June 2024 Cherryland

Page 1


Cherryland Electric Cooperative


A Historic Icon of the Great Lakes

June 2024 MICHIGAN
No Barriers For Healing Same Great Service. New Summer Schedule. A Father’s Lesson In Kindness


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Cloverland: up to $6,275

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Michigan’s Electric Cooperatives


EDITOR: Christine Dorr


RECIPE EDITOR: Christin Russman

COPY EDITOR: Yvette Pecha


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: Tom Sobeck, Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op, chairman; Gabe Schneider, Cherryland Electric Cooperative, vice chairman; Chris O’Neill, HomeWorks TriCounty Cooperative, secretary-treasurer; Craig Borr, president and CEO.


201 Townsend St., Suite 900 Lansing, MI 48933

248-534-7358 editor@countrylines.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.

6 10 14


Electric cooperative director recalls life in rural Michigan—and how it changed with electricity.



Tacos & Margaritas: A combination that will spice up your next fiesta.



Glide through Lake Michigan on the only National Historic Landmark that moves.


Grandparents at the Doorstep: A GLE member sings the praises of the “world’s best, most trusted babysitters.”

MI Co-op Community

To enter contests, submit reader content & more, visit countrylines.com/community

Recipe Contest

See details on page 10. Casseroles, due July 1; Breads & Muffi ns, due Aug. 1.

Win a $100 bill credit!

Guest Column

Share your fondest memories and stories. Win $200 for stories published. Visit countrylines.com/community to submit. Win $200 for stories published!

Contents June 2024 Vol. 44, No. 6 /michigancountrylines /michigancountrylines countrylines.com





David Schweitzer, President 231-883-5860


Gabe Schneider, Senior Vice President 517-449-6453


Valarie Handy, Secretary 231-392-4705


Tom Van Pelt, Treasurer 231-386-5234


Melinda Lautner, Director 231-947-2509


Terry Lautner, Director 231-883-6455


Dean Adams, Director 231-642-0014


CEO: Rachel Johnson

CO-OP EDITORS: Courtney Doyle: cdoyle@cherrylandelectric.coop

Bailey Watson: bwatson@cherrylandelectric.coop


Monday–Thursday 7 a.m.–5:30 p.m.


231-486-9200 or 1-800-442-8616 (Mich.)


P.O. Box 298, Grawn, MI 49637


Cherryland Electric Cooperative office 5930 U.S. 31 South, Grawn MI, 49637

Cherryland Electric Cooperative is an equal opportunity provider and employer.


Cherryland’s 86th Annual Meeting Scheduled for June 13

Cherryland’s 86th Annual Meeting will take place Thursday, June 13, from 4 to 8 p.m. at Incredible Mo’s in Grawn. For more information about this year’s event, check out page 8 of this issue, head to our website, or find details on any of our social media platforms.

Cherryland Scholarships Awarded To Local High School Seniors And Adult Learners

Three high school seniors and two adult learners were awarded 2024 Cherryland Electric Cooperative scholarships. The three high school scholarships are worth $4,000 each—$1,000 per year for four years. The adult scholarships are a one-time award of $1,000 each.

Student scholarship recipients: Caden Kowal (Traverse City Central High School), Mallory Lowe (Leland Public School), and Flora Zickert (Benzie Central High School).

Adult scholarship recipients: Genevieve Bramer of Suttons Bay and Walker Ratajczak of Traverse City.

Cherryland Cares Supports Local Nonprofits

Cherryland Cares distributes funds to local nonprofit organizations in need of financial support. The funds distributed by Cherryland Cares are a result of members electing to round up their monthly bills to the nearest dollar. Members can contribute to the Cherryland Cares fund by calling 231-486-9200, signing up through SmartHub, or emailing cec@cherrylandelectric.coop.

If you are an area nonprofit agency seeking financial help, visit cherrylandelectric.coop/ cherryland-cares for information on how to apply. For additional details, please call Shannon Beery at 231-486-9218 or email her at sbeery@cherrylandelectric.coop.

