Feb. 2019 Alger Delta

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February 2019


COUNTRY LINES Alger Delta Cooperative Electric Association

TAKE CHARGE Behind The Wheel Of An Electric Vehicle Keeping Your Contact Information Current

Love And Devotion The Life And Times Of Bill Isett

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In This Issue February 2019 || Vol. 39, No. 2

Michigan’s Electric Cooperatives

countrylines.com facebook.com/ michigancountrylines

Executive Editor: Casey Clark Editor: Christine Dorr Copy Editor: Heidi Spencer Design and Production: Karreen Bird Publisher: Michigan Electric Cooperative Association Michigan Country Lines, USPS-591710, 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 are Robert Kran, Great Lakes Energy, chairman; Mark Kappler, HomeWorks Tri-County Electric, vice chairman; and Eric Baker, Wolverine Power Cooperative, secretary-treasurer. Craig Borr is 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 countrylines.com

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

General Manager Mark Kappler HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative

6 FEATURE Take Charge: Behind The Wheel Of An Electric Vehicle 10 MI CO-OP KITCHEN Try These Unique Twists For The Ultimate Hamburger Christin McKamey & Our Readers Enter Our Recipe Contest And Win A $50 Bill Credit!

14 The Driving Force: Plug Into Electric Vehicles Read about two co-op members, who are also electric vehicle owners, and learn why they enjoy their EVs. 18 MI CO-OP COMMUNITY Best Of Michigan: The Best Burgers In Our Great Lakes State Peruse the satisfying list from fellow members to find mouthwatering burgers around Michigan.

ON THE COVER Now with the potential to be three times cheaper than their gas-powered counterparts, electric vehicles are fast becoming more popular, less expensive to purchase, and able to drive hundreds of miles between each charge. Learn more about the benefits of electric vehicles on pages 6 and 7. Win $150 for stories published!

Guest Column Country Lines invites members to submit their fond memories and stories. Guidelines 1. Approximately 350 words 2. Digital photos must be at least 600 KB 3. Submit your guest column at countrylines.com under the MI Co-op Community tab

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



Energy Theft Is No Way to Save



Tom Harrell, Chief Executive Officer



Board Of Directors District 1—Big Bay

Darryl Small 906-345-9369 • smallwld14@gmail.com

District 2—Harvey/Deerton

Karen Alholm 906-249-1095 • karenalholm@gmail.com

District 3—Grand Marais

Mike Lawless 906-494-2080 • mclawless79@gmail.com

District 4—Cedar River/Palestine

Dave Prestin 906-424-0055 • cedarriverplaza@gmail.com

District 5—Gourley/LaBranche/Cornell

Ivy Netzel 906-639-2979 • MyAlgerDeltaRep5@gmail.com

District 6—Nathan/White Rapids

Paul Sederquist 906-753-4484 • sedergrove@gmail.com

District 7—Stonington/Rapid River

Kirk Bruno 906-399-1432 • kbruno.algerdelta@gmail.com

District 8—Nahma/Isabella

Ray Young 906-450-1881 • kyoung@uplogon.com

District 9—Hiawatha/Maple Ridge

Doug Bovin 906-573-2379 • dorobo22@icloud.com


Tom Harrell tharrell@algerdelta.com


426 N. 9th St, Gladstone, MI 49837 906-428-4141 • 800-562-0950 Fax: 906-428-3840 • admin@algerdelta.com algerdelta.com

Office Hours

Monday–Friday, 8 a.m.–4 p.m. (ET)

