Homeworks March 2021

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March 2021


COUNTRY LINES HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative

Tackling Commercial

Fishing With Massey Fish Co.

District Meeting Plans In The Works

2020 People Fund Annual Report Inside Save Money With LED Lighting


Clean Start Rebate For a limited time, you can save up to $1,250 on clean energy geothermal heat pumps

Switch to geothermal and get a clean start to the year! This year everyone deserves a clean start! Switching to geothermal is the perfect decision to help your house be as comfortable and environmentally friendly as possible for years to come. The WaterFurnace Clean Start Rebate Program makes switching to geothermal an even smarter decision. For a limited time, you can save up to $1,250 and receive a free Amazon Echo Dot with the purchase of our most efficient, comfortable, and technologically advanced 7 and 5 Series geothermal heat pumps and accessories. But hurry, this deal ends April 30th, 2021, so contact your local WaterFurnace dealer today!





Amazon Echo Dot






26% Tax Credit


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Caro Kozy Home Htg & Clg (989) 673-4328 geo4less.com

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Sunfield Mark Woodman Plmb & Htg (517) 886-1138 mwphonline.com Traverse City D & W Mechanical (231) 941-1215 dwgeothermal.com Geofurnace Htg & Clg (231) 943-1000 watergeofurnace.com

waterfurnace.com/CleanStart 1. 26% through 2022 and 22% through 2023. 2. With registration of homeowner’s Symphony Home Comfort Platform. Amazon Dot will be shipped to the address given in Symphony registration. Promotion available February 8th through April 30th, 2021 and only to residential customers through participating dealers. WaterFurnace is a registered trademark of WaterFurnace International, Inc.

Contents countrylines.com

March 2021 Vol. 41, No. 3



Michigan’s Electric Cooperatives EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Casey Clark EDITOR: Christine Dorr GRAPHIC DESIGNER: Karreen Bird RECIPE EDITOR: Christin McKamey COPY EDITOR: Yvette Pecha CONTRIBUTING EDITOR: Emily Haines Lloyd PUBLISHER: Michigan Electric Cooperative Association Michigan Country Lines, USPS-591-710, is published monthly, except August and December, with periodicals postage paid at Lansing, Mich., and additional offices. It is the official publication of the Michigan Electric Cooperative Association, 201 Townsend St., Suite 900, Lansing, MI 48933. Subscriptions are authorized for members of Alger Delta, Cherryland, Great Lakes, HomeWorks Tri-County, Midwest Energy & Communications, Ontonagon, Presque Isle, and Thumb electric cooperatives by their boards of directors. Postmaster: Send all UAA to CFS.

Association Officers: Robert Kran, Great Lakes Energy, chairman; Tony Anderson, Cherryland Electric Cooperative, vice chairman; Eric Baker, Wolverine Power Cooperative, secretary-treasurer; Craig Borr, president and CEO.

CONTACT US/LETTERS TO EDITOR: Michigan Country Lines 201 Townsend St., Suite 900 Lansing, MI 48933 248-534-7358 editor@countrylines.com CHANGE OF ADDRESS: Please

notify your electric cooperative. See page 4 for contact information.

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

Cover photo: Donny Massey holding a beautiful lake trout, one of the many species of fish harvested by Massey Fish Co.

6 EFFICIENT OUTDOOR LIGHTING TIPS Let us help you shine a light on the best home and yard illumination options. 10 MI CO-OP KITCHEN Soups: Cozy and satisfying, these recipes are the answer to your dinnertime dilemma.


14 TACKLING COMMERCIAL FISHING For Massey Fish Co. in St. Ignace, the embrace of changing technology and a love for nature are the keys to success. 18 GUEST COLUMN There’s magic in a frog pond.


An icy-cold night rainbow in downtown #charlevoix @tpmann4msu (Thomas Mann)

Be featured!

Use #micoopcommunity for a chance to be featured here and on our Instagram account.

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





Up Next: Fruity Desserts, Whole Grains, and Fish & Seafood Share your favorite recipes.

Up Next: Coffee Shops Spill the beans! Tell us about your favorite place to grab a caffeinated (or decaf) beverage.

Submit your fondest memories and stories.