Cherryland Office Closings and New Summer Hours

The Cherryland office will be closed Thursday, July 4, in observance of Independence Day. Normal summer business hours will resume Monday, July 8.

This summer, your cooperative will be trying out new office hours. From June 3 through Aug. 30, the cooperative office will be open Monday through Thursday from 7:00 a.m.– 5:30 p.m. These extended hours are intended to increase operational efficiency in the field and provide a larger window of time for members to take advantage of our in-person member services.

The office will be closed Sept. 2 in observance of Labor Day, resuming traditional office hours (Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m.) on Tuesday, Sept. 3. Additional reminders and more information about the scheduling change will be shared in Michigan Country Lines, on social media, and via e-mail.

During office closures, line crews are always on call to respond to any outages or emergencies. You can report an outage by texting OUT to 800-442-8616, logging into SmartHub, or calling us at 231-486-9200.

4 JUNE 2024

TSame Great Service. New Summer Schedule.

his summer, we’re trying out an alternative work schedule. Instead of our standard Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m.–4:00 p.m. schedule, we will be working 10-hour days Monday through Thursday. Our office hours will be 7:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. We will be closed on Fridays.

On Fridays, if you need us, we will continue to be on call just like we are every weekend and holiday. We also continue to make it easy to handle billing-related services through the 24/7 kiosk at our office or on SmartHub by logging into your account on our website.

We decided to try this schedule for several reasons. First, we anticipate it will improve our operational efficiency. This allows our crews to spend one less day prepping and commuting to a work site and to spend more time on the work sites during the days we’re working. It also allows us to take advantage of the long, sunny days and to hopefully avoid some of the worst traffic of

summer. Basically, we can get more work done with less time spent driving around.

A second expected advantage of this schedule is that it allows us to offer our members in-person hours outside of the normal workday by opening earlier and staying open later. This should help provide options for members who work a traditional 8 a.m.–5 p.m. schedule and struggle to make it to our office during work hours.

Aside from the operational advantages, the biggest driver of this decision is our employees. We work in an industry that requires us to work weekends, holidays, and any other time the lights go out. In the summer, our employees often work brutal schedules to keep up with our workload. Studies show that employees who work four 10-hour days tend to be more productive, less burned out, happier, and just generally less stressed.

Offering this adjusted summer schedule for our employees is

expected to improve recruitment and retention of our workforce. Today’s workers are looking for flexibility and work-life integration. The work we do at Cherryland can at times limit the flexibility we have to offer and can often interfere in our employees’ home lives. Ask any lineworker and they’ll tell you a story of the storm that hit during their child’s birthday, the big state finals game, and Christmas Eve.

We think this new summer schedule will be better for our employees, better for our cooperative, and ultimately better for you. It’s a simple way for us to make ourselves more efficient while also protecting our most important asset—the people who work every day to keep your lights on.

This modified summer schedule starts on June 3 and ends on Aug. 30. If it works well, we will likely continue to shift between summer and winter hours on a similar schedule going forward.


Back in the Day

Electric cooperative director recalls life in rural Michigan—and how it changed with electricity

Louis Wenzlaff is somewhat of a luminary in the Thumb Electric Cooperative (TEC) service area. He was born and raised in Kingston, Michigan, and has spent his entire 87 years of life in the town, working in industries including farming, teaching, banking, and health care. As a TEC board member since 1977, he also has played a large role in ensuring cooperative members receive efficient and reliable electricity— something that, for good reason, he doesn’t take for granted.

The Wenzlaff family heritage in Michigan began when Louis’ grandparents, who were both German-born and had immigrated to Illinois, heard of a 120-acre farm that was for sale in Kingston. The eight children they raised on that property included Louis’ father, also named Louis. Louis Sr. moved to Detroit when he was 16 years old to work for Cadillac, but when the Great Depression hit in 1929, he moved back home to help prevent his family from losing the farm.

