May 2020 MEC

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May 2020


COUNTRY LINES Midwest Energy & Communications

Internet Quick Tips

Generator Safety Helping Neighbors In The Face Of COVID-19

DISTILLING COMMUNITY Michigan Distilleries Lend A Hand And Make A Difference


Smart homeowners around the world have scrapped their old furnaces and air conditioners and replaced them with a WaterFurnace geothermal comfort system. That’s because WaterFurnace geothermal systems use the clean, renewable energy in your own backyard to provide savings up to 70% on heating, cooling and hot water. You won’t need that old inefficient furnace or that unsightly outdoor air conditioner because a WaterFurnace system provides complete comfort for your home with a single unit. And because the system doesn’t burn fossil fuels, there are no fumes or carbon monoxide concerns. Make the smart switch to geothermal. Contact your local WaterFurnace dealer today to learn more. YOUR LOCAL WATERFURNACE DEALERS

Bad Axe B & D Htg (989) 269-5280

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

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

Berrien Springs WaterFurnace Michiana (269) 473-5667 gogreenmich

Clifford Orton Refrig & Htg (989) 761-7691 sandusky

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

Big Rapids Stratz Htg & Clg, Inc. (231) 796-3717

Hart Adams Htg & Clg (231) 873-2665 adamsheating

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

Muskegon Adams Htg & Clg (231) 873-2665 adamsheating Portland ESI Htg & Clg (517) 647-6906

Traverse City D & W Mechanical (231) 941-1215 Geofurnace Htg & Clg (231) 943-1000

Sunfield Mark Woodman Plmb & Htg (517) 886-1138

visit us at WaterFurnace is a registered trademark of WaterFurnace International, Inc. ©2018 WaterFurnace International, Inc. *26% through 2020 and 22% through 2021


May 2020 Vol. 40, No. 5



Michigan’s Electric Cooperatives

EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Casey Clark EDITOR: Christine Dorr GRAPHIC DESIGNER: Karreen Bird RECIPE EDITOR: Christin McKamey PUBLISHER: Michigan Electric Cooperative Association Michigan Country Lines, USPS-591-710, is published monthly, except August and December, with periodicals postage paid at Lansing, Mich., and additional offices. It is the official publication of the Michigan Electric Cooperative Association, 201 Townsend St., Suite 900, Lansing, MI 48933. Subscriptions are authorized for members of Alger Delta, Cherryland, Great Lakes, HomeWorks Tri-County, Midwest Energy & Communications, Ontonagon, Presque Isle, and Thumb electric cooperatives by their boards of directors. Postmaster: Send all UAA to CFS.

Association Officers: Robert Kran, Great Lakes Energy, chairman; Tony Anderson, Cherryland Electric Cooperative, vice chairman; Eric Baker, Wolverine Power Cooperative, secretarytreasurer; 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.

Michigan Country Lines, Your Communications Partner For 40 years, our co-op members have received Michigan Country Lines because it is the most effective and economical way to share information. Michigan Country Lines keeps members up-to-date about everything going on within their electric co-op. Issues contain news about co-op services, director elections, member meetings and management decisions that members need to know about as owners of the co-op. The magazine also includes legal notices that would otherwise have to be placed in local media at a substantial cost. Sending Michigan Country Lines helps the co-op fulfill one of its essential principles——to educate and communicate openly with its members. The board of directors authorizes the co-op to subscribe to Michigan Country Lines on behalf of each member at an average cost of $3.97 per year, paid as part of members’ electric bills. The current magazine cost is 49 cents per copy. Michigan Country Lines is published, at cost, by the Michigan Electric Cooperative Association in Lansing. As always, we welcome your comments at


6 A DEEP DIVE WITH CHRIS ROXBURGH. As a diver and history lover, Roxburgh has garnered online attention for his documentation of underwater wonders in Michigan waters. 10 MI CO-OP KITCHEN Go meat-free with these vegetarian recipes.

Don’t you want to take this adorable white animal home as a pet? @kelli929kelli #whitedonkey Kelli Marshall

14 DISTILLING COMMUNITY Michigan distilleries join forces to make hand sanitizer during pandemic-driven shortage.

Be featured!

18 GUEST COLUMN Tom McWhorter recalls the thrill of a ‘50s-era train ride to Grand Rapids with his mother and grandmother.


