May 2024 Midwest

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May 2024 MICHIGAN Midwest Energy
Communications Summer Energy Tips Avoid This New Crypto Scam Summer Fairs & Events

Conserving is believing.

Geothermal is leading the effort to provide a heating and cooling source that preserves Earth’s resources.

Geothermal is the greener alternative. The Department of Energy considers it a “vital, clean energy resource” that “emits little or no greenhouse gas—all while requiring a small environmental footprint to develop.” WaterFurnace geothermal units use Earth’s natural underground heat to keep your home comfortable, the sustainable way.

Geothermal is the only renewable that provides reliable operation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.


Allendale Allendale Htg & Clg (800)327-1937

Berrien Springs Waterfurnace Michiana (269)473-5667 gogreenmichgeo

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

Clifford Orton Refrig & Htg (989)761-7691

Filion/Bad Axe Air-O-Dynamic Htg. & Clg. (989)582-0137

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

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

Lansing Candor Mechanical (517)920-0890

Lowell Arctic Inc. Htg. & Clg. (616)897-4213

Manistique Hoholik Enterprises (906)341-5065

Marinette, WI GPS Htg. & Clg (715)732-2111

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

Negaunee J-Goods Plmb. & Htg. (906)869-2522 jgoodsplumbingand

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


Alger Delta Electric: up to $2,000

Cherryland Electric: up to $2,500

Cloverland: up to $6,275

Great Lakes Energy: up to $5,000

Homeworks/Tri-County Electric: up to $4,750

Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op: up to $4,750

Thumb Electric: Up to $2,000

visit us at The Reliable Renewable is a trademark of WaterFurnace International, Inc 1. ENERGY START rated units qualify for 30% through 2030 and 26% through 2032 and 22% through 2033

Michigan’s Electric Cooperatives


EDITOR: Christine Dorr


RECIPE EDITOR: Christin Russman

COPY EDITOR: Yvette Pecha


Emily Haines Lloyd

PUBLISHER: Michigan Electric

Cooperative Association

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

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

Postmaster: Send all UAA to CFS.

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


Michigan Country Lines 201 Townsend St., Suite 900 Lansing, MI 48933 248-534-7358

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

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

Michigan Country Lines, Your Communications Partner

For more than 40 years, our co-op members have received Michigan Country Lines because it is the most effective and economical way to share information. Michigan Country Lines keeps members up-to-date about everything going on within their electric co-op. Issues contain news about co-op services, director elections, member meetings, and management decisions that members need to know about as owners of the co-op. The magazine also includes legal notices that would otherwise have to be placed in local media at a substantial cost. Sending Michigan Country Lines helps the co-op fulfill one of its essential principles—to educate and communicate openly with its members. The board of directors authorizes the co-op to subscribe to Michigan Country Lines on behalf of each member at an average cost of $4.15 per year, paid as part of members’ electric bills. The current magazine cost is 52 cents per copy. Michigan Country Lines is published, at cost, by the Michigan Electric Cooperative Association in Lansing. As always, we welcome your comments at

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Follow Michigan influencer

Cassondra Wanders as she takes us through the Air Zoo Aerospace & Science Experience in Portage, Michigan.


Quiches & Savory Tarts: Light and fluffy recipes perfect for brunch and beyond.


Northland Outfitters in Germfask, Michigan, is not just a place for nature lovers, but a home for a giant wooden troll—named Benny.


Worms of Misfortune: Reminisce with cooperative member Margaret Elwood about digging up worms during the Great Depression and the lesson she learned.

MI Co-op Community

To enter contests, submit reader content & more, visit

Recipe Contest

See details on page 10. Casseroles, due June 1. Win a $100 bill credit!

Guest Column

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

Mystery Photo

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

Contents May 2024 Vol. 44, No. 5 /michigancountrylines /michigancountrylines


60590 Decatur Road, Cassopolis, MI 49031

M–F 8 a.m.–5 p.m.


59825 S. LaGrave Street, Paw Paw, MI 49079

M–F 8 a.m.–5 p.m.

Tecumseh Solutions Center

5050 South Occidental Hwy., Tecumseh, MI 49286

M–F 8 a.m.–5 p.m.