Louis Sr. met his soon-to-be wife Elizabeth at the country school, where she was a teacher and he was in charge of starting the potbelly stove fire on winter mornings. As was typical at the time, Louis Sr. and Elizabeth lived at the home of Louis’ grandparents, where they welcomed two daughters and then Louis. All three children were born in the house with the help of their grandmother and local midwives. One of Louis’ earliest memories is a momentous

Louis and his wife Sharon.

one: In 1941, when he was 4 years old, the Rural Electrification Administration (as TEC was known as the time) brought electricity to the farm. Louis said he remembers it “like it was yesterday.”

“You have to think of it,” Louis said. “We had no electricity, no running water, no plumbing, no nothing—it completely changed our lives.” The family’s first priority was to put a few lights in the house, followed by more lights in the barn. Using the well on the property, they then installed plumbing. Their first big appliance purchases were a refrigerator and a wringer washing machine. Next came a toilet—replacing the “three-holer” that Louis said they had in their outhouse because the family was so big. The introduction of these luxuries required the whole house to be remodeled. “They put in a bathroom and kitchen and septic tank—before, it had basically just been four walls,” Louis said.

“You have to think of it. We had no electricity, no running water, no plumbing, no nothing—it completely changed our lives.”

Productivity on the farm increased for the Wenzlaffs due to many factors, but one major difference was in dairy production. Louis said they had 12 cattle that had previously been milked by hand by the light of two kerosene lanterns. “But then we got a machine

from Sears-Roebuck that milked two cows at one time. It was wonderful, really,” Louis said. Adding a milk cooler also saved enormous quantities of time and energy. The family continued to slowly add appliances and new technologies, but they still lived a rather primitive lifestyle. Louis and his sisters would bathe about once a week, in the wash tub outside in the summertime and in front of the kitchen stove in colder seasons. “We just had to learn all the practical things we had to do to survive,” he said. The Wenzlaffs didn’t have much money, but that didn’t stop them from having fun. Louis said his aunts and uncles would visit every weekend. “Mother would play piano, and Dad would call square dances—that old house would just shake,” he said.

The farming life clearly suits Louis as he has, in some capacity, done it all his life. But he dipped his toes into several other careers as well—usually at the behest of others. Louis attended college for three years but left to work with his maternal grandfather, who was a carpenter, and procured a second job at a local lumberyard. His work at the yard consisted of installing plumbing, heating, and electrical services into local homes. He helped set up the area’s first ready mix concrete plant and delivered the cement to farmers. “As far as practicality, I learned more in those four years than I did in the rest of my career,” he said.

His carpentry days ended when the Kingston Community Schools

6 JUNE 2024
The Wenzlaff family farm in the early ‘50s. If you look closely, you can see the light poles installed by REA.

superintendent asked him if he wanted to work for the district. He taught bookkeeping and typing there for four years and was a coach for various sports. (Upon leaving the district, he served on the school board for over 30 years.) While teaching, Louis decided to continue with college and earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Central Michigan University...but then a new opportunity arose. “The guy I worked for at the lumberyard was the president of the bank board, and he said, ‘Why don’t you come run the bank?’” Louis said. “I didn’t have much knowledge, but I learned it and I stayed there for 23 years.” He was the CEO until Kingston State Bank was sold, upon which time he moved on to constructing modular home interiors for two years. And then yet another industry came calling for Louis: A former bank customer who was on Sanilac County’s social services board asked Louis if he wanted to oversee the county nursing home. Louis was the administrator of that nursing home for 22 years.

In 2013, Louis finally retired. But he continues to have an impact on the community and stays active in his personal life as well. Louis credits his longevity to “working hard and playing hard.” He and his wife Sharon have five children, two of whom help him out on his hobby farm. And, as mentioned, this is his 47th year of serving on the TEC board, which he says he enjoys for a number of reasons—including the travel benefit. Louis said he was always too busy with work and the farm to go anywhere outside of Michigan, so he’s been grateful for the opportunity to attend national director conferences. Louis certainly has a busier life than the average 87-year-old man, but rest assured, he is looking to slow down. “I might give up golfing,” he said with a laugh.

Louis and his sisters with their parents Elizabeth and Louis Sr.

Louis (middle) and his sisters Shirley (left) and Barbara (right) pose with their Grandpa Wenzlaff.


