July/Aug 2021 GLE

Page 1

July/August 2021


COUNTRY LINES Great Lakes Energy Cooperative

Nominate A Nonprofit For A Grant

Director Elections For Districts 1, 2, and 7 Capital Credits: Perks Of Ownership

Foraging for Mushroom Houses


Saving is believing.

Think you can’t afford a geothermal heat pump? After a closer look, you may be surprised at its overall affordability. Tax rebates can quickly bring down the initial costs of purchase and installation. And a geothermal heat pump is much cheaper to run than the most efficient furnaces and air conditioners. In fact, your energy bills can be cut by as much as 70%. As a result, many geothermal homeowners see a return on investment of 10-20% over the life of their system. When you crunch the numbers, you’ll see WaterFurnace is the money-saving choice. To learn more, contact your local WaterFurnace dealer today. Geothermal is the only renewable that provides reliable operation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Your Local WaterFurnace Dealers Bad Axe/Cass City Thumb Clg & Htg (855) 206-5457 thumbcooling andheating.com Berrien Springs WaterFurnace Michiana (269) 473-5667 gogreenmich geothermal.com Big Rapids Stratz Htg & Clg, Inc. (231) 796-3717 stratzgeocomfort.com

Clifford Orton Refrig & Htg (989) 761-7691 sanduskygeothermal.com Hart Adams Htg & Clg (231) 873-2665 adamsheatingcooling.com Indian River M & M Plmb & Htg (231) 238-7201 mm-plumbing.com

Mancelona Top Notch Htg, Clg, & Geothermal (231) 350-8052 topnotchheatandair.com Michigan Center Comfort 1/Aire Serv of Southern Michigan (517) 764-1500 aireserv.com/ southern-michigan Mt Pleasant Walton Htg & Clg (989) 772-4822 waltonheating.com

Muskegon Adams Htg & Clg (231) 873-2665 adamsheatingcooling.com

Traverse City D & W Mechanical (231) 941-1215 dwgeothermal.com

Portland ESI Htg & Clg (517) 647-6906 esiheating.com

Geofurnace Htg & Clg (231) 943-1000 watergeofurnace.com

Sunfield Mark Woodman Plmb & Htg (517) 886-1138 mwphonline.com

visit us at waterfurnace.com

The Reliable Renewable is a trademark of WaterFurnace International, Inc.

Contents countrylines.com

July/August 2021 Vol. 41, No. 7



Michigan’s Electric Cooperatives

EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Casey Clark EDITOR: Christine Dorr


RECIPE EDITOR: Christin McKamey COPY EDITOR: Yvette Pecha CONTRIBUTING EDITOR: Emily Haines Lloyd

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 editor@countrylines.com


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.

Cover photo by Mike Barton

6 10 TIPS FOR ENJOYING MICHIGAN’S DARK SKIES Our state has some of the best stargazing spots in the country; here’s how to make the most of them. 10 MI CO-OP KITCHEN Whole Grains: These hearty and delicious recipes will satisfy your soul and benefit your health.

14 FORAGING FOR MUSHROOM HOUSES Whether it’s architecture, history or whimsy you’re seeking, these fungi-shaped dwellings in Charlevoix offer something for everyone. 18 HOW TO PREVENT ELECTRIC SHOCK DROWNING You can avoid the hidden danger of being shocked in water if you know what to look out for.

#micoopcommunity I see you, Michigan summer. Bring on the sun, water, and sand. @frankfort_moments (Kathy Smith)

Be featured!

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


Win a $50 bill credit! Up Next: Around The World, due Aug. 1; Instant Pot & Slow Cooker, due Sept. 1. Submit your recipe at micoopkitchen.com, or send it via email (include your full name and co-op) to recipes@countrylines.com.


Win $150 for stories published! Submit your fondest memories and stories at countrylines.com/ community.