Midwest Energy & Communications 800-492-5989



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

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

Ron Armstrong, Secretary, Lawton 269-299-0443

John Green, Treasurer, Dowagiac 269-470-2816

Dan Bodette, Wauseon 419-344-4015

Gerry Bundle, Cassopolis 269-414-0164

Erika Escue-Cadieux, Onsted 419-346-1088

Fred Turk, Decatur 269-423-7762

Jim Wiseley, Bloomingdale 269-760-4619



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

Please note: electric customers of MEC must adhere to our bylaws, which can be found at /teammidwest

OCutting the Ribbon at SMART Park

n March 26, we officially unveiled the entrance to the Southwest Michigan Advanced Research & Technology (SMART) Park. It was the culmination of years of planning and construction.

To celebrate, we held a ribbon-cutting ceremony with our board of directors, the Village of Cassopolis, Norsk Hydro (SMART Park’s first resident), and community and construction partners. The entrance includes a beautiful sign off of M-60. Plus, we added digital signage along the boulevard that matches what you see downtown to create a consistent Cass feel.

Then, my team snuck in a surprise. I had planned all along to name the boulevard Imagine Way to pay homage to the Imagine Cass effort and to reflect what is possible when a community comes together to imagine a sustainable future. However, they had other plans and dubbed the boulevard Hance Boulevard. While I am extremely humbled and honored by this, I must point out that none of this would have happened without our board reminding us of what is possible and the commitment of our community partners, such as the Village of Cassopolis and Market Van Buren.

If you aren’t familiar with our SMART Park, it is a center for technology and industry located next to our headquarters in Cassopolis. It’s one of only a handful of nationwide sites to earn designation as a CN Rail Ready Site, ensuring businesses have the access they need to start production sooner and easier. Furthermore, our development covenants protect the rural character of Cassopolis.

The first SMART Park tenant, Norsk Hydro, held an opening ceremony last November and is in full production. The $150 million aluminum recycling plant has brought 70 livable-wage jobs to Cass, and Hydro is currently transitioning its technology center to the facility, which means additional jobs and economic investment.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the true visionary behind SMART Park: Ed Lowe. He had the land zoned specifically for this purpose, and now we have the once-ina-lifetime opportunity to make this field of dreams into a reality.

OUR MISSION: Delivering first-in-class innovations and solutions where others won’t. OUR VISION: Creating vibrant, relevant, and sustainable rural communities.
4 MAY 2024


Our solutions centers will be closed Monday, May 27, in honor of Memorial Day. Make a payment or report an electric outage via SmartHub or by calling 800-492-5989. Dropbox payments made at our solutions centers will be processed on the next open business day.


Automatic hacker & virus blocking - free for MEC fiber internet customers on the Apple App Store and Google Play!*

*Requires GigaSpire router and MEC fiber internet. Find your router at If you don’t have a GigaSpire, call 800-492-5989 and we’ll mail you one free.



Please be advised that the following information is available to Midwest Energy & Communications (MEC) customers:

• Complete rate schedules;

• Clear and concise explanation of all rates that the customer may be eligible to receive;

• Assistance from MEC in determining the most appropriate rate when the customer is eligible to receive service under more than one rate;

• Clear and concise explanation of the customer’s actual energy use for each billing period during the last 12 months.

The information can be obtained by contacting MEC at 800-492-5989.

Please note: Electric customers of MEC must adhere to our bylaws, which can be found at


The fuel mix characteristics of Midwest Energy & Communications as required by Public Act 141 of 2000 for the 12-month period ending 12/31/23.





of emission/waste

*Regional average information was obtained from the MPSC website and is for the 12-month period ending 12/31/23. Midwest Energy & Communications purchases 100% of its electricity from Wolverine Power Supply Cooperative, Inc., which provided this fuel mix and environmental data.

lbs/MWh Your co-op Regional average* Sulfur Dioxide 0.53 0.95 Carbon Dioxide 652.5 1,092.2 Oxides of Nitrogen 0.42 0.78 High-Level
Nuclear Waste 0.0097 0.0060
Fuel source
fuel mix Coal 16.695% 26.446% Oil 0.241% 0.428% Gas 22.280% 35.916% Hydroelectric 0.459% 0.724% Nuclear 42.108% 26.167% Renewable Fuels 18.217% 10.319% Biofuel 0.384% 0.760% Biomass 0.163% 0.364% Solar 1.099% 1.170% Solid Waste Incineration 0.083% 0.006% Wind 16.284% 7.616% Wood 0.204% 0.403%
co-op’s fuel mix
NOTE: Biomass excludes wood; solid waste incineration includes landfill gas; and wind includes a long-term renewable purchase power contract in Wolverine’s mix.



