COUNTRY LINES Midwest Energy & Communications
IRONMAN 70.3 TRAVERSE CITY
Stars, Stripes And Sawdust
Partnering To Improve Communities 2019 Youth Tour Recap
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In This Issue October 2019 || Vol. 39, No. 9
Michigan’s Electric Cooperatives
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IRONMAN 70.3 athletes gear up for the swim portion of the race in late August as Traverse City hosted 2,500 athletes from around the world. Flip to page 14 to read about the grueling 1.2 mile swim, 56-mile bike ride and 13.1-mile run.
POSTMASTER: SEND ALL UAA TO CFS. Association ofﬁcers are Robert Kran, Great Lakes Energy, chairman; Tony Anderson, Cherryland Electric Cooperative, vice chairman; and Eric Baker, Wolverine Power Cooperative, secretarytreasurer. Craig Borr is president and CEO. CONTACT US/LETTERS TO EDITOR: Michigan Country Lines 201 Townsend St., Suite 900 Lansing, MI 48933 248-534-7358 email@example.com countrylines.com
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6 MI CO-OP COMMUNITY Guest Column: Fall Road Trippin’ With Christal Frost
From Harbor Springs to Cross Village, Christal shares her fun fall adventures. So grab a pen, take notes on her journey, and get ready to follow in her footsteps!
10 MI CO-OP KITCHEN Up Your Cooking Game With These Flavorful Venison Recipes
18 MI CO-OP COMMUNITY Resources For Home Heating Assistance
Win $150 for stories published! Guest Column: Country Lines invites members to submit their fond memories and stories. For guidelines and to submit your guest column go to countrylines.com under the MI Co-op Community tab.
Christin McKamey & Our Readers
Featured Guest Chef: IRONMAN training coaches from Organic Training share a smoothie recipe to help the body recover after training sessions and to prepare for upcoming workouts. Enter Our Recipe Contest And Win A $50 Bill Credit!
14 FEATURE IRONMAN 70.3 Traverse City: Anything Is Possible Emily Haines Lloyd
Best of Michigan UP NEXT! Best Restaurants With A View: Tell us about your favorite spots with sights to behold. We will publish this member–recommended list in our February issue. Submit your favorites at countrylines.com under the MI Co-op Community tab by November 15.
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4 OCTOBER 2019
We’re Movin’ On (Over) To The East Side Robert Hance, President/CEO
I like to-do lists. More importantly, I like checking things off my to-do list. We’re checking off a big one as we wrap up our five-year southwest Michigan fiber deployment. It was a huge and very ambitious undertaking. We check it off with more than 10,000 internet subscribers, a business model and an approach that dozens of electric cooperatives across the country are using as they launch their own projects. The fiber deployment sets us up not only to deliver the highest quality internet platform available, but also positions us to introduce a variety of applications through our distribution grid that will improve electric safety and reliability. Through this project, we’re living our mission of delivering first-in-class innovations and solutions where others won’t. We’ve invested a lot of time, money and resources in our southwest Michigan and northern Indiana service territory, and our customers to the east keep asking when it will be their turn. This dates me, but some of our readers will remember a television program called The Jeffersons that first aired in 1975. The theme song from this popular sitcom opened with the words, “Well, we’re movin’ on up, to the east side…” It’s not up, but rather over. Regardless, we’re headed east to build a communications infrastructure. Walk-out and engineering work for our fiber deployment in southeast Michigan and northern Ohio is underway, and construction begins this month for our first zone. We are starting in the Tecumseh area on the northeast side of the district, working our way counterclockwise through the Michigan portion of the service territory, and ending our construction efforts in Ohio. We expect to begin home installs in the second quarter of 2020, and all construction should be complete with installs well underway by the end of 2021. It’s never fun to be last, and we appreciate your patience. We are constructing a brand new infrastructure, and there are many steps to the process. With five years of experience under our belts, we’re well prepared to build out the entire system within a two-year window. We’ve been part of your lives and community for over 80 years, and are laying other groundwork as we settle in for the long run. The communications system is just one step we’re taking to ensure that we’re equipped, and you’re equipped, with the types of opportunities and advantages to make the rural experience vibrant and relevant. As we begin the fiber deployment, we will continue to carefully evaluate and consider the overall needs of the region and our customers so that we can provide the highest quality service experience while also improving efficiencies and outcomes. Southwest Michigan is in great shape, and now we’re movin’ on over to bring some long-overdue attention to customers on the east side of our service area.