Alger Delta Cooperative is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

algerdelta.com Join us on Facebook. facebook.com/algerdeltaelectric

You’ve probably seen YouTube or Facebook videos of porch pirates. You know those people who drive through a neighborhood looking for packages left at someone’s front door, then help themselves to the goods. Well, that kind of action isn’t limited to the front stoop. Everyone is aware of the cost of energy and everyone is trying to figure out how to be more energy efficient, how to reduce consumption, and how to cut the cost. Cutting the cost of an electric bill is typically achieved by turning off lights, using timers or motion sensors, turning down the thermostat, installing energy efficient lighting, and many other ways. We applaud these methods because they pay dividends to all cooperative members. For example, when one member installs energy efficient lighting, other members benefit by the first members’ lower consumption—which decreases fuel consumed for power generation and may delay or reduce other costs. So, every member who takes these steps adds to the collective results—and those good results accrue to every member of the cooperative. We even have programs that help with the costs of achieving energy efficiency. Most people seek legitimate and technically sound ways to reduce their energy consumption. But it isn’t always like that. Sometimes, people resort to tampering with their meter or engaging in energy theft. Energy theft is risky, unsafe, and illegal. Energy theft and meter tampering produce exactly the opposite effect as conservation and efficiency. If a person doesn’t have to pay for it, they might as well use as much as they want—right? But, somebody does pay, and unfortunately, it is the honest member. Energy theft is no different than shoplifting. The cost of lost merchandise—in this case, electricity—is passed on to the rest of the members. By consuming more and not paying for what they use, energy thieves’ drive up the cost for all the other members of the cooperative. Energy theft and meter tampering is unsafe, and people who steal electricity are not concerned with safety—either theirs or anybody else’s. Meter tampering and energy theft often begins by breaking security devices to gain access to energized electrical equipment. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires utility personnel who install, operate, or maintain electric power distribution equipment to undergo years of training and apprenticeship to be considered qualified to work on these installations. Also, qualified personnel are required to use special safety related work practices, special tools, and special protective equipment when working on or near energized parts. For safety reasons, these requirements are rigidly enforced by management, OSHA and other regulators. Qualified employees routinely work on, or near, lines and equipment that may be energized at voltages ranging from 120 volts to 69,000 volts. It is highly unlikely that energy thieves are even aware of the voltage levels they, and others, may be exposed to due to their unauthorized and unsafe actions. Continued on page 5.


Continued from page 4.

Energy thieves eventually get caught. Somebody—usually a cooperative employee or a neighbor—notices something unusual and the theft is revealed. When energy thieves are busted, they have to pay. By law and by Michigan Public Service Commission rules, we have the right to collect for reasonable and customary costs associated with investigating energy theft and making the electrical equipment safe. We are authorized to collect for the stolen energy, too. Energy theft and metering tampering can result in being

disconnected without notice and not getting reconnected until equipment is inspected and determined safe to re-energize and all costs are paid. So, crime still doesn’t pay—there is no “getting away with it.” Energy theft and meter tampering are dangerous, risky, unsafe, and illegal. Energy theft does not help make ends meet and won’t help reduce consumption. It is a bad plan with a bad ending, and that’s no way to save.

The Importance Of Keeping Your Contact Information Current Anytime you move, open a business or get a new phone number, it comes with a seemingly endless list of organizations that you need to inform. Whenever you change addresses, phone numbers, name, etc., it is essential to make sure you also update your information with your electric cooperative in particular. Especially when it comes to outages, emergencies and capital credits. “Out of date information can cost members time and money,” said Tom Harrell, CEO of Alger Delta Cooperative. Harrell explained that responding to outages can be delayed because the information provided by callers doesn’t match up with the cooperatives’ records. Accounts need to be verified by the cooperative’s member service reps, and if it is not correct, it causes delays. As an example, out of date information was a contributing factor when a co-op member lost their business in a fire. The member built a workshop on their existing property and electric service was extended to the new facility. The member began operating ABC Metal and Fabricating out of the new facility. The business operated under that name for several years and the owners did not update the information with the co-op. Unfortunately, there was a fire at “ABC Fabricating” and the fire department needed the electricity disconnected before attacking the fire. However, when the emergency request came into the local co-op there was no record of “ABC Fabricating” being a member. Sorting out the confusion delayed emergency responders while the building burned. Another reason to keep information current is for capital credits. “Co-ops pay capital credits,” Harrell said, “but if the person whose name is on the account is deceased, it becomes a more difficult process.” When a member passes away and their cabin or home is inherited by a family member and the heir does not transfer the electric service into their own name. They continue paying the electric bill to the cooperative and, unbeknownst to them, the margins

are allocated to the deceased person’s account. Then, when the heir finds out that there is money to be paid back, naturally, they want to collect it. But those capital credits are in the name of the deceased person. Alger Delta still pays out the capital credits, however, the process becomes more difficult and burdensome for the heir, because they have to prove they’re entitled to them. “The heir should transfer the electric service into their own name as soon as possible,” Harrell said. It’s important that Alger Delta be able to reach the person responsible for each account, not only for routine business issues but also in case of an emergency or an outage.

Please call Alger Delta at 906-428-4141 to ensure the co-op has your most current information. Or, you can update Alger Delta by filling out the information box on your bill or email us at admin@algerdelta.com and reference “information update” in the subject line.



