April 2021 Cherryland

Page 1

April 2021


COUNTRY LINES Cherryland Electric Cooperative

Lineworkers Respond First, Too

The Quest to 7,000 Q&A: The Texas Cold Snap

Critchlow Alligator Sanctuary Is




Clean Start Rebate For a limited time, you can save up to $1,250 on clean energy geothermal heat pumps

Switch to geothermal and get a clean start to the year! This year, everyone deserves a clean start! Switching to geothermal is the perfect decision to help your house be as comfortable and environmentally friendly as possible for years to come. The WaterFurnace Clean Start Rebate Program makes switching to geothermal an even smarter decision. For a limited time, you can save up to $1,250 and receive a free Amazon Echo Dot with the purchase of our most efficient, comfortable, and technologically advanced 7 Series and 5 Series geothermal heat pumps and accessories. But hurry, this deal ends April 30, 2021, so contact your local WaterFurnace dealer today!






Amazon Echo Dot



26% Tax Credit




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Muskegon Adams Htg & Clg (231) 873-2665 adamsheatingcooling.com

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

Portland ESI Htg & Clg (517) 647-6906 esiheating.com

Geofurnace Htg & Clg (231) 943-1000 watergeofurnace.com

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

waterfurnace.com/CleanStart 1. 26% through 2022 and 22% through 2023. 2. With registration of homeowner’s Symphony Home Comfort Platform. Amazon Dot will be shipped to the address given in Symphony registration. Promotion available Feb. 8 through April 30, 2021, and only to residential customers through participating dealers. WaterFurnace is a registered trademark of WaterFurnace International, Inc.

Contents countrylines.com

April 2021 Vol. 41, No. 4



Michigan’s Electric Cooperatives

EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Casey Clark EDITOR: Christine Dorr


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 48933 248-534-7358 editor@countrylines.com


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.

Cover photo: An inhabitant of Critchlow Alligator Sanctuary is ready for its close-up.

6 ROAD TRIPPIN’ Treasure All Around Us: Lake Michigan Rock Hunting with Christal Frost 10 MI CO-OP KITCHEN Mexican-Inspired: Rich in spices, these dishes provide the south-of-the-border flavor you’re craving.


14 SAVING THE GATORS Forsaken reptiles find a safe, if unlikely, home at Critchlow Alligator Sanctuary. 18 GUEST COLUMN The Orchard: For one Cherryland member, the family orchard was much more than a place to pick fruit.

Maybe she’s barn with it. Maybe it’s Neighbelline. @dds_photo #beautifulhorse (Danielle Sullivan)

Be featured!

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


To enter contests, submit reader content & more, visit countrylines.com/community


Win a $50 bill credit!

Up Next: Whole Grains, and Fish & Seafood Go to micoopkitchen.com for more information or recipes@countrylines.com to submit.


Win $150 for stories published! Submit your fondest memories and stories at countrylines.com/community



CO-OP NEWS cherrylandelectric.coop /cherrylandelectriccoop @cherrylandec BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Tom Van Pelt, President 231-386-5234 tvanpelt@cherrylandelectric.coop

David Schweitzer, Senior Vice President 231-883-5860 dschweitzer@cherrylandelectric.coop Gabe Schneider, Secretary 517-449-6453 gschneider@cherrylandelectric.coop Melinda Lautner, Treasurer 231-947-2509 mlautner@cherrylandelectric.coop Terry Lautner, Director 231-946-4623 tlautner@cherrylandelectric.coop John Olson, Director 231-938-1228 jolson@cherrylandelectric.coop

Jon Zickert, Director 231-631-1337 jzickert@cherrylandelectric.coop General Manager: Tony Anderson Co-op Editors: Rachel Johnson, Rob Marsh

OFFICE HOURS Monday–Friday 7:30 a.m.– 4 p.m. TELEPHONE NUMBERS 231-486-9200 or 1-800-442-8616 (Mich.) ADDRESS P.O. Box 298, Grawn, MI 49637 PAY STATION Cherryland Electric Cooperative office 5930 U.S. 31 South, Grawn MI, 49637 Cherryland Electric Cooperative is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Cherryland Office Closed Good Friday The Cherryland office will be closed Friday, April 2, in observance of Good Friday. Normal business hours will resume Monday, April 5. Line crews will be on call to respond to any outages or emergencies. You can report an outage by texting OUT to 800-442-8616, logging into SmartHub, or calling us at 231-486-9200. Visit our website’s Outage Center for more details.

