Alger Delta Feb. 2020

Page 1

February 2020


COUNTRY LINES Alger Delta Cooperative Electric Association

Director Nominations Due In March

Sliding On International Ice



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In This Issue February 2020 || Vol. 40, No. 2

Michigan’s Electric Cooperatives

Follow Us On Instagram! @michigancountrylines

Celebrating 40 Years michigancountrylines

Executive Editor: Casey Clark Editor: Christine Dorr Design and Production: Karreen Bird Recipe Editor: Christin McKamey Publisher: Michigan Electric Cooperative Association

FEATURED PHOTO FROM #micoopcommunity:

A traditional Upper Peninsula “Welcome Home” captured by @polfusphotography (Seth Polfus) upon pulling in his driveway.

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 are Robert Kran, Great Lakes Energy, chairman; Tony Anderson, Cherryland Electric Cooperative, vice chairman; and Eric Baker, Wolverine Power Cooperative, secretarytreasurer. 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

Tag us or use #micoopcommunity in your post and your photo could be featured on our Instagram account and printed as the featured photo in our magazine.


The United States Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw cuts an impressive figure as she navigates along the Great Lakes and surrounding waterways. Measuring 240 feet in length and displacing more than 3,500 tons, the Mackinaw can cut through up to 32 inches of ice to maintain waterways and help rescue trapped ships all winter long.


The Ultimate Icebreaker: Designed with the Great Lakes weather in mind, the USCG Cutter Mackinaw and her crew spend the winter months breaking up ice to keep commerce moving through major shipping lanes.

Cover photo by Tony Johnson Photography, Cheboygan, Michigan

Emily Haines Lloyd


Guest Column: A Message From Beyond The Grave

Best of Michigan: Chocolatiers

Enjoy these member-recommended chocolate shops and experience how sweet life is!

18 MI CO-OP COMMUNITY Brian Maki, Alger Delta Cooperative member



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.

Make winter more cherry with these recipes. Christin McKamey & Our Readers

Brown Sugar and Bacon Glazed Brussels Sprouts Featured Guest Chef: This warm and hearty meal, as prepared by onboard duty cooks, is a favorite among the Mackinaw crew after a day of battling ice and cold. Enter Our Recipe Contest And Win A $50 Bill Credit!

Best of Michigan UP NEXT! Best Pizza: Are you a pizza aficionado? Have you tried every mom and pop pizza parlour in Michigan and know the best stops? Share with us your favorite pizza places to enjoy America’s soul food. Submit your favorites at under the MI Co-op Community tab by March 25, and look for it on our preferred pies list in the April issue.



Big Thanks To Mutual Aid Partners





Board Of Directors District 1—Big Bay

Darryl Small 906-345-9369 •

District 2—Harvey/Deerton

Karen Alholm 906-249-1095 •

District 3—Grand Marais

Mike Lawless 906-494-2080 •

District 4—Cedar River/Palestine

Dave Prestin 906-424-0055 •

District 5—Gourley/LaBranche/Cornell

Ivy Netzel 906-639-2979 •

District 6—Nathan/White Rapids

Paul Sederquist 906-753-4484 •

District 7—Stonington/Rapid River

Kirk Bruno 906-399-1432 •

District 8—Nahma/Isabella

Ray Young 906-450-1881 •

District 9—Hiawatha/Maple Ridge

Doug Bovin 906-573-2379 •


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

Office Hours

Monday–Friday, 8 a.m.–4 p.m. (ET)

Alger Delta Cooperative is an equal opportunity provider and employer. Join us on Facebook.



