June 2024 HomeWorks

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A Historic Icon of the Great Lakes
June 2024 MICHIGAN
New Internet Packages Coming Soon! Director Election Results Are In Solar Energy Options To Meet Your Needs
HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative


Comparing is believing.

When you compare our geothermal system to a traditional gas or electric HVAC unit, the winner is clear.

We’ve got the competition beat on every level. A WaterFurnace geothermal heat pump offers unmatched efficiencies, so your energy costs are much lower than with a conventional furnace or a/c. It doesn’t rely on fossil fuels, so it’s much better on the environment. And the consistent temperatures and low humidity allow you to dial in your ideal comfort. With a 30% federal tax credit1 available, now is a great time to contact your local WaterFurnace dealer today!

Geothermal is the only renewable that provides reliable operation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year



Allendale Htg & Clg (800)327-1937 allendaleheating.com

Berrien Springs

Waterfurnace Michiana (269)473-5667 gogreenmichgeo thermal.com

Big Rapids

Stratz Htg & Clg, Inc. (231)796-3717 stratzgeocomfort.com

Clifford Orton Refrig & Htg (989)761-7691 sanduskygeothermal.com

Filion/Bad Axe Air-O-Dynamic Htg. & Clg. (989)582-0137


Adams Htg & Clg (231)873-2665 adamsheating cooling.com

Indian River

M&M Plmb & Htg (231)238-7201 mm-plumbing.com

Lansing Candor Mechanical (517)920-0890 candormechanical.com

Lowell Arctic Inc. Htg. & Clg. (616)897-4213 heatingcoolingonline.com

Manistique Hoholik Enterprises (906)341-5065 hoholikenterprises.com

Marinette, WI GPS Htg. & Clg (715)732-2111 gpsheatingcooling.com

Michigan Center Comfort 1/Air Serv of Southern Michigan (517)764-1500 airserv.com/southernmichigan/

Mt Pleasant Walton Htg & Clg (989)772-4822 waltonheating.com

Muskegon Adams Htg & Clg (231)873-2665 adamsheatingcooling.com

Negaunee J-Goods Plmb. & Htg. (906)869-2522 jgoodsplumbingand heating.com

Portland ESI Htg & Clg (517)647-6906 esiheating.com

Sunfield Mark Woodman Plmb & Htg (517)886-1138 mwphonline.com

Traverse City

D&W Mechanical (231)941-1251 dwmechanical.com Geofurnace Htg & Clg (231)943-1000 geofurnace.com


Alger Delta Electric: up to $2,000

Cherryland Electric: up to $2,500

Cloverland: up to $6,275

Great Lakes Energy: up to $5,000

Homeworks/Tri-County Electric: up to $4,750

Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op: up to $4,750

Thumb Electric: up to $2,000

visit us at waterfurnace.com/mi The Reliable Renewable is a trademark of WaterFurnace International, Inc 1. ENERGY STAR rated units qualify for 30% through 2030 and 26% through 2032 and 22% through 2033

Michigan’s Electric Cooperatives


EDITOR: Christine Dorr


RECIPE EDITOR: Christin Russman

COPY EDITOR: Yvette Pecha


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: Tom Sobeck, Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op, chairman; Gabe Schneider, Cherryland Electric Cooperative, vice chairman; Chris O’Neill, HomeWorks TriCounty Cooperative, secretary-treasurer; Craig Borr, president and CEO.


201 Townsend St., Suite 900 Lansing, MI 48933

248-534-7358 editor@countrylines.com

CHANGE OF ADDRESS: Please notify your electric cooperative. See page 4 for contact information.

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

6 10 14


Electric cooperative director recalls life in rural Michigan—and how it changed with electricity.



Tacos & Margaritas: A combination that will spice up your next fiesta.



Glide through Lake Michigan on the only National Historic Landmark that moves.


Grandparents at the Doorstep: A GLE member sings the praises of the “world’s best, most trusted babysitters.”

MI Co-op Community

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

Recipe Contest

See details on page 10. Casseroles, due July 1; Breads & Muffi ns, due Aug. 1.

Win a $100 bill credit!

Guest Column

Share your fondest memories and stories. Win $200 for stories published. Visit countrylines.com/community to submit. Win $200 for stories published!

