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1980

Celebrating 40 Years Of

MICHIGAN

2020 January/February 2020

COUNTRY LINES Ontonagon County Rural Electrification Association

YoungMin You:

BEATING THE ODDS Co-op Welcomes New Lineman

The Beauty Of Birdseye

Eye On The Prize


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In This Issue January 2020 || Vol. 40, No. 1

Michigan’s Electric Cooperatives

Follow Us On Instagram! @michigancountrylines

countrylines.com

facebook.com/michigancountrylines michigancountrylines

Executive Editor: Casey Clark Editor: Christine Dorr Design and Production: Karreen Bird Recipe Editor: Christin McKamey Publisher: Michigan Electric Cooperative Association Michigan Country Lines, USPS-591-710, is published monthly, except August and December, with periodicals postage paid at Lansing, Mich., and additional offices. It is the official publication of the Michigan Electric Cooperative Association, 201 Townsend St., Suite 900, Lansing, MI 48933. Subscriptions are authorized for members of Alger Delta, Cherryland, Great Lakes, HomeWorks Tri-County, Midwest Energy & Communications, Ontonagon, Presque Isle, and Thumb electric cooperatives by their boards of directors. POSTMASTER: SEND ALL UAA TO CFS. Association officers are Robert Kran, Great Lakes Energy, chairman; Tony Anderson, Cherryland Electric Cooperative, vice chairman; and Eric Baker, Wolverine Power Cooperative, secretarytreasurer. Craig Borr is president and CEO. CONTACT US/LETTERS TO EDITOR: Michigan Country Lines 201 Townsend St., Suite 900 Lansing, MI 48933 248-534-7358 editor@countrylines.com countrylines.com

CHANGE OF ADDRESS:

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

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

FEATURED PHOTO FROM #micoopcommunity:

This winter “tunnel of trees” is giving the fall version a run for its money, by @asnow789 (Adam Snow).

Tag your photos with #micoopcommunity, and they could be featured on our Instagram account and printed as the featured photo in our magazine!

ON THE COVER

Playing piano on a frozen lake may seem odd, but given YoungMin You’s unconventional background, it didn’t faze him a bit. YoungMin’s unique journey has taken the South Korean native to northern Michigan, where he composes music and shares his prodigious playing with a substantial online following.

14 FEATURE

YoungMin You: Beating The Odds South Korean native YoungMin You turned a chance to study in the U.S. into a thriving music career in Petoskey. Emily Haines Lloyd

6 MI CO-OP COMMUNITY

18 MI CO-OP COMMUNITY

We wholeheartedly thank our readers for their engagement and contributions, and hope you’ll continue to share, win and belong.

Mike Lavens, Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op member, loves the outdoors … and loves instilling this passion for nature in others even more.

Michigan Country Lines Celebrates 40 Years!

10 MI CO-OP KITCHEN

Guest Column: Reaping What You Sow

Guess Our New Mystery Photo And Win A $50 Bill Credit!

Comfort Foods Mean Cozy HomeCooked Meals Christin McKamey & Our Readers

Go Big And Spicy, Or Go Home Featured Guest Chef: Chantelle You, wife of talented pianist YoungMin You, is always looking for meals with the bold Korean flavors her husband enjoys. Here she shares one of his favorites, Jerk Chicken With Pineapple Black Bean Salsa recipe. Enter Our Recipe Contest And Win A $50 Bill Credit!

Best of Michigan UP NEXT! Chocolatiers: Tell us about your favorite places for melt-in-your-mouth chocolates. Submit your favorites at countrylines.com under the MI Co-op Community tab by January 25, and this indulgent list will be published in the February issue.

MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES

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Energy Theft— That’s No Way to Save

KEWEENAW

HOUGHTON

ONTONAGON BARAGA

500 J.K. Paul Street Ontonagon, MI 49953

906-884-4151 800-562-7128 ontonagon.coop After hours: 866-639-6098 OFFICERS & DIRECTORS Calvin Koski, President Aura District 906-524-6988 cgkoski@up.net

