Nov/Dec 2019 HomeWorks

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November/December 2019


COUNTRY LINES HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative

Apply For Youth Tour 2020

Good News Travels Fast At Good News Farm People Fund Grants $11,400 To Local Food Pantries And More

The North Pole Express ALL ABOARD


You don’t have to lower the thermostat to control your heating bills. WaterFurnace geothermal systems use the clean, renewable energy in your own backyard to provide savings of up to 70% on heating, cooling and hot water. And because WaterFurnace units don’t use any fossil fuels or combustion, the EPA calls it the most environmentally friendly and cost effective way to condition our homes.2 Contact your local WaterFurnace dealer to learn how WaterFurnace is good for the environment, your budget and the feeling in your toes. YOUR LOCAL WATERFURNACE DEALERS Bad Axe B & D Htg (989) 269-5280

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

Caro AllTemp Comfort, Inc. (866) 844-HEAT (4328)

Michigan Center Comfort 1/Aire Serv of Southern Michigan (517) 764-1500

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Portland ESI Htg & Clg (517) 647-6906

visit us at WaterFurnace is a registered trademark of WaterFurnace International, Inc. 1. 30% through 2019, 26% through 2020 and 22% through 2021 2. EPA study “Space Conditioning, The Next Frontier” (Report 430-R-93-004)

In This Issue November/December 2019 || Vol. 39, No. 10


Michigan’s Electric Cooperatives FEATURED PHOTO FROM


Your photo could be featured here. michigancountrylines

Executive Editor: Casey Clark

Follow Us On Instagram!

Editor: Christine Dorr Design and Production: Karreen Bird

Come share in the splendor of rural Michigan with us

Recipe Editor: Christin McKamey 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 are Robert Kran, Great Lakes Energy, chairman; Tony Anderson, Cherryland Electric Cooperative, vice chairman; and Eric Baker, Wolverine Power Cooperative, secretarytreasurer. 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


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.

@michigancountrylines michigancountrylines A crystal clear reflection of the Ore Dock in Marquette by @justin_palmer_photography

ON THE COVER All Aboard The North Pole Express! One of the few remaining steam-powered engines in the country, the Pere Marquette 1225, better known as the North Pole Express, shuttles passengers of all generations into an idyllic blast from Christmas past each December.

6 MI CO-OP COMMUNITY The Call Of The Michigan Wild

For these three friends from Escanaba, Michigan, their enthusiasm for the outdoors was their strongest bond. Emily Haines Lloyd

10 MI CO-OP KITCHEN Spread Holiday Cheer With Festive Cookie Recipes Christin McKamey & Our Readers

Featured Guest Chef: Enjoy this snow storm soup recipe from Kim Springsdorf, executive director of Steam Railroading Institute. Enter Our Recipe Contest And Win A $50 Bill Credit!

14 FEATURE All Aboard The North Pole Express Multiple generations of families share this unique Michigan experience. Emily Haines Lloyd

18 MI CO-OP COMMUNITY Best of Michigan: Bakeries

Get ready to devour this member-recommended list of Michigan’s best bakeries. Guess Our New Mystery Photo And Win A $50 Bill Credit!

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: 10/1/19. 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. 2019. 13. Extent and nature of circulation: Avg # of copies each issue during preceding 12 mo.

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

A) Total No. of copies ................................ 241,500 ................... 242,882 B) Paid and requested circulation ............ 241,500 ................... 242,882 C) Total paid and requested circulation ... 241,500 ................... 242,882 D) 1) Free distribution by mail .........................188 ...........................155 2) Free distribution outside mail .................920 ...........................887 E) Total free distribution ...............................1,108 ....................... 1,042 F) Total distribution.................................. 222,141 ................... 243,924 G) Copies not distributed ..................................... 0 ...............................0 H) Total ..................................................... 222,141 ................... 243,924 I) Percent paid and/or requested circ. .........98.7% .......................99.7% 16. Publication of statement of ownership: November 2019 17. Signature and title of editor: Christine Dorr, Editor













Concern For Community Is A Key Co-op Principle



Portland office/Mail payments to: 7973 E. Grand River Ave. Portland, MI 48875 Open 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday–Friday Blanchard office: 3681 Costabella Ave. Blanchard, MI 49310 Open 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday–Friday Night deposit box available at both locations. Electric bill/account questions: 517-647-7554 or 1-800-562-8232 Pay by phone, anytime: 1-877-999-3395 Service questions/outages: 517-647-7554 or 1-800-848-9333 (24 hours for emergency calls) Tri-County Propane: 1-877-574-2740 HomeWorks Connect 1-800-668-8413 Email:

