Thumb March 2021

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March/April 2021


COUNTRY LINES Thumb Electric Cooperative

Read more on page 12 for details.


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


Your Local WaterFurnace Dealers Bad Axe/Cass City Thumb Clg & Htg (855) 206-5457 thumbcooling Berrien Springs WaterFurnace Michiana (269) 473-5667 gogreenmich Big Rapids Stratz Htg & Clg, Inc. (231) 796-3717

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

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

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

Clifford Orton Refrig & Htg (989) 761-7691

Mancelona Top Notch Htg, Clg, & Geothermal (231) 350-8052

Muskegon Adams Htg & Clg (231) 873-2665

Hart Adams Htg & Clg (231) 873-2665

Michigan Center Comfort 1/Aire Serv of Southern Michigan (517) 764-1500 southern-michigan

Portland ESI Htg & Clg (517) 647-6906

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


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 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





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


3 /thumbelectric

THUMB ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE 2231 Main Street Ubly, MI 48475-0157 1-800-327-0166 or 989-658-8571 E-mail:

BOARD OF DIRECTORS HURON COUNTY Randall Dhyse, Treasurer District 1 • 989-551-6533 Vacant District 2

Proposed Rate Revision

Beth McDonald, Secretary District 3 • 989-550-7470 SANILAC COUNTY Kim Nunn, Vice President District 1 • 810-679-4291 Mike Briolat, Director District 2 • 989-284-3405

Duane Kursinsky, Director District 3 • 810-837-3828 TUSCOLA COUNTY Louis Wenzlaff, President District 1 • 989-683-2696

Jonathan Findlay, Director District 2 • 989-551-8393 Carl Cousins, Director District 3 • 989-871-4449

Dallas Braun, General Manager

PAYMENT STATIONS Huron County Bad Axe—Northstar Bank Pigeon—Northstar Bank Tuscola County Akron—Northstar Bank Caro—Northstar Bank Mayville—Mayville State Bank Millington—Mayville State Bank Sanilac County Sandusky—Northstar Bank Thumb Electric Cooperative is an equal opportunity provider and employer.




Dallas Braun, General Manager


or several years now, one item of discussion at our member district meetings and written about in past articles has been the need to increase the monthly service charge. This charge is supposed to represent each member’s fair share of the system’s fixed costs. These include the poles, wires, transformers, meters, labor, vehicles, tools, and other equipment needed to maintain a safe and reliable electrical system available to you 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. These costs exist even when no electricity is used. Our most recent cost of service study (COSS) performed by an independent firm shows that our current monthly service charge is too low. At the March 23 board meeting at 6 p.m., the board of directors will consider action on proposed rate and tariff revisions. The proposed rate adjustments will reflect an increase in the monthly service charge of up to $5 for most rate classes. There will also be slight increases in the energy cost for certain rate classifications. The Power Supply Cost Recovery (PSCR) factor will also be doubled from a $0.002/kWh credit to a $0.004/kWh credit. There is a certain cost included in the full retail rate paid by members specifically for the power supply cost component. The PSCR factor reconciles any differences between the power supply cost in the base rate and the actual power supply cost incurred. If actual power supply costs are more than what is in the base rate, members will see this increase reflected on their monthly bill. If the power supply cost is less than what is in the base rate, members will see this decrease reflected on their monthly bill. TEC members continue to benefit from our wholesale power supply contract, and this PSCR factor reduction will help offset the impact of other increases. For most members, the $5 monthly service charge increase still represents a monthly service charge below the level identified in the most recent COSS. The board of directors will likely continue to slowly and gradually increase this monthly service charge as future rate changes are required. This proposed increase that would go into effect in July is required to ensure the cooperative continues to meet its financial debt, maintain the distribution system, and build equity. While no one likes paying an increase for services, this rate revision’s overall impact is minimal. For the average residential member using 1,200 kWh per month, the overall monthly impact will increase by $2.60 on the monthly bill. At Thumb Electric, we are continuously working to contain costs without jeopardizing your electric service’s reliability. Please see the summary chart on page 5 for more information on all the proposed rate revisions.

