Nov/Dec 2022 MEC

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A Story 100 Years In The Making With Mammoth Distilling COUNTRY LINES November/December 2022 MICHIGAN Midwest Energy & Communications Answering The Call In Lenawee County CommandIQ Holiday Checklist A New Director For District 2
You may not realize it, but your home is sitting on a free and renewable supply of energy. A WaterFurnace geothermal comfort system taps into the stored solar energy in your own backyard to provide savings of up to 70% on heating, cooling, and hot water. That’s money in the bank and a smart investment in your family’s comfort. Contact your local WaterFurnace dealer today to learn how to tap into your buried treasure. WATERFURNACE UNITS QUALIFY FOR A 30% FEDERAL TAX CREDIT THROUGH 2032 YOUR LOCAL WATERFURNACE DEALERS THERE’S A TREASURE IN YOUR BACKYARD visit us at WaterFurnace is a registered trademark of WaterFurnace International, Inc. Allendale Allendale Htg & Clg (800) 327-1937 Bad Axe/Ubly Cutting Edge Htg & Clg (989) 551-0986 Berrien Springs Waterfurnace Michiana (269) 473-5667 gogreenmichgeo Big Rapids Stratz Htg & Clg, Inc. (231) 796-3717 Clifford Orton Refrig & Htg (989) 761-7691 Hart Adams Htg & Clg (231) 873-2665 adamsheating Indian River M&M Plmb & Htg (231) 238-7201 Lansing Candor Mechanical (517) 920-0890 Mancelona Top Notch Htg, Clg, & Geothermal (231) 350-8052 Michigan Center Comfort 1/Air Serv of Southern Michigan (517) 764-1500 Mt Pleasant Walton Htg & Clg (989) 772-4822 Muskegon Adams Htg & Clg (231) 873-2665 Portland ESI Htg & Clg (517) 647-6906 Sunfield Mark Woodman Plmb & Htg (517) 886-1138 Traverse City D&W Mechanical (231) 941-1251 Geofurnace Htg & Clg (231) 943-1000

Michigan’s Electric Cooperatives



EDITOR: Christin McKamey

COPY EDITOR: Yvette Pecha


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: Tom Sobeck, Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op, chairman; Gabe Schneider, Cherryland Electric Cooperative, vice chairman; Chris O’Neill , HomeWorks Tri-County Cooperative, secretary-treasurer; Craig Borr , president and CEO.

CONTACT US/LETTERS TO EDITOR: Michigan Country Lines 201 Townsend St., Suite 900 Lansing, MI 48933


Cooperative Association,

Townsend St., Ste. 900, Lansing,


November/December 2022 Vol. 42, No. 10 /michigancountrylines /
the Cover: Owners of Mammoth Distilling Chad Munger, wife Tracy Hickman, and their distillery dog Dawson. Photo courtesy of Sandra Wong 6 ENERGY ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS FOR 2022-2023 10 MI CO-OP KITCHEN Holiday Side Dishes: The perfect pairings for your festive feast. 14 100 YEARS IN THE MAKING The rediscovery of Michigan Rosen rye took equal parts of serendipity, location, teamwork and passion. 18 GUEST COLUMN The Salted Christmas Goose: A HomeWorks member recalls how a cooking catastrophe created better family communication. #micoopcommunity Instagram contest winner Flowers give this old Ford a facelift @lexannrebecca (LexAnn DeWeerd) MI Co-op Community To enter contests, submit reader content & more, visit Guest Column See details on page 18. Win $150 for stories published! Recipe Contest See details on page 10. Win a $50 bill credit! Instagram Contest Use #micoopcommunity for a chance to be featured here and on our Instagram account. 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: 10/1/22. 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
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. 2022. 13. Extent and nature of circulation: A) Total No. of copies 245,503 246,919 B) Paid and requested circulation 244,543 246,070 C) Total paid and requested circulation 244,543 246,070 D) 1) Free distribution by mail 157 157 2) Free distribution outside mail 809 849 E) Total free distribution 966 1,006 F) Total distribution 246,469 247,925 G) Copies not distributed 0 0 H) Total 246,469 247,925 I) Percent paid and/or requested circ 98.7 99.7% Avg # of copies each issue during preceding 12 mo. Actual # of copies of single issues published nearest to filing date 16. Publication of statement of ownership: November 2022 17. Signature and title of editor: Christine Dorr, editor Contents 3MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES


60590 Decatur Road, Cassopolis, MI 49031

M–F 8 a.m.–5 p.m.


59825 S. LaGrave Street, Paw Paw, MI 49079

M–F 8 a.m.–5 p.m.


1610 E. Maumee Street, Adrian, MI 49221

M–F 8 a.m.–5 p.m.