Win a $50 bill credit! Enter a drawing to identify the correct location of the photo. See page 18. MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES


Elect GLE’s Board Of Directors—

Your Vote Counts!


Bill Scott, Great Lakes Energy President/CEO

/greatlakesenergy /jointruestream BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Robert Kran, Chairman, District 6 231-464-5889 bkran@glenergy.com

John LaForge, Vice-Chairman, District 9 269-623-2284 jlaforge@glenergy.com Paul Schemanski, Secretary, District 1 231-439-9079 paul.schemanski@glenergy.com

hese days, the mention of voting or politics may elicit different emotions in each of us. Yet, it’s still part of the fabric of both our nation and your cooperative.


With the Great Lakes Energy (GLE) Board of Directors’ election, no electoral college or media campaigns are flooding the airwaves. There are districts, three in this case, and there are votes. Each district elects a representative and that person is charged with acting in the best interest of the entire member base. Throughout July and into August, members vote for board representation in three of our nine districts following the basic cooperative principle of one member, one vote. Simple as that.

Dale Farrier, Treasurer, District 5 231-564-0853 dfarrier@glenergy.com

Cooperatives like GLE have a deep-rooted history of democratic control. It is one of our seven guiding principles as a co-op. Members vote for a director once every three years. In my case, I’m a GLE member in District 1, so I will be voting this year along with members in Districts 2 and 7.

Paul Byl, Director, District 7 231-861-5911 pbyl@glenergy.com

Part of the value of being a cooperative member is that you, not Great Lakes Energy staff or other board members, determine who serves on your board to make decisions for your cooperative. As a democratically controlled cooperative member, you play a vital role in shaping the way your co-op is run. Qualified members can run for a board seat in your district, and you can sign another candidate’s nominating petition or simply vote.

Howard Bowersox, Director, District 8 219-670-0977 hbowersox@glenergy.com

Mark Carson, Director , District 2 231-675-0561 mcarson@glenergy.com

Richard Evans, Director, District 3 231-883-3146 revans@glenergy.com

Shelly Pinkelman, Director, District 4 989-390-6222 spinkelman@glenergy.com

The decisions we make as a co-op are rooted in the best interest of our members. I take great pride in reporting to a board that represents the voice of those we serve. I hope that you feel an equal weight in the impact and importance of your vote. It truly counts.

PRESIDENT/CEO: Bill Scott 888-485-2537


COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR/EDITOR: Brett Streby 231-487-1389 • bstreby@glenergy.com

Beaver Island





BOYNE CITY HEADQUARTERS 1323 Boyne Ave. Boyne City, MI 49712

Hours: 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m. M–F Phone: 888-485-2537 Email: glenergy@glenergy.com TO REPORT AN OUTAGE: Call 888-485-2537 or login to your account at gtlakes.com. Change of Address: 888-485-2537, ext. 8924 Great Lakes Energy is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

























Districts By County 2021 ELECTION District 1 Emmet County District 2 Charlevoix and Cheboygan counties District 7 Muskegon and Oceana counties

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.

10 TIPS For Enjoying Michigan’s Dark Skies

Michigan is surrounded by the Great Lakes, which shroud the state in near-total darkness. This makes it the perfect destination for some of the best stargazing in the nation. Michigan has committed to establishing areas that are devoid of the artificial light commonly found around cities, which partially obscures the night sky. These include six dark sky preserves located in state parks; Headlands International Dark Sky Park and Dr. T.K. Lawless Park (Michigan’s only internationally designated dark sky parks); and the pristine, quiet shoreline and forests in the Upper Peninsula. Each of these spots provides for the perfect dark sky viewing experience, and they are located all across the state. With so many spectacular locations that let you truly see the extraordinary dark sky above, you are sure to be starstruck by Michigan’s dark skies. To be well prepared for your night of stargazing, follow these 10 tips:




Find the Perfect Spot

Once you’ve left the city lights behind, it is time to find the right spot to set up for the night. Any of Michigan’s dark sky preserves are perfect for stargazing in the Lower Peninsula, but if you are hoping to see the aurora borealis——or northern lights——as well, you’ll want to go somewhere you can see the horizon. The aurora borealis will likely appear low on the horizon rather than overhead because of Michigan’s distance from the north pole. This makes the Upper Peninsula’s unobstructed shoreline along Lake Superior perfect for chasing the northern lights.


