March 2022 GLE

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March 2022


COUNTRY LINES Great Lakes Energy Cooperative

Farewell From Your CEO

Helping You To Cut The Cord Meet Your Director

Food Network’s Holiday Baking Champion—

Michigan’s Beth Meyer


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March 2022 Vol. 42, No. 3



6 TAKING THE LONG ROAD Long Road Distillers promises “no shortcuts” ... and the great lengths they go to in securing a gin ingredient reflect that promise. Michigan’s Electric Cooperatives

10 MI CO-OP KITCHEN Italian: Crowd-pleasing recipes you’ll love. 14 FOOD NETWORK’S HOLIDAY BAKING CHAMPION— MICHIGAN’S BETH MEYER The dazzling cakes baked by Beth Meyer have done everything from help her make connections in a new community to landing her a television appearance.

EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Casey Clark EDITOR: Christine Dorr


RECIPE EDITOR: Christin McKamey COPY EDITOR: Yvette Pecha CONTRIBUTING EDITOR: Emily Haines Lloyd

Cover photo courtesy of Food Network

PUBLISHER: Michigan Electric Cooperative Association

18 GUEST COLUMN Sweet Surprises: A day of sap collecting yields not only delicious syrup, but precious memories as well.

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


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.

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


When it’s so cold that boiling water freezes in mid-air. #mpenbaeffect @christina.b.lee (Christina Lee)

MI CO-OP COMMUNITY To enter contests, submit reader content & more, visit

RECIPE CONTEST Win a $50 bill credit!

Up Next: Tomatoes, due April 1; Potatoes, due May 1 Submit your recipe at, or send it via email (include your full name and co-op) to

GUEST COLUMN Win $150 for stories published!

Submit your fondest memories and stories at

MYSTERY PHOTO Win a $50 bill credit!

Enter a drawing to identify the correct location of the photo. See page 18.



A Farewell From Your CEO /greatlakesenergy /jointruestream BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Bill Scott, Great Lakes Energy President/CEO


Robert Kran, Chairman, District 6 231-464-5889

ver the course of the last 20 years, it has been my duty and great pleasure to serve the members of Great Lakes Energy. On March 18, I will retire as President & CEO, opening the door for new goals of my own and providing room for the leadership at GLE to continue building off our success.

John LaForge, Secretary, District 9 269-623-2284

The Great Lakes Energy Board of Directors chose Shaun Lamp to become President & CEO of GLE effective March 19. Shaun has been with GLE since 2001, most recently serving as GLE’s chief operating officer. I have no doubt that with his leadership within the organization, Great Lakes Energy will continue to thrive in its mission to serve our members.

Paul Byl, Director, District 7 231-861-5911

I take great pride in my two decades of service to GLE and its members. During my time here, there were many great programs and initiatives that were put into place that helped us better serve our communities, but there is one aspect that shines brightest for me—the teams we have created within GLE. I could not comfortably step away without knowing Great Lakes Energy is being left in the most caring, adept hands possible. I hope that I have imparted upon our employees the same amount of growth, lessons, and development as they have for me. I will forever cherish the camaraderie, devotion, and even the occasional difference of opinions from this skilled group of professionals. As I always emphasized, everyone here wants what is best for our members, and that has been truly gratifying to me.

Howard Bowersox, Vice Chairman, District 8 219-670-0977

Dale Farrier, Treasurer, District 5 231-564-0853

Mark Carson, Director, District 2 231-675-0561

David Coveyou, Director, District 1 231-347-4056 Richard Evans, Director, District 3 231-883-3146

Shelly Pinkelman, Director, District 4 989-390-6222 PRESIDENT/CEO: Bill Scott 888-485-2537 COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR/EDITOR: Brett Streby 231-487-1389 • BOYNE CITY HEADQUARTERS 1323 Boyne Ave. Boyne City, MI 49712

