Sept. 2020 HomeWorks

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September 2020


COUNTRY LINES HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative

When Will HomeWorks Connect Be In Your Area?


Over $33,000 In Classroom Grants Awarded Nick Lawless Completes Apprentice Program


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September 2020 Vol. 40, No. 8



Michigan’s Electric Cooperatives

EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Casey Clark EDITOR: Christine Dorr GRAPHIC DESIGNER: Karreen Bird RECIPE EDITOR: Christin McKamey PUBLISHER: Michigan Electric Cooperative Association Michigan Country Lines, USPS-591-710, is published monthly, except August and December, with periodicals postage paid at Lansing, Mich., and additional offices. It is the official publication of the Michigan Electric Cooperative Association, 201 Townsend St., Suite 900, Lansing, MI 48933. Subscriptions are authorized for members of Alger Delta, Cherryland, Great Lakes, HomeWorks Tri-County, Midwest Energy & Communications, Ontonagon, Presque Isle, and Thumb electric cooperatives by their boards of directors. Postmaster: Send all UAA to CFS.

Association Officers: Robert Kran, Great Lakes Energy, chairman; Tony Anderson, Cherryland Electric Cooperative, vice chairman; Eric Baker, Wolverine Power Cooperative, 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 CHANGE OF ADDRESS: Please

notify your electric cooperative. See page 4 for contact information.

#micoopcommunity 14 LEGACY ON THE LAKES Jim Hogan continues his family's tradition of captaining the J.W. Westcott II, a mail boat with the only floating ZIP code in the nation.

Cover Photo: Neil Schultheiss

6 ROAD TRIPPIN' Christal Frost travels to Sault Ste. Marie, the oldest city in Michigan.

18 BEST OF MICHIGAN: WINERIES For a taste of Michigan in every sip, enjoy these memberrecommended wineries for your next getaway or celebration.

10 MI CO-OP KITCHEN Simple, kid-friendly recipes to make family time fun.

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


United we stand, divided we fall. Loving these patriotic straw bales captured by @jodystrangphoto.

Be featured!

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

To enter contests, submit reader content & more, visit





Up Next: Salad Night Share your favorite recipes.

Up Next: Restaurants With A View Tell us about your favorite dining location with a scenic Michigan view you can pair with the cuisine.

Submit your fondest memories and stories.

Enter a drawing to identify the correct location of the photo.

Win $150 for stories published!

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Think Safety First As You Work Outside This Fall / Portland office/Mail payments to: 7973 E. Grand River Ave. Portland, MI 48875 Open 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday–Friday

Blanchard office: 3681 Costabella Ave. Blanchard, MI 49310 Open 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday–Friday Night deposit box available at both locations. Electric bill/account questions: 517-647-7554 or 1-800-562-8232 Pay by phone, anytime: 1-877-999-3395

Service questions/outages: 517-647-7554 or 1-800-848-9333 (24 hours for emergency calls) Tri-County Propane: 1-877-574-2740

HomeWorks Connect 1-800-668-8413 BOARD OF DIRECTORS

District 1 — John Lord, Vice-Chairman 2276 Plains Rd., Leslie, MI 49251 517-974-2518 •

District 2 — Jim Stebbins 7139 Peddler Lake Rd., Clarksville, MI 48815 616-693-2449 • District 3 — Luke Pohl, Chairman 15560 W. Hanses Rd., Westphalia, MI 48894 989-292-0427 • District 4 — Kimber Hansen 6535 N. Wyman Rd., Edmore, MI 48829 989-506-5849 • District 5 — Corinna Batora 7655 N. Watson Rd., Elsie, MI 48831 517-256-5233 •

District 6 — Ed Oplinger, Secretary-Treasurer 10890 W. Weidman Rd., Weidman, MI 48893 989-644-3079 • District 7 — Shirley Sprague 15563 45th Ave., Barryton, MI 49305 989-382-7535 • Editor: C harly Markwart, CCC


