October 2022 MEC

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HORSEPOWER A look inside Grand Hotel Stables Are Your Kids Bypassing Parental Controls? First-Generation Farmer Gets Started in Three Rivers Cut Down on Password Clutter COUNTRY LINES October 2022 MICHIGAN Midwest Energy & Communications
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Michigan’s Electric Cooperatives


EDITOR: Christine Dorr


RECIPE 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 TriCounty Cooperative, secretary-treasurer; Craig Borr, president and CEO.


201 Townsend St., Suite 900 Lansing, MI 48933 248-534-7358


CHANGE OF ADDRESS: Please notify your electric cooperative. See page 4 for contact information.

The appearance of advertising does not constitute an endorsement of the products or services advertised.


Baked Goods: Comforting recipes straight from your oven.


A look inside Mackinac Island’s Grand Hotel Stables.


Hunting with Dad: The embarrassment of Gari Nowland’s first hunt was quickly replaced by her father’s love and pride.

MI Co-op Community


Instagram Contest

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

Recipe Contest

See details on page 10.

Win a $50 bill credit!

Guest Column

See details on page 18.

Win $150 for stories published!

6 SCHOONER HURON JEWEL Hugh and Julie Covert inspire others while living the dream.
Contents October 2022 Vol. 42, No. 9 /michigancountrylines /michigancountrylinescountrylines.com
#micoopcommunity Instagram contest winner A star-filled sky in a frame of trees @glenrobertsonphoto (Glen Robertson)
enter contests, submit reader content & more, visit countrylines.com/community



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.

ADRIAN SOLUTIONS CENTER 1610 E. Maumee Street, Adrian, MI 49221

M–F 8 a.m.–5 p.m.


Midwest Energy & Communications 800-492-5989 teammidwest.com

Email: info@teammidwest.com


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.

Propane Peace of Mind

Ilike to play a little game this time of year. It’s called “What new thing will be pumpkin spice this year?” I’ve heard of pumpkin spice Twinkies, Pringles, and cereal, but my favorite so far is definitely the dog shampoo. Who doesn’t want Fido smelling like he just got off his shift at Starbucks?

In all seriousness, it’s also the time of year when temperatures drop and furnaces kick on. If I were a betting man, I’d bet many of you have been watching propane prices. Our guaranteed capped rate through May 31, 2023, is $1.849, which is well below what I’ve seen from some other providers. That’s because we constantly monitor prices and hedge our propane in advance to secure the best rates we can find. Hedging also enables us to sometimes take advantage of discounted pricing due to the volume that we purchase. When that occurs, we pass the savings on to you.

We’ll continue that practice as we look to the years ahead. However, like everywhere else, supply issues, inflation, and volatile markets have reared their ugly heads. We expect our 2023-2024 propane price to be comparable to, if not below, other providers, but we anticipate at least $2 per gallon.

We’ve also seen some new players enter the field as companies are trying to bank, literally, on current market conditions. As I’ve always cautioned, be wary of lower first-fill prices, which are designed to get new customers in the door. Once you become an established customer, the price often skyrockets, particularly during the colder months of the year when you need propane most. We don’t play those games, and we don’t offer special “new customer” deals on the backs of our current customers. Everyone pays the same per-gallon rate from June through May of every year, no matter what Mother Nature or propane markets do.

Peace of mind doesn’t stop at price, though. We also offer billing and delivery programs to take the worry out of your propane service. Here are our most popular:

• Through our variable budget billing program, we average your monthly payment and adjust it slightly each month based on historical usage. You don’t have to deal with a large settle-up bill at the end of the propane year.

• Auto-fill delivery is a second worry-free program, and it’s great for people with consistent usage. We estimate tank levels based on historical use, the number of propane appliances and people in the home, and other information. Then we automatically schedule your deliveries as needed. As long as you keep us informed about changes to your home, auto-fill offers a “set it and forget it” solution.

• Our seasonal delivery program offers an alternative if you don’t qualify for autofill. We deliver every August and again in February if needed, but we ask that you keep an eye on your tank levels. If we don’t hear from you, we’ll deliver as scheduled.

We don’t know what the future holds. But rest assured, we are doing everything we can to secure the best price possible, and we will continue to offer programs to help you manage your propane experience.

4 OCTOBER 2022

Router Battery Backups

Did you know it’s possible to stay connected to the internet during a blackout? We’re not just talking about cell service. With an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) system (often referred to as a battery backup), your router can remain active for several extra hours.

