Nov/Dec. 2018 MEC

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November/December 2018


COUNTRY LINES Midwest Energy & Communications

The UP200 Sled Dog Racers

MUSH ON The Quest For Dry Gloves

Fun Times At Customer Appreciation Events 2019 Fiber Construction Plan

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In This Issue November/December 2018 || Vol. 38, No. 9

Michigan’s Electric Cooperatives michigancountrylines

Executive Editor: Casey Clark Editor: Christine Dorr Copy Editor: Heidi Spencer Design and Production: Karreen Bird Publisher: Michigan Electric Cooperative Association Michigan Country Lines, USPS-591710, 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 are Robert Kran, Great Lakes Energy, chairman; Mark Kappler, HomeWorks Tri-County Electric, vice chairman; and Eric Baker, Wolverine Power Cooperative, secretary-treasurer. Craig Borr is president and CEO. CONTACT US/LETTERS TO EDITOR: Michigan Country Lines 201 Townsend St., Suite 900 Lansing, MI 48933 248-534-7358

6 ENERGY Resources For Home Heating Assistance Programs 7 SAFETY Tips For Decorating Safely This Holiday Season 10 MI CO-OP KITCHEN ‘Tis The Season For These Festive Recipes

ON THE COVER The UP200 is one of America’s premier, 12-dog, mid-distance sled races and draws mushers from around the United States and Canada. Pictured is Musher Sally Manikian of New Hampshire. Photo by Mitch Rusch.

Christin McKamey & Our Readers

Our Guest Chef Chili Recipe Will Warm You Up After Winter Adventures Enter Our Recipe Contest And Win A $50 Bill Credit!

Win $150 for stories published!

14 FEATURE The UP200 Sled Dog Racers Mush On

Guest Column

Emily Haines Lloyd

18 MI CO-OP COMMUNITY Best Of Michigan: Snowmobile Trails Grab a friend and hit these recommended trails for a new perspective on winter. Guess Our New Mystery Photo And Win A $50 Bill Credit!

Country Lines invites members to submit their fond memories and stories. Guidelines 1. Approximately 350 words 2. Digital photos must be at least 600 KB 3. Submit your guest column at under the MI Co-op Community tab

Statement of Ownership, Management and Circulation (Required by U.S.C. 3685) 1. Publication Title: Michigan Country Lines. 2. Publication No.: 591-710. 3. Filing date: 10/1/18. 4. Issue frequency: monthly, except August and December. 5. No. of issues published annually: 10. 6. Complete mailing address of known office of publication: Michigan Electric Cooperative Association, 201 Townsend St., Ste. 900, Lansing, MI 48933. 7. Complete mailing address of headquarters or general business office of publisher: 201 Townsend St., Ste. 900, Lansing, MI 48933. 8. Full names and complete mailing address of publisher, editors, and executive editor: Craig Borr, Christine Dorr, Casey Clark, 201 Townsend St., Ste. 900, Lansing, MI 48933. 9. Owner: Michigan Electric Cooperative Assoc., 201 Townsend St., Ste. 900, Lansing, MI 48933. 10. Known bondholders, mortgagees, and other security holders owning or holding one percent or more of total amount of bonds, mortgages, or other securities: None. 11. Tax status: Has not been changed. 12. Issue date for circulation data below: Sept. 2018. 13. Extent and nature of circulation: Avg # of copies each issue during preceding 12 mo.

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.

A) B) C) D) E) F) G) H) I)

Actual # of copies of single issues published nearest to filing date

Total No. of copies .......................................................... 221,033 ........................................... 241,500 Paid and requested circulation........................................ 221,033 ........................................... 241,500 Total paid and requested circulation ............................... 221,033 ........................................... 241,500 1) Free distribution by mail .................................................... 188 .................................................. 188 2) Free distribution outside mail ............................................ 920 .................................................. 920 Total free distribution .......................................................... 1,108 ............................................... 1,108 Total distribution ............................................................. 222,141 ........................................... 242,608 Copies not distributed ............................................................... 0 ...................................................... 0 Total................................................................................. 222,141 ........................................... 242,608 Percent paid and/or requested circ.................................... 98.7% .............................................. 99.7%

16. Publication of statement of ownership: November 2018 17. Signature and title of editor: Christine Dorr, Editor








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


BOARD OF DIRECTORS Clarence “Topper” Barth, Chairperson, Three Rivers 269-279-9233 Ben Russell, Vice Chairperson, Constantine 269-435-8564 Ron Armstrong, Secretary, Lawton 269-299-0239 John Green, Treasurer, Dowagiac 269-470-2816 Gerry Bundle, Cassopolis 269-414-0164 Arell Chapman, Onsted 517-292-3040 James Dickerson, Bloomingdale 269-370-6868 Fred Turk, Decatur 269-423-7762 PRESIDENT/CEO Robert Hance VP, CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS/EDITOR Patty Nowlin Communications Specialist

Amy Pales

Join us on Facebook: Midwest Energy & Communications is an equal opportunity provider and employer.


