September 2023 Ontonagon

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September/October 2023 MICHIGAN Efficient Exterior Doors Annual Meeting Highlights The Great Lakes Fisherman’s Digest Ontonagon County Rural Electrification Association

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Michigan’s Electric Cooperatives


EDITOR: Christine Dorr


RECIPE EDITOR: Christin McKamey

COPY EDITOR: Yvette Pecha


PUBLISHER: Michigan Electric Cooperative Association

Michigan Country Lines, USPS-591-710, is published monthly, except August and December, with periodicals postage paid at Lansing, Mich., and additional offices. It is the official publication of the Michigan Electric Cooperative Association, 201 Townsend St., Suite 900, Lansing, MI 48933. Subscriptions are authorized for members of Alger Delta, Cherryland, Great Lakes, HomeWorks Tri-County, Midwest Energy & Communications, Ontonagon, Presque Isle, and Thumb electric cooperatives by their boards of directors.

Postmaster: Send all UAA to CFS.

Association Officers: Tom Sobeck, Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op, chairman; Gabe Schneider, Cherryland Electric Cooperative, vice chairman; Chris O’Neill, HomeWorks TriCounty Cooperative, secretary-treasurer; Craig Borr, president and CEO.


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

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

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

Michigan Country Lines, Your Communications Partner

For more than 40 years, our co-op members have received Michigan Country Lines because it is the most effective and economical way to share information. Michigan Country Lines keeps members up-to-date about everything going on within their electric co-op. Issues contain news about co-op services, director elections, member meetings, and management decisions that members need to know about as owners of the co-op. The magazine also includes legal notices that would otherwise have to be placed in local media at a substantial cost. Sending Michigan Country Lines helps the co-op fulfill one of its essential principles—to educate and communicate openly with its members. The board of directors authorizes the co-op to subscribe to Michigan Country Lines on behalf of each member at an average cost of $4.15 per year, paid as part of members’ electric bills. The current magazine cost is 52 cents per copy. Michigan Country Lines is published, at cost, by the Michigan Electric Cooperative Association in Lansing. As always, we welcome your comments at


Instagram contest winner Capturing Michigan’s beautiful beach treasures @frankfort_moments (Kathy Smith)

6 HARTWICK PINES STATE PARK: EVADING THE AXE Featuring majestic trees over 160 feet tall, the park is both an inspirational sanctuary and a testament to the transformative power of human industry.


Chocolate Desserts: decadent desserts that will satisfy any sweet tooth.


The Great Lakes Maritime Academy, one of only six such schools in the country, prepares students for life at sea.

18 GUEST COLUMN Always Do the Right Thing: A GLE member shares his father’s words to live by.

MI Co-op Community

To enter contests, submit reader content & more, visit

Instagram Contest

Use #micoopcommunity for a chance to be featured here and on our Instagram account. Win $100 for photos published!

Recipe Contest

See details on page 10. Vegetarian due Nov. 1. Win a $100 bill credit!

Guest Column

Share your fondest memories and stories. Win $200 for stories published. Visit to submit. Win $200 for stories published!

Mystery Photo

See details on page 18. Win a $100 bill credit!

Contents September 2023 Vol. 43, No. 8 /michigancountrylines /michigancountrylines

500 J.K. Paul Street

Ontonagon, MI 49953



After hours: 866-639-6098


William Hodges, President Lake Linden District

906-934-3743 •

Calvin Koski, Vice President

Aura District

906-524-6988 •

Mildred Ann Gasperich, Secretary Boston District

906-337-5079 •

Randy Myhren, Treasurer Green/Firesteel/Toivola District


Jack Lehto, Director

Pelkie/Herman/Aura District

906-353-6684 •

Michael Urbis, Director

Ewen/Trout Creek/Lake Mine District

906-988-2344 •

Michael Gaunt, Director Chassell/Keweenaw Bay District

906-370-8133 •


Eugene Soumis, General Manager Dallas Aho, Administrative Assistant

Fay Hauswirth, Billing Clerk

Mark Urbis, Line Superintendent


Date of Incorporation: Sept. 30, 1937

Fiscal year-end: Dec. 31

Ontonagon County REA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Factors That Impact Electricity Prices

was recently asked by a member about what impacts electricity prices. We talked about how the daily cost of living seems to have increased across the board. Just as inflation has impacted everything from the price of gasoline to the price of eggs, costs for the fuels required to produce electricity have also risen. This is a timely topic, so I wanted to help explain some of the factors that impact electricity prices (and energy bills) in this month’s issue of Michigan Country Lines.

