COUNTRY LINES Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op
Communities First Fund Awards $17,561 In Local Grants
RECLAIMED THE ART OF THE BARN
AMI Update High School Students Receive $10,500 In Scholarships
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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
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MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES
COVID-19 And The New Normal
Tom Sobeck, President & CEO
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Charles Arbour, Treasurer 23899 M32 S, Hillman MI 49746 989-657-4358 • Term Expires: 2020
Allan Berg, Chairman 1117 E. Heythaler Hwy., Rogers City, MI 49779 989-734-0044 • Term Expires 2020 Sandy Borowicz, Secretary 5341 Carlson Rd.,Cheboygan, MI 49721 231-627-9220 • Term Expires 2021
John Brown 21 W. Devereaux Lake Rd., Indian River, MI 49749 231-625-2099 • Term Expires 2020 Sally Knopf 1849 W. 638 Hwy., Rogers City, MI 49779 989-734-4196 • Term Expires 2021 Kurt Krajniak , Vice-Chairman 7630 Wallace Rd., Alpena, MI 49707 989-884-3037 • Term Expires 2022 Brentt Lucas 15841 Carr Rd., Posen, MI 49776 989-766-3678 • Term Expires 2022 Daryl Peterson P.O. Box 54, Hillman, MI 49746 989-742-3145 • Term Expires 2021 Raymond Wozniak 6737 State St., Posen, MI 49776 989-766-2498 • Term Expires 2022 President & CEO: Tom Sobeck email@example.com
Communications Director/Co-op Editor: Maire Chagnon-Hazelman Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op 19831 M-68 Hwy., P.O. Box 308 Onaway, MI 49765
Business Office & Billing: 989-733-8515 Toll-Free: 800-423-6634 Gas Emergency Toll-Free: 800-655-8565 PIE&G natural gas rates and charges are not regulated by the Michigan Public Service Commission. Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op is an equal opportunity provider and employer.
CHEBOYGAN PRESQUE ISLE
4 JULY/AUGUST 2020
ver the past few months, I’ve found myself thinking, “I wonder how we’ll have to do this now?” Many tasks that were once routine have changed dramatically as we’ve adapted to the COVID-19 crisis. To be perfectly honest, I miss my old, boring routines. Part of my frustration is realizing that I can’t control the definition of the “new normal.” It will be up to each of us to make the best of it, and we may be surprised as we develop new, possibly better ways to accomplish tasks, even if initially they seem more difficult or challenging or just different from our old ways. The new normal means several things for us at PIE&G. Our employees have made many changes to perform their work—daily health screenings and temperature checks are now required, and many other tasks that were once routine now require extra steps and precautions, including social distancing and wearing of PPE. Routines and traditions have necessarily been revised or postponed, or may perhaps need to be done in a completely new way altogether. One such tradition is our Annual Meeting. Unfortunately, the prohibition against large gatherings for the foreseeable future is now the new normal, and many events have already been cancelled or remain uncertain for 2020, including the reopening of schools, our normal meeting venue. Your board of directors is currently reviewing possible alternatives to the traditional format of our Annual Meeting. This decision will not be an easy one, but the board recognizes the need for a contingency plan and options are being considered. A decision will be made in the coming weeks to allow for proper planning and notice to members. Simultaneously with our COVID-19 adaptations, we’re also proceeding with existing projects, which, as I mentioned earlier, will eventually improve our new routine at PIE&G. Site preparation for the new headquarters building is progressing nicely, and we’ve selected a vendor to implement our Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) project (see page 13 for the article, “Modernizing our Aging Power Grid for the 21st Century”). Both are exciting projects with ample opportunity to make us a stronger and more effective organization. So, instead of feeling anxious about our unknown future, I’ve decided to accept the challenges and embrace the opportunities presented by our new normal with an open mind and open arms. I may even find myself wondering, “How did we ever manage to do this before?”
Your Board In Action At its most recent meetings, the PIE&G Board of Directors: • Authorized capital credit retirements in the amount of approximately $1,345,000.
• Accepted the 2019 audit report of the PIE&G Communities First Fund by SOME CPAs.
• Set a special member regulation board meeting date for June 23 at 9 a.m. to be held by teleconference.
• Appointed the 2020 Board of Directors Nominating Committee.
• Approved a Paycheck Protection Program loan application. • Authorized CEO Sobeck to submit a pledge to comply with the moratorium on shut-offs until June 1 imposed on regulated Michigan utilities by the Michigan Public Service Commission. • Approved a temporary suspension (two years) of Board Policy 203 to withhold up to $1,000,000 in capital credits received from Wolverine Power Cooperative to assist in cash flow and ease the need for long-term debt during the construction of the new HQ Building and Service Center.
