March 2019 MEC

Page 1

March 2019


COUNTRY LINES Midwest Energy & Communications

Strengthening Schools, Strengthening Communities

Preparing For An Outage Tips For Getting The Best Wi-Fi


co-op entrepreneurs


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In This Issue March 2019 || Vol. 39, No. 3

Michigan’s Electric Cooperatives

michigancountrylines FEATURED PHOTO FROM


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Executive Editor: Casey Clark

page 18

Editor: Christine Dorr Copy Editor: Heidi Spencer Design and Production: Karreen Bird Publisher: Michigan Electric Cooperative Association Michigan Country Lines, USPS-591-710, is published monthly, except August and December, with periodicals postage paid at Lansing, Mich., and additional offices. It is the official publication of the Michigan Electric Cooperative Association, 201 Townsend St., Suite 900, Lansing, MI 48933. Subscriptions are authorized for members of Alger Delta, Cherryland, Great Lakes, HomeWorks Tri-County, Midwest Energy & Communications, Ontonagon, Presque Isle, and Thumb electric cooperatives by their boards of directors. POSTMASTER: SEND ALL UAA TO CFS. Association officers are Robert Kran, Great Lakes Energy, chairman; Mark Kappler, HomeWorks Tri-County Electric, vice chairman; and Eric Baker, Wolverine Power Cooperative, secretarytreasurer. Craig Borr is president and CEO. CONTACT US/LETTERS TO EDITOR: Michigan Country Lines 201 Townsend St., Suite 900 Lansing, MI 48933 248-534-7358

michigancountrylines icy pier on the lake

ON THE COVER Ryan and Brianne Rademacher, members of HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative, are the innovators of growing camelina to create a superior cooking oil. Read more about their business and other entrepreneurial members starting on page 6.

: @tpmann4msu

18 MI CO-OP COMMUNITY Follow Us On Instagram!

Come share in the splendor of rural Michigan with us @michigancountrylines. Guess Our New Mystery Photo And Win A $50 Bill Credit!

Photo by Mandy Wheeler

6 & 10 FEATURE Spotlight On Co-op Entrepreneurs

Read about fellow entrepreneurial movers and shakers from co-op territory in this special issue.

14 MI CO-OP KITCHEN Weeknight Dinners

Easy On Time, Big On Flavor By Christin McKamey & Our Readers

Win $150 for stories published!

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

Enter Our Recipe Contest And Win A $50 Bill Credit!


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.

ATTENTION READERS: The publisher of Michigan Country Lines magazine is working with NRECA Market Research Services, a reputable public opinion research company, to conduct a confidential survey for Michigan’s electric cooperatives. If NRECA Market Research Services contacts you by phone or email, please be assured they are not selling anything. The short, confidential survey will help your co-op serve you better. Thank you for your time and help with this survey.








CORPORATE HEADQUARTERS AND CASSOPOLIS SOLUTIONS CENTER 60590 Decatur Road Cassopolis, MI 49031 M–F 8 a.m.–5 p.m. PAW PAW SOLUTIONS CENTER 59825 S. LaGrave Paw Paw, MI 49079 M–F 8 a.m.–5 p.m. ADRIAN SOLUTIONS CENTER 1610 E. Maumee Street Adrian, MI 49221 M–F 8 a.m.–5 p.m.


BOARD OF DIRECTORS Clarence “Topper” Barth, Chairperson, Three Rivers 269-279-9233 Ben Russell, Vice Chairperson, Constantine 269-506-1590 Ron Armstrong, Secretary, Lawton 269-299-0443 John Green, Treasurer, Dowagiac 269-470-2816 Gerry Bundle, Cassopolis 269-414-0164 Arell Chapman, Onsted 517-292-3040 James Dickerson, Bloomingdale 269-370-6868 Fred Turk, Decatur 269-423-7762 PRESIDENT/CEO Robert Hance VP, CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS/EDITOR Patty Nowlin COMMUNICATIONS SPECIALIST

Amy Pales

Join us on Facebook: Midwest Energy & Communications is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

