COUNTRY LINES Ontonagon County Rural Electrification Association
April 18 Is Lineworker Appreciation Day
Opportunities To Serve On Your Co-op’s Board Hatching A Plan For The Future
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
GRAPHIC DESIGNER: Karreen Bird
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 email@example.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.
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 countrylines.com/community
RECIPE CONTEST Win a $50 bill credit!
Up Next: Tomatoes, due April 1; Potatoes, due May 1 Submit your recipe at micoopkitchen.com, or send it via email (include your full name and co-op) to firstname.lastname@example.org.
GUEST COLUMN Win $150 for stories published!
Submit your fondest memories and stories at countrylines.com/community.
MYSTERY PHOTO Win a $50 bill credit!
Enter a drawing to identify the correct location of the photo. See page 18.
MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES
Are You Ready To Serve? Debbie Miles, General Manager
500 J.K. Paul Street Ontonagon, MI 49953 906-884-4151 800-562-7128 After hours: 866-639-6098 OFFICERS & DIRECTORS
Calvin Koski, President Aura District 906-524-6988 • email@example.com
William Hodges, Vice President Lake Linden District 906-934-3743 • firstname.lastname@example.org Mildred Ann Gasperich, Secretary Boston District 906-337-5079 • email@example.com Randy Myhren, Treasurer Green/Firesteel/Toivola District 906-884-4092
Wayne Heikkinen, Director Pelkie/Herman/Aura District 906-353-6496 • firstname.lastname@example.org Michael Urbis, Director Ewen/Trout Creek/Lake Mine District 906-988-2344 • email@example.com
George Rajala, Director Chassell/Keweenaw Bay District 906-370-0416 • firstname.lastname@example.org PERSONNEL
Debbie Miles, General Manager Fay Hauswirth, Billing Clerk Mark Urbis, Line Superintendent OTHER INFORMATION
Date of Incorporation: Sept. 30, 1937 Fiscal year-end: Dec. 31 countrylines.com/coops/ontonagon Ontonagon County REA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.
n one of the most notable inaugural speeches given, John F. Kennedy spoke his famous words, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” His inspiring words urged Americans to take actions that benefited the greater good. In essence, Kennedy was saying our country thrives when we all contribute our talents to the common good. On a smaller scale, I think the same can be said about our co-op, explicitly concerning our board members. Ontonagon REA board members are community-minded individuals with a variety of skill sets. We rely on their many talents to help us make informed decisions on long-term priorities and investments. Our directors live right here in the co-op’s service area. We consider them the eyes and ears of the community because they provide their perspective on important community issues. We recognize it takes many people with different skills to create a well-rounded board that can represent the full spectrum of our community. That’s why when we’re seeking new directors, we want folks with diverse perspectives, experience, expertise, and views. We’re seeking local members of our community who can apply their unique talents to benefit all our friends and neighbors. But above all else, we’re looking for folks who love our community and want to see it thrive now and in the future.
What does it mean to serve on the board? Serving on Ontonagon REA’s board means you’re making a difference locally, using your talents and perspective to guide big decisions about the co-op that, in turn, benefit the larger community. While day-to-day decisions are made by co-op staff, major decisions are made by the board, whose mission is to look out for the vitality of the co-op and the community it serves. On a granular level, Ontonagon REA board members typically provide input and guidance on: • • • • •
budgets co-op goals and direction co-op’s community/charitable contributions capital investments and upgrades in equipment and technology renewable investments and energy mix
Opportunity to serve While you don’t need to be an expert in electricity or business to run, you need to have a passion for the community and a willingness to serve and learn actively. Ultimately, our board is the community pulse for the co-op and helps keep us on the right track. We love our community and want to help it thrive. If you share the same commitment and want to contribute to the greater good tangibly, I hope you’ll consider running for a board position. Ontonagon REA’s board elections will be held in June. To learn more about the director election process and 2022 details, please visit Ontonagon.coop.
“ We’re seeking local members of our community who can apply their unique talents to benefit all our friends and neighbors. But above all else, we’re looking for folks who love our community and want to see it thrive now and in the future.” 4 MARCH 2022
Three District Openings On Co-op Board
he Ontonagon County Rural Electrification Association is comprised of seven districts, with directors elected for threeyear terms. This year, the terms will expire for District 1: Green/Firesteel/Toivola, District 3: Pelkie/Herman/Aura, and District 5: Chassell/ Keweenaw Bay.
Voting Districts District 1: Green/Firesteel/Toivola. . . . . . . . . . . . 617 District 2: Ewen/Trout Creek/Lake Mine . . . . . . . 741 District 3: Pelkie/Herman/Aura . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 694 District 4: Aura. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 655
If you are interested in running for these open positions on the board of directors, you must call or stop by the co-op’s office to request a nominating petition. A petition must be returned to Ontonagon’s office by Monday, May 2.
