Alger Delta July/Aug

Page 1

July/August 2020


COUNTRY LINES Alger Delta Cooperative Electric Association

Co-op’s Community Commitment


New Home For Ospreys Northwoods Poet


Harness the power of the sun... using the Earth.

Geothermal gives you the freedom to focus on life WaterFurnace geothermal systems provide reliable operation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year—rain or shine, day or night, windy or not. They use the stored solar energy in the ground to provide your family luxurious comfort and incredible savings. In fact, it’s the only HVAC system that’ll pay you back—and with the 26% federal tax credit1, now is a great time to switch to the Reliable Renewable. Contact your local WaterFurnace dealer today.

visit us at

Bad Axe B & D Htg (989) 269-5280

Caro Kozy Home Htg & Clg (989) 673-4328

Indian River M & M Plmb & Htg (231) 238-7201

Berrien Springs WaterFurnace Michiana (269) 473-5667 gogreenmich

Clifford Orton Refrig & Htg (989) 761-7691 sandusky

Big Rapids Stratz Htg & Clg, Inc. (231) 796-3717

Hart Adams Htg & Clg (231) 873-2665 adamsheating

Michigan Center Comfort 1/Aire Serv of Southern Michigan (517) 764-1500 southern-michigan Mt Pleasant Walton Htg & Clg (989) 772-4822

Muskegon Adams Htg & Clg (231) 873-2665 adamsheating Portland ESI Htg & Clg (517) 647-6906 Sunfield Mark Woodman Plmb & Htg (517) 886-1138

1. 26% through 2020 and 22% through 2021 • The Reliable Renewable is a trademark of WaterFurnace International, Inc.

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


July/August 2020 Vol. 40, No. 7



Michigan’s Electric Cooperatives

EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Casey Clark EDITOR: Christine Dorr GRAPHIC DESIGNER: 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: 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 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.


14 RECLAIMED: THE ART OF THE BARN Former Thumb resident Jim Boyle incorporates the magic of art to transform declining Port Austin barns.

Cover Photo: Tyler Leipprandt, Michigan Sky Media

6 GLOW IN THE DARK Erik Rintamaki shares the magic of Yooperlites. 10 MI CO-OP KITCHEN Celebrate the growing season with these scrumptious recipes featuring farm-fresh ingredients.


18 GUEST COLUMN Carol Higgins reminisces about the simple joys of her childhood community softball games.

A gorgeous repost from @mi.explorer: “A man practices the art of adventure when he breaks the chain of routine and renews his life through reading new books, traveling to new places, making new friends, taking up new hobbies and adopting new viewpoints.” —Wilfred Peterson, @mi.explorer (Ryan Peurach)

Be featured!

Use #micoopcommunity for a chance to be featured here and on our Instagram account.

To enter contests, submit reader content & more, visit





Up Next: Easy Recipes; Sauces, Dips & Dressings Share your favorite recipes.

Up Next: Wineries! Which is your favorite spot amongst the vines to sip Michigan’s world-class wines?

Submit your fondest memories and stories.

Enter a drawing to identify the correct location of the photo.

Win $150 for stories published!

Win a $50 bill credit!

Win a $50 bill credit!



Proud To Be Part Of Your Community Amanda Seger, Chief Financial Officer /algerdeltaelectric


District 1—Big Bay Darryl Small 906-345-9369 •

District 2—Harvey/Deerton Karen Alholm 906-249-1095 •

2020 has been a challenging year that many of us would like to forget and start over. The employees at Alger Delta Cooperative look forward to hosting the Annual Meeting in June each year. It gives us a chance to engage with our members and hear your encouragement and listen to your concerns. The Annual Meeting, due to unprecedented times, was held virtually and did not allow for us to have that face-to-face conversation we enjoy so much.

“We are proud to provide reliable, low-cost and safe electric service, and we do this with an average staff of 15 people.”

District 3—Grand Marais Mike Lawless 906-494-2080 •

Alger Delta has a long history, 83 years in fact. Looking all the way back to the formation of Alger Delta in 1937, several Yoopers from Trenary, Rock, and Perkins pulled together to bring electricity to their family farms. Their perseverance allowed them to obtain funding from the federal government and secure a power supply agreement at just over a penny a kWh. That same grit still exists today in the incredible staff at Alger Delta.