While there is no short answer, there are a few key elements that impact electricity prices and rates. Some of these factors Ontonagon REA can manage, some of them you can impact, and other factors are beyond our control. So, let me break it down.

There are three primary parts to your monthly electric bill: a Facilities Charge, an Energy Charge/kWh charge, and a Michigan Energy Optimization charge. To understand your total energy costs and what impacts your bill, let’s unpack them one piece at a time.

The first is a fixed monthly Facilities Charge, which covers the costs associated with providing electricity to your home. This includes equipment, materials, labor, and operating costs necessary to serve each meter in Ontonagon REA’s service territory, regardless of the amount of energy used. To ensure the reliable service you expect and deserve, we must maintain the local system, including power lines, substations, and other necessary equipment. Right-of-Way tree clearance is another example of an expense that contributes to the facilities cost. Like many other businesses, we’ve experienced supply chain issues and steep cost increases for some of our basic equipment. For example, the cost for a distribution transformer (which looks like a long metal can at the top of a power pole) increased over 25% this year and

wait times to receive this essential equipment are up to two years. Because we are a not-for-profit cooperative, some of these expenses must be passed on to our members. I should note that the service charge is the same for everyone and the costs are shared equally across the membership.

Another component of your monthly bill is the kWh charge, which covers how much energy you consume. You’ve likely noticed the amount of energy you use can vary from month to month and is typically impacted by extreme temperatures. When temperatures soar or dip, your cooling and heating equipment runs longer, which increases your home energy use. Regardless, energy consumption is an area that you have some control over, and you can lower your monthly bill by actively reducing energy use. Your thermostat is a great place to start, so be sure to keep it close to 78 degrees during summer months.

The last component of your bill is the Michigan Energy Optimization charge. The Michigan Energy Optimization program is used to help provide our members with energysavings incentives for your home, farm, or business.

I hope this information sheds light on some of the factors that impact electricity prices. While we can’t control the weather or the rising costs of fuels, please know Ontonagon REA is doing everything possible to keep internal costs down. We’re here to help you, too. Contact us if you have questions about your energy bill or for advice on how to save energy at home. Take advantage of the cooperative energy incentives by visiting and selecting Energy Tips on the home page. Or you can go directly to the Energy Innovations Collaborative (EIC) website at or call them at 906-226-0573.


Your Board in Action

• Cloverland Electric Arc Power made a presentation to the board via Zoom. Arc Power is another supplier available while reviewing future purchase power contract pricing.

• Attorney Greeley will review the existing power contract for elements to be aware of when moving forward with proposals for power.

• GM Soumis stated that the co-op was at 30% distribution for the new meters. Full conversion is expected by the year end.

• Line Superintendent Urbis provided an update on the purchase of a new bucket truck from Texas to be delivered to the Hancock Garage.

• A roll call vote was taken to approve the 2023 budget. All voted yes.

• Director Hodges gave a report on his attendance at the MECA Symposium and an update on what he learned regarding the challenges facing co-ops in Michigan.

• Plans for the upcoming Annual Meeting were reviewed.

• A metering update was provided. The L’Anse collector is working. Meter deployment is occurring in Aura and Keweenaw Bay, and meters are showing as active on the map.

• The line superintendent’s report included information on the next MECA safety training, an equipment update, and summary of the vegetation crew’s work.

• The board approved a capital outlay expense in the amount of $694,000 for a Vermeer tractor plow and trailer, a new digger, and two 2022 1-ton utility trucks.

• The sexual harassment policy is headed to the attorney for review.

• GM Soumis advised that the rate study had commenced April 1 and provided a metering project schedule update. Three AEDs were purchased for placement in each service shop.

• Line Superintendent Urbis gave a report regarding safety, trucks and equipment, service interruptions, and vegetation management.

• Attorney Greeley stated he was working on a demand letter for IIWS.

• GM Soumis gave an update on the Rate Study. He expects to have a final proposal ready by September.

• GM Soumis advised that a new security system is scheduled for the end of June.

• The co-op is getting a quote for a 500-kW solar installation from Ben Schimpf with Peninsula Solar in Marquette.

• Line Superintendent Urbis reported that there were 35 service interruptions in May. This computes to 1.2 minutes/member for the month and 2.04 minutes/member YTD for 2023

• Credentialed Cooperative Director (CCD) training is scheduled for five directors during the week of Oct. 2.