District 5: Chassell/Keweenaw Bay . . . . . . . . . . . 691 District 6: Boston. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 764 District 7: Lake Linden . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 832 Copper Harbor
To be valid, a nominating petition requires the signature of five active members of the co-op that receive electric service in that district (husband and wife are considered one member, so either may sign, but not both). The member who is being nominated must also sign the petition.
Ballots will be mailed to each district member no less than 30 days before the Annual Meeting, which is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, June 18. All ballots must be returned to the co-op office no later than Monday, June 13. Ballots will be counted, and the results will be shared at the Annual Meeting.
Bruce Crossing Ewen
Please contact our office at 800-562-7128 if you are a member who did not receive a ballot.
Your Board In Action SEPTEMBER • A presentation by Brett Niemi of WPPI was given regarding the sunset of the Energy Optimization program. • The board authorized Mike Urbis to begin research for the property in the L’Anse Industrial Park. • Board policies 300-1, 300-2, and 300-3 were approved. • The cooperative is no longer receiving Renewable Energy Credits and will have to go to the open market to purchase them. The board authorized Manager Miles to purchase up to five years of future credits.
• Management updated the board on the metering system.
• Brian Miller of Superior Life and Health Insurance presented options regarding health, dental, and vision insurance to the board.
• The board was updated on the status of the PPP funds forgiveness. • The cooperative will be searching for a new accounting firm. • Attorney Greeley presented his report, and the L’Anse Shop was discussed. • Reports were submitted by Line Superintendent Urbis and Manager Miles.
• Management updated the board on the metering system. • The board approved a PSCR basing factor of 79.30. • The board approved awarding a three-year contract to Bauman & Associates for the year-end audit.
MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES
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
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.”
longroaddistillers.com Locations in Grand Rapids, Grand Haven, and Cadillac
“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
Pet Showcase 1. Mojo’s unbridled joy, Misery Bay. Dennis Grantz 2. Afternoon afield. Lynda Graham 3. Cecelia’s “Missy” on the farm. Cheryl Meszaros 4. O zzy the Newfoundland with Callie, our grand dog and granddaughter. Ted and Holly Gagnon 5. Our beautiful cat Kami modeling her new bed. Karen Dault 6. Awe come on, I know I’m cute. Carrie Tapani 7. B rodie (Chinese crested hairless) loves camping, but naps have to be on lawn chairs. Linda Stubenrauch 8. Seamus loves Lake Superior! Thomas Grimm 9. A very snowy Pippin enjoying his romp to the top of Mount Baldy in the Keweenaw. Nathan Miller
10. Pooh and Winnie relaxing at “Aunty” Mary’s. Mary Kaminski 11. A cold night in the Keweenaw. Oswald and Mouser enjoy a hot fire. Andrew Hodges 12. I don’t like that idea. Bill Karry 13. My beautiful Mooser. Maxine Karry
Enter to win a $50 energy bill credit! Submit A Photo & Win A Bill Credit! Ontonagon REA members whose photos we print in Michigan Country Lines will be entered in a drawing. Four lucky members will win a credit of $50 on their December 2022 energy bills!
Upcoming Topics and Deadlines: • Antique Rides, due March 20 (May/June issue) • Ice Cream, due May 20 (July/Aug. issue) To submit photos, and for details and instructions, go to http://bit.ly/countrylines. We look forward to seeing your best photos!
8 MARCH 2022
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.
SWEET POTATO TURKEY SAUSAGE MINESTRONE SOUP Janet Cather, Midwest Energy
• 1 2 2 4 1 2 1 3 4 1 • 1 • •
RECIPE CONTEST Win a
energy bill credit!
10 MARCH 2022
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 micoopkitchen.com, or send it via email (include your full name and co-op) to email@example.com.
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 micoopkitchen.com/videos
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 SALAMI AND CHEESE STUFFED BREAD Valerie Donn, Great Lakes Energy
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
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: ESFI.org 12 MARCH 2022
April 18 Is National Lineworker Appreciation Day ineworker Appreciation Day celebrates those men and women who put their lives at risk to keep the power flowing through our communities. So, during the month of April, if you see a lineworker, please pause to say thank you to the power behind your power. Let them know you appreciate the hard work they do to keep the lights on, regardless of the conditions.
Thank you to Ontonagon REA’s lineworkers— Brady Erickson, Caleb Priess, Justin Sironen, Dave Brown, Nels Erickson, Luke Jouppe, Gil Martinez, John Myllylahti, Matt Urbis, and Distribution Supervisor Mark Urbis. Not pictured but appreciated are Brad Hanson, Scott Anderson, Adam Hawkins, and Kelly Clark.
Thank you for all the work you do to keep upper Michigan’s lights on! You are all appreciated!
