Nov/Dec 2019

Page 1

November/December 2019


COUNTRY LINES Thumb Electric Cooperative

AMI Implementation To Begin High School Students, Apply Now For Youth Tour 2020

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

Clifford Orton Refrig & Htg (989) 761-7691

Mt Pleasant Walton Htg & Clg (989) 772-4822

Berrien Springs WaterFurnace Michiana (269) 473-5667

Hart/Ludington Adams Htg & Clg (231) 873-2665

Muskegon Adams Htg & Clg (231) 873-2665

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

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

Muskegon Kiessel Geothermal Htg & Clg (231) 747-7509

Sunfield Mark Woodman Plmb & Htg (517) 886-1138 Traverse City D & W Mechanical (231) 941-1215 Traverse City Geofurnace Htg & Clg (231) 943-1000

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






Thumb Electric Cooperative 2231 Main Street Ubly, MI 48475-0157 1-800-327-0166 or 989-658-8571 E-mail:

Board Of Directors HURON COUNTY Randall Dhyse, Treasurer District 1 • 989-551-6533 Don Wolschleger, Director District 2 • 989-975-2027 Beth McDonald, Secretary District 3 • 989-550-7470 SANILAC COUNTY Kim Nunn, Vice President District 1 • 810-679-4291 Mike Briolat, Director District 2 • 989-284-3405 Duane Kursinsky, Director District 3 • 810-837-3828 TUSCOLA COUNTY Louis Wenzlaff, President District 1 • 989-683-2696 Jonathan Findlay, Director District 2 • 989-551-8393 Carl Cousins, Director District 3 • 989-871-4449 Dallas Braun, General Manager PAYMENT STATIONS Huron County Bad Axe—Northstar Bank Pigeon—Northstar Bank Tuscola County Akron—Northstar Bank Caro—Northstar Bank Mayville—Mayville State Bank Millington—Mayville State Bank Sanilac County Sandusky—Northstar Bank Thumb Electric Cooperative is an equal opportunity provider and employer.


Thumb Electric AMI Implementation To Begin


tarting in late fall or early winter, Thumb Electric Cooperative (TEC) will begin installing equipment for its Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) system. Only members served from the Ubly Substation circuits will be part of the initial deployment. The initial deployment phase will allow us to test and work through any problems that could occur with system communications, billing integration, outage integration, and any other unforeseen issues. Once the AMI is operating as expected, full deployment will begin throughout the rest of Thumb Electric’s system. It is anticipated that full deployment will be completed by early 2021. As deployment advances from one area of the system to the next, members will receive postcards in advance and door knocker information after meters have been replaced. Ubly Substation circuits in the initial deployment include the following: • • • • • • • •

Bingham Township—north of Atwater Road Sheridan Township—the NE corner All of Colfax Township except the NE corner The southern border of Meade Township Paris Township—all but some areas in the east and south The southwest corner of Sand Beach Township Sherman Township—a small section in the northwest corner Verona Township

All meters in Michigan, including existing and new, are required by the Michigan Public Service Commission to meet very strict standards and must be at or very near 100% accurate. The new meters will be the same electronic-type that TEC has been installing for the past 15 years or so, with only a communication module as an additional feature. The only activity most members will see on their property is the replacement of the meters. If during this process, a meter base is determined to be a safety hazard, it will need to be replaced. Since the meter base is part of the member’s system by regulation, the member or property owner will be responsible for this replacement. Recognizing that this unplanned expense may be financially difficult for some to handle, TEC will be offering no-interest loans to those members. Once the AMI system is operational, the meters will be transmitting communications for approximately 3.5 seconds in a 24-hour period. Some of the many benefits for TEC and it’s members include: • Accurate 30-day billing cycles every month. This includes seasonal accounts. • Members no longer need to read their own meters. • Automatic outage notification. No more need for members to let us know if their lights are out. • Elimination of false outage calls. No more unnecessary truck rolls. • Remote disconnect and reconnects. • A greater level of employee safety. • Alarms for high/low voltage and other abnormalities, meaning situations are resolved quicker.