Contents June 2024 Vol. 44, No. 6 /michigancountrylines /michigancountrylines countrylines.com


homeworks.org tricoenergy@homeworks.org

Portland office/Mail payments to: 7973 E. Grand River Ave. Portland, MI 48875

Open 8 a.m.–4 p.m. Monday–Friday Blanchard office: 3681 Costabella Ave. Blanchard, MI 49310

Open 8 a.m.–4 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: 1-844-963-2875

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


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 — Jake Borton 7543 E. Edgar Rd., Vestaburg, MI 48891 989-506-3404 • jborton@homeworks.org

District 5 — Theresa Sopocy 6996 E. Wilson Rd., Bannister, MI 48807 989-292-0295 • tsopocy@homeworks.org

District 6 — Ed Oplinger, Secretary-Treasurer 10890 W. Weidman Rd., Weidman, MI 48893 989-506-1639 • eoplinger@homeworks.org

District 7 — Shirley Sprague 15563 45th Ave., Barryton, MI 49305 989-382-7535 • ssprague@homeworks.org

Editor: Charly Markwart, CCC cmarkwart@homeworks.org

IMembers Engage With Co-op In Record Numbers At 2024 District Meetings

’ve said many times that one of my favorite things about leading a rural electric cooperative owned by the members we serve is the opportunity to engage directly with the folks who receive our electric service. Perhaps at no time is this grassroots engagement more evident than at our annual district membership meetings each May.

I’m thrilled to report that again this year you showed up to our virtual district meetings in record numbers! Over 900 members logged onto their meeting last month to participate in the democracy of their Co-op and receive an update on everything we’ve been up to over the past year. And you didn’t just show up; you were highly engaged! Here are just a few of the common topics you asked insightful questions about at this year’s meetings:

• Renewable Energy: Similar to last year, members at every 2024 district meeting wanted to hear more about their opportunities to participate in renewable energy at their home, especially solar energy. We offer three solar programs for members, and we’re working on a potential fourth option to add to our portfolio very soon. Since June is National Solar Energy Month, we thought it would be the perfect time to highlight our solar offerings for you. You can read all about them in the feature on page 17 of this issue.

• New Energy Legislation & Electric Grid Reliability: Several attendees asked about our ability to meet growing electric demand in light of Michigan’s aggressive new clean energy legislation. I told them that while HomeWorks is in a better position to meet the requirement of carbon-free energy by 2040 than many of the state’s utilities thanks to the clean and renewable portfolio of our power supplier and our new power purchase agreement with the Palisades Nuclear Plant upon its historic restart, we are still concerned about the pace of the legislation. You can rest assured that we will continue to advocate for a responsible energy transition that ensures we maintain the electric capacity to continue to meet the needs of our members.

• Costs and Rates: Of course, the increased cost of living is on everyone’s mind these days, and at this year’s meetings, I addressed the unfortunate fact that our costs to provide you with reliable electricity and fiber internet service continue to rise. The good thing is that as a not-for-profit electric co-op, you can be sure that our rates are based only on our cost to serve you. While we all certainly wish costs could be lower, I’m proud that we are able to provide you with unparalleled service and reliability at rates that remain in line with or below those of our competitors.

• Right-of-Way Clearing: Every year at district meetings, members ask us about the tree trimming and removal that we perform as part of our right-of-way program, which is one of the key ways that we are able to provide you with power that is over 99.95% reliable. We showed an informative new video at this year’s meetings detailing how and why we keep the rights-of-way around our electric lines clear. I encourage you to watch it at HomeWorks.org/trees.

Thank you to every member who attended their 2024 district meeting! If you missed your meeting, you can watch a recording of it at HomeWorks.org/districtmeetings. Next up, I hope you’ll join us at your HomeWorks Park Party this summer!

4 JUNE 2024

Pohl, Livermore Elected To HomeWorks Board

The results of HomeWorks’ 2024 director elections in districts 3 and 6 are in, and thanks in part to a convenient electronic voting option implemented last year, a record number of members made their voice heard by casting a vote.

In District 3, which includes 1,815 members residing in Clinton County (except Bingham, Duplain, and Greenbush townships, which are part of District 4), Luke Pohl (incumbent) of Westphalia retained his seat in an uncontested election, receiving 100% of the 139 votes cast (7.7% of the district’s membership). Online ballots accounted for 91 of the votes submitted, while 48 votes were cast via mail-in ballots.

Pohl has been on the board since 2014. He serves as the board chairperson and also represents HomeWorks as the board chair of Spartan Renewable Energy.

In District 6, which includes 5,209 members residing in Clare and Isabella counties, Dave Livermore of Weidman defeated Tim Wolff of Lake Isabella, McCarther (Marc) Griffis of Lake Isabella, Al Davis of Weidman, and Harry Tope of Lake. Current director Ed Oplinger of Weidman did not seek re-election this year.

A total of 503 ballots were cast (9.7% of the district’s membership) in the election, resulting in the following vote breakdown: Livermore, 139 votes; Wolff, 112 votes; Griffis, 95 votes; Davis, 92 votes; and Tope, 65 votes. Online ballots accounted for 312 of the votes cast, while 191 votes

The winning directors will be officially seated at the Co-op’s annual meeting of delegates in August. They were elected for three-year terms.

