April 2022 Great Lakes

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April 2022


COUNTRY LINES Great Lakes Energy Cooperative

Choose Your Own Adventure WITH GEOCACHING

Greetings from Your New CEO

Working Smarter with Energy Wise 2021 Performance Standards


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Contents countrylines.com

April 2022 Vol. 42, No. 4



6 GROWING ORGANICALLY Through enthusiasm, a commitment to sustainability, and roots in the community, Bear Creek Organic Farm has achieved its vision of a “homestead on steroids.”

Michigan’s Electric Cooperatives

10 MI CO-OP KITCHEN Spice It Up: Kick up the heat.

EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Casey Clark EDITOR: Christine Dorr

14 CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE WITH GEOCACHING Nature enthusiasts and tech lovers alike will delight in the world’s largest treasure hunt.


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.

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


Want to walk with me? Don’t forget your microspikes #repost @cindyscoviacphotos (Cindy Scoviac)

MI CO-OP COMMUNITY To enter contests, submit reader content & more, visit countrylines.com/community



Win a $50 bill credit!

Win $150 for stories published!

Up Next: Potatoes, due May 1; Pasta Salads, due July 1

Submit your fondest memories and stories at countrylines.com/community.

Submit your recipe at micoopkitchen.com, or send it via email (include your full name and co-op) to recipes@countrylines.com.



Changing Of The Guard

gtlakes.com /greatlakesenergy /jointruestream BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Robert Kran, Chairman, District 6 231-464-5889 bkran@glenergy.com

Howard Bowersox, Vice Chairman, District 8 219-670-0977 hbowersox@glenergy.com John LaForge, Secretary, District 9 269-623-2284 jlaforge@glenergy.com Dale Farrier, Treasurer, District 5 231-564-0853 dfarrier@glenergy.com Paul Byl, Director, District 7 231-861-5911 pbyl@glenergy.com

Mark Carson, Director, District 2 231-675-0561 mcarson@glenergy.com

David Coveyou, Director, District 1 231-347-4056 dcoveyou@glenergy.com Richard Evans, Director, District 3 231-883-3146 revans@glenergy.com

Shelly Pinkelman, Director, District 4 989-390-6222 spinkelman@glenergy.com PRESIDENT/CEO: Shaun Lamp 888-485-2537 COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR/EDITOR: Brett Streby 231-487-1389 • bstreby@glenergy.com BOYNE CITY HEADQUARTERS 1323 Boyne Ave. Boyne City, MI 49712

Hours: 7 a.m.–5:30 p.m. M–F Phone: 888-485-2537 Email: glenergy@glenergy.com TO REPORT AN OUTAGE: Call 888-485-2537 or login to your account at gtlakes.com. Change of Address: 888-485-2537, ext. 8924 Great Lakes Energy is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

4 APRIL 2022

Shaun Lamp, Great Lakes Energy President/CEO


n late March, I stepped into my new role as President & CEO of Great Lakes Energy. When I first started working for the cooperative more than 20 years ago as an applications supervisor with the IT department, it was impossible to fully appreciate what a tremendous opportunity lay in front of me. Every day since then, my appreciation for Great Lakes Energy, our members, our employees, and our board of directors has grown. Continuing to take part in something bigger than myself makes it a pleasure to serve all of you. Throughout my career, I have been surrounded by outstanding people, each of them inspiring me to push myself to grow and improve. As my role within the cooperative evolved from supervisor to manager to director and then vice president, I drew from the support of my team to succeed. So now, while the name before the President & CEO title is changing, the team supporting the role will continue to serve as a foundation as we build upon the success of my predecessor. Bill Scott and I have worked together for the past 20 years, and I would like to thank him on behalf of our board of directors, our employees, and myself for his contributions to GLE. We have seen tremendous growth under his leadership, and he will be greatly missed. The amount of change our cooperative has in front of us is unprecedented. Power supply sources, pricing structures, energy efficiency opportunities, energy delivery methods, and member expectations are in constant motion. We have remained nimble, able to react and address changes appropriately. Most recently, I served in a leadership position helming the growth of our expanding Truestream fiber network. Embracing change, and using the experience as a means for improvement, is a recurring theme throughout my career at GLE. I am confident that our team and our supportive board of directors will face future opportunities and challenges head-on. As we move forward, it is important to acknowledge that change can cause some uncertainty. However, I am very confident in our ability to handle the new opportunities we have in front of us because of the team we have at GLE. You can trust that each decision we make is done so by looking through the lens of our members’ perspectives. These are exciting times ahead of us, and I am honored, humbled, and thrilled to continue on this journey with you.

