February 2022 Cherryland

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February 2022


COUNTRY LINES Cherryland Electric Cooperative


Electricity Is Not All Roses: Stop And Remember Your Safety

A Florist’s Guide To Valentine’s Day

Co-op 101: Board Of Directors


Saving is believing.

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Contents countrylines.com

February 2022 Vol. 42, No. 2



6 SUNKEN TREASURE How Jennifer Dowker found a message in a bottle and a new life. 10 MI CO-OP KITCHEN Sweet Treats: Simple desserts that do the trick.

Michigan’s Electric Cooperatives

14 HATCHING A PLAN FOR THE FUTURE Stocking trout into the Great Lakes is a team effort for the Jordan River National Fish Hatchery.

EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Casey Clark EDITOR: Christine Dorr


RECIPE EDITOR: Christin McKamey

18 GUEST COLUMN Honoring My Grandfather: Darren Bettinger reflects on his grandfather's service in World War II.


PUBLISHER: Michigan Electric Cooperative Association Michigan Country Lines, USPS-591-710, is published monthly, except August and December, with periodicals postage paid at Lansing, Mich., and additional offices. It is the official publication of the Michigan Electric Cooperative Association, 201 Townsend St., Suite 900, Lansing, MI 48933. Subscriptions are authorized for members of Alger Delta, Cherryland, Great Lakes, HomeWorks Tri-County, Midwest Energy & Communications, Ontonagon, Presque Isle, and Thumb electric cooperatives by their boards of directors. Postmaster: Send all UAA to CFS. Association Officers: Robert Kran, Great Lakes Energy, chairman; Tony Anderson, Cherryland Electric Cooperative, vice chairman; Eric Baker, Wolverine Power Cooperative, secretary-treasurer; Craig Borr, president and CEO.

CONTACT US/LETTERS TO EDITOR: Michigan Country Lines 201 Townsend St., Suite 900 Lansing, MI 48933 248-534-7358 editor@countrylines.com


notify your electric cooperative. See page 4 for contact information.

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

Be featured! Use #micoopcommunity for a chance to be featured here and on our Instagram account.


A pop of color to brighten your day. @chelseaolkowski.photo (Chelsea Olkowski)

MI CO-OP COMMUNITY To enter contests, submit reader content & more, visit countrylines.com/community



Win a $50 bill credit!

Win $150 for stories published!

Up Next: On The Grill, due March 1; Tomatoes, due April 1

Submit your fondest memories and stories at countrylines.com/community.

Submit your recipe at micoopkitchen.com, or send it via email (include your full name and co-op) to recipes@countrylines.com.



cherrylandelectric.coop /cherrylandelectriccoop @cherrylandec

CO-OP NEWS Cherryland Cares Awards $15,700 To Three Nonprofits


At its fourth-quarter board meeting, the Cherryland Cares Board awarded a total of $15,700 in grants to Benzie Area Christian Neighbors, TART Trails Inc., and the Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center. In total, Cherryland Cares awarded $67,805 in grants to area nonprofit agencies in 2021.

Melinda Lautner, Senior Vice President 231-947-2509 mlautner@cherrylandelectric.coop

If you are an area nonprofit agency seeking financial help, first-quarter grant applications are due Friday, March 18. For more information, please call Shannon Mattson at 231-486-9234 or email at smattson@cherrylandelectric.coop.

David Schweitzer, President 231-883-5860 dschweitzer@cherrylandelectric.coop

Gabe Schneider, Secretary 517-449-6453 gschneider@cherrylandelectric.coop

Cherryland Opts Out Of Youth Tour Due To Pandemic

Tom Van Pelt, Treasurer 231-386-5234 tvanpelt@cherrylandelectric.coop

Out of an abundance of caution due to the ongoing pandemic, Cherryland will not participate in the 2022 Electric Cooperative Youth Tour: an annual, all-expensespaid leadership travel opportunity for high school sophomores and juniors to Washington, D.C., in June. The co-op historically selects two students from its service territory to represent Cherryland on the trip.