TAKE CHARGE Behind The Wheel Of An Electric Vehicle

? Is an EV right for you? Calculate the overall cost of EV ownership, customize it to your personal circumstances, and compare it to conventional vehicles.



ow would you like to bid farewell to the gas station and pocket a portion of the money you used to spend on filling up your tank? While it almost sounds too good to be true, electric vehicles (also known as electric cars or EVs) make it possible. The next time you’re in the market for a new car, consider the benefits of climbing into the driver’s seat of an EV.

LESS EXPENSIVE TO DRIVE You may be surprised to learn that driving a 2019 EV in Michigan can be up to three times cheaper than driving a gas-powered vehicle. This savings is possible because EVs have much lower fuel costs than conventional gasoline vehicles. Considering the average U.S. household spends nearly one-fifth of its total family budget on transportation, savings at the fuel pump can quickly add up. In 2017, the U.S. Energy Information Administration estimated that the average American household spent nearly $2,000 a year on gasoline. Imagine having extra funds to afford that family vacation, complete a home remodeling project, or even just beef up your savings account? The simple step of not draining your bank account each week at the gas pump may help you fast track your financial goals.


What is an eGallon? It is the cost of fueling a vehicle with electricity, compared to a similar vehicle that runs on gasoline.

MICHIGAN Regular gasoline

2 08

Electric eGallon

1 4 0

Source: energy.gov/maps/egallon

LESS MAINTENANCE Gas-powered automobiles require replacing parts that go bad over time. Electric vehicles are different because they do not require as many components to operate. For instance, electric motors only have one moving part while engines in traditional automobiles contain dozens. A perk appreciated by EV drivers is that you can roll past

3,000 miles without having to think about getting an oil change. EVs don’t require oil changes—ever. They also don’t require cooling system flushes, transmission servicing and replacing the air filter, spark plugs, and drive belts. Regular service visits are typically limited to rotating the tires and checking brake pads and other components. Less maintenance equals more money in your bank account with less time spent at the service station or auto repair shop.

GOING THE DISTANCE EVs have come a long way (and can now, literally, go a long way!) since they were first introduced to the U.S. consumer market. For example, Chevrolet advertises its 2019 Chevy Bolt EV with a range of 238 miles. Yes, that’s right! The Chevrolet Bolt can now drive 238 miles before needing to be charged. With the Bolt’s MSRP starting at $36,620, electric vehicles are truly becoming the affordable transportation of the future.

ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY Most EVs can be charged by plugging into a standard 120 V outlet, but many owners opt to install a specialized 240 V charging system in their garage for a faster charge. With no tailpipe emissions, EVs produce zero pollution except for emissions created in producing the electricity used to charge them. With a renewable energy portfolio of nearly 20 percent, Michigan electric co-ops are the state’s renewable energy leaders. Switching to an EV and charging on co-op power lines is a way to reduce your carbon footprint significantly.

TAX INCENTIVES AVAILABLE While the operating costs of EVs are substantially lower, EVs can be more expensive to purchase than their conventional counterparts—although this up-front cost continues to decline as U.S. demand for electric vehicles rises. The good news is that the federal government offers limited tax credits up to $7,500 to EV buyers that can lower the up-front costs. Visit countrylines.com/ev to find specific tax credit amounts for individual vehicles. Check out pages 14–15 to meet two co-op members who are also electric vehicle owners, and learn why they enjoy their EVs. Be on the lookout for more EV articles in future issues of Michigan Country Lines. MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES


NO BARRIERS ADVENTURES FOR RURAL VETERANS—APPLY BY FEB. 28 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 experience 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.

SAVE ENERGY WITH A HEAT PUMP SYSTEM It’s time to get excited about heat pump technology! Heat pumps heat and cool your home more efficiently, and put an end to your reliance on propane. You’ll enjoy: • Significant energy savings • Increased comfort • Reliable performance in cold climates

michigan-energy.org P H O N E : 877.296.4319 ONLINE:

Energy Optimization programs and incentives are applicable to Michigan electric service locations only. Other restrictions may apply. For a complete list of participating utilities, visit michigan-energy.org.

Photo Contest Snow Days 1. Snow day with Pherb!——Yuvenka Clark 2. Winter red barn——Marie Eason


3. Gorgeous blue ice viewed from Mackinac Bridge——Dawn Klee 4. Would you like to play, too?——Kathy Schoenity 5. Bentley and Sawyer enjoying winter fun!——Wendy Meyers



Share Your Photos!

