COUNTRY LINES Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op
Choose Your Own Adventure WITH GEOCACHING
Why Your Co-op Clears Vegetation
The Power Behind Your Power— Thank a Lineworker
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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.
GRAPHIC DESIGNER: Karreen Bird
RECIPE EDITOR: Christin McKamey COPY EDITOR: Yvette Pecha CONTRIBUTING EDITOR: Emily Haines Lloyd
PUBLISHER: Michigan Electric Cooperative Association Michigan Country Lines, USPS-591-710, is published monthly, except August and December, with periodicals postage paid at Lansing, Mich., and additional ofﬁces. It is the ofﬁcial publication of the Michigan Electric Cooperative Association, 201 Townsend St., Suite 900, Lansing, MI 48933. Subscriptions are authorized for members of Alger Delta, Cherryland, Great Lakes, HomeWorks Tri-County, Midwest Energy & Communications, Ontonagon, Presque Isle, and Thumb electric cooperatives by their boards of directors. Postmaster: Send all UAA to CFS. Association Officers: Robert Kran, Great Lakes Energy, chairman; Tony Anderson, Cherryland Electric Cooperative, vice chairman; Eric Baker, Wolverine Power Cooperative, secretary-treasurer; Craig Borr, president and CEO.
CONTACT US/LETTERS TO EDITOR: Michigan Country Lines 201 Townsend St., Suite 900 Lansing, MI 48933 248-534-7358 email@example.com
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES
Before and after shots of a line circuit. A newly cleared right-of-way can look extreme at first, but as the growth returns, the landscape regains its natural beauty.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS Charles Arbour 23899 M32 S, Hillman MI 49746 989-657-4358 • Term Expires: 2023 Allan Berg, Chairman 8400 Lost Lake Rd., Hawks, MI 49743 989-734-0044 • Term Expires 2023 Sandy Borowicz, Secretary 5341 Carlson Rd.,Cheboygan, MI 49721 231-627-9220 • Term Expires 2024 John Brown, Vice-Chairman 21 W. Devereaux Lake Rd., Indian River, MI 49749 231-625-2099 • Term Expires 2023 Sally Knopf 1849 W. 638 Hwy., Rogers City, MI 49779 989-734-4196 • Term Expires 2024 Kurt Krajniak 7630 Wallace Rd., Alpena, MI 49707 989-884-3037 • Term Expires 2022 Brentt Lucas 15841 Carr Rd., Posen, MI 49776 989-766-3678 • Term Expires 2022 Daryl Peterson, Treasurer P.O. Box 54, Hillman, MI 49746 989-742-3145 • Term Expires 2024 Raymond Wozniak 6737 State St., Posen, MI 49776 989-766-2498 • Term Expires 2022 President & CEO: Thomas J. Sobeck email@example.com Communications Director/Co-op Editor: Mairè Chagnon-Hazelman Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op 3149 State Street (M-211) Onaway, MI 49765
Business Office & Billing: 989-733-8515 Toll-Free: 800-423-6634 Gas Emergency Toll-Free: 800-655-8565 PIE&G natural gas rates and charges are not regulated by the Michigan Public Service Commission. Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op is an equal opportunity provider and employer.
4 APRIL 2022
Why Your Co-op Clears Vegetation our co-op leadership team recognizes that reliable electricity is not just a luxury; it’s an expectation. That’s why your electric co-op considers its prime objective to be providing you with a reliable and safe electric distribution system. One of the most common—and crucial—ways to do this is referred to as right-of-way clearing (or vegetation management). A rightof-way (ROW) refers to a strip of land underneath or around power lines that your electric cooperative has the right and responsibility to maintain and clear. Many members may not be aware that trees can be a major obstacle to good electric service. To improve your service experience, PIE&G has an aggressive, proactive overhead line clearance program that’s proven to significantly reduce outage hours related to tree interference with our distribution system. That’s why PIE&G has invested over $1 million annually for its right-of-way maintenance for the last 10 years, and over $1.6 million in 2022.
