Oct 2021 MEC

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October 2021


COUNTRY LINES Midwest Energy & Communications

BEACON OF HOPE Billing Programs And Assistance

Farm Safety Tips Internet Open Houses In SE Michigan And Northern Ohio

How North Manitou Light Keepers Are Protecting Maritime History


Feeling is believing.

You may not see your underground WaterFurnace geothermal system. But you’ll definitely notice its effects. When it comes to your HVAC system, you primarily want to know whether it will comfortably heat and cool your home. With WaterFurnace, that answer is a resounding “yes.” Our units operate for longer periods at lower speeds, providing stable temperatures all year round. This helps eliminate hot or cold spots, so you’ll be comfortable in every room. Experience a WaterFurnace geothermal system in action, and you’ll feel the difference. Geothermal is the only renewable that provides reliable operation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Contact Your Local WaterFurnace Dealer Bad Axe/Cass City Thumb Clg & Htg (855) 206-5457 thumbcooling andheating.com Berrien Springs WaterFurnace Michiana (269) 473-5667 gogreenmich geothermal.com Big Rapids Stratz Htg & Clg, Inc. (231) 796-3717 stratzgeocomfort.com

Clifford Orton Refrig & Htg (989) 761-7691 sanduskygeothermal.com Hart Adams Htg & Clg (231) 873-2665 adamsheatingcooling.com Indian River M & M Plmb & Htg (231) 238-7201 mm-plumbing.com

Mancelona Top Notch Htg, Clg, & Geothermal (231) 350-8052 topnotchheatandair.com Michigan Center Comfort 1/Aire Serv of Southern Michigan (517) 764-1500 aireserv.com/ southern-michigan Mt Pleasant Walton Htg & Clg (989) 772-4822 waltonheating.com

Muskegon Adams Htg & Clg (231) 873-2665 adamsheatingcooling.com

Traverse City D & W Mechanical (231) 941-1215 dwgeothermal.com

Portland ESI Htg & Clg (517) 647-6906 esiheating.com

Geofurnace Htg & Clg (231) 943-1000 watergeofurnace.com

Sunfield Mark Woodman Plmb & Htg (517) 886-1138 mwphonline.com

visit us at waterfurnace.com

The Reliable Renewable is a trademark of WaterFurnace International, Inc.

Contents countrylines.com


October 2021 Vol. 41, No. 9 /michigancountrylines

6 ROAD TRIPPIN' Christal Frost visits the Old Mission Peninsula to probe a ghost story (and vindicate the so-called ghost). 10 MI CO-OP KITCHEN Around the World: These recipes will transport you to all the corners of the globe.

Michigan’s Electric Cooperatives

14 BEACON OF HOPE Buying a lighthouse may seem like an unlikely venture … but it’s exactly what one group of friends did to restore the North Manitou Shoal Light Station to its former glory.

EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Casey Clark EDITOR: Christine Dorr


RECIPE EDITOR: Christin McKamey COPY EDITOR: Yvette Pecha CONTRIBUTING EDITOR: Emily Haines Lloyd

18 GUEST COLUMN Small Town Success: Toni Leaf-Odette's grandfather was a hard worker who opened his own business, but it was his generosity and love of his neighbors that made him a pillar of the community.

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, secretary-treasurer; Craig Borr, president and CEO.

CONTACT US/LETTERS TO EDITOR: Michigan Country Lines 201 Townsend St., Suite 900 Lansing, MI 48933 248-534-7358 editor@countrylines.com


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.

Be featured!


You can now sleep under the stars in a “hammock-only campsite” at Port Crescent State Park on Lake Huron. The sites were switched over to hammocks due to shoreline erosion, which made them unsuitable for campers. Such a great idea! @christina.b.lee

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

MI CO-OP COMMUNITY To enter contests, submit reader content & more, visit countrylines.com/community



Win a $50 bill credit!

Win $150 for stories published!

Up Next: Asian Inspired, due Nov. 1; Sweet Treats, due Dec. 1; Italian, due Jan 1.

Submit your fondest memories and stories at countrylines.com/community.

Submit your recipe at micoopkitchen.com, or send it via email (include your full name and co-op) to recipes@countrylines.com.






Adapting To A New Propane Climate



Robert Hance, President/CEO

teammidwest.com /teammidwest CORPORATE HEADQUARTERS AND CASSOPOLIS SOLUTIONS CENTER 60590 Decatur Road, Cassopolis, MI 49031 M–F 8 a.m.–5 p.m.