MEC NEWS OF NOTE teammidwest.com We recently gave our website a face lift. The new site has improved mobile responsiveness and a support section that includes answers to your most common questions and issues. We also restructured our navigation to make it easier to find products and enhanced our careers section. Check it out.
MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES
MI CO-OP Community
Fall pin’ p i r T d Roa With Christal Frost, Media Personality
THE BEST OF HARBOR SPRINGS AND CROSS VILLAGE
all is my absolute favorite time of year, and northern Michigan is the perfect place for a fall road trip! My traveling companion and I began our autumn adventure with a trip to Harbor Springs, driving along the famed “Tunnel of Trees,” a 27-and-a-half-mile scenic route in Emmet County. The winding road unveils a forest canopy of fall color that is absolutely breathtaking and the perfect way to start our journey! Of course, every road trip includes a good breakfast, and we found ours in Harbor Springs at Sam’s Graces, a charming cafe with excellent food that looks and feels like something you might ﬁnd in France. Sitting outside on the patio, surrounded by herb gardens and tomato plants, we sipped our coffee in an eclectic assortment of mugs that reminded me of breakfast at my grandma’s house. After breakfast, we made the short walk downtown and browsed the incredible selection of spices at Spice Harbor before checking out the amazing array of exquisite jewelry and hand-made art by American artists. We continued down Main Street to ﬁnd what is now my absolute favorite shop—Ivy Boutique. Ivy has adorable dresses, cozy sweaters and accessories that will brighten up every season. Our stroll then led us to Harbor Springs Harbormaster. Offering seasonal and transient boat slips, the marina is surrounded by an array of public parks and restaurants. One restaurant in particular is an absolute must for lunch or dinner—Stafford’s Pier Restaurant. A waterfront landmark in Harbor Springs since before prohibition, it was acquired by Stafford’s
6 OCTOBER 2019
Hospitality in 1970, and today Stafford’s Pier offers a variety of dining options, including Dudley’s Deck, Harbor Springs’ favorite outdoor venue. We dined in The Pointer Room, which extends out toward the beautiful yacht basin and enjoyed the chef’s special, a bacon lettuce and tomato on Naan bread with the most delicious local tomatoes I have ever tasted. After lunch, it was time to embark on the scenic drive along M-119 from Harbor Springs to Cross Village. The drive is remarkable—every curve reveals another surprise, including the charming Pond Hill Farm. This working farm offers beer and wine tastings, a café, general store, and livestock. We meandered through the General Store to the bar and café where I enjoyed the cider and wine tasting, while my friend sampled several of Pond Hill Farm’s famous beers. Then we came upon my favorite of activity of the day— vegetable sling shots! Buying a bucket of potato and squash as ammunition, we ﬁred in-season vegetables at a variety of targets. The food never goes to waste since owner and farmer Jimmy Spencer assigns the goats and pigs to clean up duty in the target zone after the farm closes. From Pond Hill, we continued our drive along M-119, passing meadows and the occasional panoramic view of Lake Michigan—ﬁnally reaching Cross Village. Cross Village has a rich and varied history, which dates back to the 1600s when the Odawa and Ojibwa Indian tribes resided in this area. Today, Cross Village is best known for Legs Inn, the most
s Vill a
Downtown Cross Village: • Legs Inn
See Harbor Springs And Cross Village In Action
Christal Frost ﬁlmed her Harbor Springs and Cross Village adventure, now available on countrylines.com.
Fall is a special time in northern Michigan. So, what are you waiting for? Enjoy the ride!
l of Tr
iconic restaurant in northern Michigan. Owned by the Smolak family for almost 100 years, Legs Inn offers more than homemade Polish cuisine and fresh, locally caught whiteﬁsh. Legs Inn is equal parts food, views and history. One visit to Legs Inn is never enough to appreciate its artistry and unusual architecture. As for the food, the pierogi is phenomenal and the smoked whiteﬁsh pate’ is a must.