If you have one of our U6 routers, a battery backup is not included— you’ll need to buy your own. Our gray U6x routers DO have battery backups included. Visit teammidwest.com/which-router if you’re not sure which one you have.

As with most things, you have lots of options when choosing a battery backup. Here are some things to consider.

Battery Life

Most importantly, you don’t want to waste money on a backup that runs out of energy too quickly.

With just your router plugged in, many battery backups will last you about 2–6 hours. If you’re counting on it to power your PC and hard drive as well, this could bring the run time down to about 10–20 minutes— long enough to save your work so the blackout doesn’t affect your data.

Some higher-end models can last much longer, while cheaper ones won’t necessarily reach these times.

When considering a backup, look at the manufacturer’s estimated run time for an idea of how long it will stay on.


Each battery backup is different. Some have extra outlets, some automatically regulate voltage, and some even include USB ports for charging small devices.

Before you start shopping, determine which devices you want to remain active during a potential outage. If you’ll use your backup for more than just your router, you might want to consider a higher-end model with more capabilities.


More expensive battery backups aren’t always better, especially if you don’t need all the extra bells and whistles.

On the other hand, spend too little, and you could wind up with a system that doesn’t meet expectations.

When shopping for new technology, check reviews from others who have purchased the device you’re considering. Instead of only looking at star ratings, read what people say they like and don’t like. Are there any positives or negatives that people keep mentioning? If so, do they change how you feel about the price tag?

Finding Recommendations

There are several UPS manufacturers to choose from, some of the most popular being APC, CyberPower, and Tripp-Lite. Visit their websites and look for their UPS Selector tools:

• APC: apc.com

• CyberPower: cyberpowersystems.com

• Tripp-Lite: tripplite.com

Googling the best router battery backups will also help you find recommendations for specific models from professional reviewers and publications. Just make sure the article you read is current—technology becomes obsolete quickly.






For anyone who has considered moving to an island to pursue a passion for sailing, take inspiration from Hugh and Julie Covert. After making a “bucket list” on New Year’s Eve in 2010 and pondering it for a couple of years, the couple transformed their dreams into reality.

Julie met Hugh in Baltimore in 2009, and describes the encounter as “essentially love at first sight.” Shortly thereafter, she learned to love sailing as much as he did. Hugh spent 20 years captaining tall ships on both the East and West Coasts, through the St. Lawrence Seaway to the Bahamas. When skippering a schooner in Traverse City, he searched for property to support his dream of having a place where he could moor a sailboat in his backyard. He had purchased a property in 2003 and built a house on Shelter Island, a small island just off Drummond Island.

In 2010, they moved to Shelter Island and began to fulfill their dream of building their own schooner. Great timing and happenstance supported their dream when Julie learned the local paper, the Drummond Island Digest, was for sale. Purchasing the paper in 2014 aligned with her writing and photography interests, plus the paper would serve as a tool for communicating progress on the schooner’s construction.

“I kept hoping someone would bring a tall ship to Drummond Island,” says Hugh. “Then I decided it could be me.”

By the time the couple moved to Shelter Island, Hugh had built seven

boats. Sailing since age 4, Hugh had both sailing and engineering in his genes. The Coverts knew the logistics of getting materials and volunteers to Shelter Island would be challenging, whereas Drummond Island would allow friends and neighbors to view progress as they constructed the schooner. They purchased property on Drummond Island, then built a structure that included a 30-by-72-foot workshop and an insulated room to keep epoxy glue and paint warm, plus power to run a chop saw and drills.

For two and a half years, the couple worked seven days a week to construct their own schooner. They were assisted by more than 50 volunteers (both residents and seasonal visitors) who swept floors, painted the hull, or donated trees for

the project. Julie reported progress in a monthly blog.

Constructed of 18 types of wood and epoxy, the 78-foot Schooner Huron Jewel yields sleeping quarters for Captain Hugh, First Mate Julie, two deckhands, and six passengers. Its name reflects its birthplace and Hugh and Julie’s initials. Cedar trees harvested from Drummond Island formed the gaff and boom. The Schooner Huron Jewel was christened with 15-year-old rum amid a crowd of island residents in 2018, then set sail for the start of many adventures as the Drummond Island Tall Ship Company.

The location for Drummond Island Tall Ships offers an ideal vantage point for all the excursions they offer aboard the Huron Jewel. The

The Drummond Island tall ship on a day sail.
B y A l l i e B r a w yel
6 OCTOBER 2022

island’s surroundings are a labyrinth of channels, inlets, and harbors.