Tom Harrell, Chief Executive Officer

s you have no doubt noticed, it has been a tough winter so far. We had three big storms in a little over a month. The first two were just prior to and just after Thanksgiving. The third was just prior to New Year’s Day. All three storms caused widespread and lengthy outages throughout the Upper Peninsula. The magnitude of these storms had over half our members in the dark, and the Thanksgiving storm alone cost upwards of $1.05 million in restoration efforts. Mutual aid is just like it sounds—it’s an arrangement where many utilities agree to help each other during and in the aftermath of severe weather. Alger Delta has helped others, and they’ve helped us, so we’ve given as good as we’ve gotten. In addition to our own staff, we call our mutual aid partners to help us restore power, and we want to say thanks to all those who helped us out. Alger Delta is part of two mutual aid networks. One consists of all the cooperatives and some of the municipal utilities in both peninsulas in Michigan. The second mutual aid network is based in Wisconsin and consists of that state’s cooperatives. Whom to call depends on the track of the storm and other factors. Calling Wisconsin mutual aid is no good if bad weather is coming from the west/ southwest. Our friends in Wisconsin are likely being held in reserve or already working on their own outages. Calling our friends in lower Michigan is no good if the storm is coming from the south or if we’re on the northern edge of a widespread system centered to the south. Lower Michigan is likely getting pounded. Plus, there’s always a question about getting across the Mackinac Bridge. If the bridge is closed due to wind, ice, or falling ice, we have to wait until it reopens to get help. What triggers mutual aid? Anytime we see a severe weather event heading our way, we keep track of where it’s going so we can be prepared. We want to call in help at just the right time. Call too early, and we could have a lot of people sitting here when they could be more helpful to another, harder hit, co-op. Call too late, and it’s almost impossible to get help because they’re all committed elsewhere. When to call on mutual aid is more of an art than a science. To them all, we say, “Thank you.” Without your assistance, our recovery would have been much longer and more difficult. Thank you for helping Alger Delta Cooperative in our time of need. On a separate note, the time for retirement is upon me. It has been a pleasure working for Alger Delta Cooperative and serving our membership. I appreciate all the support that was provided to me during my time here, and all the great people I had the opportunity to work alongside. I will genuinely miss being part of the team and the company.

Nomination Deadline Is March 12






embers in Districts 5 (Gourley, LaBranche, Cornell); 7 (Stonington); and 8 (Isabella/Nahma) will hold elections to send a representative to the board of directors. Members interested in running for the board can find the qualifications and responsibilities for the position on Alger Delta’s website. Members interested in running for the board must complete and submit a nomination petition by March 12. Directors are elected for a term of three years and are paid $350 per meeting day when attending to Alger Delta business. For more information about serving on the board of directors, you can look at Article III of the cooperative’s bylaws at under the tab “Customer Service” then “Bylaws/Tariffs.” You can also find more details or print out the nominating petition from our website at “About Us/Board of Directors.” If you cannot access our website and would like to receive a copy of the bylaws or a nominating petition via email or in print form, call Alger Delta at 906-428-4141.

The Board In Action


t each monthly meeting, the board handles several routine administrative items, including review and approval of memberships, expenditures, director and CEO expenses, and related issues. The board also hears reports from management on a variety of topics including finances, operations, technology, projects, and other activities that take place from month to month. The following is a recap of other board actions taken during the last quarter of 2019.

October The board received a report that the executive committee met to begin the process of evaluating the CEO, discussed limits reached in the co-op’s net metering program, and compared net metering with parallel generation. The board reviewed a resolution to purchase property in Marquette County and was informed of certain deed restrictions that could affect the purchase. CEO Harrell reported that his term on the State’s Unmanned Aerial Systems (Drone) Task Force is ending and that he has elected to step down. Reports also included information on upcoming director elections, medical insurance renewal, and the need to replace a company vehicle. CFO Seger reported that the cooperative's financial position is on budget, and the meter program is progressing as expected.

November The board passed a resolution to purchase property in Marquette County and approved the operating budget for the fiscal year 2020. The board reviewed district boundaries in anticipation of upcoming director elections. The board was informed about actions being taken by the Michigan Electric Cooperative Association and approved a proposal to hire Survey and Ballot Systems (SBS) to conduct director elections in 2020.

December The board discussed options for replacing a vehicle, continued the CEO evaluation process, and reviewed documents relative to the purchase of property in Marquette County. Much time was spent debriefing on the winter storms that occurred around Thanksgiving, including the expected “price tag” and financial impact. The board also discussed compensation adjustments for senior management. This narrative is a high-level overview of board action during the past quarter. After minutes are approved, board meeting minutes are posted on our website ( About Us/Board of Directors/Board Meeting Minutes).



MI CO-OP Community

Best Of Michigan Chocolatiers Chocolate isn’t just for Valentine’s Day. Every occasion is better with chocolate, right? Indulge yourself with these member-recommended chocolate shops. Enjoy and experience how sweet life is!




