January 2022 GLE

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January 2022


COUNTRY LINES Great Lakes Energy Cooperative

Meet Your Director

GLE Classroom Grant Recipients Cooperative Effort Bears Financial Fruit

Celebrating 30 Years Of The Country’s Oldest




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Contents countrylines.com

January 2022 Vol. 42, No. 1



6 TAHQUAMENON FALLS: A WONDER OF THE MIDWEST The resounding grandeur of the state's largest waterfalls can be enjoyed year-round. 10 MI CO-OP KITCHEN Asian-Inspired: Recreate your takeout favorites with these meals rich in flavor and diversity.

Michigan’s Electric Cooperatives

14 CELEBRATING 30 YEARS OF THE COUNTRY’S OLDEST ICE CLIMBING FESTIVAL The Michigan Ice Fest in Munising offers climbers breathtaking terrain and the chance to make lifelong friends.

EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Casey Clark EDITOR: Christine Dorr


RECIPE EDITOR: Christin McKamey COPY EDITOR: Yvette Pecha CONTRIBUTING EDITOR: Emily Haines Lloyd

18 GUEST COLUMN Winter's Daydream: GLE member's dazzling encounter with a deer was only a dream. Or was it?

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.


Have you ever seen Tahquamenon Falls at night? @dougjulian (Doug Julian)

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

RECIPE CONTEST Win a $50 bill credit!

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

GUEST COLUMN Win $150 for stories published!

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

MYSTERY PHOTO Win a $50 bill credit!

Enter a drawing to identify the correct location of the photo. See page 18.



Rising Energy Costs Managed By Forward Thinking

gtlakes.com /greatlakesenergy /jointruestream 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.

4 JANUARY 2022

Bill Scott, Great Lakes Energy President/CEO


s we enter the new year, we naturally reflect on the past and set a course for growth and improvement into the future. It is important to assess our performance, celebrate our success, and develop a plan to maintain or correct trajectory. We are especially proud of two major milestones reached in 2021—connecting more than 11,000 members to Truestream’s high speed fiber internet and surpassing the $4 million mark in grants awarded to local organizations through the People Fund since the program’s inception in 1999. As we look ahead to the new year, one aspect of course correction will come with the adjustment of our Power Supply Cost Recovery (PSCR) Factor. The PSCR Factor is a rate based on the expected energy costs from our supplier, Wolverine Power Cooperative. In the past, you may have noticed fluctuations in the PSCR Factor on your monthly bills. When costs were lower, the PSCR would follow suit, sometimes even as a credit or reduction on your bill. This meant that costs fell below expected rates and we could provide power at less than the anticipated price. With variables like the cost of coal and natural gas on the rise due to supply deficits and reduced production, along with an uptick of time spent at home and rising peak load demands attributed to COVID, adjusting the PSCR Factor is a necessary response. Beginning with February bills, this will result in an increase to the PSCR Factor, climbing from $0.00/kWh to $0.01177/kWh for residential and seasonal members. Because we are a not-for-profit, memberowned cooperative, we work hard to provide our members with reliable electricity at an optimal value. We

work directly with our power supplier, Wolverine Power Cooperative, to enhance their fuel mix in order to better mitigate energy costs amid fluctuating natural gas and coal prices. By drawing from a diversified portfolio of fuel sources, which is roughly 63% carbonfree, the impact of a volatile period in energy costs is made more manageable. Compared to the average fuel mix for our region, which is around 36% carbonfree, we are far better insulated from the effects of rising energy costs than our neighboring electric utilities. In other words, the strain of energy volatility is felt universally by electric utilities, but our careful planning ensures that this strain is lessened for our members by comparison. This is a benefit of the forward thinking and commitment to improvement that our members expect from us. GLE exists to serve our members, and we’re constantly working to improve the service we provide. Every decision and improvement made is performed with the best interest of our members in mind. As we progress through the new year, this sentiment will remain at our forefront, ensuring that we are positioned for success despite the future challenges that may await us.

2022 PSCR Factor Rate Change Increase* Residential Seasonal Average kWh/month



PSCR Factor









* Effective with February 2022 bills. Other rate changes for commercial accounts will also occur.