Alger Delta invites members to share their amazing photos. Selected photos will be published in Michigan Country Lines.


Upcoming Photo Topics And Deadlines: Beautiful Birds, deadline: February 20 (April issue) Spring Flowers, deadline: March 20 (May issue)

To submit photos go to http://bit.ly/countrylines We look forward to seeing your best photos!




Ultimate Burgers Try one of these unique twists to the classic hamburger. Photos—Robert Bruce Photography

Winning Recipe!

Bruschetta Burgers With Avocado Spread Morgan Wernette, HomeWorks Tri-County

Bruschetta Topping: 1 cup Roma tomatoes, diced 2–3 cloves garlic, minced 2 teaspoons olive oil 10–15 fresh basil leaves, cut into strips • splash balsamic vinegar, to taste • salt and pepper, to taste • juice from half a lemon, optional Avocado Spread: 2 large avocados, peeled, pitted and chopped 1 cup mayo 1 teaspoon garlic powder • dash cayenne pepper Burger: 2 pounds ground beef ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese ½ tablespoon dried basil ½ tablespoon dried oregano 1 clove garlic, minced ¼ cup red onion, diced 1 tablespoon olive oil 8 burger buns 10 FEBRUARY 2019

First, make the bruschetta topping; in a small mixing bowl, toss ingredients and set aside. Next, make the avocado spread; in a small dish, mix ingredients well and set aside. Then, in a large mixing bowl, combine the ground beef, mozzarella cheese, basil, oregano, garlic, and red onion. Divide the meat into 8 patties. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium/high heat and cook the burgers 3–4 minutes on the first side until nicely browned, then flip and cook another 5 minutes or until cooked to your desired degree of doneness. Spread avocado on bun, add your burger and top with bruschetta. Enjoy with fries or roasted potatoes for a complete dinner that satisfies the whole family.

Watch a video of this month’s winning recipe at micoopkitchen.com/videos

Kickin’ Zion Heat Black Bean & Green Chili Burgers Janet Ruggles, Cherryland 2 ¼ ¼ 2 ½ 1 1½ 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ –¾ 6 6 6 6

pounds ground chuck cup sweet red bell pepper, diced medium fine cup sweet yellow bell pepper, diced medium fine (4-ounce) cans diced green chiles, drained and dried with a paper towel, divided cup cooked black beans, drained well tablespoon Koops Arizona Heat Mustard teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon chili powder, divided tablespoon Emeril’s Kick It Up Green Pepper Sauce (or Green Tabasco Sauce) teaspoon salt cup onion, chopped medium fine tablespoon Chipotle Pepper Adobo Sauce (I use San Marcos brand) cup mayonnaise pre-sliced pieces medium cheddar cheese soft whole grain hamburger buns, split romaine lettuce leaves large tomato slices, ¼ inch thick

In a large bowl, combine ground chuck, red pepper, yellow pepper, 1 can green chiles, black beans, Koops Mustard, 1½ teaspoons chili powder, Emeril’s Green Pepper Sauce, salt, onion, and Chipotle Pepper Adobo Sauce. Mix gently. To form the burgers, use a 1-cup size Rubbermaid plastic top that is 5" in diameter and a 12" x 12" piece of plastic wrap placed in the plastic top as a hamburger mold. Eyeball the meat mixture in a bowl and divide it into six equal balls of meat. Place a ball of meat in the “hamburger mold” and flatten it out to the edges to make a perfectly round patty. After forming each patty, place it on a plate and cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate until ready to grill. To make Kickin’ Zion Heat Sauce; in a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, remaining 1 can green chiles and remaining 1 tablespoon chili powder. Stir, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Grill burgers and add cheese toward the end of grilling; fold the four corners of each slice up to create a smaller, more rounded slice that will fit on the hamburger top. Top each burger with lettuce, tomato and Kickin’ Zion Heat Sauce as desired.

Zeus Burgers

Barbara Miller, Great Lakes Energy Sauce: 3 tablespoons mayonnaise 2 teaspoons lemon juice 1 clove garlic, minced ¼ teaspoon dried oregano • salt to taste Burgers: ½ cup frozen, chopped spinach, thawed, drained and squeezed dry ½ cup feta cheese 2 tablespoons lemon juice 1 tablespoon pine nuts (may substitute chopped walnuts) 1 clove garlic, minced 1 teaspoon oregano ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper 1 pound ground beef In a small bowl, combine sauce ingredients. Cover and refrigerate. In another bowl, combine burger ingredients; mix well and make 4 patties. Grill burgers. Serve with sauce on toasted buns.