Chris O’Neill, CEO


he ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has most everyone thinking a lot more about safety these days. How to keep our children healthy as they start the school year, how to care for our elderly loved ones safely, and how to maintain social distance as we live and work; these are just some of the considerations that have become a part of our daily lives. Here at HomeWorks, safety has always been our top priority. I’m proud of the way our employees have seamlessly adapted to new working policies and procedures to keep each other and the members we serve safe during this uncertain time. They’ve achieved all of this while not missing a beat in delivering the reliable electric, propane and internet services you count on us to provide. In delivering those services, we know it’s crucial that safety is always top of mind for our employees, as electricity and propane can both turn dangerous and even deadly when not handled properly. But as the pandemic has many of our members spending more time at home and perhaps working on those long put-off DIY projects around the house, I want to offer a reminder that it’s not just electrical workers who need to be aware of the dangers of working near electricity. Whether you’re remodeling around the house or preparing for the fall harvest on your farm, please keep

these important electric safety tips in mind before you begin your work: • ALWAYS look up and be aware of overhead power lines when working outside. Power lines are all around us, and you or your equipment coming into contact with one could be fatal. • Always keep equipment at least 10 feet away (in all directions) from power lines. • Inspect equipment like ladders, extensions and long-handled tools to determine clearance when working near power lines. • Always call 811 three full working days before any project that involves digging to have your underground utility lines marked for free. • If you notice a downed power line or a power line that looks to be sagging or dangerously low, please call us immediately at 800-562-8232. There is a quote that’s displayed on the safety bulletin boards at our HomeWorks facilities that reads, “Working safely might get old, but so do those who practice it.” When it comes to electricity, taking a few minutes to be aware of your surroundings can mean the difference between life and death, so please, look up, be aware, and stay safe!


You’ve been patiently awaiting the arrival of HomeWorks Connect high-speed fiber internet at your home, but you’re not sure just how much longer you’ll be waiting. Sound familiar? While it’s not always possible for us to give a firm ETA on exactly when to expect your installation, there are some easy steps you can take to gain a better understanding of how soon our internet service will be available to you. STEP 1: Find Out Which Zone You’re In The first thing you should do, if you haven’t already, is input your address at By doing this, you’ll find out in which of our zones your home is located. You should also input a good email address and finish preregistering. This will allow us to send you a contract via email when your home is able to be connected! We won’t use your email address for anything that is not directly related to the HomeWorks Connect progress being made in your area. STEP 2: Find Out Which Step Your Zone Is In After you find out which zone you’re in, you can visit the “Zones” page online at You’ll see that your zone is color-coded depending on which step it’s in. Each step is broken down in detail in the chart to the right and on the HomeWorks Connect website. STEP 3: Check Your Zone’s Progress Follow along on Facebook or at for updates on progress in your area! On the HomeWorks Connect website, some steps of the connection process will show a progress bar tracking completion of that step for your zone. Have questions? Please call us at 800-668-8413!


This is the time when you and your neighbors need to actively sign up online to tell us you want fiber internet service. When we are ready to start the “Design” step in a new area, we look at the top zones in this step. Your zone could be in this step for up to two years, depending on if it is selected for Phase 4 or Phase 5 of buildout.


Zones in this step have been selected to be part of our active phase. We’ve been building approximately one phase per year, announcing the new phase area, including all of the zones in that phase, at the beginning of each year. In 2020, we are building out Phase 3 of the five phases it will take to connect our entire service area. When in this step, we are actively designing and preparing your area for the construction of our network. Your zone could be in this step for up to one year.


You’ll begin to see commotion in your area as we begin to construct our network there. You’ll also receive your contract via the email address you used to pre-register. Generally, we wait for enough residents to sign up before we move to the “Connections” step so that it’s cost effective to build the network. Zones are usually in this step for two or three months before we are able to begin connecting homes that have signed their contracts.


Congrats! Zones in this step are actively seeing homes connected to our fiber internet network. Depending on the size of your zone, there is typically a six- to eight-week wait for homes to be connected in this step. If you sign your contract before your zone exits this step, you’ll receive free installation!


Service is active throughout the zone. We are still accepting new fiber internet customers in these areas, although an installation fee may be charged. After you pre-register, call 800-668-8413 for more information.

DON’T MISS OUT! Our internet packages start at just $54.95/mo.

Road ’ n i p p i Tr

With Christal Frost To Sault Ste. Marie! raveling to Sault Ste. Marie is almost like traveling back in time. Sault Ste. Marie, or as the locals say, The Soo, is the oldest city in Michigan, and the third oldest in the United States. Nestled along the shores of the St. Mary’s River, along the U.S.-Canadian border, this Upper Peninsula gem is chock-full of both history and innovation.