What market factors are driving the uptick in wholesale energy costs? S

everal factors ranging in the locality, from global to national to regional, can be attributed to the spike in wholesale energy costs, which are then passed on to end-users. Globally, demand for natural gas is on the rise. Because of this, the U.S. is exporting greater quantities of liquified natural gas to Europe and Asia, where prices are reaching record highs. This shift in exports is generating a deficit in availability stateside. Additionally, renewable energy production at a global scale is trending lower. Wildfires, drought, and heat in the western U.S. are reducing hydroelectric output. Calm weather patterns in Europe have affected wind production. All of these instances put a heavier reliance on natural gas power plants to make

up the difference, increasing the cost of natural gas prices. At the national scale, operating natural gas wells are down in production by more than 60% compared to the pre-COVID rates. Hurricane Ida affected production in the gulf, resulting in idled wells and a growing supply deficit. Coal is in tight supply, as well. Demand is up globally while production is down. This results in a limited supply at increasing prices. Significant investment in electric grid infrastructure projects in our surrounding region are also affecting the cost of energy transmission. Paired with rising energy demands caused by more and more people spending time at home, the cost to deliver energy has increased significantly in recent years and is expected to continue rising.

Notice to Members of Great Lakes Energy Cooperative Tariff and Fee Changes Effective Feb. 1, 2022 The Great Lakes Energy Cooperative Board of Directors adopted the following changes to the cooperative’s tariffs at a board meeting held Dec. 15, 2021, in accordance with P.A. 167. • Schedule EWH was approved as discontinued, effective with bills beginning Feb. 1. For specific details on any Great Lakes Energy tariffs or fees, please call us at 1-888-485-2537 or visit our website at gtlakes.com.



idden in the Upper Peninsula happens to be the state’s largest waterfall and the second-largest east of the Mississippi River (with Niagara Falls being number one)—Tahquamenon Falls. With 50,000 gallons of water cascading over the falls, it’s no wonder it hosts over 600,000 visitors annually.


TAHQUAMENON FALLS A Wonder Of The Midwest By Emily Haines Lloyd



For those who love a tongue-twister—it’s pronounced “Taa·kwuh·meh·nuhn,” and it was made famous in the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem The Song of Hiawatha. According to Native American lore, the origin of the name is attributed to the water’s amber color, resulting from tannic acid from the cedar and hemlock swamps that feed the river. Aside from the astonishing name, the falls themselves offer mouth-dropping beauty and splendor. Nestled in Tahquamenon Falls State Park amid 50,000 acres covering more than 13 miles, the Upper and Lower Falls of Tahquamenon offer an otherworldly view. And this might be the perfect time to enjoy that view, as the park is not nearly as crowded in the winter as it is in the other seasons. Winter activities at the park include camping (the campsites are open year-round), cross-country skiing, snowshoeing,

lantern-lit trail walks hosted by the park staff, and of course, visiting the falls, which also run year-round. No matter what time of year you go, though, your visit will leave a lasting impression. “When you’re approaching the falls, you first hear the sound—the water flowing and falling,” said Theresa Neal, park interpreter at Tahquamenon Falls State Park. “Once you approach them, you’re then struck by that unique amber color. It’s so unusual and visually striking. You never forget it.” Tahquamenon Falls is divided into two sections. The Upper Falls are surrounded by a quarter-mile trail and just a 94-step climb to the viewing platform. There, you can get a look at that 50-foot drop and feel the spray on your face. Those looking for an additional challenge can snowshoe off trail for a snowy adventure. The Lower Falls are four miles east of the Upper Falls and offer great views and photo ops. The Lower Falls are a one-mile walk from the parking area that takes you through the forest and lands you on the multiple viewing platforms for more spectacular sights. You can also rent rowboats at the concession station to access the island during the summer only.

While the monumental views bring in visitors, Neal thinks there’s something else that draws folks out to the wild. “I see generations of families come out to the falls year after year,” said Neal. “The world can move so fast, but when you’re out here, there’s time to breathe and just be with one another. Making memories is the ultimate way to slow things down.”