Terry Lautner, Director 231-946-4623 tlautner@cherrylandelectric.coop

Cherryland intends to resume participation in Youth Tour in 2023. For more information, visit cooperativeyouthtour.com.

Valarie Handy, Director 231-392-4705 vhandy@cherrylandelectric.coop

John Olson, Director 231-938-1228 jolson@cherrylandelectric.coop

General Manager: Tony Anderson Co-op Editors: Rachel Johnson Courtney Doyle: cdoyle@cherrylandelectric.coop

OFFICE HOURS Monday–Friday 7:30 a.m.– 4 p.m. TELEPHONE NUMBERS 231-486-9200 or 1-800-442-8616 (Mich.) ADDRESS P.O. Box 298, Grawn, MI 49637 PAY STATION Cherryland Electric Cooperative office 5930 U.S. 31 South, Grawn MI, 49637 Cherryland Electric Cooperative is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Serve On Cherryland’s Board Any qualified Cherryland member can be elected to serve a three-year term on the cooperative’s board of directors. Three directors will be elected at this year’s Annual Meeting, including two at-large directors and one Benzie/Manistee/Wexford county director. To be nominated in 2022, candidates can file a petition with the cooperative’s administrative assistant starting the first day of March until 4 p.m. on the last business day of March. Nominating petitions are available on our website and at the co-op office in Grawn. For more information regarding board nominations and the election process, review Article III of the co-op’s bylaws on our website.

Cherryland Offers Five Scholarships Cherryland offers five scholarships—three worth $4,000 ($1,000 for four years) for high school seniors and two for $1,000 each for adult scholarships (post high school). Applications for both scholarships are available on our website. The deadline for applications is Friday, April 2.

Cherryland Announces Date Of 84th Annual Meeting Cherryland’s 84th Annual Meeting will take place Thursday, June 9. The Annual Meeting’s planned location is Incredible Mo’s in Grawn. Cherryland will provide updates regarding the 84th Annual Meeting in Michigan Country Lines, on our website, and through social media.


Electricity Is Not All Roses Tony Anderson, General Manager


e can stop and smell the roses. We can’t smell electricity. It can certainly stop us in our tracks. It is a silent form of energy that deserves respect. Electricity can hurt you much more than any thorn on a rose. Members repeatedly put themselves in danger by not stopping to treat electricity with the respect it deserves. We haven’t had any members get hurt … yet. It isn’t for lack of trying, however. Several close calls over the past several months have given me serious cause for concern. Here are a few: First, a member took a meter base off a home to get it out of the way for some siding replacement. They did not ask us to shut off the power at the transformer. They wrestled it to the ground alive with an energy that could hurt them. Second, members cut the meter seal and got inside the meter box because they didn’t want to wait for an inspection, their cooperative, or an electrician. Third, a member was found on a job using a handsaw on an underground wire that he thought was a water line. A black underground wire can look like a black water pipe when covered in dirt and muck. A MISS DIG call would have told them where the electric wire was located. Why wasn’t anyone hurt? The only answer I have is just dumb luck. In every case, a member was inches away from injury or death. In every case, proper procedures and communication with Cherryland were not done.

Speed kills. In my industry, numerous close calls are clear signs leading up to a severe accident. I am writing today to implore everyone to use the MISS DIG system, just a quick 8-1-1 call. I am also asking everyone to work with us to schedule your needs. We are in the business of serving you and keeping you safe. We can’t do that if you don’t give us a chance. Yes, you may not get the schedule you desire. We have dozens of requests per day to deal with. Look out farther than tomorrow and allow us to help. A delay in a project is far better than a stay in the hospital or worse. Stop and smell the roses is an old cliché about slowing down and enjoying life. You can also enjoy life—a long life—if you slow down and give electricity the respect it deserves. Take a minute to think about all the good in your life. Then, ask yourself if working with your cooperative and the MISS DIG system is worth it.

