September 2021 MEC

Page 1

September 2021


COUNTRY LINES Midwest Energy & Communications




MEC ELECTRIC CUSTOMERS We need your vote regarding important proposed changes to our cooperative bylaws. Please see pages 4, 12, and 13.


Lasting is believing.

When you pay good money for something, you think it should last. We agree. Especially when it’s your family’s comfort. The lifespan of even the most expensive conventional a/c is just 15-18 years. With a WaterFurnace geothermal unit, you can expect a lifespan of 25 years—sometimes even more. Plus, the life expectancy of the underground infrastructure is at least double that. Longer unit life means less cost to you and less waste in our landfills. And that makes WaterFurnace the better choice. Geothermal is the only renewable that provides reliable operation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Your Local WaterFurnace Dealers Bad Axe/Cass City Thumb Clg & Htg (855) 206-5457 thumbcooling Berrien Springs WaterFurnace Michiana (269) 473-5667 gogreenmich Big Rapids Stratz Htg & Clg, Inc. (231) 796-3717

Clifford Orton Refrig & Htg (989) 761-7691 Hart Adams Htg & Clg (231) 873-2665 Indian River M & M Plmb & Htg (231) 238-7201

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

Muskegon Adams Htg & Clg (231) 873-2665

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

Portland ESI Htg & Clg (517) 647-6906

Geofurnace Htg & Clg (231) 943-1000

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

visit us at

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


September 2021 Vol. 41, No. 8


/michigancountrylines 6 ROAD TRIPPIN' Christal Frost takes us to Ludington with the new all-electric Ford Mustang Mach-E. 10 MI CO-OP KITCHEN Seafood: These recipes will be your catch of the day.

Michigan’s Electric Cooperatives

14 ADVENTURE AWAITS The pandemic inspired a Michigan jeweler to literally bury his livelihood ... much to the delight of treasure seekers throughout the state.

EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Casey Clark EDITOR: Christine Dorr


RECIPE EDITOR: Christin McKamey COPY EDITOR: Yvette Pecha

18 GUEST COLUMN Grandma's Quilt: Her grandmother's penchant for socking things away and her mother's love provided Tricia Udell with the quilt she'd always longed for.


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


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

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

Be featured!

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


Are Canadian geese just called geese when they’re in Canada? #repost @corey_niedzwieki

MI CO-OP COMMUNITY To enter contests, submit reader content & more, visit

RECIPE CONTEST Win a $50 bill credit! Up Next: Asian Inspired, due Nov. 1. Submit your recipe at, or send it via email (include your full name and co-op) to

GUEST COLUMN Win $150 for stories published!

Submit your fondest memories and stories at community.

MYSTERY PHOTO Win a $50 bill credit!

Enter a drawing to identify the correct location of the photo. See page 18.







We Need Your Vote


Robert Hance, President/CEO /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: BOARD OF DIRECTORS

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.


’m not a fan of the notion that we do things because “we’ve always done it that way.” In fact, I challenge people every time I hear the phrase. However, sometimes we don’t know we’re caught in that particular pattern until something brings attention to it.


MEC operates under bylaws that detail membership qualifications and meetings, directors and officers, our nonprofit operation, and a myriad of other things. We reference the bylaws occasionally to confirm a business practice and change course if a particular decision is not aligned with these corporate operating rules. Earlier this year, we took a deeper dive into our bylaws when a question came up regarding director qualifications. We realized that we are not giving adequate attention to either qualifications or accountability. We were operating in a fashion that represented the way we’d always done it simply because it hadn’t hit our radar that we should operate otherwise. Please understand this is not a commentary on the qualifications of your current board of directors. The nine-member board has a collective 140 years of experience, with tenure ranging from two years to 28 years. Most have earned the highest status of director credentials through our national association, while others are well on their way to achieving that. This board actively participates in training and continuing education to best represent customers’ interests across all our lines of business. The problem is the current bylaws don’t set much of a bar related to who is elected to represent you and how that individual is held accountable. Your membership in this cooperative is too important to expect anything less. MEC has served the rural space as an electric distribution cooperative for more than 80 years. Still, today’s cooperative is very different from the one that lit rural Michigan back in the late 1930s. Truth be told, we’re very different today than we were five short years ago, due largely to the significant investment in infrastructure and the unprecedented growth and success of our fiber deployment. The individuals elected to represent and protect your interests must be well versed in our industries and regularly prepared to make multimillion-dollar strategic decisions to guide the future of your cooperative. The bottom line is that your membership interest in MEC is much more valuable today, and your representation at the board table should reflect that. Your directors have authority to change the bylaws, except with matters that concern their own qualifications, classifications, or terms of office. Those changes require a vote from the membership. On pages 12 and 13 of this issue, we’ve summarized the proposed changes and detailed the process by which you can vote for or against these changes. You will be able to view a full, red-lined version of the changes through the voting portal and SmartHub. We believe these changes will make us an even better and stronger cooperative for you. I encourage you to exercise the power of your membership and use your voice to vote.