Breakfast and Brunch: due March 1 Delicious Vegetables: due April 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.

Enter to win a


energy bill credit!

Go to micoopkitchen.com for more information and to register. MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES


Love And Devotion By Yvonne Whitman


he couple sat in comfortable silence during Alger Delta’s Annual Meeting last June, each leaning against the other. At regular intervals, the man bent over to whisper something conspiratorially in her ear, and she’d chirp with laughter, the corners of her eyes crinkling. He kept his arm around her nearly the entire meeting, periodically patting her shoulder. Their love and devotion for one another were readily apparent. For Alger Delta members Frank and Alice Lundberg, their love story has been 63 years in the making. Both were born and raised in rural Delta County and met when they were 12 years old at the Upper Peninsula State Fair. “My Dad was exhibiting his registered Jersey cows. I came back to the barn, and there she was, sitting on a bale of hay, eating grapes with my Dad,” Frank fondly reminisced. “She used to have red pigtails, and I liked to pull those. That’s where it started. We were friends, and then we started going steady when we were 16 and 17.” When Frank decided he was going to propose, the idea was to do it on Valentine’s Day back in 1955. “I was too

12 FEBRUARY 2019

excited and just couldn’t wait, and I actually proposed on February 12,” Frank said with a chuckle. They were lucky too. Even though Alice’s parents thought they were too young to tie the knot, they gave the couple their blessing, and they got married that September. “My Dad loved Frank,” Alice said. Alice’s father, Albert Whybrew, also valued electricity. In fact, Whybrew was one of the original incorporators of Alger Delta Electric Cooperative in 1937. In 1959, Frank and Alice built their first home together, doing much of the work themselves as a team. That same year, Frank started his career with the Federal Milk Order. His work took them to Pennsylvania in 1968 and resulted in relocations to several states during his career, but the goal was always to get back home to the Upper Peninsula. When they retired in 1990, they finally got their wish. Now, both 82, they live in Rapid River, and have two grandchildren, four step-grandchildren and nine greatgrandchildren. Getting there hasn’t always been easy, though, especially during the past 15 years.

Alice is a bit of a bionic woman. Since she was 38 years old, she’s had severe arthritis throughout her body, resulting in numerous surgeries, along with two hip replacements and one new knee. Frank has been her constant caretaker. “She’s been a special wife all my life, and I have been taking care of her for many years now. The way I look at it is, I do everything a nursing home would. She is blessed enough to have one-on-one care from me,” Frank said. But the care between them is reciprocal. “In 2001,” Frank recalled, “I was helping Alice to get ready in the morning, but I developed chest pains, so I went to lay down. Alice wanted me to set her hair for her, but I told her, ‘No, I need to put your shoes on and you need to drive me to the hospital.’ So, she did, and I ended up with triple bypass heart surgery.” According to Alice, “I never did get my hair set.” Faith plays a large role in their lives. They have always been very involved in church functions, regardless of where they lived, and every Thursday they still host a Bible study group at their home. In fact, faith was one of the items that Alice had on her list of requirements for a future husband. “When I got married, I wanted a husband that went to church, didn’t swear or lie, and loved his wife.” The secret to their long union? “The Lord, working together, and knowing you’re not always right,” Frank said. “Not every day is going to be an agreement.” Without a hint of irony, Alice agreed.

Recipe for a Happy Marriage

3 2 • 2 3 1 2 1

cups of love cups of loyalty A pinch of faith cups of kindness cups of understanding cup of friendship tablespoons of hope pint of laughter

1. Take love and loyalty and mix well with faith. 2. Blend in kindness and understanding. 3. Mix with friendship and hope. 4. Sprinkle abundantly with laughter. 5. Garnish with forgiveness and thoughtfulness. 6. Bake with kisses. 7. Serve daily with generous portions. 8. Serves one happy couple.


