May 2022 TEC

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May/June 2022


COUNTRY LINES Thumb Electric Cooperative

K C I R N A G M U BA Antique Rides Photo Contest On the Grill Recipes

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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

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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.



Retirement Spotlight /thumbelectric @thumbelectric

THUMB ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE 2231 Main Street Ubly, MI 48475-0157 1-800-327-0166 or 989-658-8571 E-mail:

Vicki LaBuhn After 35 years of dedicated service with Thumb Electric, Vicki LaBuhn has decided to retire. She started her career on Feb. 16, 1987, as an accounting & work order clerk. She later moved to the position of billing representative before becoming TEC’s member collections representative. Vicki retired on March 4, 2022. Her knowledge and experience will be missed at TEC. All of us at TEC wish Vicki the best in retirement.

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, Director District 1 • 989-683-2696

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

Dallas Braun, General Manager

PAYMENT STATIONS Huron County Bad Axe—Northstar Bank Pigeon—Northstar Bank Tuscola County Akron—Northstar Bank Caro—Northstar Bank Mayville—Mayville State Bank Millington—Mayville State Bank Thumb Electric Cooperative is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

New Employee Spotlight Tyler Osentoski Tyler Osentoski started working at TEC as an apprentice lineworker on March 7. He is the son of Paul and Julie Osentoski. Before attending Alpena Community College for utility technology, he graduated from Ubly High School. Tyler comes to us from Alaska Village Electric Cooperative, where he worked for three years. In his free time, he enjoys hunting and fishing. Anthony Edwards Anthony Edwards started working at TEC as an apprentice lineworker on March 7. He is married to his wife, Sara, and has two children, Jayce (4) and Lilah (2). Anthony comes to us from Consumers Energy, where he was also an apprentice lineworker. He lives in Millington and is a big fan of craft beer. His hobbies include: watching sports (especially Lions football), snowboarding, snowmobiling, golf, and disc golf.

Holiday Office Closings Memorial Day, Monday, May 30



4 MAY 2022


Independence Day, Monday, July 4 Line crews are available for 24/7 outage response. Please call 800-327-0166.

Notice Of 2022 Annual Meeting Of Members Of Thumb Electric Cooperative The Annual Meeting of the members of Thumb Electric Cooperative of Michigan will be held at the Thumb Octagon Barn, 6948 Richie Road, Gagetown, Michigan, at 10 a.m. on June 11, 2022, to take action on the following matters:

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 12/31/21.

Comparison Of Fuel Sources Used

1. The reports on officers, directors, and committees. 2. The election of one director from Huron County—District 1, one director from Sanilac County—District 1, one director from Tuscola County—District 1, and one director from Tuscola County—District 3 to the board of directors of the cooperative. 3. Provide the bylaw revision voting results. 4. All other business which may rightfully come before the meeting or any adjournment or adjournments thereof. Dated: April 26, 2022 BETH MCDONALD, Secretary

Nominating Committee Report The report of the 2022 Nominating Committee which met in Ubly, Michigan at 10:30 a.m. on April 18, 2022 to select nominees for the position of Director of Thumb Electric Cooperative. Nominees for one director position from Huron County—District 1, Sanilac County—District 1, Tuscola County—District 1, and Tuscola County—District 3, are as follows:

Fuel source

Your co-op’s fuel mix

Regional average fuel mix
















Renewable Fuels












Solid Waste Incineration









Your Co-op’s Fuel Mix

Huron County—District 1: Randall Dhyse—Incumbent Director Sanilac County—District 1: Kim Nunn—Incumbent Director John Peck Tuscola County—District 1: Louis Wenzlaff—Incumbent Director Stefanie Bruce Tuscola County—District 3: Matt Sommer—Incumbent Director Brian Becker Adam Prill* These names shall be placed on the Annual Meeting ballot in accordance with Article III, Section 3 of the Cooperative Bylaws.

Regional Average Fuel Mix

Dated: April 18, 2022 STEFANI BRUCE, CHAIRPERSON *NOTE: Adam Prill was selected as a candidate for the director position, but declined the nomination.