April 12 Is National Lineworker Appreciation Day When the lights go out, so do Cherryland’s line crews. Thank you to Cherryland’s lineworkers for all the work they do to keep northern Michigan’s lights on!

Location of 83rd Annual Meeting Changed To Turtle Creek Stadium Cherryland’s 83rd Annual Meeting will now take place at Turtle Creek Stadium, home of the Traverse City Pit Spitters, on Thursday, June 10. Cherryland will provide details regarding the 83rd Annual Meeting in Michigan Country Lines, on its website, and through social media as the date approaches.

Members Donate To Local Nonprofits Through Cherryland Cares You can help local nonprofits by contributing to Cherryland Cares. Cherryland Cares is funded through the voluntary rounding up of a member’s monthly electric bill to the next whole dollar amount. A member’s average annual contribution is approximately $6. The funds collected through this program are then distributed by the Cherryland Cares Board: a five-member volunteer board that reviews grant applications and allocates the funds to nonprofits seeking assistance. If you are interested in participating, call the Cherryland office at 231-486-9200 or sign up through SmartHub.

Members Earn Rebates With Energy Efficiency Upgrades Cherryland members are eligible to receive rebates for energy efficiency upgrades in their homes or businesses. Common upgrades include replacing incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs and purchasing Energy Star qualified appliances. For a guide to our residential rebate program and a complete listing of rebates available on Energy Star qualified appliances, visit our website at cherrylandelectric.coop/rebates.

4 APRIL 2021

In Sight, Out of Mind Tony Anderson, General Manager


very April, we take a moment to recognize cooperative lineworkers and the rest of the cooperative team that supports them daily. The lineworkers have been the first responders of the utility industry for decades before the pandemic and have remained first responders during the unprecedented COVID-19 period. Certainly, first responders such as nurses, doctors, emergency medical and fire personnel, and police and sheriff officers deserve the spotlight when it comes to serving the public daily. Our region, state and country are blessed to have quality and dedicated first responders that act as separate but coordinated teams to serve others selflessly. Nurses and doctors administer invaluable care that saves lives and provides comfort to people stricken with illness and injury of all types. Electricity powers the alarm that wakes them, the water pump that showers them, and the lights at the hospital that welcome them. Lineworkers make all that possible. When ambulances pull onto the scene of a car that has hit a power pole, causing wires to come down, lineworkers likely arrived ahead of them to shut down the deadly electricity and make the scene safe. Often, the bucket truck and the lineworkers are out of any photos as they watch over the safety of everyone. Then, when flashing lights disappear and the news story is over, the lineworkers set about the work of repairing the damage and restoring the power. There are lineworkers in the shadows holding a pulled meter or the insulated stick that disconnected the transformer at almost every house fire. There is a brief nod or conversation between the lineworkers and the firefighters to verify no electric hazards while fighting the blaze.

Law enforcement personnel often have to leave home at a moment’s notice. The flip of a switch helps them find their boots and gear. The electric garage door opens at the push of a button. The street lights illuminate the darkness and make the street signs visible. Lineworkers make all that possible 24/7/365. COVID-19 has put a spotlight on the deserving first responders regularly in the beacon’s glow. In keeping with the lineworkers’ tradition of providing service that allows other first responders to serve safely and efficiently, the lineworkers have remained in the shadows. Throughout this last year, we have fought to ensure lineworkers are classified as first responders equal to the others mentioned above. But when the time came to allocate vaccinations, lineworkers were not treated as first responders. The lineworkers continued to serve. They always will. Respect and recognition are not needed. They have survived the pandemic thus far and will take pride in doing so without assistance from any governmental agency. The lineworkers know that doing their job well means that the lights are always on and the scene is always safe. In the utility business, consistency means that you get taken for granted. It is part of the success of the industry. Lineworkers drive trucks that are big, bold, and easy to see. The essential and critical service is what so often remains out of mind. Please join me in thanking the lineworkers for being a vital part of the first responder team in our region. I remain proud of all cooperative lineworkers and their fellow employees.



