March 2020 HomeWorks

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March 2020


COUNTRY LINES HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative


DIRTY GIRL FARM Board Selects Next General Manager

2019 People Fund Annual Report Propane Customer Survey Results


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In This Issue March 2020 || Vol. 40, No. 3

Michigan’s Electric Cooperatives

Follow Us On Instagram! @michigancountrylines

Celebrating 40 Years michigancountrylines

Executive Editor: Casey Clark Editor: Christine Dorr Design and Production: 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 are Robert Kran, Great Lakes Energy, chairman; Tony Anderson, Cherryland Electric Cooperative, 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


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.

FEATURED PHOTO FROM #micoopcommunity:

Frozen jellyfish emerge during Michigan winters #notreally #lookslikeittho. Creative capture by @corey_niedzwiecki (Corey Niedzwiecki.)

Tag us or use #micoopcommunity in your post and your photo could be featured on our Instagram account and printed as the featured photo in our magazine.


Heather Rosencrantz, owner of Dirty Girl Farm, offers a line of all-natural skincare products at her holistic apothecary based in Michigan. Today, Dirty Girl Farm has over 400 amazing products. Her belief is to have healthy skin and happy souls.


Guest Column: Winter Road Trippin’ With Christal Frost, Media Personality Christal shares her fun winter adventures strolling through Marquette and the Eben Ice Caves.

10 MI CO-OP KITCHEN Chili Cook-Off

Take home the gold with one of these comforting, delicious chili recipes. Christin McKamey & Our Readers

18 MI CO-OP COMMUNITY Guest Column: Grandma Grace Rik Cryderman, Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op Member

Guess Our New Mystery Photo And Win A $50 Bill Credit!

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.

Sugar Cookies

Featured Guest Chef: Try Dirty Girl Farm owner Heather Rosencrantz’s favorite sugar cookie recipe. Enter Our Recipe Contest And Win A $50 Bill Credit!


Clean Up With Dirty Girl Farm

Utilizing her botany and farming background, Heather Rosencrantz created a line of all-natural, vegan and cruelty-free skincare products that are safer for both people and the environment. Emily Haines Lloyd

Best of Michigan UP NEXT! Best Pizza: Are you a pizza aficionado? Have you tried every mom and pop pizza parlour in Michigan and know the best stops? Share with us your favorite pizza places to enjoy America’s soul food. Submit your favorites at under the MI Co-op Community tab by March 25, and look for it on our preferred pies list in the April issue.













Passing The Torch To Your Next GM



Portland office/Mail payments to: 7973 E. Grand River Ave. Portland, MI 48875 Open 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday–Friday Blanchard office: 3681 Costabella Ave. Blanchard, MI 49310 Open 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday–Friday Night deposit box available at both locations. Electric bill/account questions: 517-647-7554 or 1-800-562-8232 Pay by phone, anytime: 1-877-999-3395 Service questions/outages: 517-647-7554 or 1-800-848-9333 (24 hours for emergency calls) Tri-County Propane: 1-877-574-2740 HomeWorks Connect 1-800-668-8413 Email:

Board of Directors District 1 — John Lord Vice-Chairman 2276 Plains Rd., Leslie, MI 49251 517-974-2518 District 2 — Jim Stebbins 7139 Peddler Lake Rd., Clarksville, MI 48815 616-693-2449 District 3 — Luke Pohl Chairman 15560 W. Hanses Rd., Westphalia, MI 48894 989-292-0427 District 4 — Kimber Hansen 6535 N. Wyman Rd., Edmore, MI 48829 989-506-5849 District 5 — Corinna Batora 7655 N. Watson Rd., Elsie, MI 48831 517-256-5233 District 6 — Ed Oplinger Secretary-Treasurer 10890 W. Weidman Rd., Weidman, MI 48893 989-644-3079 District 7 — Shirley Sprague 15563 45th Ave., Barryton, MI 49305 989-382-7535 Editor: C harly Markwart, CCC