Board Service: A Commitment And Labor Of Love Robert Hance, President/CEO

I’ve served as a director on a lot of boards over my career. From banks, schools, and non-profit organizations to industry-specific institutions, I’ve offered a lot of time, and I hope some sense of insight and talent, to provide strategic guidance and support. Many organizations and their boards are under significant scrutiny these days as whistleblowers and other concerned citizens demand new levels of accountability and transparency. And rightfully so in many cases. Some organizations are turning to outrageous perks to attract board talent, including large per diems that mirror a full-time salary, generous benefit plans including health insurance and pensions, and luxurious travel arrangements and accommodations for conference and meeting attendance. It’s no wonder people are sitting up and taking notice; those kinds of incentives bring into questions a person’s motivation for service. I’ve always viewed board service as both a serious commitment and a labor of love. I have to be willing to do the work to provide the right strategic direction and governance, and I have to strongly believe in the vision and mission of the organization. I’m happy to tell you that your board represents on both fronts. While they do earn a very modest per diem and attend some conferences and meetings to equip them to represent, that is not why they serve. You are. Just in the last five years, they have tackled some major issues and multi-million dollar decisions that forced them out of the comfort zone of a typical electric cooperative board. These included the launch of our fiber communications system and internet service, the rate restructuring, and the rebranding and opening of a new headquarters facility. There were a lot of tough and heated conversations around the board table, but your representatives always left the table united behind the decisions made on behalf of our consumers. We’re in a dynamic period of growth and change. It’s critical that you are represented by individuals who believe in the cooperative business model and embrace the change necessary for us to achieve our vision of vibrant, relevant and sustainable rural communities. If those concepts resonate with you, then I encourage you to consider serving on the MEC board. Information about the 2019 election is on page 5. Of particular importance this year is finding representation for district 9, which serves the southernmost portions of our southeast Michigan territory and our Ohio territory. Harry Gentz of Blissfield resigned in June after 35 years of committed service. Your board leads with great courage, casting a direction that is well executed by our employee team. You are the reason they serve, and the reason we roll up our sleeves every day to bring the highest quality services and experiences to our rural space.

Ben Russell, director District 6

Gerry Bundle, director District 7

Get Engaged As A Co-Op Director One of the seven guiding principles of cooperatives is democratic member control. When you take your electric service from Midwest Energy & Communications, you are more than a consumer; you are an owner who has a voice and are encouraged to take an active role in the life of the organization. We are governed by a nine-member board of directors and each is elected to serve a three-year term. Directors are elected and represent you and others who live in their district. This is an important role as directors make critical decisions on behalf of all co-op consumers. Three board seats are up for election next year. If you are a co-op electric consumer interested in serving, please contact us for a petition, then secure 30 or more valid signatures. Your completed petition and a biography must be returned to our Cassopolis office by 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 2, 2019, to be placed on the ballot for one of the three terms ending in April 2019. Ballots will be mailed to the district members on Jan. 22, 2019, and counted on Feb. 12, 2019. Board members must reside in the district they represent. In 2019, seats in Districts 6, 7 and 9 will be up for election. District 6 is currently represented by Ben Russell of Constantine. The district includes Porter (Cass County), Constantine, Florence, Mottville and White Pigeon townships in Michigan and Washington, York and Van Buren townships in Indiana. Gerry Bundle of Cassopolis is the current director in District 7, which includes Jefferson, Calvin, Ontwa and Mason townships in Michigan and Harris and Osolo townships in Indiana. District 9 is currently an open seat. The district includes Hudson, Dover, Madison, Palmyra, Medina, Seneca, Fairfield, Ogden, Riga and southern portions of Blissfield and Deerfield townships in Michigan. Also, Mill Creek, Gorham, Chesterfield, Royalton, Franklin, Dover, Pike, Clinton and German townships in Ohio.