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

Clarence “Topper” Barth, Chairperson, Three Rivers 269-279-9233 Clarence.Barth@teammidwest.com

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

Gerry Bundle, Cassopolis 269-414-0164 Gerry.Bundle@teammidwest.com

James Dickerson, Bloomingdale 269-370-6868 Jim.Dickerson@teammidwest.com

Erika Escue-Cadieux, Onsted 419-346-1088 erika.escue-cadieux@teammidwest.com Fred Turk, Decatur 269-423-7762 Fred.Turk@teammidwest.com



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

4 OCTOBER 2021


propane operation tends to be pretty predictable. New customer tank sets typically pick up in October with the first cold snap of the season, and come to a screeching halt in May when warmer temperatures settle in. People like to put the winter experience behind them and not think about it again until the cold returns. This summer was anything but predictable for our propane operation as we saw record numbers of new customer tank sets. By early August, we were already scheduled well into October, with calls showing no signs of slowing down. What’s driving that? Price and the unique way we approach gas supply. We secure 90% of our gas supply well ahead of the heating season, constantly monitoring prices so we can make strategic purchases and offer peace of mind with a guaranteed capped rate for our customers. We had the majority of our 2021–22 gas supply secured early in 2020, taking advantage of the low prices that allowed us to cap our rate at $1.599 per gallon until May 31, 2022. Unfortunately, the favorable prices are a thing of the past. A July Wall Street Journal story reported that futures at the two major U.S. propane hubs were trading at more than double the prices of the previous two summers. While that doesn’t tend to impact most folks in the summer months, it could have a catastrophic impact this winter, especially if we have colder-thannormal temperatures. Exports are largely behind the spikes as overseas demand has depleted domestic stockpiles. Because of our hedging approach, our customers are sitting pretty for this heating season while our competitors, who tend to purchase more on the spot market, are scrambling. We usually see our competitors offer very low first-fill rates in the summer to draw in new customers, only to raise it during the highuse heating season, but most of this summer’s first-fill promotions have been higher than our capped rate. In our more than 20 years of business, we have never engaged in these kinds of pricing games. Our objective always has been and always will be to honor and protect the economic interests of our existing family of customers. We have purchased most of our supply for the 2022–23 heating season, taking advantage of the few-and-far-between dips in wholesale pricing over the last year, and right now, we’re expecting that to translate into a modest increase of about 10 cents per gallon, beginning in June 2022. The question now is how to approach our supply for subsequent heating seasons. Typically, we would be securing supply now for the 2023–2025 heating seasons, but given current wholesale pricing, that would translate into a price well north of $2 per gallon for our customers. Right now, we’re waiting it out for a bit and closely monitoring the markets. We’ll secure what we can when prices are most favorable, but without the benefit of a crystal ball, we just don’t know what this market will do. More years than not, our purchase approach and pricing strategy have strongly benefited our customers, and this year is a great example of that. Unfortunately, we simply don’t know what to expect in the coming weeks or months, but we promise to stay on top of everything to do the very best we can for our family of propane customers.

BUILDING VIBRANT COMMUNITIES Grant Program Supports 12 Local Nonprofits

Twelve local nonprofit organizations across our electric service territory are building vibrant communities with grant support from MEC.

We launched the inaugural Building Vibrant Communities Grant (BVC) program early in 2021, inviting local nonprofit organizations to submit requests of up to $5,000 for projects that would support their mission and the communities across our electric service area. Dozens of organizations submitted applications, which were reviewed and evaluated by a team of MEC electric customers. Funds were awarded to the following organizations: • Associated Charities of Lenawee (Adrian), $1,000 for Back to School Program

• Marcellus Community Food Pantry (Marcellus), $1,500 for personal care packages

• Bair Lake Bible Camp (Jones), in-kind donation of equipment for technology upgrades

• Outside of Sunday Ministries (Three Rivers), $5,000 for Food Distribution Program

• Clinton United Methodist Church (Clinton), $2,000 for steeple and roof repair

• Scrappers Rescue Corporation (Niles), $5,000 for Service Dog Program

• Helping Hands of Cass County (Cassopolis), $4,831 for Cass County Foster Care Assistance Program

• Sturgis Consultation Center (Sturgis), $3,000 for Technology for Telehealth

• Lenawee County Community Foundation (Tecumseh), $1,200 for the Kiwanis Tecumseh Trail • Lenawee Mission/Neighbors of Hope (Adrian), $2,500 for Riverside Housing

