Sept. 2022 MEC

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DeepRootsThe OF APPLEMICHIGAN’SINDUSTRY COUNTRY LINES September 2022 MICHIGAN Midwest Energy & Communications Flyover Art Brings Creative Opportunities to Marcellus Upcoming Board Election and Vacant Seat in District 2 How Time-of-Use Rates Can Save You Money

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Contents September 2022 Vol. 42, No. 8 /michigancountrylines CHANGE OF ADDRESS: Please notify your electric cooperative. See page 4 for contact information. The appearance of advertising does not constitute an endorsement of the products or services advertised. EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Casey Clark EDITOR: Christine Dorr GRAPHIC DESIGNER: Karreen Bird RECIPE EDITOR: Christin McKamey COPY EDITOR: Yvette Pecha CONTRIBUTING EDITOR: Emily Haines Lloyd 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 248-534-735848933 Michigan’sCooperativesElectric MI CO-OP COMMUNITY To enter contests, submit reader content & more, visit MYSTERY PHOTO Win a $50 bill credit! Enter a drawing to identify the correct location of the photo. See page 18. GUEST COLUMN Win $150 for published!stories Submit your fondest memories and stories at RECIPE CONTEST Win a $50 bill credit! Up Next: Healthy Living, due Nov. 1 Submit your recipe at, or send it via email (include your full name and co-op) to 6 ROAD TRIPPIN’ WITH CHRISTAL FROST Legends, Loss, & Restoration: A day spent on South Manitou Island. 10 MI CO-OP KITCHEN Pasta Salads: These classics are perfect for your next cookout! 14 THE DEEP ROOTS OF MICHIGAN’S APPLE INDUSTRY The Mitten State’s climate— coupled with their growers’ devotion—make apples a booming business for local farmers. 18 GUEST COLUMN An everyday raccoon hunt became a lesson in courage that will last a lifetime for one PIE&G member. #micoopcommunity A blue heron takes flight @sarah.k.smith.180 (Sarah Smith) Be featured! Use featuredfor#micoopcommunityachancetobehereandonourInstagramaccount. 3MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES

Advocating for Electric TogetherReliability, Robert Hance, President/CEO Cassopolis, MI 49031 M–F 8 a.m.–5 p.m. LaGrave Paw Paw, MI 49079 M–F 8 a.m.–5 Street, Adrian, MI 49221 M–F 8 a.m.–5 p.m. the for to the and the

Michigan Public Service Commission, state representatives, state senators,

CONTACT US Midwest Energy & Communications BOARD OF DIRECTORS Clarence “Topper” Barth, Chairperson, Three Rivers Clarence.Barth@teammidwest.com269-279-9233 Ben Russell, Vice Chairperson, Constantine Ben.Russell@teammidwest.com269-506-1590 Ron Armstrong, Secretary, Lawton Ron.Armstrong@teammidwest.com269-299-0443 John Green, Treasurer, Dowagiac John.Green@teammidwest.com269-470-2816 Dan Bodette, Wauseon Dan.Bodette@teammidwest.com419-337-8007 Gerry Bundle, Cassopolis Gerry.Bundle@teammidwest.com269-414-0164 Erika Escue-Cadieux, Onsted erika.escue-cadieux@teammidwest.com419-346-1088 Fred Turk, Decatur Fred.Turk@teammidwest.com269-423-7762 PRESIDENT/CEO: Robert Hance DIRECTOR, CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS & MARKETING: Amy Pales COMMUNICATIONS SPECIALIST: Grant MidwestZamoraEnergy & Communications is an equal opportunity provider and employer.  /teammidwest Through

I am happy to report that MEC members, along with members of several other Michigan electric cooperatives, answered the call. Almost 8,000 individuals generated a total of 44,282 emails to the Michigan Public Service Commission, state representatives, state senators, and the governor through the Voices for Cooperative Power platform. It was the largest response the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association has ever seen on a single advocacy issue.




Lately, it’s becoming evident that the balance is off, and electric reliability is at stake. Electric grids are becoming stressed as baseload power plants (mainly coal plants, but also nuclear) are being closed before their replacements are ready.


governor. 4 SEPTEMBER 2022


I am proud of the cooperative customers across the state for taking action on such a large scale. We proved that the grassroots could be mobilized quickly and in meaningful numbers. We were a united team working for an important goal—reliability. Today, I thank every member who answered the call when we needed you the most.