Hours: 7 a.m.–5:30 p.m. M–F Phone: 888-485-2537 Email: TO REPORT AN OUTAGE: Call 888-485-2537 or login to your account at Change of Address: 888-485-2537, ext. 8924 Great Lakes Energy is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

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I would also like to acknowledge the dedication, open-mindedness, and passion for our members routinely exhibited by the board of directors throughout my tenure. Their direction and guidance serve to further cement the success of our cooperative. Perhaps the greatest highlight of my time here was the day the Truestream ribbon cutting took place. Truestream grew out of a strategic planning process that I re-established in 2016. I admit that I was hesitant to go all-in on such an ambitious plan, but the overwhelming support from our members made it clear that this life-changing fiber internet project was a must. Truestream has provided some of the most challenging yet rewarding experiences I have encountered in my tenure here. It has been an honor playing my part in offering this service and I have no doubt that the leadership in place will continue to steer it along to great success. As difficult as it may be for me to set out on my next journey, I do so knowing that GLE and our members will be taken care of by an extraordinary group of people. My retirement will mark my departure from Great Lakes Energy, but the cooperative and all its members will forever be with me. Thank you all.

“ A s difficult as it may be for me to set out on my next journey, I do so knowing that GLE and our members will be taken care of by an extraordinary group of people.”

Fine-Tuning Our Energy Efficiency Program he Energy Optimization program, loved and trusted by participating GLE members for 13 years, is undergoing some significant upgrades. In late 2021, state legislation for the program ended and since then, we have been busy exploring options and re-evaluating the program from top to bottom to ensure we provide the most optimal energy efficiency incentives to our members. With the stringent regulatory and reporting mandates lifted, GLE has the flexibility to enhance and expand our beneficial electrification offerings, modify incentives for energy efficiency, and structure programs that provide more opportunities for our members to save energy and money.


Now, with the ability to allocate resources more fluidly into our new energy efficiency program, participating GLE members can expect an overhaul and improvement to an already valuable program. Our lowincome program, called Pathways, is one offering that will continue in collaboration with TrueNorth Services. Qualified members can receive monthly bill payment assistance and energy efficiency guidance. The popular appliance recycling program will continue, but with dropoff events instead of door-to-door pickup. Heat pump and electric vehicle charger rebates, available now, continue to bring the promise of comfort and innovation. Both residential and commercial/industrial members will have the opportunity to find savings, incentives, and energy efficiency products that fit their needs and lifestyles.

More details about the new programs will be announced as soon as April. To keep tuned in to the latest energy efficiency program developments, visit Statement Of Nondiscrimination 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 filing_cust.html and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by: 1. mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, D.C. 20250-9410; 2. fax: (202) 690-7442; or 3. email: This institution is an equal opportunity provider.




LONG ROAD By Emily Haines Lloyd

f Emerson’s ethos holds true and life really is about the journey and not the destination, then the folks at Long Road Distillers are taking the scenic route for sure.

in Northport, apples from Peach Ridge Farms in Alpine Township, sunflower seeds from Paulson’s Pumpkin Patch in Belding, and perhaps the most elusive ingredient from a location stand point—juniper.

Long Road Distillers, the first distillery in Grand Rapids, has built its brand around its own moniker—No Shortcuts. It’s a nice sentiment and looks good on t-shirts, but it can be harder to commit to with invoices, payroll, and then for good measure—a pandemic staring you in the eye. But that’s what makes Long Road a special breed of business.

Most juniper for U.S.-based gin is sourced from the Pacific Northwest, where the weather and soil are perfect for the piney/woodsy-flavored berries. So, how do you keep your promise to source locally?