d a o R ’ n i p p i r T

With Christal Frost Treasure All Around Us: Lake Michigan Rock Hunting


t’s a crisp and clear February morning as we make the trek to Frankfort’s Point Betsie Lighthouse. Lake Michigan was a familiar backdrop for my childhood. I spent hours building sandcastles and pressing my feet into the warm sand until my toes found the cold underneath. I often left the beach with a rock—one that I would place on the windowsill in our kitchen until my mom returned it to the outdoors. Even though I think I was always drawn to the colorful rocks that decorated the lakeshore, I never knew the stories behind those treasures until I picked up a copy of the “Lake Michigan Rock Picker’s Guide,” co-authored by the godfather of rock hunting himself, Kevin Gauthier.

Kevin has been drawn to rocks since he was a kid. He would spend hours searching for treasures, a hobby he would turn into a business as a teenager, selling his creations out of a local shoe store. Forty years later, a framed newspaper clipping hangs on the wall of his shop, Korner Gem, in Traverse City. It features a young Kevin smiling next to a small display case. “That was taken right around the time J.R. Ewing got shot on Dallas,” he tells me. “Everyone wanted a belt buckle.” After college, Kevin continued his passion for rock hunting and jewelry making, although his career sent him to Chicago to work for NutraSweet. After a few years of commuting to Traverse City on the weekends, Kevin decided to leave his job and open his own business. In 1996, he opened Korner Gem in Traverse City and a second location in Frankfort in 2020.

Michigan—Rock Hunting Capital of the World Thanks to a few billion years and massive glaciers, Michigan has more varieties of stones than anywhere else in the entire world. As the glaciers moved south, they picked up stones from Canada and the Upper Peninsula and dropped them along the way, leaving rock enthusiasts a prehistoric treasure hunt. Kevin says only half of the rocks we find on the beaches of the Great Lakes are actually from here; the rest are glacial stowaways from the north.

Show & Tell Earlier that morning while rock hunting at Point Betsie, I took Kevin’s advice and chose the ones that caught my eye. “Really, I think the rocks choose you,” Kevin says as I start pulling rocks from my bag for him to examine. Among my finds are Petoskey stones, chain coral, and slag. Christmas Cove Beach, Northport

“The slag is most often called Leland Blue, but it can be found in Frankfort, Elk Rapids, and Marquette,” Kevin explains while inspecting a greenish chunk of slag. Before Kevin heads to the wet saw to cut and polish a few of my rocks, he asks me to look through once more and choose the one I like best. I chose the first rock I picked up that day, a small pinkish/ greenish unakite that had traveled from Lake Superior. Kevin returns 20 minutes later with a polished stone set in a lovely sterling silver ring, and I gasp as I try it on for the first time. There’s an immediate connection. Kevin clearly understands that connection. “That rock has been around for, let’s say conservatively, 4 billion years,” he tells me. “In 4 billion years, you are the first person to pick up that rock. That is special.” It really is special. For as long as I have this ring, I will remember the day I found it—or, more accurately, the day it found me. It was 25 degrees, but the wind was calm. The air smelled like fresh snow and each wave that crashed around my rubber boots brought a slightly changed beach, as thousands of rocks, some older than dinosaurs, moved ever so slightly around me.



327 Main St. Frankfort, MI 49635

Point Betsie Lighthouse, Frankfort

Van’s Beach, Leland

Mission Point Lighthouse, Traverse City

22 22


Empire Beach, Empire

13031 Fisherman Cove, Traverse City, MI 49684 231-929-9175






The Quest To 7,000 Michigander wants to become a lineworker. Michigander becomes an apprentice. Apprentice becomes a journeyman. It’s a tale as old as time. But nothing in life (or in line work) is that simple. To become a journeyman lineworker, there are plenty of steps. For example, in addition to schooling and other training programs, aspiring lineworkers have to complete 7,000 hours of on-the-job training. What do those 7,000 hours look like? In their quest to becoming journeymen lineworkers, apprentices reach several hourly milestones that alter what kind of line work they experience and what type of jobs they can perform. Here’s a breakdown of those 7,000 hours and the milestones apprentices hit along the way.

<1,000 hours Apprentices practice climbing unenergized poles and perform a variety of ground work. They spend most of their time on crews working with underground wire, as this work is mostly done de-energized.