Each season, Hugh and Julie also provide the opportunity for two deckhands to learn to sail the waters surrounding Drummond Island and Canada’s North Channel. To train deckhands trying to gain experience to work on bigger schooners as Hugh did, they’ll take deckhands with no experience but enthusiasm, curiosity, and willingness to learn.

Hugh believes that writing down dreams is essential versus just talking about them. “You have to actually do it. You have to make it happen and there’s no time better than the present,” he says.

After the pandemic gave them time to reflect on what is important, Hugh and Julie were even more motivated to encourage others to follow their dreams. They set out on a ninemonth voyage this past August to sail from their homeport through the Great Lakes to the St. Lawrence Seaway, then south along the eastern seaboard. They plan to participate in

Left: First Mate Julie Covert and Captain Hugh launched the Drummond Island Tall Ship Company in 2018 with sailing trips on their handcrafted Schooner Huron Jewel.

Right: First Mate Julie Covert and deck hands raising the sails.


the Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race and Annapolis Sailboat Show, and most importantly, at each port of call, they will encourage people to live their dreams. They’ll continue south for the winter spreading their message, and return to Drummond Island in Spring 2023. On their “dream inspiration tour” of over 8,000 nautical miles, their mission is to share their story with thousands of people to inspire others to live their dreams.

Sailing with the Coverts and crew is a relaxing yet adventurous experience. It’s also as interactive as you wish. Passengers can assist with raising and lowering sails and even taking the wheel under Captain Hugh’s watchful eye. The Schooner Huron Jewel is allowing the Coverts to live out their motto, “sailing the dream,” while sharing their experience with passengers with great delight.

For the blog, more photos, and schedule, visit:

Flag: United States

Rig: Gaff rigged

Model: Schooner

Homeport: Drummond Island, Michigan

Waters: Great Lakes Season: June–September

Built: Drummond Island, Michigan

Designer: Hugh Covert

Length: 60 ft. on deck, 78 ft. overall

Beam: 14 ft. 8 in.

Draft: 4 ft. 4 in. with centerboard raised; 9 ft. with board lowered

Rig Height: 60 ft.

Sail Area: 1,700 sq. ft.

Displacement: 40,000 lbs.

Spar Material: Wood

Hull: Wood, epoxy, and fi berglass cloth

Power: Twin 100 hp Yanmar diesels

Hull Speed: Estimated 10.3–14 knots

Passengers: Six passengers plus crew; sleeps six plus crew comfortably

Crew: Sails with two crew

Ownership: Drummond Island Tall Ship Company

/DITallShip ditallship.com 7MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES

Call 2-1-1 for Bill Assistance

If you’ve been struggling to pay an energy bill, you might qualify for one of the many assistance programs your state offers. From tax credits to help for veterans, a number of options are available to help you.

Call 2-1-1 to learn more.

Like 3-1-1, 2-1-1 is a free public service number that connects you to relevant information in your area. 2-1-1 is confidential, available 24/7, and will help you find the most relevant assistance programs in your state. It’s not just for energy bills, either—2-1-1 also provides information about food, housing, and transportation assistance.

For more information about some of the programs available, visit us at teammidwest.com/bill-assistance.

Additionally, there are some things you can do right now to reduce your energy bills.

Cooling Off

• If it’s cooler outside than inside, turn off your air conditioner, open your windows, and turn on your fans.

• If you have to use an air conditioner, turn it up to 78 degrees—a setting that most consider comfortable and will keep it from working too hard.

• Avoid cooking indoors or running the dishwasher during the hottest parts of the day. These activities add heat and humidity to your home.

• Keep your blinds closed to stop your windows from trapping extra heat.

Warming Up

• Turn down your heating system to the lowest setting you feel comfortable at, and open your blinds to let in the sun’s warmth.

• Close vents in unused or rarely used areas of your home to make the heat go where it’s needed most.

• Set your water heater a few degrees cooler. Next to your heating system, your water heater uses the second-most energy in your home.


• Some appliances continue to use electricity even if they’re switched off. Avoid “vampire loads” by turning off and unplugging appliances that aren’t in use, or use a power strip that can automatically shut off the power for you.

• Consider replacing your appliances with newer, more efficient models if your appliances are older. Look for the Energy Star logo, which indicates better efficiency.