MISS DIG 811 is Michigan’s ONLY resource for ensuring you know what’s below ground BEFORE you start to dig. To place a request, call 8-1-1.




t was on a volunteer trip to Jamaica that Jennifer Dowker saw her first glassbottom boat. Aside from being captivated by floating above sea life and catching a glimpse at a different world, the boat captivated Dowker’s imagination, and she caught a glimpse at a different life for herself. Dowker was at a crossroads, a single mom to three boys. Getting her captain’s license, buying a glass-bottom boat, and starting a business may not have looked like the most prudent way to support her family. “I’d pitched the idea at Invest Cheboygan, like a 'Shark Tank' for small towns,” said Dowker. “Ultimately, I didn’t win and started thinking maybe I need to do something more practical.” However, two days later, Dowker received a phone call from someone who had been in the audience and seen her pitch. He told her he thought she had what it took to make her dream a viable business. With his help, Dowker secured a loan, and Nautical North Family Adventures was born.

SUNKEN TREASURE How Jennifer Dowker Found A Message In A Bottle And A New Life By Emily Haines Lloyd



“I’d been homeschooling my boys and together, we’d put together a 38-page business plan as one of their projects,” said Dowker. “I had the foundation and thought—‘someday.’” However, the fuel of the venture came more quickly than Dowker anticipated and was ignited by the passing of Dowker’s brother, Rick, who battled cancer for five months before ultimately succumbing. “All of a sudden, ‘someday’ gained a whole new level of urgency,” said Dowker. “Before we knew it, we were taking people out on the Yankee Sunshine. My sons were all involved—helping in the office or welcoming and checking in guests. We were all coming alive.”

"The biggest lesson I’ve taken away is that even when you feel lost or broken, go a little further. Push just that little bit more.” The message was from a young man named George Morrow, and after Dowker posted about it on Facebook, the power of the internet took over, and she was finally connected with George Morrow’s daughter—Michelle. Morrow had passed in 1995, but the message in the bottle brought wonderful memories back to his daughter just in time for Father’s Day. “I love that I have had an opportunity to connect with people, to share the water I love, and to share this beautiful experience with my boys as well,” said Dowker. “But the biggest lesson I’ve taken away is that even when you feel lost or broken, go a little further. Push just that little bit more.”

Michelle Primeau and her cousin Larry, whom she was reunited with thanks to the bottle.

Nautical North Family Adventures offers shipwreck cruises with their glass-bottom boat, the aforementioned Yankee Sunshine, as well as lighthouse and river tours, scuba diving, kayak rentals, and other water-based adventures. Dowker will go out as many as five times a day and has already racked up over 900 hours on her boat. It’s a busy and rigorous schedule, but hard work never scared Dowker off.

Take it from Jennifer Dowker—there is treasure all around you, but there’s even more inside of you.

Jennifer Dowker, the moment after plucking the bottle off the bottom of Lake Huron.

“My mom always said, ‘I don’t care what other people are doing, you work harder and always do your best,’” said Dowker. “I’m constantly thinking that I can always do a little more.” That same mindset and internal fortitude could easily be held responsible for a discovery Dowker made in June 2021. While taking a prospective scuba client out on the Cheboygan River, Dowker was diving and looking for a token for her passenger to take away with them. She came across a clam shell, which in itself is pretty cool, but looked for something even more amazing. As she pulled out a small brown bottle, she decided to go out one more time and came back to the boat with an old-looking green bottle that appeared to have something inside. “Seriously, it was a message in a bottle,” said Dowker. “It’s just not the sort of thing you expect to find, even though you secretly hope you will.”

