May 2021 Thumb

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May/June 2021


COUNTRY LINES Thumb Electric Cooperative

Four Generations Contribute To The Swanson Pickle Co. Geothermal Tax Credits Renewed

Garden Fresh Recipes To Enjoy



Not hearing is believing.

Many homeowners have come to accept that a noisy A/C is a fact of life. But with WaterFurnace, you don’t have to settle. Nothing can disrupt a perfect summer afternoon in your backyard more than a loud air conditioner. Geothermal users are never disturbed from outside HVAC noise because there’s no outdoor equipment to make any. All the complicated work takes place underground—out of earshot. With WaterFurnace, your peace and quiet is assured. To learn more, contact your local WaterFurnace dealer today. Geothermal is the only renewable that provides reliable operation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Your Local WaterFurnace Dealers Bad Axe/Cass City Thumb Clg & Htg (855) 206-5457 thumbcooling Berrien Springs WaterFurnace Michiana (269) 473-5667 gogreenmich Big Rapids Stratz Htg & Clg, Inc. (231) 796-3717

Clifford Orton Refrig & Htg (989) 761-7691 Hart Adams Htg & Clg (231) 873-2665 Indian River M & M Plmb & Htg (231) 238-7201

Mancelona Top Notch Htg, Clg, & Geothermal (231) 350-8052 Michigan Center Comfort 1/Aire Serv of Southern Michigan (517) 764-1500 southern-michigan Mt Pleasant Walton Htg & Clg (989) 772-4822

Muskegon Adams Htg & Clg (231) 873-2665

Traverse City D & W Mechanical (231) 941-1215

Portland ESI Htg & Clg (517) 647-6906

Geofurnace Htg & Clg (231) 943-1000

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

visit us at

The Reliable Renewable is a trademark of WaterFurnace International, Inc.


May 2021 Vol. 41, No. 5



Michigan’s Electric Cooperatives EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Casey Clark EDITOR: Christine Dorr GRAPHIC DESIGNER: Karreen Bird RECIPE EDITOR: Christin McKamey COPY EDITOR: Yvette Pecha CONTRIBUTING EDITOR: Emily Haines Lloyd 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, 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.

Michigan Country Lines, Your Communications Partner For more than 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 $4.15 per year, paid as part of members’ electric bills. The current magazine cost is 52 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 THE MICHIGAN STATE CAPITOL WENT GEOTHERMAL–– SHOULD YOU? Geothermal power helps you save money, be greener and earn tax credits. 10 MI CO-OP KITCHEN Garden Fresh: These scrumptious dishes make fresh veggies the star of the show.

14 FOUR GENERATIONS CONTRIBUTE TO PICKLE LEGACY For Swanson Pickling Co. in Ravenna, growing and distributing cucumbers is a family affair. 18 GUEST COLUMN Hidden Northern Michigan Treasure For All Ages: The history of beautiful Kitch-iti-kipi spring in the U.P.


Spring is in the sky! @abeardedshooter (Matt Hunter)

Be featured!

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


To enter contests, submit reader content & more, visit


Win a $50 bill credit! Up Next: Around The World, due Aug. 1; Instant Pot & Slow Cooker, due Sept. 1. Go to for more information or to submit.


Win $150 for stories published! Submit your fondest memories and stories at community.


Win a $50 bill credit! Enter a drawing to identify the correct location of the photo. See page 18.


3 /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 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, President District 1 • 989-683-2696

Jonathan Findlay, Director District 2 • 989-551-8393 Carl Cousins, Director District 3 • 989-871-4449

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 Sanilac County Sandusky—Northstar Bank Thumb Electric Cooperative is an equal opportunity provider and employer.



4 MAY 2021


Happenings At TEC Dallas Braun, General Manager

• At the special board meeting on March 23, the TEC Board of Directors approved the rate revisions as shown on page 8. This action allows the cooperative to continue to meet its financial debt, strengthen its equity position, and continue the responsible maintenance of the distribution system. The most recent Cost of Service Study (COSS), used to ensure all rate classes pay their fair portion, was used as a guide for the revisions. For the average residential member using 1,200 kWh per month, the monthly increase will be $2.60. At TEC, we continuously work to contain costs without compromising your electric service reliability. The last rate increase for TEC members occurred in 2018. • At the March 23 regular board meeting, Craig Osentoski was officially seated as the new Huron County District 2 director, as recommended by the Director Search and Selection Committee. Craig fills the vacancy recently created when Don Wolschleger stepped down as director, per TEC bylaws, when his permanent address was changed to the State of Florida. Don was a TEC director for 18 years, and we thank him for his service and commitment. • At the April 20 regular board meeting, the TEC Board of Directors took action to revise the TEC bylaws to allow the quorum of a meeting of members to be met in ways other than being physically present. In 2020, TEC’s in-person Annual Meeting was canceled due to COVID-19. It appears that COVID-19 concerns again will force the same for 2021. The language of TEC’s current bylaws only allows a quorum to be met by members that actually attend the meeting in person. The bylaw revisions as shown on page 9 will allow TEC to conduct business in a more responsible manner in current times. • TEC’s Annual Meeting, which will be closed to members due to ongoing COVID concerns, is scheduled for Saturday, June 12, 2021. As part of the Annual Meeting business, the director election and bylaw revision results will be read. The results for the approval of the 2019 Annual Meeting minutes, the 2019 financial statement, and the 2020 financial statement will also be read. The recording of the 2021 Annual Meeting will be made available on TEC’s website and Facebook page on Monday, June 14.

AY OFFICE CLOSING D I L S HO Memorial Day, Monday, May 31

Independence Day, Monday, July 5 Line crews are available for 24/7 outage response. Please call 800-327-0166.