Lansing, 517-482-7871 Fabiano’s is near Sparrow Hospital in Lansing. Their handmade chocolates are the best. My husband always made sure I had my favorite truffles on hand. He has passed, but I have continued the tradition. A truffle at the end of the day says, “Life is good.” Lee Edwards, HomeWorks Tri-County



DROST’S CHOCOLATES Indian River, 231-238-6911 Yummy chocolates with huge variety. I love all the dark chocolates, and they also have delicious sugar-free chocolates. I can’t forget the ice cream flavors; you can’t go wrong!


2 3

6 12

2 5

Mary Hall, Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op



4 10


Gaylord, 989-732-1077 The Alpine Chocolat Haus has the best seafoam (a sweet, pillowy foam smothered in their famous chocolate) in the state!! We’ve been known to “take a road trip” (from Grand Rapids area) just to go and buy several bags of their delicious seafoam! We also love their chocolate-covered potato chips! Bob and Brenda Austin, Great Lakes Energy




Vassar, 989-882-9494 A family-owned business that makes the most amazing handmade chocolates. I love stopping by for a special treat or when I’m gift shopping! They also make sugar-free chocolate so good it will fool people. Crystal Fox, Thumb Electric






Grand Haven, 616-935-7740 You can take a tour of the chocolate factory and take classes. They have friendly and knowledgeable staff. They have the most intricately decorated chocolate eggs for Easter.

Whittemore, 989-756-3691 Just walking into this store makes you feel like a kid again! All the varieties of candy are out-of-this-world delicious.

Sandy Whitaker, Midwest Energy & Communications

Sheryl Klotz, Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op

SAYKLLY’S CANDIES Escanaba, 906-786-3092 Sayklly’s has the best chocolate in the Upper Peninsula! They also have great customer service, even on busy days, and lots of varieties, too.


Denise Smith, Alger Delta





Empire, 231-326-3030 This is definitely my favorite chocolatier. Their products are amazing and beautifully handcrafted, and include everything from truffles to chocolate bars and wafers to coffee! Also, the staff is always delightful, helpful, and enthusiastic about their offerings. It's nearly impossible to drive by without stopping! Jeannie Corey, Cherryland





Marquette, 906-226-6110 Historic Donckers of Marquette has the best chocolate in the area. Many people love their fudge, but my favorites are the dark chocolate sea salt caramels. The candy counter is filled with delicious chocolates and confections and has an old-fashioned soda fountain in the back. When Barack Obama was president, he visited Marquette and stopped by Donckers. Ginny Dunn, Alger Delta

East Tawas, 989-362-7728 I send their chocolates to my family for the holidays, and they rave about the quality and delicious taste of these handmade dark chocolates. They take a lot of pride in their ingredients and quality, along with fantastic customer service. Don Kossick, Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op

Alpena, 989-354-8231 They have to-die-for homemade chocolates, the best homemade caramel corn and yummy coffee. There are lots of great gifts, too! Sheila McEachin, Thumb Electric

Inkster, 313-565-2505 They make the best chocolate I have ever tasted. Two of the Corden brothers started the business in 1918, and it continues to be family operated today——everything is made from scratch. Certain times of the year, they create unique chocolates, which include brandy- or rum-filled chocolate-covered cherries and creamy butter rums which melt in your mouth (my absolute favorites). Yum! Deb Dillon, Great Lakes Energy


Light Your Home For Less With ENERGY STAR® LEDs!


nstalling LED light bulbs in your home is a quick and easy way to save energy. Look for the ENERGY STAR label for the best quality and longest product life. By replacing your home's five most frequently used light bulbs with ENERGY STAR® LEDs, you can save up to $75 each year.

Fun Facts about ENERGY STAR LEDs • For an LED light bulb to bear the ENERGY STAR label, it must pass rigorous testing to ensure maximum energy savings and performance.

• LEDs emit very little energy as wasted heat. In comparison, incandescent bulbs release 90% and CFLs release 80% of their energy as heat.

Choosing the Right LED Bulb • Brightness: Look for lumens, instead of watts, to

determine brightness. Replace a 60W bulb with an LED bulb with about 800 lumens for comparable brightness.