Check the Weather

To really optimize your dark sky viewing experience, you want to be sure to pick the perfect day. Choose a night with a clear sky forecast——clouds and rain could really put a damper on the night. It’s not just the weather you should keep an eye on, either. Light from the moon can make it harder to see the stars, so avoid nights where the moon is full. Also, though Michigan’s Great Lakes help to darken the sky, their shores are often 10 degrees cooler at night than sites farther inland. This means warm clothes and lots of blankets are a must.


Find a Place to Stay

After confirming there will be a clear night, you’ll want to book your sleeping accommodations——such as a state park campsite——ahead of time. Luckily, Michigan’s six dark sky preserves are located in state parks, and most have camping available onsite. While Headlands International Dark Sky Park doesn’t allow you to set up camp, the park is never closed and there are many nearby accommodations for spending the night.


Find Art in Constellations

A constellation is a grouping of stars that forms a distinctive shape, usually that of an animal or mythological being. As the year goes on and the earth rotates around the sun, different constellations become visible, so research which constellations can be seen overhead from your dark sky destination at the particular time you’ll be there. This summer in Michigan, look for Virgo, Sagittarius, and the Summer Triangle. Also, Ursa Major and Minor, known as the Big and Little Dippers, are visible all year long in Michigan. Since they are simple and easy to identify, they can help direct you to other constellations as well.

Stargazing at McClain State Park, photo courtesy of Pure Michigan


Look For More Than Stars

The sky is home to more than just the moon and stars. Check the orbit of the International Space Station to see if it will be visible, or learn the names of the satellites that will be gliding across the dark sky overhead. These man-made structures are visible at night when the sun reflects off their surfaces. You can also find out which planets will be visible depending on the time of year, or if a meteor shower will light up your night. It’s best to research your viewing location beforehand so that you can know what to expect, and it may give you something to hunt for as you focus your gaze among the stars.


Don’t Get Lost—Bring A Map

There are billions of stars in the Milky Way—— and looking at a sky full of seemingly endless stars is awe-inspiring. This is why you need a star map. A map can give you a sense of what you are looking at and help you navigate the celestial skyscape of constellations and planets. Print a map to bring with you or download an app to your phone. Either way, having access to a map while stargazing is a great way to learn about the universe above and keeps you from getting lost in the sea of stars.


See Far Away, Up Close

A night of spectacular dark sky viewing doesn’t require a fancy telescope. Actually, without the proper practice and experience, viewing the sky with a telescope can be challenging. Rather than spending money on expensive equipment, bring a pair of binoculars! Binoculars can help you focus and get a better view of the stars——plus they are portable, which allows you to travel easily with them in hand. Kids can also create their own telescope using common household items like paper towel rolls, which makes for a fun craft before your trip.


Allow The Stars To Shine— Use A Red Light

To allow the twinkling lights of the stars to really shine, you want to avoid creating any other light that will obstruct your view. Limit the use of all your devices and flashlights, and be sure to find a spot away from other artificial light sources like street lamps if you’re not in a dark sky park. When you do need a light, use a red light. Red lights allow your eyes to stay adjusted to the darkness, while still helping you see things——such as where to walk on the trail or reading your star map. You can purchase a special red-light device, or simply tape a few layers of red cellophane over your flashlight!


Join A Celestial Celebration

Michigan’s stargazing and astronomy community——amateurs and professionals alike—— seizes every opportunity to gather and admire the stars. On the shores of Michigan near the Mackinac Bridge, Headlands International Dark Sky Park hosts many of its own events, complete with astronomer presentations, telescope demonstrations, and space-themed celebrations. In August, you can also celebrate the Perseid Meteor Shower at Michigan state parks.