District 5—Gourley/LaBranche/Cornell Ivy Netzel 906-639-2979 •

Did you know that we provide electricity to about 9,500 residential properties and about 500 businesses spread across Upper Michigan? Our service territory now spans from Grand Marais to Big Bay, down to Menominee County and a good part of the areas in-between. We are proud to provide reliable, low-cost and safe electric service, and we do this with an average staff of 15 people.

District 4—Cedar River/Palestine Dave Prestin 906-424-0055 •

District 6—Nathan/White Rapids Paul Sederquist 906-753-4484 •

District 7—Stonington/Rapid River Kirk Bruno 906-399-1432 • District 8—Nahma/Isabella Ray Young 906-450-1881 •

District 9—Hiawatha/Maple Ridge Doug Bovin 906-573-2379 • HEADQUARTERS: 426 N. 9th St, Gladstone, MI 49837 906-428-4141 • 800-562-0950 Fax: 906-428-3840 •

Our small staff packs a big punch. We employ two veterans, retired volunteer firefighters and Big Brother Big Sisters volunteers, and we donate time and money to the Delta Animal Shelter, local Little League, Toys for Tots and Pink Power. We enjoy hunting, fishing, golf, a cold beer, and a nice glass of wine. Many of us enjoy spending time at our camps, riding ATVs and throwing a ball to our furry friends. As you can tell by these hobbies, many of the employees were born and raised in Upper Michigan, and we are lucky enough to be able to raise our families in the U.P. as well. Although we did not get to meet in person this year, we look forward to seeing you in June 2021 for our Annual Meeting. Next year when you see us, I hope you will share with us your experiences, hobbies, and most importantly, how we can better serve you!

OFFICE HOURS Monday–Thursday 7 a.m.–5 p.m. (EST) Alger Delta Cooperative is an equal opportunity provider and employer.



Alger Delta will be closed for Labor Day on Monday, Sept. 7. Payments may be made at the drop box or online at To report a power outage, please call 800-562-0950 or 906-428-4141.

Have a happy and safe holiday! MENOMINEE


A New Home For The Ospreys n previous years, we have had problems with a pair of ospreys building its nests atop of our energized power lines. This was problematic for Alger Delta as it could possibly compromise our distribution system.


In March of 2020, crews installed a 60-foot pole with a platform to deter the ospreys from building their nest atop the power lines. We are excited to report that the ospreys are loving their new home. The platform is located on US-2, east from Rapid River toward Garden Corners and nestled between the Fish Dam rivers. Installing a platform was the safest way to protect this bird species and the integrity of our distribution system, resulting in a win-win situation for the birds and the co-op.



Make aloe vera cubes.

Whether you’re nursing a sunburn or just wanting to cool off, aloe vera cubes will offer some relief. Simply fill an ice tray with aloe vera gel, freeze it, then place the cubes on your body’s pulse points, like the neck and wrists, for a quick cooling sensation.

Try a cooling pillow.

If you’re willing to spend a little, a cooling pillow can help you feel more comfortable on those muggy summer nights. Prices range from $27 (like Plixio Pillows) to $180 (like the Technogel Pillow), so you can determine how much you’re willing to spend.

Just add mint.

As summer temperatures continue to go up, there’s no need to let the heat get you down. There are several ways you can keep cool this summer—without wreaking havoc on your home’s air conditioner! Use these four simple life hacks to beat the summer heat.

Menthol makes our bodies feel cool, so by adding spearmint essential oil to products like body wash and lotion, you can get an instant cooling effect. Essential oils can be purchased at most drugstores or online.

Spend a few bucks on a handheld fan mister.

Sure, you may feel a little silly carrying around a tiny fan, but you’ll be more comfortable than everyone else—and they’ll probably ask to borrow it. You can typically find these at big box stores like Walmart or Target, or you can order one online.

The Magic of Yooperlites By Emily Haines Lloyd


rik Rintamaki has been walking the beaches of Lake Superior all of his life.

Rintamaki, now living in Brimley, grew up in the Upper Peninsula and spent pretty much every weekend or nice day on the beaches with his dad on the hunt for rocks. They spent most of their time searching for agate, a variety of quartz, popular with rock collectors or “rock hounds.” “I’ve always loved rock collecting,” said Rintamaki. “There’s something peaceful and soothing about it. Plus, spending time with my dad made it even more special.” But Rintamaki’s barometer for “special” was about to hit a whole new level. In 2017, while testing out a UV light he’d bought on eBay for eight bucks, Rintamaki noticed a few small stones lined with various patterns in bright fluorescent orange. He’d never seen anything like it, and at 4:30 a.m., he found himself racing home from Vermilion with the rocks to look them up online and see what they were.



