February 2022 GLE

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February 2022


COUNTRY LINES Great Lakes Energy Cooperative


Meet Your Director— John LaForge

Expanding Scholarship Opportunities

2022 Annual Reliability Improvements


Saving is believing.

Think you can’t afford a geothermal heat pump? After a closer look, you may be surprised at its overall affordability. Tax rebates can quickly bring down the initial costs of purchase and installation. And a geothermal heat pump is much cheaper to run than the most efficient furnaces and air conditioners. In fact, your energy bills can be cut by as much as 70%. As a result, many geothermal homeowners see a return on investment of 10-20% over the life of their system. When you crunch the numbers, you’ll see WaterFurnace is the money-saving choice. To learn more, contact your local WaterFurnace dealer today. Geothermal is the only renewable that provides reliable operation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Your Local WaterFurnace Dealers Allendale Allendale Clg & Htg (855) 206-5457 Allendaleheating.com

Clifford Orton Refrig & Htg (989) 761-7691 sanduskygeothermal.com

Bad Axe/Ubly Cutting Edge Clg & Htg (989) 551-0986

Hart Adams Htg & Clg (231) 873-2665 adamsheatingcooling.com

Berrien Springs WaterFurnace Michiana (269) 473-5667 gogreenmich geothermal.com Big Rapids Stratz Htg & Clg, Inc. (231) 796-3717 stratzgeocomfort.com

Indian River M & M Plmb & Htg (231) 238-7201 mm-plumbing.com Lansing Condor Mechanical (517) 920-0890 candormechanical.com

Mancelona Top Notch Htg, Clg, & Geothermal (231) 350-8052 topnotchheatandair.com Michigan Center Comfort 1/Aire Serv of Southern Michigan (517) 764-1500 aireserv.com/ southern-michigan Mt Pleasant Walton Htg & Clg (989) 772-4822 waltonheating.com

Muskegon Adams Htg & Clg (231) 873-2665 adamsheatingcooling.com Portland ESI Htg & Clg (517) 647-6906 esiheating.com

Traverse City D & W Mechanical (231) 941-1215 dwgeothermal.com Geofurnace Htg & Clg (231) 943-1000 watergeofurnace.com

Sunfield Mark Woodman Plmb & Htg (517) 886-1138 mwphonline.com

visit us at waterfurnace.com

The Reliable Renewable is a trademark of WaterFurnace International, Inc.

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.



Five Reasons We Love Serving Our Members

gtlakes.com /greatlakesenergy /jointruestream

Bill Scott, Great Lakes Energy President/CEO BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Robert Kran, Chairman, District 6 231-464-5889 bkran@glenergy.com

Howard Bowersox, Vice Chairman, District 8 219-670-0977 hbowersox@glenergy.com John LaForge, Secretary, District 9 269-623-2284 jlaforge@glenergy.com Dale Farrier, Treasurer, District 5 231-564-0853 dfarrier@glenergy.com Paul Byl, Director, District 7 231-861-5911 pbyl@glenergy.com

Mark Carson, Director, District 2 231-675-0561 mcarson@glenergy.com

David Coveyou, Director, District 1 231-347-4056 dcoveyou@glenergy.com Richard Evans, Director, District 3 231-883-3146 revans@glenergy.com

Shelly Pinkelman, Director, District 4 989-390-6222 spinkelman@glenergy.com PRESIDENT/CEO: Bill Scott 888-485-2537 COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR/EDITOR: Brett Streby 231-487-1389 • bstreby@glenergy.com BOYNE CITY HEADQUARTERS 1323 Boyne Ave. Boyne City, MI 49712

Hours: 7 a.m.–5:30 p.m. M–F Phone: 888-485-2537 Email: glenergy@glenergy.com TO REPORT AN OUTAGE: Call 888-485-2537 or login to your account at gtlakes.com. Change of Address: 888-485-2537, ext. 8924 Great Lakes Energy is an equal opportunity provider and employer.