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Thumb Electric Cooperative Proposed Rate Revision Summary RATE DESCRIPTION/TARIFF









Energy Charge On-Peak/kWh



Energy Charge Intermediate/kWh



Energy Charge Off-Peak/kWh









Energy Charge/kWh



PSCR Factor Per kWh





Energy Charge/kWh



PSCR Factor Per kWh





Energy Charge On-Peak/kWh



Energy Charge Intermediate/kWh



Energy Charge Off-Peak/kWh



Energy Charge/kWh



PSCR Factor Per kWh



Energy Charge/kWh



PSCR Factor Per kWh













PSCR Factor Per kWh



Energy Storage / D-16.00

Energy Charge/kWh



Required Deposits / C-9.00

Interest Rate Paid



Farm & Home / D-4.00

Monthly Service Charge PSCR Factor Per kWh

Farm & Home Time-Of-Day / D-5.00

Seasonal & Low Usage Farm & Home / D-6.00

Service Charge

Service Charge PSCR Factor Per kWh

Seasonal & Low Usage General Service / D-7.00

General Service / D-8.00

General Time-Of-Day / D-9.00

Large General Service / D-10.00

Large Power Distribution Substation / D-11.00

Outdoor Protective Lighting (40W LED) / D-12.00

Service Charge

Service Charge

Service Charge

Per Light Fixture PSCR Factor Per kWh

Outdoor Protective Lighting (100W HPS/175W MV / D-12.00

Per Light Fixture PSCR Factor Per kWh

Outdoor Protective Lighting (250W HPS/400W MV) / D-12.00

Per Light Fixture

TEC Offers Scholarships

In Lieu Of Canceled Youth Tour The 2021 Youth Tour has been canceled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the logistics that go along with it. As a result, the Thumb Electric Board of Directors has decided to offer a $1,500 scholarship in each of TEC’s served counties of Huron, Sanilac, and Tuscola. Details will be announced soon. Please watch Country Lines, our Facebook, and our website as information is updated. MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES


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 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.



Appliance Recycling Spring Start ppliance recycling is not available throughout the winter, as it can be difficult to schedule and maneuver about in uncertain winter weather. We anticipate we will start to pick up again around April 1. Our contractor SEEL will pick up an old working refrigerator or freezer, and we will credit your account $50. If they have scheduled to pick up a refrigerator or freezer, they will also schedule to pick up a dehumidifier or a window A/C unit you wish to recycle. Those are worth a $20 bill credit. New for 2021 is the recycling of small “dorm” style refrigerators and freezers. These are also worth a bill credit of $20 and need to be in conjunction with the larger appliance. We anticipate phone lines opening around the last week in March.


Call 844-631-2130 to schedule your pickup!

Employee Spotlight The following TEC employees have recently been promoted.

Brad Essenmacher, Fiber and Member Services Manager

Clint Seidl, Member Services Engineering Manager

Angie Zagorski, Member Office Representative Supervisor

Doug Diem, Member Services Representative

Brad has been with TEC for 11 years, most recently serving as the member services and marketing manager.

Clint has been with TEC for 10 years, most recently serving as the assistant engineer.

Angie has been with TEC for 21 years, most recently serving as the member office representative.

Doug has been with TEC for 34 years, most recently serving as a utility man.