• Perform regular maintenance and cleaning on your temperature control system to ensure it’s not working harder than needed.

Does Your Future Home Have Fiber?

Have you checked the internet capabilities of the home you’re thinking about buying? You might not think about it until you’re sitting on the couch waiting for Netflix to buffer.

We’ve got some exciting news! We’re partnering with Fiber Homes to help home buyers find homes with our super-fast, super-reliable fiber internet.

If you’re a home buyer, you can head straight to fiberhomes.com and search for any address to see if it has our services.

If you’re a realtor, you can create a free account in seconds at fiberhomes.com/pro/accounts/signup/mec, then search any address for internet availability at that home. If you’re showing a home we connect, you’ll get access to extra information and an exclusive promo for your buyers. If you’re listing a home we connect, you’ll get free marketing materials to boost the value of your listing!

8 OCTOBER 2022

First-Generation Farmer Looks to Nature for Inspiration

It’s not often you hear about someone starting a farm from scratch, but one MEC electric customer has done just that.

Although Joe Koopsen, 26, grew up in Portage and wasn’t raised in a farming family, he spent many years participating in 4-H, showing chickens, pigs, and rabbits. The program inspired his passion for raising livestock, leading him to found Joe’s Farm in 2011 as a small hen-raising operation in Schoolcraft.

By 2014, it was clear to Koopsen that he needed to expand. His parents found land for sale in Three Rivers, and in 2015, Joe’s Farm moved to its permanent home. A few hundred hens became more than a thousand, which grew to 6,000 in 2020, which is when Koopsen stopped raising hens entirely. In 2016, he began raising broiler chickens, and in 2021, he added cattle. Joe’s Farm produced around 30,000 broiler chickens and 30 cattle this year.

As a first-generation farmer, Koopsen was uniquely positioned to decide how his farm would run. To that end, he made sure sustainability would be an integral piece of the puzzle. Joe’s Farm practices regenerative agriculture, a method of restoring nutrients in topsoil inspired by animal behaviors in nature.

Each day, Koopsen moves his cattle to fresh pasture, allowing them to graze. Following behind, a tractor pulls greenhouses on skids. Chickens in the greenhouses eat bugs and spread the manure left from the cattle. The process increases organic matter in the soil, which produces healthier pastures, resulting in healthier animals and products with an improved nutritional makeup.

In addition to sustainability, Joe’s Farm focuses on community. He’s partnered with several local farms and organizations like Bronson Hospital and Kalamazoo Valley Community

College’s food hub to distribute his products. And for those who want to learn more about where their food comes from, the farm has an opendoor policy.

“One thing I hate is when you can’t see where your food is raised,” Koopsen says.

Families are allowed come to see the farm and can schedule a tour if they wish. This philosophy extends to the Farm Stand, the store at the front of the property where the farm’s products are sold. The building is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and is entirely self-serve. Customers can walk in, select their purchases, and pay using cash, checks, or Venmo.

Despite the inherent risks of starting your own farm, Koopsen says it’s allowed him to build an innovative operation from the ground up— and his work is never finished. He continues to look for ways to expand and improve as new challenges present themselves.



@joesfarm.us For more information, visit:

The entrance to Joe’s Farm and the Farm Stand in Three Rivers. Broiler chickens live in this greenhouse on skids, which follows behind Koopsen’s cattle. Koopsen’s cattle are moved to fresh pasture each day.

Win a $50 energy bill credit!



Healthy Living due Nov. 1

National Cherry Month due Dec. 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.



Carr, Midwest Energy

cans crescent rolls

ounces cream cheese, room temperature

cup sour cream

tablespoons Miracle Whip or mayonnaise

package dry ranch dressing mix

teaspoon garlic salt

teaspoon garlic powder

cup broccoli florets, finely chopped

cup cauliflower florets, finely chopped

medium carrots, finely chopped

cup cherry tomatoes, halved Preheat oven to 375 F. In an ungreased 9x13 pan, lay crescent rolls flat. Press the dough on the bottom and sides of the pan to form a crust. Bake for 10 minutes. In a bowl, mix together the cream cheese, sour cream, Miracle Whip/ mayo, ranch dressing mix, garlic salt, and garlic powder until well combined. Spread over crust evenly. Arrange broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and tomatoes evenly over cream cheese layer. Serve immediately or refrigerate 1–2 hours before serving.