Update Your Account Info 2019 will be a big year for MEC as we implement a major consumer information system upgrade that will provide new options and efficiencies. To prepare, we ask that you update your personal contact information. Here’s how: • Log in to SmartHub • Go to Contact Us>Personal Information Change • Verify and/or update your primary telephone, mailing address and email. If everything is accurate, simply let us know in the comment box.

You Could Win $100 Update or confirm your information by Dec. 31, 2018 and you could win a $100 bill credit in 2019. Thanks for helping us prepare to serve you better in 2019.

For more information about serving on the board of directors, please call the cooperative at 800-492-5989.



Home Heating Assistance Programs 2018–2019 Season Winter Protection Plan

Contact: Your Local Utility Company Income Guidelines 2018–2019 # in Household 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

150% Poverty Guide Maximum Income $18,210 24,690 31,170 37,650 44,130 50,610 57,090 63,570

The Winter Protection Plan (WPP) protects enrolled seniors and low-income customers from service shut-offs and high utility bill payments during the winter months (Nov. 1–March 31). If you are eligible, your utility service will remain on (or restored with the WPP) from Nov. 1 through March 31, if you: • pay at least 7% of your estimated annual bill each month, and • make equal monthly payments between the date you apply and the start of the next heating season on any past due bills.

the following requirements: • are age 65 or older, • receive Department of Health and Human Services cash assistance, including SSI, • receive Food Assistance, • receive Medicaid, or • household income is at or below the 150% of poverty level shown in the Income Guidelines chart at left. Senior citizen customers (65 or older) who participate in the WPP are not required to make specific payments to ensure that their service will not be shut off between Nov. 1 and March 31. Service for seniors can be restored without any payments.

When the protection period ends (March 31), you must begin to pay the full monthly bill, plus part of the amount you owe from the winter months when you did not pay the full bill. Participation does not relieve customers from the responsibility of paying for electricity and natural gas usage, but does prevent shut-off during winter months. You qualify for the plan if you meet at least one of

Note: All customers 65+ are eligible regardless of income. Customers are responsible for all electricity and natural gas used. At the end of the protection period, participants must make arrangements with their utility company to pay off any money owed before the next heating season.

You can apply for a Home Heating Credit for the 2018 tax year if you meet the income guidelines listed at left (110% of poverty level) or you qualify based on alternate guidelines including household income, exemptions, and heating costs. Additional exemptions are available for seniors, disabled claimants, or claimants with 5% or more of their income from unemployment compensation.

If you qualify, you may receive assistance to help pay for your winter heating bills. Forms are available mid-to-late January wherever tax forms are provided or from the Michigan Dept. of Treasury (517-636-4486, or The Home Heating Credit claim form must be filed with the Michigan Dept. of Treasury no later than Sept. 30 each year.

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a refundable federal income tax credit for low-income, working individuals and families who meet certain requirements and file a tax return. Those who qualify will owe less in taxes and may get a refund. Even a person who does not generally owe income tax may qualify for the EITC, but must file a tax return to do so.

If married, you must file jointly to qualify. File Form 1040 or 1040A and attach the EITC.

State Emergency Relief Program (SER): mdhhs You do not have to be a DHHS client to apply for help with a past due bill, shutoff notice, or the need for deliverable fuel through the SER. This program, available Nov. 1–May 31, provides most of its utility assistance during this crisis season.

However, limited assistance is available outside the crisis season.

You may be able to receive help with weatherizing your home to reduce energy use if you meet low-income eligibility guidelines (200% of poverty guidelines) and funding is available. Weatherization may include caulking,

weatherstripping, and insulation. Contact your local Community Action Agency for details. Visit to find one in your area.

2-1-1 is a free phone service operating 24 hours daily to provide information about help that may be available in a

particular area with utilities and other needs. Dial 2-1-1 or visit to find available services.

Contact: Local Utility Company

You are protected from service shut-off for nonpayment of your natural gas and/or electric bill for up to 21 days, possibly extending to 63 days, if you have a proven medical

emergency. You must provide written proof from a doctor, public health or social services official that a medical emergency exists. Contact your gas or electric utility for details.

Shut-off Protection For Military Active Duty

If you or your spouse has been called into active military duty, you may apply for shut-off protection from your electric or natural gas service for up to 90 days. You may request

extensions. You must still pay, but contact your utility company and they will help you set up a payment plan.

