HomeWorks Feb. 2020

Page 1

February 2020


COUNTRY LINES HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative

2019 Member Survey Results Youth Tour: “An Unforgettable Experience” HomeWorks Employees Give Back



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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


facebook.com/michigancountrylines 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 editor@countrylines.com countrylines.com

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 countrylines.com under the MI Co-op Community tab by March 25, and look for it on our preferred pies list in the April issue.













Member Survey Results Help Us Serve You Better



Portland office/Mail payments to: 7973 E. Grand River Ave. Portland, MI 48875 Open 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday–Friday Blanchard office: 3681 Costabella Ave. Blanchard, MI 49310 Open 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday–Friday Night deposit box available at both locations. Electric bill/account questions: 517-647-7554 or 1-800-562-8232 Pay by phone, anytime: 1-877-999-3395 Service questions/outages: 517-647-7554 or 1-800-848-9333 (24 hours for emergency calls) Tri-County Propane: 1-877-574-2740 HomeWorks Connect 1-800-668-8413 homeworks.org Email: tricoenergy@homeworks.org

Board of Directors District 1 — John Lord Vice-Chairman 2276 Plains Rd., Leslie, MI 49251 517-974-2518 jlord@homeworks.org District 2 — Jim Stebbins 7139 Peddler Lake Rd., Clarksville, MI 48815 616-693-2449 jstebbins@homeworks.org District 3 — Luke Pohl Chairman 15560 W. Hanses Rd., Westphalia, MI 48894 989-292-0427 lpohl@homeworks.org District 4 — Kimber Hansen 6535 N. Wyman Rd., Edmore, MI 48829 989-506-5849 khansen@homeworks.org District 5 — Corinna Batora 7655 N. Watson Rd., Elsie, MI 48831 517-256-5233 cbatora@homeworks.org District 6 — Ed Oplinger Secretary-Treasurer 10890 W. Weidman Rd., Weidman, MI 48893 989-644-3079 eoplinger@homeworks.org District 7 — Shirley Sprague 15563 45th Ave., Barryton, MI 49305 989-382-7535 ssprague@homeworks.org Editor: C harly Markwart, CCC

Join us on Facebook. facebook.com/homeworks.org 4 FEBRUARY 2020


Guest Column By Kacey Thelen, Manager Of Marketing

wise man once said, “In the co-op world, you can’t go wrong when you’re making the right decisions for your members.” To ensure that we’re always doing just that, we regularly enlist an independent company to survey you, our members, about the services that we provide. Last fall, just over 300 HomeWorks members were surveyed about how well we're meeting their expectations. Some of the most important data collected is that which tells us about our “satisfaction drivers,” such as quality customer service and reliable electricity. You rated us at above 90% in these categories, indicating that our employees are meeting and exceeding your expectations of quality service. Our survey results also showed that we scored well on the national crossindustry American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), with an overall score of 87. That ranks us higher than most electric co-ops nationwide and above many popular companies, including Apple, Lowe’s, and Southwest Airlines. This survey marked the first time that we also were given a Cooperative Attitude and Performance Score (CAPS). This rating measures our ranking among other cooperatives in categories such as trustworthiness, management skills, and care for our members. We scored a 90, which exceeds the nationwide average for cooperatives of similar size. It's nice to learn what you think we're doing right, but even more valuable to us is learning about the areas in which you'd like to see us improve. Our 2019 survey results showed us two areas to take a closer look at: renewable energy and the types of communication platforms that we use. First, your responses indicated that we need to do a better job of informing our members about our commitment to renewable energy. Eight out of 10 of those surveyed didn't know that through our power supplier, Wolverine Power Cooperative, we lead Michigan utilities with the highest percentage of new renewable energy, and provide over 20% of your power from wind, solar, and hydro energy assets. Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that the energy we provide is currently over 60% carbon-free, thanks to Wolverine! Additionally, 73% of members were unaware of the community solar, distributed renewable energy, and buy-all/sell-all options that we offer. In regard to our communication platforms, we were interested to learn that 96% of survey responses came via email this time around. This, along with the 76% of members who said they prefer text messages for emergency situations, has made us begin to think about how we can adapt our communication methods to better meet the digital demand. We are appreciative of every member who spent time responding to our recent survey! We take your responses seriously and strive to become a better cooperative because of them. As always, we’ll keep working hard to put you, our members, first.

