March 2022 TEC

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March/April 2022


COUNTRY LINES Thumb Electric Cooperative

Lineworker Appreciation Day Is April 18

Pet Photo Contest Leading The Charge

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.


3 /thumbelectric @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 Craig Osentoski, Director District 2 • 989-658-8512

Beth McDonald, Secretary District 3 • 989-550-7470

Happenings at TEC

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, Director District 1 • 989-683-2696

Jonathan Findlay, President District 2 • 989-551-8393 Matt Sommer, Director District 3 • 248-444-0496

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 Thumb Electric Cooperative is an equal opportunity provider and employer.



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Dallas Braun, General Manager

pril 18 is National Lineworker Appreciation Day—a day set aside to express gratitude to the approximately 120,000 lineworkers across the nation who keep the lights on for everyone. Lineworkers across the country truly deserve this special day of recognition. TEC would like to recognize and thank the 11 lineworkers who take care of TEC’s electric system.


Most people take for granted what it takes to provide a safe and reliable electric grid. The grid consists of everything needed to get power from a generating plant to the meter on your home. At TEC, this includes 16 substations interconnected by 140 miles of transmission lines, 2,150 miles of distribution lines, and over 12,300 meters providing electric service in the three-county area of the Thumb. Being a lineworker is not a glamorous or easy job. It takes years of specialized training, ongoing education, dedication, and, equally important, a sense of service and commitment. It is also an inherently dangerous profession. Lineworkers are required to work near high-voltage lines and climb electric poles that can reach over 80 feet in the air. They often have to do it during severe weather, to make matters worse. High winds and extreme cold can make life very difficult for line crews, but our lineworkers’ commitment to safety should not be overlooked. Oct. 30, 2021, marked three years without a lost-time incident, and TEC would like to recognize the extra measures our crews have taken to remain safe. In addition to being dangerous, the profession of a lineworker is also a substantial time commitment. You probably figured that being a lineworker is not a typical 9-to-5 job, but did you know they sometimes sacrifice their weekends, family time, and even holidays to keep the lights on? During major outages, our lineworkers might even have to work around the clock to restore power to our members. Occasionally, TEC crew members will even travel hours to other electric utilities in the state that need a helping hand with their outages. So, the next time you see a TEC lineworker (seen on the back cover), feel free to thank them for keeping the lights on.

Rebuild Project A

3-phase rebuild project, being run by TEC’s Construction Project Manager Brandon Legault, is currently underway on TEC lines. The contractor, Overhead Lines out of Belleville, is currently on the job. The project consists of replacing all out-of-date poles with brand-new ones. They will also be putting new conductors on these poles. Overhead Lines has already completed a portion of the rebuild with a two-mile stretch of Verona Road. They are currently working on an eight-mile stretch of Leppek Road, Priemer Road, and Ruth Road. Once this is finished, the contractors plan to complete the 3-phase rebuild on a two-mile section of Sand Beach Road. This project will not only be an upgrade to the current electric service in these areas, but it will also be able to support TEC’s fiber backbone. Fiber lines will be strung on these new poles, which will allow members to get high-speed internet more conveniently once it is available in these zones. Here, you can see pictures of the contractors at work on the new poles.


FOR TEC MEMBERS In March 2022, a nominating committee of nine Thumb Electric Cooperative members will meet to select a slate of candidates for one director position in Huron and Sanilac counties, and two director positions in Tuscola County. Positions in District 1, currently held by Randall Dhyse, Kim Nunn, and Louis Wenzlaff, will be voted on by mail, online, and tentatively at the June 2022 Annual Meeting. Matt Sommer’s position in District 3 will be voted on as well. Any co-op member interested in running for a district director position should write a letter to the Thumb Electric nominating committee chairperson indicating his or her interest in being nominated. The committee will review the prospective nominee’s qualifications to determine whether they meet bylaw requirements and whether they should be placed on the ballot. If you would like more information, don’t hesitate to contact the co-op’s general manager, Dallas Braun, at 989-658-8571. 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

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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. Our cat, Ash, catching his breath after playing fetch. Niklas Andersson 2. Girl’s best friend. Chelsea Volmering 3. Hanging with my brother. Heather O’Kronley 4. Copy cat. David Decker 5. You are invited to my birthday party! Debra Polega 6. My granddaughters and their “best furry friend forever!” April Taylor 7. This is my birthday present? Sherri Beecher 8. Chasing sunsets. Amy E Worth 9. Summertime happiness. Sarah Durr 10. Dear Santa, We are good, please bring venison! Josephine Myszenski 11. Toby. David Walz





8 Enter for a chance to win a


energy bill credit!








Submit Your “Antique Rides” Photos!

Submit Your “Antique Rides” photos by March 20 for the 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 2022, you will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win one of four $50 credits on your December 2022 bill. 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!

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, 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


New Employee Spotlight Cody Groth

Cody Groth started as TEC’s mechanic operator in the Ubly warehouse on Jan. 4. Cody is married to Grace, and they are expecting their first child in August. He graduated from Ubly High School in 2013. Cody comes to us from J.W. Hunt, where he worked as a diesel mechanic for nine years. He enjoys hunting, golfing, bowling, watching NFL football, playing Fantasy Football, and spending time with family and friends in his free time.