Nestled in the charming city of Portage, Michigan, the Air Zoo Aerospace & Science Experience (Air Zoo) is a world-class museum and science education center. A testament to the history of aviation and aerospace exploration, the Air Zoo invites visitors to discover the wonders of flight.

Igniting imaginations through engaging and immersive exhibits, from hot air balloons to vintage aircraft and cutting-edge spacecraft, the museum’s collection spans the entire spectrum of aviation history. Whether you’re a history buff, a science enthusiast, or simply looking for a fun and educational outing, the Air Zoo offers something for everyone.

The Legacy of the Air Zoo

The Air Zoo has evolved from a modest aircraft collection into a world-class aerospace museum. Suzanne and Pete Parish’s passion for preserving the legacy of aviation history has cemented the Air Zoo as a premier destination in the heart of southwest Michigan.

The Parishes were both accomplished pilots—Suzanne having served with the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) and Pete being a retired World War II Marine Air Corps Aviator. The two of them, who had amassed a collection of planes, were particularly enthusiastic about World War II aircraft. A friend of theirs offered to give them his Grumman Bearcat, a fighter aircraft from the war, if they agreed to open a museum. Soon

after, The Kalamazoo Aviation History Museum opened to the public in November 1979.

In addition to the Bearcat, the founding collection included a Wildcat, Hellcat, and Flying Tiger. With all the wild animal aircraft, it was quite fitting how the name Air Zoo quickly caught on.

Originally a nine-plane hangar exhibit, the Air Zoo now features over 100 rare aircraft and spacecraft. Visitors can marvel at iconic planes like an SR-71 Blackbird and an F-14 Tomcat. Boasting over 100,000 square feet of museum space, the Air Zoo spans across two facilities: the Flight Discovery Center and the Flight Innovation Center. The Discovery Center features real-time, flight-based activities, exhibitions, and

Wanders Adventure Series
6 MAY 2024

the Restoration Center, where a team of experts restores historical artifacts in public view. Current conservation efforts include two WWII aircraft recovered from the bottom of Lake Michigan.

In addition to its impressive aircraft collection, the Air Zoo has acquired more than 100,000 rare artifacts and archives. By meticulously restoring vintage aircraft and preserving these artifacts, the museum honors the achievements of pioneering aviators and offers invaluable insights into the evolution of aviation.

Hands-On Exhibits

The Air Zoo’s Innovation Center is where you’ll find immersive exhibits that offer hands-on experiences unlike any other. From science experimentation stations to full-motion flight simulations and open cockpits, exhibits are designed to spark curiosity and encourage imagination.

Through the “open cockpit” experience, you’ll get a feel for what it was like to fly famous historical aircraft. Climb behind the stick for a real “pilot’s eye” view from the seat of an aircraft.

Step into the world of virtual reality with the Air Zoo’s flight simulators. “Fly” in a safe, controlled environment and choose from realistic simulations of take-off, landing, and aerial maneuvers in various aircraft. Whether you’re battling against giant robots, embarking on a spacewalk mission, or engaging in an aerial dogfight over the Pacific Ocean, the Air Zoo’s virtual adventures offer a thrilling way to experience aviation and space exploration.

A variety of indoor amusement parkstyle rides are included with museum admission. Get a spectacular aerial view of the museum aboard the 26-foot Century of Flight Ferris Wheel. Fly through the sky on the Montgolfier Balloon Race ride, steer a Flying Circus Biplane, and feel the weightlessness of parachuting on the Paratrooper Jump.

At Toddler Tarmac, the Air Zoo’s indoor children’s play area, imaginations soar with various hands-on activities tailored to engage young visitors. Little aviators are sure to have a blast at this dynamic aerospace museum. The Air Zoo has something interactive for everyone to enjoy.

Plan Your Visit

The Air Zoo promises an unforgettable experience all year-round. Admission prices vary depending on age and membership status, with discounts available for seniors, military personnel, and groups. Museum galleries are wagon, stroller, and wheelchair friendly. Ample free and accessible parking is available for all visitors. Upon check-in, guests may request wheelchairs and wagons to use, free of charge.