2019 HOMEWORKS TRI-COUNTY ELECTRIC MEMBER SURVEY RESULTS Conducted & compiled by Inside Information® Inc.

As a member-owned electric cooperative, our priority is to effectively meet the needs of our members. Every few years, we send out a customer satisfaction survey to a randomly selected group of members to gauge how well we are meeting your expectations. We analyze the results and use them to help guide our future operations in order to better serve you. Our most recent survey was conducted in September 2019. Here are some of the highlights:

89% 92%

rating for friendly and courteous employees

of members report being “SATISFIED” or “VERY SATISFIED” with our overall performance as an electric cooperative.


rating for restoring power quickly after an outage


rating for communicating effectively with members



rating for delivering good value for the money

American Customer Satisfaction Index Score



The ASCI is the only national cross-industry measure of customer satisfaction in the United States. Our score puts us 10+ points above the national averages for co-ops, investor-owned utilities, and municipals. It also ranks us higher than:

Apple Southwest Airlines Lowe’s Wal-Mart Facebook DISH Network and many more!

Thank you to each and every member who took the time to fill out our 2019 survey. We appreciate the insight you provided, and will work to become a better co-op because of it!

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 michigan-energy.org 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. Michigan-energy.org | 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 michigan-energy.org.



Enter to win a


energy bill credit!




Snap Shot

Around The World

Upcoming Snap Shot Contest Topics And Deadlines

1. Dawn Klee of Eaton Rapids says, “This was high above Niagara Falls in Canada, at Skylon Tower. Absolutely amazing view!”

“Bridges of Michigan,” Deadline: Feb. 14 (April issue) “On the Farm,” Deadline: March 16 (May issue) “Nightscapes,” Deadline: April 15 (June issue)

2. Richard Selders of Hersey submitted this picture of the historic Tower Bridge in London.

Go to homeworks.org and select Country Lines under the Electric tab to submit your photos and see all of the 2020 Snap Shot themes. It’s fast and easy. To send by mail: include your name, address, phone number, photographer’s name, and details about your photo. Mail to Attn: Country Lines Snap Shots, 7973 E. Grand River, Portland, MI 48875. Photos will not be returned. Do not send color laser prints or professional studio photos.

3. Casie Bayless of Portland reports that this is the view from the Napali Coast along the Hanakapiai Trail in Kauai, Hawaii.

Submit Your Photos!

5. Lindsay Uzarski of Remus submitted this photo taken on Lake Geneva in Switzerland. She says, “It’s the view looking out of the 800-year-old Chillon Castle.”

Contributors whose photos we publish in Country Lines in 2020 will receive a $10 bill credit the month after publication.

4. This picture features Jan and Jerry Bozung of Portland. Jan notes, “On our trip to Dublin, Ireland, last February, we visited the home of Guinness.”




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 micoopkitchen.com/videos 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 micoopkitchen.com 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 micoopkitchen.com.



HomeWorks Employees Care

ing v i G d r a Blanch ng i v i G nd Portla

Employees in both of our offices gave back to their local communities recently by collecting Christmas gifts and other items for underprivileged children and families in their areas. Employees in our Blanchard office provided gifts, coats, boots, and other necessities to two families they adopted in our northern service area. They also donated purses filled with hygiene items to a local women’s shelter. In our Portland office, employees donated gifts to 20 children in our southern service territory via the Portland Community Fund Association’s Christmas Giving Program. They also collected items for Toys for Tots.