What We Do and Why PIE&G’s line clearance standard is to obtain and maintain a ground-to-sky clearance of 15–20 feet, free from all obstructions, on each side of the power line. Where our facilities cross private property, an easement gives us the right to use that property to maintain our right-of-way. An easement can be written and recorded, meaning it is signed and on file at the county Register of Deeds office where the service is located. An easement may also be unwritten or “prescriptive,”
where the land has been used for utility purposes in a continuous and open manner for the statutory period of 15 years under Michigan law. PIE&G’s line clearing program consists of two approaches: mechanical clearing and herbicide application.
2022 Mechanical Clearing Plan Mechanical clearing is scheduled throughout the year between January and December. PIE&G’s licensed contractors will trim overgrown trees
AFTER The ground-to-sky approach to line clearance helps to make sure that trees don’t form a canopy over the lines.
power lines. If you see a downed power line due to a fallen tree or branch, stay away and immediately call PIE&G to report it. Never attempt to remove branches or trim trees that are near power lines to avoid potential electrical contact. Any tree in close proximity to a power line can present a safety hazard.
Service Line Trimming
along 367 miles of overhead line at various locations throughout our ninecounty service territory. Members who may be in proximity to areas designated for mechanical clearing will be notified by mail prior to the onset of work in that area. PIE&G will determine if there are trees in your maintained lawn area that should be trimmed or cut. A representative from one of our contracted crews will attempt to contact you in person before the work is started.
2022 Herbicide Application The schedule for herbicide application is set to occur between March and October. PIE&G has hired professional, licensed contractors to treat approximately 374 miles of line throughout its service territory with state-approved herbicide. PIE&G will notify members whose service is near the designated areas by mail prior to the onset of work. Herbicide is not applied to mowed lawn areas. Herbicide effectively controls tallgrowing trees and bushes while promoting low-growing plants such as grasses, wildflowers, and shrubs that are beneficial to wildlife. It offers longer-term results in a more costeffective way and is endorsed by
several environmental, forestry, and wildlife providers as offering benefits to many wildlife species.
Jobsite Cleanup Our contract crews dispose of trimmed branches and limbs in the most economic and practical manner possible. It is customary during regular line clearing activity that crews will remove branches and limbs within maintained or landscaped areas, and leave the wood for use by the property owner. In unmaintained areas, crews will leave wood, branches, and limbs for use by the property owner to decompose naturally. PIE&G does not remove stumps after tree removal. During emergency power restoration activities, crews clear trees off and away from our lines in order to make repairs. PIE&G does not return to remove wood, branches, and limbs that were removed during outage restoration efforts.
Our Commitment to Safety Safety is a top priority for PIE&G. Although Mother Nature provides an amazing setting for our enjoyment of outdoor activities, it’s best to keep your activities away from overhead
PIE&G will trim along the service line running from the transformer to your home when a tree is in contact with the power line. We do not remove trees located near service lines. If you plan to have a tree removed from your property, contact us several days in advance so we can schedule a crew to visit, de-energize, and drop the line so you can have the tree safely removed. PIE&G will need at least two days prior notice.
Plan Ahead Trees and power lines do not mix, so careful planning is important before you begin any landscape plan or outdoor project. Trees grow quickly, so the seedling you plant today may well reach a height exceeding 30–50 feet in a few years. Avoid planting trees beneath overhead utility lines or near your service line. Look around and note what’s overhead, on the ground, and underground before beginning any outdoor work project.
For More Information For more information about PIE&G’s line clearance procedures, contact our Member Services Department at 800-423-6634.
MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES
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
“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
MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES
Earth Day 2022: Invest In Your Planet T
he first Earth Day took place on April 22, 1970, as a grassroots demonstration to bring awareness to serious environmental issues like toxic drinking water, pollution, and the effects of pesticides. Now Earth Day is an annual celebration with individuals, businesses, and communities working together to clean up litter, plant trees, and invest in the future of our planet. Whether you pick up trash during your morning walks or use earth-friendly products at home, there are many ways to help care for our planet and educate future generations. Spend some quality family time together and try these ecofriendly activities: • • • •
Recycling old, inefficient appliances. Plant a tree. Buy a smart thermostat. Change your light bulbs. Switching to LED lighting can have a great impact on energy use.