Continued on page 5

• • • •

Hourly billing data available for members via SmartHub App. High-temperature warnings that can reduce chances of meter base fires. Meter tampering alarm—attempted energy theft can be detected quickly. Increased ability for the co-op to offer more attractive rates such as timeof-use and prepay rates. • Enhanced System Engineering accuracy/efficiency. This project is not expected to increase members’ monthly bills as it is one of several projects included in the Capital Budget, which the board approves annually. Based on the results of the independent Feasibility Study, the $3 million investment in this AMI system should pay for itself in approximately six or seven years and will then further reduce members’ costs, helping keep rates competitive and allowing money to be spent elsewhere to continually improve reliability. TEC looks forward to the successful deployment of this important AMI system and thanks you in advance for your cooperation.

Notice To Members Of Thumb Electric Cooperative Bylaw and Tariff Changes Effective January 1, 2020 The Thumb Electric Cooperative board of directors acted on and adopted the following changes to the cooperative’s bylaws and tariffs at a special open board meeting held Oct. 15, 2019, in accordance with P.A. 167: • Revised TEC Bylaws Article VIII, Non-Profit Operation, Section 3. Security Interest—revised to include amounts owed to the cooperative’s subsidiary, Thumb Energy Services (TESC). • Revised TEC Bylaws Article II, Meeting of Members, Section 6. Proxies. Eliminated Section 6 in its entirety to eliminate Proxy voting by members. • Revised TEC Bylaws Article II, Meeting of Members, Section 5. Voting. Removed the option to vote by proxy but allow other means approved by these bylaws. • Established the 2020 Power Supply Cost Recovery (PSCR) Factor at $-0.00200/KWH, based on annual cost forecasts, effective with bills rendered on or after Jan. 1, 2020. • Established tariff D-28.00 Community Solar that permits voluntary participation by members who may benefit from available solar resources without the cost of permanent installation, impact on property, or hassle of maintenance. • Revised tariff D-20.03 Energy Waste Reduction (EWR) surcharges—reduced residential surcharge from $0.00216/kWh to $0.00100/kWh. Eliminated commercial & industrial surcharges. • Revised TEC Bylaws Article II, Meeting of Members, Section 7 & 8.— Re-numbered bylaws. For specific details on any Thumb Electric Cooperative tariffs, please call 1-800-327-0166 or visit TEC’s website at for further information.

Annual Election Notice For TEC Members JUNE 2020 In March 2020, a nominating committee of nine Thumb Electric Cooperative members will meet to select a slate of candidates for one director position for District 3 in Huron, Sanilac and Tuscola counties. Members served by the cooperative will have an opportunity to vote for positions in each county. The official election results will be announced at the 2020 Annual Meeting on June 13. The District 3 director positions are currently held by Beth McDonald, Duane Kursinsky and Carl Cousins. Any co-op member interested in running for a district director position should write a letter to the Thumb Electric nominating committee chairperson prior to Feb. 14, 2020, indicating his or her interest in being nominated. The committee will review the prospective nominee’s qualifications to determine whether he or she meets bylaw requirements and whether he or she should be placed on the ballot. If you would like more information, please contact the co-op’s general manager, Dallas Braun, at 800-327-0166 or 989-658-8571.



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


Renewable Geothermal Heat

Geothermal is a simple technology that uses the earth’s renewable energy to provide high-efficiency heating and cooling. In winter, the system draws heat from the ground and transfers it to your home. In summer, it extracts heat from your home and transfers it to the ground. Contact the energy experts at Thumb Electric Cooperative at 800-327-0166 for honest answers on your energy choices, or call any of the trained and certified installers listed here. AirTech Heating LLC 3661 Day Rd., Kinde, MI 48445 989-551-6555

Michigan Energy Services 8445 Main St., Whitmore Lake, MI 48189 888-339-7700

Shetler Plumbing & Heating 7184 Nitz St., Pigeon, MI 48755 800-547-3651

All-Temperature Geothermal Systems 1103 E. Caro Rd., Caro, MI 48723 989-673-5557

Michigan Heating, Cooling and Plumbing 3461 N. Lapeer Rd., Lapeer, MI 48446 810-664-8576

Superior, Inc. 3442 Cemetery Rd., Cass City, MI 48726 989-872-3305

Ameriheat, Justin Faber 2891 E. Forester Rd., Deckerville, MI 48427 810-376-4534

NRG Control 3690 Washburn Rd., Vassar, MI 48768 989-670-2543

B & D Heating, Cooling & Plumbing 1148 N. Van Dyke Rd., Bad Axe, MI 48413 800-515-1117