“ You can trust that each decision we make is done so by looking through the lens of our members’ perspectives.”

Three Openings On GLE Board ominating petitions are available in three districts for Great Lakes Energy (GLE) members who wish to seek election to the cooperative’s board of directors.


Three board positions, each for three years, will need to be filled. Qualifying GLE members who reside in districts 6, 8, or 9 can seek election to the board. Counties by district are: District 6 – Lake and Mason counties District 8 – Clare, Mecosta, and Osceola counties District 9 – Allegan, Barry, Kent, Montcalm, and Ottawa counties

Bob Kran, District 6

Howard Bowersox, District 8

The terms of directors Bob Kran of Free Soil (District 6), Howard Bowersox of Stanwood (District 8), and John LaForge of Delton (District 9) expire this year. Bowersox and LaForge plan to seek re-election. To get a name on the ballot, qualifying member-owners of the electric cooperative who maintain a primary residence within its service area must file a nominating petition. Petitions must be signed by at least 50 active GLE members within the candidate’s district. Completed petitions are due June 10, 2022, by noon to the GLE office in Boyne City. Visit gtlakes.com/board-of-directors to request a petition or learn more.


Beaver Island

John LaForge, District 9




When Do We Vote? Great Lakes Energy members elect a candidate from within their district to the cooperative’s board of directors once every three years. Find the district you reside in below to determine when you will receive a mail-in ballot that is mailed in July with the annual election issue of Michigan Country Lines.




2022 Election District 6 – Lake and Mason counties District 8 – Clare, Mecosta, and Osceola counties District 9 – Allegan, Barry, Kent, Montcalm, and Ottawa counties

2023 Election District 3 – Antrim County District 4 – Crawford, Montmorency, Oscoda, and Otsego counties District 5 – Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Manistee, Missaukee, and Wexford counties





















2024 Election District 1 – Emmet County District 2 – Charlevoix and Cheboygan counties District 7 – Muskegon and Oceana counties





Courtney Kent Photography

Growing Organically I

n 2014, when Anne and Brian Bates started looking for a piece of land where they could start organic farming, they had a wild but achievable vision. “We wanted to create a homestead,” said Brian. “On steroids.” Entering year nine of Bear Creek Organic Farm, Petoskey's first-ever 100% USDA Certified Organic Farm and the first B Corp Certified Farm in the state of Michigan, things have gotten a little bigger than the Bateses first imagined. It’s mostly because their raw enthusiasm, passion, and pluck were just the “steroids” that their 76-acre piece of land needed to grow into a thriving business. While other business owners may kick things off with a one- or five-year plan, the Bateses were looking at something a bit more long-term. 6

APRIL 2022

“When you’re looking at farming, it’s not a quick-turn business,” said Brian. “We were looking for something that we could grow over 50 or 60 years.” The couple was looking at more northern climates, ultimately to hedge their bet against the fallout of climate change. The sandy terroir of Emmet County ended up the final winner. With neither hailing from farming families, Brian and Anne took internships on CSA farms, attended lots of farming seminars, and even ventured into Beekeeping 101. “There’s a lot of knowledge that gets passed down on family farms,” said Brian. “We were starting from scratch. But it felt like we’d ventured into the Old West. There was so much to learn, but everything seemed possible.” While they lacked the generational knowledge, their enthusiasm and even their naivete seemed to blend perfectly with the sandy soil of