In 2025, director elections will be held in districts 1, 5, and 7. Watch Country Lines and HomeWorks.org for information on the nomination process, which begins in January.

Attended By 900+ Member Households Excellent Engagement & Participation 350 Prizes Given Away Didn’t get to attend? We’ve got you covered! Watch a recording of your meeting at HomeWorks.org. What a great meeting! I learned so much about everything “ HomeWorks has to o er, and I really felt like a part of the Co-op. I'll be logging on every year from here on out!” - M e l i s s a P . , HomeWorks Member THANK YOU FOR ATTENDING OUR 2024 VIRTUAL DISTRICT MEETINGS!
Luke Pohl Dave Livermore
were submitted
via mail-in ballot.

Back in the Day

Electric cooperative director recalls life in rural Michigan—and how it changed with electricity

Louis Wenzlaff is somewhat of a luminary in the Thumb Electric Cooperative (TEC) service area. He was born and raised in Kingston, Michigan, and has spent his entire 87 years of life in the town, working in industries including farming, teaching, banking, and health care. As a TEC board member since 1977, he also has played a large role in ensuring cooperative members receive efficient and reliable electricity— something that, for good reason, he doesn’t take for granted.

The Wenzlaff family heritage in Michigan began when Louis’ grandparents, who were both German-born and had immigrated to Illinois, heard of a 120-acre farm that was for sale in Kingston. The eight children they raised on that property included Louis’ father, also named Louis. Louis Sr. moved to Detroit when he was 16 years old to work for Cadillac, but when the Great Depression hit in 1929, he moved back home to help prevent his family from losing the farm.

Louis Sr. met his soon-to-be wife Elizabeth at the country school, where she was a teacher and he was in charge of starting the potbelly stove fire on winter mornings. As was typical at the time, Louis Sr. and Elizabeth lived at the home of Louis’ grandparents, where they welcomed two daughters and then Louis. All three children were born in the house with the help of their grandmother and local midwives. One of Louis’ earliest memories is a momentous

Louis and his wife Sharon.

one: In 1941, when he was 4 years old, the Rural Electrification Administration (as TEC was known as the time) brought electricity to the farm. Louis said he remembers it “like it was yesterday.”

“You have to think of it,” Louis said. “We had no electricity, no running water, no plumbing, no nothing—it completely changed our lives.” The family’s first priority was to put a few lights in the house, followed by more lights in the barn. Using the well on the property, they then installed plumbing. Their first big appliance purchases were a refrigerator and a wringer washing machine. Next came a toilet—replacing the “three-holer” that Louis said they had in their outhouse because the family was so big. The introduction of these luxuries required the whole house to be remodeled. “They put in a bathroom and kitchen and septic tank—before, it had basically just been four walls,” Louis said.

“You have to think of it. We had no electricity, no running water, no plumbing, no nothing—it completely changed our lives.”

Productivity on the farm increased for the Wenzlaffs due to many factors, but one major difference was in dairy production. Louis said they had 12 cattle that had previously been milked by hand by the light of two kerosene lanterns. “But then we got a machine

from Sears-Roebuck that milked two cows at one time. It was wonderful, really,” Louis said. Adding a milk cooler also saved enormous quantities of time and energy. The family continued to slowly add appliances and new technologies, but they still lived a rather primitive lifestyle. Louis and his sisters would bathe about once a week, in the wash tub outside in the summertime and in front of the kitchen stove in colder seasons. “We just had to learn all the practical things we had to do to survive,” he said. The Wenzlaffs didn’t have much money, but that didn’t stop them from having fun. Louis said his aunts and uncles would visit every weekend. “Mother would play piano, and Dad would call square dances—that old house would just shake,” he said.

The farming life clearly suits Louis as he has, in some capacity, done it all his life. But he dipped his toes into several other careers as well—usually at the behest of others. Louis attended college for three years but left to work with his maternal grandfather, who was a carpenter, and procured a second job at a local lumberyard. His work at the yard consisted of installing plumbing, heating, and electrical services into local homes. He helped set up the area’s first ready mix concrete plant and delivered the cement to farmers. “As far as practicality, I learned more in those four years than I did in the rest of my career,” he said.

