March 2023 MEC

Page 1

THE FUTURE LOOKS BRIGHT FOR ACTIONGLOW COUNTRY LINES March 2023 MICHIGAN Midwest Energy & Communications 2023 Tree and Brush Cleanup Plans Get to Know the U.S. Power Grid How Arlo Protects Your Privacy

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#micoopcommunity Instagram contest winner

Where the shoreline meets the rainbow @morel_momma (Sherrie Sanville)

Michigan’s Electric Cooperatives


EDITOR: Christine Dorr


RECIPE EDITOR: Christin McKamey

COPY EDITOR: Yvette Pecha


PUBLISHER: Michigan Electric Cooperative Association

Michigan Country Lines, USPS-591-710, is published monthly, except August and December, with periodicals postage paid at Lansing, Mich., and additional offices. It is the official publication of the Michigan Electric Cooperative Association, 201 Townsend St., Suite 900, Lansing, MI 48933.

Subscriptions are authorized for members of Alger Delta, Cherryland, Great Lakes, HomeWorks Tri-County, Midwest Energy & Communications, Ontonagon, Presque Isle, and Thumb electric cooperatives by their boards of directors.

Postmaster: Send all UAA to CFS.

Association Officers: Tom Sobeck, Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op, chairman; Gabe Schneider, Cherryland Electric Cooperative, vice chairman; Chris O’Neill, HomeWorks TriCounty Cooperative, secretary-treasurer; Craig Borr, president and CEO.

CONTACT US/LETTERS TO EDITOR: Michigan Country Lines 201 Townsend St., Suite 900 Lansing, MI 48933 248-534-7358

CHANGE OF ADDRESS: Please notify your electric cooperative. See page 4 for contact information.

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


Counting 25,000 ducks is all in a day’s work for the Straits Area Audubon Society.

10 MI CO-OP KITCHEN Seafood Recipes: Healthy options from

14 THE FUTURE LOOKS BRIGHT FOR ACTIONGLOW At first they didn’t succeed ... but then the Porter brothers tried, tried, and tried again with great success!


For one HomeWorks member, tending his garden is a spiritual experience that conjures memories of his father.

MI Co-op Community

To enter contests, submit reader content & more, visit

Instagram Contest

Use #micoopcommunity for a chance to be featured here and on our Instagram account. Win $100 for photos published!

Recipe Contest

See details on page 10. Polish Favorites due April 1; One-Pan Meals due May 1 Win a $100 bill credit!

Guest Column

Share your fondest memories and stories. Win $200 for stories published. Visit to submit. Win $200 for stories published!

Mystery Photo

See details on page 18. Win a $100 bill credit!

Contents March 2023 Vol. 43, No. 3 /michigancountrylines /michigancountrylines
under the sea.



60590 Decatur Road, Cassopolis, MI 49031

M–F 8 a.m.–5 p.m.


59825 S. LaGrave Street, Paw Paw, MI 49079

M–F 8 a.m.–5 p.m.

Tecumseh Solutions Center

5050 South Occidental Hwy., Tecumseh, MI 49286

M–F 8 a.m.–5 p.m.


Midwest Energy & Communications 800-492-5989



Clarence “Topper” Barth, Chairperson, Three Rivers 269-279-9233

Ben Russell, Vice Chairperson, Constantine 269-506-1590

Ron Armstrong, Secretary, Lawton 269-299-0443

John Green, Treasurer, Dowagiac 269-470-2816

Dan Bodette, Wauseon 419-337-8007

Gerry Bundle, Cassopolis 269-414-0164

Erika Escue-Cadieux, Onsted 419-346-1088

Fred Turk, Decatur





Grant Zamora

Midwest Energy & Communications is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Winter Storm Elliott was a nightmare for millions, causing delayed flights and widespread power outages. Behind the scenes, the energy industry faced an even bigger issue threatening to bring down the power grid: a lack of energy supply.

Since last summer, we have been highlighting the growing risk of rolling blackouts in Michigan. As electric demands continue to grow and the industry continues to retire many of its workhorse power plants, the electric grid is less able to ride through extreme weather. Winter Storm Elliott was yet another warning of just how vulnerable the grid is becoming.