Midwest Energy & Communications 800-492-5989



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

Erika Escue-Cadieux, Onsted 419-346-1088

Fred Turk, Decatur 269-423-7762




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

Update On New Adrian Facility

As the year winds down and the triple-whammy holiday season of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s approaches, I like to reflect on the previous 12 months—what went well, what we could have done differently, and what I’m grateful for. It helps me focus on where I’m going while also keeping in mind where I’ve been.

This year, I’m grateful for many things. Our customers have shown us support through one of Michigan’s most extremeweather summers yet. The MEC team continues to take on new, highly skilled individuals so we can serve those customers better than ever before. And, of course, there’s the anticipation of our new southeast Michigan facility—a win for customers and employees alike.

The last time I talked to you about our new service center in Raisin Township, we had just purchased the land (about 10 acres at 5050 Occidental Highway in Adrian). We’re now working hard on the facility, which will replace our existing southeast service center.

The new building includes 6,500 square feet of office space and 32,000 square feet of warehouse/parking space. It will be physically accessible with a drive-through window and a safe and secure server room to accommodate our technology needs. It’s more central to our overall customer base, and it will house all employees and lines of business under one roof, making it a much more efficient facility.

We’re building this facility at a critical time as we further expand internet service to more homes, businesses, and institutions across southern Michigan. A lot of this work is in our southeastern service area. The new facility will allow us to direct the expansion more efficiently, especially

as we finalize permits and move into construction and installations. As all this happens, we will need space to continue providing the attentive service our electric customers have come to expect.

At the time of this writing, drywall is up throughout much of the building, and they have started moving in equipment, cabinets, and more. The warehouse and vehicle storage areas have also taken shape, and plumbing, wiring, and ductwork are complete. The new facility has come a long way in just a few short months.

We hope to open our new service center to you in December 2022. In the meantime, I hope you have a happy Thanksgiving, a merry Christmas, and a happy New Year.



A rendering of our completed service center.
on the facility’s vehicle storage area.
on the facility’s front office. 4 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022

Remembering Director Jim Dickerson

It’s with great sadness that we say goodbye to our friend and recently retired District 2 director Jim Dickerson, who passed away Saturday, Oct. 1. Jim served on our board of directors for 28 years, following in his father’s footsteps, and was a strong customer advocate throughout his tenure.

Before Jim’s passing, a group of MEC board members and employees surprised him with a resignation gift at his home. Topper Barth, Ron Armstrong, John Green, Ben Russell, and Fred Turk represented the board of directors. For his many years of service to our membership, Jim received an acrylic plaque. Each of the board members took a few minutes to thank him for his service. Jim was visibly touched by the support and kind words. Members of our staff also thanked Jim and presented him with a card signed by a group.

Jim will be greatly missed. Please keep the Dickerson family in your thoughts and prayers.

Internet Bill Assistance

MEC proudly participates in the Affordable Connectivity and Lifeline Programs, federal initiatives that assist low-income households with their internet bills.

The Affordable Connectivity Program is a Federal Communications Commission initiative to help low-income households with broadband internet expenses. Eligible MEC customers can receive up to a $30/month discount on service (up to $75/month if your household is on qualifying Tribal lands). Visit to find out if you qualify.

The Lifeline Program, subsidized through the Universal Service Fund, provides a monthly credit on telephone or internet bills for low-income consumers. Qualifying customers can receive a $9.25 credit on internet or $7.25 on phone service (seniors can get a $12.35 credit on phone service, while residents of tribal lands can get a $34.25 credit on either service). Visit to see if you qualify.

New Director Joins MEC Board

Please welcome Jim Wiseley to the MEC board of directors! He is filling the vacant District 2 seat.

District 2 includes Arlington, Bainbridge, Bangor, Bloomingdale, Coloma, Covert, Hartford, Keeler, Lawrence, Paw Paw, Pipestone, Silver Creek, Watervliet, and Waverly townships.

Wiseley has lived in the Bloomingdale area for more than 20 years, and has been an MEC customer for much of it. He has more than 30 years of experience in the education field, holding one master’s degree in teaching and another in educational leadership, and received an award from the Chikaming Township Police Department for his service as athletic director/assistant principal at River Valley High School in Three Oaks. In 2019, Wiseley was hired as the superintendent for Constantine Public Schools, and in the summer of 2022, he became the superintendent of Gobles Public Schools.

MEC Board Chair Topper Barth said Wiseley’s background and experience will be a tremendous asset to the board.

Back (L to R): Directors John Green, Ron Armstrong, Fred Turk, Topper Barth, and Ben Russell; Front: Jim Dickerson


Winter Protection Plan

Contact: Your Local Utility Company


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 above.

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.

