Jan. 2023 Ontonagon

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MUSIC TO OUR EARS Big Water Creative Arts Bringing Music Education to Northern Michigan Ontonagon County Rural Electrification Association January/February 2023 MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES Michigan Co-op’s First Female CEO To Retire 2022 Photo Contest Winners

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2. EPA study “Space Conditioning, The Next Frontier” (Report 430-R-93-004)


Michigan’s Electric Cooperatives


EDITOR: Christine Dorr


RECIPE EDITOR: Christin McKamey

COPY EDITOR: Yvette Pecha


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: Tom Sobeck, Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op, chairman; Gabe Schneider, Cherryland Electric Cooperative, vice chairman; Chris O’Neill, HomeWorks TriCounty 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

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.

Instagram Contest

Recipe Contest


Guest Column

Mystery Photo


Contents January 2023 Vol. 43, No. 1 /michigancountrylines /michigancountrylines countrylines.com
#micoopcommunity Instagram contest winner Upper Peninsula of Michigan @kaushik0805 (Kaushik Sur) 6 GET IN, GET OUT, GET TO WORK
10 MI
Arts bringing music
Alpena Community College
offers a certificate program for line-clearance arborists.
CO-OP KITCHEN Healthy Living: Feel good from the inside out.
Water Creative
Northern Michigan. 18 GUEST COLUMN The reluctant Boy Scout— A co-op member reflects on how his experience turned out to be one of the best things he has ever done.
enter contests, submit reader content & more, visit
MI Co-op Community To
Win $200
See details on page 18.
details on page 10. Vegetarian due Feb. 1; Breakfast For Dinner due Mar. 1 Win a $100 bill
Use #micoopcommunity for a chance to be featured here and on our Instagram account. Win $100 for photos published!
details on page 18. Win a $100 bill credit!



500 J.K. Paul Street

Ontonagon, MI 49953 906-884-4151 800-562-7128 After hours: 866-639-6098


William Hodges, President

Lake Linden District 906-934-3743 • mistermich52@gmail.com

Calvin Koski, Vice President Aura District 906-524-6988 • cgkoski@up.net

Mildred Ann Gasperich, Secretary

Boston District  906-337-5079 • anngasperich@yahoo.com

Randy Myhren, Treasurer

Green/Firesteel/Toivola District 906-884-4092

Jack Lehto, Director

Pelkie/Herman/Aura District 906-353-6684 • jlehto@up.net

Michael Urbis, Director

Ewen/Trout Creek/Lake Mine District 906-988-2344 • mdurbis@yahoo.com

Michael Gaunt, Director

Chassell/Keweenaw Bay District 906-370-8133 • budget2019@gmail.com


Eugene Soumis, General Manager

Fay Hauswirth, Billing Clerk Mark Urbis, Line Superintendent


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.

Stay In The Know

At Ontonagon REA, we constantly strive to improve our operational efficiency to provide the most reliable electric service possible for our consumer members (that’s you!).

We rely on data for nearly every aspect of our operations, which is why we need your help. By ensuring we have your most accurate and complete contact information, we can continue to provide the high level of service you expect and deserve. Accurate information enables us to improve customer service and enhance communications for reporting and repairing outages. It also allows co-op members to receive information about other important programs, events, and activities.

Up-to-date contact information can potentially speed up the power restoration process during an outage. For example, your phone number is linked to your service address in our outage management system. This means when you call to report an outage, our system recognizes your phone number and matches it with your account location. Accurate information helps our outage management system predict the location and possible cause of an outage, making it easier for our crews to correct the problem.

While we always do our best to maintain service, we occasionally plan outages to update, repair, or replace equipment. In these instances, we can provide advance notification to

affected members through automated phone messages, text messages, or email if we have your updated contact information and communication preferences.

Keeping the co-op updated with your information also helps us when there’s a question about energy use or billing. Emails and text messages are also used to notify registered members of any changes in co-op event details. In addition, discrepancies on your account can be taken care of promptly if Ontonagon County REA has accurate account information.

Many of you have been members of the co-op for years, and, likely, your account information hasn’t been updated for some time. We recognize that many members now use a cell phone as their primary phone service, and we might not have that number in our system.