Watch a video of this month’s winning recipe at micoopkitchen.com/videos

Photos by Robert Bruce Photography || Recipes Submitted by MCL Readers and Tested by Recipe Editor Christin McKamey MI
CO-OP Recipes
GOODS Comforting recipes straight from your oven. 10 OCTOBER 2022


2 cups flour

1½ teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

1½ teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 cups sugar

¾ cup buttermilk

¾ cup canola oil

4 eggs

2 cups raw grated carrots

1 (8½ -ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained

½ cup chopped nuts

1 (3½ -ounce) bag flaked coconut


1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened to room temperature

¼ cup butter, softened to room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 pound powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl. Add sugar, buttermilk, canola oil, and eggs. Mix well. Add carrots, pineapple, nuts, and coconut. Mix well. Pour into a greased 9x13 pan. Bake 20 minutes. Turn temperature down to 275 F and bake approximately 45 minutes longer until cake tester comes out clean. Be careful not to under or overbake. Let cake cool to room temperature. Beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla at low speed until fluffy. Add powdered sugar gradually until light and fluffy. Spread on cake. This cake is delicious, and is even better the next day.


1 (4-ounce) package regular saltine crackers

1 stick butter

1 stick margarine

1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

1 (12-ounce) package semisweet chocolate chips

1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven 350 F. Line the bottom of a cookie sheet with saltines, salty side up. Place butter and margarine in a saucepan over low heat and stir until melted. Add the brown sugar and stir until ingredients are well blended and a sauce-like consistency. Pour the brown sugar syrup evenly over the crackers, smoothing with a wooden spoon.

Place in oven 6 to 8 minutes (mixture will bubble on top of saltines and form a toffee layer underneath). Remove cookie sheet from the oven; realign the saltines with a wooden spoon (they get out of line as they bubble). Pour chocolate chips evenly over saltines and put back in oven for 2 minutes to melt. Remove from oven and quickly spread melted chocolate chips as if you were frosting a cake. Sprinkle evenly with nuts and place in freezer for 10-15 minutes. Remove from freezer and cut into squares with a sharp knife. Cover with foil or store in a container in the refrigerator or freezer. Makes 30 squares.


Cindy Thome, Alger Delta

½ cup butter

½ cup vegetable oil

1¾ cup sugar

2 beaten eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

2½ cups flour

4 tablespoons cocoa powder

½ teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground cloves


½ cup soft butter

½ cup soft cream cheese

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 325 F. Grease and flour a 9x13 pan. 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.


Cheryl Dillenbeck, Great Lakes Energy

2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1½ cups sugar, divided

½ cup butter, cubed

1 cup flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

¾ cup milk

1 egg, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine berries with the lemon juice and ½ cup of the sugar.

Bring to a boil, take off from heat and set

aside. Add butter to a 11x7 baking dish and melt in the oven. When melted, remove from oven. In a smaller bowl, combine the remaining 1 cup sugar, flour, baking powder, salt, milk, and lightly beaten egg. Pour this batter over the melted butter in the baking dish. Pour the blueberry mixture next, but don’t stir. Bake 40–45 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature. Top with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. I love this recipe because I can use fresh or frozen berries.




Van Buren County Youth Fair and Cass County Fair

At the Van Buren County Youth Fair, we supported the Holstein Association and purchased a gallon of milk, which benefits the entire dairy association. We also purchased two swine.

With food insecurity at a high level, MEC is leveraging our support of youth in 4H programs across our service territory and providing local food pantries with fresh meat to assist families in our communities. Two pantries receiving donations from the Van Buren Youth Fair are Decatur Human Services and Eleanor’s Pantry.

At the Cass County Fair, we secured three pigs to benefit Helping Hands of Cass County and the Marcellus Food Pantry programs.

Lenawee County Fair

We purchased one market hog and two lambs at the Lenawee County Fair. We donated the lambs to charity and presented the 182 pounds of freshly processed pork products to The Daily Bread in Adrian, Michigan. The Daily Bread operates a daily soup kitchen as well as a food pantry, so customers will be able to secure a fresh protein option as a result of our donation.

Serving Up Kindness at the Fireman’s Grill

We continued our tradition of volunteering at the Fireman’s Grill during the Cass County Fair this year.

On Tuesday, Aug. 2, a group of MEC employees served meals to hungry fairgoers alongside the Cass County Firemen’s Association. Together, we raised about $5,000, making this the second-best Tuesday in Fireman’s Grill history and just barely missing the best ever at $5,300.