Winter Storm Elliott, although not particularly cold by Michigan’s standards, resulted in record energy demand and caused severe strain on the eastern power grid, particularly in parts of Tennessee and the Carolinas. Regional power grid operators called on customers to voluntarily conserve energy, and in some areas, needed to initiate rolling blackouts on Christmas Eve.

Back home in Michigan, our energy supply also was threatened due to the interconnected nature of the electric grid.

We were very close to being required by one of our grid operators to ask you to reduce your energy consumption through measures such as turning down the heat, turning off unnecessary lights, and taking other conservation measures in order to prevent rolling blackouts. Fortunately, we didn’t have to, but next time could be different.

To understand how a cold front can impact the electric supply in Michigan, you must understand how connected our power grid is. Our state is a part of the Eastern Interconnect grid, where electricity may flow from one region to another to balance supply and demand.

The reality is that while our power supplier, Wolverine, has sufficient generation to meet the needs of our members, we are connected to a larger grid that is currently operating close to capacity in terms of meeting the demand for electricity. That’s why we continue to advocate for time, transmission, and technology to ensure reliability through the clean energy transition.

I wanted to share this information with you so that you can understand the current state of the grid and the challenges it is facing. If we do have to ask you to conserve electricity in a tight supply situation in the future, I hope this will provide some context and help you understand why it is important. We, as a co-op, will continue to work towards a sustainable and reliable energy future for all our members.

Elliott reminded us yet again that our power grid is imperiled
When you were home for Christmas, our team was fighting to keep power flowing to your house
Robert Hance, President/CEO
4 MARCH 2023

Submit your video online at by Monday, March 13.

High School Seniors: Answer this video challenge and you could earn $1,000 toward your college education!

Pick a job from one of the descriptions listed at Then envision a future version of yourself with the experience needed to qualify. What have you accomplished that would make you the perfect candidate?

Create a video resume to tell us about yourself and why we should choose you for the job, along with anything else you think would make us pick you.

To help you out, we’ve included tips on how to make a great resume at

More About the Scholarship

High school seniors whose families receive monthly service from MEC at their primary residence can apply. Children of MEC employees and board members are not eligible.

Scholarship applications must be submitted by Monday, March 13, 2023, and awards will be announced in April. Selection for the scholarship is based on the video submission along with academic performance, extracurricular activities, involvement and/or employment, and honors and awards.

A minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0 on a fourpoint scale is required, and an official transcript must be submitted for final approval.

Get creative and have fun. Your unique, funny, or even quirky video might just be worth $1,000 toward your education!

Thank You for Participating in Building Vibrant Communities

In order to focus our support in other ways, we are suspending our Building Vibrant Communities grant program until further notice.

We will continue to support our schools serving students in our electric service areas through our Strengthening Schools grant program.

Thank you for participating in Building Vibrant Communities! We’ve loved helping your projects and programs come to life.


Redhead Ducks

Flock To The Straits Of Mackinac

When a large mass of black suddenly appeared in the Straits of Mackinac, motorists on the bridge called the Mackinac Bridge Authority to report a potential oil spill. But to the bridge personnel and bird lovers who follow such things, they knew it wasn’t an environmental disaster, but rather a natural wonder.

Every winter, masses of birds flock from their northern habitats to seek warmer weather for the cold season ahead. Many of them take a rest in the Straits of Mackinac, including the redhead duck. What is normally a floating group, or raft, of about 7,000 made a bigger splash by topping out at about 25,000 during this year’s annual Christmas bird count.

“We’ve never seen anything like this,” said Straits Area Audubon Society member Steve Baker. “We certainly see peaks some years, but this was an explosion that was really remarkable to witness.”

Redheads are a species of diving duck known for massing in groups that reach thousands to tens of thousands during their early winter migration. Large redhead flocks aren’t necessarily uncommon in the region this time of year, but the shining cinnamon red heads of the males in the sun were a remarkable sight to see.

The numbers collected during the Christmas season are a part of a nationwide effort by conservation groups who identify an area about 15 miles across, congregate into teams for a day, and compile numbers. Baker was in the group escorted across the Mackinac bridge and permitted to count and photograph the ducks for the Christmas Bird Count.