George Rajala, Vice-President Chassell/Keweenaw Bay District 906-370-0416 rajgeo50@yahoo.com James Moore, Director, Secretary/Treasurer Boston District 906-482-0465 jim.keweenaw@gmail.com Wayne Heikkinen, Director Pelkie/Herman/Aura District 906-353-6496 mustipuppy@gmail.com Paul Koski, Director Ewen/Trout Creek/Lake Mine District 906-988-2593 pkoski@jamadots.com Frances Wiideman, Director Green/Firesteel/Toivola District 906-288-3203 fwiideman@alphacomm.net William Hodges, Director Lake Linden District 906-934-3743 mistermich52@gmail.com

PERSONNEL

Debbie Miles, General Manager Fay Hauswirth, Billing Clerk Mark Urbis, Line Superintendent

OTHER INFORMATION

Date of Incorporation: Sept. 30, 1937 Fiscal year-end: Dec. 31 countrylines.com/coops/ontonagon Ontonagon County REA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. Join us on Facebook. facebook.com/OntonagonCountyREA

4 JANUARY 2020

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Debbie Miles, General Manager

nergy is in the news every day. You can’t pick up a newspaper or watch TV for very long without hearing an energy-related story. Whether you’re talking about a household budget, a small business, or the corporate environment, everyone is trying to figure out how to be more energy-efficient, reduce consumption, and cut the cost. Reducing cost is an admirable pursuit. It can be achieved by turning off lights, using timers and motion sensors, turning down the thermostat, upgrading to energy-efficient devices, and many other actions. And while most people seek legitimate, technically sound ways to reduce their energy consumption, it isn’t always like that. Sometimes, people resort to energy theft. Energy theft is risky, unsafe and illegal. Besides, stealing energy produces exactly the opposite effect as conservation and efficiency. For example, some may think that if a person doesn’t have to pay for it, they might as well use as much as they want—right? However, somebody does pay, and unfortunately, it is the honest members who end up paying. Energy theft is no different than shoplifting. The cost of lost merchandise— in this case, electricity—is passed on to the rest of the consumers, who are also friends, families and neighbors in their community! By consuming more and not paying for what they use, energy thieves drive up the cost for all of the co-op’s other members. The energy thief succeeds in undoing what the conscientious member is trying to accomplish.

Risky Business! Ontonagon REA is also greatly concerned about the safety of our employees and the public at large. But people who steal electricity are not concerned with safety—either theirs or anyone else’s. Energy thieves often begin by breaking security devices to gain access to energized electrical equipment that is owned and operated by the co-op. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires utility personnel who install, operate, or maintain electric distribution equipment to undergo specialized training to recognize work-related hazards. Qualified employees routinely work on or near lines and equipment that may be energized at voltages ranging from 120 to 69,000 volts. Many times, energy thieves are not even aware of the voltage to which they, and others, could be exposed due to their unsafe actions.

Busted! Energy thieves eventually get caught. Somebody, usually a co-op employee, notices something unusual about the meter or the billing, and the theft is revealed. When energy thieves are busted, they have to pay. Utilities have the legal right to collect for the stolen energy and time spent investigating and correcting energy theft. There is no “getting away with it.” Energy theft is not only risky, unsafe and illegal; it won’t help “make ends meet” or reduce energy consumption. It is a bad plan with a bad ending, and that’s no way to save.


Meet Your New Lineman

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ntonagon REA recently welcomed Kaleb Preiss to the co-op team as its newest lineman. Preiss, 31, was born in St Joseph, Missouri, and moved to Rockland, Michigan, at age 7. After graduating from Ontonagon High School, he attended Northern Michigan University, graduating in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering technology and an associate degree in engineering design. Before coming to work at the REA, he was a log truck driver and also helped provide disaster relief services after hurricanes. Preiss began working part-time for the co-op in 2018 and started full time as an apprentice lineman in May 2019. He and his wife, Melissa, are parents to three boys, Lucas (9), Nolan (5) and Liam (2). When not at work, he likes to spend time with his family. “I like to go hunting and fishing. I also enjoy playing hockey, watching my boys play hockey, and officiating hockey. I coach the hockey team my two boys are on as well as the high school baseball team and senior league team for little league,” he said. Asked what he enjoys most about his job, he responded, “I enjoy the atmosphere of the job and helping people out when they need it most. The good feeling you get when you have restored someone’s power and they are appreciative of the hard work we do is very rewarding.” Preiss was able to get some significant storm outage experience under his belt this past November with the

epic Thanksgiving 2019 snowstorm. Some areas of the U.P. were blanketed with up to 24 inches of snow in backto-back storm systems that left many customers without power for extended periods of time. “This was my first experience with working a major storm outage. It’s a good feeling getting someone’s power back on and having them thank you over and over,” Preiss states. “And it’s amazing to be part of the team that comes together and works hard to get the job done. It represents many hours put in by everyone at the company trying to restore power as fast and safely as possible.”