Enter a drawing to identify the correct location of the photo.

Win $150 for stories published!

Win a $50 bill credit!

Win a $50 bill credit!

See page 18



When It Comes To My Family’s Internet Needs, HomeWorks Connect Delivers

homeworks.org /homeworks.org tricoenergy@homeworks.org 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 BOARD OF DIRECTORS

District 1 — John Lord, Vice-Chairman 2276 Plains Rd., Leslie, MI 49251 517-974-2518 • jlord@homeworks.org

District 2 — Jim Stebbins 7139 Peddler Lake Rd., Clarksville, MI 48815 616-693-2449 • jstebbins@homeworks.org District 3 — Luke Pohl, Chairman 15560 W. Hanses Rd., Westphalia, MI 48894 989-292-0427 • lpohl@homeworks.org District 4 — Kimber Hansen 6535 N. Wyman Rd., Edmore, MI 48829 989-506-5849 • khansen@homeworks.org District 5 — Corinna Batora 7655 N. Watson Rd., Elsie, MI 48831 517-256-5233 • cbatora@homeworks.org

District 6 — Ed Oplinger, Secretary-Treasurer 10890 W. Weidman Rd., Weidman, MI 48893 989-644-3079 • eoplinger@homeworks.org District 7 — Shirley Sprague 15563 45th Ave., Barryton, MI 49305 989-382-7535 • ssprague@homeworks.org Editor: C harly Markwart, CCC

By Chris O’Neill, CEO


t this time last year, I was excited to be transitioning into the role of HomeWorks CEO during such a historic time for the Co-op, when we were working to deliver a high-speed fiber internet network to our membership. What I didn’t know then was how quickly our HomeWorks Connect services were about to change from a desire to a necessity for our members, as the COVID-19 pandemic struck and forced many of us to begin attending work, school, doctor appointments and more online. Suddenly, quality rural broadband access became more important than ever. As we begin Phase 4 of our five-phase HomeWorks Connect construction plan, I’m proud that our fiber internet service has been able to fulfill such a vital need throughout our rural communities during these unprecedented times. I’m pleased, too, that our network is being built to last, so our members will be able to reap the benefits of reliable rural broadband access for decades to come. When I talk to you about our fiber internet service, I speak not just as your CEO, but also as a HomeWorks member and HomeWorks Connect customer myself. I’m sure you’ve heard our sales pitch, but I thought it might be of value for me to share my own reasons for choosing our internet service for my household, from firsthand experience. 1. Reliability: You already count on us for reliable electric service, and our commitment to providing you with reliable internet service is no different. As a HomeWorks Connect customer, I never worry that my internet service will go down during my son’s school project (or during that crucial edge-of-yourseat moment in our latest Netflix binge, for that matter). In part, that’s because fiber optic cable is much more resistant to weather-related interruptions and interference from electronic or radio signals than traditional cable internet. 2. True High Speeds: Many communications companies advertise “high-speed internet,” but I can tell you for certain that HomeWorks Connect actually delivers on that promise. I notice the difference daily, when files that used to take me over 20 minutes to download come through in seconds. It doesn’t even matter if my kids and my wife and I are all on different devices at the same time; the speeds consistently hold up for us. 3. No Pricing Games: Another benefit of getting your internet service from your trusted electric Cooperative is that you know we won’t play games with your price. As a HomeWorks Connect customer, I know I’ll be offered the same fair and consistent pricing as any other customer, regardless of how long we’ve been connected. 4. Top-Notch Customer Service: Lastly, you know you can rely on us to provide unmatched customer service. If my family ever has an issue or a question about our internet service, we have the peace of mind of knowing we can call the 24/7 HomeWorks Connect tech support line to get an immediate answer from a knowledgeable representative.

The bottom line is that when it comes to my family’s internet needs, HomeWorks Connect delivers. I hope you’ll give us a call today to see what our high-speed internet service can do for you. 4 MARCH 2021

FAST. RELIABLE. LOCAL. You won’t want to miss out on HomeWorks Connect, the high-speed internet and home phone service brought to you by your reliable, local electric cooperative.

Visit Join.HomeWorksConnect.org or call 800-668-8413!

