Nov/Dec 2020 Thumb

Page 1

November/December 2020


COUNTRY LINES Thumb Electric Cooperative

Vote Online Or By Mail-in Ballot For Your Board Of Directors

2019 Annual ReportÂ




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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


3 /thumbelectric

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

Meet The Director Candidates HURON COUNTY  DISTRICT 3 Beth McDonald (incumbent)

Beth McDonald has served on Thumb Electric Cooperative’s (TEC) board of directors since October 1995. Beth is the retired personnel director of McDonald’s Food & Family Center of Bad Axe. She is now employed by Meijer, also in Bad Axe. Prior to that she was a legal secretary for 11 years. Raised in the Bad Axe area three miles north of where she currently lives, Beth has been a co-op member since November 1974. She and her husband, Lowell, have three children (one son and two daughters), nine grandchildren (eight girls and one boy), four grandsons-in-law, and four great-grandchildren. Beth attends the Bad Axe Free Methodist Church, and her entire family has been and is still involved in many community boards and projects. Beth wants to see TEC continue to be a local, member-owned cooperative. She also believes TEC has a great general manager, staff and board of directors that are totally committed to serving you. Thumb Electric Cooperative wants to provide you with the best possible service at fair prices, in a caring, professional manner, and Beth is always looking for ways to conserve energy and make the future better for upcoming generations.

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.





Richard Thompson

Richard Thompson has been the owner of Thompson Chevrolet in Ubly for the past 16 years, and his dealership employs 16 people. He has lived in the Thumb area since 1972 and has been a Thumb Electric member since 2000. Being in the automotive industry, he has served on many boards, including the Mid-Michigan Pontiac Board, the Board of Review, and regular Board of the Greater Mid-Michigan Official’s Association, including President, the Indianfields Township planning commission, and many church organizations boards. Richard and his wife Dianna have two children and one grandchild. They have lived in both Tuscola County and Huron County over their 48 years living in the Thumb area. Rick feels that he would bring a great business mind to Thumb Electric Cooperative, as he has run businesses his whole life.

SANILAC COUNTY  DISTRICT 3 Duane Kursinsky (incumbent)

Raised in the Deckerville area, Duane is the owner and operator of the Sandusky D.Q. Grill & Chill Restaurant. He has been with Dairy Queen for 49 years and has been a Thumb Electric member since 1994. Duane is a member and past chairperson of Peace Lutheran Church and has also served as vice chairperson. He also serves on the Sanilac County 4-H board, is a member of the Motor City Organ Society and Sandusky Chamber of Commerce, and is a member of several snowmobile clubs. Duane and his wife, Wanda, will celebrate their 53rd anniversary this year. They have three sons—Curt, Steve and Ryan—and eight grandchildren. If re-elected, Duane would like to continue looking for new forms of energy and ways to keep TEC’s electric rates competitive for members while maintaining the excellent service we all enjoy. He feels it has been a real honor serving TEC members with the present board of directors.


Tim Hale owns and operates a small family farm consisting of diverse crops and livestock. Along with the family farm, he has a crop insurance agency, primarily insuring crops throughout the Thumb. The agency currently has a staff of four and has been in existence for 20 years. Tim’s wife Sue is recently retired from Sandusky Schools after a 25-year teaching career and is now pursuing her many other interests. They have three children: Maddie, Emily, and Daniel. Maddie is married to Greg, and they have a 1-year-old son, Liam. All their children are currently involved in agriculture. Daughters Maddie and Emily are Michigan State grads, and son Daniel will graduate from MSU in December. Go Green! They have been Thumb Electric members for 31 years, and Tim lives in the same neighborhood he grew up in. Tim is a member of the First United Methodist Church in Sandusky and is on the board of directors of the Blue Water Conservation District. Tim states: “I am very satisfied with the service I have received from Thumb Electric. I consider my electric service a critical and reliable resource. I would be proud and privileged to serve on the board of Thumb Electric for this essential service.“

TUSCOLA  DISTRICT 3 Carl Cousins (incumbent)

Carl Cousins is a retired registered civil engineer. He worked for about 40 years, splitting his time between working for the Michigan Department of Transportation and private industry. He has been a member of Thumb Electric Cooperative since 1974. Born in Flint and raised on a dairy farm east of Grand Blanc, he graduated from Davison High School. He attended Mott Community College and graduated from Wayne State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering. Carl and his wife, Billy Jean, were married for 41 years prior to her death in 2008. They had two sons, Rodney, who was formerly a pilot with the U.S. Air Force and now works for Boeing, and William Lloyd, who passed away in 1998. He has been a member of the Millington Lions Club since 1977 and past president of the Pinto Horse Association of America, is a member of the Michigan Pinto and Breeders Association and a past member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, and he attends Millington United Methodist Church. Carl feels community participation is very important, and he has the time to represent members. He also believes maintaining reliable service at competitive prices is important.