By Emily Haines Lloyd

northern Michigan, as the farm started to grow as wildly as their crops. When asked about the decision to maintain a fully organic farm, Brian insists that while it aligns with their personal values, it wasn’t because they were looking to be rebels. “We knew we’d be the first organic farm in the area,” said Brian. “It’s not to be some sort of counter-culture revolutionary. We believe it is the most sustainable way to grow food, and we want to be part of the solution for the long haul.” Similar to their organic commitment, the Bateses have also invested in balancing the resources the farm consumes with a commitment to energy. As members of Great Lakes Energy Cooperative, the Bateses have invested in a 30-panel solar array. “When we first started the farm, we had this idea of making our own energy. We’d never heard of an

If we support the making of ‘good electrons,’ we feel like the market will see the value in the co-op model and we can all start supporting renewable energy producers.

electric co-op before,” said Brian. “If we support the making of ‘good electrons,’ we feel like the market will see the value in the co-op model and we can all start supporting renewable energy producers.”

With production booming (Bear Creek had their first million-dollar year), a dozen full-time employees, and 85% of their crops sold and consumed within a 12-mile radius of the farm–the idea of the lonesome homestead is long gone. As the Bateses have come to understand and know their community, as well as get more involved in groups like the local Chamber of Commerce, Crooked Tree Arts Center, and Thriving Petoskey, Brian and Anne understand more and more how deeply community affects farm life. As COVID-19 changed the lives of everyone, often closing people off–the

Bateses were faced with the opposite reality. With farmers markets closing, Brian and Anne actually opened Bear Creek Organic Farm up to the public. Intermingling between staff and customers, sharing time and space, and with a passion for lovingly grown food—Bear Creek Organic Farm keeps growing both logistically and communally. “We started out with this idea of doing everything on our own, but there is nothing sustainable about

In addition to the solar array panel that produces 10kW of renewable energy to the farm, Bear Creek Organic Farm is committed to sustainability in a variety of ways, including: • Passive solar hoophouses and greenhouses • Ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel in their tractor • Clamshells are made in Michigan from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic and are 100% recyclable • Packaging boxes, flats, and cartons are made 100% recyclable in Michigan • Transplant containers and propagation flats are made locally,

living on an island of self-reliance,” said Brian. “With every person we’ve met, everyone who has answered a question, or helped fix a tractor or build a greenhouse–we wouldn’t go back to the initial idea. Not when there is this new version with so many beautiful humans rooting for you.” It looks like another bumper crop of certified organic vegetables, civic engagement, and compassionate community for Bear Creek Organic Farm this year.

of recycled plastic, and are fully recyclable • “Plastic” produce bags at their on-farm market are 100% plantbased and 100% biodegradable in normal compost piles • Paper shopping bags are 100% recycled paper and 100% recyclable • Beehives are never treated with any fungicides, insecticides, or pesticides, ever

For more information, visit: bearcreekorganicfarm.com /bearcreekorganicfarm /bearcreekorganicfarm



Make Every Day

Earth Day


arth Day is a time for us to “think green” in our dayto-day lives. The good news is “going green” isn’t just good for the environment—it can often lead to more green in our wallets. One way to save energy is to find devices around the house that draw small amounts of electricity even when they are turned off or in “standby” mode. The best way to do this is with an electric usage meter that can be purchased for about $20. Just plug the meter into a wall socket and then plug the device you want to check into the meter. Here are a few examples of common items that are always drawing power when they are plugged in: Single-cup coffee maker (standby mode) – 1.8 watts Power supply for reclining sofa – 0.5 watts Electric heating pad turned off – 0.7 watts Just these three devices alone, left plugged in all the time, add up to about 26 kilowatt-hours, or about $3 per year. That may seem small now, but when compounded across all the devices in your home, the drain truly adds up. How many devices around your home are drawing unnecessary energy? Here are five more household energy-saving tips from the U.S. Department of Energy that can really make a difference over time.