Just Look Up

The first step to viewing the night sky like never before is turning your eyes to the sky. Get yourself to where they can really be seen and look up——in Michigan, beautiful dark skies are everywhere. Step away from the hustle and bustle of your daily routine and escape to the sky’s natural brilliance. Just set up your blanket, grab a thermos full of hot chocolate, and surround yourself with good company while you wait for Michigan’s dark skies to light up in a sea of stars. Reprinted with permission from Pure Michigan and michigan.org.



FREE And Easy Home Energy-Saving Solutions Large Appliance Evaluation and Replacement H ow often do you get free and easy opportunities to save you money on utility bills and reduce energy use? Probably not very often. You will find that the Energy Optimization program provides these kinds of opportunities to help you with energy-saving solutions for your home at no cost—and it’s easy to get started.

If your household meets the income eligibility guidelines below, you could receive FREE energy-saving products and services. Qualified households have two options to improve the energy performance of their homes. Option 1: FREE product kit of energy-saving items, delivered to your home with instructions for installation.

Based on their in-home consultation, some customers may be qualified for assistance to upgrade larger, inefficient appliances, such as refrigerators. If they are considered highly inefficient, you could receive a new replacement at no cost.

Eligibility Requirements

To qualify for the Energy Optimization program, your household must meet the following income guidelines. Gross annual income is the combined total income of all household members before taxes.

Family Size

Gross Annual Income

Product kits may include energy-saving items like:



• • • •







Option 2: FREE in-home consultation and product kit, with direct installation of energy-saving products by a qualified energy professional.







In-home consultation



LED bulbs LED night-lights Smart power strip Water-saving fixtures (only in select kits)

A trained professional can help identify areas where additional energy savings are possible. During the consultation, the representative will bring and install the energy-efficient products in the free product kit and will offer tips for saving energy.

Note: For families/households with more than 8 persons, add $9,080 for each additional person.

To find out if you qualify for Energy Optimization programs or to learn more, call 877-296-4319 or visit michigan-energy.org.

The Energy Optimization program provides qualified households with no-cost tools like energysaving devices, expert advice, and tips to help you:  improve energy performance  better manage electric use  reduce electric bills


Energy Optimization programs and incentives are applicable to Michigan electric service locations only. Incentive applies to qualified items purchased and installed between Jan. 1, 2021, and Dec. 31, 2021. Other restrictions may apply. For complete program details, visit michigan-energy.org.




American Pride 1. Fourth of July love—Joan Kennedy, Shelby  2. The Eagle has landed!—Debra Haynes, Walkerville  3. I’m proud to be an American!—Todd Whitcher, Grayling  4. Homemade in America!— Sarah Vistakos, Charlevoix  5. Family pride in America!—Nancy Gauld, Fife Lake  6. Thanking Papa for his service—Beth Fiedorowicz, Baldwin




4 Enter to win a


energy bill credit!




Submit Your “Pet Costumes” Photos!

Each month, members can submit photos on our website for our photo contest. The photo with the most votes is published here along with other selections. Our July/August theme is Pet Costumes. Photos can be submitted by July 20 to be featured in the October issue.

How To Enter: Enter the contest at gtlakes.com/photocontest/. 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 2021 will be entered to win a $200 bill credit in December 2021.



MI CO-OP Recipes

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

WHOLE GRAINS Nutty, tasty and filling recipes.