Unfortunately, the MPSC approved the early retirement of power plants, including the Campbell plant, that are essential to sustaining electric reliability. The good news is that policymakers clearly heard your voice, which is critical as we continue to advocate for reliability.

In June, we asked for your assistance in lobbying the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC), state legislators, and Governor Whitmer. We explained our concern about the possibility of rolling blackouts this summer and in future summers due to supply issues impacting multiple states. You helped us ask the MPSC to prevent the premature closure of the Campbell coal plant owned by Consumers Energy.

here’s no doubt that America’s energy system is going through a fundamental transformation. This transformation must be managed carefully, with a balanced approach that considers reliability, environmental stewardship, and affordability.

Cooperative Power platform, nearly 8,000 individuals sent 44,282 emails



Vote For Your Director Electronically You will have the opportunity to vote electronically if you choose. You will receive an email from the MEC election coordinator with instructions on the voting process on or around Jan. 18. Please verify that we have the correct email address on file by logging into SmartHub and going to My Profile>My Information. You can also call us at 800-492-5989. Please verify your information by Dec. 16.

In the meantime, please add as an approved sender in your email account. Since every email provider is unique, we recommend you refer to your email account’s support section for instructions on how to do this.

Jim Dickerson of Bloomingdale resigned on Aug. 1, as shared via a letter mailed to District 2 electric members on Aug. 5, 2022. This is now an open seat, and we are currently reviewing qualified candidates who applied by Aug. 26, 2022, to fulfill the remainder of this term, which ends in April 2023. District 2 includes Arlington, Bainbridge, Bangor, Bloomingdale, Coloma, Covert, Hartford, Keeler, Lawrence, Paw Paw, Pipestone, Silver Creek, Watervliet, and Waverly townships.


The board has authorized the allocation of the 2021 net margin totaling $6,791,800.13. 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 2021 margin.

Please notify us of 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.

Please note that exact dates are subject to change.

John GreenFred Turk

Upcoming Director Elections

One of the seven guiding principles of cooperatives is democratic member control. A nine-member board of directors governs us, and each is elected to serve a threeyear term. Directors are elected by and represent those who live in their district and make critical decisions on behalf of all co-op members.

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.

Jim Dickerson

Three board seats are up for election next year. A candidate application packet will be made available online if you are a co-op electric customer interested in serving. Fill out the required forms and secure 30 or more valid co-op customer signatures. Your completed packet must be returned to our Cassopolis office by 5 p.m. EST on Dec. 1 to be placed on the ballot for one of the three terms ending in April 2026. Ballots will be mailed and emailed to the district members on Jan. 18, 2023, and must be submitted by Feb. 10. Board members must reside in the district they represent.

Seats in Districts 1, 2, and 5 will be up for election. District 1 is currently represented by Fred Turk of Decatur. The district includes Decatur, Hamilton, Penn, Porter (Van Buren County), Marcellus, and Volinia townships. District 5 is currently represented by John Green of Dowagiac. The district includes Howard, LaGrange, Milton, Pokagon, and Wayne townships.

Fred Turk and John Green plan to run for re-election. The appointed director to District 2 will have the option to run for re-election.

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.

For more information about serving on the board of directors, please call the cooperative at 800-492-5989 or email


Board Assigns 2021 Patronage Capital

Afterwards, a quick stop across the street to the Leland Mercantile for supplies, and then down to the waterfront to Manitou Island Transit—our ride to South Manitou.

Arrival When our ferry docked and we set foot on South Manitou, the first thing I noticed was the beauty. Lake Michigan is remarkable from any vantage point, but being surrounded I by her blue waters was magnificent. The second thing I noticed was how incredibly quiet the island is, immersing myself in the natural sounds of rustling wind in the trees and light waves almost tiptoeing to meet the shore.

The day began in downtown Leland at Leelanau Coffee Roasting Co.’s Breakfast Bistro, where I enjoyed a delicious omelette and steaming mug of Sumatra dark roast.

South Manitou Today Although two family cottages remain, it’s not home to permanent residents. Instead, it’s occupied by National Park Service rangers, campers, and day trippers, like us.