“This goes back to the 1900s when we started seeing birds, like the passenger pigeon, disappear,” said Baker. “Beyond it being a valuable activity that tracks numbers and migration patterns, it’s great fun to be outdoors with people who share your passion.”

The Straits Area Audubon Society actually takes a much broader approach to its interests and activities. While bird lovers flock to the organization, the breadth of what they are involved in reaches beyond their feathered friends.

6 MARCH 2023

The focus of the Straits Area Audubon Society is to “educate the community, including its children, about conservation and enjoyment of the natural world with emphasis on the local natural communities of wildlife,” per its mission statement.

A retired veterinarian, Baker came to the organization as many do. “I was a birder who loved being outdoors and really enjoyed being around a good core group of people. But there’s a lot more to the Audubon Society than just birds,” he said.

The society also spawned the Mackinac Straits Raptor Watch, a monarch butterfly banding program, and an extensive educational arm.

“Kathy Bricker was a dynamic leader and member of our group who really kicked off the educational part of our programming,” said Baker. “She brought so much energy and information to our schools and community.”

Bricker, who passed away from ovarian cancer last spring, was a former president of the Straits Area Audubon Society, the founder of Earth Week Plus programs, and the creator of the Snakes Alive program that educated kids throughout Northern Michigan about the outdoors. Bricker’s passion and purpose still resonates in the environmental and wildlife community in Michigan. Her efforts show that a single person can impact how generations to come will see, interact, and potentially fall in love with nature.

“Being part of the Audubon Society and seeing new people join for the same reasons I did when I started is encouraging,” said Baker. “We’re one of the largest citizen science programs out there that hope to keep the outdoors an amazing place for exploration and discovery.”

For more information, visit:


“We’ve never seen anything like this. We certainly see peaks some years, but this was an explosion that was really remarkable to witness.”

2023 Tree and Brush Cleanup Plans

Our chief responsibility as an electric cooperative is to provide reliable and safe power, and trees present a major hazard to our electric lines. As a result, we proactively remove trees and brush within 15 feet of our power lines. This has been proven to significantly reduce the amount of time our customers spend without power, and it helps our linemen more efficiently identify and repair damage when needed.

We understand the value of trees, but unfortunately, power lines and trees do not mix. If the trees on your property end up tangled in our power lines, it could result in an outage for many customers. Therefore, we remove the hazard wherever possible.

You can learn more about the importance of tree trimming and vegetation management from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Here are the townships where we plan to clear our rightsof-way in 2023:

Michigan: Texas, Antwerp, Bloomingdale, Decatur, Hamilton, Lawrence, Paw Paw, Van Buren, Porter, Waverly, Hartford, Keeler, Bainbridge, Silver Creek, Bangor, Arlington, Covert, Coloma, Watervliet, Raisin, Ridgeway, Deerfield, Blissfield, Palmyra, Madison, Fairfield, Ogden, Riga, Franklin, Cambridge, Woodstock, Rollin, Rome, Hudson

We also employ a long-term spraying strategy to manage continued regrowth. It effectively controls tall-growing trees and bushes while promoting low-growing plants that are beneficial to wildlife. We will spray in the following townships:

Southwest Michigan and Indiana: Calvin, Newberg, Penn, North Porter, Constantine, Fabius, Decatur, Hamilton, Keeler, Pipestone, LaGrange, Pokagon, Silver Creek, Volinia, Wayne, Prairie Ronde, Van Buren, Porter, Marcellus, Flowerfield, Howard, Jefferson, Ontwa, South Porter, Mottville, White Pigeon, Washington, York, Bangor, Covert, Hartford, Lawrence, Coloma, Watervliet, Bainbridge, Antwerp, Arlington, Bloomingdale, Waverly

Southeast Michigan and Ohio: Medina, Gorham, Franklin, Mill Creek, Clinton, Tecumseh, Adrian, Raisin, Chesterfield, Royalton, Dover, Pike

We Will Notify You of Work Scheduled

We mail notices to affected customers a few weeks prior to starting tree work or spray. We also place automated phone calls and as the tree crew surveys a specific area, we will attempt to leave a door tag.