2019

PHOTO CONTEST WINNER ‘Three Dog Amigos’ Bridgette Dosmann is the 2019 winner of the Ontonagon REA Photo Contest, and she earned a $200 bill credit. Her winning photo appeared in the September/October issue and was selected in a random drawing of all contest entries that appeared in Michigan Country Lines in 2019. Thank you to the many REA members who participated. See page 9 for details about our 2020 photo contest.

MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES

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MI CO-OP Community

MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES 1980

Celebrates 40 Years

Michigan Country Lines has been connecting members with their electric cooperatives for forty years. As a Michigan Country Lines reader, not only are you the heart of your co-op, you are the heart of this magazine. And luckily for us, many of our readers are also contributors. The numerous reader submissions we receive make this magazine a one-of-a-kind—a place where we can read about others’ experiences, drool over their recipes and laugh at their funny pictures, bringing us together as a community. We are so grateful that you enjoy this magazine enough to engage in its content, and we encourage you to continue doing so. Visit our MI Co-op Community page on countrylines.com and share your knowledge of our wonderful state, your stories, and, yes, your amazing recipes! In addition to publication, your work may be rewarded with cash or bill credits. We look forward to our members’ continued content and contest contributions.

6 JANUARY 2020

2020

Monthly Recipe Contest And MI Co-op Kitchen

$50 BILL CREDIT

If you’re in need of some food inspiration, look no further than MI Co-op Kitchen——our online cooking community. MI Co-op Kitchen is an interactive space where you can share your recipes and food ideas with other like-minded members. Submit a recipe for our monthly contest and you could win a $50 bill credit and have your recipe published and a professional video created for our website. A winner is selected every month.

Where In Michigan Is This?

$50 BILL CREDIT

Our Mystery Photo Contest gives you the chance to correctly identify our mystery photo and win a $50 bill credit. A new “Where in Michigan Is This?” mystery photo is published in our January, March, May, July/August, September and November/ December Michigan Country Lines issues. Each correct guess is placed into a drawing and one lucky winner is selected.


Guest Columns

$150 CASH AWARD

We know many of our members are talented and have great ideas——so we invite you to share that talent in Country Lines! We will pay $150 for the stories we publish. Let the ideas flow! Stories could be about a significant or memorable event, a person in your life, life lessons learned, educational topics, Michigan recreational activities, and more! Please keep stories to approximately 350 words. Photos are always welcome!

NO BARRIERS ADVENTURES FOR RURAL VETERANS— APPLY BY FEBRUARY 28

Best Of Michigan Do you have a favorite spot where you bring outof-state guests? What about a favorite Michigan ice cream shop, or a Michigan–inspired treat? Our Best of Michigan column is a way for you to submit your preferred treats, sites, restaurants, opinions and activities. We will publish many submissions for the Best Of Michigan section, so there is no monetary reward. However, your name will be published!

Michigan electric cooperatives believe there should be “No Barriers” for veterans with disabilities. That’s the name and idea behind CoBank’s No Barriers initiative. Michigan cooperatives are looking for qualified veterans* from our local community to participate.

Follow Michigan Country Lines On Instagram Follow us on our Instagram account, @michigancountrylines, where we celebrate the energy of rural Michigan. Marvel at Michigan’s majestic beauty, learn about new places to visit and experience rural Michigan life, and enjoy special influencer events. Tag your photos with #micoopcommunity, and they could be featured on our Instagram account. Your photo could even be chosen to print as the featured photo in our magazine. We can’t wait to see what you share!

Follow Michigan Country Lines On Facebook Follow us on our Facebook account at “Michigan Country Lines Magazine” for up-to-date magazine content, influencer events, contests, recipe videos and much more.

No Barriers is a five-day, all-expensespaid expedition in Colorado, designed to help veterans with disabilities transform their lives through curriculum-based experiences in challenging environments (climbing, rafting and hiking).