ebruary may be the shortest month, but it’s packed with special observances like Presidents’ Day, Black History Month, and Valentine’s Day, in addition to a host of unofficial “national” days you’ve probably never heard of like “National Tater Tot Day.” But they all have something in common. They were created to draw attention to a particular issue or theme. Valentine’s Day may seem like an observance originally created by a greeting card company, but over time, it’s become a widely celebrated day generating millions of dollars spent on flowers, candy, and, of course, greeting cards professing our love. But Valentine’s Day isn’t just for the lovebirds. It’s also the perfect time to let our friends, family, co-workers, and other special people in our lives know we care about them—with or without a store-bought greeting card. So, in that vein, we’ve created our list of the top five reasons why we love serving you, the members of Great Lakes Energy. 1. We love serving our members because, without you, the co-op wouldn’t exist. Our purpose is to provide you with reliable, responsible, and safe electricity. Simply put, GLE exists to serve you. That’s why we were formed— to bring power to our local rural areas when for-profit utilities would not. 2. You enable us to complete our mission by supporting our efforts to give back. A major part of our mission is to serve our community and look after the greater good. With your assistance, we’re able to implement our People Fund program, enhancing our community by supporting worthy nonprofits throughout our service area. 3. Members of Great Lakes Energy also serve on the board of directors. They provide guidance for setting GLE priorities and helping make big decisions. Because our board members live in the area, they’re able to serve as the pulse of the larger community and identify immediate and long-term needs. The broader co-op membership provides helpful input through their vote on director elections and by weighing in on co-op and community issues. 4. You help us get it right. GLE members are great about keeping us in the know. We do our best to avoid power outages, but Mother Nature can occasionally throw us a curveball; our members are quick to report any power disruptions and are patient as our crews work to restore power safely. We know outages are frustrating, and your support as we work through storms means so much to our employees. 5. You and other Great Lakes Energy members make up the community we serve—and for us, it’s all about community. Our employees live and work here too and care about our communities the same way you do. We’re invested in them and work to help them. That’s why we created programs to assist local nonprofits, schools, and scholarship funds. It’s also why we invest in economic development and Truestream, our life-changing fiber internet project. As a co-op, our mission is to enhance the quality of life in our community and look after its long-term interests. We love serving our members and our local communities, and just like you, want them to continue to thrive.

“ One of the things that really helps keep me going is that I know that the decisions I make now will affect people positively long after I’m gone. That to me is a cool thing.” For LaForge and his wife, Sara, the desire to “fix” things goes beyond nuts, bolts, nails, and wires. Both have been deeply involved in the community service club Civitan in the Lansing area. Additionally, LaForge said he enjoys helping others more anonymously—especially around the holidays. “My father used to tell me, ‘If you do something for someone and expect something in return, don’t even bother doing it.’ That’s kind of what I try to live by,” LaForge said. LaForge said he first considered serving on the GLE Board of Directors when he read about upcoming board elections in Michigan Country Lines magazine. He said the idea appealed to him because he has a long-standing interest in electrical systems, and he thought it would offer him another way to serve the community. “I’ve done a lot of volunteer work in my life, and because GLE is a not-for-profit, I looked at it more as working on trying to help other people. One of the things that really helps keep me going is that I know that the decisions I make now will affect people positively long after I’m gone. That to me is a cool thing,” he said.

Problem Solver, Community Builder I

f you need something fixed, John LaForge is probably your guy.

“I can fix just about anything,” LaForge said. But then, LaForge ought to be a handy guy, considering most of his working life has been centered around building or fixing things. LaForge, who lives near the Barry County community of Delton, serves in the District 9 seat on the Great Lakes Energy Board of Directors, representing Allegan, Barry, Kent, Montcalm, and Ottawa counties. He was the first person to serve in that seat after the districts were created and is nearing the end of his second three-year term on the board. LaForge is retired from a 35-year career working for General Motors, where he worked as an electrical coordinator for dynamic vehicle tests. When a vehicle failed the test coming off the assembly line, his job was to work back up the line to figure out how to fix it. LaForge has also been a licensed builder and has owned and operated an auto mechanic shop for several years.