If you have any questions, please call 800.492.5989, Mon. through Fri. from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Planning to Plant Some Trees?

Make sure you plant them in the right place—take a look at this guide.

8 MARCH 2023


The U.S. power grid is complex and interconnected, with many players and checks and balances to help ensure reliability and supply.

Where We Get Your Power

We don’t generate electricity. In today’s complicated markets and regulatory mandates, we don’t have enough customers or employees to do it effectively, and many electric co-ops and municipalities are in the same

Getting Power To You

There are three major players in the electric grid: generators, distributors and transmission grid operators. Generators, like Wolverine Power Cooperative, create electricity from a wide range of fuel sources. Distributors, like MEC, take that electricity from the grid and bring it to customers via their networks of power lines and substations.

Transmission grid operators are independent third parties between the generators and the distributors, and they are responsible for balancing the system. While they don’t own power plants or power lines, they work with generators like Wolverine to ensure there is enough electricity to meet customers’ demands. Additionally,

boat. As a result, we rely on bigger organizations to make the electricity that we deliver to you. Our partner for this is Wolverine Power Cooperative, a Michigan-based generation and transmission company that serves Michigan cooperatives. They manage the fuel mix and ensure the consistent and reliable flow of electricity onto the grid.

grid operators say when power plants should and should not run and are responsible for maintaining the health of the grid should supply issues arise.

The grid operators are the ones who call on generators and power companies to implement rolling blackouts in emergencies. While inconvenient, these blackouts protect the grid from permanent damage.

We have two such operators that oversee our territory: PJM Interconnection and MISO. Together, they manage the flow of electricity for 110,000,000 residences and businesses throughout multiple states and parts of Canada. We do not choose which grid operator(s) manage our territory, as that is determined purely by where we are located and the companies with which we are interconnected. Part of our service

With seven natural gas power plants, shares in three coal power plants, and a diverse mix of renewable energy sources, Wolverine has a robust infrastructure working 24/7 to ensure reliable power.

Learn more about Wolverine at

territory is interconnected with American Electric Power (AEP) and First Energy, which are managed by PJM. We also have interconnections with Consumers Energy and Michigan Electric Transmission Company, which are managed by MISO.

These companies own the very large transmission towers and high-voltage lines that deliver electricity from the generators to our substations.

Outages on their transmission lines can knock out power to our substations, and that ultimately means you lose power too.

We maintain our substations and the lines and poles to your homes and businesses. However, as you can see, we depend on a lot of other players to ensure you have safe and reliable power.



Recipe Contest

Win a $100 energy bill credit!

Polish Favorites due April 1; One-Pan Meals due May 1

Submit your favorite recipe for a chance to win a $100 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



Ronald Andres, Great Lakes Energy

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound smoked steelhead trout (or smoked salmon), skin and bones removed, flaked into ½ -inch pieces

2 (15.5-ounce) cans great northern beans (use liquid)

2 (15.5-ounce) cans cannellini beans, rinsed

1 (14.5-ounce) can chicken broth

2 Anaheim peppers (braised, then seeds and skin removed), diced

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon lemon pepper seasoning

1 quart heavy whipping cream

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Sauté onion, celery, and garlic in the hot oil until tender. Add smoked steelhead, great northern beans, cannellini beans, chicken broth, Anaheim peppers, cumin, coriander, oregano, and lemon pepper into the pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until flavors have blended, about 30 minutes. Stir in the whipping cream. Simmer until the whipping cream is hot, but do not boil.

Watch a video of this month’s winning recipe at

|| Recipes submitted by MCL readers and tested by recipe
MI CO-OP Recipes
Photos by Robert Bruce Photography
from under the sea. 10 MARCH 2023
Healthy options


Kathy Shoemaker, Great Lakes Energy

1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained

2 medium sweet onions, chopped

3 celery ribs, chopped

8 ounces baby bella mushrooms, sliced

½ green bell pepper, chopped

1 (8-ounce) bottle clam juice

1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste

½ cup dry white wine

1 cup vegetable broth

5 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon olive oil

1–2 teaspoons Italian seasoning

1 bay leaf

½ teaspoon sugar

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 pound cod or haddock fillets, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 pound uncooked shrimp (41–50 per pound), peeled and deveined