The Driving Force

Plug Into Electric Vehicles

Jim MacInnes

CEO, Crystal Mountain Chairperson, Michigan Utilities Consumer Participation Board Electric Vehicle: 2017 Tesla Model S 100D As the Chief Executive Officer and co-owner of a ski resort I can tell you that global warming is, simply put, bad for business. Widespread adoption of vehicle electrification represents one of our best opportunities to mitigate these effects while also generating significant savings.

“Michigan’s utilities and cooperatives are well positioned to help lead the charge and benefit from investing in and incentivizing EVs.”

We’ve long advocated for EVs and their tremendous environmental and economic potential. Crystal was the first northern Michigan resort to offer complimentary charging stations—we now have five. My first electric vehicle was the Chevy Volt which is now one of our security vehicles. Today, I drive a Tesla and Crystal Mountain is part of its Destination Driving Program. Our EV chargers have attracted new guests to the resort, including at least a half dozen electric vehicles on display during Memorial Day Weekend’s Michigan Beer & Brat Festival. For a start, electric vehicles are way more energy efficient and have a lot fewer moving parts. This makes them mechanically simpler and less subject to breakdown. They have software that can be updated over the internet. So, rather than becoming obsolete, they will improve over time—much like your phone. Michigan’s utilities and cooperatives are well positioned to help lead the charge and benefit from investing in and incentivizing EVs and their charging infrastructure while also saving money for ratepayers. We are extremely proud of our partner in Cherryland Electric Cooperative. Their commitment to a 56 percent carbon-free energy portfolio is vital to a sustainable energy and environmental future.

14 FEBRUARY 2019

Electric vehicles remain a hot topic in 2019, as the purchase and use of EVs has fasttracked in popularity across the country. In rural Michigan, electric co-ops are keeping a close eye on the EV industry and can serve as a good resource if you have questions about purchasing one this year. Meet two co-op members on these pages who drive electric vehicles themselves, and learn how this shift in transportation has made financial and environmental sense for them.

Mark Kappler

General Manager, HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative Electric Vehicle: 2017 Chevy Bolt I recently made the decision to purchase an electric vehicle for personal use. Before choosing to go electric, my wife and I carefully considered several factors, including what our primary use of the vehicle would be. But once we did the research and weighed the pros and cons, all signs pointed towards the Chevy Bolt. As we analyzed the way we used our existing small car, for short trips to the grocery store, to work and school, to events at Michigan State, etc., we found that the Bolt’s maximum mileage range of 238 miles per charge would more than meet our needs. We worked it out and realized the lower operating costs of the vehicle would result in a cost savings for us. After that, the decision was easy. Probably the biggest misconception regarding electric vehicles is the range anxiety that can come from not understanding how people use their current vehicles. Studies have shown that most people use their vehicles for shorter trips most of the time. My wife and I have a small SUV that we use for long trips and more carrying capacity, but for short trips, which make up the majority of our driving, we use our electric car exclusively. As a new EV-owner, I would encourage any co-op member purchasing a new vehicle to consider an electric vehicle.

“We found that the Bolt’s maximum mileage range of 238 miles per charge would more than meet our needs.”

Do you drive an electric vehicle? Please email editor@countrylines.com with your contact information (name, email, phone number, electric co-op) and a brief testimonial outlining your personal experience driving an EV. Someone from the magazine may call or email you to interview you and possibly feature your story in an upcoming article.


The Life And Times Of

BILL ISETTS By Lois Corcoran


met this instantly likable guy, Bill Isetts, through a mutual friend. Bill’s life story reads much like a Hemingway novel, with one adventure after another. Dozens of friends encouraged him to record his memoirs, and that’s when I entered the picture. Bill enlisted in the Navy at the tender age of 17. “I didn’t know what kind of duty I was going to have,” Bill told me when I sat down with him to pen his stories. “They put us in a room where there was a paper on each desk and told us, ‘Do not look at the paper.’ An officer came in and said we could turn it over. It was our Last Will and Testament. That’s when I found out I was going to Vietnam.” Bill saw untold horrors in that country. A friend of his was ordered to interrogate pairs of Vietnamese up in a helicopter. If one refused to talk, the surviving cohort told them all they needed to know. “We had to,” Bill explained. “They were the enemy.” “Snakes [from overhanging trees] would drop down on our boats all the time,” he recalled. “I hate snakes.”