• A cooperative strategic planning session is scheduled for the week of Dec. 11 with CFC Bank.


Hartwick Pines State Park

Evading the Axe

Featuring majestic trees over 160 feet tall, the park is both an inspirational sanctuary and a testament to the transformative power of human industry.

Before being known for automobiles, Michigan was a primary hub in the logging industry. In fact, it was the nation’s leading lumber-producing state from 1860 until 1910. Logging—particularly that of pine trees—played a vital role in developing the country, but it devastated the landscape. It is estimated that less than 1% of the old growth forests that were here when European settlers arrived remain in the eastern U.S. However, there are still places where you can go and see the forest as those settlers did—majestic, towering, and seemingly infinite—and one of them happens to be in Grayling.

Hartwick Pines State Park features roughly 49 acres of old growth forest, which is the largest stand in the Lower Peninsula. Hillary Pine, the park’s historian, says it consists primarily of white/red pine and eastern hemlock trees that are anywhere from 350 to 425 years old. With heights of over 160 feet, the trees are a historic spectacle that have been drawing sightseers for almost 100 years. “We have a lot of generational visitors,” Pine said. “People who used to come here with their grandparents are now bringing grandkids of their own.” A question Pine hears a lot is “Where’s the big tree?”—a reference to the once tallest tree in the forest, the Monarch, which was a 155-foottall white pine that people earnestly hugged for photo ops. Sadly, the Monarch perished after a windstorm, but there are plenty of other old, giant trees waiting to have their pictures taken—and they have Karen Hartwick to thank for it.

Hartwick bought 8,000 acres of property that included the grove of old growth in 1927. She then donated the land to the state with the stipulation that it be a memorial to her late husband, Edward Hartwick, a lumberman who died of illness in World War I. The contract also dictated that no more trees would be cut, there would be a road to the park, a structure would be built in Edward’s memory, and a logging museum would be established. The park opened in

1928 and, with time, met all of Karen’s wishes. There is a museum that depicts life in a late 1800s logging camp, and the Hartwick Pines Memorial Building, a rustic, lodge-style building, pays tribute to Edward.

Other buildings on the property include a chapel that can be rented out for weddings and the Visitor’s Center— which is where you’ll find longtime park interpreter Craig Kasmer, who leads presentations and trail tours. Kasmer, who—like his parents before him— once hugged the Monarch, echoes Pine’s statement that the park is about family connection. He says one of his favorite things is meeting visitors who tell him they remember him from a tour they took when they were kids—many of them particularly remember him saying that not everything is a pine cone. “All conifers have cones, but pine cones are only on pine trees. There are also hemlock cones, spruce cones, fir cones, etc.,” he said. Kasmer says it’s important to make this distinction and for people to know the proper names of things. “If you know the name of something, you care for it more. You learn the name of that flower, the name of that bird, and you like it more and want to know more about it.” he said.

The park also features a 21-mile network of all-season trails perfect for walking, biking, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. Pine says the 1.25mile Old Growth Forest Trail, which is paved and fully accessible, is the most popular, as visitors get to see the old growth trees up close. Other popular activities include birding (the evening grosbeak is one rare bird that can be seen); viewing other wildlife such as bobcats, deer, turkeys, otters, minks, foxes, and the occasional bear; and fishing, canoeing, or kayaking in the four lakes onsite. The two biggest of which—Bright and Glory—are named after Karen Hartwick’s father’s loghauling oxen team. The grounds also house a 100-site seasonal campground.

Whatever you come to the park for, prepare to be awed. Pine, who has been employed at Hartwick Pines for seven years, says she’s still amazed. “As a historian—knowing the effect that the logging era had on Michigan’s forest and the widespread devastation from cutting and fire—the fact that this small section of old growth remained is truly remarkable,” she said. “It’s a wonderful pocket where you can go see what most of northern Michigan used to look like.”

Visitor Center hours: Memorial Day–Labor Day: open daily, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.

Sept.–Oct.: open daily, 9 a.m.–4 p.m.

Nov.–April: weekends only, 9 a.m.–4 p.m.

Logging Museum hours: Memorial Day–Labor Day: open daily, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.

May, Sept.–Oct.: open daily, 9 a.m.–4 p.m.

Nov.–April: CLOSED

For more information: /HartwickPinesStatePark/ v-centers/hartwick

“It’s a wonderful pocket where you can go see what most of northern Michigan used to look like.”