Board Assigns 2020 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 2020 net margin totaling $6,420,283. Your portion of this allocation is not payable at this time. It does not represent a reduction of your electric bill but rather indicates your equity share in our cooperative’s 2020 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.

ELECTRICAL SAFETY TIPS FOR HUNTERS This hunting season, we encourage all members to be aware of electrical equipment and take necessary precautions while hunting. Keep these safety tips in mind as you enjoy the great outdoors.

Take notice of posted warning signs and keep clear of electrical equipment.

Do not shoot at or near power lines or insulators.

Know where power lines and equipment are located on the land where you hunt.

Be especially careful in wooded areas where power lines may not be as visible.

Do not place deer stands on utility poles or climb poles. Energized lines and equipment can conduct electricity to anyone who comes in contact with them, causing shock or electrocution. Do not place decoys on power lines or other utility equipment. Any nonelectrical equipment attached to a pole can pose an obstruction and serious hazard to our line crews. MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES


It's Electrifying! Charging up the Mustang at Great Lake Energy's Level 3 fast charging station in Scottsville.



t’s a picturesque Saturday morning in Traverse City as I arrive at Fox Motors to pick up the all-new, all-electric Ford Mustang Mach-E. I must admit, I wasn’t completely sold on the idea of driving something that didn’t have an engine. Even my vocabulary suffered as I struggled to describe the car to my friends without using terms like “horsepower,” “fuel efficiency,” and “gear shifting.” The fact is, the Ford Mustang Mach-E, like her other electric counterparts, doesn’t have those things. But what the Ford Mustang Mach-E has in spades is moxie. After all, it takes moxie to present the iconic muscle of the Ford Mustang to the masses without the rumble of an engine. But stepping into this car—with its sleek and stylish interior and gorgeous curves—I knew I was stepping into the future of America’s favorite pony. On our latest Road-Trippinʼ episode, a round-trip Traverse City to Ludington adventure, we tested the limits of the Mach-E. Spoiler alert: I’m in love with this car.





A big thank-you to Cherryland Electric Cooperative and Fox Motors for making this test drive possible.

I am talking throw-your-head-back, heart-pumping, instant-smile fast. The Mach-E GT can go from 0–60 in an unbelievable 3.5 seconds, making it the quickest Mustang ever. Its superior acceleration and ability to produce immediate maximum torque truly make electric vehicles the Torque of the Town.


Without the constant vibration of an engine, the Mach-E delivers a downright serene and effortlessly steady ride. Upon returning my borrowed Mustang and getting into my gas-powered ride, I was uniquely aware of every pulse, oscillation, and tremor. The only bumps felt in the Mach-E are on the road, and even those seem softer.


I’ve heard many people remark that electric vehicles might be too quiet, but I don’t see it this way after driving one. Yes, the ride is quiet. It’s supposed to be quiet. Without the revving of the engine, EV drivers are left with a tranquil and relaxed driving experience. Passengers don’t have to speak up to contend with the sounds of a motor. Listening to the radio is easier and, quite frankly, more enjoyable without the competition of shifting gears. Even the quietest combustible engine is no match for the silence of a battery.