Fuel up during your visit at Kitty Hawk Cafe, serving grab-n-go items, snacks, sandwiches, and other made-to-order options. Take home some extra cargo and stop by the Fly Buy Gift Shop for gifts and souvenirs. An online store is also available.

Scan the QR code to watch a video of Cassondra’s adventure to the Air Zoo.
/cassondrawanders /cassondra.wanders @cassondrawanders @cassondrawanders 7 MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES
Cassondra Scott is a content creator, writer, and social media influencer at Cassondra Wanders——sharing small businesses and sights to see all over the state of Michigan.

Summer Summer

Energy-Saving Tips

Looking to save energy during the summer months? Check out these tips from

Use Fans Instead of A/C When Practical

• Fans cool you down by creating a wind chill effect and are much less energy intensive than an HVAC system. Set ceiling fans to rotate in a counterclockwise direction to create a downdraft.

• Fans cool people, not rooms. Always turn them off when you leave.

• When you take a shower, a bathroom fan vented to the outside of your home will remove excess heat and humidity.

Maximize A/C Efficiency

• Regular maintenance for your HVAC system will keep it from overworking due to old or faulty components.

• Keep your airflow clear by vacuuming vents and moving furniture out of their way.

• Place heat-generating appliances like lamps away from your thermostat to ensure it accurately measures the room’s temperature.

• Keeping your shades closed can help block the sun from heating your home and making your A/C work harder.

Seal Your Home

• Applying caulk or weatherstripping around your doors and windows can keep warm air from getting into your home.

• During the day, your windows can trap heat from direct sunlight. Install window coverings to keep the heat out.

Lower Water Heating

• Your water heater is another primary source of energy use in your home. Limiting it to 120 degrees can both prevent scalding and save energy.

• If you have an aging water heater, a newer model may be more efficient. For more info about energy-efficient water heaters, visit and select a type of water heater to learn more about it.

8 MAY 2024
Visit for more tips on
your home's
all year long.

Strengthening Schools Grants Apply Now for

Teachers, administrators, and school officials—great news! Applications are open for the 2024-25 Strengthening Schools Grants cycle, made possible by partnership dollars through our power supplier, Wolverine Power Cooperative.

How It Works

Any teacher, administrator, or school official in a public elementary, middle, or high school serving students in our electric service territory may apply for a grant of up to $2,500 to support classroom needs, technology, or academic projects/clubs/ organizations. School districts can receive multiple grants, not to exceed a total of $5,000 for the award cycle, and funds will be awarded in January 2025.

Applications are evaluated and funding decisions are made by a committee of MEC electric customers without knowledge of the applying school, district, or educator. An application is not a guarantee of funding. Incomplete applications will not be considered.

The deadline to apply is Monday, Oct. 14. Visit and fill out our form.

For a list of townships within our electric service territory, visit

What Gets Funded

Starting in 2013, Strengthening Schools Grants has helped public school teachers, officials, and administrators reach their students in new and exciting ways. In the 2023-24 cycle, the program funded 24 projects at 19 local schools or districts. Winning projects included science equipment, library books, alternative seating, and even funds to rebuild a theater program. If your application is approved by our volunteer team of electric customers, it could be your turn next.

MEC Needs Grant Reviewers

Interested in joining the SSG review committee? We’re looking for MEC electric customers to volunteer for the upcoming grant cycle.

Any MEC electric customer who can dedicate time to the review process is eligible to apply. You’ll be responsible for reviewing, discussing, and awarding grants for the 2024-25 cycle. You’ll be asked to meet in person for one full weekday in the fall.

If you’re interested, email us at





Sharon Libich, Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op

6–8 ounces goat cheese, softened

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 garlic clove, minced

2–3 boxes (15-count each) precooked phyllo dough mini shells (Athens brand)

½ cup prepared pesto

¼ cup diced sun-dried tomatoes and/or red bell pepper, for topping

½ cup coarsely chopped almonds

In a medium microwavable bowl, combine the goat cheese, cream cheese, and minced garlic. Stir until combined. If needed, soften in the microwave to achieve spreading consistency. Set aside. Fill each mini shell with 1 heaping teaspoon of the cheese mixture (halfway), top with a dollop of pesto, a little sun-dried tomato/ red bell pepper, and a sprinkle of almonds. Serve the (cold) tartlets immediately, as phyllo cups will soften as they sit. Use any remaining cheese mixture (if any) as a dip with crackers or even as a sandwich spread.