His carpentry days ended when the Kingston Community Schools

6 JUNE 2024
The Wenzlaff family farm in the early ‘50s. If you look closely, you can see the light poles installed by REA.

superintendent asked him if he wanted to work for the district. He taught bookkeeping and typing there for four years and was a coach for various sports. (Upon leaving the district, he served on the school board for over 30 years.) While teaching, Louis decided to continue with college and earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Central Michigan University...but then a new opportunity arose. “The guy I worked for at the lumberyard was the president of the bank board, and he said, ‘Why don’t you come run the bank?’” Louis said. “I didn’t have much knowledge, but I learned it and I stayed there for 23 years.” He was the CEO until Kingston State Bank was sold, upon which time he moved on to constructing modular home interiors for two years. And then yet another industry came calling for Louis: A former bank customer who was on Sanilac County’s social services board asked Louis if he wanted to oversee the county nursing home. Louis was the administrator of that nursing home for 22 years.

In 2013, Louis finally retired. But he continues to have an impact on the community and stays active in his personal life as well. Louis credits his longevity to “working hard and playing hard.” He and his wife Sharon have five children, two of whom help him out on his hobby farm. And, as mentioned, this is his 47th year of serving on the TEC board, which he says he enjoys for a number of reasons—including the travel benefit. Louis said he was always too busy with work and the farm to go anywhere outside of Michigan, so he’s been grateful for the opportunity to attend national director conferences. Louis certainly has a busier life than the average 87-year-old man, but rest assured, he is looking to slow down. “I might give up golfing,” he said with a laugh.

Louis and his sisters with their parents Elizabeth and Louis Sr.

Louis (middle) and his sisters Shirley (left) and Barbara (right) pose with their Grandpa Wenzlaff.


Heat Pumps: Your Hack for Efficient

All-Season Comfort

t’s June, which means many of us are switching on our A/C units for the first time this year. But before getting back into your summer cooling routine, don’t miss out on possible alternatives, like heat pumps, that could help you save energy while staying cool this summer.

A “Heat” Pump? For Cooling?

While the name can be misleading, don’t be fooled— a heat pump not only helps your home stay comfortable and warm in the winter, but also helps efficiently cool it in the summer.

If you haven’t heard of a heat pump, it works similarly to a refrigerator—in the summer, heat is moved from the inside of your home outward (making it cooler inside), while in the winter, the opposite occurs, providing more efficient heating since heat is transferred rather than generated.

Heat pumps use less than 50% of the energy of a window A/C unit, and an air-source heat pump can use up to 50% less electricity for heating (compared to baseboard heaters and furnaces).

And that’s not even including savings from HomeWorks rebates!

Get Cash Rebates from HomeWorks for Your Heat Pump

If you’re considering making the switch to a heat pump— whether it’s air-source, mini-split, or ground-source— cash rebates are available to you as a customer of HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Co-Op. You could qualify for rebates starting at $1,000 for the purchase and installation of a qualified heat pump system by a licensed mechanical contractor.

See the full list of heating and cooling rebates—and learn about all of our energy saving programs—by visiting our website at homeworks.org/eo and downloading our residential rebate application or by calling 877-296-4319.

VISI T homeworks.org/eo C AL L 877-296-4319 C A SH R E B AT E S S TA R TIN G AT $1, 0 0 0 W I T H A I

Fairs & Festivals

Enter to win a $100 energy bill credit!

Submit Your “Quilts” Photos By June 20!

Each month, HomeWorks members are able to submit photos on our website for our photo contest. The photo receiving the most votes is published here, along with some other selections from that month. Our June theme is Quilts. Photos can be submitted through June 20 to be featured in our September issue.

To enter the contest, visit HomeWorks.org/ photocontest. Enter your picture, cast your vote, and encourage others to vote for you, too. If your photo is published in Country Lines during 2024, you will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win one of four $100 credits on your December 2024 HomeWorks bill!



5. Having fun on the bumper boats! Natalie Merritt, Portland



2. A day at the fair must include a corn dog! Stephanie Erickson, Lake Odessa 3. Ionia Free Fair night lights! Karinn Swain, Portland 4. CONFLUXCITY Brewing Company—CBC Brew Crew ready to serve you at the Grand Ledge Beer Festival! Casie Bayless, Portland Beautiful quilt exhibit, an event at the Shepherd Maple Syrup Festival. Debra Cook, Mt. Pleasant Getting the hang of fair life! Krista Schafer, Remus 8. Making friends at the Isabella County Fair. Laura Karcher, Blanchard 9. Ready to pounce at the Lake Odessa Fair dodgeball tournament 2024. Colleen King, Lake Odessa 10. Taking care of business. Jamie Apsey, Lake Odessa
3 10 7 1 8 5 2 9 6 4 9 MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES
The young of heart enjoying a ride at the Lake Odessa Fair! Janice Fyan, Lake Odessa