Mackinac Bridge

For a Lower Peninsula native like myself, any trip to the Upper Peninsula includes venturing over the Mackinac Bridge. The Mighty Mac was born from a dream to connect the two peninsulas over the Straits of Mackinac that stems from the 1880s. That dream came true, thanks to the engineering and design of David Steinman and three and

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a half years of construction, when the bridge opened to traffic on Nov. 1, 1957. The bridge has been well-traveled ever since, boasting thousands of cars crossing each year.

Goetz’s Lockview Restaurant

In 1945, a tradition was started of selling the freshest whitefish in the area. The owner of the Lockview Restaurant, along with his dishwasher, would walk across the street to the Soo Locks after breakfast every morning to catch the fish they would serve for lunch that day. The dedication paid off, and in just two years, Goetz’s Lockview Restaurant had outgrown its space, forcing the expansion of the first floor, followed by the addition of a second story less than 20 years later. The Lockview is a postcard for Sault Ste. Marie. Its


Soo Locks



Goetz’s Lockview Restaurant

commitment to serving the freshest fish is as important now as it was in 1945, and its tribute to the storied history of The Soo is on display from the wall décor to the menu. Do yourself a favor and order the Soo Locks Wrap.

Soo Locks

History: Prior to the installation of the locks, the St. Mary’s River, which connects Lake Superior and Lake Huron, was a fiercely moving river with a 21-foot drop. The rapids proved a challenge for portaging canoes until a French-Canadian based fur trading company constructed a small lock and canal large enough for its canoes to access. The original lock was destroyed in the War of 1812, leaving the river without a lock until 1855, when the state built the aptly named "State Lock." The lock and canal system helped to grow the mining production in the Western U.P. and also proved to be a valuable tool for the Civil War, as iron ore from Lake Superior was used to make Union cannons. Industry eventually demanded larger locks to accommodate bigger freighters, and several locks have been built and rebuilt since, resulting in the current system of four. The locks raise and lower vessels easily without a pumping system, relying only on the water leveling through gravity. Seeing the Locks in Action: We boarded the Nokomis on a Saturday afternoon to see the locks in action, thanks to Soo Locks Boat Tours. Traveling along the St. Mary’s canal, we were given the okay to proceed to the MacArthur Lock. Once we tied off, the gates were closed and the filling valve opened, allowing water from Lake Superior to fill the lock. The Nokomis was gently lifted 21 feet to meet the water level of Lake Superior and we continued our tour, drifting side by side with massive freighters along international waters. Looking to the future: A new lock, measuring in at 110 feet wide and 1,200 feet long (roughly the size of the Poe Lock), began phase one of construction in May at the site of the now decommissioned Sabin and Davis locks. The $922 million project will increase the lock system’s ability to accommodate large freighters and vessels, 85% of which currently utilize the Poe Lock. The Soo locks are an inspiring reminder of human ingenuity and innovation. Be sure to put Soo Locks Boat Tours on your Michigan bucket list today!

Mackinac Bridge

Clyde’s Drive-In

When you’re in Michigan’s oldest city, it’s only appropriate to step back in time, and no visit to the Soo is complete without a stop at the original Clyde’s Drive-In. Founded in 1949 by Clyde VanDusen, Clyde’s is a casual spot with a view, right next to the Sugar Island Ferry. I’m told Clyde still owns the place and stops by every now and then to check in, and grab a “Big C”—a three-quarter-pound hamburger available with all the toppings you can handle. I went for an olive burger, onion rings and a chocolate shake that did not disappoint. Clyde’s is a good example of the pride of the Soo community—firmly planted in its roots, but always looking to the future. Whether you’re in for a day trip to Sault Ste. Marie, or you’re planning to spend a whole vacation, you’ll marvel at the combination of history and progress in Michigan’s oldest city. 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. She is also a feature columnist for GT Pulse on 9&10 News, published every Friday at 11 a.m.

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Clyde’s Dri ve-In


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See Sault Ste. Marie In Action

Christal Frost filmed her Sault Ste. Marie adventure, now available on MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES