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) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English. To file a program discrimination complaint, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, AD-3027, found online at http://www.ascr.usda.gov/complaint_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: firstname.lastname@example.org. This institution is an equal opportunity provider.
MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES 13
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
14 MARCH 2022
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 bethscakeboutique.com
MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES
They say it takes a village to raise a child. However, they forgot to mention it also takes a village to raise a fish.
HATCHING A PLAN FOR THE FUTURE By Emily Haines Lloyd || Photos by Thomas Mann
he Jordan River National Fish Hatchery (JRNFH) located in Elmira, Mich., is a Great Lakes Energy Cooperative Member, and is one of the village members who make up the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a bureau within the Department of the Interior. Jordan River National Fish Hatchery has produced native fish for stocking into the Great Lakes since 1965.
danger in the Great Lakes.
All the work JRNFH does to manage fish stocking into the Great Lakes is coordinated with the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, with key support from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other federal, provincial, state, and tribal natural resource agencies. Their mission to “conserve, protect, and enhance” fish and wildlife is a vital part of righting an environmental ship right here in Michigan that put native trout and other keystone species in
Sea lampreys, a native to the Atlantic Ocean, resemble eels but act more like a leech, as they feed on native fish once they attach. The first recorded observation of a sea lamprey in the Great Lakes was in 1835 in Lake Ontario. Niagara Falls served as a natural barrier, confining sea lampreys to Lake Ontario and preventing them from entering the remaining four Great Lakes. However, in the late 1800s and early 1900s, improvements
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“The threat to these keystone species started in the middle of the 20th century,” explained Roger Gordon, a supervisory fishery biologist and hatchery manager. “There were many contributing factors from a loss of habitat to pollution, and of course, the introduction of parasite species like the sea lamprey.”
to the Welland Canal, which bypasses Niagara Falls and provides a shipping connection between Lakes Ontario and Erie, allowed sea lampreys access to the rest of the Great Lakes. Native trout are primary targets for the sea lamprey. The feeding on keystone species like lake trout, which have been in the Great Lakes since the Ice Age, leads to an imbalance in their ecosystem. It’s up to JRNFH and their aligning agencies to observe, control predators like sea lampreys (as well as humans), and restock the lakes to bring back order to the ecosystem. It’s a tall order, which is why Gordon is grateful to be part of a larger team. “This isn’t a job for just our hatchery,” said Gordon. “We work internationally with Canada, eight other states around the Great Lakes region, as well as federal, state, and tribal agencies,
not to mention research universities who help us collect and analyze data.” JRNFH is responsible for raising more than 3 million cisco, lake, rainbow, and brook trout for restoration and recreational programs in the Great Lakes region. In addition to providing healthy, high-quality fish for fishery goals and targets, the staff assists a wide array of state, federal, tribal, and public partners with natural resourcerelated projects and enhancements across the Midwest. It takes a fleet of trucks (think big milk semis) to transport and then load a large U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service offshore stocking vessel. This vessel meets the trucks at various Great Lakes ports like Charlevoix, Alpena, or even Milwaukee with fish. The fish are transported to historic offshore spawning sites and released, and, as Gordan says, “we let them do their thing.”
about spawning fish in 15-degree weather with 30 mph gale winds, but there’s satisfaction and an attachment to our mission.”
Gordon describes himself and his team as “aquatic farmers” who work closely with the animals they raise and release.
The hard work is paying off. Since stocking the Great Lakes, JRNFH and its partners have actually eliminated the need for stocking Lake Superior, which is now self-sustaining. Recently, Lake Huron has rebounded as well, with just 30% of what they initially used to stock and over 50% of current fish spawned in the wild. Lake Michigan is proving tougher, but still seeing some improvement.
“We get our hands wet working with live animals every day,” said Gordon. “There’s nothing particularly pleasant
If the work continues, JRNFH hopes to see a rebalanced ecosystem for native trout—but what happens then?
“Ultimately, our job is to put ourselves out of business. To fix the problem and move onto the next one,” said Gordon. “What we do is a great example of how government can work together in a cooperative manner to get something done. None of us could accomplish any of this without the others.”
Visiting The Hatchery
The hatchery is open to the public from dawn to dusk, 7 days a week, all yearlong. The busiest time of year for visitation is the winter months, when the Jordan Valley snowmobile trail is open. Tours are self-guided unless arrangements for group tours are scheduled in advance. To schedule group tours, please call the hatchery at 231-584-2461. The hatchery abuts the North Country Trail and Jordan Valley Pathway walking trail systems and is a common stop or trailhead for walkers, hikers, hunters, and fishermen. fws.gov/midwest/jordanriver facebook.com/pages/Jordan-RiverFish-Hatchery/117253601625926
MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES 17
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 countrylines.com/community. 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.
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