Earned Income Credit


• U.S. Treasury Dept., Internal Revenue Service,

• Michigan Dept. of Treasury,

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a refundable federal income tax credit for lowincome 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.

You may claim a Michigan earned income tax credit for tax year 2021 equal to a percentage of the federal earned income tax credit for which you are eligible.

State Emergency Relief Program (SER)

Contact: Local Michigan Dept. of Health and Human Services

You do not have to be a DHHS client to apply for help with a past-due bill, shut-off

or the need for deliverable fuel through the SER. This program, available Nov. 1–May 31, provides most of its utility assistance during this crisis season. However, limited assistance is available outside the crisis season.

you receive a DHHS cash grant, you may use part of it toward heat and electric bills. Apply online using MI Bridges:

Low-Income Weatherization Assistance Program

Contact: Local Community Action Agency

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

Contact: Call 2-1-1 or

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

Contact: Local Utility Company


later than Sept. 30 each year.

must be filed

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.

Income Guidelines 2022–2023
in Household 150% Poverty Guide Maximum Income 1 $20,385 2 27,465 3 34,545 4 41,625 5 48,705 6 55,785 7 62,865 8 69,945 Add $7,080 for each additional household member.
Assistance Programs 2022-2023 Season Home Heating Credit Contact: Michigan Dept. of Treasury # Exemp. Max. Income # Exemp. Max. Income 0–1 $14,949 5 $35,717 2 20,141 6 40,909 3 25,333 7 46,101 4 30,525 8 51,293 Add $5,192 for each exemption over 6. You can apply for a Home Heating Credit for the 2022 tax year if you meet the income guidelines listed above (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 The Home Heating Credit claim form
with the Michigan Dept. of Treasury no

Michigan Veterans Trust Fund Emergency Grant Program

Contact: MI Veterans Trust Fund

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 800-642-4838 or

Michigan Homeowner Assistance Fund Administering Agency: Michigan State Housing Development Authority

The MIHAF provides funds to customers with assistance preventing homeowner mortgage delinquencies, defaults, foreclosure, loss of utilities or home energy services, and displacement. Applicants must demonstrate financial hardship directly related to COVID-19 on or after Jan. 21, 2020.

MI Energy Assistance Program

Contact: Utility or 2-1-1 in late November

The 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

Holiday Tips

The holidays are a magical time, and it’s also the most expensive time of year for many of us. Here are tips to reduce the financial burden with efficient ways to use less energy at home and lower your monthly bills.

Home Practices

If you are hosting guests, your household will consume more electricity than normal. Be prepared with efficiency basics:

• Have your thermostat programmed at 68 degrees when you are home and dialed back by eight to 10 degrees when you leave the house or go to sleep.

• Run the clothes washer on cold with full loads.

• When not in use, turn off lights and the TV; fully shut down computers and gaming systems instead of putting them in sleep or standby mode.

Cooking Efficiency

• Use the oven light to check the food. Every time the oven door is opened, the temperature inside is reduced by up to 25 degrees, according to the Department of Energy (DOE).

• When possible, make use of a slow cooker, microwave, toaster oven, or warming plate, which uses less energy than an oven and stovetop.

• Let hot food cool to room temperature before placing it inside the refrigerator. This ensures you don’t increase the temperature inside your fridge and cause it to use more energy to cool down.

Holiday Lighting

• LED holiday lights consume 70% less energy than conventional incandescent light strands.

• Use light timers so you don’t have to remember to unplug your lights every evening. You can also choose to upgrade to smart holiday lights that offer a wide range of app-controlled options, including time, colors, music, and modes.

Out-of-Town Efficiency

If you’re visiting family and friends during the holidays, prepare your home to use less energy while you’re away.

• Water heating is the second-largest energy expense in your home, accounting for about 18% of your utility bill, according to DOE. Switching your water heater to vacation mode will reduce wasted energy by keeping the water at a lower temperature. If your water heater does not have vacation mode on the dial, you can adjust it to the lowest setting.

• Set your thermostat to around 55 degrees so you’re not wasting energy to heat the home while you’re away.

• Consider upgrading a lamp or fi xture to a smart lightbulb. This allows you to control lights from afar and set a schedule for the light to go on and off.

Dial 2-1-1 for more information on heating and other human services programs.

How Does Weather Affect Renewable Energy?

As discussions about climate change increasingly take center stage, one question seems to stick in everyone’s minds: How reliable is renewable energy?

Renewable energy sources like sunlight, wind speed, and water seem like the obvious candidates to replace fossil fuels, which are currently the largest single source of carbon emissions. But what happens to reliability as our daily weather trends change?

When the Weather Fails to Show Up

Weather that doesn’t exist doesn’t generate energy. You need sunlight for solar, water for hydro, and wind for…well, wind.

