May 2022 HomeWorks

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May 2022


COUNTRY LINES HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative


Electrical Safety Tips

Co-op Donations Support Ukraine, Local Causes Earn Cash With Appliance Recycling

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Not seeing is believing.

Almost every backyard has a shrine to cold air. It’s called an a/c unit. WaterFurnace will help you take back that space. Air conditioners are unsightly and often located in the worst places. They’re vulnerable to the elements and can become home for small critters. But with geothermal, you won’t have an outside unit or any of these problems. So, reclaim your backyard. Plant some flowers and enjoy the unseen beauty that is WaterFurnace. 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 Allendale Allendale Htg & Clg (800) 327-1937

Clifford Orton Refrig & Htg (989) 761-7691

Bad Axe/Ubly Cutting Edge Htg & Clg (989) 551-0986

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

Berrien Springs Waterfurnace Michiana (269) 473-5667 gogreenmichgeo Big Rapids Stratz Htg & Clg, Inc. (231) 796-3717

Indian River M&M Plmb & Htg (231) 238-7201 Lansing Candor Mechanical (517) 920-0890

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

Mancelona Top Notch Htg, Clg, & Geothermal (231) 350-8052 Michigan Center Comfort 1/Air Serv of Southern Michigan (517) 764-1500 Mt Pleasant Walton Htg & Clg (989) 772-4822 Muskegon Adams Htg & Clg (231) 873-2665

Portland ESI Htg & Clg (517) 647-6906 Sunfield Mark Woodman Plmb & Htg (517) 886-1138 Traverse City D&W Mechanical (231) 941-1251 Geofurnace Htg & Clg (231) 943-1000



May 2022 Vol. 42, No. 5



Michigan’s Electric Cooperatives

EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Casey Clark EDITOR: Christine Dorr


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.

6 ADVENTURE AHEAD AT DEER TRACKS JUNCTION In addition to being a safe haven for its animals, Deer Tracks Junction soothes the souls of its human visitors as well. 10 MI CO-OP KITCHEN On The Grill: Fire it up for dinner tonight.

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


notify your electric cooperative. See page 4 for contact information.

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


Head over hooves about the weather warming up #spring @dds_photo (Danielle Sullivan)

18 GUEST COLUMN Floating Michigan Rivers: For one GLE member, time spent frolicking on the river is a source of enjoyment and daily life lessons.

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.

14 NICK BAUMGARTNER: MY NEW FAVORITE COLOR IS GOLD Persistence and determination helped an Iron River native capture gold at the Beijing Olympics ... providing the perfect culmination of his 30-year snowboarding career.

Be featured!

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

MI CO-OP COMMUNITY To enter contests, submit reader content & more, visit

RECIPE CONTEST Win a $50 bill credit!

Up Next: Pasta Salads, due July 1 Submit your recipe at, or send it via email (include your full name and co-op) to

GUEST COLUMN Win $150 for stories published!

Submit your fondest memories and stories at

MYSTERY PHOTO Win a $50 bill credit!

Enter a drawing to identify the correct location of the photo. See page 18.



During Electrical Safety Month And Always,


Think Safety First

Portland office/Mail payments to: 7973 E. Grand River Ave. Portland, MI 48875 Open 8 a.m.–4 p.m. Monday–Friday

Blanchard office: 3681 Costabella Ave. Blanchard, MI 49310 Open 8 a.m.–4 p.m. Monday–Friday Night deposit box available at both locations. Electric bill/account questions: 517-647-7554 or 1-800-562-8232 Pay by phone, anytime: 1-877-999-3395

Service questions/outages: 517-647-7554 or 1-800-848-9333 (24 hours for emergency calls) Tri-County Propane: 1-877-574-2740

HomeWorks Connect 1-800-668-8413 BOARD OF DIRECTORS

District 1 — John Lord, Vice-Chairman 2276 Plains Rd., Leslie, MI 49251 517-974-2518 •

District 2 — Jim Stebbins 7139 Peddler Lake Rd., Clarksville, MI 48815 616-693-2449 • District 3 — Luke Pohl, Chairman 15560 W. Hanses Rd., Westphalia, MI 48894 989-292-0427 • District 4 — Kimber Hansen 6535 N. Wyman Rd., Edmore, MI 48829 989-506-5849 • District 5 — Corinna Batora 7655 N. Watson Rd., Elsie, MI 48831 517-256-5233 •

District 6 — Ed Oplinger, Secretary-Treasurer 10890 W. Weidman Rd., Weidman, MI 48893 989-644-3079 • District 7 — Shirley Sprague 15563 45th Ave., Barryton, MI 49305 989-382-7535 • Editor: C harly Markwart, CCC