86th Annual Meeting

Enjoy an evening of entertainment, food, and cooperative tradition! MARK YOUR CALENDAR!


Registration: 4:00 - 8:00 p.m.

In-person voting available 4:00 - 5:30 p.m.

Business meeting begins at 5:30 p.m.

Food and entertainment available until 8:00 p.m.

Bailey, always be kind. You should never underestimate how it can change the dynamic.”

A Father’s Lesson In Kindness

as an email ever taught you a lesson?

I’ve spent a lot of my life reading and writing emails that are supposed to sell you something or inform you of something, but rarely are they ever trying to impart something. Recently, I noticed companies giving the option to opt out of Father’s Day deal emails, and marketing ploy or not, it seemed like a lesson in compassion.

This reminded me of my dad, who was a walking lesson in compassion. He left us far too early after his battle with cancer ended almost seven years ago. My dad was a lawyer, and I know what you are thinking—compassion and lawyer are rarely said in the same breath. My dad spent most of his career in the boardroom rather than the courtroom, handling mediation. A more typical lawyer trait he held was his love of words. He and I spent most of my college career communicating via email. In fact, it was our primary communication method made clear when he printed out all our emails after four years and bound them into a book for me when I graduated.

I go back and read through these emails every once in a while and I am reminded of the lessons typed across those pages. Wisdom he shared when he was just telling me about his day. I think all the lessons those emails taught me can boil down to one lesson I strive to use every day. Kindness can change the conversation.

Dad had a knack for reminding me to ask myself what the other person’s goal is, when I couldn’t see the other side of an argument. He would even take clients to breakfast or lunch to talk over their legal questions, so they didn’t have to pay his billable hours. I am often reminded of the kindness he shared and the ripples that it had through the community.

One of his emails tells it more plainly than the rest. He was travelling with a group of friends out west, and one of their connecting flights got cancelled. The desk agent’s line of angry people, on top of the travel frustration, could have caused a pretty awful experience. But he later told me, “After waiting in line a while, I watched my friend take a different path as he calmly walked a ways to a different desk with no line and kindly, with no yelling (as was happening in their current line), asked if those agents could help us fix the situation, to which they were able to.” He ended the story with, “Bailey, always be kind. You should never underestimate how it can change the dynamic.” To which, without missing a beat, I responded, “Dad, I’m always kind,” in true teenager fashion.

Now, I am not saying there is going to be a lesson hidden in every email, and maybe it is still time to opt out of a couple of those sales emails clogging up your inbox. But take a moment to read a little deeper or listen a little closer to your loved ones, because you never know where the most important lessons can be found.



MI CO-OP Recipes WINNING RECIPE! Recipe Contest Win a $100 energy bill credit! Casseroles due July 1; Breads & Muffi ns due Aug. 1 Submit your favorite recipe for a chance to win a $100 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
MARGARITAS Lisa Kirker, Great Lakes Energy 1½ cups tequila ½ cup triple sec ½ cup light beer (such as Corona Light) 1 (12-ounce) can frozen lemonade ¼ cup fresh lemon juice (2–3 medium lemons) ¼ cup fresh lime juice (4–6 medium limes) 1½ cups filtered water Mix all of the ingredients in a large pitcher. Stir. Serve over ice, or mix with ice in the blender for a frozen margarita. This recipe will last in the fridge for up to a week. TACOS &
A combination that will spice up your next fiesta. Watch a video of this month’s winning recipe at micoopkitchen.com/recipe_ type/videos/ 10 JUNE 2024


