Cherryland July/Aug 2020

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July/August 2020


COUNTRY LINES Cherryland Electric Cooperative

Learning Through The Pandemic


Can Alexa Save You Energy? Meet Our 2020 Scholarship Recipients


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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)

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To enter contests, submit reader content & more, visit





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CO-OP NEWS /cherrylandelectriccoop @cherrylandec BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Tom Van Pelt, President 231-386-5234

David Schweitzer, Senior Vice President 231-883-5860 Gabe Schneider, Secretary 517-449-6453 Melinda Lautner, Treasurer 231-947-2509 Terry Lautner, Director 231-946-4623 John Olson, Director 231-938-1228

Jon Zickert, Director 231-631-1337 General Manager: Tony Anderson Co-op Editors: Rachel Johnson, Rob Marsh

OFFICE HOURS Monday–Friday 7:30 a.m.– 4 p.m. TELEPHONE NUMBERS 231-486-9200 or 1-800-442-8616 (Mich.) ADDRESS P.O. Box 298, Grawn, MI 49637

Cherryland Contributes $50,000 To Help Small Businesses Affected by Pandemic

In June, the co-op announced that it is contributing $50,000 to a regional grant program aimed at helping small businesses affected by the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Cherryland board voted to give to the Regional Resiliency Fund (RRF), a joint program of local economic development organization, Traverse Connect, and their partner organization, Venture North, that provides grants to small businesses in Benzie, Grand Traverse and Leelanau Counties. The RRF is designed to support businesses with nine or fewer full-time employees in the three-county area negatively impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. These businesses can apply for grants up to $5,000.

Members Learn About Electric Vehicles, Rebates On Co-op Website Are you interested in going electric for your next car, but still have questions? Cherryland’s website is your hub for everything related to EVs. Learn about EV ownership, calculate fuel cost and CO2 savings, check out the latest EV models on the road, and more. And if you are ready to buy, Cherryland offers rebates for the purchase of electric vehicles and charging stations. For more information, visit our website at

Co-op Offers Suite Of Solar Programs For Members

Interested in going solar? Cherryland offers a suite of solar programs designed for those who want to support renewable energy with their cooperative. The suite includes community solar, net metering, and buy-all, sell-all programs. Whether you want to cover your annual energy costs or use the clean energy you generate, there is a solar program for everyone! To learn more, visit our website at

Members Earn Rebates With Energy Efficiency Upgrades

Cherryland members are eligible to receive rebates for energy efficiency upgrades in their homes or businesses. Common upgrades include replacing incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs and purchasing Energy Star qualified appliances. For a guide to our residential rebate program and a complete listing of rebates available on Energy Star qualified appliances, visit our website at

PAY STATION Cherryland Electric Cooperative office 5930 U.S. 31 South, Grawn MI, 49637 Cherryland Electric Cooperative is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

CHERRYLAND OFFICE CLOSED LABOR DAY The Cherryland office will be closed Monday, September 7, in observance of Labor Day. Normal business hours will resume Tuesday, September 8. Line crews are on call to respond to any outages or emergencies. You can report an outage by texting OUT to 800-442-8616, logging into SmartHub, or by calling us at 231-486-9200. Visit our website’s Outage Center for more details.


“Ultimately, the best thing we could do for our members was what we have always done—keep the lights on, operate safely and control costs.”


Tony Anderson, General Manager


s we went deeper and deeper into the pandemic, it was common to talk about the BC (before corona) days like they were so far in our past. We were inundated with executive orders, test counts, safety measures, press briefings, stimulus bills and many more issues by the hour. To be honest, it was a stressful time as our daily routines were blown up and our local economies shuttered. Personally, I just wanted to rewind and go back in time. Obviously, it wasn’t possible, so I settled for happy thoughts about the great BC era. I don’t have the best view out my office window, but it has always been an impactful one. I can sit in my chair and watch cars streaming into Traverse City on Highway 31 from Interlochen, Benzie County and other locations to the west. For my 17 years at Cherryland, these vehicles have represented the lifeblood of our region to me. They are the construction workers, factory employees, waitresses, clerical staff and so many other blue-collar jobs that make our local economies vibrant. I couldn’t see the stream of cars dry up because I was working from home. What was happening to all the nameless, faceless drivers was a constant stress on my mind. I wasn’t as worried about my co-workers because we were deemed essential. While simply inconvenienced with new working arrangements, our paychecks never stopped. I became increasingly frustrated with my inability to help our members. Sure, we extended our disconnects, dropped billing penalties, relaxed payment arrangements and lobbied

