February 2022 HomeWorks

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February 2022


COUNTRY LINES HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative


New Faces At HomeWorks

Co-op Launches EV Charging Initiative

Save The Date For District Meetings


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

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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.



Co-op’s Investment In System Hardening Prevents Outages Before They Occur

homeworks.org /homeworks.org tricoenergy@homeworks.org Portland office/Mail payments to: 7973 E. Grand River Ave. Portland, MI 48875 Open 8 a.m.–4 p.m. Monday–Friday

Blanchard office: 3681 Costabella Ave. Blanchard, MI 49310 Open 8 a.m.–4 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 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

By Chris Reed, Electric Operations Manager


s many of you know, our rural mid-Michigan service territory has been hit by some pretty intense storms over the past year. Since this time in 2021, we’ve seen numerous tornados and other high-wind events, ice, snow, severe thunderstorms, and more, all easily capable of causing lengthy widespread power outages. Some of our neighboring electric utilities, in fact, did report thousands of customers out of power for multiple days as a result of some of these severe weather events. Here at HomeWorks, however, while some members did inevitably experience relatively brief power interruptions in the aftermath of the storms, our outage numbers were significantly lower than would be expected given the severity of the events. Most of the power interruptions that did occur were able to be restored quickly by our line crews, with very few members having to deal with multiple-day outages throughout the past year. These are all key indicators that our electric system is performing very well for you. In fact, I can confidently say that in my 33 years at the Co-op, our system has never been stronger, hardier, or more reliable than it is today. I’d like to give you some insight into why that is. It’s simple, really; it all boils down to the hard work and dedication of our line crews and the commitment that our board of directors and management team has made over the past several years to continue to provide you with electricity that you can count on. There are other electric utilities, especially those owned by profit-minded investors, that might shirk at the idea of investing the amount of time and money that we put into the proactive system maintenance that we call “system hardening”. As a former lineman and career electric operations guy, I’m proud to work at a company that puts its members first and provides the resources we need to prevent outages before they occur. Would you believe that we cleared trees and vegetation from over 470 miles of our right-of-way in 2021? Trees are the number one cause of electric outages, so our aggressive seven-year cycle of right-of-way clearing throughout our service area goes a long way toward improving reliability. We also replaced aging infrastructure by changing out nearly 2,000 electric poles last year. That’s an incredible number of pole upgrades, and in addition to making the buildout of our fiber internet network possible, the new taller and sturdier poles help make our electric system significantly more resilient in the face of storms. I could give you many other examples, but the bottom line is that the daily investment your Co-op is making into our system is paying off big when it comes to your electric reliability. As a HomeWorks member, you can rely on our continued commitment to doing what it takes every day to keep your lights on.

“ A s a former lineman and career electric operations guy, I’m proud to work at a company that puts its members first and provides the resources we need to prevent outages before they occur.” 4 FEBRUARY 2022

Co-op Welcomes New Employees Due to continued growth at your Co-op, we’ve had the chance to welcome several new faces to the HomeWorks staff over the past year. Here are the new employees who joined our team in 2021:

Cameron Bremer

Denis Evans

Alex Fedewa

Andrea Gleason

Electric Lineman Portland Office

Propane Driver Blanchard Office

Co-op Student Portland Office

Customer Service Rep Portland Office

Caryn Golisch

Evan Hengesbach

Colton Keene

Pat Lafferty

Fiber Design Technician Portland Office

Customer Service Rep Portland Office

Electric Lineman Blanchard Office

Fleet/Facilities Coord. Both Offices

Nick Pifer

Tina Pung

Peyton Rheingans

Molly Vallier

Meter Reader Blanchard Office

Customer Service Rep Portland Office

Fiber Accountant Portland Office

Co-op Student Portland Office


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



Time is running out to apply for our 2022 classroom grants and college scholarships! For Teachers:

We offer grants of up to $2,000 to help teachers in our service area provide S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) education in their classrooms.

Applications due Feb. 19

For Students:

Current high school seniors living on our electric lines could be eligible for one of our one-time $1,000 scholarships to help with 2022-23 college expenses!

Applications due March 18 For more info or to apply, click the Community tab at:



Generations 1. Laura Moore of Stanwood submitted this great shot featuring several generations of her family. 2. Mike Bayless of Portland says, “This photo of four Bayless generations was taken at my grandparents’ 70th wedding anniversary celebration at the Crooked River Lodge in Alanson, Michigan.” 3./4. Cathy Fedewa of Westphalia says these two photos show generations of her family over the years. The first photo features Cathy along with her greatgrandmother, grandmother, mother, and daughter, Renee. The second photo features Cathy along with her grandmother, mother, Renee, and Renee’s daughter, Emma. 5. Sara Dixon of Grand Ledge submitted this great snap shot, which features two separate sets of five generations.


