June 2024 GLE

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A Historic Icon of the Great Lakes Great Lakes Energy Cooperative
June 2024 MICHIGAN Coming Soon: Director Elections Cast Your Community Grant Giveaway Vote People Fund Helps Build Community Connections


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Alger Delta Electric: up to $2,000

Cherryland Electric: up to $2,500

Cloverland: up to $6,275

Great Lakes Energy: up to $5,000

Homeworks/Tri-County Electric: up to $4,750

Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op: up to $4,750

Thumb Electric: up to $2,000

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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


gtlakes.com /jointruestream


Howard Bowersox, Chairman, District 8 219-670-0977


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

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

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

Janet Andersen, Director, District 6 231-690-4622 jandersen@glenergy.com

David Coveyou, Director, District 1 231-347-4056 dcoveyou@glenergy.com

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

John LaForge, Director, District 9 269-623-2284 jlaforge@glenergy.com

Mary O’Connell, Director, District 4 989-217-8379 moconnell@glenergy.com

PRESIDENT/CEO: Shaun Lamp 888-485-2537

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

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

Call center hours: 7 a.m.–5:30 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 or the GLE mobile app.

Change of Address: 888-485-2537, ext. 8924

Great Lakes Energy is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Community Connections You Can Count On

or the past few months, we’ve used the pages of Michigan Country Lines to highlight how Great Lakes Energy’s sense of belonging drives us to work hard every day to improve the lives of our members and our communities.

This commitment and connection to our community is nothing new for GLE. As your member-owned not-forprofit electric cooperative, “Concern for Community” is one of the seven cooperative principles that guide us in all we do.

Here’s a quick recap of some of the programs we’ve featured.


We know fostering education is a key element in the continual improvement of our organization and in the communities we serve. That’s why we offer a scholarship program for students pursuing degrees in electrical engineering, information technology, or electrical linework training. It’s also why, since 2012, we have awarded more than $302,000 through our Classroom Grant program to support innovative educational programs in schools that serve our members’ children.

Energy savings

We offer our members many ways to reduce their energy consumption. One great example is our Energy Wise program, which offers members rebates for purchasing qualifying new energy-efficient appliances, equipment, and home systems. Also, our new consumer analytics tools allow our members to take even more control of their energy use by analyzing their home’s electric use patterns. Both programs allow members to reduce their electric bills and carbon footprint.

Nonprofit support

One of the best ways we can help improve our communities is by supporting the efforts of local nonprofit organizations that make a difference in people’s lives. Thanks to the generosity of our members who agree to have their monthly electric bills rounded up to the next whole dollar, we’ve awarded more than $4.6 million in People Fund grants to nonprofit organizations since 1999. We’ve also partnered with CoBank, one of our lenders, to award $57,000 in grants to nonprofits in our service area in the past three years through the Community Grant Giveaway program.

Perhaps one of the best illustrations of GLE’s connection to our community is through our employees. Many of them apply the same community-minded spirit that drives them to provide the best possible service for our members to make positive contributions to their community through their volunteer efforts outside of work.

Last year, to both celebrate and support our employees’ volunteer efforts, we initiated a program called “The Energy of Giving.” The program encourages employees to track and report their volunteer hours and offers a forum for employees to share volunteer opportunities that are available in their communities.

From Aug. 1 to April 25, our employees submitted 2,267 volunteer hours through the Energy of Giving Program. However, I suspect the actual number of hours employees are volunteering is probably much higher.

The Energy of Giving program has reinforced something that I’ve known for a long time: GLE has some of the best employees around. I’m proud to work with people who place a high priority on making a positive impact on the community, both on and off the job.

4 JUNE 2024

IT’S TIME TO VOTE For a Board Member

Next month, Great Lakes Energy members in three director districts will receive a mail-in ballot with their July/August issue of Michigan Country Lines. These ballots will also include instructions on how members can cast their votes online.

Three board positions, each for three years, will need to be filled. Qualifying GLE members who reside in districts 1, 2, or 7 can seek election to the board and will be listed on the members’ respective ballots.

Counties by district are:

District 1 – Emmet County

District 2 – Charlevoix and Cheboygan counties

District 7 – Muskegon and Oceana counties

The terms of directors David Coveyou of Petoskey (District 1), Mark Carson of Boyne City (District 2), and Paul Byl of Shelby (District 7) expire this year. The three incumbents plan to seek re-election.