Get your place of employment involved. There is no shortage of ideas on how to make your work environment greener: • • • • • •
Upgrade to energy-efficient LED lighting. Tune up your HVAC system. Plant a company garden. Establish a Green Team taskforce. Invite an energy expert to speak to your employees. Start a carpool or bike-to-work program.
Of course, these activities don’t have to wait until April 22. Any day can be Earth Day. For more ideas, check out Earth Day’s official website for events happening near you: https://www.earthday.org/. Check out additional energy-saving opportunities available to you through Presque Isle’s Energy Optimization program by visiting pieg.com or calling 877-296-4319.
WORKING TOGETHER TO INVEST IN OUR PLANET AT HOME: Recycle an old, working fridge or freezer. Change standard light bulbs to LEDs. Start a compost bin in your backyard. AT WORK: Tune up the HVAC system. Upgrade to energy-efficient LED lighting. Start a carpool or bike-to-work program.
CONTACT US TODAY FOR MORE INFORMATION pieg.com • 877.296.4319
Presque Isle Energy Optimization programs and incentives are applicable to Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op electric service locations only. Incentive applies to qualified items purchased and installed between January 1, 2022, and December 31, 2022. Other restrictions may apply. For complete program details, visit pieg.com.
Plants & Flowers 1. Celebrating summer with flowers!! Cherylee Hilton 2. Love planting for everyone to enjoy! John May 3. Buzzing around. Lisa Orozco 4. Dew on the iris. Debbi Glossop 5. Just along a country road in northern Michigan. Sharon Wyman 6. Yellow lady slippers. Donna Stone 7. Ice rose. Robert Batzloff 8. Seeking perfect water——a dragonfly spots a drop of water on my fuchsia on our deck on Grand Lake. Randal & Suzette Kandow 9. Welcome to my garden. Barbara Sumerix 10. You can smell the mint on these catmint flowers. Melissa Brown
8 Enter to win up to a
energy bill credit!
Submit Your “Hometown Pride” Photos By April 20!
Submit your best photo and encourage others to vote! The photo receiving the most votes in our photo contest will be printed in an issue of Country Lines along with some of our other favorites. Our April theme is Hometown Pride. Photos can be submitted through April 20 to be featured in our June issue. To enter the contest, visit pieg.com/photocontest. Enter your picture, cast your vote, and encourage others to vote for you as well. If your photo is printed in Country Lines during 2022, you will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win one of four $50 credits on your January 2023 bill. 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.
WINNING RECIPE! BLACK BEAN CAKES WITH LIME SOUR CREAM Christine Johnson, Great Lakes Energy
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
RECIPE CONTEST Win a
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES
Natural Gas Rates To Increase Effective April 1 Effective April 1, 2022, natural gas rates will increase. The Gas Cost Recovery Factor (GCR) will be raised from $0.3642 to $0.4161 per ccf (a $0.0519 increase). The distribution rate will not change. Please refer to the table to the right for the itemized charges and net effect for each rate class per ccf. The monthly availability charge will remain the same for each class.
Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op Natural Gas Rates Effective April 1, 2022 Residential
Plant Trees Safely
Before you dig, call 811 or go to missdig811.org to locate buried utility lines.
LOW TREE ZONE
MEDIUM TREE ZONE
LARGE TREE ZONE
Avoid planting within 20 ft. of power lines. If planting is unavoidable, only plant shrubs and small trees that reach a mature height of 15 ft. or less.
Plant medium trees (under 40 ft. when mature) at least 25 ft. away from power lines.
Plant large trees (over 40 ft. when mature) at least 50 ft. away from power lines. Over 40 ft.