“Obviously, the falls are the big draw,” said Neal. “But there’s so much to do and explore. Nine miles of marked snowshoe trails, a groomed cross-country ski trail, lots of photo opportunities, and even a brewery.”


When you’re looking at sharing this natural wonder with over half a million people a year, it’s good to look at the best time to visit.

DO NOT DISTURB: Put your phone in airplane mode—service can be sketchy, so save your battery for photos and videos

“I’m always reminding people we’re open sunrise to sunset,” said Neal. “So, I really recommend coming early or later in the day to avoid crowds. And not to be afraid to visit off-season. From December to April, it’s almost like having the park to yourself.”

CASH IS KING: With cell service being dicey, it’s easier for park staff to handle your cash

VISITING IN WARMER MONTHS?: Wear light colored clothing (most insects are attracted to dark colors). And always be sure to wear comfortable, sturdy footwear BUG OFF: If you’re traveling in June and July, it’s a good idea to scare off the mosquitoes, horse flies, and deer flies with bug spray. Maybe splurge and buy a mosquito head net for just a couple of dollars WATER, WATER, WATER: Bring your reusable water bottle. There are plenty of places to fill up MAP UP: Again, with sketchy cell service, make sure you have a paper map, and don’t be afraid to chat up the park rangers for advice and directions /TQFalls





SAFETY TIPS Gasoline, Fueling, and Burn Safety

Carbon Monoxide and Ventilation

• If the tank is overfilled, fuel can overflow onto a hot engine and cause fire or explosion.

• Using a generator indoors CAN KILL YOU IN MINUTES. The exhaust contains carbon monoxide, a deadly poisonous gas you cannot see or smell.

• Do not overfill the fuel tank. Always allow room for fuel expansion. • Never add fuel while the unit is running or hot. • Allow generator and engine to cool entirely before adding fuel.

• NEVER run a generator indoors or in partly enclosed areas, such as garages.

• Never store a generator with fuel in the tank where gasoline vapors might reach an open flame, spark, or pilot light.

• ONLY use outdoors and far from windows, doors, vents, and crawl spaces, and in an area where adequate ventilation is available and will not accumulate deadly exhaust gas.

• Many generator parts are hot enough to burn you during operation and while the generator is cooling after turning off. Avoid coming into contact with a hot generator.

• Using a fan or opening doors and windows will not provide sufficient ventilation. • It is recommended that you install battery-operated carbon monoxide alarms/detectors indoors according to the manufacturer’s instructions/recommendations.

Electrocution Hazard and Electrical Shock Hazards • Connecting a portable electric generator directly to your household wiring can be deadly to you and others. A generator that is directly connected to your home’s wiring can “back feed” onto the power lines connected to your home and injure neighbors or utility workers. • Do not connect your generator directly to your home’s wiring or into a regular household outlet. Always start or stop the generator only when no electrical loads are connected. • Overloading your generator can seriously damage your valuable appliances and electronics. Do not overload the generator. Do not operate more appliances and equipment than the output rating of the generator allows for. Prioritize your needs. A portable electric generator should be used only when necessary, and only to power essential equipment. • Use the proper power cords. Plug individual appliances into the generator using heavy-duty, outdoor-rated cords with a wire gauge adequate for the appliance load. Overloaded cords can cause fires or equipment damage. Do not use extension cords with exposed wires or worn shielding. • Do not operate the generator in wet conditions such as rain or snow. • The generator must be properly grounded. If the generator is not grounded, you run the risk of electrocution. Check and adhere to all applicable federal, state, and local regulations relating to grounding.

8 JANUARY 2022

Generator Placement and Operation • Allow at least five feet of clearance on all sides of the generator when operating. • Generators can be used during a wide variety of weather temperatures but should be protected from the elements when not in use to prevent shorting and rusting. • Operate the generator only on level surfaces and where it will not be exposed to excessive moisture, dirt, dust, or corrosive vapors. • Inspect the generator regularly. • Always disconnect the spark plug wire and place the wire where it cannot contact the spark plug to prevent accidental starting when setting up, transporting, adjusting, or making repairs to the generator.

Source: American Red Cross, with technical advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Fire Protection Association (publisher of the National Electric Code®), and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.