LaForge said one thing he doesn’t see a need to fix is GLE’s organizational culture. “I worked in the corporate world for a long time. The character and the culture at GLE is nothing I’ve ever seen before,” LaForge said. “I have a lot of pride in knowing these people and what they do for the members. It’s something that you don’t see in today’s society.” Looking to the cooperative’s future, LaForge explains that Truestream’s internet service will be a major factor in the years ahead. “First and foremost, it’s going to be fiber, and there is nothing faster than fiber,” LaForge said. “That is an exciting part that is going to make a difference in so many people’s lives.” He said he expects there will continue to be changes in how electricity is distributed and consumed, but he’s confident in GLE’s ability to adapt along the way. He’s also confident in GLE’s past and ongoing efforts to maintain the reliability of its electrical distribution grid. “That’s going to be very important with the advent of electric cars and artificial intelligence technologies,” LaForge said. When he’s not fixing things, helping others, or serving in his role on the GLE board, LaForge enjoys hunting and fishing and trips with Sara around the state on their Harleys.




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



Broadening Horizons

GLE Scholarship Program Expands Again At Great Lakes Energy, we know that top-caliber, welltrained employees are the backbone of our success. With this in mind, the cooperative is further expanding its scholarship program for the 2022–23 school year.


xpanded scholarship offerings are available for the 2022/23 school year for students seeking to further their education in vocations that are at the core of the cooperative’s mission. A total of eight scholarship opportunities ranging from $1,000–$2,500 per school year or program term are available to students in pursuit of a career in electrical linework, electrical engineering, or information technology. Eligible students must live in Michigan and meet other application criteria. In 2021, GLE awarded scholarships to eight students totaling $14,000. Four scholarships were awarded to students enrolled in lineworker programs, and four were awarded to students enrolled in information technology or electrical engineering degree seeking programs.


Meet two of this year’s degree-seeking recipients: Nathaniel Newman, East Jordan Nathaniel, an East Jordan High School graduate, is pursuing a degree in electrical engineering at the University of Michigan. Before college, he helped lead an effort to install a 30-kilowatt solar array at his high school. He was also active in the school’s FIRST Robotics program. He was also involved in Business Professionals of America, and in 2021, he placed in the top 12 in the United States for competitive entrepreneurship. He plans to pursue a career in entrepreneurship, with a focus on developing sustainable technologies. Ben Gaffke, Cadillac Ben is a graduate of Northern Michigan Christian School in McBain. He also attended the Computers, Networking, and Electronics Technology program at the Wexford-Missaukee Career Technical Center. During high school, he was active in the National Honor Society, Student Council, CyberPatriot, SkillsUSA, and the golf team, while also completing 28 dual enrollment credits. Ben is pursuing a degree in information security and intelligence (cybersecurity) at Ferris State University.

Applications for both the lineworker and college degreeseeking scholarships are available for download at gtlakes.com/youth-programs/. Applications for the 2022–23 school year, except those for the Northwest Linemen College, are due by March 31. Northwest Linemen College scholarship applications are due four weeks before the enrolled session begins.

“We know the importance of topquality employees,” GLE President & CEO Bill Scott said. “We want to do our part to help foster a robust talent pool to help keep the lights on and the internet streaming for many years to come.”





Generations 1. Five generations twice in one family. Helen Brown, Pierson 2. Falling for Rae. Kelsey Donnelly, Fife Lake 3. Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart. Herman Simon, Petoskey 4. Four generations with smiles throughout the years. Angela Beadle, Fountain 5. Nursing home life with dad, daughter, granddaughter, and great-grand puppy. Debbie Andrews, Reed City 6. Grandma shows Maggie the generations of her family. Jessica O’Brien, Branch


energy bill credit!





4 Enter to win a


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

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

How To Enter: Enter the contest at gtlakes.com/photocontest/. 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 other favorites. All photos printed in the magazine in 2022 will be entered to win a $200 bill credit in December 2022.



