Sept. 2020 MEC

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September 2020


COUNTRY LINES Midwest Energy & Communications


Strengthening Schools Grants

Learn About Our Data Center Peace-Of-Mind Propane


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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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ST JOSEPH /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 Email:

MEC NEWS OF NOTE Board Assigns 2019 Patronage Capital As an electric cooperative, we are different from our investor-owned counterparts in that our consumers, through their patronage, provide capital for the co-op. Midwest Energy & Communications maintains a patronage capital account for each electric customer and allocates any operating margin (“profit”) back to each customer based on the amount of electricity purchased. The total of these accounts is to provide the equity base necessary for financial stability and is returned to customers over time as approved by the board of directors. The board has authorized the allocation of the 2019 net margin totaling $4,684,089.07. Your portion of this allocation is not payable at this time and does not represent a reduction of your electric bill, but rather indicates your equity share in our cooperative’s 2019 margin. Please notify us of any address changes so we can forward payments when patronage capital is retired. If a current or former customer fails to claim cash retirement of patronage capital or other payment from the cooperative within five years after payment has been made available at the last known address, that payment will be added to the cooperative’s general fund.


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

James Dickerson, Bloomingdale 269-370-6868

Erika Escue-Cadieux, Onsted 419-346-1088 Fred Turk, Decatur 269-423-7762



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


Congrats Linemen! Dan Land and Justin McDonald recently completed the Joint Michigan Apprentice Program (JMAP) to become journeymen linemen for Midwest Energy & Communications (MEC). As part of the program, they completed 7,000 hours of on-the-job training along with schooling at the Wolverine Training Center in Lake City, Michigan. MEC partners with JMAP, which was created by Wolverine IBEW 876 and Northwest Lineman College, to train and educate our next generation of linemen. JMAP is a Department of Labor-certified program. Interested in becoming a MEC lineman apprentice? Visit to sign up for job alerts. You will receive notifications about all available MEC positions including apprenticeship opportunities.

A Timeless Message Of Safety Robert Hance, President/CEO

afety education continues to be an important part of our mission and culture. I would love to lean into my own creativity to share hypothetical scenarios of the very real dangers of electricity to create awareness; unfortunately, reality crept in yet again this summer and provided us an all-too-real example.


On a warm and sunny July afternoon, two brothers were moving a boat across their yard when the 30-foot mast contacted our primary line. The younger brother immediately clamped onto the boat as the current coursed through his body, and the older brother fell victim to the same fate as he attempted to pull his sibling away. Fortunately for these two young men, family members with medical training were nearby and safely pulled them away from the boat and began resuscitation efforts. Both were breathing on their own by the time the emergency response team arrived and as of this writing are still recovering in a nearby level one burn center.

Beware and be aware. It’s a message we’ve shared countless times over the years to remind people how to stay safe around electricity. Unfortunately, tragic events like this continue to impact families and make headlines. Electricity provides so much value for everyday life and living, from brewing our morning coffee to cooling our homes on these hot summer days to powering the many

devices that keep us informed, entertained and educated. We don’t even stop to think about it; it’s just always there doing its thing in the background fabric of our lives. On the other side of the value and convenience, however, lurks an insidious danger. One that can change the course of a life in a split second. We’re so familiar with the vast canvas of our own yards and communities that we don’t pay attention to the power lines that crisscross that space. We have over 4,000 miles of electric distribution across our electric service territory, all of which provide for our comfort and convenience while also presenting a very real danger for anyone who is not paying attention. This message is for the farmer working in the fields this month, for the homeowner clearing leaves out of the gutters from atop an extension ladder, for the child climbing a tree to retrieve a kite, for the construction crews moving equipment. This message is for everyone because we’re all exposed every day to the very real danger of electricity. The message is still the same: Beware and be aware. Beware of the danger behind the commodity that drives much of what we do and how we live and work, day in and day out. And be aware of your surroundings whenever you’re working outside. The electric infrastructure—poles and wires and transformers—is so much a part of our landscape that we don’t even see it, and it takes only a split second for that infrastructure to forever impact a life and a family.



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


Need A Little Lift? W

visit your home to evaluate these appliances. If they are considered highly inefficient, you could receive a new replacement at no cost.

e all need a little lift from time to time—a little pick-me-up to get through the day. The Energy Optimization program may be just what you need.