Join us on Facebook. 4 MARCH 2020


Mark Kappler, General Manager

ast September, I let our board of directors know that I planned to retire, or “rewire,” as I prefer to call it, in May 2020. Following that announcement, the board embarked upon a four-month nationwide search for the next general manager of our Cooperative. I’m happy to report that last month, at the end of that extensive pursuit, the board found its winning candidate right here at home, in HomeWorks’ own Chris O’Neill. Chris has been with the Cooperative for 18 years. As our current fiber outside plant manager, he has been largely responsible for heading up the launch and execution of our exciting HomeWorks Connect high-speed fiber internet project. Chris has also served in many other capacities for the Co-op, including positions in customer service, information technology and safety. In every role that he has taken on, he has exemplified the Cooperative spirit and shown an exceptional commitment to serving you, our members. I will miss working for you every day, but retiring will be easier knowing that I am leaving the Co-op I love in the hands of someone who understands that our members always come first. In fact, that Cooperative mentality is the thing I have enjoyed most about working here at HomeWorks for the past 24 years. We don’t answer to investors looking to turn a profit; we answer to you, our memberowners, and I have been proud to come to work every day to do just that. There are many things I’m proud of from my 12 years as general manager of HomeWorks. Mostly, I’m proud of the dedicated staff that I have been able to help build and maintain. Together, I think we’ve done a pretty good job of achieving our mission of providing you with reliable energy, comfort and communication solutions to enhance your quality of life. On April 30, I will retire from HomeWorks and rewire for my next adventure with my wife, Lorene, and our family. Under Chris’s leadership, I know your Co-op will continue to provide you with excellent electric, propane and internet service, and our employees will continue to go above and beyond to serve you well. As I’ve always said, that’s just a part of what we do every day for our members here at HomeWorks. I want to thank you and our board of directors for allowing me to serve as your general manager for the past 12 years. It has been my privilege.

Save The Date For District Meetings! If you want to meet Chris O’Neill, our next GM, a great opportunity will be at your 2020 district meeting. You’ll receive a formal invitation in April, but you can mark your calendar now for your meeting date, listed below: • District 1: May 11, St. Mary Parish Center, Charlotte • District 2 (ELECTION): May 12, St. Edward’s Family Center, Lake Odessa • District 3: May 20, Eagle Park Hall • District 4 (ELECTION): May 19, Montabella Jr.-Sr. High School cafeteria, Blanchard • District 5: May 18, Fulton Elementary gym, Middleton • District 6: May 13, Beal City High School gym • District 7: May 14, St. Michael Parish Center, Remus

HomeWorks Tri-County Propane Customer Survey Results

Conducted & compiled by Inside Information® Inc.

In last month’s issue of Country Lines, we shared some of the results of our 2019 HomeWorks Tri-County Electric member survey. This month, we are highlighting the results of our 2019 HomeWorks Tri-County Propane customer survey. We conduct these surveys every few years to ensure we are doing all we can to meet and exceed your expectations. Thank you for your responses, as they always help us to continue to improve the services that we offer. Here’s what you had to say about HomeWorks Tri-County Propane:

90% 95%

rating for timely deliveries and reliable service

of customers report being “SATISFIED” or “VERY SATISFIED” with our overall performance as a propane provider.


rating for friendly and courteous employees


rating for responding promptly to service requests



rating for delivering good value for the money

HomeWorks Tri-County Propane is not regulated by the Michigan Public Service Commission.




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Also in Downtown Marquette:


• Delft Bistro • Steinhaus • Boomerang Retro & Relics




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r e t n i w ippin’ r T d a o R With Christal Frost

Adventures Through Marquette And The Eben Ice Caves 41


s a lower Michigan native, it’s hard not to feel the magic crossing the mighty Mackinac Bridge into the Upper Peninsula. To me, the U.P. feels like an old friend, welcoming me home with open arms. Marquette boasts a unique blend of wilderness, nature and urban luxuries. Take notes on the journey, and get ready to follow in my footsteps!