Peg Poppler, Cherryland Electric Cooperative

8–10 soft taco shells

1 pound pulled pork (homemade or store bought), keep warm

2 tablespoons barbecue sauce

1¹⁄³ cup prepared Spanish or Mexican rice

1 cup Mexican cheese blend


1 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

¹⁄³ cup finely diced onion

3 tablespoons flour

1 (14.5-ounce) can chicken broth

½ (4-ounce) can green chiles

½ teaspoon cumin powder

½ teaspoon garlic powder

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup sour cream

½ cup Mexican cheese blend

• chopped cilantro, optional

• salsa, optional

To prepare the sauce, melt the butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, stirring. Sprinkle the flour over the onions; stir and cook for a minute. Gradually whisk in the chicken broth. Add the green chiles, cumin, garlic powder, and salt and simmer until thickened. Set aside and keep warm. Right before serving, remove from heat and whisk in the sour cream and ½ cup cheese. To make the tacos, place the soft taco shells on a microwave-safe plate. Cover with a damp paper towel and microwave for 30 seconds. Stir the barbecue sauce into the pulled pork. Evenly divide rice, cheese, and pulled pork onto the taco shells. Drizzle the sauce over the pulled pork and serve immediately. Serve with chopped cilantro and salsa, if desired.


Debra Ford, Cherryland Electric Cooperative

1½ (750-milliliter) bottle

100% agave tequila

1 (750-milliliter) bottle triple sec

1 quart (32 ounces) sweet and sour mix

1 quart (32 ounces) water

• limes, sliced as desired

Mix all liquids in large pitcher or container. Add limes and serve over ice.


Elizabeth Postma, Great Lakes Energy

1 pound ground beef or your choice of protein (chicken, turkey, tofu, etc.)

1 (1.25-ounce) packet taco seasoning mix

8 small corn or flour tortillas

1 cup shredded lettuce

1 cup diced fresh tomatoes

1 cup shredded cheese (cheddar or Mexican blend)

½ cup diced onions

¼ cup chopped cilantro

• Optional toppings: salsa, sour cream, guacamole, lime wedges (for garnish)

In a skillet, cook the ground beef over medium heat until browned and cooked through. Drain any excess fat. Add the taco seasoning mix to the cooked beef according to the package instructions. Stir well to combine and simmer for a few minutes. If using flour tortillas, warm in a separate skillet or in the microwave until warm and pliable. If using hard-shell tacos, heat according to package directions. Assemble the tacos by placing a spoonful of seasoned beef in each tortilla. Top with shredded lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, onions, and cilantro. Serve with your choice of toppings on the side.


Sharon Libich, Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op

½ pound ground beef or turkey

6 ounces mild (or favorite spice level) salsa

1 tablespoon finely chopped sweet onion

½ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon cilantro

½ teaspoon cumin

½ teaspoon sea salt

1 (8-ounce) can refrigerated biscuits

½ –1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 400 F. Prepare a standard-size muffin tin with muffin cups (ungreased). In a large skillet over medium heat, brown meat (don’t overcook). Drain. Add salsa, onion, and seasonings. Simmer uncovered, over low heat, stirring frequently for 5 minutes. Separate biscuit dough and place one biscuit in each ungreased muffin cup, pressing dough up the sides to the edge of each cup. Spoon meat mixture into cups. Bake for 10–12 minutes. Sprinkle each cup with shredded cheese and broil in the oven until melted, about 1 minute. Enjoy!


No Barriers To Healing

When Richard Schmuckal set off into the mountains of Colorado with 15 strangers, he knew that this was going to be an adventure of a lifetime. In August of 2023, Richard participated in the No Barriers Warriors program for disabled veterans. The program is made possible at no cost for Cherryland members like Richard with the help of another cooperative, CoBank. Through this adventure, he learned, grew, and created lasting connections while building a support system across the country.

The journey, or phase one, for these veterans began with an application, along with some doctors’ visits to ensure each veteran was cleared to participate. From there, Richard met the team he’d be embarking on this adventure with and got a full rundown of the program’s expectations. Richard explained, “You were not supposed to speak about where you served or why you were disabled.” This is also where each element of the program’s core beliefs were laid out so that they

could be discussed throughout the experience. No Barriers uses the 7 life elements of “Vision, Reach, Alchemy, Pioneer, Rope Team, Summits, and Elevate” to help veterans break through their own challenges and live a driven, purposeful life.

