must play a constructive role in promoting these efforts and supporting investment in high-speed internet in ways that specifically help precision agriculture,” Pai said.

Precision agriculture involves computerized, connected technologies that bring greater efficiency to farm tasks like seeding, fertilizing, applying herbicide, and watering, resulting in higher production and less waste. Chairman Pai said he is targeting $1 billion for precision agriculture from a proposed $9 billion 5G Fund to support “next-generation wireless services.”

“In reality, all this can’t happen until real progress is made with extending true, robust and reliable internet to the rural parts of this country,” he said.

Hance hopes this work for the commission results in broader and widespread adoption of farm technologies that fundamentally improve the outcomes for rural farmers and ranchers and make it possible to continue to increase yields, improve efficiencies and meet the ever-increasing demand for production.

Parking Lot School In April, MEC created new public Wi-Fi access points at our Decatur Road and East State Street facilities and invited teachers and students in the Cassopolis Public Schools to use this free access to help with the challenges of remote teaching and learning. Dr. Angela Piazza, superintendent of Cassopolis Public Schools, said, “This is amazing news! We really appreciate

12 JUNE 2020

what you are doing to help our students and families!” While we’re doing this specifically to support our local school system, we’re also welcoming others to use the access point for other legitimate business purposes. At press time, we were working on setting up additional Wi-Fi spots in our service territory.


Neighbors Helping Neighbors In April, Adrian Public Schools (APS) Superintendent Bob Behnke announced on Facebook that he needed 50 face masks for his staff while they delivered over 700 meals and homework packs to students. With less than $100 in cotton fabric and armed with a handful of MEC reusable shopping bags, MEC employee Patty Clark stepped up to the challenge. When sandwiched between tightly woven cotton panels, the material from the MEC bags help create a safe barrier while being lightweight and breathable. The bags are made of nonwoven polypropylene fabric similar to the material used in N95 masks. Clark delivered 22 masks to APS and a couple more to Gaslight Village Assisted Living. She also provided masks to State Rep. Bronna Kahle, who donated to the Woodworking for Warriors program on MEC’s behalf as a thank-you.

MEC employee PATTY CLARK hard at work making masks for her community.

Helping Out During Troubled Times In April, we, with sponsorship dollars from Wolverine Power Cooperative, continued to support our communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. In our southeast territory, we made a contribution to the Lenawee Community Foundation’s Lenawee Cares Endowment Fund to help them work with the county’s 28 nonprofits to fulfill residents’ needs during this time. The Lenawee Cares program focuses on housing, utilities, food and other basic needs. In our southwest Michigan territory, we again utilized Wolverine Power Cooperative resources, along with funds from CoBank, to donate to the St. Joseph County United Way and the United Way for Southwest Michigan specifically to help food pantries in St. Joseph, Cass and Van Buren counties. We also worked with Wright Farms Market in Dowagiac to process 1,000 pounds of beef for distribution for the pantries as well.

VOLUNTEERS in Adrian deliver food to a local food bank.


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.

HITTING THE NATIONAL STAGE

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


HOW TO PREVENT ELECTRIC SHOCK DROWNING

Each year, 3,800 people 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

Boat Owners

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

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

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

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

IF YOU SEE ELECTRIC SHOCK DROWNING TAKING PLACE:

TURN POWER OFF

THROW A LIFE RING

CALL 911

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


2019 ANNUAL REPORT Report of Independent Auditors

Consolidated Statements of Operations Years Ended December 31 (Dollars in 000)

Following are excerpts from the audit report. The full report may be accessed at TeamMidwest.com or by calling 800-492-5989. We have audited the accompanying consolidated financial statements of Midwest Energy Cooperative, which comprise the consolidated balance sheets as of December 31, 2019, and 2018, and the related consolidated statements of operations, equities and margins, and cash flows for the years then ended, and the related notes to the consolidated financial statements. Management is responsible for the preparation and fair presentation of these consolidated financial statements in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America. Our responsibility is to express opinions on these consolidated financial statements based on our audits. An audit involves performing procedures to obtain audit evidence about the amounts and disclosures in the consolidated financial statements. The procedures selected depend on the auditor’s judgment, including the assessment of the risks of material misstatement of the consolidated financial statements, whether due to fraud or error. In making those risk assessments, the auditor considers internal control relevant to the entity’s preparation and fair presentation of the consolidated financial statements in order to design audit procedures that are appropriate in the circumstances, but not for the purpose of expressing an opinion on the effectiveness of the entity’s internal control. Accordingly, we express no such opinion. An audit also includes evaluating the appropriateness of accounting policies used and the reasonableness of significant accounting estimates made by management, as well as evaluating the overall presentation of the consolidated financial statements. We believe that the audit evidence we have obtained is sufficient and appropriate to provide a basis for our audit opinions. In our opinion, the consolidated financial statements referred to above present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of the cooperative as of December 31, 2019, and 2018, and the results of its operations and its cash flows for the years then ended in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America. Moss Adams March 31, 2019

2019 Operating revenues

$

Operating expenses

Where Our Sales Come From

91,094

5,461

5,170

Operating margins (deficits) Capital credits Nonoperating margins (deficits) $

1,730

(133)

3,355

4,328

(110)

(170)

4,975 $

4,025

Consolidated Balance Sheets December 31 (Dollars in 000)

ASSETS

2019

Net electric plant and equipment

$

2018

216,851

$

204,415

Other assets and investments

30,247

28,178

Current assets

23,837

32,330

Deferred charges Total assets

142

142

$ 271,077 $

265,065

EQUITIES AND LIABILITIES Equities

$

65,576 $

61,256

Long-term debt

176,670

177,696

Other liabilities

4,191

3,589

23,685

21,694

940

809

Current liabilities

Director’s Compensation Disclosure Elected directors are paid an annual retainer of $1,200 and a per diem based on board position and years of service or credential status for meetings attended on behalf of the cooperative. The chairman is paid an annual retainer of $2,200.

96,131

93,424

Interest expense

Net margins

2018

100,615 $

Deferred tax liability Deferred credits Total equity and liabilities

15

21

$ 271,077 $

265,065

Where Your Dollars Go

Irrigation Sales 4%

Property Taxes 4% Depreciation 11% Administrative & Member Services 10%

Commercial & Industrial Sales 34% Residential Sales 62%

Interest Expense 6%

Cost Of Purchased Power 56%

Operations & Maintenance 13%

MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES 17


MI CO-OP Community

Best Of Michigan

CAMPGROUNDS

1

Sleep under the stars at these favorite member campgrounds.

2

3

1 2

3

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7

5 1 6

UP NEXT

WINERIES!

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/

2

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

3

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

4

Barnes Park Campground, Antrim County

5

Hill & Hollow Campground & RV Park, Pentwater

6

Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park, Silver Lake

7

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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June 2020 MEC  

June 2020 MEC