Public Act 342: The Clean and Renewable Energy and Energy Waste Reduction Act 2019 Energy Waste Reduction Annual Report HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative MPSC Case Number U-18280 HomeWorks Tri-County contracted with the Michigan Electric Cooperative Association (MECA) to administer the Energy Optimization (EO) efforts to comply with PA-295. MECA filed a four-year Energy Optimization plan with the MPSC on Aug. 3, 2015, as required by PA 295. This EO plan was approved by the MPSC on Dec. 22, 2015, and we began implementing our 2016–2019 EO Plan Jan. 1, 2016. On Sept. 14, 2017, we filed a Biennial Plan as required by PA-342 of 2016. This Biennial Plan was approved by the MPSC on Dec. 1, 2017. WECC was selected to implement all Residential, Commercial, and Industrial Programs, and the Energy Waste Reduction (EWR—previously EO) website, In November 2018 WECC and Seventhwave merged and are now doing business as Slipstream, effective Jan. 1, 2019. Slipstream has subcontracted with WES Utility Services, Michigan Energy Options, and Nuwati, LLC to assist with the implementation of the EWR Programs. MECA contracted with DNV-GL as the independent 3rd party evaluation contractor for the certification of kWh savings. In 2019, HomeWorks Tri-County collected $956,354 through the Energy Waste Reduction Surcharge and spent $750,967 resulting in an over-collection of $205,387. HomeWorks TriCounty achieved 3,640 MWh of energy savings in 2019 compared to their annual kWh goal of 3,362 MWh. The full report can be obtained at your Cooperative’s headquarters and at or


FREE opportunities to save money and reduce electricity use. Based on income levels, qualified households may receive: • Energy-saving devices including LED light bulbs • Free large appliance inspections with potential replacement • Virtual or in-home consultations with COVID protocols Contact us today for program eligibility information. • 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’s Natural Beauty

1. Kyle Schafer of Westphalia shot this photo that shows off some of Michigan’s pure winter beauty. 2. Mark Klumpp of Canadian Lakes says, “This photo captures two of my favorite things about living on the lake: sunrises and loons.” 3. Ann Shanteau of Remus took this photo of Wagner Falls in Munising. “My husband and I were in the U.P. celebrating our 25th anniversary by hiking and discovering some falls,” she says. 4. Sandy Ackerson of Portland submitted this picture of a fall sunset reflecting on Derby Lake in Montcalm County. 5. Calvin Miller of Farwell shot this photo of a beautiful fall pathway through a Michigan state forest. 6. Jillian Colley of Rodney submitted this picture that she took from a quiet spot in Summit Park, near Ludington, overlooking Lake Michigan.


4 Enter to win a


energy bill credit!




Upcoming Snap Shot Contest Topic And Deadline

“Cutest Pets,” Deadline: September 15 (November/December issue) Go to and select Country Lines under the Electric tab to submit your photos and see all of the 2020 Snap Shot themes. It’s fast and easy. To send by mail: Include your name, address, phone number, photographer’s name, and details about your photo. Mail to Attn: Country Lines Snap Shots, 7973 E. Grand River Ave., Portland, MI 48875. Photos will not be returned. Do not send color laser prints or professional studio photos.

6 Submit Your Photos! Members whose photos we publish in Country Lines in 2020 will receive a $10 bill credit the month after publication.



MI CO-OP Recipes

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

KID-FRIENDLY COOKING Simple recipes to make family time fun.


KIDS’ CHICKEN NUGGETS Deb Finedell, Great Lakes Energy

2 1 2 6

cups finely crushed potato chips egg tablespoons milk small boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1½ -inch cubes ¹⁄ ³ cup butter, melted • dipping sauce of your choice

Win a


energy bill credit!



Preheat oven to 350 F. Pour potato chips into a shallow dish. Beat egg and milk together in a separate shallow dish. Dip chicken cubes in egg mixture. Press chicken into potato chips until evenly coated. Transfer coated chicken to a baking sheet. Drizzle with melted butter. Bake until chicken is no longer pink in the center and coating is golden brown, about 15 to 18 minutes.

Salad Night (Hearty Salads For Dinner) due November 1 Submit your favorite recipe for a chance to win a $50 bill credit and have your recipe featured in Country Lines with a photo and a video. Go to for more information.

Watch a video of this month’s winning recipe at


Lianne Briggs, Great Lakes Energy 3 1 1 1

(1-pound) loaves frozen bread dough, thawed can pizza sauce bag shredded mozzarella cheese package pepperoni, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 F. Heavily grease three bread pans and line with parchment paper. Place the thawed bread dough on a cutting board. Add the pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese, and chopped pepperoni. Use a French knife to cut and mix ingredients together until well combined. Divide the dough evenly among the three bread pans. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled. Bake about 45 minutes, until evenly browned. Cool in pans for approximately 20 minutes. Finish cooling on a wire rack. Serve immediately.