“We live in a rural area and there were no other internet options previously. Thank you, HomeWorks, for helping out our rural communities!” - Breann B.

Become A Connector Today! NEW!

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

Efficient Outdoor Lighting Tips For Better Security And Entertaining By James Dulley

ith energy-efficient LEDs and CFLs, it is much easier to light your house effectively without driving up your electric bills. Although these bulbs, especially LEDs, are initially somewhat more expensive, they last for tens of thousands of hours.


To plan lighting for both home security and when entertaining, it is generally best to plan for two separate lighting layouts. The intensity, location, and light color quality are different for optimal security and entertaining. For example, your security lighting layout must be larger and cover hidden areas that guests will never visit. Brighter, more intense lighting is better for entertaining than for security. High color


MARCH 2021

temperature LED bulbs or integral fixtures produce a whiter light. This is great for entertaining and makes colors look more like they do in daylight. These are often called “daylight” bulbs on the packaging or 4,000K or 5,000K bulbs. The higher the Kelvin rating of the bulb, the cooler and more blue the light emitted will appear. With a lower Kelvin, the light is warmer and more yellow. For security, a less bright light with a lower color temperature in the 2,700K range is best to use. If brighter security light is used, it causes a person’s pupils to get smaller from the glare. This makes it more difficult to see in unlit or very dimly lit areas where a crook may be hiding.

Entertainment Lighting Planning your lighting for entertaining is fairly simple, so do this first. You know where you and your guests will be and what activities will typically be going on. Lighting around your front door is the first area that every guest sees, and you want it to be as welcoming as possible. Bright, whiter light is ideal here. Select two fixtures from one-quarter to onethird the height of your front door so they don’t look too small or too large for the entrance area. The center of the bulb should be 66 to 72 inches above the floor. This also provides a nice appearance from the street. LED bulbs or integral LED light fixtures are the best choice for the front door. This is particularly true in colder climates. LEDs reach their full brightness almost instantly. CFLs take a few seconds to warm up and get bright when it’s cold.

If someone knocks on your door, you want full brightness as soon as you switch on the lights. For other fixtures where the lights are on for a while, CFLs are fine. For general entertaining where less bright lighting is adequate, consider using low-voltage landscaping fixtures around a deck or patio. These are very easy and safe to install yourself. This also provides the opportunity to change or add to the lighting pattern at any time in just a few minutes. It’s also good to install shielded light fixtures. These block the light from shining up into the sky. This light is wasted and contributes to light pollution. Light pollution is annoying to neighbors and a danger to birds and wildlife. Visit darksky.org for more information.

Security Lighting Security lighting planning takes more thought, and there are more lighting options. If a house and yard are illuminated properly, a thief will usually avoid it. To plan security lighting, switch on the indoor lights that you normally use. Take a walk around your house and look for locations that are not lighted. Pay particular attention to windows or doors that may be somewhat hidden by shrubs or other landscaping from view. These are important areas for efficient light fixtures. PAR38 LED floodlight bulbs are a good choice for specific areas like these. PAR38 bulbs come in a variety of beam angles to fit the area of coverage you need. The angles range from 10 degrees, which is narrow for smaller areas, to 50 degrees, which is a wide flood.

One of the most efficient and effective types of security light is a motionsensing fixture. The time that the light stays on is adjustable from 15 to 60 seconds, so little electricity is used. When the light comes on, a thief assumes he was seen and leaves. For more security, select a two-level model that keeps a dim light on until it brightens when motion is detected. Solar-powered LED motion-sensing models are the easiest to install yourself. Any floodlights should ideally be located nine feet above the ground to be most effective.



We’ve Got You Covered armer weather is right around the corner, and along with it comes the humidity we know all too well. Humid air is the culprit for many indoor air pollutants found inside homes, like dust mites, mold, and spores that can lead to serious health issues. Excessive moisture in the air can also damage homes, causing the wood to rot or paint to peel.