If you are a disabled veteran or you know of a disabled veteran in our community who would like to participate in the No Barriers program, please complete the form on our website:

countrylines.com/nobarriers *Must have VA disability rating to be eligible.


Agribusinesses:

Prioritize Energy Efficiency In 2020

S

tack up the savings with energy improvement projects that can help drive more money to your bottom line. Getting started is easy with the help of the Energy Optimization program. Cash incentives are available to help offset the upfront cost of energy-efficient equipment—which can help you save energy and money for years to come. A few opportunities to improve your agribusiness include:

FREE Farm Energy Assessment:

To begin understanding more about your farm’s energy usage, take advantage of our free assessment. The complimentary assessment will help identify where and how to implement practical, energy-saving alternatives to outdated, inefficient equipment.

Incentives For Energy-Efficient Products And Equipment: Receive cash back when you purchase and install energyefficient measures such as: • • • • • • • •

Low-energy livestock waterers Fans and controls Milk handling equipment Variable speed pumps and controllers Dairy refrigeration tune-ups Irrigation system upgrades LED grow lights and poultry lights Long-day lighting systems

Incentives For Custom Projects:

Have an energy efficiency project in mind, but don’t see it on our list? The Energy Optimization program will work with you to provide incentives for innovative and unique energy efficiency projects designed to meet specific needs. Contact us to discuss your ideas!

Learn More Read about how your neighbors have utilized the Energy Optimization program incentives to improve the energy efficiency of their agribusinesses at michigan-energy.org/testimonials. Relevant articles include: • “Coulter Farms Harvest Big Savings” • “Coveyou Scenic Farm Market Flourishes with Energy Savings” • “Award-winning Labor Housing Reaps Great Savings For Friske Orchards” • “Sklarczyk Seed Farm Shines Bright With LED Grow Lights” A complete list of incentives is available at michigan-energy.org or call 877-296-4319 for details.

Stack Up the

SAVINGS

Reduce your energy use and SAVE! FREE agribusiness energy assessments available. Rebates available for custom and prescriptive energy savings projects.

Call now for best availability.

Michigan-energy.org | 877-296-4319 Energy Optimization programs and incentives are applicable to Michigan electric service locations only. Other restrictions may apply. For a complete list of participating utilities, visit michigan-energy.org.


1

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Photo Contest Enter to win a

$200

energy bill credit!

Submit A Photo & Win A Bill Credit! Ontonagon REA members whose photos we print in Michigan Country Lines will be entered in a drawing. One lucky member will win a credit up to $200 on their December 2020 energy bill!

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4

5

Take The Cake 1. Ada on her 2nd birthday—who needs a fork? by Danielle Impola 2. B  aby’s first cake—he loved it! by Terri Newton

Our upcoming topics and deadlines:

3. F  rosted fairy tale! by Ginny Johnson

• Cute Kids, due January 20 (March/April issue)

4. C  herries take the cake! by Stacy Voras

• On The Farm, due March 20 (May/June issue) To submit photos, and for details and instructions, go to http://bit.ly/countrylines. We look forward to seeing your best photos!

5. My chocolate raspberry torte wedding cake and cupcakes— made by me. by Susan Arnold

MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES

9


Comfort Foods Warm up with these cozy home-cooked meals. Photos by Robert Bruce Photography Recipes Submitted By MCL Readers And Tested By Recipe Editor Christin McKamey

Winning Recipe!

Sausage and Mushroom Pappardelle Annie Barnes, Great Lakes Energy 8 1 1 1 6 3 4

ounces pappardelle pasta tablespoon olive oil red bell pepper, sliced onion, thinly sliced large mushrooms, sliced cloves garlic, minced links smoked turkey sausage, sliced (or crumbled Italian sausage), cooked

• pinch of red pepper flakes 1 cup cream ½ cup cherry tomatoes 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped • kosher salt • parmesan cheese, for garnish