Michigan Veterans Trust Fund Emergency Grant Program

The Trust Fund provides temporary assistance to veterans and their families facing a financial emergency or hardship

including the need for energy assistance. Contact the Michigan Veterans Trust Fund at 517-284-5299 or

Michigan Energy Assistance Program (MEAP) includes services that will enable participants to become self-sufficient, including assisting participants in paying their energy bills on time, budgeting for and contributing to their ability to provide for energy expenses, and being energy efficient. Shut-off protection is provided Nov. 1–April 15 for all residential

customers. The MEAP is supported by the state’s Low Income Energy Assistance Fund (LIEAF). An electric utility that chooses not to collect for the LIEAF shall not shut off service to customers for non-payment between November 1 and April 15. For a list of electric providers that opt-out of collecting the LIEAF go to

Add $6,480 for each additional member.

Home Heating Credit Contact: Mich. Dept. of Treasury # Exemp.

0–1 2 3

Max. Income

$ 13,354 18,106 22,858

# Exemp.

4 5 6

Max. Income

$ 27,610 32,362 37,114

Add $ 4,752 for each exemption over 6.

Earned Income Credit

Contact: • U.S. Treasury Dept., Internal Revenue Service • Michigan Dept. of Treasury

Crisis Assistance Program Contact: Local Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)

Low-Income Home Weatherization Contact: Local Community Action Agency

United Way

Contact: Call 2-1-1 or

Medical Emergency Protection

Contact: Local Utility Company

You may claim a Michigan earned income tax credit for tax year 2018 equal to a percentage of the federal earned income tax credit for which you are eligible.

If you receive a DHHS cash grant, you may vendor part of it towards heat and electric bills. Contact your local DHHS or call the Home Heating Hotline, 855-275-6424.

Contact: MI Veterans Trust Fund

MI Energy Assistance Program Contact: Utility or 2-1-1 in late November


Dial 2-1-1 for more information on heating and other human services programs.

SAFE DÉCOR FOR A HAPPY HOLIDAY SEASON It’s almost time to deck those halls! Statistics show that home fires and electrical accidents typically increase during winter months, so keep these holiday lighting tips in mind for a safe holiday season.

Carefully inspect all electrical decorations before you use them. Cracked or damaged sockets and/or loose or exposed wires can cause serious shock or start a fire.

Consider purchasing LED lights, which use less energy and run cooler than traditional incandescent lights.

Never mount or support light strings in a way that might damage the cord’s insulation.

Make sure that cords are not pinched in doors, windows or under heavy furniture, which could damage the cord’s insulation.

Always unplug electrical decorations before replacing bulbs or fuses.

Turn off all indoor and outdoor electrical decorations before leaving home or going to sleep.

Source: Electrical Safety Foundation International



Entrepreneurs SUBMIT A NOMINATION TODAY! Michigan Country Lines is on the hunt for entrepreneurial movers and shakers to showcase in our March 2019 magazine. We know co-op members are awesome and there is no shortage of pioneers, innovators and leaders in our service territory. Featured entrepreneurial endeavors can be small start-ups, large operations or anything in between. If you know a friend, neighbor or coworker we should consider, nominate them by December 31 at Self-nominations are accepted.

GIVE THE GIFT OF ENERGY SAVINGS Treat your loved ones to energy-efficient electronics and devices that will help them save money for years to come.

You’ll save too! Purchase by December 31 to receive cash incentives for:


& bright

• ENERGY STAR® TVs • ENERGY STAR computers • Smart thermostats • LED bulbs P H O N E : 877.296.4319 ONLINE:

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

Elbow Grease And The Quest For

Dry Gloves By Amy Pales

What do you get when you combine entrepreneurial spirit with the challenge of keeping active kids warm and dry in the winter? A mom who invents a creative, and environmentally-friendly way, to dry wet clothing. Meet Karen Smoots a Portage woman with two active boys who decided to take matters into her own hands— literally—after seemingly endless battles of trying to dry stinky, wet winter gloves. “The winter of 2013–2014 was brutally wet and my boys regularly had sopping wet gloves that just wouldn’t dry in the dryer. I wasted a lot of energy trying,” said Smoots. “I searched Amazon and Walmart for an alternative but found nothing that worked exactly like what I wanted.” So she enlisted the help of her engineer husband and after a long trip to the hardware store and about eight hours of labor, they developed a prototype that harnessed the warm air coming from her home’s vents and channeled it into her family’s gloves. Then with fingers crossed, they set it up one cold January night before bed hoping they would wake up to dry gloves. Their wish came true. The device worked. It worked so well that neighbors and friends started asking how they could get their hands on one. One thing lead to another and the Smoots decided they might just be onto something. So Karen leapt into action by researching injection molding and mass production. She tracked down a local Michigan manufacturer to help get the process started and the Green Glove Dryer was born.