Phase two of the experience began when Richard stepped foot off the plane in Colorado. Upon arrival to Fort Collins, a 65-mile drive from the Denver Airport, the luxuries of normal life had been left behind. Richard recounts, “We were assigned to a tent and it was the wilderness. There was very little, and at most times, no cell service.” Richard and his fellow veterans were told to watch for bears, moose, and even rattlesnakes. Everything they did, they did as a team, and each team received a code name. For Richard, it was Phoenix. Each tent group was assigned to different chores like cooking meals and clean-up.

Each day, all 15 veterans and their instructors would set off to conquer

different activities. While Richard notes that he declined to climb up the pole, similar to those that make up our electric system, he did opt to go hiking up a mountain at an elevation of over 9,000 feet and tackle rafting down rapids and rivers. Both were adventures with plenty of excitement to pull him out of his comfort zone. Beyond the physical obstacles that many faced on this journey were also the mental hurdles. Moving outside your comfort zone is an important step of this process. A common theme for No Barriers and the warriors they take on these life-changing journeys is, “What’s within you is stronger than what’s in your way.”

Many evenings were spent around the campfire, where participants would reflect on the topics they were introduced to in phase one. “We’re going to discuss our experience with reach, an instructor would say” recounts Richard. Even though Richard admittedly “observed more” than he shared, these moments were not without their own valuable impact. As

12 JUNE 2024

one participant shared a particularly emotional memory, Richard was moved to comfort her, which ended up being a moment of connection for the two when she thanked him the next morning. Moments of connection and reflection are key to the success of this program.

The Colorado adventure, and phase two of this program, came to a close with a special ceremony where each member gave a medallion to someone they admired or who left an impact throughout the program. Richard gave his medallion to a fellow veteran named Joe. “I told him that being forward and verbal about his experiences influenced me, and that he is not a follower,” Richard said. Much like the foundation of the No Barriers program, that is not where Joe and Richard’s story together ends.

Even after everyone returned home, there were many continued weekly calls facilitated by No Barriers as part of phase three. The veterans used this time to continue to reflect and put those reflections to work in their lives. Joe and Richard built such a connection, they continue to

“Apply for it. You’ll learn. It can help you. Maybe just with yourself; we all struggle.”

talk to this day. “Sir, you’re a unique individual and I am so blessed to have met you,” writes Joe in an email to Richard. “That’s what the program is, that’s the best way to put it.” said Richard.

No experience through the No Barriers Warriors program is alike, but there is always an impact that ripples into the lives of each participant. “I just like being around other veterans because it’s a bond I’m not often able to have anymore,” said Richard. “That’s what I was hoping to find.” Many veterans who have participated in this program have found things they were looking for, and more importantly, sometimes things they weren’t.

When asked what he would say to other veterans who are thinking of applying, Richard said, “Apply for it. You’ll learn. It can help you. Maybe just with yourself; we all struggle.” Cherryland Electric Cooperative and CoBank believe in the impact of the No Barriers Warriors program, and with the help of CoBank’s initiative, there are no monetary barriers to the program.

If you are a disabled veteran or you know of a disabled veteran in our community who would like to participate in the No Barriers program, please apply by June 15, 2024, directly at nobarriers.tfaforms.net.

If you have questions about the application process or need assistance filling out an application, please contact No Barriers at: warriors@nobarriersusa.org or 970-484-3633, ext. 305.

No Barriers Warriors provides transformative programs for veterans with disabilities that shift mindsets, create belonging, and foster self-discovery to elevate individuals and their communities (nobarriersusa.org). 13 MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES


A Historic Icon of the Great Lakes

Common sense says the path of least resistance is the wise choice. But what if the wise choice isn’t the one that can bring you a new, one-of-a-kind experience? Well then, sometimes you take the choppier path.

Folks from Michigan might take the interstate route through bustling Chicago to reach Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Those further north might opt to drive through the scenic Upper Peninsula. But those with an inkling for adventure should consider a third route.

A Historic Journey

The S.S. Badger is the last coal-fired passenger steamship in operation in the United States. She has provided a fun, reliable, and affordable shortcut across beautiful Lake Michigan for more than 70 years and has transported millions of passengers since her rebirth in 1992.