legislators. It just never felt like enough. In a storm, I can call for extra help and throw bodies at the problem. This storm saw every utility fighting the same battle at the same time. Ultimately, the best thing we could do for our members was what we have always done—keep the lights on, operate safely and control costs. So, everyone at Cherryland put their heads down and went to work on our simple everyday mission. I no longer look back to the BC period. I’m over it. Our economy will eventually rebound, but those days will never come back. We need to make the AC (after corona) period even better by learning from our pandemic experience. Was it a blip in our history or a turning point to something better? Can we make something good out of all the suffering? Can we take the lessons learned and provide better service? There are more questions than answers at the moment, but the stress is gone because we have once again taken control of our situation by focusing on our mission of member service. Some employees may continue to stay at home. Others may see a 40-hour week go from five days to four. Video meetings may replace travel in some cases. More investment in technology may be necessary. The list goes on from there. We owe it to every member to not waste this experience. Every employee at Cherryland is up to the task. I am excited to see where we will be one, two and three years into the AC period. Whenever the trickle of cars becomes a river once again, your cooperative will be stronger, better and more driven to provide each member the service they deserve.



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.





efore this year’s virus protection measures turned business meetings and family gatherings into smartphone conference calls and videoconferences, your electric appliances jumped on the bandwagon of internetconnected energy. Surveys show about one in four American adults owns a smart speaker or technology like the Amazon Echo, Google Home or Apple HomePod. Now we can just ask Alexa or Siri to tell us the weather or how to save money on our electric bill. Appliances you control from your phone aren’t just luxury items anymore, says Brian Sloboda, director of consumer solutions with the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.


About one in four American adults owns a smart speaker or internet-connected device like Amazon Echo, Google Home or Apple HomePod. Now, we can ask Alexa or Siri to tell us today’s forecast or how to save on our monthly energy bills. Photo Credit: Amazon

“Two years ago, when you would buy a smart appliance, you were really buying a high-end product. Now they’re in the middle,” he says. “More and more appliances are smart, and they have come down in price. It’s everything from light bulbs you screw into your table lamps, to your microwave, to your washing machine, to your thermostat that you can control through a voice assistant or apps on the phone.” All those internet-connected devices can not only make you more energyefficient but can help you take advantage of your electric service in various ways.

“ More and more appliances are smart, and they have come down in price. It’s everything from light bulbs you screw into your table lamps, to your microwave, to your washing machine, to your thermostat that you can control through a voice assistant or apps on the phone.”

“My washing machine sends me an email every month telling me how much electricity it has used,” Sloboda says. “It gives me tips on how to save energy. It suggests I could wash the clothes in cold water to save energy. It will gently tell you that rather than washing a small load, it’s more efficient to let the clothes accumulate.”

Sloboda says smart thermostats offer some of the biggest potential energy savings. Heating and cooling are among a home’s top energy users, and high-tech thermostats are getting easier to use and more innovative. These days, they not only can change temperatures set for daytime or nighttime but can track your phone as you leave the house or move from room to room, figuring out your habits and making adjustments based on your lifestyle. Sloboda sees the future of smart technology getting even smarter. He says electric co-ops and other utility groups are involved in studies where people describe their values to their apps and speakers. If saving money is the most important thing to you, your lights might dim in a part of the room you’re not using. If comfort is your top priority, the temperature will stay within a certain range. For those especially concerned about the environment, the dishwasher might delay its start until renewable power is available because the sun is shining or the wind is blowing. Along with all those mind-blowing benefits comes the need for precautions. The first safety step Sloboda advises is to change the password on any of those devices. Every one of them comes with a ridiculously-easy-to-crack password like “1234” or “Password.” Check regularly for software

updates and install them—they often add protections from the latest cyberthreats. In addition to security, also pay attention to privacy. Many interactions with the internet will collect information on you. A smart speaker is listening to everything that goes on in your home all the time. Reading all those tiny-type agreements before you click “accept” might seem like an unrealistic pain, but they generally will tell you what kind of protections are in place to keep your personal information private. Sloboda also recommends getting involved in online communities about your internet devices, so you can know more about privacy, security and how to make the best use of your smart technology. “All of these devices generally have some sort of online community for people to engage in and learn from each other,” says Sloboda. “Folks love talking about their devices, whether it’s a car or a doorbell. People love talking about technology, and they love showing off the things they’ve figured out.” He even sees high-tech as a way to bring people closer as they make better use of their electricity. “We sometimes look at smart technology and we think it is meant to isolate us, but you can really turn it around and go to in-person meetups or engage online to share tips and tricks,” says Sloboda. “I am a real big believer that technology can actually bring us together.”