Access To Rules And Rates Please be advised that the following information is available to Thumb Electric Cooperative members:

Emissions And Waste Comparison lbs/MWh

Type of emission/waste

Your co-op

Regional average*

Sulfur Dioxide



1. Complete rate schedules;

Carbon Dioxide



2. Clear and concise explanation of all rates that the member may be eligible to receive;

Oxides of Nitrogen





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; 4. Clear and concise explanation of the member’s actual energy use for each billing period during the last 12 months. The information can be obtained by contacting Thumb Electric Cooperative at 800-327-0166

High-Level Nuclear Waste

*Regional average information was obtained from the MPSC website and is for the 12-month period ended 12/31/21. The fuel mix data presented by Thumb Electric is the data from CMS Energy, which supplies nearly all of Thumb Electric’s purchased power.



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.”


MAY 2022

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






Michigan electric cooperatives believe there should be “No Barriers” for veterans with disabilities. That’s the name and idea behind CoBank’s No Barriers initiative. Michigan cooperatives are looking for qualified veterans* from our local community to participate. No Barriers is a five-day, allexpenses-paid expedition in Colorado, designed to help veterans with disabilities transform their lives through curriculumbased experiences in challenging environments (climbing, rafting, and hiking). If you are a disabled veteran, or you know of a disabled veteran in our community who would like to participate in the No Barriers program, please complete the form on our website: nobarriers

*Must have VA disability rating to be eligible.

Digging into an Outdoor Project?

Before you dig, dial 811 or visit to protect underground utilities. Careless digging poses a threat to people, pipelines, and underground facilities. Contact 811 first and help keep our community safe.

Your Vote Matters!

Members To Vote On

New Bylaw Amendments

Adoption of new bylaw amendments to the existing bylaws shall be voted on in person at the Annual Meeting, 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 VIII NONPROFIT OPERATION SECTION 2. Patronage Capital in Connection with Furnishing Electric Energy PROPOSED CHANGE In the furnishing of electric energy, the cooperative’s operations shall be so conducted that all patrons will, through their patronage, furnish capital for the cooperative. In order to induce patronage and to assure that the cooperative will operate on a nonprofit basis, the cooperative is obligated to account on a patronage basis to all its patrons for all amounts received and receivable from the furnishing of electric energy in excess of operating costs and expenses at the moment of receipt by the cooperative are received with the understanding that they are furnished by the patrons as capital. The cooperative is obligated to pay by credits to a capital account for each patron all such amounts in excess of operating costs and expenses. The books and records of the cooperative shall be set up and kept in such a manner that at the end of each fiscal year, the amount of capital, if any, so furnished by each patron is clearly reflected and credited in an appropriate record to the capital account of each patron, and the cooperative shall within a reasonable time after the close of the fiscal year notify each patron of the amount of capital so credited to his account. All such amounts credited to the capital account of any patron shall have the same status as though they had been paid to the patron in cash in pursuance of a legal obligation to do so and the patron had then furnished the cooperative corresponding amounts for capital. If operating costs and expenses exceed the amounts received and receivable from the furnishing of electric energy, hereinafter referred to as “loss,” then the board shall have the authority, under accepted accounting practices, loan covenants, and federal cooperative tax law, to prescribe the manner in which such loss shall be handled in determining patronage capital. All other amounts received by the cooperative from its operations in excess of costs and expenses shall, insofar as permitted by law, be (a) used to offset any losses incurred during the current or any prior fiscal year and (b) to the extent not needed for that purpose, allocated to its patrons on a patronage basis and any amount shall be included as part of the capital credited to the accounts of patrons, as herein provided. In the event of dissolution or liquidation of the cooperative, after all outstanding indebtedness of the cooperative shall have been paid, outstanding capital