For behind-the-scenes footage, see the “Road Trippin” story highlight album on our Instagram @michigancountrylines.
il dH lF
Christal Frost is a media personality who can be heard on Today’s Country Music-WTCM, The Christal Frost Show on NewsTalk 580-WTCM AM.
• • • • • •
Sam’s Graces Spice Harbor Ivy Boutique Harbor Springs Harbormaster Stafford’s Pier Restaurant Dudley’s Deck
Downtown Harbor Springs:
r Sp ri
MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES
co-op entrepreneurs SUBMIT A NOMINATION TODAY!
Michigan Country Lines is on the hunt for entrepreneurial movers and shakers to showcase in our March 2020 magazine. We know co-op members are awesome and there is no shortage of
pioneers, innovators and leaders in our service territory. Featured entrepreneurial endeavors can be small start-ups, large operations or anything in between. If you know a friend, neighbor or coworker we should consider, nominate them by December 31 at countrylines.com. Self-nominations are accepted.
Cast a ll p e S on Phantom Energy SAVE ENERGY & MONEY
Ghosts and goblins may visit only on Halloween, but phantom energy lurks in your home all year long. Phantom energy is the power used by devices even when they are turned off. Lower your home’s phantom energy use today…
• UNPLUG UNUSED computer and phone chargers • USE POWER STRIPS to turn off computers, TVs, and gaming consoles • SHUT OFF ELECTRONICS automatically with smart power strips
MICHIGAN-ENERGY.ORG | 877.296.4319 Energy Optimization programs and incentives are applicable to Michigan electric service locations only. Other restrictions may apply. For a complete list of participating utilities, visit michigan-energy.org.
Independence. History. Government. Friendship. These are just a few of the things learned and gained by students attending the National Rural Electric Cooperative (NRECA) Washington D.C. Youth Tour each year in June.
ur 2019 delegates were Mikayla Copley, daughter of Alyse Copley and junior at Three Rivers High School, and Emilee Smith, daughter of Norm and Jodee Smith and junior at Decatur High School. The students, whose families are MEC electric consumers, were selected based on their applications and after spending a day with MEC employees at the Cassopolis headquarters where they toured the building, learned about the industry and discussed potential careers.
During the trip, the students toured the Civil War battlegrounds in Gettysburg, Pa., and Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Md., on their way to D.C. Once in the capital, they visited several monuments and museums, witnessed the changing of the guard ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery and met with local representatives on Capitol Hill. To round out the week’s activities, they also attended a musical.
MEC Youth Tour students Mikayla Copley and Emilee Smith in front of the U.S. Capitol.
“I met kids from all over the country, and I learned a lot about how to interact with others,” said Emilee. “I also learned a lot about how history affects the present.” Her mother noted that this experience teaches leadership skills kids can’t get in a classroom and believes the impact will be long-lasting: “This trip helps kids learn how to navigate the world.” As for Mikayla, she got to expand her current knowledge on significant figures and events in our history, but the biggest impact on her was making new friends. “Normally, I am kind of shy, but I met so many friendly people that I learned to become more outgoing,” said Mikayla. Her grandmother, Mary Suseland, is proud of the independence that Mikayla gained. “I also believe she’s made some lifelong friends, which is just incredible.”
Some of the Michigan Youth Tour delegates stop for a photo in front of the Washington Monument.
