GLE Feb. 2020

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February 2020


COUNTRY LINES Great Lakes Energy Cooperative

Annual Tree Trimming Plan

Meet Your Director Winter Safety Tips



There’s a Treasure in Your Backyard You may not realize it, but your home is sitting on a free and renewable supply of energy. A WaterFurnace geothermal comfort system taps into the stored solar energy in your own backyard to provide savings up to 70% on heating, cooling and hot water. That’s money in the bank and a smart investment in your family’s comfort. Contact your local WaterFurnace dealer today to learn how to tap into your buried treasure. Your Local WaterFurnace Dealers BAD AXE B & D Htg (989) 269-5280

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visit us at * 26% through 2020 and 22% through 2021 WaterFurnace is a registered trademark of WaterFurnace International, Inc.

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.



Four Tips For Winter Safety

Board of Directors

Mark Carson Chairman, District 2

01950 Anderson Rd., Boyne City, MI 49712 231-675-0561 •

Robert Kran Vice-Chairman, District 6 7380 N. Tuttle Rd., Free Soil, MI 49411 231-464-5889 •

Paul Schemanski Secretary, District 1 5974 Stolt Rd., Petoskey, MI 49770 231-439-9079 •

Larry Monshor Treasurer, District 4 1541 Thumm Rd., Gaylord, MI 49735 989-370-2786 •

Howard Bowersox Director, District 8 23779 8 Mile Rd., Stanwood, MI 49346 219-670-0977 •

Paul Byl Director, District 7

9941 W. Buchanan Rd., Shelby, MI 49455 231-861-5911 •

Richard Evans Director, District 3 11195 Essex Rd., Ellsworth, MI 49729 231-883-3146 •

Dale Farrier Director, District 5

2261 Wheeler Lake Rd. NE, Kalkaska, MI 49646 231-564-0853 •

John LaForge Director, District 9

7363 Walters Rd., Delton, MI 49046 269-623-2284 •

President/CEO: Bill Scott 888-485-2537

Communications Director/Editor: Lacey Matthews 231-487-1316

Boyne City Headquarters 1323 Boyne Ave., P.O. Box 70 Boyne City, MI 49712 Hours: 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m. M–F Phone: 888-485-2537 Email:

To report an outage, call: 1-888-485-2537 Change of Address: 888-485-2537, ext. 8924 Great Lakes Energy is an equal opportunity provider and employer.



Bill Scott, Great Lakes Energy President/CEO

t’s no surprise that winter months bring increased potential for fire risks and electrical safety hazards. This makes sense because during the coldest months, members are using additional electrical devices and appliances like space heaters, electric blankets and portable generators. The National Fire Protection Association estimates that 47,700 home fires occur each year in the U.S. due to electrical failure or malfunction. This winter, safeguard your loved ones and your home with these electrical safety tips:

1. Don’t overload outlets. Overloaded outlets are a major cause of residential fires. Avoid using extension cords or multi-outlet converters for appliance connections—they should be plugged directly into a wall outlet. If you’re relying heavily on extension cords in general, you may need additional outlets to address your needs. Contact a qualified electrician to inspect your home and add new outlets.

2. Never leave space heaters unattended. If you’re using a space heater, turn if off before leaving the room. Make sure heaters are placed at least three feet away from flammable items. It should also be noted that space heaters take a toll on your energy bills. If you’re using them throughout your home, it may be time to upgrade your home heating system.

3. Inspect heating pads and electric blankets. These items cause nearly 500 fires every year. Electric blankets that are more than 10 years old create additional risks for a fire hazard. Inspect your electric blankets and heating pads—look for dark, charred or frayed spots, and make sure the electrical cord is not damaged. Do not place any items on top of a heating pad or electric blanket, and never fold them when in use.

4. Use portable generators safely. Unfortunately, winter storms can cause prolonged power outages, which means many consumers will use portable generators to power their homes. Never connect a standby generator into your home’s electrical system. For portable generators, plug appliances directly into the outlet provided on the generator. Start the generator first, before you plug in appliances. Run it in a well-ventilated area outside your home. The carbon monoxide it generates is deadly, so keep it away from your garage, doors, windows and vents.

See Us At The Home Show NORTHERN MICHIGAN REGIONAL HOME SHOW Visit the Great Lakes Energy booth at the home show. Stop by and speak to a representative to learn more about Energy Optimization programs designed to save you energy and money.

Friday, March 13 & Saturday, March 14 North Central Michigan College, Petoskey

2019 POWER OUTAGE MINUTES 2019 proved a challenging year. Strong weather events have lead to more power outages than average. ACTUAL 176.1006 minutes

Wind storms

2019 GOAL < 162.0700 minutes

Heavy Snow

Record rainfall

We continue our commitment to providing quality service and meeting our service goal, as we have regularly for over 10 years.