With ports in Ludington, Michigan, and Manitowoc, Wisconsin, the S.S. Badger is a floating reminder of maritime history and an enduring symbol of the Great Lakes’ rich heritage. The 410-foot ship can accommodate 600 passengers and 180 vehicles, including cars, RVs, motorcycles, and commercial trucks, during her sailing season of June through early October.

“The Badger is the last coal-fired passenger steamship in operation in the United States. With Great Lakes surrounding Michigan’s two peninsulas, the state has relied on ferries to transport people, vehicles, and products for over 130 years,” said Sara Spore, general manager of Lake Michigan Carferry, the company that manages the S.S. Badger. “As a moving National Historic Landmark (NHL), she continues to serve as a unique maritime tradition.”

Uniquely registered as a historical site in both Michigan and Wisconsin, the Badger holds numerous accolades, including being designated as a mechanical engineering landmark and named Ship of the Year by the Steamship Historical Society of America.

In 2016, she received the nation’s highest historic honor when the U.S. Department of Interior officially designated the Badger as a National Historic Landmark—making her the only NHL that moves.

14 JUNE 2024

Tradition Meets Entertainment

After making the difficult decision to end the 2023 season early due to unexpected damage to the Badger ’s ramp system, Lake Michigan Carferry is excited to get back at it. While refunds were issued for those who had already booked passage for later in the 2023 season, there were disappointed passengers, as well as a staff who is eager to please each season.

“Our staff, passengers, and both port cities are looking forward to the upcoming season,” said Spore. “The Badger is a fun experience for passengers with many favorite traditions onboard.”

Spore isn’t exaggerating—the S.S. Badger offers more than just transportation; it provides a memorable experience steeped in tradition and entertainment. From free Badger Bingo and onboard movie lounges to kids’ play areas and arcade games, the ship offers many activities to enjoy during the voyage. Additionally, passengers can indulge in food and beverages at onboard bars and restaurants, browse the gift shop, or simply relax on the outside decks, soaking in the scenic beauty of the Great Lakes.

The Badger is the last coal- red passenger steamship in operation in the United States. With Great Lakes surrounding Michigan’s two peninsulas, the state has relied on ferries to transport people, vehicles, and products for over 130 years.”

The Legacy Continues

The S.S. Badger’s journey reflects not only the evolution of maritime technology but also the changing environmental consciousness. Originally designed to transport railcars, the Badger has adapted to meet modern sustainability standards. Lake Michigan Carferry has undertaken significant initiatives to ensure the ship’s environmental impact is minimized. With the cessation of ash discharge into the lake and the implementation of new ash-retention and combustion-control systems, the Badger now serves as a model of eco-friendly maritime transportation.

As the S.S. Badger embarks on another season, it does so not only as a historic vessel but also as a forward-thinking model of sustainability and stewardship, ensuring that its legacy continues for generations to come. With its rich history, environmental initiatives, and commitment to providing an exciting and memorable voyage, the S.S. Badger remains an essential part of Michigan’s maritime heritage and a beloved way to traverse the waters between Michigan and Wisconsin.

/ssbadgerferry /ssbadgerferry /ssbadgerferry ssbadger.com @badgerferry_official

Your Board In Action

April Board Meeting

• A long-range financial forecast was presented to the board of directors. The forecast outlined small, but necessary, rate increases moving forward to assist with rising costs.

• The board of directors approved a construction workplan preauthorization for equipment procurement through 2026, including an amendment to the 2024 budget to purchase a digger truck.

• The board of directors approved a 2023 patronage capital allocation of $2.3 million from Wolverine and $0 from Cherryland. The allocation is a reflection of the previous year’s margins that, in time, will be paid back to the membership in the form of capital credits. Because Cherryland had negative net operating, there will be no 2023 Cherryland allocation.

• The board of directors approved the election and credentials committee of volunteer members to oversee the election and help count votes at the annual meeting.

• The board of directors authorized Cherryland to enter into a five-year agreement to remain a member of the Michigan Electric Cooperative Association (MECA).