Install and set a programmable thermostat You can save an estimated 10% per year on heating and cooling costs by using a programmable thermostat.

8 APRIL 2022

Switch to Energy Star appliances Using Energy Star certified products throughout your home could save nearly $750 over the lifetime of the products.

Choose energy-saving lighting Replacing five of your home’s most frequently used lights with energy-efficient bulbs, such as LED bulbs, could save as much as $75 per year in energy costs. It only takes an LED bulb about 8-12 watts of electricity to put out the same amount of light as a 60-watt incandescent bulb.

Don’t get into hot water Check the temperature setting of your water heater. Steps such as lowering the temperature setting will save energy costs. Installing low-flow showerheads will lower both water and water heating costs.

Maintain your systems Check and replace heating system filters regularly and have a qualified technician conduct annual maintenance on your heating and cooling systems to keep them running at top efficiency.

For many more money- and energy-saving tips, visit www.energy.gov/energysaver/ energy-saver.




Plants and Flowers 1. Coneflower (Echinacea) at Sunset—William Webster, Ellsworth 2. Zinnia—Heidi Kemp, Frederic 3. Pretty and Pink—Sherry Franklin, Reed City 4. Beautiful Blue—Michelle Morris, East Jordan 5. Sunflowers Abound—Jacqueline Euper, Hershey 6. Poppies in a Field—Stacy Reynolds, Walkerville


Enter to win a


energy bill credit!







Submit Your “Hometown Pride” Photos By April 20!

Each month, members can submit photos on our website for our photo contest. The photo with the most votes is published here along with other selections. Our April theme is Hometown Pride. Photos can be submitted by April 20 to be featured in the June issue.

How To Enter: Enter the contest at gtlakes.com/photocontest/. Make sure to vote and encourage others to vote for you, too. The photo receiving the most votes will be printed in an issue of Michigan Country Lines along with other favorites. All photos printed in the magazine in 2022 will be entered to win a $200 bill credit in December 2022. MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES


MI CO-OP Recipes

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

SPICE IT UP Kick up the heat.


Bean Cakes: 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided 6 garlic cloves, minced 2 fresh jalapeños, seeded and finely diced 1 tablespoon ground cumin 2 (14-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained (pat dry) ¼ teaspoon salt ¼ teaspoon black pepper 2 cups finely grated raw sweet potato (press with paper towels to remove moisture) 4 green onions, thinly sliced 1 egg, lightly beaten ½ cup panko breadcrumbs Lime Sour Cream: ½ cup sour cream 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice 1 small jalapeño, seeded and minced • salt and pepper, to taste



energy bill credit!

10 APRIL 2022

Potatoes due May 1 • Pasta Salads 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. Submit your recipe at micoopkitchen.com, or send it via email (include your full name and co-op) to recipes@countrylines.com.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in medium skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, jalapeño, and cumin; sauté until softened and fragrant. Transfer contents of skillet to a large mixing bowl. Stir in black beans and mash well. Add salt, black pepper, sweet potato, green onions, egg, and breadcrumbs. Divide into 12 balls and flatten into patties. To the medium skillet over medium heat, add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and sauté the bean cakes, turning often so as not to burn. Cook about 5–6 minutes or more on each side, until browned and cooked through. To make lime sour cream, mix the sour cream, lime juice, jalapeño, and salt/pepper in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate (can be made first). Serve black bean cakes topped with lime sour cream. Note: You can also bake the cakes at 375 F for 30–45 minutes (spray both sides with baking oil first), then flip 20 minutes in to ensure even cooking. The longer you bake, the firmer and drier they will get. Watch a video of this month’s winning recipe at micoopkitchen.com/videos

KICKIN’ HOT CHOCOLATE Deb Finedell, Great Lakes Energy

2 cups whole milk ½ teaspoon vanilla extract 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon sugar ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon • pinch kosher salt • generous pinch cayenne pepper or hot chili powder 3½ ounces chopped dark chocolate • whipped cream to serve, optional

Combine milk, vanilla, sugar, cinnamon, salt, and cayenne (or chili powder) in a medium pot. Heat over medium heat until simmering. Reduce the heat a little and gently simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes. Add chopped chocolate. Cook, whisking, until the chocolate is fully melted and emulsified. Taste for sweetness and spice. Adjust as needed. Pour hot chocolate into mugs. Add whipped cream if desired. Serve immediately. Enjoy!