Karen Smoots, inventor of the Green Glove Dryer prepares gloves to dry.

The Smoots’ family home doubles as a shipping warehouse during the busy season.

Karen then started selling the gloves on Amazon and getting them on store shelves. “It’s a family affair. Our house literally fills up with orders that we box for shipping. I even recruit neighborhood kids to come help,” bemused Smoots. However, it’s not just about selling a product. She has a dedication to the health and well-being of her community and customers. Her products are made entirely in the USA using a significant portion of post-consumer recycled materials. Plus, the Sanafor antimicrobial materials help prevent the spread of germs. Additionally, while she’s received significant recognition for her innovation and spirit, it’s her commitment to community that we appreciate. So far she, in partnership with a local utility, has donated over 500 Green Glove Dryers to schools throughout Michigan to ensure kids don’t have to go home with soggy, stinky gloves. As a consumer who grew up on a farm on our lines, Karen understands the value of hard work and helping others. And we know that it’s people like her who make Michigan such a great place to call home. MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES


Holiday Favorites ‘Tis the season for these festive recipes! Photos—Robert Bruce Photography

Winning Recipe!

Red Velvet Cookies With Dark Chocolate Chips And Cranberries Michele Smith, Ontonagon County REA 2¼ cups all-purpose flour 1 (3.9 ounces) box instant chocolate pudding mix 1 teaspoon baking soda ½ teaspoon salt 1 cup butter, softened ½ cup granulated sugar ½ cup brown sugar 2 large eggs ½ teaspoon vanilla

½ teaspoon white distilled vinegar 1½ tablespoon red food coloring (use “holiday red” for a brighter red) 1 (12 ounces) bag dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips 1 (3 ounces) bag dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Mix together flour, pudding mix, baking soda and salt; set aside. Cream butter and sugars using an electric mixer; add eggs, vanilla, vinegar and food coloring. Gradually add flour mixture until combined. Fold in the chocolate chips and cranberries. Roll dough into 1½ inch balls and place 2 inches apart on baking sheets. Bake for 10–12 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Store in an airtight container. Watch a video of this month’s winning recipe at


Kris Kringle Christmas Cookies Bonnie Langworthy, HomeWorks Tri-County 1 cup butter 1 cup sugar 2 large eggs 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2½ cups all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking soda ½ teaspoon salt 1 cup white chocolate morsels 1 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with mixer until light and fluffy. Blend in eggs and vanilla. Add flour, baking soda and salt; mix well. Stir in white chocolate morsels and cranberries. Drop rounded spoonfuls (about 2 tablespoons) of dough, 1½ inches apart, onto baking sheets. Bake for about 9 minutes. Cool on baking sheets for about 1 minute and remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Mashed Cauliflower Jane Ellison, Great Lakes Energy 1 1 1 1 1 •

head cauliflower stick butter 12-ounce package cream cheese cup shredded cheddar cheese full tablespoon horseradish salt and pepper, to taste


Upper Peninsula resident, Jessica Racine, offers up this delicious chili perfect for warming up after a day of dog sledding or cheering on the teams. Each spoonful is sure to fuel you for all your winter adventures.

Cut cauliflower into just bigger than bite-sized pieces. Steam the cauliflower for 30–35 minutes (if boiled, it will be too mushy). Drain the water from pot. Add all ingredients to the pot. Use a potato masher to mash and combine. Top with additional cheddar cheese and serve.

Chocolate, Coffee And Oatmeal Pie Violet Glas, Great Lakes Energy 1 3 ¾ ¾ 3 2

refrigerated pie crust eggs cup sugar cup dark corn syrup tablespoons coffee-flavored liqueur tablespoons butter, melted and cooled ¼ teaspoon salt ½ cup quick-cooking rolled oats 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips Preheat oven to 450 F. Prepare pie crust as directed for one crust with the baked shell using a 9-inch pie pan. Do not prick crust. Bake for 9–11 minutes or until lightly browned. If the crust has raised center, press down gently with the back of a spoon. Cool for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 F. Meanwhile, beat eggs in medium bowl with wire whisk. Add sugar, corn syrup, liqueur, butter and salt; mix well. Stir in oats and chocolate chips. Pour filling into crust-lined pan. Cover edges of crust with strips of foil to prevent excessive browning. Bake for 45–55 minutes or until top is golden brown and center is almost set. Cool at least 3 hours before serving.