• Color: The color of an LED bulb is typically shown on

a sliding scale between warm and cool. This measure is actually a temperature on the Kelvin scale (K), where lower K emits warmer, yellower light, and higher K produces cooler, bluer light.


• LEDs are the size of a fleck of pepper. • The white light for LEDs is typically a mix of red, green, and blue LEDs.

Visit or call 877-296-4319 for additional energy-saving information and incentives.

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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




Snap Shot 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: Bridges of Michigan, due February 20 (April issue) On The Farm, due March 20 (May issue) To submit photos, go to


Around The World 1. “Meeting a majestic tiger in Thailand” by Luke Conway 2. “Kylemore Abbey, Connemara County, Galway, Ireland” by Jennifer Plamondon 3. “Crossing the Sahara in Morocco” by Gary Vidor 4. “The Inner Circle in Arches National Park, Utah” by Carrie Noren

We look forward to seeing your best photos! MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES



You may associate cherries with late spring and summer, but February is National Cherry Month. Since they’re super tasty and super good for you, there’s no reason life can’t be, well, a bowl of cherries right now! Photos by Robert Bruce Photography Recipes Submitted By MCL Readers And Tested By Recipe Editor Christin McKamey

Winning Recipe!

Cherry Fudge Cake Mary Scodeller, Great Lakes Energy

1¹⁄ ³ cups sifted all-purpose 1 egg flour ½ cup evaporated milk 1 cup sugar ¼ cup water ¹⁄ ³ cup cocoa 2 tablespoons maraschino 1 teaspoon soda cherry syrup ¾ teaspoon salt ½ cup cut-up maraschino ²⁄ ³ cup shortening, softened cherries Preheat oven to 350 F (for glass pan, use 325 F). Grease bottom of an 8-inch square pan. Sift flour, sugar, cocoa, soda, and salt into a 2-quart bowl. Add shortening, egg, and evaporated milk to dry ingredients in bowl. Beat hard 2½ minutes with electric mixer at medium speed, or with mixing spoon. Add water and cherry syrup and beat hard one minute longer. Stir in cut-up cherries. Transfer to prepared baking pan. Bake on center rack of oven 45–50 minutes or until cake pulls from sides of pan. Remove from oven. Let stand in pan 10 minutes before turning out to cool. If desired, cool and frost in pan. Watch a video of this month’s winning recipe at 10 FEBRUARY 2020

Cherry Couscous Annie Barnes, Great Lakes Energy

1 cup water or chicken broth ¾ cup quick-cooking couscous, uncooked (may sub wild rice or a grain mixture) ½ cup dried tart cherries ½ cup coarsely chopped carrots ½ cup chopped unpeeled cucumber ¼ cup sliced green onions ¼ cup toasted pine nuts or slivered almonds, optional 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon olive oil 1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard • salt and pepper, to taste

Bring water or broth to a boil in a medium saucepan; stir in couscous. Remove from heat; let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Uncover; let cool 10 minutes. Combine cooked couscous, dried cherries, carrots, cucumber, green onions, and pine nuts in a large bowl. Combine vinegar, olive oil, and mustard; mix well. Pour vinegar mixture over couscous mixture; mix well. Season with salt and pepper. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Michigan Vineyard Salad C. Hodges, Ontonagon REA

1 head bibb lettuce (about 8 ounces total), washed and dried well 1 head red leaf lettuce (about 12 ounces total), washed and dried well ¼ cup crumbled blue cheese 12 rings red onion, each about ¼-inch thick 3 tablespoons chopped English walnuts, toasted ½ cup dried tart cherries 3 tablespoons tart cherry preserves 3 tablespoons olive oil ¼ cup red wine vinegar 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard


GUEST CHEF 1 garlic clove, minced ½ teaspoon kosher salt ¼ teaspoon black pepper In a medium bowl, tear lettuce into bitesize pieces, then add cheese, onion, nuts, and cherries. In a small lidded jar, combine remaining ingredients and shake until emulsified. Toss salad with dressing and serve.

After long days of navigating the icy waters of the Great Lakes and surrounding waterways, the crew of the United States Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw appreciates a warm meal with hearty flavors like this ship favorite provided by the onboard duty cooks.