However, he couldn’t find anything. And not just online. After Google failed him, Rintamaki started bringing his discoveries to rock and gems shows that he would attend to sell agate. “I took them to six or eight shows and showed them to probably 300 people I know there,” said Rintamaki. “And no one had any idea what they were.” A friend of Rintamaki’s in California asked for a couple of pounds of stones and finally determined that they were a variety of syenite sodalite. And it was the Michigan Mineralogy Project (MMP) that determined this was something that had never been discovered in Michigan before. In fact, the MMP credited Rintamaki with the discovery of the first verified sodalite deposits ever documented in Michigan in its May 2018 edition of The Mineral News. That was the beginning of Yooperlites. With the opportunity to name his discovery, Rintamaki was informed that most rocks were named after the location in

which they were found and had the suffix “ite.” While he considered some specific geographical names, Rintamaki finally hit on Yooperlite—a nod to the nickname for those from the Upper Peninsula. “I’m a Yooper,” laughed Rintamaki. “It just felt right.”

“It’s like unlocking a secret with these stones. They may look like nothing special, but under just the right conditions—magic!”

Rintamaki, who is also a lapidarist (rock artisan), started taking his Yooperlite findings and grinding them into shapes and spheres and selling them to rock collectors. But it was when he struck on the idea to take other people out on rock collecting tours that his joy of identifying Yooperlites hit another level. “It was only my second tour and as I was showing everyone how to shine the lights and look for Yooperlites that I asked if folks would let me know if they saw something, so I could record it.” It was Shirley Klemmer who shouted out first and Rintamaki ran over to take some video. He posted it online that evening when he got home. By the time he woke up the next day, the video had gone viral. Rintamaki’s rock tour Yooperlites Facebook page, which had only 26 likes prior, had since propelled to more than 14,000. “People were just so excited by the Yooperlites,” said Rintamaki. “All of a sudden I’m doing tours weekly, taking out hundreds of folks from all over the world.” Tour groups from as far away as Japan have come to take Yooperlite tours and bring home the unique rocks for their collections. Rintamaki jokes that each tour is the same, where people slowly find one rock, then another and by the end, Rintamaki has to tear them away from the beach in the search for “just one more.” What is it about these plain grey rocks that are really nothing special until you shine a UV light on them? “It’s awesome to watch people discover Yooperlites,” said Rintamaki. “It’s like unlocking a secret with these stones. They may look like nothing special, but under just the right conditions—magic!”

Visit to check out Rintamaki’s web store and sign up for the newsletter to get updates on tours. You can also follow Yooperlites on Facebook and Instagram.



Your Board In Action At its most recent meetings, the Alger Delta Board of Directors took the following actions:

April • Given the COVID-19 pandemic, the board of directors met virtually for its April meeting. • A presentation was made by the auditor, expressing an unmodified opinion with no findings. The audit was approved by the board. • The board authorized a 100% allocation of margins to the members. • Secured PPP funds to maintain staffing levels during the pandemic. • Increased the cooperative debt limit, which has not been increased in several decades. • Reviewed the COVID-19 response plan and measures the cooperative is taking to safeguard its employees, members, and the public. • Reviewed the financial statements for February, along with current long-term debt.

May • The board opted for an in-person board meeting held at the Alger Delta office with the option to attend virtually. • A presentation was made by Eide Bailly to review the IRS Form 990. Form 990 was approved for filing by the board. • The Alger Delta board opted into the Michigan LowIncome Energy Assistance Fund program for the 2020/2021 fiscal year.


• An official notice was approved for the virtual Annual meeting held on June 10, 2020. • Board members heard a presentation from the CFO regarding the first-quarter financials, liquidity, and cash flow. • The operations manager discussed the return to construction work and the upcoming projects for the summer months.

June • The Annual Meeting was held virtually via Zoom. Board President Prestin installed the new directors. º District 5 – Ivy Netzel º District 7 – Kirk Bruno º District 8 – Ray Young • Immediately following the Annual Meeting, the board held its reorganizational meeting, electing the following officer positions for the 2020/2021 year. º President – Dave Prestin º Vice president – Mike Lawless º Secretary – Doug Bovin • Committee assignments were selected for the two standing committees, Finance and Rates, and the Policy Committee.