Here in Michigan, consistent sunlight isn’t guaranteed, especially during our frequently overcast winter days. Even when it’s partly cloudy, solar panels can have a greatly diminished output if the clouds cast a shadow.

Wind can be similarly spotty. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, “Favorable sites [for turbines] include the tops of smooth, rounded hills; open plains and water; and mountain gaps that funnel and intensify wind.”

Michigan has some of this, but generally, our state isn’t optimal for windy conditions.

And then there’s hydro. While our state is blessed with abundant fresh water, this doesn’t guarantee accessible energy. Changing precipitation and temperatures can pose problems for water availability.

When There’s Too Much Weather

How about storms and other extreme weather events? Solar might suffer, but lots of wind and precipitation means better outlooks for wind and hydro, right?

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Storms can certainly increase output for certain renewables— at least to a point. But when the equipment tries to take on too much energy at once, it can get overwhelmed and be forced to shut down. Flooding and extreme wind speeds can seriously threaten hydro and wind power.

And, of course, the equipment itself is susceptible to weather damage. Lightning strikes, hail, and other hazards are just as dangerous to renewable energy structures as they are to any other structure.

All Is Not Lost

Does this mean renewable energy is a dead end? No!

Many renewable energy technologies are still in their infancy. Solutions like battery energy storage, which captures energy from renewables to deploy later, are still being developed and can help us use renewables more effectively in the future. As they continue to improve and new research is conducted, renewables will become an even more attractive option.

We aren’t putting all our eggs in one basket, either. Solar, wind, hydro, and other renewables can work together to provide the energy we need. On days where one is reduced, another might be more productive.

Finally, it’s important to remember that fossil fuels come with their own set of uncertainties, not least of which is their limited availability. We can’t rely on them indefinitely— even when the alternatives still have growing pains.


MEC Answers The Call In Lenawee County

Lenawee County has been through a lot recently. Our team in Adrian has been keeping an eye on things and offering our help where we can.

n July 25, approximately 175 residents evacuated from Riverview Terrace, a 12-story senior living apartment in Adrian. The Daily Telegram reported that a gap between six and nine inches was discovered between the floor and wall of a third-floor apartment while carpet was being removed. Investigators found similar cracks and determined the walls were pulling away from the floor. Emergency systems were implemented, and tenants were shuttled to nearby hotels.

Craig Tanis, Lenawee’s emergency management director, contacted us with some immediate case-by-case needs for nonprofits and agencies working to secure housing and necessary items for displaced residents.

On day two of the crisis, Cari Rebottaro, director of the Lenawee Department on Aging, called to ask if Midwest could provide a meal for 75 residents housed at a hotel in Dundee. We purchased grocery gift cards and delivered them to the Lenawee Department on Aging office.

About a week later, Tanis contacted us again when he learned that several residents living in hotel rooms needed mini refrigerators to store meals and medicine such as insulin. One resident also required a small microwave. MEC purchased five mini refrigerators and one small microwave, which we delivered to the Adrian Senior Center.

Amid the evacuation needs, we also learned of a dire need at the Lenawee Humane Society. Animal rescues need to do a lot of laundry, and one washing machine owned by LHS broke down and could no longer be repaired. On top of this, LHS was assisting some Riverview Terrace residents with caring for their animals while they were displaced, as well as the arrival of several beagles rescued from a breeding facility. Employees were taking laundry home to keep up. MEC stepped forward with a donation to purchase a new washer to assist with the day-to-day needs of the shelter.

Finally, in the early morning of Aug. 24, an arsonist broke a window at Associated Charities of Lenawee County and threw a flaming gas can into the building, according to Adrian police. Associated Charities was in the middle of its back-to-school giveaway, which provides around 350 Lenawee families with new clothing, backpacks, and school supplies. One hundred families had gone through on the first day of the giveaway, but the fire, smoke, and water ruined all remaining items.

WLEN and WQTE radio stations stepped into action with a two-day radio marathon. They asked the Lenawee community to provide gift cards and cash so the unserved families could be given shopping trips to gather the clothing and supplies they needed for the school year. The response blew the roof off, and the event raised $70,000 in just 48 hours. MEC purchased Meijer gift cards toward this initiative.