credits shall be retired without priority on a pro rata basis before any payments are made on account of property rights of members. If, at any time prior to dissolution or liquidation, the board of directors shall determine that the financial condition of the cooperative will not be impaired thereby, the capital then credited to patrons’ accounts may be retired in full or in part. Any such retirements of capital shall be made in order of priority according to the year in which the capital was furnished and credited, the capital first received by the cooperative being first retired, provided, however, that beginning with the year 1983, cash made available for retirement in any year may be used to retire capital furnished by all patrons during the most recent fiscal year subject to the retirement that at least fifty per centum (50%) of such cash shall be applied to the retirement of the oldest outstanding capital credits as hereinabove provided. Capital credited to the account of each patron shall be assignable only on the books of the cooperative pursuant to written instruction from the assignor and only to successors in interest of successors in occupancy in all or part of such patron’s premises served by the cooperative unless the board of directors, acting under policies of general applications, shall determine otherwise. Notwithstanding any other provision of these bylaws, the board of directors, at its discretion and at any time after a patron’s death or cessation of legal existence, may retire all or any portion of capital so credited to the patron, upon such terms and condition as the board of directors, acting under policies of general application to situations of like kind, and such patron’s legal representatives shall agree upon; provided, however, that the financial condition of the cooperative will not be thereby impaired. The patrons of the cooperative, by dealing with the cooperative, acknowledge that the terms and provisions of the articles of incorporation and bylaws shall constitute and be a contract between the cooperative and each patron, and both the cooperative and the patrons are bound by such contract, as fully as though each patron had individually signed a separate instrument containing such terms and provisions. The provisions of this article of the bylaws shall be called to the attention of each patron of the cooperative in a conspicuous place in the cooperative’s office.

ARTICLE VIII NONPROFIT OPERATION SECTION 3. Security Interest Patronage Capital in Connection with Furnishing Other Goods or Services. PROPOSED CHANGE To secure payment of any amounts owed by a patron or former patron to the cooperative or to a Corporation in which the cooperative is a shareholder, including any reasonable interest and late payment fee as determined by the board, the cooperative has a perfected security interest in the patronage capital of every patron and former patron and such amounts owed to the cooperative or to a Corporation in which the cooperative is a shareholder, may be paid from patronage capital in manner provided by board policy. In the event that the cooperative should engage in the business of furnishing goods or services other than electric energy, all amounts received and receivable therefrom shall be retained by the cooperative in amounts not in excess of the reasonable needs of the cooperative or allocated to the cooperative’s patrons, as its board of directors may determine from time to time. Patronage capital allocated and retired pursuant to this Section 3 shall be made consistent with the following: (a) The board of directors shall determine to provide broadband internet services and to whom such services are provided on a patronage basis. Accordingly, the term “patron” may refer to members only; (b) The board of directors shall have the authority under accepted accounting practices, loan covenants, and federal cooperative tax law to prescribe the manner in which losses derived from such broadband internet services may be handled; (c) The retirement of capital credits allocated to members shall be considered and made by the board of directors from time to time subject to the same limitations and guidance of Section 2, except as otherwise provided for in policy; and (d) To the extent broadband internet services are provided on a non-patronage basis, the purchasers of which are not entitled to receive an allocation of capital credits, the net earnings of which shall be retained as part of the cooperative’s net savings.

ARTICLE VIII NONPROFIT OPERATION SECTION 4. Security Interest PROPOSED CHANGE (New Language) To secure payment of any amounts owed by a patron or former patron to the cooperative or to a corporation in which the cooperative is a shareholder, including any reasonable interest and late payment fee as determined by the board, the cooperative has a perfected security interest in the patronage capital of every patron and former patron, and such amounts owed to the cooperative, or to a corporation in which the cooperative is a shareholder, may be paid from patronage capital in a manner provided by board policy. MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES


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


Your Vote Matters!

Meet The Director Candidates

HURON COUNTY DISTRICT 1 Randall Dhyse (Incumbent)

Randy Dhyse owns and operates a crop and livestock operation in northern Huron County in partnership with his brother. He has been a member of Thumb Electric Cooperative since 1987.

Thumb Electric on the Michigan Electric Cooperative Association Board. He is a member of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Kinde, where he also serves as the church treasurer.

Randy has lived in Huron County his entire life, except for time spent attending Northern Michigan University and Michigan State University. He and his wife, Mary, have been married for 42 years and have three sons and four grandchildren.

As a TEC board member, Randy has strived to stay informed and understand the many issues which affect TEC as your energy provider. Representing the needs of co-op members and continuing to have Thumb Electric as a viable and reliable source of electricity will be Randy’s goals.