Admittedly, the idea of a drained battery worried me. After all, no one wants a road trip to end stranded on the side of the road looking for charging stations. That isn't a problem with the Ford Mustang Mach-E. Depending on the model, the Mach-E has an EPA-estimated battery range of 305 miles. However, thanks to expanded technology and great partnerships with grocery stores and electric cooperatives, fast-charging stations are popping up across the state and beyond. Although we didn’t need the charge, we stopped by Great Lakes Energy in Scottville to check out the charging process at one of its four DC fast-charging stations. The Mustang was nearly fully charged after just 30 minutes. A full charge at a fast charge station has an estimated cost of under $4. Don’t forget to check with your electric co-op about electric car tax credits, incentives, and rebates!

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.


We enjoyed a wagon ride at the Amber Elk Ranch, which introduced us to hundreds of prize-winning elk and even allowed us to feed them!

Pro Tip: Stay at the ranch to enjoy an incredible BBQ lunch.


The Ludington Waterfront Park offers a playground, breathtaking views of the harbor, and a series of sculptures. These are just a few of the sculptures scattered throughout Ludington, and they make up a part of the Mason County Sculpture Trail.

Fox Grand Traverse Ford, Traverse City

Pro Tip: Grab dinner to go in nearby downtown Ludington and enjoy incredible sunsets from the park!


Retail stores and restaurants abound in downtown Ludington, and you can find everything you’re looking for at

Cherryland Electric Cooperative, Grawn

Pro Tip: Whenever you’re in

Ludington, don’t forget to check out Ludington State Park!



• Ludington Waterfront Park • Downtown Ludington • Ludington State Park


Great Lakes Energy, Scottville

See the FORD MUSTANG MACH-E in Action

Christal Frost filmed her adventure, now available on

10 Amber Elk Ranch


Back To School Savings W

ith a hint of fall in the air, kids are heading back to school, and families adjust to new routines. Maybe it’s getting out of bed earlier to catch the bus or staying later for after-school activities. With these changes, now may be a great time to instill new habits around the house that will help save energy and reduce utility costs. Here are some easy tips you can work into your family’s routines at home.


Turn off lights you don’t need. It can cost up to $20 a year to leave one light on eight hours a day. • User dimmer switches to avoid over-lighting a room • Install lights with motion sensors • Turn off fans. Fans cool you, not the room


Minimize the number of times you open the refrigerator. The average refrigerator is opened 33 times a day. • An open door lets in warm air, which makes the compressor work harder • Plan meals and snacks before you hear, “I’m hungry,” and the kids are peering into the refrigerator, hoping something delicious will magically appear


Cook with your microwave. This is the most efficient way to cook, reducing energy costs by as much as 80%. • Less heat is generated • Shorter cooking times use less energy

Add it all up and do the math. We can all find ways to save. To learn more, call 877.296.4319 or visit

ADD THESE TIPS TO YOUR DAILY ROUTINE AND SUBTRACT DOLLARS FROM YOUR UTILITY BILL.  Turn off lights – an easy way to start saving.  Open your refrigerator less frequently – average opens = 33 times a day.  Use your microwave for cooking = less heat, shorter cooking times.


Energy Optimization programs and incentives are applicable to Michigan electric service locations only. Incentive applies to qualified items purchased and installed between Jan. 1, 2021, and Dec. 31, 2021. Other restrictions may apply. For complete program details, visit

Strengthening Schools Grant Keeps Kids Hydrated In Schoolcraft the school already had one, a second one helped meet increased demand and provided a more convenient location for some students. Additionally, it helped prevent class disruptions when students left to get a drink from the fountain. “They can keep their water with them and stay focused on their work. Plus, our current building is not air-conditioned, so the kids get thirsty,” said Matt Webster, principal. “Using the grant meant I didn’t have to tap into building funds or use the limited Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) money. I could put those dollars to more pressing needs. Plus, students love the green element and knowing we help the environment every time we use it,” noted Webster.

2021–2022 Applications:

Kael Veldt fills up his water bottle. The water bottle station purchased with this grant was not yet installed but is very similar to the one in the photo.

hen the COVID-19 pandemic turned our worlds upside down in 2020, schools had to scramble to meet pages and pages of protocols and safety measures. From ensuring proper social distancing to managing positive COVID cases, school administrators faced unprecedented challenges when schools reopened in the fall.