Laundry at the Lenawee Humane Society piles up amid a washer breakdown.
Photos by Robert Bruce Photography || Recipes Submitted by MCL Readers and Tested by Recipe Editor Christin McKameyMI CO-OP Recipes TASTY TUSCAN BUTTER MUSHROOMS Deb Finedell, Great Lakes Energy 4 tablespoons butter 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 tablespoon tomato paste 1 pound baby bella mushrooms, cleaned 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved ¼ cup heavy cream ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese ¼ teaspoon salt ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper ¹⁄ 8 –¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 3 cups fresh spinach • chopped fresh basil, for garnish Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and tomato paste and cook until fragrant (about 1 minute). Add mushrooms and tomatoes and cook until mushrooms are tender and tomatoes start to burst, about 5 minutes. Add heavy cream and Parmesan, and season with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes. Bring to a simmer. Add spinach and cook until sauce is thickened and spinach is wilted, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes. Garnish with basil before serving. Enjoy! Watch a video of this month’s winning recipe at WINNING RECIPE! RECIPE CONTEST National Cherry Month due Dec. 1 • Fish Fry due Jan. 1 • Vegetarian due Feb. 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. Submit your recipe at, or send it via email (include your full name and co-op) to Win a $50 energy bill credit! HOLIDAY SIDE DISHES Serve alongside your holiday dinner. 10 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022


1 package chicken stuffing

6 cups sliced zucchini


1 (15-ounce) can cream of mushroom soup






Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare chicken stuffing according to package directions.

Fill a saucepan with salted water and bring to a boil. Add sliced zucchini and chopped onion. Boil for 5 minutes; drain well. In a bowl, combine soup and sour cream. Stir in carrots. Fold in drained zucchini and onion. Combine stuffing with butter. Spread ½ of the stuffing mix in bottom of 10x7x2-inch baking pan. Spoon zucchini mixture on top. Sprinkle remaining stuffing on top. Bake for 30 minutes. Serve immediately.

1 head cauliflower

1 stick butter


Jane Ellison, Great Lakes Energy

1 (12-ounce) package cream cheese

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 tablespoon horseradish

• salt and pepper, to taste

Cut cauliflower into just bigger than bite size. Steam the cauliflower for 30–35 minutes (do not boil, or it will be mushy). Drain the water from pot. Add all ingredients to the pot. Use a potato masher to mash and combine. Top with additional cheddar cheese and serve.


Teresa Peterman, Presque Isle

1½ pounds baby potatoes, halved (20–24 potatoes)

2 tablespoons olive oil

tablespoon melted butter, for drizzling

sprinkle of sea salt

Parmesan Mixture:

cup grated Parmesan (fine texture)

teaspoon garlic powder (or onion powder)

teaspoon dried oregano or thyme

teaspoon paprika


coarse black pepper

Dipping Sauce:

cup sour cream or plain yogurt, or a combination of both

cup finely

Preheat oven to 400 F. Mix all of the ingredients for the “Parmesan Mixture” in a bowl. Drizzle olive oil in 9x13 glass baking dish. Tilt dish to spread all over the base. Use a spoon to scatter the Parmesan Mixture over the base and spread as evenly as you can. Once sprinkled, do not touch or try to spread. Place halved potatoes, cut side down, on top of Parmesan, pressing firmly. Drizzle top of potatoes with melted butter (or spray with butter spray), then sprinkle with salt. Bake potatoes for 35–40 minutes or until they are soft and the Parmesan crust is deep golden (note: you can check through the bottom of the glass). Let rest for 5 minutes. Use a small spatula to cut between every 4–5 potatoes, cutting through the Parmesan crust that binds the potatoes. Serve cheese side up. Mix dipping sauce ingredients together and serve with potatoes (optional). Serves 4–5 people.

Correction: The October version of this recipe did not list zucchini in the ingredients,

standard loaf pans were not included in the instructions, and the frosting has been

to optional. We apologize for the omissions.


Cindy Thome, Alger Delta

Frosting (optional):

cup soft butter

cup soft cream cheese

teaspoon vanilla


Preheat oven to 325 F. Grease and flour a 9x13 pan or two standard loaf pans. In a large bowl, mix together all cake ingredients until combined. Pour into the pan. Bake for 40–45 minutes. Cool completely before frosting. To make the frosting, in a small bowl, combine all of the frosting ingredients and beat in a mixer for 2 minutes. Frost the cake and enjoy.

Dennis Gocha, Great Lakes Energy
¼ cup chopped
cup sour
cup shredded
½ cup melted
¼ teaspoon
½ teaspoon
chopped green onions or chives
½ cup butter ½ cup vegetable oil 1¾ cup sugar 2 beaten eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla 3 cups shredded zucchini (approx. 3 medium) 2½ cups flour 4 tablespoons cocoa powder ½ teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon baking soda ½ teaspoon cinnamon ½ teaspoon ground cloves
3 cups powdered
1. The Capri’s sign welcomes MEC customers. 2. The entrance to The Capri. 3. Theatergoers compete in a costume contest. 4. A goodie bag and concession tickets for guests. 5. The concession stand glows after the sun goes down. 6. Theatergoers enjoy Thor: Love and Thunder. A WONDERFUL NIGHT FOR A MOVIE Sept. 10 was a beautiful night to see a movie at Coldwater’s Capri Drive-In Theater, who kindly hosted this year’s customer appreciation event. The moon was full and the temperature was perfect! MEC greeted customers at the entrance to the drivein and provided concession tickets for a small snack, a goodie bag, and complimentary admission for 450 MEC members who came to watch one or more of four movies on the big screen in the nighttime air. MEC also provided a photo booth and held a costume contest. First-, second-, and third-place winners received gift baskets courtesy of The Capri. Thank you to everyone who joined us! 1 3 6 2 4 5 12 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022

