March MEC

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March 2020


COUNTRY LINES Midwest Energy & Communications


DIRTY GIRL FARM A New SmartHub Experience

Preparing For An Outage Choosing Your Internet Speed


Harness the power of the sun... using the Earth.

Geothermal gives you the freedom to focus on life WaterFurnace geothermal systems provide reliable operation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year—rain or shine, day or night, windy or not. They use the stored solar energy in the ground to provide your family luxurious comfort and incredible savings. In fact, it’s the only HVAC system that’ll pay you back—and with the 26% federal tax credit1, now is a great time to switch to the Reliable Renewable. Contact your local WaterFurnace dealer today.

visit us at

Bad Axe B & D Htg (989) 269-5280

Caro AllTemp Comfort, Inc. (866) 844-HEAT (4328)

Indian River M & M Plmb & Htg (231) 238-7201

Berrien Springs WaterFurnace Michiana (269) 473-5667 gogreenmich

Clifford Orton Refrig & Htg (989) 761-7691 sandusky

Big Rapids Stratz Htg & Clg, Inc. (231) 796-3717

Hart Adams Htg & Clg (231) 873-2665 adamsheating

Michigan Center Comfort 1/Aire Serv of Southern Michigan (517) 764-1500 southern-michigan Mt Pleasant Walton Htg & Clg (989) 772-4822

Muskegon Adams Htg & Clg (231) 873-2665 adamsheating Portland ESI Htg & Clg (517) 647-6906 Sunfield Mark Woodman Plmb & Htg (517) 886-1138

1. 26% through 2020 and 22% through 2021 • The Reliable Renewable is a trademark of WaterFurnace International, Inc.

Traverse City D & W Mechanical (231) 941-1215 Geofurnace Htg & Clg (231) 943-1000

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.







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 Street 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 Dan Bodette, Wauseon 419-337-8007 Gerry Bundle, Cassopolis 269-414-0164 James Dickerson, Bloomingdale 269-370-6868 Erika Escue-Cadieux, Onsted 419-346-1088 Fred Turk, Decatur 269-423-7762 PRESIDENT/CEO Robert Hance VP, CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS/EDITOR Patty Nowlin COMMUNICATIONS SPECIALIST

Amy Pales

Electric Cooperatives Change Approach At FCC


J oin us on Facebook:

Midwest Energy & Communications is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

4 MARCH 2020

Robert Hance, President/CEO


ears ago, a coalition of rural electric cooperatives, including us, began making noise at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for financial consideration as a player in the telecommunications space. The noise paid off in 2018 when we were awarded just north of $5 million in the Connect America Fund (CAF) Phase II auction. Given the fact that the CAF II auction came to play only after the incumbents got their fat payouts for broadband infrastructure they may or may not build, it was still a victory in the bigger scheme of things, and a small step that could become a giant leap as the FCC prepares for a new round of funding. The Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) is the latest iteration and one that puts over $20 billion into play over the next decade. But this one is different because the FCC learned through CAF that rural electric cooperatives stand ready to deliver the kinds of speeds and experiences that the incumbents and others won’t. RDOF targets areas that lack access to broadband service with speeds of at least 25 megabits per seconds (Mbps) downstream and three Mbps upstream (25/3); CAF was 10/1. It’s written to reward faster speeds and lower latency, such as gigabit service, helping to ensure that superior technologies prevail. The reality is that even a 25/3 standard isn’t enough, but it’s a step in the right direction. The incumbents will argue that no one needs a gigabit today, but as Broadband Communities magazine recently reported, when it comes to building networks for the future, what people need today isn’t all that relevant. “… consumer demand for bandwidth is growing so quickly that it’s impossible to engineer and build a network that meets today’s requirements and will remain relevant tomorrow, except by over-engineering it,” the magazine reported. The article referenced Nielsen’s Law of Internet Bandwidth, which states that a high-end user’s need for bandwidth grows by 50 percent per year, meaning the consumer who uses 100 megabits per second today will use 760 megabits in just five years. What’s driving that demand? It’s largely video traffic and the growing number of internet-enabled devices in homes, including everything from computers, phones and tablets to internet-enabled security systems, connected thermostats, and smart speakers like Alexa and Google Home. While we’ve already taken the plunge with getting robust internet into the hands of our electric customers, an opportunity like RDOF is a great catalyst to move others to action as it removes some of the onerous financial barriers to entry. It could also allow us to expand our service into adjacent rural areas, helping us fulfill our vision of creating vibrant, relevant, sustainable rural communities. The FCC designed a better machine with RDOF, as it affirms the reality that people in the rural space need and deserve the same robust platforms and speeds that are available in more urban areas.