We will open applications for next June’s trip in January of 2020. MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES
Up your cooking game with these creative and ﬂavorful recipes. Photos by Robert Bruce Photography Recipes Submitted By MCL Readers And Tested By Recipe Editor Christin McKamey
Venison Swedish Meatballs Jessica Arnold, Great Lakes Energy ¾ 1 2 3 2 1½ 1½ ½ 2¾ 2 1 1 ¼
cup seasoned breadcrumbs medium onion, chopped eggs, lightly beaten tablespoons parsley teaspoons ground pepper, divided teaspoons salt pounds ground venison cup all-purpose ﬂour cup half and half (10½ ounce each) cans beefy mushroom soup, undiluted tablespoon Worcestershire sauce package (16-ounce) egg noodles cup butter
In a large bowl combine breadcrumbs, onion, eggs, 2 tablespoons parsley, 1 teaspoon pepper, ¾ teaspoon salt and ground venison. Shape into 1½-inch meatballs. In a large skillet, brown meatballs. Set aside on a paper towel-lined plate to drain; reserve drippings in pan. For gravy, stir ﬂour into drippings; cook and stir 2—3 minutes. Gradually whisk in half and half until smooth. Stir in the soup, Worcestershire sauce, remaining 1 teaspoon pepper and remaining ¾ teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened——return meatballs to pan. Cook, uncovered, 10 OCTOBER 2019
15—20 minutes longer or until meatballs are cooked through, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, cook noodles according to package directions. Drain; toss with butter. Serve with meatballs; sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon parsley. Serve immediately. Watch a video of this month’s winning recipe at micoopkitchen.com/videos
Comfort Foods: due November 1 Savory Cherries: due December 1 Chili Cook Off: due January 1 Submit your favorite recipe for a chance to win a $50 bill credit and have your recipe featured in Country Lines with a photo and a video. Go to micoopkitchen.com for more information and to register.
Enter to win a
energy bill credit!
Dad’s Venison Carbonade
Barbara Warzywak, Presque Isle 6 slices bacon (thick-cut works well, or add a few more slices if using thin bacon) ¼ cup ﬂour ¹/8 teaspoon pepper 2 pounds boneless venison, de-fatted and cut into 1-inch cubes 1 can beer 10 ounces low-sodium beef broth 1 envelope dry onion soup mix 1 medium onion, sliced 1 tablespoon honey 1 tablespoon thyme leaves 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar 1 tablespoon parsley • hot buttered noodles (or rice/ mashed potatoes) Preheat oven to 350 F. Using an oven-proof dutch oven or large frying pan, fry bacon until crispy, reserving bacon fat in pan. Cool
bacon, crumble and set aside. Combine ﬂour and pepper and put into a shaker bag. Shake venison cubes in ﬂour in the bag. Brown the venison cubes in bacon fat. Stir in the can of beer, broth, onion soup mix, honey and thyme. Bring to a low boil for a few minutes. Cover and cook in the oven for 1 hour. Uncover and stir in sliced onion. Continue baking for another ½ hour until venison is tender. Remove from oven and stir in red wine vinegar, parsley and crumbled bacon. Serve over buttered noodles (or over mashed potatoes or rice, if preferred).
Thinking of gearing up for the 2020 IRONMAN 70.3 Traverse City Race? IRONMAN U certiﬁed coach Tyler Guggemos and wife, Carly, from Organic Training share a great recipe to help the body recover after a training session and to prepare for upcoming workouts.
Hunter’s 6-Layer Casserole Christine Gonnering, Presque Isle
1 (16-ounce) can diced tomatoes 1 tablespoon butter 1 (6-ounce) package long grain wild rice (regular or quick-cooking), with seasoning packet included 1½ pounds venison burger 1 teaspoon salt ¼ teaspoon pepper 1 can sauerkraut, drained 1½ cups sour cream 1½ cups shredded cheddar cheese
Drain tomatoes and save liquid. In a medium saucepan, add enough water to tomato liquid to make 2½ cups (follow directions on box of long grain rice for amount of liquid). In a saucepan, add butter, rice, and contents of seasoning packet to tomato liquid. Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover tightly and cook over low heat till all liquid is absorbed. Check directions on wild rice box and cook for approximately 25 minutes depending on regular or quick-cooking rice. While rice is cooking, brown venison burger, drain, and season with salt and pepper. Spoon rice into 2-quart glass baking dish. Layer sauerkraut, sour cream, venison burger, chopped tomatoes, and cheese over rice. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Bake uncovered at 350 F for 30—35 minutes until heated through.
