COUNTRY LINES Great Lakes Energy Cooperative
RECLAIMED THE ART OF THE BARN
Truestream Update Report Your Outage With Just The Click Of A Button
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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 email@example.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.
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.
MI CO-OP COMMUNITY
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)
Use #micoopcommunity for a chance to be featured here and on our Instagram account.
To enter contests, submit reader content & more, visit countrylines.com/community
MI CO-OP KITCHEN
BEST OF MICHIGAN
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!
MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES
Elect GLE’s Board Of Directors—
Your Vote Counts!
Bill Scott, Great Lakes Energy President/CEO
/greatlakesenergy /jointruestream BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Mark Carson, Chairman, District 2 01950 Anderson Rd., Boyne City, MI 49712 231-675-0561 • firstname.lastname@example.org Robert Kran, Vice-Chairman, District 6 7380 N. Tuttle Rd., Free Soil, MI 49411 231-464-5889 • email@example.com
Paul Schemanski, Secretary, District 1 5974 Stolt Rd., Petoskey, MI 49770 231-439-9079 • firstname.lastname@example.org Larry Monshor, Treasurer, District 4 1541 Thumm Rd., Gaylord, MI 49735 989-370-2786 • email@example.com
Howard Bowersox, Director, District 8 23779 8 Mile Rd., Stanwood, MI 49346 219-670-0977 • firstname.lastname@example.org Paul Byl, Director, District 7 9941 W. Buchanan Rd., Shelby, MI 49455 231-861-5911 • email@example.com Richard Evans, Director, District 3 11195 Essex Rd., Ellsworth, MI 49729 231-883-3146 • firstname.lastname@example.org
Dale Farrier, Director, District 5 2261 Wheeler Lake Rd. NE, Kalkaska, MI 49646 231-564-0853 • email@example.com John LaForge, Director, District 9 7363 Walters Rd., Delton, MI 49046 269-623-2284 • firstname.lastname@example.org PRESIDENT/CEO: Bill Scott 888-485-2537
f you’re a Great Lakes Energy member in districts 3, 4, or 5, please read about the candidates inside and cast your vote with the attached mail-in ballot. For all other members, your opportunity to vote will come in 2021 or 2022.
Every co-op, whether it’s your credit union or a farm co-op, follows the basic principle of one member, one vote. Most often, you are asked to vote to elect fellow members who will represent you on the board of directors. These folks are your friends, neighbors, and fellow residents of your community. Simply cast your vote from the comfort of your home and drop the postage-paid ballot in the mailbox. Voting is that simple and convenient. If you lose or accidentally throw away the ballot, contact us and we’ll send you another one. Members vote for the director once every three years. In my case, I’m a GLE member in District 1, so I will not be voting this year. Part of the value of being a cooperative member is that you, the member, not Great Lakes Energy staff or board members, determine who serves on your board to make decisions for your cooperative. As a member of a democratically controlled cooperative, you play a vital role in shaping the way your co-op is run. You can run for a board seat in your district, you can sign another candidate’s nominating petition, or you can simply vote. Every member’s vote carries equal weight. Whether it’s a business with several owners or a small home with a single owner, each has one membership and one vote. In the case of a husband and wife, their joint membership entitles them to one vote. The nine directors on the board are elected from each district for a three-year term. Co-ops believe in the power of human connections and encourage your participation in the board election. If you live in districts 3, 4, or 5, please exercise your right to vote. It’s the cooperative difference.
COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR/EDITOR: Lacey Matthews 231-487-1316 • email@example.com
1 Beaver Island
BOYNE CITY HEADQUARTERS 1323 Boyne Ave., P.O. Box 70 Boyne City, MI 49712
Change of Address: 888-485-2537, ext. 8924 Great Lakes Energy is an equal opportunity provider and employer.