I want to emphasize that in providing your contact information to the co-op, we will never share this information with any third parties. Ontonagon REA only uses it to send important information to you. Please take a moment to confirm or update your contact information by calling Fay in the business office at 906-8844151 during regular business hours, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. You can also update Fay by emailing your account number to billing@ontorea.com. By doing so, you will be helping us improve service and efficiency so we can better serve you and all co-op members.

4 JANUARY 2023

Ontonagon Bids a Fond Farewell to Manager Miles

ntonagon REA’s general manager, Debbie Miles, retired on Dec. 31, 2022. Ms. Miles began her cooperative career when she started working at the Ontonagon REA office the summer after she graduated high school in 1964. She has worked at three other electric cooperatives during her career: Alger Delta, Presque Isle, and National Information Solutions Cooperative. Miles assumed the helm at Ontonagon REA in 2011, becoming Michigan’s first female cooperative CEO. During her tenure, the cooperative has experienced major improvements in operations, including a conversion to AMI metering, a dedicated brushing program resulting in a decrease in outages, major equipment purchases,

and the creation of the transmissionfed Boston Substation.

According to incoming General Manager Eugene Soumis, “While I’m excited to have the torch passed to me, I know I have big shoes to fill. Debbie has laid some excellent groundwork here at the cooperative. I intend to continue the same level of excellence and dedication that Debbie provided to cooperative members while looking towards continuous improvement of service for our members.”

In her retirement, Miles is looking forward to having more time for the things she enjoys doing, such as downhill skiing, spending time attending her nephew’s hockey events,

and taking care of her beloved Saint Bernard dog McGyver and cats Olivia and Norman.

The Ontonagon County REA employees and the board would like to thank Debbie for her dedicated years of service and wish her health and happiness during her retirement.

Update on Norman the Office Assistant Cat

ntonagon REA staff first welcomed Norman to the office in May of 2022 when REA tree trimmers found the cat on a rural roadside. With an injured leg and only weighing five pounds, things did not look good for Norman, but with some veterinary care and human compassion, Norman has rallied and is currently enjoying one of his nine lives.

After a second veterinary opinion, it was determined that he did not need to have his leg amputated further. He has adapted to his disability and energetically gets around, especially in his favorite place, the kitchen. Norman enjoys eating, as evidenced by his current weight of 15 pounds. Manager Miles takes Norman home every evening and reports that he races her to his food bowl each morning.

Support and concern for Norman have been heartwarming, and REA staff would like to thank members for their inquiries, cards, and compassion. Norman would like to take this opportunity to send his benefactor, Manager Debbie Miles, his best wishes for a “purrfectly” delightful and relaxing retirement. He “furvently” hopes she will enjoy herself. And that she will buy him some more food.


Get In, Get Out, Get to Work

Tornados in Michigan are unexpected and rare—but they can, and will, happen. Proof is the EF-3 class tornado that tore through Gaylord, Michigan, in May of 2022, leaving a swath of destruction and claiming two lives.

After the tornado, area residents were left without power. That is when the utility lineworkers and line-clearance arborists rolled in to begin the massive restoration process.

What is the difference between lineworkers and line-clearance arborists? While the lineworker focuses on the equipment related to the electrical conductor, line-clearance arborists focus on the vegetation surrounding energized systems. Neither can function properly without the other.

Utility companies and line-clearance contractors both constantly scrutinize weather forecasts and right-of-way maintenance in anticipation of events. When an outage occurs, the power company is dispatched to assess the damage while line-clearance arborists are alerted to clear the trees and vegetation from the damaged power lines after the utility company de-energizes them. It is a true team effort.

The second significant difference between the two job titles is training. Traditionally, if someone wanted to become a line-clearance arborist, they would apply at a tree service company, go through their orientation, and then complete close to one year’s worth of on-the-job training. Conversely, lineworkers often undergo substantial classroom and field training, over an extended period.

Tree service workers in general face many hazards in the course of their work. Those hazards increase further

for line-clearance arborists whose work involves electrical lines. That’s why proper training is so important. Alpena Community College (ACC) has taken its mastery of training lineworkers and expanded it to offer a safety-centric certificate program for line-clearance arborists. This new, noncredit, one-semester Utility Arborist Line Clearance Program is designed for those interested in working in this industry, allowing students to complete the required training and have the potential for job offers in just four months. Work in the program is coordinated with the established Utility Technology Certificate Program and allows the Utility Line Clearance students to build skills around de-energized primary wires, which is not offered by similar programs at other institutions.