Stay Powered Up In All Conditions Never connect a portable generator directly to a home’s wiring or into a regular household outlet. The result could be a fatality or property damage. Great Lakes Energy offers meter base equipment with a transfer switch for safely operating a portable generator in an emergency for $350. The switch not only eliminates the risk of damage to your generator and appliances when your power is restored, but also prevents the generator from back-feeding electricity into the power line and potentially electrocuting line workers working to restore your service.

For more details, contact us at 888-485-2537, ext. 1372.

Meter base equipment with a generator transfer switch protects damage to your generator and the lives of line workers.



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.

• LEDs contain no mercury and can be disposed of easily.

Invest in your


Replace your home’s most frequently used light bulbs with ENERGY STAR® LEDs and save up to $75 per year. ENERGY STAR lighting provides: Significant energy savings Highest quality and performance Wide range of colors and brightness Dimmable lighting and motion sensing capabilities

INSTANT IN-STORE SAVINGS available at select retailers. | 877-296-4319

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

Most Votes On Facebook!







GLE Photo Contest Enter to win a


energy bill credit!

Submit Your “Bridges of Michigan” Photos!

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

How To Enter:

Visit and click “Photo Contest” from the menu tabs. Not on Facebook? You can also enter the contest at events. Make sure to vote and encourage others to vote for you, too. The photo receiving the most votes will be printed in an issue of Michigan Country Lines along with some of our other favorites. All photos printed in the magazine in 2020 will be entered to win a $200 bill credit in December 2020.

Around The World 1. Coasting down the road in Mallorca, Spain—Candace Wiers, Charlevoix 2. T he riverboat—Beth Fiedorowicz, Baldwin 3. I n Yellowstone looking at the Grand Tetons—Debbie Andrews, Reed City 4. S wimming with the famous Pigs of Paradise, Exuma Island, Bahamas— Connie Lynch, Gaylord 5. 1 0 years we’ve gone to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, together—we love it there!—Kristan & Ethan Shoemaker, Paris 6. F all on Rudd Pond, Kalkaska County—Patty Green, Rapid City




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



Annual Reliability Improvements Begin


ontracted tree-trimming crews will begin removing trees and limbs near power lines throughout the Great Lakes Energy service area this winter.

The work is part of the cooperative’s annual vegetation management program to improve electric service reliability and safety. About $8.6 million will be invested in 2020 to re-clear trees along 1,288 miles of power line rights-of-way (ROW) in 18 counties and 72 townships.

Areas Scheduled For 2020 Re-clearing Re-clearing of vegetation along Great Lakes Energy power lines is scheduled this year in these counties and townships. Allegan County: Fillmore, Martin, Overisel, Salem, Wayland Antrim County: Banks, Warner, Star Barry County: Orangeville, Yankee Springs Charlevoix County: Bay, Boyne Valley, Chandler, Charlevoix, Hayes, Hudson, Marion, Melrose, Wilson, South Arm

Great Lakes Energy members will be notified by postcard, email, and phone if ROW re-clearing work is scheduled in their area. Please be sure we have your current billing address, email address and primary phone number for your service location. This will help ensure we are able to reach you. Tree-related power line damage is a major cause of outages. Re-clearing of the co-op’s entire power line distribution system is performed in six- to seven-year cycles. The amount of trimming to maintain adequate power line clearance depends on the tree type, location and growth, and line voltage size. In addition to weak and dying trees, healthy trees may need to be trimmed or removed if they pose a threat to your electric service. Please see the list on this page for areas where contracted crews will work this year. Have questions? Contact our Vegetation Management Department at 888-485-2537, ext. 8221 (central and south counties) or ext. 1295 (north counties).

Emmet: Bear Creek, Maple River, Littlefield, Pleasant View, Resort Grand Traverse: Fife Lake

Tree Planting Guide

Kalkaska: Boardman, Excelsior, Kalkaska, Orange, Rapid River, Springfield Lake County: Elk, Lake, Pleasant Plains, Sauble, Sweetwater, Webber, Yates Missaukee: Bloomfield Newaygo County: Denver, Home, Lilley, Merrill, Troy Oceana County: Benona, Ferry, Golden, Greenwood, Hart, Newfield, Otto, Pentwater, Shelby, Weare Osceola County: Cedar, Hartwick, Hersey, Highland, Leroy, Lincoln, Marion, Middle Branch, Richmond, Rose Lake Otsego County: Bagley, Corwith, Elmira, Hayes, Livingston Ottawa County: Jamestown, Zeeland

12 FEBRUARY 2020

50' 40' 30' 20' 10' 0'




30' Small Tree Zone: Trees less than 25' tall/spread at least 25' from line


50' Medium Tree Zone: Trees 25'–40' in height/spread at least 40' from line


70' Large Tree Zone: Trees larger than 40' in height/spread at least 60' from line