BE PREPARED Our region can produce some extreme weather conditions, regardless of the season. Be prepared with these tips. Items To Have On-Hand • Water: At least one gallon per person, per day, plus some for pets. • Food: Nonperishable, especially items that don’t require cooking, along with a hand-operated can opener. • 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 batterypowered 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. • Batteries. • Battery-powered or wind-up clock. • Extra blankets.

During A Power Outage • Stay away from downed power lines and warn others to do the same. Call us immediately to report downed power lines. • Don’t touch a person or object that is 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 know when power is restored. • 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 at or download the SmartHub app from your app store. Telephone: Our telephone system is equipped with an automatic outage-reporting system; dial 800-492-5989 and follow the prompts. We must have a current telephone number for your account. Update your account information using SmartHub or by 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. MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES





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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

Choosing The Right Internet Speed People often buy new devices and internetenabled household appliances without considering the impact on their internet speed. However, every connected device that you bring into your home requires bandwidth. So if you’ve recently bought a new device and have noticed connection issues or that videos buffer when everyone is home, then it’s time to take a look at your internet speed and consider upgrading.

Which Package Is Right For Me? That depends on how many people you have in your home, the number of devices you have and what you do online. If your household has at least four people or you want to stream TV on multiple devices simultaneously or if you have online gamers in your household, we recommend our Ultra or Gig packages. Both packages can accommodate busy households with several devices, including connected thermostats, doorbells, security systems, and Smart TVs. They also work well for people who work from home, including students doing homework.

Bandwidth-Heavy Activities If anyone in your household participates in the following activities, you’ll need a higher package level to

accommodate the demands. Here is a rough estimate of what the below activities commonly require: • Working from Home — 40–50 Mbps • Streaming — 15–25 Mbps, depending on the video quality • Gaming — 40–100 Mbps Keep in mind the recommendations above are strictly for that activity and don’t take into account other people/ devices using the internet at the same time.

Download vs. Upload Speeds When choosing a package, pay attention to both download and upload speeds. All of our packages offer symmetrical speeds, meaning you get the same speed for both. Many providers offer larger download Mbps than upload, which can work for some people. However, for gamers and those who work from home, it’s imperative to have reliable and fast upload speeds as well.

Take A Test: Check out

bandwidth-calculator to take a short quiz to help you determine the best speed for you.



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



Introducing One SmartHub To Manage All Of Your MEC Accounts We know that managing two separate SmartHub accounts for your electric/propane and internet/phone service is cumbersome and inconvenient. It’s been a challenge for us, too, as we have two separate systems to maintain. However, we’ve been hard at work on merging the two platforms so that you can manage all accounts in one place. Beginning in April, you will be able to access all of your MEC services with one SmartHub account.

Save Paper. Save Time. Enroll in E-billing Enroll in e-billing and stop worrying about bills getting lost in the mail. Each month, we email a notification that your bill is ready. You can then go online to view and pay your bill or manage your account.

Nothing. The login and password that you currently use to manage your electric/propane SmartHub accounts will be what you use from now on. Access the updated SmartHub account as you normally would by visiting or using the SmartHub mobile app. Are you having trouble logging in? Simply click on the “Can’t Access Account” link and enter the appropriate information.

Sign up via SmartHub.

Why should I use SmartHub?

Set it and Forget it.

SmartHub, our online and mobile platform, is your best tool for account management, bill pay and more. It’s available 24/7/365, and you can access it via or by downloading the SmartHub mobile app.

Experience the utmost convenience of account management by enrolling in auto-pay. With this service, we automatically deduct your monthly bill from your bank account or charge your credit card on the due date. You’ll never have to worry about paying your bill again! Sign up via SmartHub or by calling 800-492-5989 and using our automated phone system. For security reasons, our solutions agents are not able to take bank account or credit card information over the phone.

12 MARCH 2020

What do I need to do?