RECYCLE THAT OLD REFRIGERATOR. An outdated refrigerator uses nearly twice as much energy as a new ENERGY STAR® certified model. Recycle it and earn cash incentives!







SCHEDULE A FREE PICK-UP. V I S I T: C A L L : 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

Brian’s mother, Dorothy, on a trip to Florida in 1996.

Guest Column

Mother’s Turn To Drive

By Brian Maki, Alger Delta Cooperative member


or generations and generations, men have always been the providers. It is in their DNA to provide food and shelter, to work and make money. Men are very proud and honored by this fact (including my father, Albert). Until the end of the 1950s, men were the breadwinners, while women stayed home, tended to their children, and kept up the home. My mother, Dorothy, is one of those people of that generation. But in this unique story, a generational shift takes place right before my eyes in the backseat of a 1970s American Motors Corporation (AMC) red Eagle Sedan—a moment when my mother took the reins from my father as the provider and took control of the ship. We went on a late summer trip to Lansing, Michigan, to visit relatives. My father, being his usual self, would never let anyone else drive the car—no matter how tired he felt. During the trip home, I noticed that his hands were shaking, and I knew his blood sugar was low. While turning onto I-75 north, my father drove into the wrong exit. I remembered the backward speed signs as we headed up a small, winding hill. “Dad,” I shouted, “We are going the wrong way. Turn around.” “We are fine, son,” he responded, “The road is clear.” Suddenly, a semi-truck appeared in his field of view. It was coming fast over the peak of the hill, right straight at us, and the truck started laying on its horn, loud and crisp. My father swerved to the right and ended up putting the AMC into the dirt. He grabbed his chest as the dust cleared. My mother said nothing. Not a peep. “Here, you drive us home,” he said to her. He gave her the keys. This was a huge moment in their relationship. My father never gave in. He would always argue, fuss, and fight over everything. On that day, he had lost control. I quietly clapped for my mother in the backseat. It was my mother’s turn to drive. “Okay, I will,” she said. My mother got into that driver’s seat and never looked back. In fact, she drove on many other occasions and trips over the years, while my father read the paper or took a nap. I loved it.

Brian next to his family’s AMC red Eagle Sedan.

I loved the fact that my father was man enough to let his wife do some work, to have some control. It actually made my mother and father’s relationship that much stronger, more loving, and more understanding than ever. I felt proud that my mother became the provider, the captain of the ship. I mean, really, I wanted to see a balance between them. As a 10-year-old boy who witnessed such an event in the backseat of a 1970s AMC red Eagle Sedan, it was a smooth exchange of power. The moral of the story: The exchange of power is real, powerful, and leaves a strong impression. But just remember this fact: Everything works out in the end. It always does.

Brian Maiki is in his 25th year of adult education, teaching technology classes to people from all walks of life. He enjoys writing for his tech blog and exploring the U.P.



MI CO-OP Recipes

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


TABLE Farm-Fresh Seasonal Recipes


TERRIFIC TOMATO SOUP Deb Finedell, Great Lakes Energy

3 4 ½ ½ 2 • ½ ½ 2 2 • ½ ¼ •

pounds fresh, ripe tomatoes cloves garlic, peeled onion, diced red bell pepper, diced tablespoons olive oil salt and pepper to taste teaspoon dried basil teaspoon dried oregano cups chicken or vegetable broth tablespoons fresh herbs (basil, parsley and/or oregano) fresh basil & parsley for serving cup heavy cream, optional cup parmesan cheese, optional for garnish croutons, optional

Preheat oven to 450 F. Wash and cut tomatoes. For smaller, apricot-sized tomatoes, cut in half. For larger tomatoes, cut into quarters or eighths. Place tomatoes, garlic, onion, bell pepper, olive oil, salt, pepper and dried herbs on a large sheet pan. Roast 25 minutes, stirring after 15 minutes. Turn oven to broil and broil 3–4 minutes or until some of the tomatoes get a little bit of char color on them. Bring broth to a boil; add tomatoes and fresh herbs. Using a hand blender or immersion blender, blend mixture until smooth and creamy. Add heavy cream if using and stir. Top with parmesan cheese, croutons, or a drizzle of heavy cream. Watch a video of this month’s winning recipe at


Win a


energy bill credit!