Seal In Savings with Efficient Exterior Doors

Q: I like the style of my front door, but it is drafty. Can you recommend ways to fix the drafts and make it more energy efficient?

A: The front door of your home has a lot of meaning. It sets the stage for the home and is the first impression for your guests. Beyond curb appeal, the front door is a good place to look for energy savings.

Efficient exterior doors seal tightly and don’t allow air to pass through. Limiting airflow from exterior doors can result in lower heating and cooling costs. Throughout the years, the construction of exterior doors has improved to increase their efficiency. If your door is older, it likely is not insulated.

There are two strategies to address an inefficient front door: purchase a new one or work with what you have.

If you want to replace your front door for aesthetic purposes, make it more functional, or improve its efficiency, consider upgrading to an ENERGY STAR® -certified model. The ENERGY STAR® certification ensures the door you buy meets efficiency criteria for your local area. It also means the National Fenestration Rating Council independently tested and verified the door.

Certification requires any windows in the door to be double or triple pane to reduce heat flow, which results in a more efficient home. While windows in doors offer aesthetics, more glass means less efficiency. ENERGY STAR® offers different criteria based on the amount of glass the door has. That means that the bigger the windows in a door, the lower the efficiency. The most efficient doors have no glass or windows in them.

U-factor is the primary rating for efficiency on doors and windows. U-factor is the inverse of R-value, which is the rating used for insulation. Unlike R-value, where higher is better, the lower the U-factor, the more energy efficient the door. Check the U-factor on ENERGY STAR® doors at your local hardware store or online to help choose the most efficient door in your preferred style.

ENERGY STAR® -certified doors are made of the most efficient materials, such as fiberglass, wood cladding, and steel with polyurethane foam core. They are built to fit snugly into their frames, reducing drafts and airflow.

When it comes to doors, you don’t have to sacrifice style for efficiency. There are many styles available to match the architecture, whether your home is historic or modern.

When completely replacing a door and the frame, you can use expanding foam or caulk to fill the space between the door jamb and structural framing. ENERGY STAR® doors have specific installation instructions to ensure the desired efficiency.

If a new door isn’t in your budget, there are less expensive options to reduce air leakage and improve your home’s efficiency.

All of that coming and going throughout the years can wear out weather stripping. If you can see daylight around the edges of the door or underneath it, it’s time to stop those air leaks.

Weather-stripping around the door jamb can be adjusted to make a snug seal or replaced if it’s too far gone. Apply one continuous strip along each side, and make sure it meets tightly at the corners.

There are many different types of weather-stripping products on the market, so shop around for what’s right for you. Don’t forget the door sweep at the bottom of the door.

Adding a storm door can also help and is less expensive than replacing the entire door. Most storm doors have options for using a screen or glass. Swapping the screen for the glass insert can help save energy in both the winter and in the summer if you use air conditioning. Consider a storm door that’s easy to switch between glass and screen so you can maximize the benefits.

Open the door to energy savings by improving the efficiency of your exterior doors—without compromising the aesthetics of your home.


Enter to win a $50 energy bill credit!

Submit A Photo & Win A Bill Credit!

Ontonagon REA members whose photos we print in Michigan Country Lines during 2023 will be entered in a drawing. Four lucky members will win a credit of $50 on their December 2023 energy bills!

Upcoming Topics and Deadlines:

Celebrations, due Sept. 20 (Nov./Dec. issue)

The Great Outdoors, due Oct. 20 (January 2024 issue)

To submit photos, and for details and instructions, go to We look forward to seeing your best photos!

1. Keeping watch. Danielle Impola

2. Our porch is our favorite place to sit back and relax after a long day! George Sever

3. Summertime! Brenna Erickson

4. Covered porch. Anne Koski

Sitting on the porch showing off our Upper & Lower Peninsulas! Laura Hamlett

Porches 3 1 4 2 5 9 MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES


Decadent desserts that will satisfy any sweet tooth.

Recipe Contest

Win a $100 energy bill credit!

Vegetarian due Nov. 1

Submit your favorite recipe for a chance to win a $100 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



Pamela Balcom, Great Lakes Energy

½ cup butter, melted

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup sugar

¾ cup flour

¼ teaspoon salt

½ bag mini marshmallows

1 cup nuts, optional


¼–¹/³ cup condensed or evaporated milk (can also use whole milk)

2 tablespoons butter

2 cups powdered sugar

¼ cup cocoa powder

¹/8 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla or mint extract (mint is our fave)

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a medium bowl, add ½ cup melted butter and blend in 2 tablespoons cocoa powder. In a small bowl, beat the eggs, vanilla, and sugar together. Add to the butter/cocoa mixture. Add the flour, salt, and nuts (if using) and mix together (do not add marshmallows).