Organic Coaching’s Tropical Orange Pineapple Smoothie 1 ½ ½ 1 1
cup orange juice frozen pineapple cup (fresh or frozen) banana scoop vanilla protein powder handful fresh spinach
Mix all ingredients in blender until smooth. For more information on blending smoothies like a pro, check out Coach Carly’s blog post on the topic at https://www.organiccoaching. biz/post/how-to-build-the-perfectsmoothie-for-all-occasions. Read the full story about the IRONMAN 70.3 Traverse City on page 14, and ﬁnd this recipe and others at micoopkitchen.com.
MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES
MEC and friends from Indiana Michigan Power teamed up to raise money for the Cass County Firemen’s Association.
Rob Schmidt takes time away from his job of managing MEC facilities to serve up some food for patrons of the Fireman’s Grill.
Partnering To Improve Communities
e brought some friends to the table over recent months to support various organizations across our service territory.
With partnership dollars from our power supplier, Wolverine Power Cooperative (WPC), we donated $5,000 to the Van Buren Youth Fair (VBYF) in Hartford, and $2,500 to Neighbors of Hope in Adrian. CoBank, one of our banking partners, matched both gifts through its Sharing Success grant program, doubling the benefit to each organization. CoBank created the Sharing Success program in 2012 to enhance the charitable work undertaken by their cooperative partners. They have donated $36 million back to rural communities since 2012. The VBYF is using the funds for much-needed upgrades to facilities and infrastructure throughout the fairgrounds. In late September we put the upgrades to the test when we hosted our southwest Michigan customer appreciation event there. “We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of MEC. The board of directors humbly thanks MEC for all they have contributed to our fair with monetary donations and community services provided to our fairgrounds,” said Stephanie Zabavski, president of the VBYF Board.
on-site assembling some of the furniture we donated prior to the grand opening. Additionally, the Lenawee County Fair opened its doors this season with nicely remodeled restrooms in the Merchant’s Building, thanks to partnership support from WPC. Facility rentals provide an important revenue stream for the fair, and the Merchant’s Building boasts the largest occupancy space. Fair officials said the investment in these improvements added a great layer of appeal to the space. In August we teamed up with a group of linemen from Indiana Michigan Power to help raise money for the Cass County Firemen’s Association. Working alongside area firefighters, we prepped and served meals at the Fireman’s Grill restaurant during the Cass County Fair. All net proceeds and donations from the week, which amounted to $6,538.12, will support the purchase of agriculture rescue equipment, additional active violence equipment, and ongoing training for the 13 fire departments and seven ambulance services that comprise the local association. This was our third year to support this great local cause.
Neighbors of Hope, a program under the Lenawee County Mission, recently purchased and remodeled a building as a long-term housing option (up to six months) for women and children experiencing homelessness. Programming includes safe shelter, food, case management, and spiritual and personal care—all with the goal of empowering women so they can take personal responsibility for their lives and become contributing members of the community. The donated funds helped with exterior remodeling of the facility to meet compliance requirements and create a welcoming outdoor space for women and children as they begin their transition. A team of MEC volunteers spent time 12 OCTOBER 2019
Adrian Linemen Ryan Ciacelli and Eric Keller assemble patio furniture at Neighbors of Hope.
HARVEST SAFETY TIPS FOR
• Maintain a 10-foot clearance around all utility equipment in all directions. • Use a spotter and deployed flags to maintain safe distances from power lines and other equipment when doing field work. • If your equipment makes contact with an energized or downed power line, contact us immediately by phone and remain inside the vehicle until the power line is de-energized. In case of smoke or fire, exit the cab by making a solid jump out of the cab, without touching it at the same time, and hop away to safety. • Consider equipment and cargo extensions of your vehicle. Lumber, hay, tree limbs, irrigation pipe and even bulk materials can conduct electricity, so keep them out of contact with electrical equipment. Source: Safe Electricity
MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES 13
Ariel view of the swim leg at the IRONMAN 70.3 Traverse City.
IRONMAN 70.3 TRAVERSE CITY
By Emily Haines Lloyd Photography by Greg Shamus/Getty Images for IRONMAN
raverse City played host to the most recognizable name in endurance sports on August 24 as athletes from around the world came to compete in an IRONMAN 70.3 race. For those who don’t spend their free time thumbing through Runner’s World magazine and using their fun money on race entry fees, IRONMAN is a worldrenowned brand that hosts a bevy of full-and-half endurance races in all corners of the planet, the most notable race in Hawaii that is televised annually on NBC Sports.