Easy Recipes due August 1 Sauces, Dips & Dressings due September 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 for more information.

GARDEN GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICH Deb Finedell, Great Lakes Energy 1 1 • 2

fresh egg, any size tablespoon canola oil cracked black pepper, as desired slices artisan-style bread (or one of your choice) 2 tablespoons butter, room temperature 1–4 ounces sliced or shredded Gruyere cheese (or cheese of your choice) 1 cup fresh arugula, rinsed and dried Fry the egg in a preheated (medium heat) nonstick skillet with the oil, breaking the yolk after the whites have

begun to set, if desired. Cook to desired opaqueness. Set aside and sprinkle with pepper. In the same skillet, with the heat slightly reduced, place a slice of bread with one side buttered (butter side down). Top with two or three slices, or about an ounce and a half, of cheese. Top the cheese with the arugula and cooked egg. Add more cheese if desired. Top with the remaining slice of bread; one side buttered and facing up. When the bottom slice of bread is browned to your liking, gently press down on the sandwich. Gently flip the sandwich, careful not to allow the fillings to spill out.

CARAMEL APPLE CHEESECAKE Erica England-Hoffman, Great Lakes Energy Crust: 2 cups flour ½ cup packed brown sugar 1 cup butter, softened Filling: 3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened ¾ cup sugar 3 large eggs 1½ teaspoon vanilla Apples: 3 apples, peeled, cored & finely chopped ½ teaspoon cinnamon

Topping: 1 cup packed brown sugar 1 cup flour ½ cup oats ½ cup butter, softened • jar caramel sauce Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 9x13 pan with aluminum foil, then spray with cooking spray. In large bowl, combine all crust ingredients and press into pan. Bake for 15 minutes. Combine filling ingredients and pour over warm crust. Combine apple ingredients and pour on top of cheesecake filling. Combine topping ingredients, except caramel sauce, and sprinkle over apples. Bake for 40–45 minutes, until filling is set. Drizzle with caramel sauce and let cool.

“CURRY UP” 2 ALARM PORK ROAST Mike Lavens, Presque Isle

3–3.5 pound boneless pork sirloin tip roast/boneless pork loin roast 2 tablespoons garlic powder, divided 4 tablespoons curry hot spices (Kashat)* 2 tablespoons poultry seasoning 1 teaspoon cayenne red pepper* • salt and white pepper 2–3 tablespoons olive oil ½ large sweet white onion, diced 12+ baby carrots, cut in half 1 jalapeño pepper, cut to liking (slice in half, then cut up)* 2 stalks celery, cut into small chunks • jar of beef gravy Preheat oven to 230 F. Sprinkle pork with 1 tablespoon garlic powder. Combine the curry, poultry seasoning, and cayenne in a small bowl and mix. Sprinkle mixture onto all sides of the pork. Season with salt and white pepper. Pat meat to gently rub everything in. Wash hands. Heat oil in a 9- to 10-inch cast iron (or ovenproof)

skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Brown roast on all sides, then remove to a plate and set aside. Add onion, carrots, jalapeño, and celery to pan and sauté, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to brown. Add remaining 1 tablespoon garlic powder and beef gravy. Deglaze pan by adding splash of water to empty beef gravy jar and pour into pan. Cook 2 more minutes. Place roast on top of vegetable/gravy mixture. Insert an oven-safe, instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the meat and place in center of oven (or check temperature after 2 hours). Cook until instant-read thermometer’s internal temperature reaches 145 F (about 2.5 hours). Bump up oven temperature to 260 F if meat is not at 145 F after 2 hours for 10 minutes and recheck temperature. Remove roast from oven when temp reaches 145 F and tent with foil. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving with vegetables and gravy over top. Serve immediately with carrots and gravy. *Adjust spices/heat to individual preference. MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES


Northwoods Poet By Yvonne Whitman

The Gift of Goals and Pretty Toes By Carol Oberg

I sit on the dock and God puts a square of sunlight on my creaseless forehead. He pushes the wind so the lake water gently brushes warm ripples on my toes dangling freely, pretty with the nails painted pink. I lean back on my palms holding in my proud head every kindness I have given others each shiny goal my diligent hard work has won me. A dark cloud suddenly blocks the glorious sun a flash of lightning strikes too close for comfort and when the thunder roars I fall without grace down on my knees drawing blood and wooden slivers that sting as I stumble away, running for my life.