Donckers Lunch Counter And Candy Store

I loved the Red Rooster—a delicious blend of egg, bacon, roasted red pepper, smoked gouda and avocado spread on a ciabatta bun. We also grabbed a pound of Lake Superior chocolate rocks, which may or may not have made it home. 6 MARCH 2020

Delft Bistro

See Marquette In Action

Christal Frost filmed her Marquette adventure, now available on

The converted movie theatre restaurant kept the big screen, giving diners a creatively curated meal with the backdrop of cinematic classics.

Ore Dock Brewing Co. The upstairs community space offers rotating artists in addition to an impressive lineup of musicians from across the Midwest. From the taproom, the lead brew-tender chose his favorites for our beer flight—I personally loved the Bramble on Rose. Steinhaus

Blackrocks Brewery

Blackrocks is a house-turned brewery founded by longtime friends, David and Andy. The pair made their homebrewing hobby commercial, with a mission to make the best beer possible while always having fun. Blackrocks was buzzing with locals who literally wore their love of the brewery in the form of hoodies and hats. By the way, Coconut Brown will change your life.

Landmark Inn

Originally opened in 1930 as the Northland Hotel, its history includes visits from celebrities like Jimmy Stewart, Abbott and Costello, and The Rolling Stones. After closing in 1982, the Northland found new life as part of a historic restoration project, reopening in 1997 as The Landmark Inn. We requested Room 502, which was dubbed the “Amelia Earhart room” after Earhart reportedly stayed there in 1932. The Landmark’s meticulous dedication to historic preservation is noteworthy, as is its staff.

Boomerang Retro & Relics

The U.P.’s first retro-chic boutique allows visitors to step back in time with an amalgam of authentic vintage and vintage-inspired clothing, accessories, décor and furniture.


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The Steinhaus was recommended by virtually every local I spoke with, and it did not disappoint. I kept it simple with the eggs Benedict, but the Steinhaus delivered an Italianinspired twist, using thinly sliced and fried speck ham. Be sure to order a side of potatoes to soak up the hollandaise sauce.

Eben Ice Caves

The caves, also known as the Rock River Canyon Ice Caves, are located on the outer edge of the Hiawatha National Forest. The trail into the caves is around a mile long, and ice cleats are a necessity. The hike can be challenging, but it is completely worth the effort. The phenomenon of ice sheets surrounded by the blankets of freshly fallen snow was a sight to behold. Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is home to some of the kindest and most genuine people I have ever met. And Marquette, a city surrounded by the waves of Lake Superior, will indeed become your second mother. Don’t be surprised when, weeks after your visit, you feel her calling you to come back.

Christal Frost is a media personality who can be heard on Today’s Country Music-WTCM, The Christal Frost Show on NewsTalk 580-WTCM AM.

Heat Pumps: Start Saving Energy The Smart Way


id you know heating and cooling accounts for more than 50% of the energy used in your home? Investing in a highly-efficient HVAC system is therefore extremely important. Heat pump technology is a leading-edge solution for high-efficiency heating and cooling. It can help you save energy, save money, and keep your family comfortable for years to come.

Heat Pump Benefits • Use considerably less energy for heating and cooling • More consistent temperatures equals increased comfort • Superior indoor air quality and dehumidification

Is A Heat Pump Right For My Home?

Learn more at

Just about any home can benefit from a heat pump system, though it is important that your home is well-insulated and air-tight prior to installation to maximize energy savings. Generally, the following are some of the best candidates:

Save now with cash back from the Energy Optimization program! The Energy Optimization program provides cash incentives for both air-source and ground-source heat pumps——as long as the equipment meets minimum efficiency standards. Review the Efficient HVAC program page on the Energy Optimization website for additional information.

• Heated by an electric furnace or electric baseboards • Heated by propane, wood or fuel oil • Looking to add air conditioning • New construction or new room additions • Manufactured homes

For a complete list of residential, business or agribusiness incentives available from the Energy Optimization program, visit or call 877-296-4319.

SAVINGS! Grow Your

Save BIG with heat pumps

More than half of your home’s energy is used for heating and cooling. A heat pump system can be a highly-efficient alternative and provides a simple way to introduce air conditioning to your home too!