MI CO-OP Recipes WINNING RECIPE! Recipe Contest Win a $100 energy bill credit! Casseroles due July 1; Breads & Muffi ns due Aug. 1 Submit your favorite recipe for a chance to win a $100 bill credit and have your recipe featured in Country Lines with a photo and a video. Submit your recipe at micoopkitchen.com , or send it via email (include your full name and co-op) to recipes@countrylines.com
MARGARITAS Lisa Kirker, Great Lakes Energy 1½ cups tequila ½ cup triple sec ½ cup light beer (such as Corona Light) 1 (12-ounce) can frozen lemonade ¼ cup fresh lemon juice (2–3 medium lemons) ¼ cup fresh lime juice (4–6 medium limes) 1½ cups filtered water Mix all of the ingredients in a large pitcher. Stir. Serve over ice, or mix with ice in the blender for a frozen margarita. This recipe will last in the fridge for up to a week. TACOS &
A combination that will spice up your next fiesta. Watch a video of this month’s winning recipe at micoopkitchen.com/recipe_ type/videos/ 10 JUNE 2024


Peg Poppler, Cherryland Electric Cooperative

8–10 soft taco shells

1 pound pulled pork (homemade or store bought), keep warm

2 tablespoons barbecue sauce

1¹⁄³ cup prepared Spanish or Mexican rice

1 cup Mexican cheese blend


1 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

¹⁄³ cup finely diced onion

3 tablespoons flour

1 (14.5-ounce) can chicken broth

½ (4-ounce) can green chiles

½ teaspoon cumin powder

½ teaspoon garlic powder

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup sour cream

½ cup Mexican cheese blend

• chopped cilantro, optional

• salsa, optional

To prepare the sauce, melt the butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, stirring. Sprinkle the flour over the onions; stir and cook for a minute. Gradually whisk in the chicken broth. Add the green chiles, cumin, garlic powder, and salt and simmer until thickened. Set aside and keep warm. Right before serving, remove from heat and whisk in the sour cream and ½ cup cheese. To make the tacos, place the soft taco shells on a microwave-safe plate. Cover with a damp paper towel and microwave for 30 seconds. Stir the barbecue sauce into the pulled pork. Evenly divide rice, cheese, and pulled pork onto the taco shells. Drizzle the sauce over the pulled pork and serve immediately. Serve with chopped cilantro and salsa, if desired.


Debra Ford, Cherryland Electric Cooperative

1½ (750-milliliter) bottle

100% agave tequila

1 (750-milliliter) bottle triple sec

1 quart (32 ounces) sweet and sour mix

1 quart (32 ounces) water

• limes, sliced as desired

Mix all liquids in large pitcher or container. Add limes and serve over ice.


Elizabeth Postma, Great Lakes Energy

1 pound ground beef or your choice of protein (chicken, turkey, tofu, etc.)

1 (1.25-ounce) packet taco seasoning mix

8 small corn or flour tortillas

1 cup shredded lettuce

1 cup diced fresh tomatoes

1 cup shredded cheese (cheddar or Mexican blend)

½ cup diced onions

¼ cup chopped cilantro

• Optional toppings: salsa, sour cream, guacamole, lime wedges (for garnish)

In a skillet, cook the ground beef over medium heat until browned and cooked through. Drain any excess fat. Add the taco seasoning mix to the cooked beef according to the package instructions. Stir well to combine and simmer for a few minutes. If using flour tortillas, warm in a separate skillet or in the microwave until warm and pliable. If using hard-shell tacos, heat according to package directions. Assemble the tacos by placing a spoonful of seasoned beef in each tortilla. Top with shredded lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, onions, and cilantro. Serve with your choice of toppings on the side.


Sharon Libich, Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op

½ pound ground beef or turkey

6 ounces mild (or favorite spice level) salsa

1 tablespoon finely chopped sweet onion

½ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon cilantro

½ teaspoon cumin

½ teaspoon sea salt

1 (8-ounce) can refrigerated biscuits

½ –1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 400 F. Prepare a standard-size muffin tin with muffin cups (ungreased). In a large skillet over medium heat, brown meat (don’t overcook). Drain. Add salsa, onion, and seasonings. Simmer uncovered, over low heat, stirring frequently for 5 minutes. Separate biscuit dough and place one biscuit in each ungreased muffin cup, pressing dough up the sides to the edge of each cup. Spoon meat mixture into cups. Bake for 10–12 minutes. Sprinkle each cup with shredded cheese and broil in the oven until melted, about 1 minute. Enjoy!