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


Annual Reliability Improvements Begin T

his winter, contracted tree-trimming crews will start removing trees and limbs near power lines throughout the Great Lakes Energy service area.

The work is part of the cooperative’s annual vegetation management program to improve electric service reliability and safety. About $8.5 million will be invested in 2022 to re-clear trees along 1,466 miles of power line rights-of-way (ROW) in 19 counties and 92 townships.

Areas Scheduled For 2022 Re-clearing Allegan County: Wayland Antrim County: Banks, Central Lake, Forest Home, Milton, Torch Lake Barry County: Barry, Hope, Irving, Orangeville, Rutland, Thornapple, Yankee Springs Charlevoix County: Bay, Eveline, Hayes, Marion, Norwood Crawford County: Lovells Emmet County: Bliss, Carp Lake, Center, Maple River, McKinley, Pleasant View, Resort, Wawatam Grand Traverse County: Fife Lake Kalkaska County: Boardman, Garfield, Kalkaska, Oliver, Orange, Springfield Lake County: Eden, Elk, North Newkirk, Peacock, South Newkirk Manistee County: East Stronach, West Norman Mason County: Amber, Eden, Hamlin, Logan, Meade, Pere Marquette, Riverton Mecosta County: Aetna, Grant Missaukee County: Bloomfield Montcalm County: Reynolds Muskegon County: Casnovia, Egelston, Moorland, Ravenna, Sullivan Newaygo County: Ashland, Barton, Big Prairie, Bridgeton, Brooks, Croton, Everett, Garfield, Goodwell, Home, Monroe, Sheridan, Wilcox Oceana County: Benona, Claybanks, Crystal, Elbridge, Ferry, Hart, Shelby, Weare Osceola County: Cedar, Evart, Hersey, Highland, Lincoln, Orient, Osceola, Richmond, Rose Lake, Sherman, Sylvan Otsego County: Big Creek, Elmer, Greenwood 12 FEBRUARY 2022

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 (all areas south of Cadillac) or ext. 1295 (all areas north of Cadillac).

Tree Planting Guide 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

Stay Powered Up In All Conditions Never connect a portable generator directly to a home’s wiring or into a regular household outlet. Incorrect generator use could result in property damage or even a fatality. 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 lineworkers working to restore your service.

2021 POWER OUTAGE MINUTES High winds and storms starting in August and lasting into late December proved to make 2021 a challenging year for outages, despite restoration efforts.

ACTUAL 204.8 minutes

2021 GOAL 177.4 minutes

Storms Meter base equipment with a generator transfer switch prevents damage to your generator and protects the lives of lineworkers.

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

Please do not report your outage on social media, which is not monitored 24/7.

Heavy Wind

Minutes listed are average outage minutes across the entire GLE service area, also called SAIDI (System Average Interruption Duration Index).

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



Local nonprofits like Charlevoix Circle of Arts benefit from grants awarded through your contributions to 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 on this page for our latest recipients of the $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. Bill credits 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 gtlakes.com to sign up today.

16 FEBRUARY 2022

Congratulations To Our Winners! Thanks for your ongoing support of the People Fund. • Kimberly Livingston, Osceola County • Donald Hines, Oceana County • Leonard Bugli, Crawford County • David Hartner, Antrim County • Rhonda Wiseman, Newaygo County • Thomas Elenbaas, Mason County These randomly chosen winners receive a $100 bill credit for their support of the People Fund.

GLE Director Goes For The Gold The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), the national service organization for electric cooperatives, recently awarded Great Lakes Energy Director Howard Bowersox with a certificate for completing the Director Gold Program. This certificate represents the highest level of training that can be earned through NRECA’s Director Education program. Achieving Director Gold status demonstrates Howard’s ongoing commitment to advancing knowledge and performing his fiduciary duty to the best of his ability for co-op members.

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, and utility assistance. In addition, local resources include mental health care and counseling, health care, individual/ family life assistance, and other services.

Call 2-1-1 or visit 211.org.


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

WIN $150!

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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