Dale Farrier GLE Director, Focused On Clear Paths


s office manager for the Antrim County Road Commission, Dale Farrier knows the importance of keeping roads clear and maintained at a reasonable cost so people can get where they need and want to go. The same holds true for his role as a director for GLE. He realizes the cooperative’s road ahead needs to be welldesigned and kept free of obstruction so the company can move forward in the best interests of its members. Dale has been a GLE member since 1984 and a GLE director for 30 years. Dale also works for a board in his “day job” with the road commission. He appreciates the advantage of being able to apply what he learned from interacting with that board to his board role at GLE. Dale holds all certifications available to GLE directors through voluntary training courses offered by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA). He has served as secretary and chairman of the board during his years as a director. He also serves on GLE’s audit committee and represents his cooperative on the board of Wolverine Power Cooperative, GLE’s power supplier. He notes that time invested by directors in training and simply learning about co-ops and best practices comes back to the co-op membership in effective governance and wise choices. “This board of directors, with a lot of help from a great staff and willing membership, has built GLE into a very successful company,” Dale observes. “Our electric rates are competitive and often lower than those of the larger investor-owned electric utilities, and we return any excess revenue to our members in the form of capital credits.”

Personally Speaking Dale and wife Lisa live three miles east of the village of Kalkaska on the Boardman River. They have five children, six grandchildren, “and another on the way.” They belong to the Kalkaska Church of Christ, where Dale is involved as a member of the Board of Elders. When not working, serving as a GLE director, or spending time with grandchildren or on church-related duties, Dale enjoys gardening, hunting, and making maple syrup.

On Being A GLE Director Dale feels the cooperative principle of “Democratic Member Control” serves GLE members well. He supports

the concept of members electing representatives to their GLE board on a “one member, one vote” basis, regardless of how much or how little electricity they use. “If the membership isn’t pleased with their GLE board’s decisions or actions, they can elect different representation,” Dale notes. “We have to make decisions on multimillion-dollar projects and improvements. Making sure we spend our members’ money wisely is a top priority. Keeping the financial path clear and in good shape so that GLE can offer safe, reliable, affordable, and essential products and services—such as Truestream, our high-speed fiber internet company—is vitally important to our continued success.” Dale is running for re-election as GLE’s District 5 director (Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Manistee, Missaukee, and Wexford counties) in 2020. His main focus will continue to be keeping GLE financially sound as it travels the roads ahead.

“ Keeping the financial path clear and in good shape so that GLE can offer safe, reliable, affordable, and essential products and services is vitally important to our continued success.”


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.

Montague Area District Library is one of the many nonprofit organizations helped by the People Fund.

Be A People Fund Winner Did you know we award $100 billing credits to Great Lakes Energy members who support the People Fund? Six winners are randomly selected twice per year.


everal generous People Fund supporters recently became winners. See the list of members on this page who received a $100 bill credit.

Current People Fund supporters and any member who becomes a People Fund contributor before the next drawing on June 1 are eligible to win. People Fund contributors allow Great Lakes Energy to round up their electric bills to the nearest dollar each month. The rounded-up amounts, which average less than 50 cents a month, are used to award grants to local charities and community groups such as food pantries, senior citizen centers and youth programs. Gifts are provided by Great Lakes Energy and do not involve the use of any People Fund round-up money. Don’t miss your chance to be the next winner! Call our office or visit to sign up today.

16 FEBRUARY 2020

Congratulations To Our Winners! Thanks for your ongoing support of the People Fund. • Timothy J. Burkholder, Kalkaska County • Barbara J. Germida, Oceana County • Julie Bourbonnais, Mason County • Jeremy D. Frey, Newaygo County • Stephen Sweeney, Osceola County • Kim Rollins, Otsego County These randomly chosen winners received a $100 bill credit for their support of People Fund.

Need Payment Help?

Dial 2-1-1


ind help to pay your utility bills this winter by dialing 2-1-1. It’s a free community health and human services information and referral service that connects eligible residents with energy payment assistance and much more. By simply dialing 2-1-1, available 24/7, callers are connected with a trained, caring professional who will confidentially assess their situation, identify their needs and refer them to local resources for help. Although it varies by location, local resources include basic needs such as food, housing, shelter, temporary financial assistance, transportation, utility assistance and more. In addition, local resources include mental health care and counseling, health care, individual/family life assistance and other services. Please remember to also review our Energy Optimization programs at for energy efficiency rebate offers.

Call 2-1-1 or visit

HISTORIC FARM HONORED Congratulations to Mary Knapp, whose farm in Charlevoix County received a state sesquicentennial farm certification. Great Lakes Energy is a sponsor of the Michigan Centennial Farm Program, which honors Great Lakes Energy members and other Michigan residents whose farms have been owned and operated by the same family for 100 years.

GLE members can request an application or receive more information about the program by contacting the Historical Society of Michigan, 517-324-1828, or by visiting its website at


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

TIRED OF BURNING WOOD? “When I could no longer physically cut 20 cords of wood, I installed a Well-Connect. The system has met all claims and surprised me. If people are heating and cooling with propane, fuel oil, or wood and have their own well, they have a need and don't realize it. That need is to cut those heating & cooling costs by at least half (as well as emissions).”

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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