In addition to the mail-in ballot and online voting instructions, the candidates’ profiles will appear in the July/August election issue that will be sent to members in Districts 1, 2, and 7. Profiles will also be available in the online version of the July/August issue, which will be available at countrylines.com/my-co-op/great-lakes/.

Winners will be announced on Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2024, at the cooperative’s annual business meeting.

Historic Farms Honored

Two family farms served by Great Lakes Energy were recently recognized by the Michigan Centennial Farm Program.

The Henry and Amanda Baisch Farm, which was founded Sept. 29, 1909, near Howard City in Montcalm County, was certified as a “Centennial Farm” on March 3, 2024. The current owner is George Ravell.

The John and Barbara Karnauskas Farm, which was founded on July 5, 1921, near Freesoil in Mason County, was certified as a “Centennial Farm” on March 14, 2024. The current owners are Robert and Betty Kran.

Great Lakes Energy is a sponsor of the Michigan Centennial Farm Program that honors Great Lakes Energy members and other Michigan residents whose farms have been owned and operated by the same family for 100 years for centennial farms and 150 years for sesquicentennial farms. Once a farm is certified, the owners receive a certificate as well as a display marker for their farm. GLE members can request an application or receive more information about the program by contacting The Historical Society of Michigan, (517) 324-1828, or by visiting the organization’s website, www.centennialfarms.org.


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 6
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.



Last month, GLE members nominated local nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations for a chance to win a $7,000 grant. Now that your nominations have been made, it’s time to vote!

Great Lakes Energy has teamed up with CoBank, one of its lenders, to create a positive impact in your community by awarding three $7,000 grants to local, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations. The GLE service area is split into three regions—north, central, and south—and each region will select a respective winner.

Visit gtlakes.com/community-grant-giveaway to cast your vote!

From June 10–21, GLE members are asked to visit gtlakes.com/community-grant-giveaway and submit their vote for the organization in their region they feel is most suited to receive a $7,000 grant.

In the past three years, $57,000 in grants has been awarded through the Community Grant Giveaway program.

In just a few brief moments, your vote can help steer this program to benefit your friends, neighbors, and community. Your participation helps to make a positive impact for the organizations making a difference in your community.

8 JUNE 2024

Fairs & Festivals

Enter to win a $200 energy bill credit!

Submit Your “Quilts” photos By June 20

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 June theme is Quilts. Photos can be submitted by June 20 to be featured in the September 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 2024 will be entered into a drawing to win a $200 bill credit in December 2024.



MOST VOTES! 2. God Bless America, Kai Carlson, Kalkaska 3. Big win for a first-timer!, Shelia Davis, Charlevoix 4. Charlie’s first Petoskey Stone Festival, Scott Lepine, Kewadin I love 4-H, Melissa Grondsma, Hart Venetian Festival family fun!, Becky Richards, Charlevoix 1. Grandma and her favorite Alpen kids, Darla Edwards, Gaylord


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!


Building a Place for Community Connections

The loading dock of a former machine shop probably isn’t the first place people who are struggling financially might think of as a resource for clothing and personal care items.

However, thanks to The River Community Center, the Hope Chest Pantry, and some help from a recent Great Lakes Energy People Fund grant, that’s exactly where those items are available in the Baldwin area.

In 2023, Lake Fellowship Ministries, the nonprofit organization that operates The River Community Center, received a $2,000 People Fund grant to help pay for building renovations to provide space for the Hope Chest Pantry.

Lake Fellowship Ministries, which is an association of pastors in the Lake County area, purchased the building that now houses The River Community Center in October of 2022, and the center opened its doors in January of 2023.

Debbie Alley, executive director of The River Community Center, said the building originally housed a machine shop. When the shop closed, another nonprofit organization used the building for about 20 years, primarily for storage, and had made few modifications to it since its machine shop days.

That all changed when Lake Fellowship Ministries converted the space into a community center. One area

of the shop was converted into a gym where exercise equipment such as stationary bikes and treadmills are available for the community to use. Other areas of the building now house ping-pong and pool tables, meeting spaces, and office spaces.

A new home for a helping hand

Debbie said that from the beginning, part of the plan for the community center was to create a space within it to house the Hope Chest Pantry. At that time, the pantry was located at the nearby Baldwin Assembly of God, where Debbie and her husband, Tim, serve as pastors.

Diane Smolinski, who is the director of the Hope Chest Pantry, said the pantry was established in 2010 as a source of personal care items for people in the community in need. However, she said when the pantry began accepting and distributing clothing in 2020, the inventory “just took off,” and the pantry quickly outgrew its space at the church.