1 (6-ounce) can chopped clams, undrained

1 (6-ounce) can lump crabmeat, drained

1 pound scallops, optional

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

• sourdough bread slices

• garlic aioli mustard

In a 5- or 6-quart slow cooker, combine the first 16 ingredients (do not add seafood yet). Cook, covered, on low for 4–5 hours. Stir in seafood. Cook, covered, 20–30 minutes longer or until fi sh just begins to flake easily with a fork and shrimp turns pink. Remove bay leaf. Add parsley and stir. Toast slices of sourdough bread. Spread garlic aioli mustard over toasted slices of bread and place in a bowl. Spoon seafood cioppino over the bread. Bon appétit!


Dave Neitzke, Great Lakes Energy

1 bag salad greens

• thinly sliced red onion rings

1 (4-ounce) can sockeye (red)


1 sliced hardboiled egg

1 tablespoon capers (salt dried, if possible)

Vinaigrette Dressing:

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

(1 large)

1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Layer the lettuce on a plate. To the bed of lettuce, add slices of red onion, salmon pieces, egg slices, and capers. To prepare the dressing, combine all ingredients and whisk to emulsify. Drizzle salad with dressing. Best served with warm crusty garlic bread and a cold lager.


Sherry Cole, HomeWorks Tri-County

¹⁄ ³ cup table salt

¹⁄ ³ cup paprika

¼ cup garlic powder

¼ cup freshly ground white or black pepper

3 tablespoons onion powder

2 tablespoons cayenne pepper, or to taste

2 tablespoons dried thyme

2 tablespoons dried basil

2 tablespoons dried oregano or winter savory

Thoroughly combine all ingredients in a blender, food processor, or mixing bowl, and pour the mixture into an airtight container. This spice mix will keep for years. Makes 2 cups. When preparing seafood, liberally sprinkle the seasoning on the entire piece of fi sh, on both sides, and gently rub into fi sh. Then bake at 350 F, broil, or fry in a pan until fi sh is opaque and flakes easily with a fork.


Four Things You Didn’t Know About Aluminum Recycling

ith discussions about climate change and using fewer natural resources increasingly taking center stage, it becomes more evident that accelerating a more circular economy is important to help protect the environment. For this transition to happen, we need to create high-quality products that can be recycled at the end of their lifetime.

Most people know the concept of recycling—putting something back into the production cycle so it can be used again. But many are also wondering, why don’t we recycle

more, and are some materials more suited for recycling than others? Learn about the benefits of aluminum recycling, and the new state-of-the-art recycling plant starting production in Cassopolis in 2023.

Keeping the materials, products, or services we produce in circulation for as long as possible is important to eliminate the creation of waste. When materials or products eventually reach the end of their useful life, we need to ensure they are recycled and turned into new ones. This is also often referred to as a circular economy.

Many environmentally aware companies want to increase recycled material content in their products. In theory, most things can be recycled, but that is not the case in practice, and some materials are better suited for recycling than others.

Aluminum is one such material, but why is that? Here are four things you did not know about aluminum recycling, and why it’s an ideal material to create a more circular economy.

1. ALUMINUM IS INFINITELY RECYCLABLE, maintaining all its unique properties no matter how many times it’s recycled. Unlike many other materials, you can recycle aluminum right back into the same product it was before. It’s also highly corrosion-resistant, which means it does not rust.

2. RECYCLING SCRAP ALUMINUM REQUIRES ABOUT 5% of the energy used to produce primary aluminum, both saving energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

3. ALUMINUM IS LIGHTWEIGHT; something made of aluminum is only one-third the weight of a similar product made of steel, but it is just as strong.

4. OF ALL ALUMINUM EVER PRODUCED, 75% IS STILL IN USE, and getting this material back into the recycling loop, whether it’s coming from cars, buildings, or electronic devices, is crucial. The more we recycle, the more we lower emissions and the less new aluminum we need to make.