Randy has served on Thumb Electric’s board of directors since 1999. He currently serves as board treasurer and represents


Kim Nunn was born and raised in the Croswell area and has been a Thumb Electric Cooperative member since 1978. Kim graduated from Central Michigan University with a Bachelor of Science degree. He recently retired from Helena Chemical Company as a salesman of agricultural products. He has been involved with agriculture over the last 40 years. Kim has served on TEC’s board of directors since 1987 and is currently the vice president. He also is the president of Thumb Energy Services Corporation. Kim is a member of the Croswell United Methodist Church. He is retired from the Croswell Fair Board after 35 years. He is also a director on the Mid-Thumb Bowling Association.

John Peck

John Peck was born and raised in Croswell, Michigan, as one of 11 children. He started his career with Croswell Light & Power as a laborer in 1987. John attended Nashville Tech for his lineman certification. He then moved up to groundsman, lineman, then line foreman, and after 26 years, advanced to become the superintendent of the department. John is also a Past Master of Croswell Lodge #469, Free & Accepted Masons. John and his wife of 22 years, Krysti, have been TEC members since 2006. He has one adult daughter from his first marriage and two beautiful grandchildren, ages 8 and 10.

12 MAY 2022

Kim and his wife, Cindy, have been married for 43 years and have two children, Andrea (married to Wally) and Brandon (married to Kristina). They have three special grandchildren: Clare, Haydn, and Blake. “As a board member, it is very important to keep your members in mind when making board decisions. To always keep an adequate supply of electricity available, whether it be solar, wind, or other forms of generation, at a reasonable cost to members. Keeping up with the latest technologies is a very important part of being a board member. The Fiber-to-the-Home project that TEC has taken on will be a long but good product for our members,” Kim said. He also feels TEC should offer new services to members if it’s good for the co-op’s well-being. Keeping the lights on will always be a high priority to Kim.

John’s goal as a member of the TEC board of directors is to utilize his experience in the energy industry to assist in making the co-op better. He says, “Having experience in power purchasing, solar and wind energy, energy optimization, and power generation, my goal is to move the co-op forward in the business of providing affordable, reliable electricity into the future. “At this stage of my life, I’d like to assist the Co-op in grooming another young mind interested in the energy business to better the board. Thank you for considering me as a candidate to run for the TEC board of directors.”

TUSCOLA COUNTY DISTRICT 1 Louis Wenzlaff (Incumbent)

Louis Wenzlaff is retired from Sanilac Medical Facility in Sandusky after serving 23 years as administrator. Previous to that, he was the chief executive officer of the Kingston State Bank for 22 years. He still is a part-time farmer with his two sons. Raised in the Kingston area, Louis has been a member of Thumb Electric since 1958. He has served on TEC’s board of directors since 1977. Louis is a graduate of Central Michigan University with a business degree.

for 32 years. Louis and his wife, Sharon, have five children, six grandchildren, and one great-grandson. As a board member, his goals are to help ensure the co-op runs efficiently, reliable service is provided to all members at a competitive price, the cooperative has an adequate and reliable power supply, the infrastructure is kept updated and reliable, and employees are working safely and are meeting or exceeding the members’ needs.

He is a member of Kingston United Methodist Church and previously served on the Kingston Community School Board

Stefanie Bruce

Stefanie Bruce works on a 180-acre, family-owned and operated farm, raising cattle, goats, and different crops. She has been the treasurer for Wells Township since 2020. Additionally, Stefanie has been the clerk and treasurer for the village of Kingston since 2020.

Stefanie is originally from the Imlay City area, but she has lived in Deford since 2004. She has been a TEC member since 2004 as well. She is married to her husband, Nathan, and together they have four children——three sons and one daughter. Stefanie also attends services at the Novesta Church of Christ.

TUSCOLA COUNTY DISTRICT 3 Matt Sommer (Incumbent)

Matt Sommer has worked as a technical solutions architect for Cisco Systems since 2010. Currently, he covers a region including Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, and Kentucky, helping large enterprises collaborate more effectively via phone, web, and videoconferencing solutions.