Board of Directors District 1 — John Lord Vice-Chairman 2276 Plains Rd., Leslie, MI 49251 517-974-2518 District 2 — Jim Stebbins 7139 Peddler Lake Rd., Clarksville, MI 48815 616-693-2449 District 3 — Luke Pohl Chairman 15560 W. Hanses Rd., Westphalia, MI 48894 989-292-0427 District 4 — Kimber Hansen 6535 N. Wyman Rd., Edmore, MI 48829 989-506-5849 District 5 — Corinna Batora 7655 N. Watson Rd., Elsie, MI 48831 517-256-5233 District 6 — Ed Oplinger Secretary-Treasurer 10890 W. Weidman Rd., Weidman, MI 48893 989-644-3079 District 7 — Shirley Sprague 15563 45th Ave., Barryton, MI 49305 989-382-7535 Editors: C harly Markwart Jayne Graham, CCC

Join us on Facebook. 4 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2019


Mark Kappler, General Manager

ast month, I wrote about some of the characteristics that make your Cooperative different than investor-owned electric providers or municipalities. One thing that really distinguishes HomeWorks from other types of utilities is that, as a Cooperative, we are committed to living by the Seven Cooperative Principles. You may have heard me talk about the Seven Co-op Principles before, as they are very important to me. Co-ops all around the world strive to operate according to this special set of core principles and values. One of the Cooperative Principles that really applies during this season of giving, and all year round, is “Concern for Community.” One of the key ways in which we at HomeWorks choose to live out this principle is through our classroom, youth, and community outreach programs. Each year, we grant thousands of dollars to schools in our service area through our Touchstone Energy Classroom S.T.E.A.M. Grant program. This offering is intended to help teachers provide innovative Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math-related educational opportunities in their classrooms. I enjoy reading the thank-you notes each year from excited students whose learning journeys were brightly impacted by a 3D printer, classroom iPad, science kit, or other equipment that our grants were able to help provide. Two other youth outreach programs that exemplify our concern for community are our college scholarship offerings and Electric Cooperative Youth Tour opportunities. Each year, we award $1,000 scholarships to several high school seniors in our service area, to help with tuition expenses during their first year of college. We also send two to three local high school students annually on an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., to participate in the Electric Cooperative Youth Tour. Youth Tour is a once-in-a-lifetime travel opportunity for high school sophomores and juniors that gives them the chance to explore the leadership lessons of our nation’s history and to be immersed in the cooperative spirit with other students from across the country. Our students come back raving each year about all the ways in which the trip has impacted them and changed their perspectives. And, of course, you know about our cornerstone community outreach program, the Tri-County Electric People Fund. Thanks to members who opt in to round their monthly electric bills up to the next dollar, the People Fund has granted over $2.2 million to families and organizations in need throughout our service area. I want to say “thank you” to every single member who participates in Operation Round Up. Your spare change really adds up and makes a big difference in the communities we serve. If you’d like to opt in to round up your bill for this program, please call our office or leave a note on your next bill payment. Thank you for supporting HomeWorks in our classroom, youth, and community outreach programs. During the holiday season and always, let’s remember to continue to put our concern for community into practice. To apply for a classroom grant, college scholarship, or Youth Tour opportunity, please visit (URL is case-sensitive).

The Call Of The

Michigan Wild By Emily Haines Lloyd


n the Midwest, hunting and fishing are more than just seasons, they are often traditions. For a group of childhood friends from Escanaba in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, it’s a bit of a calling. Mike Aho, Doug Latvala, and Ben Irving grew up playing hockey together, a popular pastime in Escanaba. Aho’s and Irving’s dads also played together in a bluegrass band. However, as the three friends, now grown with families of their own, sit around over beers, their love of the outdoors is possibly their strongest bond. “It seems like everyone in the U.P. has a camp,” said Irving. “Itʻs where you go on the weekends to either hunt, fish or prepare for hunting and fishing season.” “And drink beer,” adds Latvala. The three laugh and it only takes a moment to realize that Mother Nature nurtures more than the wildlife, it nurtures lifelong friendships. How deep does the love of camp go? Latvala was born on the opening day of deer hunting season and, when his mother went into labor, someone had to head out to the