TEC Board Approves Capital Credit Refunds

Fuel Mix Report The fuel mix characteristics of Thumb Electric Cooperative as required by Public Act 141 of 2000 for the 12-month period ended 12/31/20.

Comparison Of Fuel Sources Used Fuel source

The Thumb Electric Cooperative Board of Directors recently approved the allocation of $1,801,392.67 of the 2020 margin to TEC’s members as capital credits. Approximately 7.9 cents of every dollar paid by TEC members in 2020 is being returned or allocated back to its members. The board also authorized the capital credit retirement amount of $412,500 for the years of 1991, 1992, and 2020. Since its inception, TEC has retired just over $12.3 million in capital credits. Capital credits represent your ownership or equity interest in the cooperative. You furnish capital (equity) when you pay for your service and the cooperative’s income exceeds expenses to finish its fiscal year with a positive margin. Positive margins become “capital credits” through a process known as “allocation.” The cooperative allocates “credit” to each member who took service during the years of positive margins. The amount of capital credit is proportionate to the revenue received from each member for their energy use. Each dollar of positive margin is tracked and accounted for by allocation to each member. Active TEC members will see their portion of the $412,500 in approved capital credit retirements on their May electric bills as a credit on a separate line item called “Patronage Refund.” Members’ total patronage amount earned for 2020 will also be listed on the May electric bill. For nonactive members who have left TEC’s system and have provided a forwarding address, checks will be mailed later in the year.

Nominating Committee Report

Your co-op’s fuel mix

Regional average fuel mix



























Solid Waste Incineration









Renewable Fuels

Your Co-op’s Fuel Mix

Regional Average Fuel Mix

This is the report of the 2021 Nominating Committee, which met in Ubly, Michigan, at 10 a.m. on April 1, 2021. The committee selected nominees for the position of director of Thumb Electric Cooperative. Nominees for one director position each from Huron, Sanilac and Tuscola counties are as follows: Huron County—District 2: Craig Osentoski (incumbent director), Paul Kanaski Sanilac County—District 2: Mike Briolat (incumbent director), Ernest Messing Tuscola County—District 2: Jonathan Findlay (incumbent director), Kayleen Hahn, Michael Putnam These names shall be placed on the director election ballot in accordance with Article III, Section 3 of the cooperative bylaws. Dated: April 1, 2021 CATHY KNOERR, CHAIRPERSON

Notice Of Annual Membership Meeting The Annual Meeting of the members of Thumb Electric Coopera­tive of Michigan will be held virtually at 10:00 a.m. on June 12, 2021, to take action on the following matters: 1. The reports on officers, directors and committees. 2. Provide the mail-in and online voting election results of one director from Huron County—District 2, one director from Sanilac County—District 2, and one director from Tuscola County—District 2 to the board of directors of the cooperative. 3. Provide the mail-in and online bylaw revision results. 4. All other business which may rightfully come before the meeting or any adjournment or adjournments thereof.

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 ended 12/31/20. The fuel mix data presented by Thumb Electric is the data from CMS Energy, which supplies nearly all of Thumb Electric’s purchased power.

Dated: March 23, 2021 BETH MCDONALD, secretary MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES


The Michigan State Capitol Went Geothermal—Should You? By Larry Kaufmann, Michigan Geothermal Energy Association


he Michigan State Capitol in Lansing recently went geothermal. I was involved at the beginning of this process five years ago. The Capitol is 138 years old and probably had its original heating and cooling system, which had many problems. The system was blowing out hot and cold air at the same time, and it was costly. Most importantly, it was not providing proper circulation—especially in the dome, where it was causing damage to the artwork and artifacts in the Capitol. A committee saw going “green” with geothermal heat pumps as the solution to all these problems. Geothermal will lower the cost of heating and cooling in the Capitol by an estimated $300,000 per year. It will provide more comfort to the people in the building. It will provide better air quality and humidity control to protect the valuable artwork and artifacts. This 2½-year infrastructure project cost $70 million, with part of this cost being paid for by the Tobacco Settlement. This geothermal system design involved


MAY 2021

drilling 224 loops about 500 feet deep. Michigan now joins Colorado, Oklahoma, and Idaho as states with a geothermal Capitol. Notice that we are ahead of California and New York in going green. Some of you may be unfamiliar with geothermal heat pumps, so this information will help you to understand the system and how it can be beneficial for your home. Geothermal has been installed in residential homes since the early 1970s. There are more than 1 million geothermal units in the United States and about 40,000 in Michigan. They work just like your refrigerator. On the bottom of the refrigerator is a coil. Geothermal uses a much bigger coil called a “loop,” which “plugs” into the ground. The ground is a constant temperature between 50-60 degrees year-round, six feet below the soil. Geothermal uses this constant temperature to heat your home in the winter (with compression and a refrigerant) and cool it in the summer. Because the ground is heated by the sun, it is considered renewable energy in Michigan.

Homeowners primarily purchase geothermal systems for three reasons:




Because we are starting with a constant temperature, most geothermal units are four to five times more efficient than a gas, oil, or propane furnace and twice as efficient as an electric air conditioner. This results in big savings for you! Geothermal costs more to install but saves you money every year. When included in the mortgage of a new home, the savings from geothermal will be larger than the increased cost of installation. Therefore, you will have a positive cash flow from Day 1. Once you install a geothermal system, you will have about a three- to five-year payback versus propane or oil heating. Against gas furnaces and air conditioning, geothermal will have a five- to 10-year payback. These are only estimates, and you should contact a Michigan Geothermal Energy Association (MGEA) approved geothermal contractor to get a quote for your home. Many people are concerned about sustainability. Here is your chance to go green and save money! You will also reduce your carbon footprint. There is no open flame in geothermal, which is a great safety feature. You will also have better air quality with a more consistent temperature.