Matt is a member of St. Lorenz Lutheran Church, where he volunteers running house sound for the Contemporary Connect Worship Service. He also volunteers as a coach and mentor every Wednesday after school for the St. Lorenz Lutheran School Robotics Club.

Matt was born and raised in Reese. His wife, Laura, is from Frankenmuth and they now live in Millington, where they have been TEC members for the last two years. They have four children: Kaylei, Katie, Allison, and Jason.

“My career experience as a network architect will help me provide valuable insight on the board as Thumb Electric transitions from providing affordable, reliable electrical service to additionally providing much-needed broadband internet to the cooperative’s members,” Matt said.

Brian Becker

Brian Becker began farming after high school graduation and continued while at Michigan State University. His farm now consists of 250 acres, with the majority being hay, and the farm raises cattle direct to market. He also worked for the Tuscola County Road Commission for 16 years before coming home to the farm in the fall of 2021. Brian has lived in Tuscola County his whole life, and he has been a TEC member for 15 years now. He and his wife, Jena, have been married since 2008, and together they have seven boys, ranging in age from 9 months to 10 years old. Brian attends Deford Community Church and is active on many committees that help plan the Tuscola County Fair and 4-H events. He is also involved with youth rodeo through the

National Little Britches Rodeo Association of Michigan, where his children compete many weekends in the spring and fall. He and his wife homeschool their boys, so he stays busy reading aloud to them in the winter and always has assistance with projects in the shop. Brian says, “I’m always trying to improve in whatever area I am working on. I enjoy personal finance and entrepreneurship. Spending time with my family is very important to me, so we have shaped our two family businesses to allow us to spend a lot of time together, even when we are working. I enjoy working with the next generation, whether it be my children or other youth. I look forward to the opportunity to have more involvement in my community if I am elected to the board.”



� E TN



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.



Your Vote Matters! Your Vote Matters!

Thumb Electric Cooperative Of Michigan:

83rd Annual Meeting Of The Members

The 83rd Annual Meeting of Thumb Electric Cooperative of Michigan was held at 2560 Mertz Road, Caro, Michigan, at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, June 12, 2021, pursuant to the laws of the state of Michigan. Due to concerns regarding COVID-19 and pursuant to the cooperative bylaws, the meeting was closed to the public and was recorded for distribution to the members. The meeting was called to order by Louis Wenzlaff, president of the cooperative, who presided. Kyle O’Mara, attorney for the cooperative, acted as recording secretary of the meeting and kept the minutes thereof. Mr. O’Mara advised the board that proposed amendments to Article II, Sections 4 and 5 of the TEC bylaws were overwhelmingly approved by a vote of the members. Said amendments relate to member meetings and allow for the establishment of a quorum based on the number of votes cast, and allow voting on all issues by mail-in and electronic ballot. He also reported that having received 529 member ballots, a quorum was present according to the bylaws. Mr. O’Mara 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; Craig Osentoski, Huron County; and Duane Kursinsky, Sanilac County. Also introduced was General Manager Dallas Braun. The minutes of the 82nd Annual Meeting of the Members, the 2019 treasurer’s report, and the 2020 treasurer’s report were not read since a copy of the same had been mailed to each of the members. Members had the opportunity to review those documents and cast ballots regarding their approval. With 474 members voting to approve the documents as presented and only 15 members voting against approval, the measure passed. President Wenzlaff then introduced the cooperative’s general manager, Dallas Braun. Manager 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 rollout of broadband internet service. In closing, Manager Braun thanked the members for their interest in their cooperative and assured them that it is the intent of the board to return to an in-person Annual Meeting in 2022.