“Michiganders have a long history as makers,” said Jon O’Connor, co-founder of Long Road. “When Kyle and I started, we knew we wanted to make a product we could be proud of. There’s always a faster, cheaper, or easier way to do things, but that’s not why we started Long Road.” O’Connor and co-owner Kyle VanStrien took that simple premise into creating their line of spirits. Take, for instance, their MichiGin. It’s a clever name and, again, could be a nice gimmick, but not to this company. This gin is not only 6

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distilled and bottled in the Great Lakes State, but each and every ingredient is sourced here. The gin’s base spirit is distilled from red winter wheat from Heffron Farms in Belding, Michigan, that was milled on-site at the distillery on Grand Rapids’ West Side. It has been redistilled with a variety of Michigan botanicals, including sumac, white pine, and goldenrod wild-foraged in Byron Center and Greenville, Galena hops from the Michigan Hop Alliance

“We were camping with family one weekend, and my wife’s cousin told me about the juniper bushes all over Beaver Island,” said VanStrien. “It took no time at all for Jon and me to set up a trip to go see for ourselves.” In 2015, VanStrien and O’Connor took their first trip to Beaver Island, the 56-square-mile island surrounded by the blue waters of Lake Michigan, to scout for the wild juniper. Locals and owners of Island Airways, Paul and Angel Welke, offered the wide field behind their house for the crew to look at. From there, word spread, and other generous folks offered their land or passed off tips on where they’d seen the juniper bushes on the island.

“We’ve been lucky to forge some great relationships with families here. They know we want to highlight Beaver Island, not take advantage of it.” Locations in Grand Rapids, Grand Haven, and Cadillac

Kyle VanStrien

“It’s a small, tight-knit community. It was important to us always to be mindful of how we approached our picks,” said VanStrien. “We’ve been lucky to forge some great relationships with families here. They know we want to highlight Beaver Island, not take advantage of it.” In 2019, 27 employees made the trip over on the ferry owned by Bill McDonough, who also owns the local grocery store and often tosses car keys to the Long Road team for them to use on the island. In 2020, just a skeleton crew of six arrived by plane, due to COVID-19. Luckily, in 2021, things rebounded a bit, and the team returned with a group of 24, who

harvested over 150 pounds of wild juniper over three days. The team stoops, squats, and sits around low, spreading juniper bushes, pulling off ripe berries, with others clinging tightly for next year’s harvest. Conversations between team members vary from cocktail recipes, cooking techniques, sports scores, or gentle ribbing of one another from their individual bushes. Nearly 200 pounds of juniper berries are harvested each trip that eventually yield just under 1,000 bottles of MichiGin. The berries have a woodsy, earthy flavor that is distinct to the terroir of Beaver Island. Unique flavors for a truly unique product.

“It just wouldn’t be reasonable for a large distillery to go out and handpick juniper. It’s costprohibitive,” said VanStrien, “But for us, it’s personal. As we grow as a company, it’s this great reminder of our mission and doing things the right way. We’re proud to be able to produce something that features the farmers and families we are able to partner with around the state.” If the most epic journeys include taking the road less traveled, then it’s clear the folks at Long Road are okay taking an uncharted course. But they know, as all good travelers do, that the company you keep and the friends you make along the way end up being the real reward. MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES


Downed and Dangerous If you see a downed power line, always assume it is energized and dangerous. Avoid going near it or anything in contact with the power line.

35 ft. Downed power lines can energize the ground up to 35 ft. away—so keep your distance.

Never drive over a downed line or through water that is touching the line.

!!!! If you see a downed line, notify the local authorities immediately.

Never try to move a downed power line, even if you think the line is deenergized or if you’re using a nonconductive item—this will not prevent injury or death! Source: 8 MARCH 2022




Pet Showcase 1. Mom, I love the way I look in my new coat!! Thomas Tylenda, Bellaire 2. Sydnee fetching sticks at Lake Michigan. Karen Belinger, Rothbury 3. Keeping warm. Mike Scheidel, Irons 4. Winter wonderland. Paige Pomorski, Scottville 5. Goats. Jeanne Weible, Grayling 6. Farm dog in training. Sam Armstrong, Grayling


Enter to win a


energy bill credit!







Submit Your “Antique Rides” Photos By March 20!