Construction at the Capitol in Lansing, Michigan.

Some great recent news is that Congress has just renewed the Geothermal Tax Credit! The tax credit will be 26% in 2021 and 2022 and will be reduced to 22% in 2023. So the time to act is now! To find a qualified MGEA-approved geothermal dealer, go to Click on the “Contractors” button at the top and enter your ZIP code. You will get a list of all approved MGEA contractors in your area. I do not recommend using a non-MGEA contractor. Many are not fully trained in geothermal, and MGEA cannot help you if the job goes wrong. I have had a geothermal system in my home for over 20 years. The temperature in my 2,600-square-foot house plus 1,000-squarefoot basement has always been 72 degrees. My average heating and cooling bill over these 20 years has been about $70 per month. Geothermal is cost saving for everyone.

The Farmington City Hall complex in Farmington, Michigan, is all geothermal.



New Rates Go Into Effect July 1 RATE DESCRIPTION/TARIFF









Energy Charge On-Peak/kWh



Energy Charge Intermediate/kWh



Energy Charge Off-Peak/kWh









Energy Charge/kWh



PSCR Factor Per kWh





Energy Charge/kWh



PSCR Factor Per kWh





Energy Charge On-Peak/kWh



Energy Charge Intermediate/kWh



Energy Charge Off-Peak/kWh



Energy Charge/kWh



PSCR Factor Per kWh



Energy Charge/kWh



PSCR Factor Per kWh













PSCR Factor Per kWh



Energy Storage / D-16.00

Energy Charge/kWh



Required Deposits / C-9.00

Interest Rate Paid



Farm & Home / D-4.00

Monthly Service Charge PSCR Factor Per kWh

Farm & Home Time-Of-Day / D-5.00

Service Charge

Seasonal & Low Usage Farm & Home / D-6.00

Service Charge PSCR Factor Per kWh

Seasonal & Low Usage General Service / D-7.00

General Service / D-8.00

Service Charge

Service Charge

General Time-Of-Day / D-9.00

Service Charge

Large General Service / D-10.00

Large Power Distribution Substation / D-11.00

Outdoor Protective Lighting (40W LED) / D-12.01

Per Light Fixture PSCR Factor Per kWh

Outdoor Protective Lighting (100W HPS/175W MV / D-12.01

Per Light Fixture PSCR Factor Per kWh

Outdoor Protective Lighting (250W HPS/400W MV) / D-12.01

Per Light Fixture

Notice To Members Of Thumb Electric Cooperative Tariff Changes Effective July 1, 2021 The Thumb Electric Cooperative Board of Directors adopted changes to the cooperative’s tariffs at a special open meeting held March 23, 2021, in accordance with P.A. 167: • Revised tariffs: C-9.00, D-4.00, D-5.00, D-6.00, D-7.00, D-8.00, D-9.00, D-10.00, D-11.00, D-12.01, and D-16.00. • Established the Power Supply Cost Recovery (PSCR) Factor at -$0.00400/kWh effective with bills rendered on or after July 1, 2021. For specific details on any Thumb Electric Cooperative tariffs, please call 1-800-327-0166 or visit TEC’s website at

8 MAY 2021

Your Vote Matters!

Members To Vote On

New Bylaw Amendments

Adoption of new amendments to the existing bylaws shall be voted on by mail-in ballot or online. See this issue’s cover wrap for ballot and details. The proposed changes to your electric cooperative’s bylaws are below. Please review them and remember to vote. This serves as official notice of the board’s intent to amend the existing bylaws as follows:

ARTICLE II MEETING OF MEMBERS SECTION 4. Quorum PROPOSED CHANGE Fifty (50) of the members present in person or who have voted by mail, electronic ballot, or any other method as described in Section 5 of this article represented by proxy shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business at all meetings of the members. If less than a quorum is present at any meeting, a majority of those present in person or represented by proxy may adjourn the meeting from time to time without further notice.

ARTICLE II MEETING OF MEMBERS SECTION 5. Voting PROPOSED CHANGE Each member shall be entitled to one (1) vote, and no more, upon each matter submitted to a vote at a meeting of the members. At all meetings of the members at which a quorum is present, all questions shall be decided by a vote of a majority of the members voting thereon in person, by mail-in ballot, by electronic ballot, or by other means as allowed by these bylaws and established by the cooperative as approved ways to vote. However, where more than two persons are being voted upon for a directorship, the election shall be decided by a plurality of those votes cast in that particular contest. A vote for a directorship may be cast in person at a meeting of the members. Additionally, if permitted by the Cooperative, a vote for a directorship may be accomplished by submitting a mail-in ballot or by voting through electronic means if done pursuant to the terms established by the Cooperative. A vote for a directorship shall also be decided by a vote of a majority of the members voting thereon in person, by mail-in ballot, by electronic ballot, or by other means as allowed by these bylaws and established by the cooperative as approved ways to vote. As provided within these bylaws, if a husband and wife hold a joint membership, they shall be entitled to one vote, and no more, upon each matter submitted to a vote at a meeting of the members.

2021 ANNUAL MEETING UPDATE Due to ongoing concerns with COVID-19, the 2021 Annual Meeting will be closed to members. A recording of the Annual Meeting will be made available on TEC’s website and Facebook page on Monday, June 14.



MI CO-OP Recipes

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

GARDEN FRESH Put your seasonal produce to good use.