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

Contests, reader-submitted content & more!





Up Next: Kid-Friendly Cooking, Easy Recipes Share your favorite recipes.

Up Next: Campgrounds Tell us about the Michigan campgrounds you like visiting best.

Submit your fondest memories and stories.

Enter a drawing to identify the correct location of the photo.

Win a $50 bill credit!

Win $150 for stories published!

Win a $50 bill credit!

Visit for guidelines and submission information. MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES






CORPORATE HEADQUARTERS AND CASSOPOLIS SOLUTIONS CENTER 60590 Decatur Road Cassopolis, MI 49031 M–F 8 a.m.–5 p.m. PAW PAW SOLUTIONS CENTER 59825 S. LaGrave Street Paw Paw, MI 49079 M–F 8 a.m.–5 p.m. ADRIAN SOLUTIONS CENTER 1610 E. Maumee Street Adrian, MI 49221 M–F 8 a.m.–5 p.m.


BOARD OF DIRECTORS 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 James Dickerson, Bloomingdale 269-370-6868 Erika Escue-Cadieux, Onsted 419-346-1088 Fred Turk, Decatur 269-423-7762 PRESIDENT/CEO Robert Hance VP, CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS/EDITOR Patty Nowlin COMMUNICATIONS SPECIALIST

Amy Pales

ACRE Owners Contribute To Political Wins


J oin us on Facebook:

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

4 MAY 2020

Robert Hance, President/CEO


here’s nothing like a global pandemic to quiet a contentious political primary season.

As we draw closer to November’s national elections, I’m certain the political infighting will rise to disturbing new levels. However, wherever you fall on the political spectrum—Republican, Democrat, or somewhere in between—we all play an important role in the process. Strong political relationships are key in our industry. We rely on our elected representatives and other federal officials to help establish policy and implement legislation that benefits our customers. We spent years knocking on doors at the Federal Communications Commission, and ultimately became easily recognized and greeted on a first-name basis within those hallowed halls. Those relationships, I’m certain, ultimately helped lead to the sweeping changes in broadband funding and policy. Late in 2019, Congress passed and President Trump signed the RURAL Act into law. For two years, our national association and cooperative leaders across the country lobbied for these changes that protect our nation’s electric cooperatives from the risk of losing their tax-exempt status when they accept government grants for disaster relief, broadband service, and other programs that benefit co-op customers. This was a huge and important victory for co-ops and the customers we serve. At the state level, we had a couple of huge wins in late February when Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed House Bills 4266 and 5266 into law. Both make it easier for electric co-ops to bring high-speed broadband access to their customers with new language related to use of electric easements and consistent standards for pole attachments. These kinds of changes don’t happen without a lot of hard work and tough conversations, and it all starts by having strong relationships with our state and

federal representatives on both sides of the aisle. Another tool in our collective kit is the Action Committee for Rural Electrification (ACRE). This is the political action committee for electric cooperative directors, eligible employees, and customers, and the goal is to advocate for responsible policies at the state and federal level. An ACRE membership contribution helps create a favorable political environment for electric co-ops through strategic relationships with legislators who represent us and those we are here to serve. In the 1930s, nine out of 10 rural homes didn’t have electricity while nine out of 10 urban homes did. This disparity led farmers and other rural dwellers across the nation to enlist the help of their legislators to create the national electric cooperative program. That spirit continues today through the ACRE Owners program, which gives us a voice in important matters that impact our customers. More than 30,000 cooperative customers and advocates across the country contribute to ACRE, and it makes a difference. If you’re interested in learning more about ACRE Owners and how you might be involved, please visit



Our offices will be closed on Monday, May 25, for Memorial Day. Make a payment or report an electric outage via SmartHub. Call 800-492-5989 to make a payment or request an emergency propane fill. Drop box payments made at our three solutions centers will be processed on the next open business day.

• Medical Workers • First Responders • Journalists • Civil Service Employees • Delivery Folks • Bank Workers • Farmers • Sanitary Workers • Pharmacy Workers • Nonprofit Workers • Factory Workers • Truckers • Grocery Workers • Mail Carriers • Utility Workers • Military Personnel • School Employees • Restaurant Workers

To everyone helping in so many ways and those serving on the frontlines during this pandemic, we THANK YOU.