TRAIL MIX COOKIES Pauline Haskin 1 1 1 2 1 2 1 1 3

cup butter, softened cup brown sugar, packed cup granulated sugar eggs teaspoon vanilla cups flour teaspoon baking powder teaspoon baking soda cups trail mix (I use a mix of small nuts, raisins and M&Ms) 1½ cups old-fashioned rolled oats 1½ cups granola cereal (a mix of honey and almond goes well with the trail mix) Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix butter and sugars until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla; thoroughly mix. In a separate bowl, blend together flour, baking powder and soda. Add flour mixture to butter and egg mixture and mix until all is combined; do not overmix. Stir in trail mix, oats, and granola. Use a large cookie scoop (15 ⁄ 8") and shape dough into balls. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Cookies will double in size. Bake 13–15 minutes or until edges of cookies become a light brown color. Remove from oven and wait three minutes prior to moving cookies to cooling racks. NOTE: Dough can be refrigerated and baked as needed.


Diane Johnson, Great Lakes Energy 1 chocolate cake mix with pudding (I use triple chocolate, chocolate fudge, or dark chocolate) ¹⁄ ³ cup oil 2 eggs ½ cup mini chocolate chips, optional 12 ounces Rolo candies (can use mini Reeses instead) Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large bowl, combine cake mix, oil, and eggs. Beat with hand mixer for two to three minutes. Fold in chocolate chips. Take a small ball of dough and roll a Rolo in the middle (if batter is sticky, you can add flour to your hands, or chill batter before using). Use just enough dough to cover the Rolo. Place on parchmentcovered cookie sheet two inches apart. Bake for six to seven minutes, or until the tops have cracks in them. It is very important to leave them on the cookie sheet for two minutes before removing them. Serve immediately.



Notice to Members of HomeWorks Tri-County Cooperative Case No. U-16598 2019 Renewable Energy Plan Annual Report Summary Michigan law (under MPSC) required all Michigan electric utilities to get 12.5% of their power supply from renewable sources during 2019. Under this requirement, HomeWorks Tri-County Energy Cooperative submitted an annual report to the MPSC regarding its Renewable Energy Plan. In 2019, HomeWorks acquired a total of 49,389 renewable energy credits and 814 incentive credits. All credit transfers were directed through HomeWorks’ wholesale power supplier, Wolverine Power Supply Cooperative, Inc. Wolverine will continue to generate renewable energy and bank unused renewable energy credits for future use and compliance with statutory renewable portfolio standard requirements on behalf of all of its members. A full copy of the cooperative’s Renewable Energy Plan annual report that was filed with the MPSC is available on the cooperative’s website at or by request at any of the cooperative’s offices.

Notice to Members of HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative June 22, 2020, Open Member Meeting Results The HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative Board of Directors, at a Special Open Meeting held June 22, 2020, in accordance with P.A. 167 and P.A. 95, elected to participate in the state of Michigan’s Low-Income Energy Assistance Program for 2020–2021. For specific details of any HomeWorks tariffs or fees, please call us at 800-562-8232 or visit our website at


5,000+ Excellent Member Total Views Engagement

38 Prizes Awarded

“What a great opportunity to reach more of the members than those

who are regularly engaged with the Co-op. This is the most involved or knowledgeable I have been in all our time as HomeWorks members.”

- Bill G., HomeWorks Member

Haven’t had a chance to watch the series yet? Watch it today at

Your Board In Action Meeting remotely on June 22, your board of directors:

Meeting in Portland on July 27, your board of directors:

• In a special open member meeting, voted unanimously to opt the Cooperative into the Michigan Low-Income Energy Assistance Fund for 2020-21.

• Reviewed the year-to-date capital spending of HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative and HomeWorks Connect.

• Unanimously supported management’s recommendation to apply for a $500,000 loan from the Small Business Administration’s Payroll Protection Program to cover current and future COVID-19-related expenses.

• Reviewed and approved the Co-op’s IRS Form 990, authorizing staff to file the completed form as accepted.

• Approved the renewal of the Co-op’s LIBOR line of credit with CFC. • Reviewed the Co-op’s loan portfolio. • Approved the extension of a special contract with commercial member Carbon Green BioEnergy of Woodbury, through Dec. 31, 2022. • Voted unanimously to postpone the 2020 Annual Meeting, scheduled for August, due to current COVID19 restrictions. The postponed meeting will coincide with the 2021 Annual Meeting. The board will hold its annual reorganizational meeting at its regular August board meeting. • Learned there were 91 new members in May. • Acknowledged the May safety report, listing employee training as well as minor employee and public incidents involving electric, propane, or fiber optic.