Building Vibrant Communities

In May and September, we awarded local nonprofits serving customers in our electric service territory with Building Vibrant Communities grants. The program is made possible by partnership dollars from our power supplier, Wolverine Power Cooperative.

Cycle 1

Underground Railroad Society of Cass County: Restoration of the Stephen Bogue House, which was a station on the Underground Railroad from 1830-1860. It was listed on the National Park Service “Network to Freedom” register in 2020.

Warrior’s Oath Niles: Assist veterans with specific projects and other basic needs.

Salvation Army – Niles Corp: Feeding His Sheep. This is a weekend food distribution program for 225-250 students in Berrien and Cass counties.

Flyover Art: This project will create a community, co-working creative hub in downtown Marcellus. The space will feature Mac desktop computers complete with Adobe Suite software and other creative equipment to encourage the growth of the creative economy in Berrien, Cass, St. Joseph, and Van Buren counties.

Associated Charities of Lenawee County: Back-to-School Program – provides children from low-income households with basic necessities for learning such as backpacks and school supplies, and also new clothing, shoes, and undergarments to assist with promoting a positive self-image.

Supplies for Success: Provides essential clothing, warm coats, snow gear, footwear, and school supplies to approximately 100 students.

Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Michigan: Provide weekly music classes/therapies for those with disabilities.

Antwerp Township Senior Services: Assist seniors on fixed incomes with gas reimbursement to help drive other seniors without transportation to appointments.

Domestic and Sexual Abuse Services: Replace and update the heating and cooling system to remove old boiler, radiators, and window air conditioners, and install new furnaces, ductwork, and central air conditioning in a 100-year-old building used as a domestic violence shelter. The shelter assists approximately 200 individuals per year.

Cycle 2

Gracious Hearts Giving Back: Food pantry addition for kids in need.

Cass County Fair Association: Purchase AEDs to keep on the fairgrounds for first aid.

Cass Area Artists: 5th Semiannual Cass County Regional Gallery. Brings the world of visual art to underserved areas in Michiana.

Habitat for Humanity of Elkhart County: Purchase tools to build affordable single-family homes.

Helping Hands of Cass County: Purchase gift cards for necessities for families and children in need.

Reins of Life, Inc.: Purchase a horse trailer for therapeutic riding for children with special physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs. Cass Kickstart to Careers: Fund accounts for children to teach basic financial literacy.

New Community Church Family Pantry: Build shelving for expanded food pantry needs.

NewSong WeCare: Building ramps for those in wheelchairs.


Do you represent a nonprofit serving individuals in our electric service territory? If so, you might be eligible to receive a grant for your next project or initiative. Applicants can request grants of up to $5,000. Because BVC grants are highly competitive, we try to distribute funds to the projects that will affect the largest concentration of our customers.

We accept applications all year long. The deadline to be considered in our next review cycle is Dec. 31. To apply, visit us at community-grants


Congratulations to all who received a grant! We received many, many impressive applications. Those who didn’t receive funding in these cycles are eligible to reapply. We’re proud to serve a community that’s so dedicated to enriching the lives of others.


A Story 100 Years In The Making

With Mammoth Distilling

When Chad Munger held just a palmful of Rosen rye seeds in his hand in 2020, it was the beginning, or at least the continuation, of a 100-year-old story.

Munger, the founder and owner of Mammoth Distilling, with its flagship tasting room in Central Lake, and whiskey maker Ari Sussman had first spoken about these valuable seeds a few years earlier when he made a discovery while army-crawling his way through the agriculture and food archives at Michigan State University. He came across a full-page ad for Old Schenley rye in a 1934 issue of Vanity Fair touting that it was made with Michigan Rosen rye: “The most compact and flavorful rye kernels Mother Earth produces were used for this luxurious brand,” it said.

“Ari called me right away,” said Munger. “First, we couldn’t believe this rye had basically existed in our own backyard and we hadn’t heard of it before. And then the wheels started spinning on how to bring this rye back.”