Tommie Schmidt, Midwest Energy & Communications 2 ½ ½ ½ 1 1 1 1 1 1 1

tablespoons olive oil cup diced green peppers cup diced white or yellow onion cup diced celery teaspoon chili powder (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes (8-ounce) can tomato sauce tablespoon hot sauce tablespoon Worcestershire sauce teaspoon white sugar pound raw shrimp, peeled and deveined

To a medium skillet over medium heat, add the oil, peppers, onion, and celery. Sauté until soft. Add to slow cooker. Add chili powder, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and white sugar. Cover and cook on high 3 hours. Add shrimp, cover, and cook an additional 3–5 minutes. Serve over rice. Serves 8.

ALL-IN FIRED UP CHILI Dennis Miller, Great Lakes Energy

1 pound ground round, browned, crumbled, and drained 1 pound Bob Evans hot breakfast sausage, browned, crumbled, and drained 1 pound stew beef, seared 1 pound boneless/skinless chicken breast, cut into chunks and cooked 1 large red onion, diced 1 large red bell pepper, diced 1 large green bell pepper, diced 1 cup celery, chopped 3 cloves garlic, minced 4–5 hot peppers (serrano, jalapeño, habanero, etc.), diced

1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chiles 1 (28-ounce) can stewed tomatoes 1 (15-ounce) can hot chili beans 1 (15-ounce) can Great Northern beans 1 (15-ounce) can red kidney beans 1 (15-ounce) can black beans 1 bottle spicy V8 juice 3 tablespoons chili powder Add all ingredients to a large stew pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer low, stirring occasionally, for at least 2 hours. Serve in a bowl with a dollop of sour cream and crumbled corn chips.



Working Smarter, Not Harder E

nergy Wise is a revamped energy efficiency program that provides Great Lakes Energy members with incentives for efficient home upgrades and overall savings. The program targets members with aging appliances and/or inefficient home heating and cooling systems, or those who simply wish to reduce their carbon footprint. The goal is to ensure that older, power-hungry equipment that causes higher electric bills and drain on the grid be replaced with energy-efficient alternatives. The program rewards members for their energy optimization efforts with rebates that offset a portion of the purchase and installation of the new equipment. With older, inefficient equipment being replaced, the overall demand for electricity can be reduced, a goal benefiting all GLE members. Is your inefficient furnace working overtime to keep a comfortable temperature in your home? Energy Wise provides rebates on qualified replacement systems. Replacing an old refrigerator with a new ENERGY STAR model qualifies for a rebate. There will be appliance recycling events held throughout the GLE service area for members to drop off their old refrigerators, freezers, room air conditioners, and dehumidifiers—complete with a rebate. Even replacing an older thermostat for a Wi-Fienabled version with occupancy-sensing capabilities could net you a rebate. Replacing sources of direct fossil fuel consumption with electric alternatives, also known as beneficial electrification, is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. With electric versions of lawnmowers and home battery backups 12 APRIL 2022

replacing fossil fuel-powered generators, taking advantage of beneficial electrification has never been easier. To sweeten the deal, Energy Wise provides rebates for these, as well. Income-qualified GLE members who are eligible for the Pathways program can receive monthly bill payment assistance and energy efficiency guidance as an extension of Energy Wise, too. This leg of the program is provided in collaboration with TrueNorth Community Services and was originally established with our previous energy efficiency program. Energy Wise builds from the success of the Energy Optimization program that ended in late 2021. For 13 years, residential and commercial GLE members took advantage of the energy efficiency program born out of state-driven legislation. With the added flexibility to enhance and expand upon an already proven model, Energy Wise is now available to continue making a difference for GLE members. Before you purchase new hardware and get your home working smarter, not harder, visit gtlakes.com/energy-wise/ for program details and qualifications. For larger home heating and cooling system upgrades, work with your contractor to ensure your solution will qualify for rebates.