In the southwest corner of the island lies a valley of cedars that time forgot, twice the typical size. Being underneath

Pro Tip: Be sure to bring snacks, lunch, and water with you to the island!


The History Settled in the 1830s by William Burton, the island was first seen as another resource for timber, but logging operations eventually fizzled because of difficulty getting there. A small village formed, and at one point many thought South Manitou might become a vacation destination, but, again, the travel difficulty ended those plans.

think everyone can relate to wanting to “get away from it all.” The chance to disconnect from our modern lives and reconnect with nature, and ourselves, is not just appealing…it’s necessary.

That’s what I kept thinking about as I hiked through the majestic beauty of South Manitou Island, just 16 miles off the coast of Northwest Michigan and yet another world away from where I’d woken up that morning.

Fueling Up

Exploring Manitou Island Transit offered a tour, and our first stop was a “farmhouse” with the most amazing waterfront view I’ve ever seen. Built by the Burton Family in the late 1800s, this idyllic structure—featuring eight rooms, each with its own sink—was purchased in the early 1900s by those who wanted to push the island resort transformation. As previously noted, that never came to be. Now, the boarded-up house is home only to a large bat population.

Legends, Loss, & Restoration A Day Spent on South Manitou Island By Christal FrostTRIPPIN'ROAD

Saying Goodbye As we sat on the dock, awaiting the ferry’s return, I couldn’t help but already miss the island I had yet to leave. It is a place to slow down, reflect, and appreciate the strident majesty of Lake Michigan. Plans to return to camp are already in the books.

There are three campgrounds on S. Manitou Island. Campers must bring their own tents and water filtration equipment because there is no source of purified drinking water. There is no transportation for gear, so campers must pack in their own supplies. No outside firewood is allowed on the island. Instead, campers may collect dead and down wood for personal use.


ManitouSouthIsland ManitouNorthIsland


See the MANITOUSOUTHISLANDinAction Christal Frost filmed her adventure, now available on

Christal Frost is a northern Michigan native and frequent explorer of the Mitten state.

The island has seen its fair share of tragedy and is riddled with heartbreaking tales of slaughtered native tribes, sailors dead from cholera thrown into mass graves, and lighthouse keepers losing children to the harsh waves of the Manitou Passage. And, of course, the over 50 shipwrecks surrounding both North and South Manitou. None are more visually striking than the Francisco Morazon, located off the southern shore. She passed over another shipwreck and ran aground in 1960. Seven years later, Michigan Attorney General Frank Kelley filed a lawsuit to have the wreck removed, citing rotting cargo and leaking fuel oil as a health hazard. The next day, the Francisco Morazon caught fire, and all its contents were consumed in flames. The shipwreck is now property of the state.

these gigantic trees reminds me of the Japanese concept of “forest bathing,” or “taking in the forest atmosphere.” No soap and water required—the practice encourages you to spend time in nature, citing all the restorative effects that time in the woods has on a person.

Are you proactive about managing your energy use? If you’re plugged into your electric bill, our time-of-use rate lets you save all year long! plan your energy use schedule ahead of time and prepare as needed.  How Can I Prepare? When considering a time-of-use rate, your first job is to take stock of the electricity you use throughout an average day. Then you can decide which devices are essential, and which ones you can wait until later to Appliancesuse. like your refrigerator will need to run throughout the day and during peak times. However, you can do many things at night or while you sleep, like charging phones and laptops, running your dishwasher, and doing Additionally,laundry.there are a few simple changes anyone can make to reduce their total energy use: In summer, cook outside. The heat generated by an oven heats your home, making your cooling system work harder.

The Load Off RatesTime-Of-UseWith

$0 $25 $50 $75 $100 $125 Standard Residential Time of Use (On Peak) Time of Use (Off Peak)


Cost of 500 kWh

How Does it Work?

Normally, our customers pay a fixed rate for electricity—whether they use it at noon or midnight, they pay the same price per kilowatt-hour. Our time-of-use rate gives customers a choice to pay a lower price per kilowatt-hour depending on when they use times, you pay less than half the standard use rate— around $0.03/kWh, compared to just under $0.08/kWh on a standard service plan. The trade-off is that during periods of peak demand (between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m. seven days a week), you’ll be charged more— about $0.18/kWh.