The seeds had been successfully grown just off the Leelanau Peninsula

on South Manitou Island for the first time 100 years ago. With the seeds shipped from Eastern Europe in the early 1900s to Joseph Rosen, they eventually found a home at MSU, where Rosen worked with colleagues to test the flavor. The more the Mammoth team dug into the details, the more amazing the story became. They came to a simple conclusion— this was not your average rye.

“It quickly became coveted by the country’s top whiskey makers,” said Munger. “Unfortunately, it had a fatal flaw—it cross-pollinated very easily and would quickly lose the magical flavor that made it so special.”

Enter South Manitou Island: Being 16 miles from the Michigan coastline and not too far from MSU, it eliminated the danger of immediate cross-pollination. While Rosen rye had a good run supplying whiskey makers for decades, post-Prohibition times brought a hefty hurdle. During those “dry” years, folks had become accustomed to the low price tag of corn-based whiskey.

As the folks at Mammoth kept pulling threads on this unraveling story, they

quickly addressed the obstacles of bringing Rosen rye back, as well as introducing interested parties into the existing story of the strain.

“We didn’t create it, we rediscovered it,” said Munger. “It really felt like we were being charged with keeping the story alive.”

Many amazing groups helped to keep that story alive, from the USDA, to MSU, to the National Park Service


(which manages South Manitou Island as part of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore), in order to bring Rosen rye back to Michigan.

The initial crop, just 14 acres, was planted in October 2020, nearly 100 years after the first seeds made their way to Michigan. Eighty years after the last crop of Rosen rye left South Manitou Island, members of the Mammoth team celebrated the first Rosen Rye Day this past August to harvest the grain. The hope is to continue this historical process for years to come.

None of it has been easy. Or even logical. Farming on South Manitou Island comes with its own set of unique obstacles, including no irrigation, no pesticides, a lot of work done by hand, and concerns that the team won’t know for years how the whiskey will taste.

So, why do it? Why spend the time, energy, and, let’s be honest, money on a venture that may never pay off? Munger suggests that the entire team, including those at Michigan State,

the NPS, and the whiskey community at large, all agree—“Because it’s the right thing to do. Bringing the grain back is good for the world.”

If that’s the “why,” Mammoth is certainly slogging their way through the “how.” Watching the research, the passion, the grit, the sweat on the brow, and the vision, it’s not a simple path and it takes more than falling in love with a great story. It takes a leap of faith.

Munger identifi es the simple, but not at all easy, path forward: “All we need to be willing to do is the unreasonable thing.”

Unreasonable or not, there’s an excitement around this agricultural rediscovery and a connection to history, land, and rich storytelling that is at the heart of Mammoth Distilling.

Mammoth Distilling has locations in Adrian, Bay Harbor, Bellaire, Central Lake, and Traverse City.

“We didn’t create it, we rediscovered it. It really felt like we were being charged with keeping the story alive.”
/mammoth_distilling /MammothDistillingTC 15MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES

Create a Guest Network

You never know what’s hiding on other people’s devices—even your family’s.

If someone joins your Wi-Fi network with a virus on their device, that virus can use your Wi-Fi to infect every other connected device. A guest network can keep threats like this at bay by limiting your guests’ contact with your main Wi-Fi network.

Once you create your guest network, CommandIQ will give you the option to share the network name and password with your guests via text or email. You can even schedule a date and time for the network to create and delete itself.

Learn how: Set Time Limits and Content Blocks

Of course, you don’t want your guests online the whole time.

Thankfully, there’s no need to make everyone put their devices in a bucket before dinner. CommandIQ lets you schedule internet “blackouts” for specific users, or limit them to a certain amount of time online.

If the challenge is staying off certain apps or websites, there’s a solution for that too. With content filters, you can block or limit access to TikTok, Instagram, and more, or block certain types of content like online shopping or games.

Learn how: parental-controls

Conduct a Bandwidth Test

You’ll want to make sure your Wi-Fi network is getting the speeds you’re paying for.

Bandwidth tests aren’t hard to find online, but the nice thing about using CommandIQ’s built-in testing feature is that it doesn’t just test your network speed. It also tells you how much bandwidth each device connected to your network uses. Knowing these numbers can help you manage your network more effectively.

Learn how: bandwidth-test

Let ProtectIQ Do Its Thing


whenever it finds a new threat. ProtectIQ

enabled from the moment you set up your network.