Watch a video of this month’s winning recipe at type/videos/

MI CO-OP Recipes WINNING RECIPE! Recipe Contest Win a $100 energy bill credit! Casseroles, due June 1. Submit your favorite recipe for a chance to win a $100 bill credit and have your recipe featured in Country Lines with a photo and a video. Submit your recipe at , or send it via email (include your full name and co-op) to
Light and fluffy recipes perfect for brunch and beyond.
10 MAY 2024


Katie Schneider, Midwest Energy & Communications

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

8 large eggs, whisked

1 cup full-fat cottage cheese (full fat has less water)

1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

2 tablespoons cornstarch

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

½ teaspoon onion powder

½ teaspoon garlic powder

¼ teaspoon kosher salt, optional

¼ teaspoon hot sauce, optional

4 strips bacon (or turkey bacon), cooked and chopped

Preheat oven to 325 F. Grease a silicone muffin pan with olive oil. Create a water bath by filling a 9x13-inch pan halfway with warm water. Set the muffin pan in the pan of water. To a blender, add the eggs, cottage cheese, cheeses,

cornstarch, all seasonings, and hot sauce. Blend on high until smooth, about 30 seconds. Divide the bacon into the cups, then fill to the top with the egg mixture. Carefully place the prepared pans onto the middle rack of the oven. Bake for 30 minutes (or longer, depending on the size of your muffin tins) and cook until the eggs are just set. The egg bites will pull slightly away from the edges when they are done. Carefully remove pans from the oven; let set for 10 minutes before using a spoon to gently loosen and remove the bites from the pan. Serve immediately or make ahead of time for busy mornings. Once cooled, store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Enjoy cold or reheat in the microwave for 30 seconds. You can also try out different cheese, vegetable, and seasoning combinations.


Kerri Hanson, Great Lakes Energy

2 tablespoons salted butter

¹⁄ ³ cup finely diced onion

12 ounces white or baby bella mushrooms, trimmed and sliced

2 cups baby spinach

6 large eggs

1 cup half-and-half

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

12 ounces grated Swiss cheese

1 unbaked pie crust

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large sauté pan, heat the butter over medium heat until melted. Add the onion and sauté until tender, about 5–6 minutes. Add the


Nancy Hascall, Cherryland Electric Cooperative

1 unbaked pie crust (or 1.5 cups cooked rice)

1¾ cups half-and-half

1 cup shredded cheese of choice

1 heaping tablespoon jalapeño cream cheese

• pinch of salt

• dash of cayenne pepper

¼ teaspoon paprika

3 eggs

1 small bell pepper, thinly sliced

1 small red onion, thinly sliced

• Additional topping options: mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh spinach, broccoli, salmon, etc.

Preheat oven to 325 F. Have ready an unbaked 8-inch deep pie crust (alternatively, press rice into pie tin to form a crust.) Heat the half-and-half just until it starts to boil. Reduce heat and add shredded cheese of choice. Add the jalapeño cream cheese. Stir until melted. Add salt, cayenne pepper, and paprika. Remove from heat and vigorously stir in the 3 eggs, one at a time. Pour into crust. Top the quiche with the thinly sliced bell peppers, red onions, and optional toppings, if using. Bake until firm, about 45 minutes.

mushrooms and sauté until the liquid has evaporated, about 5–6 minutes. Add the spinach and sauté until wilted, about 1–2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, half-and-half, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Stir in the onion/ mushroom/spinach mixture and add the Swiss cheese. Pour the mixture into the unbaked pie shell. Bake until the quiche is lightly golden and set in the center when the pan is gently wiggled, about 45-50 minutes. Cover the crust with foil if it is browning too quickly. Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes (important)! Slice and serve.


A Day in the Life of a Production Operator

at Hydro's state-of-theart aluminum recycling plant in Cassopolis

Opening its doors in 2023 as the first company to locate in Midwest Energy & Communication’s SMART Park, Hydro Cassopolis keeps evolving. Discover what it’s like to work on Hydro’s team at the heart of its industrial operations.

Core Responsibilities

As a production operator, you are the driving force behind the smooth functioning of the production process and correct handling of materials, from delacquering scrap to casting ingots. You are essential in ensuring the quality of the work.