For this reason, we recommend timeof-use rates only if you’re prepared to


Turn your thermostat up a few degrees in summer or down in winter. Instead of making it work so hard, use other temperature control methods like fans to keep cool and windows to trap heat. Get rid of any air leaks. Check around your home, especially near your windows and doors, for gaps where air can escape. If the air inside your home can get out, you’ll use more energy trying to maintain a consistent Maketemperature.sureyour heating and cooling systems are running efficiently. Schedule regular maintenance for your equipment, make sure there are no warm appliances near your thermostat, and vacuum your intake vents to remove dust buildup. How Do I Switch? If you plan to stay engaged with your energy usage and would like to switch to a time-of-use rate, give us a call at 800-492-5989. Our team will help you make the change.

The idea is that by making a conscious effort to shift the times during which you use electricity, you can avoid higher rates and get most of your energy for less than what’s standard. By being proactive, you can make the system work in your favor. Stay Engaged and Save It’s not a guarantee that you’ll save money if you switch to a time-of-use rate. If you make the switch but don’t change your energy-use habits, you could end up paying more than if you had never switched.

Sam Adams Elementary Steps Up To Multiplication

Students follow one column up the stairs, working on one set of

s the K-12 instructional math coach for Cassopolis Public Schools, Jessica Struble is always looking for ways to help the district’s math teachers improve. Thanks to her insightful observation and a Strengthening Schools Grant from MEC, Struble is helping Sam Adams Elementary students learn their multiplication tables—one step at a time. By decorating the staircases of the elementary with math facts, Struble says students can work on memorization each day on the way to “Memorizationclass.

is a basic building block of learning,” she says. “Kids will struggle without that.” When Struble began teaching fourth and fifth grades at Sam Adams, she realized kids were struggling with multiplication. Michigan’s Department of Education expects students to develop an understanding of basic multiplication in third grade. Struble later became the district’s math coach and made multiplication a priority. Another school’s Facebook post planted an idea that would lead Struble to apply for and win a Strengthening Schools Grant for Sam Adams Elementary. The project: Cover each riser on a flight of stairs with a vinyl sticker with math facts printed on it. Each step represents one row of a table—for example, the fourth step represents the 4s and might range from 4x2 on the left to 4x10 on the right. The columns of the “table” are colorcoded. Red might represent 2s, purple 3s, and so on.

Struble says winning a Strengthening Schools Grant is what made her project possible.

Some staircases focus on division, and others have only a few columns, but the idea is the same for each. And because third-, fourth-, and fifth-grade classrooms are all on the school’s second floor, students have several daily opportunities to practice their Strubletables. hopes this is just the beginning of interest in math at Sam Adams. She urges parents and grandparents to work on memorization with students, whether in the car or at home.

Strengthening Schools Grants are funded by partnership dollars through our power supplier, Wolverine Power Cooperative. You’re eligible to apply if you’re a teacher, administrator, or school official serving students in our electric service territory. The deadline for 2022 is Oct. 17— visit learn more.


Strengthening Schools

K-12 Instructional Math Coach Jessica Struble sits on one of Sam Adams multiplicationElementary’sstaircases. multiplication facts at a time. On one of the school’s main staircases, they can work on their 7s by finding the yellow column and counting up by seven for each step—7x1 for the first, 7x2 for the second, all the way up to 7x12 at the top.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Photos by Robert Bruce Photography || Recipes Submitted by MCL Readers and Tested by Recipe Editor Christin McKameyMI CO-OP Recipes

¹⁄ ³ cup basil pesto (homemade or jarred)

1 pound uncooked orzo

1 (15-ounce) can white beans (I use cannellini), drained and rinsed

2 teaspoons lemon zest + 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)

1 teaspoon kosher salt 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (about 1 cup), ½dividedcuproasted, salted pistachios, chopped Cook orzo according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water until pasta feels cool to the touch. While pasta is cooking, stir together the pesto, oil, lemon juice, and zest in a large bowl. Add the pasta, beans, tomatoes, spinach, cucumber, salt, and a ½ cup feta cheese to the pesto mixture. Stir to combine. Let stand 10 minutes. Sprinkle with pistachios and remaining ½ cup of feta cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serves 8.