By Jeff Erridge, Safety Coordinator


ay is National Electrical Safety Month, an important time to remind ourselves to slow down, be aware of the powerful electricity all around us, and make sure that we and our loved ones know the simple precautions that we must take to avoid its dangers. Between planting and other outdoor projects requiring many of us to work near electric lines in the spring and the potential for thunderstorms to cause downed lines and electric outages in the summer, now is an especially timely season to turn our focus to electric safety. As HomeWorks’ safety coordinator, these are some of the potentially lifesaving electrical safety tips that I often emphasize to our employees: • Always look up: When you are using a ladder, farming extensions, or other long tools outdoors, it is essential that you make yourself aware of the overhead power lines around you. NEVER allow yourself or your equipment to come within 10 feet of a power line—it can be deadly. • Avoid downed power lines at all times: If you see a downed power line, assume that it is energized and dangerous, remain at least 25 feet away from it, and call us immediately at 800-848-9333 to report it. Don’t go near the downed power line, don’t drive over it, and don’t touch anything the downed power line is touching. • If your car hits a utility pole, stay inside the vehicle and call 911: A vehicle that hits a utility pole could be charged with electricity, and anyone exiting the car could come into contact with thousands of volts of power from the downed line. Unless the vehicle is on fire (in which case you would want to jump clear of the vehicle without letting your body or clothing touch the car and the ground at the same time, land with your feet together, and shuffle away until you are at least 25 feet from the car), it is crucial that you stay inside the car until emergency crews arrive and tell you that it is safe to exit. • Call 811 before you dig: Before starting any digging project, it is critical that you call 811 at least three days in advance to have your utility lines marked for free. This will help you avoid the costly and potentially dangerous mistake of hitting underground electric lines when you dig. The safety of our members and employees is our top priority here at HomeWorks, and it is very important to us that you and your family know how to stay safe around the electricity that we provide for you. If you ever have a safety question or concern, please don’t hesitate to call our office. Watch our HomeWorks Facebook page throughout this month for more electrical safety tips, and be sure to check out the tips for safe tree planting near electric lines on the opposite page.

Remember, safety starts with you! Always think safety first.

4 MAY 2022

For more tips on smart tree planting in your community, contact HomeWorks at 800-562-8232 or visit

40 ft.

25 ft.



Adventure Ahead At Deer Tracks Junction By Emily Haines Lloyd


hile Deer Tracks Junction Adventure Park and Site 57 Safari isn’t an animal rescue, it might be hard to convince any of the hundreds of animals who call it “home” that it’s not. Deer Tracks Junction was started as a family-owned breeding stock facility by Hilary and Kelly Powell, raising whitetail deer and elk for sale. Ultimately, selling the animals became less and less inspiring, and sharing the animals became the family’s true passion. The Powells initially brought animals onto their 80 acres to ensure that their son, Tyler, had the experience of farm chores just like his dad had growing up. Once Kelly retired from his construction business, the animal adventure really got started. “People would inquire about our animals and ask for tours,” said Hilary. “Little by little, bit by bit—the idea of the park came into focus. And with blood, sweat, tears, and prayer—it became real and keeps evolving.” The park offers two entirely different experiences. The first—the Adventure Park—can include a fully immersive experience of petting pigs, feeding camels, snuggling rabbits, and bottlefeeding baby goats. Then there’s the Safari, which opened in 2020 on the heels of the COVID-19 pandemic, offering a “trail” to wander the open terrain in your own vehicle. It provides an opportunity to feed animals like alpaca and bison from your car window. You’ll also drive through the black bear paddock and get about as close as you’d dare to these magnificent creatures. The bears actually were rescues who had only ever lived on cement. “They were so nervous at first,” remembers Hilary. “They’d never felt grass under their paws. They went from six years on cement to a really beautiful natural enclosure with a huge play structure that they can forage through. It’s so heartwarming to see them go from hesitant to happy.”


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The Powells’ goal is to take that hesitation out of their visitors as well, by offering opportunities to interact with the animals and see them up close. While bear feedings aren’t on the itinerary, climbing around on structures is something visitors can also enjoy. Handmade jungle gyms designed by Kelly and built with the help of Tyler, now in his mid-20s, are another joyful adventure for those who visit. Deer Tracks Junction is a family affair all around, with three generations all contributing to creating a one-ofa-kind experience—right up to the homemade churned ice cream served on-site in freshly made waffle cones.