Making a living as a line-clearance arborist has many of the same draws as a utility lineworker: excellent compensation, opportunities to grow, the freedom to work outside, a team environment, the ability to help people—and the thrill of climbing. The ACC program is built for those who like to work outside, are adventure seekers, are up for a challenge, are able to work in a team, and do not want to sit in an office.

For more information on how to become a line-clearance arborist or to register for the training program, contact Program Director Walter Wiltse at 989-358-7284 or wiltsew@alpenacc.edu, or visit https://discover.alpenacc.edu/ programs/degrees_and_programs/ utility_arborist.php.


• Anyone 18+ who likes to work outside

• Thrill/adventure seekers

• Up for a challenge

• Physically fi t

• Able to work in a team

• Doesn’t want to sit in an offi ce

• All training required to be a utility arborist

• Chainsaw safety

• OSHA 10

• First Aid/CPR certifi cate

• Knowledge to pass pesticide application test

• Preparation for CDL training

• Electrical Hazard Awareness Program training

• Aerial rescue training

• Highly qualifi ed instructors

• Alpena Community College, Alpena, Michigan

• After program completion, job opportunities anywhere in Michigan

• Many career options such as management, equipment operator, right-away operator, and leadership opportunities

• First cohort of program— all students were offered a job with at least $40k annual salary plus benefi ts



Ontonagon REA awarded four members with a $50 energy bill credit for being selected in a random drawing of all contest entries that appeared in Michigan Country Lines in 2022. Thank you to the many members who participated. Members are welcome to send in photos for our 2023 contest. Hayfield in front of an old country church. Ann Pihlaja (Sept./Oct.) Helping Dad bring home the Christmas tree. Elsa Green (Nov./Dec.) The sun rises over Lake of the Clouds valley, as seen from the escarpment in the Porcupine Mountains. Nathan Miller (Jan./Feb.) Homemade ice cream date with Grammy. Danielle Impola (July/Aug.)
7 6 1 3 2 Enter to win a $50 energy bill credit! Submit A Photo & Win A Bill Credit! Ontonagon REA members whose photos we print in Michigan Country Lines during 2023 will be entered in a drawing. Four lucky members will win a credit of $50 on their December 2023 energy bills! Upcoming Topics and Deadlines:
issue) To submit photos, and for details and instructions, go to http://bit.ly/countrylines. We look forward to seeing your best photos! PHOTO CONTEST 5 4 1. Lake Superior reflecting stillness. Holly Pelto 2. SUP paddle on Big Traverse Bay in Houghton County. Kathleen Harter 3. First sled of the season. Danielle Impola 4. Two snowshoers hike along the frozen shoreline near McLain State Park. Nathan Miller 5. Days outdoors with Dad are always an adventure! Lynda Graham 6. Racers prepare for the Verna Mize Triathlon in Houghton. Verna Mize saved Lake Superior, and we race in her honor. Mary Kaminski 7. Fire, ice, and Stanley watching. Deb Maki Outdoor Adventures 9 MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES
Pets, due Jan.
Bikes, due March 20 (May/June
Camping , due May 20 (July/Aug.



Kerri Hanson, Great Lakes Energy

2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick-cooking oats)

2 cups almond milk or milk of choice

1 cup plain Greek or nondairy yogurt ¼ cup chia seeds

¼ cup pure maple syrup or honey

Topping Options:

• Blueberry: blueberries (fresh, frozen, or dried) and chopped walnuts

• Pina Colada: pineapple tidbits, 1 tablespoon coconut, ½ teaspoon vanilla

• PB&J: jam on bottom, peanut butter on top

• Pear: diced pear, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, and chopped pecans

• Caramel Apple: diced apple, caramel sauce, and chopped peanuts

• Chocolate Raspberry: raspberries (fresh or frozen), 1–2 teaspoons cocoa powder, mini chocolate chips

To make the base, in a medium bowl, mix together the oats, milk, yogurt, chia seeds, and maple syrup/honey. Stir until combined. Portion 1-cup servings into 4 wide-mouth, 16-ounce canning jars (or another airtight container) and top with any additional toppings as desired.