Each month, members can submit photos on our website for our photo contest. The photo with the most votes is published here along with other selections. Our March theme is Antique Rides. Photos can be submitted by March 20 to be featured in the May issue.

How To Enter: Enter the contest at Make sure to vote and encourage others to vote for you, too. The photo receiving the most votes will be printed in an issue of Michigan Country Lines along with other favorites. All photos printed in the magazine in 2022 will be entered to win a $200 bill credit in December 2022. MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES


MI CO-OP Recipes

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


Crowd-pleasing recipes you’ll love.



• 1 2 2 4 1 2 1 3 4 1 • 1 • •



energy bill credit!

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Tomatoes due April 1 • Potatoes due May 1 Submit your favorite recipe for a chance to win a $50 bill credit and have your recipe featured in Country Lines with a photo and a video. Submit your recipe at, or send it via email (include your full name and co-op) to

butter or olive oil, for sautéing large onion, chopped cups chopped celery pounds fresh or frozen sweet potatoes, cubed (around 1 inch) large carrots, sliced package Polish turkey sausage, sliced (I use Eckridge Farm Smoked) (14-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, undrained (15-ounce) can Great Northern beans or butter beans, rinsed tablespoons Italian spices cups chicken or vegetable broth cup water salt and pepper, to taste bunch fresh kale (stripped from stem), chopped, or 1 package frozen or fresh spinach Parmesan/Asiago shredded cheese for serving hot sauce, for serving, optional

Sauté onion, celery, sweet potatoes, and carrots in a large saucepan with butter or olive oil. When veggies start to brown, add sausage and stir every few minutes. Transfer into a slow cooker (adding a liner makes cleanup a breeze). Add all remaining ingredients (note: depending on how large your slow cooker is, you may want to add the kale first, so the other ingredients weigh it down). Turn slow cooker on “Low” and cook for 6 hours. Serve with Parmesan/Asiago (or your favorite shredded cheese) or hot sauce, if desired, on top. Watch a video of this month’s winning recipe at

GRANDMA’S MEATBALLS Sharon Libich, Presque Isle • 1 ½ ½ 4 4 4 6

olive oil cooking spray pound ground chuck pound ground pork pound ground veal ounces dried breadcrumbs large eggs ounces whole milk ounces grated Romano cheese

3 ounces grated Spanish onion 2 ounces finely diced fresh garlic 2 ounces finely chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves 2 ounces finely chopped fresh basil leaves • salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a baking sheet with the cooking spray. Mix all ingredients thoroughly in a large bowl. Add more breadcrumbs if the mixture feels a little loose. Using a small scoop, roll each meatball to the size of a golf ball and place on the prepared baking sheet. Cook for approximately 35–40 minutes. These meatballs can be used in sauce for a spaghetti dinner or part of a meatball sandwich. Enjoy!

TOMATOES AND LINGUINE Lois Korpalski, Great Lakes 8 2 1 1 ½

ounces linguine noodles cups chopped tomatoes tablespoon dried basil teaspoon salt teaspoon black pepper

3 2 ½ 4

green onions, sliced garlic cloves, minced cup grated Parmesan cheese tablespoons butter

Cook linguine according to package directions, to al dente. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine tomatoes, basil, salt and pepper, green onions, garlic, and Parmesan cheese. Drain linguine and add butter to it while hot. When melted, add tomato mixture and enjoy.


ITALIAN TORTELLINI SOUP Theresa Mandeville, Cherryland

1 pound Italian sausage, browned and drained 1 bag frozen cheese-filled tortellini 2–4 cloves garlic, chopped 1 sweet onion, chopped 4 cups beef broth 1 cup red wine 2 cups chopped carrots

1 teaspoon basil 1 teaspoon oregano 2 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste 2 cups quartered zucchini

Brown the sausage and set aside. Prepare the tortellini according to package directions; cool and set aside. Sauté the garlic and onion until onion begins to tenderize. Combine the broth and wine; bring to a boil. Add the carrots and simmer until desired tenderness. Add the basil, oregano, diced tomatoes, sauce, and paste; continue to simmer. Add the zucchini and simmer until just tender. Add the browned sausage, onions/garlic, and tortellini. Serve.