When the power goes out, we go to work right away to get your power turned on as quickly and safely as possible.

2021 Annual Standards And Results

Meeting High Standards GLE exceeds state performance standards.


reat Lakes Energy exceeded nine out of the 10 state-mandated standards for electric service and reliability in 2021.

Thousands of Great Lakes Energy members are benefiting from improvements in reliability and service. It has led to our success in meeting all 10 state performance standards in eight of the last 15 years. The addition of more line protection devices, use of new technologies, improvements to major line circuits, and ongoing vegetation management to limit tree damage to power lines are all helping to get the lights back on safely and more quickly for members during storms. The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) requires electric utilities to annually report how well they are able to meet standards established to protect consumers from unacceptable levels of electric service and reliability. Standards to help measure utility performance in emergency outage situations are included.

Complaint Response. A utility must respond in three business days or less to at least 90% of any formal complaints filed against it with the MPSC. GLE score: 100%

Outage Restoration (Normal Conditions). At least 90% of the customers should have their power restored in eight hours or less. GLE score: 98.18%

Call Blockage. No more than 5% of incoming calls should receive a busy signal. GLE score: 25.82%

Outage Restoration (Catastrophic Conditions). At least 90% of the customers should have their power restored in 60 hours or less. GLE score: 97.77%

Meter Reading. At least 85% of the meters must be read within the approved time period. GLE score: 99.6% Wire Down Relief Factor. At least 90% of the time, a utility must respond within four hours to non-utility employees, such as firefighters, who request relief from guarding a downed power line. GLE score: 100% New Service Installation. At least 90% of new services must be installed in 15 business days or less. Great Lakes Energy handled 1,666 new service installations last year, including those installed in combination with primary lines. GLE score: 93.32% Average Call Answer Time. Calls must be answered on average in less than 90 seconds. In 2021, the cooperative handled over 141,286 calls through its call center and outage and operator queues. GLE score: 47 seconds

State rules define catastrophic conditions as either severe weather conditions that result in service interruptions to at least 10% of a utility’s customers or events of sufficient magnitude that result in a government-issued state of emergency declaration.

Outage Restoration (All Conditions). Power should be restored to at least 90% of the customers in 36 hours or less under normal and catastrophic conditions. GLE score: 96.1% Same Circuit Repetitive Interruption. No more than 5% of the utility’s electric circuits should experience five or more outages in a 12-month period. GLE score: 1.33% Getting the lights back on quickly is another way Great Lakes Energy looks out for you.


Choose Your Own Adventure WITH GEOCACHING


erhaps the most concise explanation of geocaching can be found on a bumper sticker that reads:

A scavenger hunt using multimillion-dollar satellites to find Tupperware in the woods. If that’s not quite enough to get you interested in the sport—and yes, enthusiasts insist it’s a sport—then maybe a few more details might help. The perfect combination of technology and nature, geocaching started more than 20 years ago in Oregon using decommissioned satellites and longitude and latitude coordinates to locate a specific spot. This outdoor recreational activity uses a GPS receiver or mobile phone to locate a “cache” in a specific location that is uploaded to the official website—geocaching.com. Your average cache is a small, waterproof container that must at the very least contain a logbook and sometimes a pen or pencil. Just as often, tiny toys or tchotchkes can be found with a “take one/leave one” exchange policy. All you have to do to join the fun is create a free profile on the website and prepare to get hooked. Most of us already hold the key tool in our hands, a mobile device with some navigational ability. Also required is

14 APRIL 2022

By Emily Haines Lloyd Photos courtesy of Jamie Ball, Michigan DNR.

