COUNTRY LINES Alger Delta Cooperative Electric Association
Outdoor Holiday Lighting Tips
Courage Incorporated New Photo Contest For 2021
TEN T I M E H MEETS T
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Contents Michigan’s Electric Cooperatives
November/December 2020 Vol. 40, No. 10
EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Casey Clark EDITOR: Christine Dorr GRAPHIC DESIGNER: Karreen Bird 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: Robert Kran, Great Lakes Energy, chairman; Tony Anderson, Cherryland Electric Cooperative, vice chairman; Eric Baker, Wolverine Power Cooperative, secretarytreasurer; Craig Borr, president and CEO.
CONTACT US/LETTERS TO EDITOR: Michigan Country Lines 201 Townsend St., Suite 900 Lansing, MI 48933 248-534-7358 email@example.com CHANGE OF ADDRESS: Please notify your electric cooperative. See page 4 for contact information.
The appearance of advertising does not constitute an endorsement of the products or services advertised.
Statement of Ownership, Management and Circulation
(Required by U.S.C. 3685) 1. Publication: Michigan Country Lines. 2. Publication No.: 591-710. 3. Filing date: 10/1/20. 4. Issue frequency: monthly, except Aug. and Dec. 5. No. of issues published annually: 10. 6. Complete mailing address of ofﬁce of publication: Michigan Electric Cooperative Association, 201 Townsend St., Ste. 900, Lansing, MI 48933. 7. Complete mailing address of headquarters 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 1% 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: Sept. 2020. 13. Extent and nature of circulation: Avg # of copies Actual # of copies of single issues each issue during preceding 12 mo. published nearest to ﬁling date A) B) C) D) E) F) G) H) I)
Total No. of copies................................. 243,264 ...................... 243,312 Paid and requested circulation ............ 243,264 ...................... 242,882 Total paid and requested circulation ... 243,264 ...................... 242,882 1) Free distribution by mail.......................... 160 .............................. 160 2) Free distribution outside mail ................. 809 .............................. 887 Total free distribution ................................... 969 ...........................1,047 Total distribution................................... 244,233 ...................... 244,359 Copies not distributed.......................................0 ...................................0 Total ....................................................... 244,233 ...................... 244,359 Percent paid and/or requested circ.......... 98.7% .......................... 99.7%
16. Publication of statement of ownership: November 2020 17. Signature and title of editor: Christine Dorr, editor
#micoopcommunity 6 BEST OF MICHIGAN: RESTAURANTS WITH A VIEW
These member-suggested restaurants pair a scenic Michigan view with quality cuisine.
10 MI COOP KITCHEN
Dips & Dressings—Jazz up your salads and appetizers with these zesty recipes.
Fall is officially in the air. @dlope.works (Destiny Lopez)
14 MAGIC MEETS THE MITTEN
Colon, Michigan, resident Rick Fisher helps ensure the town continues to be the “Magic Capital of the World.”
18 HOME HEATING ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS 2020–2021
For those struggling to pay their bills this winter, there are many places to turn to for help.
MI CO-OP COMMUNITY
Use #micoopcommunity for a chance to be featured here and on our Instagram account.
To enter contests, submit reader content & more, visit countrylines.com/community
MI CO-OP KITCHEN
BEST OF MICHIGAN
Up Next: Stir Fry Favorites, Soup, Tacos Share your favorite recipes.
Up Next: Winter Fun! Tell us about your favorite winter activity location (downhill skiing, cross country skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, biking, ice skating, etc.)
Submit your fondest memories and stories.
Enter a drawing to identify the correct location of the photo.
Win a $50 bill credit!
Win $150 for stories published!