1 tablespoon butter, melted 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh garlic 1 (1-pound) loaf frozen bread dough, thawed ¼ pound thinly sliced deli Genoa salami

6 (1-ounce) slices mozzarella cheese, cut into strips ½ cup ricotta cheese 2 green onion stalks, diced 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning 1 large egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon water

Stir together butter and garlic in a bowl. Roll out bread dough on a lightly floured surface into a 12-inch square. Place on lightly greased baking sheet; brush with butter mixture. Layer salami and cheese, spread ricotta, and add onions down a 3-inch strip of center of dough to within ½ inch of top and bottom, leaving 4½ inches of dough on each side of filling. Sprinkle Italian seasoning over the top of the salami and cheeses mixture. Cut twelve 3-inch-long strips, 1 inch apart, along both sides of filling. Fold strips across filling at an angle, alternating sides to give a braided effect. Pinch dough at bottom and top to seal. Cover; let rise in warm place 30–45 minutes or until almost double in size. Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine egg and water in a bowl; brush over braid. Sprinkle top of bread lightly with Italian seasoning. Bake for 25–35 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven, cool slightly, and cut into slices. MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES


Cutting The Cord et’s take a little streaming journey together. We’ve had one streaming service or another around my house for years, even before Truestream. Our primary TV viewing platform was always satellite. Heck, we kept satellite around for a while after Truestream was installed.


Why? It’s silly but simple. Change, even with something as minor as TV, can be hard. After all, we tend to be creatures of habit. When I am at a Truestream Rally or talking to any Great Lakes Energy members about Truestream and streaming, I often hear things like: “How do I know which streaming service has the shows I want?” or “There are so many streaming options, it’s confusing.” I’ve been there, I get it. Honestly, it can be confusing, but we are here to help guide you when you decide to cut the cord and start streaming your TV.

cord and unbundle your cable and internet, it’s a great, free resource. Heck, you may even be able to save a few bucks every month. Visit and check it out. After entering some basic info and your must-have channels or TV shows, MyBundle will determine which steaming service is the best fit for you. If you decide to take the streaming plunge, you can sign up for the service of your choice right there, too. We managed to cut the cord, and we now only stream TV, and it was easier to get used to than I thought. If you want to cut the cord and start streaming, give it a try. You can do it, too, especially with a little help along the way.

There are so many streaming options, it’s confusing.

To help solve the mystery of streaming, we’ve partnered with MyBundle, a service that will provide you with answers and recommendations to find the best streaming service for your needs! MyBundle will take the guesswork out of which streaming service is best for you and your TV watching preferences! Whether you are already a Truestreamer, plan on becoming a Truestreamer, or if you’re on the fence because you are too nervous to cut the

Visit to take the streaming plunge.

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as they do in the family farm. Like many farmers in the 1930s, Kran’s grandfather was among those who eagerly signed up with the local electric cooperative at the first opportunity. Kran said he’s excited about GLE’s future—especially the continuing rollout of the Truestream fiber-tohome internet service.

Deeply Rooted In The Community ob Kran’s roots run deep— both in his Mason County family farm and in Great Lakes Energy.


Kran serves in the District 6 seat on the Great Lakes Energy board of directors, representing Lake and Mason counties. Kran has served on the board for the past 13 years, but he also served on the board of directors for Western Michigan Electric Cooperative from 1990 until 1997, when it merged with another co-op. In 1999, the GLE we know today was formed, and Kran served on that board until 2004, then again from 2013 until now. He has also represented GLE on the Michigan Electric Cooperative Association board of directors. Kran was raised on a third-generation family farm near Free Soil. His grandfather purchased the property when he moved to Mason County from Chicago in the early 1920s. After earning a degree from Western Michigan University, he came back to Mason County and worked on the construction of the Ludington Pumped Storage (hydroelectric) Plant. He and his wife, Betty, bought the family farm in 1979, eventually