Newton-Johnson Plumbing & Heating 114 Enterprise Dr., Vassar, MI 48768 989-823-2341

Thumb Cooling & Heating 8430 N Van Dyke Rd., Cass City, MI 48726 855-206-5457 And: 837 S. State St., Caro, MI 48723 989-672-4948

Burkhard Plumbing & Heating 638 E. Huron Ave., Bad Axe, MI 48413 989-269-7532

Orton Refrigeration 31 W. Sanilac Rd., Sandusky, MI 48471 810-648-2252

Certified Temperature Innovations 3107 Custer Rd., Carsonville, MI 48419 810-300-7748

Preferred Heating 7736 Arendt Rd., Melvin, MI 48454 810-378-5454

Well Connect-Terra Caloric PO Box 307, Alpena, MI 49707 989-356-2113

Roots Heating and Cooling 4074 Huron St., North Branch, MI 48461 810-688-4813 Geomasters, Inc., Plumbing & Heating 57 Ward St., Croswell, MI 48422 810-679-2251

Annual Operating Costs

For An Average 1,800 Sq. Ft. Home (45,000 BTU heating load, 20,000 BTU cooling load)

Holland Heating and Cooling 9160 Lapeer Rd., Davison, MI 48423 810-653-4328 Ingell Refrigeration 1115 4th St., Port Huron, MI 48060 810-982-4226


J & B Plumbing & Heating 7641 Pigeon Rd., Pigeon, MI 48755 989-453-3931


Jack McCain Plumbing & Heating 9651 Weale Rd., Bay Port, MI 48720 989-453-2277 Kowaleski Heating & Cooling, LLC 3977 Ruppel Rd., Port Hope, MI 48468 989-550-0739 Kulek Heating & Air Conditioning 14421 Jeddo Rd., Yale, MI 48097 810-387-4452 Kundinger & Kroll 31 E. Main St., Sebewaing, MI 48759 989-883-2770 Lakeshore Improvements Plumbing & Heating 7825 Big Gulley Rd., Palms, MI 48465 989-864-3833

$3,000 $2,200

$2,000 $1,500 $1,000





Natural Gas





Electric Baseboard

Fuel Oil

$500 0

A/A Heat Pump w/ Electric Furnace

A/A with LP Gas


Factors Used: Electric Baseboard, Air-Source Heat Pump (A/A) and Geothermal—based on TEC’s 7.790¢/kWh dual-fuel rate. Liquid Propane (LP) gas—based on $2.00/gal. and 90% efficient furnace. Fuel Oil—based on $2.20/gal. and 80% efficient furnace. Natural Gas—based on $1.08/therm., 90% efficient furnace including $9/mo. service charge. (Electric baseboard costs do not include air conditioning.) *All electric system comparable to natural gas!

Photo Contest Most Votes On Facebook!



Ugly Christmas Sweaters 1. Loving the ugly sweater. By Patricia Eaton 2. My husband actually got into the Christmas spirit last year! By Brittany Haag

Submit Your “Take The Cake” Photos!

Enter to win a

Submit your best photo and encourage your friends to vote! The photo receiving the most votes in our Facebook contest will be printed in an issue of Country Lines along with some of our other favorites.


energy bill credit!

Our November theme is Take The Cake. Photos can be submitted through November 20 to be featured in our January /February 2020 issue.

Enter Your Photos And Win A Bill Credit!

To enter the contest visit and click “Photo Contest” from the menu tabs. If you’re not on Facebook, that’s okay. You can also enter the contest at Enter your picture, cast your vote, and encourage others to vote for you as well. If your photo is printed in Country Lines during 2020, you will be entered to win one of four $50 credits on your December 2020 bill. 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 Thumb Electric Cooperative as required by Public Act 141 of 2000 for the 12-month period ended 12/31/18.

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

Fuel Source Coal















Renewable Fuels












Solid Waste Incineration









Thumb Electric office will be closed to celebrate the following holidays: Thanksgiving Thursday, Nov. 28 & Friday, Nov. 29 Christmas Tuesday, Dec. 24 & Wednesday, Dec. 25 New Year’s Holidays Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2019 Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020

Your Co-op’s Fuel Mix

If you experience an outage during that time, please call 800-327-0166 to report or use your smartphone or computer with our SmartHub app.