REBATE RANGE: $250 - $750+ | 877.296.4319

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




Snap Shot Enter to win a


energy bill credit!

Upcoming Snap Shot Contest Topics And Deadlines “On the Farm,” Deadline: March 16 (May issue) “Nightscapes,” Deadline: April 15 (June issue) “Festivals & Fairs,” Deadline: May 15 (July/August issue)

Go to and select Country Lines under the Electric tab to submit your photos and see all of the 2020 Snap Shot themes. It’s fast and easy. To send by mail: include your name, address, phone number, photographer’s name, and details about your photo. Mail to Attn: Country Lines Snap Shots, 7973 E. Grand River Ave., Portland, MI 48875. Photos will not be returned. Do not send color laser prints or professional studio photos.

Submit Your Photos!

Contributors whose photos we publish in Country Lines in 2020 will receive a $10 bill credit the month after publication.




Cute Kids 1. Deb Comden of Stanton says, “My 2-year-old granddaughter, Skylar, can be cute even when the wind blows and gives her a bad hair day.” 2. Brenda Schneider of Fowler submitted this photo of her grandson, Michael. 3. Stacy Theis of St. Johns says, “Big sister Rachel was teaching her little sister, Alyssa, how to make a leaf pile and then proceed to jump into it and have fun!” 4. Rebecca Miller of Farwell submitted this photo of her nephews playing together. 5. Lori Porubsky of Bannister (receiving service in Evart) took this photo of her granddaughter, Charley, looking for a four-leaf clover. 6. Glenda Adams of Evart says, “This is my granddaughter, Leighton Latz, playing on the blocks of ice removed from Chippewa Lake for the annual Polar Plunge.”



Chili Cook-Off Take home the gold with one of these comforting, delicious recipes.

Photos by Robert Bruce Photography Recipes Submitted By MCL Readers And Tested By Recipe Editor Christin McKamey

Winning Recipe!

Taco Soup Chili

Jennie Lewandowski, Presque Isle 1 pound ground beef 1 medium onion, chopped 1 (1.5-ounce) package ranch dressing mix 1 (1-ounce) package taco seasoning mix 3 (14.5-ounce) cans petite diced tomatoes 2 (14.5-ounce) cans black beans, do not drain

2 (14.5-ounce) cans corn, do not drain 1 (14.5-ounce) can cream-style corn ½ bunch fresh cilantro, chopped In a large pot or Dutch oven, brown the beef with the onions; drain grease. Add the remaining ingredients (dump in whole cans, don’t drain). Cook over medium-high heat until slightly simmering and hot, about 10—15 minutes. Serve with sour cream, cheese, and tortilla chips!

Watch a video of this month’s winning recipe at

Trifecta Chili

Frances Painter, Midwest Energy & Communications 1 1 1 2 4 1 1 1 ½ 1 1 1 •

pound lean ground beef pound lean ground turkey pound pork sausage large onions cloves minced garlic chopped poblano or 2 mild banana peppers (15½-ounce) can diced tomatoes can diced tomatoes with green chiles (such as Rotel) cup chili powder (15½ -ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained (15½ -ounce) can pinto or cannellini beans, rinsed and drained (15½ -ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained shredded cheese and sour cream to garnish (optional)

Brown meats together until no longer pink. Add onion, garlic, and poblano or banana peppers and sauté until soft. Add diced tomatoes, diced tomatoes with chiles, chili powder, and the 3 cans of beans. Bring to a boil. Transfer to a large slow cooker and cook on low 5–6 hours, or simmer on stove, stirring about every half hour to prevent sticking. Serve with crackers of your choice (our family likes Cheez-It!).