Aluminum Recycling Plant in Cassopolis Starts Production in 2023

The global aluminum and energy company Hydro is opening its stateof-the-art aluminum recycling plant in Cassopolis in 2023 as the first company to locate in Midwest Energy & Communication’s SMART Park. When completed, the plant will provide 70 new, local jobs and support automotive innovation. Hydro will invest an estimated $150 million in completing the project. Applications for the aluminum produced in Cassopolis will include critical automotive applications, other transportation uses, and consumer and building system applications.

12 MARCH 2023

Top 5 Ways to Relax With Technology

Does your stress come from the craziness of everyday life? You might want to look into some digital organizational tools. Your phone can help you keep track of to-do lists, voice notes, and even scanned documents— wherever your organization could use some work, technology is here to help.

Some of the most downloaded organizational tools include Todoist, Just Press Record, and CamScanner.

If you spend too much time fiddling with your account settings, trying to understand why your computer suddenly doesn’t work, or simply browsing social media, you might start to think of technology as a major source of stress.

Technology can redeem itself, though. Here are some of the best ways to relieve stress using your phone or other devices.

For some people, unwinding means getting up rather than lying down. If that includes you, you might be more interested in fitness trackers and meal planning. These tools aim to streamline your workout routine and provide helpful nutrition advice. As life gets busier and your schedule fills up, your phone can ensure you always have time for your health.

Some of the most downloaded fitness and nutrition trackers include Fitbit, Beachbody, and Fooducate.

Whether you relax by coloring, meditating, or simply listening to nature sounds, chances are there’s an app for that. Some even come with guided breathing exercises and relaxation techniques.

Many of the most popular apps have a subscription payment model, but they often come with a free trial or other free content.

Some of the most downloaded stress-relieving apps include Calm, Colorfy, and MindShift CBT.

Do you like to relax with something to watch? Chances are you already subscribe to one or more streaming platforms that host movies and TV shows for a monthly subscription fee—especially if you have our blazing-fast, buffer-free fiber internet service. When it comes to finding your favorite content, however, the time you spend searching might drive your stress levels right back up.

MyBundle.TV can help. We’ve partnered with this free, fast tool to help you search every streaming platform at once. Visit streaming. to get started.

A good night’s sleep can improve your day more than you might realize. In addition to giving you more energy overall, proper rest can help ease anxiety and improve your mood.

Some popular apps help track your sleep habits, while others play white noise to give you the perfect environment to sleep in.

Some of the most downloaded sleep apps include Sleep Cycle, Headspace, and Noisli.




In 2012, Dakota, now 26, and Garret, now 23, Porter shot an application video to appear on ABC’s ”Shark Tank,” a reality TV show that features entrepreneurs pitching their ideas to a panel of potential investors or “sharks.”

The brothers’ product—an aftermarket LED light system for action sports equipment like snowboards, surfboards, and skateboards—ended up beating out the initial 40,000 applicants and they had hopes of ending up on the show with an investment deal. This is where many “small-town dreamers make good” stories begin, but that’s not quite the case for the brothers’ company, ActionGlow.

The Porters’ story actually starts back in 2012 when the two were just 16 and 13 years old. The Cherryland Electric Cooperative members, like many from the Traverse City area, were avid snowboarders and were looking for a way to trick out their boards to stand out on the hill. They imagined an LED light system that could be attached to their boards, making an impact on their evening runs. There wasn’t anything like it on the market, so the Porters ordered parts, tinkered around, and took their lighting systems out for a trial run a couple of weeks later.

“We went to Mt. Holiday for the first run,” said Dakota. “It felt like everyone on the whole mountain stopped to look. When we hit the bottom, a group gathered, asking where they could buy one.”

That would have been enough for many teens, just the look of approval and high-fives from their friends, but it wasn’t for the Porters.

“ We tell young people that if they have an idea—to go ahead and do it now. There’s so much to learn and so much less to lose. Take the risk because being young is the perfect time to fail.” —Garret Porter
14 MARCH 2023
Owners of ActionGlow, Dakota (left) and Garret Porter (right).

The former Eagle Scouts took their fundraising skills and raised just enough to apply for an LLC and begin the process of patenting their idea. In 2013, the teens took their revised design online. Within 48 hours, the entire stock they’d built sold out.