Bring a large stockpot of water to a boil, then generously add kosher salt. Add pappardelle pasta and cook until al dente, then drain, reserving ½ cup pasta water. While pasta is cooking, begin cooking the sauce. In a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat, heat olive oil. Then add red bell pepper slices and onion, and cook for 4–5 minutes or until onion softens, stirring occasionally. Season with kosher salt, add mushrooms and cook for another 3 minutes. Add garlic, sausage and red pepper flakes, and cook until sausage is warmed through, about 3 minutes. Add cream, tomatoes and rosemary to skillet, and cook 3 minutes or until sauce thickens and tomatoes soften. Gently fold in pasta to skillet until coated. If you’d like more sauce, add reserved pasta water 1 tablespoon at a time (or additional cream if you want a heavier sauce). Garnish with parmesan, kosher salt and more rosemary if desired. Serve immediately. Watch a video of this month’s winning recipe at micoopkitchen.com/videos 10 JANUARY 2020

Creamed Swiss Chard Luise Bolleber, Cherryland

4 tablespoons butter 2 garlic cloves, chopped ¼ cup yellow onion, chopped ¼ cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole milk • sea salt and white pepper 2 bunches Swiss chard, leaves chopped, stems chopped separately

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add garlic, onion, and chard stems and cook until onion and stems are softened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Raise heat to medium. Whisk in milk and cook, stirring constantly, until liquid is thickened and reduced by about half. Add the chard leaves. You may have to do this in batches as the chard cooks down. Add salt and white pepper, and cook about 5 minutes. Serve immediately.


featured GUEST CHEF A well-known pianist in Michigan, YoungMin You, enjoys Korean recipes. His wife, Chantelle, has realized that Korean food and flavors are sometimes hard to come by in northern Michigan, so she’s always keeping an eye out for meals with big and spicy flavors. This is one of YoungMin You’s favorites.

Jerk Chicken with Pineapple Black Bean Salsa

Dad’s Corn Fritters Deb Finedell, Great Lakes Energy /4 1 1 2 ½

cup all-purpose flour tablespoon sugar teaspoon baking powder eggs cup milk (more to thin, if necessary) 1 teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

3

4 generous cups corn kernels, fresh, frozen or canned (if frozen or canned, drain all moisture) 3 teaspoons chopped chives • oil, for frying • powdered sugar, optional

Mix flour, sugar and baking powder. Add eggs, milk, salt and cayenne pepper. Stir together to make a batter. Add corn and chives. Fold together to combine. Heat oil in a skillet to 365 F. Drop batter by spoonfuls into heated oil. Flip to brown on all sides. Drain on paper towel-lined plate. If desired, sprinkle with powdered sugar. Enjoy!!

4 cups cooked rice PINEAPPLE BLACK BEAN SALSA 2 cups pineapple tidbits, finely diced 1 15-ounce can black beans, well rinsed and drained ¹⁄ ³ cup red onion, finely diced ½ cup cilantro, chopped 1 lime • pinch red pepper flakes (optional) ¼ teaspoon salt, or to taste JERK CHICKEN 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about ²⁄³ pound each) 1 tablespoon jerk seasoning 1 tablespoon cooking oil Begin cooking your rice first. While the rice is cooking, prepare the pineapple black bean salsa. Combine pineapple, black beans, red onion, cilantro, one tablespoon of lime juice, red pepper flakes and salt. Add more salt or lime juice if needed.

Pizza Party: due February 1 Best Of Vegetarian: due March 1 Submit your favorite recipe for a chance to win a $50 bill credit and have your recipe featured in Country Lines with a photo and a video. Go to micoopkitchen.com for more information and to register.

Enter to win a

$50

energy bill credit!

Next, prepare the jerk chicken. Pat the chicken breasts dry with a paper towel. Place a piece of plastic wrap over the chicken to eliminate splatter, then gently pound the chicken breasts into an even thickness using either a rolling pin or a mallet. Sprinkle the jerk seasoning over both sides of the chicken and use your hands to rub it into the surface, making sure the chicken is completely coated. Add the cooking oil to a large skillet, or preheat your grill. Once hot, add the chicken and cook until well browned on both sides and completely cooked through (about 7 minutes each side). It should no longer be pink in the center and the juices should run clear. Transfer the cooked chicken to a clean cutting board and let it rest for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, slice the chicken into ½ inch-wide strips. To serve, place about a cup of cooked rice on a plate and top with about a cup of the pineapple black bean salsa and a few strips of the jerk chicken. Slice the remaining lime into wedges and squeeze fresh juice over the chicken just before eating. Read the full story about YoungMin You on page 14, and find this recipe and others at micoopkitchen.com.