Bake in greased (or lined with parchment paper)

8x8-inch pan for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and pour marshmallows on top and push down to melt them. To make the frosting, heat evaporated/ condensed milk and butter until melted. Remove from heat and add the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, salt, and vanilla/mint extract. Mix well. Pour over baked brownies and marshmallows. Allow to cool in the fridge for 30 minutes. Serve and watch them disappear!

Watch a video of this month’s winning recipe at type/videos/

|| Recipes submitted by MCL readers and tested by recipe
MI CO-OP Recipes
Photos by Robert Bruce Photography
editor Christin McKamey


Leslie Brasure, Alger Delta

¾ cup chopped walnuts

½ cup, plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

½ cup sweetened flaked coconut, lightly toasted

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped

12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips, divided

4 teaspoons instant coffee crystals

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1½ cups sugar

4 large eggs

½ cup peanut butter chips (or butterscotch chips)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 2 largerimmed baking sheets with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Combine chopped walnuts, flour, toasted coconut,

baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl and stir until well blended. Combine butter, unsweetened chocolate, and half of the chocolate chips in a heavy medium saucepan. Stir over low heat until butter and chocolate are melted and smooth. Remove saucepan from heat. Whisk coffee crystals and vanilla extract in medium bowl until crystals dissolve. Add sugar and eggs. Using electric mixer, beat until mixture thickens, about 2 minutes. Beat in melted chocolate mixture, then chopped walnut mixture. Stir in remaining chocolate chips and peanut butter chips. Mound 2 tablespoons dough for each cookie onto prepared baking sheets, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake cookies until puffed and cracked but still soft in center, about 15 minutes. Let cool on sheets for 10 minutes. Using spatula, transfer cookies to rack and cool. Can be made 2 days ahead. Store in airtight container at room temperature. Makes 28 cookies.


Linda Heintz, Great Lakes Energy

1 cup Guinness (dark beer)

½ cup butter, cubed

2 cups sugar

¾ cup baking cocoa

2 eggs, beaten

²/³ cup sour cream

3 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

1½ teaspoons baking soda


1 (8-ounce) package cream

cheese, softened

1½ cups confectioner's (powdered)


½ cup heavy whipping cream

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper; set aside. In a small saucepan, heat beer and butter until melted. Remove from heat; whisk

in sugar and cocoa until blended. In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, sour cream, and vanilla; whisk into beer mixture. In a medium bowl, combine the flour and baking soda; whisk into beer mixture until smooth. Pour batter into prepared 9-inch pan. Bake for 45–50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack, then remove sides of springform pan. To make the frosting, in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until fluffy. Add confectioner’s sugar and cream; beat until smooth (do not overbeat). Remove cake from pan and place on a platter or cake stand. Add frosting to the top of cake so that it resembles a frothy pint of beer (frosting dripping over sides). Makes 12 servings. This is a beautiful cake that stays moist for several days. Refrigerate leftovers.


Kristine Brenner, Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op

2 (3.4-ounce) packages chocolate pudding (NOT instant)

3½ cups milk

½ cup chocolate chips

2 tablespoons butter

1 baked pie shell

8 ounces Cool Whip

• grated chocolate, for garnish

In a medium bowl, combine the pudding mixture, milk, and chocolate chips. Stir over medium heat until mixture comes to a full boil. Stir in butter. Cool 5 minutes, stirring twice. Pour into baked pie shell. Chill in refrigerator for 3 hours or more. Top with Cool Whip and garnish with grated chocolate before serving.


Linda Roe, Alger Delta

1 (12-ounce) bag semisweet chocolate chips

1 (12-ounce) bag milk chocolate chips

1 (12-ounce) bag white chocolate chips

2 (14-ounce) cans sweetened condensed milk

2–3 cups coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans, optional

1 (10-ounce) bag miniature marshmallows

Pour all chips and sweetened condensed milk in a large, heavy pot. Melt on low heat. Add nuts (if using) and mix until evenly coated. Cool slightly. Add marshmallows and mix well. Pour into a 9x13-inch pan lined with parchment paper. Smooth out, then cool completely.