WINNING RECIPE! RECIPE CONTEST Healthy Living 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 Win energy$50abillcredit! PASTA SALADS These classics are perfect for your next cookout! 10 SEPTEMBER 2022

SUMMER ORZO SALAD Linda Kindy Hoch, Cherryland

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved 2 cups loosely packed baby spinach, coarsely

Watch a video of this month’s winning recipe at

1choppedcuphalf-moon sliced cucumber (from a large cucumber or 2–3 mini cucumbers)

1½ cups French dressing

1 fresh red bell pepper, diced 1 red onion, diced 1 cucumber, diced ½ bunch cilantro, chopped ½ bunch parsley, chopped ¼ bunch mint, chopped 4 tomatoes, diced 3 lemons, juiced ¾ cup olive oil

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

3 tablespoons taco seasoning

NO-COOK TABBOULEH SALAD Jean Nishimoto, Great Lakes Energy

²⁄ ³ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon chopped marjoram leaves

10 cherry tomatoes, halved 1 small red onion, chopped 1 green bell pepper, chopped 1 red bell pepper, chopped ½ cucumber, partially or fully peeled, sliced ½ cup sliced black or Kalamata olives

½ cup crumbled feta cheese

• scant teaspoon chopped mint leaves • salt & pepper, to taste

• Hellmann’s mayonnaise (don’t substitute), to taste Prepare the day before serving to allow flavors to blend. Cook macaroni according to package directions. Rinse under cool water. Add vegetables, eggs, herbs, seasonings, and mayonnaise. Extra mayo should be added the next day to moisten the salad. Makes 6–8 servings.

2 cloves garlic, crushed 2 teaspoons dried oregano • salt and pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons chopped thyme leaves


2 tablespoons chopped basil leaves

GREEK PASTA SALAD Martha Grose, Great Lakes Energy

Rinse with cold water and drain well in a colander. Whisk together the vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Set aside. Combine pasta, tomatoes, onion, green and red peppers, cucumber, olives, and feta cheese in a large bowl. Pour vinaigrette over the pasta and mix together. Cover and chill for 3 hours before serving. Serves 8.


MACARONI SALAD Nancy Masters, Great Lakes Energy 6 ounces short-cut elbow macaroni • diced or sliced radishes, green peppers & green onions (equaling the amount of the cooked macaroni)

2 cups shredded cheese (choose your favorite, we like sharp cheddar)

Fill a large pot with lightly salted water and bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Stir in the penne, and return to a boil. Cook pasta, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the pasta has cooked through, but is still firm to the bite, about 11 minutes.

3 cups shredded iceberg lettuce

2 hard-cooked eggs, sliced 2 tablespoons chopped tarragon leaves

5 ounces Spicy V8 juice • salt and pepper, to taste 1 small box couscous (about 1 cup dried) Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Allow to sit at room temperature for 4 hours. Serve immediately.

2 cups penne pasta

¼ cup red wine vinegar

1 pound ground beef, cooked/ drained (for vegetarian, sub 1 can black beans—or half meaty and half meat-free)

9¾ ounce bag nacho-flavored Doritos, crushed Pasta salad is great, and so are tacos. Why not bring the best of both together? Stir together beef (or black beans) with the taco seasoning. In a big bowl, combine beef (or black beans) with the noodles, pepper, onion, tomatoes, cheese, and lettuce. Then mix in the French dressing until everything is well combined. Lastly, stir in the chips (wait to do this until you are ready to serve so they keep their crunch!).

1 pound rotini (or any shape of pasta), cooked, drained, and rinsed with cold water • any color bell pepper, diced • small onion, diced 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced in half (or quarters if they are big fellas)

Clayton Kessen, son of Michelle and Douglas Kessen and senior at Paw Paw High School, where he’s been active with National Honor Society, baseball, soccer, and band, serving as captain of the junior varsity baseball team, treasurer for National Honor Society, and trumpet section leader for band. Outside of school, Clayton volunteers at Antwerp Sunshine Library. Clayton plans to study architecture at Ball State University.

Payton Griffith, daughter of Dawn and Shane Griffith and senior at Mendon High School, where she’s been active with volleyball, basketball, and softball, serving as captain of all three varsity teams. She also volunteers with numerous community service projects and programs and plans to study finance at the University of Michigan. High school seniors whose families receive monthly service from MEC at their primary residence are eligible to apply for our scholarship program. The application period is January through mid-March every year. Selection for the scholarship is based on the video submission along with academic performance, extracurricular activities, community involvement, employment, and honors and awards. A minimum cumulative grade-point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale is required, and an official transcript must be submitted for final approval.