1,000 hours Apprentices can work on up to 600 volts on the ground, but not yet on poles with 12,470/7,200 volt primary wire. This involves working lift poles, meter bases and masts, and secondary pedestals.

2,000 hours

3,000 hours

Apprentices can work on primary poles, but not within reaching distance of any energized primary wire. During this time, they begin working in a bucket truck.

This is a significant milestone as apprentices are allowed to work on the primary system with a qualified lineworker training them. They also can respond to power outages on a crew when opportunities arise.

4,000 hours

5,000 hours

At this time, more responsibility is given to apprentices for their work practices and safety procedures when handling primary wire with qualified lineworkers.

Apprentices are offered more opportunities to plan the work their crew is going to perform. They also continue developing their awareness, skills, and knowledge of working with the primary system.

6,000 hours

7,000 hours Their apprenticeship is complete, and they are now designated as journeymen lineworkers!

As they near the completion of their apprenticeship, they are presented with more opportunities to take the lead and plan bigger work activities. This helps apprentices think through hazards, the steps and sequences of jobs, and crew members’ work assignments.



MI CO-OP Recipes

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

Mexican-Inspired Recipes you’ll be making on repeat.


CHICKEN ENCHILADA SOUP Alice Knoebl, Great Lakes Energy

1 1 2 1 2 1 4 1 ¾ 1 ¼ 2–3 2 1 •

Win a


energy bill credit!

10 APRIL 2021


Whole Grains due May 1 • Fish & Seafood due July 1 Submit your favorite recipe for a chance to win a $50 bill credit and have your recipe featured in Country Lines with a photo and a video. Go to micoopkitchen.com for more information or recipes@countrylines.com to submit.

(10-ounce) can green enchilada sauce (15-ounce) can white beans, drained (15-ounce) cans black beans, drained pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts (4-ounce) cans diced, fire-roasted green chiles, undrained (10.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes teaspoons chili powder tablespoon ground cumin teaspoon paprika teaspoon salt teaspoon black pepper tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, optional cups chicken broth/stock (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened Toppings of choice: pepper jack cheese, sour cream, limes, etc.

Add green enchilada sauce, white and black beans, and chicken into a large slow cooker. Add undrained fireroasted green chilies, diced tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, paprika, salt, pepper, chopped cilantro, and chicken stock/broth. Cover and cook on low for 5–7 hours or on high for 3–5 hours, or until chicken easily shreds. Remove chicken from slow cooker and place into another bowl. Add softened cream cheese to the slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for an additional 30 minutes or until the cream cheese has melted. Whisk to ensure all ingredients are combined. Shred chicken with a fork and add back into the soup. Serve immediately. Add any additional toppings. Watch a video of this month’s winning recipe at micoopkitchen.com/videos

SIMPLE CHICKEN FAJITAS Shelley Ehrenberger, Cherryland 2 ½ ¼ ½ ¼ 1


Michele Smith, Ontonagon REA 1 2 ¹⁄ ³ 1 1 1 3 2 •

pound ground beef tablespoons taco seasoning cup chopped green onions (12-ounce) can evaporated milk (8–10 ounce) can enchilada sauce teaspoon salt (8-inch) flour tortillas cups shredded cheddar or Mexican cheese Toppings: shredded lettuce, sliced jalapeños, sour cream, diced tomatoes, black olives, taco sauce, etc.

tablespoons lemon juice teaspoon salt teaspoon black pepper teaspoon garlic powder teaspoon ground cumin pound boneless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces

Mix sauce ingredients and add chicken (I often double the sauce). Marinate for 30 minutes. Heat skillet and cook chicken, adding oil as necessary, until cooked through and slightly browned. Serve in warmed flour tortilla shells with lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, and any other desired toppings.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Coat an 8x8-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Brown ground beef in a large skillet; drain grease. Add taco seasoning and chopped onions. Stir in milk, sauce and salt. Simmer until hot and bubbly. Cut tortillas into ½-inch strips. In baking dish, alternate layers of tortillas, beef mixture, and cheese three times. Cover dish and bake for 40 minutes. Remove foil, let cool 10 minutes, cut into squares, and serve with desired toppings.