Get your own Michigan Wild hat from

woods to find Latvala’s dad. As family lore goes, dad hung out with his newborn for a few hours and actually went back out to camp. So, it's fair to say, the love goes deep. So deep, the trio still spends a great deal of time out in nature together, even though they are separated by significant distances—Latvala lives in Marquette, Aho in the Metro Detroit area, and Irving all the way out in Green Bay, Wisconsin. “The U.P. is more than a location, it’s a way of life,” said Aho. “The outdoors is ingrained into our families. Along the way, we decided to start sharing our photos and experiences on Instagram and called it Michigan Wild (@MichiganWild).” When the guys started Michigan Wild, it was simply a hashtag, but it’s caught on quickly, with more than 9,600 followers who now tag their outdoor adventures similarly. Michigan Wild isn’t a business (although you can buy a cool ball cap with their logo on it), it’s more of a movement. “I live in a cul-de-sac community,” explains Irving. “And the excitement my son has when I tell him we’re going to go on a hike is amazing. I don’t want him to lose his connection to the outdoors. I think we just want to remind people how wonderful and simple it is out there.” “Yeah, that’s it. Camp is simple,” adds Aho. “After being tied down by the grind of work, you wake up at camp, make coffee, talk a little and head out. When you come back, you’re excited to hear everyone’s stories. If someone in a neighboring camp brings in a deer, everyone goes to help. It’s basic hunter/gatherer culture and you’re reliving that. But, with a sauna.”

Photo courtesy of Jim Behymer

The guys laugh again. Each of the men makes it clear that they enjoy the hunting and utilizing the venison from deer season throughout the year, but it’s the community and sheer awe of the wilderness that keeps them connected. One look at some of their most frequent hashtags nods heavily toward that— #getoutdoors #whatgetsyououtdoors #itsinmynature. “A lot of camps are dying out,” said Latvala. “We want to make sure our kids get to have some of these experiences that have literally made us who we are. So, if we can build a little enthusiasm or interest around all the amazing things the Michigan wilderness has to offer, then that’s what we want to do.” Their big takeaway is to not be intimidated by wilderness. “Ask if you have questions,” said Latvala. “Everyone out there is happy to see other faces. Ask the group you see in the forest or ask guys like us online. We hope to encourage you to get out there and enjoy the Michigan wild.”

@michigancountrylines + @michiganwild Usher in opening day with the Michigan Wild crew. Get behindthe-scenes footage of their hunting prep and first day in the woods on the @michigancountrylines Instagram account, Nov. 14 & 15.

While the Michigan Wild guys are the first to encourage anyone to do things their own way, a few decades in the woods has taught them a tip or two.

Venison Cudighi

This spicy Italian sausage is an Upper Peninsula staple, and if you’re like the guys from Michigan Wild, you enjoy utilizing your own venison and reliving memories from deer camp. Doug Latvala shares his favorite Cudighi recipe. 5 5 2 3 1 1 1 ½

pounds venison pounds pork shoulder teaspoons black pepper tablespoons salt teaspoon cinnamon teaspoon nutmeg teaspoon allspice teaspoon clove

½ teaspoon mace ½ teaspoon ginger 1–3 teaspoon(s) red pepper flakes (depending on heat desired) 1 cup Paisano sweet red wine 1 cup water

Grind and mix pork and venison together. Hand mix all seasonings, red wine, and water ingredients with the meat mixture. Let stand in refrigerator for 24–48 hours to marinate. Package as patties, links or bulk, and freeze or use within three days. Serving suggestion: Make patties and pan fry Cudighi, melting mozzarella cheese over the top. In a separate pan, sauté green peppers, onions, and mushrooms. Warm up your favorite pizza sauce. Layer patty, sauce and vegetables on your favorite type of bun and enjoy!

• Don’t be afraid to change your tactics: keep the hunt fun. • Set yourself up so you are ready to shoot. The pain of a beautiful buck walking by without getting off a shot will sting for a while. • When using binoculars, squeeze them to the brim of your hat for more stability.

• Never pass up a deer on the first day that you’d be happy to have on the last day. • Start a deer hunting tradition with your family or friends. It keeps the momentum and the memories going. Simply planning the trip over email or text will be a little five-minute vacation in your day. MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES


Notice to Members of HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative

Light up their Christmas with the gift of energy!

The HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative Board of Directors, at a Special Open Meeting held Oct. 28, 2019, in accordance with P.A. 167 and P.A. 95, revised the Cooperative’s electric rates to meet current and future financial needs. For specific details of this rate change and any HomeWorks tariffs or fees, please call us at 1-800-562-8232 or visit our website at

Pay for your loved one’s electric, propane, or fiber internet bill this Christmas with a HomeWorks gift certificate!

Now available in both of our offices.

Soak in the


Special offer! Increased incentive of $700 available on heat pump water heaters.