It’s likely the close family ties and connections are the very reason visitors feel welcome and at home. The Powells have hosted family outings, date nights, and even wedding proposals. It’s a relationship as beautiful as those experienced between the guests and the animals themselves. “It’s not just about the adventure of seeing and experiencing the animals,” said Hilary. “It’s such a blessing that people choose to make family memories with us. We couldn’t be more thankful to be a part of people’s lives in that way.”

“It’s such a blessing that people choose to make family memories with us. We couldn’t be more thankful to be a part of people’s lives in that way.”

Deer Tracks Junction Adventure Park opens Memorial weekend and closes in September, depending on weather conditions. To find out more, visit 7850 14 Mile Road, NE Cedar Springs, MI 49319 616-863-3337



Out With The Old; Spring For The New t’s time to start planning that summer yard sale you’ve been talking about, which means numerous trips to the basement and garage to sort through boxes of clothes, dishes, and paperback books. While you ponder over those old bowling trophies, take a closer look at the “extra” refrigerator standing in the corner. It’s been great for storing the overflow of soda cans, water bottles, and holiday leftovers over the years, but if it’s older than 15 years, it may be costing you more than $300 per year to run it!


Cold, hard facts • More than 60 million refrigerators and refrigeratorfreezers in the U.S. are over ten years old, costing consumers $4.4 billion a year in energy costs.

Money in your pocket Ready to save? Recycle your old refrigerator (no, not at the yard sale). Schedule a free pick-up for your outdated, functioning appliances and earn some cool cash incentives from the Energy Optimization program. Qualifying Appliances

Recycle Incentive

Refrigerator (Full-size, 10 cubic feet or larger)


Chest Freezer (10 cubic feet or larger)


Window Air Conditioner (ride-along item)


Dehumidifier (ride-along item)


• An older refrigerator uses twice as much energy as a new ENERGY STAR® refrigerator.

Replacing your refrigerator or freezer with a new efficient ENERGY STAR appliance might also qualify you for additional incentives.

• Recycling old refrigerators prevents refrigerants and foam from entering the environment, preventing 10,000 pounds of carbon pollution.

Check out additional energy-saving opportunities through HomeWorks’ Energy Optimization program by visiting or calling 877-296-4319.

An outdated refrigerator uses nearly twice as much energy as a new ENERGY STAR® certified model. Recycle it & earn cash incentives!  Refrigerator: $25 rebate  Chest Freezer: $25 rebate  Window Air Conditioner: $25 rebate (ride-along item)  Dehumidifier $25 rebate (ride-along item)

Time to upgrade? SCHEDULE A FREE PICKUP CALL: 877.296.4319


HomeWorks Energy Optimization programs and incentives are applicable to HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative electric service locations only. Incentive applies to qualified items purchased and installed between January 1, 2022 and December 31, 2022. Other restrictions may apply. For complete program details, visit


Antique Rides 1. Laura Pohl of Fowler says, “This is our son, Caleb, on his antique ride next to his dad’s old tractor.” 2. Beverly Sosebee of St. Johns submitted this photo of the treasured 1966 Chevy C10 truck she owns with her husband, Brian. 3. Glenda Adams of Evart says she found these antique water skis at a garage sale last summer. 4. Rob Trowbridge of Vermontville submitted this snap shot of Vern and Mary Trowbridge serving as grand marshals in the Vermontville Maple Syrup Festival. 5. Suzie Schafer of Pewamo says, “This is my husband, Butch, riding our 1976 Arctic Cat snowmobile around the yard in February.” 6. Jim Williams of Royal Oak, receiving service in Remus, says, “This is my family in Dad’s 1916 Model T.”



4 Enter to win a


energy bill credit!




Upcoming Snap Shot Contest Topics and Deadlines Ice Cream, due May 17 (July/August issue) Farms & Harvest, due July 18 (September issue) Feathers, due Aug. 15 (October issue) Go to, select the Energy tab, then choose Member Services>Country Lines to submit your photos and see all of the 2022 Snap Shot themes. It’s fast and easy. To send by mail: include your name, address, phone number, photographer’s name, and details about your photo. Mail to Attn: Country Lines Snap Shots, 7973 E. Grand River Ave., Portland, MI 48875. Photos will not be returned. Do not send color laser prints or professional studio photos.

Submit Your Photos! Members whose photos we publish in Country Lines in 2022 will receive a $10 bill credit the month after publication.