Nautical North Family Adventures 231-444-3400 /Straitsarea /nauticalnorth.familyadventures nauticalnorthfamilyadventures.com




Valentines’ Day By Courtney Doyle


hen you think about Valentine’s Day, flowers and chocolates often come to mind. But for Victoria Mekas, it’s much more than that. When she’s not fulfilling her duties as landlord to her Cherryland member renters, you can find her elbow deep in a beautiful bouquet— the passion that started it all. “I knew in high school I wanted to be a florist,” Mekas explained. Her calling quickly grew from Michigan State University student to taking the leap and starting her own business in 2001. At 21 years old, she built a business plan, presented it to the bank, and opened her very own flower shop in Beulah. Fastforward 20 years and now she owns and operates a series of unique businesses in Benzonia. What started as just one little store now includes a handcrafted ice cream shop, a year-round Christmas store, and, of course—Victoria’s Floral and Design. While wedding season is busy and Mother’s Day brings in its fair share of business—it’s Valentine’s Day that creates a one-of-a-kind rush they only see once a year. Mekas says, “It’s hard to explain it, you kind of have to go through it. It’s just crazy, but it’s awesome too.” Recalling her first Valentine’s Day in her new business, she explained, “When I first started in Beulah, it was just me. I had no idea what it was going to be like. So, I spent the night in my shop because the orders just kept coming in.” Chuckling, Mekas continued, “I remember sleeping in

front of the cooler, it was blowing out hot air, feeling like I’m never going to get this done, I’m never going to get this done.” Of course, she did get it done, and learned some lessons along the way. Now, with herself and another designer or two, Victoria’s Floral and Design orders upward of 2,000 roses, 1,500 carnations, and countless buckets of blooms to churn out floral arrangements in the name of love. In order to make sure your flowers are fresh, they arrive at the shop just five days before the holiday. From there, it’s nonstop bouquet building. When it comes to placing your order, Victoria has some important tips: Number 1: Order early—especially if you’re looking for something other than roses. “I’ve even run out of roses before, so it’s important to order early no matter what,” explained Mekas. Number 2: Don’t forget the card! Take the time to make it personal. Mekas says, “The card is so important, because people save those. Instead of just saying ‘Love, Jared,’—something a little extra on the card goes a long way. Don’t skimp on that, just write something meaningful.”

Victoria Mekas, in her flower cooler, shows off the many roses available to customers. She says red roses are by far the most popular for Valentine’s Day.

And number 3: You can always add extras! Victoria’s shop offers all sorts of add-ons, from balloons to chocolates. Even knowing your sweetheart’s favorite color can add a personal touch in the form of the bow Mekas and her team adorns their arrangement with. Remember, when you support local businesses for your Valentine’s Day shopping, you’re spreading the love to your community in addition to that special someone. Plan early, make it personal, and shop local—the perfect recipe for a sweet Valentine’s Day!


By The Numbers



of shoppers planned to gift flowers in 2021

of shoppers planned to gift candy in 2021


More than ¼ of Americans buy Valentine’s gifts for their pets

the average amount consumers spent on their loved ones

$21.8 billion spent in 2021

National Retail Federation

224 million roses were sold for Valentine’s Day in 2019



MI CO-OP Recipes

Photos by Robert Bruce Photography || Recipes Submitted by MCL Readers and Tested by Recipe Editor Christin McKamey

SWEET TREATS Simple desserts that do the trick.



Meta Steeb, Great Lakes Energy ½ cup chili roasted pistachios (or chopped almonds/walnuts, roasted pistachios, etc.) 7–8 pitted medjool dates, soaked in water for 10 minutes to soften; drained 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder 2–3 ounces bittersweet chocolate (or semisweet chocolate if you prefer)



energy bill credit!

10 FEBRUARY 2022

On The Grill due March 1 • Tomatoes 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. Submit your recipe at micoopkitchen.com, or send it via email (include your full name and co-op) to recipes@countrylines.com.