“ I believe everyone can be a poet. I know how I want to write and will continually work towards that end. With a handful of words or pages of them, I want to create poetry that draws others into a new place to see people they may or may not know and hear a story that gives the reader something to think about–which is what good writing does.”

Carol with her granddaughter Emma, who is also a budding poet. Emma’s work was recently published in the Louisville Review.

n the shores of Gooseneck Lake, in the beautiful Hiawatha National Forest, award-winning author and poet Carol Oberg has found the perfect place to let her thoughts freely flow onto the page. Oberg, a native of Escanaba, developed an appreciation for words at a young age. “I loved language when I was growing up and visiting the Carnegie Library was my favorite thing to do,” she said. While she always enjoyed writing, it wasn’t until 1981 that she really devoted herself to it. “I just had an overwhelming urge to really apply myself, so for three years, I spent every day writing short stories,” she recalls. “Much of what I wrote went into the trash, but then I finally wrote a story that I thought was fairly good, and I sent it to Redbook’s Young Writers Contest.” While the story did not garner an award, “The comments in the incredibly kind handwritten rejection letter gave me enough encouragement to make me think ‘I guess I can write,’” she said.


Shortly after that, she wrote her husband an anniversary card. It reminded her of a certain style of cards she had often admired in stores, and she decided to take a leap of faith and send it to Blue Mountain Arts, Inc., a greeting card company. The company published the card and Carol still recalls the first time she saw one of her cards in a Hallmark store. “I excitedly said to the clerk, ‘I wrote this card!’” She remembers thinking to herself, “Well, if I did it once, I can do it again.” And she did. Since then, the company has used about three dozen of her poems on greeting cards, anthologies, and calendars, purchasing the copyright for many of them, and selling them worldwide and in other languages. In 2009, her husband retired, and the couple built their lakeside retirement home. High school sweethearts who are now approaching their 45th anniversary, Carol says her husband Ron has always been incredibly supportive of her writing. “He built me the most amazing writing studio.

It’s just perfect,” she said. The space inspired her, and she began submitting her poetry to various literary publications. “My first big break was when I sent a few poems to Ancient Paths literary magazine. I was one of three poets selected to be a featured writer in their annual magazine, where 10 of my works were published. From there, it just grew,” she says. Her work has been published in numerous literary journals and magazines, and she is a regular contributor to The Avocet, a Journal of Nature Poetry. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Award and was the recipient of the 2018 Heart Poetry Award. In 2019, she submitted a 60-page manuscript of poetry to Clare Songbirds Publishing House in central New York. Her work was so well-received that the publisher contracted with Carol to publish her first book of poetry, titled “Crawling Down the Alley to Easy Street.” She does not follow a schedule but instead writes when she is inspired to do so. “It comes out of nowhere,” she says. “While some of my poetry is personal, much of it comes from things I have read, witnessed, or heard from the everyday stories of people’s lives. Words and the endless ways they can connect have been my lifelong fascination.” “I believe everyone can be a poet. I know how I want to write and will continually work towards that end. With a handful of words or pages of them, I want to create poetry that draws others into a new place to see people they may or may not know and hear a story that gives the reader something to think about—which is what good writing does.” For more information, visit featured-authors/carol-oberg.



American Gothic and Walden

Hygienic Dress League | Steve and Dorota Coy Unlike the other installations in the project, the Ziel Barn is still a working structure. Owners Hank and Jeannette Ziel donated their barn for Hygienic Dress League (HDL) to paint. In nostalgic barn advertising style, including a take on Grant Wood’s famous ”American Gothic,” HDL created two sides of ads for an imaginary corporation that produces nothing. It is a commentary piece that sparked plenty of conversations, like any provocative art. Left: American Gothic. Photo by Tyler Leipprandt. Right: Walden. Photo by Justin Schnettler