Do You Have Info On Gunshot Damage To Our Infrastructure?

from April 2023 to May 2024

Reward for info leading to the apprehension and conviction of responsible person(s)

in damages to Co-op’s electric infrastructure

Working with FBI, Homeland Security, Michigan State Police, & local agencies

Clinton, Eaton, & Ionia is when damage occurs

have included regulators, transformers, OCRs, AMI equipment, & more

to report info to Crime Stoppers of Mid-Michigan

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 the item(s) listed below at its meeting on June 24, 2024, to be held at the Cooperative office at 7973 E. Grand River Avenue, Portland, Michigan. 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. 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 Home 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 accessible parking. Persons needing any accommodation to participate should contact HomeWorks Tri-County Electric at 800-562-8232 at least a week in advance of the meeting to request mobility, visual, hearing, or other assistance. Comments may also be made prior to the meeting date by calling CEO Chris O’Neill at 517-647-1284, or contacting him by email at coneill@homeworks.org. Notice of the board meeting shall be sent to all members, as required by P.A. 167, by publication in Michigan Country Lines.

12 JUNE 2024

Your Board In Action

Meeting in Blanchard on April 29, your board of directors:

• Approved 5.91% as the weighted average cost of capital to discount estate capital credit retirements made in 2024.

• Reviewed HomeWorks’ 2023 Michigan Public Service Commission Electric Distribution Performance Measures Report, which shows that the Co-op exceeded all applicable standards last year.

• Reviewed a Co-op safety analysis and action plan presented by Safety & Loss Prevention Specialist Jeff Erridge.

• Authorized management to enter into a new threeyear agreement with Eide Bailly, LLP to audit the Co-op’s finances on an annual basis, and to amend the 2024 operating budget in order to proceed with a proposed additional internal control consulting service with the firm.

• Reviewed a quarterly analysis of the Co-op’s Energy Optimization program, showing that participating members have saved 462,377 kWh in energy and earned $105,182 in rebates so far in 2024.

• Discussed and accepted Cooperative bylaw sections 10-13, as revised.

• Learned there were 80 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.

• Acknowledged the March physical & cybersecurity report, which noted another recent instance in a string of gunshot damage incidents to Co-op electric equipment.

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 24 and July 22 at Portland. Members who wish to have items considered on the board agenda should call 517-647-7554 at least a week in advance of the meeting.

Your Spare Change Helps People Fund Make A Big Difference In Our Communities

Meeting remotely on April 17, our People Fund board made six grants totaling over $11,500, including:

• $5,000 to the Chippewa-Martiny Fire Department, for fire gear and boots;

• $2,500 to Helping Hands Food Pantry in Charlotte, for food assistance for families in need;

• $2,000 to the St. Mary St. Vincent de Paul Society in Charlotte, for utility bill assistance for clients in need;

• $1,700 to the EightCAP Inc. Foster Grandparents/Senior Companion Programs in Orleans, for online program training and supplies;

• $350 to Eaton RESA’s Adult Handicap Program in Charlotte, to help provide a night of bowling for clients; and

• $130 to a Mecosta County family, to cover a utility bill.

How to Apply for a Tri-County Electric People Fund Grant

The Tri-County Electric People Fund provides grants to individuals and organizations in the Co-op’s service area for food, shelter, clothing, health, and other humane needs, or for programs or services that benefit a significant segment of a community.

Write to 7973 E. Grand River Ave., Portland, MI 48875, for an application form and grant guidelines, or visit the People Fund page at HomeWorks.org.

Note: Applications must be received by July 2 for the July meeting or by Aug. 13 for the August meeting.



A Historic Icon of the Great Lakes

Common sense says the path of least resistance is the wise choice. But what if the wise choice isn’t the one that can bring you a new, one-of-a-kind experience? Well then, sometimes you take the choppier path.

Folks from Michigan might take the interstate route through bustling Chicago to reach Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Those further north might opt to drive through the scenic Upper Peninsula. But those with an inkling for adventure should consider a third route.

A Historic Journey

The S.S. Badger is the last coal-fired passenger steamship in operation in the United States. She has provided a fun, reliable, and affordable shortcut across beautiful Lake Michigan for more than 70 years and has transported millions of passengers since her rebirth in 1992.

With ports in Ludington, Michigan, and Manitowoc, Wisconsin, the S.S. Badger is a floating reminder of maritime history and an enduring symbol of the Great Lakes’ rich heritage. The 410-foot ship can accommodate 600 passengers and 180 vehicles, including cars, RVs, motorcycles, and commercial trucks, during her sailing season of June through early October.

“The Badger is the last coal-fired passenger steamship in operation in the United States. With Great Lakes surrounding Michigan’s two peninsulas, the state has relied on ferries to transport people, vehicles, and products for over 130 years,” said Sara Spore, general manager of Lake Michigan Carferry, the company that manages the S.S. Badger. “As a moving National Historic Landmark (NHL), she continues to serve as a unique maritime tradition.”