The pantry opened its doors at the community center on June 5, and Diane said the former loading dock space has worked out very well. She said it is nice for the pantry to have a dedicated entrance separate from the community center’s, and the renovations created a warm and welcoming space for pantry clients to visit.

12 JUNE 2024
Taking a break from working at the Hope Chest Pantry in the River Community Center are (from left) Debbie Alley, Andrea Clark, Stephanie Dean, and Theresa Gusteve.

“It’s been wonderful,” Diane said. “We didn’t want it to look like a pantry. We wanted to give it a bit of a boutique look to provide a more pleasant experience for people browsing for the clothes and other items they may need.”

The Hope Chest Pantry serves about 70-80 people per week and is open from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. on Mondays for clothing distribution and Wednesdays for both clothing and personal care item distribution.

Diane said anyone is welcome to come and select the clothing from the pantry’s inventory. She said there are no income or other requirements for people to receive items from the pantry.

“The only rule is ‘Take what you need and be mindful that other people have needs, too,’” she said.

Much more than a pantry

The River Community Center has much more to offer than the Hope Chest Pantry.

The community center’s regular hours are 10 a.m.–2 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. During these times, community members are welcome to drop in to use the exercise equipment, to socialize over a cup of coffee or a card game, or to find a quiet place to read. The center also offers a free Wi-Fi internet connection and has some office spaces for anyone who might need a place to work.

At other times, the community center also regularly hosts programs and events, such as monthly senior gatherings and Saturday afternoon FamJam events. The Lake County Higher Ground Learning Center and the local Great Start Collaborative both regularly offer classes and programs at the center as well.

Debbie said the next goal for The River Community Center is to install a commercial kitchen, which will help provide food for many of the center's events.

Both The River Community Center and the Hope Chest Pantry are staffed entirely by volunteers, and both rely on donations from the community to keep their respective operations afloat. Pantry staff will accept donations of new or gently used clothing items during normal pantry hours. Special drop-off arrangements can be made by calling the pantry at (231) 872-9331.

The River Community Center and the Hope Chest Pantry are located at 9731 South M-37. More information about the center, including a list of upcoming events, is available at therivercommunitycenter.org. Both organizations also have a Facebook page.

Since its inception in 1999, the People Fund has awarded more than $4.6 million in grants to nonprofit organizations that serve GLE’s 26-county service area. Grants are funded by participating GLE members who agree to have their monthly electric bill rounded up to the next whole dollar. To learn more about the People Fund, including how to sign up, how nonprofit organizations can apply for a grant, and a list of recent grant recipients, visit gtlakes.com/people-fund

Top: From left, The Rev. Bruce Whitney of Baldwin Community Church and The Rev. Debbie Alley and The Rev. Tim Alley, both of the Baldwin Assembly of God, stand in an office inside The River Community Center. Bottom: Debbie, who is also the community center's executive director, and Bruce stand in a gathering space inside the center.


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

Great Lakes Energy Cooperative Consolidated Balance Sheet*

As Of Dec. 31, 2023


Great Lakes Energy Cooperative Consolidated Operating Statements* for the years ended Dec. 31, 2023, and 2022


$ 964,689,746

2023 2022 Operating revenues $ 251,988,058 $ 248,491,789 Operating expenses: Cost of power 132,873,683 144,934,239 Cost of phone and internet 1,281,048 1,329,616 Distribution system operating and maintenance expenses 48,064,407 46,039,737 Customer service and information expenses 11,104,189 10,574,083 Administrative and general expenses 12,683,320 11,835,574 Depreciation and amortization 29,145,539 25,518,642 Other operating (income) expense (803,739) (1,169,169) TOTAL OPERATING EXPENSES 234,348,447 239,062,722 Operating margins before fixed charges 17,639,611 9,429,067 Fixed charges, interest expense 18,766,384 15,424,402 Operating margins after fixed charges (1,126,773) (5,995,335) Nonoperating margins: Interest and investment income 233,091 24,638 Other income (expense) (9,800) 6,493,417 TOTAL NONOPERATING INCOME 223,291 6,518,055 Capital credits from associated organizations: Wolverine Power Company 8,876,952 9,110,666 Other associated organizations 1,836,466 1,543,879 TOTAL CAPITAL CREDITS FROM ASSOCIATED ORGANIZATIONS 10,713,418 10,654,545 NET MARGINS $ 9,809,936 $ 11,177,265 *A
report is on file at the cooperative’s office in Boyne City, Michigan. ASSETS Electric plant: Distribution and fiber plant $ 917,443,257 Construction in progress 36,281,975 953,725,232 Less accumulated depreciation 211,089,903 NET ELECTRIC PLANT 742,635,329 Other assets and investments: Nonutility property, net of accum. depr. 22,254,853 Investments and memberships 132,543,506 Notes and other receivables 1,481,513 Other assets 7,274,508 TOTAL OTHER ASSETS 163,554,380 Current assets: Cash 1,355,457 Accounts receivable, net of bad debt reserve 33,818,927 Materials and supplies 18,557,698 Other current assets 1,862,522 TOTAL CURRENT ASSETS 55,594,604 Deferred charges 2,905,433 TOTAL ASSETS $ 964,689,746
Equities: Memberships $ 519,740 Patronage capital 236,454,550 Donated capital 15,309,064 Accumulated other comprehensive income 9,743,365 TOTAL EQUITIES
Long-term debt, net of current portion, and noncurrent accrued expenses: Long-term debt
Current liabilities: Current maturities of long-term debt and leases 29,299,100 Accounts payable 25,985,036 Accrued expenses 21,152,982 Customer deposits 1,499,268 TOTAL CURRENT LIABILITIES
Deferred credits
copy of the
financial statements and the auditor’s
16 JUNE 2024