• Authorized CEO Sobeck to execute contracts for the construction of the PIE&G Headquarters Building and Service Center at a guaranteed maximum price of $21,746,190. • Authorized CEO Sobeck to execute contracts with Vision Metering and OATI to deploy an Automated Metering Infrastructure (AMI) system within PIE&G’s service territory. • Discussed the need for potential alternative Annual Meeting formats in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. • Accepted team reports.
PIE&G Communities First Fund Awards
$17,561 In Local Grants Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op members continue giving generously through their voluntary round-up of change on their electric and natural gas billings to assist area community organizations and individuals. These member contributions to the PIE&G Communities First Fund enable grants and scholarships in their local communities within PIE&G’s service area. At recent meetings, the PIE&G Communities First Fund Board of Directors finalized the review of applications. It made awards of $17,561 in grants and scholarships to the recipients below and on the back cover.
Alpena County Sheriff’s Office ($1,361), toward the purchase of a portable, inflatable boat and related rescue equipment for the Alpena City Fire Department. The boat, commonly referred to as a “banana boat,” is stored on fire rescue trucks and inflates in less than a minute. It has the capacity to carry two personnel and at least one victim. Having the banana boat on hand will improve response times, and it will be available to assist other local fire departments during emergency ice-water rescues.
Cheboygan County Veterans Memorial Park ($2,500), to assist with the Cheboygan County Veterans Memorial Park Improvement Project. A small group of volunteers are working to improve the Veterans Memorial Park on Court Street in Cheboygan. The project started in 2018, and the design includes monuments, benches, sidewalks, and landscaping to enhance the park’s appearance. The park will honor all veterans that made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. The funds awarded will be used to assist with the costs of tablet footings or sidewalks.
Atlanta Area Little League ($1,500), to purchase one of three scoreboards as part of their ball field upgrades. The little league is planning to improve the fields by adding three scoreboards and a set of bleachers, and installing an irrigation system at one of the fields. Hillman Community Schools ($1,000), to assist with the purchase of percussion instruments for the Hillman Elementary beginning band. The school reinstated its band program two years ago for K-12 students and purchased wind instruments to develop the elementary beginning band program. The next
Cheboygan County Veterans Memorial Park improvements were made with the help of PIE&G’s Communities First Fund.
phase of development to grow the elementary band is to purchase percussion instruments. Due to the cost, maintenance expense, and storage requirements of actual snare drums, the school will instead purchase percussion instrument sets. One set includes a pair of drumsticks, a practice pad, and a stand for the practice pad. The band program’s goal is to purchase 35 percussion sets, or enough for an entire class to use them and play at the same time. New Beginnings Ministries ($500), to purchase food for the all-volunteer Hillman Area Resource Pantry (HARP). The Feed the Hungry project at HARP has served 15,993 meals in the last year and over 94,725 meals during the previous five years to people in need of assistance in the county.
Voices Without Borders ($200), for the purchase of choir music. Voices Without Borders draws students from all over northern Michigan and is comprised of two choirs: the Great Lakes Youth Choir, whose members are students from Cheboygan, Pellston, Harbor Springs and Petoskey; and the Treble Choir, comprised of younger children from Cheboygan, Indian River, Harbor Springs, Petoskey, Charlevoix, and Alanson. 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
Small-Town Calumet Electronics Has
BIG IMPACT By Emily Haines Lloyd
“Rugged” is a word that people in the most northern regions of the Upper Peninsula hear frequently. It’s a characteristic that is put to the test on a daily basis. But in the time of COVID-19, this is a characteristic that allows folks to not only survive but thrive. Calumet, Michigan, was once the center of copper mining activity in the Keweenaw Peninsula. After World War I, the demand for copper decreased, taking much of the industry, jobs, and people out of the area. When Calumet Electronics opened its doors in 1968, it had a mission to bring new business life to the area. Its purpose was to create local, familysustaining jobs. Today it is the area’s largest private-sector employer. Calumet Electronics designs, builds and delivers printed circuit boards (PCBs). These circuit boards are used in energy grids, life support systems, medical devices, avionics, aerospace and defense markets. It’s a source of pride that while Calumet’s boards are found in products all over the world, they are manufactured entirely in Michigan. 8 JULY/AUGUST 2020
“Circuit boards aren’t exactly ‘sexy,’” said Dr. Meredith LaBeau, process engineering manager. “But we believe in this area, the lifestyle it can provide, and the people who make it their home. We are proud to create jobs that allow people to build lives here.” A secret recruitment weapon in Calumet Electronics’ back pocket is a “little” technological school nestled in the woods less than 15 miles away— Michigan Technological University in Houghton. With engineers in multiple disciplines graduating every year, the efforts to both groom and recruit from the university take a lot of effort and input. “Ultimately, we’re trying to keep the talented people who have fallen in love with the area—in the area,” said LaBeau.