Portable dehumidifiers are often undersized and run more than they should, resulting in added energy costs. In spring and summer, many homes need larger whole-home dehumidification solutions. ENERGY STAR® whole-home dehumidifiers are specifically designed to maintain the proper level of humidity in your entire home. They can save you energy, increase indoor comfort, and prevent mildew and bacterial growth, thereby increasing the quality of the air you breathe. Additional benefits of whole-home dehumidifiers include: • Prevents damp carpet, mold, and mildew. • Protects your home from damaging moisture. • Removes up to 16 gallons of water a day. • No water tray to empty.

Save on energy costs. A whole-home dehumidifier can also relieve the demands made on your air conditioner during hot, humid days. Drier air feels cooler, so you can turn your thermostat up a few degrees. The A/C doesn’t run as often, saving energy and cutting costs. Save even more with a $700 incentive when you install a new ENERGY STAR certified whole-home dehumidifier in your home. Check out additional savings available to you through the Energy Optimization program and select retailers by contacting michigan-energy.org or call 877-296-4319.

WE’VE GOT YO U C OV E R E D Install an ENERGY STAR® certified whole-home dehumidifier to remove excess moisture. n Eliminate unhealthy air n Increase air comfort n Protect from mold & mildew


ON QUALIFYING MODELS Online: michigan-energy.org

Phone: 877.296.4319

Energy Optimization programs and incentives are applicable to Michigan electric service locations only. Incentive applies to qualified items purchased and installed between January 1, 2021 and December 31, 2021. Other restrictions may apply. For complete program details, visit michigan-energy.org.


Enter to win a


energy bill credit!

Wild Animals 1. Larry Smith of Stanwood submitted this photo of a buck that he says was a regular visitor to his backyard this past autumn. 2. Dale Nemeth of Mulliken says, “These elk fighting near Gaylord were a sight to see.” 3. Scott Richcreek of Watervliet (receiving service in Barryton) submitted this shot of an owl that landed in a pine tree near the Chippewa River. 4. Darla Schoner of Weidman says, “This little pup fox was enjoying a siesta when we spotted him, near his den, amongst a pile of rocks on the side of a gravel road in Mecosta County.” 5. Dorothea Kowalk of Eaton Rapids took this photo of a fawn hiding out in her backyard. 6. Casie Bayless of Portland submitted this photo of a fruit bat that she observed in its natural habitat in the village of Candidasa, Bali.







Upcoming Snap Shot Contest Topics and Deadlines

“Mom And Me,” Deadline: March 15 (May issue) “Dad And Me,” Deadline: April 15 (June issue) “Show Your American Pride,” Deadline: May 17 (July/August issue) Go to HomeWorks.org, select the Energy tab, then choose Member Services > Country Lines to submit your photos and see all of the 2021 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! Members whose photos we publish in Country Lines in 2021 will receive a $10 bill credit the month after publication.



MI CO-OP Recipes

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

SOUPS Simmer up with one of these comforting recipes.


CHICKEN GNOCCHI SOUP Lisa Weiss, Thumb Electric

1 1 ½ 2 ½ 3–4 8 ¼ ¼ 1 1 2 1

Win a


energy bill credit!

10 MARCH 2021


Fruity Desserts due April 1 • Whole Grains due May 1 • Fish & Seafood due July 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. Submit recipes at micoopkitchen.com or email to recipes@countrylines.com.

tablespoon avocado or olive oil celery stalk, chopped white onion, diced teaspoons minced garlic cup shredded carrots chicken breasts, cooked and diced cups chicken broth teaspoon salt teaspoon freshly ground black pepper teaspoon dried thyme (32-ounce) package potato gnocchi cups half & half cup fresh spinach, roughly chopped

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add celery, onion, garlic, and carrots and sauté for 2–3 minutes, until onions are translucent. Add chicken, chicken broth, salt, pepper, thyme, and gnocchi; bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Stir in half & half and spinach and cook for another 1–2 minutes, until spinach is tender. Taste, add additional salt and pepper if needed, and serve. Watch a video of this month’s winning recipe at micoopkitchen.com/videos


Deb Finedell, Great Lakes Energy 2 1 2 2 7½ 2¹⁄ ³ 3 1

tablespoons olive oil cup chopped bacon onions, chopped garlic cloves, finely chopped cups vegetable stock cups diced potatoes cups shredded cabbage teaspoon Worcestershire or Tabasco sauce 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard 3 teaspoons parsley, finely chopped • salt and pepper

Heat olive oil in a large pan. Add bacon, onions, and garlic. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently for 5–7 minutes until bacon is crisp and onions are browned. Pour in vegetable stock. Add potatoes, cabbage, Worcestershire/Tabasco and mustard. Mix well. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally. Remove pan from heat and allow to cool slightly. Transfer 2½ cups of the soup to food processor or blender. Process briefly to a coarse puree and return to pan. Stir well and return soup to heat. Cook, stirring frequently for 5–10 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and season with salt and pepper.