Shelley Ehrenberger, Cherryland 4 large tomatoes 1 small cucumber, chopped (1 cup) 1 medium green bell pepper, chopped (½ cup) 1 stalk celery, chopped (½ cup) 1 small onion, finely chopped (¼ cup) 1 clove garlic, minced 1 (13¾-ounce) can chicken (or vegetable) broth 2 tablespoons lemon juice (fresh is best) 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon oil, to taste 1 teaspoon sugar 1 teaspoon salt ¼ teaspoon black pepper • dash hot pepper sauce, to taste • croutons


Win a


energy bill credit!

10 MAY 2021

Around The World due Aug. 1 • Instant Pot & Slow Cooker Favorites due Sept. 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

Plunge tomatoes into boiling water for 30 seconds, then into cold water. Slip off skins, then coarsely chop. In a large bowl, combine all vegetables and garlic. Stir in broth and remaining ingredients. Cover and transfer to the fridge until chilled. Serve with croutons. Variation: Whirl in blender in batches until preferred smoothness (I blend about half), then stir together. Watch a video of this month’s winning recipe at


Valerie Donn, Great Lakes Energy 2 ²⁄ ³ ½ ½ 2 1 1 32 1½ 1 1 1

tablespoons olive oil cup white onion, diced cup celery, diced cup carrots, peeled and diced teaspoons garlic, minced cup green beans, freshly cut up (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes ounces vegetable stock teaspoons oregano bay leaf tablespoon diced fresh parsley (15-ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 zucchini, diced ½ cup small pasta (elbow macaroni, etc.) • salt and pepper, to taste Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. When oil is hot, add the onions, celery, carrots, and garlic. Cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Cook green beans in small separate pan with water until half cooked; drain. Add canned tomatoes, vegetable broth, oregano, bay leaf, and parsley to the pot. Bring to a boil and turn down to simmer. Add kidney beans, green beans, zucchini, and pasta. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until the pasta and vegetables are tender. Remove bay leaf before serving and season with salt and pepper to desired taste.


Deb Finedell, Great Lakes Energy • fresh ears of corn • sour cream • Mexican seasonings (seasoning blend or mix of garlic, oregano, cumin, & chili powder)

FRESH POPPERS Kris Hazeres, Alger Delta

1 pound bacon, cooked and chopped (or precooked bacon) 2 pounds sweet mini peppers 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened 2–3 jalapeños, finely diced 1½ cups finely shredded sharp cheddar or pepper jack cheese Cook bacon until crispy. While the bacon is cooking, cut the peppers in

half lengthwise (stems on) and clean out seeds. Once the bacon is done and cooled a bit, use a large knife to chop into small bits. In a medium/large bowl, use a spoon to mix all ingredients except for the mini peppers. Using a small spoon or mini spatula, stuff the mini peppers with the mixture. The sweet mini peppers are even better grilled for a few minutes before stuffing. This recipe can easily be made the night before.

• butter • shredded Asiago cheese Cook or grill fresh ears of corn. Mix sour cream and Mexican seasonings to taste. Coat cooked ears with butter. Roll in sour cream mixture. Roll in Asiago cheese. Enjoy.

Your Vote Matters!

Meet The Director Candidates

HURON COUNTY  DISTRICT 2 Craig Osentoski (incumbent)

Raised on a dairy farm in Sanilac County, Craig Osentoski is a pharmacist currently working in Bad Axe for Wal-Mart Pharmacy. He has worked in both the Bad Axe and Caro locations full time for the past 28 years. Craig is married to Kelly Jo, and they have two children. He has been a TEC member since 1996. Craig has been involved in the community by serving on the board of directors for Ubly Heights Golf and Country Club, Huron Medical Center (Central Huron Enterprise Group),

Paul Kanaski

Paul Kanaski is a lifelong Huron County resident and TEC customer. He grew up on the family farm in Bloomfield Township, where he spent his early years picking stones, hoeing beans, and baling hay. He attended North Huron Schools, where he graduated as valedictorian in 1987. Paul has been employed at Huron City Company for 35 years, and has been the manager for the last 20 years. His daily duties include managing and maintaining 1,400 acres of land, with over 20 buildings. He does every job from the bookkeeping to the lawn mowing and everything in between. He oversees the rental cottages, farms and forestry management, and manages the 20-member hunt club. Paul has also been the Huron Township Water System operator for six years. The system includes over 11 miles of water line mains and a 100,000-gallon water tower and

Ubly Fox Hunters Club, and the Huron County Community Foundation. He volunteers as a hunter safety instructor for the Michigan DNR and as a coach/mentor for the Ubly High School First Robotics Team #5155. Craig strives to assist TEC in achieving reliable electric services at affordable prices and focusing on customer service. After the recent announcement by TEC of bringing fiber optic internet to the home, he plans to be engaged in this service’s development.

serves over 250 customers. Paul also works part time for Balcer farms of Harbor Beach. Paul has been married to his wife Karen for over 25 years. They have two sons, Bradley, 20, and Logan, 16. They all currently reside in Verona. Paul enjoys camping, spending time with his family/friends, gardening and working outdoors. Paul is currently serving as the secretary of Verona Mills Schools, where he is proud to say both of his children attended school. He is a member of Saint Hubert Catholic Church in Bad Axe. If elected, Paul looks forward to working with the board and staff of TEC to keep reliable and costefficient electrical service to its members. He is also excited about the upcoming installation of fiber-optic high-speed internet to its members.