Add the pistachios to a food processor and pulse a few times until broken into small pieces. Add the dates, vanilla, and cocoa powder, and pulse until moist and sticky dough is formed. Roll into 10–12 (1-inch) balls and freeze for at least 10 minutes. Melt chocolate and, using tongs or toothpicks, dip each truffle to coat with chocolate. Optional: Add crushed nuts on top while chocolate is still melted. Refrigerate until set, about 1 hour. Recipe can be easily doubled or tripled. Watch a video of this month’s winning recipe at micoopkitchen.com/videos

Chocolate Mint Brownies

Double Chocolate Banana Oatmeal Cookies

Brownies: 1 cup flour 1 cup sugar 2 cups chocolate syrup 4 eggs, room temperature ½ cup butter, softened Mint cream: 2 cups powdered sugar ½ cup softened butter 1 tablespoon water 1 teaspoon mint extract • green food coloring (a few drops) Chocolate topping: 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips 6 tablespoons butter

¾ 1 1 2 1 1 2½ ½ 1 1 3 1 1

Theresa Mandeville, Cherryland

Preheat oven to 350 F, and grease a 9x13-inch pan. Mix all brownie ingredients together until combined and add to the 9x13-inch pan; bake 30–35 minutes. Cool completely. Meanwhile, mix together all mint cream ingredients in a small bowl. Spread mint cream over cooled brownies. Cook the chocolate topping ingredients over low heat until chocolate melts and combines with butter. Spread lightly cooled chocolate topping over mint cream layer. Refrigerate brownies for a couple of hours or until chocolate topping has hardened.

Apple Cake

eggs cups sugar cup canola oil teaspoon vanilla cups flour teaspoon baking soda teaspoon cinnamon teaspoon salt gratings fresh nutmeg cups shredded apple (I use Ida Red) 1 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped

cup brown sugar cup white sugar stick soft butter medium-size ripe bananas teaspoon vanilla egg cups flour cup old fashioned oats teaspoon baking soda teaspoon salt tablespoons cocoa powder teaspoon cinnamon 12-ounce bag of chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 F. Cream together the sugars, butter, bananas, vanilla, and egg in a mixer. In a separate bowl, combine all the dry ingredients of flour, oats, baking soda, salt, cocoa, and cinnamon. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture. Mix in the bag of chocolate chips. Drop large teaspoonsized dough spaced 2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 8–9 minutes until they look baked but not overdone. Cool on rack or platter. This was a family favorite recipe my mother always baked—a delicious cookie where you just can’t resist taking another.

Golden Caramels

Sharon Libich, Presque Isle 3 1¾ 1 1 2 1 1 1 2 4

Valerie Donn, Great Lakes Energy

Sharon Holzhausen, Great Lakes Preheat oven to 350 F. Beat together eggs and sugar. Stir in oil and vanilla. Stir together dry ingredients and fold into batter. Fold in grated apples and nuts of your choice. Pour into a greased 9x13-inch pan and bake for 45 minutes or until done when a toothpick comes out clean. Enjoy with whipped cream or ice cream!

2 2 1 1 1

sticks butter cups sugar cup light corn syrup cup condensed milk teaspoon vanilla

Butter the bottom and sides of a 9x13-inch pan and set aside. In a medium-size pan, add the butter, sugar, corn syrup, and condensed milk, and stir to mix. Stirring constantly, cook on high heat until the mixture boils, then turn down to medium-high heat

until the temperature reaches 240 F on a candy thermometer. Remove pan from heat and add the vanilla. Pour caramel into prepared 9x13-inch pan and cool to room temperature. Once cool, slice caramels into squares with a sharp knife. Wrap the pieces individually into precut rectangular pieces of wax paper. Twist the ends of paper to hold caramels within. *Be sure to cool completely before wrapping or the paper will melt and stick to the caramels. MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES


Co-op 101: Board of Directors By Courtney Doyle

’m still pretty new here. I made quite the drastic career change and joined the wonderful world of cooperatives back in June. Let me start by saying I genuinely love it. However, the change came with a steep learning curve.


For some reason, in my nearly 31 years on this planet, no one ever taught me about co-ops, how they work, and why. That got me thinking that if I have questions about the cooperative business model, some of you might have those same questions. Thus, “Co-op 101” was born. A way for me to periodically explore the different aspects of co-op life, and share my findings with you to provide a greater understanding of your electric co-op. We begin with your board of directors.

