Nov/Dec 2020 MEC

Page 1

November/December 2020


COUNTRY LINES Midwest Energy & Communications

Upcoming Director Elections

Hunter Safety Tips ViewLocal Update




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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 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


These member-suggested restaurants pair a scenic Michigan view with quality cuisine.


Dips & Dressings—Jazz up your salads and appetizers with these zesty recipes.

Fall is officially in the air. (Destiny Lopez)


Colon, Michigan, resident Rick Fisher helps ensure the town continues to be the “Magic Capital of the World.”


Be featured!

For those struggling to pay their bills this winter, there are many places to turn to for help.


Use #micoopcommunity for a chance to be featured here and on our Instagram account.

To enter contests, submit reader content & more, visit





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








Shout Out To Heroes In Bulk Trucks /teammidwest CORPORATE HEADQUARTERS AND CASSOPOLIS SOLUTIONS CENTER 60590 Decatur Road, Cassopolis, MI 49031 M–F 8 a.m.–5 p.m.

PAW PAW SOLUTIONS CENTER 59825 S. LaGrave Street, Paw Paw, MI 49079 M–F 8 a.m.–5 p.m. ADRIAN SOLUTIONS CENTER 1610 E. Maumee Street, Adrian, MI 49221 M–F 8 a.m.–5 p.m. CONTACT US Midwest Energy & Communications 800-492-5989 Email: BOARD OF DIRECTORS

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

Ben Russell, Vice Chairperson, Constantine 269-506-1590 Ron Armstrong, Secretary, Lawton 269-299-0443 John Green, Treasurer, Dowagiac 269-470-2816 Dan Bodette, Wauseon 419-337-8007

Gerry Bundle, Cassopolis 269-414-0164

James Dickerson, Bloomingdale 269-370-6868

Erika Escue-Cadieux, Onsted 419-346-1088 Fred Turk, Decatur 269-423-7762



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


Robert Hance, President/CEO

he concept of innovation drives much of what we do within our MEC family of services. We continue to invest in an already “smart” electric infrastructure to equip our system with the best technology for safe and reliable distribution. We’re also full speed ahead on bridging the rural digital divide by growing our fiber internet business. Everything we do under the umbrella of innovation is to ensure that rural living does not limit the scope of opportunities for our customers.


I call this stuff “Big I” innovation. It’s the marriage of investment and technology that creates significant change and opportunity. But innovation does not always involve major investment and bright, shiny new technology. Sometimes innovation involves evaluation of what we do and how we do it so we can figure out how to do it better. I like to call that “Little i” innovation. We have a mature propane operation that has served rural customers in southwest and west-central Michigan for more than two decades. Frankly, there’s nothing very sexy about propane in terms of cutting-edge technology; it doesn’t offer much in the way of a cool factor or “Big I” innovation. However, this hardworking team brings its best “Little i” innovation to the table every day to ensure that we are always providing the best service experience for our nearly 7,000 loyal customers. Our team spent the slower summer months monitoring markets and securing gas supply to get our customers through the heavy-use winter months. We looked at our delivery programs and tweaked practices to increase efficiencies and improve customer experiences. We topped off tanks and ensured our customers were ready for the first cold snap of the 2020–21 heating season. We updated software and systems, readied our equipment, and prepared our service technicians for whatever Mother Nature decides to throw our way in the coming weeks and months. In light of all the shiny, new “Big I” innovation going on in our electric and fiber lines of business, it can be easy to ignore the well-oiled machine that is our propane operation. Its commitment to its customers during the most challenging of seasons is unparalleled. It deals with the brutal Michigan winter at all times of day and night to make sure comfort is never compromised. Every time I pass one of our bulk delivery trucks with the signature green hood during the winter months, I recognize the hero behind the wheel who is making sure another customer is safe and comfortable through the elements. If you are a member of our propane family, thank you for your patronage. If you want to enjoy a very different kind of propane pricing and customer service experience, give us a call. Our crews don’t just deliver gas; we insert “Little i” innovation and a passion for service excellence in everything we do.

MEC NEWS OF NOTE Upcoming Director Elections One of the seven guiding principles of cooperatives is “Democratic Member Control.” When you take electric service from Midwest Energy & Communications (MEC), you are more than a customer; you are an owner who has a voice, and we encourage you to take an active role in the life of MEC. Your cooperative is governed by a nine-member board of directors, and each is elected to serve a three-year term. Directors are elected by and represent customers living in their district. Board positions are important roles that are not taken lightly, as directors make critical decisions on behalf of all customers.

Ron Armstrong

Clarence Barth

Erika Escue-Cadieux

Three board seats are up for election in 2021. If you are a co-op electric customer interested in serving, please contact us for a petition, then secure 30 or more valid signatures. Your completed petition and biography must be returned to our Cassopolis office by 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 4, 2021, to be placed on the ballot for one of the three terms ending in April 2021. Ballots will be emailed and mailed to the district customers on Feb. 5 and counted on Feb. 25. Board members must reside in the district they represent. In 2021, Districts 3, 4 and 8 will be up for election. District 3 is currently represented by Ron Armstrong of Lawton. The district includes Almena, Antwerp, Portage, Prairie Ronde, Oshtemo and Texas townships. Clarence Barth of Three Rivers is the current director in District 4, which includes Brady, Fabius, Flowerfield, Leonidas, Lockport, Mendon, Newberg, Park, Schoolcraft and Wakeshma townships. District 8 is represented by Erika Escue-Cadieux of Onsted. District 8 includes Adrian, Cambridge, Franklin, Raisin, Ridgeway, Rollin, Rome, Tecumseh, and Woodstock townships, as well as northern portions of Blissfield, Deerfield, Dover, Hudson, Madison and Palmyra townships. For more information about serving on the board of directors, please call us at 800-492-5989.