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During our time together, Bill showed me a photo album made for him by a veteran friend. “This is a grenade going off,” he said. “One guy had a camera, and one guy was throwing the grenade. This was an actual battle. They could’ve gotten killed.” One picture was of a young Bill and his fellow soldiers during a break in the action. “Wow! You were a hunk!” I said, and Bill laughed. “There were lots of hunks,” he replied. But the moment of levity faded when he told me that most of those young men lost their lives. “In Vietnam I couldn’t believe God would let war happen,” Bill said. “I came back an agnostic.” Life was difficult back home. His then-wife was in denial about him having PTSD, so he turned to booze to try and forget. That only complicated matters and eventually things reached an ugly head. “I went up to camp and attempted suicide. I put the gun in my mouth,” Bill recalled, his voice breaking. “But the radio had been left on, and I heard a James Dobson program. I was listening to GIs from similar situations. I [jotted down] the information and wrote to them. They all wrote back.” One of them, Roger Helle, was in Ohio and “we made arrangements to meet. I told him about my suicide attempt and he cried. He told me that the four GIs weren’t supposed to be on the radio program that day, but someone canceled and Dobson got [them] on the show.”

Around that time, Bill attended a Michigan Bell company picnic, and “some ladies wanted me to take care of the kids. I said no. Then one of them said, ‘We’ll dress you as a clown and no one will know you.’” “So, they dressed me as the ugliest clown in the world! But I really enjoyed playing with the kids. This was at Fuller Park…I was still in my clown outfit and stood at the edge of the baseball field. This little girl walked up to me with a cupcake in her hand. She handed me the cupcake and said, ‘I love you.’” This act of love came during a time when Bill and his then-wife weren’t speaking. That’s when “I told the ladies, ‘I’ll be your clown because as long as I’m a clown, I’ll have someone who loves me. I changed my costume to multi-colored polka dots and multi-colored hair. I taught myself balloon art and tricks to do at birthday parties. I was “Billy the Clown” for 54 years, but I didn’t [let anyone know].”

director of one of the vet centers in the state. One of the ladies on the board [told her], ‘You oughta go out [with Bill].’ I made Linda up [into a clown] and we did a clowning gig. We married a year later in August of 1994.” “I was scheduled to go back [to Vietnam that] winter with a group called Vets with a Mission. I almost chickened out because I was afraid the war was still going on. In my mind the war WAS going on. In order to go, I had to raise the money for the trip. A few days before [the trip], I was still short $164. My wife [and I] went out the door—she was taking me to the airport. There was one letter in the mailbox. It was a donation from somebody—exactly $164. It was another one of those miracles in my life.”

‘I’ll be your clown because as long as I’m a clown, I’ll have someone who loves me.” —Bill Isetts

After leaving Michigan Bell, “I was trying to get my life together, but my ex-wife didn’t want any more to do with me. I bought a chainsaw and went to work cutting wood in the U.P. with a guy that I knew. I lived in the woods in a hooch (like a trailer) on wheels. A fellow challenged me to read the Bible and prove it wrong. ‘If you can prove the Bible wrong, I’ll follow you,’ he said. ‘If you can’t, you’ll follow the Bible.’ So that was my goal. I set the saw down and went back to my hooch and read some verses in the Bible. That day I became a Christian.” That was also the time when Bill gave up his whiskey habit. “I wanted to be who I was supposed to be,” he said. Unfortunately, tragedy struck not long after. “While working in the woods, I got hit in the head by a tree up in Big Bay. I was actually considered dead. All nerves in my spine were severed. I was totally paralyzed for nine months and in a coma for eight days. People would come and visit me. I remembered who they were but couldn’t acknowledge them.”

The trip was a tremendous learning experience for Bill and, some might say, brought about healing from his initial Vietnam War experience. “At first it was frightening and then I started enjoying it. I found out that the people loved us and they didn’t want the war any more than we did. It was the government. The soldiers didn’t cause the problems. It was the politicians.”

Bill ended up going to Vietnam nine times, bringing joy to the people through clowning. “One time I was in the [Vietnamese] jungle at an orphanage. I ended up making 700 balloon hats in one afternoon…My wife was a clown also and we worked as missionaries all over the world,” said Bill. But there his story ends for now. I still hope to hear about the colorful adventures they shared before she passed away. Unfortunately, Bill suffered a stroke in November and had spent some time at the VA Hospital. He is now recovering at home. He welcomes your prayers and cards. Cards can be sent to him at William Isetts, 2425 Ludington St. #205, Escanaba, MI 49829. And, God willing, we’ll finish those memoirs of his.