BELLY FRIENDLY CHICKEN AND SWEET POTATO SOUP Katie Schneider, Midwest Energy & Communications


Maryann Selders, HomeWorks Tri-County 2 tablespoons olive oil 1–2 pounds meaty pork ribs, loin, or chops 1 large onion, chopped 5–6 small to medium fresh beets, peeled and cubed 2 (1-pound) cans diced beets 1 (1-pound) can plain sauerkraut, drained and rinsed in cold water ½ small head cabbage, thinly sliced 2 bay leaves • several sprigs of fresh dill • salt and pepper, to taste 1 cup half & half • sour cream

Heat oil in large Dutch oven or stockpot. Place pork and onions in pot and cook over medium-low heat a few minutes, until meat is browned and onions are translucent. Add fresh beets, canned beets (including juices), sauerkraut, cabbage, and bay leaves. Add enough water just to cover all ingredients. Bring to boil. As foam forms on top of broth, skim off and discard. When this is complete, add a few of the sprigs of fresh dill, and salt and black pepper to taste. Reduce heat to very low OR place in a slow cooker and simmer for 2–3 hours, covered. Remove meat from pot; discard any bones and excess fat. Shred meat with fork; return to pot. Put 1½ cups of broth in a medium bowl and slowly add half & half to it. Stir and then slowly add back into main pot of soup. If done too fast, the milk will curdle. It is still okay to eat but just does not look as pretty. Serve with sour cream and remaining fresh dill to garnish.

4 cups chicken bone broth ½ cup nondairy milk (almond, coconut, etc.), divided 2 cooked chicken breasts, finely chopped 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into small chunks (2 cups) 1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into small chunks (2 cups) 2 carrots, peeled and chopped 1 teaspoon ground ginger 2 teaspoons turmeric • freshly ground black pepper, to taste Combine bone broth and half of the nondairy milk in a large saucepan. Stir in the cooked chicken, sweet potatoes, squash, carrots, ginger, and turmeric. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 35–40 minutes, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are softened. Blend to smooth using a blender or immersion/ hand blender. Or keep as-is for a chunkier soup. Finally, add the remaining half of the dairy-free milk to the mixture and stir through to make it extra creamy. Serve immediately. Add black pepper if desired.



2021 District Meeting Plans In The Works Your HomeWorks board of directors and management team are currently monitoring the public health situation and discussing options for this year’s district membership meetings, which are typically held in May. Every year, we look forward to meeting with our members at our district meetings. It’s a chance to conduct important Co-op business, like electing directors and district officers, but also to update you on the electric co-op you own. Unfortunately, we couldn’t hold in-person meetings in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. We were disappointed not to be able to meet with you face to face, but we were thrilled that so many of you participated in our alternative virtual offering, our first-ever district meeting video series. This year, with the pandemic still upon us, all options are on the table as we look ahead to the spring and begin to make plans for our 2021 district meetings. If it is deemed ahead of time that it will be safe to do so by May, we would like to hold the meetings in person. However, as it continues to appear to be a less likely viable option by springtime, we are also considering virtual options, including live-streamed meetings or a video series similar to last year’s event. Our board and management team are also discussing the possibility of a hybrid set-up, which would allow for both virtual and in-person attendance, if it is deemed safe to do so.