Smoked Steelhead White Chili



Ronald Andres, Great Lakes Energy 1 1 2 2 1 2 2 1 2 1 1 1 1 1

tablespoon olive oil medium onion, chopped stalks celery, chopped cloves garlic, minced pound smoked steelhead trout* (skin and bones removed), flaked into ½-inch pieces (15.5-ounce) cans Great Northern beans (use liquid) (15.5-ounce) cans cannellini beans, rinsed (14.5-ounce) can chicken broth Anaheim peppers (braised, then seeds and skin removed), diced teaspoon ground cumin tablespoon ground coriander teaspoon dried oregano tablespoon lemon pepper quart whipping cream

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Sauté onion, celery, and garlic in the hot oil until tender. Add smoked steelhead, Great Northern beans, cannellini beans, chicken broth, Anaheim peppers, cumin, coriander, oregano, and lemon pepper into the pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until flavors have blended, about 30 minutes. Stir in the whipping cream. Simmer until the whipping cream is hot, but do not boil. *Smoked salmon can also be used.

If you’re not enjoying the lip-smacking scents of Heather Rosencrantz’s Dirty Girl Farm soaps and body wash, maybe try her family’s favorite sugar cookie recipe. Deceivingly simple, but chockfull of yum. Perfect for special occasions or just a cozy afternoon at home.

All-American Chili Kerri Hanson, Great Lakes Energy

1 pound lean ground beef or ground venison 6 ounces chorizo 2 cups chopped onion 1 cup chopped green pepper 8 cloves garlic, minced 1 jalapeño pepper or poblano pepper, chopped 2 tablespoons chili powder 2 tablespoons brown sugar 1 tablespoon ground cumin 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste 1 teaspoon dried oregano ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper ¼ teaspoon salt 2 bay leaves 1¼ cups Merlot red wine 2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes, undrained and coarsely chopped 2 (15-ounce) cans kidney beans, drained ½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Sugar Cookies 2¼ ½ ¼ ¾

Using large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, brown ground beef, chorizo, onion, green pepper, garlic, and jalapeño. Cook 10 minutes until beef and chorizo are browned, stirring to crumble. Add chili powder, brown sugar, cumin, tomato paste, oregano, pepper, salt, and bay leaves and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in wine, tomatoes and kidney beans; bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Uncover and cook for 30 minutes longer, stirring occasionally. Discard bay leaves before serving. Sprinkle each serving with cheddar cheese. This is even better the following day!

Mexican Fiesta: due April 1 Farm to Table: due May 1

Enter to win a


energy bill credit!

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.

¾ 1 2 ¼

cups all-purpose flour teaspoon baking powder teaspoon salt cup cold butter (grass-fed organic butter, if possible) cup sugar egg teaspoons vanilla extract teaspoon almond extract

Preheat oven to 350 F. Sift together dry ingredients well and set aside. In the bowl of your stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar. Once mixture is light and fluffy, add egg and extracts. Begin adding flour mixture a little at a time, making sure each addition is well incorporated. When dough comes together, turn out onto a lightly floured cold marble surface, roll to ¼-inch thickness. Cut out shapes and bake for 8–12 minutes depending on thickness. Cookie Tips

• Try to use as little flour as possible; adding too much makes cookies tough.

• When mixing your scraps together to re-roll, brush as much flour off as possible. • Cold dough holds its shape better and cookie-cutter shapes won’t distort.

Read the full story about Dirty Girl Farm on page 14, and find this recipe and others at



Don’t let buffering ruin the game!




Become A Connector Today! To pre-register, visit or call 800-668-8413!

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


Your Board In Action Meeting at Portland on Jan. 20, your board of directors: • Voted unanimously to promote HomeWorks Fiber Outside Plant Manager Chris O’Neill to General Manager/CEO, effective May 1, upon Mark Kappler’s retirement. • Authorized Cooperative management to renew association memberships and pay annual association dues to the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) and the Michigan Electric Cooperative Association (MECA) for 2020. • Learned about progress made by HomeWorks Connect in building a high-speed fiber-optic internet network. • Authorized management to update and extend the Cooperative’s wholesale power contract with Wolverine Power Supply Cooperative, Inc. • Discussed and accepted Board Policy 105 – Political Activities. • Learned there were 93 new members in December. • Acknowledged the December safety report, listing employee training as well as minor employee and public incidents involving electric, propane, or fiber optic.