French Cherry Cream Torte

Kathy Chapman, Great Lakes Energy Crust: ½ cup brown sugar 1 cup finely chopped nuts 1 cup butter or margarine, softened 2 cups flour • dash salt Filling: 8 ounces cream cheese, softened 1 cup confectioners sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla 1 16-ounce container Cool Whip Topping: 1 21-ounce can cherry pie filling • ground nuts, optional To make the crust, in a medium bowl, mix together the brown sugar, chopped nuts,

butter/margarine, flour and salt. Press into a 9x13 pan and bake at 400 F for 15 minutes. Cool 10 minutes and break up with fork. To make the filling, in a large bowl, first cream the cream cheese. Then add the confectioners sugar and vanilla, and cream together. Add the Cool Whip and mix well. Spread the filling on the crust in an even layer. Refrigerate overnight. For the topping, spread the cherry pie filling on top of the pie and add chopped nuts, if preferred.

Best Of Vegetarian: due March 1 Mexican Fiesta:

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. Go to for more information and to register.

Brown Sugar And Bacon Glazed Brussels Sprouts

1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved 6 bacon slices 1 tablespoon butter 2 tablespoons brown sugar

Cut Brussels sprouts in half and place to the side. Cook bacon until crisp and drain on paper towels. After draining, crumble bacon. Cook Brussels sprouts either in a Dutch oven or frying pan with 1 tablespoon of butter for 6 to 8 minutes or until tender. Once the Brussels sprouts are tender, add additional butter (if needed), brown sugar, and bacon. Stir until butter and brown sugar are mixed. Serve immediately.

Enter to win a


energy bill credit!

Read the full story about the USCG Cutter Mackinaw on page 14, and find this recipe and others at



SLIDING On International Ice By Yvonne Whitman


raveling down an icy, curving track on top of a small luge sled at speeds of up to 80 mph is not for the faint of heart, but for 15-year-olds Torrey Cookman and Henry Anderson, it is something they enjoy and are very good at doing. Cookman, from Marquette, and Anderson, from Appleton, Wisconsin, along with their coach, Keith Whitman, from Escanaba, comprise the United States Natural Track Luge Team and are currently competing in the World Cup Series in different venues throughout Europe. Natural track luge is one of the two forms of the sport, the other being artificial track luge. The artificial track sport has competitors racing on man-made pure ice structures with banked corners that are mostly elevated above the ground. A natural luge track winds down a natural, unrefrigerated hill, bordered by boards and snowbanks. To maneuver

12 FEBRUARY 2020

around the flat corners of the icy track, natural lugers must steer the sled with their feet and hands and use their bodies to speed up and slow down around the corners of the track. As a result, precise braking (via spiked boots) is an important part of the sport. Natural luge is a unique sport and exciting for both the athletes and spectators. Cookman and Anderson became interested in the sport in different ways. Cookman’s interest was piqued when his Cub Scout troop took a trip to Lucy Hill, a natural luge track in Negaunee. “That was it. I was hooked, and I’ve been doing it for the last six years,” Cookman said. For Anderson, who is in his second year of luging, it was a suggestion from his father. “He always encouraged me to try new things, so when he suggested luge, I thought ’Why not?’ and I’ve been sticking with it ever since.” Their coach, an accomplished 40-year veteran of the sport and a former two-time national champion, has high praise for the athletes and their abilities. “In luging, we say, ‘You have to know where you are going to be, when you are going to be there and how you are going to get there,’ and these young men know that very, very well,” said Whitman. Also, the two young men have molded together as a team. “They work closely together, and they slide close together.

This is the first time I have ever seen two sliders, one who has only been sliding two years, come down the track as a doubles team, laughing and talking at 40 mph. This year I will be allowing them to compete internationally in doubles.” Traveling the world at only 15 years of age and representing the United States on the international stage may prove daunting to some, but Cookman and Anderson take it in stride. “I am proud to represent the United States, the Upper Peninsula Luge Club, and all its dedicated volunteers,” Cookman said. “The people that we compete with and become friends with are from 11 different countries and five different continents, but everyone gets along and encourages all the others. It feels like we are all one geographically large team, and I am proud to be part of it.”