Fire And Ice 1. Country road—Martha Parrott, White Cloud  2. Fire and ice, the tower—Judith Shimoda, Boyne City  3. Bird with snow-frosted berries— Linda Warner, Zeeland  4. Fire inside an ice sculpture—Stacey Seaman, Grayling  5. Fire—Scarlett Moore, Delton  6. Fitzroy prefers fire to ice— Laura Bakken, Grayling







4 Enter to win a


energy bill credit!


Photo Contest Winner

Beth Fiedorowicz—Gorgeous Gardens: A piece of heaven (April)

Submit Your “Pet Showcase” Photos By Jan. 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 January theme is Pet Showcase. Photos can be submitted by Jan. 20 to be featured in the March 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. MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES


MI CO-OP Recipes

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


Skip the takeout with recipes you can make at home.


SPICED CAULIFLOWER Margie Guyot, Great Lakes Energy

1 2–4 1 1 2 1 1 1 1 • 2 1

medium onion, chopped garlic cloves, chopped jalapeño, seeded and chopped tablespoon turmeric tablespoons coconut or sunflower oil cup water 14-ounce can coconut milk cauliflower head, cut into florets teaspoon sugar salt, to taste medium tomatoes, chopped cup cooked, cubed sweet potatoes, optional • roasted cashews, optional



energy bill credit!

10 JANUARY 2022

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

Process the onion, garlic, jalapeño, and turmeric in food processor until it forms into a paste. Heat oil in large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion mixture and cook for several minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions no longer smell raw. Do not brown. Add the water, coconut milk, and cauliflower florets; stir to coat. Bring to a medium boil and simmer for about 5–6 minutes. Stir in sugar and salt to taste. Stir in the chopped tomato and simmer 2–3 minutes more, stirring. Taste to adjust seasonings and serve. Variation: Stir in cooked, cubed sweet potato and sprinkle with roasted cashews. Dish will thicken as it sits. Serves 4. Watch a video of this month’s winning recipe at micoopkitchen.com/videos

ORIENTAL SUPERFOOD SALAD Connie Turner, Great Lakes Energy

1 bunch lacinato kale, washed, ribs and stems removed, and cut into bite-size pieces 1 pound shelled edamame beans (from freezer section) 1 cup “matchstick” carrots 1 small raw beet, cut into matchsticks (can also save beet leaves to add with the kale) 1 cup shredded green cabbage (or mix of red/green) 1 cup fresh blueberries 1 cup pomegranate kernels (from one pomegranate) 1 cup dried cranberries (or Craisins) 1 cup roasted cashew pieces (or walnuts/pecans)

½ ½ 1 ½ • • 1 1

cup roasted sunflower seeds cup sliced or chopped red onions cup sliced fresh strawberries pound barely steamed or raw asparagus tangerine slices, optional apple slices, optional cup Marzetta Simply Dressed Strawberry-Poppy Seed Vinaigrette (or favorite dressing) container cherry or grape tomatoes

Mix all ingredients together (except dressing). Add the dressing and tomatoes just before serving, and toss well. This salad keeps well for several days in a tight container in the refrigerator.

JAPANESE CHICKEN Rebecca Lambright, Great Lakes Energy


Connie Hernandez, Great Lakes Energy 8 ounces ground pork (ground turkey or chicken also works) 3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce, divided ½ small onion, chopped 2 garlic cloves, minced ½ teaspoon grated ginger (or 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger) 2½ cups finely sliced cabbage 2 cups finely sliced baby bok choy ½ cup shredded carrots 2½ ounces sliced shiitake (or other) mushrooms ½ tablespoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry ½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil

• sliced scallion or green onion, for garnish, optional • fried wonton strips, for garnish, optional Place a large nonstick skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the pork and 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce and cook, breaking up the meat into small pieces as it browns, about 3 minutes. Add the onion, garlic, and ginger and cook, stirring, until vegetables are soft, 2–3 minutes. Add the cabbage, bok choy, carrots, and mushrooms. Pour in remaining 2 tablespoons soy sauce, rice wine, and sesame oil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage and bok choy are wilted but still crunchy, 3–4 minutes. Garnish with scallions/green onions and wonton strips, and serve hot.