Debbie Speer, Great Lakes Energy 3 chicken breasts, skinless and boneless 1½ teaspoons cayenne pepper, divided 1 tablespoon coarse salt 1 tablespoon ground black pepper 1 tablespoon garlic powder 2 tablespoons butter 1 large onion, minced 2 jalapeño peppers (or poblano for milder flavor), seeded and minced 2 garlic cloves, minced 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened ½ teaspoon paprika ½ teaspoon chili powder 1 tablespoon ground cumin 1 (28-ounce) can green enchilada sauce, divided 8 ounces shredded Monterey Jack cheese 7 flour tortillas (or corn tortillas for gluten free)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Season chicken breasts with 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, salt, ground black pepper, and garlic powder. Bake chicken for 45 minutes (or internal temp of 165 F). Let cool and shred. Set aside. Heat butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add the minced onion, jalapeño peppers, and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in softened cream cheese (in chunks), and remaining ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, paprika, chili powder, and ground cumin. Add the shredded chicken and mix thoroughly. Remove from heat. In a 9x13-inch baking dish, spread half the enchilada sauce over the entire bottom. Fill all tortillas with the chicken mixture and 1 tablespoon of shredded cheese in each. Roll each tortilla and place seam-side down in baking dish. Pour the remaining enchilada sauce over all the tortillas; sprinkle the tops with remaining cheese. Bake for about 30–35 minutes. Serve immediately.



IMPROVE QUALITY OF LIFE Electricity is becoming cleaner every day and can save consumers money on their energy costs over time.

Did you know…

By switching your lawn mower and yard equipment to electric, you will eliminate exhaust fumes, excessive noise, and the gas can.1 Did you know…

Electric induction stoves, which cook food without any flame, will reduce indoor air pollution, and can bring water to a boil about twice as fast as a gas stove.2

Did you know…

Electric vehicles are fun to drive. They accelerate smoothly and generate more torque than gas vehicles.3 1. https://www.nonoise.org/library/qz7/QuietLawns05.pdf 2. https://www.reviewed.com/ovens/features/is-induction-cooking-faster 3. https://www.consumerreports.org/hybrids-evs/electric-cars-101-the-answers-to-all-your-ev-questions/





The Texas Cold Snap

In February, historic snowfall and cold temperatures in Texas crippled the state’s power grid, knocking out power and heat to more than 4 million people. Many of you reached out to us to learn more about what happened and whether or not something like this could happen in Michigan.

Q: What Happened?

A: Essentially, Texas was caught off guard by recordsetting cold weather. Its power grid is built for peak electrical usage in the summer months, so nuclear and coal plants were shut down for regular maintenance at the time the storm struck. In addition, most homes in Texas aren’t built with the same weatherization standards as homes in colder climates. Keeping those Texas homes warm takes more energy. Cold weather is expected in Michigan, and our electric system can handle extreme weather temperatures. Michigan winterizes critical infrastructure components like gas pipelines and wind turbines so they don’t freeze up. These preventative measures cost more to do, but they are necessary to ensure our system will be operable in our cold climate.

Q: How is Michigan’s Power Grid Different?

A: Diversity: Texas has a more isolated power grid, with limited ability to get electricity from other states. Michigan uses a much more diverse grid that is shared with 15 states. An unseasonably hot or cold weather event typically doesn’t span 15 states, so Michigan is able to receive generation from another region when this happens. Deregulation: Large parts of the Texas power grid are deregulated. That means no one company owns all the power plants, transmission lines and distribution networks, and 60% of Texans choose between dozens of power providers. While this competitive market can

help to keep costs low, it also disincentivizes investments in electric infrastructure and generating capacity. In Michigan, there is very limited deregulation that allows a small number of commercial and industrial electric consumers to choose their supplier. Grid Capacity: Michigan utilities are required to demonstrate they have a certain amount of capacity (extra power on hand to prepare for a cold or hot spell). We pay a little more for it, but it’s like insurance. You can get a policy, or you can pass on one. But if things go wrong, you are going to be glad you have one. Michigan has a policy in place; Texas didn’t.

Q: Is a Similar Event Likely to Happen in Michigan?

A: Our grid is weather-hardened and robust. But it is ultimately a matter of math—we must continue to make sure that we have more electricity supply than we do demand. Michigan has retired many of its older power plants over the past five years, but not all of that generating capacity has been replaced. This has put our state at greater risk of reaching our maximum generating capacity. That’s why we must continue to advocate to ensure that Michigan continues to build new electric generation facilities to meet current and future energy needs.