MI CO-OP Recipes

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

ON THE GRILL Fire it up for dinner tonight


Marinade: ¹⁄ ³ cup brown sugar ¹⁄ ³ cup teriyaki sauce ¹⁄ ³ cup soy sauce ¼ cup water ¼ cup oil 2 cloves garlic, minced • lemon juice, to taste Salmon: 2-pound salmon filet(s) • salt and pepper, to taste Pineapple: 1 ripe pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into spears or slices ¾" thick ½ cup brown sugar ½ cup melted butter ½ to 1 teaspoon cinnamon (plus small amount for dusting)



energy bill credit!

10 MAY 2022

Pasta Salads due July 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

Mix marinade ingredients and pour into a 1-gallon plastic bag with zip-lock seal. Season salmon filet with salt and pepper. Add seasoned salmon to plastic bag, seal, and refrigerate for at least two hours (overnight is best). Grill salmon until it flakes; time depends on thickness of filet. Can put salmon directly on grill (wiped or sprayed with oil) or use a grill pan. For pineapple, spray grill with oil or use a grill pan. Lay pineapple on pan in single layer. Dust with cinnamon. Mix the brown sugar, melted butter, and cinnamon to make a glaze. If the glaze is thick, microwave it for a few seconds until pourable. Pour over pineapple. Grill in single layer for 2–3 minutes per side or until golden and just tender. Great with a tossed green salad, asparagus, and crusty bread. Watch a video of this month’s winning recipe at

JALAPEÑO CRUNCH BURGER Joseph Brewer, HomeWorks Tri-County

5 jalapeños, diced (w/ seeds to make it spicier/hotter, no seeds for a milder taste) 1 green bell pepper, finely diced 2 large yellow onions, finely diced 2 tablespoons butter, for sautéing 3 pounds ground beef (room temperature) 3 eggs 3 teaspoons black pepper 3 teaspoons salt 3 teaspoons red pepper (cayenne pepper) 3 teaspoons paprika 3 teaspoons cumin • queso dip or pepper jack cheese • Fritos or French’s Crispy Fried Onions (for the crunch)

Dice up your vegetables (jalapeños, green peppers, and onions), and sauté them in butter until tender/caramelized. You can sauté them together or separately. Once the vegetables are sautéed to your liking, set aside and allow to cool. In a large bowl, add in the meat, eggs, seasonings, and cooled sautéed veggies. Mix thoroughly, making sure to try and spread the seasonings and sautéed veggies as evenly as possible. Form your patties, and grill to desired temperature (if you are using pepper jack cheese, add it to your burger while it’s still grilling). Top burger with desired crunch (Fritos or French’s Crispy Fried Onions) and queso dip (or can have with pepper jack cheese). Serve on a sesame seed bun and enjoy!

TEQUILA LIME CHICKEN Mary Card, Great Lakes Energy

6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves—trimmed, rinsed, and patted dry; set aside on platter ½ cup freshly squeezed lime juice ¼ cup tequila (gold) ¼ cup fresh orange juice 1½ teaspoons chili powder 1½ teaspoons minced garlic cloves 1 jalapeño, seeded and minced, optional 1 teaspoon kosher salt ½ teaspoon ground black pepper In a large bowl, prop up a large, open zipper-top bag and add the lime juice, tequila, orange juice, chili powder,

garlic cloves, jalapeño, salt, and pepper. Add chicken to bag and zip the top. Massage chicken in bag to combine and place bowl in refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight, turning bag every few hours, or at least twice. Prep grill for medium heat (charcoal or gas). Drain marinade off chicken and place chicken on grill rack. Cook chicken 5 minutes, then turn and grill another 5–8 minutes or until juices run clear when chicken is pierced, or internal temperature is 160 F. Move chicken to clean platter and let rest, covered with foil, about 5 minutes, to allow juices to set. Garnish with lime wedges for squeezing over chicken. Serves 6.

DUCK ON THE GRILL Margie Guyot, Great Lakes Energy 1 1 1 1 1 1 2

duck (5–6 pounds), defrosted tablespoon salt teaspoon black pepper teaspoon smoked paprika orange, cut into quarters head garlic, top trimmed celery stalks, cut into 2-inch pieces

Set up your grill for indirect grilling. For a gas grill, put a large drip pan in the center. Preheat the grill on high, then reduce the temperature to medium/low when the duck is placed on the grill. For a charcoal grill, arrange charcoal pieces around the side of a drip pan and let them burn until medium/hot (coals mostly covered in ash). Rinse the duck inside out with cool, running water. Pat dry. Use a large sharp fork and prick the skin all over, but be careful not to pierce the meat (or the meat will be dry). Mix the salt, pepper, and paprika. Rub the duck inside and out with the spice mixture.