An art scene is emerging in the small, waterfront town of Port Austin in Lower Michigan’s Thumb area. And it’s emerging in a way that is totally unexpected and larger than life. While driving the meandering roads of the Thumb, you can’t help but notice the many barns peppering the landscape. Most of them look like relics from a bygone era, which in some ways they are. Jim Boyle, a former Port Austin resident, now works for a foundation in the Detroit area and has been deeply involved in the city’s art scene. His parents still live in the Thumb, and while visiting them years ago, he noticed the turn-of-the-century barns starting to lose in the undeclared war with nature. As the traditional family farm saw a decline, the story of struggle and hanging on by a thread, or rather a beam, was all too metaphoric in the barns. Once majestic, utilitarian structures, these barns were beginning to look all too often like abandoned dreams or livelihoods. “You can’t help but make the connection to these beautiful barns and how just over a hundred miles away, Detroit has 14 JULY/AUGUST 2020

seen similar structural loss,” said Boyle. As a member of the arts community, Boyle had intimate knowledge of how art has the ability to transform what might otherwise be forgotten. After 10 years with the Detroit Institute of Art and as the co-founder of a gallery— Public Pool—Boyle understood how art could help build up a community. It started with a lofty goal—artistically modify 10 barns in the Port Austin area in 10 years. Boyle reached out to the art community in Detroit, and the farm and local community in Port Austin. He made the connections and hoped to watch the magic happen. “Like any large installation project, it is a million moving pieces and gets away from you fast,” said Boyle. The project, which started seven years ago, has artfully transformed three barns in Port Austin. While the number of projects shrunk, the scope and scale of these installations have had a big impact both in the community and on the visual landscape. Boyle urges those both local in Port Austin and beyond to take the drive and prepare to marvel.

Celestial Ship of the North Scott Hocking

The second barn, donated by Bill and Lorraine Goretski, was likely one big storm from coming down. Ultimately, it was the artist/storm of Scott Hocking who came in, dismantled the 1890s barn and re-raised it in a totally new form. The ship-like “ark” stands over 55 feet tall in the fields of M-53 and begs viewers to stare and ponder if anything is ever just one thing. Photo by Justin Schnettler

Secret Sky Catie Newell

Catie Newell is an architect by day and artist by night. She revamped her barn, donated by Michael Schoenhals, using her architectural knowledge. By creating a unique “cut-out” through the barn’s center and shoring it up with beams and tension rods, Newell essentially saved the structure, while creating an artistic peek into the soul of these architectural giants. Wonderfully complicated by day and lit majestically by night, Newell’s barn blends the practical with the magical. Photo by Tyler Leipprandt

Ultimately, Boyle notes that there is no shortage in interest from Detroit artists. With three projects to reference, Boyle hopes that the community organizers can now point to these installations to encourage additional involvement, fundraising, and more barn projects. It’s a lofty mission with big dreams for future growth. However—for a project of this scope—“lofty” seems just about the perfect size.

For information visit or MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES


Take Control

Of High Summer Bills By Derrill Holly


e expect summers to be hot, but most of us do all we can to keep our homes as comfortable as possible, even as outdoor temperatures edge thermometers upward. When it comes to electricity, each of us has the power to help control our costs, we just have to make thoughtful choices to make energy savings pay off in dollars and cents. Look toward the west. If you don’t have trees, a porch overhang, or awnings shading windows exposed to afternoon sun, there’s a good chance radiant heat could be driving up indoor temperatures and adding to your overall cooling costs. Window coverings can help. Blinds or shades can deflect intense sunlight, and draperies lined with a thermal radiant barrier can block up to 95% of sunlight and 100% of ultraviolet rays. Comfort and cooling are easier to maintain when we take advantage of airflow. A ceiling fan can pull warm air up above your living zone, making a difference during summer months. The evaporative effect of circulating air blowing across our skin makes us more comfortable, but that benefit completely disappears when we leave the room, so turning fans off in unoccupied rooms will save energy. You can save money and electricity by time-shifting some of the most energy-intensive activities away from peak 16 JULY/AUGUST 2020

energy use periods that normally occur during the hottest hours of the day. Cooking, doing laundry, and using power tools can increase both heat and humidity inside your home, making it harder to reach or maintain a comfortable temperature. Remember, controlling energy costs will always work better with buy-in from everyone in the household. • One open window anywhere can be like an uncapped chimney, pulling the conditioned air you pay to cool outside. • A gaming system, computer or big-screen television left on but unwatched produces nearly as much heat as it does when it’s in use. • Lighting and ventilation fans add convenience and provide benefits when they are needed, but when left on and unattended, they use energy. • A bag of ice poured into a cooler will chill summer beverages as effectively and less expensively than an aging refrigerator in a hot garage. Your co-op may also offer energy audits or additional information that can help you identify and correct problems that might be contributing to higher bills and increased energy use in your home.