something we all started out with, but have often forgotten along the way–our sense of curiosity. “Geocaching gives you this fun reason to go exploring,” said Stephanie Yancer, social media coordinator for Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR). “You get out there in the woods or the wild and there is this wave of fun and excitement you can’t help but feel.” Walking through parks, forests, hilltops, and even urban environments, a cache can be found anywhere. With caches located in 191 different countries, on all seven continents, this global treasure hunt may well speak to our fascination with buried and lost treasure and tug at our inner Indiana Jones. With more than 3 million caches around the world, it’s no wonder there are 7 million active geocachers on geocaching.com. Locally in Michigan, there are many avid geocachers, including individuals who belong to MiGO (Michigan Geocaching Organization). Steve Bassette, who is the president of the executive committee and an avid geocacher himself, has helped grow interest in the sport, which also promotes environmental stewardship and an appreciation of the outdoors.

“I ‘accidentally’ came across geocaching when my wife and I were camping and kept seeing a couple hopping on and off their bikes in the woods where we were set up. We finally asked them what they were doing,” said Bassette. “They explained geocaching to us and we’ve been hooked ever since.” Bassette and MiGO hope to leave the discovery of the sport less up to chance and are determined instead to bring as much attention to geocaching as they can. MiGO has partnered often with the DNR and other organizations to coordinate year-round events, including Camp MiGO every August and specialized events like the Michigan State Parks GeoTour, which celebrated our state parks’ 100-year anniversary in 2019 by placing 100 new caches throughout the state that can now be accessed annually.

“You get out there in the woods or the wild and there is this wave of fun and excitement you can’t help but feel.”

“After surveying folks who participated in the GeoTour, we found that people had discovered 80 new parks on average for themselves through the event,” said Yancer. “This is the heart of geocaching—discovering something new.” Yancer has even found herself discovering things in environments she thought she knew well. While participating in an Adventure Lab, a sort of clue-based cache that involves multiple sites, Yancer took a colleague on a tour of the murals in downtown Bay City, where she works. She saw many wonderfully expressive paintings– some she knew, some she didn’t, and some she was seeing with new eyes. “It was such a great way to show someone Bay City,” said Yancer. “And to rediscover it for myself.” Ultimately, geocaching can be as simple or complicated as you want it to be. Each cache is identified by two indicators–difficulty and terrain. You can use your phone or find yourself a GPS receiver. You can look in Antarctica or Ann Arbor for treasure. In the end, it’s your quest. “The best part of geocaching is the unexpected adventures it takes you on,” said Bassette.

Geocaching Go Bag After creating your free profile on geocaching.com, Stephanie Yancer recommends pulling together a small backpack that’s ready to go. She recommends: • Bottles for water • Snacks • First aid kit • Bug spray and sunscreen • Extra batteries (if you’re using a GPS receiver)



Going ‘Old School’ T

he Fife Lake Historical Society’s mission is to preserve and teach people about the past. So, it seems only fitting that the organization’s three buildings have deep roots in education. The society is located in the southeastern Grand Traverse County community of Fife Lake, a village of about 500 residents near the lake of the same name. The community was founded shortly after the railroad came to the area. The buildings now known as the historical society’s fire barn and schoolhouse were built in 1876 and 1878, respectively. Both served as schools in the community until 1885, when a new, larger school was built. The northern schoolhouse became the township hall. In the early 1940s, the village library also moved into the building. When the township, and later the library, moved into new buildings, the township sold the schoolhouse to the historical society. In 2021, Great Lakes Energy members, through their contributions to the People Fund, provided a $5,000 grant to help pay for a new roof on the schoolhouse. The new roof will help ensure the schoolhouse and the artifacts inside will stay well-preserved for many years to come, Society Board President Joyce Freiwald said. The original southern school building was moved to its current location, where it served as home to the local fire