Win a $50 bill credit! See page 7
MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES
Alger Delta Board Update
By Mike Lawless, board of directors vice president
/algerdeltaelectric BOARD OF DIRECTORS
District 1—Big Bay Darryl Small 906-345-9369 • firstname.lastname@example.org
District 2—Harvey/Deerton Karen Alholm 906-249-1095 • email@example.com
District 3—Grand Marais Mike Lawless 906-494-2080 • firstname.lastname@example.org District 4—Cedar River/Palestine Vacant
District 5—Gourley/LaBranche/Cornell Ivy Netzel 906-639-2979 • MyAlgerDeltaRep5@gmail.com District 6—Nathan/White Rapids Paul Sederquist 906-753-4484 • email@example.com
District 7—Stonington/Rapid River Kirk Bruno 906-399-1432 • firstname.lastname@example.org District 8—Nahma/Isabella Vacant
District 9—Hiawatha/Maple Ridge Doug Bovin 906-573-2379 • email@example.com
s I write this update, it is October 1, and today is the official day we begin the search for a new general manager. We have enlisted the help of the National Rural Electrical Cooperative Association’s search team. We are looking forward to working with them and using their expertise to locate and hire the best candidate. The position is posted at linkedin.com, publicpower.org, and electric.coop, as well as in RE Magazine.
What seems like a long time ago since Tom Harrell’s retirement has only been a few months. These months have been complicated and challenging. We have had a very full work schedule with updating our electric meters and the communication system that goes with it. Additionally, a new substation on the south side of Marquette, negotiations with the mine on what its electrical needs will be, ongoing vegetation management, hookups, line repairs, and all the things that go into providing a seamless delivery of electricity have kept us very busy. Many of you have praised our lineworkers through social media and face to face. I thank you for recognizing and appreciating their efforts. I would also like to shed some light on the people who are behind the scenes that make these efforts run smoothly. The people answering the phones, ordering parts, working on maps, bookkeeping, dispatching, and doing many other jobs. Doing all of this through a pandemic with ever-changing rules, while keeping our crews and staff safe, has been a heavy load. The extra effort has been greatly appreciated. In conclusion, when you see an Alger Delta truck working to keep your lights on, please remember those who are behind the scenes working equally as hard. I am looking forward to 2021, a new general manager, and a return to a semblance of normalcy.
INTERIM GENERAL MANAGER: Amanda Seger firstname.lastname@example.org HEADQUARTERS: 426 N. 9th St, Gladstone, MI 49837 906-428-4141 • 800-562-0950 Fax: 906-428-3840 • email@example.com algerdelta.com OFFICE HOURS Monday–Friday 8 a.m.–4 p.m. (EST) Alger Delta Cooperative is an equal opportunity provider and employer.
HOLIDAY C L OSU R E S Alger Delta will be closed on the following dates in observance of these upcoming holidays:
Thursday, Nov. 26 and Friday, Nov. 27
Thursday, Dec. 24 and Friday, Dec. 25
N E W Y E A R ’ S D AY Friday, Jan. 1, 2021
Payments may be made at the drop box or at algerdelta.com. To report a power outage, please call 800-562-0950 or 906-428-4141.
4 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2020
Fuel Mix Report The fuel mix characteristics of Alger Delta Co-op Electric Association as required by Public Act 141 of 2000 for the 12-month period ending 12/31/19.
Comparison Of Fuel Sources Used Fuel Source
Your Board In Action In addition to reviewing the monthly financial statements and an update on construction projects the board: July
• Opted for an in-person board meeting held at the Alger Delta office, with the option to attend virtually.
• Nominated Karen Alholm to serve in the capacity of vice president for the Alger Delta Board of Directors.
• Reviewed the code of conduct policy and was approved by each board member. • Resolved to approve and award project bids from KS Energy and Pieperline for construction work plan projects in the Harvey/ Deerton area. • Approved two new tariffs for distributed generation. • Resolved to retire capital credits from 1990 and 1991 to members. • Went into executive session to discuss the open General Manager position. • A special board meeting date was set for July 22, 2020. • At the special board meeting, the board made a motion to outsource to a third party the search and assessment for a new general manager. • A special board meeting date was set for July 28, 2020, to fill interim positions.
Your co-op’s fuel mix
Regional average fuel mix
Solid Waste Incineration
NOTE: Biomass excludes wood; solid waste incineration includes landfill gas.
Your Co-op’s Fuel Mix
• Addressed Interim positions for Dave Prestin’s position to liaison consultant, appointed Amanda Seger as interim general manager and entered a contract with NRECA to search for a new general manager. • Reviewed the latest executive orders and discussed safe operating procedures for employees and members.