• Van Buren County Mounted Foundation (Paw Paw), $2,000 for reflective foul-weather safety gear • Van Buren County Reserve Officer Foundation (Paw Paw), $2,000 for reserve duty foulweather safety gear

“Our vision as a provider of energy and telecommunications services is to create vibrant, relevant, and sustainable rural communities, and we work hard to ensure that individuals living and working in rural areas have access to the same amenities as those in more urban areas,” says Bob Hance, MEC President/CEO. “Part of living out that vision is also supporting important work being done across our communities, and we’re proud to lend a little financial support to these organizations.” The BVC program is made possible through sponsorship dollars from Wolverine Power Cooperative. The next cycle is now open, and applications may be submitted until Dec. 31, 2021. Grants will be awarded in February 2022. Visit teammidwest.com/ vibrant-communities for more information.




CLEARING JENNIE’S NAME The Truth Behind The Ghost Of Bowers Harbor

By Christal Frost || Photos courtesy of Jordan Anderson

ocated snugly between East and West Grand Traverse Bays is Old Mission Peninsula: a 19-milelong, three-mile-wide stretch of land that harbors history, beauty, and award-winning wine. Ten wineries grace the breathtaking landscape throughout the peninsula, which is also dotted with farm stands, restaurants, and even a historic lighthouse. The Old Mission Peninsula is also home to many legendary stories. One story in particular, the story of Genevieve “Jennie” Stickney and the Bowers Harbor Inn, has spread beyond the rolling hills of Old Mission and into the hearts and minds of visitors across the world. But what is the true story of Jennie Stickney? And is she still wandering the halls of her former residence?


As the legend goes, Jennie and her husband, Charles Stickney, purchased a farm on Old Mission Peninsula in 1909. Like many Northern Michigan residents today, the Stickneys spent their winters in warmer locations but returned to work the farmland each summer. Their original farmhouse was damaged in 1927, and the couple hired their nephew to design and build the beautiful property now home to the Mission Table and Jolly Pumpkin restaurant. Rumors have spread that Jennie was a jealous woman who suffered from diabetes and obesity. It is said that her husband was having an affair with the nurse he hired to care for Jennie, and their affair drove her to hang herself from the rafters



of the elevator shaft Mr. Stickney had installed. The rumors continued that Charles Stickney continued his relationship with the nurse and even left his entire fortune to her upon his death. However, like many rumors, those details are mostly false. In an October 2014 edition of the Grand Traverse Journal, author and historian Julie Schopieray set out to tell the true story of Jennie Stickney and clear her name. Schopieray writes that Jennie and her husband had hired a widowed nurse to care for them in their aging years. The couple became very close to their nurse and her children, and all of them traveled with the Stickneys for many years. Charles Stickney was in a wheelchair, which is why the elevator was installed. Jennie (not Genevieve, as the legend claims) actually died of heart disease, diabetes, and possible dementia in March 1947 at the coupleʼs winter suite in Grand Rapids. After her death, Charles Stickney returned, along with his nurse, to his home on Old Mission Peninsula and stayed for two years before he passed away. Stickney did, indeed, leave his wealth to his nurse and her children, as he and Jennie had no heirs. Although it is possible that Charles Stickney and his nurse did have an affair that prompted him to choose her as the recipient of his fortune, Schopieray writes, “The real story is about two elderly people who needed help from their





Michigan’s oldest, continually operating, historic bed & breakfast.


Surrounded by forests and incredible beaches, the Mission Point Lighthouse is a must-see for OMP visitors. widowed nurse, a person to whom Charles Stickney did leave his worldly possessions, but only out of respect and gratitude.” Although the details of her death and portions of her life have been grossly mischaracterized, the presence of Jennie Stickney’s spirit is well-known among the staff and visitors at Mission Table and Jolly Pumpkin. Stories of paranormal pranks continue to this day. Those who have felt her presence have welcomed the experience, even feeling honored to be recognized by Jennie. After all, Jennie Stickney was a woman known for entertaining, and she loved to be at the center of gatherings. It appears that she continues in that role, nearly 75 years later, as a beloved and eternal fixture of the Old Mission Peninsula.

2 Lads Winery


It’s not a trip to the Old Mission Peninsula without stopping in for a wine tasting or two. Check out the Old Mission Wine Trail to map out Tabone your wine tour! Vineyards ompwinetrail.com

Chateau Chantal Winery and Inn

Bowers Harbor Vineyards Brys Estate Vineyard & Winery

Mission Table

37 Chateau Grand Traverse

Christal Frost is a media personality based out of Traverse City. Her show airs weekdays from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. on WTCM NewsTalk 580.