In luging, we say, ‘You have to know where you are going to be, when you are going to be there and how you are going to get there.’” —Keith Whitman

When Anderson is asked about the most challenging aspect of competing on an international level in the sport, he responded, “Being mentally confident in yourself and knowing that you have the abilities to do it. And being able to go to Europe and see people that are faster than me makes me want to be like them someday.” Their coach also notes the opportunity this experience presents. “These young men are traveling the world. They are living, eating, competing, and traveling with people from around the world. They will go back to their United States cities—Marquette and Appleton—after they’ve traveled the world for two months, and it’s opened all the doors and windows in their lives. It’s a lifetime experience. And I always remind them, ‘You are representing the United States of America. You are wearing the United States uniform, and that means a lot.’” The team departed in late December for Judenburg, Austria, and will return to the United States in February after traveling and competing in the Junior World Championship in Italy, Austria, Germany, and Slovenia throughout its two-month stint abroad. For any young people interested in getting into the sport, Cookman has this advice, “You get to meet great people and travel the world. Work hard because it’s worth it!”

For more information on the Upper Peninsula Luge Club, visit Follow the team on Facebook @ US Natural Track Luge Team Henry (L) and Torrey tuning up one of their luge sleds.

Photo courtesy of Tony Johnson Photography.


he Coast Guard’s motto is “Semper Paratus” or “Always Ready.” And ready is what you have to be when navigating the miles of waterways that the United States Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw (WLBB-30) oversees along the Great Lakes, Straits of Mackinac, and St. Mary’s River.

iteration of Mackinaw was commissioned in 2006, the retired ship found a home at its namesake, Mackinaw City. The current Mackinaw is 240 feet in length, with a displacement of more than 3,500 tons and is powered by three Caterpillar 3600 series 12-cylinder diesel engines. Between the two ships, Mackinaw is celebrating its 75th year in Cheboygan, Michigan. “Mackinaw has a crew of about 60 and has three main missions—icebreaking, servicing aids to navigation (ATON), and search and rescue,” explains Lieutenant Junior Grade (LTJG) Carolyn Smith of the Coast Guard. “We also do a fair amount of public relations, as a branch of the military that is easily accessible and visible by the public at large.”


Mackinaw has a rich history, with its predecessor (Mackinaw WAGB-83) having been commissioned back in the World War II era as a way to support the war effort and the transportation of resources along the Great Lakes. With weather along the Great Lakes being as it is, a ship that was capable of cutting through ice to maintain waterways and rescue trapped ships was a necessity. To keep commerce moving, cutters like the Mackinaw make tracks of broken ice through major shipping lanes and often conduct closequarters maneuvering to free immobilized ships from thick ice. As commerce increased and the need for oil and gasoline has become a part of everyday living, the usefulness of Mackinaw and its similar crafts has become irreplaceable. When the latest 14 FEBRUARY 2020

Residents and visitors of Cheboygan have frequent views of and visits aboard Mackinaw, even though it is busy year-round. As the largest U.S. cutter on the Great Lakes, it spends approximately four months on the icy Great Lakes and surrounding waterways during the winter season. She is equipped with two 4,500-horsepower Azipods, which are capable of turning in 360 degrees and breaking through 32 inches of ice at 8 knots astern, or 14 inches of ice when moving 10 knots ahead. Additionally, the Azipods are capable of blowing highly pressurized water through and under the ice, breaking thick ice nearly 100 feet from the ship without the hull of the vessel ever coming into contact with it.

started in the late 1800s with entrepreneurs who This past winter, Mackinaw, along with other gave many trees away at the end of their annual Coast Guard ships on the Great Lakes, conducted Christmas tree delivery in the Windy City. The 429 vessel escorts through ice-filled waterways and 155 direct assists to vessels beset in ice over a tradition was revived in 1999 as the Chicago Christmas Ship program. For the past two 106-day period. This translated to approximately decades, the crew of Mackinaw has carried and $301 million worth (about 8.3 million tons) of dry bulk cargo critical to power generation, “THE LONGER I’M IN THE COAST GUARD, THE industrial productivity, and public safety.