Regional Average Fuel Mix
• Reviewed COVID relief funds, and a plan was presented to purchase and support the 4-H live auction this year. • Received an update of the meter project, the work plan, maintenance items and financials were reviewed.
September • An update on the Chocolay Substation was presented, along with a cost to budget comparison. • Extended the tree maintenance contract for two additional years. • Appointed Amanda Seger as the NRECA voting delegate, with President Lawless as the alternate.
Emissions And Waste Comparison lbs/MWh
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 12/31/19. Alger Delta purchases 100% of its electricity from WPPI Energy, which provided this fuel mix and environmental data.
MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES
MI CO-OP Community
2 3 6 4 8
Best Of Michigan
RESTAURANTS WITH A VIEW 1
New Buffalo This gem of a restaurant is located in the Marina Grand Resort. There is scenic outside dining with great service and a great selection of delicious food and drinks. The atmosphere is light and airy, and you can feel a good energy. Jeff Dorr, Presque Isle bentwoodtavern.com
Stafford’s Pier Restaurant
Harbor Springs Dining during the summertime can be either inside or out on the terrace overlooking the municipal marina. Once a week, the Harbor Springs Concert Band plays on the lawn nearby to add to your dining experience. Stafford trains their staff well, and it shows! Mary Ennis, Great Lakes Energy staffordspier.com
Harbor Lights Grille
Carp Lake It’s like stepping back in time. They have wonderful food for breakfast, lunch, or dinner and amazing homemade desserts. There is a beautiful lakeside view. The staff is very attentive and friendly. Rebecca Rhea, Great Lakes Energy harborlightsgrilleonthelake.com
Knot Just A Bar
Omena There are breathtaking views of the bay whether you’re on the beautiful deck or inside. They offer a great drink and food selection with fresh ﬂavors. Judy Skowronski, Cherryland knotjustabar.com
Tell us about your favorite winter activity location (downhill skiing, cross country skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, biking, ice skating, etc.) Submit your favorites at countrylines.com/ community by Jan. 25, and look for it in our February issue.
Clifford Lake Inn
Stanton They have amazing food, and their desserts are delicious! The views of Clifford Lake from the deck are gorgeous, especially during sunset. It has a relaxed vibe, and they are very friendly. Sometimes ﬂoatplanes will land or take off from the water, which is a treat to see! Jenna Irani, HomeWorks Tri-County cliffordlakeinn.net
Where In Michigan Is This? Win a
energy bill credit!
Petoskey This has a spectacular view of the bay, especially at sunset. Make sure you get a window seat to take in the unforgettable lake action while enjoying an exciting, eclectic menu. A customer favorite, the Forest Floor Soup, teeming with delectable mushrooms, never disappoints! The servers are knowledgeable and are always on point. Treat yourself to a relaxing meal overlooking Petoskey’s jewel. Mary Ennis, Great Lakes Energy palettebistropetoskey.com
Blue Lake Tavern
Mecosta This amazing place is a historic log cabin and sits above the lake. The view never fails and the food, service and atmosphere are all A+. I take people there during all Michigan seasons. Lonna Bear, HomeWorks Tri-County
Barrel Back Restaurant
Walloon Lake There’s delicious food and a great atmosphere, and it overlooks Walloon Lake. On nice days, they open the huge garage-style doors for open air dining and incredible views! Marlene Clark , Great Lakes Energy barrel-back.com
Identify the correct location of the photo above by November 20 and be entered into a drawing to win a $50 electric bill credit. Enter your guess at countrylines.com.
September 2020 Winner! Our Mystery Photo winner is Courtney Thompson, HomeWorks Tri-County Cooperative member, who correctly identified the photo as Lavender Hill Farm in Boyne City. Photo by Jody Strang. Winners are announced in the following issues of Country Lines: January, March, May, July/August, September and November/ December.
MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES
Do You Believe In Energy Savings? he holiday season is upon us and with it comes shopping, cooking, decorating, etc. With so many festive activities, who can think about home heating and cooling? A Wi-Fi enabled or smart thermostat might be the answer.
Standard programmable thermostats are great for setting schedules that raise and lower the temperature at specific times on certain days. But unless you remember ahead of time to change the schedule, your heat or A/C will kick in as programmed—wasting energy and money.