2 pounds uncooked chicken, sliced • flour for coating • garlic salt • seasoned salt • paprika 1 cup sugar ½ cup vinegar 4 tablespoons soy sauce ½ cup water ½ teaspoon salt Preheat oven to 350 F. Dip chicken in flour and fry. While chicken is frying, sprinkle with garlic salt, seasoned salt, and paprika. In a saucepan, mix together the sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, water, and salt. Heat until sugar is dissolved. Place fried chicken in baking dish and pour warm sauce over it. Bake 1½ to 2 hours. Serve over rice or noodles. After chicken is done, pour sauce into cooked rice. Tasty!



Cooperative Effort Bears Financial Fruit

That’s when Buck Love with the Northern Lakes Economic Alliance began helping the Rileys through the process that turned into a $900,000 interest-free loan to help fund a $3.65 million project. Following the GLE Board of Directors’ approval of the Rileys’ application, the final loan approval from the USDA came in July. Love said the program allows nonprofit utilities such as GLE to serve as a “pass-through” for federal economic development loans for “projects that will create or retain rural jobs.” He said the loan does not put GLE at any financial risk because applicants are required to provide an irrevocable letter of credit from their financial institution that would repay GLE and/or the U.S. Department of Agriculture any amounts owed in the event of loan default.

Great Lakes Energy works hard in many ways to power economic growth in the community, and one such effort will reap financial fruit for a family-owned agricultural business in Oceana County.


teve Riley, along with brother Andy and their father Mark, co-own Riley Orchards, a fifth-generation, family-run fruit and asparagus farm near Mears. In recent years, the family has expanded the operation’s acreage and production. Riley said the family had been considering significantly upgrading their harvest receiving and storage capacity. A recent agreement to barrel cherries for a nearby producer and word of an upcoming retirement for the operator of a nearby receiving facility nudged them to pull the trigger on the effort in early 2021. Around the same time, a friend encouraged Riley to apply for a zerointerest loan program available through GLE and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 12 JANUARY 2022

Love said the project is important not only for Riley Orchards, but also for the surrounding community through job stability and filling the expected gap in the harvest process when the current nearby receiving station operator retires.

Cool Is The Rule The project includes the construction of a new 224-by112-foot building that will house six controlled atmosphere rooms, a two-bay truck dock, offices, a break room, and a mechanical room. Until recently, Riley Orchards has only focused on farming its more than 1,000 acres of asparagus, tart and sweet cherries, peaches, and apples. Last year, they started barreling cherries for nearby Peterson Farms—about 5.8 million pounds of them. The new facility will not only allow the Rileys to continue in their new cherry barreling operation, but it will also allow them to receive and store apples and receive asparagus immediately after harvest.

Riley explained that temperature control is very important in keeping asparagus fresh after it is picked. He said the key to extending its shelf life is quickly removing “field heat” from the picked asparagus. That’s where hydrocoolers come into play. As the name suggests, a hydrocooling unit uses water to quickly cool down the asparagus when it arrives at the receiving station. That’s no small order in Oceana County. According to the Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board, Michigan is the nation’s top producer of asparagus, and Oceana County, known as “The Asparagus Capital of the Nation,” is at the center of the action. Each year in Michigan, about 120 growers produce about 20 million pounds of asparagus. The season usually starts in late April or early May and can stretch well into June. Often, each field is picked an average of 30 times. Riley said the climate-controlled rooms in the new facility will allow for some apples to be shipped off to be packed right after harvest, while the rest can be stored for several months until the packers receive orders to fill. It will also offer Riley Orchards the option of renting space to area packers or processors. Riley said he expects the 10-year/zero-interest loan will mean the debt on the project will be paid off three years earlier than it would have been if the entire project had been financed through the bank. He estimates the project will lead to the business adding two full-time and up to 35 seasonal jobs. He said the process of obtaining the loan, although complicated, was significantly streamlined thanks to the efforts of Love and the Northern Lakes Economic Alliance. Love offered his praise both to Riley Orchards and their financial institution, Shelby State Bank. “Riley Orchards saw a niche that they could fill, and they have been around long enough that they’ve established a good enough reputation that they were able to secure the funding from Shelby State Bank,” Love said. He also highlighted GLE’s part in the process. “Kudos to Great Lakes Energy. This is above and beyond. This is in the name of economic development for the region. It’s not what they do on a day-to-day basis. They aren’t in this to make money,” Love said.