4 MARCH 2019

Opportunity Abounds With Fiber Internet Expansion Robert Hance, President/CEO

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” As I think back over our five years in the fiber internet business, I realize there was a lot we didn’t know when we jumped in. Much of it was technical and operational stuff that we learned on the fly, but the biggest “aha moments” came from the response to our new offering. Our charge from the board of directors late in 2014 was to implement a five-year plan to deploy fiber internet across our southwest Michigan electric service territory. We knew there would be a huge learning curve and some growing pains. What we didn’t know was that we were on to something so much bigger than what we ever imagined. We successfully launched a broadband offering that remains unparalleled in terms of the overall service experience, and as expected our electric consumers signed up in droves. Some were part of the first year of construction, and some now eagerly await their install as we make our way through year five. We knew this would be well received, but never expected the overwhelming response we got from outside of our service territory. Word spread quickly, and we started seeing organized, grassroots efforts spring forth from townships, communities, neighborhood associations and even individuals—all begging us to bring this service to their area. Didn’t see that one coming! The story just keeps getting better and better. We are well ahead of our scheduled build out in southwest Michigan, and plan to begin construction in southeast Michigan next year. Our sign-ups are significantly higher than projected in our business plan (we expect to install our 10,000th subscriber next month!), and many are enjoying their experience so much that they’re upgrading to the higher-speed options at rates exceeding our expectations. It’s a perfect storm to take advantage of the growing interest brewing outside of our service territory. We’ve already dipped our toes in the water of this kind of opportunity and extended service into a few areas that we don’t serve electrically. These were well organized efforts where prospective subscribers came with enough interest and cash-in-hand to cover a substantial portion of the construction costs. These “one-offs” gave us a unique opportunity to develop an expansion business model that will offer positive economic benefits for you and your cooperative. Given our perfect storm scenario, we’re ready to act. We’re currently mining data to evaluate interest from a number of areas adjacent to our electric service territory, and will extend construction offers into areas that seem ripe for the opportunity. None of this impacts our ongoing construction plan. Each offer will be unique, based on our financial strategy, and will require a minimum take-rate and financial buy-in to help fund capital costs. It’s a very different model than our planned deployment across our electric service territory. We still don’t know what we don’t know, but are making calculated and strategic decisions that will ultimately offer great value to our cooperative and electric consumers.

BE PREPARED Before Mother Nature rears her ugly head with spring and summer storms, prepare for the possibility of an extended power outage. Here are suggested items to keep on hand, but consider your unique individual and family circumstances as you create your emergency kit. • Water: At least one gallon per person, per day for drinking and sanitation. Don’t forget the pets. • Food: Non-perishable, especially items that don’t require cooking. A hand-operated can opener is helpful. • Lighting: Flashlights, candles and matches. • Telephone: Cordless phones won’t work during an outage, so have a corded phone available. Make sure cell phones are fully charged if outages are possible. • Communications: Have your mobile devices fully charged if outages are imminent so you can stay in the know. A battery-powered radio is also helpful. • Medical: First-aid kit ready with any needed medical supplies, and filled prescriptions. • Personal sanitation: Moist wipes, hand sanitizer and garbage bags. • Tools: Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities. • Battery-powered or wind-up clock. • Extra blankets.

Safety Tips: • Stay away from downed power lines, and call us immediately to report one. • Don’t touch a person or object in contact with a power line; the electric current could flow through you. • Stay inside your car if it comes in contact with a power line. • Turn off all appliances during an outage to avoid a circuit overload when power is restored. Leave on one lamp to alert you to restoration. • Never leave burning candles unattended. • Keep freezer and refrigerator doors closed. Food will stay frozen for 36 to 48 hours in a fully-loaded freezer, and about 24 hours in a partially-filled freezer.

Outage Reporting At Your Fingertips When you’re in the dark and trying to report your power outage, there’s nothing more frustrating than sitting in a crowded phone queue waiting for the next available rep. We offer easy and convenient ways to report your outage. SmartHub: SmartHub, our secure online portal and mobile app, is the quickest and easiest way to report your outage. Sign up for SmartHub at or download the app from your app store. Telephone: Our telephone system is equipped with an automatic outage reporting system; just dial 800-492-5989 and follow the prompts. We must have a current telephone number on your account. Update your account information by using SmartHub or calling our office. We have limited incoming telephone lines that are adequate for regular business operations, but may become taxed in a major outage situation. If you call and receive a fast busy signal, please use one of the alternate methods, or hang up and try again. Please do not use email or social media to report your outage as these platforms are not staffed 24/7.




co-op entrepreneurs Michigan Country Lines is proud to feature entrepreneurial movers and shakers from co-op territory in this special issue. Read on to meet pioneers, innovators and leaders who are making their mark on the world.

There is so much more to tell! Visit to read the full version of each entrepreneur’s story.