Access To Rules And Rates Please be advised that the following information is available to Midwest Energy & Communications (MEC) customers: 1. Complete rate schedules; 2. Clear and concise explanation of all rates that the customer may be eligible to receive; 3. Assistance from MEC in determining the most appropriate rate when the customer is eligible to receive service under more than one rate; 4. Clear and concise explanation of the customer’s actual energy use for each billing period during the last 12 months. The information can be obtained by contacting MEC at 800-492-5989.

Fuel Mix Report The fuel mix characteristics of Midwest Energy & Communications as required by Public Act 141 of 2000 for the 12-month period ending 12/31/19. Comparison Of Fuel Sources Used

Your Co-op’s Fuel Mix

Regional Average Fuel Mix

Regional average fuel mix used Your co-op’s fuel mix

Fuel Source Coal 23.30% Oil




Gas 15.03%





Nuclear 42.39%


Renewable Fuels 17.19%











Solid Waste Incineration









NOTE: Biomass excludes wood; solid waste incineration includes landfill gas; and wind includes a long-term renewable purchase power contract in Wolverine’s mix.

Emissions And Waste Comparison lbs/MWh

Type Of Emission/Waste

Your Co-op

Regional Average*

Sulfur Dioxide



Carbon Dioxide



Oxides of Nitrogen





High-level Nuclear Waste

*Regional average information was obtained from the MPSC website and is for the 12-month period ending 12/31/19. Midwest Energy & Communications purchases 100% of its electricity from Wolverine Power Supply Cooperative, Inc., which provided this fuel mix and environmental data.





1979 Ford Pinto, aka the mussel car, Haserot Beach, Traverse City. Photo by Chris Roxburgh


s an electrical contractor, Chris Roxburgh spends his working days bringing light to dark areas. Perhaps it’s not all that surprising that Roxburgh spends his recreational time doing more of the same.

A few years ago, Roxburgh posted his first pictures from the depths of Grand Traverse Bay, revealing a 1979 Ford Pinto covered in zebra mussels. The photos quickly gained online recognition, and while it was the beginning of Roxburgh sharing the wonders beneath the waves, it was by no means the beginning of his love of water.


MAY 2020

Roxburgh has been obsessed with the water since he was a child growing up in Traverse City, Michigan. “Our family was always finding a way to the water,” said Roxburgh. “Every weekend we’d take out the boat and as I got older, I’d take a deep breath, and hand-overhand, I’d follow the anchor chain down as far as I could manage to hold my breath.”

Free diving, also called skin diving, is when the diver holds their breath until resurfacing. Roxburgh may not have been familiar with the distinction as a child, but that didn’t keep him from building the skill. Roxburgh’s free diving continued into adulthood and he used this method to get a closer look at the shipwrecked George Rogers tugboat, located in Grand Traverse Bay at the northern tip of Leelanau County. Roxburgh and his wife Bea had been stand-up paddle boarding when they saw the wreckage below

“I hope to shine a light on how we can all do our part.” –Chris Roxburgh

Drone footage over the Alva Bradley shipwreck, North Manitou Island. Photo by Dusty Klifman

Eber Ward shipwreck in the Straits of Mackinac. Photo by Chris Roxburgh

Chris Roxburgh with his new Sony a7 III camera with Aquatica deep dive housing. Photo by Dusty Klifman

scuba school to see if they would let him get his that winter. With a rented 7mm wetsuit, in 36-degree weather, Roxburgh spent three wintery days with instructors to complete his open water certification. It was the beginning of more than a hobby, but a passion.

Chris Roxburgh on the Francisco Morazan, South Manitou Island. Photo by Bea Roxburgh

the water’s surface. A couple of days later, Roxburgh came back with photographic equipment and his wetsuit to free dive the sunken treasure. “I was so excited by that dive. I became obsessed with the history,” said Roxburgh. “I knew right away that I wanted to get my scuba certification and I couldn’t wait any longer.” And Roxburgh didn’t wait. While most divers get their open water certification in the spring and summer, Roxburgh reached out to the local