Time Set Aside for Members to Comment Before Cooperative Board Meetings The first 15 minutes of every board meeting are available for members who wish to address the board of directors on any subject. The next meetings are scheduled for 9 a.m. on Monday, March 23, at Portland, and Monday, April 27, at Blanchard. Members who need directions to the meeting, or wish to have items considered on the board agenda, should call 517-647-7554.

People Fund Supports Local Families And More Meeting Jan. 22, the Tri-County Electric People Fund board made five grants totaling $5,405, including: • $765 to Artworks, Big Rapids, for lighting upgrades; • $1,500 to Eaton Clothing & Furniture Center, Charlotte, to purchase backpacks for children in need; • $1,500 to a Mecosta County family to help cover furnace repairs; • $1,200 to an Ingham County family for electric expenses; and • $440 to an Isabella County family for housing expenses.

Chris O’Neill Named Next GM In January, your board of directors voted unanimously to promote HomeWorks Fiber Outside Plant Manager Chris O’Neill to General Manager/CEO, effective May 1, upon Mark Kappler’s retirement. Look for an introduction to Chris in your April Country Lines!

Thank you! 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 tab at Note: Applications must be received by April 7 for the April meeting or by May 19 for the May meeting.



co-op entrepreneurs


DIRTY GIRL FARM By Emily Haines Lloyd Photos courtesy of Vanessa Longuski

14 MARCH 2020


was the weirdo with the weird products helping the weirdos,” jokes Heather Rosencrantz, owner of Dirty Girl Farm, a line of all-natural, vegan and cruelty-free skincare products.

Twenty-five years ago, Rosencrantz looked like a glimpse of the future—a young mother in yoga pants, bringing her fresh herb plants to the local farmer’s market. However, at the time, she was nothing like her contemporaries. A yoga instructor with a botany major in college and background in farming, Rosencrantz had taken a much lesstraveled road a la Robert Frost’s urging. When Rosencrantz’s young daughter’s skin simply did not respond to store-bought skincare products, Rosencrantz took her knowledge and background and created her own solution. “There just weren’t natural skincare solutions in the market. No Whole Foods on every corner like today,” said Rosencrantz. “I realized I had the information and the ingredients in my own garden, so I started making my own.” The products worked so well on her daughter’s tender skin, Rosencrantz started bringing small jars of her Boo Boo Balm to the farmer’s market with her. What initially began as inquisitive questions about the “weird green goo” turned into parents at their wits’ end, sharing their own heartbreaking stories of seeking out salves to treat their child’s or their own sensitive skin.

“I hesitate to say this is my ‘calling,’” said Rosencrantz. “But hearing those stories and knowing I could do something to help people was the absolute beginning of Dirty Girl Farm.” Little by little, Rosencrantz utilized her education and her passion and created a line of all-natural skincare products free from chemicals, toxins, and gluten that are never tested on animals. The Dirty Girl Farm line expanded to over 400 different products, from bar soap and body butters to facial serums and eye creams. Twenty-five years later, what Rosencrantz has spent her career building is no longer considered weird. It’s part of a multibilliondollar industry sought out by consumers around the world.

We can’t change the world all at once. But we can each take small steps in the right direction. I’ve always believed that.

While Dirty Girl Farm remains one small piece of that industry, Rosencrantz isn’t content to simply make a great product that is answering a need. She wants to create products that are as safe for the environment as they are for one’s skin. To that end, Dirty Girl Farm uses cornstarch packing peanuts and cellophane that dissolves in water or can be composted. Plastic packaging is always recyclable, and some wrapping has undergone additional changes to make it more eco-friendly— like its bar soap now packaged in cardboard. The ultimate goal is to make everything in the box safely disposable. When Rosencrantz took Dirty Girl Farm products entirely online, she made another leap to “right-sizing,” as she calls it. “Even closing our physical store has a positive impact on the environment,” explained Rosencrantz. Beyond that, Rosencrantz explained, her days and weeks are becoming less littered with additional travel and worries that come with a physical space. Ultimately, she’d like to build a lab closer to home on her spacious property in Silverwood, Michigan, where she is also a member of Thumb Electric Cooperative. “I’d love to see Dirty Girl Farm in even more cupboards. Just as an acknowledgment that more people are looking closely at what they’re putting on their skin,” said Rosencrantz. “We can’t change the world all at once. But we can each take small steps in the right direction. I’ve always believed that.” So, step by step, Rosencrantz is creating cleaner products that are better for both people and the environment. Each tiny step is proving that what was once weird can be positively wonderful.