Stuff the cavity of the duck with the orange quarters, whole head of garlic, and celery pieces. Fold the neck skin under to cover the cavity. Close with a skewer. Set the duck, breast side up, on a rack over the drip pan. Cover the grill and cook for about 1½ hours. If you’re using a charcoal grill, add 10–12 briquettes every half hour or so to keep the temperature up. After 1½ hours, drain the juices and fat from the drip pan and flip the duck, breast side down. Continue cooking for another 30–60 minutes until the meat is tender. Flip the duck back to breast side up for the last 10 minutes to crisp the skin. The internal temperature should be 175 F at the thickest part of the thigh. Allow the duck to rest on a cutting board for 15 minutes. Remove oranges and celery from the duck’s cavity and throw away (ideally on your compost pile). The roasted head of garlic can be used as a spread on bread. Carve duck and serve. MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES


Co-op Donations Support Ukraine, Local Causes Cooperation amongst cooperatives and concern for community are two of the Seven Cooperative Principles to which HomeWorks adheres, and the Co-op has had the opportunity to put both into practice recently with $35,000 in donations supporting causes impacting residents from rural mid-Michigan all the way to Ukraine. First, HomeWorks donated $15,000 in March to the Cooperative Development Foundation’s (CDF) Disaster Recovery Fund to support COOP Ukraine, a collaborative including more than 18,000 cooperative businesses serving residents across the nation. The funds went to help the organization arrange for accommodations and meals for internally displaced Ukranians in the face of the hostilities and resulting humanitarian crisis in the country. As of mid-April, nearly 500 U.S. co-ops had contributed to the CDF’s Co-ops For Ukraine fundraising efforts, raising over $165,000 toward the project’s $200,000 goal. (Donate at “I’m proud that we could be a small part of the CDF’s efforts to try to help ease the immense pain and suffering in Ukraine,” says HomeWorks CEO Chris O’Neill. “As a cooperative, it’s important that we embrace any chance we get to support other co-ops and their members, especially during such a difficult time as this.” HomeWorks’ $15,000 donation was provided as a match and a challenge for other electric cooperatives to meet during the month of April. The funds were originally raised by employees and members in 2017 for a planned electrification project

1. Complete rate schedules; 2. Clear and concise explanation of all rates that the member may be eligible to receive; and 3. Assistance from the Cooperative in determining the most appropriate rate for a member when the member is eligible to receive service under more than one rate. For more information, visit or call 800-562-8232. 12 MAY 2022


“Our employees wanted to help the situation in Ukraine, and the CDF gave us a secure way to contribute,” says O’Neill. “I hope other co-ops and members will consider supporting this important relief effort.”

Also in March, the HomeWorks board of directors authorized management to donate a total of $10,000 from 2016 unclaimed capital credits to four charitable organizations serving residents in the Co-op’s service territory. The funds were matched by the CoBank Sharing Success program offered by HomeWorks’ lender, bringing the total overall donation up to $20,000. “I’m grateful for the board’s support allowing us to commit a portion of our unclaimed capital credits to worthy causes in our local communities, and to CoBank for their generous match allowing us to make a deeper impact with our donation,” says O’Neill. The local organizations receiving $5,000 apiece were the VFW National Home for Children in Eaton Rapids, Great Commission Outreach Ministries in Six Lakes, the Have Mercy family shelter in Greenville, and The Voice of Clinton County’s Children in St. Johns.

Fuel Mix Report

Notice Of Member Access To Rules And Rates As a member-customer (member) of HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative (Cooperative), the following information is available to you from the Cooperative, upon request:

in Bolivia, which later had to be cancelled. The Co-op’s employees recently voted overwhelmingly in favor of reassigning the funds to support Ukraine.

The fuel mix characteristics of HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative as required by Public Act 141 of 2000 for the 12-month period ended 12/31/21.

Comparison Of Fuel Sources Used Fuel source

Your co-op’s fuel mix

Regional average fuel mix
















Renewable Fuels











Solid Waste Incineration

Your Co-op’s Fuel Mix

Regional Average Fuel Mix

Emissions And Waste Comparison lbs/MWh

Type of emission/waste

Your co-op

Regional average*


Sulfur Dioxide





Carbon Dioxide






Oxides of Nitrogen




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

High-Level Nuclear Waste





* Regional average information was obtained from the MPSC website and is for the 12-month period ending 12/31/21. HomeWorks purchases 100% of its electricity from Wolverine Power Supply Cooperative, Inc., which provided this fuel mix and environmental data.

Your Board In Action Meeting in Blanchard on March 28, your board of directors:

offered by the Co-op’s lender, bringing the donation up to a total of $20,000.