Festivals & Fairs 1. Ready to ride! My niece, Penny, age 2, is ready for the 4th of July parade. Kendra Turpeinen  2. Connor had been crying, and this horse put her head over the door and nuzzled his head. He turned and patted the horse on her nose. Elsa Green  3. As the world spins, keep your feet firmly on the ground. Mandy Schram  4. Swing carousel full of riders. Ian Gabriel




Share Your Photos!

Alger Delta invites members to share their amazing photos. Selected photos will be published in Michigan Country Lines.


Upcoming Photo Topics And Deadlines: Michigan’s Natural Beauty, due July 20 (September issue) Beautiful Birds, due August 20 (October issue) Cute Pets, due September 20 (Nov./Dec. issue) To submit photos, go to We look forward to seeing your best photos! MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES 17

MI CO-OP Community

Guest Column

The Old Ball Games

By Carol Higgins, Midwest Energy & Communications member


was born in 1954, the oldest of eight. We didn’t go many places together, but my parents taught us the value of hard work. Our farm family lived over five miles from the nearest town, but only a quarter of a mile from our community church. It was the center of my social life. I took advantage of the fact that I could usually get out of chores if there was something going on at church. On Sunday evenings in the summer, we’d go to the “drive-in” church where the slogan was, “Come as you are and worship in your car.” But my favorite summer activity was Monday night softball at the drive-in church field which was complete with a backstop and bases.

score, but that wasn’t the main focus. We all left feeling like winners.

The tomboy in me couldn’t wait to finish supper on Mondays, grab my ball glove, and ride my bike to the church field. Up to two dozen neighbors might gather to play, plus a few spectators. We’d quickly form teams and play until dusk. Our Monday night games were multigenerational and coed. Everyone from five to over 50 played. Everyone got to bat. No one under 10 was allowed to strike out! What a boost to my confidence and self-esteem.

Those games and some softball at recess were all I had since schools didn’t offer the sport for girls until after I graduated from high school. Now, over five decades later, I’ve watched grandchildren move from tee-ball to little league, and on to middle and high school teams competing for top place in their league. I cheer them on from the sidelines. It’s all very structured and competitive. But I’m not convinced it’s as much fun as the informal, Monday night games in the farming community where I grew up.

Neighbor Bill would often pitch and had the patience of a saint. Some young batters would swing and miss multiple times. When those of us under 10 swung and finally made contact with the ball, everyone cheered. “Safe!” cried the spectators who served collectively as the unofficial umpire. Getting to first base was a major feeling of success even if it was sometimes “rigged” by slow fielding, wild throws, or dropped balls. We usually kept

Win a


energy bill credit!

Carol is a retired teacher, coach, and B&B operator. She still substitutes and serves on several boards. She enjoys gardening, biking, kayaking, walking, reading, singing, environmental activism, volunteering, and working on becoming a wiser naturalist. A fun fact about Carol is that she and her husband, Larry, once sang “Ode to Joy” with an international choir in Carnegie Hall, New York.

Where In Michigan Is This? Identify the correct location of the photo on the left by July 30 and be entered into a drawing to win a $50 electric bill credit. Enter your guess at May 2020 Winner! Our Mystery Photo contest winner from the May issue is Carol Knight, a Thumb Electric Cooperative member, who correctly identified the photo as the Fayette Historic Townsite near Garden, Michigan, in the Upper Peninsula. It’s a great place to see and learn the history of the iron-smelting days. Photo courtesy of Kelli Marshall. Winners are announced in the following issues of Country Lines: January, March, May, July/August, September and November/December.



FIREWORKS SAFETY TIPS Fireworks and summer go hand in hand, and we want you to have a safe, fun-filled season! Keep these safety tips in mind:

Make sure fireworks are legal in your community before using them. Never buy professionalgrade fireworks. They are not designed for safe consumer use. Keep small children a safe distance from all fireworks, including sparklers, which can burn at temperatures in excess of 2,000 degrees. Never reignite or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose nearby to thoroughly soak duds before throwing them away. Keep pets indoors and away from fireworks to avoid contact injuries or noise reactions.

Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.