6 MARCH 2019

Ryan & Brianne Rademacher Bare Essential Oil

HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative Members Husband and wife team Ryan and Brianne Rademacher proudly farm land that’s been in Ryan’s family for three generations, delivering oil straight from the family farm to your table. The idea for their business, Bare Essential Oil, came about when Ryan discovered camelina in April 2017. After researching the seed, Ryan believed he could use camelina to create superior, healthy cooking oil. The Rademachers planted a crop of camelina on their farm that spring and were blessed with a fantastic harvest. The next challenge, however, was processing the camelina into cooking oil. “As luck would have it,” said Brianne, “we found a couple in northern Michigan that grow and press their own canola oil.” The new friends allowed the Rademachers to use the facility to create their very first batch of oil. Today, their camelina oil can be purchased through and at select stores throughout Michigan. “We’re very happy with our final product,” said Ryan. “It has rich vitamin E content and one of the highest smoke points of any oil. It offers a light, nutty flavor to any culinary creation.” Check out to order, and then use it to make their pumpkin energy ball recipe on page 15.

Judith Kimball & Ilona Stroupe

Harold Kociba

Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op Members

Thumb Electric Cooperative Member

Presque Isle Needleworks

Judith Kimball and Ilona Stroupe discovered a mutual fondness for lighthouses and needlework as teenagers. As the years passed and their friendship grew, the duo combined those interests to form Presque Isle Needleworks. “We love lighthouses,” Ilona said. “In 1983, we decided to create a cross-stitch kit of our local lighthouse.” One pattern led to the next and, since then, they have designed at least one new lighthouse pattern each year, later adding two pattern books for stitchers who have their own supplies. Judy and Ilona do all the work in assembling their cross-stitch kits—from cutting the fabric to intricately designing the artwork. In addition to their cross-stitch kits, they expanded the business to include quilt square patterns of lighthouses. Because lighthouse preservation is so important to the owners, a portion of each sale goes directly to support Michigan lighthouses.

Dizzy Daisy Winery & Vineyard

Harold Kociba began growing grapes as a retirement project in 2006. It didn’t take long, however, before Harold realized retirement wasn’t in his future. As a third-generation farmer, Harold attended several seminars through the Michigan Wine Council before deciding to switch from raising cows to growing grapes. That’s when Dizzy Daisy Winery & Vineyard was born. Using the same skills and attributes that saw him through dairy farming, Harold got to work. He learned all he could about wine making—solving crises with weather, soil conditions, early frosts and unpredictable markets. “It’s a challenge, just like growing or raising anything else,” said Harold. “That’s just part of being a farmer—trying to outfox Mother Nature on a daily basis.” Today, Harold and his team at Dizzy Daisy offer more than 75 wines. The team gets creative as new blends come from unpredictable weather or supply shortages—from their dry red Marechal Foch to their most popular Bad Axe Passion, which features a white blend with mango and passion fruit. The winery continues to diversify as they now make and sell hard cider.

David Gill

Marquette Brewing Cooperative Alger Delta Cooperative Member

Michigan will see its “first ever” cooperatively-owned brewery open its doors this summer in Marquette. Final architectural plans for the Marquette Brewing Cooperative (MBC) are currently in the works and, if all goes according to plan, craft beer will soon be flowing at 501 S. Lake Street. “We plan to have 10–12 beers on tap at all times,” said David Gill, president of the Marquette Homebrewers Club and the founder of MBC. “We’ll constantly rotate the selection, so there will always be something new.” Being an owner of a brewery in Marquette has broad appeal. The MBC already has over 280 member-owners, but David hopes to see membership doubled in time for their summer grand opening. Member-owners are entitled to all the benefits of ownership, including voting rights and a share in patronage dividends. “Our member-owners will also have access to workshops, tastings, seminars, and ‘brew-your-own beer’ events,” explained David. Lifetime individual memberships are available for $99 at, and a “preferred shares” program is available for those wanting to invest more. “Craft beer is a passion for each of us,” David concluded. “We have a dedicated core of brewers ready to serve the community with a diverse, holistic craft beer experience.” MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES


Light Your Home For Less With ENERGY STAR LEDs Installing LED light bulbs in your home is a quick and easy way to save energy. Look for the ENERGY STAR label for the best quality and longest product life. By replacing your home’s five most frequently used light fixtures or bulbs with ENERGY STAR® LEDs, you can save up to $75 each year.

Did You Know?