Peninsula Cellars

Hawthorne Vineyards

Mari Vineyards Black Star Farms



Christal Frost filmed her adventure, now available on countrylines.com. 7

Beware Of Phantom Energy I

t could be haunting the halls of your home, spending your money, and wasting valuable energy.

Phantom energy, also called standby or vampire power, refers to the energy that’s wasted around your home when devices are plugged in and using power, but you’re not actively using them. Think about all the devices that are powered by electricity in your home. Kind of scary? Many of these items remain plugged in as “off-but-ready” or “standby” power mode so that when you press the “on” button, the device powers up quickly. We all appreciate immediate results, and while it’s convenient, it can also be costly—phantom energy can add up to 10% or more of your home’s energy costs.

Where are some of these phantom energy culprits lurking? • Televisions, gaming consoles, and computers—these aren’t always convenient to unplug after every use, so make sure your devices are at least set on an “energysaving” mode while away.

• Small kitchen appliances—most can easily be unplugged (like your toaster), but for some, maybe you’re relying on clock or timer settings and don’t want to reset them with every use. • Laptops, cell phones, and battery chargers—these can easily be unplugged when not in use. Consider using power strips, smart power strips, or even a timer for those hard to unplug devices. These are convenient ways to eliminate energy waste with just a flip of a button. Now go and find your phantom sources and start saving! To learn more, call 877-296-4319 or visit michigan-energy.org.

IT COULD BE HAUNTING YOUR HOME AND COSTING YOU MONEY. When devices are plugged in, they still use power even when not in use. That’s wasted energy and money.  Unplug unused appliances.  Use power strips to turn off TVs, computers, and gaming consoles.  Shut off electronics automatically with smart power strips.

CONTACT US TODAY FOR INFORMATION michigan-energy.org • 877.296.4319

Energy Optimization programs and incentives are applicable to Michigan electric service locations only. Incentive applies to qualified items purchased and installed between Jan. 1, 2021, and Nov. 30, 2021. Other restrictions may apply. For complete program details, visit michigan-energy.org.

Need to get in touch with us? Here are some ways to get in touch with us to help you avoid long wait times on the phone.


Billing Programs And Assistance Do you need help paying your electric bill, or do you simply want more control over your account and how you pay? We have several options to meet your needs: • OWN IT Prepaid Metering: Pay for your electric in advance and eliminate late/reconnection fees and account deposits. You choose how much and how often you pay, but a credit balance must be maintained to avoid disruptions in service. Learn more at teammidwest.com/own-it. • Budget Billing: This program calculates your monthly budget payment based on the previous 12-month average and adjusts your payment slightly throughout the year. This allows you to have roughly the same electric bill each month. Send us a contact inquiry through SmartHub, and we can get you enrolled in the program. Please note: You must have the account in your name for at least one year to be eligible. • Payment Arrangements: If you have fallen behind on your bills, we can arrange a payment to help you get back on track. Each arrangement is custom and based on your unique financial circumstance. Please call us at 800-492-5989 to speak with a solutions agent.

State-Sponsored Financial Assistance If you are struggling to pay your electric bill, your state may be able to offer assistance. Don’t wait until it’s too late and your service has been disconnected. Dial 2-1-1 as soon as you can to learn about available programs or research options online: • Michigan: mi211.org or newmibridges.michigan.gov • Indiana: in211.communityos.org or in.gov/ihcda/4067.htm • Ohio: ohio.gov

Our online and mobile platform truly is your best and most convenient tool for account management, bill pay, and more. It’s available 24/7/365, and you can access it via teammidwest.com or download the SmartHub mobile app from your app store. Features • Bill: View your current account balance, make a payment, manage recurring payments, and modify payment methods. • Outages or service requests: Submit an electric outage or report that you have an issue with your service. • Submit a contact inquiry. Make a change to your account, add a new service, request propane, or ask a general question. We’ll get back to you within two business days. • Notifications: Sign up to receive text or email account notifications, including outage and billing information. • Usage: View your monthly, daily, and hourly electric usage and monthly propane usage.


Email info@teammidwest.com. A solutions agent will respond within two business days.

Online Chat

Head to teammidwest.com/contact-us and click on “live chat” to chat with a representative. Hours are Mon.–Fri., 8 a.m.–5 p.m.