GLE has helped members obtain financing for economic development projects many times in the past. The most recent example was in 2019 when the cooperative helped Petoskey-based Manthei Veneer secure a $1.2 million zerointerest loan to help rebuild following a fire that destroyed its mill. GLE President and CEO Bill Scott said he is pleased the cooperative could contribute to Riley Orchards’ project. “We are proud to support family-run businesses such as Riley Orchards as they work to grow their operations. Community focus is one of GLE’s guiding principles, and we are happy to use this program in pursuit of that principle,” Scott said. Riley said he’s not only grateful GLE makes such programs available to its members, but also for the service he’s received during the construction of the project. He said his contractor has commented numerous times on how responsive GLE crews have been in getting electrical service installed for the project. With much of the project’s construction nearly complete, Riley said the new facility is expected to be ready to go come April.

Left: Climate-controlled rooms will allow for storage up to several months before shipping produce off to packers. Bottom: Construction of the facility cooling system is already underway.


Celebrating 30 Years Of The Country’s Oldest




any people travel to gorgeous Munising, Michigan, in the state’s Upper Peninsula to experience the beauty of the infamous sandstone cliffs of Pictured Rocks off the shore of Lake Superior. Whether by boat or kayak, people bring their cameras and smartphones to snap a shot of the remarkable natural wonder.

Then there are those who travel to Munising, Michigan, to capture an experience in an entirely unexpected way. From Feb. 9–13, Michigan Ice Fest will be celebrating its belated 30th anniversary (due to COVID-19) with its weeklong ice climbing event that brings famed ice climbers as well as curious newcomers from all over the country and the world. Ice climbing may seem like something reserved for rugged mountaineers among arctic landscapes in faraway lands, but the Munising ice festival mixes awe-inspiring terrain with a tight-knit community feel that is nothing short of Pure Michigan. “For over 30 years, people have been coming to the festival,” said Bill Thompson, one of the organizers of Michigan Ice Fest. “And every year, there are people who walked away shocked that we have some of the best ice climbing in the lower 48. They come in wary and walk away family.”

By Emily Haines Lloyd Photos courtesy of Michigan Ice Fest

Michigan Ice Fest, which claims to be the oldest ice festival in the country, started with Mark Riesch, an ice climber out of Kalamazoo who returned from a festival in Canada and wanted to recreate something like it in Munising. Riesch passed out a homemade flier inviting folks to join in and managed to wrangle up

8 8 8 Michigan Ice Fest is Feb. 9–13, 2022, Munising, Michigan 8 8 8

a whopping 20 or so people the first year. Among them was Bill Thompson. As a new guard took over the event, it gained interest and grew. In 2019, the event drew over 1,600 climbers from seven different countries, and anyone who has attended Michigan Ice Fest will tell you there is something particularly magical about the Munising event. “Michigan might not seem like the obvious spot for ice climbing,” said Thompson. “But there’s nowhere else where you can climb 160 feet with open waves thundering below you that are biting at your feet. Exciting is an understatement.” This unique atmosphere has led to considerable interest from the climbing community. The event itself has grown over the years, now offering presentations and clinics led by world-class, professional climbers, book signings, and coffee talks in the mornings, as well as lots and lots of climbing. While the pros and hardcore climbers enjoy some of the finest ice climbing in the country,

the festival still puts a lot of focus on the novice climber, offering free gear and instruction as part of the price of admission. Not to mention an opportunity to watch and learn from some of the best ice climbers in the world. “It’s like if you went to a basketball clinic and Michael Jordan was there giving you tips,” said Thompson. “And then later, you see him around town and get to have a beer with him. That’s how casual and inclusive this event is.” The coziness of Munising seems in complete contrast to the adrenalineheavy activity that brings everyone to town, but the city offers that perfect setting for what Anderson describes as an annual family reunion.

climbers feel like they’re a part of the group from day one. It’s hard to explain, but it’s like going home.” While a mammoth ledge of ice might not seem like an obvious homecoming spot, Thompson assures those with even the slightest interest that the event aims to bring people in slowly. “It’s a chance to do something that not many people get to experience,” said Thompson. “As an ice climber, you’re definitely in a minority of folks in the world. But when you hear the axe bite in, and you kick into the ice with the sound of water running behind it—all I can say is you just can’t know how special it is until you try it.”