12 MARCH 2021

What You Need To Know: 1. Our board will make a final decision regarding 2021 district meeting plans by mid-March. Once plans have been set, we will notify you via mailer, the April issue of Country Lines, HomeWorks.org and our HomeWorks Facebook page. 2. Director elections scheduled for this year in districts 3 and 6 will be held, regardless of which meeting option the board selects. Members in these districts will receive their mail-in ballots, along with candidate info, with their April issue of Country Lines. If we are able to hold in-person meetings, members of districts 3 and 6 will also have the option of voting there. 3. No matter which meeting option we go with, rest assured we will deliver everything you’ve come to expect from your district meeting (except that, unfortunately, we can’t promise you a meal if we meet online; we just haven’t discovered a way to dole out those sloppy joes virtually quite yet!). You will still get your business meeting, a Co-op update, a HomeWorks Connect update, a summary of our recent community outreach efforts, and more. Plus, like always, you’ll have the chance to win great prizes, including smart TVs, iPads and bill credits, just for attending or watching! Stay tuned for more info to come. We can’t wait to meet with you, in person or otherwise, very soon!

Your Board In Action Meeting remotely on January 18, your board of directors: • Discussed preliminary plans for the Co-op’s 2021 district meetings. • Conducted the annual director compensation and expense review for 2021. • Selected CEO Chris O’Neill as the Co-op’s voting delegate for the annual meeting of the Michigan Electric Cooperative Association (MECA) and Director Corinna Batora as the alternate delegate. • Learned about the progress of the HomeWorks Connect fiber internet business. • Discussed and accepted Policy 201 – Safety, with minor amendments. • Learned there were 113 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 March 29 at Portland and April 26 at Blanchard. However, at the time of this printing, some of our meetings are temporarily being conducted remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Members who wish to have items considered on the board agenda should call 517-647-7554.

People Fund Grants Over $11,000 To Local Community Organizations Meeting remotely on Feb. 3, the Tri-County Electric People Fund board made six grants totaling $11,525, including: • $5,000 to St. Vincent de Paul Society of St. Michael Parish in Grand Ledge, to provide funding for utility payments and housing assistance for local families in need; • $2,500 to Barryton Community Fire Department to purchase a dryer for firefighter turnout gear; • $2,000 to Eaton Clothing & Furniture Center in Charlotte, to help purchase supplies for a children’s backpack program; • $1,000 to Ionia County Great Start Collaborative to support their Transition To Kindergarten Backpack Program; • $1,000 to the Ionia Ministerial Association to cover utility bills and housing expenses; and

Apply Today For Classroom Grants, College Scholarships We’ve extended the deadline to apply for our Classroom S.T.E.A.M. Grants of up to $2,000 and our college scholarships of $1,000 to March 22. Click the Community tab at HomeWorks.org to apply.

How to Apply for a Tri-County Electric People Fund Grant The Tri-County Electric People Fund provides grants to individuals and organizations in the Co-op’s service area for food, shelter, clothing, health, and other humane needs, or for programs or services that benefit a significant segment of a community. Write to 7973 E. Grand River Ave., Portland, MI 48875, for an application form and grant guidelines, or visit the People Fund page at HomeWorks.org. Note: Applications must be received by April 20 for the April People Fund board meeting or by June 1 for the June meeting.

Thank you!

• $25 to a Montcalm County family to cover an electric bill.


Captain BJ Massey pilots the Laura Ann back to the dock after lifting nets.


hen zebra mussels or other foreign aquatic invaders find their way into the Great Lakes, the outlook can appear dire. But nature has a way of adapting and even growing. While an entire energy source can diminish and appear to threaten the survival of the fish that feed on it, miraculously, another energy source can present itself, like clouds of gnats whose larvae provided a new food option for local whitefish or menominee. It’s the power of nature and the truth that adaptability is perhaps life’s greatest form of survival. Commercial fishermen like Jamie and BJ Massey of Massey Fish Co. in St. Ignace, Michigan, have spent their careers watching these sorts of natural phenomena unfold and have taken a cue on the power of flexibility in their own lives. The father and son, representing the fifth and sixth generations of commercial fishermen in their family, understand that you have to understand your surroundings and adapt in order to grow. “My great-great-great-grandfather, Charlie Massey, came to the area with the Hudson’s Bay Fur Company,” said Jamie Massey, president of Massey Fish Co. “He went on to become a logger, then a commercial fisherman. Six generations later, our family is still in the business, even though it looks completely different.”