Tony Anderson General Manager

Seven members serve 3-year terms as directors, all elected by you, the membership! Four are considered “at-large” directors, which means they can be elected from any territory we serve. The other three represent Grand Traverse/Kalkaska, Benzie/Manistee/Wexford, and Leelanau counties. No matter what seats are up for election, the entire membership votes on who will serve on the board. The board has a lot of responsibility. They establish co-op policies, make bigpicture decisions on behalf of the membership, and are responsible for looking forward and planning for the future while maintaining the co-op’s core values. Those directors employ a general manager for the cooperative. That person (in this case, Tony Anderson) is the vital connection between the board and the working operations of the co-op.

David Schweitzer Director at Large President

Once a month, our board meets with Tony and co-op department heads to discuss current projects, goals, and potential future challenges. This “meeting of the minds,” if you will, serves a very important purpose. Since the directors are members living in areas spread out across our membership, they can advocate for the specific needs of the members they represent. It also allows for open communication between co-op management and our membership. Members are able to share their thoughts and ideas with the board via e-mail, phone, or in person during the member input session of the meeting. Meeting minutes and agendas are also available on our website, along with our bylaws, if you’re interested in taking a deeper dive into co-op policy.

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Melinda Lautner Director at Large Senior Vice President

Another thing—probably the most important thing to note—is that cooperatives are member-owned and member-governed. Any member who meets director qualifications can run for a seat on the board of directors. Then members get to choose who represents them by voting in the election every year, which starts on May 1 and culminates with the Annual Meeting in June. The nominating period starts the first day of March and runs through 4 p.m. on the last business day of March. Members interested in running for a seat on the board will need to fill out the Board Candidate Interest Form found on our website. In 2022, there will be three seats up for election, two at-large seats, and the Benzie/Manistee/Wexford county seat.

Gabe Schneider Grand Traverse/Kalkaska Secretary

Maybe serving on the board is a little much for you right now, but you still want to learn more about your co-op. We started an Emerging Leaders Program that’s designed to give members a closer look at what co-ops are all about, how we operate, and industry challenges and opportunities. The beauty of the co-op is your involvement can be as big as serving on the board to as simple as a quick vote in the election. Our goal is to serve you the best way we can and give you a say in how we do that. To me, that’s the core value and biggest benefit of having a board of directors.

For more Co-op 101 discussions, be sure to check out our Co-op Energy Talk podcast at www.cherrylandelectric.coop/podcast.

Tom Van Pelt Leelanau Treasurer

Looking to learn about a specific aspect of the cooperative business model? E-mail me at cdoyle@cherrylandelectric.coop. For more information on the board of directors, the nomination process, or our Emerging Leaders Program, head to www.cherrylandelectric.coop/governance.

Your Board In Action

Valarie Handy Benzie/Manistee/ Wexford

December Board Meeting • The cooperative’s chief financial officer presented the cooperative’s operating budget for 2022. The board reviewed and approved the budget. • The board selected its voting delegate (and alternate) for the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative (NRTC) annual and regional meetings. Founded by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) and Cooperative Finance Corporation (CFC), NRTC serves more than 1,500 rural utilities and affiliates in 48 states.

Terry Lautner Director at Large

• The cooperative’s board of directors approved a $160,000 economic development loan for The Workshop Brewing Company’s new taproom project in Kingsley. Through this USDAfunded program, we offer 0% interest loans to start-ups and businesses looking to expand. Members have the opportunity to provide input to the board prior to any regularly scheduled board meeting. To have your comments included in a monthly board packet for review, please submit them to Board Assistant Secretary Shannon Mattson at smattson@cherrylandelectric.coop a minimum of three business days before the monthly board meeting.

John Olson Director at Large MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES 13

They say it takes a village to raise a child. However, they forgot to mention it also takes a village to raise a fish.

HATCHING A PLAN FOR THE FUTURE By Emily Haines Lloyd || Photos by Thomas Mann


he Jordan River National Fish Hatchery (JRNFH) located in Elmira, Mich., is a Great Lakes Energy Cooperative Member, and is one of the village members who make up the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a bureau within the Department of the Interior. Jordan River National Fish Hatchery has produced native fish for stocking into the Great Lakes since 1965.

danger in the Great Lakes.