Thank you to everyone who volunteered and to everyone who purchased a meal! In total, the Fireman’s Grill raised $21,563 during the week of the fair. All proceeds will support the Cass County Fireman’s Association and all 13 local fire departments they represent.

MEC employees Nick and Morgan kick off the day at the Fireman’s Grill. Grand Champion Hog Winner Paige (L) with MEC employee Patty (R). Jess Brainerd, Daily Bread associate director, helps transport seven bags of donated pork chops, bacon, and sausage.
12 OCTOBER 2022

Can I Streamline My Passwords?

Ah, passwords—the internet’s most helpful headache.

No matter how much you want to protect your data, it can be tempting to simplify your ever-growing password collection. But you don’t want to solve one problem only to create new ones.

In the examples below, four people have tried to solve their password overload—let’s see how each one did.

“More passwords, more problems.” That’s the motto of One-and-Done Will.

Will decided using the same password for every account would make it easier to remember his login information. He wouldn’t have to think when making new passwords either.

Hackers and bots are big fans of Will’s method. Once they figure out his password, they can use it to log into every single one of his accounts without breaking a sweat.

Will needs to have a varied set of passwords. Otherwise, his security is one and done too.

Nick the Notetaker has a theory: If all your passwords are written down, you won’t have to worry about memorization, and hackers can’t guess them. Nick writes his passwords in his notebook, which he keeps in a drawer at his desk.

Nick is getting there. There’s one major problem, though—if Nick can read his password off a list, everyone can. Even if he locks his desk drawer, all it takes is a misplaced key to make his passwords freely available.

Quizmaster Kelly likes to use trivia about herself to craft easy-toremember passwords. “423KingStreet” (her address) and “July1963!” (her birth month) are just two of her masterpieces.

Kelly has successfully thwarted the laziest of intruders by switching up her passwords. She still has a problem: If a bot has collected any of her personal data, or if someone she knows is trying to hack her, her passwords are almost as transparent as Will’s. It turns out quizzes aren’t so hard when you already know the answers.

Kelly needs passwords with minimum complexity to keep them from being guessable. That means no common names or dictionary words, and a good mix of some or all of the following: uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters (for example, a question mark or ampersand).

Hackbuster Helen is on her A game. She knows that using a digital password manager can save her login ID and password for every account she uses without worrying about theft, bots, or memorization.

The app keeps her passwords secure behind a two-factor authentication system (it texts or calls to verify it’s her when she logs in). While it’s active, the app fills in her passwords automatically when she visits sites she’s registered for. It even helps her generate new, random passwords.

Some of Helen’s favorite password managers include:



1Password Keeper

Most password manager apps work with a wide range of devices and browsers, and many offer a free tier that’s enough for the average user.

Other options like iCloud Keychain (for Apple devices) and Google Password Manager (a browser-based wallet) are also good, despite some limitations on how and where you can access them.

As with any new software, you should research the features of each before signing up.

#3 Using Easyto-Remember Words or Personal Info #1 Reusing Passwords #2 Writing Passwords Down #4 Using a Secure Password Manager


A look inside Grand Hotel Stables

If you’ve ever visited Mackinac Island, there is a familiar sound unique to the gorgeous vacation destination—the clip-clop of horse hooves along the streets. Automobilefree for over a hundred years, it’s the majestic horses of Mackinac that make things move on the island. And none quite so beautiful as the naturally high-stepping, flashy Hackney horses of the Grand Hotel Stables.

The heavily-muscled, wide-chested beauties move gracefully through the streets and along the drive leading to the Grand Hotel’s majestic white pillars. They carry VIP guests and those looking for an exceptionally breathtaking view of the island from one of the Grand Hotel Stables’ Hackney-drawn carriages.

Unlike carriage horses you might see in city streets, the Hackneys of Mackinac Island benefi t from fresh air without working alongside cars or trucks and their noxious fumes. Horse experts agree that horses that are well-cared for, with proper shoeing and fi tting equipment, are in their element pulling carriages. The breed is desperate for purpose and has developed for just such a task over the centuries.

While the Hackneys love to work hard, they are treated like royalty at the Grand Hotel’s 8,700-squarefoot working stable. One can only describe the barns as pristine, with well-tended stalls and fresh air for their resting time. In fact, as staff speak about the horses, it’s as if they are describing any other co-worker, with knowledge of their personalities, peccadilloes, and preferences.