Taking Control Thanks to new advancements in technology, Wi-Fi enabled thermostats allow homeowners to remotely control their home’s temperature 24/7—whether you’re at work, shopping, or traveling to Grandma’s. Simply log in online or use the thermostat’s app on your phone to adjust your settings.
Smart Thermostats Smart thermostats are currently the most advanced residential devices available. Not only are they Wi-Fi enabled, allowing you to adjust the temperature from your
mobile device or tablet (as long as you’re connected to the Internet)—they can program themselves as they “learn” your behavior patterns and desired temperatures for certain days and times during the week. It is important to do your research before investing in a new gadget. Remember, not all “Wi-Fi enabled thermostats” are smart thermostats. Only true smart thermostats can sense when you are home and program themselves. Additionally, not all aftermarket thermostats are compatible with all heating and cooling systems. Make sure the one you choose will work properly with your system.
REBATES AVAILABLE! The Energy Optimization program provides cash incentives toward the purchase of qualifying Wi-Fi enabled and smart thermostats. Start saving energy and money today! Visit michigan-energy.org or call 877-296-4319 for additional energy-saving information and incentives.
HOME ENERGY S AV I N G S I S R E A L Give the gift of savings on home heating and cooling with a Wi-Fi enabled or smart thermostat. • control home temperatures remotely 24/7 • a smart thermostat learns home temperature patterns for optimal performance • save money on energy
$75 REBATE ON QUALIFYING WI-FI AND SMART THERMOSTATS Online: michigan-energy.org
Energy Optimization programs and incentives are applicable to Michigan electric service locations only. Incentive applies to qualified items purchased and installed between January 1, 2020 and December 31 2020. Other restrictions may apply. For complete program details, visit michigan-energy.org.
Outdoor Holiday Lighting Tips Nothing gets you in the holiday spirit quite like decking the halls. Be sure to follow these tips and safety precautions to ensure that your Christmas decorating will be a huge success.
Practice Caution On Rooftops Or Elevated Areas
Inspect your ladder and make sure it is stable and in good condition. Make sure you ground the ladder on a solid, flat surface. Don’t work alone. Have someone assist you with the decorating who can provide any needed support or stabilization that you need. If the roof is too steep or high, don’t risk having an accident by overreaching. Hire a professional instead.
Wires can become brittle. They might be bending in the cold, so you could have exposed copper or broken sockets. If you have frayed wires, throw the lights away. Be sure to check your wires for breaks and cracks in the insulation that can lead to shorts.
Remember to keep a safe distance from your overhead electric service. Do not overload circuits by stringing more light sets together than the manufacturer recommends—check the packaging for details. Never mount or support light strings in a way that may damage the cord’s insulation.
Invest In Energy-Efficient LED Lights
Make sure the lights that you use are rated for indoor and outdoor use or specifically outdoor.
LEDs will last for many years and have no filaments to burn out. Given the modest number of hours of operation, you can expect LEDs to last seven or more years. LED lights are more energy efficient and require less wattage than incandescent bulbs. A reasonable estimate of power consumption is 7 watts per 100 lights. How does that compare to the old incandescent? Each of those bulbs used 12 watts, so a string of 100 devoured 1,200 watts. Invest in timers to turn the lights on and off automatically. Alternatively, invest in a smart plug that allows you to program and control your lights from your smartphone.
Take Lights Down At The End Of The Season
The daily exposure to the weather over a period of time can cause damage to the wires, lights and sockets.
MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES
MI CO-OP Recipes
Photos by Robert Bruce Photography || Recipes Submitted by MCL Readers and Tested by Recipe Editor Christin McKamey
DIPS & DRESSINGS Complement your meals with these unique recipes.
RASPBERRY VINAIGRETTE Tracy Fisher, Thumb Electric
1 ¹⁄ ³ 2 ¼ 1 ½ 1 Win a
energy bill credit!
Stir-Fry Favorites due December 1 • Soups due January 1 Tacos due February 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 micoopkitchen.com for more information.