All the work JRNFH does to manage fish stocking into the Great Lakes is coordinated with the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, with key support from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other federal, provincial, state, and tribal natural resource agencies. Their mission to “conserve, protect, and enhance” fish and wildlife is a vital part of righting an environmental ship right here in Michigan that put native trout and other keystone species in

Sea lampreys, a native to the Atlantic Ocean, resemble eels but act more like a leech, as they feed on native fish once they attach. The first recorded observation of a sea lamprey in the Great Lakes was in 1835 in Lake Ontario. Niagara Falls served as a natural barrier, confining sea lampreys to Lake Ontario and preventing them from entering the remaining four Great Lakes. However, in the late 1800s and early 1900s, improvements

14 FEBRUARY 2022

“The threat to these keystone species started in the middle of the 20th century,” explained Roger Gordon, a supervisory fishery biologist and hatchery manager. “There were many contributing factors from a loss of habitat to pollution, and of course, the introduction of parasite species like the sea lamprey.”

to the Welland Canal, which bypasses Niagara Falls and provides a shipping connection between Lakes Ontario and Erie, allowed sea lampreys access to the rest of the Great Lakes. Native trout are primary targets for the sea lamprey. The feeding on keystone species like lake trout, which have been in the Great Lakes since the Ice Age, leads to an imbalance in their ecosystem. It’s up to JRNFH and their aligning agencies to observe, control predators like sea lampreys (as well as humans), and restock the lakes to bring back order to the ecosystem. It’s a tall order, which is why Gordon is grateful to be part of a larger team. “This isn’t a job for just our hatchery,” said Gordon. “We work internationally with Canada, eight other states around the Great Lakes region, as well as federal, state, and tribal agencies,

not to mention research universities who help us collect and analyze data.” JRNFH is responsible for raising more than 3 million cisco, lake, rainbow, and brook trout for restoration and recreational programs in the Great Lakes region. In addition to providing healthy, high-quality fish for fishery goals and targets, the staff assists a wide array of state, federal, tribal, and public partners with natural resourcerelated projects and enhancements across the Midwest. It takes a fleet of trucks (think big milk semis) to transport and then load a large U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service offshore stocking vessel. This vessel meets the trucks at various Great Lakes ports like Charlevoix, Alpena, or even Milwaukee with fish. The fish are transported to historic offshore spawning sites and released, and, as Gordan says, “we let them do their thing.”

about spawning fish in 15-degree weather with 30 mph gale winds, but there’s satisfaction and an attachment to our mission.”

Gordon describes himself and his team as “aquatic farmers” who work closely with the animals they raise and release.

The hard work is paying off. Since stocking the Great Lakes, JRNFH and its partners have actually eliminated the need for stocking Lake Superior, which is now self-sustaining. Recently, Lake Huron has rebounded as well, with just 30% of what they initially used to stock and over 50% of current fish spawned in the wild. Lake Michigan is proving tougher, but still seeing some improvement.

“We get our hands wet working with live animals every day,” said Gordon. “There’s nothing particularly pleasant

If the work continues, JRNFH hopes to see a rebalanced ecosystem for native trout—but what happens then?

“Ultimately, our job is to put ourselves out of business. To fix the problem and move onto the next one,” said Gordon. “What we do is a great example of how government can work together in a cooperative manner to get something done. None of us could accomplish any of this without the others.”

Visiting The Hatchery

The hatchery is open to the public from dawn to dusk, 7 days a week, all yearlong. The busiest time of year for visitation is the winter months, when the Jordan Valley snowmobile trail is open. Tours are self-guided unless arrangements for group tours are scheduled in advance. To schedule group tours, please call the hatchery at 231-584-2461. The hatchery abuts the North Country Trail and Jordan Valley Pathway walking trail systems and is a common stop or trailhead for walkers, hikers, hunters, and fishermen. fws.gov/midwest/jordanriver facebook.com/pages/Jordan-RiverFish-Hatchery/117253601625926




Generations 1. “My great-grandmother’s parents.”—Michelle Forward 2. “Five generations.”—Kayla Morrison 3. “Four generations of R. Girvens.”—Erika Girvens 4. “Smiles from three generations!”— Jeanne Wolf 5. “Four generations!”—Laurie Johnston

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Submit Your “Plants & Flowers” Photos By Feb. 20!