▪ EFFICIENCY — Reduce energy consumption by 50% or more compared to standard electric water heaters. ▪ COST SAVINGS — A four-person household can save up to $300 a year in energy savings. ▪ QUICK PAYBACK — Recoup upfront costs in one year with rebate. | 877-296-4319 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

Snap Shot Snap Shots 2020—Win A $10 Bill Credit If Your Photo Is Printed In Country Lines Magazine •E ach member whose submitted photo is printed in Michigan Country Lines will receive a $10 bill credit the following month. Up to $50 per month will be awarded! •S end us your BEST photos. We will consider the first three sent in by any member for each monthly theme, so share the photos that really illustrate the subject. •D igital photos should be a minimum of 600 KB, preferably 1 MB or larger. •A dditional submissions, or smaller photos, may be used in the monthly Snap Shot spotlight on our Facebook page, but will not be eligible to win a bill credit.



Ugly Christmas Sweaters 1. Lynn Thelen of Westphalia reports, “I purchased this sweater at a Goodwill store a number of years ago. It has been worn by a couple people to “Ugly Sweater” Christmas parties & took 1st place twice. My daughter, Kara, is modeling it here.” 2. Tammy Waldron of Elwell sent in this photo of “Grandma and Grandpa Waldron, surrounded by our kids and grandkids,” from Christmas 2018. 3. Sara Miller of Summer says “My brother, Tim, and my sister-in-law, Telli, absolutely brought their game to our annual ugly sweater Christmas contest, stealing the win and upping everyone’s competitiveness for next year!”


Upcoming Snap Shot Contest Topics And Deadlines “Take the Cake,” deadline: Nov. 15 (January issue) “Around the World,” deadline: Dec. 16 (February issue) “Cute Kids,” deadline: Jan. 15 (March issue)

Enter to win a


energy bill credit!

Go to and select “Country Lines magazine” under the “Electric” tab to submit your photos online and see all of the 2020 Snap Shot themes. It’s fast and easy. To send by mail, include your name, address, phone number, photographer’s name, and details about your photo. Mail to Attn: Country Lines Snap Shots, 7973 E. Grand River Ave., Portland, MI 48875. Photos will not be returned. Do not send color laser prints or professional studio photos.

Win A Bill Credit!

Contributors whose photos we publish in 2020 will receive a $10 bill credit the month after publication. MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES


Christmas Cookies Spread holiday cheer with these festive cookie recipes. Photos by Robert Bruce Photography Recipes Submitted By MCL Readers And Tested By Recipe Editor Christin McKamey

Winning Recipe!

White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies Benjamin and Jessica Bain, HomeWorks Tri-County ¾ cup unsalted butter, softened ¾ cup brown sugar ½ cup white sugar 1 egg 2 teaspoons vanilla

1¾ ¼ ½ 1 1

cups all-purpose flour teaspoon salt teaspoon baking soda cup dried cranberries cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cream together butter, brown sugar, and white sugar. Add egg and vanilla and mix well. Add flour, salt, and baking soda and mix well. Add cranberries and white chocolate chips and stir to combine. Drop by spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 12–15 minutes until lightly browned. Let cool slightly, then transfer to cooling racks.

Watch a video of this month’s winning recipe at


Aunt Neenee’s Cream Cheese Cookies Deb Finedell, Great Lakes Energy 1 cup butter, softened 3 ounces cream cheese, softened 1 cup sugar

1 1 2½ •

egg teaspoon vanilla cups flour dash of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease cookie sheet. In a large bowl, mix the butter, cream cheese and sugar. Add the egg and vanilla; beat well. Stir in flour and dash of salt until combined. Roll into 1-inch balls. Roll in red and green sugar. Bake 12—15 minutes.



Grandma Huhn’s Spice Cookies Sharon Hoffman, HomeWorks Tri-County

1 cup brown sugar 1 cup white sugar 1 cup lard (do not substitute oil or Crisco) 3 eggs 1 cup buttermilk 1 cup sour cream 1½ tablespoons nutmeg 1 tablespoon cinnamon 1 tablespoon allspice 1 tablespoon vanilla 1 teaspoon baking soda 2½ teaspoons baking powder 6½ cups flour

This soup recipe from Kim Springsdorf, executive director of Steam Railroading Institute, can be made with whatever yummy things you have in the refrigerator. Be creative, this is a soup that is never the same. Let it simmer and enjoy!

Cream sugars and lard together. Mix in the remaining ingredients, adding the flour last. You can place dough in floured freezer bags and freeze for two weeks to let the spices intensify, or you can immediately roll out, cut and bake at 350 degrees F for 7—10 minutes.