16 MAY 2022

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 growth of the cooperative’s equity while maintaining competitive rates, member district meetings, 2020’s major projects, tree trimming, and TEC’s impending rollout of broadband internet service. Upon motion duly made, seconded, and carried, the president’s report was approved as presented. The next order of business was the election of three directors, each of them representing District 2. The positions are for three-year terms. The nominating committee report was published in Country Lines. The committee nominated the following for directorships: Huron County—District 2: Craig Osentoski (incumbent), Paul Kanaski; Sanilac County—District 2: Mike Briolat (incumbent), Ernest Messing; Tuscola County—District 2: Jonathan Findlay (incumbent), Kayleen Hahn, Michael Putnam Mr. O’Mara advised the board that the directorship election was also included on the ballot provided to the membership pursuant to the bylaws. He announced the results of the tabulation of votes, which were as follows: Huron County—District 2: Craig Osentoski: 290, Paul Kanaski: 155 Sanilac County—District 2: Mike Briolat: 327, Ernest Messing: 115 Tuscola County—District 2: Jonathan Findlay: 295, Kayleen Hahn: 96, Michael Putnam: 48 The elected directors were declared to be Craig Osentoski from Huron County—District 2, Mike Briolat from Sanilac County—District 2, and Jonathan Findlay from Tuscola County—District 2. There being no other business before the board, on motion made and unanimously carried, the Annual Meeting was adjourned at 10:25 a.m. BETH MCDONALD, Secretary APPROVED BY: LOUIS WENZLAFF, President

Your Vote Matters!

Financial Statement Balance Sheets Thumb Electric Cooperative: Dec. 31, 2021, & 2020

ASSETS ELECTRIC PLANT In service—at cost Under construction Total electric plant

2021 $

Less accumulated depreciation



111,450,025 $ 3,194,935 114,644,960

107,901,840 805,575 108,707,415





Investments in associated organizations



Investment in subsidiary Energy loans receivable Loans to subsidiary Nonutility property Special funds

453,472 81,502 20,000,000 1,787,598 1,288,962

1,824,055 98,548 -0 88,945 1,157,041








18,928 2,629,418 1,390,413

724,232 -0 1,103,011



160,201 8,336

84,763 8,424



CURRENT ASSETS Cash and temporary cash investments Accounts receivable, less allowance for doubtful accounts of $628,385 and $647,627 in 2021 and 2020 Unbilled revenue Nonutility receivables Materials and supplies Nonutility materials and supplies Prepaid expenses Interest receivable TOTAL CURRENT ASSETS TOTAL ASSETS

$ 122,021,170





188,025 $ 25,665,617 4,898,771 30,752,413

185,385 24,253,642 2,821,779 27,260,806







OTHER NONCURRENT LIABILITIES Deferred revenue CURRENT LIABILITIES Current maturities of longterm debt

Note payable—line of credit Accounts payable: Purchased power Subsidiary Nonutility 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 OPERATING EXPENSES Cost of power Generation Transmission Distribution—operations Distribution—maintenance Customer accounts Customer service Sales Administrative and general Depreciation Taxes—property Other OPERATING INCOME BEFORE FIXED CHARGES FIXED CHARGES: Interest on long-term debt Other interest







1,129,773 -0 1,382,401 4,399,450 818,199 588,819 155,791 391,648

987,104 7,744 -0 1,697,420 725,079 610,705 170,326 97,430





$ 122,021,170





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

24,078,609 278,887 24,357,496 10,933,136 45,861 113,190 867,831 2,655,381 714,103 335,287 9,255 1,080,345 2,838,155 1,046,726 28,082 20,667,352

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 33,992 19,680,906



1,500,798 60,056 1,560,854

1,500,333 23,437 1,523,770



93,527 2,222,817

73,649 1,767,127

76,673 186,724 (487,699) 1,900,603 39,628 1,715,929 $ 3,938,746

43,130 -0 -0 53,670 (63,376) 33,424 $ 1,800,551

The annual audit of the financials has been delayed due to the acquisition of Air Advantage LLC. The 2021 audited financials will be shared at the Annual Meeting. MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES 17

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.

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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.

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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.

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Antique Rides 1. 1954 Willys Jeep. Mark Draher 2. The original cruiser! Olivia Tyrrell 3. M y son and dad with the 1959 Minneapolis Moline 4 Star he restored. Ona Warchuck 4. My blue heaven. Ronald Milz 5. American pride. Gary and Dawn Burns 6. Fixing James Harriot’s car. William Strech 7. Rural riding. Cam Koglin



4 Enter for a chance to win a


energy bill credit!





Submit Your “Ice Cream” Photos!

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