Features • Outages or Trouble Tickets: Submit an electric outage or start a trouble ticket for service. • Notifications: Sign up to receive text or email account notifications, including outage and billing information. • Bill: View your current account balance, make a payment, manage recurring payments and modify payment methods. • Usage: View your monthly electric and propane usage. • Change/Upgrade Internet Service: Change your internet package or add a new service. Head to to get started.


Page 1 of 2

Phone (Toll Free): . . . . . . 1-800-492-5989 Online: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Email: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Customer Name

Bill Date: Account Number: Service Description:

01/09/2020 12345678 House

Total Due

Message Center

This spring, your bill is also getting a new look to make it easier to find your payment amount, due date, and information about your account.


MPSC estimates EO will create average residential savings of $2.92 per month Interested in taking an active role in the life of your co-op? Three board seats are up for election in 2020. Learn more in your November Country Lines, or call us at 800-492-5989.

Please pay by: Jan 30, 2020

For electronic fiber bill, login into SmartHub at

Billing Summary Balance From Last Billing Payment Received - Thank You! Balance Forward

$116.78 -$116.78 $0.00

Service Summary Electric Service


Current Charges


Total Charges Due by 01/30/2020



KEEP Please do not staple or paperclip payment. Make checks payable to MEC. SEND

Account Number Customer Number Corporate Headquarters 60590 Decatur Rd. Cassopolis, MI 49031-8412

12345678 123456

Page 2 of 2

Total due Please pay by Jan 30, 2020

$127.98 Cassopolis Service Center 60590 Decatur Rd. Cassopolis, MI 49031-0127 $5.00 penalty applied if paid after 01/30/2020

White Cloud Service Center Distribution Center Only White Cloud, MI 49349

Paw Paw Service Center 59825 S. LaGrave St. Paw Paw, MI 49079

Adrian Service Center 1610 E. Maumee St. Adrian, MI 49221

Amount Enclosed This is a test for the message that prints on the back of the bill.

Check here for address or phone number changes or propane readings on back. Name Address City, ST 12345-1111


Service Activity: Address 1

Meter #




Services From To 12/01/2019 01/01/2020

Avg Temp

Kilowatt Hours


Account: 12345678





750 45

600 450


300 15

150 Jan













Meter Multiplier 1

Monthly Service Charge Distribution Charge Energy Charge Power Cost Adjustment MI Energy Optimization State Tax MI Low Income Energy Fund Electric Service Subtotal



Readings Previous Present 80601 81414



kWh Usage 813

813 kWh 813 kWh 813 kWh 813 kWh

Reading Actual

@ 0.03363 @ 0.07626 @ -0.003113 @ 0.00198

33.75 27.34 62.00 -2.53 1.61 4.89 0.92 127.98



**to view daily usage please visit or our SmartHub App

Energy Usage Comparison

This Month

Last Month

This Month Last Year

813 kWh

714 kWh

617 kWh

31 days

30 days

31 days

Avg Daily Use

Avg Daily Cost

Avg Daily High

26 kWh



Total Current Charges: Address






Our offices have 24-hour night depository boxes for safe after-hour payment. Pay online at For 24-hour emergency service, call 1-800-492-5989 p Register any inquiry or complaint about this bill before the due date. p Current electric rate schedules, explanation of the power supply cost recovery factor, and sample billing calculations will be mailed upon request. p Payments applied after billing date may not be reflected on this bill. p This bill includes sales tax where applicable. p Failure to receive bill does not avoid payment.



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

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.

Public Damage

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

Equipment Failure

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

Team Midwest Wants To Hear From You We are committed to providing our customers with reliable energy and telecommunications services and high levels of customer care. Your thoughts and opinions can help us create a better service experience for all. We are participating in a customer satisfaction telephone survey, conducted by the market research team at the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. Survey calls will begin on or around March 9 and will occur in the evenings, Monday–Friday, from 5–8:30 p.m., and Saturdays after 9 a.m. All information collected is confidential and will not be shared with any outside entities. Customers will be randomly selected for participation, and the survey should take no more than seven minutes. We appreciate your time and help as we strive to create a better experience to benefit you and your fellow customers. Thank you for participating.

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) 8778339. 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 http:// 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 Ave., SW, Washington, D.C. 20250-9410; 2. fax: (202) 690-7442; or 3. email: This institution is an equal opportunity provider.


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.







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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







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