People Fund Grants Over $10,000 To Local Organizations And Families In Need

• Reviewed a summary of the Co-op’s response to two instances of widespread storm-related outages in June. • Learned there were 123 new members in June. • Acknowledged the June safety report, listing employee training as well as minor employee and public incidents involving electric, propane, or fiber optic.

Time Set Aside for Members to Comment Before Cooperative Board Meetings The first 15 minutes of every board meeting are available for members who wish to address the board of directors on any subject. The next meetings are scheduled for 9 a.m. on Sept. 28 at Blanchard and 9 a.m. on Oct. 26 at Portland. However, at the time of this printing, some of our meetings are temporarily being conducted remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Members who wish to have items considered on the board agenda should call 517-647-7554.

Thank you!

Meeting remotely July 8, the Tri-County Electric People Fund board made six grants totaling $10,765, including: • $3,000 to Mid-Michigan Industries, Inc., of Mt. Pleasant, to support necessary training; • $2,349 to Beacon of Hope, of St. Johns, to purchase a refrigerator for a community food pantry; • $1,153 to The Voice of Clinton County’s Children, of St. Johns, to support an iRecord system; • $1,000 to M46 Tabernacle Food Pantry, of Riverdale, to purchase food to restock the pantry; • $2,500 to an Ingham County family to cover housing and electric bills; and • $763 to a Mecosta County family to cover utility bills.

How to Apply for a Tri-County Electric People Fund Grant The Tri-County Electric People Fund provides grants to individuals and organizations in the Co-op’s service area for food, shelter, clothing, health, and other humane needs, or for programs or services that benefit a significant segment of a community. Write to 7973 E. Grand River Ave., Portland, MI 48875, for an application form and grant guidelines, or visit the People Fund tab at Note: Applications must be received by Sept. 18 for the September meeting or by Nov. 4 for the November meeting.



By Emily Haines Lloyd || Photos by Neil Schultheiss


“I’m a water guy,” said Jim Hogan. “That’s who I am.” It’s not just that Hogan likes water, or has lived and worked on it most of his life. He is the fourth generation to operate the J.W. Westcott II, a mail boat and the first floating ZIP code with the U.S. Postal Service. The love of water goes back to Hogan’s great-grandfather, Captain John Ward Westcott, who founded the J.W. Westcott Company back in 1874. Back then, it was simply John rowing a small boat out to commercial ships passing through the Detroit River. He started by delivering shipping orders and updates on routes and ports. Nearly 150 years later, the vessel and the operation have grown, while never seeming too big. “Before cell phones, one place things didn’t change immediately was on the water,” said Hogan. “You wrote a letter and hoped it would get there in a week and wait for a response in another week. Boy, things have changed.”


Changed indeed. Now instead of handwritten letters and telegraphed route instructions, it’s online prescriptions, packages from Amazon and occasionally, a locally-baked pizza. The pizza started as a fun service the Westcott provided for a river tour. However, open radio channels being what they are, sailors caught wind and some have ordered up pies as their ships pass through the Port of Detroit. “While it’s sometimes crazy how much things have changed since even I started,” muses Hogan, “out here, there is still a pace that is consistent with life on the water.” Hogan started in the company’s 100th year after he graduated from high school in 1974. These days the Westcott runs 24-hour shifts, seven days a week, from the time it launches in April. The three shifts are operated by two veterans who have been with Hogan over 30 years—Sam Buchanan and Bill Redding. No two days are the same, with the possible exception of

TIME LINE 1874: John Ward Westcott founds J.W. Westcott Company off Belle Isle, using a rowboat to deliver messages to passing ships 1877: Company moves to new location at foot of Woodward Avenue, near Detroit-Windsor ferry 1910: The J.W. Westcott Company purchases the J.W. Westcott I, its first powerboat

the fresh pot of coffee put on at the beginning of each shift, as each crew swaps stories. If other ships are in the neighborhood, the fresh crew can jump right into the fray—loading, unloading and/ or delivering “mail by the pail.” This literally consists of large buckets on ropes that are raised and lowered between passing ships and the Westcott—delivering mail addressed to the individual, their ship’s name, and Marine Post Office, Detroit, Michigan 48222. Among the crew sweeping in for a shift is Captain Jimmy Hogan, Jim’s son and the fifth generation of Westcotts to work the ship. While the elder Hogan had started working right out of high school, he wanted to make sure his sons didn’t feel obligated to join the family business. “We wanted to make sure the kids did something that drove them in their lives. We didn’t want the business to feel like a burden,” he said.