Uniquely registered as a historical site in both Michigan and Wisconsin, the Badger holds numerous accolades, including being designated as a mechanical engineering landmark and named Ship of the Year by the Steamship Historical Society of America.

In 2016, she received the nation’s highest historic honor when the U.S. Department of Interior officially designated the Badger as a National Historic Landmark—making her the only NHL that moves.

14 JUNE 2024

Tradition Meets Entertainment

After making the difficult decision to end the 2023 season early due to unexpected damage to the Badger ’s ramp system, Lake Michigan Carferry is excited to get back at it. While refunds were issued for those who had already booked passage for later in the 2023 season, there were disappointed passengers, as well as a staff who is eager to please each season.

“Our staff, passengers, and both port cities are looking forward to the upcoming season,” said Spore. “The Badger is a fun experience for passengers with many favorite traditions onboard.”

Spore isn’t exaggerating—the S.S. Badger offers more than just transportation; it provides a memorable experience steeped in tradition and entertainment. From free Badger Bingo and onboard movie lounges to kids’ play areas and arcade games, the ship offers many activities to enjoy during the voyage. Additionally, passengers can indulge in food and beverages at onboard bars and restaurants, browse the gift shop, or simply relax on the outside decks, soaking in the scenic beauty of the Great Lakes.

The Badger is the last coal- red passenger steamship in operation in the United States. With Great Lakes surrounding Michigan’s two peninsulas, the state has relied on ferries to transport people, vehicles, and products for over 130 years.”

The Legacy Continues

The S.S. Badger’s journey reflects not only the evolution of maritime technology but also the changing environmental consciousness. Originally designed to transport railcars, the Badger has adapted to meet modern sustainability standards. Lake Michigan Carferry has undertaken significant initiatives to ensure the ship’s environmental impact is minimized. With the cessation of ash discharge into the lake and the implementation of new ash-retention and combustion-control systems, the Badger now serves as a model of eco-friendly maritime transportation.

As the S.S. Badger embarks on another season, it does so not only as a historic vessel but also as a forward-thinking model of sustainability and stewardship, ensuring that its legacy continues for generations to come. With its rich history, environmental initiatives, and commitment to providing an exciting and memorable voyage, the S.S. Badger remains an essential part of Michigan’s maritime heritage and a beloved way to traverse the waters between Michigan and Wisconsin.

/ssbadgerferry /ssbadgerferry /ssbadgerferry ssbadger.com @badgerferry_official

HomeWorks Connect is revamping our internet offerings! Starting on Aug. 1, 2024, we’ll be introducing new packages designed to deliver more value to you, our members and valued internet subscribers. Our new plans offer higher speeds that are better suited for your needs and also include added features like our TechShield suite of security and storage solutions and our MyBundle streaming tool. We’re also making adjustments to our prices to ensure our packages reflect the cost of providing this high-quality service to you. We haven’t changed our prices since we launched in 2018, but we want to be sure that we will be able to keep investing in our network and continue delivering the reliable internet upon which you depend. We plan to keep our new prices steady, so those continue to be something you can rely on, too.


We think you’ll like our new packages even better than the current plans. Starting in August, you’ll be able to connect to our Gigabit package for less than $100! Our 200 Mbps plan is being replaced by a 250 Mbps plan that costs less per month, and our middle tier of 500 Mbps is providing even more value. However, if you’d like to start instead with one of our current plans, simply lock it in before Aug. 1 by signing your one-year customer agreement today!


If you already have our broadband service and are still in your first year of service, you’ll be able to continue receiving your current package at your current price until your one-year agreement is up. If you’d like to upgrade your package to one of our new options, you’ll have the option to do so with no penalty, so you can receive the internet package that is just right for you and your home. Simply email us at internet@homeworks.org or give us a call at 800-668-8413 and we can make that change for you! Subscribers without an existing one-year agreement will be moved to the package closest to their existing speeds starting Aug. 1.

STARTING AUGUST 2024! NEW INTERNET PACKAGES Learn more about HomeWorks Connect by visiting Join.HomeWorksConnect.org or calling 800-668-8413! This service is not regulated by the Michigan Public Service Commission.
COMING SOON: NEW PACKAGES, NEW PRICES, MORE VALUE! 1,000 Mbps - $99.95 500 Mbps - $89.95 250 Mbps - $64.95 16 JUNE 2024

Solar Options To Suit Your Needs

Did you know that HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative and other Michigan electric cooperatives powered by Wolverine Power Cooperative are state leaders in providing members with electricity that is well over 50% carbon free and 20% renewable? Those percentages continue to grow, too, because we are committed to finding innovative ways to source energy that is not only renewable, but also reliable and cost efficient for you. One way we achieve that is through solar energy. Since June is National Solar Energy Month, we thought we’d highlight the three solar programs we offer to help our members bring more renewable energy to their communities and save money at the same time.