Over the course of his new obsession, Roxburgh crossed paths with another Michigan diver who had a similar interest in shipwrecks and history as well. “When I met Dusty [Klifman], things really kicked off,” said Roxburgh. “We had a similar inquisitive mindset and we were gung-ho to explore more.” Klifman, who had been open water diving for 20 years, while Roxburgh had two under his belt, worked as a lineman for an electric company. Their mutual love of water and exploration has led to some epic adventures including the Alva Bradley, a schooner in the Manitou Passage; the Jane, a small freighter off the shore of Arcadia; and the Typo, a schooner that was crashed into by a steamship in Lake Huron’s Thunder Bay. The two have a massive wish list for

the coming year, including the Thomas Hume in southwest Michigan and the Newell A. Eddy in Cheboygan. In the meantime, groups like the Old Mission Peninsula Historical Society have invited Roxburgh to share his experiences. Hundreds of people have come to hear Roxburgh’s thrilling stories, as well as witness his testimony as an environmental and conservancy advocate. Roxburgh has seen how pollution, dumping, and everyday littering have impacted the Great Lakes. “I want future generations to have a chance to explore what I’ve been able to experience,” said Roxburgh. “I hope to shine a light on how we can all do our part.”

Follow Chris’s diving adventures: Visit to accompany Chris on an underwater video tour of the Eber Ward shipwreck in the Straits of Mackinac. @chris_roxburgh_



ENERGY STAR LED Light Bulbs Consider changing light bulbs to ENERGY STAR® LEDs. LEDs use 90% less energy than standard bulbs and last up to 15 times longer. LEDs are available in a variety of colors, shapes and dimmable options to meet all your indoor and outdoor needs.

Dust Off Your Dehumidifier

Small changes. Great savings. s we nestle into our homes to remain healthy and safe, it is a great time to think about ways that you can save energy with your everyday habits. Little changes can help minimize the impact of increased hours at home, particularly if you are now working from a home office.


Many people are taking advantage of their time at home and preparing their spring cleaning list. We have a few efficiency tips for you to consider when doing so.

Get your dehumidifier ready for increased humidity. It’s important to control high humidity in basements to prevent mold growth and improve indoor air quality. The Energy Optimization program offers a $15 rebate with the purchase of new ENERGY STAR qualified models.

Home Office Efficiency When your workday is over, don’t forget to turn off your monitor and unplug your laptop. You may even consider using an advanced or smart power strip. These power strips save energy by completely turning off devices attached to your computer or TV when they are not being used. It can make shutdown and startup of multiple devices fast, easy and complete. Apply online for a $5 rebate from the Energy Optimization program. Visit for more ways to save energy and money at home.

SMALL CHANGES. GREAT SAVINGS. You make the changes; we provide the savings. There are many ways to save, from appliances to lighting to maintaining the comfort of your home, with our efficient HVAC programs. Visit to learn more. ONLINE: PHONE: 877.296.4319

Energy Optimization programs and incentives are applicable to Michigan electric service locations only. Other restrictions may apply. For a complete list of participating utilities, visit

When you walk into Baker’s Rhapsody, you’ll likely be greeted by owner Jordan Anderson, who discovered his love for baking while attending culinary school.

A Delicious Gem In Dowagiac J

ordan Anderson, owner of Baker’s Rhapsody in Dowagiac, says his favorite thing to make is the next thing. “I really enjoy creating new flavor combinations,” he said. After attending culinary school in Phoenix, this Michigan native decided to return home to bring his love of baking to southwest Michigan. He began in 2013, baking wedding cakes and cupcakes in a home kitchen, and then expanded to farmer’s markets and other events until the bakery and café opened in 2015. “Before we opened, Dowagiac didn’t have anything like this,” stated Anderson, who is originally from South Haven. “I have loved being able to pursue this dream and be a part of the community.” His bakery includes a wide variety of baked goods like muffins, scones, cupcakes and more, and the coffee bar is always ready to serve some freshly brewed hot or cold beverages. It also has signature drinks, along with fun non-coffee mocktails, teas and more. Baker’s Rhapsody also does custom cakes and cupcakes for weddings and other special occasions.

Fun tidbit: Jennifer Quail, featured in our April cover story, recommends the sourdough bread. We encourage you to try it and tell us what you think. MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES


MI CO-OP Recipes

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

VEGETARIAN Go meat-free with these healthy recipes.


SWEET POTATO AND QUINOA BURGERS Katie Schneider, Midwest Energy & Communications

2 large sweet potatoes 1 cup uncooked dry quinoa (makes 2 cups cooked) ½ medium red bell pepper, finely chopped ¼ small red onion, finely chopped ½ cup kale, finely chopped 3 cloves garlic, minced 1 teaspoon dried thyme 1 teaspoon black pepper 1 tablespoon oil

Win a


energy bill credit!