A full IRONMAN race consists of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112mile bicycle ride and a marathon 26.2-mile run, raced in that order and without a break. Feel free to adjust your glasses, take a deep breath and read that line again. The IRONMAN 70.3 or “Half IRONMAN” as many refer to it is exactly that—half the distance in each of the staminademanding areas: a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike ride, and a 13.1-mile run. Those slightly-smaller numbers don’t make the feat any less impressive and daunting. As IRONMAN and IRONMAN 70.3 races take place all over the world in places like Rio de Janeiro, Shanghai, and Dubai, it begs the question of how the quaint lakeside community of Traverse City hit the radar of IRONMAN organizers. Local tri-athlete, Patrick McIntyre, who had competed in an IRONMAN 70.3 race himself, reached out to the IRONMAN organization and recommended Traverse City as an ideal locale for a 70.3 IRONMAN race.
Competitors compete in the bike leg at the IRONMAN 70.3 Traverse City.
14 OCTOBER 2019
“Traverse City has all the things you want in an IRONMAN destination,” said IRONMAN 70.3 Traverse City Race Director Joel Gaff, also an IRONMAN athlete himself. “This
Matt Hanson of the Storm Lake, Iowa celebrates his ﬁrst place ﬁnish.
Jackie Hering of Cottage Grove, Wisconsin celebrates her ﬁrst place ﬁnish.
community offers all the beneﬁts of a gorgeous destination spot—a food and drink scene that’s off the charts, natural amenities, and a community that is very active-minded with swimmers, runners, and cyclists who appreciate the amazing scenery as a backdrop to their activities.”
There’s a reason not everyone does endurance sports and why not every endurance sport athlete signs up for an IRONMAN. The toll both emotionally and physically can be demanding, but as most athletes will tell you—it is most certainly worth it.
Traverse City certainly sold its natural attributes and community charm, as IRONMAN 70.3 Traverse City sold out faster than any other 70.3 race in the brand’s history. That means approximately 2,500 athletes pursuing their athletic dreams, over 1,500 volunteers, and a team of dedicated race staff and spectators descended on the lakeside town in late August. While many of those dreamers come from out of the country and out of the state—for the 2019 IRONMAN 70.3 Traverse City, there are plenty of local endurance athletes taking their shot as well. IRONMAN U certiﬁed coach, Tyler Guggemos, of Organic Coaching, led a group of around 15 athletes in training for the August 2019 event.
“IRONMAN events bring athletes of every shape and size, each with a story that isn’t exactly like anyone else’s,” said Gaff. “What you’re struck with at an IRONMAN race is that everyone is there trying to achieve something that is very personal to that individual. It reminds me of the IRONMAN motto— ‘Anything Is Possible.’” Missed the 2019 race? Don’t worry, they’ll be back in 2020, and you’ll have a chance to see thousands of faces showing you just what “anything is possible” looks like.
“As soon as the rumors started that Traverse City would be hosting an IRONMAN race, athletes started reaching out to me,” said Guggemos. “There is so much excitement around a race like this, and anyone who has spent any time in endurance sports knows you need a team of people to support you in achieving something like this.” Whether that looks like professional coaching advice, family support, or understanding friends, every IRONMAN knows that the achievement is bigger than race day. Guggemos, an IRONMAN alumnus himself, encourages folks interested in the 2020 race, to begin their training regimen now. Training includes workout and nutrition planning, as well as conversations with loved ones about the signiﬁcant time commitment.
Kids competed in the IRONKIDS race prior to the IRONMAN 70.3 Traverse City.
MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES 15
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“ It’s not just about wood. It’s community and friendships.” — Luke Barnett
Newcomer Debi Barry, a U.S. Air Force veteran, has started encouraging her veteran friends to come. “We all have something in common here,” she said. “We all served. And if you want to talk about it, everyone understands.”
Luke Barnett, woodshop director, and Jeff Davis, Air Force veteran, use the guitars they made for an impromptu jam session in the woodshop.