In Person

You can also visit one of our solutions centers Mon.–Fri., 8 am–5 pm. Visit teammidwest.com/contact-us for locations and directions. MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES


MI CO-OP Recipes

Photos by Robert Bruce Photography || Recipes Submitted by MCL Readers and Tested by Recipe Editor Christin McKamey

AROUND THE WORLD Take a journey without leaving your kitchen.


EASY ASIAN SHRIMP STIR-FRY Judy Wojcik, Great Lakes Energy

2 tablespoons cooking oil (olive or sesame) 12 ounces shrimp (raw, tails removed, peeled and deveined) 1 cup snow peas 1 tablespoon grated raw ginger root 1 (8-ounce) can sliced water chestnuts, drained ½ teaspoon five-spice powder ¼ cup orange marmalade



energy bill credit!

10 OCTOBER 2021

Asian Inspired due Nov. 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 micoopkitchen.com, or send it via email (include your full name and co-op) to recipes@countrylines.com.

Heat oil in a wok over high heat. Add shrimp and heat until they start to turn pink. Add snow peas, ginger root, and water chestnuts. Sprinkle with five-spice powder and cover. When peas are bright green, remove cover. When liquid is almost gone, add marmalade. Stir until dissolved. Serve immediately over cooked rice. Serves 2–3. Cooking time is about 10 minutes. Watch a video of this month’s winning recipe at micoopkitchen.com/videos


Angela Nobel, Great Lakes Energy 4 egg whites, at room temperature 1¼ cup white sugar 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 1 teaspoon lemon juice 2 teaspoons cornstarch 1 pint heavy whipping cream • fresh fruit (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, mandarin oranges, etc.) Preheat oven to 300 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Add sugar in one tablespoon at a time, and beat

until thick and glossy. Gently fold in vanilla, lemon juice, and cornstarch. Spoon mixture onto the parchment paper, either in one large pile or several individual piles. When cooked, the mixture does not grow, so whatever size you decide is the size it will be. Working from the center of the pile(s), spread the mixture out a bit, building up the edges slightly to leave a slight depression in the center. Bake for 1 hour and cool on a wire rack. While cooling, beat heavy whipping cream until stiff peaks form. Once meringue(s) has cooled, remove paper and fill the center with the whipping cream and top with choice of fruit. I had this on a mission trip to Ireland, and the Irish family used mandarin oranges to top the pavlova.

KOREAN STREET TACOS Leslie Brasure, Alger Delta

Marinade: 1 pound flank steak, cut against grain into bite-sized pieces 2 tablespoons soy sauce 2 tablespoons sugar 2 cloves garlic, minced 2 teaspoons sesame oil 3 teaspoons water 1 teaspoon mirin Dressing: 1 tablespoon soy sauce 1½ teaspoons lime juice 1½ teaspoons sesame oil ¼ teaspoon sugar Other Ingredients: 1½ cups romaine lettuce, chopped 1 cup napa cabbage, chopped ¼ cup shredded carrots ¼ cup cilantro, chopped ¼ cup green onions, diced • small flour tortillas (I use street taco size) • sriracha sauce • lime wedges


2 medium russet potatoes, peeled & divided ²⁄ ³ cup all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking powder ½ teaspoon salt ²⁄ ³ cup buttermilk 4 tablespoons butter, divided Cut 1 potato into 1-inch chunks; place in small saucepan and add cold water

In a large ziplock bag, combine marinade sauce ingredients (soy sauce, sugar, garlic, sesame oil, water, and mirin). Place the sliced meat in the marinade and refrigerate for 2–24 hours. Combine the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Whisk until well combined; set aside. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat and coat with cooking spray. Once hot, add the steak and cook for 2–3 minutes, stirring often until it is cooked to your desired degree of doneness. Remove from pan and set aside. Pour some of the marinade into the pan and cook on high for 2–3 minutes until it has boiled and reduced a bit. Pour the reduced marinade onto the cooked beef and toss to coat evenly. Toss lettuce, cabbage, carrots, cilantro, and green onions with dressing. Layer meat and salad mixture on warmed tortillas. Serve with sriracha sauce and lime wedge. Enjoy! This is a frequent request from my granddaughter, Katja.

to cover. Bring to a boil and cook until tender. Drain, mash the potato, and transfer to a bowl. Shred remaining potato on large holes of box grater and add to mashed potato. Stir in flour, baking powder, and salt until blended. Stir in buttermilk. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in large skillet over medium heat. Drop four slightly heaping tablespoonfuls of batter into skillet. Flatten into 2½-inch circles—— cook about 4 minutes per side or until golden and puffed. Transfer to plate and cover to keep warm. Repeat with remaining batter and butter. Serve with applesauce, sour cream, or maple syrup.