• For an LED light bulb to bear the ENERGY STAR label, it must pass rigorous testing to ensure maximum energy savings and performance. • LEDs are the size of a fleck of pepper. • The white light for LEDs is typically a mix of red, green, and blue LEDs. • LEDs contain no mercury and can easily be disposed of. • LEDs emit very little energy as wasted heat. In comparison, incandescent bulbs release 90 percent and CFLs release 80 percent of their energy as heat.

Choosing The Right LED Bulb Brightness

• Look for lumens, instead of watts, to determine brightness. Replace a 60W bulb with an LED bulb with about 800 lumens for comparable brightness.


• The color of an LED bulb is typically shown on a sliding scale between Warm and Cool. This measure is actually a temperature on the Kelvin scale (K), where lower K emits warmer, yellower light, and higher K produces cooler, bluer light.


Visit or call 877-296-4319 for additional energy-saving information and incentives.


Brighten world THEIR

Replace your home’s five most frequently used light bulbs with ENERGY STAR® LEDs and save up to $75 per year. ENERGY STAR lighting provides: • Significant energy savings • Highest quality and performance • Wide range of colors and brightness • Dimmable lighting and motion sensing capabilities


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

What Causes Power Outages? More often than not, outages are weather related— but that isn’t always the case. If the power goes out on a beautiful day, the cause could be anything from a curious critter to human error. Explore this infographic to learn about some of the non-weather elements that can affect your power supply.


Lightning, high winds, and ice are common weatherrelated power interruptions.


Outages are caused when trees interfere with power lines. This is why our line clearance and right-of-way maintenance programs are so important.


Squirrels, snakes and birds can come in contact with equipment such as transformers and fuses and cause equipment to momentarily fail or shut down completely.

Equipment Failure

The electric grid is a highlycomplex infrastructure with a lot of mechanical elements that can fail due to age, performance and other issues.

Public Damage

Damage by vehicle accidents or construction equipment can cause broken utility poles, downed power lines and equipment damage.




co-op entrepreneurs (continued)

Michigan Country Lines is proud to feature entrepreneurial movers and shakers from co-op territory in this special issue. Read on to meet pioneers, innovators and leaders who are making their mark on the world.

There is so much more to tell! Visit to read the full version of each entrepreneur’s story.

10 MARCH 2019

Kendall Rose The Revel Rose

Cherryland Electric Cooperative Member Three years ago Kendall Rose moved to northern Michigan as an outdoor recreation planner for the National Park Service. When federal budget cuts derailed her career, Kendall realized she could combine her passion for the great outdoors with her skills as an event planner. So, in 2017, The Revel Rose, an environmentally-friendly event planning company, was born. From month of coordination to full-service wedding planning, The Revel Rose handles everything from traditional weddings with 200 guests to destination elopements and intimate weddings. What sets this company apart, however, is Kendall’s vision to weave environmental stewardship (along with her eye for detail) into events by giving clients the chance to plan a minimal waste wedding. “I think it’s important to preserve and protect the places that make Michigan an enjoyable destination,” Kendall said. A minimal waste event means hiring preferred vendors who value “low-waste event planning, products, and processes,” Kendall explained. This includes farm to table caterers who utilize locally grown food and on-site services that recycle or compost the majority of event waste. The response has been terrific. “My clients are my biggest cheerleaders,” Kendall concluded.

Edna & Brad Yonker

Leonda Kessinger Shroyer

Ontonagon County REA Members

Midwest Energy & Communications Member

Junque Gypsy

Nonesuch Gallery

Located in a 1920-era building, Nonesuch Gallery is Ontonagon’s “not to be missed” shop, featuring all things quirky and artistic. Owned and run by artists Edna and Brad Yonker, the gallery features two levels for visitors to browse. Many of the items for sale are

handmade by local artists. Partners in life and work, Edna and Brad have created a masterpiece with their gallery. The main floor showcases Edna’s award-winning quilt-art and other textiles, plus furniture, home décor and jewelry, along with local coffee, mixes and lotions. Customers can even find Michigan-grown blueberry products. The downstairs floor of Nonesuch features Brad’s handmade guitars, many of which are handcrafted from local wood, alongside an assortment of new and used instruments. Before opening Nonesuch Gallery in 2001, Edna worked as an award-winning hand quilter. Her “Living A Dream” quilt, featured in the documentary “Quilting in the ‘90s” for the Library of Congress Folk Life Center, can be viewed on permanent display at the gallery. “Owning the gallery is so fun because we get to meet so many interesting people,” Edna said. “I love that.” Nonesuch Gallery is located at 638 River Street in Ontonagon.