10 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2020
cup frozen raspberries, thawed cup olive or canola oil tablespoons lemon juice cup white vinegar tablespoon honey cup sugar (add to taste) tablespoon poppy seeds
Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. This vinaigrette goes great with a strawberry spinach salad. Watch a video of this month’s winning recipe at micoopkitchen.com/videos
BUFFALO CHICKEN DIP Laura Campbell, HomeWorks Tri-County
2 cups shredded cooked chicken (or riced cauliﬂower for vegetarian option) 8 ounces cream cheese ½ cup of favorite buffalo sauce (such as Frank’s Red Hot) ½ cup ranch dressing ½ cup shredded mozzarella Add all ingredients to a slow cooker. Set to high heat, stirring occasionally, until all ingredients are blended/melted (about 1–2 hours). Then set to warm heat while serving. Serve with celery and tortilla chips. You can adjust the ranch to buffalo sauce ratio depending on your preferred spiciness level.
GRANDDAUGHTER’S FAVORITE DIP June Dougherty, Great Lakes Energy 2 1 1 1 •
(8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened package ranch dressing (8 ounce) can corn, drained small red pepper, chopped black olives, chopped (amount to your liking)
Mix all ingredients together and enjoy!
LEMON VINAIGRETTE Laura Burke, Great Lakes Energy ¼ 1 1 ¼ ¼ ½
cup fresh lemon juice teaspoon dijon mustard large clove garlic, minced teaspoon salt teaspoon freshly ground black pepper cup vegetable oil
Whisk together ﬁrst 5 ingredients. Gradually add oil in a steady stream, whisking until blended. Toss with green salad or pasta salad.
MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES
Courage Incorporated By Yvonne Whitman
obert Louis Stevenson once wrote, “Keep your fears to yourself, but share your courage with others.” And that is exactly what Ishpeming native Nate Denofre has accomplished. Born with Amniotic Band Syndrome, which left him without legs below his knees, he has never let his disability determine his destiny. Throughout his life, he was often told of all the things he would never be able to do, but instead, he has spent his life overcoming obstacles and proving people wrong. An avid outdoorsman throughout his life, he refused to let his disability
Above: A Courage Incorporated client and volunteer traverse to a waterfall along the Yellow Dog River. Right: Nate Denofre takes clients for a day of fishing on Emily Lake.
12 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2020
limit his passion for experiencing the Upper Peninsula wilderness and the serenity it brought him. “I am certain that we can actually heal our minds and spirits naturally by using the great outdoors to boost our confidence and willpower,” he said. Wanting to share this with others, he started a survival school and became a licensed wilderness guide. But in 2014, after multiple surgeries, the wear and tear on his body became too much and left him with a degenerative spine condition. Learning that this would eventually leave him with limited mobility and that he would likely be confined to a wheelchair, Nate’s biggest fear was that he might not ever be able to enjoy the woods and water that had brought him such peace. When Nate’s lifetime friend, Erik Conradson, learned of Nate’s worsening condition, he began a fundraising effort to help Nate pull off one last great outdoor excursion before he lost mobility. They named the endeavor “Nate’s Last Stand.” It was designed to provide Nate with an outdoor adventure experience that he would never forget. Making the most out of the opportunity, Nate spent 150 days and nights hiking the Huron Mountains, canoeing Lake Superior and the rivers that run into
“It’s okay to be scared. Without fear, you cannot have courage.” —Nathan Denofre
her, and camping across Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. When asked if there was one place that was especially meaningful for him on his journey, Nate responded, “When I came to where the Big Huron River enters into Lake Superior. For a moment, I could feel what Louis and Clark must have felt. At that moment, what I was doing—and why I was doing it— really sank in. It became clear to me just what the power of nature could accomplish and how it is all in rhythm with self-perseverance and self-worth. It showed me that what one person can do, another can do. It reinforced to me that the only disability is in our mind—it is fear and the voice in your head that tells you that you cannot do something.” While Nate was out enjoying “his church,” as he refers to his love of the outdoors, more than $4,200 was raised on Nate’s behalf, and he decided to pay it forward. Using a portion of the money raised for him, and together with Erik’s help, he founded Courage Incorporated. The nonprofit organization focuses on helping individuals and veterans with physical disabilities to participate in outdoor activities and to help them see what they are capable of. When asked if there is one client that had an impact on him, Nate remembers a man with a severe case of multiple sclerosis. “We took him to the Yellow Dog River. This gentleman maybe walked a few miles in a week, yet he was up to about seven miles in one weekend with us. He explained to me at the end of the weekend that between all the waterfalls and beautiful scenery, he completely forgot about his crippling disease. That gave me, as an individual, the gas to keep on going, not only as the company’s CEO, but as a disabled adult,” Nate said. When posed the same question, Erik recalls a disabled veteran whose disability had left him unable to