• Approved allocation of 2021 margins to members based on their patronage, including $3,625,130 for HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative and $2,201,850 for Wolverine Power Cooperative.

• Approved management’s recommendation that the remaining balance of $115,131 of unclaimed capital credits from 2016 be retired to donated capital.

• Approved management’s recommendation that no general capital credit retirement be made at this time, as the Co-op is investing significant capital into the hardening of the electric distribution system and the deployment of a fiber-optic internet network to benefit the membership for the long term.

• Reviewed the results of a recent employee satisfaction survey with a representative of the HR Collaborative, a third-party consulting firm.

• Authorized an estate capital credit retirement of $23,194 to member estates, discounted to present value. • Authorized management to donate a total of $10,000 in unclaimed capital credits from 2016 to four charitable organizations serving residents within our service area. These funds will be matched by the CoBank Sharing Success program

• Accepted the Co-op’s annual audit report from a representative of Eide Bailly, LLP, a third-party CPA firm.

• Approved a recommended bylaw revision authorizing the board to opt for virtual district and/or annual meetings if the online format is deemed to be in the best interest of the Co-op’s membership. • Learned that the Co-op’s directors, members, and employees contributed a total of $19,045 to the 2022 fundraising campaign of the Action Committee for Rural Electrification (ACRE).

• Discussed and accepted Policy 401 – Assignment of Capital Credits, Policy 402 – Allocation of NonOperating Income from Subsidiary, and Policy 404 – Retirement of Capital Credits, with revisions. • Learned there were 69 new members in February. • Acknowledged the February safety report, listing employee training as well as minor employee and public incidents involving electric, propane, or fiber optic.

Time Set Aside for Members to Comment Before Cooperative Board Meetings The first 15 minutes of every board meeting are available for members who wish to address the board of directors on any subject. The next meetings are scheduled for 9 a.m. on May 23 at Blanchard and 9 a.m. on June 27 at Portland. Members who wish to have items considered on the board agenda should call 517-647-7554 at least a week in advance of the meeting.

People Fund Grants $7,325 To Help Provide Housing And Other Necessities Meeting remotely on March 30, our People Fund board awarded six grants totaling $7,325.31, including: • $3,000 to the St. Vincent de Paul Society in Charlotte, for rent and utility payments; • $2,000 to the Eaton Clothing & Furniture Center in Charlotte, to provide linens and socks to clients in need; • $967.91 to a Mecosta County family, to assist with propane heating expenses; • $500 to the Mecosta Conservation District in Big Rapids, to support the organization’s household hazardous waste program; • $500 to a Mecosta County family, to help with a stove repair; and

• $357.40 to a Montcalm County family, to assist with utility expenses.

How to Apply for a Tri-County Electric People Fund Grant The Tri-County Electric People Fund provides grants to individuals and organizations in the Co-op’s service area for food, shelter, clothing, health, and other humane needs, or for programs or services that benefit a significant segment of a community. Write to 7973 E. Grand River Ave., Portland, MI 48875, for an application form and grant guidelines, or visit the People Fund page at Note: Applications must be received by June 14 for the June meeting or by July 26 for the August meeting.

Office Closed Memorial Day Please note that our offices will be closed on Monday, May 30, in honor of Memorial Day. While we are closed, you will still be able to reach us at 800-848-9333 to report an outage or at 877-999-3395 to pay your bill via phone.



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By Yvonne Whitman || Photography by Keven Zini

It’s not every day that an Olympic gold medal finds itself in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. But that’s what happened after Nick Baumgartner of Iron River captured first place with teammate Lindsey Jacobellis while competing in the mixed team snowboard cross event at the 2022 Beijing Olympics. This event, which made its debut in this year’s games, features a male and female rider from the same country paired and placed into a multi-team bracket. Competitors tear down a course with turns, jumps, rollers, and drops designed to push them to their limits. Competitive snowboarding is not for the faint of heart. “Snowboard cross is chaos in every sense of the word,” Baumgartner said. “We are doing something that is so unpredictable. We go down the course at highway speeds of 50–60 mph on a five-foot-long board with metal edges that are sharp as a sword, with

14 MAY 2022

nothing to protect us except for the helmet on our head.” At 40, Baumgartner was the oldest medalist in Olympic snowboarding history—but he started riding early. “When I was 10 years old, I got this funny-looking plastic snowboard for Christmas, and I took it to the sledding hill behind my house,” Baumgartner said. “Fast-forward 30 years, and that plastic snowboard and my persistence turned into an Olympic gold medal at age 40. To think that 18 years after I started on this team, here I am still going, I would never have

imagined it. You’re never too late to take what you want from life.” When reflecting on receiving his gold medal, Baumgartner said, “I’ve always been a huge fan of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner.’ It hits a little bit different when you’re standing there on the podium and listening to it being played because of something you did. It was a proud moment and very emotional for me.” That emotional celebration followed him back to the U.P. A born and bred Yooper, Baumgartner wasn’t surprised when crowds of local people welcomed him home from Beijing. “I know the people of the U.P., and I know Yoopers, and it didn’t surprise me at all that the celebration started so far away with people standing out on the side of the road hooting and hollering in the freezing cold weather, holding signs that they had made,” Baumgartner said. And when he says, “so far away,” he means it: His supporters began lining the route 60 miles from his hometown, where a community parade awaited him.