FARRO SALAD WITH MINT DRESSING Amy Schultz, Great Lakes Energy

Pickled Onions: ½ cup vinegar 1 tablespoon sugar 1½ teaspoons kosher salt, divided 1 red onion, thinly sliced Farro: 1 cup dried (uncooked) farro 3 cups water ½ teaspoon salt Salad: 4 cups arugula 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved 1 large cucumber, seeded and diced 1 carrot, thinly sliced Spiced Chickpeas: 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans) ½ teaspoon smoked paprika ¼ teaspoon garlic powder ¹⁄ 8 teaspoon cayenne pepper • freshly ground black pepper & salt, to taste 1 tablespoon olive oil



energy bill credit!

Around The World due Aug. 1 Instant Pot & Slow Cooker Favorites due Sept. 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. Submit your recipe at micoopkitchen.com, or send it via email (include your full name and co-op) to recipes@countrylines.com.


Dressing: ¹⁄ ³ cup fresh lemon juice 1 tablespoon dijon mustard 1 teaspoon sugar 1 garlic clove, minced ¹⁄ 8 teaspoon salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste ¹⁄ ³ cup extra-virgin olive oil ¹⁄ ³ cup chopped, fresh mint Mix together the vinegar, sugar, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and red onion. Let sit at room temperature for an hour. Meanwhile, make the farro; simmer 1 cup dry farro in 3 cups water with ½ teaspoon salt until tender, about 25 minutes (will make 2 cups cooked). Drain. In a large bowl, toss cooked farro, arugula, tomatoes, cucumber, and carrot together and set aside. Drain chickpeas and blot with paper towels; toss with spices (do not add oil yet). Heat a large 12-inch sauté pan over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon oil. Once oil is hot, fry for 15 minutes or until golden brown and crunchy, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, make dressing. Add chickpeas to salad. Toss with dressing. Top with pickled onions. Watch a video of this month’s winning recipe at micoopkitchen.com/videos


Ruth Benjamin, HomeWorks Tri-County 5 cups water 1–1½ cups mixture of fresh and dried fruit, cut into small pieces (fresh apple, pear, or peach combined w/ raisins, dried cranberries/ cherries/apricots, etc.) ¼ cup multigrain cereal (e.g., Bob’s Red Mill) 2 cups old fashioned oats ½ teaspoon vanilla or almond extract ½ teaspoon cinnamon • favorite nuts (walnuts, pecans, or slivered almonds) • favorite yogurt

Combine water and fruit in a 4-quart saucepan with lid. Bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for several minutes, until fresh fruit is soft and dried fruit is plump. Add multigrain cereal and oats. Simmer on medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and cinnamon. Cover and let sit for a minute. Spoon into serving bowls (makes 4–5 large servings). Sprinkle with nuts and top with 4–8 ounces of yogurt. Garnish with fresh berries if desired. Also can be served with milk or half-and-half. Refrigerate leftovers for easy warming later in the week.

OLD-FASHIONED BUCKWHEAT PANCAKES Morgan Wernette, HomeWorks Tri-County

HEARTY RAINBOW MASON JAR SALAD Deb Finedell, Great Lakes Energy ½ 1 1 ¼ 1 1 4 1

cup dry red quinoa lemon, juiced tablespoon olive oil cup crumbled feta cheese cup mini grape tomatoes, sliced orange bell pepper, diced radishes, diced cup chickpeas

1 1 4 4

cup shelled edamame cup diced celery cups fresh spinach leaves mason jars

Cook the dry quinoa per package instructions and let it cool. Toss the quinoa with the juice of one lemon, olive oil, and feta cheese. Set aside. Place equal parts of each ingredient in a mason jar, starting with the quinoa mixture. It can be refrigerated for up to 4 days in a sealed container. Enjoy!

1 1½ 1 ¼ ¼ 1¼ 1 ¼ 1 •

cup buckwheat flour teaspoons white sugar teaspoon baking powder teaspoon baking soda teaspoon salt cup buttermilk large egg teaspoon vanilla tablespoon shortening maple syrup or honey, for serving

Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Slowly mix in buttermilk, egg, vanilla, and shortening until smooth. Grease skillet. Drop batter by large spoonfuls. Cook 3–4 minutes until bubbles form and edges are crisp. Flip and cook another 2–3 minutes until brown. Repeat with remaining batter. Serve with maple syrup or honey.