10 MAY 2020


Kid-Friendly Cooking due July 1 • Easy Recipes due August 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. Go to for more information.

Preheat oven to 400 F. Bake, boil, or microwave the sweet potatoes until soft. Discard skins; then mash and allow to cool. Cook quinoa as per packet instructions; cool. In a bowl, add the mashed sweet potato, cooked quinoa, bell pepper, onion, kale, garlic, thyme, and pepper. Mix everything well. When cool enough to handle, take ½ cup each of the mixture and form into patties. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Brush the patties liberally with oil of choice, then place them on the baking sheet and bake until the patties are deeply golden on the outside, about 35–40 minutes, flipping halfway. Patties can be made ahead of time and refrigerated or frozen for fast meals.

Watch a video of this month’s winning recipe at

FALAFEL WITH FETA SAUCE Sondra Harr, Great Lakes Energy

FALAFEL: 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained 1 clove garlic 3 green onions • juice from ½ lemon 1 bunch parsley 1 teaspoon cumin ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper 1 egg ¹⁄ ³ cup flour 1½ teaspoons baking powder • flour tortillas or pita bread • oil for frying

FETA SAUCE: ½ cup feta cheese ½ cup Greek yogurt, plain 2 tablespoons milk 1 tablespoon lemon juice 2 garlic cloves, minced To make falafel, place all falafel ingredients into a food processor and process until smooth. Refrigerate for ½ hour. Roll dough into balls and lightly flatten. Fry in hot oil for 3 minutes per side. To make feta sauce, combine all ingredients and chill until ready to drizzle over falafel. Serve in a warm tortilla or pita bread with lettuce, tomato, red onion, and sliced cucumber.



Shelley Ehrenberger, Cherryland RICE CRUST 1½ cups cooked rice 2 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened 2 tablespoons onion, chopped 1 egg EGGPLANT FILLING 1 medium onion, chopped 1 large green bell pepper, chopped 3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted 1 (8-ounce) can tomato paste 1 cup hot water 1 medium/large eggplant, quartered and sliced ½ -inch thick ½ to 1 pound mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 F. To make rice crust, combine rice with butter, chopped onion, and egg. Press into bottom and sides of greased 9-inch pie pan. To make eggplant filling, sauté onion and green pepper in butter until transparent. Add tomato paste and hot water, and bring to a boil. Add eggplant; simmer for 10 minutes. Spoon half of eggplant mixture into crust. Add half of cheese. Add the remaining eggplant mixture, and top with remainder of cheese. Bake for 30–35 minutes. Cool slightly before cutting.

2 teaspoons olive oil 4 cups sweet onions, thinly sliced 3 ounces goat cheese (can sub with cream cheese) ¼ cup skim milk 6 ounces uncooked farfalle (bow-tie pasta) 1 clove garlic, minced 2 tablespoons dry white wine (can sub with vegetable broth) 1½ teaspoons chopped fresh sage (or sub with ½ teaspoon dried) ½ teaspoon salt ¼ teaspoon black pepper 2 tablespoons chopped, toasted walnuts Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook slowly until golden and caramelized, about 20–25 minutes. Stir occasionally. Combine goat cheese and milk in small bowl; mix until well blended. Set aside. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside. Add garlic to onions in skillet; cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add wine, sage, salt and black pepper; cook until moisture is evaporated. Remove from heat. Add pasta and goat cheese mixture, stirring to melt cheese. Sprinkle with walnuts. Serve immediately. MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES


OUT IN THE COMMUNITY Walk 4 Warmth About 50 walkers came together on Friday, March 6 in downtown Adrian to walk in a “Victory Lap” as part of this year’s Walk 4 Warmth fundraiser. The fundraiser provides unrestricted funds that can be used by the Community Action Agency (CAA) to assist Lenawee County residents with heat-related emergencies when other funding is not available. Without these dollars, these families would not receive help. The Lenawee County Utilities Taskforce sponsors the walk, and WLEN Radio was on hand to do a live radio remote promoting the event and educating the public as to its importance. During the three-hour event, over $5,000 was raised by participating teams, individuals and the CAA. MEC raised $955 for CAA, and Goodwill of Southeastern Michigan was presented with the “Golden Boot Award” for raising the most funds as a team.