expanding it to 180 dairy cows and farming 650 acres of cropland. In 2014, the Krans sold the dairy herd to grow cash crops, including corn, soybeans, wheat, and alfalfa. Kran said he first became interested in serving on the electric cooperative board at the suggestion of a person who knew he had an interest in community service. “I always felt if you want things to be successful, somewhere along the line, you should do your part to help,” Kran said. But the cooperative board wasn’t the only way he got involved in helping his industry and the community. Kran has served on several dairy industry advocacy boards, the Mason County Growth Alliance board, and the Mason-Lake Conservation District, and he recently stepped away from 40 years of service on the Free Soil Township board of trustees. He continues to serve on the Mason County District Library board of directors. He also served in the Michigan Army National Guard for six years. Kran’s family roots with GLE and its predecessors run nearly as deep

“This has changed everybody’s world around, and COVID pushed it at an even quicker pace,” he said. “It’s not just working from home. It touches so many facets of people’s lives. It’s almost become as important as electricity.” He also pointed to the growth of the electric vehicle industry, something the board is keeping a close eye on. “We’ll be looking at how it will factor into our business plan and serve the needs of the members,” he added. Kran said he enjoys serving on GLE’s board because of the organization’s culture and focus on the members. “I’ve always liked the co-op business model. I find that rewarding: being with people who are motivated by making sure you are making the right decisions for the members as opposed to stockholders,” he said. He added, “We really have a tremendous staff. That happens when you have a good organization. It allows people to develop their skills. It really is a great culture.” When he isn’t busy farming or with GLE business, Bob and Betty enjoy traveling, spending time with family, and spending time at their cottage near Irons.

“ I always felt if you want things to be successful, somewhere along the line, you should do your part to help.”


Photo courtesy of Food Network

Food Network’s Holiday Baking Champion—

Michigan’s Beth Meyer By Emily Haines Lloyd


here is a scientific precision that goes into baking, with a combination of chemistry, biology, and physics at play. For those who decorate cakes, there’s another equally important part, which is the creativity, whimsy, and joy. Baker Beth Meyer shows there is a vital third ingredient to a successful creation, and that is the love and care she puts into each cake she bakes that truly turns each one into a work of heart. Meyer, who recently found herself on the Food Network’s Holiday Baking Championship: Gingerbread Showdown, began her love of baking on a much smaller stage—her mother’s kitchen. While she would dutifully crack eggs or fry doughnuts, she marveled at how her mother would take sheet cakes and cut them into shapes to create delightful showstoppers for birthdays and special occasions. “They weren’t exactly masterpieces,” said Meyer. “But the care my mother

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took to make these cakes the centerpiece of an event made them feel extra special.” Following her mother’s lead, Meyer would lovingly make cakes for her own children’s parties. As she grew in her skill and creativity, her cakes quickly became the talk of the party. While living in Texas, Meyer threw her son’s birthday party with a Southwest theme, including both Texas Longhorn and cactus cakes covered in fondant, as well as specialty cookies decorated as snakes and other animals as party favors. Soon, Meyer was flooded with requests from other parents asking if she could make a cake for their upcoming celebrations. Even in the Texas heat, things snowballed. “Then one day, my husband told me his company was sending us on an overseas assignment,” said Meyer. “In some ways, it made it difficult to even dream about baking for a living, but the cakes actually helped us connect with our new communities.”

“Cakes have always been about helping people celebrate their big moments in their lives, to make memories. That day reminded me life is worth celebrating. Every moment of it.” While on an assignment in Africa, Meyer was definitely feeling disconnected. She brought one of her cakes to a party where the United States ambassador and his wife were in attendance. The ambassador’s wife reached out later and asked Meyer if she would create one for their upcoming anniversary. She ended up making several more in her time there.