We recently recognized four local students’ academic achievements, leadership, and community involvement with our annual college scholarship program. All four are children of MEC customers.

Check January for more information.

Kaiden Keiser, son of Kraig and Shannon Keiser and senior at Archbold High School, has been active with varsity tennis, quiz team, mock trial, and various school bands. He also volunteers at Archbold Evangelical Church as a worship team piano player. Kaiden plans to study computer science at the University of Dayton.


We awarded $1,000 scholarships to the following students:

Maria Long, daughter of Gloria Jurado-Long and Lonnie Long and senior at Lawton High School, where she’s been active with Students Against Destructive Decisions, National Honor Society, soccer, track and field, and band. She volunteers as a math tutor and gatekeeper for athletic events. Maria plans to study at Southwestern Michigan College.

Ayers says winning a Building Vibrant Communities grant helped make Flyover Art a reality. “Partnership dollars from our power supplier, Wolverine Power Cooperative, fund our BVC program,” she said. You might be eligible to apply if you represent a nonprofit serving individuals in our service territory. The next deadline is Dec. 31— visit for more information. Flyover Art opens to the public this fall. Visit or find Patch & Remington on Facebook and Instagram to connect and learn more.

FlyoverS Art Brings New Creative Opportunities to the Rural Space

Director Sarah Ayers grew up in Marcellus with an interest in the arts but quickly left to explore her creative talents. She later returned with a mission: to bridge the opportunity gap that kept her from staying in the first place.


Ayers first established a commercial art gallery in Marcellus called Patch & Remington before developing Flyover Art in early 2020. Flyover was originally envisioned as a mobile art studio traveling to communities throughout southwest Michigan. However, after speaking with Patch & Remington visitors, and with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic COMMUNITIES

tarting this fall, rural southwest Michigan residents will have the chance to develop their artistic skills like never before, thanks in part to a Building Vibrant Communities grant from MEC.

highlighting the drawbacks of the original plan, Ayers determined that her existing gallery would be an ideal hub for the community workspace. By early 2022, the project was fully funded, and the transformation began.

Sarah Ayers (R) with her Patch & Remington co-founder Tony Ruacho.

As for future development, Ayers says plans will evolve alongside people’s needs. This includes revisiting ideas like the original plan for Flyover—a mobile unit could reach people who are unable or prefer not to travel, for example.

Flyover Art is an upcoming work and learning space in Marcellus, which will help people living in the country overcome barriers to exploring professional creative opportunities. The installation is expected to offer the equipment, software, and training needed for community members to develop their capabilities.

The interior of Patch & Remington displays the works of local artists. The space will soon house Flyover Art.


It’s not just creativity that Ayers wants to foster, but business savvy as well. In addition to pieces of training like graphic design, Flyover Art will offer classes on brand management, financial literacy, and other important topics for those pursuing a career in art. Faculty members from local colleges like Southwestern Michigan College and Kalamazoo Valley Community College are expected to provide instruction.

Flyover Art will have opportunities for people of all ages and professional levels. After-school programs will be aimed at teens, with evening and early-morning classes for adults.


“The connection a family has to their farm is unique. The roots literally run deep. It’s about family, food, as well as a legacy for us.”

Jon Friske, a third-generation farmer and Great Lakes Energy member who runs Friske Farm Market in Ellsworth with his siblings, Heidi and Rich, agrees.

t’s easy to picture roadside stands and quaint orchards when we think about apples, but right along with those nostalgic mental pictures is a booming industry in our state.

“It’s easy to think that the only way to support local apple producers is to buy from the farmer’s market or a nearby orchard,” said Diane Smith, executive director of the Michigan Apple Committee. “But every Michigan apple farm is family-owned, so when you buy Michigan apples in your local supermarket or even a big-box store, you’re supporting a local farm and family.”