COVID-19 Community Efforts This virus certainly disrupted our lives in ways most of us have never experienced. While many people hunkered down in their homes to practice social distancing, others stepped to the front lines to help. We wanted to thank those serving others during the pandemic. Here’s what we did: We purchased and delivered snacks to healthcare workers at Ascension Borgess-Lee Hospital in Dowagiac, Bronson LakeView Hospital in Paw Paw, ProMedica Bixby Hospital in Adrian, ProMedica Herrick Hospital in Tecumseh and Three Rivers Health. Our snack patrol also stopped at the Lenawee County Sheriff’s department. The prepackaged goods were intended to help these workers get quick and easy nourishment when their duties didn’t permit long breaks.

Snacks for healthcare workers

12 MAY 2020

Additionally, we partnered with the Cass County Council on Aging (COA), St. Joseph County Commission on Aging, and Meals on Wheels/Senior Nutrition Services to provide additional meals for senior citizens, along with support for meal-delivery staff. The Cass County COA used part of our donation to provide fresh fruit and personal care items with the meals.

Generator Safety Tips T

he spring and summer storm season is upon us and for some of you, this means installing or using a generator. The purchase and installation of a generator is an important and serious decision. Properly done, you gain peace of mind knowing your family can ride out an outage with some degree of comfort. But an incorrectly implemented generator can become deadly to you, your family, your neighbors and your electric cooperative’s employees. Here are some tips for using generators in your home: • If you are installing a permanent generator, it must have a transfer switch. The transfer switch prevents electricity from leaving your generator and going back onto the utility’s equipment, where it could be dangerous, even deadly, to a lineman or others near downed power lines. Have a licensed electrician install a transfer switch to prevent this issue, known as backfeeding electricity.

• Turn off all equipment powered by the generator before shutting it down. • Operate it on a dry surface under an open canopy-like structure, such as under a tarp held up on poles. Be aware that generators produce carbon monoxide. • Always have a fully charged fire extinguisher nearby. • Never fuel a generator while it is operating, and do not touch it with wet hands. Read and adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions for safe operation. Never cut corners when it comes to safety.

• Use heavy-duty, outdoor-rated extension cords. Make sure extension cords are free of cuts or tears and that the plug has three prongs. Overloaded cords can cause fires or equipment damage. • Ensure your generator is properly grounded. • Never overload a generator. A portable generator should only be used when necessary to power essential equipment or appliances.

Please let us know if you have a generator. If you recently installed a generator or if you’ve had one for a while and haven’t notified us, please call us at 800-492-5989. We will add a note to your account that will make our crews aware of your equipment prior to making repairs.

Residential Generators INSTALLATION TYPE








whole house

can be indefinite


more affordable


typically partial 2

depends on fuel tank size

Permanent generators start upon loss of grid power. They also exercise themselves automatically. 2 Frequently powered: refrigerator, pumps (well, sump, septic), furnace, some lights, stove. 3 Permanent generators use propane or natural gas, while portable generators use gasoline. Permanent models offer significantly longer operating times. 1

Image of portable generator provided by




“Craft distilling in the U.S. is actually quite a tight-knit community.” –Chad Munger

“As a small business, we’re used to pivoting and adapting quickly.” –Kent Rabish

DISTILLING COMMUNITY Michigan Distilleries Lend A Hand And Make A Difference By Emily Haines Lloyd


“We started hearing stories of distilleries in the northwest of the United States who were starting to make hand sanitizer on their stills.”

flattening the curve of the impact of the virus. They noted that in lieu of soap and water, hand sanitizer was also effective.

“Craft distilling in the U.S. is actually quite a tight-knit community,” said Chad Munger of Mammoth Distilling.

The country began to prepare for an anticipated influx of people contracting the virus and the pressure that would be put on the health care and first responder communities. Gaps began to appear in supply chains. Protective gear like face masks and gloves was in short supply. Medical professionals, the Center for Disease Control (CDC), and the World Health Organization (WHO) all noted that hand washing was a critical step in

“You don’t realize just how much sanitizer is needed in health care and for first responders,” said Kent Rabish of Grand Traverse Distillery. “From reception areas, to disinfecting each exam room, to having on ambulance rigs for each call. And now suddenly, the country realizes, we are going to need even more.”

raft spirits in Michigan is an industry that speaks often about creativity, a sense of community, and of course, good times and fellowship. After the nationwide outbreak of COVID-19, Michigan distilleries, along with the bulk of their hospitality brethren, found themselves displaced, with dining and tasting rooms closed and the bulk of their workforce suddenly without income or purpose. It seemed like the good times were becoming a distant memory.