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


Guest Column

Recalling Cherryland’s Bay Valley Adventures By Margy Goss, Cherryland Electric Cooperative member

his story took shape because I wanted to write about our three sons and their unique adventures summering along the shores of East Grand Traverse Bay. Looking back, I realize it chronicles our family’s evolution in this community spawned by the bays. This saga started in 1973 when we bought a 100-by-600foot shoreline lot nestled at the end of a peaceful Acme Township valley with cherry orchards on the surrounding hills. This land purchase set our course until my 2004 retirement from teaching. We advanced from no power in 1973, a rented pop-up camper, shoveled poop holes behind a bush, and baths in the bay or a sun-warmed tubby on the beach ... to being powered by extension cords across 200 feet from our nearest neighbor.


We built our original 16-by-24-foot cottage on a cement slab in 1974, after securing electric power from Cherryland Electric Cooperative. We sank a well that would serve our eventual “dream home,” which evolved by 2004. Every weekend we trampled down the gradual 12-foot embankment with cut-in steps to explore the everchanging shore. We’ve seen low- and high-water cycles and experienced infinite changes in the shoreline for as far as you can walk north or south. Low-water sandbars and lagoons were so much fun for our little ones and enabled bountiful beachcombing. The high water is a mixed blessing: Shorter docks are safer and easier, but water erodes banks and sand covers firepits. Eventually, someone else gets your sandy shores! Watching the sunrise above the eastern top of our valley, I can tell you about the beautiful orchards that once dotted the hillsides. Embedded in the humming morning stillness, I recognized the sounds of farm machinery, already hard at work, cultivating the ripening cherry crop. Annual cherrypicking excursions into the orchards turned into pitting parties with watering hoses and kids or adults covered with sticky cherry juice stains. An old-fashioned u-shaped bobby pin made a great pitter. A swim solved all sticky problems. My determination to give homemade jam at Christmas kept me making jam all summer, from strawberry and raspberry seasons, until the cherries ended. And the longer 12 JULY/AUGUST 2020

we waited to get the sours, the sweeter the jam got! If we sound like “fudgies,” it’s okay. Without resistance, the boys and I loaded into the van after the last day of school in June to head north until Labor Day. All summer, our sons joined with local boys who lived above and around us. Most of the kids had dogs who appeared to have developed a special relationship that we joked about. The first dog to show up was Dutch, the “ambassador,” who welcomed all and was the friendliest red-golden retriever you ever met. He lived next door to Missie, the “juvenile delinquent” golden retriever who raided garbage on trash days. Further to the south lived Aspen, who was an intimidating but harmless old German shepherd; he preferred to stay home to question trespassers. A young Newfoundland named Barney arrived on a chain leash, dragging his young master. We called him the “sergeant at arms,” as his presence established some focus to the gathering if only to avoid getting tangled in his chain. Harry, the old, deaf patriarch next door was the “judge,” observing everything impartially. Cherry and Blacky, lab mixes, lived on the northern hilltop at the gateway to the valley; they provided “valley security,” chasing all entering or exiting vehicles. Britty, our miniature poodle-Brittany mix, was the “mayor,” always checking on or correcting who was where in the pecking order; he lived with us and a cat named Frankie. In our valley by the bay, the animals and boys thrived and became enthusiastic, confident adventurers. It’s been a full circle for my husband and me since we were both born at Traverse City Munson Hospital, grew up here and dated in high school, at Northwestern Michigan College, and through Michigan State University. During college, we yearned for the water and were fortunate to find this valley we have loved. For us, this was the “bucket list” we returned to fill!

Margy is a special education teacher at Grand Traverse Academy High School. She is a lifelong learner and can’t seem to stay retired—she loves to see kids thrive! She also enjoys hiking the shoreline north to a favorite destination called the “brown bench.”


SCHOL ARSHIP RECIPIENTS High School Scholarship Recipients

ABIGAIL is a graduate of Traverse City Christian as valedictorian with a 3.99 GPA. BROWER School She is enrolled at Cornerstone University

and plans to double major in prephysician’s assistant and psychology. Brower will also be playing softball for the Cornerstone Eagles. She then hopes to attend The Graduate School at Grand Valley State University to obtain a license as a physician’s assistant, specializing in pediatrics. Her career goal is to provide medical and social care for younger people, with intentions of traveling across the globe to serve people in need.

the class GARRISON isvaledictorian Elk Rapids WAUGH for High School’s

class of 2020. He has held several leadership positions in his time at Elk Rapids, including class president and president of the National Honor Society. In addition to his studies, he participated in soccer, ice hockey, and rowing while attending Elk Rapids. In the fall, Waugh will be attending the University of WisconsinMadison to pursue a degree in computer science and potentially another STEM field. During this time, he will also be a member of the men’s rowing team.