MEC IN THE COMMUNITY 4-H FAIRS It felt so good to be back at the fairs again this year!

Van Buren County Youth Fair and Cass County Fair We purchased three hogs and a dairy feeder, plus several addons for the small animal auction. We also contributed to the gallon of milk auction. The meat was processed into Italian sausage, bacon, a few pork chops, and breakfast sausage to distribute to local food pantries in Van Buren and Cass counties.

Lenawee County Fair We purchased Jeremy Osgood’s Grand Champion dairy goat. His parents are Mike and Marsha of Sand Creek, and he belongs to the “Not So Boring” 4-H Club.

MEC employee Patty Clark and Grand Champion winner Jeremy Osgood with his prize goat.

His mom shared these very kind words: “I would like to thank you. This was a pretty sad year, and your purchase of Jeremy’s goat was a good thing for him. He really didn’t want to come to the fair this year, and we had to push him to finish his project. He lost his grandmother at the end of May, and she was one of the superintendents of the goat barn. He had a very hard time being there without her. They did this project together. Thank you for being part of it.” We also purchased a rabbit, a pen of chickens, and a couple of add-ons. We also split a pig with County National Bank. As in Van Buren and Cass counties, we processed the animals and donated the meat.

MEC employees Greg Karmol and Kim Kudlac drop off processed meat to Dean Thompson with the Fishes and Loaves food pantry that serves Lenawee County’s Neighbors of Hope, Men’s Ministry.

Fireman’s Grill Ten MEC employees and two AEP linemen teamed up for this Tuesday tradition. We served food to hungry fairgoers throughout the day and evening and sold almost $4,000 in food for the day. The money earned at the Fireman’s Grill helps local fire departments purchase much-needed equipment and training to help keep our communities safe. We love doing this event every year and supporting our first responders. Representatives from AEP and MEC prepare food for hungry fairgoers at the Fireman’s Grill.

12 OCTOBER 2021

Strengthening Schools Grant We’re still accepting applications from local educators through Oct. 18. Learn more at teammidwest.com/ strengthening-schools

Grant Reviewers Did you know that MEC electric customers decide which proposals get Strengthening Schools funds? We need volunteers for the upcoming award cycle. Eligibility: Any MEC electric customer who can dedicate time to reviewing, discussing, and awarding grants. This includes meeting in person for one full weekday in the fall and possibly one full weekday in January. The review committee does not know the school, educator, or district when determining recipients.

If interested, please email pr@teammidwest.com.

Internet Meet And Greet Join us in person or over the phone to learn about all things MEC internet.

Why MEC Internet? • Our fiber-to-the-home means you don’t compete with neighbors for bandwidth • We don’t have data caps, and you won’t have to pay extra to get unlimited data • Enjoy whole-home Wi-Fi • Manage how your kids use the internet with parental controls • Keep all your connected devices safe with network security

Oct. 21 and Nov. 18, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Register for a 30-minute appointment to speak one-on-one with a representative. We have in-person and phone meetings available.

Oct. 21

Morenci Church of the Nazarene 751 N. Summit St., Morenci, MI

Nov. 18

Woodland Lodge at 4H Camp Palmer 26450 County Road MN, Fayette, OH

Register at teammidwest.com/events MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES 13

The Crib with its new paint job, pictured here at sunrise.

BEACON OF HOPE How North Manitou Light Keepers Are Protecting Maritime History By Emily Haines Lloyd


here is a mystery, magic, and something altogether romantic about lighthouses. Whether it’s tales of swarthy sea captains and ghost-like specters wandering catwalks or the simple metaphor of light in the darkness leading one to safety, lighthouses feel like they have stories to tell.

The Crib, pictured here in 2016, was rusted and covered in bird guano when NMLK acquired it and began restoration.