Deadline: March 16 www.bit.ly/HWScholarships

Your Board In Action

Co-op Principle #2:

Democratic Member Control

Meeting at Blanchard on Dec. 16, your board of directors: • Approved the 2020 budgets for Tri-County Electric Cooperative and HomeWorks Connect. • Reviewed a presentation of key Co-op accomplishments from 2019 and key goals for 2020. • Learned about progress made by HomeWorks Connect in building a high-speed fiber-optic internet network. • Discussed and accepted Board Policy 104 – Committees of the Board of Directors. • Learned there were 116 new members in November. • Acknowledged the November safety report, listing employee training as well as minor employee and public incidents involving electric, propane, or fiber optic.

Time Set Aside for Members to Comment Before Cooperative Board Meetings The first 15 minutes of every board meeting are available for members who wish to address the board of directors on any subject. The next meetings are scheduled for 9 a.m. on Monday, Feb. 24 and Monday, March 23 at Portland. Members who need directions to the meeting, or wish to have items considered on the board agenda, should call 517-647-7554.

People Fund Assists Local Organizations Meeting Dec. 16, the Tri-County Electric People Fund board made six grants totaling $8,200, including:

Every member has a voice and a vote. Districts 2 and 4 have director seats up for election this year. If you are a member of one of those districts, watch your April Country Lines for your mail-in ballot, or plan to vote at your district meeting in May!

Thank you!

• $1,000 to the Isabella County Sheriff’s Office, Mt. Pleasant, to purchase equipment for a command vehicle; • $2,000 to Hope House Free Medical Clinic, Big Rapids, to upgrade computers and offset medical bills; • $2,000 to Clare Congregational Church, to purchase a refrigerator/freezer for its soup kitchen; • $1,000 to the Ionia County Great Start Collaborative, Ionia, for its Transition To Kindergarten backpack program; • $2,000 to Chippewa Lake Community Church, Evart, for food pantry expenses; and • $200 to an Ingham County family to help cover their electric expenses.

How to Apply for a Tri-County Electric People Fund Grant The Tri-County Electric People Fund provides grants to individuals and organizations in the Co-op’s service area for food, shelter, clothing, health, and other humane needs, or for programs or services that benefit a significant segment of a community. Write to 7973 E. Grand River Avenue, Portland, MI 48875, for an application form and grant guidelines, or visit the People Fund tab at homeworks.org. Note: Applications must be received by Feb. 25 for the March meeting, or by April 7 for the April meeting.


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.




Become A Connector Today! To pre-register, visit Join.HomeWorksConnect.org or call 800-668-8413!

This service is not regulated by the Michigan Public Service Commission.



Cooperative Youth Tour “An Unforgettable Experience” Each year, we send a select group of high school students from our membership area to participate in the National Rural Electric Cooperative Youth Tour in Washington, D.C. The weeklong trip brings together hundreds of students from across the country for a unique opportunity to explore the leadership lessons of our nation’s history and be immersed in the cooperative spirit. We are currently accepting applications for the 2020 Youth Tour, which will take place in June. Here’s what our 2019 participants had to say about the experience:

Cade Vallier

Zac Carlson

Rylee Warchuck

“The historic landmarks in Washington, D.C., are not something you can just see and understand in a picture; you have to go there to truly experience it. Visiting the capital with Youth Tour is something I will cherish for a very long time.”

“Youth Tour for me was an unforgettable experience. It was really powerful to learn that kids our age can ask our members of Congress questions and they actually care about our opinion. It was an amazing opportunity and a week that I’ll never forget.”

“Youth Tour was more than I thought it would be. My favorite part was getting to meet people from all around the state and the country. It showed me that there is a bigger world outside of Michigan.”

Portland, MI

Charlotte, MI

Six Lakes, MI

DO YOU KNOW A STUDENT WHO MIGHT BE INTERESTED IN YOUTH TOUR? We would love to have them apply! Application to Cooperative Youth Tour is open to all 10th and 11th-grade students who reside or attend school within our service area (HomeWorks membership is not required). The 2020, all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., will take place June 20-25. To learn more or to apply, visit CooperativeYouthTour.com.

2020 APPS DUE BY FEB. 28!


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 countrylines.com under the MI Co-op Community tab.

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