Tackling Commercial

With Massey Fish Co. By Emily Haines Lloyd Photos courtesy of Massey Fish Co.

Charlie Massey likely couldn’t have imagined the massive boats and equipment his family would eventually use in the 21st century. Jamie and BJ both hold their commercial fishing licenses and have turned the small family fishing operation into a thriving business that sells its products not only all over the state, but around the country, as well as internationally. Over the last ten years, the two Masseys currently at the helm have made significant upgrades and improvements to their infrastructure, including blast and storage freezers with electric upgrades made possible by Cloverland Electric Cooperative. “There’s no set handbook on how to grow your business,” said BJ. “You have to be quick to think and then react to the circumstances. This is something we learned on the water; you have to be agile.”

One of the key components to the company’s growth, with an approximately 25% increase in the last year, is the commitment to not only fishing the Great Lakes, but investing in the processing of its catch, including its famed smoked fish. “As a company, we could choose to catch and sell our fish, which would allow our families to make a living,” said BJ. “But by processing and packaging it here, we’re creating at least 20 more livelihoods and having a real impact on our community. It’s a big responsibility, but one we’re willing to take on.” Massey Fish Co. makes over 100 products with the fish it catches and purchases each season, which in some years has been as much as 1.5 million pounds. Its reach continues to grow as it dips into off-season fishing (November–May)— braving the harsh conditions and below zero temps. It is continually looking for market growth, and about a decade ago, found a surprising niche with farmers markets in the state. What started as testing the waters with a couple of coolers at one outdoor market has grown into its product being available at 33 farmers markets, including the largest in the state, as consumers have a sincere interest in locallysourced and quality fish as a protein source. “We sell what’s fresh and plentiful. And we only sell what we’d be willing to eat,” said BJ. “And I can tell you this— we’re picky.” Their pickiness has paid off. However, their love of the outdoors and their respect for nature could be the true keys to Massey Fish Co.’s success. It doesn’t hurt that the father and son love what they do.

Don Massey (Jamie’s and BJ’s father) winches up a trap net.

“I tell people, honestly, for me, fishing is like Christmas morning every day. It’s never been a job,” said Jamie. “I’ve always loved and respected nature, and when you are enthusiastic about what’s in front of you, there’s a ton of excitement. I think it’s important for everyone to find those things that spark excitement in them. Those passions can last a lifetime.”

1442 West Rd., St. Ignace, MI 49781 906-984-2148


L–R: The crew pulls nets under the ice on Lake Huron.



You read about efficient outdoor lighting on pages 6-7; now check out these additional LED lighting tips for your home!

Save Energy In Your Home With LEDs Residential LED lights use at least 75% less energy and last 25 times longer than incandescent lighting, according to Energy.gov. That means replacing your home’s lightbulbs with LEDs can help you save energy and money, while also reducing the need for you to change burnt-out bulbs in hard-to-reach places. Below are several LED lighting suggestions to help make your home more energy efficient.

Living Room Lamps

Table or floor three-way lamps using LED bulbs provide 620, 1,600 or 2,150 lumens of soft white light and deliver up to 25,000 hours of light.


Dimmable recessed LED conversion lights add a warm glow of up to 1,200 lumens for kitchen workspaces and add far less heat to your kitchen. Each bulb could last up to 10 years.

Bedrooms and Hallways

Long-life LEDs are ideal for ceiling fixtures. A 9-watt LED produces the same 800 lumens of light as a 60-watt incandescent, and uses about 80% less energy.


Omnidirectional LED globe bulbs are designed to provide a warm glow ideal for bathrooms. A 6-watt bulb produces 450 lumens and lasts up to 15,000 hours.


A 6-watt, 500-lumen LED bulb can replace a 40-watt incandescent bulb. Designed to last up to 30,000 hours, it could be a one-time switch.

16 MARCH 2021

Thank You, Teachers! Whether you’ve been teaching virtually, in person, or a hybrid of both, we know this past year has been challenging, to say the least. We just wanted you to know that your fans here at HomeWorks appreciate all you’re doing every day for students in our local communities. Thank you for pressing on to continue molding our future leaders.