Together with your team, you make certain that all steps in the production process are carried out as safely as possible. By conducting routine checks and following procedures, Hydro continuously improves and strives to maintain the highest standards and product quality.

Why Choose Hydro?

Hydro’s working conditions are well regulated, and safety and cleanliness are paramount. Working in shifts offers freedom and a work-life balance. Your wellbeing is our priority. At Hydro, we value driven and committed colleagues. You can continue to grow by learning on the job and being part of a culture driven by continuous improvement.

Working on a high-performance team that puts safety first, embodies an improvement culture, and lives the Hydro values of Care, Courage, and Collaboration. That is what working at Hydro’s state-of-the-art aluminum recycling plant in Cassopolis is like.

Become Part of Our Dream Team:

• Highly competitive pay with 120 hours of PTO the first full year

• Extensive benefits including 401(k) match starting on date of hire

• Pathway to career advancement with extensive skilled training opportunities

• Visit our website ( or see available jobs by scanning this QR code

12 MAY 2024

Summer 2024 Fairs and Events

Heading to the fair this summer? So are we! Come see us at the following fairs:

7/15 to 7/20 Van Buren Youth Fair

Hartford, MI

7/21 to 7/27 Lenawee County Fair

Adrian, MI

7/29 to 8/3 Cass County Fair

Cassopolis, MI

8/11 to 8/17 Calhoun County Fair

Marshall, MI

8/12 to 8/17 Berrien County Youth Fair

Berrien Springs, MI

Check out these other fun events in and near our service territory.

5/31 to 6/1 Cassopolis Beach Bash beach-bash

6/1, 7/20, 8/17, 8/31

Cassopolis, MI

Lake Bluff Artisan Fair

St. Joseph, MI

6/22 Devils Lake Festival of the Arts

Manitou Beach, MI

6/22 Marshall Blues Fest

Marshall, MI

6/28 to 7/6 St. Joseph County 4-H Fair

South Bend, IN

7/4 Berrien Springs Pickle Festival BerrienSpringsPickleFestival

Berrien Springs, MI

7/6 Lake Breeze Music Festival

St. Joseph, MI

7/6 to 7/13 LaGrange County 4-H Fair

LaGrange, IN

7/11 to 7/13 River Raisin Festival

Blissfield, MI

7/13, 8/17 Rock the Block Summer Concert Series rock-the-block-summerconcert-series

Cassopolis, MI

7/15 to 7/20

7/18 to 7/20

7/18 to 7/21

7/19 to 7/20

7/19 to 7/21

7/19 to 7/27

7/20 to 7/21

7/21 to 7/27

8/4 to 8/10

8/6 to 8/10

Barry County Fair

Hastings, MI

Ann Arbor Art Fair

Ann Arbor, MI

Tecumseh Bicentennial Celebration bicentennial_celebration.php

Tecumseh, MI

Dowagiac Summer Festival & BBQ Competition

Dowagiac, MI

Faster Horses

Brooklyn, MI

Elkhart County 4-H Fair

Goshen, IN

Thunder Over Michigan Air Show

Ypsilanti, MI

Marshall Bluegrass Festival

Marshall, MI

Jackson County Fair

Jackson, MI

Kalamazoo County Youth Fair

Kalamazoo, MI

8/8 to 8/11 National Blueberry Festival

South Haven, MI

8/16 to 8/17 Bluegill Frolic Marcellus, MI

8/20 to 8/24 Chelsea Community Fair

Chelsea, MI

8/30 to 9/5 Fulton County Fair

Wauseon, OH

9/6 to 9/8 Paw Paw Wine and Harvest Festival

Paw Paw, MI

9/6 to 9/14 Allegan County Fair

Allegan, MI

9/7 to 9/14 Williams County Fair

Montpelier, OH

9/15 to 9/21 St. Joseph County Grange Fair

Centreville, MI

9/21 to 9/22 Artalicious Fine Arts Fair

Adrian, MI

9/22 to 9/28 Hillsdale County Fair

Hillsdale, MI

10/12 to 10/13 Tecumseh Appleumpkin Festival events

Tecumseh, MI





In the heart of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, nestled along the Manistique River, lies Northland Outfi tters, a campground and canoe/ kayak livery that has become more than a destination; it’s a canvas for dreams. Owned by Durea and Levi Brady, a couple who embarked on an extraordinary journey from Denver to the UP, Northland Outfi tters is now not just a place for nature lovers, but a home for a giant wooden troll— named Benny.