Pictured is the top of one of Kastelic’s hand-crafted tables. As the wood dries, it cracks. He uses powdered turquoise from Utah to fill in the cracks and then covers the table with epoxy. A table can take several weeks to complete.

the Beauty of Birdseye

Cindy and Frank Kastelic holding some of their products. The fish was hand carved and painted by Frank. Cindy is holding a Birdseye cribbage board with one of her handcrafted bags.

By Yvonne Whitman

F

rank Kastelic’s ties to the Keweenaw go back three generations, to when one of his grandparents first immigrated there in the 1800s. Kastelic’s mother was born in Ahmeek and his father in Calumet, and for the first eight years of his life he lived in the Copper Country. But when the copper mining boom was ending, his family looked for better job opportunities and moved to the Detroit area. Kastelic lived and worked there until he was 55. “I always liked working with my hands, and I was the CEO and owner of an international tool company located in Warren. We manufactured carbide cutting tools. I loved what I did, but when it ceased to be fun, that’s when I quit.” After selling his company and retiring, Kastelic found that the pull of his Copper Country roots was strong, and it led him back to where he began. Vacationing in the area in 1995, he looked at and purchased 71 acres with Lake Superior frontage, near the small hamlet of Gay, Michigan. During the next five years, he and his wife, Cindy, would travel up to the property, one week per month, to work on what would become their

12 JANUARY 2020

retirement home. In 2000, they permanently moved to their slice of “Yooper heaven.” Kastelic likes to keep busy, and he began venturing into woodworking. Although he had never really worked with wood prior to his retirement, he initially started by making rustic furniture. But soon, his eye was drawn to Birdseye maple. “I liked it because it’s different. You can make almost anything out of Birdseye, and it becomes special because it is Birdseye.” Birdseye maple is very uncommon, with only one in every 400 maple trees possessing the pattern. The wood is so named because the figure in the wood resembles small bird eyes. To this day, there has been no scientific evidence to explain the origin of its existence or why it occurs in such a small percentage of all maple trees. It is reportedly caused by unfavorable growing conditions for the tree. The sugar maple attempts to start numerous new buds to get


more sunlight, but with disrupted conditions, the new shoots deteriorate, and afterward, a number of tiny knots remain. The prized anomaly cannot be cultured and cannot be intentionally duplicated by man. Even more unusual is that each Birdseye maple tree has its unique pattern, consistent within that tree only, making each project created from the wood a one-of-a-kind piece of woodworking art when finished. The highest concentration of Birdseye maple trees can be found in regions with severe winters and short growing seasons, such as in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Seventy percent of all Birdseye is grown in this area, which makes it a very distinct product of the U.P.

do.” His hand-crafted products include ice cream scoops, pizza cutters, butter spreaders, pens, wine bottle stoppers, candle holders, cheese cutting boards, cribbage boards, and more.

There is no way to know whether a maple tree has a Birdseye pattern until it is cut down. Kastelic finds Birdseye maple by finding a supplier and competitively bidding on the wood. After receiving the wood, he stores it and lets it dry for two years before making any of his products. “When it’s ready, I get to work doing what I love to

Although Frank does not sell his products online or have a website, you can visit him at his shop located at 1490 Gay-Lac La Belle Road, Gay, Michigan, or by calling him at 906-296-9926. His products are for sale at the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge and Copper World in Calumet.

Kastelic handcrafts his items in his large workshop, steps from the shores of Lake Superior. Most days, Cindy is working alongside him, creating bags for the cribbage boards, repurposing furniture from estate sales, and offering helpful suggestions. Cindy jokingly says with a smile, ”We are the Chip and Joanna Gaines of Birdseye maple. He comes up with the idea and creates it, and I come up with how to make it pretty.”


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As he found himself in Adrian, Michigan, his passion for music, and piano specifically, had kicked into high gear. While he was immersed in American culture and cultivating a strong grasp of a second language, YoungMin was equally interested in learning to really play piano.

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“I was just so in love with the piano, so I started teaching myself through YouTube,” said YoungMin. “I would practice five to six hours a day. I was obsessed.”