SANILAC COUNTY  DISTRICT 2 Mike Briolat (incumbent)

Mike Briolat is a cash crop farmer working 1,700 acres with his brother, Steve, son, Justin, and his father, Leonard, in Sanilac County just south of Ubly. While farming part time, he worked at Tower Automotive for 30-plus years, giving it up to focus full time on the farm. Mike was born and raised in the Ubly area, where he is a member of Good Shepard Parish (St. Johns) and is a member of the Knights of Columbus. Mike is a 16-year member of Thumb Electric

Ernest Messing

Ernie Messing is the Thumb Sewing Center LLC owner, a business he has operated for the past 51 years. He also farmed in the Ruth area of Delaware Township for over 30 years, as well as operated a liquid fertilizer business (E&M Distribution) for 35 years. Ernie was also the assessor in Delaware Township for five years, was on the Ruth St. Peter & Paul School Board and Parish Council, and was a Parish Council member. He ran the church festival for 10 years. Ernie now lives in the Ubly/Cass City area and attends 12 MAY 2021

Cooperative and lives in Greenleaf Township with his wife, Diana, and their two children, Macanna and Justin. Mike appreciates the opportunity to serve as your director for the past six years. He is a Credentialed Cooperative Director and if re-elected, he would work towards continuing to provide the reliable service and affordable rates that you have come to expect. He also looks forward to providing that same level of service to the new fiber internet coming soon to members.

St. Columbkille Church of the Good Shepherd Parish, where he is a cantor. Ernie was born and raised in the Minden City/Ruth area and has been a member of Thumb Electric Cooperative since 2001. He is married to Marjorie, and together they have three daughters and eight grandchildren. If elected, Ernie believes we need to look at all generation sources, including wind and solar. As people use more energy and need more power, he believes more sources should be available.

TUSCOLA COUNTY  DISTRICT 2 Jonathan Findlay (incumbent)

Jon Findlay farms with father Michael and brother Kevin. Together they farm around 3,500 acres of certified organic ground, growing corn, soybeans, black beans, navy beans, small red beans, spelt, wheat and rye. The family also has a processing facility that cleans, packages, and distributes much of its products. We are honored to work with 12 other individuals. Jon has been a TEC member for just over 10 years and was born and raised on a farm just north of Caro, where he attended Caro High School. After high school, he went to college and received a degree in aviation science and marketing before moving back to the family farm. Jon and his wife, Carrie, have been married for 15 years and have four children: Madison, 14; Logan, 12; Austin, 10; and Sierra, 7. They are members of St. Christopher

Kayleen Hahn

Born and raised in the Caro area, Kayleen is a stay-at-home mom and loving it. She was a purchasing & materials handling manager at a local tool & die shop for nearly three years, until the COVID-19 shutdown last March. Prior to that, she was a stay-at-home mom, until her son became school age. Before the birth of her son, she worked as an engineering change coordinator in the automotive industry for five years. In the early years, while attending college, she worked as an engineering assistant at a recreational game table manufacturer, an adjunct instructor, a peer mentor and tutor at Delta College, a waitress, and a synchronized swim coach.

Michael Putnam

Michael Putnam’s occupation has revolved around agriculture for 60 years. He worked from a very young age on the farm operation and in 1986, became a custom applicator of fertilizers and sprays, working for different companies in the greater thumb area for the next 14 years. In 2000, he was one of the original employees of the first ethanol plant in Caro. In 2003, he was offered a manager’s position with a local organic farm operation, where he performed many different duties. At this same time, he and his son started a lawn care and garden tilling business that still operates today. In March of 2003, due to his mother’s passing, he became a farm owner again (147 acres) and rented the land to the organic farmers that he worked for. He also drives a school bus for Caro Community Schools. Michael has been a TEC member since 2003. He is a lifelong resident of Tuscola County, living near the towns of Caro and Akron from the day he was born,

Catholic Church in Caro. Jon was on the Tuscola County Farm Bureau board for eight years, where he served as president for two of those years. He was a member of the parish council at St. Christopher (at the time Sacred Heart), as well as helping coach the varsity swim team. Jon is a six-year Credentialed Cooperative Director and is honored to serve on the TEC board. “During the last three years, we have made many decisions that impact our members. Perhaps the greatest was to bring fiber (high-speed internet) to the thumb. This technological advancement will help bridge rural America with our friends in the city. The pandemic showed how great our need is to bridge this gap, and I am very excited to be a part of this transition!”

Kayleen obtained two associate degrees and a CAD (computer-aided design) certificate during her college years. Kayleen and her husband, Michael, have been TEC members for 9½ years. They have been married for 11 years and have one son. Kayleen is highly active within her church, New Hope Ministries, since becoming a believer and follower of Jesus approximately 14 years ago. She is currently the women’s ministry leader at her church. Her hobbies include learning, foraging, canning, crocheting and raising chickens. She looks forward to learning more and serving others as a member of the board of Thumb Electric Cooperative.

and he is now 65 years young. In 1984, Michael married Susan Mester, who had two children (a girl, now 46, and a boy, now 42); they then added a boy, now 32, and a girl, now 29, of their own. Susan and he are no longer married but have and enjoy four grandchildren (four boys and one girl), with another due in May. For over 20 years, Michael has been on the executive board of Tuscola County Ducks Unlimited. He also belongs to Pheasants Forever and has been an NRA member for over 45 years. He is a sponsor of the Imagination Library in Tuscola County. For over 20 years, he was involved with the Tuscola County Pumpkin Festival (seven years as a board member) and was also an Almer Charter Township trustee for eight years. “I am a true believer of GOD, His creations, and His mysterious ways. I see them every day, all around me and in the way my life’s journey has evolved,” Michael said.


Four Generations Contribute To The Swanson Pickle Co.