But even a 60-mile celebration couldn’t hold a candle to the welcome home from his 17-year-old son Landon. “Getting a gold medal is wonderful, but Landon is my greatest accomplishment. It has meant so much to me to be able to share this journey with him and to have him be proud of me,” Baumgartner said, his voice brimming with emotion. “That’s what really matters to me. I’ve been trying to show him through my whole career what it takes to be a champion, how you don’t give up on your dreams, and that you can accomplish anything. I think he learned those lessons along the way, but winning the gold medal definitely cemented those ideas for him.” Nick Baumgartner is a model of commitment and determination. Entering the elite atmosphere of gold medal athletes did not come easy. It took considerable work, endless training, and competing at countless events for many years, but he made it to the top. Michigan is not just proud to be the home of an Olympic gold medal winner, but incredibly proud to be the home of Nick Baumgartner.


• This was his fourth time in the Olympics. He also competed in 2010, 2014, and 2018 (where he placed 4th). • He is an assistant coach on son Landon’s track team and will be the commencement speaker at Landon’s graduation ceremony. • When training, Nick lives out of a van four days a week with his dog Oakley to stay closer to his gym, which is 90 minutes from his home. • He played football at Northern Michigan University. • Nick built his own house. He is a union concrete worker. • No stranger to medals, Nick has also procured gold and silver in Snowboard Cross at the X Games. • He next plans to compete in the Snowboarding World Championships in 2023.



Keep Students Engaged in Learning Over the Summer The 2022 Summer Reading Kickoff is a celebration to start summer learning for Mid-Michigan and Northern Lower Michigan families.

Island Park in Mount Pleasant, Monday, June 20, 6 p.m. Meet characters from PBS KIDS’ "Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood," receive FREE food from Domino’s Pizza, and get a special Summer Reading Club goodie bag.

FREE Activity Workbooks • Early Learners PreK-Kindergarten (ages 3-5) • Elementary 1st-3rd Grade (ages 6-8) • Extra Credit 4th-6th Grade (ages 9-13)

A partnership between WCMU family, the Chippewa River District Library, Domino’s Pizza, and the Mt. Pleasant Parks & Recreation Department that has occurred annually since 2019.


You’ve been patiently awaiting the arrival of HomeWorks Connect high-speed fiber internet at your home, but you’re not sure just how much longer you’ll be waiting. Sound familiar? While it’s not always possible for us to give a firm ETA on exactly when to expect your installation, there are some easy steps you can take to gain a better understanding of how soon our internet service will be available to you. STEP 1: Find Out Which Zone You’re In The first thing you should do, if you haven’t already, is input your address at This will show you the zone in which your home is located. You should also input a good email address and finish preregistering. This will allow us to send you a contract via email when your home is able to be connected! We won’t use your email address for anything that is not directly related to the HomeWorks Connect progress being made in your area. STEP 2: Find Out Which Step Your Zone Is In After you find out which zone you’re in, you can visit the “Zones” page online at You’ll see that your zone is color-coded depending on which step it is in. Each step is broken down in detail in the chart to the right and on the HomeWorks Connect website. STEP 3: Check Your Zone’s Progress Follow along on Facebook or at for updates on progress in your area! On the HomeWorks Connect website, some steps of the connection process will show a progress bar tracking completion of that step for your zone. Have questions? Please call us at 800-668-8413!


This is the time when you and your neighbors need to actively sign up online to tell us you want fiber internet service. Every zone started in this step, but at this point, all of our zones have progressed beyond it.


Zones in this step have been selected to be part of our active phase. We’ve been building approximately one phase per year, announcing the new phase area, including all of the zones in that phase, at the beginning of each year. In 2022, we are building out Phase 5 of the five phases it will take to connect our entire service area. When in this step, we are actively designing and preparing your area for the construction of our network. Zones are typically in this step for less than a year.