Leonda Kessinger Shroyer spent hours as a child exploring flea markets with her grandparents. This early fascination with vintage memorabilia stayed with her as she later taught English and drama for Decatur Public Schools. “During my 30 years of teaching, I scoured thrift shops for stage props, costumes and classroom items,” Leonda explained. “Once retired, I turned my treasure hunting hobby into a self-supporting business.” Her venture, Junque Gypsy, began 10 years ago as an online shop on Etsy. While some boutiques promote the latest trends, Shroyer sparks nostalgia in customers as she finds, restores and resells vintage toys, holiday decor, jewelry, handbags and linens. Popular-selling items on her Etsy shop include vintage luggage, and even 1970-era Tupperware, which are “best sellers” since “things aren’t made like they used to be,” Leonda said. Junque Gypsy has caught the eye of curators domestically and internationally. In 2014, the prop master for the television show “Mike and Molly” bought a 1950s folk art figure for the show. A curator from Switzerland once bought a cake topper for a museum display on baptism customs. Others just love Junque Gypsy’s wares for the memories they evoke. “Basically, I sell nostalgia,” Leonda concluded. “That makes me happy.”

Connie McDermott 4C’s Cookies & More

Great Lakes Energy Cooperative Member Connie McDermott’s cookie business is anything but cookie cutter. It all started four years ago when her daughter, Carly, was attending basic training with the Michigan National Guard. “Every week I would make a variety of cookies to send to my daughter,” Connie said. The cookies received rave reviews—not only from Carly, but also from the friends in her unit. When Connie realized others were enjoying the treats, she baked and sent enough to be shared. That’s when she knew she had to pursue cookie baking. For the next six months Connie logged countless hours, finally perfecting her recipes. “I named my business 4C’s Cookies because my mother-in-law used to refer to our family as the 4 C’s,” Connie explained. “My name is Connie, my husband is Curt, and our daughters are Casey and Carly.” Her determination along with assistance from local resources, including The Starting Block (recipient of a Great Lakes Energy People Fund Grant), has helped her business grow. Today, there are 10 flavors of 4C’s Cookies sold in 16 locations across Michigan. The largest order comes from Bridge Street Market, a Meijer affiliate store in Grand Rapids. While she’s very happy with how well the business has done, Connie has even bigger plans. “I’d like to add online sales, find a distributor and open a storefront bakery,” she remarked. “My dream is to focus my full-time energy on cookies!” MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES


Strengthening Schools, Strengthening Our Communities In January, we surprised 37 educators with Strengthening Schools Grants to help them bring new and exciting learning opportunities to students throughout our service territory. We are proud to offer these grants, funded with partnership dollars from Touchstone Energy Cooperative, each year to those who share our vision of creating vibrant, relevant and sustainable rural communities. Co-op members Janene Ogrin, Pauline Giacobone and Lois Anderson evaluated and scored all applications and determined final awards without knowledge of the school, district or community. Awards were presented to the following schools and projects: • Bangor Middle School, $250 for the novel Wonder for students • Bangor Middle School, $366 for Chromebooks

MEC members Janene Ogrin and Pauline Giacobone surprise Paw Paw High School teacher Cari Houston (pictured far left) with a grant for her Mobi interactive tablet.

• Behavior Education Center—Van Buren Intermediate School District (VBISD), $1,300 for flexible seating and desks • Bloomingdale High School, $250 for a video camera • Central Elementary School, $1,000 for PE equipment • Central Elementary School, $500 for a membership • Centreville Elementary School, $720 for science kits and curriculum • Coloma High School, $1,300 for a digital/audio system • Coloma Junior High School, $420 Spanish short novels • Colon Elementary School, $200 for books and book bags • Davis Elementary School, $1,000 for a one-year subscription to the Accelerated Reader Program through Renaissance Learning • Davis Elementary School, $1,500 for books for the elementary library • Davis Elementary School, $420 for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) supplies • Decatur Jr./Sr. High School, $280 for novels • Dowagiac Union High School, $500 for Spanish books and magazines • Lawton Elementary School, $1,500 for Second-Step Bullying Prevention

Carey May, a teacher at Ross Beatty Jr./Sr. High received funds to help her purchase new microscopes:

“With our new microscopes, we will be able to see our specimens in much clearer detail than before. Our old microscopes had serious focusing problems, so I constantly had to check the slides before the students looked at them to make sure they were seeing what I wanted them to see. Now I can trust that the students will be able to bring them into focus and they will stay that way. Also, our old microscopes had limitations on how far we could zoom in; our new microscopes have a much greater magnification range. I will also be able to project specimens on our large television after hooking up one of the microscopes to my computer. It will be a great way to whole-group teach and review.”