Snow Storm Soup

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies Mary Ellen Wynes, HomeWorks Tri-County ¾ 1 2 4 2 2 2 ½ 1

cup vegetable oil cup cocoa powder cups sugar eggs teaspoons vanilla cups flour teaspoons baking powder teaspoon salt cup confectioners sugar

Mix oil, cocoa powder and sugar. Blend in eggs one at a time. Add vanilla and remaining dry ingredients. Chill overnight. Drop teaspoonfuls of dough into confectioners sugar. Roll in the sugar and form into balls. Place on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes. Do not overbake.

Savory Cherries: due December 1 Chili Cook Off: 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!

1 pound bacon 2 pounds ground beef, stew meat or both 1 onion, finely diced 4 ribs of celery, sliced thin 2 carrots, halved and sliced 6–8 whole garlic cloves, minced 4 cups beef broth 1 lb. potatoes, baked, cooled and diced 2 cups fresh mushrooms 1 can diced tomatoes 2 cups kidney or great northern beans 4 tablespoons flour • salt, fresh ground pepper, garlic powder, cumin and chili powder to taste • optional: olive oil, Parmesan cheese, cream cheese and whipping cream Cook bacon and beef in soup stockpot. Set aside. Sauté vegetables in the grease, until tender. Add olive oil if needed. Add flour to vegetables and mix until thick. Slowly add broth and bring to a boil to thicken. Add remaining ingredients and simmer on low for approximately 3 hours——be sure to stir often. The soup is even better the next day! Add shredded Parmesan cheese, cream cheese or heavy whipping cream at the end of your cook time for a creamy finish. Serving suggestion: For individual servings, you can add toasted bread, top with cheese and put soup bowls under the broiler just long enough to melt the cheese. The soup is best served with 12 inches of snow and a bonfire in the great outdoors! Read the full story about the Steam Railroading Institute on page 14, and find this recipe and others at MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES


Fuel Mix Report The fuel mix characteristics of HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative as required by Public Act 141 of 2000 for the 12-month period ended 06/30/19.

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

Fuel Source Coal 25.67% Oil




Gas 13.33%





Nuclear 42.45%


Renewable Fuels 16.38%











Solid Waste Incineration









HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative NOTICE OF OPPORTUNITY TO COMMENT On Aug. 1, 2019, HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative (“HomeWorks”) filed an Energy Waste Reduction plan (“EWRP”) to comply with 2008 PA 295, as amended, MCL 460.1001, et seq., in Case No. U-20388P Any interested person may review the filed EWRP on the MPSC website under Case No. U-20388 at, at HomeWorks’ office, located at 7973 E. Grand River Ave., Portland, MI 48875, or at the office of the Commission’s Executive Secretary, 4300 W. Saginaw Hwy, Lansing, MI 48917. Written and electronic comments may be filed with the Commission and must be received no later than 5 p.m. on Dec. 30, 2019. Written comments should be sent to: Executive Secretary, Michigan Public Service Commission, P.O. Box 30221, Lansing, MI 48909, with a copy mailed to HomeWorks. Electronic comments may be emailed to All comments should reference Case No. U-20388. Comments received in this matter will become public information, posted on the Commission’s website, and subject to disclosure. The Commission will review the EWRP together with any filed comments and provide a response indicating any revisions that should be made. If the Commission suggests revisions, HomeWorks may file a revised EWRP. A Commission order will be issued on or before the 90th day following the publication of notice.

NOTE: Biomass 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


co-op entrepreneurs

Regional Average Fuel Mix

SUBMIT A NOMINATION TODAY! Emissions And Waste Comparison lbs/MWh

Your Co-op

Regional Average*

Sulfur Dioxide



Carbon Dioxide







Type Of Emission/Waste

Oxides of Nitrogen High-level Nuclear Waste

*Regional average information was obtained from MPSC website and is for the 12-month period ending 06/30/19. HomeWorks purchases 100% of its electricity from Wolverine Power Supply Cooperative, Inc., which provided this fuel mix and environmental data.


Michigan Country Lines is on the hunt for entrepreneurial movers and shakers to showcase in our March 2020 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.

Your Board In Action

Holiday Hours

At its Sept. 23 meeting in Blanchard, your board of directors: • Learned about progress made by HomeWorks Connect in building a highspeed fiber-optic internet network. • Reviewed a presentation from Wolverine Power Cooperative CEO Eric Baker, regarding a proposal to extend the Co-op’s all-requirements contract with Wolverine. • Authorized staff to engage Eide Bailly as the financial auditor for 2019. • Discussed and accepted Board Policy 101 – Policy Formulation and Approval, with minor wording changes.