By Emily Haines Lloyd I

It’s easy to see apples in our grocery stores and farmer’s markets, but there are many less-obvious areas where Michigan apples are utilized. Interestingly, Michigan apples

Over a five-year period, Michigan apple orchards produced approximately 25 million bushels on over 700 farms, making the Great Lakes state the third-largest producer in the nation. Our doctor-repelling products are sold in over 30 states and nearly 20 different countries, making Michigan apples a pretty impressive business.

—Jon Friske are particularly coveted for the production of pies for national brands, as well as the more recent need for highquality apples in the “fresh slice” industry (think about your kid’s favorite Happy Meal) and the booming hard cider Michiganindustry.apples appeal to all industries because of their wide variety of flavors. Michigan’s specific climate and weather conditions lend to the specific flavor profiles, with local soil, temperatures, and the warm days and cool nights of the Mitten State adding to the tastiness. Growing conditions aside, Michigan apples are particularly special due to the farmers’ hard work and energy put into the crop.

“We take pride in all of our products,” said Scott Kromer, owner and operator of Knaebe’s Apple Farm, a PIE&G member in Rogers City. “We’re not only feeding your family, but our own. The orchard is our yard. It’s part of the community—and we put our whole heart into what we do.”

The pride in growing amazing products is vital, as is a reliable energy source, according to both farms. At Knaebe’s, Kromer and his family had a tree fall on a power line the day before they took over ownership of the farm, but with a quick response from PIE&G, they were able to face their opening day with running coolers and operating cash registers. At Friske Farm, they’ve invested in several energy upgrades, including a solar photovoltaic system for their on-site housing unit, and are evaluating and considering a geothermal system for the new farm market.

Pictured from left to right: Scott, Matthew, Alison, and Luke.


“All of our apple farmers are this amazing combination of artists, gamblers, and scientists. It’s one of the hardest jobs in the world,” said Smith. “We’re so proud of the work they do and the legacy they have created and continue to build for our state.”

Knaebe’s Apple Farm

“We appreciate the way our co-op communicates with us. We get a lot of information and feel very involved,” said Friske. “It really is a partnership.”

Friske Farm Market

If reliable energy enables the farms, it is the farmers’ hearts and souls that truly power the industry.

“The connection a family has to their farm is unique,” said Friske. “The roots literally run deep. It’s about family, food, as well as a legacy for us.”

Standing in front of Ida Red apples planted by Grandpa Friske (Richard Sr.).

If you’re looking to support the hardworking apple farms of Michigan, check out this handy locator:

Pictured from left to right: Evelyn (who was pregnant with now 3½-month-old son Laith), Jon, Ryker, Kasey, Tessa, Rich, Richard Jr., Wendy, Heidi, Eddie, Clara, and Kenny.



our fiber internet services for your

Gig Great for transactions.anddownloading,uploading,emailing,processingmultiple Best suited for video conferencing, and streaming audio and video. Meet the demands of multiple user computing.backups,conferencing,videodata-intensiveandcloud The best solution for everything business, connecting more users on more devices. 100 Mbps Download and Upload 250 Mbps Download and Upload 500 Mbps Download and Upload 1 Gbps Download and Upload $70/MO. $80/MO. $100/MO. $150/MO. Enterprise: 50+ Users/Employees 100 Mbps Download and Upload $400/MO. 250 Mbps Download and Upload $500/MO. 500 Mbps Download and Upload $800/MO. 1 Gbps Download and Upload $1,000/MO. Internet services are not regulated by the Michigan Public Service Commission. I 16 SEPTEMBER 2022





or home office?

for MEC fiber internet. If we


eligible, our

Public Act 295 as amended: Clean




If an MEC electric customer, and you want internet at the same service address, all you have to do is log into your account via your SmartHub app or to request service.

t’s easy to sign up for household—simply visit check-eligibility. what about connecting small business

If you don’t already receive MEC electric service, head to, select “Business,” and fill out the quote. team will begin gathering information and will follow up with to help determine eligibility find that your is team of business fiber experts will work with figure out what have, discuss what need, and show how can help bridge the

gap. Check out the table below for a preview of the available packages. We also offer the following separately charged services—pricing available upon request: • Static IP Addresses • Advanced SLA • Ethernet Private Line • Ethernet Virtual Private LAN Business

you to

Business 100

Midwest Energy achieved 6,634 MWh of energy savings in 2021 compared to their annual kWh goal of 5,896 MWh. The full report can be obtained at your cooperative’s headquarters and or Business Business Business