Stars, Stripes And Sawdust
ver since the Sam Beauford Woodworking Institute opened its doors in 2017, people have been coming out of the woodwork to enroll in their classes. Some students have traveled far distances from other countries (including Japan and Germany), while others are lucky enough to live just down the street from the facility’s location in Adrian, Michigan. It’s safe to say that part of the appeal comes from the unique variety of woodworking classes offered by the woodshop. If you want to learn to make a ukulele, there’s a class for that. Or maybe you’d prefer to make a guitar? No problem. Same goes if you’re interested in creating a knife, a live edge desk, or just about anything else you can dream up. “We adapt our class offerings to what people want to see,” said Luke Barnett, class instructor and woodshop director. This past May, however, Barnett got the opportunity to add a program he wanted to see offered. A special program just for veterans. Sponsored by the Adrian Noon Rotary, the Woodworking Warriors program is an effort to provide veterans with opportunities for personal and professional growth. Every Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. veterans are welcome to come hang out, enjoy camaraderie and pick up new woodworking skills. Woodworking experience level does not matter, and it is entirely free of charge. So far, the program has 60 veterans enrolled, and the participants have nothing but great things to say about it.
The instructors at the woodshop are a talented bunch. Several are internationally recognized, including Barnett, who is best known for his handmade Windsor chairs.
“I came here so I could learn from Luke,” said U.S. Air Force veteran Jeff Davis. Davis picked up guitar making in retirement and was ready to take his skills to the next level. At the woodshop, he is working toward certification and learning skills such as precise measurement and understanding woodgrain orientation. “The community has been very supportive,” said Barnett. The program runs at cost, so support is essential to keep it going. The Adrian Noon Rotary donated $35,000, and Black Rifle Coffee Company stepped up to donate 20 pounds of coffee each month. Midwest Energy & Communications donated a sip station to keep the coffee warm. Barnett is excited by the momentum behind the Woodworking Warriors program and hopes to see it continue to grow. “Once you cross the corridor you are welcome here,” he said. “It’s not just about wood. It’s community and friendships.” Visit sambeaufordwoodshop.com to learn more about the Sam Beauford Woodworking Institute.
Debi Barry, U.S. Air Force veteran, works on a sculpture project.
Chad Diffin, a U.S. Army veteran, has been coming every Wednesday since the program started. “The interaction with the people here is my favorite part,” he said. “I have woodworking equipment at home, but I choose to drive an hour and a half to come here instead.”
MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES 17
Home Heating Assistance Programs 2019-2020 Season Winter Protection Plan
Contact: Your Local Utility Company Income Guidelines 2019–2020 # in Household 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
150% Poverty Guide Maximum Income $18,735 25,365 31,995 38,625 45,255 51,885 58,515 65,145
The Winter Protection Plan (WPP) protects enrolled seniors and low-income customers from service shut-offs and high utility bill payments during the winter months (Nov. 1–March 31). If you are eligible, your utility service will remain on (or restored with the WPP) from Nov. 1 through March 31, if you: • pay at least 7% of your estimated annual bill each month, and • make equal monthly payments between the date you apply and the start of the next heating season on any past due bills.
the following requirements: • are age 65 or older, • receive Department of Health and Human Services cash assistance, including SSI, • receive Food Assistance, • receive Medicaid, or • household income is at or below the 150% of poverty level shown in the Income Guidelines chart at left. Senior citizen customers (65 or older) who participate in the WPP are not required to make speciﬁc payments to ensure that their service will not be shut off between Nov. 1 and March 31. Service for seniors can be restored without any payments.
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
Note: All customers 65+ are eligible regardless of income. Customers are responsible for all electricity and natural gas used. At the end of the protection period, participants must make arrangements with their utility company to pay off any money owed before the next heating season.
You can apply for a Home Heating Credit for the 2019 tax year if you meet the income guidelines listed at left (110% of poverty level) or you qualify based on alternate guidelines including household income, exemptions, and heating costs. Additional exemptions are available for seniors, disabled claimants, or claimants with 5% or more of their income from unemployment compensation.