One of those protocols required each student to have their own water bottles to reduce shared drinking facilities. Through a Strengthening Schools Grant, Schoolcraft Elementary School purchased a water bottle filling station to give students easy, hands-free access to fresh water. While

Through Monday, Oct. 18, any teacher, administrator, or school official in a public elementary, middle, or high school serving students in our electric service territory may apply for a grant of up to $2,500 to support classroom needs, technology, or academic projects/clubs/organizations. School districts can receive multiple grants not to exceed $5,000 for the award cycle, and funds will be awarded in January 2022. Funds are made possible through sponsorship dollars from our power supplier, Wolverine Power Cooperative, and winning grants are determined by a panel of MEC customers without the knowledge of the applying school or educator.

Apply now at


Best wishes to all our mini-members (and parents) for a wonderful school year! MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES


MI CO-OP Recipes

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


Fresh and light recipes from under the sea.



Deb Finedell, Great Lakes Energy 24 2 • 2 2 2



energy bill credit!


Asian Inspired due Nov. 1

Submit your favorite recipe for a chance to win a $50 bill credit and have your recipe featured in Country Lines with a photo and a video. Submit your recipe at, or send it via email (include your full name and co-op) to

ounces cream cheese, softened tablespoons mayonnaise zest of 1 lemon tablespoons lemon juice tablespoons horseradish sauce pounds cooked salmon, chopped (or use canned, drained)

In a medium bowl, add the cream cheese, mayonnaise, lemon zest, lemon juice, and horseradish sauce. Stir very well until combined. Fold in the fish and stir again to combine. Serve immediately. This recipe makes about 4 cups of dip. Adjust recipe accordingly for smaller serving sizes. Enjoy!

Watch a video of this month’s winning recipe at


Lynne Oosterhouse, Great Lakes Energy 4 (6-ounce) skinless salmon fillets Marinade: ½ cup soy sauce 2 garlic cloves, minced 2 tablespoons lemon juice 4 teaspoons sugar Wasabi sauce: ½ cup mayo 2 teaspoons soy sauce


Cheryl O’Brien, Great Lakes Energy 1 • • ¹⁄ ³ to ½ 1 • •

pound salmon filets Old Bay seasoning salt and pepper, to taste cup mayonnaise 16-ounce jar Chi Chi’s salsa parmesan cheese mozzarella cheese

1 teaspoon sugar 1 teaspoon lemon 2 teaspoons wasabi powder Combine the marinade ingredients and marinate the salmon for 2 hours. Heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add fish and marinade; cook 3 minutes. Turn fish over. Reduce heat to medium; cook 8 minutes or until fish is done. Combine the wasabi sauce ingredients and serve with the salmon.

Preheat oven to 375 F. Cut salmon into 2-inch squares and spread them on the bottom of 9x13 pan. Sprinkle generously with Old Bay seasoning. Salt and pepper to taste. Spread thinly with mayonnaise. Pour Chi Chi’s salsa over all. Sprinkle with parmesan and mozzarella cheese. Bake 45 minutes. Serve over rice if desired. This recipe became a regular on our menu during the summer tournament season. Enjoy!


Sandy Bartels, Great Lakes Energy Marinade: • zest of 1 lime 2 tablespoons lime juice 2 tablespoons olive oil • pinch of salt and pepper Salsa: 4 radishes, finely sliced ½ cup red onion, finely chopped 4 green onions, finely sliced ¾ cup red cabbage, finely chopped 1 medium fresh tomato, finely chopped • chopped cilantro or parsley 2 tablespoons lime juice 2 tablespoons olive oil Crema: ¹⁄ ³ cup sour cream 1 tablespoon lime juice Tacos: 1 pound mild white fish 4 corn tortillas 1 avocado, sliced • bottled hot sauce, if desired • jalapeño peppers, seeded and chopped, if desired

Whisk together the marinade ingredients. Lay fish flat in a glass pan and pour marinade over; turn a few times to coat. Let rest 10 minutes, then turn over and let rest for another 10 minutes. While the fish is marinating, prepare the salsa. In a medium bowl, add the radishes, red and green onions, cabbage, tomato, and cilantro/parsley. Add 2 tablespoons lime juice and 2 tablespoons olive oil and stir to coat; set aside. To prepare the crema, mix the sour cream and 1 tablespoon lime juice in a small bowl and set aside. Next, char the tortillas: Spray a skillet lightly with vegetable spray over medium heat and place the tortillas in the pan, one at a time, and move them around the pan. Turn to char both sides, remove from pan, and set aside. Add a bit of olive oil to the skillet and keep over medium heat. Put a tablespoon or two of the marinade in the pan, cook about a minute, and then add the fish. Cook about 5 minutes, depending on thickness of the fish. Flip and cook another 3–4 minutes until fish is flaky, but not dry. Transfer fish to a plate and cool for 1 or 2 minutes, and cut into chunks. Assemble the tacos on top of the tortillas. Lay thin slices of avocado on each tortilla, add fish, and top with salsa. Add crema and hot sauce and/or jalapeño peppers if desired. Enjoy. MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES


Summary of Proposed Modifications to Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation for Member Vote September 2021 Introduction

Summary of Modifications More detailed information available to review on the full red-line version.

New Qualifications to Serve as an MEC Director • • • • • • • • •

Midwest Energy & Communications (MEC) operates under bylaws that detail membership qualifications and meetings, directors and officers, our nonprofit operation, and a myriad of other things. We reference the bylaws periodically to confirm a business practice and change course if a particular decision is not aligned with these corporate operating rules.

• • • •

The current bylaws include very basic requirements for qualifications to serve on the MEC Board of Directors and nothing on director accountability. MEC has served the rural space as an electric distribution cooperative for more than 80 years. Still, today’s cooperative is very different from the one that lit rural Michigan back in the late 1930s, particularly as it relates to the significant investment in infrastructure and the unprecedented growth and success of our fiber deployment. The individuals elected to represent and protect member interests must be well versed in the various lines of business and regularly prepared to make multi-million-dollar strategic decisions to guide the future of the cooperative. Board representation and accountability should reflect today’s increased value of membership, and, as such, the board is recommending modifications to the bylaws.

Any changes to director qualifications, classifications, or terms of office require a vote from the membership. To inform your vote, you can view the full red-line version of the proposed modifications in the voting portal and through your SmartHub account. We’ve also updated our Articles of Incorporation to correct out-of-date information. We need your vote on that as well. 12 SEPTEMBER 2021

• •

Minimum age of 21 Minimum of high school diploma or GED United States citizen Member in good standing related to payment policies and credit requirements Not employed by MEC five years prior to and while serving as a director No close relatives who are employees of MEC Primary residence with continuous electric service from MEC for at least one year within the district for which election is sought Annual completion of conflict-of-interest certification and disclosure form No competing interest, financial interest, or conflicting position that would likely impair the ability to serve the best interests of MEC three years prior to and while serving as director No felony convictions or misdemeanors involving moral turpitude No previous removal or disqualification as a MEC director Ability to enter into legally binding contracts Ability to attend at least 75% of meetings, obtain Credentialed Cooperative Director designation within 18 months after being elected, and attend industry training events Not employed by another director or an entity over which another director exercises substantial control Provision of relevant documents, waivers, or other materials reasonably needed to verify satisfaction of these qualifications Willingness to act in good faith and represent the best interests of MEC as a whole, representing all members on an impartial basis

Petition & Voting Process • Petition signatures must be from those whose voting memberships are in that district • Ballot will include biographical information and candidate questionnaire, if provided • Members taking service in more than one district will have their voting residence established at their residence, if applicable. If not, then by the oldest location that is still using service. Members cannot change voting residence

Director Accountability

• New provisions allow the board to discipline and remove for cause other board members when a formal complaint is filed either by another board member or a customer. This provision allows for any of the following: o Verbal reprimand o Written warning o Censure o Reduction of privileges or compensation o Removal from board • Removal for cause by a fellow director includes: o Conviction of a felony or misdemeanor involving moral turpitude o Ineligible to serve due to failing to meet all director qualifications o Violation of fiduciary duty • Process for removal by member request o Complaint requesting director removal by member filed with board chairman or vice chairman o Petition for removal signed by at least 15% of district members o A charged director can address membership prior to vote, as well as the “charging” party o District members vote to determine removal

Voting Process And Timeline Sept. 7–Oct. 4

Login: Customer number as displayed on your bill.

If you do not receive a paper bill, you can download one from SmartHub.

Online To cast your vote, access the link below and log in using your unique credentials:

Passcode: Five-digit billing ZIP code or 6-character zip code for Canadian addresses.