Trailside Chicken Chili

1 package of chicken chili mix (stirred in 1 cup water) 20 ounces cooked chicken (2 cans, about 10 ounces each, or fresh chicken) 1 can of mushrooms, drained (reserve liquid) 1 can of Mexi-corn, drained (reserve liquid) 1 can Great Northern beans, undrained 2 tablespoons sour cream 5 ounces pepper jack cheese or white cheddar, shredded

Place all ingredients in a slow cooker.

Ultimate Burgers: due December 1 Easy Weeknight Dinners: due January 1 Submit your favorite recipe for a chance to win a $50 bill credit and have your recipe featured in Country Lines with a photo and a video. Go to for more information and to register.

Enter to win a


energy bill credit!

Add another cup of water or use some of the drained water from the mushroom can and corn in place of water. Cook on low for a couple hours, being careful not to let it come to a boil. Serve and top with more sour cream and pepper jack cheese. Read the full story about the UP200 Sled Dog Race on page 14, and find this recipe and others at


Customer Appreciation Event Highlights Adrian The Lenawee County Fairgrounds was bopping to the Jailhouse Rock on Sunday, Sept. 30, while about 200 consumers enjoyed Nelson’s famous chicken and family fun. Three Elvis tribute artists—Colin Dexter, Jake Slater, and Doug Church—took listeners through Elvis’ career from the early years to his movies and the iconic 1970’s jumpsuit years. Colors the Clown wowed her audience with her amazing animal magic show and petting zoo of goats, pigs, rabbits and more. Finally, the bounce house, face painting and balloon animals topped off a fun-filled afternoon for guests of all ages.


Cass A misty sky certainly didn’t keep people away as nearly 1,400 consumers headed to the Cass County Fairgrounds on Sunday, Oct. 7. Redamak’s, What the Truck Tacos, The Wiener Shack, We Will Wok You, The Pretzel Wagon, Love’s Ice Cream, Mimi’s Cupcakes and Mother Wilma’s Marshmallow Factory proved popular as their crews busily served a steady stream of event goers. The younger crowd jumped their hearts out at the bounce house and raced their way through the obstacle course while a few brave souls tested their love for speed on the zip line. Eager kids showed off their balloon animals and the face painters adorned many cheeks and foreheads with glitter, animals, pumpkins and more. To round out the festivities, Top Secret Band played tunes old and new, and four beautiful horses with two wagons took riders on a tour of the grounds.


The UP200 Sled Dog Racers

MUSH By Emily Haines Lloyd // Photos by Mitch Rusch and Carly Antor


he image of a bundled and booted individual on the back of a sled pulled by a dozen magnificent dogs seems like a scene out of the movies or a bygone era. However, on a snowy Friday evening in February, spectators can make their way to downtown Marquette, Mich., and take a step back in time and into all the wonder and romance that is sled dog racing. In the Upper Peninsula, finding ways to more than survive the cold and snowy months of the year, but actually to thrive and enjoy oneself, has always been an important part of the lifestyle. Skiing, sledding, ice fishing, fat tire biking and even luging have gained popularity, but the majesty of sled dog racing takes winter to a new and exciting level. It began back in 1988 when Marquette residents Jeffrey Mann, Scott and Elise Bunce, and Tom and Sarah Lindstrom struck up a friendship only to discover they each had a common interest


Remy LeDuc of New Brunswick, Canada entering Grand Marais during the UP200 1/2-way point.


or experience in sled dog racing. What started as a friendly conversation turned to serious planning and, in 1990, to the cheers of 10,000 spectators, the mushers of the first UP200 Sled Dog Champion race bounded down Washington Street in Marquette and into the wild. For years to come, the UP200 and other local sled dog races have been successful reminders of the power of one person and their team of dogs. “I was there for the first race back in 1990,” said Darlene Walch, Upper Peninsula Sled Dog Association (UPSDA) president. “It was a remarkable thing to see. I started volunteering right after that, started mushing recreationally, and eventually started racing.” For the rigorous UP200, racers and their teams kick off their three-day 230-mile journey in Marquette to their first stop in Wetmore. This is a distance of approximately 64 miles on the upbound leg, then they go on to Grand Marais, where the teams turn around and continue their journey back to Marquette. Mushers encounter inclines, creek crossings, and isolation while tackling trail conditions ranging from fast hardpack to deep snow. A total rest time of 16 hours is required to ensure mushers and teams receive ample downtime, food and water breaks.