In time Bill recovered but, sadly, his marriage did not. Finding joy in his faith and physical recovery, Bill continued his alter ego as Billy the Clown. “I clowned in Lithuania, Russia, Poland, Mexico, Canada—every country in South America—and lots of places in the states. Bill met Linda, the love of his life, when she was serving as the treasurer on the board of Vets, Inc. “I was the


MI CO-OP Community

Enjoy a handcrafted, juicy burger while bowling a game or two at Wagon Wheel American Grill in Portland. Visit their website at wagonwheelbowl.com for directions and hours. Photo credit—Wagon Wheel American Grill


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Best Burgers In Our Great Lakes State Check out these recommendations from fellow members to find mouthwatering burgers around Michigan.


J & B’s Bar & Grill ”Our favorite burger place is J & B’s Bar & Grill, 1060 M-32, Johannesburg. We feel that when you order a burger that is medium rare that it should be juicy, not dry, and that is exactly the way you get your burger each and every time at J & B’s. We have never been disappointed by the burgers, no matter how we order our burgers. It is the best burger around.” Michelle Rohr, Presque Isle Electric & Gas


Talley’s Log Cabin ”Hands down, the best burger is served at Talley’s Log Cabin located at 2981 Co Road 612, Lewiston. I’m old enough to remember when Hilda Talley owned, ran and cooked at the bar. Her burgers, along with the famous chili she made, brought people from everywhere to enjoy her food.” Dennis Nelson, Presque Isle Electric & Gas


Wagon Wheel American Grill ”Wagon Wheel American Grill, 7888 E. Grand River Ave., in Portland was voted Best Bowling Center Burger by MLive. Call anyone at HomeWorks, and they will tell you we have the best burgers around.” Terry Schrauben, HomeWorks Tri-County


The Station Grille ”The Station Grille in Muskegon at 910 W. Broadway Ave., has THE BEST BURGERS, bar none!!! No one else can touch them. Our family makes special trips there to get one!” Tina Boarts, Great Lakes Energy


Schuberg’s Bar and Grill ”Schuberg’s Bar and Grill, 109 N. Michigan Ave., Big Rapids, is the best of the best. Look at their menu and your mouth will water! My favorites include the Cowboy Schu, the Mushroom and Swiss Schu, and, of course, the Big Schu. Schuberg’s delivers the small town feel, but lives up to the legend they have made.” Jessica Bergman, Thumb Electric

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Buckhorn Inn ”To anyone headed north of the bridge, I have lived in the U.P. and have eaten out at many of the popular eateries and ‘mom and pop’ restaurants, cafes, and pasty shops from the eastern U.P. to the west. But of the many burger/bar combos I have ‘participated’ in, the Buckhorn Inn, 31324 W. Main Street, Trout Lake, trumps all the others. Accompanied by its comical antique attire and friendly staff, not only is Buckhorn welcoming, but so is the ‘blink of an eye’ town of Trout Lake. In my opinion, the Buckhorn burger is the best of them all! Far and wide.” Nick Palmer, Great Lakes Energy


Pure Country Family Restaurant ”The best burger is at Pure Country Family Restaurant, 601 W. 25th Street, Sault Ste. Marie. Bring your appetite! Amazing homemade food and the George Strait burger, two 6-ounce patties on a homemade bun, is excellent!” William Wolthuis, Midwest Energy & Communications


Clyde’s Drive-in ”Been going to Clyde’s Drive-in, 1425 Riverside Dr., in Sault Ste. Marie for many years! It’s a throwback to the car service restaurants of the past. The burgers are amazing, and the Big C burger is worth it! Clyde’s is right next to the Rotary Island Park, so it’s a great place to grab amazing food and then go watch the boats.” J. Dorr, Presque Isle Electric & Gas

Best of Michigan Up Next——Best Hiking Trails: Help us create a “Best Hiking Trails” bucket list. We will publish this stellar list of Michigan hiking trails to explore in our April issue. Submit your favorites at countrylines.com under the MI Co-op Community tab by February 20.



Hybrid Geothermal

Applications Due Feb. 28 Tour Dates: June 15–20, 2019


From the battleeelds of Gettysburg to the halls of Congress in Washington, D.C.,

Youth Tour will explore the leadership

lessons of our nation’s history and immerse you in the cooperative spirit. Learn more about this FREE leadership travel opportunity, sponsored by the electric cooperatives of Michigan, at CooperativeYouthTour.com.