2023 Annual Meeting Highlights

Ontonagon County Rural Electrification (OCREA) held its Annual Meeting on Saturday, June 17, at Chassell High School. Members from the co-op’s seven-district service area attended the event, which featured election results, reports from the co-op staff, a discussion of old and new business, prize drawings, and lunch.

President William Hodges began the meeting by introducing the members of the board. Secretary Ann Gasperich announced that there was no need for an election committee since in District 2, Mike Urbis ran uncontested, and in District 6, Ann Gasperich also ran uncontested. Both directors will retain their seats until the 2026 election.

President Hodges stated that for the past four years, the books and business practices of Ontonagon REA have been examined by independent auditing firms. For all four years, the cooperative received an audit report that verifies the cooperative’s books

are in order, best practices are being employed by management, and all transactions for the past three years are appropriate and properly accounted for.

General Manager Eugene Soumis presented the financial report and Line Superintendent Mark Urbis presented the distribution report.

During the question-and-answer portion of the meeting, President Hodges, General Manager Soumis, and Attorney Greeley fielded questions. All questions that were turned in at the meeting will be listed with answers on the co-op’s website. The meeting concluded with a prize drawing and a luncheon served by Syl’s Café.


A Field Guide to Overhead Power Lines

High-voltage transmission lines are used to deliver electricity from generation plants to consumers.


Large amounts of power, measured by watts, are delivered by transmission lines. These lines are energized with very high voltage in order to move the power long distances with minimal losses. Insulators on the towers prevent the power from owing to the towers or the ground.

Electric cooperatives own and maintain 65,000 miles (6%) of the nation’s transmission lines.


Transformers at transmission substations reduce the voltage from transmission levels to sub-transmission levels, typically ranging from 115,000 volts to 34,500 volts. Sub-transmission lines deliver power over shorter distances to distribution substations and large industrial sites. At distribution substations and large industrial sites, transformers reduce the voltage to a lower level, typically 7,200 volts or 14,400 volts.


The lines typically seen along rural roads and next to homes are generally single-phase distribution lines, energized at 7,200 or 14,400 volts. Transformers on the utility poles lower the voltage to between 120 and 480 volts to serve residential homes and small businesses.

Electric cooperatives own and maintain 2.6 million miles (42%) of the nation’s distribution lines.

Source: National Rural Electric Cooperative Association


The Great Lakes provide vital fresh water, a place to enjoy watersports or days lounging on the beach, gorgeous views, and a beautiful backdrop to family photos and selfies alike. However, the Great Lakes have an additional utility— as a classroom.


The Great Lakes Maritime Academy (GLMA), a part of Northwestern Michigan College (NMC) that is located on its Grand Traverse campus in Traverse City, is one of only six maritime academies in the country. The other five, located in California, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, and Texas, are all part of educational programming that prepares individuals for careers as mariners, who are needed to operate large ships that carry steel, stone, agricultural products, sand, salt, oil, and other cargo. Other types of boats they can operate include military ships, research vessels, municipal ferries, tugboats, and dinner cruise ships.

The Great Lakes Maritime Academy began in 1969. It currently enrolls just 60 new cadets each year into its fouryear bachelor’s degree program—36 in the deck program and 24 in the engineering program. The program requires the standard 120 credits to

graduate with a bachelor’s degree— the GLMA coursework includes 80 maritime-related credits and 40 in general education.

Cadets in the deck program take classes in cargo, navigation, and ship business to learn skills like navigating the waters via the stars, calculating the stability of the ship, properly loading a ship, and handling ballast. In the engineer program, cadets take classes in electricity, steam, and diesel power so they can maintain the engines powering the vessels.

“The GLMA program is unique in that our program is about half the size of the other academies, ensuring students get personalized training,” said Admiral Jerry Achenbach, superintendent of GLMA. “Plus the bonus of a cohort system at a community college that has an ethos of working with firstgeneration college students, which means there is a lot of support for our nontraditional students.”


With the benefit of smaller class sizes and less expensive credit hours, the four full-time faculty and two staff members who teach are able to facilitate coursework that prepares students for life at sea. GLMA is also unique because, in conjunction with NMC’s culinary school, it is able to offer a dedicated track that prepares culinary students for galley work on commercial vessels or trade ships. They also earn their Coast Guard credentials alongside the full-time maritime students.

“NMC’s culinary program makes it possible for us to educate a truly unique demographic and prepare them for culinary careers at sea,” said Achenbach. “We’ve gotten feedback from HR departments who say that the food is better, the galley is cleaner, and food costs go down when they hire our graduates. That’s something we’re very proud of.”