14 OCTOBER 2022

“He has a thing for women, it’s terrible,” Mosley said. “Like, he’ll walk away from you to go see a girl.”

Another stable lover is Scotty, who is not above resting the side of his face against Mosley’s shoulder to get some special attention.

“I’ve never seen a horse right from the start in love with everybody,” Mosley said. “He’s super comfortable with everyone he meets.”

While the relationships with the horses and the staff are strong, it’s not a lifetime occupation for the Hackneys. A decade is about as long as most work as carriage horses on the island, and then the stable manager’s job is to find appropriate retirement gigs for the equine employees. A recent

retiree was having a harder time with Michigan’s cold winters and, through the Hackney grapevine, found a perfect warm-weather fit with a woman in Savannah. She hooks him up and drives with him occasionally, but otherwise, he lives a life of leisure.

Another found his way to a woman in California and is still doing a little pleasure driving and prancing in the ring for a horse show or two every year. His new owner just loves him.

“The two of them seemed to hit it right off,” Mosley said. “It was one of those things where you felt like you were a matchmaker, and they just kind of clicked.”

The adoration of the horses is clear. Everyone seems to fall in love with the Hackney horses of Grand Hotel Stables, from the staff to retirement owners to the guests who excitedly climb into the carriage.

On your next visit to the island, stop by the 8,700-square-foot working stable to learn more about these iconic animals, and take a free and interactive self-guided tour of the approximately 30 antique sleighs and carriages. It’s free of charge and open to all Mackinac Island visitors. grandhotel.com

Stable Manager Ben Mosley regales folks with tales of the horses like Chief, the local ladies’ man.

Are Your Kids Bypassing Parental Controls?

No system is foolproof. Even with the in-depth content restriction and time limit features included with the free CommandIQ app, your kids might have found a way to keep accessing the content or apps you want them out of.

So how do they do it? Let’s talk about some of the most common methods.


VPNs, or Virtual Private Networks, hide users’ online activities by routing traffic through a different server first. This way, your router thinks the traffic came from the VPN—not the website being visited. If the traffic doesn’t appear to come from a site you’ve placed parental restrictions on, the restrictions no longer work.

The easiest way to check VPN usage is to look at your child’s profile in CommandIQ.

From their profile, you can see the apps they spend the most time on and how long they’ve spent on each over a set period. You can also use their device’s search tool and type in “VPN”

or look for an icon or notification on their device that says a VPN is in use.

Most VPNs are hard for kids to access because they charge a monthly subscription fee. Free VPN apps, meanwhile, are often untrustworthy and can come with malware. Researching your kids’ apps and other online activities is always a good idea to ensure their safety.

Apple iCloud Private Relay

iCloud Private Relay is similar to a VPN.

While VPNs allow you to choose which part of the world your traffic appears to come from, iCloud Private Relay automatically chooses regions that are still close to your actual location. This means iCloud Private Relay has fewer features than a VPN—but it still does the job of getting around parental controls.

Private Relay is available to anyone with an iCloud+ subscription—which means if you’re subscribed and your kids have access to your account, they can use it to get around restrictions.


This is tricky because the functionality is built into popular web browsers like Firefox, Microsoft Edge, and Google Chrome.

DNS over HTTPS, or DoH, works by encrypting certain information when you try to access websites, preventing third parties from seeing which websites you’re visiting. Like using a VPN, turning DoH on in a browser can disrupt any parental controls that apply to that device because CommandIQ no longer knows which websites you’re visiting.

Blocking Workarounds

The free CommandIQ app lets you block all of these workaround methods. Visit us at teammidwest.com/blockworkarounds to learn how.

You need a GigaSpire router to use CommandIQ. Don’t know what that means? Head to teammidwest.com/router-swap.

16 OCTOBER 2022

You May Qualify for a Discount on Fiber Internet

What does the ideal internet look like to you? Unlimited data? Actually getting the speeds you pay for? How about your whole family online at once without slowdowns?

With our blazing-fast fiber, you can enjoy the internet without compromises—and you might even qualify for a discount.

The Affordable Connectivity Program lets qualifying households get a discount of up to $30/month on our fiber internet. If your home is on qualifying tribal lands, this discount can be as much as $75/month off.

You can qualify for the Affordable Connectivity Program if your household income is at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, OR a member of your household:

• Received a federal Pell Grant in the current award year.

• Participates in a governmentassistance program, such as SNAP, Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, WIC, or Lifeline.