manage the work of setting up a rustic camping trip for himself and his family. “He had given up hope that he would be able to hike along the U.P.’s hidden rivers to beautiful waterfalls,” Erik said. Erik and Nate took the man on a hike, and though he struggled, taking many breaks along the way because of the pain, he did not quit. “As we turned a corner to where the waterfall would be visible, we let him walk first. I heard him cry out loudly, not in pain or exhaustion, but excitement and appreciation. I walked over to him and put my hand on his back as he sobbed. Through his tears of joy, he managed to say, ‘Thank you for this—I never thought I’d see something like this again.’ I knew that this moment was so important to him. I didn’t realize the magnitude of the impact that we had until he began to sign up as a volunteer for each of our next adventures. We had inspired him. We gave him a piece of his life back that he thought was gone forever. He helped me realize that the work we do means so much to each individual, and the impact is life-changing,” Erik said. Looking to the future, the two men each have a wish list. Erik would like to expand the organization’s reach. “I’d love to have the ability to host adventures across this great nation of ours. Places like Alaska, or the Rocky Mountains, or even the Everglades, would be great places to host our excursions,” he said. Nate would like to be able to purchase a few new boats to take their clients on. Asked about his biggest wish, he said, “My ultimate dream would be to be able to provide a small campground for disabled adults where they can find support no matter the physical disability. I think ‘Camp Courage’ would be a good name for the place.”
Nathan Denofre – Founder
Erik Conradson – Co-Founder
Josh Smith – Veterans’ Ambassador
Donations to this worthwhile organization are always welcome. To find out more, visit courageincorporated.org or follow it on Facebook.
MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES 13
TTEN I M E H MEETS T By Emily Haines Lloyd
any small towns in rural Michigan are quaintly magical. But in the tiny hamlet of Colon (population 1,100-ish), magical is more than an adjective, it’s a way of life.
The history of Colon’s relationship with magic goes back to the Roaring ‘20s, when famed magician Harry Blackstone Sr. (who was on par with Houdini and Thurston) did as many Chicago entertainers did in the sweltering city summers—escaped to cooler climates, like Michigan’s lake communities. Blackstone’s wife was the one who happened upon the 220-acre plot of land that they would eventually call home. The entire Blackstone troupe traveled to the other side of Lake Michigan and settled on what the magician called Blackstone Island (though not technically an island) on Sturgeon Lake to work up the coming year’s act. “It was in the late ‘20s that Blackstone met an Australian magician, Percy Abbott, and invited him to visit Colon,” recalls FAB Magic Company owner Rick Fisher. “The two built the Blackstone Magic Co. Eventually, Abbott met a local girl, got married, and stayed behind and tended to the business.” The partnership was beset with drama equal to their own acts, and the two magicians parted ways as business partners, though both remained in Colon—rumored never to have spoken to one another again. Abbott renamed the magic shop Abbott Magic Novelty Co. in 1933 and the draw kept magicians, and those with magic addictions, coming to explore its wonders, with many of them staying on themselves. Lester Lake, also known as The Great Marvello, was one of them. He was known for his wild escapes, including one from chains while engulfed in ﬂames in the middle of the road in downtown Colon. With so many folks visiting from the industry and many of them sticking
“ I W AN T TO K E E P TH AT EX C IT EM E N T G O IN G FO R AS LO N G AS I’M AB LE . B EC AU SE IF W E DO N ’T TAK E C AR E O F TH E M AG IC — IT R E ALLY C O U LD DISAP P E AR .”
around, Lake coined Colon “The Magic Capital of the World.” It was in 1991 that the small town was ﬁnally recognized ofﬁcially by former U.S. Sen. Carl Levin. Decades later, it was Fisher’s turn to fall in love with the magic of Colon. “My family owned a lake cottage in Columbus City, and we visited Abbott’s when I was 7,” recalls Fisher. “I was hooked.” Each summer, Fisher would save money from mowing lawns, beg for a ride to the magic shop, and buy a new trick. His mother was given some leftover fabric and sewed the ﬁrst tuxedo for her precocious son.