These toppings can be stirred into the base recipe, or customize each jar by putting them separately in the bottom of the jar before filling. The possibilities are endless. Place lids on and refrigerate overnight. When refrigerated, these overnight oats can last for up to 5 days.

Watch a video of this month’s winning recipe at micoopkitchen.com/videos

Photos by Robert Bruce Photography || Recipes submitted by MCL readers and tested by recipe editor Christin McKamey
CO-OP Recipes
Recipe Contest Win a $100 energy bill credit! Vegetarian due Feb. 1, Breakfast For Dinner due Mar. 1 Submit your favorite recipe for a chance to win a $100 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 HEALTHY LIVING Feel good from the inside out. 10 JANUARY 2023



1 cup quinoa

2 cups low-sodium chicken broth or water

1 can drained medium ripe olives, or 1 cup pitted kalamata olives

1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

½ cup green bell pepper, diced

½ cup diced celery

1 cup feta cheese, cubed or crumbled

½ cup walnuts, halved


½ cup olive oil

½ cup red wine vinegar

1 shallot, diced

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon dried oregano

Cook quinoa in broth according to package directions. Combine dressing ingredients and add to the cooked quinoa while still warm. Add the rest of the salad ingredients and stir until combined. Enjoy!

6–8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

• olive oil or butter

• salt and pepper, to season

1 onion, thinly sliced

2–4 garlic cloves, minced

2 cans chopped Italian-style tomatoes

½ teaspoon oregano

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

¼ –½ cup feta cheese

1 can black olives

2 cans quartered artichokes

Preheat oven to 350 F. Brown chicken breasts in oil or butter in frying pan. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to baking dish. Add more oil or butter to pan; sauté the sliced onions and garlic. Add the canned tomatoes and blend the spices in with the onions and garlic. Bring the tomato mixture to a simmer, then pour over chicken breasts in baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove baking dish from oven and sprinkle feta cheese, olives, and artichokes over the top. Put back in oven and bake for another 15 minutes. Serve with orzo, couscous, or rice.



2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium white onion, chopped

3 stalks celery, chopped

4 large carrots, peeled and chopped

3 medium Yukon gold potatoes, cut into ¼ -inch cubes

3 cloves garlic, minced

6 cups chicken or vegetable broth

1 cup tomato juice

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained

1 head green cabbage, cored and chopped

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

½ teaspoon sugar

½ teaspoon dried thyme


teaspoon celery salt

1 bay leaf

Heat the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Once simmering, add onion, celery, carrots, and potatoes. Sauté until the vegetables start to soften, about 5–7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute, until fragrant. Pour in broth and tomato juice and stir. Add the diced tomatoes, cabbage, salt, black pepper, sugar, thyme, celery salt, and bay leaf. Bring contents to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer for 30–40 minutes, until the cabbage is wilted and the vegetables are soft. Remove bay leaf. Enjoy!


Judy Bergeski, Presque Isle

1 tablespoon brown sugar

2 tablespoons seasoned salt (Lawry’s) or homemade seasoning mix (below)

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 head of cauliflower, leaves removed, cut into 1-inch thick slices *cut from top down, so the slices look like cauliflower “trees”

• fresh parsley, for garnish

Homemade Seasoning Mix:

½ teaspoon onion powder

½ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon paprika

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

½ teaspoon dried dill

Mix together the brown sugar and seasoned salt (or homemade seasoning mix). Preheat grill to medium-high heat (can also use a panini maker) and lightly oil/spray the grill. Brush olive oil on one side of each cauliflower slice. Then sprinkle the sugar/seasoning mix over top. Repeat on other side. Save leftover spices for the next time. Place on grill or in panini maker and close lid. Cook 2–3 minutes per side. Check for doneness; should be forktender, but not mushy. Transfer to plate and sprinkle with fresh parsley (optional). Serve with ranch dressing for dipping, or balsamic glaze. Goes well with diced tomatoes and some crusty bread.