• Participates in the National School Lunch Program or the School Breakfast Program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision.

• Participates in one of several Tribal-specific programs: Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance, Tribal Head Start (only households meeting the relevant income qualifying standard), Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (Tribal TANF), or Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations.

If you qualify for the program, you’ll also have an opportunity to purchase an Amazon Fire HD tablet for $49.99, about half its usual price.

Head to teammidwest.com/ACP to check your eligibility, sign up for MEC fiber if you haven’t, and apply for the program.

Wondering how MEC fiber internet stacks up to the competition? Check it out:

First Time Bow Hunting With Dad

Every fall, I have the same warm and wonderful memory of my first year of bow hunting with my dad. My dad put me in his usual tree stand, a pine tree at the edge of a field. He said he was certain I would see deer in this spot.

The first thing I realized is I’m terrified of heights, but I stayed up in the tree, knowing my dad wouldn’t put me in a spot that wasn’t safe and the best chance to see deer. My determination to push past my fears was rewarded soon. I had deer coming out regularly. I had six arrows. I had let my first one fly. I missed. Then I let my second, third, fourth, and fifth arrows fly as well. Missed every time. Who knew how much a pine tree moved in the wind, or how different it was shooting down, instead of straight across?

Well, I was learning with every arrow. Crazy enough, the deer kept coming back in, I was given one more chance, so I pulled back, waiting for the swaying to line up, held my breath, and let it fly. Finally, I got one!

What I remember most is my dad’s face lighting up with pride when he saw the trail of the one I did hit. Oh, he laughed that I used every arrow and thankfully only hit the one. I actually ended up making a great shot on that one, and it helped feed our family. Seeing my dad smile at me as he did with such pride, mixed with humor, is my most cherished memory with my dad. It’s moments like that, that I learned even embarrassing stories can hold the most loving memories. My dad took the time to teach me how to hunt, track, clean, and process a deer. It was my dad who first taught me to appreciate, honor, and care for nature.

As it can help care for us, in many ways. I tend to think of my dad more often when I’m outside, as my love for nature started with him.

Gari was the last of five children in her family and is named after her dad. She enjoys fishing, hunting, watching nature, reading, writing, and crafting.


Win $150!

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

Guest Column
“Seeing my dad smile at me as he did with such pride, mixed with humor, is my most cherished memory with my dad.”
18 OCTOBER 2022

Well-Connect is a hybrid geothermal heat pump designed to operate with your existing furnace. Similar to how a hybrid vehicle significantly reduces the need for gas, doubling the vehicle’s fuel e ciency, a Well-Connect significantly reduces the amount of propane or fuel oil needed to heat a home, quadrupling the overall e ciency of the heating system. This approach dramatically reduces the installation cost of the geothermal system while reducing a homeowner’s heating cost by 50% to 75%. It also provides e cient air conditioning all summer.

“Propane is so expensive to heat with. Why wouldn’t someone do this?”

Lynne W., South Boardman, MI Member, Great Lakes Energy

Lynne loves her home in the woods but found it challenging to keep her home warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Keeping it cool in the summer was especially important for Lynne because of her four-legged, furry friend, Tara. Lynne was familiar with geothermal energy because her father was an executive at Detroit Edison and she knew that it is clean, green, makes a home more comfortable and is a big money saver.


Can be installed in one day, any time of the year. DIY or have it professionally installed.

wellconnectgeo.comCall for a FREE home visit. (989) 356-2113 Michigan-Made Hybrid Geothermal System Provides Savings and Comfort Michigan-Made Hybrid Geothermal System Provides Savings and Comfort yb EXISTING FURNACE TER TER 95° AIR 70° AIR Geothermal Made Affordable
TeamMidwest.com - ORWHY CHANGE PROVIDERS? Because with MEC fiber, you get: Visit teammidwest.com/100-off or scan the QR code to get started. • Fast, reliable internet for your whole family • Buffer-free video streaming • Uninterrupted work-from-home capabilities • Transparent pricing • Unlimited data • A full suite of parental controls and automatic, network-wide protection A 12-month service contract is required. Fiber internet services are not regulated by the Michigan Public Service Commission. Best for a small family working, learning, streaming, and gaming. 100 Mbps download & upload ADVANCED Great for a large family or a house where everyone is a heavy internet user. 1 Gbps download & upload GIG With MEC fiber internet, the full power of the web is at your fingertips. ENTER PROMO 100 Sign up for a year of service and get $100 off your first bill.