The Perks Of Sharing GLE Ownership Capital Credit Allocations vs. Refunds As a member-owned cooperative, Great Lakes Energy (GLE) allocates and returns annual profits to its member-owners in the form of capital credit refunds. It’s part of the value you receive for sharing in the ownership of our cooperative.

What are capital credit allocations?

A capital credit allocation reflects your share of any margins (profits) GLE earns from the previous year. This amount will appear on your June bill and is based on the amount of electricity you purchased over the past year. We keep track of your allocations and refund these to you as capital credit refunds, over time as financial conditions allow. Capital credit 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, ultimately benefiting members.

Why are capital credits important?

One benefit of being a cooperative member is that GLE 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 $82.3 million in capital credit refunds have been returned to members since 2003.



Power. Purpose. You.

Summer Energy Savings


Help keep your cooling costs in check this summer with these tips from energy.gov.

Use Your Thermostat Wisely

• Try to keep your thermostat as close to the outdoor temperature as possible. The Department of Energy recommends at least 78 degrees when you are home. Turn up the thermostat even higher when you are away to prevent your A/C unit from running unnecessarily. A programmable or smart thermostat automatically adjusts the temperature to ensure you are cooling your home when you need to and not when you don’t.


Prevent Heat Gain From The Sun

• Sun shining in through windows and doors literally warms your home like an oven. Use window coverings to keep the sun out and your home’s temperature cooler.


Maintain Your A/C Unit

• For central air, have a professional check the unit annually. He or she will perform a proper tuneup and can spot some potential problems before they become emergencies. • Change the filter on your HVAC unit regularly all year long.

Explore michigan-energy.org

2 Run Ceiling Fans • Run ceiling fans at a fast speed in a counterclockwise direction to create a wind chill effect. Turn the fan off when you leave the room; fans cool people, not rooms.


• When first turning on the air conditioner, don’t turn the temperature way down to jumpstart the cooling effect. Your A/C unit doesn’t work faster because the temperature is lower, but it could cause it to run longer than necessary.

6 Be Smart About Appliances • Only run full loads in your washer and dishwasher.

Seal Leaks • Cracks and leaks around windows, doors, and utility cutouts allow warm air to enter the home and cause your A/C unit to work harder. Seal or caulk leaks and holes.

• Let your dishes air-dry instead of using the heat setting. Prop the door open once the final rinse is complete for faster drying. • Cook or grill outside when you can to avoid running your stove or oven. • Buy Energy-Star certified appliances; these appliances are guaranteed to run more efficiently than noncertified ones.

Michigan customers: This website is your one-stop shop for all things energy efficiency. Learn about ways to save money and apply for rebates on energy-efficient appliances. You can also participate in free programs to help you assess and improve your home’s overall efficiency. Business and farm programs are available as well. MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES 13

Foraging for Mushroom Houses By Emily Haines Lloyd || Photography by Mike Barton


hen you turn the corner to the charming cul-de-sac and first spy the houses perched one after the other at an almost fairy-tale level—words like charming and quaint are almost impossible not to use. It harkens to Middle Earth or Narnia, and one expects hobbits, dwarves, or fauns to wander out and offer you a cup of tea and biscuits after your long journey. However, these homes designed by architect Earl Young, often referred to as the Mushroom Houses, aren’t found in storybooks or magical forests, but rather right in the heart of Charlevoix, Michigan. And one doesn’t need a magic wardrobe or ruby slippers to reach them—they are available to visit in small electric GEM vehicles, complete with a tour guide. Edith Pair owned an art gallery for years in Young’s Weathervane building and was flooded with curious 14 JULY/AUGUST 2021