12 MARCH 2019

Central Elementary Physical Education Teacher Brooke McClure and Principal Shelly McBride accept their MEC grant.

• Lawrence Jr./Sr. High School, $1,000 for robotics club • Lincoln Elementary School, $400 for outdoor learning spaces • Marcellus Elementary School, $1,600 for Chromebooks • Marcellus Middle/High School, $1,000 for virtual reality equipment • Mattawan Early Elementary School, $270 for parent videos to help parents encourage literacy in their children • Mattawan Later Elementary School, $290 for trail cameras • Mattawan Later Elementary School, $70 for digital scales for their science classes • Mattawan Middle School, $500 beekeeping club • Mendon Jr./Sr. High School, $600 for books • Morenci Middle School, $500 for a greenhouse • Niles Senior High School, $1,000 for robotics • Paw Paw High School, $1,000 for Suttons Bay field trip to study Great Lakes ecology aboard the Inland Seas Education sailing vessel • Paw Paw High School, $315 for a Mobi interactive tablet • Ross Beatty Jr./Sr. High School, $1,000 for robotics club • Ross Beatty Jr./Sr. High School, $1,500 for band instrument repair tools • Ross Beatty Jr./Sr. High School, $1,650 for microscopes

• Sam Adams Elementary School, $500 for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) the lab • Stubnitz Environmental Education Center, $500 for environmental education post-lesson plans • Vicksburg Community Schools, $1,000 for robotics club • Volinia Outcomes School, $1,300 for maintenance, safety and general supplies • Watervliet High School, $2,500 for joiner machine for shop class Our next funding cycle is right around the corner: information and applications will be available at in April.

Julie Leighton-Moser, Davis Elementary librarian, received a grant to purchase books for the library.

Cari Houston, teacher from Paw Paw High School, requested funds to purchase a Mobi interactive tablet:

“The Mobi gives me the flexibility and mobility to walk around the room while giving instruction. I am not tied to my desk, a computer, or a whiteboard. I now can provide help to struggling students instantly. The Mobi gives me access to any lesson materials that are on my desktop computer, and it’s also a great way to increase student participation, differentiate my instruction, and get instant feedback through formative assessments.”


Easy Weeknight Dinners When you’re short on time, these easy meals are big on flavor. Photos—Robert Bruce Photography

Winning Recipe!

Lasagna Stew

Rachel Cultice, Midwest Energy & Communications 1 1 1 4 2 8 1 • 1

pound ground beef tablespoon garlic, minced (24-ounce) jar marinara sauce cups broth (beef, chicken or vegetable) tablespoons dried parsley lasagna noodles, broken into 4 pieces each cup mozzarella cheese, shredded salt and pepper cup ricotta cheese

Brown ground beef in large pot. Add garlic and stir 2 minutes. Pour the marinara sauce, broth and parsley into the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and add noodles and mozzarella. Let cook, occasionally stirring about 15 minutes or until noodles are done to your liking. Salt and pepper to taste. Dish the stew into eight bowls and add a scoop of ricotta to the top of each. Serve immediately.

Watch a video of this month’s winning recipe at

14 MARCH 2019

15 Minute Creamy Fettuccini Donna Smith, HomeWorks Tri-County

8 ounces fettuccini noodles (or any variation of pasta) 8 ounces cream cheese, cubed ¾ cup grated parmesan cheese ½ cup butter ½ cup milk Optional ingredients: crushed garlic or garlic powder to taste, cooked or grilled chicken, shrimp, smoked salmon, broccoli, etc. Cook fettuccini according to package directions. In a large saucepan over low heat, stir together the cream cheese, parmesan cheese, butter and milk. Stir frequently until smooth. Add cooked fettuccini and toss lightly. Double or triple ingredients as desired for larger parties.

Chicken Enchilada Bake


Jessica Burns, Thumb Electric

1 Rotisserie chicken 1 can enchilada sauce (mild or hot spice per your preference) 1 package Spanish rice 1 (15-ounce) can black beans 1 (15-ounce) can corn 1 (15-ounce) can Rotel tomatoes, optional • shredded fiesta blend cheese, divided • sour cream • Chipotle Tabasco sauce • sliced avocado/guacamole, optional Preheat oven to 350 F. Shred the rotisserie chicken. Cook the Spanish rice according to package directions. Mix the chicken, corn,

Ryan and Brianne Rademacher, owners of Bare Essential Oil, offer these quick, healthy no-bake pumpkin energy balls that taste like cookies but are good for you!

black beans, tomatoes, enchilada sauce and half the cheese. In a 9x13 pan, evenly spread the Spanish rice. Next, add the rotisserie chicken mixture and top with remaining half of the shredded cheese. Bake until bubbly. Serve and garnish with listed condiments.