exude off of them, encouraging the musher and inspiring the crowds. “These teams are made of athletes,” said Walch. “We, the mushers, are just the coaches. We’re looking to improve on strengths, keep our team injury-free and help the team work together.” With 30 years under its belt, the UP200 continues to bring the joy of viewing worldclass athletes work in unison to accomplish something remarkable, delightful, and truly awesome to behold.

While many mushers race as a way to set personal goals, engage in the supportive community and simply enjoy the invigorating sport—others have sights on additional goals. The UP200 is a qualifying event for the Iditarod, coined The Last Great Race, which is certainly Alaska’s most well-known sporting event. The Iditarod is widely considered to be a critical part of saving the sled dog race culture and promoting the beautiful sport.

While the UP200 is certainly the Upper Peninsula’s longest race, sled dog lovers have several options to see these amazing teams in action.


230-mile race with 12-dog teams February 15–17, 2019

“The UP200 is an excellent litmus test for those interested in the Iditarod,” said Walch. “Mushers need to demonstrate the ability to manage a team over distance and manage unassisted checks. It’s an important race for mushers from the East Coast or Midwest, as many qualifying races are in Alaska and not a viable option.”

Midnight Run

90-mile race with 8-dog teams February 15–16, 2019

Jack Pine 30

While competition is certainly a big part of the sport’s make-up, Walch and others in the community will tell you that it is the dogs who are the heart and soul of each race. These dog breeds love running in the snow like Labradors love jumping in lakes and swimming. With each run, the joy and enthusiasm of the team

26-mile race with 6-dog teams February 16, 2019

Visit for more information. Musher Kris Sampson of Ontario, Canada.

2019 Fiber Internet Construction Plan 2019 marks the last year of our five-year communications construction project for our southwest territory. For those of you who have waited patiently, your time has come. Here is our general plan for when we will begin home installs with our 2019 deployment:

Our 2019 zones: • Covert/Hartford: Q2 • Paw Paw: Q3 • Texas/Portage: Q2 • Constantine/White Pigeon: Q4 Construction is complete or underway in all other zones in our southwest territory.

SIGN UP NOW The rural broadband revolution is a significant period for southwest Michigan, and you still have time to be part of the initial deployment. Head to to enter your address and register now. We will update you on our progress as we get closer to installation in your zone. If you’re in one of our active zones, we’ll get the process started right away, but please keep in mind we need about eight weeks to map and build the service drop to your home.

We’re Moving East in 2020

The work plan is underway to secure funding for our southeast Michigan and northern Ohio build. We expect this to be an 18-month construction process. Please visit to register your address and receive construction updates.


INTERNET PLANS START AT $49.95 PER MONTH Includes: Unlimited Data, 24/7 Tech Support and Free Installation. Enter promo code PLAY MORE when you sign up. 800.492.5989

Twelve-month contract required. Offer valid until 12.31.18. Roku Streaming Sticks will be delivered at installation appointment. Free installation available to Midwest Energy & Communications members only. Internet services are not regulated by the Michigan Public Service Commission.

Fuel Mix Report

Harry Gentz Retires Harry Gentz served faithfully as a cooperative director for 35 years and, with much emotion, announced his resignation at the June meeting of the board of directors. He and his wife, Phyllis, are eager to spend more time with family and in Florida as they close this chapter. A resident of Blissfield, Harry was first elected to the Southeastern Energy Cooperative (SEC) Board in 1983. With the 1998 merger between SEC and Fruit Belt Electric, Harry was one of two SEC directors elected to represent consumers in the newly-formed Midwest Energy Cooperative. He provided dedicated leadership and representation during some of the most dynamic years, including the merger and the start-up of the propane operation in 1998, the hiring of a new CEO in 2002, implementation of digital meters in 2004, the launch of a fiber communication system and internet service in 2014 and the rebranding and opening of a new headquarters facility in 2018. Harry served as the District 9 director, which is up for election in 2019. If you are an electric consumer and interested in serving, please see page 5 for more information.