If your household meets the income eligibility guidelines below, you could receive FREE energy-saving products and services. Qualified residents can receive expert advice and equipment to improve the energy performance of their homes—which will help reduce electricity use and save money on utility bills. You have to feel good about that!

Energy-saving Devices and Installation One of our trained, professional contractors can visit your home to leave behind or install a variety of energy efficiency devices. You will receive information on how to get the most out of your new gadgets, as well as tips for making simple changes to save energy at home. Free items available through the program may include: • • • • •

LED bulbs LED night lights Smart power strip Low-flow showerhead Faucet aerators

Refrigerator and Freezer Evaluation and Replacement Is your refrigerator or freezer at least 10 years old? An Energy Optimization program representative can

Eligibility Requirements To qualify for the Energy Optimization program, your household must meet the following income guidelines. Gross annual income is the combined total income of all household members, before taxes.

Family Size

Gross Annual Income

















Note: For families/households with more than eight persons, add $8,960 for each additional person.

To find out if you qualify for Energy Optimization programs or to learn more, call 877-296-4319 or visit


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

APPLY NOW Reach your students in new and exciting ways with up to $2,500 from MEC. The program: Support for special projects, technology, classroom needs, academic clubs or organizations. Eligibility: Any teacher or school official in a public K-12 school serving students in the MEC electric service territory.

WE NEED 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.

Application deadline: April 1–October 19, 2020

The review committee does not know the school, educator or district when determining recipients.

Awards granted: January 2021

If interested, please email

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.



Left: Owners Tony Grzywana (top left), Todd Stahoviak (top right), Don Fulton (center), Justin Chandler (bottom left), and Daniel Stoica (bottom right) in the grow room. Below: Justin Chandler installs equipment in our data center.

MEC Welcomes First Data Center Customer W

e welcomed our first data center customer at our Cassopolis headquarters on May 27. MichiCann, located in Niles, Michigan, is a medical marijuana grow facility that will supply natural- and organic-grown marijuana to Michigan provisioning centers and processors. The company uses the data center to store surveillance video recordings of the facility to comply with regulations designated by the state; Michigan has very strict and secure regulations around video surveillance of all licensed marijuana facilities. MichiCann currently has 30 highresolution cameras that record both the interior and exterior of the facility 24/7. The recordings are then sent to the data center for off-site backup and stored for 45 days. After discovering that cloud storage was both expensive and impractical, Justin Chandler, chief technology officer and part owner, started searching for other options. “I wanted to stay local, and I needed flexibility and the ability to grow. MEC’s price and service are unbeatable. Plus, since we are internet customers of MEC, it proved an easy win-win,” noted Chandler. “We look forward to bringing peace of mind to customers throughout southwest Michigan by providing a space to keep their data and information safe,” noted Candy Riem, vice president of marketing & member solutions. “Compared to traditional commercial growers who use synthetic growing nutrients, MichiCann grows medical marijuana using full organic growing practices. This means the nutrients put into our product are safe and natural without the addition of harmful pesticides and insecticides,” said Chandler.


MEC Data Center Protect your business’s critical data at our data center designed to give you peace of mind if disaster strikes.

Technology • Premium Mission-critical Space: Colocation, private space and custom design available upon request. • Highly Secure Tier II Facility: 24/7/365 physical access with dual authentication security. • Internet and IP Transport Carriers: Point-to-point Layer 2 or Layer 3 IP transport (pricing available upon request). • On-Site Support and Diversified Colocation: Custom solutions available.