“It’s a tight community. When you come to the event, it’s like being with family,” said Thompson. “Our pro athletes have climbed all over the world, but feel something different and refreshing at our event. Our new

Visit michiganicefest.com for information on registration fees, event times, clinics, and more, as well as a list of available scholarships, grants, and contests. /MichiganIceFest




Great Lakes Energy Powers Classroom Technology The East Jordan Middle/High School Solar Spark Club was awarded a $2,000 GLE Classroom Grant during the 2020–2021 school year to contribute to the integration of a solar array onto the school roof.

Great Lakes Energy (GLE) recently awarded $30,070.68 in grants to help 21 classrooms implement technology-based programs in their schools.

$1,850 Boyne Falls Public School, Boyne Falls: for drones.

Grants awarded for the 2021–2022 school year bring the total to just over $243,000 for 168 projects since GLE launched its classroom grant program in 2012.

$599 Franklin Elementary and Lakeview Elementary, Ludington: for Doodler pens.

These schools received classroom grants for the 2021–2022 school year: $1,000 Boyne City High School, Boyne City: for microscopes. $1,000 Boyne City Middle School, Boyne City: for a groundwater flow simulator.

$2,000 Charlevoix Montessori Academy for the Arts, Charlevoix: for STEM kits. $2,000

E vart Middle School, Evart: for drones.

$2,000 Grant High School, Grant: for audio recording equipment. $700 Grayling Elementary, Grayling: for Micro:bits. $1,995 Harbor Springs High School, Harbor Springs: for flight simulators. $1,379.94 Inland Lakes Elementary, Indian River: for Chromebooks. $1,000 Ludington Area Catholic School, Ludington: for Breakout Boxes from Breakout EDU. $2,000


cFall Elementary, M Middleville: for sensorimotor room equipment.


ewaygo High School, N Newaygo: for giant Angry Birds.

$2,000 Oceana Christian School, Hart: for STEM kits. $1,700 Patricia St. Clair Elementary, Hesperia: for iPads. $1,100 Pine River Middle School, LeRoy: for Lego Robotics and Coding. $1,286.74 Shelby Early Childhood Center, Shelby: for Square Panda Literacy System. $2,000 St. Mary School, Big Rapids: for STEM kits. $1,000 Thornapple Kellogg Middle School, Middleville: for virtual reality goggles. $1,960

olverine Elementary, W Wolverine: for Lego League kits.

cBain Middle School, M McBain: for LEGO Education Spike Prime kits.

Online applications for the 2022–2023 school year open in September 2022. To learn more, visit gtlakes.com.

A Heart For Serving And Learning A

passion for community service and a lifelong love of learning are a big part of what energizes Great Lakes Energy Board of Directors Vice Chairman Howard Bowersox.

“Service to humanity is the best work of life.”

Bowersox has served as the District 8 representative on the board since he was elected in 2019. He represents Clare, Mecosta, Newaygo, and Osceola counties. But his position on the cooperative’s board is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to his efforts to serve the community. Bowersox, who now lives near Stanwood, grew up in Buffalo, New York. His first job after graduating from the State University of New York at Buffalo with a degree in chemical engineering brought him to Montague. It was there that his love of community service blossomed, thanks primarily to his involvement with the Jaycees organization there. In fact, he said he continues to draw inspiration from the last line of the organization’s creed: “Service to humanity is the best work of life.” “That, over the past 50 years, has driven me to be very active in my community, always doing all that I can to serve my fellow man—particularly my neighbors,” Bowersox said. “That’s what really led me to Great Lakes Energy.” Forever the student, Bowersox has worked not only in the chemical industry but also in the insurance industry and finally as a commodities broker. Those experiences fed his thirst for learning and prepared him well for his future role on the GLE board. He said he initially thought about running for GLE’s board because he had some experience in electrical generation operations in earlier phases of his career. “I thought this Great Lakes Energy opportunity would give me a chance to make a difference for all my neighbors. That was important to me … I’ve just enjoyed it immensely. It’s been a tremendous learning experience,” he said.