Gerald Coon

Gerald Coon is a self-employed builder of 20 years and has two employees. He has been a Thumb Electric Cooperative member for two years. He is new to the area. He and his wife Melody built their home and moved in about two years ago. Together they have four children and five grandchildren. Gerald is fairly new to the area and is looking forward to serving in and helping out in this community.

Samantha Pickering

Samantha Pickering and her husband Samuel currently maintain a 10-1/2 acre hobby farm and have been Thumb Electric members for three years. Previously, she ran a 63-acre farm in Fostoria, raising horses, cows, chickens, and turkeys. She has also worked as a cashier, an incoming auditor, and a secretary, and she ran a kennel for a few years. She lived in Columbiaville for most of her life, then married her Air Force husband and as part of the military moved to Las Vegas and then England. Retiring in 2017, they settled in Millington. Samantha has three children and seven grandchildren. She worked for the Red Cross at the Michael Callahan Hospital while in Las Vegas, is currently a volunteer for IDES (International Disaster Emergency Service) and is a member of West Deerfield United Methodist Church.



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.



Appliance Recycling Fall Finish ppliance recycling is not available throughout the winter, and the program is closing for the year on Dec. 5. So call now if you have an appliance to recycle. We anticipate we will start to pick up again around April 1. Our contractor SEEL will pick up an old working refrigerator or freezer, and we will credit your account $50. If they have scheduled to pick up a refrigerator or freezer, they will also schedule to pick up a dehumidifier or a window AC unit you wish to recycle. Those are worth a $20 bill credit. We anticipate phone lines opening in 2021 around the last week in March.


Call 844-631-2130 to schedule your pickup!

NOMINATING COMMITTEE REPORT This is the report of the 2020 Nominating Committee, which met in Ubly, Michigan, at 2 p.m. on Sept. 11, 2020. The committee selected nominees for the position of director of Thumb Electric Cooperative. Nominees for one director position each from Huron, Sanilac and Tuscola counties are as follows:

Huron County—District 3:

Beth McDonald—Incumbent Director Richard Thompson

Sanilac County—District 3:

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 12/31/19.

Comparison Of Fuel Sources Used Fuel Source

Your co-op’s fuel mix

Regional average fuel mix



Coal Oil



Duane Kursinsky—Incumbent Director Tim Hale







Tuscola County–District 3:






Carl Cousins—Incumbent Director Gerald Coon Samantha Pickering These names shall be placed on the director election ballot in accordance with Article III, Section 3 of the Cooperative Bylaws. Dated: Sept. 11, 2020 CATHY KNOERR, CHAIRPERSON

Notice Of Cancellation Of Thumb Electric 2020 Annual Membership Meeting The 2020 Annual Meeting of the members of Thumb Electric Cooperative will be canceled due to ongoing COVID concerns. The 2020 election of one director from Huron County—District 3, one director from Sanilac County—District 3, and one director from Tuscola County—District 3 to the board of directors of the cooperative will still take place. Members will have an option to vote via mail-in ballot or electronic ballot for a period of time starting the first week of November and ending Dec. 3. Dated: Sept. 15, 2020 BETH MCDONALD, secretary

H O L I D A Y O F F IC E C L O S I N G S Thumb Electric will be closed for the holidays on the following dates:

Renewable Fuels Biofuel









Solid Waste Incineration









Your Co-op’s Fuel Mix

Regional Average Fuel Mix

Emissions And Waste Comparison lbs/MWh

Type Of Emission/Waste

Your Co-op

Thursday, Nov. 26 and Friday, Nov. 27

Sulfur Dioxide




Carbon Dioxide



Oxides of Nitrogen






Thursday, Dec. 24 and Friday, Dec. 25

N E W Y E A R ’ S E V E A N D D AY

Thursday, Dec. 31, 2020 and Friday, Jan. 1, 2021 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.