The whirlwind of meeting television producers over Zoom, being selected, and flying out to Tennessee to shoot the show on a soundstage would be enough to spin a person’s head. However, there was still baking left to do. Meyer and Dowling created a gorgeous holiday window vignette that impressed judges and eventually won them the $10,000 grand prize.

“There’s nothing quite like the Secret Service coming to your door to pick up a cake,” said Meyer. “It also drove me to keep wanting to get better.”

Meyer knew exactly what she wanted to do with her winnings—make her dream of a brick and mortar bakery come true. Meyer located a perfect spot in her hometown of Mattawan to open The Cake Boutique by Beth Meyer and got back to the work she loves—creating cakes that dazzle and elevate any celebration. One look at her gallery of cakes on her website and you see how special her gift is and how much care she puts into each one. So, when asked if she could possibly pick a favorite, it was surprising that she knew right away which one held the most meaning.

Once the family returned stateside— first Texas and then Michigan, Meyer went back to her profession of teaching while remaining a student, as she would take cake decorating, sugar flower, or isomalt classes on weekends. It was at a cake show in Arkansas that she met MaryJo Dowling from Pittsburgh. MaryJo, or MJ, was equally enthusiastic about baking and decorating, and while the two lived nearly 400 miles apart, they maintained their friendship. Just a couple years later, Dowling reached out to Meyer with an interesting proposition. Dowling had been selected to interview for a Food Network competition show. While COVID-19 had initially put it on hold, they were now moving forward— quickly. And Dowling needed a partner. “When MJ called, I didn’t even need to think about it,” said Meyer. “I simply told her ‘I’m in.’”

“Without a doubt, the heart cake,” said Meyer. The cake, an anatomically accurate heart, was commissioned in October, and without asking many questions about the event, Meyer assumed it was for Halloween and asked how gory of a cake the client was looking for. The client said that just a plain heart would be fine. So, when Meyer went to deliver the cake the day of the event, she was

If you’re looking to commission Meyer for one of her masterpieces, make sure to give yourself at least two weeks to order, and more if you’re smart. Meyer’s cakes are in high demand and just the thing to bring special occasions to the next level.

both surprised and touched to find out her cake was the centerpiece of a party to celebrate a young man’s one-year anniversary of his heart transplant. The young man hugged Meyer and left an impression that seems unlikely to fade. “Cakes have always been about helping people celebrate their big moments in their lives, to make memories,” said Meyer. “That day reminded me life is worth celebrating. Every moment of it.”

56300 City Center Circle, Mattawan 281-387-0640



Access Your Account Information From Your Living Room Free. Convenient. Socially Distant. 24/7 account access Peace of mind by reporting your outage online Monitor your usage Pay your bill from anywhere

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Want access to your account wherever you go? Download our app by searching “GLE” on the App Store or Google Play. 16 MARCH 2022

Truestream Construction Update ore than 11,800 Great Lakes Energy members in the Petoskey, Boyne, Hart, and Wayland service areas are currently enjoying Truestream’s lifechanging services, some experiencing a high-speed internet connection at home for the first time. The number of “Truestreamers” continues to climb as mainline fiber construction extends further into the Hart service area.


With mainline construction complete, fiber drops to the home are occurring in: Shelby, Rodgers, Baseline, New Era, and Silver Lake 2. Mainline construction has begun in: Silver Lake 1, 3, and 4 Mainline construction is expected to begin in early April for: Hart 3 and Hesperia 4. Mainline construction is expected to begin in late spring for: Hesperia 1 and 2. Additionally, the federal permits that caused construction delays throughout the Newaygo area have been approved. Mainline fiber construction has begun in: White Cloud 3, Brohman 2, Casnovia 1 and 4, and Newaygo 1. The Truestream construction status map can be found at By simply adding an address to the search field on the map, Great Lakes Energy members can find the name of the area they live in (Hart 1, White Cloud 3, etc.) and the phase of construction their area falls under.