Holiday Closings

The fuel mix characteristics of Midwest Energy & Communications as required by Public Act 141 of 2000 for the 12-month period ending 06/30/18.

Comparison Of Fuel Sources Used Regional average fuel mix used* Your co-op’s fuel mix

Fuel Source Coal















Renewable Fuels












Solid Waste Incineration









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

Your Co-op’s Fuel Mix

Regional Average Fuel Mix

We will be closed to celebrate the following holidays: Thanksgiving Thursday, Nov. 22, Friday, Nov. 23 Christmas Monday, Dec. 24, Tuesday, Dec. 25 New Year’s Day Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019 You can make a payment or report a power outage via SmartHub or by calling 800-492-5989. Drop box payments made at our three solutions centers will be processed on the next open business day.

Emissions And Waste Comparison lbs/MWh

Type Of Emission/Waste

Your Co-op

Regional Average*

Sulfur Dioxide



Carbon Dioxide







Oxides of Nitrogen High-level Nuclear Waste

*Regional average information was obtained from MPSC website and is for the 12-month period ending 12/31/17. Midwest Energy & Communications purchases 100% of its electricity from Wolverine Power Supply Cooperative, Inc., which provided this fuel mix and environmental data.


Guess this photo and enter to win a



4 5

energy bill credit! 2


Where In Michigan Is This? Identify the correct location of the photo above by November 20 and be entered into a drawing to win a $50 electric bill credit. Enter your guess at countrylines. com or send by mail to: Country Lines Mystery Photo, 201 Townsend St., Suite 900, Lansing, MI 48933. Include the name on your account, address, phone number and the name of your co-op. Our Mystery Photo Contest winner from the September issue is Gail Cook, a Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op member, who correctly identified the photo as Eagle Harbor Lighthouse in Keweenaw County. Winners are announced in the following issues of Country Lines: January, March, May, July/August, September and November/December.

September 2018

Best Snowmobile Trails The opportunities to experience a pure Michigan snow day are endless, and a day on a snowmobile is a perfect way to explore the winter scenery. With more than 6,500 groomed snowmobile trails that stretch from the Keweenaw Peninsula all the way down to Michigan’s southern border, there is plenty of opportunity for a snowmobile adventure. Along the way you can speed across frozen lakes, wind through forests and stop in snowmobile-friendly communities for a hot meal and good company. Start with some of the trails below suggested by fellow members.


Michigan’s Upper Peninsula A journey on a snowmobile across Michigan’s Upper Peninsula should be on every snowmobile enthusiast’s bucket list. There are more than 3,000 miles of groomed trails in the U.P. alone, featuring epic views. Get a new perspective on destinations like Tahquamenon Falls State Park and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore or make your way to Eben Ice Caves or Grand Island Ice Caves to explore this unique destination.


White Pine Trail Cadillac has a trail system with over 200 miles of groomed trails. Trails include the White Pine Trail at Fred Meijer White Pine Trail State Park. The trail is 92 miles long with an 88-mile section open from Cadillac to Grand Rapids. Jeff Dorr, Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op


Thumbs Up Snowmobile Trail Sanilac County has around 100 miles of groomed trails, all on private land. Enjoy the “Thumbs Up Snowmobile Trail” and take in the beauty of an eastern Michigan winter! Be sure to visit the Sanilac Shores Underwater Preserve and the picturesque Port Sanilac Lighthouse. Calvin Foster, HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative


Grand Marais Check out the Grand Marais area. The groomers do a wonderful job keeping the trails clear. This trail features wonderful trails and sights all around. Ivana Enright, Alger Delta Cooperative Electric Association


Northeast Michigan and Presque Isle Northeast Michigan, Presque Isle and the adjoining county trails have a lot of well groomed trails. John Houk, Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op 18 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2018

Best of Michigan Up Next: Best Burgers In Our Great Lakes State Help us create a “Best Burger” bucket list. We will publish this satisfying list in our February 2019 issue. Submit your favorites at under the MI Co-op Community tab by November 20.

Welcome to the

Greater Outdoors Experience extended Wi-Fi coverage for only pennies a day.

With our new Mesh Wi-Fi Extenders, you can experience whole-home coverage in every corner of your home—and beyond. 800.492.5989 Internet products and services are not regulated by the Michigan Public Service Commission.

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