From our families to yours, have a happy holiday season!

High-level Nuclear Waste

Regional Average*

*Regional average information was obtained from the MPSC website and is for the 12-month period ended 12/31/19. The fuel mix data presented by Thumb Electric is the data from CMS Energy, which supplies nearly all of Thumb Electric’s purchased power.



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.



Thumb Electric Cooperative

Financial Statement Balance Sheets: Dec. 31, 2019 & 2018 ASSETS ELECTRIC PLANT In service—at cost Under construction Total electric plant Less accumulated depreciation ELECTRIC PLANT—NET OTHER PROPERTY AND INVESTMENTS Investments in associated organizations Investment in subsidiary Energy loans receivable Non-utility property Special funds TOTAL OTHER PROPERTY AND INVESTMENTS CURRENT ASSETS Cash and temporary cash investments Accounts receivable, less allowance for doubtful accounts of $566,068 and $499,947 in 2019 and 2018 Unbilled revenue Materials and supplies Prepaid expenses Interest receivable TOTAL CURRENT ASSETS DEFERRED DEBITS TOTAL ASSETS



$ 98,511,186 5,430,193 103,941,379 32,125,147 71,816,232

$ 95,893,825 4,096,703 99,990,528 30,760,963 69,229,565

1,607,478 2,040,386 101,711 93,499 1,094,000 4,937,074

1,606,394 1,945,904 100,328 98,053 421,707 4,172,386



2,527,696 699,876 1,309,517 132,089 8,537 5,303,083 36,816

2,575,678 648,587 1,021,220 79,406 8,842 4,583,547 257,710






$ 182,785 23,549,496 2,609,037 26,341,318 46,457,051

$ 180,305 22,569,054 2,843,721 25,593,080 44,121,966







964,204 44,209 1,855,152 697,954 501,707 179,775 88,400 8,883,072 136,764

884,116 31,511 1,337,118 671,492 456,961 192,462 96,771 8,250,478 127,684

Note payable—line of credit Accounts payable: Purchased power Subsidiary Other Accrued property taxes Accrued payroll and vacation Customer deposits Other TOTAL CURRENT LIABILITIES DEFERRED CREDITS TOTAL EQUITIES AND LIABILITIES OPERATING REVENUES Electric sales Other sales



$ 21,763,205 348,104 22,111,309

10,202,489 33,845 258,358 684,054 2,382,681 688,691 414,123 7,050 1,165,668 2,311,052 909,844 19,057,855 2,907,406

10,337,312 49,279 104,975 707,153 2,500,327 697,322 421,212 8,548 1,098,151 2,609,102 875,816 19,409,197 2,702,112

1,529,206 71,339 1 ,600,545 1,306,861 82,013 1,388,874

1,435,812 84,414 1,520,226 1,181,886 103,715 1,285,601

54,572 94,481 129,858 278,911

74,592 122,787 88,307 285,686




$ 21,627,627 337,634 21,965,261

OPERATING EXPENSES Cost of power Generation Transmission Distribution—operations Distribution—maintenance Customer accounts Customer service Sales Administrative and general Depreciation Taxes—property







Thumb Electric Cooperative Of Michigan:

82nd Annual Meeting Of The Members The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Members of the Thumb Electric Cooperative of Michigan was held at the Thumb Octagon Barn in Gagetown, Tuscola County, Michigan at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 8, 2019, pursuant to call and notice thereof given to each member of the cooperative and pursuant to the laws of the State of Michigan. The meeting was called to order by Louis Wenzlaff, president of the cooperative, who presided. Jason Bitzer, attorney for the cooperative, acted as recording secretary of the meeting and kept the minutes thereof. The president introduced the members of the cooperative’s board of directors and board officers as follows: Louis Wenzlaff, president, Tuscola County; Kim Nunn, vice-president, Sanilac County; Beth McDonald, secretary, Huron County; Randall Dhyse, treasurer, Huron County; Carl Cousins, Tuscola County; Michael Briolat, Sanilac County; Jonathan Findlay, Tuscola County; Donald Wolschleger, Huron County; and Duane Kursinsky, Sanilac County. Also introduced were General Manager Dallas Braun and Jason Bitzer, attorney for the cooperative. The reading of the Notice of the Meeting and Affidavit of Mailing thereof to all the cooperative members within the time prescribed by the cooperative bylaws was dispensed with, it having been published in Country Lines. A copy of the Notice and Affidavit is attached to these minutes and incorporated herein. The president reported that the members of the cooperative present in person or by proxy had been checked by the registration of names of the members attending the meeting in person and the names of the members represented at the meeting by proxy and the names of their respective proxies, as said members entered the meeting room, and that more than fifty (50) members of the cooperative were present in person, constituting a quorum of the members in accordance with the Bylaws of the cooperative. The president also reported that members of the cooperative were present at the meeting in person, by mail-in ballot, and through being represented at the meeting by proxies, all of the said members being named and described as to their county of residence and as to whether they attended in person or by proxy. The proxies were ordered filed in the records of the cooperative. The minutes of the 81st Annual Meeting of the Members were not read since a copy of the same had been mailed to each of the members. There being no additions or corrections to those minutes, upon motion duly made, seconded and carried, said minutes were approved as drafted. The treasurer’s report to the 82nd Annual Meeting was not read since a copy of the same had been mailed to each of the members. There being no amendments thereto or questions upon the matters contained therein, upon motion duly made, seconded, and carried, the report was approved as presented. The treasurer’s report published in Country Lines presented the 2018 financial statement and showed operating revenues of $22,111,309 and expenses of $20,929,423, resulting in an operating margin of $1,181,886. Total assignable margins were $1,571,287 for 2018. 2018 members’ patronage capital accounts will be allocated 7 cents on each dollar paid by TEC members. President Wenzlaff then introduced the cooperative’s general manager, Dallas Braun. Braun thanked the cooperative employees for all their labors and efforts over the past year. He then reported on the cooperative’s financial status, rates, member services, marketing activities, tree trimming, and TEC’s impending use of Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI). In closing, Manager Braun thanked the members for their interest in their cooperative and for their support. After questions and answers of the general manager’s report, the meeting was returned to President Wenzlaff, and upon motion duly made, seconded and carried, the general manager’s report was approved as presented. President Wenzlaff then gave the president’s report explaining the growth of the cooperative’s equity while maintaining competitive

rates, member district meetings, 2019’s major construction projects, tree trimming, and TEC’s impending use of Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI). Upon motion duly made, seconded and carried, the president’s report was approved as presented. The next order of business was the election of four (4) directors, three of them representing District 1, and an additional election in Huron County, District 2, pursuant to a director resignation following last year’s annual meeting. Three director positions are for three-year terms each. One director position is for a two-year term. President Wenzlaff appointed the following attendees as inspectors of the election, all of whom were sworn to the faithful performance of their duties by the cooperative’s attorney, Jason E. Bitzer, who is also a notary public: Huron: Francis Mazure, Gail Booms, Josie Dohning; Sanilac: Douglas Butler, Denise Pupi, Brian Pupi, Richard Sadro; Tuscola: Ronald Speirs, Dennis Haight. The Nominating Committee Report was published in Country Lines. The committee nominated the following for directorships: Huron County—District 2: Donald Wolschleger (incumbent), Matthew Booms; Huron County—District 1: Randall Dhyse (incumbent); Sanilac County—District 1: Kim Nunn (incumbent), Steve Bombard; Tuscola County—District 1: Louis Wenzlaff (incumbent), Meagan Anderson, Stanley Fox. Jason Bitzer entertained further nominations from the floor for each directorship in each county. There being no such nominations from the floor, upon motion duly made, seconded and carried, the nominations were closed. Each candidate was then introduced and invited to address the members for up to five minutes. Jason Bitzer then requested the members to vote upon their ballots for the respective directorships. The inspectors of the election were requested to collect and tabulate the ballots. Jason Bitzer turned the meeting back over to President Wenzlaff. The president then asked if there was any old business to address. There being none, he asked for new business. There being none, he entertained a motion to adjourn. Upon motion duly made, seconded and carried, the business portion of the meeting was adjourned at 11:45 a.m. Beth McDonald gave the invocation, followed by lunch and family activities. After lunch, Jason Bitzer announced the results of the tabulation of votes, which were as follows: Huron County—District 2: Donald Wolschleger: 197 (96 Mail-in Votes and 101 In-Person Votes) Matthew Booms: 120 (62 Mail-in Votes and 58 In-Person Votes) Huron County—District 1: Randall Dhyse: 303 (151 Mail-in Votes and 152 In-Person Votes) Sanilac County—District 1: Kim Nunn: 246 (134 Mail-in Votes and 112 In-Person Votes) Steve Bombard: 97 (46 Mail-in Votes and 51 In-Person Votes) Tuscola County—District 1: Louis Wenzlaff: 223 (113 Mail-in Votes and 110 In-Person Votes) Meagan Anderson: 90 (43 Mail-in Votes and 47 In-Person Votes) Stanley Fox: 31 (26 Mail-in Votes and 5 In-Person Votes) The elected directors were declared to be Donald Wolschleger from Huron County—District 2, Randall Dhyse from Huron County— District 1, Kim Nunn from Sanilac County—District 1, and Louis Wenzlaff from Tuscola County—District 1. BETH MCDONALD, secretary APPROVED BY LOUIS WENZLAFF, president