Every spring, Cherryland employees volunteer with Adopt-A-Highway to clean up our community! This year, 10 employees collected 14 bags of trash along U.S.-31 South between the Cherryland office in Grawn and Interlochen.

16 JUNE 2024

Fairs & Festivals

Enter to win up to $200 off your energy bill!

Submit Your “Quilts” Photos By June 20!

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 June theme is Quilts! Photos can be submitted through June 20 to be featured in our September issue.

Enter Your Photos And Win A Bill Credit!

To enter the contest, visit cherrylandelectric.coop/photo-contest or visit facebook.com/cherrylandelectriccoop for a link to the current 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 2024, you will be entered to win a credit of up to $200 on your December 2024 bill.


2. “Fireworks atop the ferris wheel”—Tracie Hardy

3. “Swinging good time”—Peggy Zinn

4. “Just a couple fair-loving kids!”—Lauren Dreves

5. “Clowning around at Traverse City’s Cherry Festival!!”—Cathy McKinley

6. “All eyes on the judge showmanship in session” —Trish Marek 1. “Working hard in the show ring”—Sarah Youker


Grandparents at the Doorstep:

Building Stronger Families and Happier Childhoods

“When can I have a sleepover at Grammy and (Grand)Dude’s?” my four-year-old asks me as we are wedged in her twin bed reading “The Little Mermaid” for the hundredth time. “Probably this summer,” I reply. She smiles, closes her book, and snuggles in, bringing the covers up to her chin while still smiling. As I lay next to her, I think, “We are so lucky.”

I saw a meme recently that said “The greatest parenting hack is to live close to the grandparents.” This could not ring more true. Having my parents, my mother-in-law, and—before his passing—my father-in-law nearby has definitely been the ultimate parenting hack. Not only are my husband and I so grateful for the (free and last-minute) childcare our parents provide, we also love the special relationships they build with both of our daughters.

I look at my youngest as she holds her hands up in the air with a scrunched-up grin on her face, asking “up up” to my dad. I watch my oldest zip around the house in anticipation of my mother-in-law’s weekly visit and patiently answer questions and talk about her grandpa and why we can no longer visit him anymore. I listen and quietly chuckle as she explains to me that she is eating from the outside of her plate inward because “Grammy told me the food is colder on the outside first.” I smile as she asks if her grandpa knew about her baby sister. “Yes,” her dad responds, “and he was so excited about her, and so proud of the big sister you were becoming.”

The birthday celebrations, sleep-overs, trips to McDonald’s, visits to the library, etc., are of course, fulfilling and enriching for our girls, but it’s also the mundane and the not-so-fun stuff that really makes my heart full. It’s the midnight phone call to watch the oldest while we take the youngest to the ER for a fever that won’t go away. It’s the 6 a.m. text “Can you watch M today? School is cancelled and I don’t have any sick days left.” It’s the “Z won’t stop crying and I don’t know what to do, can you come over?” It’s having the world’s best, most trusted babysitters ready to share their wisdom, time, or possibly just a calm space with our most treasured possessions. Having grandparents live close by is more than just a parenting hack; it’s the gift that keeps on giving. Their unwavering love and support create a foundation of security and joy for our daughters, and I cannot wait to see how their bond continues to deepen in the years to come.

“Having grandparents live close by is more than just a parenting hack; it’s the gift that keeps on giving.”

About the Author: Alexandra is an instructional technology coordinator at Charlevoix Public Schools. She enjoys reading, sleeping, and getting outside with her family.

Guest Column

Win $200 for stories published!

Share your fondest memories and stories. Win $200 for stories published. Visit countrylines.com/ community to submit.

MI CO-OP Guest Column
18 JUNE 2024

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• If you have a well and are heating with propane, fuel oil, electric or wood, your current heating and cooling cost is likely greater than it would be to fully finance and heat & cool with a Well-Connect.

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Extend a helping hand to those who need it by rounding up your monthly electric bill to the nearest dollar.

Investing your small change into our Cherryland Cares program brings about big change in our community. Visit cherrylandelectric.coop to learn more!

cherrylandelectric.coop No one can help someone
but everyone can help everyone,

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