out-of-towners trying to find “the mushroom houses” (dubbed for the curvy, overhanging rooftops)— something they’d been told not to miss while in town. “It was a lightbulb moment. I just thought, I could take people to see them,” said Pair. “We started with walking tours in 2006, then got into horse and carriage setup, and now we have our GEM cars. It’s so great to be able to take people around and tell them about this really interesting

notoriously low ceilings, presumably because he himself was fairly short. Pair would love to include more interiors in future tours, but for now, people still get to enjoy the one-ofa-kind spectacle of the Mushroom Houses. “It’s a privilege to share the stories,” said Pair. “I’ve seen some people hop on the tour prepared to be bored, but once they hear the stories, see the stones that were almost magically moved and maneuvered—everyone becomes mesmerized. Even me, still, after all this time.” The houses offer whimsical views and rich stories, and are a testament to “Stones have their own personalities. Young’s own inner voice People say I’m crazy when I say so, but that encouraged his desire to build something unique they really do.” –Earl Young and lasting. Each home has its own character, easy to spot. His buildings feature and the man who built them believed wide, flowing eaves, exposed beams their natural elements were the magic and rafters, and a horizontal design behind the masonry. that harkens a bit to Frank Lloyd Wright. “Stones have their own personalities,” Young told a reporter for the Detroit Free Press in 1973. “People say I’m “My dad knew Earl Young,” said Pair. crazy when I say so, but they really do.” “There are so many great stories about his work. He used boulders up to several tons, which he’d haul out of the lake with workhorses and chains. I mean, can you imagine?”

piece of artful architecture and history we have in Charlevoix, and then give them tips on some other things they should see or do while in town.” Pair’s tours give a wide range of information on Young’s unique journey to his vocation, as well as a look at all of the houses in town. Earl Young grew up in Charlevoix, a self-taught architect and builder who constructed 26 residential homes and four commercial properties. He notoriously scavenged Northern Michigan for large boulders, limestone, and fieldstone, and constructed his unique structures to blend in with their natural surroundings. Given that his career lasted over 50 years and he built well into the 1970s, Young’s homes are

Pair isn’t alone in her wonder and amazement at what Young managed to accomplish with the tools and machinery available to him. Mike Seitz, a South African architect, came from his home in Texas to visit his wife’s parents in Charlevoix. Once he caught sight of the Mushroom Houses, he couldn’t leave until he bought one. His reimagining of four houses, including one designed by Young’s daughter, Virginia Olsen, garnered some attention, particularly as he imported thatched roof specialists from Europe to install natural, yet durable, rooftops. The four Young properties sit dispersed, each different while sharing the imaginative design of the bold architect. Each one is bespoke, with exposed rock and beams, and available to rent for private stays. Guests should be prepared to duck occasionally, as Young’s Mushroom Houses have

Photographer Mike Barton has colorfully captured the Mushroom Houses of Charlevoix in this hardcover book that features more than 190 photographs. To purchase a copy of the book, visit: http://www.amzn.com/0989926877

For more information or to schedule a tour, visit: MushroomHouseTours.com /MushroomHouseTours @MushroomHouseTours



NOMINATE A NONPROFIT FOR A GRANT Is there a nonprofit organization in your region that truly shines? A group that seeks to improve the area or make a positive impact through its efforts? Nominate them for consideration of a $5,000 grant.

Great Lakes Energy has teamed up with CoBank, one of its lenders, to create a positive impact in your community by awarding three $5,000 grants to local nonprofit 501c3 organizations. Through July 16, GLE members are asked to submit the names of nonprofit 501c3 organizations to be considered in their region. Once the nomination period is over, GLE members will once again be called upon to place their votes and ultimately determine each recipient of the North, Central, and South region grants.