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With high school graduation fast approaching, YoungMin made the brave decision to apply to only one college—Wheaton College-

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“I feel like music is my way of putting a positive message into the world.” Conservatory of Music near Chicago. He decided that if he didn’t get in, he would go back to South Korea. YoungMin did get accepted at the conservatory and was quick to realize that his lack of formal training was something he would have to overcome. What were the odds that he could overcome his lack of formal education and catch up to his classmates? “I was so lucky to have professors who cared,” said YoungMin. “Cared, but were worried. My technique was not where it should have been, but I worked hard and got better.” YoungMin put his heart and a positive attitude into his craft. Through his efforts, he got so much better that he ended up being top in his class that semester. Passion and positivity may well have led YoungMin to love as well. During his first year of college, he met Chantelle, a vocal performance major, who would eventually become his wife. After the two were married in 2016, the couple had to decide where they would go next. Cities like Chicago and New York came up in conversation, as both YoungMin and Chantelle were artists, and the cities offered a lot of opportunities in their fields. But after much discussion, another town came up—Petoskey, Michigan. Chantelle had fallen in love with

the picturesque lake community. YoungMin’s experience with high school in Michigan and Chantelle’s Midwest roots were both strong pulls. “Ultimately, we talked about where we wanted to make a life for ourselves, where we wanted to raise a family,” said YoungMin. “Beyond that, Petoskey has such a rich arts community. The fairs and festivals have a wonderful musical focus— it became an easy decision on whether to go big city or small town.” While YoungMin and Chantelle have settled on their own family home, YoungMin is still very much connected to his parents and sister in South Korea. He video chats with them regularly using Great Lakes Energy’s Truestream fiber internet. Upon settling in Petoskey, YoungMin had jobs as a music director,

accompanist, and playing for both weddings and funerals, but he eventually changed directions and decided to concentrate on his original faith-based music and arrangements. Now, you will find him creating music on virtual platforms like Spotify and Apple Music, and posting inspiring videos on YouTube, where he first learned to play the piano. “I love making music so much, and I wanted to find a way to reach as many people as possible. These platforms make that possible,” said YoungMin. “I feel like music is my way of putting a positive message into the world.” Maybe the odds are stacked against an artist with a message of hope and positivity. But if there is anyone who is up for beating those odds, it’s a young man with talent, purpose and passion like YoungMin You.

Northern Michigan weather is hard to predict. The day of the video shoot, during which YoungMin played a piano rendition of “Hillsong’s Oceans” on Walloon Lake, there was a fresh two to three feet of snow on the frozen water. With the help of about 20 friends who volunteered and some friendly fishermen who assisted in making a pathway, the 800-pound piano arrived at its destination on a sled dragged by a snowmobile. The task was mighty, but once again, passion won the day. Watch the full video here and be inspired:

youtube.com/watch?v=5n-e6lOhVq0 MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES 15


Noah presents Dave with his retired 880-yard run school plaque from 1965.

Eye on the Prize By Yvonne Whitman // Photos Courtesy of Barb Csmarich

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or 19-year-old Mass City resident Noah Lukkari, a plaque on the wall of Ontonagon High School was the motivation to propel him toward breaking a 54-year-old school track record. Lukkari, who had been involved in track since elementary school, first noticed the plaque while in the eighth grade. “I took a photo of the plaque and made it the screen saver on my phone, and it stayed there through the next four years. I would look at it and think, “I’m going to break that record someday.” The record, held by former Ontonagon resident David Hegg, was in the 880-yard run (later replaced by the 800-meter run). Hegg established the record as a senior during his last meet at the U.P. Track and Field finals in 1965. Hegg recalls, “I was running strictly for time that day as I was undefeated for two years. I beat the record that day by several seconds with a time of 2:03.1 minutes. The school then converted the record to the 800-meter equivalent of 2:02:4 minutes.” Lukkari continuously improved throughout his high school track career, and on June 1, 2019, at the U.P. State Finals, he finally saw his dream and hard work come to fruition when he clocked a time of 2:02:36 in the 800-meter run. “The conditions were perfect, and I had a feeling while running that day that it could happen,” he said. His accomplishment was particularly impressive in that he had also won the 400-meter race about 25 minutes earlier.

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Newspaper clippings from The Ontonagon Herald that Dave Hegg saved from his time as a stellar high school track athlete.