For 147 years and 5 generations there is a legacy by any standards. But if Jim Hogan knows anything, it’s that life on the water is constantly ebbing and flowing. He’s found himself spending more time down at the riverfront office since April. Considering his 47th season with the business, seeing how things have changed. Seeing how things have stayed the same. Wondering, as we all do when reflecting on our lives, what it was all about. “This isn’t a ‘get rich’ business,” muses Hogan. “But I’ve come to realize that I’ve been so fortunate with the experiences I’ve had in my life. Experiences that I owe to a wild idea my great-grandfather had.” Hogan pauses like any great seaman setting up the moral of the story and says, “To be blessed by the opportunity to be associated with so many good people in my life—such a great crew. I guess I am rich.”

1948: The J. W. Westcott Company is awarded its first Highway Route Contract (HRC) as a Star Route from the United States Postal Service 1949: The J. W. Westcott Company takes possession of the M/V J. W. Westcott II, built by Paaushe Shipbuilding Company out of Erie, Pennsylvania. It is named after the son of the founder, Captain John Ward Westcott 1974: The J. W. Westcott Company celebrates a historic 100 years in business. The great-grandson of founder James M. Hogan joins the firm as a deckhand 1995: Company marks its 100th anniversary of maritime mail delivery by the U.S. Postal Service and/or its contractors at the Port of Detroit 2002: James Joseph Westcott-Hogan joins the firm (the fifth generation) 2010: James M. Hogan becomes president of the firm

To learn more about the legacy of this Michigan business, visit or search for J. W. Westcott Co. on Facebook.

HomeWorks Grants Over $33,000 To Local Classrooms Through our annual Touchstone Energy Classroom S.T.E.A.M. Grant program, we are proud to be able to support teachers in our service area in providing innovative science, technology, engineering, arts and math-related educational opportunities to their students. School may look a little different for local children this fall, but whether they’re learning in the classroom or at home, students

still need access to the proper learning tools to be able to get the most out of their education. Every year, we at HomeWorks are happy to be able to fulfill thousands of dollars in grant requests from area teachers who are looking to purchase new tools to help them offer engaging lessons to their students. From 3D printers and STEM kits to iPads and coding equipment, here are the projects we were able to help fund through our 2020 grant program, which paid out $33,300 to local schools:

Beal City Public Schools.............................$2,000 for iPads

Big Rapids Public Schools..........................$2,000 for 3D printer kit Carson City Public Schools........................$2,000 for STEM lab kit

Charlotte Public Schools.............................$750 for light table & math tools

Clare Public Schools......................................$2,000 for photography equipment Evart Public Schools.....................................$1,900 for engineering tools Farwell Public Schools..................................$2,000 for coding tools

Fowler Public Schools....................................$1,900 for robotics equipment Grand Ledge Public Schools.......................$1,650 for iPads

Grand Ledge Public Schools.......................$1,650 for STEAM equipment

Heartlands Institute (Ionia).......................$2,000 for solar ventilation fan

Isabella Child Development Center.........$600 for STEAM learning materials Ithaca Public Schools.....................................$2,000 for STEAM learning tools Lakewood Public Schools.............................$2,000 for Chromebooks

Lakewood Public Schools.............................$600 for hands-on coding kits Maple Valley Public Schools........................$1,800 for PE equipment

Maple Valley Public Schools........................$1,250 for iPads & math kits St. Joseph Catholic School (St. Johns)...$1,300 for iPads

St. Michael Catholic School. (Remus)......$2,000 for Chromebooks

Vestaburg Public Schools.............................$1,350 for podcasting equipment Vestaburg Public Schools.............................$550 for hands-on STEM kits

Do you know an area teacher who might be interested in submitting a grant application for up to $2,000 for S.T.E.A.M. learning opportunities in his or her classroom? Applications for our 2021 grant program are being accepted now through Dec. 15! Apply at or email Communications Manager Charly Markwart at for more information. 16 SEPTEMBER 2020