14 MAY 2020

Michigan distilleries quickly launched into action. Initially, they delivered or



“We rolled up our sleeves and got to work. I think that’s what our distilling community is all about.” –Chris Fredrickson

“We are here to serve our communities.” –Howard Tuthill

gave away the sanitizing runoff they had on hand, which is the byproduct of producing alcohol.

now adapting to a learning curve by distillery workforces who were grateful for a way to pitch in.

“Our employees were dropping off sanitizer to local firehouses, municipalities, and hospitals, just to support our community,” said Chris Fredrickson of Traverse City Whiskey Co. “It was a quick and easy way to step into a strange situation and find a way to help.”

“So much of our industry is about community,” said Howard Tuthill of Iron Shoe Distillery. “We are here to serve our communities. And when we suddenly weren’t able to share moments in person, it felt good to be able to reach out to our community in another way.”

Suddenly, the creativity, ingenuity, and adaptability of this craft industry kicked into high gear. Calls were made to source materials, ensuring they had the federal “recipe” for allowable sanitizer, and distilleries across the state began trading in corn and wheat for ethanol and glycerin.

Dozens of distilleries around the state and country have stepped into this space and are now producing hand sanitizer as quickly as they can acquire the supplies.

“As a small business, we’re used to pivoting and adapting quickly,” said Landis Rabish of Grand Traverse Distillery. “We stay nimble and adapt to new circumstances constantly. This is second nature to us.” Buildings that once hummed and produced handcrafted libations were

“We took the first step, simply because it was the right thing to do,” said Fredrickson. “We had the infrastructure to help people in a really unusual and weird time. This wasn’t a moment to sit back and watch things happen. That’s not who we are as a business. It’s not who we are as a team. So we rolled up our sleeves and got to work. I think that’s what our distilling community is all about.”

If you are still looking for hand sanitizer, check out the American Distilling Institute website,, for the most up-to-date listing of distillers who are producing it.

For more information, please visit their websites and follow these distilleries on Facebook and Instagram.



Improve Wireless Range Wi-Fi gets weaker as it travels through walls and floors, which may result in poor signal strength in rooms that are far from your router. If that’s the case, a mesh satellite unit can help. It keeps your signal strong throughout every corner of your home. We offer a mesh that pairs with our MEC router for $5/mo., and you can order one through SmartHub.

Use A Hardwired Connection For Certain Activities And Speeds



Improve Your Internet Experience Check out these suggestions to ensure you are getting the most out of your MEC internet service.

Make Your Home Wi-Fi Friendly

Take Advantage Of Available Wi-Fi Frequency Bands

First and foremost, evaluate the location of your router. Ideally, it should be centrally located in your home and should not be hidden behind speakers or other electronics that can cause interference. Also, when practical and possible, place large furniture along the exterior walls of your home to prevent it from blocking signals. Finally, limit the use of mirrors as they ultimately decrease your Wi-Fi signal strength.

Your MEC router supports both 2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz bands, and each band represents a frequency over which data transmits. The main differences between these two are range, speed and interference. The 2.4 GHz band can reach farther distances in your home but transmits data at a slower speed. Plus, it’s more prone to interference. As a result, we generally recommend connecting any compatible device to the 5.0 GHz band to maximize your speed and improve your overall internet experience.

16 MAY 2020

For video streaming on a TV, real-time gaming and other bandwidth-heavy activities, we recommend connecting to the router via an Ethernet connection whenever possible. Additionally, if you have subscribed to our Gig package and want to get the full 1,000 Mbps on a specific device, you will need an Ethernet and possibly a gigabit Ethernet adaptor. Most devices are capable of only achieving 50 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi band and 100-200 Mbps on the 5 GHz Wi-Fi band.

Take A Look At Your Devices Make sure all your devices are kept up to date. If you notice issues on a device, try connecting the device to the 5GHz Wi-Fi band and using it in the same room as your router. If you still notice issues, it could be that your device needs to be upgraded.