ONLINE VOTING July 26–Aug. 5


All nominations and voting will take place on the Great Lakes Energy website. In just a few brief minutes, your input can help steer this program to benefit your friends, neighbors, and community. Visit gtlakes. com/community-grant-giveaway for program rules and to take part in the process and help make a positive impact in your community. GLE’s relationship with CoBank has always been rooted in making a direct, positive impact on your community. In 2020, GLE created a COVID-19 Disaster Relief Fund in partnership with TrueNorth Community Services aiming to help meet the needs of rural residents in crisis. CoBank provided a $10,000 matching grant contributing to the fund and providing further aid. CoBank has also enhanced GLE employee donations to local United Way agencies.


A GLE People Fund grant supported the purchase of Zero, the Gaylord Police Department’s only canine officer! He will help both deter and stop drug crimes that are more prevalent in Gaylord than in other surrounding areas.

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.

Be A People Fund Winner Did 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.


everal generous People Fund supporters recently became winners. See the list of members on this page (below) who received a $100 bill credit.

Current People Fund supporters and any member who becomes a People Fund contributor before the next drawing on Dec. 1 are eligible to win. People Fund contributors allow Great Lakes Energy to round up their electric bills to the nearest dollar each month. The 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. Gifts are provided by Great Lakes Energy and do not involve the use of any People Fund round-up money.

Don’t miss your chance to be the next winner! Visit gtlakes.com/people-fund to sign up today.

Congratulations To Our Winners! Thanks for your ongoing support of the People Fund. • Roger Atchison

• Thurman Radtke

• Corrine Clancy

• Kristen Ruckert

• Charles Graham

• Bretton Wimmer

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.

These randomly chosen winners received a $100 bill credit for their support of People Fund.


Win a


Where In Michigan Is This?

energy bill credit!

Identify the correct location of the photo to the left by July 20 and be entered into a drawing to win a $50 electric bill credit. Enter your guess at countrylines.com/community. May 2021 Winner! Our Mystery Photo winner is Tim Budnik, a Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op member, who correctly identified the photo as Fort Gratiot Lighthouse in Port Huron. Photo by Michael Herbon. Winners are announced in the following issues of Country Lines: January, March, May, July/August, September, and November/December.


Each year, 3,800 people in the U.S. die from drowning. Electric shock drowning occurs when an electric current escapes boats, docks, and lights near marinas, shocking nearby swimmers. There are no visible signs of current seeping into water, which makes this a hidden danger. The electric shock paralyzes swimmers, making them unable to swim to safety.


Boat Owners

• Never swim near a boat or launching ramp. Residual current could flow into the water from the boat or the marina’s wiring, potentially putting anyone in the water at risk of electric shock.

• Ensure your boat is properly maintained and consider having it inspected annually. GFCIs and ELCIs should be tested monthly. Conduct leakage testing to determine if electrical current is escaping the vessel.

• If you feel any tingling sensations while in the water, tell someone and swim back in the direction from which you came. Immediately report it to the dock or marina owner.

• Use portable GFCIs or shore power cords (including “Y” adapters) that are “UL-Marine Listed” when using electricity near water. • Regularly have your boat’s electrical system inspected by a certified marine electrician. Ensure it meets your local and state NEC, NFPA, and ABYC safety codes.




CALL 911

DO NOT enter the water. You could become a victim, too. Sources: Electrical Safety Foundation International, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Geothermal Made Affordable

You don’t need a noisy A/C unit.

Silently cool (and heat) with your well water.

Well-Connect connects to your furnace in one day & reduces your propane use by 90% WELL-CONNECT COOLING


80° AIR


60° AIR


Hybrid Geothermal



(989) 356-2113

Reduce your heating cost by two-thirds. Improve the comfort of your home, year-round. Heat & cool with clean energy.


gtlakes.com facebook.com/greatlakesenergy

All members have a vote.

Together, they work in harmony. Every GLE member has a say in electing a board member. It’s up to you, the member, to vote or run for election. Power to the people, from the people. Doesn’t that sound good? Learn more about your Great Lakes Energy Board of Directors and the election process at gtlakes.com

Power. Purpose. You.