3 Enter to win a


energy bill credit!




Upcoming Snap Shot Contest Topics and Deadlines Plants and Flowers, due Feb. 17 (April issue) Antique Rides, due March 17 (May issue) My View, due April 18 (June issue) Go to HomeWorks.org, select the Energy tab, then choose Member Services>Country Lines to submit your photos and see all of the 2022 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 Ave., Portland, MI 48875. Photos will not be returned. Do not send color laser prints or professional studio photos.

Submit Your Photos! Members whose photos we publish in Country Lines in 2022 will receive a $10 bill credit the month after publication.



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


Notice To Members Of HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative Jan. 17, 2022, Open Member Meeting Results At a Special Open Meeting held Jan. 17, 2022, the HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative Board of Directors, in accordance with P.A. 167 and P.A. 95, took the following action: Elected for the Cooperative to participate in a new Energy Optimization (EO) program and adopt a proposed EO surcharge, to take effect with the March 2022 billing cycle. The EO program will run from 2022–24 and be administered by Slipstream, Inc. The EO surcharge varies by rate class. For specific details of the surcharge or any HomeWorks tariffs or fees, please call us at 800-562-8232 or visit HomeWorks.org.


Learn About Your Co-op

Engage With Your Co-op

Win Big Prizes!

We hope you’ll make plans to join us for your virtual 2022 HomeWorks District Meeting! The meetings will take place on the following evenings:

Tri-County Electric Cooperative

District 1: Monday, May 9 (director election) District 2: Tuesday, May 10 District 3: Wednesday, May 18 District 4: Tuesday, May 17 District 5: Monday, May 16 (director election) District 6: Wednesday, May 11 District 7: Thursday, May 12 (director election)

Look for more details to come via mail, email, and Country Lines.

Your Board In Action Meeting remotely on Dec. 20, your board of directors: • Authorized staff to refund the Energy Optimization overcollection from program years 2009-2021 to members. The refund will be applied as a monthly bill credit from February through December 2022. • Reviewed the Cooperative’s strategic initiatives for 2022-2026.

• Reviewed the key accomplishments achieved by individual departments of the Co-op in 2021, along with the key departmental goals for 2022. • Appointed voting delegates for the upcoming National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s PowerXchange conference and National Rural Telecommunications Council annual meeting.

• Approved the renewal of the general liability insurance policy for Tri-Co Services for 2022. • Received a monthly progress update on the HomeWorks Connect fiber internet business.

• Discussed and accepted Policy 104 – Committees of the Board, as revised.

• Discussed and accepted the Policy Committee Statement of Purpose, as updated. • Learned there were 121 new members in November.

• Acknowledged the November safety report, listing employee training as well as minor 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 Feb. 21 at Portland and 9 a.m. on March 28 in Blanchard. However, at the time of this printing, some of our meetings are temporarily being conducted remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Members who wish to attend and/or have items considered on the board agenda should call 517-647-7554 at least one week prior to the meeting date.

People Fund Grants Over $11,000 To Help Local Families And Organizations Meeting remotely on Jan. 5, our People Fund board awarded six grants totaling $11,260.13, including: • $5,000 to the Ashley Lions Club, to purchase an accessible ramp; • $2,000 to a Montcalm County family, to assist with necessary tree removal on their property; • $1,460.13 to an Isabella County family, to assist with utility expenses;

• $1,000 to the Ionia County Great Start Collaborative, to support the transition to kindergarten backpack program; • $1,000 to a Mecosta County family, to assist with utility expenses; and

• $800 to an Isabella County family, to assist with utility expenses.

Co-op Principle #2:

Democratic Member Control

Every member has a voice and a vote. Districts 1, 5, and 7 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 and information about your director candidates!

How to Apply for a TriCounty 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 Ave., Portland, MI 48875, for an application form and grant guidelines, or visit the People Fund page at HomeWorks.org. Note: Applications must be received by March 22 for the March meeting or by May 3 for the May meeting.