14 OCTOBER 2021

The story of North Manitou Shoal Light Station, built in 1935 and known locally as The Crib, in the straits between the Manitou Islands and Sleeping Bear Dunes, has its own rescue story to tell. It starts with a peculiar notice in 2016 alerting the public that there would be open

bidding on The Crib in a public auction. If you’re wondering how one goes about purchasing a lighthouse, ask a group of friends who collectively are the North Manitou Light Keepers (NMLK), a nonprofit group formed specifically to purchase, restore, and open this maritime treasure to the public. In their everyday lives, these lighthouse rescuers are known as Todd and Natalie Buckley, Dave and Sherry McWilliam, Jake and Suzanne Kaberle, and Dan and Anna Oginsky, who all live and work around Michigan. “Within just a few days, a couple of my friends had mentioned there was ‘this lighthouse’ for sale,” remembers Dan Oginsky, president of North Manitou

We wanted to honor the Coast Guard and the noble work they and this lighthouse did to keep people safe in the straits. We also want to build community, giving people something positive to rally around.

The founding members of NMLK on a Crib Cruise in 2017, pictured left to right: Anna and Dan Oginsky, Jake Kaberle (wife Suzanne not pictured), Dave and Sherry McWilliam, and Todd and Natalie Buckley.

Light Keepers and Great Lakes Energy member. “At first, you can’t help but think—‘how cool would it be to own a lighthouse?’ It’s only later you start to realize what a big undertaking it’s going to be.” Dan, his wife, Anna, and their friends realized that if they were serious, they needed to create a more formal organization and started NMLK as a nonprofit to explore the specifics of what custodianship of a lighthouse would look like. They decided to move forward with the bidding process and came up against one other serious bidder, each day outbidding the Light Keepers and testing their resolve. Finally, the team decided just one more bid, and then it was time to step away gracefully. They placed their final offer … only to be outbid once again. “With 24 hours between bidding rounds, we had a few hours left when my wife, Anna, came to me and asked, ‘Would you be mad if I thought we should bid once more?’” Dan said. Anna had finally taken a long look at the pictures of The Crib and told Dan, “It told me not to give up on it.” The Light Keepers conferred and made one last bid. With that final bid, they secured the lighthouse. It’s an exciting story of an endearing victory, except now the Light Keepers had a “mothballed” lighthouse, covered in guano (yup, bird excrement), and the mighty task ahead to restore it to some former glory.

—Dan Oginsky

With a laundry list of not-inexpensive tasks to complete, the Light Keepers drew on the community and the affinity so many have for lighthouses. The team set an ambitious five-year goal to have The Crib ready for its first visitors in July 2021. “We wanted to honor the Coast Guard and the noble work they and this lighthouse did to keep people safe in the straits," said Dan. “We also want to build community, giving people something positive to rally around.” In the end, more than 160 bags of garbage, guano, and debris were hauled away from The Crib. Then scaffolding was built so that the lighthouse could be blasted, primed, and painted. Next came the removal of steel plates and 1930s windows and the replacement with new, clear glass— letting the light shine on the inside for the first time since the 1980s. The NMLK is already looking at phase 2 of the project, which involves

renovating the lighthouse’s interior— including a kitchen, great room, and multiple sleeping quarters that would allow individuals to stay overnight at The Crib. While always keeping things moving forward, the Light Keepers were able to take a moment to celebrate. With two weeks to spare, the first visitors took a charter out to The Crib for a tour, with more scheduled throughout the summer. NMLK is looking to expand tours more next summer and recommends signing up for their newsletter and membership at northmanitoulightkeepers.org to be the first to know. So if you’ve ever wanted to visit a maritime feat in the middle of one of the country’s most beautiful areas, or have ever dreamed of being part of a rescue mission of history, maybe it’s time to see some folks about The Crib and what it means to be a lightkeeper.

Getting power out to The Crib is a big part of phase 2 planning. Once NMLK started talking to folks in the community about how to power up, community members connected the team to Cherryland Electric Cooperative, who recently went out to The Crib to test equipment and see what it would take to power up the mighty beacon.




When Farming Near Power Lines Keep these important safety tips in mind when working near power lines. • Stay at least 15 feet away from power lines in all directions, including up. ALWAYS use a spotter when moving tall equipment and loads. • Be careful when raising augers or the bed of a grain truck. It can be difficult to estimate distance, and sometimes a power line is closer than it looks. Again, use a spotter. Also, do not raise any equipment into power lines. Materials such as lumber, tree limbs, tires, ropes, and hay can conduct electricity, especially if they are damp or dirty. • Always lower equipment extensions, portable augers, or elevators to their lowest possible level before moving or transporting them. Wind, uneven ground, shifting weight, or other conditions can cause you to lose control of equipment and make contact with power lines. • Larger, modern tractors have higher antennas, so be aware of this when you are working. • Never attempt to raise or move a power line to clear a path. If power lines near your property have sagged over time, call your utility company to repair them. • Don’t use metal poles when breaking up bridged grain inside and around bins. • Use qualified electricians for work on drying equipment and other farm electrical systems. 16 OCTOBER 2021