By Emily Haines Lloyd

From left to right: Matt Swanson, Wes Swanson, Katie Hensley, John Swanson.


ichigan is one of the most diverse agricultural growers in the country, second only to California. So perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that it’s the number one producer of cucumbers, specifically those grown for pickles. For such a tiny vegetable, pickles make for big business. At Swanson Pickling Co. in Ravenna, Michigan, pickling goes back a long way, starting with John Wesley Swanson, who began by marketing and selling pickles grown in the state after World War II. Four generations later, the Swanson family grows, grades, and ferments pickles that find their way onto grocery shelves across the country.

from four to six weeks. Pickles are then removed from tanks and shipped to client companies throughout the Midwest. These clients include big names as close as Holland, Michigan, where the Kraft Heinz Company uses these pickles as the base for many of its various products. “We’re a company that knows how to pivot and grow based on what our customers want and need,” said John. “In the ‘60s, it was getting into farming. In the ‘80s, we needed to expand our tank yard. In 2000, it was sorting for customers who wanted to stop handling the raw product. You have to be nimble in any business.”

“We grow almost 1,500 acres of pickling cucumbers, which yields about 200 bushels of pickles per acre,” said John Swanson, president of Swanson Pickle Co. “That’s just a third of what we brine, so the rest we’re getting from other farmers around the state.”

John has seen his grandfather and father ride the ebb and flow of the pickle industry, and he’s worked with a lot of family over the years. The dynamics of working with his dad, brothers, and even cousins over the years has been a unique experience. Now, John watches as his three children take on their own roles in the family business.

The company, which is a Great Lakes Energy Cooperative member, has more than 1,300 fiberglass tanks, each able to hold 905 bushels of cucumbers, with fermentation taking

The middle of John’s brood, Wes, manages that massive fiberglass tank yard with more than a thousand vessels to watch over. The youngest son, Matt, oversees the farming

14 MAY 2021

Swanson Pickling Co. has more than 1,300 fiberglass tanks, each able to hold 905 bushels of cucumbers, with fermentation taking from four to six weeks.

“Maybe it’s that there are a lot of family businesses in pickles, or the longstanding relationships we seem to have with one another. Or maybe it’s just a happy business. I mean, you can’t even say ‘pickle’ and not smile.” —John Swanson

and growing operations that his own grandfather, Don, moved the business into. Finally, John’s daughter, Kate, who got her MBA from Spain’s IESE business school and used to work for Syngenta in Switzerland, functions as CFO, looking after the financials and sales. “We’re honored to be a fourth-generation business, and luckily it’s never felt like a burden,” said John. “But even if the kids had decided not to take over the business, I wouldn’t have been upset. I’m still proud of what we’ve all built together.” John says he doesn’t carry the burden of the business, the struggles of unknown factors in farming, or even the weight

that could be felt in keeping the family business going, as he speaks of the work the family does. Warmth and friendliness exudes from the present patriarch, and he notes that it feels small and tight-knit like a family within the pickle industry. He mentions moments of discovering “your grandpa knew my grandpa.” “Maybe it’s that there are a lot of family businesses in pickles, or the longstanding relationships we seem to have with one another,” said John. “Or maybe it’s just a happy business. I mean, you can’t even say ‘pickle’ and not smile.”



Your Vote Matters! Your Vote Matters!

Financial Statement Balance Sheets Thumb Electric Cooperative: Dec. 31, 2020 & 2019 2020 FINANCIALS

ASSETS ELECTRIC PLANT In service—at cost Under construction Total electric plant Less accumulated depreciation ELECTRIC PLANT—NET OTHER PROPERTY AND INVESTMENTS Investments in associated organizations Investment in subsidiary Energy loans receivable Nonutility property Special funds TOTAL OTHER PROPERTY AND INVESTMENTS CURRENT ASSETS Cash and temporary cash investments Accounts receivable, less allowance for doubtful accounts of $647,627 and $566,068 in 2020 and 2019 Unbilled revenue Materials and supplies Prepaid expenses Interest receivable TOTAL CURRENT ASSETS DEFERRED DEBITS TOTAL ASSETS





$ 107,901,840 805,575 108,707,415 32,204,265 76,503,150

$ 98,511,186 5,430,193 103,941,379 32,125,147 71,816,232

$ 95,893,825 4,096,703 99,990,528 30,760,963 69,229,565

1,617,597 1,824,055 98,548 88,945 1,157,041 4,786,186

1,607,478 2,040,386 101,711 93,499 1,094,000 4,937,074

1,606,394 1,945,904 100,328 98,053 421,707 4,172,386




2,542,973 724,232 1,103,011 84,763 8,424 5,324,171 -

2,527,696 699,876 1,309,517 132,089 8,537 5,303,083 36,816

2,575,678 648,587 1,021,220 79,406 8,842 4,583,547 257,710








$ 185,385 24,253,642 2,821,779 27,260,806 48,401,452

$ 182,785 23,549,496 2,609,037 26,341,318 46,457,051

$ 180,305 22,569,054 2,843,721 25,593,080 44,121,966




Note payable—line of credit Accounts payable: Purchased power Subsidiary Other Accrued property taxes Accrued payroll and vacation Customer deposits Other TOTAL CURRENT LIABILITIES DEFERRED CREDITS TOTAL EQUITIES AND LIABILITIES OPERATING REVENUES Electric sales Other sales