The offices of HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative will be closed on the following days of the holiday season to allow our employees to celebrate with their loved ones. While we are closed, you can reach us to report an outage at 800-848-9333, or to pay your bill via phone at 877-999-3395.

• Learned there were 119 new members in August.

Thanksgiving Day

• Acknowledged the August safety report, listing employee training as well as minor employee and public incidents involving electric, fiber optic, or propane.

Thursday, Nov. 28

Time Set Aside for Members to Comment Before Cooperative Board Meetings

Meeting Oct. 9, the Tri-County Electric People Fund board awarded six grants totaling $11,400, including: • $1,000 to M46 Tabernacle Food Pantry, Riverdale, to purchase food pantry items; • $6,000 to God’s Helping Hands of Mecosta County, Remus, to supply Christmas food box items; • $1,400 to The Voice of Clinton County Children, Saint Johns, for materials to support the Child Advocacy Center; • $500 to the Village of Vermontville, to purchase a generator for its newly-acquired community center and storm shelter; • $1,500 to the Crossroads Compassion Center, Greenville, to purchase food pantry items; and • $1,000 to Clinton-Gratiot Habitat for Humanity, Saint Johns, for building supplies needed on a Habitat work day.

Tuesday, Dec. 24

Christmas Day

The first 15 minutes of every board meeting are available for members who wish to address the board of directors on any subject. The next meetings are scheduled for 9 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 18 at Portland, and Monday, Dec. 16 at Blanchard. Members who need directions to the meeting or wish to have items considered on the board agenda should call 517-647-7554.

People Fund Supports Local Food Pantries And More

Christmas Eve

Wednesday, Dec. 25

New Year’s Day Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020

How to Apply for a Tri-County Electric People Fund Grant The Tri-County Electric People Fund provides grants to individuals and organizations in the Co-op’s service area for food, shelter, clothing, health, and other humane needs, or for programs or services that benefit a significant segment of a community. Write to 7973 E. Grand River Ave., Portland, MI 48875, for an application form and grant guidelines, or click on the People Fund tab at Note: Applications must be received by Nov. 5 for the November meeting, or by Dec. 3 for the December meeting.

Thanks to members who round up their monthly bill to the next dollar, our People Fund has been able to grant over $2.2 million to families and organizations in need since 1993.

To opt in to Operation Round Up, call us at 800-562-8232. MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES 13

The North Pole Express ALL ABOARD

By Emily Haines Lloyd Photos courtesy of Steam Railroading Institute Staff Photographers Scott Shields, Matt Churcott, George Dines and Matthew Malkiewicz


f you thought Christmas arrived by a reindeer-drawn sleigh, you haven’t felt the ground shake or seen the smiling faces of eager passengers as The North Pole Express comes chugging into the Owosso train platform outside the Steam Railroading Institute. The Pere Marquette 1225 (the North Pole Express) is one of the few steam-powered train engines in the country still operating today. Every winter it transforms into an

idyllic blast from the past as passengers have their tickets punched by a volunteer conductor. The commitment of nearly 100 volunteers per trip make it possible for passengers to experience the journey from Owosso to Ashley’s Country Christmas in Ashley, Michigan. Travelers, some wrapped up cozily in their pajamas, enjoy carol singers, card games, and if they’ve been a good girl or boy, a glimpse of Santa once they arrive in Ashley. Hot cocoa and snacks are served along with a healthy dose of nostalgia. “It gets me every time,” said Kimberly Springsdorf, executive director of Steam Railroading Institute (SRI). “Watching the faces of the passengers—multiple generations of families sharing this unique experience together, their smiles and laughter—it’s magical.” The magic that is all around today’s train travel is deeply rooted in nostalgia surrounding trains in the United States. What was once a powerhouse industry of

“Watching the faces of the passengers—multiple generations of families sharing this unique experience together, their smiles and laughter—

its’ maical. ”

building and trade has become something quaint, which is an odd word for mammoth engines like the Pere Marquette 1225, which is 16-feet high, 100-feet long and weighs over 400 tons.

A group of engineering students from Michigan State University formed the MSU Railroad Club fifty years ago with the challenge to see the engine, which was a static display on campus, run again. Their charge was taken up by the Steam Railroading Institute when the 1225 was moved to Owosso. In addition to continuing restoration of the engine, SRI strives to educate the public about steam-era railroading in Michigan and the Great Lakes region. Its focus includes the preservation of the skills and technology for maintain steam locomotives by operating steam-era equipment and providing the experience of steam locomotives in operation. The Pere Marquette 1225 stays in working condition through ticket sales from mainline excursions, special events, demonstrations, and tours, as well as individual and corporate donations. “You can’t imagine the time, effort and investment it takes to maintain 1225,” said Springsdorf. “When a part breaks on this engine, you don’t just run down to a shop. You either have to borrow it or build it. From absolutely every aspect, running this engine is a labor of love.”