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.”




Most votes on Facebook!


Cutest Pets 1. What’s your name?—Sherri Beecher 2. Oliver—Annette Decker


3. Mid day workout—Joette Klein 4. Contentment—April Taylor 5. “But Mom, do we HAVE to hug?”—Kayla Grekowicz 6. I can’t do a thing with my hair; turn on the humidifier! —Gypsy Nancy Gierman 7. Lacy Lucy—Sherri Distelrath 8. Santa’s lil’ elf!—Laura DeNault 9. We didn’t do it.—Marcy Boshart

Enter for a chance to win a $50 energy bill credit! Submit Your “Magic of Winter” Photos!

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


Our Nov./Dec. theme is Magic of Winter. Photos can be submitted through December 20 to be featured in our Jan./Feb. 2021 issue.

Enter Your Photos And Win A Bill Credit! To enter the contest, visit Enter your picture, cast your vote, and encourage others to vote for you as well. If your photo is printed in Country Lines during 2021, you will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win one of four $50 credits on your December 2021 bill.









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.

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ELECTRICAL SAFETY TIPS When children are old enough to understand rules, then it’s a good idea to have house rules around electrical safety. Make sure that an electrical safety plan is part of your overall emergency preparedness plan. When your children know what to do and not to do around electricity, accidents are less likely to occur.


DON’T plug too much stuff into one outlet or extension cord. It could damage the electrical


Keep electrical stuff far away from water. Water and

electricity never mix. Use caution outdoors and keep all electrical appliances at least 10 feet away from hot tubs, pools, ponds, puddles and wet surfaces. Never place electronics near the shower or bathtub, and keep liquids and drinks away from computers, video games, and TVs, or anything that has a cord and plug.

system in your house or even cause a fire. Show children how plugs work, and let them know that even if they are curious about the slits of an electrical outlet, nothing else should be placed inside.


Never put metal objects in an appliance or outlet.



DON’T yank an electrical cord from the wall. Pulling on a

DON’T ever climb the fence around an electrical substation. If a ball or

cord can damage the appliance, plug or outlet.



DON’T FLY! Teach children to never fly kites

or carry helium balloons on long strings under or near power lines. Electricity is always looking for a route to the ground; kites and balloons make the perfect conduits. If a kite gets stuck in a tree that’s near power lines, don’t climb up to get it. Contact your local electric cooperative for assistance. The kite and the string may conduct electricity—sending it right through you to the ground.


some neighborhoods, power lines are buried in the ground. It can be difficult to tell where these lines are located. Teach children not to dig in the ground in any areas you have not told them are safe.


pet gets inside the fence, contact your local electric utility for assistance— they’ll come and get it out for you.



Transformers are often large, green, metal boxes sitting on the ground. Teach your children that these are not mountains to be climbed or treasures to explore. Tell your children that if they notice one of these boxes open, they should alert an adult immediately.


Look out for power lines before you climb a tree. The electricity can go right through the tree branch—and right through you!



When lightning strikes, it’s time to head inside. Children should know to go indoors when storms are approaching, but especially when thunder sounds and lightning strikes.

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