Dirty Girl Farm


Visit to see how Heather makes galaxy soap with natural glitter. 15

SPLITTING: THE DIFFERENCE How A Westphalia Family Keeps Cool With A Heat Pump By James A. Curtis

What is a ductless mini-split heat pump?


Electric heat pumps are heating and cooling systems that transport, rather than generate, heat. Though they’re called “heat” pumps, the system can heat or cool a home, depending on the season. Heat is present even in cold air, so when it’s cold outside, the heat pump extracts heat from the outside and moves it indoors. When it’s warm outside, it removes heat from inside and moves it outdoors.

“We never planned on having an air conditioner, but the summer heat in the log house just became too much,” said Tom Pung. “And because our home didn’t have any ductwork, we really only had one choice: an electric heat pump.”

Because they transport heat instead of generating it, heat pumps are incredibly efficient—especially in mini-split systems with no ductwork, in contrast to forced-air systems where energy can be lost. Mini-splits are easy to install, usually requiring only a three-inch hole through a wall for the conduit, and are a great solution for retrofit add-ons or houses with a ductless heating system.

Tom and Lori Pung outside their Westphalia home.

hen HomeWorks members Tom and Lori Pung moved into their log cabin home in Westphalia in 2005, they had the country home they dreamed about. Between his work as a concrete contractor and her work as a landscape designer, they shaped their home to their every need. Eventually, however, the hot Michigan summers had the Pungs and their three children considering something they hadn’t before—air conditioning.

To solve the issue, Pung worked with a local contractor and HomeWorks Tri-County Electric for the best possible solution. They chose a ductless mini-split air-source heat pump. The Pungs utilized a mini-split system with two outside units and five head-end inside units throughout their 3,500-sq. ft. home. The system performs well in both Michigan summers and winters, and is much quieter than forced-air heat and an air conditioner.

Indoor head-end units of the Pungs’ mini-split air-source heat pump system.

“I was surprised how consistent the heat was, and the air cooling was much better than I ever expected,” said Tom. “The air feels more like an open window, and they’re so quiet you wouldn’t even know they were there.” The Pungs’ installation had to be customized to their home, as they had previously utilized an outside boiler for wood heat, a backup propane unit, and several pumps associated with the system. Consequently, since installing the new system, Lori has seen their home energy costs remain relatively the same, but she is happy with the quality of the heat and the fact that they no longer need to cut logs. “We had a wood burner before, but it’s a lot of work to cut wood, and it’s nice that we don’t have to do that anymore. We’ve cut enough wood,” she said. “Plus, I think this is just a smoother and steadier heat that we get with this system.” As HomeWorks members, the Pungs benefitted in several ways from this project. First, the Cooperative worked with them and their contractor to help determine their eligibility for energy efficiency incentives. Through rebates, HomeWorks was able to help provide the Pungs with $2,150 in financial support for their mini-split system. “We learned about the rebates HomeWorks offers for minisplit heat pumps after we started this project,” said Lori. “It was a really nice surprise, like getting a tax refund. I think it’s a great thing that HomeWorks offers energy efficiency rebates like this to its members. It’s a good incentive to keep things upgraded around the house.” Second, HomeWorks and power supplier Wolverine Power Cooperative lead Michigan in new renewable and carbonfree energy. The cooperatives provide members with electricity that is more than 60% carbon free. That means whenever the Pungs or any member switch from fossil fuel to electric appliances, they reduce their carbon footprint by that much more. “That’s always a good thing,” said Tom. As spring approaches, snow thaws, and people begin to consider their large home projects for the year, heat

One of the two outdoor units of the Pungs’ mini-split airsource heat pump system.