Learn more: protectiq

you use CommandIQ, you already use one of its best features. ProtectIQ automatically detects and blocks threats and intrusions seeking to harm your network and sends you an alert
3 1 2 Bonus COMMANDIQ’S CHRISTMAS GOODIES Decorations up? Check. Presents purchased? Check. Guest network created? Hmm… There’s a lot to do in these last months of the year, but don’t let your Wi-Fi network get lost in the holiday shuffle. Here are the top things your free CommandIQ app can do to ensure nothing gets in the way of your Christmas cheer. Make Sure You Have the Right Router: To use the free CommandIQ app, you need to have a GigaSpire router. Not sure what that means? Visit
Nothing on cable? It’s free visit to get started! S i m p l i f y y o u r s t r e a m i n g w i t h M y B u n d l e . T V ! Personalized recommendations Custom watchlists Search every streaming network 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 6/30/22. Emissions And Waste Comparison *Regional average information was obtained from the MPSC website and is for the 12-month period ending 12/31/21. Midwest Energy & Communications purchases 100% of its electricity from Wolverine Power Supply Cooperative, Inc., which provided this fuel mix and environmental data. Type of emission/waste lbs/MWh Your co-op Regional average* Sulfur Dioxide 0.62 1.16 Carbon Dioxide 676.4 1,133.0 Oxides of Nitrogen 0.43 0.82 High-Level Nuclear Waste 0.0090 0.0060 Comparison Of Fuel Sources Used NOTE: Biomass excludes wood; solid waste incineration includes landfill gas; and wind includes a long-term renewable purchase power contract in Wolverine’s mix. Fuel source Your co-op’s fuel mix Regional average fuel mix Coal 21.85% 36.27% Oil 0.20% 0.39% Gas 17.13% 26.18% Hydroelectric 0.56% 0.87% Nuclear 41.79% 27.82% Renewable Fuels 18.47% 8.47% Biofuel 0.34% 0.71% Biomass 0.20% 0.47% Solar 0.66% 0.32% Solid Waste Incineration 0.10% 0.05% Wind 16.96% 6.50% Wood 0.21% 0.42% Your Co-op’s Fuel Mix Regional Average Fuel Mix

The Salted Christmas Goose

Violet Comero, in her own words.

On Christmas Day, Ma always got up first and stuffed the Christmas goose. This year was no different. She stuffed the goose and salted it and put it in the oven, and then went to the barn to do her chores. In the meantime, Papa got up and started the stove in the dining room. Before he went to the barn, he checked on the goose. He thought it didn’t look like Ma salted it, so he salted it and went to the barn.

After a while, my oldest sister got up to make breakfast. She checked the goose and thought it didn’t look like it had been salted, so she salted the goose some more. Later in the morning, Grandma Haeuser showed up, and the first thing she does is go to the kitchen to help. Well, she had to check the goose, too. Didn’t look like anyone salted it, so the poor goose got some more salt.

Everything was smelling good, and we could hardly wait. Finally, we sat down to eat. We all had goose, but no one was eating it. Then they started talking about it and realized what they had done. It was bad. It sat in the house till the next day, but nobody would eat it. So Ma threw it outside for the dog. He wouldn’t eat it, nor the cats. It remained around outside all winter. It would get covered with snow, and some animal would smell it and dig it up again, and leave it lying. That poor goose floated around the yard all winter. In spring, someone felt sorry for it and buried it.

There was much more communication in the house (kitchen) after that.

Where In Michigan Is This?


September 2022 Winner! Our Mystery Photo winner is Nancy Root, a Great Lakes Energy Cooperative member, who correctly identified the photo as Cranbrook Orpheus Fountain on its campus in Bloomfield Hills.

Winners are announced in the following issues of Country Lines: January, March, May, July/August, September, and November/December.

the correct location of the photo to the left by Nov. 20 and be entered into a drawing to win a $50 electric bill credit. Enter your guess at
Guest Column
Share your fondest memories and stories. Win $150 for stories published. Visit to submit. Win $150! Win a $50 energy bill credit!
Memories from 1925, from my mother,


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This hybrid approach allows almost any existing well to become a free, clean energy source for heating and cooling your home. A Well-Connect can be installed in one day, any time of the year, as a DIY or professionally.

CALL FOR A FREE HOME VISIT wellconnectgeo.com989-356-2113
Hybr d Geotherma EXISTING FURNACE 50° WATER 38° WATER 95° AIR 70° AIR Geothermal Made Affordable ELIGIBLE FOR UP TO $2,000 REBATE & 30% TAX CREDIT Michigan-Made Hybrid Geothermal System Provides Savings & Comfort FAMILY COMING HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS? IS SANTA’S FAVORITE HELPER. Flip to Page 16 for more information. You never know what’s HID ING on other people’s devices even your famil y ’ s. Spyware, viruses, and other digital threats can infect any network they come in contact with. The free CommandIQ app can help. Create a guest network to separate new devices from yours plus take advantage of automatic security alerts, hacker blocking, and more. A 12-month service contract is required. Fiber internet services are not regulated by the Michigan Public Service Commission. SCAN CODE
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