Kevin Mazure

Kevin Mazure started as TEC’s legal & compliance intern on Feb. 1. Kevin is the son of Wade and Judy Mazure from Harbor Beach and is married to his wife, Cassidy. He has a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering from Lawrence Tech, where he graduated in 2019. In May, he plans on graduating from Wayne State Law School. In his free time, Kevin enjoys watching the Red Wings and Lions, and he likes to golf during the summer.

Austin Gillig

Austin Gillig started as TEC’s mechanic operator in the Caro warehouse on Feb. 1. Austin is married to his wife, Kristen, and they have twin sons, Oliver and Levi. He graduated from Marlette High School in 2015, and then went on to graduate from the University of Northwestern Ohio in 2017. In 2013, Austin achieved the rank of Eagle Scout. He is also a volunteer firefighter in Lamotte Township. Austin’s hobbies include hunting, farming, and spending time with his family.


Energy Waste Reduction Rebate Program 2022 Heating/Air Conditioning Rebates Central Air Conditioning System (14 SEER+): $200 Air Source Heat Pump w/ Electric Furnace: $1,500 Air Source Heat Pump w/ Fossil Fuel: $1,000 Mini-Split Heat Pump: $1,000 Ground Source Heat Pump (EER 17+): $2,000 Heat Pump Water Heater: $500

2022 Battery-Powered Equipment Rebates Battery-Powered Lawn Mowers: $100–$500

Please visit for rebates available for Low Income Qualified members.

Battery-Powered Lawn Care Equipment: $25-$100 Battery-Powered Power Washer: Up to $300 Battery-Powered Snow Blower: Up to $300

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 2022 power line clearance is scheduled in the following townships.

• Huron County Townships: Bingham, Paris, Sand Beach, Sherman • Sanilac County Townships: Argyle, Austin, Delaware, Lamotte, Marion, Minden, Moore, Upper Forester • Tuscola County Townships: Almer, Columbia, Dayton, Freemont, Indianfields, Juniata, Vassar

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




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


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


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



LEADING THE CHARGE Last year, Thumb Electric decided to purchase an electric vehicle (EV) in the form of a 2021 Chevrolet Bolt. The environmental benefits have been wellknown since the introduction of EVs, but in the short time owning it, TEC has learned it is beneficial in other ways.

Cost Savings

Additionally, purchasing an EV makes you eligible for a federal tax credit of up to $7,500. There are also state tax incentives in Michigan for electric car chargers. These factors can make the initial sticker price much more viable for those considering the purchase of an EV.

A big advantage that jumps out to EV drivers is the amount they can save at the pump versus vehicles with an internal combustion engine (ICE).

The final way EV owners save money over time is the reduction in repair costs. The batteries that the cars run on last for 10 years or more. And aside from that, there are very few parts needed to make the car run. Traditional motors would require regular maintenance on timing belts, oil changes, spark plugs, filters, etc. Electric cars do not have any of these. Aside from wheels, brakes, and tires, which need the same attention as ICE vehicles, there is virtually no regular maintenance that needs to be done on EVs.

One criticism of EVs is that they tend to cost slightly more than their gas counterparts at the dealership. However, their savings over time are quite impressive.

The diagram below compares the 2021 Chevrolet Bolt and a comparable ICE vehicle, a 2021 Chevrolet Malibu. Using the average fuel price in Michigan for January 2022, and the kWh rate of TEC, it was determined that the Bolt could drive 96 miles for the same amount of money it would take for the Malibu to drive 32 miles.


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Another reason EV owners love their cars is that they are simply fun to drive. As previously mentioned, electric cars have a much less complex motor than ICE vehicles. There is no gear shifting required during acceleration, which means you can get to your desired speed more quickly than with gas-powered cars. In fact, the 2021 Chevy Bolt can go from 0 to 60 in 6.5 seconds. Ford’s new electric truck, the F-150 Lightning, is said to go from 0 to 60 in 4.5 seconds! Besides being fast, EVs are also extremely quiet. It may take some getting used to at first because you won’t hear the engine’s roar starting up, but overall, it makes for a more peaceful driving experience. For a long time, a drawback of EVs was the limited options. There were only a few choices for drivers, and they were either tiny, crammed-in vehicles or expensive sports cars. Now the EV lineup includes sedans, SUVs, and even pickup trucks. Ford unveiled their electric pickup truck last year, and Chevrolet will be debuting theirs in 2023. The most considerable apprehension for those considering buying an EV has always been and still is the range anxiety. While there is still room for improvement, electric car companies have made significant advancements to the maximum range of their vehicles. For example, TEC’s Bolt will get 259 miles on a full charge. Some luxury car companies like Tesla and Mercedes-Benz are releasing electric cars with ranges of 400 miles or more, and it is believed to be only a few years before this technology is available in all EVs. In the meantime, electric cars still have the ability to charge at your house overnight, resulting in a “full tank” each morning as you travel to work, school, appointments, etc. There is now an extensive network of

charging stations across the United States for longer trips. Many of these include Level 3 chargers, which can give your EV a full charge in approximately 30 minutes. Different phone apps can show you the location of these charging stations, making planning for your long trips less stressful. Ultimately, electric cars have come a long way in just the last few years and will continue to get more advanced in the years to come. If you have any questions about EVs, give our office a call at 989-658-8571.


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.

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