Fisher has high hopes to keep the magic alive in the future too, even as the industry itself faces difﬁcult times. One of the largest magic manufacturers out of California actually closed its doors recently. A looming sadness that Fisher hopes the Magic Capital of the World can avoid. “I’m lucky to see the faces of the families and especially the youngsters as they look around the shop. There’s so much possibility. So much excitement,” said Fisher. “I want to keep that excitement going for as long as I’m able. Because if we don’t take care of the magic—it really could disappear.” For more information, visit magiccapitaloftheworld.com or call 269-432-4017.
The childhood hobby became a lifelong obsession. While always keeping magic near and performing on the road, Fisher also lived your average life as a sales representative, father of four, and loving husband. However, after a hospital stay in 2002 due to a blocked artery, Fisher found himself with time to think and came to the realization that the future isn’t promised. He told his wife Cheryl he wanted to start a magic shop in Colon. “I told Cheryl we should do it. Buy a shop. Luckily, she agreed,” Fisher said. “I mean, it’s never been easy, but we’ve never looked back.” FAB Magic Shop and Abbott’s Magic Co., as well as Sterlini Magic Mfg. and Theater, are all still in business and participate in an annual magic festival the ﬁrst week of August each year. Even COVID-19 was no match for the ultimate illusion of normalcy, as a socially-distanced ﬂea market with booths and shows still made its way to Colon’s streets. Over 150 people turned out, not sure if the magic would show up at all. But the community is always up for the next trick. That’s what Fisher loves about his adopted hometown. Colon is as quirky as it is quaint, with banners along Main Street calling it the “Magic Capital of the World” and the high school giving its mascot—a rabbit—the name of “Hare E. Blackstone.” There’s also the Magic Walk of Fame along East State Street and over 35 magicians buried in the town’s cemetery. The town’s history is rooted in magic. “Magic has put Colon on the map,” said Fisher. “You can talk to almost anyone in the magic industry from anywhere in the world and they’ve heard of Colon.”
MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES
SNAP SHOT Cutest Pets 1. Gorgeous amstaff mix named Bentley looking out over a Tourist Park lake basin in Marquette. Dustin Burkman 2. B aylee and Lulu, both rescues, are best friends. Beth Freydank 3. Finlay is a 1-year-old liver roan English springer spaniel. Finlay is just starting agility training, and he loves his work. He also loves the time we spend at our camp in the Hiawatha National Forest, especially swimming. Donna Shields
4. Pooh totally photo bombs Winnie’s selfie! Mary Kaminski 5. Beautiful kitty Yonder. Ronne Clohessy 6. Rockin’ the shades! Jodie Paquette 7. Katie and Maggie are 1 year old. Ronne Clohessy 8. Gracie was our neighbor’s cat. They also had two noisy, obnoxious dogs, so she would come to our house for some TLC and relaxation. We adored her. Paula Wanska 9. Risky’s first snow—U.P. in May!! Rebecca Soderna 10. Hunter and Trigger out bird hunting. They love to bird hunt. Jodie Paquette 11. Lulu, after a swim. Sandy Menge 12. Sky, our sweet pup that loves to cause mischief! Kathryn Brady
Enter to win a $50 energy bill credit! Submit A Photo & Win A Bill Credit! Alger Delta members whose photos we print in Michigan Country Lines will be entered in a drawing. Four lucky members will win a credit of $50 on their December 2021 energy bills!
Upcoming Photo Topics And Deadlines: • Magic of Winter, due November 20 (January/ February 2021 issue) • Wild Animals, due February 20 (March/April issue) To submit photos, and for details and instructions, go to http://bit.ly/countrylines. We look forward to seeing your best photos! 16 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2020
Home Heating Assistance Programs 2020-2021 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 $19,140 25,860 32,580 39,300 46,020 52,740 59,460 66,180
Add $6,720 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. 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 Dept. 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 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 michigan.gov/treasury). 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)
You do not have to be a DHHS client to apply for help with a past due bill, shut-off 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.