4 JULY/AUGUST 2020
Hours: 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m. M–F Phone: 888-485-2537 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org To report an outage, call: 1-888-485-2537
Districts By County 2020 ELECTION District 3 Antrim County District 4 Crawford, Montmorency, Oscoda, and Otsego counties District 5 Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Manistee, Missaukee, and Wexford counties
Truestream Update G
reat Lakes Energy (GLE) has announced plans to begin exploring the expansion of its Truestream high-speed fiber network in its Hart, Newaygo, and Wayland service areas, which primarily cover rural areas in Allegan, Barry, Kent, Lake, Mason, Muskegon, Oceana, Ottawa, and Newaygo counties. Expansion of the Truestream network would bring highspeed internet and voice service to rural areas served by GLE electric service. The expansion is divided into three phases:
Phase 1 is the fielding and planning phase. This began in May in the Hart service area and will move south to the Newaygo and Wayland service areas. During the fielding process, we will visit approximately 35,000 locations in our Hart, Newaygo, and Wayland service areas to collect data, including the type of residence, pole information, and other data related to infrastructure. This data helps us determine the feasibility of expanding Truestream, including mapping out infrastructure needs and how to get the fiber lines to membersâ€™ homes.
Phase 2 is the construction of the fiber network. The information gathered during the Phase 1 fielding process, including a proposed budget and map of the mainline fiber route, will be presented to the board later in 2020 for approval. If approved, the construction of the fiber network will start in 2021. This construction process
can be labor-intensive because it involves running the fiber line along the underground and overhead electrical lines.
Phase 3 is when homes and businesses are connected to the Truestream network. Depending on the time frames of phases 1 and 2, we expect to begin connecting homes and businesses in 2022. The Truestream fiber network delivers speeds up to 1 Gig (symmetrical for upload and download), massive bandwidth, unlimited voice services, no data caps, and no contracts, allowing residents to work from home and have access to online education, in addition to streaming, gaming and much more. The service will also be available to businesses. Monthly pricing starts at just $59.99/month for residential accounts. Vacation plans are also available for up to six months per year. Truestream offers customers the ability to stream TV services, but does not directly provide TV service. The Hart, Newaygo, and Wayland service districts were selected based on several factors, including having the highest amount of interest from registered members on jointruestream.com.Â Construction fees are subject to change and may apply. If construction for your area is completed before you register your interest in Truestream, a $149 installation charge will apply. Visit jointruestream.com for construction timelines. Business and vacation plans are available; eligibility is required.
Please visit jointruestream.com or call GLE at 888-485-2537 to register your interest.Â Find out the project status of each service area by visiting jointruestream.com.
MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES
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 yooperlites.com 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.
MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES
Out With The Old; Spring For The New t’s time to start planning that summer yard sale you’ve been talking about, which means numerous trips to the basement and garage to sort through boxes of clothes, dishes, and paperback books. While you ponder over those old bowling trophies, take a closer look at the “extra” refrigerator standing in the corner. It’s been great for storing the overflow of soda cans, water bottles, and holiday leftovers over the years, but if it’s older than 15 years, it may be costing you more than $300 per year to run it!
Cash incentives are available for the following: Appliance Type
Pick-up or Ride-Along Item
Refrigerator (Full-size, 10 cubic feet or larger)
Chest Freezer (10 cubic feet or larger)
• An older refrigerator uses twice as much energy as a new ENERGY STAR® refrigerator.
Window Air Conditioner
• Recycling old refrigerators prevents refrigerants and foam from entering the environment, preventing 10,000 pounds of carbon pollution.
Cold, Hard Facts • More than 60 million refrigerators and refrigeratorfreezers in the U.S. are over 10 years old, costing consumers $4.4 billion a year in energy costs.
Money In Your Pocket Ready to save? Recycle your old refrigerator. Schedule a free pick-up for your outdated, functioning appliances and earn some cool cash incentives from the Energy Optimization program.
LOOKING TO SAVE?
Replacing your refrigerator or freezer with a new efficient ENERGY STAR appliance might also qualify you for additional rebates. Visit michigan-energy.org or call 877-296-4319 for additional energy-saving information and incentives.
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!
DEHUMIDIFIER (RIDE ALONG ITEM)
WINDOW AIR CONDITIONER (RIDE ALONG ITEM)
SCHEDULE A FREE PICK-UP. V I S I T: michigan-energy.org 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 michigan-energy.org.
GREAT LAKES ENERGY
Festivals & Fairs 1. Fourth of July Shenanigans!—Michelle Seelye, Boyne City 2. Tulip time in Holland— Judi VanderBie, Mears 3. Curious cow at the Kalkaska County Fair—Alicia Erickson, Mancelona 4. Howell Balloon Festival—Alisha Gray, Hart 5. Kalkaska Fair 4-H Rabbit Show—Tyler Honeycutt, Fife Lake 6. Tons of fun!—Beth Fiedorowicz, Comstock Park
Most votes on Facebook!