SmartHub You can view details and vote by logging in to SmartHub and clicking the “Vote Now” button. Via a web browser (teammidwest., the button appears in the upper right-hand corner of the screen, and on the mobile app, “vote now” appears on the home screen.


While the global pandemic offered its fair share of disappointments and loss, one couple opted to mine for the treasure in the mayhem and offer up a rainbow at the end of the storm. As a second-generation jeweler, apprenticed by his father, Johnny Perri always had an eye for treasure. An avid metal detector and admitted “eccentric,” Perri has always looked for adventure, as well as the silver lining in life. “Losing the rhythm of life and work had me in a real funk,” admits Perri. “I was going out of my mind a little.” Then, a bit of exciting news. Perri happened across an article about famed Santa Fe treasure hider Forest Fenn, who supposedly hid his treasure many years ago, with thousands of folks looking for it over the years. The article revealed that someone had finally found it.


with JOHNNY’S TREASURE QUEST By Emily Haines Lloyd

“’We should do that,’ I thought,” said Perri, first to himself, then aloud to his then-fiancé, now wife, Amy. “It was that simple, that wild. What if I hid everything from the jewelry store? Buried it? And then came up with riddles and clues for people to go out and find it?” With this simple but possibly crazy idea, Johnny and Amy spent the next several weeks driving around the state, basically dropping Perri’s entire livelihood into the ground (eventually replaced with GPS“infused” wooden X’s) to quite literally mark the spot where the treasure could be found. The couple created their website and let the world know that buried fortune was

just a treasure hunt away. The excitement and outpouring of interest was almost as improbable as a guy burying his life’s work in the ground. “People are as excited as we are,” said Perri. “Who hasn’t dreamed of uncovering a mystery or something valuable? It’s such a thrill.” Each quest is located in a different county in Michigan, with a private Facebook group for ticket holders and the perfect amount of Sherlock Holmeslevel sleuthing and Indiana Jones outdoor adventuring. The Perris recently expanded their treasure quests with a “Silver Ticket” hunt a la Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, which was a fun extension for seekers.

"It’s the

memories that

people make when they’re out on the hunt. I couldn’t ask for more than that.”

The operation is still small and tightly knit, with a core of treasure buriers and administrators equally passionate about the process and keeping the surprises coming. “We’re so lucky to have the team we have, and I just can’t imagine doing anything else right now,” said Perri. “It’s so much fun for us to see the excitement in other people’s faces as they head out or come back from an adventure.” Those interested in embarking on just such an adventure can visit and look for an open treasure hunt. Then buy your ticket and prepare for an adventure. “What we’ve come to realize is, yes, the treasure might be the immediate draw,” said Perri. “But it’s not about that, really. It’s the memories that people make when they’re out on the hunt. I couldn’t ask for more than that.”

START your QUEST /johnnystreasurequest @johnnys_treasure_quest



EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO MANAGE YOUR INTERNET NETWORK IN YOUR BACK POCKET Download our free CommandIQ app today Scan below to download the app


Notice to Members of Midwest Energy Cooperative Case No. U-16594 2020 Renewable Energy Plan Annual Report Summary Michigan law (MPSC) requires all Michigan electric utilities to get at least 12.5 percent of their power supply from renewable sources during 2020. Under this requirement, Midwest Energy & Communications (MEC) submits an annual report to the MPSC regarding its Renewable Energy Plan. In 2020, MEC acquired a total of 74,388. renewable energy credits and 1,416 incentive credits. All credit transfers were directed through Midwest’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 at

Public Act 295 as amended: The Clean and Renewable Energy and Energy Waste Reduction Act 2020 Energy Waste Reduction Annual Report Midwest Energy & Communications MPSC Case Number U-20384 Midwest Energy & Communications (MEC) contracted with the Michigan Electric Cooperative Association (MECA) to administer the Energy Waste Reduction (EWR) efforts to comply with PA-295 as amended. MECA filed a two-year EWR plan with the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) on July 28, 2019, as required by PA 295 as amended. The MPSC approved this EWR plan on Dec. 8, 2019, and we began implementing our 2020– 2021 EWR Plan on Jan. 1, 2020. WECC was selected to implement all Residential, Commercial, and Industrial Programs and the EWR website, Slipstream has subcontracted with WES Utility Services, Michigan Energy Options, ES Contracting, and Nuwati, LLC to assist with the implementation of the EWR programs. MECA contracted with DNV-GL as the independent third-party evaluation contractor for the certification of kWh savings. In 2020, MEC collected $1,231,299 through the Energy Waste Reduction Surcharge and spent $1,322,322, resulting in an under-collection of $91,023. Great Lakes Energy achieved 6,602 MWh of energy savings in 2020, compared to their annual kWh goal of 5,964 MWh. The full report can be obtained at your cooperative’s headquarters and or