Community Solar

Think of community solar as a way to have the benefits of rooftop solar, but without the cost and hassle of installing solar panels on your roof.

How Does It Work?

You purchase a panel subscription in our Spartan Solar community solar array, which entitles you to a share of the energy produced by the array. We continue delivering your energy, and you’ll receive solar credits on your bill each month. There is nothing to install or maintain on your end, and you can cancel at any time.

Distributed Renewable Energy

Offset your energy usage with your own electric generation at your home. Use what you need; sell what you don’t.

How Does It Work?

After you complete the installation of a renewable energy generation system, we’ll install a special twoway meter that records how much electricity you use and how much you are putting on the grid. Every kWh you produce and use at your home is a kWh you don’t have to buy from us. If you use more than you produce, you’ll be billed for your usage. If you produce more than you use, a credit will be placed on your bill for the excess.

Become a generator. Install a solar or wind system on your property and sell all the energy it produces to us.

How Does It Work?

You install an energy generation system on your property. We’ll install a meter on your system that tracks all the energy you produce. We then buy all of the energy the system generates. With this option, you are a true energy supplier to your Co-op. If your goal is to generate more energy than your annual usage, buy-all/sell-all is the way to go.

We're also working on adding a self-supply option to our solar energy portfolio very soon. Call 800-562-8232 and ask for Nick Simon to discuss which solar option is right for you! 17 MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES

Grandparents at the Doorstep:

Building Stronger Families and Happier Childhoods

“When can I have a sleepover at Grammy and (Grand)Dude’s?” my four-year-old asks me as we are wedged in her twin bed reading “The Little Mermaid” for the hundredth time. “Probably this summer,” I reply. She smiles, closes her book, and snuggles in, bringing the covers up to her chin while still smiling. As I lay next to her, I think, “We are so lucky.”

I saw a meme recently that said “The greatest parenting hack is to live close to the grandparents.” This could not ring more true. Having my parents, my mother-in-law, and—before his passing—my father-in-law nearby has definitely been the ultimate parenting hack. Not only are my husband and I so grateful for the (free and last-minute) childcare our parents provide, we also love the special relationships they build with both of our daughters.

I look at my youngest as she holds her hands up in the air with a scrunched-up grin on her face, asking “up up” to my dad. I watch my oldest zip around the house in anticipation of my mother-in-law’s weekly visit and patiently answer questions and talk about her grandpa and why we can no longer visit him anymore. I listen and quietly chuckle as she explains to me that she is eating from the outside of her plate inward because “Grammy told me the food is colder on the outside first.” I smile as she asks if her grandpa knew about her baby sister. “Yes,” her dad responds, “and he was so excited about her, and so proud of the big sister you were becoming.”

The birthday celebrations, sleep-overs, trips to McDonald’s, visits to the library, etc., are of course, fulfilling and enriching for our girls, but it’s also the mundane and the not-so-fun stuff that really makes my heart full. It’s the midnight phone call to watch the oldest while we take the youngest to the ER for a fever that won’t go away. It’s the 6 a.m. text “Can you watch M today? School is cancelled and I don’t have any sick days left.” It’s the “Z won’t stop crying and I don’t know what to do, can you come over?” It’s having the world’s best, most trusted babysitters ready to share their wisdom, time, or possibly just a calm space with our most treasured possessions. Having grandparents live close by is more than just a parenting hack; it’s the gift that keeps on giving. Their unwavering love and support create a foundation of security and joy for our daughters, and I cannot wait to see how their bond continues to deepen in the years to come.

“Having grandparents live close by is more than just a parenting hack; it’s the gift that keeps on giving.”

About the Author: Alexandra is an instructional technology coordinator at Charlevoix Public Schools. She enjoys reading, sleeping, and getting outside with her family.

Guest Column

Win $200 for stories published!

Share your fondest memories and stories. Win $200 for stories published. Visit countrylines.com/ community to submit.

MI CO-OP Guest Column
18 JUNE 2024

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Report Outages: 1-800-848-9333


Join us this summer at your HomeWorks Park Party:

District 1: June 6 at the Flats Pavilion, Portland

District 2: June 20 at Bennett Park, Charlotte

District 3: July 17 at Droste Park, Westphalia

District 4: July 25 at Curtis Park, Edmore

District 5: Aug. 8 at Motz Park, St. Johns

District 6: Aug. 1 at Chipp-A-Water, Mt. Pleasant

District 7: July 11 at Fork Township Center, Barryton

Drop by anytime between 1-3 p.m.

Bring the family for ice cream, games, giveaways, and the chance to meet your Co-op staff!

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