Typically, when a record is broken and a plaque retired, the school sends the plaque to the former record holder. But Lukkari had other ideas. That spring, he had happened to see a photo of an 18-year-old Hegg in an old class photo. “Once I saw a face to put with his name, I wanted to meet him. And I wanted to give him his plaque,” Lukkari said. He reached out to Booster Club President Barb Csmarich to see if she might be able to help him find Hegg. Csmarich was able to locate Hegg and put the two in touch with each other. Lukkari recalls the first time they spoke: “He called and I was really nervous. I had focused on his record for such a long time, and it seemed surreal to be speaking with him.” The two decided to meet when Hegg, who now lives in Appleton, Wisconsin, came back to visit his home town. Hegg has high praise for Lukkari. “Noah is an amazing young man who comes from a great family. I was impressed that he wanted to meet me and do what he did. It says a lot about him and his family,” Hegg said. In an uncanny connection, Lukkari’s father, Shawn, had won the Howard Hegg award in high school. The award is named after David Hegg’s deceased brother and was created to recognize a graduating senior male with both academic and athletic accomplishments. And Hegg is right to be impressed. Along with track, Lukkari participated in football and basketball, and played in both the concert and marching bands through junior high

and high school. He shared also shared in the school’s valedictorian honors. On Labor Day, 2019, Lukkari and Hegg finally met in person. Csmarich was there to record the plaque handoff and came up with the idea to have them run a small race down the track where the two record-holders had both run over 50 years apart. “It was just really great to finally meet this person that had inspired me to accomplish my goal,” Lukkari said of the meeting. “And I was very honored to be able to present him with his plaque.”


Guess this photo and enter to win a

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Where In Michigan Is This? Identify the correct location of the photo above by January 20 and be entered into a drawing to win a $50 electric bill credit. Enter your guess at countrylines.com or send by mail to: Country Lines Mystery Photo, 201 Townsend St., Suite 900, Lansing, MI 48933. Include the name on your account, address, phone number and the name of your co-op. Our Mystery Photo Contest winner from the November/December issue is Karen Malburg, a Midwest Energy & Communications member, who correctly identified the photo as the “Believe” wall mural, which is part of the “Power of Words Community Mural Project.” It was painted by artist Mia Tavonatti on the exterior wall of the Blackstone Pizza Company located in downtown Iron Mountain. Winners are announced in the following issues of Country Lines: January, March, May, July/August, September and November/December.

Reaping What You Sow By Mike Lavens, Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op

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s we get older, it seems we start to cherish friends and family more and materialistic things less. At least, in my case, that’s what has occurred. A recent request by a distant nephew to come camp at our place north of Hillman came on short notice but was answered with a quick “yes.” You see, Roy was one of the sons of my wife’s cousins who many, many years ago, I took out deer hunting in southern Michigan when he was 10 years old. Roy told us years later that visiting us that summer is when he caught the outdoor bug. I have watched and enjoyed Roy’s adventures while growing up over the years —his fishing, hunting, camping and kayaking, all the while, as he lived downstate. Our place is on a private lake and sits just off Long Lake, where we share a lot with some neighbors. It is the best of both worlds, with water recreation on the “big lake” and quiet, no- gas motor fishing on the other lake. Roy, with his very first fish, broke his personal best with a 27-inch pike. He was in heaven for the next four days, fishing, kayaking, and enjoying the peace and quiet away from the city. He called us his outdoor parents during that stay, and it was a joy to see him take on the outdoors like a pro. Lucky for him, his “camping” visit turned into a more extended stay in our spare bedroom. It was nice to share yet again the outdoors with family and nurture such an important part of our human existence, even if it was just for a short time. We will cherish the memories made and the questions asked. The excitement in Roy’s voice as he explained about the loon coming up to the boat, the fish he caught, and how far down in the water he could see while kayaking. Share what you can, while you can, with whomever you can; you may never know the enthusiasm you may instill in someone or the memories you will make while doing so. Living where we do gives us a unique opportunity to do just that, treasure it and enjoy.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

November/December 2019 Josh Herman, Thumb Aerial Photography

18 JANUARY 2020

Mike is an FCA (Chrysler) engineer. He was the first person to sign up for the Dodge Demon race in Arizona. Mike has been married for 33 years and loves America.


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January 2020 Ontonagon  

January 2020 Ontonagon