Energy Efficiency

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

Guest Column

Grandma’s Quilt

By Tricia Udell, Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op member


y paternal grandmother was a talented woman whose greatest pride was taking care of her family. Her recipes remain family favorites, and the quilts she made for family members have blanketed them with love for years. I was always a bit jealous of my older siblings, who each had one of these quilts on their beds. I never got one, though, because my grandmother passed away from cancer when I was a toddler. When I was 11, my grandpa was getting ready to move out of the family home. I looked through all of the rooms remembering the times spent there, taking in the smells and sights. My grandma was a saver, and in the back bedroom closet, I had found the honey hole of my grandma’s stash! A true vintage ’60s and ’70s collection, olive greens and golden yellows, and bold flower patterns. Among these assorted and varied fabrics, I found a quilt top! Imagine my excitement to see something she had made buried like a lost treasure. A crazy quilt stitched from small, tiny scraps of fabric. I could even see some of the same patterned pieces that were in my siblings’ quilts. I snagged that quilt top right up. I stored the quilt in a plastic bag and stuck it in my closet. Decades later, while cleaning, my parents come across this plastic bag, and to my mom’s surprise, she finds the quilt top with a scribbled child’s handwritten note that reads “from Grandpa Howard 1984.” She is astounded at the find, we look at all the little pieces, and my dad has memories, “That piece is from Mom’s apron, and this is from a dress she wore.” Have you ever had that “filled up” moment when you feel all warm inside with happiness? I had that. My dad encouraged my mom to finish the project because he knew how much it meant to me. What a surprise on Christmas when I received the finished quilt as a gift. The quilt top is estimated to be over 45 years old, thread wears out, and material deteriorates. She painstakingly preserved each stitch. The quilt is a treasure! A combined project of my grandmother and my mom. I truly believe the adage, “Those who sleep under a quilt sleep under a blanket of love.”

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Tricia is a member of Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op. She enjoys spending time with family, staying busy on her hobby farm, and quilting.

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Where In Michigan Is This? Identify the correct location of the photo to the left by Sept. 20 and be entered into a drawing to win a $50 electric bill credit. Enter your guess at July/August 2021 Winner! Our Mystery Photo winner is Paul Malhoit, a HomeWorks Tri-County Cooperative member, who correctly identified the photo as the National Shrine of the Cross in the Woods, Indian River. Winners are announced in the following issues of Country Lines: January, March, May, July/August, September, and November/December.

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Your financing cost and the cost to heat with Well-Connect is typically less than your current cost.




“Well-Connect is one of the best investments we’ve ever made. We are able to maintain our home at a warm and comfortable temperature during the cold months. Likewise, during the warmer months, the added benefit of the air conditioning keeps our home nice and cool. The best part is we are spending significantly less on our energy costs to have a more comfortable home."



- Aaron & Dawn Hamp, PIE&G member “When I could no longer physically cut 20 cords of wood, I installed a Well-Connect. The system has met all claims and surprised me. If people are heating and cooling with propane, fuel oil, or wood and have their own well, they have a need and don't realize it. That need is to cut those heating & cooling costs by at least half (as well as emissions). As for cooling, it has cost us $9 to cool this month (July)!!”

- Jess Steed, Cherryland Electric member

IT PAYS FOR ITSELF The cost to finance and heat with a Well-Connect is typically less than your current heating cost.

HOW DOES THE SYSTEM WORK? Attaches to your home’s existing heating system, it does not replace it. Delivers 90% on average of your home’s heating needs and 100% of your home’s cooling needs. If you have a well, simply add a Well-Connect to reduce your heating costs associated with traditional energy sources while enjoying a more comfortable home. Installs in a day.



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