The story begins with Durea and Levi, who had a dream of owning a campground. In 2022, after two years of exploration, they stumbled upon Northland Outfitters, an enchanting spot that felt less like a campground

and more like a natural haven. The Bradys envisioned a place where families could connect with nature, and they found it in the woods of Germfask, Michigan.

“We spent two years looking for the right camping grounds,” said Durea. “We’d begun to wonder if we’d ever locate ‘the one,’ but then we visited Germfask and we knew we’d found home.”


The Bradys had been considering additional revenue streams—and then the dream of a literal revenue stream appeared. The couple wanted something memorable and distinctive that would draw individuals to their campground and

the community they had fallen in love with. Enter Benny.

“We’d seen a natural art installation by a recycled material sculpture artist from Copenhagen, Denmark, Thomas Dambo, in Breckenridge, Colorado. It was so impactful and inspiring. We started dreaming up something like this at the campground,” said Durea. “We knew if we were going to try something like this, it needed to be a part of the natural habitat, not something artificial or out of place.”

The Bradys reached out to Dambo, who was serendipitously in the States on a tour, and agreed to meet with the couple to talk about their idea. After visions were shared, the image of Benny the Beard Fisher, resting along the riverbank, started to come to life.

14 MAY 2024


The Bradys turned to their community for support, receiving generous donations of wood from lifelong UP residents and local businesses. The result was Benny, the 14-foot-high and 30-foot-wide towering figure whose tangled wooden beard runs down the riverbank, hoping to catch something—if not a fi sh, then some admiring looks. People traveling the river on various water vessels can catch a glorious view of Benny as they round the bend. He’s also available to visit via the campground. Benny is a welcoming figure on this perfect bit of home that the Bradys have carved out for themselves.

“We absolutely think of the campground as a home,” said Durea.

Danish recycle artist Thomas Dambo breathes life into discarded wood and landfill scraps, crafting colossal sculptures of trolls. These mystical creations are scattered across 17 countries. For more information, please visit

“Maybe not a conventional one, but we have the opportunity to welcome new people into our family every few days. It’s the best feeling.”


The family feel of Northland Outfitters has made it more than a campground; it’s a place for community. Benny’s presence has brought people together, fostering a sense of pride and joy among visitors. On a busy day last summer, they brought 300–400 guests into their family fold.

Looking ahead, Durea and Levi envision not just a campground but a community hub, complete with events in the woods featuring live music, food trucks, and art tents that will solidify Northland Outfitters as its own work of art.

Benny is part of that canvas, drawing people closer to nature to discover what is both beautiful and magical about the wild.


For the comfort of Troll visitors and camping guests, visitation to Benny will be moving to a timed ticket system, beginning mid May. Tickets will need to be purchased online prior to arrival. Tickets can be purchased at






have a large wind or solar generation system?

When you join our large renewable energy program, you get a yearly lump-sum credit for any excess energy that’s produced by your system but not consumed by you.* MEC will receive the credit from our power supplier, Wolverine Power Cooperative, by Feb. 28 each year, and the credit will appear on your next normal bill.


• 10-year agreement

• 1MW cap

• $100 application fee

Read the full tariff and excess generation credit details,

*In accordance with the applicable standard service tariff. Credit is based on the Hourly Real Time Locational Marginal Price at the Midcontinent Independent System Operator’s (MISO) CONS.WOLV node.


Get fiber phone w/ unlimited calls from MEC!

Residential: $39.95/mo. + tax

Combine fiber internet & phone from MEC and enjoy a $10/mo. discount on your phone bill.


16 MAY 2024

Beware This New Crypto Scam

What would you do if you received a message like this from an unknown phone number or social media account?

Some would ignore it—but others might point out the mistake as a courtesy, completely unaware they’ve taken the bait for a new type of scam called pig butchering.

The Scam

“Pig butchering” refers to the process of gaining a victim’s trust before taking their money and disappearing, as if fattening up a pig before slaughtering it. Here’s how it works:

1. A scammer sends texts or social media messages to those they hope to steal from. These are designed to look like someone simply messaged the wrong person by mistake.