You’ll begin to see commotion in your area as we begin to construct our network there. You’ll also receive your contract via the email address you used to preregister. Generally, we wait for enough residents to sign up before we move to the “Connections” step, so that it’s cost effective to build the network. Zones are usually in this step for two or three months before we are able to begin connecting homes that have signed their contracts.


Congrats! Zones in this step are actively seeing homes connected to our fiber internet network. Depending on the size of your zone, there is typically a six-toeight-week wait for homes to be connected in this step. If you sign your contract before your zone exits this step, you’ll receive free installation!


Service is active throughout the zone. We are still accepting new fiber internet customers in these areas, although an installation fee may be charged. After you preregister, call 800-668-8413 for more info.

DON’T MISS OUT! Our internet packages start at just $54.95/mo.* *with autopay savings

Guest Column

Floating Michigan Rivers By Julie Kate O’Brien, a Great Lakes Energy Cooperative member


he rivers of Michigan have danced through my soul since an early age. Bank fishing, trolling, and canoeing was where I learned much about family love and respecting the Good Lord’s grace in nature. The joy of big brothers upstream and the upland bird dogs romping and resting on the river’s edge taught the daily practices of contentment, gratitude, faith, and joy, as well as praying and dancing with the Great Spirit. The AuSable and Manistee Rivers are home. There is nothing better than watching a dog weave the river’s edge, flushing birds for hours, and then inflating our tube, floating back home, and dropping a line. Many lessons of life can be learned by watching anglers, rivers, and dogs, as well as those big brothers upstream. From age 7 to now age 70, big brothers have always been upstream watching over. Life’s successes and failures gain understanding because of family members just being on the river together. There appear to be three types of anglers on the rivers. The newbies, the locals, and the “don’t get it” crew, and on some rivers, we may fall into each category. The newbies are fun and often kindly referred to as “trunk slammers,” as they return to their vehicles frequently. They often have the newest fishing gear and are still learning about the concept of effortless movement. The locals may live anywhere but have fished the same area for generations. They move gracefully and effortlessly and understand going with the flow and the concept of catch and release on the river, as well as with life’s issues. The “don’t get it” crew is trying so hard that they don’t succeed much. They often share their frustration with others. Their movement reflects impatience. Setting healthy boundaries in life and respecting other people’s differences are two lessons learned on a river. So float, fish, canoe, grow old with your big brothers upstream, or just watch the rivers of Michigan ... experience the beauty of any season of life on the river banks and find the peace that nature brings.

Win a $50 energy bill credit!

Photo is from south M-72 bridge on the Manistee

Julie is retired from Otsego Memorial Hospital. She enjoys hiking and watching sports on TV (Go Green! Go White!). She loves shooting pool and having grilled ham and cheese at Tony Deckers in Oscoda.

WIN $150!

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

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 2022 Winner! Our Mystery Photo winner is Lisa Brodeur, a Cherryland Electric Cooperative member, who correctly identified the photo as The Tridge in downtown Midland. Winners are announced in the following issues of Country Lines: January, March, May, July/August, September, and November/ December.

Add a Well-Connect to your Existing Furnace TODAY.

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Add a Well-Connect for $0 down and as little as $80/month.

Typical heating cost savings over $100/month. Air conditions for pennies a day. Well-Connect pays for itself.

LOW COST COOLING Air-condition and dehumidify your home for pennies a day. Say goodbye to box fans and noisy window or outdoor units.



Heat your home for an estimated 50%-70% less than propane, fuel oil, electric or eliminate the need to burn wood.

Stop worrying about rising energy costs. Instead, install a Well-Connect in a day and reduce your energy costs tomorrow.

Well-Connect™ is a water source heat pump designed to provide efficient heating and cooling all year long. It is designed for rural homes that have a well and where either propane, fuel oil, electric resistance or wood is used as the heating source. Well-Connect is ideal for use in rural areas to deliver clean, economical heating and cooling. It works with an existing furnace, it does not replace it, and greatly reduces the expense associated with burning fossil fuels and keeps the up-front cost of the system as low possible. (989) 356-2113

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Don’t Forget To Attend Your District Meeting!

MA 9-18Y 202 2

2022 VIRTUAL DISTRICT MEETINGS: (All meetings will run from 6:30-7:30 p.m.)

• • • • • • •

District 1: Monday, May 9 District 2: Tuesday, May 10 District 3: Wednesday, May 18 District 4: Tuesday, May 17 District 5: Monday, May 16 District 6: Wednesday, May 11 District 7: Thursday, May 12

Log On For The Chance To Win Big Prizes! For more information on how to attend your livestreamed virtual meeting, visit the 2022 District Meetings page at!

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