2020 graduate of Elk Rapids High School, TANNER ashasabeen dual enrolled at Northwestern Michigan College (NMC) for the past three years and has MCLEAN, completed several Advanced Placement classes

giving him a head start on his college career. He also participated in marching band, varsity bowling, robotics and National Honor Society. McLean was recently nominated to the Lake Michigan All-Academic Team and inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society at NMC. He is grateful to Elk Rapids for providing such great opportunities for success. McLean plans to attend NMC for two years then transfer to Michigan Tech to complete a degree in robotic/mechanical engineering.

Adult Scholarship Recipients

MADISON is a rising HERTEL junior studying the

B.F.A. musical theatre major at Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York. She was hired to work at the Glimmerglass Festival in various operas this summer before their cancellations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the coming fall semester, Hertel will be an assistant choreographer for the college’s mainstage dance concert. After earning her degree, she plans to move to New York City to pursue her career as a theatre artist.

JACOB is working toward an information technology degree at Northwestern Michigan TABER infrastructure College (NMC). He is an Eagle Scout and enjoys assisting local community organizations. Tabor loves computers and helping others with technology problems. Before he attended NMC, he acquired several information technology certifications. Upon graduation, Tabor plans to work for an information technology company where he can further improve his skills and help the company grow through great customer service and leadership.

Learn more about Cherryland’s scholarships at



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.

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Festivals & Fairs 1. “As the world spins, keep your feet firmly on the ground” by Mandy Schram  2. “Manistee Forest Festival” by Andrea Kissel  3. “Ice sculptures at T.C. Winter Festival” by Kim Glew  4. “Buckley Old Engine Show exhibit” by Ann Kennedy  5. “Swing carousel full of riders at the National Cherry Festival in 2019” by Ian Gabriel

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Submit Your “Beautiful Birds” Photos!

Submit your best photo and encourage your friends to vote! The photo receiving the most votes in our Facebook contest will be printed in an issue of Country Lines along with some of our other favorites. Our July/August theme is Beautiful Birds. Photos can be submitted through July 20 to be featured in our October issue.

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To enter the contest, visit or visit cherrylandelectriccoop and click “Photo Contest” from the menu tabs. Enter your picture, cast your vote, and encourage others to vote for you as well. If your photo is printed in Country Lines during 2020, you will be entered to win a credit of up to $200 on your December 2020 bill. 16 JULY/AUGUST 2020



Notification About Cherryland Cares A

rea nonprofit agencies seeking financial help can apply for a grant through Cherryland Cares.

This program distributes funds to local nonprofit organizations seeking assistance. Cherryland Cares is overseen by a fivemember board that reviews grant applications and allocates funds to nonprofits seeking assistance. Cherryland Cares is funded through Operation Round Up—the voluntary rounding up of one’s monthly electric bill to the next whole dollar amount. A member’s average annual contribution is approximately $6. Your annual contribution to Cherryland Cares is reported on your monthly statement in December. Participation in Operation Round Up is voluntary and may be discontinued at any time. All grant information is highlighted in Michigan Country Lines and on Cherryland’s Facebook page. The deadline for third-quarter applications is Friday, September 4. For additional information regarding Cherryland Cares, please call Shannon Mattson at 231-486-9234 or email

Find Your Place In The Sun Renewable energy is important to you. It’s important to us too. That’s why we’re proud to offer our renewable energy program. Designed to help members meet their renewable energy goals, the program offers an array of solar energy options to fit your needs. Start small by getting a solar panel subscription for $10 a month, or go big by building solar generation of your own, in which case we’ll buy the output from you. Either way, we’ve got you covered. Visit or give us a call at 231-486-9200 to find out what option is right for you.

Your Board In Action May Board Meeting The board welcomed Nicola Philpott, a candidate in the board election, to the beginning of its meeting. Every year, candidates are encouraged to meet with the board during one of its meetings to ask questions about Cherryland and cooperative board governance. Cherryland’s 2019 net margins were reviewed. The total amount of last year’s margins to be assigned and allocated to members is $4,340,771. The co-op’s member relations manager reported to the board data from an ongoing member survey regarding outage response and communication. On a five-point scale, members using outage text alerts to stay informed about outages gave an average satisfaction rating of 4.8.

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

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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.


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