Love is exactly what you see and hear from the train travelers who plan months in advance to take one of the 22 North Pole Express trips the Steam Railroading Institute offers annually. A variety of other excursions across Michigan, including fall color tours, hobo camp, and an opportunity to run the 1225, are offered by SRI. Tickets sell out quickly, but keep your eyes peeled for a Christmas miracle and a few last-minute seats that may be available. All tour dates are announced in the spring. Visit to learn more or call 989-725-9464, and fi nd them on Facebook and Instagram, too.

The Maic of

The Moies When moviemakers were producing the now iconic “The Polar Express” starring Tom Hanks, Hollywood crews took a trip to Michigan to study none other than the Pere Marquette 1225. The blueprints from 1225 were used as the prototype for “The Polar Express” and even the sounds of the chugging engine and the whistle were recorded to bring the beloved movie train to life.

Good News Travels Fast By James A. Curtis


here is a shortage of good news these days, but the Britton family in Cedar Lake, Michigan is determined to create their own on the 28-acre farm the family calls home—the certified-organic Good News Farm. Andrew and Janna Britton moved to Cedar Lake in 2014 and took over the Good News Farm business the following year. Both having been raised on farms themselves, the couple hoped to recreate the same wholesome environment of their childhoods for their five daughters. “I grew up on a traditional farm with a greenhouse, and Andrew grew up on a farm that raised beef cattle,” said Janna. “We wanted our children to experience growing up on the farm like we did, and it was a natural fit.”

Organic Growth Good News Farm specializes in growing certified-organic red cluster tomatoes, lettuce, herbs and kale in the farm’s greenhouse. Each year, the Brittons grow up to 3,000 cases of tomatoes and several hundred pounds of lettuce and kale. Alfalfa is grown on the remaining acres, both to make hay and fertilizer, and to use as a pollinator source for their bees to make raw honey that is sustainably treated and processed. “We wanted to be certified organic in part because there is a niche market, but also because it’s better for the environment and we’re held to a higher standard than conventional farming,” said Janna. “It’s more sustainable, more helpful, 16 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2019

Andrew and Janna Britton and their five daughters are proud to call Good News Farm, in Cedar Lake, their home.

more eco-friendly. That’s what we believe in, what we’re interested in, and we can pass that along to our customers.” All of their products, 98% of which are sold locally in Michigan, are shipped within 24 hours of being harvested. This allows customers to purchase produce in-store that is still fresh from the farm. They also partner with a local Amish cooperative, which allows them to grow more to meet customer demand. “We are excited that selling local has allowed us to be a more sustainable company and decrease the distance that our produce has to travel to our customers’ tables,” said Janna.

A Different Kind of Organic In addition to being a certified-organic farm, the Brittons also utilize the unique practice of growing crops veganically. This means Good News Farm does not use any animal products in the production of its crops. Instead of manure, fish meal, or other types of animal-based fertilizer, the farm utilizes mainly alfalfa pellets to nourish its crops. “Using strictly plant-based materials in our production decreases the risk of contamination from animal-related diseases like E. coli and salmonella, and it means we’re not introducing hormones or other things that could have a negative impact on the environment or our health,” said Janna. “We want our produce to be nutrient-dense food.”

A Clean Slate As organic and veganic farmers, the Brittons care deeply about environmental stewardship, and they work to inject that philosophy into their everyday practice.

“We believe that the planet is a gift, and we need to take good care of it. We try to prevent overusing resources so they are available for the next generations.” —Janna Britton

“We believe that the planet is a gift, and we need to take good care of it,” said Janna. “We try to prevent overusing resources so they are available for the next generations.” With that philosophy, the Brittons minimize their environmental impact as much as possible. The farm reuses all plant waste and byproduct by turning it into compost and returning it back to the soil so they are not throwing anything away needlessly. They minimize the amount of heat or energy needed to run the farm, and they are transitioning to heating the farm with leftover wood from a local Amish sawmill. “We’re excited about our progress, but we’re not satisfied to stop where we’re at,” said Janna.“We’re always looking for more ways that we can become more sustainable.”

Proud Co-op Partner Another area where the Brittons are focused on efficiency is in the special plastic film that covers their farm’s greenhouse. The plastic increases energy savings by blocking infrared radiation and reducing ventilation in the summer, while also helping to reduce heat loss at night in the winter. With their passion for responsible energy use, the Brittons say they are proud to be members of a

The Brittons grow up to 3,000 cases of tomatoes and several hundred pounds of lettuce and kale each year. Here, Janna carefully examines a row of kale.