If you receive a DHHS cash grant, you may use part of it toward heat and electric bills. Contact your local DHHS or call the Home Heating Hotline, 855-275-6424.
Low Income Weatherization Assistance Program
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) or if you participate in the Dept. of Health and Human Services Family Independence
Program or receive SSI. Weatherization may include caulking, weatherstripping, and insulation. Contact your local Community Action Agency for details. Visit mcaaa.org 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 mi211.org to ﬁnd available services.
Medical Emergency Protection 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 or a public health or social services ofﬁcial that a medical condition exists. Contact your gas or electric utility for details.
Shut-off Protection For Military Active Duty
If you or your spouse has been called into active military duty, you may apply for shut-off protection from your electric or natural gas service for up to 90 days. You may request
extensions. You must still pay, but contact your utility company and they will help you set up a payment plan.
Michigan Veterans Trust Fund Emergency Grant Program
The Trust Fund provides temporary assistance to veterans and their families facing a ﬁnancial emergency or hardship,
including the need for energy assistance. Contact the Michigan Veterans Trust Fund at 517-284-5299 or michiganveterans.com.
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 nonpayment between Nov. 1 and April 15. For a list of electric providers that opt out of collecting the LIEAF, go to michigan.gov/energygrants.
Contact: Michigan Dept. of Treasury # Exemp.
0–1 2 3
$14,036 18,964 23,892
4 5 6
$28,820 33,748 38,676
Add $4,928 for each exemption over 6.
Earned Income Credit
Contact: • U.S. Treasury Dept., Internal Revenue Service, irs.gov/EITC • Michigan Dept. of Treasury, michigan.gov/treasury
Contact: Local Michigan Dept. of Health and Human Services (DHHS), michigan.gov/mdhhs
Contact: Local Community Action Agency
Contact: Call 2-1-1 or UWmich.org/2-1-1
Contact: Local Utility Company
You may claim a Michigan earned income tax credit for tax year 2020 equal to a percentage of the federal earned income tax credit for which you are eligible.
Contact: MI Veterans Trust Fund
MI Energy Assistance Program Contact: Utility or 2-1-1 in late November
18 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2020
Dial 2-1-1 for more information on heating and other human services programs.
Well-Connect has SAVED RURAL MICHIGANDERS MORE THAN $1 MILLION on energy bills.
control your COMFORT There’s a lot you can’t control, but you can
TO CA DA LL Y!
Don’t let winter fuel costs drain your budget or keep you from dialing up the thermostat. With a Well-Connect heat pump, you can heat your home for less than $600 all winter long!
HYBRID GEOTHERMAL H E AT I N G A N D C O O L I N G Harnessing the energy from existing residential water wells, Well-Connect systems: • Heat homes for half the cost – for decades. • Are twice as efficient as air-source heat pumps. • Reduce dependence on propane, fuel oil & wood.
CALL TODAY OR VISIT US ONLINE FOR A FREE ASSESSMENT!
989.356.2113 • WellConnectGeo.com
Save Energy with LEDs LED lights last up to 30 times longer than incandescents, reducing the need to replace bulbs in high or hard-to-reach places. Below are LED lighting suggestions for your home.
Living Room Lamps Table or ďŹ&#x201A;oor three-way lamps using LED bulbs provide 620, 1,600 or 2,150 lumens of soft white light and deliver up to 25,000 hours of light.
Kitchen Dimmable recessed LED conversion lights add a warm glow of up to 1,200 lumens for kitchen workspaces and add far less heat to your kitchen. Each bulb could last 10 years.
Bedrooms and Hallways Long-life LEDs are ideal for ceiling ďŹ xtures. A 9-watt LED produces the same 800 lumens of light as a 60-watt incandescent, and uses about 80% less energy.
Bathrooms Omnidirectional LED globe bulbs are designed to provide a warm glow ideal for bathrooms. A 6-watt bulb produces 450 lumens and lasts up to 15,000 hours.
Outdoors A 6-watt, 500-lumen LED bulb can replace a 40-watt incandescent bulb. Designed to last up to 30,000 hours, it could be a one-time switch.