Saving Energy Just Got Even Easier

GLE offers its members many opportunities to reduce their electric use, which can help lower their electric bills and carbon footprint. One of the easiest ways members can achieve these savings is through the Energy Wise program, which offers rebates on the purchase of qualifying energy-efficient appliances, equipment, and home systems.

GLE member Jason Dryja turned to the Energy Wise program when he was looking for ways to cut heating and cooling costs at both his primary residence and his rental properties. Jason took advantage of rebates available for an air-source heat pump for his primary residence and a mini-split system for one of his rental properties.

Jason said since the units were installed, he’s noticed a significant drop in energy use at both homes.

Referring to the mini-split system, Jason said, “It’s the most efficient thing I have in either home. It’s so efficient, even below freezing. I was shocked at how low the energy draw is.”

Jason said he’s happy with his improvements, noting that he calls for propane refills much less often since the upgrades.

“I absolutely recommend upgrading your HVAC systems and taking advantage of the rebates offered through Energy Wise,” he said.

Jason also enjoys monitoring the energy use at his home and rental properties using GLE's new suite of consumer analytics tools, which are available to members through their online accounts and the GLE mobile app.

“I’m checking the energy usage at all my properties daily. Having all the features on the GLE app is convenient and critical,” he said.

“I absolutely recommend upgrading your HVAC systems and taking advantage of the rebates offered through Energy Wise.”

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

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MI CO-OP Guest Column
18 JUNE 2024

• Attaches to your home’s existing heating system, it does not replace it.

• Delivers 90% on average of your home’s heating needs and 100% of your home’s cooling needs.

• 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.

• Installs in one day, any time of year. No drilling or excavation is required.

MICHIGAN MADE IN SCAN HERE TO GET A FREE QUOTE 833-436-9355 wellconnectgeo.com Hyb d Geoth EXISTING FURNACE 50° WATER 38° WATER 95° AIR 70° AIR



Yo u r Vo i ce .

Yo u r B o a rd o f Di re c to r s .

Yo u r C oo p e r ative .

Great Lakes Energy Directors Put Members First*

 Major system improvements in the last 19 years have increased service reliability to all GLE members

 GLE accomplishes more with less, ranking it as one of the most productive electric cooperatives nationwide 1

 Truestream, GLE's fiber-to-the-home project, is providing high-speed internet service to more than 21,000 residential and business subscribers and continues to grow.


 GLE is making investments in smart grid technology to ensure electric service remains reliable and affordable for members.

 Eight local offices deliver quick and courteous service, especially when big storms roll in.

*Directors are not appointed by management but rather democratically elected by members to serve three-year terms. All directors are members who receive electric service from GLE.

1 Based on number of members per employee statistics compiled by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association

D i re c to r s Wo r k fo r Yo u an d Yo u Al o ne . T h a t ’ s t h e Coope r a t iv e D iffe r en c e .
Janet Andersen Distric t 6 Howard B owersox Distric t 8 John L a Forge Distric t 9 M ark C arson Distric t 2 Paul Byl Distric t 7 David Coveyou Distric t 1 Ric Evans Distric t 3 Mary O’Connell Distric t 4 Dale Farrier Distric t 5

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