Vote for Your Director Electronically You will have the opportunity to vote electronically if you choose. You will receive an email from the MEC election coordinator with instructions on the voting process on or around Feb 5. Please verify that we have the correct email address on file by logging into SmartHub and going to My Profile>My Information. You can also call us at 800-492-5989. Please verify your information by Dec. 18. In the meantime, please add as an approved sender in your email account. Since every email provider is unique, we recommend that you refer to the support section of your email account for instructions on how to do this.

ViewLocal Update We are discontinuing our ViewLocal television service effective Dec. 31, 2020.

and include additional popular channels, and we believe this is ultimately a better option for our valued customers.

There are numerous other streaming services— including Hulu Live, Sling TV, YouTube TV, and AT&T TV Now—that currently offer local stations as part of their programming. Most options range from $20–$60 per month

We have information about how to get started with streaming services on our website at cut-the-cord.



MI CO-OP Community

2 3 6 4 8

Best Of Michigan




Bentwood Tavern

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





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

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

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


Tell us about your favorite winter activity location (downhill skiing, cross country skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, biking, ice skating, etc.) Submit your favorites at 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


Where In Michigan Is This? Win a


energy bill credit!

Palette Bistro

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

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

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


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.



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 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


Phone: 877.296.4319

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

Why Does My Power Blink Sometimes? ave you noticed your power blinking a few times prior to an outage? Alternatively, have you experienced blinking one or two times, and then your power returns to normal? These occurrences are evidence that the system is working as it should when a temporary fault happens on our lines.


We follow the industry-wide practice of utilizing Oil Circuit Reclosers (OCR) to act essentially as breakers on the system. When things like lightning, animals, branches and vehicles come into contact with our lines, an OCR opens to stop the fault and then closes again quickly. Hence, the blink. If the disturbance on the line remains, the OCR will continue to trip two more times. If, after the third blink, the disturbance remains, the OCR remains open, resulting in a power outage. Overall, OCRs help protect the entire system, and they also isolate outages to reduce the number of impacted customers.

Sometimes, the most unexpected incidents can cause an outage. On June 12, a hot air balloon got tangled in our lines. Luckily, no one was hurt.

COMMON CAUSES OF POWER OUTAGES WEATHER: Lightning, high winds, and ice are common weather-related power interruptions. TREES: Outages happen when trees interfere with power lines. This is why our line clearance and right-of-way maintenance programs are so important. WILDLIFE: Squirrels, birds and other animals can come in contact with equipment such as transformers and fuses and cause equipment to momentarily fail or shut down completely. EQUIPMENT: The electric grid is a highly complex infrastructure with many mechanical elements that can fail due to age, performance, and other issues. ACCIDENTS: Unfortunately, machinery and vehicles occasionally collide with our equipment, leading to downed lines, broken poles and more.Â

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 for more information.


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

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.



ELECTRICAL SAFETY TIPS FOR HUNTERS This hunting season, we encourage all members to be aware of electrical equipment and take necessary precautions while hunting. Keep these safety tips in mind as you enjoy the great outdoors.

Take notice of posted warning signs and keep clear of electrical equipment.

Do not shoot at or near power lines or insulators.

Know where power lines and equipment are located on the land where you hunt.

Be especially careful in wooded areas where power lines may not be as visible.

Do not place deer stands on utility poles or climb poles. Energized lines and equipment can conduct electricity to anyone who comes in contact with them, causing shock or electrocution.

Do not place decoys on power lines or other utility equipment. Any nonelectrical equipment attached to a pole can pose an obstruction and serious hazard to our line crews. 12 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2020

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.


Electrical Concerns

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.


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


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 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.”



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Add or upgrade Internet by logging onto SmartHub and clicking on My Services. You can also email us at 16 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2020

Fuel Mix Report

The fuel mix characteristics of Midwest Energy & Communications as required by Public Act 141 of 2000 for the 12-month period ending 06/30/20.

Comparison Of Fuel Sources Used Fuel Source

Are You Ready For Some Football?


ike everything else these days, the pandemic threw a major curveball at the long-standing tradition of Friday night football. When local high school games kicked off in September, only two spectators per athlete were permitted to attend physically. Many schools turned to livestreaming the games, but Ross Beatty Jr./ Sr. High School didn’t have connectivity at the football field. Luckily, they have MEC internet at the schools. When we found out about the issue, we sprung into action. On Friday, Sep. 18, hours before the first game, we visited the school to hook up Wi-Fi connectivity to the field to ensure spectators from afar could enjoy the action on the field.

Your co-op’s fuel mix

Regional average fuel mix
















Renewable Fuels












Solid Waste Incineration









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

Regional Average Fuel Mix

The icing on the cake? The Cassopolis Rangers won 41–14. MEC fiber installer Jason Davenport installs Wi-Fi on the Cassopolis Rangers’ football field.

Emissions And Waste Comparison lbs/MWh

Type Of Emission/Waste

Your Co-op

Regional Average*

Sulfur Dioxide



Carbon Dioxide



Oxides of Nitrogen





High-level Nuclear Waste

*Regional average information was obtained from the MPSC website and is for the 12-month period ending 12/31/19. Midwest Energy & Communications purchases 100% of its electricity from Wolverine Power Supply Cooperative, Inc., which provided this fuel mix and environmental data.


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 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 to find one in your area.

United Way

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.

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

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

Contact: Michigan Dept. of Treasury # Exemp.

0–1 2 3

Max. Income

$14,036 18,964 23,892

# Exemp.

4 5 6

Max. Income

$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, • Michigan Dept. of Treasury,

Contact: Local Michigan Dept. of Health and Human Services (DHHS),

Contact: Local Community Action Agency

Contact: Call 2-1-1 or

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


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


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