Bowersox said he’s excited about the continuing expansion of GLE’s Truestream internet service, and he’s eager to see those efforts continue. “Broadband has become so important. It’s become just about as important in our lives now as electricity and water,” Bowersox said. Looking forward, he said he’s particularly interested in how the cooperative will meet the challenge of continuing to provide affordable and reliable electric service to its members at times when increasing emphasis is being placed on reducing reliance on fossil fuels. Among the many things he said he’s learned in his time on the board is an appreciation for the broad base of skills and knowledge among the cooperative’s staff and leadership. He said his longstanding interest in learning led him to a full-time role as a teacher at Crossroads Charter Academy. That role became the inspiration for Bowersox’s latest passion: helping families develop a “culture of learning for life.” He’s so committed to the idea, which he views as a movement, that he has created a website full of resources for parents, including 16 podcasts he has recorded. When he isn’t busy in one of his many community service roles or learning new things, Bowersox and his wife, Janet, have a passion for gardening, as well as enjoying Michigan’s beauty and natural resources while kayaking and hiking.


Guest Column

Winter's Daydream By Dody Bedford, Great Lakes Energy Cooperative member


t was a sunny cold day in January when I put on my cross-country skis to go for a jaunt. The temperature was a perfect 25 degrees, and the sun shone brightly. I glided along effortlessly, crisscrossing paths with the many deer that inhabit our fields. As many times as I have skied and as many deer tracks as I have seen, I have never seen a deer. I stopped to rest under the biggest white pine I’d ever seen. I had a weird sense that I was being watched. I turned back, looking across the clearing, and saw a wonderful surprise; 100 feet away stood the most beautiful doe. Her huge brown eyes and long black lashes entranced me. She stomped her feet and took five steps toward me. I was enthralled. I stood quietly, and she made her way toward me. She was not afraid and appeared as curious about me as I was about her. I stretched my hand out, and she took a sniff. As she became more comfortable, I moved to her side and stroked her neck. As she became more comfortable, she would playfully butt me with her head. After some time, she reached up and snatched my hat right off my head, then turned and ran a little way. She turned to face me, and I could swear she was teasing me to chase her. I set out toward her, and each time I came close, she would throw my hat in the air, let it drop, pick it up, and away she went. As I took a rest, she approached me now with no fear. I tipped my head low, and she placed the hat on my head, then I poured water in my hand, and she drank greedily. She finally headed into the woods at dusk. It was time for me to head home. It must have been only a daydream. I could only smile as I followed a perfect set of deer tracks all the way home.

Win a


energy bill credit!

Dody Bedford is a Great Lakes Energy Cooperative member who enjoys the outdoors, gardening, and fishing. She is a self-taught artist, who paints in oil, sketches, and plays piano and guitar. She likes to spend a portion of every day helping others and volunteering at Rising Hope Equestrian Center.

WIN $150!

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

Where In Michigan Is This? Identify the correct location of the photo to the left by Jan. 20 and be entered into a drawing to win a $50 electric bill credit. Enter your guess at countrylines.com/community. Nov./Dec. 2021 Winner! Our Mystery Photo winner is Angela Boysen, a Midwest Energy & Communications Cooperative member, who correctly identified the photo as Port Huron Blue Water Bridge. Photo courtesy of Kaushik Sur. Winners are announced in the following issues of Country Lines: January, March, May, July/August, September, and November/December.


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In 1935, the Rural Electrification Administration was established nationally, paving the way for a new kind of electric utility. Electric cooperatives, like Great Lakes Energy, were formed by rural farmers to bring electric power to the countryside where no one else would. Throughout 2022, we will look back across our history as an electric cooperative in celebration of 85 years of member-focused service.