Submit your best photo and encourage your friends to vote! The photo receiving the most votes in our Facebook contest will be printed in an issue of Country Lines along with some of our other favorites. Our February theme is Plants & Flowers! Photos can be submitted through Feb. 20 to be featured in our April issue.

Enter Your Photos And Win A Bill Credit!

To enter the contest, visit cherrylandelectric.coop/photo-contest or visit facebook.com/ cherrylandelectriccoop and click “Photo Contest” from the menu tabs. Enter your picture, cast your vote, and encourage others to vote for you as well. If your photo is printed in Country Lines during 2022, you will be entered to win a credit of up to $200 on your December 2022 bill. 16 FEBRUARY 2022

December 2021 Wind Storm


trong winds took out power for more than 11,000 members on one blustery December weekend. Thanks to our linemen, along with mutual aid crews from Wolverine Power, Midwest Energy and Communications, HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative, City of Charlevoix Electric & Water, Grand Haven Board of Light & Power, and Traverse City Light & Power, we got the lights back on. With crews working late into the night and early in the morning, mutual aid crews were housed with help from Great Wolf Lodge of Traverse City, Courtyard by Mariott, and Fairfield Inn & Suites. Local businesses including Jimmy John’s, Rolling Farms Cafe, Panera Bread, Q’doba, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Jet’s Pizza helped Cherryland keep crews fed. Total member outages (including repeat outages): Wind gusts up to

70 mph


Average Outage Hours:


First major outages reported at 12:45 a.m. on


Thursday, Dec. 16

restored after 12 hours

Final outage restored at 9:23 p.m. on

Saturday, Dec. 18


restored after 24 hours


Guest Column

A Glimpse Through The Thousand-Yard Stare Darren Bettinger, Midwest Energy & Communications


rowing up on the lake, I always looked forward to visits from my grandfather. He lived out of the state and would make trips over from Ohio to see us. My parents would take him up on his offers to watch us, and plan a little getaway from my sister and me. On those occasions, my grandfather would take us to the beach for swims or drive our boat while we tubed behind it. I imagine many of my Michigan neighbors share memories like these about their grandparents with me. One of those swims sticks out in my mind, for a very sobering reason. My grandfather served aboard a Landing Ship, Tank (LST) vessel during his stint in the United States Navy, during World War II. Grandpa Verle, as we called him, helped land troops and war material shortly after the beachhead was secured in Italy and Normandy, while the fighting was still somewhat heavy. He never spoke about it much, like the many men and women who have experienced the horrors of war. I don’t know if it was the sound of the waves crashing against the shore or the weather, but I witnessed what many would come to call the "thousand-yard stare" on his face that day. I knew what was

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18 FEBRUARY 2022

bothering him, and I asked him what the war was like. His only reply was, “I saw a lot of airplanes.” You see, at the age of 10, I was very interested in World War II aircraft, and he was trying to deflect the conversation. It wasn’t until I saw the movie “Saving Private Ryan” that I understood why. When I get to missing my grandfather, I make the trip from Cassopolis to Muskegon and visit the USS LST 393 museum there. The ship is a similar vessel that my grandfather served aboard, and the staff there has done a great job preserving memories and stories of veterans from all over Michigan who served in all our nation’s conflicts throughout the 20th century. For more information, visit https://www.lst393.org/.

Darren works in quality control for a major orthopedic device manufacturing company. He is a volunteer for the Cass County Historical Society, and enjoys the Michigan outdoors with his family.

Share your fondest memories and stories. Win $150 for stories published. Visit countrylines.com/community to submit.

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