4 Enter to win a
energy bill credit!
Submit Your “Beautiful Birds” Photos!
Each month, members can submit photos on Facebook or our website for our photo contest. The photo with the most votes is published here along with other selections. Our July theme is Beautiful Birds. Photos can be submitted by July 20 to be featured in the October issue.
How To Enter: Enter the contest at gtlakes.com/events. Make sure to vote and
encourage others to vote for you, too. The photo receiving the most votes will be printed in an issue of Michigan Country Lines along with other favorites. All photos printed in the magazine in 2020 will be entered to win a $200 bill credit in December 2020. MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES
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 micoopkitchen.com/videos
10 JULY/AUGUST 2020
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 micoopkitchen.com 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
Congratulations To Our Winners! Thanks for your ongoing support of the People Fund. Maurice Byrnes, Hersey David Fisher, Tustin James Golnick, Grayling Bryan Green, Muskegon The Otsego Conservation District is just one of the many local organizations helped by the People Fund.
Joseph Tickle, Pentwater Richard Walsh, Mancelona
Be A People Fund Winner id you know we award $100 billing credits to Great Lakes Energy members who support the People Fund? Six winners are randomly selected twice per year.
rounded-up amounts, which average less than 50 cents a month, are used to award grants to local charities and community groups such as food pantries, senior citizen centers and youth programs.
Several generous People Fund supporters recently became winners. See the list of members on this page (above right) who received a $100 bill credit.
Gifts are provided by Great Lakes Energy and do not involve the use of any People Fund round-up money.
Current People Fund supporters and any member who becomes a People Fund contributor before the next drawing on Dec. 1 are eligible to win.
Don’t miss your chance to be the next winner! Visit gtlakes.com/people-fund to sign up today.
People Fund contributors allow Great Lakes Energy to round up their electric bills to the nearest dollar each month. The
POWER THAT IS CLEAN AND AFFORDABLE
DID YOU KNOW OVER 60% OF THE ENERGY WE PROVIDE IS CARBON-FREE? LEARN MORE BY VISITING GTLAKES.COM
Power. Purpose. You.
Unlikely Friends By Michelle Isenhoff, Great Lakes Energy member
meal, I’d found him to be both engaging and quick-witted. hat’s Mr. Edwards,” murmured the head waitress He requested my section the next time he came in, and as an elderly gentleman seated himself in my we resumed our dialogue, using a unique mixture of lipsection. “He’s hearing-impaired.” New to the job, reading, improbable signs, and scribbled I whispered back, “How do I take his notes. He soon becomes one of my order?” “He points to the menu—and favorite customers. he reads lips,” she said. “A genuine smile and
a kind word—written
Over the next four years, Mr. Edwards I was a college student living in Grand or spoken—can make and I wrote our way through a truckload Rapids at the time and had never of order pads. I often sat with him interacted with anyone with a hearing a connection. They can during my breaks. He added variety and disability before. Apprehensively, I break down walls. They laughter to my workday, and I believe my approached his table and mouthed can touch a heart. They’re friendship provided a bit of music in his my greeting with extra deliberation. He indicated his choices, and I left. silent world. Though I moved away after never given in vain.” graduation and we lost touch, I never The awkward exchange took less than forgot what that experience taught me. a minute. That was the first of many A genuine smile and a kind word—written or spoken—can meetings I’d have with Mr. Edwards, and I soon came to make a connection. They can break down walls. They can hate the impersonal nature of our contact. So I vowed to make some changes. touch a heart. They’re never given in vain. The next time he came in, I gave him a bright smile and a wave. Ripping a page off my order pad, I wrote, “Hello, Mr. Edwards. That’s a beautiful sweater you’re wearing. Where did you get it?” I left the note, along with an extra pen. When I returned to take his order, I read his response and jotted down another question. We exchanged notes each time I passed his table, and by the time he finished his
Michelle is a substitute teacher and author with over 20 published novels. She enjoys gardening, reading in a hammock, and kayaking with her kids and dog. She has also biked nearly 8,000 miles of Michigan roads over the last six summers!
MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES 13
RECLAIMED THE ART OF THE BARN By Emily Haines Lloyd
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 portaustinart.com or facebook.com/portaustinart. MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES
RIGHT TREE, RIGHT PLACE 50' 40' 30' 20' 10' 0'
Trees are the primary cause of blinks and outages on GLE’s system. Brush growing near power lines hinders a repair crew’s ability to get to damaged lines quickly and adds to the outage time. Keeping power lines clear of trees and brush is essential for safe and reliable electric service. To achieve greater reliability for our members, GLE’s Vegetation Management department performs routine maintenance of trees and vegetation on our more than 11,000 miles of overhead line.
You can also help by making sure the trees and brush planted on your property are clear of the power line right-of-way. Our tree planting guide above helps you determine the right tree, for the right place, to keep your electric service safe and reliable.
Visit gtlakes.com/general-information to learn more about our Vegetation Management program.
REPORT YOUR OUTAGE... CALL 1.888.485.2537
Use the GLE Mobile App OR
Log in to your account online OR
Please do not report your outage on social media, which is not monitored 24/7.
What’s Up With Capital Credits? Allocation vs. Refund
Capital credits can be confusing, we’re here to make it clearer.
What are capital credit allocations? A capital credit allocation is a reflection of your share of any margins (profits) Great Lakes Energy earns from the previous year. This amount appears on your June bill and is based on the amount of electricity you purchased during the past calendar year. We keep track of your allocations and refund these to you over time as financial conditions allow. Refunds are issued separately and later in the year. What is a capital credit refund? A capital credit refund refers to the actual funds you receive in the form of a check or bill credit when the GLE board of directors determines the cooperative is financially healthy enough to issue refunds. Your refund amount is based on your capital credit allocations from prior years. Refunds are typically issued each December and are usually different than the allocation amount shown on your June bill since they may correspond to multiple years. They are also different because GLE retains some of the capital credits to keep the co-op running. (See next question.) What do you do with the capital credits that you haven’t returned yet? Capital credits remain part of the
capital investment in the cooperative so we can continue to build and improve our power line distribution system and provide other services that you expect from your cooperative. Retaining and using this equity for a period of time—rather than borrowing from lenders—helps GLE keep costs lower, which ultimately benefits members.
Why are capital credits important? One benefit of being a member of a cooperative is that all Great Lakes Energy assets, including the poles and the wires, are owned by you. This also means you are entitled to a share of the margins (profits), which are returned to you in the form of capital credits. More than $71.9 million in capital credit refunds have been returned to members since 2003.
Information For All Members Of Great Lakes Energy Cooperative Your cooperative offers a program called the People Fund, which is funded through the voluntary rounding up of your monthly utility bill to the next whole dollar. An all-volunteer board of directors appointed by the member-elected board of Great Lakes Energy Cooperative distributes the funds throughout the cooperative’s service area. The fund supports charitable efforts in and around the communities we serve. Money from the People Fund has been distributed to educational programs, medical groups, recreational organizations serving all ages, senior organizations, and numerous other local charities. A copy of the most recent People Fund annual report, which details contributions, is available by contacting Great Lakes Energy, and prior year reports are highlighted in previous issues of Michigan Country Lines magazine. Your participation in the People Fund is voluntary. If at any time you wish to discontinue participation in the People Fund, please let us know and we will make the change. If you are participating, your monthly bill is rounded up to the next whole dollar. If your bill is $58.42, it would be rounded up to $59. The 58 cents would then be contributed by Great Lakes Energy Cooperative on your behalf to the People Fund. A member’s average annual contribution is about $6. Your annual contribution to the People Fund is tax-deductible and is reported on your monthly statement at the end of the year. For additional information regarding the People Fund, contact the co-op office by mail or call 888-485-2537.
MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES 17
MI CO-OP Community
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
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 countrylines.com. 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.
EVERY MEMBER HAS A VOICE. TOGETHER THEY WORK IN HARMONY. Every electric co-op member has a say in electing a board member. Co-op management does not select or appoint directors, so itâ€™s up to you, the member, to vote or run for election. Power to the people, from the people. Doesnâ€™t that sound good? Learn more about your Great Lakes Energy Board of Directors and the election process at gtlakes.com/board-of-directors/.