In spring and fall, the Mackinaw tends to aids IT’S A PRIVILEGE EACH AND EVERY DAY.” — LTJG Carolyn Smith to navigation, pulling in and placing larger buoys in the spring unloaded these symbols of hope and goodwill and then replacing those with smaller winter at Navy Pier each year, just in time to deliver a buoys in the fall. The mission of ATON is to healthy dose of holiday cheer. assist commercial and recreational mariners to determine their position, steer clear of hazards, “The longer I’m in the Coast Guard, the more and chart a safe course. The crew I appreciate our missions and what we do,” said under the ship LTJG Smith. “Not only facilitating commerce and This year, Mackinaw celebrated 20 years of a during dry-dock providing safety on local waterways, but we also less likely tradition—while conducting its fall maintenance. have the opportunity to serve the people of the ATON operations, Mackinaw delivered nearly Photo courtesy United States directly and immediately. It’s a 1,200 Christmas trees from northern Michigan of Petty Officer Joseph Coach. privilege each and every day.” to deserving families in Chicago. This custom

All female bridge team with Commander John Stone.

Christmas Trees on back of the ship prior to delivery to families in Chicago. Photo courtesy of Tony Johnson Photography.

STAYING THE C o URSE By Yvonne Whitman Photos courtesy of Caitlyn Leisner (granddaughter of the Mirons)

For the last few years, I have written a ‘valentine story’ for the February issue that features a longtime married couple. I always ask the couple to share with me their ‘love story’ and any wisdom on what creates a happy marriage. I hope you will enjoy reading about Jeannie and Gerald Miron and their 64 years together. 16 FEBRUARY 2020


t all started in 1953 when Gerald Miron went to the Cornell potato farmers' dance. “I went to the dance to see another girl that I had met before, but then I met Jeannie, and she looked more interesting than the other girl.” Jeannie noticed Gerald too, but for a different reason. “I was dancing, and he kept coming out and stepping in front of us, and then he would take off. He did this several times, and I remember thinking, ‘What’s wrong with that guy?’ I guess he was trying to get my attention,” she laughingly said. They didn’t see each other again until two years after that dance when Gerald discovered that Jeannie was working at the same place as his sister. Their attraction continued, and after

dating for two years, Gerald popped the question at Ludington Park. With a soft smile on her face, Jeannie recalls, “I knew he was the one.” When asked what day they were married on, Gerald responds in a lightningquick manner, “June 23, 1956. After you’ve been married for 64 years, you best remember that date.” Gerald was 21 and Jeannie was 19 when they exchanged vows. One of the first places they called home was an old farmhouse in Flat Rock, near Gerald’s family dairy farm, where he worked. The house did not have any bathrooms, and they had six children in the eight years that they lived there. “It was tough, but we made it,” said Jeannie. After eight years, Gerald’s father retired, and they took over the farm, located in Cornell,

and moved into the house in which Gerald was born and raised. They have happily lived there ever since. After 64 years of marriage, nine children, 29 grandchildren, and 32 great-grandchildren, the Mirons have provided both a marriage template and inspiration for their children. According to their daughter, Pam Leisner, “My mom and dad have been very good examples of what it takes to make a marriage work. With all the ups and downs of raising a family, owning a dairy farm, and trying to find time for family, it was hard. But watching my mom and dad grow together has helped me to work harder at my marriage of 33 years.”

“There is no more lovely, friendly and charming relationship, communion, or company than a good marriage.” — Martin Luther

The Mirons have weathered some difficult times and continued to set an example of love and devotion for their children to witness. Pam recalls, “When my dad had his heart attack in 2018, it hit us hard. He has never been sick, so watching him and my mom was difficult. We tried to get my mom to go home and rest or take a shower, but her answer was always, ‘Why would I go home? There is nothing there for me if your dad is not there.’ It has always been my mom and dad together. Where my dad was, my mom was and still is. There may have been a fight or

two—my dad said it was always fun making up!—but watching them work together, I can only hope that my husband and I can celebrate that!” When asked what they attribute their long marriage to, Gerald says, “The family that prays together stays together,” and the Mirons attend mass every single day. Forgiveness is also key. “We all make mistakes, and we all hurt our partners at some point, and we have to forgive,” he says. Jeannie’s advice is simple and to the point, “Try to work together.” And the Mirons mastered this as Gerald recalls, “I would get up every day to milk cows at 3:45 a.m. and with a farm to run and all of our children to take

care of, we had to work as a team. There were many times that I needed her to run to the feed mill or get a machinery part, and she would go, taking five or six kids with her in tow. Other times, when she would go shopping, I would take the kids to the barn with me. We understood give and take.” Early on in their marriage, Gerald also came to understand something else. “When my mom and dad were first married, my mom made boiled dinner,” Pam said. “She asked my dad how it tasted, and he said, ‘Not good.’ My mom took the entire supper and threw it all away, and he had none that night. So, he tells everyone to wait until you’re done eating to say to them how it tastes. He loves to tell that story.” Gerald has not gone without dinner since then.