HITTING THE NATIONAL STAGE
Audra Thurston (right), a process engineer, represents Calumet Electronics, the IPC (Association Connecting Electronics Industries), and the domestic electronics industry at the White House, advocating for workforce development while telling the Calumet Electronics story.
While Calumet Electronics was busy working to balance its small-town way of life with providing world-class technology, it was jarred along with the rest of the world by the onset of COVID-19.
Todd Brassard, vice president and chief operations officer. “What would this mean for our employees and their families? But when the first RUSH order came in for the ventilator PCB, we knew we had a part to play in the fight.”
Calumet Electronics has produced PCBs for hospital ventilators for some time. It was an area of its business that was suddenly a piece of equipment that would have life-saving implications in the fight against COVID-19.
The importance of PCB manufacturing is undervalued. However, with Calumet Electronics’ products suddenly a vital part of the COVID19 battle, employees suddenly had new purpose and a very concrete way to grasp how one little circuit board could have a huge impact.
As individuals contracted the virus, and their symptoms went from fevers and trouble breathing to needing machine-assisted breathing provided by ventilators, production gained national attention. While many businesses have found themselves closed down and unable to engage in even daily activities, Calumet Electronics found the opposite. “When the COVID-19 hit, we were uncertain like everyone else,” said
Problem-solving, which is the backbone of engineering and manufacturing, was put to task as production quickly ramped up to full capacity. Calumet Electronics was not only pushing to produce more ventilator PCBs, but to maintain schedules and production for products of other clients, whose functions are similarly essential, like the PCBs they produce for power grids.
To say it was an all-hands-on-deck situation may be an understatement. What started as an effort to increase manufacturing by 15% quickly exceeded that and hit an increase of 39%. This meant all employees in the trenches, including folks who were more likely to be in client meetings and behind monitors, were suddenly on the production floor. “Fundamentally, we’re built for this kind of ‘all in this together’ scenario. We have hard-working, family- and community-focused people,” said Brassard. “At a really uncertain time, it feels good to be able to help, in whatever way we can.” It’s amazing that in the middle of a crisis that is focused on maintaining physical distance from one another, it is a small-town business with a tight-knit mentality that is able to show that solidarity doesn’t need to be about proximity.
“Fundamentally, we’re built for this kind of ‘all in this together’ scenario. We have hardworking, familyand communityfocused people.” —Todd Brassard
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
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!
WINDOW AIR CONDITIONER
(RIDE ALONG ITEM)
(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.
Modernizing Our Aging Power Grid For The 21st Century:
IE&G is committed to providing our members with electricity that is both reliable and affordable. To continue doing that, we must make improvements to bring our aging power grid into the 21st century. Utilities across the nation are facing a similar challenge, and we want to keep our members updated on what these next upgrades will entail.
Yes, less expensive. We are continually searching for ways to minimize our costs, and AMI provides opportunities to do that. In addition to faster outage response, AMI can obtain readings without having to “roll a truck,” (that is, dispatch an employee in Onaway to drive to locations across PIE&G’s nine-county service area to obtain in-person, on-site meter readings).
One of our technology improvements is Automated Metering Infrastructure (AMI), which involves installing upgraded meters at homes and businesses that are wirelessly connected to PIE&G.
AMI also provides a daily summary of your power consumption, which means we can quickly answer questions and help you to resolve concerns or questions you may have. This information can be particularly helpful for those with seasonal accounts and will allow us to provide you with immediate feedback and a quick summary of consumption patterns.
Why do we need that? Because it allows us to serve you better and in a more cost-efficient way. How so? For one, faster outage response and restoration. Local forests have suffered diseases and invasive species in recent years, making them more prone to damage, especially during northern Michigan’s high winds and storms. As a result, more dead, diseased or dying trees are coming down onto power lines, causing widespread outages to occur more often. AMI allows us to identify homes and businesses that lose power immediately. This is especially valuable when nobody is home, or when the service is in a second home, cottage or hunting camp. We can use the AMI information to improve outage management and response, to give our members the most up-to-date information regarding estimated restoral times and to reduce expenses by optimizing resources during restorations. In short, AMI means we can diagnose and pinpoint the locations of outages on the grid and plan for more efficient restoration efforts, which in turn allows us to better serve you with more reliable, less expensive power.