Need Help With Your Service? We have guides and troubleshooting resources on our website that can help with the most common issues and questions. internet-resources

Get Smart

About Your MEC Account Management Have you signed up for SmartHub, our online and mobile account management tool, yet? If not, we encourage you to take advantage of the most convenient way to access account information, pay your bill and more. It’s available 24/7 and has several features to help you manage any MEC service.

ELECTRIC • Outage Reporting: Quickly report your service interruption without waiting for the next available solutions agent. • Notifications: Sign up to receive text or email account notifications, including outage, billing and usage information. • Bill: View your current account balance, make a payment, manage recurring payments and modify payment methods. • Service Status: Report a service issue or find out if there are any known issues related to your account. • Usage: Access detailed information to better understand and manage your energy use.

PROPANE • Bill Pay: View your current account balance, make a payment, manage recurring payments, and modify payment methods. • Order Propane: Nonemergency fill only. We will schedule deliveries within three business days. If you need propane sooner than that, please call us. • Usage: Review your recent propane usage. • Meter Reading: Send us your latest propane meter reading.

Save Paper. Save Time. Enroll in E-billing. Enroll in e-bill and stop worrying about bills getting lost in the mail. Each month, we email a notification that your bill is ready. You can then go online to view and pay your bill or manage your account. Sign up via SmartHub.

Set it and Forget it. Experience the utmost convenience of account management by enrolling in auto-pay. With this service, we automatically deduct your monthly bill from your bank account or charge your credit card on the due date. You’ll never have to worry about paying your bill again! Sign up via SmartHub or by calling 800-492-5989 and using our automated phone system. For security reasons, our solutions agents are not able to take bank account or credit card information over the phone.

INTERNET/TV/PHONE • Change/Upgrade Service: Change your internet package or add a new service. • Bill: View your current account balance, make a payment, manage recurring payments, and modify payment methods. • Notifications: Sign up to receive text and email notifications regarding your account.

Sign up online at smarthub or download the SmartHub mobile app from your app store.


MI CO-OP Community Guest Column

Last Train Ride

Lake Odessa to Grand Rapids, Circa 1956 By Tom McWhorter, Cherryland Electric Cooperative member

y grandmother lived in Lake Odessa and sometime in the mid-’50s, she took a train to Grand Rapids. She needed to see a medical specialist and wanted our mother to accompany her. My mom took me, as she wanted me to experience a train ride. She said that I could tell my children about it one day, as she did not think passenger trains would be around much longer.


Lake Odessa was on the Pere Marquette Railway (PMR) line. PMR was sold to Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) and is now operated by CSX. Passenger service was, in fact, discontinued from Lake Odessa in 1971. We went down to the depot, purchased our tickets and waited for the train to arrive. I was excited, I had seen trains from a distance but had no idea of how big and powerful the engine was up close. I am sure that I was filled with both amazement and fear! Unfortunately, I do not remember anything specific about the ride itself. We would have arrived at the old Grand Rapids Central Station, which was demolished in 1961 in order to make way for the construction of U.S. 131. After my grandmother’s appointment, we walked around downtown Grand Rapids. Grand Rapids was for sure the biggest city that I had ever been to, large buildings and department stores with strange names such as Herpolsheimer’s and Steketee’s. After some shopping, we went back to Lake Odessa. So, thank you to my mom and grandmother for giving me this story to tell a mere 64 years later! Tom McWhorter is a retired state employee who grew up in rural Eaton County and now lives with his wife Wendy in Leelanau County. He is a graduate of Michigan State University and his interests include history, writing and traveling.

Win a


energy bill credit!

Where In Michigan Is This? Identify the correct location of the photo on the left by May 20 and be entered into a drawing to win a $50 electric bill credit. Enter your guess at March 2020 Winner! Our Mystery Photo contest winner from the March issue is Aaron Wiers, a Great Lakes Energy Cooperative member, who correctly identified the photo as the Silverdale school building in Ogontz, located on the Stonington Peninsula in Delta County. Photo courtesy of Kelli Marshall Winners are announced in the following issues of Country Lines: January, March, May, July/August, September and November/December.

18 MAY 2020

Hybrid Geothermal

CALL FOR A FREE HOME VISIT (989) 356-2113 989-356-2113


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