Ravioli With Roasted Pepper Cream Michele Smith, Ontonagon REA

1 (24—26 ounce) package frozen cheese or meat ravioli 1 (7-ounce) jar roasted red peppers, cut into bite-size pieces, reserve liquid ½ cup chicken stock 1 cup whipping cream ¾—1 cup grated Parmesan cheese Cook ravioli in boiling water about 7 minutes until floating and tender. Drain, set aside and keep warm. In a medium saucepan, combine peppers, reserved liquid and chicken stock. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until liquid is reduced to 2 tablespoons. Stir in whipping cream.

Pumpkin Energy Balls Bring back to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until starting to thicken. Add Parmesan cheese and cook, stirring constantly until cheese has melted and sauce has thickened. Place ravioli on four plates, spoon sauce over ravioli and serve.

Delicious Vegetables: due April 1 Festive Desserts: due May 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 for more information and to register.

Enter to win a


energy bill credit!

¾ 1 ½ 1¼ ¼ 3

cup creamy peanut butter tsp camelina oil cup pumpkin puree cups old-fashioned oats cup chia seeds Tbsp honey

Put the ingredients in a medium bowl and stir to combine. Cover the bowl and put in the refrigerator for 2 hours; this will make them easier to roll. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and roll the mixture into 12—14 balls. Chill for 2 more hours and enjoy! Read the full story about Ryan and Brianne Rademacher and Bare Essential Oil on page 6 and visit to find this recipe and others.


Fiber Update We’ve officially started the work to bring fiber to our last zones in our southwest Michigan deployment. Here is our general plan right now for when we will begin home installs this year.

• Covert/Hartford: Q2 • Paw Paw: Q3 • Texas: Q2 • Constantine/White Pigeon: Q4 Please remember there are a lot of steps to the construction process, and you’ll see us working in the field long before we’re ready to schedule your home installation.

Southeast Michigan/Northern Ohio:

We submitted the board-approved work plan to the Rural Utilities Service and secured our funding to build the Adrian infrastructure (as well as other cooperative-wide initiatives). It’s full steam ahead to begin our efforts in 2020!

Next Steps

Word is spreading well beyond our electric service territory. There have been a number of efforts organized by townships, communities, and neighborhood associations to bring fiber to their areas. We’re currently looking at and

evaluating opportunities for expansion on a case-by-case basis. We’re handling these requests very differently than our planned deployment for our electric customers, and our current construction plans will not be impacted. Each unique build will require a minimum number of subscribers and up-front cash to help cover construction expenses. Ultimately this is a win-win situation as we’re able to bring a transformational high-speed experience to many additional people and margins will benefit our cooperative consumers.

spring dates

Apr. 18 • May 16 • Jun. 20

MEC staff will be available from 4-7 pm to answer your questions and help you sign up for service. •

DISCOVER streaming services and learn how you can cut the cord from traditional cable and satellite providers. We’ll have cutting the cord sessions available throughout the event.

LEARN how FIBER internet is different from other platforms and how we’re different from other providers.

TEST drive our service with your own device or one of ours.


Midwest Energy & Communications 60590 Decatur Rd • Cassopolis, MI


Tips For The Best Wi-Fi Experience Have you noticed Wi-Fi slow spots in your home? Many things can adversely affect the signal. Here are some tips to help you maximize your service: • Get your furniture out of the way: Large pieces of furniture can act as a barrier to Wi-Fi. When it’s practical and possible, place large furniture along the exterior walls of your home, so they don’t block the signal. • Reflect on mirror placement: Mirrors reflect the Wi-Fi signal from your router, ultimately decreasing the signal’s strength. We suggest limiting the use of mirrors where possible. Trust us, you already look great! • Location, location, location: Wi-Fi routers need room to breathe. They should not be hidden behind speakers or other electronics that can cause interference. Microwave ovens, in particular, can negatively impact your Wi-Fi signal. • Keep your network secure: Make sure your network is secure so no one else can use your service. If you need help setting up a secure network, please give us a call. • Get the right equipment: Older Wi-Fi routers won’t allow you to maximize your fiber-speed experience, so make sure your router isn’t slowing you down. Our GigaCenter router, available for just $5/month for Basic/Advanced subscribers and free for Ultra/Gig subscribers, will ensure that you always have optimal service. If you live in a large house or on a large property, it’s worth investing in a Wi-Fi extender.