If the equipment you are using comes into contact with a power line, do not exit. When you step off the equipment, you could become the electricity’s path to ground and receive a potentially fatal shock. Call 9-1-1 and us at 800-492-5989 immediately. We must de-energize the line and confirm that it is safe for you to exit. If the vehicle is on fire and you must exit, jump as far as you can from the vehicle with both feet together. Do not let any part of your body contact the vehicle and the ground at the same time when exiting. Keep your feet together and continue to make short hops until you are 50 feet away. Source: SafeElectricity.org

Energy Efficiency

Tip of the Month

Ten-Digit Dialing Coming Soon The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will launch 988 as a new three-digit number to reach the National Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Crisis Lifeline on July 16, 2022. In order for the 988 code to work, people need to begin dialing 10-digit numbers for local calls in specific area codes.

What Is 10-Digit Dialing? This means that you dial the threedigit area code and the seven-digit telephone number to complete a call, even if the area code is the same as your own. Some states and providers may require 1 + area code + telephone number.

When Does This Go Into Effect? Oct. 24, 2021 Not all area codes require 10-digit dialing. However, we strongly recommend that you begin doing it for all calls to avoid any potential errors.

You should also update all automatic dialing equipment to dial 10 digits instead of seven. Examples include life safety systems, medical monitoring devices, fax machines, fire and burglar alarms, dial-up internet numbers, security systems or gates, speed dialers, call forwarding settings, and phone contact lists. On July 16, 2022, dialing “988” will route your call to the National Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Crisis Lifeline. Until that time, please continue to dial 1-800-273-TALK.

What Doesn’t Change? Your MEC phone number, prices, unlimited nationwide coverage, or other phone services.

Old, uninsulated, and improperly installed exterior doors can waste energy and money. Shut the door on wasted energy by weather stripping and sealing all exterior doors. If you have an old exterior door, consider replacing it with a newer, energyefficient model. Source: energy.gov

Dialing 911 for emergency services or any 211, 411, 611, 711, or 811 services in your area. Please note, there is a charge for each call to 411.

Business Customers You may need to update or reprogram your system for 10-digit dialing.

Visit fcc.gov/suicide-prevention-hotline to read more about this change. MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES 17

Guest Column

Small Town Success By Toni Leaf-Odette, Cherryland Electric Cooperative member


y grandfather, Gerald Gaultier, was born and raised in the local town of South Boardman. He served in the United States Air Force as a B-47 jet mechanic. In the 1960s, he and his wife, Elaine, opened Boardman Valley Construction. He often worked for free (picture 50 invoices hanging by a tack on the living room wall), but he once told me, “I don’t believe we were put here to amass a fortune.” He shared his time on the school, hospital, and church boards, Kiwanis, and others, and would pull his truck over just to visit local folks. He was rooted in the business of people. I remember the phone ringing at all hours and him up with the sun until long after dark. He was a township supervisor for four decades. As a teenager, during the voting time, I would see other people’s names on signs. I asked him why he didn’t have one, and he said, “Granddaughter, if you have to campaign at this point, you’re not doing your job.” He led a family of four children, five grandchildren, and six greatgrandchildren. After 82 years of a beloved life, we were able to grant him dignity at home, surrounded by loved ones. For the funeral, the cars outside Boardman Cemetery were lined up to Supply Road. When I visit his plot, I marvel at the massive space he left behind. We still hear of kindnesses we didn’t know about … nor would he have wanted that spotlight. I sat beside him while he pondered his cancer diagnosis, and in those same hours, he shared a piece of chocolate and directed my attention to the pink and blue sky. “Look over your shoulder,” he said, watching a thunderhead. “Look at that anvil. 120-mile-an-hour winds up there. Now that is a beautiful thing.” He wanted to teach us children values, as he believed we were the future. Thanks to him, I am reminded that it’s our ability to serve that makes us powerful.

Toni works in community health care for Northern Michigan. She enjoys spending time with her family and writing.

WIN $150! 18 OCTOBER 2021

Share your fondest memories and stories. Win $150 for stories published. Visit countrylines.com/community to submit.

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Community born. Community led. Focused on YOU YOU. October is National Co-op Month

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