Pricing Community Rack

Quarter Rack



Open Access

Locked Access

3 Amps


10 Mbps

25 Mbps



Half Rack

Full Rack



Locked Access

Locked Access



25 Mbps

50 Mbps



Guest Column

Legacy Of The Travel Trailer

By James Coash, Midwest Energy & Communications member


om was a nurse, Dad was a soldier, and after WWII, they married after a courtship that started in the second grade. I came along in 1950, and by 1957, there were six kids and a new Ford station wagon that became our camping vehicle. We traveled all summer on the weekends to state parks and even tried camping in the Upper Peninsula, which we all loved. In 1963, Dad bought a travel trailer, and our vacations spread out across the country from coast to coast. We visited many wonderful places but somehow found that nowhere we went was better than Michigan. New York City, Washington, D.C., Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, Florida, and all over the midwest were places to remember. But our trips to Canada, Wisconsin, around each of the great lakes, and to virtually every state park in Michigan continued to be our favorites. Eventually, my wife and I inherited the trailer, and with our two boys, we made the most of those destinations all over again with the same results. And now, once again, the wheel turns, and our grandsons are making their family memories around our state’s beautiful winter-water wonderland. Grandma and I don’t go on trips as often these days, but we still camp out in the backyard with the family. Cookouts, campfires and nights of stargazing bring back memories that will always be with us. We will never forget the days on the road, finding and setting up a campsite, then moving on again the next day to a new place just as wonderful as the last. Winter or summer, rain or shine, Michigan is the most fantastic place to live. My dad is 92, and my wife and I are 70. We love living in such a beautiful place where the seasons change, the weather is unpredictable and the people so very friendly. We are proud to be Michiganders!

James retired as an audio/video professional and DJ. He enjoys gardening, birding and spending time with his family. A fun fact about James is that he and his wife, Martha, met at Meijer Thrifty Acres in 1967 and then realized they had been in the same kindergarten and first-grade class. They celebrate 49 years of marriage this year.



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.

DID YOU KNOW? Add phone service to your internet service and get a $10 bundle discount.

Get the most out of your fiber internet and telephone and enjoy a $10 doubleplay discount. A home phone offers much more reliable call quality than a cell phone, particularly in rural areas. Take advantage of our fiber network when you sign up for phone service from Midwest Energy & Communications.

EXPLORE ALL FEATURES AT: BUNDLE TODAY TEAMMIDWEST.COM/COMMANDIQ | 800.492.5989 TEAMMIDWEST.COM/PHONE | 800.492.5989 Twelve-month contract required. Internet services are not regulated by the Michigan Public Service Commission.

4 COMMON CULPRITS OF ELECTRICAL FIRES Outdated wiring and overloaded circuits are the most common causes of electrical fires. Check the following areas of your home to ensure your home’s electrical safety is up to par.

Electrical outlets: Faulty electrical outlets are a leading cause in home fires. As outlets age, so do the wires behind them that you can’t see. Any loose, damaged or warm-tothe-touch outlets should be repaired or replaced.

1. 2.

Electrical wiring: Outdated wiring is another common cause of electrical fires. Frequently tripped breakers, flickering lights and burning smells are clear warning signs. If your home is more than 20 years old, it may not be able to handle today’s increased power load. If you suspect your home’s wiring is outdated, leave this one to the pros and contact a qualified electrician.

Overloaded cords and outlets: Extension cords are not permanent solutions. If your big-screen TV, home theater system and other electronics are plugged into one extension cord, it’s time to call an electrician and install additional outlets.

3. 4.

Old appliances: Older appliances are more likely to have loose or damaged wiring, which means they’re more likely to catch fire. Check older appliances for damage and determine if it’s time to upgrade or replace. Also check to ensure you’re using appliancegrade outlets. A qualified electrician can help with installation.

Public Act 342: The Clean and Renewable Energy and Energy Waste Reduction Act 2019 Energy Waste Reduction Annual Report Midwest Energy & Communications MPSC Case Number U-18276 Midwest Energy & Communications (MEC) 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 on 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 Nov. 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 MEC collected $1,215,216 through the Energy Waste Reduction Surcharge and spent $1,226,326, resulting in an under-collection of $11,110. MEC achieved 6,741 MWh of energy savings in 2019 compared to their annual kWh goal of 6,187 MWh. The full report can be obtained at your cooperative’s headquarters and at or

Notice to Members of Midwest Energy & Communications Case No. U-16594 2019 Renewable Energy Plan Annual Report Summary Michigan law (MPSC) required all Michigan electric utilities to get 12.5% of their power supply from renewable sources during 2019. Under this requirement, Midwest Energy & Communications (MEC) submitted an annual report to the MPSC regarding its Renewable Energy Plan. In 2019, MEC acquired a total of 83.599 renewable energy credits and 1,378 incentive credits. All credit transfers were directed through MEC’s 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 by request at any of the cooperative’s offices.


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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SIGN UP TODAY TEAMMIDWEST.COM/PROPANE | 800.492.5989 Some restrictions may apply. Credit check and 12-month contract required. Tank set fee of $1 plus applicable fees for trenching and securing township permits. Propane services are not regulated by the Michigan Public Service Commission.

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