NOTICE TO MEMBERS OF THUMB ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE Special Board Meeting—March 23, 2021 The Thumb Electric Board of Directors will consider changes to the cooperative’s rates and tariffs at its March 23, 2021, meeting. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. at the cooperative office at 2231 Main St., Ubly, Michigan. It is open to all members of Thumb Electric Cooperative, in accordance with PA 167 of 2008. The following items will be considered: • Establish the Power Supply Cost Recovery Factor to be applied to the cooperative’s retail member-consumers’ monthly kilowatt-hour use. The Power Supply Cost Recovery Factor represents the power supply costs as established by the cooperative and its power supplier. • Revise existing tariff C-9.00, specifically the interest rate paid by the cooperative for required member deposits. • Revise the cooperative’s rates and tariffs, specifically the following tariffs: D-4.00, D-5.00, D-6.00, D-7.00, D-8.00, D-9.00, D-10.00, D-11.00, D-12.00, and D-16.00. Notice of changes or additions to the cooperative’s rates or service rules shall be given to all members, as required by P.A. 167, by publication in Michigan Country Lines at least 30 days prior to their effective date. Participation: Any interested member may attend and participate. The location of the tentative board meeting site is accessible, including handicapped parking. If COVID-19 prevents an in-person meeting, accommodations for remote participation will be made for members wanting to participate. Members wanting to participate should contact Thumb Electric Cooperative at 800-327-0166 a week in advance to request remote access, mobility, visual, hearing, or other assistance. Comments may also be made before the meeting date by calling General Manager Dallas Braun or by email at



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 or email to

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


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.



Thumb Electric Cooperative

To Launch TEC FIBER n the current times, access to high-speed internet is a vital service and will likely improve the economy, the education system, and the general quality of life. Thumb Electric Cooperative (TEC) is stepping in to bridge the digital divide in the rural communities we serve. For a long time, members have expressed frustration with the lack of internet or slow internet in our service territory. But that’s about to change. In 2021, TEC will begin to build out high-speed, fiber-to-the-home internet service, “TEC FIBER.”


For the past two years, TEC staff and directors have spent countless hours thoroughly evaluating monumental amounts of data and information to self-educate and understand so that a sound and responsible decision could be made for our members, the cooperative, and the surrounding communities. Needless to say, this $75 million

12 MARCH 2021

capital investment to build the TEC FIBER network was not taken lightly. Late in 2020, TEC participated in the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) auction in hopes to secure funding to help support the operations of a fiber internet service business. TEC was successful in its bidding strategy and was awarded $22.4 million, to be paid in annual payments over the next ten years. Bidding was done by census block groups (CBGs) created by the FCC. CBGs are defined geographical areas that can differ greatly in size. Some CBGs can consist of many combined townships, while some can be as small as a handful of household addresses. For any CBG areas that TEC was awarded funding, all households (TEC members and

non-TEC members) must be provided access to the fiber service within a specific time-frame schedule. All of these areas must have service available within six years. TEC’s goal is to accomplish it in four. Once the required commitment to these areas is complete, the focus in the following four years will be on extending internet service to the remaining TEC members and surrounding areas. Construction of the fiber infrastructure is tentatively scheduled to begin early this summer, with the first internet services connected before the end of 2021. While all details are yet to be finalized, TEC FIBER plans to offer residential and business internet packages along with voice-over-internet-phone (VoIP) service. The residential programs are expected to consist of symmetrical (same upload and download speeds) and unlimited data at speeds of 200 Mbps and 1 Gbps. The addition of TEC’s fiber infrastructure will benefit those who subscribe to TEC FIBER’s service and all TEC electric members. It will serve as the backbone for other advanced technologies that will enable the cooperative to improve electric efficiency, reliability and outage restoration capabilities.

Additional information will be provided to keep you updated on this exciting and lifechanging project as it develops in the months ahead. Look for information in our Country Lines publications, online at and on our Facebook page. Please note: Enrollment is not available yet. Make sure you get the latest news by keeping your mailing address and email address current.


FAQs Q: What is fiber-to-the home internet service? A: Fiber-to-the-home, or FTTH, refers to a technology that can be used to provide communications and entertainment services to your home or business. Fiber allows members to access state-of-the-art voice, data, and video services over fiber optic cable, which is as thin as a human hair. The greatest benefit of fiber-to-the-home internet service is the amount of information and services that can be provided over a single connection. Additionally, the service offers unsurpassed speed, reliability, and clear connections.