Regional Average Fuel Mix

Thumb Electric Cooperative NOTICE OF OPPORTUNITY TO COMMENT On Aug. 1, 2019, Thumb Electric Cooperative (“Thumb”) filed an Energy Waste Reduction Plan (“EWRP”) to comply with 2008 PA 295, as amended, MCL 460.1001, et seq., in Case No. U-20387.

Emissions And Waste Comparison lbs/MWh

Type Of Emission/Waste

Your Regional Co-op 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 ended 12/31/18. The fuel mix data presented by Thumb Electric is the data from CMS Energy which supplies nearly all of Thumb Electric’s purchased power.


Any interested person may review the filed EWRP on the MPSC website under Case No. U-20387 at, at Thumb’s office, located at 2231 Main St., Ubly, MI 48475, 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 Thumb. Electronic comments may be emailed to All comments should reference Case No. U-20387. 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, Thumb may file a revised EWRP. A Commission order will be issued on or before the 90th day following the publication of notice.

Contribute to


( The Heat And Warmth Fund) Keep this child—and thousands of

others like him—warm this winter.

Neighbors helping neighbors in need. • A family had funeral expenses that caused them to fall behind in their utility bill payments. • A senior citizen with an annual income of $7,000 had to pay a large, unexpected medical bill and fell behind on utility payments. • A 42-year-old husband with two children is laid off. He can’t find another job, his unemployment ran out…and the utility bills didn’t get paid. Also visit for more information.

These are just some of the people helped by The Heat And Warmth Fund (THAW). THAW is a nonprofit organization that provides last-resort energy assistance to low-income families in Thumb Electric Cooperative’s service area. THAW has helped more than 75,000 Michigan senior citizens and families (more than half with children) keep their heat and electricity on during the winter months.

Please make a donation to THAW. Your tax-deductible contribution will help someone in your community keep their heat and electricity on this winter. Please complete and mail the clip-out form below, along with your donation to: Department 77650, THAW Fund, P.O. Box 77000, Detroit, MI 48277-0650. Or, make a contribution using VISA or MasterCard by calling 800-866-THAW (8429). Your gift is tax-deductible.


Dept. 77650 THAW Fund P.O. Box 77000 Detroit, MI 48277-0650


I want to help someone in my community keep their heat and electricity on this winter. Enclosed is my check or money order payable to THAW. I understand my gift is tax deductible.

r $10

r $25

r $50

r Other $___________

Name___________________________________________________________________________ Address_________________________________________________________________________ City/State/Zip____________________________________________________________________

To make a contribution using VISA or MasterCard, call 1-800-866-THAW (or 8429) or visit

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.


If You Smell Gas...

Did you know that propane gas has no odor? The “rotten egg” smell is added for your safety, to help alert you to any possible leaks. If you smell gas in the house, or if you have a gas alarm that signals the presence of gas, immediately follow these safety guidelines:

No Flames Or Sparks! Immediately put out all smoking materials and other open flames. Do not operate lights, appliances, telephones, or cell phones. Flames or sparks from these sources can trigger an explosion or fire.

Leave Immediately! Get everyone out of the building or area of the suspected leak.

Shut Off The Gas. Turn off the main gas supply valve on your propane tank if it’s safe to do so. To close the valve, turn it clockwise (see diagram).

Report The Leak. From a neighbor’s home, call Thumb Electric at 800-327-0166 right away. If for some reason you can’t reach us, call 911 or your local fire department.

Stay Away. Do not return to the building or area until we have determined that it is safe to do so.


co-op entrepreneurs SUBMIT A NOMINATION TODAY!

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.

Home Heating Assistance Programs 2019–2020 Season Winter Protection Plan

Contact: Your Local Utility Company Income Guidelines 2019–2020 # in Household 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

150% Poverty Guide Maximum Income $18,735 25,365 31,995 38,625 45,255 51,885 58,515 65,145

Add $6,630 for each additional member.

Home Heating Credit

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. 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

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. 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 2019 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.

S hut-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 Nov. 1 and April 15. For a list of electric providers that opt-out of collecting the LIEAF go to

Contact: Mich. Dept. of Treasury # Max. Exemp. Income

0–1 2 3

$ 13,739 18,601 23,463

# Max. Exemp. Income


5 6

$ 28,325 33,187 38,049

Add $4,862 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)

L ow-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 2019 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 render 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.


Guess this photo and enter to win a


energy bill credit!




3 8 6


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

Thumb Electric Cooperative

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