In the meantime, ”Shark Tank” was gaining popularity, and the brothers made their first audition tape in 2012 for Season 4. They didn’t make it onto the show, but a year and a half later, a producer checked in on the brothers, who were busy taking their product to trade shows and filling orders. They were asked to apply again for Season 6. The brothers obliged, only to get the call that they wouldn’t be moving forward.

“It was disappointing,” said Garret. “But we knew this wasn’t the end of our business, just this particular opportunity.”

In 2016, a familiar ring from Shark Tank producers came with a request to apply a third time for Season 8. And you know what they say about the third time being the charm?

“We were so excited. We knew this was it. We even took our parents to dinner to celebrate,” Garret said. “Unfortunately, it wasn’t.”

This kind of disappointment might plant more than a seed of doubt for many entrepreneurs, let alone two young people getting their feet wet in the business waters, but not the Porters.

“We watched our dad and mom work hard their entire lives,” said Dakota. “We never thought this would be easy. We just knew to keep working.”

As the brothers made connections in the business community and with local investors, their business continued to grow. Their product was being refined, allowing them to network with professional athletes and brand sponsors.

After high school, ActionGlow became the brothers’ full-time focus. But Garret hadn’t forgotten about the Shark Tank dream. In 2022, he filled out the application again without telling his brother. A couple of months later, a familiar email came from the show. Garret had to come clean to Dakota, and the two decided—this would be their last try. But much like the grit that comes with action sports—they gave it one big, final shot. That’s what landed the Porters on Season 14 of Shark Tank, eventually leading to the backing from “shark” Robert Herjavec, who made a $200,000 investment and took a 30% stake in the company. This was 10 years after their first audition tape.

“We don’t know what was different this time. Maybe we paid our dues,” said Garret. “But for sure, we tell young people that if they have an idea—to go ahead and do it now. There’s so much to learn and so much less to lose. Take the risk because being young is the perfect time to fail.”

/ActionGlow /actionglow 15 MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES
more products and information, visit

Who Can Access My Arlo Camera Videos?

How can you be sure your data is private? It’s one of the most important things to consider when buying a new device or internet-related service.

When you subscribe to Arlo through MEC, you can expect a high standard of privacy and cybersecurity. Here are some of the ways we protect your data.

We Don’t Share Videos

Arlo won’t share videos or account information with law enforcement unless there’s an enforceable search warrant or court order. Arlo never shares your videos for private litigation matters without your consent. MEC doesn’t have access to your videos or your cameras.

We Don’t Sell Your Data

We live in a data-driven world, and sometimes this means companies sell the data they collect from you.

Your Arlo camera doesn’t come with the cost of putting your personal information on the market, and any information we collect is to fulfill and improve your service.

We Don’t Keep Videos

If you cancel Arlo services, Arlo videos stored in the cloud are automatically deleted and unrecoverable, and you can easily delete videos manually.

We Prioritize Cybersecurity

Arlo supports cutting-edge security measures like two-factor authentication, and Arlo monitors its cloud systems to prevent digital threats. Arlo also works with independent organizations to audit their services for cybersecurity standards.

Want More?

We’ve partnered with Arlo to offer you a totalhome visibility solution without breaking the bank. Visit us at to learn more about our privacy policy, as well as available packages and exclusive benefits for MEC customers.

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 and 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.

16 MARCH 2023


We post videos every month to keep you updated on the latest from MEC, as well as provide useful tips for your everyday life. Here’s some of what you’ll find:

• Talks: Techie Chuck gives you a crash course on a popular tech topic, ranging from perfect router placement to the difference between internet and Wi-Fi.

• Safety Smarts: Safety Ace Evan shares what you need to know to avoid some common, often-overlooked dangers.

• Education: We respond to some of your most burning questions, like why we remove trees and shrubs near our lines.

• Energy Efficiency: Nobody likes to waste energy. These videos show you some clever tricks to get the most out of your kilowatts.

Plus, watch for two new video series starting soon: ¡Hablamos Español!, a Spanish-language series answering a wide range of questions, and Kids Question MEC Experts, where children of MEC employees will interview their parents about their jobs.