Joan Bissonette, Great Lakes Energy Virginia Czarnecki, HomeWorks Tri-County Finedell, Great Lakes Energy

Too Good To Be True

f there was ever a physical representation of the phrases “leap of faith” and “landing on your feet,” Tim and Christy Palenske’s endeavors would symbolize it. In 2017, the young couple and their daughter Layla packed up their Delavan, Wisconsin, home and relocated to rural Ontonagon to start a farm. Christy, a school photographer, and Tim, a general contractor, were tired of their hectic life. “We were never really home, and we rarely saw each other,” Christy says. They had been to Ontonagon to visit Tim’s sister and had fallen in love with the peacefulness and beauty of the area.

Before moving, the extent of their farming knowledge was minimal. “We

had some chickens and goats, but that was it,” Tim says. After purchasing an idle 20-acre farm, they immediately got to work. They lived in a camper on the property for the first six months while rehabbing and gutting the house. With a wry smile, Layla recalls, “It was a little cramped.” Once they established housing accommodations, they got to work on the farm. “The farm hadn’t really been used for over 20 years, so there was a lot of work to be done,” Tim says. They began by clearing fields, building barns, and stretching fences on cedar posts to create pastureland. “We put every single post in by hand,” he said.

And then came the animals. Along with the chickens and goats they

had brought to the farm, they added turkeys, pigs, and Dexter cattle. “We try to keep everything as natural as possible and not intervene unless necessary. We like to let nature take its course. We’ve just learned through trial, error, and research,” Christy says.

They built a massive garden yielding produce such as watermelons, onions, kale, carrots, green beans, squash, and peppers. Enough produce to meet their needs and fill their popular roadside farm stand.

Everything on the farm is naturally recycled, and this is most evident in goat milk production. The goats produce so much milk that they always have a freezer full. So, Christy taught

12 JANUARY 2023

herself how to make goat milk soap. “I thought, I have these goats and all of this milk, so what am I going to do with it all?” she said She makes her soap in small batches using the coldpressed method and uses only naturally derived ingredients such as turmeric, paprika, cocoa powder, and stinging nettle. Scents come from high-quality essential oils, and colors are produced with natural plant- or spice-based materials without using man-made colored micas. She sells her soaps at local shops and their online store.

Eleven-year-old Layla began her own “farm operation” by raising and selling rabbits and buying and breeding a mini horse. She banks all of her money. “I am saving money for a truck, college, and house. I have a lot of money saved up already,” the practical young entrepreneur states.

Tim and Christy split all chores and truly represent a team effort. Along with helping to milk the goats, Layla also has her share of duties in caring for her rabbit and horse business.

“Layla takes care of her animals both before and after school. At age 6, she had a power wheel 4-wheeler that she would use to take water to all of the animals by attaching a red rider wagon to the back, filled with one-gallon water jugs,” Tim proudly states.

The family also takes their venture off the farm by attending local fairs and craft shows, where they sell their soaps and produce, have a petting zoo, and offer horse rides.

In a mere five years, the young family has created a rural farm utopia through hard work, research, patience, and diligence. “We had a plan. We knew we needed to make sure we worked from dark to dark for the plan to work, and that’s how our life has been,” Tim says matter-of-factly. “People often ask us, ‘How do you do it?’ We work seven days a week. We’ve never really taken a break. We set goals, and we complete them.”

Tim recalled a recent conversation with his mother. “We both agreed that it seems too good to be true. But nothing is too good to be true when putting your entire heart into something,” he said.

To learn more about Palenske Homestead, look for them on Facebook or find them at: 16535 S. Firesteel Road, Ontonagon, MI 49953 906-884-3132


“We try to keep everything as natural as possible and not intervene unless necessary. We like to let nature take its course. We’ve just learned through trial, error, and research.”
Layla and Whitey the bunny. Some of Christy’s beautiful goat milk soaps
Christy and goat herd buck, Murphy.

Big Water Creative Arts Bringing Music Education

To Northern Michigan

So many of us have fond memories of art and music classes in our school days. So often, it was a chance to decompress from math, science, English, or history, but the arts in learning have always been about a bit more. Studies have shown improvements in math, reading, and critical thinking can all be linked to engagement in artistic or creative endeavors.* So, it is not just a sense of melancholy that makes it upsetting that so many school systems have had to decrease funding for art programs and sometimes eliminate them altogether.

It’s this reality that spurred Michelle Chenard and Pete Kehoe of Big Water Creative Arts to turn their passion for music into a bigger purpose.

“Music has always given Michelle and me so much,” said Kehoe, director of the board at Big Water Creative Arts. “It felt like time for us to return the favor.”