2,180,047 2,400,000

987,104 7,744 1,697,420 725,079 610,705 170,326 97,430 10,471,358 204,891

964,204 44,209 1,855,152 697,954 501,707 179,775 88,400 8,883,072 136,764

884,116 31,511 1,337,118 671,492 456,961 192,462 96,771 8,250,478 127,684






$ 21,627,627 337,634 21,965,261

$ 21,763,205 348,104 22,111,309

10,466,856 23,936 232,969 623,113 2,656,707 561,299 349,038 4,326 1,268,803 2,548,611 945,248 19,680,906 3,217,248

10,202,489 33,845 258,358 684,054 2,382,681 688,691 414,123 7,050 1,165,668 2,311,052 909,844 19,057,855 2,907,406

10,337,312 49,279 104,975 707,153 2,500,327 697,322 421,212 8,548 1,098,151 2,609,102 875,816 19,409,197 2,702,112

1,500,333 23,437 1,523,770 1,693,478 73,649 1,767,127

1,529,206 71,339 1,600,545 1,306,861 82,013 1,388,874

1,435,812 84,414 1,520,226 1,181,886 103,715 1,285,601

43,130 53,670 (63,376) 33,424

54,572 94,481 129,858 278,911

74,592 122,787 88,307 285,686


16 MAY 2021

2,136,000 2,415,671

$ 22,061,922 836,232 22,898,154

OPERATING EXPENSES Cost of power Generation Transmission Distribution—operations Distribution—maintenance Customer accounts Customer service Sales Administrative and general Depreciation Taxes—property


2,040,309 4,135,241







Your Vote Matters!

Thumb Electric Cooperative Of Michigan:

82nd Annual Meeting Of The Members

The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Members of the Thumb Electric Cooperative of Michigan was held at the Thumb Octagon Barn in Gagetown, Tuscola County, Michigan at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 8, 2019, pursuant to call and notice thereof given to each member of the cooperative and pursuant to the laws of the State of Michigan. The meeting was called to order by Louis Wenzlaff, president of the cooperative, who presided. Jason Bitzer, attorney for the cooperative, acted as recording secretary of the meeting and kept the minutes thereof. The president introduced the members of the cooperative’s board of directors and board officers as follows: Louis Wenzlaff, president, Tuscola County; Kim Nunn, vice president, Sanilac County; Beth McDonald, secretary, Huron County; Randall Dhyse, treasurer, Huron County; Carl Cousins, Tuscola County; Michael Briolat, Sanilac County; Jonathan Findlay, Tuscola County; Donald Wolschleger, Huron County; and Duane Kursinsky, Sanilac County. Also introduced were General Manager Dallas Braun and Jason Bitzer, attorney for the cooperative. The reading of the Notice of the Meeting and Affidavit of Mailing thereof to all the cooperative members within the time prescribed by the cooperative bylaws was dispensed with, it having been published in Country Lines. A copy of the Notice and Affidavit is attached to these minutes and incorporated herein. The president reported that the members of the cooperative present in person or by proxy had been checked by the registration of names of the members attending the meeting in person and the names of the members represented at the meeting by proxy and the names of their respective proxies, as said members entered the meeting room, and that more than fifty (50) members of the cooperative were present in person, constituting a quorum of the members in accordance with the bylaws of the cooperative. The president also reported that members of the cooperative were present at the meeting in person, by mail-in ballot, and through being represented at the meeting by proxies, all of the said members being named and described as to their county of residence and as to whether they attended in person or by proxy. The proxies were ordered filed in the records of the cooperative. The minutes of the 81st Annual Meeting of the Members were not read since a copy of the same had been mailed to each of the members. There being no additions or corrections to those minutes, upon motion duly made, seconded and carried, said minutes were approved as drafted. The treasurer’s report to the 82nd Annual Meeting was not read since a copy of the same had been mailed to each of the members. There being no amendments thereto or questions upon the matters contained therein, upon motion duly made, seconded, and carried, the report was approved as presented. The treasurer’s report published in Country Lines presented the 2018 financial statement and showed operating revenues of $22,111,309 and expenses of $20,929,423, resulting in an operating margin of $1,181,886. Total assignable margins were $1,571,287 for 2018. 2018 members’ patronage capital accounts will be allocated 7 cents on each dollar paid by TEC members. President Wenzlaff then introduced the cooperative’s general manager, Dallas Braun. Braun thanked the cooperative employees for all their labors and efforts over the past year. He then reported on the cooperative’s financial status, rates, member services, marketing activities, tree trimming, and TEC’s impending use of Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI). In closing, Manager Braun thanked the members for their interest in their cooperative and for their support. After questions and answers of the general manager’s report, the meeting was returned to President Wenzlaff, and upon motion duly made, seconded and carried, the general manager’s report was approved as presented. President Wenzlaff then gave the president’s report, explaining the growth of the cooperative’s equity while maintaining competitive