pumps can be an energy-efficient HVAC solution for people looking to build a home, replace their existing system, reduce their emissions, or retrofit a ductless system. For the Pungs, the mini-split system made all the difference. If you’re interested in learning more about heat pumps, reducing energy costs in your home, or other home energy solutions, please contact Brandon Trierweiler, HomeWorks energy advisor, at 800-562-8232. You can also learn more about the technology and available energy efficiency rebates at

A ductless air-source heat pump has three main components: • An outdoor unit that typically sits elevated off the ground or mounted on an exterior wall. These units are smaller than a standard central air conditioner. • An indoor unit mounted high on the wall or at floor level, or concealed mini ducts located in an attic or crawl space. • A remote control thermostat.

Ductless systems that have more than one indoor unit like the Pungs’ can separately control temperatures in different rooms.

Guess this photo and enter to win a


MI CO-OP Community


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 Ronald Hart, a Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op member, who correctly identified the photo as the Shakey Lakes Dam structure located in Shakey Lakes Park, Menominee County. Winners are announced in the following issues of Country Lines: January, March, May, July/August, September and November/December.

Grandma Grace

By Rik Cryderman, Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op member


er name was Grandma Grace Christiansen, a moniker gained by her first name and her most beautiful feature—her grace. She was the grandmother of a friend who was like a sister to me, and without a grandmother myself, I enjoyed sharing her. She and her husband had owned and operated a small market in the town of Albion, Michigan, a place I was blessed to call home for eight years. They managed their store in the days where folks ran a tab and left with their goods, saying, “Put it on the bill.” Most paid their bills at the end of every month. Some would sometimes delay, with an explanation quickly accepted by the Christiansens, whose market bore their name. Some couldn’t pay at all. Years after the market had closed and her husband had passed away, Grandma Grace and her granddaughter were in her basement searching for something, when her granddaughter noticed an old file cabinet. “What’s this?” asked my friend Jeri of her grandmother. “Oh, just some old papers from the market— I’ve been meaning to toss those out.” Opening a drawer, Jeri found it filled with papers. Lifting one out, she recognized it as a bill, with groceries itemized neatly. “Grandma, these are unpaid bills—and I recognize these names. You should send out a reminder—it’s been years, but you’re entitled to this.” Her grandmother walked over to the file drawer and lifted a piece of yellowed paper. “Oh, they lost a boy in the war.” She returned the paper to its file. Lifting another, she said, “They put two children through college, and those kids chose to raise their families here.” And she put the paper in its slot. Lifting another, she said “His dear wife had a stroke, very early. He took such good care of her.” And this time, as she put the yellowed bill back in its place, she slid the heavy drawer into the cabinet. “Yes, it’s time to toss this old cabinet. I don’t need anything here, let’s go upstairs.” This was Grandma Grace—a sharp mind with a generous heart. I like to think, if heaven has a basement, there’s an old file cabinet there. I think it holds some papers with my name. And I think a God of Grace slides closed that heavy drawer and turns my eyes toward the light. “Let’s go upstairs.”

January 2020 Photo by Justin Palmer

18 MARCH 2020

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Rik Cryderman is a retired hospital chaplain who worked for Beaumont Health for more than 30 years. He writes a Facebook page called “Pure Lewiston” for the village of Lewiston, Michigan.

Hybrid Geothermal Add a Well-Conect in Hours. Heat for Half for Decades.







HOW DOES THE SYSTEM WORK? Well-Connect works in combination with your home’s current heating system. This hybrid approach allows almost any existing well to become a free, clean energy source for heating and cooling your home.

WHAT DO OUR CUSTOMERS SAY? “When I could no longer physically cut 20 cords of wood, I installed a Well-Connect. The system has met all claims and surprised me. If people are heating and cooling with propane, fuel oil, or wood and have their own well, they have a need and don't realize it. That need is to cut those heating & cooling costs by at least half (as well as emissions).”

Jess S., Cherryland Electric Member






CALL FOR A FREE HOME VISIT 989-356-2113 Report Outages: 1-800-848-9333


When it matters most, count on us.

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