To learn more, listen to Co-op Energy Talk on our website or wherever you listen to podcasts! MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES 13

Critchlow Alligator Sanctuary Is



By Emily Haines Lloyd Photos Courtesy of Critchlow Alligator Sanctuary


hen we think of alligators, we’re flooded with imagery of sunbathing crocodiles on southern golf courses or Evergladesdwelling animals we’d just as soon not have a run-in with. But in Athens, Michigan, alligators are not only living and thriving, but people are actually hoping to have a real-life encounter with these prehistoric-looking beasts. When David Critchlow was a FedEx delivery man, he enjoyed chatting up people on his route, and while there were always interesting stories to hear and packages to deliver, a weird, but common, thread started to arise. “Dad would see a package from an exotic pet supplier and realize he might be delivering a snake,” said David’s daughter, Lina Kelly, the director of animal care and enrichment of Critchlow Alligator Sanctuary. “As time passed, he’d start chatting to folks, and the conversations changed to ‘hey, do you know anyone who wants a snake?’” Peter Critchlow with Godzilla, an 11-foot-long, 500-pound alligator.

14 APRIL 2021

Unsurprisingly, many people who thought a snake would be an interesting pet were less interested when that same pet began to


outgrow its habitat. David was always an animal lover and outdoorsy sort, and he eventually started offering to take in the newly homeless reptiles. “At some point, we had dozens of snakes,” remembers Lina. “Growing up, there were always reptiles around. It felt super normal.” One day, a new request came in, as someone asked David if he knew anyone who could take in an alligator. While David had never owned an alligator before, his heart couldn’t take the idea that the animal would be put down because its owner hadn’t thought through the consequences. David figured out what it would take to make a suitable environment for an alligator and become a new foster owner. Little by little, word spread that there was a guy who would take in alligators, and the family eventually had 10 to 30 of them housed in fenced-in areas in the backyard at any given time. “Eventually, people would just drive up to the house and ask if they could go take a look at the alligators,” said Lina. “We’d give them these little tours and tell them about each alligator’s story and what we knew. That’s how the sanctuary got started.” In 2007, David made his informal reptile shelter into a fulltime sanctuary. The family learned about alligators, snakes, and even tortoises, as new members continually found their way to the Critchlows. It involved extensive research, along with reptile-related workshops and conferences, to understand the animals, as well as finding out how to best feed, house, and even train them. The Critchlows never buy or sell any of the animals in their care—all are rescues. “We’ve learned so much over the years,” said Lina. “And it’s important always to be learning more, so we can help as many animals as we can.”



“WE LOVE WHAT WE DO, BUT IN SOME WAYS, WE’D RATHER NOT BE IN THE REPTILE RESCUING BUSINESS. WE’D RATHER HAVE PEOPLE MAKE SMARTER DECISIONS ABOUT WHETHER OR NOT THEY’RE CAPABLE OF THE COMMITMENT.” —LINA KELLY The sanctuary has grown into a home for turtles, tortoises, snakes, and nearly 200 alligators in the past decade. All the alligators are given names, but training them to learn their names happens when they are around 5 feet in length. These include Godzilla, an 11-foot-long and 500-pound fella, and Medusa—named because she’s not exactly attractive and is a little on the cranky side. Another, named Grace, is a 100-pounder who came to the sanctuary with a missing left foot. She’s been trained to lie still for medical treatment, a positive sign for some additional training David looks to do. If it sounds like a lot to do, it’s because it is. So, to round out the crew, Lina, along with her nephew (Alex) and her brother (Peter), all came on board to help with the family business. They’re committed to making education a huge arm of their mission, with David doing hundreds of school and community presentations a year. “A little baby alligator is cute. There’s no denying it. But you have to think of the animal and be ready for when that baby grows up,” said Lina. “We love what we do, but in some ways, we’d rather not be in the reptile rescuing business. We’d rather have people make smarter decisions about whether or not they’re capable of the commitment.” For now, the need is still there, and the Critchlow Alligator Sanctuary remains a safe space for displaced reptiles. It’s an unlikely place where these animals can live out their lives while enriching the lives of those who make the visit and are willing to learn.