Chenard and Kehoe are longtime friends and sometimes creative partners who have enjoyed their own lives as musicians. Chenard, originally from the Upper Peninsula, took her talent on the road working the music circuit in the southern United States and finally back to Michigan. Kehoe, from Gladwin, has been in Petoskey since 1999. While they’ve worked on songs together and played in Michigan for decades, it was a songwriting workshop they were holding on Mackinac Island that was the first step in creating Big Water Creative Arts.

14 JANUARY 2023

“We had been doing this threeday songwriting workshop for a few years, but never quite got in the black,” said Kehoe. “Then we started talking and realizing we wanted to also do something that had a more far-reaching impact.”

The two were keenly aware that school music programs had been losing funding year after year, with many rural communities in their own backyard with no programming at all.

It started with a songwriting workshop for Mancelona Public Schools. Music programming spread to Petoskey, Pellston, Gaylord, Cheboygan, and so on. Today, Big Water Creative Arts offers multiple programs for arts education for elementary and middle school students, as well as senior and adult special education programs.

While BWCA offers these music classes free to all students, they depend on grants, donations, and fundraising from their

annual event in September. As interest grows amongst students and school administrators, the strain on the nonprofit’s budget increases.

“We are always looking for community partners who want to help bring music education to Northern Michigan,” said Kehoe. “We want to take the cost barrier out of the equation so it can be available to all.”

This is what the folks at Big Water Creative Arts do. They see a need, look at their resources, and make musical magic happen in their community.

“It’s our dream that every kid who wants to play, sing, or express themselves musically can do that without worrying about economics or funding,” said Kehoe. “Music is a right for everyone. It makes for more engaged, confident, and happy people. And that just makes the world better.”

If you’d like to help support Big Water Creative Arts, here’s how:

To donate: bigwatercreativearts.org smile.amazon.com (BWCA) bigwatercreativearts@gmail.com Big Water Creative Arts, Inc. P.O. Box 124, Petoskey, MI 49770

For more information: /bigwatercreativearts /bigwatercreativeartsinc


*Source: President’s Committee on Arts and the Humanities, 2011

“Music is a right for everyone. It makes for more engaged, confident, and happy people. And that just makes the world better.”
Photos by: Jessica Wynder Photography (top of page 14), Johnny Ulibarri (left), and Alex Childress (cover and top right)

Five Ways To Fight The Winter Chill And Save Energy

We all have our favorite season. Some people love crisp, cool weather and bundling up under a favorite blanket, while others prefer the warm temperatures summer brings and all the fun outdoor activities that go with it.

But there’s one thing we can all agree on: High winter bills are never fun. Ontonagon REA is here to help you find ways to manage your home energy use and keep winter bills in check.

Here are five tips to help increase your home’s energy efficiency this winter:

1. Mind the thermostat. This is one of the easiest ways to manage your home energy use. We recommend setting your thermostat to 68 degrees (or lower) when you’re home. When you’re sleeping or away for an extended period of time, try setting it between 58 and 62 degrees; there’s no need to heat your home when you’re away or sleeping and less active.

2. Button up your home. The Department of Energy estimates that air leaks account for 24% to 40% of the energy used for heating and cooling a home. Caulking and weather stripping around windows and doors is another simple, cost-effective way to increase comfort and save energy. If you can feel drafts while standing near a window or door, it likely needs to be sealed.

3. Use window coverings wisely. Open blinds, drapes, or other window coverings during the day to allow natural sunlight in to warm your home. Close them at night to keep

the cold, drafty air out. If you feel cold air around windows, consider hanging curtains or drapes in a thicker material; heavier window coverings can make a significant difference in blocking cold outdoor air.

4. Consider your approach to appliance use. When combined, appliances and electronics account for a significant chunk of our home energy use, so assess how efficiently you’re using them. For example, if you’re running the dishwasher or clothes washer, only wash full loads. Look for electronic devices that consume energy even when they’re not in use, like phone chargers or game consoles. Every little bit helps, so unplug them to save energy.

5. Think outside the box. If you’re still feeling chilly at home, think of other ways to warm up—beyond dialing up the thermostat. Add layers of clothing, wear thick socks, and bundle up under blankets. You can even add layers to your home! If you have hard-surface flooring, consider purchasing an area rug to block cold air that leaks in through the floor.