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




Charged Up Through the HomeWorks EV Charging Initiative launched last year, your Co-op is helping to fill the void of electric vehicle public charging stations throughout our rural service territory. If you’re driving your electric vehicle (EV) down I-96 between Grand Rapids and Lansing anytime soon and you find that your battery is running low, we recommend that you hop off exit 73 to recharge both your car and your body at the Wagon Wheel American Grill in Portland. There, in the southwest corner of the parking lot, you’ll find a pair of Level 2 EV charging stations that HomeWorks recently helped the member restaurant and bowling alley install as part of our EV Charging Initiative. The units are the third and fourth installations in the initiative, which the Co-op

launched in 2021 to promote the adoption of cleaner transportation options within our local communities. The first public charging unit of the ongoing initiative, fittingly, was installed at the HomeWorks office in Blanchard. The second was installed last summer at Tullymore Golf Resort, a member business in Stanwood. “We’re seeking Co-op business members interested in hosting these stations at locations where EV users would want to stay for an hour or two while their vehicle charges, and a restaurant and bowling alley and a golf course were perfect for that,” says HomeWorks Energy Advisor and Key Accounts Specialist Brandon Trierweiler, who heads up the project. “Our service territory is a very rural space, and we found that there weren’t a lot of charging options out there

“We all need to do our part to cut down on [carbon emissions] and embrace cleaner energy. EVs are going to play a vital role in that movement going forward.” ~ Energy Advisor Brandon Trierweiler for EV users. With this initiative, we wanted to work to fill that gap and help provide our members and others in our communities with the chance to embrace electric vehicles, which are really the future of transportation.” Like the two Wagon Wheel units, the HomeWorks and Tullymore units both feature two charging ports apiece, and all units in the initiative are currently free for public use. As part of the terms of the initiative, HomeWorks purchases the charging station(s) and covers the costs of installing the unit(s) at the member location. Then, after a three-year period, the Co-op will sell the unit(s) to the member business at a predetermined discounted price. Once the business takes over ownership, they can begin to require payment for use of the charger(s), at their discretion. The initiative is paid for by economic development funds provided by HomeWorks’ power supplier, Wolverine Power Cooperative, and does not affect electric rates. “We’re grateful for the opportunity to be able to work with HomeWorks to get these EV chargers installed,” says Chopper Schrauben, owner of the Wagon Wheel. “This is something we’d been looking into doing for some time, but without the partnership with the Coop, I don’t know if we would have been able to afford it right now.” Since the units were installed at his restaurant late last year, Schrauben says several EV owners have already shown excitement and appreciation for the convenient new charging option. “Usually when someone charges their car here, they’ll go on Google or one of the apps and post a review, and often they’ll say how much they liked being able to come in and enjoy themselves while they charged their vehicle,” he says. “There are very few public charging units in our area, and most of them are at gas stations or places like that. I know that if I had an EV, I would much rather stop and have dinner or bowl with my family while my car charges, rather than sitting in the car for a half hour or more at a gas station.” On average, Level 2 chargers provide approximately 25-30 miles of range per each hour of charge. For a faster full charge on the road, EV users need to look for a public DC fast charger (there are about 150 located throughout Michigan, mostly in metropolitan areas). “The chargers that we’re installing are intended more to top off your vehicle’s charge or get you those extra miles that you need to get to your destination,” says Trierweiler. “Our goal is to fill the gap and ease some of the range anxiety that our rural members have when they think about buying an EV, and help move the needle on EV adoption in our area. The transportation sector overtook the power sector for carbon emissions in the U.S. a few years ago, and we all need to do our part to cut down on that and embrace cleaner energy. EVs are going to play a vital role in that movement going forward.”

Recharging On The Road Apps Make It Easy To Find Stations Along Your Route If you are interested in electric vehicles but concerned about where you would recharge your car’s battery during a long road trip, you’ll be glad to know that a variety of free smartphone apps have been developed in recent years to help solve this issue for EV owners. Here are a few of our favorites:

1. PlugShare This app provides the locations of public charging units around the world. It includes helpful user reviews and important details on price and current availability, and even offers a trip option that will plan your entire route based around active charging stations.

2. ChargeHub Over 100,000 EV owners belong to the ChargeHub community. In addition to locating public charging stations, this app provides access to helpful EV resources and allows users to share their charging experiences with other users.

3. ChargePoint This app finds the nearest unit within ChargePoint’s network of 52,000+ charging stations, and allows users to initiate and pay for charging and receive updates on the status of their vehicle’s charge, all with the tap of a button.

For more information, contact Trierweiler at 517-647-1213. MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES 17

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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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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