Additionally, Achenbach notes they are proud that many veterans join their program after their service. In part, this is a big reason behind recent legislation that was introduced by Sen. Gary Peters, along with senators from the other states that host

maritime academies. The legislation would extend the current age limit on the Student Incentive Payment (SIP) Program, which provides up to $32,000 in funding over four years to help offset the cost of tuition, uniforms, books, and living costs in exchange for enlistment in the U.S. Navy Reserve after students graduate.

“The SIP Program not only allows these great Americans to also serve as commissioned officers in the Navy's Strategic Sealift Officer Program upon graduation, but provides much-needed financial support. Senator Peters' initiative will allow nontraditional students from Michigan, as well as any state, to be eligible for this financial support,” Achenbach said. This legislation, known as the CADETS Act, was signed into law by President Biden earlier this summer.

Achenbach adds that sailing for a living does offer well-paying jobs and allows people a chance to see the world, but it’s not like other careers.

“It does have an element of adventure and is the furthest thing from a desk job,” said Achenbach. “But this is a lifestyle choice. It’s not for everyone.”

Achenbach acknowledges that many people don’t know about the academy’s existence and its impact on the maritime industry. That’s why he is always willing to speak with colleges or service organizations about both the program and the opportunities. Your organization can reach out to him at to learn more.

for more information. 15 MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES

The Great Lakes Fisherman's Digest

or the many Michiganders who live and breathe for fishing, the Great Lakes Fisherman’s Digest could very well be the only resource you need. The Digest was started in 2015 by champion angler John Bergsma, who competed in tournaments for nearly 20 years. His goal for the digest was three-fold: to provide guidance to viewers/readers on where and when to fish, give instruction on how to catch the fish, and introduce people who love the outdoors to potential new vacation destinations. “I ultimately want to help people have a better experience on the water,” John said.

The Great Lakes Fisherman’s Digest is comprised of a television program of the same name, a website, and a portable display that John or his cohorts transport between several sporting trade shows. The TV show broadcasts on a weekly basis, rotating between Midwest regions on major market channels. John himself is in

many of the shows, but his partners also serve as hosts. Each show features a fishing segment and a spotlight on the town. “Our idea is simple: Identify the best locations for fishing the Great Lakes and then highlight not only the fishing, but the host community as well,” he said.

The website, in addition to airing the TV show, features fishing reports and more detailed tourist information such as lodging, dining, recreation, shopping, and maps. The 60x10-foot travel center takes brochures, travel guides, and photos from each partner locale to the trade shows so that people can collect information from all destinations in one place.

The Digest also has an active Facebook page, with posts that are updated daily. “People visit our website or Facebook page to determine where they want to fish that same weekend—wherever the fish are biting drives people to destinations,”

John said. “They rely on our advice because of my tournament experience and because I only work with people I know and trust.” His Digest partners include bait store employees, fishing guides, and charter captains—all local to the corresponding area.

John, who said he fishes about 120 to 140 times a year, tapes his excursions on most occasions, but some trips are just for pleasure. He is the rare man whose job also happens to be his passion. “The stress of life and anything that’s wrong just goes away on the water. You get an ever-changing canvas—from sunrise to sunset, clouds moving through, wind or no wind, birds on the water—you can just forget about everything,” he said.

John chose the Great Lakes region as the backdrop for his passion for a simple reason—“It’s the greatest single fishing destination in the world,” he said. “There are so many different species and types of fish

“Our idea is simple: Identify the best locations for fishing the Great Lakes and then highlight not only the fishing, but the host community as well.”

F Plan Your Next Vacation

you can catch here, and because of ice fishing, you can fish every single day of the year. And in my opinion, it offers the three most desirable fish to eat: salmon, walleye, and perch.” The areas he advertises are generally chosen for two reasons—they have an abundance of fish and they’re some of his favorite spots. John says some of the best places for fishing are the most underutilized, so you won’t necessarily see hot vacation havens on the Digest. “I recommend that people pick a destination you haven’t gone to and spend three or four days there," he said. "Try new lakes and new adventure. Instead of saying ‘let’s just

drive an hour and go to the tourist trap we always go to,’ try somewhere you haven’t been. You’ll have a great time exploring.” John also recommends that people go on a charter fishing trip. “It’s a great deal for five or six hours on the water. You get to have a fun family excursion, and often, they’ll cook for you at the end whatever you catch. I think people who try it once will get hooked,” he said (no pun intended).