For more information, visit alligatorsanctuary.com. 1698 M-66, Athens, MI 49011 • (269) 729-4802




Garden 1. “Peek-a-boo, spring! I see you!” by Bobbie Sherman  2. “Farm garden bounty” by Leah Harris  3. “The power of flowers” by Carrie Noren  4. “Interlochen blooms” by Erin Heilman  5. “My hibiscus plant, me and my dog, Chance” by Shirley Blanchard

Most votes on Facebook!




Enter to win a


energy bill credit!


Submit Your “Dad & Me” Photos!

Submit your best photo and encourage your friends to vote! The photo receiving the most votes in our Facebook contest will be printed in an issue of Country Lines along with some of our other favorites. Our April theme is Dad & Me. Photos can be submitted through April 20 to be featured in our June issue.

Enter Your Photos And Win A Bill Credit!

To enter the contest, visit cherrylandelectric.coop/photo-contest or visit facebook.com/ cherrylandelectriccoop and click “Photo Contest” from the menu tabs. Enter your picture, cast your vote, and encourage others to vote for you as well. If your photo is printed in Country Lines during 2021, you will be entered to win a credit of up to $200 on your December 2021 bill. 16 APRIL 2021


Your Board In Action

February Board Meeting • The board approved changes to select board meeting dates in 2021. These date changes will occur in September, October, and November. The dates will be published on the cooperative’s website. • The board approved recommended updates to the Cherryland Cares bylaws. Cherryland Cares is a charitable fund overseen by a group of volunteer members who review grant applications and allocate funds to nonprofit organizations seeking assistance. • The cooperative’s member relations manager provided an update regarding Cherryland’s specialty rebate program. In addition to offering rebates for energy efficiency upgrades in the home, Cherryland also offers rebates to purchase specialty electric appliances, vehicles, and heating and cooling systems.

5 STEPS FOR SAFE DIGGING Working on an outdoor project? Always call 8-1-1 first, because you never know what’s below. Here are five easy steps for safe digging: Source: call811.com

1. NOTIFY Call 8-1-1 or make a request online two to three days before you start.





Wait two to three days for a response to your request. Affected utilities will send a locator to mark any underground utility lines.

Confirm that all affected utilities have responded by comparing the markers to the list of utilities the 8-1-1 call center notified.

Respect the markers provided by the affected utilities. They are your guide for the duration of your project.

If you can’t avoid digging near the markers (within 18-24 inches on all sides, depending on state laws), consider moving your project.


MI CO-OP Community

The Orchard Road

Gearing Cherry Orchard, 1971

Guest Column

The Orchard

By Rebecca Carlson, Cherryland Electric Cooperative member


he best angle from where to throw the rotting sour cherries and have the most victim impact is to position yourself in one of the trees. Quietly find the best branch, have ammunition in hand (also a great source of sustenance while waiting for victims) aim and FIRE! Each of us knew if the cherry juice got on our shirts or jeans, it was close to impossible to get the stain out. It was so easy to simply destroy someone’s favorite Star Wars or Peter Frampton t-shirt. But you better be able to ninja your way out of the tree to escape retribution and run like blazes, or be ready with lots of cherries. It was a daily ritual to walk the forest road up to the cherry orchard, the best playground in the world. The orchard is full sun, quiet, and is protected on all sides by a thick forest. There is no noise from Jacobsen Road, just farm noises from our neighbors. At the peak of the orchard, 600 Montmorency cherry trees covered about 35 acres. The old Omena stagecoach road separates our orchard from Donny Hermann’s perfectly manicured cherry trees. He had Queen Anne, black, and sour cherries in his larger

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orchard. We were a weekend farming family, while he was a full-time family business. The most magical time of the day in the orchard was nighttime. Although it was a little scary making our way up the forest road, it was worth the trip as you emerged from the dark two-track road into the orchard. The only light came from the moon and stars. It was the best place in the world for stargazing and scaring the heck out of a poor victim. Every night, the orchard trees would be waiting for our crew to arrive and witness the night’s activities: a game of bloody murder or good old-fashioned tag. Over the years, we broke fingers, arms, ankles, and egos, bruised just about every part of the body, destroyed clothing, and I cannot think of a time I miss more.

Rebecca is a college English professor. She enjoys traveling, writing, and paddle boarding on West Bay.

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