Q: Why is TEC offering FTTH? A: Our members have told us there is a need for better internet in

our service area to improve the quality of life. Many people in rural Michigan don’t have access to a dependable, fast internet connection, which can impact their ability to do basic things on the internet, as well as work from home, stream video/ audio, expand businesses and more. We strive to offer reliable energy, comfort and communications solutions to enhance our members’ quality of life. Access to high-speed fiber internet is a solution that builds on our past successes in delivering reliable electricity with outstanding service to our members.

Access to a fiber data system will help our engineer and operation teams monitor and maintain our electric system more accurately, respond to outages faster, and plan for system upgrades in an effective manner.

Q: When will fiber internet service be available to serve my home or business? A: We expect to begin subscribing to fiber internet service as

early as late 2021. We anticipate beginning construction in summer 2021, with construction taking up to eight years to build out the entire system. Construction will involve stringing fiber optic cable to our poles and underground where needed.

Q: When will members be able to sign up for service? A: We will notify members when we are ready to offer service in their area.

Q: Will FTTH affect my electric bill? A: The plan for TEC FIBER service is to not have a negative

impact on your bills, rates, or electric service. In fact, TEC FIBER will be structured as a nonprofit business division within the cooperative. Just as TEC members have received their share of profits (patronage) based on electric use, those TEC members getting fiber internet service through TEC Fiber will also be allocated patronage.

Q: How can we get updates on when FTTH service will be available in our area? A: We plan to make regular news updates on our website, Facebook page, through email, and in Michigan Country Lines magazine.

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.



Tree Planting Guide Spring is nearly here, and that means it’s time to plant flowers, gardens and trees. Please use this guide to plant trees that will not someday interfere with power lines. Trees interfering with power lines can become a hazard that causes injury, raise rates due to the cost of having to be removed, and even cause power outages if they were to fall into power lines. Thumb Electric has been working with tree issues for many years. As a result, outages are significantly down, as trees and storms are a significant contributor to outages.

Tree Removal Schedule 2021 power line clearance is scheduled in the following townships.

• Huron County: Lincoln, Meade, Chandler, McKinley, Huron, Dwight, Hume, Lake, Caseville, Port Austin, Sigel, Sand Beach, Rubicon, Bloomfield, and Sherman • Sanilac County: Minden, Delaware, Marion, Forester, Lexington, Speaker, Buel, Elk, Sanilac, Washington, Watertown, Elmer, and Marlette

50' 40' 30' 20' 10' 0'




30' Small Tree Zone: Trees less than 25' tall/spread at least 25' from line

16 MARCH 2021


50' Medium Tree Zone: Trees 25'–40' in height/spread at least 40' from line


70' Large Tree Zone: Trees larger than 40' in height/spread at least 60' from line


Wild Animals 1. Don’t come any closer! Joanne Schult  2. Special visitor. April Taylor  3. Garter snakes. Joette Klein  4. Snacking by our campsite. Denise Rulason  5. Wild and free. Pat Slone  6. Cold paws! Heidi Slone


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energy bill credit!







Submit Your “Mom & Me” Photos!

Submit your “Mom & Me” photos through March 20 to be featured in our May/June issue! Submit your best photo and encourage your friends to vote! The photo receiving the most votes will be printed in an issue of Country Lines along with some of our other favorites.

Enter Your Photos And Win A Bill Credit!

To enter the contest, visit Enter your picture, cast your vote, and encourage others to vote for you as well. If your photo is printed in Country Lines during 2021, you will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win one of four $50 credits on your December 2021 bill. MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES 17

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.

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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 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 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.

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Thumb Electric Cooperative

Lineworkers know how to get the job done. Let’s thank them for powering our lives. CARO TEAM

Brandon Bruce, Foreman

Jeff Swick, Lineworker

Jason Kuhl, Lineworker

Jason Lawhorn, Lineworker

Gary Burns, Lineworker

Jim Vogel, Lineworker

Ray Eskau, Lineworker

Mike Kozlowski, Lineworker

Mike Cleland, Lineworker

Jacob Waun, Apprentice

Shane Maurer, Apprentice


Ray Kwiatkowski, Foreman

Lineworker Appreciation Day April 12, 2021 #ThankALineworker

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