If you’re taking steps to save energy but continue to see major increases in your bills, give us a call at (906) 884-4153 or visit the Energy Tips section on our website. Ontonagon REA’s energy experts can help identify factors impacting your home energy use and recommend next steps for savings.

Winter months often bring some of the highest energy bills of the year. By being proactive about saving energy, you can increase the comfort of your home and reduce monthly bills. Visit our website at Ontonagon.coop for additional energy-saving tips.

16 JANUARY 2023

Quick Tips to Avoid High Winter Bills 10

Looking to lower your bills this winter?

Use the 10 tips below to conserve energy.

Seal air leaks and insulate well to prevent heat from escaping and cold air from entering your home.

Reduce waste heat by installing a programmable thermostat.

Turn o lights when not in use.

Lower your water heater temperature. The Dept. of Energy recommends using the warm setting (120 degrees) during fall and winter months.

Unplug electronics like kitchen appliances and TVs when you’re away.

Open blinds and curtains during the day to allow sunlight in to warm your home.

Close blinds and curtains at night to keep cold, drafty air out.

Use power strips for multiple appliances, and turn o the main switch when you’re away from home.

Wash clothes in cold water, and use cold-water detergent whenever possible.

Replace incandescent light bulbs with LEDs, which use at least 75% less energy.

Source: U.S. Dept. of Energy

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Where In Michigan Is This?

The Reluctant Boy Scout

Inever considered Scouting until my father told me I was going to become one. My younger brother decided he wanted to be a Cub Scout and my dad figured I could be very useful keeping tabs on him. I really didn’t think it was for me, but I dutifully joined Troop 57 at the local school. This turned out to be one of the best things I have ever done.

I was a year older than most of the “Tenderfoot” Scouts, but I quickly qualified for 2nd and then 1st class scout and eventually became den chief for my brother’s pack. Our family was already into camping, and the Scouts camped several times a year at Rota-Kiwan in Texas Corners. There were canoe trips, jamborees, the Klondike Derby, and plenty of other events that I loved.

My best friend, Rod, was my assistant when I became the leader of Hawk Patrol. Eventually, my brother joined us, along with several other boys. Our Scoutmaster, Mr. Brown, was an outstanding leader, and several other parents were great mentors and teachers for all of us. In less than three years, I was a Life Scout working on Eagle when I was chosen to join The Order of the Arrow.

Scouting opened so many doors for my brother and me. Our record score and time in the 1964 Klondike Derby still stands! I was big for my age, and soon the other boys began to call me “Hoss” after the Bonanza character played by Dan Blocker. To this day, some of them still greet me that way when I see them. The camping, boating, swimming, crafting, first aid, and other skills I learned during those years still serve me well. I am so grateful that my parents decided to help me on my way to an experience I will never forget.

About The Author: James is retired from a career in the audio/video business. He was also a DJ for more than 40 years. He and his wife enjoy gardening, reading, listening to music, and spending time with their children and grandchildren.

They have performed recorded music at nearly 500 wedding receptions and parties, beginning in 1973. Nov./Dec.
2022 Winner! Our Mystery Photo winner is Leslie Miller, a Thumb Electric Cooperative member, who correctly identified the photo as Hartwick Pines Chapel in Grayling.
are announced in the following issues of Country Lines: January, March, May, July/ August, September, and November/December.
MI CO-OP Guest Column Guest Column Win $200 for stories published! Share your fondest memories and stories. Win $200 for stories published. Visit countrylines.com/community to submit. Mystery Photo Win a $100 energy bill credit!
Identify the correct
to win a $100 electric bill credit. Enter
18 JANUARY 2023
location of
photo above by Jan. 20
be entered into a drawing
your guess at countrylines.com/community
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Tour Dates: June 14-18, 2023

Travel to Washington, D.C., to explore monuments and museums, meet with a member o f Congress, and make lifelong friends with other students from across the country. You'll discover leadership lessons from our nation's history and be immersed in the cooperative spirit that built our nation, with all expenses paid by your local electric cooperative. Yeah, that's pretty amazing. Are you up for it?

Ontonagon County Rural Electrification Association ontonagon.coop /OntonagonCountyREA
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