As for John, he’ll continue exploring as long as he’s healthy. “I can’t imagine a day that going out and exposing great destinations and fishing will not be fun,” he said.

Watch the “Fisherman’s Digest” TV show.

Available locally and nationally on these networks and times (EST).

CBS Sports Network (Sat., 7:30 a.m., Jan.–June)

Pursuit Outdoor Channel (Sat., 4:30 p.m., Jan.–June & Wed., 6:30 p.m., Oct.–Dec.)

WILD TV Canada (3 weekly airings. Prime/Fringe Prime/Off Peak, Jan.–June )

AT&T Sportsnet Southwest (Weekends between 9 a.m.–9 p.m., Jan.–June)

Comcast Sportsnet Chicago Plus (Mon., 12:30 p.m., Jan.–Dec.)

WKBD-50 Detroit & All Suburbs (Sat., 7:30 a.m.)

WBSF-46 Midland/Saginaw/ Bay City (Sun., 6 a.m.)

WOTV-4 Grand Rapids/ Kalamazoo (Sat., 11 a.m.)

Fox-32 Traverse City Northern Lower (Sun., 7:30 a.m.)

WBKB-11 NE Lower Alpena (CBS 11, Sat., 12 a.m.) (NBC-11, Sun., 5:30 a.m.) (Fox-11, Sat., 6 a.m.)

Fox-6 Marquette & U.P. (Sun., 8:30 a.m.)

Also available on YouTube, Facebook, Sling-Live, Hulu-Live, Pluto, Pursuit UP, and

For more information





Mystery Photo

Win a $100 energy bill credit!

Where In Michigan Is This?

Identify the correct location of the photo above by Sept. 20 and be entered into a drawing to win a $100 electric bill credit. Enter your guess at

July/Aug. 2023

in Frankenmuth, Michigan.

Winners are announced in the following issues of Country Lines: January, March, May, July/ August, September, and November/December.

M Always Do the Right Thing

y father, James Van Horn, was a very quiet man. I have no memory of ever having that one-on-one talk between father and son, as you see being depicted in the Hallmark-type movies. I do, however, have many memories of him setting the perfect example of what your fellow man should be doing on a daily basis.

On May 12, 1970, my grandfather, William Van Horn, died of a heart attack. I was 12 years old, the third in line of seven grandchildren. Dad was devastated at the loss of his father.

Two days later, May 14, Mom, Dad, and seven kids loaded up the station wagon and we were on the way to the funeral home when, two blocks away from our home, dad suddenly stopped the car. He got out of the car, walked to a newspaper box, put in a shiny dime, and took out one paper. He closed the box and repeated the process. We asked Mom what he was doing. She responded with, “I'm not sure, but whatever it is, it is important to him.” He did this seven more times, dropping a dime in the box each time. He came back to the car with nine newspapers.

Mom asked, “What are you going to do with all those newspapers?” He responded with, “I wanted you and each of the kids to have a copy of Dad’s obituary listed in the Indianapolis Star.“

I remember saying, “Why didn't you just drop one dime and take nine papers?” He responded with, “That box is part of a man's business. If I did that, I would be stealing from a man. Always do the right thing, because it's the right thing to do. If you live by this rule, the walk on the road of life will always be a much smoother one.”

I remember it like it was yesterday. Yes, I was only 12 years old, but it stuck, and it made a terrific impact on my life. Today, I am 65 years old and have always done my best to do the right thing, because it's the right thing to do.

I just finished my 28th year of teaching, 23 in Indianapolis and five in Walkerville, Michigan. For 28 years, my classroom motto has been those prophetic words that were spoken to me by my father 53 years ago, “Do the right thing, because it's the right thing to do.”

My father was a quiet man, but his actions always spoke louder than any words he could ever have spoken. James Van Horn was a great example to anyone who may have been watching.

Still today, students reach out to me, and make mention of the words I taught them years ago and say thank you for making the walk on the road of life a much more enjoyable one. I remind them to thank James Van Horn, my father.

About the author: David is an elementary teacher at Walkerville Public Schools. He taught for 23 years in Indianapolis, retired and moved to Bitely, Michigan. He got bored and went back to the classroom. He enjoys the outdoors——fishing, hunting, canoeing, kayaking, boating, riding his side by side, and much more. Spending time with his grandkids is the best.

Winner! Our Mystery Photo winner is Gloria Zalewski, a Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op member, who correctly identified the photo as the Holz-Brucke covered wooded bridge
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