rates, member district meetings, 2019’s major construction projects, tree trimming, and TEC’s impending use of Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI). Upon motion duly made, seconded and carried, the president’s report was approved as presented. The next order of business was the election of four (4) directors, three of them representing District 1, and an additional election in Huron County, District 2, pursuant to a director resignation following last year’s annual meeting. Three director positions are for three-year terms each. One director position is for a two-year term. President Wenzlaff appointed the following attendees as inspectors of the election, all of whom were sworn to the faithful performance of their duties by the cooperative’s attorney, Jason E. Bitzer, who is also a notary public: Huron: Francis Mazure, Gail Booms, Josie Dohning; Sanilac: Douglas Butler, Denise Pupi, Brian Pupi, Richard Sadro; Tuscola: Ronald Speirs, Dennis Haight. The Nominating Committee Report was published in Country Lines. The committee nominated the following for directorships: Huron County—District 2: Donald Wolschleger (incumbent), Matthew Booms; Huron County—District 1: Randall Dhyse (incumbent); Sanilac County—District 1: Kim Nunn (incumbent), Steve Bombard; Tuscola County—District 1: Louis Wenzlaff (incumbent), Meagan Anderson, Stanley Fox. Jason Bitzer entertained further nominations from the floor for each directorship in each county. There being no such nominations from the floor, upon motion duly made, seconded and carried, the nominations were closed. Each candidate was then introduced and invited to address the members for up to five minutes. Jason Bitzer then requested the members to vote upon their ballots for the respective directorships. The inspectors of the election were requested to collect and tabulate the ballots. Jason Bitzer turned the meeting back over to President Wenzlaff. The president then asked if there was any old business to address. There being none, he asked for new business. There being none, he entertained a motion to adjourn. Upon motion duly made, seconded and carried, the business portion of the meeting was adjourned at 11:45 a.m. Beth McDonald gave the invocation, followed by lunch and family activities. After lunch, Jason Bitzer announced the results of the tabulation of votes, which were as follows: Huron County—District 2: Donald Wolschleger: 197 (96 Mail-in Votes and 101 In-Person Votes) Matthew Booms: 120 (62 Mail-in Votes and 58 In-Person Votes) Huron County—District 1: Randall Dhyse: 303 (151 Mail-in Votes and 152 In-Person Votes) Sanilac County—District 1: Kim Nunn: 246 (134 Mail-in Votes and 112 In-Person Votes) Steve Bombard: 97 (46 Mail-in Votes and 51 In-Person Votes) Tuscola County—District 1: Louis Wenzlaff: 223 (113 Mail-in Votes and 110 In-Person Votes) Meagan Anderson: 90 (43 Mail-in Votes and 47 In-Person Votes) Stanley Fox: 31 (26 Mail-in Votes and 5 In-Person Votes) The elected directors were declared to be Donald Wolschleger from Huron County—District 2, Randall Dhyse from Huron County— District 1, Kim Nunn from Sanilac County—District 1, and Louis Wenzlaff from Tuscola County—District 1. BETH MCDONALD, secretary APPROVED BY LOUIS WENZLAFF, president MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES 17

MI CO-OP Community

Guest Column

Hidden Northern Michigan Treasure For All Ages By Doug Jerue


orth on M-149, 12 miles from Manistique, lies gorgeous Kitch-iti-kipi (Big Spring), Michigan’s largest spring. It’s an oval spring measuring 200 feet in diameter and is 42 feet deep with an emerald green bottom. From fissures in underlying limestone flows 16,000 gallons of crystal clear water per minute of spring water throughout the year at a constant temperature of 45 degrees, so it never freezes. In any season, it’s quite a sight to see and to take in the color of the water, huge fish, and the water bubbling up from the floor of the spring. After taking a 50-yard paved path to the shoreline, a selfoperated observation raft guides visitors to enjoy the fascinating underwater features. The state of Michigan acquired Kitch-iti-kipi in 1926. History records indicate that John I. Bellaire, owner of a Manistique Five and Dime store, fell in love with the black hole spring when he discovered it in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula’s thick wilderness in the 1920s. The spring was hidden in a tangle of fallen trees, and loggers used the nearby area as a dump. Bellaire saw its potential as a public recreation spot. He could have purchased the spring and adjoining property himself. He persuaded Frank Palms of the Palms Book Land Company to sell the spring and 90 acres to the state of Michigan for $10. The property deed requires the property to be forever used as a public park, bearing Palms Book State Park’s name. The state of Michigan has since acquired adjacent land, and the park now encompasses over 300 acres. A fun fact about the fish you see in the emerald waters of Kitch-iti-kipi is that some are “retired” moms and dads to all the fish that get released from hatcheries, which we enjoy throughout the upper and lower peninsulas in our

Win a


energy bill credit!

lakes and rivers. These are the fish hatcheries that supply millions of trout (lake, brown, rainbow and brook) to be bred and raised, and released into Michigan lakes. Kitch-itikipi is where the trout live out their days. You’ll know which fish these are, as they may have only one fin, where others have two fins. These fish are typically over 25 years old! Make Kitch-iti-kipi a stop on your next adventure, it will not disappoint. A great pure Michigan beauty for all ages to enjoy!

Share your fondest memories and stories. Win $150 for stories published. Visit to submit.

WIN $150!

Where In Michigan Is This? Identify the correct location of the photo to the left by May 20 and be entered into a drawing to win a $50 electric bill credit. Enter your guess at March 2021 Winner! Our Mystery Photo winner is Ruth Bailey, a Cherryland Electric Cooperative member who correctly identified the photo as Boekeloo Lodge, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Photo by Karen Farrell. Winners are announced in the following issues of Country Lines: January, March, May, July/August, September, and November/December.
















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Thumb Electric Cooperative




Mom & Me

1. Springtime with mom and me. Diane Kish  2. Mom and son hunting partners! Christina Bailey  3. The moment she was crowned queen. Julie Leen  4. My mother’s first year as a mother, 1977. Christine Jobson  5. Snow day fun with Parker. Steven Chelsea Volmering  6. Modeling the latest mask fashions. Sheila Friedrich  7. Remembering Mom /Grandma. Jodi Klein  8. My son and I at his first trip to the Christmas tree farm! He loved every minute! Kayla Hale  9. Snowman building and bonding. Ona Warchuck  10. Love you forever. Sarah Durr

1 4




6 Enter for a chance to win a


energy bill credit!




Submit Your “Show Your American Pride” Photos!

Submit your “Show Your American Pride” photos through May 20 to be featured in our July/August 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 2021, you will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win one of four $50 credits on your December 2021 bill.


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