Lineman Nick Lawless Completes Apprenticeship Upon graduation from the Joint Michigan Apprentice Program, HomeWorks’ Nick Lawless received his utility lineman certificate from the U.S. Department of Labor. Years of hard work, training and dedication culminated in a dream come true recently for HomeWorks employee Nick Lawless, who graduated from the Joint Michigan Apprentice Program (JMAP) in July and earned distinction as an official utility lineman. “Nick has devoted thousands of hours to completing this apprenticeship,” says HomeWorks Manager of Electric Operations Chris Reed. “I really admire his commitment to learning how to provide safe and reliable power to our members, and I’m proud to have him on our team.” Lawless, who works out of HomeWorks’ Portland office, has

been with the Co-op as an apprentice lineman since May 2019. In addition to successfully completing the JMAP’s intensive, state-of-the-art training program, he was required to log 7,000 hours of on-the-job training in order to complete his apprenticeship. Before coming to HomeWorks, Lawless completed the Utility Lineman Program at Lansing Community College and worked as an apprentice lineman for Consumers Energy. He lives in Pewamo with his wife, Joanna, and their two daughters. The JMAP is a U.S. Department of Labor-certified program committed to producing safe, high-quality electrical lineworkers. Located in Cadillac, it is a collaborative effort between the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 876 (IBEW), Northwest Lineman College, and HomeWorks’ power supplier, Wolverine Power Cooperative.

Thank you,

HomeWorks Employees! Whether they’re working in the field, in the office or at home, our dedicated team members have all been going above and beyond the call of duty to continue to safely provide our members with topnotch electric, propane and fiber internet services during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Thank you, HomeWorks employees, for everything you do every day to serve our members well!

MI CO-OP Community


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Tell us about your favorite dining location with a scenic Michigan view you can pair with the cuisine. Submit your favorites at by October 25, and look for it in our November/December issue.

Win a


energy bill credit!


Blustone Vineyards, Leelanau


45 North Vineyard & Winery, Lake Leelanau

This winery has spectacular views and friendly, entertaining and knowledgable staff. Corina Rybka, Cherryland

Located on the Leelanau Peninsula, they have a beautiful tasting room and a great selection of wines and ciders. They also have their own mountain bike trails open to the public and groomed in the winter for cross-country skiing and fat bikes. Katie Yonkers, Cherryland



Leelanau Cellars, Omena


Crooked Vine Vineyard and Winery, Alanson


Hickory Creek Winery, Buchanan


Seasons of the North Winery, Indian River

Free wine tastings is a plus, but the views from the tasting room are breathtaking. Friendly staff and some really great Michigan wine make this a must-visit winery on the Leelanau Peninsula. Karen Snyder, Midwest Energy & Communications

For a taste of Michigan in every sip, enjoy these member-recommended wineries for your next getaway or celebration. Michigan wineries offer a lifetime of memories along with award-winning wines.

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Chateau Grand Traverse, Traverse City

They offer amazing wine and charcuterie. Jay Gibson, Cherryland

Best Of Michigan



The Port, Portland

So unique! This is a tasting room for Modern Craft wines, which are designed to be mixed with other drinks and beverages. You can make up your own signature cocktails. The owner is super accommodating and inviting. They have wine, cheese, special menu items and comfortable seating. Brian Hass, HomeWorks Tri-County

The owners Geoff and Gail are both knowledgeable and passionate about their vineyard and take great pride in educating others. A bonus is that they have so many great tasting wines too! The panoramic views from the porch are an amazing place to enjoy wine and unwind. Joelle Wilcox, Great Lakes Energy

One of the smallest wineries in Southwest Michigan, this is a quaint place with a very wonderful staff. We have not found a wine of theirs that we have not enjoyed. The owner Adam McBride is talented in his winemaking skills and also creates a very welcoming atmosphere that makes you want to keep coming back. James Springsteen, Midwest Energy & Communications

I like it best because it’s not a large operation and the wines are fantastic. With names such as Burt Lake Breeze (my favorite), Michigan Sunset, Lake House, Back Roads...just a very friendly place with very friendly people. They take the time to talk to each person and they interact with everyone. Renee Butka, Great Lakes Energy

Where In Michigan Is This? Identify the correct location of the photo on the left by September 20 and be entered into a drawing to win a $50 electric bill credit. Enter your guess at July/August 2020 Winner! Our Mystery Photo winner is Amy Fritz, a Cherryland Electric Cooperative member, who correctly identified the photo as Fishtown in Leland, overlooking the Village Cheese Shanty. Photo by Karen Farrell Winners are announced in the following issues of Country Lines: January, March, May, July/August, September and November/December.





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