Slipstream has subcontracted with WES Utility Services, Michigan Energy Options, ES Contracting, and Nuwati, LLC to assist with implementing the EWR Programs. MECA contracted with DNV-GL as the independent third-party evaluation contractor for the certification of kWh savings. In 2021, MEC collected $1,247,575 through the Energy Waste Reduction Surcharge and spent $1,181,886, resulting in an over-collection of $65,689.

and Renewable Energy and Energy Waste Reduction Act 2021 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. This EWR plan was approved by the MPSC 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/Industrial Programs, and the EWR website,

Blazing-Fast Internet for Your Small Business or Home Office



Imagine spending 24 hours unsuccessfully scrolling Netflix—no breaks, no sleeping, and no watching. Now imagine doing that for the next year and three months.

For the first year since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, we’ve chosen two safety posters designed by local fourth graders to be displayed on billboards throughout our southwest and southeast Michigan service Theterritories.students designed the posters based on something they learned from our safety demonstrations. These weren’t the only two worth seeing though— visit more winners honorable mentions.


GagebeforemarkusSchoolIntermediateEdwardsburgfromremindstocall811toutilitylinesdigging.from Blissfield powerseecallurgesElementaryusto911ifweadownedline.



STREAMING Visit to begin. Internet services are not regulated


It seems impossible, but according to the Ericsson Consumer Lab’s study into TV viewing habits, that’s about how long the average American will spend in their lifetime looking for something to watch. We’ve partnered with MyBundle.TV to give you more than a year of your life back. MyBundle.TV is a free tool to help you: Find your favorite shows and movies wherever they’re streaming Keep track of your watchlists Get personalized recommendations Discover apps that match your interests OF by the Michigan Public Service Commission.

Then Dad would wait until the raccoon would tree (climb into a tree) to get away from the dogs. The hounds would bark, howl, and stay there until Dad came and shot the raccoon. Then he would take the raccoon and the dogs back to the Jeep. Then started the process over as many times as possible within the limited time he had. One of our most memorable adventures started just like every other hunt. He and I went about four miles south of Maple Valley with two dogs in the back of the Jeep. The dogs started howling. Dad stopped and turned them loose. They were still heading east when their howling started to get fainter off into the woods. We started after them. I clearly remember walking a long time. I wasn’t paying attention to the dogs or anything except keeping up with Dad. It was a pleasant fall night, and we went far into the woods. Finally, Dad stopped and said, “Let’s take a break. OK??” I said, “Sure, Dad.” We sat and leaned against a giant oak tree. The next thing I remember was waking up in daylight. I was resting against my Dad, covered with his coat and very comfortable. He said it was time to go home. He took off his coat and left it next to that oak tree. He said the dogs would get tired of chasing that raccoon and track our scent back to the tree. They would lay down on the coat. He would come back and get them later. I figured it

M Column


Coon Hunt

y dad had 17 coon hounds and a war surplus Willys Jeep (circa 1940s). It had a canvas top, a windshield, and no doors. I often went with him coon hunting. He would drive his Jeep slowly down back roads with the dogs strapped in the back seat of the Jeep. When the dogs would pick up the fresh scent of a raccoon, they would start howling and jumping around. Dad would stop the Jeep and let the dogs out. They would run off into the woods howling and running like their tails were on fire.

John is a Vietnam combat veteran with two Purple Hearts. He is retired from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and enjoys his time hunting, fishing, and enjoying northern Michigan’s outdoors. was a part of the plan. Mom was upset about us being out hunting all night when we got home. I thought a little more about that hunting trip until I got older. When I look back on that night, what stands out is the appearance of normalcy. No hint that we may have been lost. No talk about anything that may have made me, a child, worry. I have tried to keep that strength whenever I get nervous or frightened with my family.

Share your fondest memories and stories. Win $150 for stories published. Visit to submit.$150!Win Win a $50 energy bill credit!

Where In Michigan Is This?

By John Vick, a Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op member

July/August 2022 Winner! Our Mystery Photo winner is Connie Bortle, a Thumb Electric Cooperative member, who correctly identified the photo as the Crossroads Village Carousel and Huckleberry Railroad park in Flint.  Winners are announced in the following issues of Country Lines: January, March, May, July/August, September, and November/December.

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

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