TRADITIONAL BOILED DINNER 1 corned beef brisket with spice packet (3 pounds) 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns 2 bay leaves 2 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered 3 medium carrots, quartered 1 medium onion, cut into 6 wedges 1 small head green cabbage, cut into 6 wedges • Prepared horseradish or mustard, optional

P lace the brisket and contents of spice packet in a Dutch oven. Add the peppercorns, bay leaves and enough water to cover; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 2 hours or until meat is almost tender. Add potatoes, carrots and onion; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add cabbage; cover and simmer for 15–20 minutes or until tender. Discard bay leaves and peppercorns. Thinly slice meat; serve with vegetables and horseradish or mustard if desired.



MI CO-OP Community

A Message From Beyond The Grave By Brian Maki, Alger Delta Cooperative member


ome things in life are hard to explain. They don’t translate well with human intellect. But in life, there are plenty of hidden messages, secret codes, and reminders without voices. This is one of those hard-tobelieve stories. I share it often, but few believe me. I was 19 years old; life had just begun. I was still wet behind the ears, and still lacking in maturity. I didn’t believe in the boogeyman, Santa Claus, four-leaf clovers, fairy tales, magic, fate, a lucky rabbit’s foot, numerology, and, above all, spiritual connections. I saw those ideals depicted in Hollywood movies, but in my world, they held no personal meaning. But all that was to change forever on February 24, 1990. My whole world came crashing down that day. Three family members had died within three months of each other: my grandfather, an uncle, and finally—the pinnacle— my father, Albert, who passed away at age 57. To survive the turmoil of so many personal losses, I kept my emotions distant. I never cried. I never got emotional or out of control. I lived each day. I focused. My strong will to survive carried me through. Each of them would tell me to do so. My father owned a red Ford F150 truck. It was sitting in the driveway. Right after his death, I would find myself wandering outside, unlocking the cab door, and sitting inside of it alone. In this eerie silence, I felt closer to him, closer to his scent, closer to the man and father that I loved. After the sixth visit in a week, I prayed for a sign. Any sign. Some kind of declaration that things were going to be okay. That my life would go on with his blessing, and I got my wish. While I glanced at the odometer, the mileage read 002,249.0. I had to take a second look to decipher it. The numbers said something. It was his message. He spoke to me. The cab immediately filled with warmth, understanding, gratitude, love, and I cried so hard, so fast, for so long. My eyes were a water lust of

18 FEBRUARY 2020

He was telling me something from beyond the grave. A familiar voice had returned. I felt safe inside of that truck. He was with me. His spirit was near. Life made sense.”

happiness, forgiveness, and relief. I was in shock. He was telling me something from beyond the grave. A familiar voice had returned. I felt safe inside of that truck. He was with me. His spirit was near. Life made sense. The moral of the story: My love for numerology began that day, a day I will never forget. My father’s hidden message was direct and straightforward: February (02), day (24), and year (90). It was the date of his untimely death, locked forever inside the odometer of his pickup truck. Unique. Breathtaking. Poignant. This wasn’t luck. It wasn’t a coincidence. It wasn’t even a miracle. It was his special way of saying that everything was okay. Through numerals, he passed through time and touched my life. And it was beautiful. I loved him and he knew it.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Brian is in his 25th year of adult education, teaching technology classes to people from all walks of life. He enjoys writing for his tech blog and exploring the U.P.

Win $150 for stories published! Guest Column: Country Lines invites members to submit their fond memories and stories. For guidelines and to submit your guest column go to under the MI Co-op Community tab.

Hybrid Geothermal

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Jess S., Cherryland Electric Member






HOW DOES THE SYSTEM WORK? Well-Connect works in combination with your home’s current heating system. This hybrid approach allows almost any existing well to become a free, clean energy source for heating and cooling your home.


Applications Due Feb. 28 Tour Dates: June 20–25, 2020

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