40 ft. high or less
Maximum tree height 15 ft.
Keep shrubs at least 10 ft. away from transformer doors and 4 ft. away from the sides. 4 ft.
12 APRIL 2022
Your Board In Action At its most recent meetings, the PIE&G board of directors: • Established the Gas Cost Recovery Factor of $0.4161/ ccf and natural gas rates effective April 1, 2022. • Approved the 2022 Natural Gas Rate Announcement packet. • Authorized the CEO to execute a contract with the Davey Resource Group for the completion of the pole/ asset inventory of PIE&G’s electric grid. • Authorized the purchase of all communications/fiber huts necessary to complete the PIE&G Connect fiber construction project. • Appointed CEO Sobeck as the voting delegate for the Cooperative Response Center. • Reviewed a preview of the upcoming electric Member Regulation Special Meeting on March 29. • Accepted Team Reports.
MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES 13
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)
MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES
The Power Behind Your Power Lineworker Appreciation Day is April 18. You’ve likely noticed Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op’s crews out and about, working on power lines and other electrical equipment in our community. It’s no secret that a lineworker’s job is tough—but it’s a job that’s essential and must be done, often in challenging conditions. This month, as we celebrate Lineworker Appreciation Day on April 18, we’d like to share some interesting facts about electric lineworkers with you.
16 APRIL 2022
“Despite the many challenges, PIE&G’s lineworkers are committed to powering our local community.”
he work can be heavy, in more ways than one. Did you know the equipment and tools that a lineworker carries while climbing a utility pole can weigh up to 50 pounds? That’s the same as carrying six gallons of water. Speaking of utility poles, lineworkers are required to climb poles ranging anywhere from 30 to 120 feet tall. Needless to say, if you have a fear of heights, this likely isn’t the career path for you.
Lineworkers must be committed to their career—because it’s not just a job, it’s a lifestyle. The long hours and ever-present danger can truly take a toll. In fact, being a lineworker is listed in the top 10 most dangerous jobs in the U.S. Lineworkers often work non-traditional hours while outdoors in difficult conditions. While the job does not require a college degree, it does require technical skills, years of training, and hands-on learning. Did you know that to become a journeyman lineworker, it can take more than 7,000 hours of training (or about four years)? That’s because working with high-voltage equipment requires specialized skills, experience, and an ongoing mental toughness. Shortcuts are not an option, and there is no room for error in this line of work. Despite the many challenges, PIE&G’s lineworkers are committed to powering our local community. During severe weather events that bring major power outages, lineworkers are among the first ones called. They must be ready to leave the comfort of their home and families
unexpectedly, and they don’t return until the job is done, often days later. That’s why the lineworker’s family is also dedicated to service. They understand the importance of the job to the community. Nationwide, there are approximately 120,000 electric lineworkers. Here in northeast Michigan, PIE&G has 29 lineworkers (25 linemen and 4 apprentices) who are responsible for keeping power flowing 24/7, 365 days a year. To do this, they maintain 3,828 miles of power lines across nine counties and 2,600 square miles. In addition to the highly visible tasks lineworkers perform, their job today goes far beyond climbing utility poles to repair a wire. Today’s lineworkers are information experts who can pinpoint power outages from miles away. Line crews now use laptops, tablets, drones, and other technologies to map outages, survey damage, and troubleshoot problems. Being a lineworker may not seem like a glamorous job, but it is absolutely essential to the life of our community. Without the exceptional dedication and commitment of these hardworking men and women, we simply would not have the reliable electricity that we need for everyday life. So, the next time you see a lineworker, please thank them for the work they do to keep power flowing, regardless of the time of day or weather conditions. After all, lineworkers are the power behind your power. Please join us as we recognize them on April 18, and follow “#ThankALineworker” on social media to see how others are recognizing lineworkers.
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.
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LINEWORKERS BRING THE LIGHT.
Lineworker Appreciation Day On April 18, remember to #ThankALineworker.