Subscribe today! Visit us at teammidwest1, or scan the QR code.

Notice to Electric Customers of Midwest Energy & Communications

Special Board Meeting: April 14, 2023

The Midwest Energy & Communications (MEC) Board of Directors will consider changes to the cooperative’s rates and tariffs, in accordance with P.A. 167 of 2008, at its meeting on April 14, 2023, beginning at 10 a.m.

The meeting will be held at the headquarters office, 60590 Decatur Road, Cassopolis, Michigan, and is open to any MEC electric customer. Customers will have an opportunity to address the board on the proposed changes prior to board action. Comments may be submitted in advance to by Friday, April 7.

The following item will be considered:

• Potential changes to the distribution charge across all rate classifications.

Notice of changes or additions to the cooperative’s electric rates or service rules shall be sent to all customers as required by P.A. 167, by publication in Michigan Country Lines, at least 30 days prior to their effective date.

Notice to Electric Customers of Midwest Energy & Communications 2023 Annual Meeting

The Annual Meeting of the Midwest Energy & Communications (MEC) electric customers is April 14, 2023, immediately following the Special Board Meeting, which begins at 10 a.m. The Annual Meeting is called by the secretary of the cooperative pursuant to Article II of the MEC bylaws.

The purpose of the Annual Meeting is to announce the results of the ballots cast and the MEC Board of Directors election in districts 1, 2, and 5, and to act on any other business properly brought before the board.

The meeting will be held at the headquarters office, 60590 Decatur Road, Cassopolis, Michigan, and is open to any MEC electric customer. Customers will have an opportunity to address the board on the proposed changes prior to board action. Comments may be submitted in advance to by Friday, April 7.


Mystery Photo

Win a $100 energy bill credit!

Where In

Michigan Is This?

Identify the correct location of the photo above by March 24 and be entered into a drawing to win a $100 electric bill credit. Enter your guess at

Nature Memories

January 2023 Winner! Our Mystery Photo winner is Jason DeLille, a Midwest Energy & Communications Cooperative member, who correctly identified the photo as Michigan State University Beaumont Tower in East Lansing. Winners are announced in the following issues of Country Lines: January, March, May, July/ August, September, and November/December.


rowing up, our family always kept a flower garden. It was filled with roses, dahlias, and peonies. The Peace rose was my dad’s favorite. He was a WWII veteran, and that rose was named for the celebration of the war ending.

He often traveled for his job and asked me to be the keeper of the garden. I mixed the soil with peat and fertilizer and sprayed the insecticides. I sang to those plants; a chorus of colors sang back. Dusk stepped up the deep-root water soaking. Birds danced in the mist. This garden gave me inspiration for my studies in art and design.

We lived in central Michigan at the edge of the hardwood tree line made by glacier—glaciers over a thousand feet in height. It is a vast land of smooth stones and forest that stops abruptly and then turns to flat, fertile, sandy lands, where sugar beets and potatoes are grown and processed. Evening breezes send the perfume of the potatoes, the beets, and the sulphur of the oil wells. There is a calming rhythm of a well’s pumping, “haw hee...pap pap pap.” A small sludge pond shimmers with a film of blue-green iridescence. Raccoon tracks a hint of last night’s activities.

Come spring, a few abandoned apple trees open their soft, white blossoms. The summer brings sunflowers, purple thistles, and cattails, and intricate colored geometries to our beloved landscape. These forms were the models for my botanical sketch studies. Memories became companions.

This evening I will be tending my garden. Dusk blends its forms and colors. From the corner of my eye, I might catch a flutter and hear the barred owl high in the pines, “whoo choo ha whoo.” The songbirds and purple martins will flit about in the spray of the sprinklers. Later the bats will take over the landscape. Spiders will reweave their webs in the glistening wet grass. My dad, rest in peace, will have a presence there.

About the Author: John is a retired architect and designed prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan for 12 years in the war. He enjoys painting watercolors and cooking with his wife, Mary Louise.

to submit.

MI CO-OP Guest Column
Guest Column Win
published! Share your fondest memories and stories. Win $200 for stories published. Visit
“There is no better designer than nature”
18 MARCH 2023
Alexander McQueen
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