MI CO-OP Community Guest Column

There’s Magic In A Frog Pond

By Steve Begnoche, Great Lakes Energy member

wo ponds near our Upper Peninsula cottage along the shore of Lake Superior’s Whitefish Bay are mere puddles compared to the big lake. But they are a world unto themselves that captivate our grandchildren.


One pond is on the beach near my siblings’ cottages. It’s the outlet of a ditch between Superior Drive and adjacent woody swamps. It leaks icy-cold, tannin-stained, root beercolored water into the bay. It’s been that way since my childhood, more than 60 years ago, when my siblings and I spent hours catching frogs there. It’s a favorite of my eldest granddaughter Kayleigh, who has heard grandpa’s tales of frog-hunting forays there. Kayleigh began heading to the pond when visiting us, declaring “it’s her turn” to catch frogs in it. It took practice, patience, and persistence, but eventually, she caught a frog. It’s debatable whether the frog or Kayleigh was more surprised. This past summer, our grandson Grayson, now 5, netted frogs in a neighbor’s pond. Grayson spent hours stalking the edges of the 8x16-foot man-made pond. Nearly choked with last year’s leaves, he raked it clean to have a better view of the frogs. Neighbor Renee was pleased with the maintenance. Grayson came equipped with a net, to which he added a stick for a longer handle. Every time he caught a frog, he’d run to anyone in sight or on the beach to show them his catch. Then he’d run back and release the frog into the pond. Grayson enjoys Lake Superior, the bay, the beach, and fishing. This past summer, he was the frog hunter. In a troubled world, kids find joy in ways kids always have— riveted to catching memories in the little ponds of life.

Win a


energy bill credit!

Steve Begnoche is a writer and landscape and nature photographer who spent nearly 40 years in community newspapering, including 30 years at the Ludington Daily News. He comes by his love for the Upper Peninsula from his parents, who bought a lot on Whitefish Bay in the 1950s. The family included seven children and vacationed there every summer. He and his wife Brenda, their three children, and five grandchildren carry on that tradition with a place of their own. Five siblings also have places along the bay shared with their families.

Share your fondest memories and stories. Win $150 for stories published! Visit countrylines.com/community to submit.

Where In Michigan Is This? Identify the correct location of the photo above by February 20 and be entered into a drawing to win a $50 electric bill credit. Enter your guess at countrylines.com/community. January 2021 Winner! Our Mystery Photo winner is Steve Pelli, an Ontonagon County REA member, who correctly identified the photo as the Cooley Bridge, which was built in 1934 and is one of Michigan’s rarest bridge types. Photo by Karen Farrell. Winners are announced in the following issues of Country Lines: January, March, May, July/August, September, and November/ December.

What’s hybrid heating & cooling? Well-Connect is a water-source heat pump designed to operate simultaneously with an existing furnace. Well-Connect does not replace your current heating system — it works alongside it. In the same way a hybrid vehicle greatly reduces the need for gas, doubling the fuel spend on propane or fuel oil. It also eliminates the need to burn wood.

What’s the bottom line? Well-Connect collectively saves Michigan homeowners more than $1 million in heating and cooling costs every year. For rural homeowners, heating with a Well-Connect can be compared to locking in a propane price of $1 per gallon for the next two decades, and that includes the cost of an installed Well-Connect system.

Tell me about installation. In most cases, installing a Well-Connect only takes six to eight hours in homes with three-in-one geothermal system — heating, cooling and summertime dehumidification — is low maintenance and operates with a push of a button.

Schedule a FREE home estimate today

My house is much more comfortable! “Areas of my home were cold & drafty in the winter, hot & humid all summer, and I was tired of maintaining my wood stove. A Well-Connect geothermal system was installed in a day, right next to my propane furnace. Now my home is so much more comfortable. No more drafts or cold rooms in my house. I no longer use a space heater, and I burn wood only when I want.” - Rev. Charles S., PIE&G Member








Hybrid Geothermal

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When it matters most, count on us. You know you can count on HomeWorks to provide you with reliable electricity. Why not enjoy that same reliable service from your propane provider? HomeWorks Tri-County Propane offers excellent customer service, a capped winter rate, convenient payment options and so much more.

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