If you qualify, you may receive assistance to help pay for your winter heating bills. Forms are available mid-to-late January wherever tax forms are provided or from the Michigan Dept. of Treasury (517-636-4486, or michigan.gov/treasury). The Home Heating Credit claim form must be ﬁled with the Michigan Dept. of Treasury no later than Sept. 30 each year.
The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a refundable federal income tax credit for low-income, working individuals and families who meet certain requirements and ﬁle a tax return. Those who qualify will owe less in taxes and may get a refund. Even a person who does not generally owe income tax may qualify for the EITC, but must ﬁle a tax return to do so.
If married, you must ﬁle jointly to qualify. File Form 1040 or 1040A and attach the EITC.
State Emergency Relief Program (SER): michigan.gov/ mdhhs You do not have to be a DHHS client to apply for help with a past due bill, shutoff notice, or the need for deliverable fuel through the SER. This program, available Nov. 1–May 31, provides most of its utility assistance during this crisis season.
However, limited assistance is available outside the crisis season.
You may be able to receive help with weatherizing your home to reduce energy use if you meet low-income eligibility guidelines (200% of poverty guidelines) and funding is available. Weatherization may include caulking,
weatherstripping, and insulation. Contact your local Community Action Agency for details. Visit mcaaa.org to ﬁnd one in your area.
2-1-1 is a free phone service operating 24 hours daily to provide information about help that may be available in a
particular area with utilities and other needs. Dial 2-1-1 or visit mi211.org to ﬁnd available services.
Contact: Local Utility Company
You are protected from service shut-off for nonpayment of your natural gas and/or electric bill for up to 21 days, possibly extending to 63 days, if you have a proven medical
emergency. You must provide written proof from a doctor, public health or social services ofﬁcial that a medical emergency exists. Contact your gas or electric utility for details.
Shut-off Protection For Military Active Duty
If you or your spouse has been called into active military duty, you may apply for shut-off protection from your electric or natural gas service for up to 90 days. You may request
extensions. You must still pay, but contact your utility company and they will help you set up a payment plan.
Michigan Veterans Trust Fund Emergency Grant Program
The Trust Fund provides temporary assistance to veterans and their families facing a ﬁnancial emergency or hardship
including the need for energy assistance. Contact the Michigan Veterans Trust Fund at 517-284-5299 or michiganveterans.com
Michigan Energy Assistance Program (MEAP) includes services that will enable participants to become self-sufﬁcient, including assisting participants in paying their energy bills on time, budgeting for and contributing to their ability to provide for energy expenses, and being energy efﬁcient. Shut-off protection is provided Nov. 1–April 15 for all residential
customers. The MEAP is supported by the state’s Low Income Energy Assistance Fund (LIEAF). An electric utility that chooses not to collect for the LIEAF shall not shut off service to customers for non-payment between November 1 and April 15. For a list of electric providers that opt-out of collecting the LIEAF go to michigan.gov/mpsc.
Add $6,630 for each additional member.
Home Heating Credit Contact: Mich. Dept. of Treasury # Exemp.
0–1 2 3
$ 13,739 18,601 23,463
4 5 6
$ 28,325 33,187 38,049
Add $ 4,862 for each exemption over 6.
Earned Income Credit
Contact: • U.S. Treasury Dept., Internal Revenue Service irs.gov/EITC • Michigan Dept. of Treasury michigan.gov/treasury
Crisis Assistance Program Contact: Local Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) michigan.gov/mdhhs
Low-Income Home Weatherization
Contact: Local Community Action Agency
Contact: Call 2-1-1 or UWmich.org/2-1-1
Medical Emergency Protection
Contact: Local Utility Company
You may claim a Michigan earned income tax credit for tax year 2019 equal to a percentage of the federal earned income tax credit for which you are eligible.
If you receive a DHHS cash grant, you may vendor part of it towards heat and electric bills. Contact your local DHHS or call the Home Heating Hotline, 855-275-6424.
Contact: MI Veterans Trust Fund
MI Energy Assistance Program Contact: Utility or 2-1-1 in late November
18 OCTOBER 2019
Dial 2-1-1 for more information on heating and other human services programs.
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