Cooperative that shares their commitment to protecting the environment. HomeWorks, through power supplier Wolverine Power Cooperative, now powers all members with electricity that is more than 60% carbon-free. “As a small business that believes in sustainability, organic, and protecting the earth, we really appreciate working with a company like HomeWorks that believes in sustainability and reducing carbon emissions and their carbon footprint,” said Janna. “As a small business owner, I think it’s really neat to see that, and I appreciate that they’re working hard to protect the environment.” Janna says she and Andrew also appreciate that their Cooperative works hard for its members. “Being a member of HomeWorks has been very beneficial for us,” she said. “We think it’s really amazing to be part of a Cooperative that is interested in making sure we as members have what we need to make our business succeed.” And succeed, the Brittons do. With their focus on protecting the earth and nourishing their family and customers, they surely are spreading some good news.

As certified-organic growers, the Brittons pay special attention to how their crops are nourished on a daily basis. Here, Andrew waters pallets of freshly planted seedlings.

You can find Good News Farm’s produce all over Michigan, including at Meijer, Whole Foods, local health food stores, Pure Vitality Juice Bar, and In Season Café in Detroit.

To learn more about Good News Farm, visit To learn about other HomeWorks members using their “homegrown” power for homegrown products in their communities, visit

Guess this photo and enter to win a


energy bill credit!




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Best Bakeries 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 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 Marlene Moreno, a Cherryland Electric Cooperative member, who correctly identified the photo as Cherry Point Farm & Market in Shelby. The photo shows the arbors around the central garden and the lavender labyrinth to the outside of the arbors. Winners are announced in the following issues of Country Lines: January, March, May, July/August, September and November/December.

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Great Lakes Bakery and Antiques Mall, Muskegon Sandi Hillis makes the best cakes ever with all-natural ingredients and even gluten-free options (but you’d never guess!) Jennifer Sylvester, Great Lakes Energy Jamsen’s Fish Market and Bakery, Copper Harbor My favorite Michigan bakery, Jamsen’s staff are a hoot and make some of the best pastries in the Keweenaw. “Gotta have it” items include the cheddar, bacon and chive scone and the thimbleberry frosted donuts. Nathan Miller, Ontonagon REA


Boyne City Bakery, Boyne City Boyne City Bakery is the BEST French bakery, in the U.S. Each time I go into this bakery I feel like I’m stepping back into a French bakery in France from the delicious pastries and breads, to the French-speaking baker, to the polite employees, and the French-themed decor and ambiance. Go today and enjoy a “little piece of French heaven”! Evelyn Howell, Great Lakes Energy


Sunset Acres Bakery, Charlotte Heavenly angel food cakes, melt in your mouth molasses cookies, rich rhubarb squares and so much more. Everything from Sunset Acres Bakery is beyond good, it’s delicious!! Robin Musselman, HomeWorks Tri-County


Tecumseh Bread and Pastry, Tecumseh This is a bakery owned by a husband and wife team that bakes fresh each morning and mills their own flours at night. They produce wonderful coffeecakes, cookies, bread, and pies. I always take something from their store to family out of town for my “made in Michigan” gift. Carol Kruse, Midwest Energy & Communications


Goodale’s Bakery, Grayling The best quality ingredients mixed with decades of experience and served by the most helpful staff guarantees the best baked goods you’ll ever find. Alan Riegel, Great Lakes Energy



Flour Pot Bakery, Elk Rapids Flour Pot has wonderful pastries, muffins, and cookies. Around Fat Tuesday in February, they make hundreds of paczki (a filled donut) that are scrumptious! Becky Granger, Great Lakes Energy

Photo by Susan Luter



Satisfy your sweet tooth with these member-recommended bakeries throughout Michigan.

Bay Bread Co., Traverse City A husband-and-wife-owned team bakes over 40 kinds of delicious artisan loaves of bread and sweets. Stacey Wilcox, Cherryland Electric Cooperative

September 2019



Stephenson Bakery, Inc., Menominee This is a real bakery with perfect sweet creations—— awesome doughnuts and friendly, attentive staff. Brenda Gustafson, Alger Delta

Best of Michigan UP NEXT! Chocolatiers: Tell us about your favorite places for melt-in-your-mouth chocolates. Submit your favorites at under the MI Co-op Community tab by November 25, and this indulgent list will be published in the February issue.


(989) 356-2113 Hurry, 30% Federal Tax Credit 989-356-2113 decreases December 31, 2019 Report Outages: 1-800-848-9333




? $5




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