For the most up-to-date construction status information for your area, visit the news section on or follow our Facebook page. If you haven’t already, be sure to register your interest or, if your area is far enough along in the construction process, complete your online registration today!

We know many of you are anxious to get the high-speed internet you deserve, and we thank you for your continued patience. Building the Truestream network the right way takes time, dedication, and many resources. The process can be broken down into three major phases. Phase 1—Exploration

In this phase, we collect data, including the type of residence, pole information, and other data related to infrastructure. This data helps us determine the feasibility of expanding Truestream, including mapping out infrastructure needs and how to get the fiber lines to members’ homes.

Phase 2—Construction

The information gathered during the Phase 1 fielding process, including a proposed budget and map of the mainline fiber route, will be presented to the board for approval. If approved, the construction of the fiber network would begin. This construction process can be labor intensive because it involves running the fiber line along the electrical path, including both underground and overhead electrical lines.

Phase 3—Installation

Once Phase 1 and 2 are complete, it is the moment everyone has been waiting for! During this phase, we install and test the necessary equipment to light up the Truestream network. Once the network is verified as fully operational, we can begin calling to schedule in-home installations.


Guest Column

Sweet Surprises

By Paige Hutter, Great Lakes Energy Cooperative member


t’s 7 a.m. and I sit up in bed, dreading the bitter cold waiting outside. I rub my eyes, get out of bed, and fumble my way downstairs. In the kitchen, my Grandma is busy cooking waffles. I perk up at the smell wafting from the waffle iron. After I eat, I get my snow clothes on. It is officially sap season, and we are busy collecting sap to make maple syrup. Since my sister, Lexi, is the only one ready, she is the only one that comes along for morning sap collection. When we get out into the woods, I start hauling sap that dripped from the trees overnight. I look into several buckets, hanging from the maple trees, but they are empty. The sap is barely running this morning. We pour the sap we did collect into the giant bin that’s on the trailer, which is hooked to the quad. Then, we all climb on the trailer and drive to the next cluster of maple trees. I hop off the trailer and race to the best tree. JACKPOT! A sap icicle hangs down from the tree. I snap it off and start sucking on the slightly sweet ice. Just then, Lexi runs over to me, waving an even bigger sapscicle! I laugh and return to my work. I pour the slushy sap into the big bin and return the bucket to the tree, hoping the tree will give us even more sap at the next collection. Finally, we get to the last cluster of trees. There’s just a little sap in the bucket beneath each of these trees. I sigh and once again pour the sweet sap into the big bin on the trailer. Just then, Grandma comes up behind me. She points to the top of the trees, and I gasp. A huge barred owl is sitting in the branches of an oak tree. Usually, the syrup is my sweet treat for helping with sap, but this was even sweeter! Paige is a homeschool student in the sixth grade. She loves reading, drawing, and horseback riding. Paige enjoys being outdoors in nature. Sap collecting is one of her favorite times of the year because she gets to make memories with her family.

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Where In Michigan Is This? Identify the correct location of the photo to the left by March 20 and be entered into a drawing to win a $50 electric bill credit. Enter your guess at January 2022 Winner! Our Mystery Photo winner is Dallas Bond, an Ontonagon County REA Cooperative member, who correctly identified the photo as the 45th parallel marker on U.S. 31 in Kewadin, Michigan, just north of Elk Rapids. It is constructed in honor of Hugh Gray, the former Michigan Dean of Tourism. The crypt contains information from each of Michigan’s 83 counties and engraved stone from each county. Photo courtesy of Judy Gasco. Winners are announced in the following issues of Country Lines: January, March, May, July/August, September, and November/December.

18 MARCH 2022

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A lot can change over the years but caring for our members is one aspect that has always stood in the forefront. As a cooperative, we work hard to go beyond the expected for our members so it comes as no surprise that our 2021 satisfaction survey showed that 93% of our members are satisfied with their service from Great Lakes Energy. It’s just a part of our history of being something special to you.