Take Your Wi-Fi Beyond Experience extended Wi-Fi coverage throughout your home for $5/mo. with our mesh satellite Wi-Fi extender that works exclusively with our GigaCenter wireless router.

Fuel Mix Report The fuel mix characteristics of Midwest Energy & Communications as required by Public Act 141 of 2000 for the 12-month period ending 12/31/18.

Comparison Of Fuel Sources Used Regional average fuel mix used Your co-op’s fuel mix

Fuel Source Coal 25.72% Oil




Gas 12.47%





Nuclear 42.63%


Renewable Fuels 17.14%











Solid Waste Incineration









NOTE: Biomass above excludes wood; solid waste incineration includes landfill gas; and wind includes a long-term renewable purchase power contract in Wolverine’s mix.

Your Co-op’s Fuel Mix

It provides optimal whole house coverage and easily delivers high definition (HD) and Ultra HD (UHD) video. Plus, it’s very easy to install and maintain. Available only to MEC internet subscribers with managed Wi-Fi. Order your mesh via SmartHub or by calling us at 800.492.5989. Regional Average Fuel Mix

Statement Of Non-Discrimination In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity (including gender expression), sexual orientation, disability, age, marital status, family/parental status, income derived from a public assistance program, political beliefs, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity, in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA (not all bases apply to all programs). Remedies and complaint filing deadlines vary by program or incident. Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.) should contact the responsible Agency or USDA’s TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TTY) or contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English. To file a program discrimination complaint, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, AD-3027, found online at complaint_filing_cust.html and at any USDA office or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by: (1) mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights 1400 Independence Avenue, SW Washington, D.C. 20250-9410; (2) fax: (202) 690-7442; or (3) email: This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

Emissions And Waste Comparison lbs/MWh

Type Of Emission/Waste

Your Co-op

Regional Average*

Sulfur Dioxide



Carbon Dioxide







Oxides of Nitrogen High-level Nuclear Waste

*Regional average information was obtained from MPSC website and is for the 12-month period ending 12/31/18. Midwest Energy & Communications purchases 100% of its electricity from Wolverine Power Supply Cooperative, Inc., which provided this fuel mix and environmental data.


MI CO-OP Community

Guess this photo and enter to win a


energy bill credit!

Where In Michigan Is This? Identify the correct location of the photo above by March 20 and be entered into a drawing to win a $50 electric bill credit. Enter your guess at or send by mail to: Country Lines Mystery Photo, 201 Townsend St., Suite 900, Lansing, MI 48933. Include the name on your account, address, phone number and the name of your co-op. Our Mystery Photo Contest winner from the January issue is Brenda Nowak, a Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op member, who correctly identified the photo as Aloha State Park dock overlooking Mullet Lake. The dock has been a part of the Village of Aloha, State Park area, since at least 1912—as evidenced by photos from the book “Aloha & Aloha, Now and Then” written by the Aloha Historical Society. Winners are announced in the following issues of Country Lines: January, March, May, July/August, September and November/December.

January 2019

18 MARCH 2019

Follow Michigan Country Lines On Instagram Follow us on our new Instagram account @michigancountrylines, where we celebrate the energy of rural Michigan. Marvel at Michigan’s majestic beauty, learn about new places to visit and experience rural Michigan life through the eyes of your fellow co-op members.


Your Photos With Us

Help us capture the energy of rural Michigan. Tag your photos with #micoopcommunity and they could be featured on our Instagram account. Your photo could even be chosen to print as the featured photo in our magazine. Get to snapping, we can’t wait to see what you share!


(989) 356-2113


Pajamas, check. Snacks, check.

FREE internet, CHECK. 3 months

FREE Get your first three months of internet for FREE when you sign up for our Advanced, Ultra or Gig package. All of our packages include: • • • •

Unlimited Data 24/7 Tech Support Symmetrical Speeds Free Installation

Claim your three free months of service by March 31, 2019. Enter promo code: THREE FOR FREE at sign up.

SIGN UP TODAY | 800.492.5989 Twelve-month contact required. Offer valid until 3.31.19 to new subscribers only. Free installation available to Midwest Energy & Communications electric consumers only. Internet services are not regulated by the Michigan Public Service Commission.