16 APRIL 2022

department for many years. Today, the building houses an emergency services museum. Displays include uniforms from 120 years ago, large-wheeled firefighting equipment, a 1937 fire truck, and a display illustrating medical care and emergency services from the past. The society’s museum building was erected in 1896, first as a church, then as a community center, and then as the gym for the Fife Lake school district. The Fife Lake Historical Society formed in 1967, and the school district deeded the building to the historical society in 1972. In addition to the many artifacts, documents, and photographs the society has on display, it also has a collection of local newspapers from the late 1800s through the 1940s and a collection of genealogical information. In the winter of 1977, the heavy snow from a severe storm caused the roof of the museum to collapse. Thankfully, Joyce said, many of the artifacts in the museum escaped damage, thanks to the sturdy cases that had been obtained from a University of Michigan museum. Following a year of fundraising, a two-day, barn-raisingstyle event took place, during which about 25 men constructed a building shell over the original foundation and floor. During the next two years, the organization raised an additional $5,000 for windows, doors, wiring, insulation, drywall, and other necessities.

Crews work on replacing the roof on the Fife Lake Historical Society’s historic schoolhouse in 2021. The project was funded in part by a $5,000 grant from Great Lakes Energy’s People Fund.

Students from the Fife Lake Elementary School gather for a group photo in front of the Fife Lake Historical Society’s schoolhouse during their visit to the society’s grounds in the spring of 2018.

But Joyce said the society is about more than just buildings and the things inside them: It’s about bringing history to life for people. Every spring for about the past 20 years, the society has invited students from nearby Fife Lake Elementary School to spend the day experiencing what school was like more than 100 years ago. During the day, students learn the rules of the time, hold a spelling bee, do recitations, and vie for the dunce chair. The students then tour the historical museum and go on a walking tour of the community to complete their day. The organization also offers a scholarship program to high school students who are willing to volunteer 40 hours to the organization for two summers. The society’s buildings are open to the public from 1–4 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Joyce said the society is happy to accommodate special requests from groups that might be visiting the area at other times. The society typically hosts an annual barbecue as one of its main fundraisers and three informational programs each summer on topics of local and historical interest. Joyce said that this coming summer, the society plans to host some events focusing on the 150th anniversary of the village’s founding. Joyce noted, “Fife Lake people are very generous with their time and money. We really appreciate their support.”

For more information about the Fife Lake Historical Society, or to learn about getting involved with the organization, visit fifelakehistoricalsociety.org/. MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES 17



ADVENTURES FOR RURAL VETERANS—APPLY BY MAY 13 IN-PERSON EXPEDITIONS WILL TAKE PLACE IN JULY AND AUGUST Michigan electric cooperatives believe there should be “No Barriers” for veterans with disabilities. That’s the name and idea behind CoBank’s No Barriers initiative. Michigan cooperatives are looking for qualified veterans* from our local community to participate. No Barriers is a five-day, all-expenses-paid expedition in Colorado, designed to help veterans with disabilities transform their lives through curriculum-based experiences in challenging environments (climbing, rafting, and hiking).

If you are a disabled veteran, or you know of a disabled veteran in our community who would like to participate in the No Barriers program, please complete the form on our website:

countrylines.com/nobarriers *Must have VA disability rating to be eligible.

Well-Connect qualifies for rebates and a 26% tax credit through 2022. Add Well-Connect geothermal heating for $0 down and as little as







I installed a Well-Connect at my home in Northern Michigan over two years ago. I am very happy with my decision and the performance of the Well-Connect. My primary goal was to reduce heating costs. I now purchase significantly less propane today than I did prior to installing a Well-Connect. I love the fact that I now have air conditioning – NICE BONUS! The temperature in my home is more consistent and comfortable. Specifically the basement is warmer in the winter and the upstairs bedrooms are cooler in the summertime. Another advantage with a Well-Connect acting as my primary heat source, my forced-air system is used much less and I expect it to last longer than planned. Finally the function and performance of my Well-Connect is monitored in real-time with the performance logger. It’s another great feature.

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For 85 years, GLE Lineworkers have worked selflessly through the most adverse weather conditions and circumstances possible for our members. On April 18, we celebrate their tireless dedication with National Lineman Appreciation Day. Thank you to all lineworkers, then and now, for your service.