2. When the scammer gets a response, they begin cultivating a relationship with the victim. A scammer gains a victim’s trust using information they find online, such as personal information the victim has posted on social media. The scammer offers romance or companionship and makes the victim feel like they share a bond.

3. Once the scammer has the victim’s trust, they start talking to the victim about investment opportunities, often in the form of cryptocurrency.

4. To keep up the illusion of legitimacy, the scammer doesn’t ask for money directly. Instead, they point the victim to an app on their phone’s app store. These look like investment apps with many positive reviews. Some even have customer service lines or two-factor authentication. In reality, these apps send the victim’s “investment” directly to the scammer’s bank account.

5. The app displays fake results to the victim, convincing them it’s safe and encouraging bigger and bigger investments. When the victim decides it’s time to cash out, the app stops them from doing so and the scammer disappears.

How to Stay Safe

First and foremost, if you get a text that looks like someone has the wrong number, don’t respond. It’s not your responsibility, and it’s not worth the risk.

More importantly, never make an investment without thoroughly vetting it. Find out what reputable sources like Forbes or Business Insider are saying. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.




Win a $100 energy bill credit!

Where In Michigan Is This?

Identify the correct location of the photo above by May 20 and be entered into a drawing to win a $100 electric bill credit. Enter your guess at

March 2024 Winner! Our Mystery Photo winner is Allan Hascall, a Cherryland Electric Cooperative member who correctly identified the photo as the 24-foot monument The American Horse at the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids.

Winners are announced in the following issues of Country Lines: January, March, May, July/ August, September, and November/December.

Worms of Misfortune

n the summer of 1937, my older sister Barb and I found ourselves knee-deep in dirt, our fingers stained with the earth’s secrets. Our family’s home was in Hillman, Michigan, a couple blocks from the Thunder Bay River. The Great Depression had gnawed at our livelihood, leaving us with little more than stubborn resolve and empty pockets.

IOne of the stores in town sold bait for fi shing, and so my sister and I went in and asked how much we would earn if we dug up worms. The manager answered 10 cents for 100 worms.

With shovels and a shared desperation, we headed out near the Thunder Bay River to dig up worms. Our hands plunging into the cool earth, we pulled out the worms one by one. The worms squirmed, protesting their eviction.

We were on a mission—to turn soil into silver.

I had the great idea to cut the worms in half to double our profit! 20 cents was a great deal of money back in that day. So, we took the 200 worms

into the store, and we were handed the 20 cents. We were so excited, we couldn’t wait to tell our mother.

Well, word had gotten back to our mom about what we did, and when we arrived home and showed our mom the 20 cents, she said “We are all going back to the store to return that man’s 20 cents.” Both my sister and I said, “But why, Mom?” She replied, “You cheated that poor man by cutting those worms in half to get more money. You should be ashamed of yourselves!”

Now, at 96 years old, I sit on my couch and look back at all the fun we had growing up in our little town of Hillman. Barb is long gone, but her laughter dances in the wind.

Remember this tale when life throws you a curveball—sometimes the early bird doesn’t get the worm!

About the Author:

Margaret is retired and likes to fish, read, play Scattegories, and watch nature programs. She is an outgoing person who loves people and parties too.

MI CO-OP Guest Column Guest Column Win $200 for stories published! Share your fondest memories and stories. Win $200 for stories published. Visit to submit.
18 MAY 2024

• Attaches to your home’s existing heating system, it does not replace it.

• Delivers 90% on average of your home’s heating needs and 100% of your home’s cooling needs.

• If you have a well and are heating with propane, fuel oil, electric or wood, your current heating and cooling cost is likely greater than it would be to fully finance and heat & cool with a Well-Connect.

• Installs in one day, any time of year. COOL

ALL WINTER Geother mal Made Af for da ble HEATING WITH WELL-CONNECT IS LIKE PAYING 70¢ Per Gallon of Propane Financing, 30% tax credit, and rebates up to $2,000 available. SCAN HERE TO GET A FREE QUOTE 833-436-9355 ENJOY YEAR-ROUND COMFORT HOW DOES THE SYSTEM WORK?

MEC rural fiber internet is fast and reliable. Stream, game

work from home as much as you want, all with a local

That’s the MEC ADVANCED GIG 5 GIG A 12-month service contract is required; 24 months if you are including security cameras with your internet subscription. Fiber internet, phone, and security camera services are not regulated by the Michigan Public Service Commission.
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