We’ll be updating you with future articles about our efforts to better serve you in the 21st century. Our goal is to empower you—with both energy and information. We thank you for the opportunity and privilege to serve you.
“AMI means we can diagnose outages and plan for effective restoration efforts, which in turn allows us to better serve you with more reliable, less expensive power.” —Tom Sobeck, PIE&G CEO
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
Photos by Mairè Chagnon-Hazelman
Cheboygan County Fair A Family Fun Tradition For More Than 145 Years By Heidi Spencer
here can Michiganders find family-friendly summer fun, including a tractor pull, a large children’s petting zoo, pony rides, lawnmower races, food vendors and a Ferris wheel? All can be enjoyed at the Cheboygan County Fair, a community tradition for more than 145 years! It’s held at the Cheboygan County Fairgrounds the second week of August each year, but unfortunately, the 2020 fair was canceled due to the coronavirus. The fair is set to return next year from Aug. 7–14, 2021. Now established as one of the state’s premier county fairs, the festival enjoys more than 25,000 attendees each summer from all over the country. “Expect a great time at a professionally-operated carnival with one of the best safety ratings in the nation,” explained former Cheboygan County Fair Board President Ron Williams. Located near the beautiful Cheboygan River, the fair features carnival rides, traditional fair food, and a PIE&G-sponsored petting zoo, as well as heart-pounding grandstand activities to keep the adrenaline flowing, Williams said. The Cheboygan County Fair also boasts a variety of equestrian events, a mud run, monster trucks, and dirt track racing. The Cheboygan County Youth Livestock Program, in cooperation with the Michigan State University 4-H 16 JULY/AUGUST 2020
program, hosts the Annual Youth Livestock Auction the final Saturday of the fair. Open to the public, the auction is an opportunity to purchase high-quality livestock products while supporting hard-working youth from across the region. Also, the Cheboygan 4-H youth display the fruits and vegetables they’ve spent the summer growing and are then judged on them. A farmer’s market, which runs select days of the festival, allows festival-goers to purchase the award-winning produce and products. Finally, for those who think their grandma’s blueberry pie or their recently-sewn afghan quilts are genuinely prizeworthy, they can enter their baked goods, canned goods, and even their handmade textiles into fair contests. “The Cheboygan County Fair has been a family tradition for many years,” concluded Williams. “Hundreds of volunteers work hard each summer to make the event easy to attend and the carnival enjoyable for everyone.”
For more information and to enter contests, please visit www.cheboygancountyfair.com or search Cheboygan County Fair on Facebook.
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Festivals & Fairs
1. Junie with her 4-H calf at the fair before participating in the princess pageant. —Jillian Cordes 2. Fourth of July Parade with my twin grandsons in Lewiston. —Patricia Garrett 3. Keandi Greene with her 2019 market hog. —Nicole Greene 4. We are a “Festi-Family”! We love them all, from Posen to Yale and everywhere in-between. Here, our granddaughters are enjoying some face painting at the Yale Bologna Festival. Sure going to miss the Posen Potato Festival this year. Love watching the polka dancers! —Mike Lavens 5. Ryker and Wendy in the tractor costume at the fair in 2019. —Shelly Woiderski
4 Enter to win a
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Submit Your Favorite “Michigan’s Natural Beauty” 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 Michigan’s Natural Beauty. Photos can be submitted through July 27 to be featured in our September issue.
Enter Your Photos And Win A Bill Credit!
To enter the contest, visit facebook.com/PIEGCooperative and click “Photo Contest” from the menu tabs. If you’re not on Facebook, that’s okay. You can also enter the contest at pieg.com/content/ photo-contest. 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. 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
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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 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.
PIE&G Communities First Fund Board
AWARDS $10,500 IN SCHOLARSHIPS To Area High School Graduates The PIE&G Communities First Fund Board of Directors is pleased to announce that 10 scholarships of $1,000 each were awarded to the following high school seniors:
ALPENAÂ Elizabeth Belanger Johnathon Clayton
Alysa Funk Nickita Cordes
HILLMAN Joslyn Brown
INLAND LAKES Ava Hansel
POSEN Eyan Hincka
In addition to these scholarships, the A. Barkley Travis Memorial Scholarship, valued at $500, was awarded to Makenna Grulke from Hillman.